THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
6 ISSUE AT HAND
26 COVER STORY
A Big Thank You
The Biggest Little FEC in the West
By Scott Frager
Adventures — and bowling – abound at Wild Island. By Paul Lane
8 SHORTS • Hansell & Associates rebrands. • News Briefs: What’s going on in the bowling biz? • Helix Leisure has acquired Booking Boss for the AsiaPacific region. • Bowling and commercials are a big item.
BEYOND BOWLING 34 Column 36 AMAA Preview 40 Honoring Guests at Pin Strikes
46 Interesting Interview: Holly Hampton
By Patty Heath
52 FEATURE It’s the Butch and Jamie Show
16 CONSIDER THIS The Path to Happiness Make 2018 a year of action for you and your business.
Butch Warren and Jamie Brooks team up for success in Texas. By Jim Goodwin
By Ben Jones
62 REMEMBER WHEN Valentine’s Day with Archie!
18 OFF THE CLOCK
By Patty Heath
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words Kevin Hong’s passion for bowling, history, and photography is embodied in his Vintage Alleys Project.
By Mark Miller 52
PUBLISHER & EDITOR Scott Frager firstname.lastname@example.org Skype: scottfrager
ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER David Garber email@example.com
OFFICE MANAGER Patty Heath firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTRIBUTORS Jim Goodwin Patty Heath Ben Jones Paul Lane George McAuliffe Howard McAuliffe Mark Miller Robert Sax
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jackie Fisher email@example.com
ART DIRECTION & PRODUCTION Designworks www.dzynwrx.com (818) 735-9424
FOUNDER Allen Crown (1933-2002)
12655 Ventura Boulevard Studio City, CA 91604 (818) 789-2695(BOWL) Fax (818) 789-2812 firstname.lastname@example.org
HOTLINE: 818-789-2695 SUBSCRIPTION RATES: One copy of International Bowling Industry is sent free to every bowling center, independently owned pro shop and collegiate bowling center in the U.S., and every military bowling center and pro shop worldwide. Publisher reserves the right to provide free subscriptions to those individuals who meet publication qualifications. Additional subscriptions may be purchased for delivery in the U.S. for $50 per year. Subscriptions for Canada and Mexico are $65 per year, all other foreign subscriptions are $80 per year. All foreign subscriptions should be paid in U.S. funds using International Money Orders. POSTMASTER: Please send new as well as old address to International Bowling Industry, 12655 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA 91604 USA. If possible, please furnish address mailing label. Printed in U.S.A. Copyright 2017, B2B Media, Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.
MEMBER AND/OR SUPPORTER OF:
ISSUE AT HAND
Major Kudos for Team BPAA At the recent BPAA Summit meeting in Phoenix, I had a chance to meet with and get to know so many people. It was my 22nd or 23rd event, too many to remember exactly, and I harken back to the days when Summit was called the BPAA Mid-Winter Meeting. Back then, the BPAA board sat court in the middle of a conference room with member proprietors and guests sitting along the perimeter of the room. If memory serves, there were no outside speakers, no strolling trade show or educational seminars and very few attendees. There was, however, a very accessible BPAA board and the ability to speak up and share successes or industry concerns easily and comfortably. Today’s BPAA Summits are more professionally planned, coordinated and managed. An incredible array of inspirational and motivational Thought Leader speakers and presenters, covering a wide scope of educational themes, are brought aboard to deliver value for every attendee. Plus, there is a wonderfully expanding exhibit space where manufacturers, suppliers and proprietors interact in
a semi-formal and more intimate way than can be done at the larger and more formal big-brother trade show: Bowl Expo. This year’s event was particularly meaningful to me as I was able to launch a new business and share it with the attendees. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so energized and excited about attending events. While I can’t speak for every exhibitor or attendee, I believe I can for most, when I provide a mighty THANKS to the entire BPAA team who helped lead this terrific event. The attention to detail and the willingness to welcome all industry partners and integers makes this BPAA team one of the finest that I’ve been privileged to know this past quarter century. There are too many names to thank here, so I hope my letter above is accepted with the genuine and heartfelt spirit in which it was intended. See y’all at Bowl Expo. Cheers!
– SCOTT FRAGER, PUBLISHER AND EDITOR email@example.com
4THIS MONTH AT www.BowlingIndustry.com Over the years, Scott Frager has worn many hats. First and foremost, he has been involved in the bowling industry as the owner/publisher of the industry’s first trade magazine, International Bowling Industry. He has also donned the hats of GM of Pinz Entertainment Center in Studio city, CA, and ED of Bowling Centers of Southern California. With all of these responsibilities, he has still found time to support local organizations. Needless to say, Scott has been a busy fella! For the past three years, he has been an active member of East Valley PALS (Police Activities League), serving on the board of directors for the North Hollywood division. Community service to help his city, growing a center that embraces all ages to come and play, and setting an example of collaborative work was acknowledged by the North Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles Police Department by naming Scott as 2017 PALS Member of the Year. Congratulations!
Do you have a special bowler at your center we can highlight? Email Patty at firstname.lastname@example.org. 6
CIRCLE BOWL’S RENOVATION RECEIVES AWARD
EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS
Circle Bowl & Entertainment in Ledgewood, NJ, is the winner of a business beautification award from the Roxbury area Chamber of Commerce. Founded in 1959 by Andrew Dougherty, then Circle Lanes had 20 lanes. However, in 2015 a $5 million renovation project began which included adding five more lanes and the addition of laser tag, an arcade, a VIP room, and a new pub called Big Ed’s Tap House and Grill. Jodi Snyder, granddaughter of original owner Andrew and daughter of ‘Big Ed,’ the namesake for the new restaurant, is the events manager and, along with Garrett Stahl, the marketing director, accepted the award.
THE GRAND IS OPEN Columbia, SC, has a new boutique bowling center in downtown. The Grand features a large, open restaurant and bar at the front of the venue with a lounge area and seven bowling lanes in the back. Plush couches are next to the lanes. There are also traditional games such as checkers and outdoors, on the Plaza, is a bocce ball court. It is technologically on the cutting edge, yet relaxing for adults of all ages.
Milford, OH, has a new bowling center. Pin Deck has a giant rectangular bar, the centerpiece of the room, flat screen TVs, and 12 lanes of bowling.
A new year and many centers engaged in starting up, re-inventing themselves, and just plain spiffing up their businesses. Chad Vallejo, marketing director of Rancho Bowl in Santa Maria, CA, shared that his 32-lane center had just installed new Qubica SPL Select Series lanes, plus Extreme 2 lighting which can change patterns with Qubica DMX Controller. BNA Brewing Co. & Eatery has been given the green light by city fathers of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, to add six lanes of bowling to its second floor. Opened in 2015, BNA has become a local favorite, soon to become even more favorite. Built in 1977, Snow Bowl in Steamboat Springs, CO, is beginning a $1 million renovation, which could include new arcade games, a brewery concept and a full-service kitchen. To start, there will be new bowling balls and shoes.
Two bowling center projects, reported on by IBI in 2017, have opened. One is Gutters in Taos, NM. This 12-lane center, the only one in Taos, has cosmic, black light bowling on the weekends. The other, Franklin Alley Social Club, a bar in the basement of the Takk House in Troy, NY, ran into a slight glitch. Originally, they wanted to open the space with the original bowling lanes from when it was Troy Knights of Columbus. Unfortunately, that was not to be. It does include indoor shuffleboard courts. Maybe down the road that bowling dream can come true.
HELIX ACQUIRES BOOKING BOSS Helix Leisure has recently announced the acquisition of Booking Boss, a provider of line booking, ticketing, and POS solutions in the Asia-Pacific region. Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, Booking Boss provides cloud-based ticketing, reservation and point of sale solutions with 24/7 booking capabilities to global consumers. 8
The acquisition was completed last July and has been fully integrated into Helix Leisure. The combined development teams have also been working to develop an integrated party booking system for the Helix company Embed. Both companies see this as a solution for operators to increase profits and enhance better experiences for guests.
Another year is on its way. There is no rest for activities in a bowling center. Helping is a big part of what a center does.
WATCH Golden Corral is an American family-style restaurant chain serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring a large all-youcan-eat buffet and grill. They can be found in several states. Presently, they are promoting their new BBQ offerings. In this commercial, camaraderie and bowling are spotlighted. The guys’ night out couldn’t be better than at Golden Corral and a bowling trophy for bragging rights. It has a real old fashioned 60s’ look.
BOWLING IS HONDA’S HOOK Honda is riding the wave of bowling metaphors. Recently, there have been two commercials that have included bowling. The first is a lovely life moment in the world of dating. The way to impress: stage is set; lights are on—stage center; the audience is watching. The moment arrives and… GUTTERBALL. The second is much more sophisticated. Surreal, with golden trophy images reflecting excellence, this commercial highlights the quest for perfection. It actually is a great way to start the new year. “Better is a neverending quest.” When you think you have reached your potential, strive more. Not bad for a car and certainly a wonderful way to live life. 10
BOWLING, BUDDIES, AND BBQ
Gold Coast Bowling Center, Las Vegas: 10th annual Bob Tallman Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Bowling Tournament. Actress Debbie Dunning of Home Improvement fame helped raise more than $12,000 for Speedway Children’s Charities and the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. White Plains Hospital, White Plains, NY, sponsored the 3rd annual Bowling for Bears charity event at the Bowlmor Lanes. Proceeds will go towards providing teddy bears and comfort kits for the emergency and pediatric departments. Charles Bowl in St. Charles, IL, was the venue for HorsePower Therapeutic Riding, the nonprofit’s sixth annual Big Bowling Fundraiser. Riding is proven to help balance, endurance, and coordination. The organization has 11 horses for children and adults with special challenges. Foundation 58, a nonprofit that assists first responders who are battling cancer, held its biggest fundraiser, the annual Bowling for the Brave, at Chacko’s Family Bowling Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA. What better way to support veterans than to give to bowling’s #1 charity, BVL, which for 75 years has given to U.S. vets unconditionally. At this year’s BPAA Summit in Phoenix, IBI presented John LaSpina, chairman, and Mary Harrar a holiday donation in David Garber, associate publisher, (L) the name of its and Scott Frager, publisher, (R) present John LaSpina and Mary customers and in Harrar with a holiday donation. appreciation for all BVL’s efforts to brighten the lives of all veterans. What is your center doing? Email Patty Heath at email@example.com.
Intercard has hired Michael Dishian as its chief financial officer. A corporate finance expert with a Big 4 accounting background, Dishian has more than 30 years of experience as an accountant, controller and CFO for large and growing companies. As Intercard continues to expand its global business in debit card Michael Dishian technology, Dishian will direct strategic planning and budget development and supervise purchasing and manufacturing. The International Bowling Pro Shop and Instructors Association (IBPSIA) has appointed Jackie Wyckoff of Campbell, CA, to its board of directors to fill a oneyear term left by a vacancy on the board. Wyckoff, a USBC Bronze Coach, has worked in the bowling business since the early 1970s, including general manager Jackie Wyckoff of Bel Mateo Bowl, San Mateo, CA, and running the pro shop and providing coaching. Wyckoff is one of the first females to be certified as a Brunswick “B” mechanic. She is a member of the Peninsula USBC Hall of Fame for Superior Performance. Due to the recent growth in service of lane machines and parts sales, Schemm Bowling Inc. announced the return of two
Hansell & Associates Rebrands Sandy Hansell and Associates, Inc., the industry’s primary broker and valuator of bowling centers, has been reorganized and reinvigorated. The company will now be called The Hansell Group; the company will continue to provide brokerage, valuation, and consulting services to the entire bowling industry, including potential investors and center proprietors. The new operation will upgrade and expand its marketing efforts both within and outside the industry, utilizing traditional and social media marketing to establish bowling centers as sound investments. All current associates, including Sandy Hansell, Ken Mischel, David Driscoll, Marcel Fournier, Pat Bosco, and Marty Mischel, plus a new associate, Mike Monroe, will be available to service clients. Ken Mischel, the managing partner of the new company, can be reached at Mischelco@msn.com. 12
former employees: David Rue and Nathan Bukoski. Rue will work with the lane machine service team. He has been in the bowling industry since 1993 and has completed both the Kegel and Brunswick lane machine training courses, as well as the David Rue Brunswick pinsetter school. Bukoski will be working in the front office to provide customer service and marketing support. He will also assist the warehouse team with new inventory procedures to ensure parts availability Nathan Bukoski for customer orders. Kegel has promoted John Thrift to vice president of operations. He will oversee all the machine and chemical manufacturing, plus shipping for all bowling products. Thrift’s background has included supervisor of lane machine production, quality control manager and manager of technical support. He has John Thrift been with Kegel since 1999. Chris Chartrand, CEO, shares, “I have the utmost confidence that John’s leadership will play an essential role in our future as we continue working hard to ‘Improve the Bowling Experience.’”
Lights On! Echo Park is a small town, east of Los Angeles, snuggled up against Dodger Stadium. In the 1920s, Jensen’s Recreation Center had a cozy bowling alley in its basement. To lure customers, atop the building was an animated incandescent sign containing 1,300 red, green, and white light bulbs, depicting a bowler throwing a strike. It is believed to be the only sign of this type and size remaining in the U.S. The newly renovated sign by day The lights went out decades and by night. ago, but with fundraising encouraged by the community, spearheaded by the Echo Park Historical Society, and supported by the building’s owner, Vista Investment Group, the lights are now back on.
Bowlmor AMF is now Bowlero Corporation Bowlmor AMF announced that it will change its corporate name from Bowlmor AMF to Bowlero Corporation. The new name leverages the company’s lead bowling center brand, Bowlero, which debuted in 2014. The Bowlero centers are a modern interpretation of traditional bowling alleys; they are found in 47 locations across the U.S. The company will also maintain its portfolio of iconic bowling center brands, which include Bowlmor Lanes (17 centers), AMF Bowling Co. (168 centers), and Brunswick Zone (61 centers). The plan is to launch more than a dozen Bowlero branded centers this year as the company renovates and converts its traditional centers and opens new locations throughout the country.
Embed tapped for Middle East Leisure and Entertainment Venue
Global Village in Dubai, UAE, the region’s largest and first-ever multi-cultural festival park, has selected Embed as the revenue management system provider for its newest funfair land, Carnaval. Embed has been the cashless system for Global Village since 2013 and has signed a three-year contract with Carnaval Entertainment management. Embed’s smartTOUCH TAP readers backed by TOOLKIT software was chosen.
Bay Tek Games acquires Dimensional Branding Group Bay Tek Games has acquired the San Francisco Bay area-based boutique licensing and branding firm Dimensional Branding Group (DBG). This is a significant step in Bay Tek’s evolution from designer and manufacturer of amusement games to a multi-platform entertainment company. Both companies are expected to benefit from the combined marketing, creative services, and infrastructure resources resulting from the agreement.
Dream-Bowl Palace will host Brunswick Euro Challenge through 2021 Ardent Leisure sells bowling centers After losing two chief executives within six months, Ardent Leisure has divested its health clubs, marinas, and AMF bowling centers for $160 million to the Entertainment and Education Group. The proceeds will be funneled to the remaining operations of Main Event in the U.S. and the Dreamworld theme parks on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. It provides Ardent with increased flexibility to continue the expansion of Main Event and reinvigorate its theme parks. February 2018
Brunswick Bowling Products has renewed a contract naming DreamBowl Palace, Munich, as the host of the Brunswick Euro Challenge (BEC) through 2021. The 15th annual BEC will be held March 10-18, welcoming bowlers from a dozen countries, competing for a total prize purse of approximately US$124,420. It is the sixth year that Dream-Bowl has hosted. Since its start in 2004, the BEC has established itself as one of the largest bowling events in Europe, attracting a mix of promising amateur players and PBA stars from Europe, Asia, and the U.S.
The Path to Happiness Make 2018 a year of action for you and your business.
By Ben Jones
Both the speed and amount of change we experience in life present us with constant challenges. I believe dealing with these challenges are selfmanifested and created by your attitude. Options in life afford us freedom and flexibility and the following is simply my perspective.
rue enough, times are changing and with change comes excitement. The end of one year and the start of another is all about change. With each new year, it’s appropriate to bring intention to how you think, focus on what’s possible, and take relentless forward action. There is power in focus. Focus at a micro level is all yours: being present, single-tasking, and seeking flow. For example, pick a priority for every day and use your momentum to reinforce that choice. Setting daily goals will build the framework for longer term goals. The starting point for all personal and business milestones should be: Think outcome first. There is value in thinking in reverse. When you think about outcomes first, you stop thinking with constraints. You are free to imagine new ways to achieve. When obstacles are placed in your path, remember that adversity reveals who you are. Adversity also reveals who you can count on and those you should count as your friends. There are friends who fade away during times of struggle, and there are those who run toward you (keep those).
There will be personal and team challenges that you will face throughout the new year. Teams work better over time; the trick is keeping the timeline and the goals fresh so that the push and pull is in sync and always forward. Even strategic retreat becomes a critical component in advancing objectives and overcoming challenges. Capabilities expand as the timeline advances, revealing outcomes you may not thought of as possible six months ago and with that, progress will compound exponentially. There’s nothing like teaching something to test your own knowledge. Even if it feels like you’re only three rungs up a tall ladder, there are others just getting on. Pass on what you know and - Bob Dylan share your unique skills and talents. Life has beggars and it is easy to succumb to a life of hopes, wishes and dreams. Thoughts count, but actions count more. And some dreams die, like beggars alongside hopes and wishes, because they were never acted upon. When we look back on a life well lived, we should not compare our choices and actions against others’ lives, but rather between who you are today, who you were yesterday and what you want to be tomorrow. Choose wisely in the coming year because doing is the path to happiness. There is no happiness without action and times they are always a-changin’. ❖
times they “The are a-changin ”
BROADWAY BOWL CHEEKTOWAGA, NY (26 LANES)
We congratulate Cathy and Donald Bock on their purchase of this fine center and thank Ed Seger for trusting Marcel Fournier to handle the sale. We wish Cathy, Donald and Ed all the best.
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Ben Jones is an industry enthusiast. He shares his perspectives each month through Boomer Blog and invites your feedback. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OFF THE CLOCK
S I E R U T C I P A A H T R WO D N A S U T HO DS ography t o h p WOR d n istory, a ect. wling, h for bo ys Proj e l n l o i A s e s a g ng’s p s Vinta Kevin Ho embodied in hi is
By Mark Miller
or as long as he can remember, photography, history, travel, and, yes, bowling have been things Kevin Hong has enjoyed. Until six years ago, he didn’t know he could combine them all into something unique, fun, and educational not just for himself, but others too. It all started one day early in 2012 when the former newspaper photojournalist and current elementary education teacher was bowling in a tournament in Connell, WA. The cozy, eight-lane facility with Brunswick Crown furnishings and wood lanes reminded him of Imperial Lanes, the now-closed Seattle establishment where his parents met in a mixed league in the 1960s and where he first learned to bowl. “For as long as I’ve been bowling on synthetics, it was a [memory] trip back to those places where I grew up,” the 41-year-old said. “The bowler next to me said, ‘Man, you don’t see places like this anymore,’ and I said no you don’t. It’s like a time machine, like a museum.” A few months later, Hong was to compete in a tournament in the 12lane center in Morton, WA, and knew there were several other older centers on his route. “I thought it would be fun to take some pictures and just have them in case they’re not here one day and have a record of places that I’d been,” he said. He asked the owners for permission to take photos and when one inquired what he’d be doing with them, he didn’t have an immediate answer. He just wanted them for his personal records. So he made up a story that he was working on a project on old centers and it reassured the owner to allow him to visit. By the end of that weekend he had photographed two more centers – an eight-laner in Centralia and a 12-laner in Yakima. He put the pictures of the four centers on his Facebook page along with some
details and people quickly started to notice. “People would say these places reminded them of where they grew up bowling and it was the same thing for me. You don’t see them anymore,” he said. Hong stopped by several more small centers in Washington, then ventured outside his home state to the eight-lane Boulder Bowl outside Las Vegas and the four lanes at the Elks Lodge in Astoria, OR. By then he had visited about a dozen centers, all in his region. His first venture beyond that was during spring break 2013 to see the 9-pin centers near San Antonio where descendants of the original German immigrants who settled there still set the pins by hand. “That was Vintage Bru ns A1 machine wick masking units an d s in St Louis.
OFF THE CLOCK fascinating to talk to the 9-pin bowlers and learn about the clubs that people pay to join. They want 9-pin to survive,” Hong said. Knowing he was onto something special, he turned his efforts into what he calls The Vintage Alleys Project. He created a separate Facebook page that eventually netted several thousand worldwide followers. He launched a website, vintagealleys.net, and self-published the pictures in a book titled Vanishing Alleys which he sold all 500 copies
, WA s, Coulee Dam Riverview Lane
of within six months. He later added an e-book for iPads, Macs and other iOS devices that was retired last year. He created a 2018 calendar currently available. His project has taken him to 64 centers in 15 states and Canada where he’s seen the games of 10-pins, 9-pins, duckpins, candlepins, and three-pin cocked hat. Many of the centers he’s visited have been referred to him by people who saw the Facebook posts. His work was featured in the October 2016 edition of Town & Country magazine. And last June, he was honored at International Bowl Expo with the 2017 BPAA Media Award. “It was just kind of fun, just like people who stop and visit major league ballparks when they are on trips, or a race track, or a car race or something,” he said. “That’s just something we did when Locker room I was growing up was visit bowling centers. That’s always something I’ve done.” In 2014 he accepted the invitation of the proprietor of a candlepin center in Boston and while in New England, he stopped by a duckpin facility where he learned how much harder those games are compared to 10-pin. On a 2015 visit to Missouri to visit some old college friends, he stopped by 20
The Corner Bar in St. Charles where he substituted in a three-pin cocked hat league. That same year he went to the Holler House, the two-lane facility in the basement of a Milwaukee bar opened in 1908. “That was the holy grail,” he said. Last summer, he visited centers in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.
Birth of a Passion So how did he come about his passion? Like so many avid bowlers, the sport was handed down to Hong by his parents: father Mon, who emigrated from China when he was a teenager; and mom Janie who did the same from The Philippines. “Imperial Lanes was kind of the hub for the Asian community [in Seattle],” remembers Hong. “A lot of Asian bowlers hung out and bowled at Imperial, and my parents met there. I like to tell people I was born to bowl because if it hadn’t been for bowling, my parents never would have met.” As a child, Hong tagged along with his parents to their beloved Imperial Bowl and eventually asked to try the sport. He recalls pushing the ball down the lane “grannystyle” at age five or six and joined his first YABA league at age nine or ten. He later bowled youth leagues at Leilani Lanes, another long-time Seattle icon that has since closed. Hong and his family had always sought out new centers. “As long as I’ve been a bowler, which is most of my life, my family has always stopped at bowling centers,” he said. “If we were on vacation, like in Vegas, I would beg my parents to take me to the (now closed) Showboat. If we were driving and saw a center I would ask if we could just stop and take a look. We would take a look and bowl sometimes with house balls. It was always fun to see the different centers. Some were big. Some were modern. Some of them were dark. Some of them were 60 lanes. Some of them were 106 lanes and some of them were 6 lanes.” After high school, he moved to Columbia, MO, to earn a journalism degree at the University of Missouri in 1998. He bowled youth leagues until age 21, competed on the school’s club team, was a regular on three adult leagues and a substitute on another. He also worked weekends and coached youth leagues at Town and Country Lanes. “I was in the bowling center a lot, maybe even more than the library,” he said. His first post-college job was as a newspaper
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OFF THE CLOCK Holden Village Washington
photojournalist for the Aberdeen Daily World in Washington. “I was following my first love of newspaper photojournalism,” he said. But with dramatic changes in newspapers in the 2000s – including the Daily World now only printing four times weekly – he made the decision to switch careers. “The fact we lost one of the newspapers kee WI se Milwau here in Seattle – the PostHoller Hou Intelligencer – I wanted to move up in the journalism world and I didn’t see a future in newspapers,” he said. “So after about eight years, I decided to get my Masters in Education (at Seattle University in 2008) and for the last 10 years I’ve been an elementary school teacher.” Teaching 15-20 second graders at a Seattle private school certainly has better hours than a photojournalist. Plus, it’s allowed him the time to pursue projects like Vintage Alleys. “I’ve enjoyed the path I’ve been on first in newspapers and now in education with bowling kind of being the common thread that’s always been with me,” he said. “Wherever I went, I bowled. Whether in Seattle or Aberdeen or Columbia. That’s what I’ve always loved about bowling - the people.” Hong also has given back to the sport as a coach, including earning his bronze certification through the USBC in 2013. Today he bowls in two weekly leagues plus an average of two monthly tournaments. He’s a member of the boards of directors of the International Bowling Media The Bronx, NY Association and Greater Seattle USBC Association. He also will be serving as commissioner for the Special Olympics USA Games in July 2018 in Seattle. For the past couple of years, he’s been helping care for a restored old four-lane center at a remote Lutheran retreat center called Holden Village high up in the woods above the north end of Lake Chelan in central Washington. It’s in a former mining town where in the late 1930s four lanes were installed. “I fell into helping take care of these four really isolated lanes that are probably 22
among the oldest on the West coast and they are really nice,” he said. “I’d like to help protect them for a couple more generations.” After the people there contacted him for a visit, he rounded up some new house balls, newer pins, lane oil, and lane cleaner and put together an oiling manual so the staff could hand-clean the lanes themselves, something that had never been done. “It’s the kind of thing I didn’t know when I started the photographing project that I would help care for four 80-yearold lanes that most people will never get to bowl on,” he said. “I likely will not get up there for a while, but to me it preserves bowling and makes bowling accessible to people that use that center. That’s important. It’s like a museum piece.” Hong would love to chronicle dwindling facilities where pins are still set by hand. Many of these smaller centers are privatelyowned and not well known. “I find the places where you set the pins on pegs with the pedals or directly on the lanes fascinating,” he said. As an educator, Kevin Hong always wants to keep learning, and thanks to his Vintage Alleys Project, he likely never will stop. “It’s a fun way to combine things that I really love doing,” he said. “I love to travel. I love keeping up on the history of bowling. I love historical things and I love photography. “wondered when I left the newspaper business if I’d never photograph again. Now I have the freedom to create my own projects and pursue the things I’m passionate about. And there’s an audience for it. The people who have followed me online really seem to like it and have the same passion. I couldn’t ask for anything else.” ❖
Mark Miller is a freelance writer, editor, and public relations specialist from Flower Mound, TX. He's the author of Bowling: America's Greatest Indoor Pastime available at Amazon.com or directly from him at email@example.com.
– g n i l w o db n a — d s l e i r u W t n t e a v Ad abound By Paul Lane
ocated just four miles east of Reno, NV, you’ll find the city of Sparks. Founded in 1904, the 24-square-mile city has a population of just over 90,000. A small city perhaps but large enough to support the Wild Island Adventure Park, which is accurately described on their website as, “The biggest little locally owned and operated family entertainment complex in the West.” Wild Island opened as a waterpark in June, 1989. But that was just the beginning. Wild Island grew steadily
over the years, adding myriad new attractions. Today, in addition to the waterpark, Wild Island lists a wide variety of attractions, including Coconut Bowl, featuring 40 lanes of bowling. There are two 16-lane sections and two 4lane sections known as garages for private parties. With XD Adventure theater; High Ballocity, an interactive, three-level play structure; Pirates Cove indoor black-light mini-golf; challenging laser mazes; nine APA
Craig Buster, general manager of Wild Island Adventure Park.
approved pool tables; Water Dogs Sports Bar and Grill with two bars and probably more large screen TVs than you can count; this is a wild place. Coming in late 2018 are a new outdoor mini golf complex, an arcade and redemption center, and a new electric Glow Kart track. General manager Craig Buster has over 25 years of experience at Wild Island and also oversees a 24-lane bowling center in Idaho Falls, ID, named Bowlero. His enthusiasm and energy infuse Wild Island with a warm vibe. “Coconut Bowl was added in 2003 with 16 lanes,” said Craig. “We added 16 more lanes, plus two 4-lane private garages in 2007. We have added something new at least every two to three years, which is the way to keep it exciting. We upgraded to QubicaAMF’s Conqueror Pro scoring in 2007 and plan to update it again in 2018 to QubicaAMF’s BES X customer entertainment system. In 2018, we will be adding six more lanes, a 30-player laser tag arena, a black-light go-kart track, private party/meeting space, and an outdoor patio. We are also planning to swap out our pinspotters with QubicaAMF’s XLi Edge.” Craig describes these upgrades with an analogy to the movie industry. “If a movie theater always shows the same movie, for example, Casablanca, the business will slowly but surely die,” said Craig. “New and more reliable entertainment-driven technology is just one way to keep customers excited and coming back,” he added. With Wild Island being such a smorgasbord of offerings, the return rate for bowling could be a concern. Happily, Craig says, “We are not limited to bowling newcomers. We provide instruction at all levels, from the beginner to the advanced bowler, from the league to the recreational/party bowlers. We have two resident professionals and both are silver level qualified instructors: Todd Thompson, a former touring PBA member; and Pam Buckner, a former touring LPBA member and USBC Hall of Famer. We have volunteer instructors for our youth programs, and, on occasion, we recruit the help of our proshop operator.” While Wild Island and Coconut Bowl are essentially all about family entertainment, bowling leagues and sport bowling have remained a priority. “We may be an FEC, but that does not mean we overlook the demand for league bowling. There is a demand [for 28
league bowling] and we have to make sure that we reach out to that market segment. No one will bowl in a league without being asked. Offering league bowling is not just a service, it’s an activity we aggressively promote,” he added. “Leagues are very important to us, and we intend to continue promoting league play at all levels.” Coconut Bowl has seating for 50 people in its snack bar, but food and beverage service extends to anywhere and everywhere throughout the facility, including the lanes, concourse, arcade, bars, and the two 4-lane private garages. Food can also be ordered from mobile kiosks. The two garages are ideal venues for private parties, corporate team building events, birthday and anniversary parties and receptions. The garages can be opened up and combined to accommodate larger groups. Regardless of the attraction, group bookings are developed mostly through social media, digital billboards and some local TV and outside sales calls. “Our marketing efforts are managed by three agencies,” said Craig, “each with a different focus: one for design and graphics; another for media buying; and yet another for social media.” With so many attractions available, there has to be some guest favorites. “The most popular venue is the High Ballocity play structure which accommodates 300 kids,” said Craig. “Parents love this three-level play structure as the kids have fun letting off steam and tiring themselves
out at the same time. And the highest revenue producer is bowling,” said Craig, “which represents about 30% of total revenue.” Presently the arcade at Wild Island has been temporarily relocated within the complex while construction is underway for a new and substantially expanded arcade and redemption center which is slated for completion in late 2018. The new arcade will include a mix of 70% redemption games, 15% merchandizing, and 15% video game machines. When Wild Island opened their first arcade, they owned their own machines. Then they switched to having route vendors install machines on a revenue sharing basis. But this is about to change. “For the new arcade, we will no longer use a route vendor. Instead, we will invest in our own machines,” said Craig. “This will enable us to maximize on arcade revenues,” he added. “In years past, arcades were not as popular as they are today. Now they are a major revenue producer.” As you would expect, swipe card technology is used throughout Coconut Bowl and the arcade. “In the long term we plan to work the system into QubicaAMF’s POS program and tie in all the food and beverage services once we have installed their BES X Pro system,” said Craig. “Eventually, we will extend the technology to all the amenities and attractions throughout the game park.” “An even longer term goal is to eliminate the reception desk at Coconut Bowl and have customer service employees armed with a tablet meet and greet customers as they enter,” added Craig. The hosts will introduce themselves and ask if customers would like to bowl, dine, use the arcade, etc., and offer to book a lane for them. “We are currently using SACOA as the swipe card tech provider for game cards,” said Craig. “We found SACOA to be the company most able to customize their system to meet our needs,” he added. The success of Wild Island Adventure Park and Coconut Bowl can be attributed to its employees, and that’s a byproduct of an outstanding employee culture. “We have an extremely positive employee culture,” Craig tells us, “especially with the development of 15- to 20-year-olds.” Wild Island 30
Family Adventure Park has continually grown since it opened in 1989 and today employs over 400 people each season. Coconut Bowl and indoor attractions are open 363 days a year, while the waterpark is open for 100 days a year. With eight departments throughout the complex, including Coconut Bowl, food and beverage staff, cashiers, lifeguards, slide operators, outdoor mini-golf and raceways, the need for seasonal hires is extensive. “We promote that ‘no experience is necessary’ when hiring youngsters (15 – 20 year olds) in the summer,” said Craig. “We determine their interests and potential and train them for the job we feel is the best fit for them. We pay very well and also offer a number of value- added incentives. For example, we give away approximately 30 scholarships a year to exemplary employees to help defray the cost of college and/or trade school. In fact, many of our young employees work with us through college.” Craig also periodically heads out from his office with $200 in his pocket, and when he observes an employee doing something special, he’ll walk over to them and say, “Nice work, here’s $10 or $20,” which he hands out on the spot. Other employee incentives include a bonus and raffle program. Throughout the season, employees can earn bonuses towards dinners, movie tickets and passes to other facilities. Prizes in employee raffles run the gamut from snowboards to airline tickets to laptop computers. According to Craig, there are three main rules that apply to all employees. The first is safety. This is the top priority throughout the facility. Guests of
WILD ISLAND & COCONUT BOWL Industry Partners Bowling Equipment by QubicaAMF Lighting & Sound by 777 Satellite Star (Reno NV) Additional Lighting by Classic Products Swipe Card System by SACOA Top Five Redemption Games 4 Wizard of Oz 4 Ticket Time 4 DC Heroes 4 Big Bass Wheel 4 Baseball Pro BPAA Smart Buy Member
all ages come to the facility to have a good time, and the staff does everything possible to protect them. The second is customer service. Craig believes that dynamite customer service is the cornerstone that will always drive the business. And last, cleanliness in both personal hygiene and the workplace. “We take a very conservative view and provide uniforms for all of our employees,” said Craig. “It’s important that all of our employees are readily identifiable to our customers.” For general staff, tee shirts and name badges are the order of the day. Supervisors wear shirts with collars, and so do managers (although in a different color). Shorts or blue jeans are acceptable, but not ripped or torn. And no crazy or wild hair dos. As the leader of this large team, Craig always wears the Wild Island uniform. There are eight departments within the complex, each of which has between one to three managers. “Our managers are encouraged to run their department as if it’s their own business and are spending their own money. How else can they know how well they are doing or control their expenses if we do not share the monthly P & L statements with them?” The managers hold inter-departmental weekly meetings with their supervisors and employees. Craig believes that transparency and
communication go a long way to empower the staff and have happy employees. Given the proximity of Wild Island to Reno, a city that’s driven by tourists, one would have the impression that visitors would make up the lion’s share of the business. But that’s not the case. Craig estimates the mix to be more like 80% locals (from within a catchment area of 90 miles), compared to 20% visitors. That’s a testament to the fine reputation Wild Island has deservedly earned in the marketplace, and their marketing. Craig is also a big believer in the BPAA. “The BPAA is important as it brings the family together in what is a cottage industry,” said Craig. Coconut Bowl is not only a member of the BPAA and its Smart Buy program, Craig also puts something back as he’s currently serving on the
BPAA education and FEC committees, and he’s the secretary for the Northern California/Nevada BPAA and an IAAPA member since 1993. While Craig Buster gives full credit to the management team and staff that support the various attractions at Wild Island and Coconut Bowl, there’s little doubt that he’s the catalyst and driving force behind its success. It’s hard to ignore his enthusiasm, which is an energy source in its own right. ❖
Paul Lane is former Director of Marketing and Marketing Services for AMF Bowling, Inc. He has been the director of 18 AMF World Cups, an officer in national and international trade associations, and a pro bowler during a career that spans more than 60 countries and 50 years.
According to George he late, great management thinker, W. Edwards Deming, said “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” There is no business where those words should resonate more than in the world of bowling and BECs. We think about this all the time and for good reason: it is how you thrive, much less survive, while operating an out-ofhome entertainment business. This edition of IBI and Beyond Bowling features several examples of change in action. The cover story on Wild Island and Coconut Bowl and our Beyond Bowling feature story on Jamie Brooks and Butch Warren’s remodel of JB’s Allen Bowl is another. My interview of Holly Hampton, the BayTek games executive and first woman president of the American Amusement Machine Association (AAMA) continues this theme. Howard McAuliffe joins us this month, having penned the Amusement Expo preview article. Amusement Expo is the trade show produced by AAMA and AMOA and co-located with the laser tag convention and the bulk vending show in Las Vegas February 28 through March 2. In recent years, AAMA has gone beyond a manufacturer’s association and is focused on changing
their role in the industry to be more relevant to the growing FEC sector, of which bowling entertainment is a big part. In my FEC-operating days we used to conduct change audits a couple of times a year, certainly during our budgeting process. We’d get our management teams together and explore ways to keep that fixed, local audience coming back. New games and attractions are part of that for sure but there are other ways, like staging events and promotions, or even simply rearranging the furniture to keep your guests engaged. We hope you’ll find some tools to help you in this edition. Enjoy!
George McAuliffe Principal, Pinnacle Entertainment Group
TRADE SHOW PREVIEW
Beautiful Synergy Amusement Expo is the place where FECs come to see the possibilities. By Howard McAuliffe
musement Expo, the spring gathering of the amusement industry, will be a transformed show which is far more exciting, cutting edge, and broadly focused than in years past. This show is put on by the American Amusement Machine Association (AAMA), the Amusement and Music Operators Association (AMOA), the Laser Tag Convention, and the National Bulk Vendors Association (NBVA.) These are groups traditional bowling centers have significant exposure to as businesses that provide games, bulk vending racks, and juke boxes in traditional bowling centers. However, much like the bowling business, the amusement industry is expanding their entertainment offering, including in some cases the addition of bowling. The bowling industry and the amusement industry have begun to blend together into some of the most exciting, fastest growing, and profitable forms of out-of-home entertainment.
A FEW EXTRA DOLLARS VS A POWERFUL ATTRACTION There are two typical business models in the amusement industry: 1.Put machines in the path of human traffic and try to get an additional spend out of those customers.
EDUCATION IS A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
2.Create an amusement attraction that draws customers to a location.
Modern society moves fast, and consumers demand new experiences. Learning how to meet this demand is essential to staying relevant in the increasingly competitive out-of-home
There is a place for both models in the market. However, 36
there is a very different mindset in terms of level of investment in both time and dollars. Putting together a typical traditional bowling center game room may cost $50,000, while a modern redemption game room in a BEC may cost closer to $500,000. Interestingly, these two models also parallel in many ways the bowling center business. In the past, bowling was the only attraction needed â€” leagues and serious bowlers came to the center to bowl. If they played a few games, ate at the snack bar, threw a few dollars in the juke box, that was gravy. Bowling was far and away the attraction to get customers in the door and finding a local operator to provide the games, juke box, and bulk vending was a good way to earn a few extra dollars. However, in most centers today, bowling is not the only attraction â€” leagues are a diminishing portion of the revenue and casual bowlers, while they love bowling, want more than just bowling for their entertainment dollar. Fortunately for progressive bowling proprietors and operators, the new FEC model improves the casual bowling experience. This includes modernizing the bowling elements, adding an arcade and other attractions, as well as upgrading food and beverage. Bowling has been a primary driver of the expansion of this new hybrid model. Amusement Expo, particularly the education sessions, will be a good place to learn about the array of entertainment options in the market, as well as a place for vendors to meet new bowling operators from outside the traditional bowling industry.
TRADE SHOW PREVIEW entertainment industry. Amusement Expo expanded the education sessions to focus on a broader array of topics, including general business development, operations, virtual reality, BECs, in addition to typical FEC and street operator-focused sessions. “We’ve transformed the entire program going from 12 sessions on two tracks last year to 25 sessions on five tracks this year. With so much relevant and compelling content, my one recommendation to attendees is to bring along additional team members,” said Pete Gustafson, executive vice president of AAMA. The education program is on the Tuesday before the show opens, which allows attendees to focus on education before hitting the show floor on Wednesday and Thursday. One key aspect of the entertainment business is introducing change over time. The educational sessions at Amusement Expo are great places to learn about new attractions, operational and promotional ideas, and most importantly, networking. There will be two sessions focused on bowling and amusements, “Adding Bowling to Traditional FECs: The Opportunity, Economics, and Challenges,” and, “The Bowling Transformation: Bowling, Amusements, and YOU!” The first session focuses on traditional FECs interested in adding bowling, and the second is more focused on traditional bowling centers adding entertainment Pete Gustafson and working with operators.
VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY This year, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are some of the hottest new attractions in global consumer electronics, as well as the amusement industry. Amusement Expo is a great place to learn more about this exciting sub-industry. VR and AR have been in existence for decades. There have been various attempts to bring VR to market and most have failed. However, in the last few years major corporations, like Google, Microsoft, and HTC, have been investing billions of dollars in this technology for the consumer market. There have also been several models for the out-of-home entertainment industry. Until this year, the systems for out-of-home entertainment have either been homemade versions based on retail systems or very high tech systems that are prohibitively expensive for most facilities, often $300,000 or more. This year we are starting to see reasonably priced virtual reality options in the $50,0000 to $100,000 range which can be a profitable model. Some of these models will be available to see and play at the show, including the Halogate system from Creative Works. This year is the first year there will be a VR pavilion available for any vendor interested in displaying virtual reality products or systems. For both FECs and BECs, combining these two formerly separate 38
industries is beautiful synergy which is fueling the growth in both industries. Amusement Expo in Las Vegas is a great place to learn about the entertainment options available in the market. ❖
VIRTUAL REALITY EDUCATIONAL SESSIONS Tuesday, February 27, 9:15 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. Introduction: Virtual Reality - History and Trends of Consumer and *LBE VR Room: The Westgate Hotel, Pavilion 4
Tuesday, February 27, 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. SWOT Analysis for the LBE Market Room: The Westgate Hotel, Pavilion 4
Tuesday, February 27, 12:45 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Moderated Panel: Marketing and Positioning your VR Attraction for Maximum Reach and ROI Room: The Westgate Hotel, Pavilion 4
Tuesday, February 27, 1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. Moderated Panel: Why and How VR Attractions Require a Different Operations Mindset Room: The Westgate Hotel, Pavilion 4
Tuesday February 27, 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. How to Select the Right Content and Equipment for your Audience Room: The Westgate Hotel, Pavilion 4
Tuesday, February 27, 4:15 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. Thinking Outside the Box Room: The Westgate Hotel, Pavilion 4 * Location Based Entertainment. Howard McAuliffe is vice president of Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Pinnacle Entertainment Group has conceived, developed, and operated family entertainment businesses in every size and budget, and integrated in to many other business as both corporate executives and entrepreneurs. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pin Strikes: Where Every Guest is Honored The Patel brothers’ passion for customer service has grown their FEC business.
By Robert Sax
o Indian-American entrepreneur Bob Patel, great customer service is more than a smart business practice; it’s a way of life. Hospitality and the welcoming of guests is an integral part of Indian culture, based upon the ancient Hindu scriptural verse, ‘Atithidevo Bhava,’ or translated, ‘be one for whom the guest is equivalent to God.’ “In our culture we always welcome any guest; it doesn’t matter what race, color or religion,” says Patel. “This is what we tell our team.” Family entertainment centers were not the first of the Patels’ business enterprises. Bob and his brother Bill came to America from India in 1986 and bought an independent hotel in Georgia. By 2002, the Patels had parlayed that hotel into a thriving portfolio of franchised hostelries and started a construction company that has built more
than 25 hotels and commercial buildings in the Southeast. Then a guest Bob remembers only as “Mike” introduced him to 10-pin bowling. Mike was the general manager of a bowling entertainment center being built near the hotel, and he showed Patel around the place. Patel was attracted to bowling as a form of entertainment and a potential business opportunity. He thought “Okay, what the heck, think about it,” not knowing that bowling would eventually become another part of his family’s growing business empire. Bob and Bill took a couple of years The Patel brothers. to do their due diligence on the bowling and family entertainment business. They attended Bowl Expo, took courses offered by the BPAA, and visited as many bowling centers as they could. They saw that the traditional bowling centers were struggling to survive
FEATURE as league play declined. The proprietors didn’t seem to know how to attract and serve customers who weren’t regular bowlers. “When we visited, we noticed that most of the bowling alleys had no customer service aspect or quality control,” says Bob. “We learned from our hospitality business that customer service is the key to success. No matter what, [in] any situation, we are to keep the customers happy.” Meanwhile the nascent FECs, which appealed to a broader audience, were busier than the old-fashioned alleys. “The one thing about an FEC is you’re not targeting only one area or one type of customer,” says Bob. “You are targeting kids to seniors.
More customers, more growth.” With their construction background, the Patels decided to build their first FEC from the ground up, selecting a location in Stockbridge, GA, that was close to their residences. They consulted Brunswick on the bowling elements, working first with Kurt Harz, vice president of sales for Brunswick Capital Group and then with team member Eric Lindfors. “Brunswick helped us design the building and [advised] us on whether this layout would be better or that layout would better,” recalls Bob. “They’re very good, smart guys,” says Lindfors of the Patels. “They [have] very friendly and gregarious personalities. The reason for their success is they are genuine numbers guys but they also understand that you have to spend some money to be successful as well.”
The Patels came into the bowling business as it was entering a period of change. For decades bowling centers had been run primarily as family businesses that were passed on from generation to generation. But in the late 1990s, Kurt Harz noticed an influx of people coming from different industries and bringing a solid business background with them. “The Patels had great business discipline coming from the hotel industry and a good understanding of operations and what it is like to market to a consumer,” recalls Harz. “Bob was really at the forefront of that emerging business
FEATURE model back then; the bowling entertainment centers. He was one of the early adopters of that business model.” As hotel owners, the Patels knew the importance of good food and beverage. They sensed that casual bowling customers would want more than the typical snack bar menu of hot dogs, pizza, sodas and popcorn. “Ours would have more variety,” says Bob. “We started out with a full-service restaurant with a full bar.” Mike Auger of Trifecta Management consulted with the Patels on their food and beverage operation. “Bob was adamant about quality control. He wanted a compelling food product so that people would want to eat something while they were there,” says Auger. “Our goal was to create a more dynamic menu than you would see at a traditional bowling center.” It’s common practice now, but it wasn’t then. Bob wanted his customers to be able to dine as part of the bowling experience or just hang out and have a drink, so he allocated significant square footage to the bar areas. That was unusual at the time, when other proprietors might expand their food and beverage operation by simply adding laneside service. “They just changed their service style,” says Auger, “Bob came in and wanted to have a bar separate from the rest of the concourse that creates its own environment.” With Bill running the back office, Bob as the face of the business, and an experienced manager on the team, they opened their first Pin Strikes in 2007. It had 28 lanes of bowling, laser tag, bumper cars and an arcade. To their surprise, business was so good that the parking lot was full and the wait time for bowling was three hours. “We were not expecting it to be that busy,” says Bob. “We learned from day one a lot of things.” Bob also wasn’t shy about getting involved in industry networking and professional development. When Kurt Harz and Chris Albano of Stars and Strikes launched a forum of Brunswick customers who operated the newstyled FECs, Bob was one of the first to join. “Bob really was one of the charter members of the group and really helped drive its growth,” says Harz. The Brunswick group meets twice a year to discuss best practices and help each other out, and is composed of more than 20 operators from around the country. The annual F2FEC conference is another industry forum that the Patels
participate in to keep up on trends and make new connections. “We’ve been there for three years,” says Bob. Once their original Pin Strikes was established, the Patels decided to add a second center in Georgia. They had planned to open in 2008, but the downturn of the economy and the subsequent retreat of their bank from lending put an end to the deal. They persisted, found a new lender and in
2010 opened their second location in a converted Home Depot store in Chattanooga, TN. In 2016 they added a third location in Macon, GA. The Patels say that business is good at all three Pin Strikes. While there are no immediate plans to add additional locations, Bob says they will consider it “if the right opportunity comes.” Given their passion for hospitality and talent for finding locations where there is consumer demand, it’s clear that the Patels will be spreading their brand of family fun and hospitality to more and more people in the years to come. ❖
Robert Sax is a writer and PR consultant in Los Angeles. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, the home of five-pin bowling.
Innovating President A few minutes with Holly Hampton, Director of Innovation at Bay Tek Games and President of the American Amusement Machine Association (AAMA).
By George McAuliffe Holly Hampton has long been a familiar face in the Bay Tek booth and recognized as an industry leader. Most recently her leadership was tapped by AAMA when she became that organization’s president in October. We can celebrate this long overdue, industry-first female president of the organization. We recently spoke with Holly exploring her views on the business and her role in leading it. 1. How did you get your start in the business? I started as a summer intern at Bay Tek. Although I was a good student in high school, I didn’t go right to college. I didn’t really like school and there were no college graduates in my family to model. So I joined the Army Reserve. I loved it. It brought strong values and structure. I also took a job working for my father at a paper mill. That work confirmed my respect and love for factory workers but also inspired me to go to college. After switching majors from education to business, I was fortunate to land an internship at Bay Tek. After two summers at Bay Tek and armed with a marketing degree and diploma, I was offered a full time position. That was seventeen years ago. 46
2. What’s kept you in the business through the years? There is something innately special about the Bay Tek culture and family of workers. It hadn’t really hit me until recently that we take for granted the true reason: we get to create special things, with an end product being joy. At Bay Tek we are designing, building and delivering happiness to our customers around the globe. That’s pretty special, and it means more to me as the years go by.
3. Tell us about your company. Bay Tek is truly a special place. Larry Treankler and his family are committed to their employees as family — that is Holly Hampton our culture. We extend that care to our employees’ families, our customers, distributors and their customers. For years the company has shared 10% of its profits with community organizations as well as 10% of profits with, all employees equally. That’s amounted to millions and millions of dollars dedicated to improving people’s lives. Like in any family we may have occasional tough conversations, conflicting ideas and passions, but it always comes from a foundation of love. The Treanklers have laid the foundation for the Bay Tek team it is about more than making a living, and we believe that results in quality products.
INTERESTING INTERVIEW 4. When I think about Bay Tek products, words like quality and excellence jump to mind. How do you deliver that so consistently? I really do think it comes back to those fundamental values, it takes every single employee on our team to deliver that. Once that gets internalized, and painting that picture of how our customers rely on us, all of us are working from the same script and committed to doing it right. It’s also being committed to innovation, listening to customers, constantly trying to understand the market and develop products that matter.
5. Let’s talk about your AAMA role. You’ve been part of the team leading that organization for years now, on the steering committee and board of directors. How is being president different? It’s a little bit different. I may have underestimated the responsibility that comes with the president’s role. That came home to me this week during planning and budget meetings. The honeymoon stage is over. Now we need to ensure the organization continues to move onward and upward.
6. What do you hope to accomplish/contribute? We’re designed as humans to be creatures of habit. I want to challenge our staff, our board, committees and members to embrace change. The old definition of insanity is true: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. In today’s world people don’t think that way. We’ll be encouraging open thinking and change. We started our FEC initiative three years ago to promote AAMA as a home for FEC members. To be that home for FECs, we need to continue to strengthen our programs for them and we will continue to do that. Above all, we want AAMA to be relevant going forward. We have a responsibility for the greater good of our membership and that requires continuous improvement. Change is hard but it’s good.
7. We are in something of a golden age as an industry. Why do you think that is? I think we’re benefitting from a bit of a backlash. Our society is immersed in a digital movement. Everybody is connected. Wifi is everywhere. On the Today Show they said the average age an American kid gets a cellphone is 10. So there’s been this huge digital growth, which is great, but there are downfalls to too much screen time. I think people are looking for alternatives, especially those that allow them to
connect socially. Our industry provides those venues and social experiences.
8. Can you boil it down to the top three factors for your success? I’d say first is heart and passion. When you care about what you’re doing that provides drive. Life’s too short to go to work if you don’t have passion. Second is honesty and ethics. People want to do business with trustworthy people who do what they say they will do. Third, don’t take yourself too seriously. We all will mess up. Having grace through that, having fun and enjoying the people you work with.
9. Your vision for the next five years? It’s kind of hard to see more consolidation at the manufacturer, distributor and operator level but that may continue to happen. I’m curious to see what distribution looks like in the next five years. I think there’s a good chance we’ll hit location saturation in that time frame. If we do we’ll then need to continue to supply products and services to stay relevant to the patrons playing our games.
10. Any other wisdom you care to share with our readers? I’d just reiterate one thing: let’s not take for granted the business that we’re in. We all have a relationship with our industry. Relationships can be easy to take for granted. The joy we deliver and even the challenges we face around that makes it special to be part of that. ❖ So true! Thanks, Holly and thanks for your service to our industry.
George McAuliffe has operated family entertainment centers from 2,000 to 150,000 square feet as a corporate executive and entrepreneur. As a consultant he has helped hundreds of clients add or improve redemption game rooms and FEC attractions. He is currently the principal of Pinnacle Entertainment Group whose clients include Embed, Redemption Plus and Shaffer Distributing Company. He writes for RePlay and International Bowling Industry magazines and speaks at FEC industry conferences. IBI
The Shaffer Distributing Company, family owned since 1929, represents virtually every manufacturer of video and redemption games in the amusement game industry. Shaffer is the one-stop family entertainment center distributor providing unparalleled consultation, game room design, logistical support, unmatched installation, training and follow up, and parts and service support. Building strong relationships, mutual trust, and carefully listening to the needs of its customers are essential to the core values of Shaffer. There are full-service offices in Columbus, OH, Cleveland, OH, Detroit, MI, Indianapolis, MN, and St. Louis, MO, serving the continental U.S., Hawaii, and Canada. Please contact George Speakman or Bill Kraft at (800) 282-0194.
Growing your business is important to your success, but developing programs and marketing material to help you attract new customers or re-engage existing ones takes longer than expected or more time than you have. Until now! QubicaAMF’s QuickStart Programs were designed for the busy proprietor or manager who needs to execute new programs without spending months developing the concept or creating marketing material to make it successful. Our programs have been researched, tested, and are professionally designed to give great results…quickly! Learn more at QubicaAMF.com.
Epicenter™ from Brunswick Bowling inspires more people to visit, stay longer, and spend more by bringing authentic bowling—not mini-bowling or an arcadelike version—to spaces that can’t accommodate traditional lanes. Epicenter’s reduced-length lanes and StringPin pinsetter make it all possible. Keep guests
engaged longer and encourage more food and beverage spending by offering a game that uses full-size balls and pins for an authentic game everyone can enjoy. For more information: www.brunswickbowling.com/build-a-center/epicenter.
REDEMPTION PRODUCT TURNOVER
Redemption Plus’ Kit of the Month program is just like any other subscription box program. You sign up and receive your new, high-quality plus kit at the start of the month, automatically. It’s hassle-free. Without a Kit of the Month, you risk having stale product in your cranes for months at a time. This discourages guests, especially repeat guests, from playing your crane games, which hurts your profitability. You don’t pay for the items until they ship, and you can cancel at any time. Stop by Amusement Expo booth #743, or visit redemptionplus.com to learn more.
PRODUCTS FOR THE OLDER CROWD
Adult players are increasingly defining amusement play at bowling centers nationally, and BMI Merchandise has a wide range of product for this important bowling customer. Centers catering to the Gen Z crowd, defined as those ages 18-22, are featuring items such as BMI’s 4-piece stemless wine glass set. BMI’s product range is the sweet spot for centers seeking a wider player range, especially centers that serve adult beverages, feature live music, and are located in a more urban area. Other winning prizes at the nation’s most successful centers include the Giant Masks and Sega Classic Game Console. For a complete look at the most extensive range of prizes that players of all ages want to win, go to bmimerchandise.com or call (800) 272-6375.
It’s the Butch and Jamie Show Butch Warren and Jamie Brooks team up for success in Texas. By Jim Goodwin
n 2017, industry veteran and Hall of Fame proprietor Jamie Brooks acquired the 44th bowling center in his long career in the bowling business. His partner in this venture is Marshall ‘Butch’ Warren, the oldest son of the locally famous Warren bowling family. The city of Allen is a thriving community just north of Dallas. Allen Bowl, re-named J.B.’s Allen Bowl, is on the same street as Brooks’ Plano Super Bowl, located just three miles south. Allen, population 84,246, made national news a few years back for spending $60 million on their new high school football stadium. Imagine if high school bowling got that level of attention. For Brooks, it is another chapter in a storied bowling business career that has spanned seven decades. Now 83, Brooks first entered the business when his father helped him buy a small center in Houston in 1955. For Warren, at age 64, it is his first venture into the business, but certainly not his first contact with bowling. Bowling has been a big part of family life for Butch, his mom Mary, and his nine siblings for as long as he can remember. Five of his six brothers are accomplished bowlers, the most well known being his brother Chris, a six-time PBA Tour champion with 50 regional titles. Chris now lives in Grants Pass, OR. “We really saved a failing bowling center when we bought Allen Bowl,” said Brooks, “and Butch Warren is the perfect partner. He is financially secure and probably the happiest person I have ever met. The bowling business is lucky to have a guy like him. He is just a joy to be around. He is in love with his wife and family, and
he loves bowling. He is always upbeat and optimistic. I have had a lot of partners over the years, but he may be the best one ever.” “I am blessed to have Jamie as a partner,” said Warren. “Who better to learn from than someone who has spent a lifetime in the business? He is honest and straightforward, he treats staff like family, and he has a big heart and love for people
Proprietors Butch Warren and Jamie Brooks.
FEATURE and bowling. I am ecstatic that I have this opportunity. In all my investments, I look for people who are experts at what they do, and Jamie is the best in bowling.” For the bowlers of Allen, it has been revitalizing. After spending more than $3 million re-modeling their Plano center, where Brooks and Warren have several partners, the duo turned their attention to making significant improvements in Allen. They added much-needed air conditioning, new synthetic lanes and approaches, repairs to pinsetters, new house balls and shoes, an all new restaurant menu, and many cosmetic upgrades. Much more is planned in the future. Keeping it all in the family, the general manager of the center is C.J. Johnson, a former PBA Rookie of the Year trained in the business by Brooks. Johnson’s wife Stefanie was the 2016 Professional Women’s Bowling Association Rookie of the Year. When not on tour, she works as the marketing director at Plano Super Bowl.
Warren’s background is diverse While Brooks was making his mark in the bowling business, Warren was carving out a very successful career in the oil and gas industry, real estate, and other ventures. Aside from bowling, his current investments include warehouses, a golf course, and an auto dealer financing company that loans dealers cash for car inventories. When in college studying computer science, Warren got a job with Sun Oil company, and after a couple of years, he became so good at solving the company computer problems, they convinced him to work full time for more salary than most college graduates at the time. “I was certainly in the right place at the right time,” said Warren. “The CEO of Sun took me under his wing and told me that I could continue to go to school, but I really would not learn anything that I couldn’t learn working for them full time, so I took his advice. It worked out very well for me.” Warren’s wife Karen was also employed by Sun. After several years, Sun was bought out by Kerr McGee, and they wanted Warren to re-locate from Dallas to Houston. Instead he and Karen took retirement packages, and it gave them enough money to live on for several years. “We figured we were in good shape for at least three years,” he said.
Warren brothers: L to R Mike, Butch, Andy, Ted and Chris.
But then something wonderful happened. Warren discovered that his skills were in demand at many companies, so he became a consultant. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I made enough money in the first couple of months after leaving Sun to add a couple more years to our retirement cushion.” That financial comfort led him to start a company called Nisei, specializing in selling oil and gas properties. Again, he found huge success, which led to another venture with a couple of partners in a company called BASA (Buy and Sell Anything) Resources. Together, they grew that company from 12 employees to 175 in a few years. By 2012, the couple were wanting to travel, so at 59, Warren retired again, taking a buyout from BASA, this time for good and with enough money for life and enough to share with several members of his large family when needed. He and Karen do not have kids of their own, but there are plenty of nieces and nephews to go around. One thing he was able to do was help his mom, who raised 10 children on her own after his dad passed away in 1973.
Circling the Globe and Exploring Heritage “We have been pretty much everywhere we ever wanted to go,” said Warren. “Two of our favorite places are Italy, because it is so beautiful and the people are so friendly, and Japan, because of our family heritage.” They have been to Italy several times, and in 2012 they took Mary Warren to Japan to visit the town where she went to high school. “To truly appreciate a country, you have to get to the small towns,” said Warren. “The big cities like Rome, London and Tokyo are exciting, but you don’t pick up the culture until you go to the smaller places. Hiroshima was especially interesting. It is very modern because it was re-built after the war, and the Peace Park there is very moving. We got the same feeling as we did when we went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.” Warren’s mom Mary was born in Washington state, but educated in Japan. It was tradition then for Japanese-American families to send their children to school in Japan. Mary went to Japan at age five for school. IBI
While there, the war broke out, and she could not return home, nor could anyone go pick her up because almost all of her family had been placed in the infamous internment camps that were built
after the Pearl Harbor attack in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Mary finished high school in Japan, and became an interpreter for the U.S. government and a hospital volunteer during the occupation following the war. It was in one of the hospitals that she met Marshall Warren. He was in the Air Force and had been injured in a vehicle accident. They fell in love and were married in Japan in 1948. Shortly after, they returned to the United States to begin a new life. “My mom and dad did not talk much about the war,” said Warren. “It was just part of the culture that you didn’t say anything that might be considered disrespectful.” American servicemen with Japanese brides were not uncommon after the war, and many, like the Warren family, overcame the hardships to become happy, productive citizens. Mary Warren always told her children that anything was possible, and the good life being lived by
Plano Super Bowl Update Brooks is now 83, his $2 million makeover of Plano Super Bowl turned into $3.2 million, but the end result is it looks and feels like a brand new center, inside and outside. None of the league bowlers have been lost, all of the staff members are excited about the changes, and the now 47-lane center has the potential to compete on the same level with FECs in the area as a hybrid. A more appropriate term for Plano Super Bowl might be BEC because sport and league bowling is still the foundation of the business, yet they will compete aggressively for birthday and corporate party business to significantly increase a revenue base that was almost max under the old traditional model. Changes to Plano Super Bowl include an all-new, seven lane private lounge for corporate parties, party rooms for smaller groups, a new bar, an all new redemption game center, a new restaurant and bar serving specialty beers and drinks, a new customer service center and marketing office, and a complete facelift of the outside walls and parking lot. Not to mention all new furniture, masking units, carpet, and all of the normal improvements for league and tournament bowlers and casual customers. “Even at my age, I am smart enough to know that you have to change to survive,” said Brooks.
The Learning Curve Brooks was also smart enough to know that a major overhaul like this one would not produce instant results, and admits that 56
the income for 2016-2017 was not quite up to par with 2015, but the last couple of months have been way up over the prior year. “I’ve told our partners that it will take a while to get where we want to be, and we expect 2018 to be the first year where we show big gains,” said Brooks. The reasons for the small drop in revenue were predictable. The construction took longer than planned, the staff had to be trained in new areas, and it simply takes a while to get a new groove going that works for the new model. Brooks shared that when they completely changed their restaurant menu to all fresh ingredients, they discovered that almost everything had to be eaten with a knife and fork, which doesn’t really work for league and tournament bowlers. They also had to practice making the food to get it right every time. “It was a silly mistake that we quickly corrected,” he said. “We went back and added a short menu of nine or ten things that have always been
FEATURE Warren and his siblings today proved her right. “My mom is a very special person,” said Warren. “She treated everybody with respect. She is 91 now.” While raising the kids in Dallas, she got them into bowling leagues and encouraged them to bowl in tournaments. They won dozens of them on every level. Even Mary herself won seven or eight weekend handicap events according to Warren. “Her secret weapon was that she was just nice to people while she was beating them on the lanes.” Warren, like most of his brothers, is also an accomplished bowler, even after taking 20 years off to work on his career. Today he rolls in a couple of leagues and senior tournaments, averaging around 220. He also meets his brothers annually to compete in the JANBA Tournament in Los Angeles. (Japanese American National Bowling Association) In 2017, the Chris Warren Pro Shop Team won their division and finished second overall in the popular event.
at least 10 more years,” said Warren. “We may add more centers if good deals can be made, but whatever happens, we will enjoy every day.”
What’s Ahead for Warren and Brooks? Before too long, J.B.’s Allen Bowl may be getting a facelift similar to their Plano project. And like many centers today, it is in the right kind of market to support the hybrid model with corporate parties and big recreational family business to compliment the leagues. “I hope Jamie and I can work together
popular, and that has worked very well.” Another big change is the use of social media to bring in new business. “I learned that Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla to get that business,” said Brooks, “so we hired a specialist, and it is starting to pay off.” Once all of the new programs are fine-tuned, Brooks believes that Plano Super Bowl has one big advantage over nearby competition – the personal touch. “We own the place, and we are personally involved every day, while [the competition] have more of a corporate outlook,” said Brooks. “We are in the building, we know our customers by name, and we treat them like family. There is a reason why Plano has one-third of all of the certified bowlers in the market, we give great customer service. We understand their needs because we are bowlers ourselves.” That in a nutshell, is a winning formula that all centers can learn, and the reason why Jamie Brooks has been one of the most successful proprietors in the history of bowling.
Brooks is going for the 100,000 Club In addition to being great at the bowling business, Jamie Brooks is great at the sport. “I’ve got 96,749 pins in the USBC Open Championships,” said Brooks. “I figured that I have to average 181 for the next couple years to break the 100,000 barrier. That is pretty special when you see that only 25 guys out of millions are ahead of me. I think if I put on my best Rick Minier impression and throw it straight on that flat condition for the next two years, I can get there.” Brooks, 83, still averages over 200 in his center’s leagues, so it certainly looks like he has a great chance to reach his goal.
Another project in the beginning stages is a program to teach bowling to underprivileged girls with the goal of making them good enough to apply for Title IX scholarships that are available at many colleges. “We just think this is an untapped market, and something really good that we can do for our community,” said Warren. “It won’t cost them a thing,” said Brooks, “but if we can build up that program at a steady pace for five years, we think many family members will come to watch, and we may even recruit some of them to bowl in our centers.” Whatever happens, the bowling business is fortunate to have people like Warren and Brooks who have a true passion for both the business and the sport. ❖
Jim Goodwin is the founder and president of the Bowling News Network and a former president and life member of the International Bowling Media Association.
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rchie is at it again! It’s hard to imagine his old pal Jughead not being enthused with his ‘perfect score,’ but, then again, he’s seen this action before. Archie’s escapades have been fruitful and many... and his bowling’s improving too. The old adage, ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,’ might be rearranged to ‘The way to a girl’s heart is through bowling.’ It has worked for Archie and countless other teens throughout the years. ❖ - Patty Heath 62
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