6 SHORTS • NFL players find business in bowling • The Holler House loses its heart • Brass Ring Winners • Reno Centers upgrade security • Bowling Book Corner By Patty Heath
THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
PUBLISHER & EDITOR Scott Frager
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Little Alley in the Big Woods
ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER David Garber
Mike Miller’s Northwoods Lanes and Lounge is a year-round adventure
By Marci Williams
OFFICE MANAGER Patty Heath
CONTRIBUTORS Patty Heath Sean Krainert Joan Taylor Marci Williams
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46 REMEMBER WHEN
1979 Christian Brothers Brandy
Rolling in the Years
By Patty Heath
At Decades in Lancaster, PA, everything old is in again
www.dzynwrx.com (818) 735-9424
FOUNDER Allen Crown (1933-2002)
P.O. Box 7350 Overland Park, KS 66207 (818) 789-2695(BOWL) Fax (818) 789-2812 email@example.com
By Joan Taylor
39 Showcase 42 Classifieds 22 COVER STORY
ART DIRECTION & PRODUCTION Designworks
Chemistry On and Off the Lanes Kegel and Chris Chartrand are built for bowling By Sean Krainert
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 2020, B2B Media, Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.
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EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS
NFL HALL OF FAMER TY LAW INTRO DUCES LAUNCH
Another football standout has co-founded a new family entertainment center. Launch, a 50,000-square-foot facility in Gurnee, IL, will open in early 2020 and will be the first of three far north, suburban parks co-owned by Ernesto Lopez, Nadrshah Ali, and three-time Super Bowl champion and NFL Hall of Famer Ty Law. Launch will be a mix of sports and entertainment, featuring a ninja-style obstacle course, bowling center, laser tag arena, rock climbing wall, and full redemption video games. There will also be wall-to-wall, inter-connected trampolines and courts dedicated to dodgeball and slam dunk basketball. Law is considered one of the best corner backs with 53 career interceptions, ranking him 24th in NFL history. Law played for several teams including the New York Jets, Denver Broncos, and the New England Patriots. He was inducted into the Pro Launch takes dodgeball to the next level at its new site coming this year to Gurnee, IL. Football Hall of Fame, class of 2019.
YUKON TERRITORY CENTER’S REBIRTH Mad Trapper Alleys, in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada, was the only bowling center. It was tired, in disrepair, and was about to close. Steve Kwok, owner and operator, was tired too. However, with help from two new partners, Fido Chen and Larry Yan, the center has been revitalized, renovated, and open for fun as Northern Lights Bowling. New sleek lanes, new blue and red balls, and new shiny shoes are just part of the modernization. While the orange seats are a holdover from the alley’s past, everything else is brand new. Kwok shared with Canada News, “We were waiting for a miracle and a miracle happened. I didn’t win the lottery, but I did find two new partners from China that were interested in bowling and living in Canada. I’ve lived in the Yukon for 40 years, and it’s nice to know this will be around for a long time.” Mayor Dan Curtis is also overjoyed. “I had no idea it would be to this magnitude. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so very much for believing in our community. I know it’s going to be reciprocal.”
A HOLLER OUT TO MARCY SKOWRONSKI Marcy Skowronski was the owner of the country’s oldest certified bowling lanes located in Milwaukee. In the July issue of IBI, she and her tavern, Holler House, were featured as a unique, throwback, neighborhood-driven, historical spot that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Marcy passed away this past December at 93. Through Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Marcy’s son-in-law, Tom Haefke, described her best as, “always up to a little bit of no good.” He remembered the bawdy jokes she told behind the bar of the 111-year-old Holler House and the tales of boozy hijinks which entertained customers young and old. “She was a character,” Haefke said. “She was the reason the Holler House became kind of an institution here in Milwaukee.” Visitors came from around the world to just glimpse a bit of fun. The pins were old school, set by hand, and the décor, well the décor was bras women took off during their visits and hung from the ceiling, much to the consternation of local authorities. Every year she baked 30,000 Christmas cookies for her customers and bowling leagues. The future of the Holler House is uncertain. Skowronski’s two daughters and their husbands are all either retired or close to it. They run the tavern as a hobby these days. Later, they’ll discuss what’s next. Now, however, is the time to just reminisce.
FOR DREW BREES, FOOTBALL IS JUST HIS DAY JOB DREW BREES THROWS MORE THAN JUST TOUCHDOWNS In November, professional football was in full swing, and Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, was a busy man scrambling to maintain his team’s first place in the National Football Conference South. Off the field, he was also scrambling. Surge Entertainment Center, a 43,000-square-foot venue featuring a trampoline park, bowling lanes, a karaoke room, a golf simulator, and batting cages, as well as a restaurant in Lafayette, LA, was about to open. Brees is a co-owner with Surge founder Darren Balsamo, who operates a number of parks in Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. The duo has a similar project expected to open later in West Monroe, LA, with plans in the works for other locations in Lake Charles and Shreveport. While football is his game, Brees has other business ventures. He is also the co-owner of WalkOn’s Bistreaux & Bar Brees, in addition to owning multiple Jimmy John’s, Dunkin’ franchises, and investing in the food delivery service, Waitr. IBI
SHORTS Let’s celebrate the beginning of the new year by acknowledging the efforts of bowling centers across the country to make their communities better in 2019. It is the best way to look forward to a 2020 that is full of generosity and bowling!
Ten Pin Eatery, Hyannis, MA, opened its doors to the first annual Throw a Spare for Dental Care, benefitting the Ellen Jones Community Dental Center. The goal is to help provide affordable dental care for everyone on Cape Cod. Fountain Bowl, Fountain Valley, CA, was the venue for the 11th annual Pins for Kids Bowling. The Kiwanis Club of Fountain Valley and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fountain Valley teamed up to raise funds to support efforts on behalf kids. Poelking-Woodman Lanes, Kettering, OH, was the place for the 22nd annual Cosmic Bowl put on by Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, raising more than $22,000 for patient care. The Cosmic Bowl, in total, has raised over $1 million over 22 years. Pinz Entertainment Center, Studio City, CA, once again held the annual Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund event. Bowl for Ronnie raised more than $50,000. Capital Lanes, Tallahassee, FL, greeted 400 bowlers at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bid Bend for the 35th annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake. Along with the bowlers and financial contributions from over 50 local sponsors, $50,000 was raised. Quinnz Pinz Bowling Alley and Amusement Center, Middletown, NY, rounded out the year with Deck the Halls with Bowling Balls hosted by the Goshen Chamber of Commerce. Entry included an unwrapped toy for Toys for Military Tots. Plank in Jack London Square, Oakland, CA, celebrated its fifth anniversary with its traditional Anniversary of Giving. Every Sunday last October, plank donated a portion of revenues to local nonprofits. This year $10,000 went to five local charities. Lucky Strike Lanes, Tucson, AZ, welcomed the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, a non-profit organization, for the first annual Roll for the Bowl bowling fundraiser. $7,000 was raised and donated to the Centurions, a local nonprofit. Green Acres Bowl, Tyler, TX, was the place for the 29th annual Junior Achievement Bowl-A-Thon. The event raised $15,000 for Junior Achievement which serves more than 6,000 students, teaching them foundations for financial literacy and success. Moving off shore to Pins Lincoln, New Zealand to be exact, the Rock FM’s morning radio co-hosts Bryce Casey and Roger Farrelly, known as the Morning Rumble duo, did an amazing thing. Casey bowled for 58 hours straight and raised $366,602 for I AM HOPE foundation. His “Spare Change” bowling marathon’s goal was to raise funds to support mental health counseling sessions. What is your center doing? Email Patty Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another redemption world of wonder opened in Fat Cats, Mesa, AZ, by Redemption Plus.
BOWLING BOOK CORNER A Novella in a Bowling Center The third novella in a romantic comedy series, King & Queen, takes place in a bowling alley. Others were Bouncey Castle, Roller Derby, and Poker Game. If you love bowling, messy relationships, and have time to idle away some hours, this might be the ticket. Here’s a peek at a review from dearauthor.com/book reviews: “Like a ball on a well-oiled lane, their romance rolled toward its happily-ever-after. Too bad Bruce’s best qualities ripened like a pair of overused bowling shoes. Is there one unpredictable grand gesture left that can help them find the reset button?”
Overdue Biography Earl: The Greatest Bowler of All Time, written by veteran bowling writer Barry Sparks, is a biography about the late, great Earl Anthony, who dominated the PBA Tour from 1970 to 1983, winning 43 titles. He was named The Greatest Player in the PBA’s 50-year history by a panel of bowlers and media members in 2008. Through interviews with more than 100 people, including 23 PBA Hall of Famers, Sparks shares the challenges Anthony faced and his achievements and frustrations, while glimpsing his work ethic, competitiveness, temper, and humor. The book can be ordered online at www.earlanthonybook.com.
BRASS RING WINNERS AT IAAPA IAAPA Expo, in Orlando, was once again a major success. Here are just a few of the awards given out in 2019. Apple Industries’ Face Place’s Marvel Adventure Lab was selected as Best New Product in the photo booth category, while Bay Tek received 2019 Vendor of the Year and the Brass Ring for Best New Product in the Arcade & Video Games category. Face Place’s Marvel Adventure Lab invites patrons to be featured in a customized comic-book alongside iconic Marvel characters such as SpiderMan, Thor, Black Panther and many others. Scott Avery, Apple’s COO, explained, “The in-house software technology and magical interface create the most unforgettable user-experience ever witnessed.” Over 3,000 show-goers visited the booth. In the arcade and video games section, Bay Tek Entertainment was excited about their success. The company prides itself in the quality and the support they give their customers. Chuck E. Cheese presented the Vendor of the Year to the Bay Tek team. For their Brass Ring selection, it was Connect 4 Hoops that won the prize. “This game has been a slam dunk (forgive the pun),” said Sammy Harrison, marketing manager. “We knew it was a hit when we saw players lining up with their friends and families to play. And not just play once; but over and over again! It’s competitive; it’s social; it’s something you can’t get at home; and we’re thrilled that players around the globe are able to enjoy this together.” The top Family Entertainment Center in the World was given to Cinergy Entertainment’s Amarillo, TX, location. Cinergy, a privately held entertainment innovator, operates FECs in Texas and Oklahoma with additional locations across the country in development. 10
PEOPLEWATCHING Mike Tuccillo has been appointed product specialist for ZOT Bowling Parts. He is a 44-year veteran of the bowing business, including a 10year tenure as the head mechanic at Syosset Lanes on Long Island, NY. His experience runs the gamut from purchasing, service, shipping and receiving, inventory management, to domestic and international sales. Mike Tuccillo “His all-round experience makes Mike the ideal candidate to fulfill ZOT Bowling Parts’ need for a product specialist,” said PJ Rosendahl, president and CEO.
PJ Rosendahl has also named Steve Szabina, the company’s sales manager since 2016, as vice president of sales. Prior to coming to ZOT, Szabina had a 14-year tenure as a district sales manager for Ebonite International. This new position will expand his responsibilities to include overall sales for ZOT’s brands and product lines, including ZOT ColorSplash and ZOT Bowling Parts.
BMi Merchandise welcomes Chris Parente as vice president of business development. Parente’s experience spans 23 years in the merchandise industry with Rhode Island Novelty and Little Kids Inc. His strengths cover product development, design, import, sales and international experience. Shelley Fernandez-Katz, president of BMi, said that Parente will be an asset in continuing to evolve as the industry leader.
APPLE INDUSTRIES EXPANDS ITS SALES TEAM In order to drive national and international expansion of its product portfolio while fortifying its position as the world’s leading photo booth manufacturer, Apple Industries has hired two new sales executives. Shontae Savage joins Apple Industries as senior director of business development and Michael Lavelle joins as sales account executive. Shontae Savage Savage has over 15 years of experience in sports and entertainment working for top-tier global brands such as CBS and the NFL. Lavelle comes with over 15 years with Canon USA and won the 2018 Canon award for Top Salesperson in the U.S. “We are delighted to welcome Shontae and Michael within our growing and successful team,” Michael Lavelle said Apple CEO, Allen Weisberg.
BUSINESS AT LARGE 8 CREATIVE WORKS + US DESIGN LAB = MIDDLE EAST At IAAPA Expo 2019 in Orlando, Creative Works, headquartered in Indiana, a leading attraction manufacturer and provider, and US Design Lab of Florida, offering creative and impactful solutions for entertainment centers, including brand development and marketing, announced that US Design Lab will represent Creative Works and its products in the Middle East.
8 A UNIQUE PARTNERSHIP Sunset Lanes in Ontario, OR, has a new owner, Joe Dunne. Dunne is also the owner of Zion Cannabis, a marijuana dispensary, which will be Sunset’s next-door neighbor. The center was ready to close its doors when Dunne and his partner Joe Clark stepped in. “The city of Ontario voted for us to be here, so we feel it’s our responsibility to give back to the community that allowed us to be here in the first place,” Dunne said. The new owners are renovating the center and adding new video games, using funds from their dispensary. There is no intention of melding the two businesses. Dunne says they’ve been working closely with the city to keep the two businesses separate.
8 CLASSIC PRODUCTS HAS ARRIVED IN LAS VEGAS Classic Products’ president, Mike Eid, commented on their new distribution hub in Las Vegas. Through this center, the company can reach 93% of the bowling centers and pro shops in the U.S. via UPS, FedEx, or USPS ground in one or two days. Further, Las Vegas, being a go-to location for bowling related events, will allow Classic to be available on site. Eid shared that Classic wants customers to see the new facility as an “office on-the-go.” When needed, there will be a conference room, Wi-Fi, a controlled destination for items being shipped to Las Vegas, office space for placing calls, and a place to relax. Junior Gold 2020 is just around the corner, and Classic Products will be there too.
8 RENO EVENT CENTERS KICK UP THEIR SECURITY
8 CREATIVE WORKS SETS THE STAGE IN ALBANY
Event management company ASM Global announced it is upping security for the four Reno venues it manages: Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno Events Center, National Bowling Stadium, and Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center. The company purchased 12 walk-through metal detectors to be used at all four venues.
Apex Entertainment’s new laser tag arena in Albany, NY, will offer Creative Works laser tag and escape room attractions. A key factor is the themed atmosphere which relates to the community. In Albany’s arena, Tori Addessi, Creative Works’ concept designer, said that the wall panels were inspired by artwork and imagery from The Great Gatsby. “It has a skyscraper sort of look.” Through projection mapping, a story begins to be created as the players enter.
8 USBC’S TIERED CENTER CERTIFICATION PROGRAM Reported by Terry Bigham at Bowl.com USBC will implement a center certification program featuring tiered levels of certification and a national staff of lane inspectors over the next five years. Details will be announced at the 2021 USBC Convention. The USBC Equipment and Specifications Committee has delegated authority to make changes to equipment specifications. It was also determined that USBC will not require local associations to perform annual lane inspections. This decision means that all bowling centers will be certified until the national staff begins center certifications in 2022.
At Decades in Lancaster, PA, everything old is in again
perfect location. A 90-year-old armory with a vacant 15,000-square-foot gymnasium was available and so they agreed it was what they were looking for and construction began to repurpose the gym. Once the facility was ready, they opened Decades on March 13, 2019.
By Joan Taylor intage things are in: new diamond rings that look like antiques, furnishing homes in 1950s style furniture, and clothing ranging from turn-of-the-century to the 1940s. And bowling at Decades in Lancaster, PA, is vintage-inspired fun. Business partners Chris Trendler, Adam Ozimek, Mike Callahan, his daughter Bri Callahan, and Jonathan Yeager decided they wanted to build a vintage-style boutique bowling alley, arcade, and restaurant somewhere. They even searched for a vintage-type town. Lancaster, PA, founded in 1729, provided the
Rather than hiring pinboys and erecting old-time lanes and purchasing old wooden pins, the group went a step further by going with six lanes of string bowling manufactured and installed by US Bowling. This novelty bowling was a perfect fit for the business model that the team of investors wanted. Yeager, the marketing and events manager and a partner, said, “String bowling is like regular bowling except for the old school pin setting. The pins and bowling balls are the same size as in regular bowling. I don’t know that it’s an advantage over regular bowling, but it’s an advantage to the business. We tried to find something more affordable [for us] and with components we could fix so we wouldn’t have to hire a full time mechanic. These string pinsetters and pins require less
FEATURE customers bowl on a first come, first served basis. If there is a significant waiting time, they can go to the arcade and keep busy with the 30-plus vintage games to pass the time. Each game runs on tokens, and each token costs a mere quarter. “[Customers] can play a full game for that quarter,” Yeager said. “They can also enjoy the full-service restaurant and bar before bowling.”
While the food may not be retro, it certainly has a nontraditional, Southern flare. Dishes such as fried green tomatoes, black-eyed pea hummus, and blackened shrimp with hominy grace the menu daily. “Our chef, Lauren Yeagle, had worked in a boutique bowling center in Maryland,”
Some of the new customers of Decades used to use the building when it was a gymnasium and an armory
maintenance than regular machines. As with regular bowling centers, we provide house balls and rental shoes.” The rates are affordable, too, at $6 per person per hour and shoe rentals at $3 per pair. Because the small bowling area cannot be reserved, Birdseye view of Decades
FEATURE ...Continued from page 16
Yeager said. “We gave her the opportunity to come up with her ideal menu, and then the partners and Lauren worked together to finalize this. We offer a seasonal menu, so we change it up probably four times a year.”
While an old-fashioned place appeals to people of the older generation, Yeager says there is no clear-cut customer base. “We get retirement home people in, but we really speak to all ages.” Local companies have come in for meetings and team-building events. There have also been work parties, large birthday celebrations, anniversaries, and retirement parties. Because Decades opens during the week at 4 p.m., the daytime private events are scheduled before hours, so each group has the place to themselves. It’s an advantage that they are located in a two-college town, Franklin & Marshall and the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, the latter having scheduled special events at Decades. Young collegians are constantly looking for a fun and affordable night out. Some of the clientele remember the history of the building. “A lot of people come in here and tell us they used to have basketball practice in this gymnasium when they were in high school. The National Guard used to rent it out for big events. An elderly man told me that his grandparents brought him here as a kid when the circus was held at the armory,” Yeager recalled. Business has been good for this new, distinctive entertainment center, largely because, as Yeager points out, “We have a big central media presence with our digital and print advertising. We like to think
Chesterfield couches. Yeager jumped at the opportunity to buy several props from the series House of Cards, so he and a friend drove to Maryland to purchase them. The props were considered RetroWhite House, and gave even more character to Decades’ interior design. “I re-watched the show so I could see some of the stuff we have,” Yeager admitted.
The bar at Decades
The partners hang out with Dan Akroyd at Decades
that the fun experience and service we give make for repeat customers.” How did such a new-old concept come up with the name Decades? Yeager says that it took the team a good six months to come up with it. “Eventually we pared all the names down. ‘Deca’ means ‘ten’ for tenpin bowling. ‘Ade’ is for arcade.” The venue has a bit of celebrity status on its own, too. The décor was designed to have an underlying theme of art deco. That is reflected in the chandeliers, fireplace mantle in the middle of the building, and 20
Looking to the future, Yeager said, “We anticipate tourists for next year, [so] we have partnered with companies who promote tourism in Lancaster. Every so often we have a gaming tournament with the arcade games — we are looking to host a Skee-ball tournament. Our main goal right now is to keep doing what we are doing and to give Lancaster City and County a place for people to come with friends and family. It would be great to have another Decades somewhere else, but, for now, we just want to make this one successful.” ❖
Evan Henerson is a features and lifestyle journalist who lives in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in TV Guide, American Theatre, Orange Coast and the Los Angeles Daily News where he was a staff writer and critic for nine years.
Chemistry On and Off the Lanes 22
Kegel and Chris Chartrand are built for bowling
The Kegel team
By Sean Krainert ompanies that thrive for generations have two things in common: vision and resiliency. Kegel LLC, founded in 1981 by the late John Davis, has established itself as a mainstay in the business and sport of bowling and continues to evolve. As leadership passed from John Davis to nextgeneration leader Chris Chartrand, Kegel moved forward with confidence and innovation. Chris loves bowling, and bowling loves Chris.
Bowling Is Where It All Begins Born in New York and raised in West Palm, FL, Kegelâ€™s CEO and president Chris Chartrand was introduced to the sport of bowling at an early age. His father bowled scratch leagues, and he was always filled with excitement to go along with him as a kid. He started bowling Sunday mornings with his family and remembers his first bowling ball was a Colombia White Dot. He also recalled that ball getting stuck on his thumb and breaking all the bones in his thumb and hand. He persevered and eventually participated
Chris Chartrand (center) keeps calm and carries on when everything is going crazy. IBI
COVER STORY in youth scratch tournaments and later secured parttime work in a pro shop. “My first love has [been] and always will be bowling. I started bowling when I was 5 years old and haven’t stopped since,” says Chris about his lifelong passion for the sport. After high school, with ambitions to earn an MBA, Chris attended community college before transferring to Florida State University. He remembered hearing about the bowling team and thinking it would be a fun addition to his busy school and work schedule. He joined the team for two years but remained focused on his long-term professional goals. “In high school, I was part of the Future Business Leaders of America. I was 17 and working in a pro shop drilling bowling balls. Bowling was my entire life. I remember at one point I had to fill out a form about my life goals, and I wrote that my dream job was to be president of a bowling ball company. I got pretty close!” exclaimed Chris.
Kegel owner Jonathan Mitchell with Kegel president and CEO Chris Chartrand
CHRIS CHARTRAND’S SPIN ON THE BOWLING BUSINESS In 1999, when I came to Kegel, we had many discussions about the future of bowling — this was a major concern for our company. 20 years later, our company has experienced tremendous growth and remains very healthy. A few years ago, our executive team abandoned thoughts of diversification in favor of doubling down on the bowling industry. We’re currently more bullish than we’ve ever been about bowling’s future. Innovation is happening everywhere, and that’s brought excitement to our industry and attracted substantial investment. It seems clear that overall the industry is heading towards clear market segments. No longer are the experiences similar in all bowling centers across the country and around the world. Operators are deploying different business models to target different types of customers. Many remain committed to competitive bowling, servicing the league bowling base, while newer, higher-end bowling-anchored entertainment venues are enhancing bowling’s appeal to a very large audience of casual bowlers. I’m always encouraged when introducing new waves of customers to bowling because it’s such a wonderful activity and sport. I’d like to see a more concerted effort directed towards this large group of casual bowlers (69 million people bowl 26
once per year!) to hook them on bowling more seriously so they become lifelong customers. Some companies, like Clutch Bowling powered by Specto, are attempting to blend educational technology within an entertainment experience to help people knock down more pins. We all know how competitive people are: if they knock down more pins, and feel like they’re better at something, the likelihood that they bowl again increases. Then, who knows, perhaps they feel inspired to buy their own ball and join a league. The model that seems to still be finding its way is the hybrid model. It’s critical that some centers find a healthy balance of league bowling while introducing some entertainment elements that enhance the financial viability of the business. The more traditional centers that do this, the more lanes remain available for the loyal league base. The market that I’ve seen do this the best is the Korean market. There has been rapid expansion over the last three years, growing from 650 bowling centers to approximately 1,000 centers. Many of these centers are owned by KPBA bowlers with a passion for the sport. These centers still cater to the sport and competitive bowling, yet blend many elements we see in FECs here in the U.S., like redemption areas, higher end dining, and more. For those of us that are still very passionate about the sport side of bowling, this is the most encouraging format for the future because it captures the best of both worlds.
Left to right: Don Agent, Dennis Sheirs, Chris Chartrand John Davis (sitting, center) surrounded by his beloved Kegel team
The Moment That Altered The Future After graduating from Florida State University with a BS in Communication, Chris welcomed an invitation from John Davis to work at Kegel in 1999. Chris spent a weekend with the Kegel executive team to discuss a sales representative role. Chris had only spent 11 months working for PayChex, a payroll and human resources company, when John offered Chris the sales job. While Chris appreciated the corporate training he received at his first job out of college, he had no hesitation about joining the Kegel family. “When I did my exit interview at PayChex, the lady told me that I was making the biggest mistake of
Linda and John Davis, the founders of Kegel 28
my life. She said I wouldn’t be with Kegel for more than two years, and if I was, she would buy me a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse dinner. It’s been over 20 years now, and I still haven’t heard from her,” joked Chris. “Clearly it wasn’t the biggest mistake of my life, but the best decision of my life.” From 1999 to 2002, Chris learned the ropes at Kegel while excelling at his position as a sales representative. In 2002, he was promoted to vice president of sales and marketing. It was during the eight years following that
COVER STORY Chris really began to get to know John and take an active role in understanding and creating his vision. “John was an amazing leader, and he gave me so much opportunity while I was young. He was a visionary, and an absolute genius, and so unlike all the other traditional corporate leaders out there. I knew that an MBA would only be a complementary factor to everything I had already learned from John. His mentorship made me want to put as many contemporary tools in my toolbox at that time so I could really do a good job for Kegel,” said Chris. The relationship between Chris and John became the beating heart of Kegel. John planted the seeds of leadership in Chris, ensuring that Kegel would live beyond John; Chris’s belief in and understanding of John’s vision empowered Chris to make decisions that were best for the company.
Diversification With an entrepreneurial spirit and a busy mind, Chris continued to focus on what he always believed: diversify or die. In the mid-2000s, Kegel did indeed begin to diversify, with Fizzion, a Kegel-developed and distributed patented, water-soluble grease cleaner which has expanded into the consumer market as a pet cleaner. The success of Fizzion gave Chris the foundation to move forward in his position at Kegel; he took on the central role at the company, allowing John to spend more time outside of the spotlight. After over a decade of working closly with John, Chris was promoted to president Zach Szczepanksi, Kegel chemist (left), and Erin Wall, Kegel marketing and executive coordinator (center), clown around with Chris Chartrand, Kegel president and CEO (right)
A Loss That Resonated Throughout The Industry
Team collaboration drives Kegel’s growth
in 2010. Chris made weekly visits to connect with John at his home, near the Lakes Wales, FL, Kegel headquarters. As the new leader of the company, Chris found his time with John invaluable. “I had always wanted to be part of the movement,” shared Chris, “ that combined the sport of bowling with entertainment.” 30
On January 25, 2013, John Davis unexpectedly passed away at the age of 64, survived by his wife Linda, their children, and grandchildren. John’s legacy continues to inspire Kegel’s success. John and Chris had spent so much time together that there was never a question about the succession plan. Chris worked with the company’s partners to realize Kegel’s vision of creating products within and beyond the bowling business. In 2016, Chris was appointed CEO by the new, sole owners of Kegel, Jonathan and Michelle Mitchell. It was with their trust and support that Kegel and Chris continue to flourish in the space connecting traditional bowling centers, FECs, and the sport of bowling.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due Chris knows that Kegel’s success is due largely to its dedicated, loyal employees. When he became president, one of the first things he did was create an employee recognition program. “I remember that day I was promoted in 2010, and all of the annual anniversaries before that. They meant so much to me,” remembers Chris. “I want to celebrate every milestone with every employee.” Chris has worked closely with the many different teams and divisions at Kegel, all of whom are dedicated to pushing the boundaries and expanding the brand. This creative mindset was the foundation of the Specto Coaching Platform and the Torch Targeting System. “We were trying to walk that line between practice, competition, and fun. Specto is that entity that brings it all together and invests in all aspects of the industry,” said Chris. Fostering strong internal relationships is the cornerstone of Chris’s tenure as Kegel’s president and CEO. To that end, Chris planned a special event to kick off 2019. Kegel shut down for a day while the entire company participated in different activities, including an outdoor ropes course challenge and team-building games. Derrick Brooks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneer Hall of Famer, was the keynote speaker. Chris’s leadership and dedication to employee satisfaction has resulted in Kegel being named one of the best places to work in Polk County, FL. And it has been one of the Best Companies to Work For in Florida for the past three years running, most recently climbing to #9 in their category.
Life Outside Of Kegel
Chris’s son, Austin, loves sporting clays almost as much as he loves bowling
Mrs. Nicole Chartrand
As passionate as Chris is about Kegel, he is equally passionate about his family and friends. While working his way up the Kegel ladder, Chris married his wife Nicole on October 22, 2005, and they settled down in Winter Haven, FL. Their daughter Reghan was born, and then their son Austin. The Chartrands recently purchased their dream home in Lakeland, FL. It is the perfect place for his kids, in an amazing location, with one unique architectural flare. “The home is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, but with an unexpected bonus,” explains Chris. “The builder and previous owner thought it would be cool to infuse the house with bowling lane material! The shelves of the entryway closet are made from bowling lane wood, along with other features throughout the house, including an office desk, laundry room table, and closet doors. It was probably more than a one-in-a-million chance we found this house,” said Chris. When they are not enjoying their bowling-inspired house, the Chartrands spend time at their cabin in Blue Ridge, GA, which has its own theme: Middle Earth. Both Chris and his kids spend a lot of time practicing their new family hobby - sporting clays, a form of clay pigeon shooting, often described as golf with a shotgun because a typical course includes 10 to 15 different shooting stations laid out over natural terrain. Reghan and Austin 32
Chris congratulates his daughter Reghan after her performance
participate in all of the typical American kid activities, and take care of two dogs, one fish, one gecko, and a handful of cats. “Never a dull moment at the Chartrand home!” exclaims Chris. And there is never a dull moment when Chris is around. ❖
Sean Krainert is a freelance copywriter living in the San Francisco Bay Area specializing in real estate, hospitality, and mental health writing. He is also an alumni of the Wichita State Shocker bowling program.
By Marci Williams
s a child, Mike Miller would leave his home in Tinley Park, IL, about 30 miles south of Chicago, and go to Spooner, a small town of 2,682 in northwest Wisconsin 70 miles south of Lake Superior, and spend the entire summer with his grandparents. By his own admission, he would cry every year when he left, therefore, itâ€™s no surprise that he found his way back to Spooner as an adult. At 16, Mike worked at Tinley Parkâ€™s local bowl, where he bowled for free and enjoyed pot bowling. Later, he worked in construction until the bottom fell out in 2008; he went back to the bowl as a mechanic and worked his way up to assistant manager. Mike is also an accomplished bowler, with 27 perfect games and six 800 series. In 2012, Mike was visiting Spooner when an opportunity rolled up. The local bowl, an 8-lane center named Keglers, had been repossessed. Mike put in an offer and, by the time he left, he was the owner of a Mike Miller 34
bowling center. He bought the center on December 28, 2012, and the first official day of business was January 16, 2013. In Mike’s opinion, the opening was two days too early — January 18 was his beloved grandmother’s birthday. Mike had never owned a business so there has been a lot to learn. When he turned on the eight machines, only three of them worked. Mike had to establish priorities since money was not abundant. The first year was spent getting the machines running. Year Two was devoted to re-finishing the wood lanes, adding bumpers to six of the lanes, and replacing the wood gutters. Mike was able to get a loan to replace the furnace so his bowlers did not have to bowl wearing their coats. Mike’s hard work and investment in the bowl, which he renamed Northwoods Lanes and Lounge, has paid off, as his numbers have been consistently up. He is proud that he has the most women’s leagues of any center in Wisconsin. He has leagues every day of the week with youth leagues on Saturday. The center is packed on Sundays with $1 per game bowling. He offers cosmic bowling earlier in the day to get the kids involved. The only two employees to keep everything running smoothly are Mike and his manager, Jim Conradson. As time moved on and more money was flowing into the
business, Mike invested in a sanctioned oiler four years ago to make the lane conditions consistent. The lane consistency has attracted more bowlers from not only Spooner, but other towns up to 50 miles away. Mike says his bowlers know that he will take good care of them and that he is always honest with them. When a bowler in his center shoots an honor score, he presents them with a customized bowling pin. He has learned to be creative with his money; the masking units are repurposed from a center in Madison, WI, and he is figuring out a way to change them to reflect the seasons. His current improvement project is building a pro shop; half of the lockers have been removed to make room for it. He recently completed ball drill training but laughed at the thought of how many bowling balls he might ruin in learning to do it right. Mike has some ideas on how to build his business: he wants to start a pot bowling league; a traveling league; and he would like to coach. He is working with other local businesses cross promoting their restaurants and bars. “We want to work together,” Mike says, “to find a way to get more businesses together, to be Spooner-proud.” The bowl has traditionally not been open in the summer, but Mike plans on it being open in the summer of 2020. He realizes he has to be creative in order to compete with the
nice weather, and he knows good food and beverage is one of the keys to more business. He has perfected a Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich, while Bass Hunter Saloon, the alley’s bar, is named for his love of bass fishing. He recently refurbished the bar top with wood from a repurposed bowling lane. With Mike’s humble nature, he’s not quick to tout his success. But the locals are thrilled with the new and improved alley - they are Spooner-proud. And Mike is Spooner-happy, living his dream in the North Woods. ❖
Ms. Williams worked at Learjet Inc. (now Bombardier Learjet) for 33 years before retiring in 2005 as a corporate tax accountant. She served on the USBC board of directors for nine years, the BPAA board of directors for four years and the BVL board of directors for seven years. Her high game is a 300, and she is a proud supporter of the Wichita State and Newman University bowling programs.
SHOWCASE REDEMPTON BALL PRIZES
Redemption Plus, a leader in toys and incentive merchandise, has new ball prizes for your crane and redemption games. For a new 18-inch option, try the No. 1 Ball that features popular kid accomplishments, Camp Champ and Selfie Superstar. If you need a 5-inch option, try the new Ticket Balls. Shop these and more size options online. Flash-Back-to-the-90s Balls are coming in February! What better way to kick off a new decade than with a nostalgic tribute to the 90s! These designs will delight the young and the young-at-heart. Start the new year fresh by updating your assortment. Go to redemptionplus.com.
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INTERACTIVE SCORING EXPERIENCE
Light it up! Brunswick has captured lightning in a bottle with Spark™ Augmented Reality Bowling. Electrify your lanes and turbo-charge your traffic with the industry’s first immersive, interactive scoring experience. Spark surrounds the bowler in a mesmerizing, one-of-a-kind experience as it delivers the latest technology and entertainment trends to your lanes. Spark engages every segment of entertainment seekers with software-driven technology and innovation that’s built for tomorrow but delivered today. Only from Brunswick. Are you ready to light it up? Visit brunswickbowling.com/Spark or call your Brunswick representative today.
Steltronic has released the newest version of on-line booking of bowling reservations using its FOCUS automatic scoring. Booking birthday or corporate parties and individual lanes in advance from your mobile device, tablet, or any computer is easier and improved. With the on-line booking system fully integrated with FOCUS, leagues and prior bookings will not be in conflict with any new on-line bookings. Customers pay in advance with a credit card, and the reservation is available on the front desk within 30 seconds of the credit card approval. We are YOUR bowling center management specialists. For more info (800) 942-5939 or email@example.com.
BMi, a leader in prize hub technology, has the most extensive range of trending/branded prize hub merchandise, with prizes for every point level! Merchandise features include: a flash drive with every item; prizes include a hang tag with point value; no staples as per Child Safety Regulations; minimal use of plastic bags; BMi branded exclusive capsules; Capsule Display Units with printed poster backer customized to your assortment; and easily inserted into the Bay Tech Capsule Carousel. BMi focuses on bringing predominantly branded prizes to the nation’s amusement operators. Contact: Dave Schwartz (800) 272-6375.
IBI January 2020
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
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CLASSIFIEDS EQUIPMENT FOR SALE Lane Sanding Equipment for Sale. Gallicchio Sanding Machine, etc. Call Vic @ (780) 454-1110 NEW & USED Pro Shop Equipment. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com. REPAIR & EXCHANGE. Call for details (248) 375-2751.
MECHANIC WANTED Experienced head mechanic for AMF 8270s. Greater Houston area. Salary based on experience. Send resume to Doug@maxbowl.com.
EQUIPMENT WANTED LANE MACHINES WANTED. We will purchase your KEGEL-built machine, any age or condition. Call (608) 764-1464.
EDUCATION & TRAINING PRO SHOP TRAINING. Classes always forming. Jayhawk Bowling Supply (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
SERVICES AVAILABLE Drill Bit Sharpening and Measuring Ball Repair. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
CENTERS FOR SALE ILLINOIS: 24-lane, recently remodeled center w/ new parking lot. 40,000 s/f on 1.67 acres. Qubica scoring and POS system. Strong leagues w/ 900+ bowlers, also pool leagues. Sports bar & grill, pro shop, video gaming, & banquet hall w/ lots of room to convert. Owner retiring. Call (847) 613-5020 for price & info.
PROPRIETORS WITH AMF 82-70 S.S. & M.P. MACHINES Save $$ on P.C. Boards Exchange & Repair!
MIKE BARRETT Call for Price List
Tel: (714) 871-7843 â€¢ Fax: (714) 522-0576
LOCKER KEYS FAST! All Keys done by code # Locks and Master Keys E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org TOLL FREE
AMF • BRUNSWICK EQUIPMENT COMPLETE PACKAGES WORLDʼS LARGEST NEW – USED SPARE PARTS INVENTORY ALL AMF BUMPER PARTS, XS Q-BUMP, DURABOWL AND GEN II IN STOCK
Danny & Daryl Tucker Tucker Bowling Equipment Co. 609 N.E. 3rd St. Tulia, Texas 79088 Call (806) 995-4018 Fax (806) 995-4767
Bowling Parts, Inc. P.O. Box 801 Tulia, Texas 79088 Call (806) 995-3635 Email - email@example.com
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orty-one years ago this month, Field & Stream magazine included this Christian Brothers celebratory ad. What better way to acknowledge a 300 game than with a nice brandy. By the look of our determined bowler, there is no way that he is not going to accomplish the task. Determination? Luck? Or, that competitive spirit? It really doesn’t matter; the brandy will seal the deal. Actually, I’m with Frank. After so many games, any way you can is just fine. Happy New Year! ❖ - Patty Heath