24 COVER STORY
• Get an oil change and go bowling! • Bowling in Newburg, ND, is a young man’s vision. • Keeping up with Round 1 • Go Bowling! Headed for China • Bits & Pieces: a little bit of everything
Diving Into Fun Dolfijn — the plays to be makes a big splash in the Netherlands By Paul Lane
THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
PUBLISHER & EDITOR Scott Frager firstname.lastname@example.org Skype: scottfrager
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BEYOND BOWLING 38 Do Not Try This At Home!
By Patty Heath
42 A Canadian Tradition Embraces Change… and Bowling
46 No Regrets: A Few
Minutes with Canadian Todd Britton
12 CONFERENCE PREVIEW
The Power of Imagination At the 2019 F2FEC conference, ‘Imagine’ is the next big idea.
By Robert Sax 24
It’s Getting Better All The Time Historic weekend kicks off PBA on FOX for 2019 By Mark Miller
16 FEATURE Welcome to the Bowling Family!
62 REMEMBER WHEN
Youth bowlers get hooked on bowling with Chuck Gardner’s Bowl4Life Foundation. By Mark Miller
1950s Recalling one of Archie’s Valentine’s Days By Patty Heath
Patty Heath Paul Lane George McAuliffe Howard McAuliffe Mark Miller Robert Sax
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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 $60 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, P.O. Box 7350 Overland Park, KS 66207 USA. If possible, please furnish address mailing label. Printed in U.S.A. Copyright 2018, B2B Media, Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.
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57 Classifieds 50
EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS
THERE IS NO STANDING STILL IN BOWLING If there is a secret in bowling, it is renovation, renovation, renovation. Proprietors know that there is no standing still in the business of bowling. Here are some examples: It once was Wallingford Bowl in Wallingford, CT. Then Colony Lanes moved in. Now it is spiffed up and operates under the name of Bowlero Wallingford Bowl. Visitors now see new flooring, pins, and scoring screens, along with a new arcade, lounge areas, TVs, tables and stools, and a full bar. Cullman Bowling Center in Cullman, AL, went through an extensive renovation. Colby Sandlin, whose family has owned the business since 1986, has added a full restaurant, a bar, and an arcade. The 24-lane center will also offer live music. Ryan’s Family Amusement in Raynham, MA, and the restaurant, Jockey Club, were both doing nicely. Since they share the same address, the businesses collectively decided to break down the wall that divided the restaurant from the bowling center. The new dining and entertainment experience have been a hit. Bowlers are now able to order drinks and food from the Jockey Club and have them delivered right to their lanes at Ryan’s. When Speedway Lanes in Bolivar, MO, closed, a lot of bowlers had to scatter. However, Jeremie and Tara Akins saw an opportunity in the 14-lane center. Bolivar Bowling Co., aka BoBoCo, is now open. Renovations include a private room for parties, and a new kitchen is in the planning stages.
NEW YORK’S LOWER EAST SIDE’S FIRST BOWLING CENTER The Gutter opened in Brooklyn in 2007. Now the Lower East Side (LES), a borough of Manhattan, is waiting for The Gutter to open its doors in the fourteen-story condoplex, Essex Crossing. The stylish, 12-lane center will occupy the basement, reportedly sporting a mid-America/mid-Century
basement feel with all-wood lanes, with the materials be sourced from a shuttered bowling center not as yet named. The plans call for a 100-foot circular bar and a full Italian restaurant, serving Neopolitan-style pizza and hosting live shows. Opening? Coming soon!
TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH ROUND 1 A little bit bowling; a little bit more arcade games. Round 1 Bowling and Entertainment, the Japanese games and entertainment giant, is opening another venue at the Gateway Mall in Lincoln, NE. It is the first Round 1 in Nebraska. This site will have 10 lanes of bowling and more than 200 games, ranging from the latest video games to pool to carnival-style games, and crane machines for kids. Did we mention two party/karaoke rooms and a full-service bar and big-screen TVs? Keeping up with a steady opening schedule, a new Round 1 has opened in the Jefferson Mall in Louisville, KY. This center is also bowling with a heavy emphasis on billiards, arcade games, karaoke, darts, Ping-Pong, and a kid’s zone and prize room.
A REINCARNATION OF SORTS What happens when a bowling center is sold to a car distributor? In Gouverneur, NY, Team Blevins Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep Ram dealer purchased Gouverneur Bowl. Taking a slightly different tack, Team Blevins retained four of the bowling lanes in their renovations. As quoted to Susan Mende of The Journal: “The cool thing is we’re leaving in four bowling lanes for customers to use when they’re getting work done,” Michael D. Blevins, GM and co-owner said. “If you’re there for an oil change and you feel like doing that, it’s available.” While the lanes are not open to the public, the dealership is considering some charity events.
PEOPLEWATCHING BRUNSWICK REALIGNS CENTER SUPPLIES & LANE CARE GROUP
Corey Dykstra, CEO of Brunswick Bowling, has announced the reorganization of the center supplies and lane care group. John Hill, sales and marketing manager, will lead strategy development and implementation of sales and marketing. Jean Marshall will manage parts, pins, house balls, rental shoes, and resurfacing products. David DiRito will continue as pinsetter parts market leader. Trey Brown, previously chemical project and compliance manager, has been promoted to David DiRito product manager for lane care. Pat Mitchell will lead Brunswick’s lane maintenance business, while Ryan Wiles will provide full-time engineering support for the lane maintenance product line. RaeMe Schnebelt has been promoted to customer service manager, supervising the customer service Pat Mitchell teams. Dykstra shared, “Aligning the team members’ talent and expertise with our customer needs will enable us to better serve our customers.”
PBA TOUR GOING TO CHINA The 2019 Go Bowling! PBA Tour will wrap up its season with the first ever event in China. The inaugural PBA China Tiger Cup is to be held Nov. 8-11 at the 18-lane Suzhou Tiger Bowling center which is about an hour west of Shanghai. The tournament host will be Frank Zhao, the founder and president of Longmarch Bowling. As laid out by PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark, the tournament will include eight PBA Tour players who will earn expenses-paid berths based on 2019 USBC Cup points earned during the PBA Summer Tour. The eight qualifiers will then join 56 PBA members from China, Korea, Japan, and other Asian countries for an eight-game qualifying tournament. The top 16 bowlers after eight games will then bowl 16 games of roundrobin match play for shares of the $106,000 prize fund. A special USA vs. China team challenge will conclude the event. The tour is the culmination of a relationship between Zhao, the China Bowling Association, and the PBA which started in 2014 in Las Vegas at the PBA World Series of Bowling. Over the course of the season, the PBA will conduct events in 24 different cities and five countries.
THE FUTURE OF BOWLING: LOOK TO THE YOUNG Trent Hunskor is a 17-year-old high school student in Newburg, ND. Going to school is his first full-time job; his second is owner/operator of Lam’s Lanes. Lam’s was out of service for five years when Hunskor, with the help of his parents, got the 4-laner up-to-speed and put bowling back into Newburg. “It’s been really good—I mean, sometimes it can be Lam’s Lanes’ teenage phenom and owner/operator is comfortably in stressful,” Hunskor told Tim Olson of charge.
MyNDNow.com, “but it actually is really a lot of fun to do.” While this young entrepreneur aspires to become a music teacher, it just might be that bowling is now in his blood. “I might have my brothers run it, and I’ll run it too, if I go to Minot like I’m planning to, [or it] could be a family thing. Kind of is a family thing.”
ß BITS & PIECES ß ß ß
Bowling Center Fires are Fierce for Firefighters
NORTEL LANES DESTROYED IN FIRE
Recently, two bowling centers were lost to fire in 2018: Twin Oaks Lanes in Toledo, OH, and Nortel Lanes in Monroe, MI. Ariyl Onstott of WTOL.com, explained that firefighters say that bowling center fires are some of the most dangerous and challenging. The bowstring construction which is employed in many centers creates wide open spaces that allow fires to spread quickly. Also, the flammable materials add to the situation, making these types of fires very dangerous. They become defensive rather than offensive. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Pins on Fire
While tales are told regarding centers and the dangers of fire, here is a tidbit for manufacturers. A small fire was put out at the QubicaAMF bowling pin plant. It originated in the sawdust handler ductwork. Fortunately, it was put out quickly, and there were no injuries. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Big box stores become FECs, and centers become churches. In East Grand Forks, ND, Liberty Lanes’ building has been sold and turned into a mosque. It is now the East Grand Forks Islamic Center. ---------------------------------------------------------------
XBowling partners up with BCSC
XBowling’s mission is to “Make Winners Every Day.” With the help of a two-year partnership with the United States Bowling Congress, it just might happen. A product of Sports Challenge Network (SCN), XBowling enables bowlers from across the country, using verified league scores, to compete and win daily and weekly individual challenges or group contests in handicap and scratch formats. Entry fees start as low as $1 and prizes can be as high as $25,000. XBowling has apps for both iOS and Android, allowing bowlers to join and compete from their smartphones or from XBowling.com. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Triple Shift Entertainment acquires Anderson Companies holdings
10 bowling centers in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area are now under the umbrella of Triple Shift Entertainment and Robby Signer, president. They were purchased from Anderson Companies, a decades-long family entertainment company with venues that include bowling, arcades, and laser tag. The purchase included Andover Lanes; Classic Bowl; Colonial Lanes; Concord Lanes; The Mermaid; Park Grove Bowl; PINZ; River City Extreme; Sun Ray Lanes; and Super Bowl. Mike Fagan, holder of five PBA Tour titles, will be joining Triple Shift Entertainment as director of business development. Sandy Hansell & Associates, Inc. served as financial advisor to the Anderson Companies.
Opened in 1961, 66-lane Nortel Lanes was destroyed by fire in early December 2018. Monroe Fire Chief Robert Wight was quoted by WTOL, channel 11, “This is one of the older buildings in Monroe, [MI]. It’s an icon to the city of Monroe, a tragic loss obviously. A lot of people came here to bowl; it’s been here a long time. It’s a sad time for the city of Monroe.” Robert Sieb, president and owner, said, “My dad built this place, so it’s been in the family for over 50 years. It’s tragic for all of the people that have basically bowled here for years: the kids, a lot of the old timers. It’s devastating.”
PLAYING IT FORWARD As reported by the Associated Press, with the devastating fire at Nortel Lanes in Monroe, MI, the members of the Monroe High School’s boys and girls bowling teams lost their equipment which had been left at the center in preparation for a match that was scheduled to take place the day of the fire. The loss of shoes and balls was estimated between $4,000 and $5,000. The teams reached out to the bowling community on social media for equipment donations. Coaches Mike Meagher and Eric Pillette found life after loss for their kids. The school received more than 200 bowling balls, up to 40 pair of shoes, and about 50 bags. They also received bowling accessories, including towels and ball cleaners. Appreciation was shown by the teams’ sharing the donations with programs at other schools, as well as other groups that also lost equipment in the fire. Pillette said, “We feel this is the only way the community’s generosity can be completely fulfilled. All the equipment will find its way to people who need it.”
By Robert Sax “
19 At the 20 nference, o c C E F 2 F
magine” is the theme for the 2019 F2FEC conference, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary in March. “Nothing we start or plan happens without first imagining what it looks and feels like,” says Ben Jones of The Three Amigos, co-founders of this exceptional and innovative industry gathering. Since the first F2FEC in 2015, each conference has had an overarching theme ranging from “Change or Die” and “10X Better” to “Differentiate” and “SOUL.” “‘Imagine’ is the culmination of everything we have sought since beginning F2FEC,” says Amigo Ben Jones. “It’s also how innovators learn from what they’ve experienced and use it to establish a plan for the future and grow with purpose.” This year’s F2FEC will explore how successful companies combine innovation, quality, freedom, choice, diversity, price, profits, purpose, morals, and more into the unique mix that is manifested in its soul, products, services, and outreach. It will focus on what’s next by reflecting, rethinking and reimagining the amusement industry. This time the Amigos will challenge attendees to imagine greater relevance and sustainability. The sessions and presentations will center on removing barriers and bias and pushing boundaries with particular concentration on the F2FEC vision relating to relationships, leadership, corporate culture, business growth, competitive differentiation, investment, purpose, and remaining relevant in a changing world and marketplace. The Three Amigos created the Face 2 Face Entertainment Conference when they imagined a better way to fill the need for elite direction and leadership in the FEC industry. “To remain relevant, we must ‘live with purpose and act with intent,’”says Amigo George Smith, invoking a key message from the 2018 conference video ‘Soul,’ “Innovation requires us to be brave and dispel the fear of failure, letting new ideas emerge from our failures. After all, innovation would not occur without an active imagination.” Those who attend F2FEC have the opportunity to connect with high-level decision-makers among the top operators, manufacturers, suppliers, and professionals in the amusement industry. A program of robust presentations and discussions encourages sharing and gaining insight together. It also offers the opportunity to make valuable and lasting business connections and gain the tools needed to make more money and achieve a greater level of success. Among the business leaders who have appeared at past F2FECs are video game pioneer Nolan Bushnell, customer service guru
t is the nex big idea.
F2FEC 2019 will be at the beautiful Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO 12
CONFERENCE PREVIEW continual striving for excellence and achievement at F2FEC. This year’s conference will return to Colorado Springs to “pass the flame” of inspiration that was lit in 2018. “Imagine if we didn’t plan, didn’t form relationships, and imagine if we stop learning or stop trying to find ways to remain relevant and make more money,” says Amigo Rick Iceberg.
The top bidders at the F2FEC 2018 fundraiser light the Olympic cauldron on the roof of the U.S. Olympic Training Center. From left to right are John Arie Sr. and Lois Arie of Fun Spot America, and Jack Canouse of Stars and Strikes.
Peter Shankman, and Alexandra Valentin of the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center. Amusement industry leaders have included John Arie Sr. and John Arie Jr. of Fun Spot America, Kevin Bachus of Dave & Buster’s, Dale Schwartz from Pinstripes and Jeff Benson of Cinergy Entertainment. This year’s conference promises a similar all-star lineup who will share the lessons they have learned from determined use of their imagination and a disciplined “fail fast, fail smart” approach. Among those scheduled to speak are Jack Canouse and Chris Albano of Stars and Strikes; Paul Saginaw, co-founder of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses; and a keynote address by Jeff Spencer, the Cornerman and Goal Achievement Expert. Past conference attendees are enthusiastic about the experience. Shannon Reuther of Swing-a-Round Fun Town in Missouri attended the 2018 F2FEC and found it inspiring. “I’ve been in the industry for twelve years, but this group of people has so much passion, it’s hard not to be inspired by it,” says Reuther. “ It just makes me hopeful that the decisions that I’m making to expand or to invest or to spend money are the right decisions because they are made with heart and soul.” Others found inspiration in presenters who covered more esoteric skills, such as memory training, that can boost personal performance. “My goodness, the speakers that we’ve listened to have just been out of this world,” said Andy Bartholomy of Andy B’s. The best speaker according to Bartholomy? “I’m going to go with memory man Ron White from Brain Athlete, because I think if I can improve my memory even a little bit, I think it is really going to help me.” Last year’s conference, held in Colorado Springs, came to a triumphant close with a special evening event at the nearby U.S. Olympic Training Center. Guests went on small group tours led by several American Olympians and Para-Olympians and then joined them for dinner. The evening culminated in an awe-inspiring ceremonial lighting of the center’s Olympic cauldron that also symbolized the 14
The Three Amigos, from left, Rick Iceberg, George Smith, Ben Jones
The 2019 F2FEC returns March 5-7 to the elegant Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Details may be had from any of the Amigos: CJ Barrymore’s Rick Iceberg, email rick@F2conference.com, tel. (810) 444-2222; Ben Jones, Live Oak Bank, email email@example.com, tel. (248) 884-1700; or George Smith, Family Entertainment Group, firstname.lastname@example.org. Those wishing to apply to “Be In The Room” should visit the event website at www.f2conference.com. ❖
Robert Sax is a writer and PR consultant in Los Angeles. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, the home of five-pin bowling.
Chuck and Deborah Gardner, third and fourth from the right, and the Gardner family.
WELCOME TO THE
BOWLING FAMILY! Youth bowlers get hooked on bowling with Chuck Gardner’s Bowl4Life Foundation.
By Mark Miller
ost entities offering youth scholarships have done so based on success on the lanes. Chuck Gardner decided he wanted to be different. The longtime Brunswick representative on the PBA and PBWA tours, and now coaching and pro staff manager, launched his Bowl4Life Scholarship Foundation in 2013 aimed at bowlers not at the top of the standings sheet. “We wanted to make sure we were awarding scholarships to quality people, even if they weren’t good bowlers – quality human beings who need help going to college,” said Gardner, who, like wife, Deborah, is a lifetime bowler. “It’s so easy for the really great players to earn a scholarship, where for the middle-of-the-road players, it is not.” Gardner’s family shared his desire to give something back to the sport he loves by becoming heavily involved in the foundation. Daughter Vicki Ruston, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky, takes care of the accounting; daughter-in-law Tiffany handles social media and web design; and son Chuck II manages his father’s three Bowling
Chuck Gardner, left, with one of the first winners of Bowl4Life, Jacob Boris, who is now studying at Indiana Tech University and is a goodwill ambassador for the tournament.
continued on page 20... 16
FEATURE ...continued from page 16
Solutions pro shops in Gastonia, NC, and Rock Hill and Columbia, South Carolina. Chuck and Deborah are in Charlotte. The Gardner family support means not having to pay outside staff which allows all the money raised to go directly to the kids. “It is our lives,” said Gardner. “I’m involved as much as I possibly can, but they [my family members] do most of the thinking. Deb and Tiffany and Chuck do a lot of the work, because I’m still on the road 250 nights a year for my job.” Gardner spent much of the late 80s and early 90s competing on the PBA tour before joining AMF where he worked from 1999-2001. He then worked as the tour rep and East Coast sales manager for Track/Columbia before it sold to Ebonite. More recently, he has been with Brunswick since 2007.
The Bowl4Life banner attracts all levels of youth bowlers to the tournament.
“I’ve been part of the tour for well over 30 years as a player and for the last 15 as a rep,” said Gardner, who owned Franklin Bowling Center, a 32-lane facility in Franklin, VA, with Deborah from 1992-1998. The 59-year-old Gardner grew up in the West Palm Beach, FL, area where he worked in a pro shop as a youth and bowled with Del Warren, Joe Firpo, and Jimmy Keith. Deborah was raised in Annapolis, MD, and moved to Florida at age 18. The couple met when Deborah took lessons from Chuck at his pro shop at the former Forum Lanes (now Strikers) in Fort Lauderdale.
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The Gardners started the Bowl4Life Foundation late in 2012 after running some youth team tournaments at the centers where their pro shops were located. The goal was to help prepare high school-age kids and under privileged kids for high school bowling. “We set up intercollegiate-type activities with coaches,” he said. “It was just a fun thing, and we had such a great time with it that we wanted to do more and make a bigger impact and not just do it locally.” Gardner called the USBC about how to start promoting the foundation in a larger way. He connected with USBC’s USA coaching and YES programs, and began to sponsor coaching camps. Later, Gardner banded with the PBA and other bowling organizations whose involvement has helped the organization grow tremendously. He has received support from players like Walter Ray Williams Jr., Parker Bohn, Jason Belmonte, and Josh Blanchard, plus several PWBA players. The Gardners spent the first couple of years promoting awareness of their cause and securing sponsorships to be able to start providing the scholarships. The Bowl4Life Foundation has four sponsorship levels: Executive ($2,500); Platinum ($1,000); Gold ($500); and Silver ($250). The foundation gave out $50,000 overall through 2018, and the Gardners hope to maintain that amount for 2019. “Every dime we raise - every dime! - is given away in the form of scholarships to these kids through their SMART fund,” Gardner said. The Gardners personally supply the merchandise they sell — jewelry, bracelets, T-shirts, jerseys, decals, etc.on the Bowl4Life website. The funds raised go directly to scholarships. Bowl4Life partners with Amazon, which makes donations to the cause through everyday purchases made through its smile.amazon.com website. “We cannot do this without getting the word into every youth league and every high
FEATURE school and college bowling school.” Deborah said. “We want people to follow us on Facebook and participate in our special events.” Since on-lane success isn’t a consideration, scholarship winners are determined by write-ins, resumes, essays, and random drawings. The Gardners find unique ideas that provide insight into the people applying. “One of our favorite scholarships was ‘A Picture is Worth a 1,000 Words,’” said Deborah. This required the applicants to include a picture along with a resume. The applicants had to explain what the picture meant to them. “One of the kids sent a picture of rain, because one time, when they went on a family vacation, they went bowling because it was raining and it was inside,” Gardner Jr. said. “She fell in love with bowling then and has been bowling ever since.” An involved sponsor who was battling cancer donated $500, which was matched by the foundation for someone who has either battled cancer or is facing it now. The winner was a 6-year-old boy fighting the disease. Another unique scholarship question asked the applicants who their favorite pro is and why. “Because these are young kids, it was interesting how many chose some of the older pros,” Gardner said. Each bowler who won that scholarship also received a personal message from their requested pro. The messages, from Tom Smallwood, Josh Blanchard, Jason Belmonte, Kelly Kulick, and Walter Ray, were posted on the Bowl4Life Facebook page. And finally, applicants were asked who is their favorite person in the
The Bowl4Life tournament begins with the national anthem.
bowling industry. The winner got to meet PWBA director Tennelle Milligan at the PWBA Tour Championships in Richmond, VA, in September 2018. Among the first winners was Jacob Boris, now a sophomore at Indiana Tech University, who conducts two annual events to help raise more money for the foundation. He was the 2017 Bowl4Life Bowler of the Year. The Gardners haven’t run tournaments themselves but provide scholarships including at Parker Bohn III’s annual event in New Jersey and another event in Hawaii. Bowl4Life works with PBA on the Johnny 22
The Bowl4Life booth sets up to enlist bowlers of all abilities and levels for the tournament.
Petraglia Bowl4Life Scholarship. But with all the success achieved so far, the Gardners hope to put on a large tournament in 2019 that will be performance based but also would include opportunities for those who don’t bowl well enough to win. “Chuck Sr. wanted to create this foundation so his love of this sport would be a legacy,” Deborah said. “Our family loves this game. We have encountered so many wonderful, loving people through this sport. “We are still in contact with numerous kids that bowled in our junior program when we owned the bowling center so many years ago. They are grown with kids of their own now, and we get together to have dinner occasionally, just to share hugs and catch up. When we say welcome to the Bowl4Life family, we really mean it.” For more details including sponsorship opportunities, merchandise, and how to make a donation, visit bowl4life.com. ❖
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.
COVER STORY By Paul Lane
Dolfijn - the plays to be makes a big splash in the Netherlands
n 2001, Ronald Dol opened Dolfijn Bowling – a play on Ronald’s last name – located in Tilburg, the Netherlands. It was immediately a welcomed addition to the community and a popular stop for visitors. Dolfijn Bowling also established itself as a serious league and tournament venue. After Ronald’s passing, the center became co-owned by Ronald’s wife Marjo, and their son, Thomas. With a population of roughly 215,000, the city of Tilburg, located in the southern province of Brabant, is the second largest municipality in the province, and the sixth largest in the Netherlands. The original 20lane Dolfijn Bowling included a bar and a restaurant and was housed in a converted factory. In the summer of 2013, Marjo and Thomas added a new attraction, glow-inthe dark Goofly miniature golf in the space behind the bowling center and it was an immediate success. In the summer of 2015, Dolfijn Bowling was totally renovated and upgraded, covering everything from plumbing to furniture to fixtures and fittings. But it was not to last. On March 25, 2016, tragedy struck when a massive fire reduced Dolfijn Bowling to a pile of ashes. Fortunately there were no injuries or loss of life, but Dolfijn Bowling was completely lost. Hans Krol, CEO of Bowltech, has been a good friend of the Dol family since he and Thomas’s father Ronald met in 1992. When the fire destroyed Dolfijn Bowling, Krol remembered, “Bowltech could help by offering an alternative location for their pro shop at no cost. Also we were able to help out sorting all the insurance issues around the bowling equipment. It was clear from day one that the center would be rebuilt. And they did. Both Marjo and Thomas took on this enormous task with passion and dedication.” Marjo and Thomas wasted no time, immediately planning the new Dolfijn IBI
Dolfin owners, Thomas and Marjo Dol.
Bowling, but it was a slow process. It was not until June of 2017, 15-months later, that they broke ground and started construction on a new, ground-up facility. And it was eight months more before the new center was ready for business. However, it was worth the wait. The new and more spacious center officially opened its doors on February 4, 2018, housing 24 lanes, a new bar and restaurant, pro-shop, Goolfy mini-golf, escape rooms, a virtual reality experience, and many more activities and attractions. The old name, Dolfijn Bowling, was
subsequently changed to Dolfijn—the plays to be. With the new focus of Dolfijn being more family-centric, it would stand to reason that the league business would be impacted. But Thomas has been happily surprised by the successful league business. “20% of our regular business is league bowling,” noted Thomas. “This is more league business than in our experience for FECs, many of which do not promote leagues at all, or the percentage is minimal at best.” The Bowling Association Tilburg organizes several leagues at Dolfijn, where teams compete with each other weekly. The concept of having an association promoting and running leagues for a commercial bowling center may seem strange or unusual, but in Dolfijn’s case, it’s a concept that works extremely well. “We have an excellent understanding with the Association,” says Thomas, “and so many activities are done with a common interest and are mutually beneficial.” Dolfijn frequently hosts regional, national, and international tournaments, just like they did at the old center. It’s a venue that’s popular for tournaments; Dolfijn caters to sport bowlers and their families and friends who enjoy the other attractions, especially the full-service, professionally managed pro-shop, and the reasonably priced, quality food that’s available in the 154 seat restaurant. “Our full-service pro-shop not only serves the needs of
COVER STORY customers at all levels, it helps promote the sport aspect of our business,” said Thomas. The pro-shop managers Andre van Gurp and Ramon Hilferink, who are both certified trainers, work closely with sport bowlers on technical aspects of equipment and their bowling prowess. Adding the Specto Advanced Ball Tracking System has bowlers traveling to Tilburg from all over the Netherlands and other European countries to practice and work with Andre or Ramon in person, or by connecting to the Specto app. The new Dolfijn—the plays to be bowling center also benefits from a fresh start with its bowling equipment. The Dols worked with Bowltech Netherlands who installed QubicaAMF’s Xli Edge Pinspotters, QScore, Harmony ball returns, automatic bumpers, and SLP II lane overlays. A Kegel Flex Walker lane machine and the Kegel Specto Advanced Ball Tracking System round out the state-of-the art equipment. “Working closely with Bowltech and installing the latest technology gave us the promotion tools we needed to help kickstart the new bowling center after being out Bowltech CEO Hans Krol of business for almost two years,” said Thomas. Thomas, who also serves as Dolfijn’s general manager, focuses on the customer experience: service and satisfaction starts as soon as the customer walks in the door. Interestingly, all employees at Dolfijn wear uniforms - light blue for management and black for all others - but NO name badges. Thomas is proud of the fact that his employees do not need name badges to identify themselves. They meet and greet every customer and introduce themselves by name. “The experience starts with a warm welcome from me or a staff member,” said Thomas. “We notice them almost immediately when they come in because reception is only 10 meters from the entrance. Then we find their reservation and assign them to a lane. All open play bowling is charged in increments of one hour and, happily, the incidence of a complaint about the hour being finished before the end of a game is very rare.”
The bar area 28
“When the hour begins, customers can fill in their names and start bowling. If they are newcomers, our staff will help them, at no charge, with ball selection, filling in names on the automatic scoring, and to open the bumpers for children,” added Thomas. “And, while customers are bowling, our wait staff will take orders for drinks and/or finger-foods, which are delivered to customers on the lanes.” After bowling, many customers stay for a drink at the bar, visit the restaurant for a snack or meal,
or enjoy one or more of the other attractions offered at Dolfijn. Finally, before they leave, they pay for every activity and service they’ve enjoyed during their visit, which are consolidated into one bill. “Of course, our success depends on how well we treat our customers,” said Thomas. “And this starts with how we select employees. We look at personality, body language, attitude, and how they present themselves. Communication skills are important, too. If they can’t communicate easily with us, they won’t communicate or relate well to customers. If we like what we see [in a candidate], we know we can train them, regardless of whether they have previous experience. Our motto is, ‘The guest always takes first place in our place,’ and all of our employees understand this concept.” “Maintaining equipment and all the facilities within the center is important too,” added Thomas. “There’s nothing more frustrating to customers than having their enjoyment spoiled by a malfunction. A preventive maintenance program when the center is closed helps. Plus, 50% of our staff can quickly fix a problem, thereby eliminating
The concourse has an open shelving concept that keeps the design light and airy
the need for pinchasers during business hours.” The restaurant at Dolfijn, which seats 154 people, features a small but excellent à la carte menu. They also offer a Steengrill, which is grilling on a hot stone on the tabletop. This is very popular in the Netherlands and, in fact, most families also have at least one plate at home. The concept is for diners to cook their own meat on the hot stone. Diners who choose the Steengrill help themselves to salads and fruits and other attractive offerings as sides from a large buffet counter. The restaurant is open in the afternoon and evening, as the center is not open to the public at lunchtime. “For school parties, corporate team building events, or any group bringing that many people, we will always accommodate them in the morning, including lunchtime, if that’s the most suitable or only time for them,” said Thomas. According to Thomas, 90% of diners in the restaurant make reservations, usually at the same time as they make a reservation for one or more of the attractions. At publication time, the only attractions at Dolfijn that have yet to be completed are the two escape rooms. The escape
rooms are ideal for parties, team building, children’s parties, and any other occasion where a group of friends and family can get together and challenge their skills. Thomas anticipates the escape rooms will be very popular. Thomas’s wife, Ineke, manages the marketing side of the business. The primary thrust of their marketing is driven by social media (facebook.com/DolfijnBowling), and their website (www.dolfijn.eu). Reputation, word of mouth, and the publicity they enjoyed following the grand reopening of the center have all contributed to their marketing success. “Next to me, I have four managers,” said Thomas, “Daniel Dol, my brother, Danielle van Hout, Pien van Oirschot, Brenda Kuypers-van Rooij and Marina Hoogendoorn. Between us, we have a variety of contrasting talents. We have a great team and work very well together.” Krol sentimentally adds, “I am convinced that [father] Ronald would have been very proud of the result and the revenues the new center produces. With Marjo, their joint legacy has been secured and preserved.
The balcony has seating and a VR attraction
Thomas can now build on that strong foundation. With the vision he already put forward in building the new Dolfijn ceter, I believe he will have a great future in bowling and be a very successful entrepreneur.” Thomas and Marjo have a winning formula with a good understanding of customers’ needs and wants, a long-term vision for their business, and a generational passion for the industry. All are necessary ingredients for success. Dolfijn – the plays to be is ready for fun and frolicking. ❖
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.
The Steengrills are ready for guests IBI
According to George his didn’t start out to be an internationally-focused edition of Beyond Bowling; it was a happy coincidence that it turned out that way. As you see, we have a lineup of international stories showing that the BEC business model continues to appeal to players outside the U.S. market. Paul Lane shares the story of Dolfijn - the place to be in Tilburg, The Netherlands. The Dolfijn story is also one of overcoming adversity; the original center, a traditional bowling center with some entertainment mixed in, suffered a complete loss in a fire in March of 2016. The mother and son team of Marjo and Thomas Dolfijn conceived and developed a new BEC which opened in February, 2018. With 24 lanes, a mini-golf course, escape rooms, and VR, along with a new 154 seat restaurant, it is truly state-of-the-art. A little closer to home, Robert Sax takes us through the history of how a Canadian institution, Bingeman’s Funworx in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, brought bowling into their mix. Starting with a 2013 addition of bowling to Funworx, the thirdgeneration owner Mark Bingeman rebranded the facility as Kingpins and has now opened a second BEC in a nearby city. Mark is currently planning development on a third. My “Interesting Interview” this month is with Todd Britton, the recent past president of Bowl Canada (the Canadian bowling association) and proprietor of the brand-new Uptown Alley,
Winnipeg, which is off to a great start. Todd shares his thoughts on the market, the development process, and why the BEC business model is thriving. Back in the states, the next big industry event appealing to BEC operators and developers will be the Amusement Expo to be held in Las Vegas March 26-28. This show has grown and become increasingly relevant to FEC and BEC operators in recent years. This year’s show is shaping up to continue that trend. Howard McAuliffe provides us with a preview, focused on the growing educational component of the show. As we kick off another year in Beyond Bowling, this edition’s geographic and facility diversity is a testament to the continuing strength of the BEC business model in a variety of formats. It’s a fun time to be in the business! Enjoy! ❖
George McAuliffe Principal, Pinnacle Entertainment Group
TRADE SHOW PREVIEW
Do Not Try This At Home! Amusement Expo International in Las Vegas showcases new products and programs for the out-of-home entertainment segment. By Howard McAuliffe
musement Expo International (AEI) is the annual North American gathering of the coin-operated and revenue generating amusement, music, and family entertainment industries. In its 10th year, it is the largest trade show in the region focused on pay-to-play entertainment for family entertainment centers, bowling entertainment centers, arcades, bars and restaurants, and other locations where people seek out fun diversion out of home. The show will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, March 27-28, with an all-day conference and education program on March 26. The show has grown this year — booths will likely be sold out and larger attendance is expected. Look for an expanded education program with a focus on new revenue sources, including eSports and virtual reality. As the bowling business continues to evolve and rely on more entertainment options, the Amusement Expo is a great place to learn about the latest entertainment concepts and technologies.
THE EDUCATION PROGRAM AEI 2019 education day will open with keynote speaker Kindra Hall’s presentation “The Irresistible Power of Strategic Storytelling.” Kindra is one of the most soughtafter keynote speakers in the United States and president and chief strategy officer at Steller Collective, a marketing 38
agency focused on the strategic application of storytelling to today’s communication challenges. The dedicated, full-day of education will continue with 16 different breakout sessions focused on subjects such as: marketing, operations, escape rooms, using data wisely, and eSports, as well as multiple sessions devoted specifically to virtual reality. AEI education day will wrap up with presenter Tyler Bushnell, founder of Polycade, who will discuss key strategies for building recurring business by leveraging the nuances Keynote speaker Kindra Hall of Millennials and Gen Z. Co-located with Amusement Expo will be the Lasertag Convention which will have a program of seminars focused on the lasertag business.
VIRTUAL REALITY (VR) EDUCATION SESSIONS The 2019 program will once again be curated by Bob Cooney, location-based VR guru and the man who literally wrote the book on location-based VR, Real Money from Virtual Reality. Subjects will include: the Virtual Reality Hardware Roadmap - where tech is going and how can you minimize your risk of obsolescence; and Who is Making Real Money with Virtual Reality? (operators’ panel).
TRADE SHOW PREVIEW
SELECT EDUCATIONAL SESSIONS INFORMATION Tuesday, March 26, 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Keynote Kindra Hall-The Irresistible Power of Strategic Storytelling Room: TBD
Tuesday, March 26, 9:45 a.m. Data Analyzation Room: Westgate Pavilion 10 Employee Recruiting Room: Westgate Pavilion 6
THE SHOW The tradeshow floor will be a great opportunity for proprietors to spend time with vendors and see many of the newest games, especially those related to virtual reality. Amusement Expo is a concentrated show, which allows for attendees to see everything on the show floor in one day, and vendors have more time to spend with individual customers. For those who did not make it to IAAPA, this show is an opportunity to see many of the most popular new games. 2018 was the first year of widespread distribution and success of virtual reality. To expand on that growth in 2019 is an industry-wide goal. The Hologate system by Creative Works has proven to be a profitable investment for most locations. They have launched several new games this year, which is an
FEC Marketing and Operations Room: Westgate Pavilion 4
Tuesday, March 26, 11:00 a.m. FEC Advanced Studies Room: Westgate Pavilion 6
Tuesday, March 26, 1:30 p.m. Industry Trends: Escape Room Operations and Other Trends Room: Westgate Pavilion 4
Tuesday, March 26, 2:45 p.m. Diversity: A Simple Key to Continued Success Room: Westgate Pavilion 6 E-Sports and How Out-of-Home Entertainment Can Profit from In-Home Content Room: Westgate Pavilion 4
Tuesday, March 26, 5:15 p.m. - 7:15 p.m. All-Industry Gala Reception Room: Westgate Hotel Ballroom A
excellent sign the system will sustain its success. In addition to Creative Works, both Funovation and Minority Media launched new VR systems in 2018 and will be exhibiting at the Amusement Expo. Since the Lasertag Convention is colocated on the tradeshow floor, attendees can visit the lasertagfocused booths in the same place. The 2019 Amusement Expo is a great place to learn about the FEC business, network with vendors and operators, as well as see the latest games and equipment. The show falls during the NCAA basketball tournament, so it should be March Madness time in Las Vegas! â?–
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.
A Canadian Tradition Embraces Change … and Bowling
Mark Bingem an
By Robert Sax
ingemans has been providing top-notch entertainment to families in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, for almost 60 years. Over three generations the family-run company has grown a dairy farm and milk bar into a sprawling waterpark, campground, and entertainment complex that offers just about everything families might do for fun. However, bowling was a big exception, and current company president Mark Bingeman, the founder’s grandson, for years had no desire to be in the bowling business. Now he’s betting on bowling for the next chapter in the Bingemans’ success story. “When we were looking for what’s the next expansion, because you always have to change and evolve, some of our staff members said, ‘Mr. B, we should do bowling,’” recalls Bingeman. “And I just
thought of, you know, The Big Lebowski, plastic furniture, dingy [centers] and bad food.” But his staff, partners and “even our electrician” kept pushing bowling. “To get everybody off my back, I thought, okay, I’m just going to call up the people at Brunswick,” says Bingeman. “The next thing I know they’re down here and really educating me on it.” He visited some Brunswick centers in Portland, Oregon, and learned that bowling had evolved into a full-fledged entertainment experience that he could appreciate. “To me these were bars/nightclubs disguised as bowling centers,” he says, realizing that the contemporary BEC model fit the high level of hospitality associated with Bingemans.
BOWLING BEGINS AT HOME In 2013, Bingeman took his existing Funworx FEC and added 45,000 square feet of bowling and a restaurant to its mix of arcade games, indoor mini-golf, and play areas. It became popular with his waterpark
FEATURE 16 lanes of 10-pin with the latest Brunswick equipment and technology. The lane-side seating is definitely not plastic; it’s comfy and contemporary with long couches and tables wide enough to accommodate big groups and lots of food and beverages. There’s also a lounge area behind the lanes for drinks and socializing, decorated with large blow-ups of vintage black-and-white photos of bowling that add the right touch of nostalgia amid the otherwise high-tech look.
PIZZA TO POUTINE
customers, becoming a significant revenue center during the park’s off season, which in Canada can be as long as nine months. The addition of bowling and a restaurant brought in more adult customers, and, while essentially an FEC, Funworx was rebranded under the Kingpin name. “We really felt the Kingpin branding was geared more for adults,” says Bingeman, “but we know that kids want to go to cool and great spots where the adults are going.” After a few years, the success of the first Kingpin encouraged Bingeman to venture beyond Kitchener and take his new concept on the road. He looked east to nearby Cambridge, a city of 140,000 in the Waterloo Region that also includes Kitchener and the city of Waterloo. The region has a growing population of over 530,000, and its technology sector has made it Canada’s third-best place for full-time employment according to Statistics Canada, a federal government agency. In Cambridge, Bingeman found a promising location at the Cambridge Centre, a suburban shopping mall undergoing an entertainment-focused makeover in a trend similar to what has been happening in the U.S. It had a 36,000-square-foot space available that had been a Target store and there was an ample parking lot. The mall is also home to an ice rink, a multiplex cinema, and a number of premium retail stores, like Indigo Books, that complement the Kingpin concept and can draw customers. Kingpin Cambridge opened in September 2018. Bingeman notes that his company’s expertise in serving large groups allowed them to turn the former big-box store into a space suitable for a variety of customers. “We capture them from two to 92, but we do it in a way that respects [everyone]” he says. “Kingpin Cambridge was designed so that you could be here with your corporate group drinking your pitchers of beer and nachos and not realize that there’s a whole teen event happening in the laser tag area.” The bowling area encompasses 18,000 square feet and has 42
There is lane-side food and beverage service and adjacent to the lanes is an open restaurant with a mix of four-tops and long communal tables. Bingemans is also known for catering weddings and major sports events, and they take pride in being able to serve good food to large groups. The contemporary menu ranges from flatbread pizzas to tacos and burgers to three varieties of poutine, French Canada’s celebrated and notoriously messy concoction of chips (French fries) with gravy, cheese curds and other toppings. There is also a bar serving cocktails and a wide selection of local craft beers. Among the other popular attractions at Kingpin Cambridge is a big laser tag arena. Bingeman is very excited about his 7,000-square-foot, two-level installation from Lasertron, which is much bigger than competing laser tag attractions in the area and can accommodate large groups. “We really felt that [Lasertron] was a product that adults would feel comfortable playing,” says Bingeman. Bingeman wanted a look different from the usual cartoony painted theming, and Lasertron’s use of LEDs instead of conventional black light was appealing. Ann Kessler, sales advisor for Lasertron, said that their design team enjoyed the challenge of Kingpin Cambridge’s location. “Kingpin has a different design because they kind of have an L-shaped arena; most arenas are rectangular,” says Kessler. “We came up with a really great design with LED sectors designed into it so they can play
FEATURE Initial food sales, surprisingly, were below expectations, probably because the Kingpin name is a new one and not yet associated by the public with Bingemans’ reputation for good food. “We didn’t put our foot on the gas enough promoting the great food options,” admits Bingeman. “We get a lot of people that are going to other restaurants [first] and don’t know they can do it all here. One of the things that we’re doing now on the marketing side is really educating people on what great food we have.” different games like Domination, Headquarters, and King of the Hill.” The Gameworx arcade at Kingpin has 65 games including marquee pieces, all provided by Bingemans’ games partner Player One Amusement Group. While that means sharing revenue, Bingeman can see the upside. “The value of the partnership is more important than a few extra points,” he says. “The sharing of intelligence, the strategizing with other people in the industry; when we do well, they do well, and vice versa.” It also ensures that the games are refreshed twice a year and that the mix of games is attractive to kids and adults. Bingeman is also giving VR a try by testing out a two-player VRcade installation from VRStudios. If it works out, he plans to add one to Kingpin in Kitchener, too. Rounding out the entertainment mix is a soft play area for younger children. Built by International Play Company of British Columbia, it has multiple slides, ropes, ladders, tubes, tunnels and more on three levels. “People will come in here and bring their kids just for this particular play area,” says Bingeman, noting that it’s a great way for parents to keep kids entertained during a trip to the mall. “One parent will be here with the kids and the other parent will be doing some shopping.” Although Kingpin Cambridge has only been open since last September, Bingeman says overall business is exceeding expectations. “We were really shocked at how well the arcade went over; it really overpowered some of the other aspects,” says Bingeman.
BETTING ON FAMILY FUN “I think what people know about [Kingpin] and our products is that we are a destination for fun and that’s really all that matters,” says Bingeman. At this point, that may be the most important thing, as the goal is to expand the Kingpin brand into additional Canadian markets. There is strong competition from such established names as Dave & Buster’s and the Canada-
based Rec Room group, but Bingeman is confident that Kingpin can stand out among the others. “What is happening in the industry is people are jockeying their offerings to find out which is going to resonate most with consumers,” says Bingeman. “I truly don’t believe that every attraction piece is suitable for every single market.” As the third generation of Bingemans in the business, Mark knows family entertainment as well as anyone. So expect the Kingpin brand of fun to grow and evolve; that’s the Bingemans tradition. ❖
Robert Sax is a writer and PR consultant in Los Angeles. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, the home of five-pin bowling.
No Regrets A few minutes with Canadian Todd Britton.
By George McAuliffe Todd Britton is president of Quality Plus Holdings, LTD, based in Winnipeg, Canada. Quality Plus owns three centers in greater Winnipeg. Two are traditional centers, Academy Lanes West and Billy Mosienko Lanes. The third, Uptown Alley Winnipeg, is a state-of-the-art bowling entertainment center (BEC) which just opened. Todd is also the immediate past president of Bowl Canada, the Canadian national bowling association.
1. You just opened Uptown Alley Winnipeg. How is that going? Yes, we opened in the first week of December. We are the first BEC in our marketplace, and things have been going very well. We are super pleased with how the community has reacted.
2. Tell us about your company, its origins and history. My dad bought his first center in 1980, so I’ve been in the business since birth. Over the years, we grew the company to three locations — all were traditional centers. When we lost our lease in our Academy Uptown Lanes location, we decided to take that opportunity to update the business model. That led us to develop Uptown Alley.
3. How did you get into the business? I started following my dad to work every 46
day as a kid and learned how to patch lanes and do the assorted dirty work. Not always fun, but when you start with the basics, the bowling business tends to get in your blood. The heyday of the league business was oral history for me — I never got to experience the “good old days” personally. When I was 19 years old, glow bowling was just coming out. That led to an uptick in the business, which caught my attention and appealed to me.
4. Your company is almost 40 years old. Can you boil it down to the top three factors Todd Britton for your company’s success? Number one is flexibility. That started at the top. Even though my dad started [the business] in the league years, he always moved quickly to stay on top of what the community wanted – birthday parties, open play, food and beverage – and we upgraded early when we knew we had to make an investment in emerging areas. I follow the revenue. I’m not stubborn enough to try to offer something nobody wants. It’s our job to find out what they want and provide it. Second is investing in people. No matter what you’re building, selling, or serving, it is the employee who will have to deliver the experience to the guest. Third is reinvestment in our business. We constantly upgrade the experience so that we never get stale. That could be changing out lighting, furniture, or [a total] remodel — we want the customer to see that we are committed to what we offer them. 5. What is your vision of a BEC? How do you define it? If people go out less than they used to, they want more from the experience
INTERESTING INTERVIEW when they do go out. We think that a BEC needs to have at least three different entertainment options. One component is strong food and beverage. Bowling is the main, anchor attraction, and, as there are no age barriers, it appeals to both adult and family groups. Finally, an entertainment package with a strong redemption program and complimentary attractions like laser tag rounds out the core. As we move ahead, there are many possibilities to fill the BEC which are interchangeable depending on your vision. That’s great because it provides variety in the marketplace.
6. You’ve touched on food and beverage several times, it is clearly important to you. Tell us more. As I said earlier, people go out less but demand more from the experience. The old bowling alley snack bar experience doesn’t cut it in today’s world. We invest in our people. Food and beverage can be another draw that feeds (no pun intended) the rest of the environment and helps to create customers, gets them back more often, and gets them to stay longer once they’re here.
have depth in. I wish we had a lot more time for planning and had gotten further along with the design process before construction. The better your plan, the fewer surprises. That saves time and money in the long run.
8. How do you handle the adult versus families customer segments? Is that an issue at Uptown Alley? So far, it’s not much of an issue. We addressed [this] in our design process, creating different areas for different customer segments. One thing we learned a long time ago is that we can influence guest behavior through pricing strategies. Every component of the customer base is looking for something different from your center. League bowlers aren’t coming if the price is too high or if food and beverage isn’t appealing, families will not pay top dollar for a lane rental, but Millennials will [pay top dollar], as they put a premium on that experience. Understanding what each segment values allows us to craft a unique experience for [each of] them. Overall our design philosophy was centered on adults. Kids want to be grownups, grownups don’t want to be kids. In all our design and equipment decisions, we always decided “up” to the older guest instead of “down” to the kids.
9. Any final words of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers? I’ve touched on it before, but be sure to tap into outside experts for those areas where you don’t have direct experience. Embrace the BEC — it’s an exciting time to be in the industry. I don’t know of anyone who has modernized or opened a BEC who regrets making the choice. ❖ The team at Uptown Alley, from left: general manager, Nathan Hogg; brother, Jay Britton; and Todd Britton.
7. What are the important steps in the development process? Most important is to have a vision for your company and for your center. For our company, that vision is to grow and create a state-of-the-art next step. A destination BEC allows a smaller company the ability to compete with the [large] nationals. The unique center vision [dictates] what the mix should be. We can be very creative, as there is not one version or format to choose from: there are many. Once the vision and components are settled, buckle up, as the development and construction processes can be complicated with plenty of curveballs. Ensure that you have experts on the team that understand the areas that you don’t
Todd, thanks for your time and for sharing your experience.
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.
BMI Merchandise features an extensive product line of the most trending redemption merchandise. It also is the leader in licensed products for family entertainment centers. BMI carries over 30 of the most trending licenses in the industry, featuring products/characters from the latest blockbuster movies, TV shows, and video games. Here are just a few: Fortnite Pop Vinyl; Harry Potter Board Game; L.O.L. Surprise Lip Gloss Kit. The merchandise assortment includes novelty toys, plush, collectibles, watches, crane kits and more. For further info, contact BMI @ (732) 363-0212 or (800) 272-6375.
FURNITURE FOR THE FUTURE
The future of bowling furniture is being able to offer unique styles, durability designed for bowling, and mobility to change your center’s layout. The HARMONY furniture line from QubicaAMF is able to offer a high-end look for your center, while supporting your business needs. With many furniture lines on the market, only HARMONY addresses three core-needs that today’s centers face: designed to match your vision, style, and center needs;
HOW IS YOUR REPUTATION?
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designed to accommodate diverse customers’ needs; and designed to make maintenance easy and cost effective. To see the full HARMONY collection, please visit www.qubicaamf.com/HarmonyTool.
Astro Carpet Mills offers carpets for any and all needs. OPEN STRIKE is an out-of-this world experience, with a pattern that will create a great atmosphere for fun with an array of great colors. OPEN STRIKE is made with Astro’s exclusive tufting, super-fuse technology and has Astro’s Stain Away stain protection. For more information, call Stefanie for samples and pricing. (800) 542-4189.
Brunswick Bowling’s Center Stage modular bowling furniture includes a wide variety of components that can be arranged in practically infinite ways to meet your center’s needs. The modular seating sections have a variety of sizes and shapes that let you set up the bowler areas and concourses in virtually unlimited positions. These pieces are upholstered in heavy-duty, contemporary fabrics that are water/stain resistant and meet BS5852 and EN1021/1-2 cigarette-match fire codes. The removable seat cushions allow for in-center replacement. Give every customer the best seat in the house with Center Stage! Visit brunswickbowling.com.
BOWLING BALL STORAGE
Steltronic has done it again! With all of the extra room needed in the settee area, room for eight bowling balls and the included tabletop for food and beverages, this compact table is perfectly sized. A height of 40 inches, a 24-inch, round table top, room for up to eight bowling balls and pizza and drinks, and all at a reasonable price. Add in the optional Steltronic keypad for controlling two lanes from one tabletop and your bowlers will appreciate the new design. We are YOUR bowling center management specialists since 1980. For more info: (800) 942-5939; email@example.com.
A STAR CARPET SHOPPING SPREE
Shopping for carpet? Omega Pattern Works has the shoppers’ choice. “I’ll take Star Bowl, because it has Omega’s exclusive Infinity protection!” INFINITY penetrates the dye sites of the fibers, and then locks and closes the dye sites providing a LIFETIME barrier against spills and soil. Independent lab results have confirmed that even after 40 hot water cleanings, over 75% of INFINITY remains in the carpet. For more information, call Kristin at (800) 554-7007.
LEAP TO SUCCESS
Benchmark Games’ latest addition to its product line is Space Jump. The 100% skill-based interactive and physical play marks a new creative approach for the manufacturer. “Cadets” must bounce on a “launch pad” and control their jumps to navigate the rocket and successfully complete their mission by landing in the bonus zone. The unit has a stratospheric centerpiece cabinet design within a modest footprint for any size game room. With no moving parts, Space Jump is easily maintained. It boasts a new 13” monitor which illustrates game play, along with an intense LED light package, illuminated scoring zones, and subwoofers for an immersive play experience. For more info on Space Jump or any Benchmark Games’ redemption concepts, please contact Paula at (888) 538-1000 x 125 or a local distributor.
PBA It’s Getting Better All The Time
Historic weekend kicks off PBA on FOX for 2019. By Mark Miller
efore considering the significance of the 2019 GoBowling! Professional Bowlers Association Tour, a little history quiz is in order: When was the last time a network paid bowling to air its events and also sell the advertising to cover production costs? When has a network actually promoted its PBA bowling shows on other sports telecasts? In what year did the PBA Hall of Fame first hold its induction ceremonies at the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum? The answers are a long time ago, likely never, and 2019. That has all changed thanks to PBA’s new television partner FOX and growing relationship with online sports telecaster FloBowling. They both were on full display the first weekend of January at the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, Texas. First, FloBowling telecast the PBA Hall of Fame night induction ceremony from the IBC’s Earl Anthony Conference Room on Saturday, January 5. PBA and USBC hall-of-famer and long-time, ABC-TV bowling color analyst Nelson Burton Jr. was the emcee of the event. He noted that the PBA’s partnership with FOX doesn’t just benefit the PBA, it helps the entire industry. The next morning, FOX aired its first live broadcast – the stepladder finals of the new PBA Hall of Fame Classic on FS1 – on the lanes at the adjacent International Training and Research Center. Welcome to a new and exciting era for bowling. “It’s the most exciting time in professional bowling because of
Rob Stone, left, and Randy Pederson broadcast the 2019 Hall of Fame Classic from the lanes 50
FOX’s PBA truck
FOX,” PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark told the crowd at the HOF induction ceremony as inductees Patrick Allen, Mika Koivuniemi, journalist Bob Johnson (this publication’s first editor from 1993-1997), and Indianapolis bowling management icon Jim Doty became the newest members. “The vision was to do the inductions at a new event called the PBA Hall of Fame Classic, and do it at the campus on the campus lanes, and have the inductions at the Hall of Fame.” That idea came up last year, and BPAA executive director Frank DeSocio got the ball rolling with other IBC entities like Strike Ten Entertainment, GoBowling!, the IBHFM, and the United States Bowling Congress to make it happen. “When you see World Bowling, BPAA, USBC, and Strike Ten all working together, that’s just smart; we need to pool all of our resources. This opportunity to be on national television is the best opportunity bowling has had at any level, at any time, in 20 years,” Clark said. “Our ESPN opportunity was good. It was strong for a number of years. But this one is a better relationship because
of the rights situation.” Also key has been the multiple ways FOX has shown how much it loves bowling and how that love will benefit the sport. FOX will broadcast 60 hours of original shows, plus all the replays. And, FOX is committed to using Spectro StrikeTrack technology to enhance the broadcasts. StrikeTrack compares the bowler’s preferred path to the pocket with the actual path as it is happening, in real time. “Probably the most important thing is the business relationships where FOX sells all the sponsorships,” Clark said. “They want our show to succeed because they generate revenue by selling advertising. With ESPN, we got the [air] time but we had to sell the ads. That’s a huge difference. So we’re cheering on FOX and helping in every way to get sponsors.” It’s almost like turning the clock back to the 1960s, when ABC paid PBA rights fees and sold the ads to broadcast the Tour. Now, FOX is providing a similar, yet new, high-profile stage for today’s group of young Turks to display their talents. Five of the world’s best – Rhino Page, Jesper Svensson, Jason
Hall of Fame inductee Mika Koivuniemi
Bill O’Neill (center), winner of the 2019 Hall Of Fame Classic, accepts his prize from IBMHF president Mike Aulby (left) and Strike Ten Entertainment and GoBowling! president John Harbuck (right) 52
Belmonte, Bill O’Neill, and Jakob Butturff — competed on the PBA Hall of Fame Classic show making it an instant classic. Buttuff’s unique two-handed backup style that astounded and amazed the most veteran observers made it even more compelling. And to top it all off, O’Neill’s thrilling 199-194 decision over young Butturff was the 10th of his career, making him eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2025. “It was a great show,” Clark said. “Bill O’Neill is a fan favorite who hasn’t won in a long time. His mom passed away recently and so to see him win and become hall-of-fame eligible at the Hall of Fame Classic was all really good stuff. It was a great match that came down to the last frame.” This actually was not the first event on FOX. The pre-taped PBA Clash that aired Dec. 23 on the main FOX network earned the highest rating for a PBA telecast in 13 years, with 1.768 million viewers according to Nielsen Media Research.
Hall of Fame inductee Bob Johnson
“The day the show aired at the FOX NFL Studios they set up lanes in studio to promo the PBA,” Clark said. Another sign that things are different under FOX came the night of the Hall of Fame ceremonies when footage from inside the ITRC aired during the NFL wild card playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks. “FOX’s support and promotion is new and exciting,” Clark said. “And this show will air about 15 more times on FS1 and FS2 because they just love our content to fill out their platforms. We’re the new sport at FOX Sports: that’s a little bit [of a] different experience than we’ve had in the past being treated like other sports.” Not quite as new but every bit as important is PBA’s relationship with FloBowling, a partnership that started last summer. Clark said the reason FloBowling came about was the success of PBA’s Xtra Frame subscription service which brought 10,000 viewers to the table when Flo took over last year. All were grandfathered into their previous rates while new subscribers pay more. “All those years of building that and those subscribers was what Flo wanted,” Clark said. “We earned that support from Flo because of the fans who bought in previously.” After some initial live streaming before Clark joined PBA in 2008, the service was rebranded as Xtra Frame and gained about 1,000 new subscribers each year to make it attractive to FloBowling. “They have gone above and beyond everything I ever expected,” Clark said. “It’s like a dream to have live streaming of our events, where you can watch
any pair you want at any time, any player you want at any time. “The support Flo has given us on social media via their website flobowling.com is proactive coverage that they are doing at their expense. They handle all production. We want Flo to sell as many subscriptions as possible so they’ll continue to invest in the game and promote the game.” While FOX has exclusive broadcast rights to the United States, Flo airs the telecasts to the rest of the world, making it easier for anyone to follow their favorite athletes. “The most important thing is the players are excited and have new energy [for] the season and the march
Hall of Fame inductee Jim Doty
towards the playoffs, which is brand new,” Clark said. “Every tournament is worth points and the top 24 make the playoffs, with $100,000 first place prize money. With the live airing on FOX in June, it gives us a new focus to the year.” Clark said opening weekend couldn’t have gone any better with the Hall of Fame ceremony and the promotion of the Cowboys-Seahawks game. Burton’s return to the booth, coupled with a down-to-thewire final match with a popular champion was the pièce de résistance. It doesn’t get any better than this. Or does it? Stay tuned to the networks of FOX and FloBowling this year to find out. ❖ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hall of Fame inductee Patrick Allen IBI
BEST DARN DEAL ON THE MIDWAY!!!!! For your average sized center, I can bring 2,000 open bowlers over 5 months. I have dozens of topnotch references. Kevin Malick since 1991 Bigk2u@yahoo.com |(863) 602-4850 Leave an email address for more info
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EDUCATION & TRAINING
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MILLION DOLLAR STRIKE FOR SALE
NE PENNSYLVANIA: 8-lane center. Includes commercial rentals, great location & great opportunity. Owner retiring. Center4sale@yahoo.com. MASSACHUSETTS: 6-lane Duckpin business ONLY for sale in historic North Chelmsford. Automatic pinsetters & many spare parts. Owner retiring. (978) 808-7029. NEBRASKA: 16-lane center in a nice town, Ogallala. Remodeled bar and kitchen. Asking 250K. Contact Jacob. cornhuskerlanesNE@gmail.com. NE IOWA: 8-lane, upgraded center on 1.1 acres. Includes: 82-30 Golden Edition pinsetters, AccuScore Plus with Purrfect Desk; new flat screen monitors & carpet. Also, kitchen, snack bar, lounge, game room, lockers, & ball drilling equipment. TURNKEY sale. email@example.com or (641) 485-1752.
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Recalling one of Archie’s Valentine’s Days
ebruary, Valentine’s Day, and Archie Andrews go together like birds and bees; Christmas and Santa; 4th of July and fireworks; Easter and bunnies; and Thanksgiving and Pilgrims. The February 2013 issue of IBI showed our smitten Archie in love once again. Instead of an arrow as mythic Cupid used, our lovestruck hero used a bowling ball. You can ply girls with sweets, but a 12-pound bowling ball racing down the lanes toward 10 bowling pins is worth its weight in Valentine success. It just had to be shown again. ❖ - Patty Heath