8 SHORTS • ZOT introduces its new logo. • USBC Gold Coach Susie Minshew has a new, must-read book. • Bill Straub, Coach of the Year X Four • Cinergy Cinemas partner again with QubicaAMF.
44 COVER STORY The Magic Storm
By Jim Goodwin
56 BEHIND THE SCENES
OFFICE MANAGER Patty Heath
Jim Goodwin Patty Heath Evan Henerson Ben Jones Sean Krainert
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jackie Fisher email@example.com
By Sean Krainert ART DIRECTION & PRODUCTION Designworks
62 CONFERENCE WRAP-UP
By Ben Jones
The Soulful Experience
24 FEATURE Pulling Gs Thunderbird Lanes roars into the 21st century with a new mission. By Evan Henerson 44
The mindfully designed and interlinked themes changed perspectives, inspired businesses, and formed the shared experience that was the soul of F2FEC. By Sean Krainert
80 REMEMBER WHEN
The Golden Age of Radio…Social
The newcomer to the scene in Rochester, NY, is the talk of the town.
Avon for Men By Patty Heath
By Evan Henerson
39 FINANCE Passing the Pin
Succession management might not be the most cheerful topic, but it’s one of the most important an owner can address.
ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER David Garber
Barbara and Bill Chrisman built Storm into an iconic bowling brand.
Libbi Fletcher puts purpose behind the sport.
The right tool is always with you.
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22 CONSIDER THIS
PUBLISHER & EDITOR Scott Frager
By Patty Heath
By Ben Jones
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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 $50 per year. Subscriptions for Canada and Mexico are $65 per year, all other foreign subscriptions are $80 per year. All foreign subscriptions should be paid in U.S. funds using International Money Orders. POSTMASTER: Please send new as well as old address to International Bowling Industry, 12655 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA 91604 USA. If possible, please furnish address mailing label. Printed in U.S.A. Copyright 2017, B2B Media, Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.
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EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS
If Hooman Pedram has his way, Chicken’n Bowling will be a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Island, go-to place. His dream started last year when he purchased the equipment in the abandoned Virgin Island Christian Ministries bowling alley. With hurricane Irma approaching, Pedram posted the day before the storm a picture of a bowling pin. He wrote on Facebook that if the territory made it through Irma, he would build a bowling center. Checking in after, Pedram said every piece of equipment came through unscathed and, true to his word, he began the process of removing it from the old building. “Maybe because it was housed in a church, the Lord really watched over it,” he said. Chicken’n Bowling, now open for business, is housed in a 7,000-square-foot space with four lanes of bowling which include touch screen TVs and an upgraded scoring system. Pedram has brought professionals in to teach him and his team how to manage and maintain the center. The space also houses a stage for local and traveling bands. The restaurant offers coal-fired rotisserie chicken which is marinated for 24 hours. Putting on the finishing touches.
MALIBU JACK’S HAS NEW DIGS Malibu Jack’s, a family entertainment complex in Louisville, KY, is moving. The departure of Kmart was the key to going from 45,000 square feet in the present location to 120,000 square feet in the vacant box store. Steve Hatton, co-owner, noted that the new entertainment center will have 16 bowling lanes and a full bar, including a mini roller coaster, state fair-type rides, a virtual reality game and a “Bounce Beach” playground for kids, 10 and under. The existing mini golf, gokarts, and laser tag will join the new attractions.
REDEMPTION COUNTERS A-GLOW Coast to Coast Entertainment, a major company in coin-operated entertainment, including redemption counters, crane machines, and ticket and tokens, is lighting up redemption counters along the Jersey shore. The counters, an attraction unto
MAIN EVENT IS AT IT AGAIN Avon, OH, is the lucky recipient of the latest Main Event. Main Event operates 40 fun centers nationwide, but the Avon location will be just the second in Ohio, the other being in Cincinnati. The centerpiece of the complex is a 22-lane, state-of the-art bowling center with plush seating, electronic scoring system, and dark neon lighting. Also offered will be billiards, shuffleboard, karaoke, mini golf, rock climbing, and virtual reality games. Dining options include a fullservice restaurant, and a sports bar, plus a quick-service pizza counter. Of course, there will be space for corporate events and birthday parties.
themselves, are configurable with multiple lengths, corner styles, and a back-wall showcase. According to Coast to Coast’s Steve Paris, “There is nothing else like it anywhere.”
GREAT WOLF LODGE OPENS IN ILLINOIS Great Wolf Lodge, North America’s largest family of indoor water park resorts, has set July 1 as the opening date for its first-ever resort in Gurnee, IL, and the 17th overall. After a year of extensive renovations at the site, which was formerly Key Lime Cove resort, the Lodge will have 414 guest suites and numerous attractions and amenities. In addition to the 80,000-square-foot indoor water park, the resort will feature a variety of entertainment offerings and attractions including a full-service family entertainment center, offering the Howlers Peak ropes course, Ten Paw Alley family bowling, Howl in One mini golf, Northern Lights arcade, and Rustic Ridge, a multi-story rock wall. A favorite is MagiQuest, a live-action adventure game where guests scour the resort using magic wands to uncover relics and runes needed to defeat dragons and goblins.
ß BITS & PIECES ß ß ß
Openplay introduces Openplay.io Openplay Enterprises, founded in 2016 as an industry innovator in developing online reservation systems, announced the release of its latest software version. The update simplifies the admin workflow so it is just as easy to use for the bowling center staff as it is for the customer making a reservation. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Illinois Elementary Schools embrace Bowling Raven Davis, an elementary school physical education teacher, and Raymond’s Bowl in Johnsburg, IL, know one thing for sure-bowling is a hit with kids. Steve Kuna, co-owner of Raymond’s Bowl, purchased Bowler’s Ed, an in-school bowling curriculum, with the encouragement of Davis. This new addition to the PE schedule will include a variety of schools in the surrounding area. The kits include all the necessary equipment, lesson plans, and activities to enhance cardiovascular health, coordination, and endurance. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Linn Lanes recognized for Community Involvement Linn Lanes of Canton, IL, has been awarded Chamber Champion for the Second Quarter 2018 for its community support and involvement. Julie Williams and family have owned Linn Lanes since 2016. Since then, the center has supported countless local organizations and events, including the Humane Society of Fulton County, St. Jude, Salvation Army, and Big Brothers Big Sisters, plus KARE, enhancing kid fun through camping, and FCRC, Fulton County rehabilitation center, who host activities each month. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Bill Straub, Coach of The Year X Four Nebraska University bowling coach Bill Straub was voted National Tenpin Coaches Association Division I coach of the year. Straub was named coach of the year for the fourth time since 2005. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Cinergy Cinemas & QubicaAMF Partner Again Cinergy Cinemas & Entertainment has tapped QubicaAMF as its equipment provider for its newest location in Amarillo, TX. This site will include 18 lanes of bowling featuring the BES X Bowler Entertainment System, TMS String Pinspotters, and white bowling lanes to complement the rest of its entertainment offerings.
NOSTALGIA “OH, WHAT A NIGHT!” In Union, NJ, there were a lot of nights! Once there were three bowling centers, starting in the 1950s: Garden State, Four Seasons, and HyWay Bowl. Garden State and Four Seasons have been gone for over 20 years. Hy-Way Bowl closed in May, leaving the city without a center. Those old enough to remember, know that the Four Seasons singing group adopted their name after a one-night gig at the bowling center. It was a heartfelt note left on Hy-Way’s front door that alerted loyal customers: “Due to extreme ill health issues, as of May 24, 2018, Hy-Way Bowl will close permanently. From my heart, thank you to all my loyal employees. From my heart, thank you to all my loyal customers... God Bless Everyone.” If only Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons could be right in this instance, “Let’s hang on to what we got! Don’t let go, we got a lot…” Unfortunately, sometimes, we have to let go.
VENTOLA SHINES IN ISRAEL Ventola, a full-range lane lighting system company, has recently completed its latest project in Tel Aviv, Israel. City Bowling has eight lanes of conventional, full-size bowling and four lanes of Highway 66 mini bowling which have been installed with Ventola’s VAvR LED lighting. This lighting not only incorporates LED lighting color effects but also has a conventional
DIY Beer Pouring North Bowl, in North Attleboro, CA, is hoping to get the okay to incorporate the iPourIt system in its center. Developed by iPourIt, Inc, in Lake Forest, CA, it is a self-pouring system allowing customers to pour beer without ordering from a service attendant. It works by logging beer sales through an electronic wristband. Customers would scan their wristband, and the iPourIt machine would charge them by the ounce. The wristband resets after 32 ounces, or two standard beers, forcing patrons to go back to an employee to reactivate the device.
white general lighting option. The VAvR system is a great energy saver not requiring any further lighting over the lanes for general use and is a great 24/7 option to suit every environment. The effects are all controlled via a PC or remotely via an App.
BOWLING BOOK CORNER Attention Bowlers! The secrets are out. USBC Gold Coach Susie Minshew has a new book sure to intrigue bowlers. The Chamber of Bowling Secrets is Minshew’s third book, following the successful launches of The Bowling Whisperer and Whoever Finds It First, Wins! which were released in 2013. When it comes to coaching and understanding bowling, she offers an approach that is unique and delightful for players of all levels. Minshew has an uncanny ability to make complex concepts seem simple and easy to understand through her incredible communication skills and clever sense of humor. Readers will learn Minshew’s Seven Secrets of Success: the No Matter Whats; the sometimes Silly Language of Bowling; a Secret Weapon Every Bowler Already Has; and Bowling Myths that Challenge the Truth; plus much more. Legendary Jason Belmonte is a colleague and fan of Coach Minshew and wrote the foreword for the book. He shared: “I have known Coach Susie for more than a decade. I’ve enjoyed our collaboration during clinics and have been astonished at some of the things she says. What I mean is, I am astonished at the WAY she says things. She is clever and funny and has a way of getting you to see things differently.” Team English head coach and USBC Gold Coach Andy Penny had this to say: “In her previous books, Susie has proven to be the wizardess of jargon busting. This book is no different. She has used her magic dust to once again bring us an easy read and mixed a powerful potion to help us have fun while we are learning.” On her own behalf, Minshew said, “I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and there are so many things in bowling that either are a Magic Wand or need one, I couldn’t resist.” The Chamber of Bowling Secrets is available now through Strikeability.com and is also available in a Kindle version. For those attending Bowl Expo, Susie Minshew will be a guest at TrainerTainment’s booth for book signing. Drop by, meet Susie, buy a book, and have it signed.
PEOPLEWATCHING Embed, subsidiary of Helix Leisure, has recognized the achievements of two of its U.S. team members with new appointments. Matthew Harrison is Embed’s new director of operations and sales and Marisa Garris is sales manager. Harrison has been with Embed for 11 years. He will focus on restructuring and Matthew Harrison promoting the company’s future growth and expansion throughout the Americas. Garris has been with Embed for one year, enthusiastically enhancing guest experiences and launching solutions to drive revenue and customer loyalty. She will continue this in her new role as well. Mark Rossow, senior vice president, said, “We appreciate the contributions Matthew and Marisa have made and look forward to their leadership Marisa Garris moving Embed into the future.”
BIG comes in all sizes
Michigan’s Ironwood has a population of 5,000. Not necessarily a grand metropolis, but what it lacks in size is surely made up for in generosity. Larry’s Lucky Strikes is a nice 10-lane center in Ironwood which hosted the second annual David Erickson Memorial 9-Pin Fun Tournament, raising more than $3,400. Joel Bach coordinated the event in a tribute to his friend and veteran, David Erickson. The money raised went to BVL and America’s Veterans. Local businesses supported the event by donating prizes for the associated raffle including gift certifictes from businesses and restaurants; fishing and winter snowmobiling gear; and bowling equipment donated by Brunswick Bowling Products. BVL executive director Mary Harrar noted, “This is a shining example of what heart and hustle can do. If Ironwood can make this big of an impact, just imagine the possibilities!”
ZOT Introduces a New Logo As stated in its press release: ZOT Pinsetter Parts has introduced its new logo, the only update since the company was founded more than fifty years ago. “It’s time to modernize our image,” said ZOT’s president and owner PJ Rosendahl. “Our new designer logo is more descriptive and representative of who we are; and is a better fit for our diverse catalog of product lines and brand names.” Coinciding with the first anniversary of Rosendahl’s ownership, the new logo offers more flexibility starting with ZOT 14
Bowling Parts, which replaces the original ZOT Pinsetter Parts logo. Today, the company’s product line extends to all amenities in today’s more entertainment-driven business model. In addition to ZOT Bowling Parts, the new logo incorporates the five ZOT product categories: ColorSplash LED Lighting; Wizard Foul Detectors; Evolution Pinspotter Control Systems; ZOT Solutions (electronic and mechanical parts and assemblies); and GlossBoss Ball Conditioner Products.
Tournaments at a Glance EURO CHALLENGE BREAKS TOUR RECORD
JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY WAS THERE
The Brunswick Euro Challenge concluded its event with a recordsetting 1,279 entries, plus a celebration of the tournament’s founder, Bill Hartofillis, who is celebrating his 40th year with Brunswick Bowling Products. This was the second year in a row with a tour record. The weeklong competition welcomed bowlers from over 37 different countries and witnessed 23 perfect games. This Brunswick Bowling year’s tournament champion was Former president, Brent Perrier, and Bill Jenny Wegner of Sweden. Hartofillis, Euro Challenge
Syracuse, NY, hosted the 2018 USBC Open Championship which played out at the OnCenter Convention Center. Nearly 40,000 bowlers took to the lanes in the packed house which had lanes specially constructed for the event. This was the 115th edition of the tournament and the fifth for Syracuse which hosted in 1935, 1958, 1973 and 1999.
founder, at the first tournament.
Action on the lanes. Photo credit: Marco Pietschner, Streamforce4Bowling
“The Euro Challenge is an incredible event that showcases our love of the game,” said Brunswick Bowling CEO Corey Dykstra. “It’s a great opportunity for us to celebrate the talented bowlers who join us year after year, along with the evolution we’re seeing in the industry.”
TENSTRIKE BOWLING CENTER HOSTS THE ARMED FORCES CHAMPIONSHIP This was the opportunity for Fort Lee, VA, to show off its brand-new family and MWR facility, TenStrike. Built at a cost of $12 million, TenStrike opened last summer, replacing an aged facility. Accommodations include two separate bowling areas, 20 and 10 lanes for adults and two lanes for children. It also boasts an 80-seat food and beverage area, arcade, and meetings spaces, plus soft seating, computer scoring and entertainment systems, and LED lighting. TenStrike’s 39,752 square feet nearly doubles that of the older facility.
By Ben Jones
he first tool box I purchased is 44 years old. I bought it at Sears in Salt Lake City in 1974, my first year on the freestyle skiing tour. My tool box held all of the hand tools I needed for apartment living and ski tuning. I also carried a small tool box in my car. It’s a blue box with a three-digit lock combo:111. That same tool box is also still with me, as are most of the original tools that filled each of the tool boxes at that time. A properly equipped tool box is always close by me which leads to one of my philosophies in life: YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY TOOLS AND YOU SHOULD NEVER BE WITHOUT TOOLS. Thus, you will find a tool box in my car, on my boat, on every floor of my house, and in every building on Washington Island where I vacation. And, each location has a selection of tools unique to the situations that are likely encountered. A corollary philosophy of mine is: IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB, BUY IT. Don’t use the tool that you have on hand or that you think might be right. Know that it’s right, because with the wrong tool, the job is sure to suffer. And, BUY ONLY GOOD TOOLS; they last a lifetime. A cheap tool just might not get the job done and certainly will need replacing at the most inopportune time. Finally, and perhaps the philosophy and belief that has never failed me, and one which I hold as a life tenet: THERE IS ONLY ONE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB. Metaphorically this is not as simple as it may seem. This statement is certainly true in athletics, or construction, or even hobbies. This life tenet is also true in relationships. The tool in each 22
particular case might be a pair of boots, skis or skates, a hammer, instrument, or attitude. It might be the right word or phrase, the right, thoughtful expression, the right hand, the right hug, the right kiss, or the right distance, the right approach, the right time. THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB is always with you and it draws from experience; it is agile and patient. The right tool for the job…is always with you…it is your mind. Sometimes the right tool is opened by process and sometimes the right tool is opened by your heart. Choose the right tool and the results will follow. ❖
Ben Jones is an industry enthusiast. He shares his perspectives each month through Boomer Blog and invites your feedback. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pulling Gs Thunderbird Lanes roars into the 21st century with a new mission.
By Evan Henerson
hen the 70 employees and interns of the Michigan digital marketing and communications firm 24G want to blow off some steam outside of the office, the chances are probably pretty good that their first impulse wonâ€™t be to gather over a few games at a local bowling center. After all, they can do that on the job where 10 lanes sit at the ready. Itâ€™s one of the perks of being housed in a building that had been a bowling center for more than 40 years and which has been renovated with an eye toward keeping a portion of that activity alive for its new tenants and their clients. A community fixture in Troy, MI, for decades, Thunderbird Lanes had been the site of birthday parties, tournaments and even the bowling shows Beat the Champ and Bowling for Dollars.
Following its purchase by the owners of 24G and renovation, pins are falling once again, albeit not for the general public. “We have a pretty open culture about it,” 24G CEO Scott Wiemels says of the office’s bowling. “If you want to throw a few frames, release some stress, come back and approach a challenge from a different angle, you can do that anytime throughout the day. We’re slowly learning more about the bowling business and getting pretty good at pin jams.” Confronting creative and practical challenges has been the mission of 24G since Wiemels started the company in his basement with COO Brett Wolcott in 2007. The
company has grown and expanded as 24G has worked with increasingly high end clients including Google, IBM, Volkswagen, Audi, Nike, and Under Armour. With growth came the need for a new home and ultimately the consolidation of 24G’s existing offices in Clawson and Troy into a single site. While there was no shortage of warehouses and industrial plaza spaces available for leasing throughout the state of Michigan, Wiemels dreamed of relocating to a home the uniqueness of which would match the character of his firm. Wiemels had read an article in Crain’s Detroit about the decline of mega lane bowling complexes and, shortly after that, saw a listing for Thunderbird Lanes. The center had closed in the spring of 2015 and was then in receivership. Wiemels contacted the city of Troy and asked whether the city would be open to rezoning the site for light industrial and office use to suit 24G’s purposes. “They felt it would be better to be repurposed than to be an abandoned bowling alley for God knows how long,” Wiemels said. “That center was 46 lanes and 44,000 square feet of clear interior span. There’s not one load-bearing pylon anywhere in the building. So your ability to reframe the inside to be whatever you want is really kind of left to your imagination.”
The 2015 shuttering of Thunderbird Lanes meant the loss of a community mainstay, said Rich Glomb, who had worked with the parent company, Great Lakes Bowling, since 2002 and spent several years as the center’s general manager. A spot that attracted players from many of the Detroit professional sports teams, Thunderbird Lanes also hosted multiple fundraising and community outreach events. Glomb, who has not been to Thunderbird since its closing, called the closing “heartbreaking” and “the most stressful time of my business career.” “Any time a bowling center closes, it tears away a piece of history with it,” Glomb added, noting the Detroit metro area has long been considered the world capital of league bowling. “There’s a lot of longevity, not only with the customer base but with the employee base that you create over 25 years. I don’t know of any other sport or business that can come close to the closeness and loyalty that customers have with the facilities and the people who work there.” Wiemels, who had grown up in nearby Rochester, had bowled at Thunderbird growing up and wanted to preserve some of the center’s heritage as well as 28
upgrade it for his company’s needs. The renovations included the removal of 36 lanes and using some of the existing materials to construct desks, wall panels, and other office furniture. Much of the space is maintained as a huge, open office with separate areas for storage, training, and private events. 24G kept the bird-topped outdoor sign which now greets visitors at the entrance. When Wiemels bought the facility out of receivership, 24G acquired all of the paraphernalia, including pins,
balls and shoes. The equipment is stacked in the facility’s bar lounge and a vintage VW Microbus sits inside for further nostalgia. Given the digital expertise of the firm’s employees, designers rebuilt or reprogrammed the operations of the bowling software, making it cloud based and allowing bowlers to compete in virtual leagues. The team is now working on adding an AI component through which a bowler can instruct Alexa to pull up his history in preparation for a new game. “Everything, from the screens that set up games to the actual object recognition of pins and pin counters, has all been replaced by our own technology and software from the ground up,” Wiemels said. “Our next step would be facial recognition software within Amazon.
We use it almost like a research and development platform and the code we get out of it we can use for things that are more in our industry and how we would use it for our clients.” Thunderbird Lanes still has an active Facebook page on which people, who have not followed the venue’s history, occasionally check in to see whether they can come bowl. 24G clients are delighted by the space and Wiemels said that an open house might be something 24G would consider at a future date. “As we were doing the development, we saw that there was a real respect and reverence toward the building and toward bowling itself,” Wiemels said. “We have had several grown men in tears asking what was going on with Thunderbird. We wanted to respect that heritage when we did the renovation.” ❖
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.
The radio wall at Radio Social.
THE GOLDEN AGE OF RADIO SOCIAL The newcomer to the scene in Rochester, NY, is the talk of the town. By Evan Henerson
here are radios to be found in Rochester’s Radio Social – quite a few of them in fact, including a large stand-up wooden model brought all the way from Texas. Since the 34-lane entertainment center occupies the former home of the StrombergCarlson manufacturing plant that once churned out radios during World War II, a nod to the site’s history seemed more than appropriate. Owner Dan Morgenstern and his team certainly have the social part covered, as well. Morgenstern remembers looking around the crowd during an evening shortly after the center’s opening, Radio Social's proprietor Dan Morgenstern. in the spring of 2017, and noting that
Photos provided by Radio Social.
Bo ow ot l E h x #5 po 77
FEATURE practically none of the more than 100 guests were looking at their cell phones. Mission accomplished. Whether its patrons came for the bowling, gaming, live music, or award-winning food, Radio Social was conceived of as an environment that brings people together and encourages them to interact. Which brings Morgenstern to an item that you will not find at his radio-bedecked and very social center: televisions. “We’re not a sports bar,” the owner says. “That’s how we differentiate ourselves. We have created our own category here in Rochester.” Radio Social may still be somewhat in its infancy, but its owner is by no means an industry newbie. Morgenstern’s parents, Fred and Dora, came to Rochester from Israel in 1956 and his father took a job as the head mechanic at the newly opened Clover Lanes. Young Dan, then 5 years old, began his career by helping to clean out bathrooms at the bowling alley. Over the years, the family bought out various partners and became Clover Lanes’ owner. Morgenstern operated several bowling centers in upstate New York over the The bar and restaurant are in close proximity to the lanes. years, eventually divesting himself of all of them except Clover Lanes. In early 2016, when the value of the Clover Lanes land climbed to a level where the offer became too lucrative to refuse, Morgenstern closed the center. When faced with the decision to walk away from the industry or start anew, Morgenstern took the latter course, but he took the advice of his son, Noah, as his guide. “He was the one who really said if we’re going to do this, we need to look for a new and different model,” Morgenstern The lanes at Radio Social.
The swanky lanes at Radio Social.
said. “We began to research types of entertainment opportunities in the United States, none of which existed in upstate New York. We started to massage the idea based on what was becoming successful around the country.” Instead of building a six-or eightlane facility which would have been familiar for the area, Radio Social went bigger. Employing the design firm Staach, Morgenstern created an environment that made extensive use of glass and light. During the warmer months, an enormous garage door opens up onto a giant outdoor lawn, giving visitors access to plenty of games like badminton and croquet. Local restaurateur Chuck Cerankosky designed the food and beverage service and Rochester native Steven Eakins of the Benchmarc group returned home from Manhattan to become Radio Social’s head chef. The vision, Morgenstern said, was not a traditional one. “I don’t think a single person involved in the project was over 36 years old,” Morgenstern said. “I wanted a very young, very talented group of people that would help us create the space, and we found the right teams of people to help us. From our architect and design team, to our food and beverage director, all the way across, we hit the right buttons. Last year we were voted the best new restaurant, the best new bar, and the best entertainment venue, and we hadn’t even been open for a year.” While it may bear no resemblance physically to Clover Lanes, Radio Social continued on page 38...
PAID CONTENT BY TEST FIRE PREVENTION AND MAINTENANCE
id you hear about the bowling center that burned completely to the ground? A center in Des Moines with an iconic neon sign, an historic second story bowl in Chicago, a community mainstay in Eugene… and too many others. It’s tragic when it happens, but the sadder part is that hearing “another bowl is gone” is all too familiar. Decades of hard work, fun experiences, and family memories can be reduced to a pile of ash and smoldering rubble in the course of a few hours. What can you do? The most common fire in a bowling center starts in the snack bar. You can reduce this risk by making sure you use a licensed contractor to clean your hood and cooking systems at least twice a year. Kitchen fires are typically put out by the Ansul system or by staff using a
fire extinguisher—they don’t usually take down the entire bowl, even though the damage can be severe. Believe it or not, the #1 cause of accidental fires that kill bowling centers is electrical malfunction. Let’s be honest, most proprietors don’t pay much attention to their electrical systems. You flip the switch, the lights come on, the pinsetters rack the pins, and everything seems fine. But that’s the problem, you don’t “see” electricity. You only see the results. One day you see bright lights and people having fun and the next day you might see a smoking pile of rubble. Ignorance is bliss until it isn’t! So I ask again, what can you do? How can you detect a hazard that you can’t see with your own eyes, feel with your own hands, and which gives very little, if any advance warning of malfunction?
The answer is Thermography. Ther-what-graphy? Thermography is the use of infrared imagery to see what the naked eye cannot and detect what you wouldn’t think twice of trying to feel with your bare hands. It’s like in the movie The Predator: a thermographic camera detects the relative heat signature of whatever you point it at and is an incredibly valuable tool in the hands of a certified technician evaluating your electrical panels, HVAC units, or kitchen equipment. It can detect hot spots, overloaded circuits, malfunctioning breakers, and so much more. For the past seven years, TEST Fire Prevention & Maintenance has inspected countless bowling centers in partnership with Western Bowling Proprietors Insurance (WBPI). It’s shocking the things we’ve found— from aluminum wiring that had been dangerously spliced into Romex in the middle of a wall, to a deepfried mouse buried inside a breaker panel. At another center we discovered that none of their newly installed HVAC units were grounded. What you don’t know CAN hurt you! You invest money in routine maintenance for your roof, your parking lot, and your kitchen. It’s time to add your bowling center’s electrical systems to that list. 36
FEATURE ...continued from page 34
contains many of the same features which, Morgenstern contends, were considered risky and rule breaking when they were first initiated. Radio Social does not charge its guests to rent shoes. Games are no longer strictly timed. League bowlers can book lanes in 12-week slots. Although the facility is open afternoons and evenings during weekdays, Radio Social has
Contemporary signage and graphics add to the cool factor at Radio Social.
“Our efforts have always been how to differentiate ourselves from other centers in the community,” Morgenstern said. “We do the best we can to understand what is around the corner. We have been ahead of most trends and we find that other centers follow us.” ❖ Game tables at Radio Social.
found its corporate events traffic booming. Morgenstern says that none of Radio Social’s procedures are revolutionary. His family got out ahead of industry trends, ie. abolishing smoking, and watched as operators of other centers followed suit.
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.
PASSING THE PIN Succession management might not be the most cheerful topic, but it’s one of the most important an owner can address. By Ben Jones
he ownership duo at a Midwest entertainment center is staring at each other over a cup of coffee contemplating the news that the center’s general manager of 15 years is leaving immediately to work for a competitor. I’ll avoid the lengthy narrative as to why the GM departed, but suffice it to say that the ownership did not link key conversations with their team regarding equity and responsibilities to the urgency for planning, and, as such, was slow to accept and embrace change. Sadly, they didn’t have the foresight to prepare a succession management strategy for their business and failed to see how the loss of a key individual could affect their retirement or safety plan. Many business owners go through the work, risk, and sleepless sacrifice of starting and running a business, hoping that it will endure. But as I have written before, hope is not the same as planning, and certainly, hope plays no part in goal setting or strategy development. The BEC and FEC industry is filled with entrepreneurs running thriving businesses with secure succession plans, but it is also filled with centers whose owners have no credible exit strategy (the subject of a future article) and no succession management plan. These owners have spent little to no time determining who will take over for them when they choose to slow down or leave center stage altogether. The long-term sustainability of a center and the preservation of the owner’s wealth will depend on a clear strategic plan and exit strategy. Any reason an owner has for avoiding succession planning is never as important as the reasons they should embrace it. At the very least your succession plan and strategic plan should align and serve to drive the growth of the business into the future, while providing an annuity, reducing taxes, and setting the stage for an enjoyable and carefree retirement for all of the owners. Succession planning combines a formalized understanding of the past with an analysis of the center and business environment today to build a strategy to guide operations and growth into the future. Succession management is developing a skilled, valued, and invested talent pool that is motivated by loyalty to execute the strategic plan. As a preliminary guide, answer the following questions related to the strategy of succession management planning: 4 What is important for the business to achieve now and three, five, and ten years from now? 4 What are three steps to reach those milestone achievements? 4 Are the center’s hierarchy and decision processes effective?
4 Have you established a core foundation for evaluating both center and individual performance? 4 Do your systems provide clear direction and provide metrics and processes for employees to follow? 4 Do your core values build commitment and orient management, supervisors, and team members around a common purpose? Leadership matters! Vision, culture, and a company with soul are intangible components in the succession process. A succession management program tied to training, employee development, and opportunity will earn you the trust and loyalty of an engaged workforce at every level. Answer these next few questions relative to your key people: 4 Do you have talented people with the skills needed for the present and the future? 4 Do you have the bench strength to eliminate risk? 4 Where are the skill gaps in your key people? 4 Do you have a deliberate plan to provide multifunctional experiences to cultivate your internal talent pool? 4 Are you providing professional and personal growth opportunities? It is my observation that succession management and succession planning in the entertainment center industry is lagging behind other more progressive industries. While we are gaining heightened awareness over the past halfdozen years, those without a plan to retain key staff and manage risk are more vulnerable to increased competition, intense development, market convergence, and the demands of an ever-mobile workforce. Awareness doesn’t always lead to action, and often hardship is the motivator for change. Don’t wait to be staring at your partner over a cup of coffee wondering what happened. Plan now. ❖
Ben Jones is General Manager and FEC Specialist of Entertainment Center Financing at Live Oak Bank, cocreator of F2FEC, and has been in the FEC business for over 30 years.
THE MAGIC STORM
Barbara and Bill Chrisman built Storm into an iconic bowling brand. By Jim Goodwin
n 1988, there was no such thing as a Storm bowling ball. 30 years later the brand is dominating the sport on almost every level around the globe. Wherever bowling exists, in more than 90 countries worldwide, bowlers know about IBI
Storm and ask for the brand when choosing to own a high performance bowling ball. That, by any standard, is a remarkable achievement in only three decades. And it is even more amazing that Barbara and Bill Chrisman built their global
COVER STORY business not from a hotbed of bowling but in the beautiful Rocky Mountain state of Utah. Barbara best describes Storm’s early years and the reason why bowlers and pro shops got on board with its mission: “I think there was a real excitement about what we were doing,” she said. “We were the little guys going against the big corporations, and it almost took on a David versus Goliath mystique. We connected on a very personal level.” “And it is still happening,” Bill added. “We see it when we travel and when we read these Facebook posts. Heck, they even go so far as asking for my autograph. I always think, ‘Man, this isn’t even real.’” In a 1996 interview, Bill told IBI that the first Storm bowling ball rolled out of a converted school kitchen in August of 1991, and by January of ‘92, they had built 709 more. That was the start for a company that now produces around 2,500 balls every day from their current 80,000square-foot headquarters in Brigham City. And total production in all those years is now between 12-14 million.
BUILDING BRAND LOYALTY What is it about Storm that has made it so special? Perhaps there is no simple answer, but over the years we have talked to high average bowlers, pro shop operators, and people from all corners of the industry about the incredible brand loyalty Storm has developed and enjoyed. All had many positive things to say, and they also had one thing in common – they all said that Storm manufactures only top quality bowling balls. It is rare and remarkable
president of Storm. “I don’t think there is a magic formula, we just treat everyone a little more than fair, and that started with Bill and Barbara Chrisman.” Symes has been with the company since 1997 and was made president in 2006. “Bill insisted that we hire bowlers who can talk the talk and walk the walk,” said Symes. “He is really smart at marketing, and he has always encouraged us to be innovative. We talk to bowlers and pro shop operators all over the planet, and we speak their language. They are our friends and family.”
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS The company actually began six years before they started building bowling balls, in 1985, with the name High Score Products and a bowling ball cleaner called U Clean U Score. At the time, the Chrismans owned a small industrial supply company, and a bowling ball cleaner seemed like a natural addition to their other cleaning chemicals. With U Clean U Score selling well, Bill started talking to his friend Keith Ortan about branching out into the bowling ball business around February of 1991. Ortan had been in the business for a while and had a good reputation as the guy who developed the Excaliber ball for the Nuline company, and he had a lot to do with the very successful Blue Hammer representing Faball. The Excaliber is remembered by many as the first reactive ball, and its enhanced performance was defined by some as an accident, and by others as maybe just a lucky break. “I was there when that happened,” said Chrisman, “so I know the true story. There was a concern that the liquid ball material could freeze during shipping from the east coast to Utah in cold weather, so an ingredient was added to prevent that from happening. That is all there is to it.” The unexpected result was that the ball made from that material produced a very strong hook on the back end of the lane as a result of the added ingredient, and the new reactive concept was born.
High Score Products original building.
when a business can create not just customers but enthusiastic fans. We think of companies like Apple, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, and a few others when looking for that magic that translates into loyalty and huge success. “I’ve heard people say that Storm is the Harley Davidson of bowling balls,” said Dave Symes,
Current world headquarters of Storm Products, Inc.
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See Us at Bowl Expo Booth #577
COVER STORY ...continued from page 45
When Bill and Keith started building balls in their small shop under the High Score Products label, pouring the materials out of Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets, they were looking for a dynamic name that meant power and performance. At dinner with friends one evening, Barbara suggested Storm. Everyone liked the name, and before too long, the HSP label on every ball was replaced by Storm with its distinctive lightning bolt graphic. Other key people in the early years were Ron Wood, who became the first international Dave Symes, president distributor to buy Storm balls, of Storm. and Peter Somoff who was one of the first to feature Storm balls in his pro shops. Hall of Fame bowler Bob Hart was the first to represent Storm on the PBA50 Tour and remains on the staff today. “Storm is to bowling what Titleist is to golf,” said Hart. “I have had a wonderful relationship and friendship with Bill and Barbara for 24 years. It is a family operation and everyone involved really cares about one another. Bill and Barb built this business based on trust in their employees, honesty and integrity, and when you have that, you Bob Hart have it all. It has been my honor to be a part of it.”
was that I hoped it would not hurt bowling, because it was almost like a Storm infomercial.” “For the past 20 years, we have sponsored more bowlers and more tournaments than anybody because we love bowling and we want professional bowlers to get more money, so we do our part,” said Bill. In addition to all of the PBA and PWBA events, Storm was a primary sponsor of the High Roller, Eliminator, and Mini Eliminator megabuck tournaments in Las Vegas for many years. Storm has also sponsored many events in the European and Asian markets.
ONLY THE BEST
What makes Storm so successful is its top quality bowling balls. “I was never interested in building house balls and lower end balls,” said Chrisman. “We are in business to make money, and as a smaller company, why would we want to build $50 balls when we can build $100 balls? Having said that, we do have some less expensive balls in our line, but for the most part, our concentration has been on the high end market.” One result of Storm’s high performance philosophy is that it has attracted great PBA players like Pete Weber, who has been on the Storm staff for more than 20 years, and Norm Duke. “I am so lucky to have the support of Storm, and it all starts with Bill and Barbara,” said Duke. “They have always been committed to making the best products for the world to enjoy, but they have provided a family atmosphere for the staff, players, and their employees.” On the women’s side, Hall of Fame bowlers Leanne Hulsenberg, Liz Johnson, and Kelly Kulick all use Storm equipment. Hulsenberg is now a Storm sales representative. As the brand grew, so did the product line. Top pro and amateur bowlers around the world look forward to the latest and greatest Storm ball like Apple customers looking for the newest phone. And with success, Storm has been able to buy other brands. In 1997,
RAPID EXPANSION OF PRODUCTS, BRANDS, PEOPLE Storm’s mission from the beginning has been to build the best bowling balls in the world, and by all measures, they have achieved that goal. They currently enjoy a 50% worldwide market share of high performance balls, and their staff players have dominated the biggest tournaments in the world for the past decade. In 2011, Storm bowlers swept all nine events in the PBA World Series of Bowling, and in 2013, all TV finalists in the U.S. Open were rolling Storm balls. “When we walked in for that U. S. Open TV show and saw that our guys had given everyone in the audience Storm t-shirts, I thought, ‘Holy Cow! This is an all Storm show!’” said Barbara. “And then my second thought 48
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Barb and Bill Chrisman attending the HJ Malone tradeshow in the early days of Storm, c. 1992.
they purchased the very respected Roto Grip brand, and they now own the 900 Global company in San Antonio. They came very close to acquiring the Columbia 300 brand before the decision was made to sell it to Ebonite International. The product line now includes an extensive line of bags, shoes, clothing, and accessories, including a line of products from Master Industries which was acquired by Storm a couple of years ago.
INTERNATIONAL SALES HAVE BEEN SENSATIONAL When we attended the most recent World Bowling Championship Tournament in Las Vegas, we could not help but notice that many bowlers were wearing jerseys with the Storm logo. There is a good reason for that. As good as sales are in the U.S., they may become even better in Europe and Asia, thanks in large part to great representatives like Tim Mack, who was recently elected to the USBC Hall of Fame, and Robert Dong, who was an early hire to represent Storm in the Asian markets. Mack is well known globally as a warrior on the lanes, and a champion for Storm and all of bowling. “I said in my Hall of Fame speech that I approach every day with Storm with the same enthusiasm I had in 1995 when I started,” said Mack. “Bill and I have a relationship like a father and son. I have learned so much from him. How many companies have an owner that is accessible to anyone? That is what makes Storm work. As representatives of Storm, we think of ourselves as extensions of Bill and Barbara Chrisman, and we believe that we make a difference and make bowling better.” Mack has traveled millions of miles across Europe and Asia singing the praises of Storm, not just as a salesman but as a top 52
level bowler. Storm not only allowed him to bowl in tournaments but encourages it, because it fits perfectly with their philosophy of being recognized as the bowlers’ company. Along the way, Mack won 70 tournaments in 30 different countries to earn his Hall of Fame stripes. “So much is happening in Asia again. The Korea market is booming, the big sleeping giant China is waking up to bowling, and it is an exciting time again,” added Dong. “Storm is truly the bowler’s company, from top to bottom. Asia knows that Storm cares, and we stand behind our products and service. We have seen the caring personality of both Mr. and Mrs. Chrisman throughout the last 25 years in Asia. They are almost iconic figures in Asia. [They are] loved and respected; you can speak to anyone in Asia, and they will tell you this. They are also the two most dedicated people I know, and they truly represent what is good in bowling all over the world. Storm is totally committed to building a better bowling industry in Asia, and providing technical service and total care for sport and leisure bowling. I also believe we know what the Asian bowling public wants, and we are able to deliver it to them with very close personal service.”
MAKING IT RIGHT AND GIVING BACK When folks who may not know the history look at Storm today, they may get an impression that all this success came easily, but the magic formula we see today was built on the three tenets: passion, tenacity, and customer service. One example of these tenets in action was in the early years of the business. Storm got a large order of balls from Korea. They filled it in a hurry, but when the balls started breaking in alarming numbers, Bill knew something was wrong with the materials. Replacing them might mean bankrupting the company. But Chrisman traveled to Korea, verified the problem and apologized, agreed to replace the entire order, and made it right. “When I arrived in Korea, I went immediately to the warehouse where the balls were stored,” said Chrisman. “The guys opened a box and I dropped one ball. It cracked like an egg. I proceeded to drop and watch bowling balls break until I became too tired to drop any more. We had no choice except to replace the entire 2,200-ball order at no charge. It cost us more than $125,000, an enormous amount for us in those days.” He then spent months getting the company back in the black, saving not only the company but everyone’s job. A lesser man might have walked away at that point. Once Storm started finding financial success, Bill and Barbara started looking for ways to give back to not only bowling, but to the local community and worthy charities. The Chrismans have made hundreds of donations over the years, including a
COVER STORY $400,000 donation to a local domestic violence center called Your Community Connection. They also donate to the Salvation Army, their local food bank, their local homeless shelter, and to many more. Through their involvement with the PBA /PWBA Mixed Doubles Tournament in Houston, commonly known as the Luci Tournament, they got involved in raising funds for breast cancer research. In the early years, that money went to The Stehlin Foundation in Houston where Luci Bonneau was treated. The past three years the Chrismans have given more than $250,000 to the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah. And then there is the local veterans home donations. The Chrismans give Storm employees the best way to give — paid time off to volunteer. “Every bowling ball that Storm sells makes all of that possible,” said Barbara. “Every bowler that owns a Storm ball has been a part of that,” added Bill.
BARBARA’S ROLE HAS BEEN ENORMOUS In the early days of Storm, Bill was the guy who traveled around the globe doing the meetings and negotiating the contracts. He was the face of Storm for many years, but during all that time, it was Barbara who held down the fort at home. In the beginning, no money was taken from Storm, and Barbara continued to run the industrial supply company to provide funds to keep Storm afloat. “Barbara was quite a good salesperson, and she is excellent at public relations,” said Bill. “For many years, we simply could not afford for both of us to travel, so she had to stay home, and that was very difficult, but she did it. In 2011, something happened that became a real wake up call for the Chrismans. While attending the 2011 combined Bowl Expo and USBC Convention, Barbara tripped on a marble staircase at the hotel and cracked her head open. It was a scary fall to say the least. “I was not right for maybe six months after that,” said Barbara. “That was the day I learned I could not fly!” All joking aside, the fall left her with a serious concussion, and made both Bill and Barb realize that life offers no guarantees for tomorrow. “It terrified me,” said Bill. “And it brought us closer together. We both realized that day that we could die at any moment, and we better work harder at enjoying our time together.” Barbara’s giving spirit has also extended to other parts of the industry. From 2005 – 2011, she served on the USBC Board of Directors. “When Mike Carroll called me and ask me to serve on that board, it was one of the proudest days of my life,” she said. Bill has also done his part, serving on the Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame Board, and on the International Bowling Pro Shops and Instructors Association board. With his connections in Asia, he was very involved in the World Bowling Olympic effort that is ongoing.
WHY IT ALL WORKS Not long ago, the University of Southern California School of Marketing did a study about the psychology of brand loyalty. What they discovered 54
Bowling Balls just out of the molds.
was that companies like Storm that are able to achieve success share five core dimensions: w Sincerity – they are seen as honest and genuine w Excitement – the product is daring, spirited, and imaginative Competence – reliable, responsible, dependable w w Sophistication – glamorous, charming, romantic w Ruggedness – tough, strong, powerful They also discovered that the use of colors, well chosen words in marketing, and the creation of a sense of belonging were keys to create brand loyalty. When we ran across this study, we thought it might have been written especially for Storm, but in fact it is the other way around; companies like Storm are so naturally innovative they set the example for others to follow. Finally, the study revealed that, as an example, 76% of people who use Apple phones will replace their phone with the same brand, and 59% won’t even consider other brands, while remarkably 78% cannot imagine using another brand. We suspect that bowlers who use Storm products would fall into even better numbers than those enjoyed by Apple, and, if that is true, Storm and StormNation is headed for a very long road of continued success. Barbara says it best, “We are a family, and it is magic.” ❖
Jim Goodwin is the founder and president of the Bowling News Network and a former president and life member of the International Bowling Media Association.
BEHIND THE SCENES The amazing Libbi Fletcher.
owling has united people across generations, continents and cultures since its modernization. The word bowling can capture our attention from across a room and draw us into conversation with complete strangers, while an afternoon on the lanes can be enjoyed with our grandparents or grandchildren. For some, like Libbi Fletcher, bowling is a powerful instrument in providing services and support to those in need, elevating its underlying essence.
Early Libbi Like many of us, Libbi’s connection to bowling has evolved with her through the years. Growing up in Ohio, Libbi enjoyed bowling recreationally here and there through events and celebrations during her childhood. After receiving her accounting degree at a nearby community college in Kentucky, she headed off to Michigan. Soon after moving, she joined a softball team. Many women on the team were also in a local bowling league. That introduction to bowling is the foundation of her continued dedication to veterans. With her father serving in Korea and her youngest sister an Army veteran, Libbi’s familiarity with the men and women who serve our country has always been a part of her life. The connection was solidified when she took on the responsibilities of the former secretary/treasurer of the women’s Detroit organization who had a close relationship with the VA centers across Detroit through BVL.
A living example of the community and comradery in bowling
i b Lib tcher Fle ng Putti
port S e h ind t h e B ose p r u P By Sean Krainert
Since 2012, Libbi has served on the board of directors for BVL, the Bowlers to Veterans Link, that provides dynamic support for veterans across the nation. For over 75 years, BVL has maintained its leadership role in providing recreational programs and services designed to help veterans maintain or recover basic motor functioning and reasoning abilities, and build confidence and socialization skills. Anchored in Detroit, the biggest bowling city in the U.S. with nearly 70 active league and tournamentfocused centers, Libbi stands on solid ground to make things happen. Libbi’s enthusiasm for BVL is mirrored by a remarkable group of like-minded people, including BVL chair John LaSpina who is also president of Maple Family Centers, a family-owned business with a chain of five bowling centers. Working together with Libbi, John’s business has raised more funds for BVL in the past five years than any other
BEHIND THE SCENES
In 2017, Libbi and the BVL staff proudly presented a check to then-Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald.
company in the industry. “Libbi is joyful to work with at BVL, with a passion for bowling that is infectious,” states John. “She works diligently on the BVL board with the same energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to brighten veteran’s lives each and every day as she does for all things bowling. Bowling needs more Libbi Fletchers! Today, Libbi helps gather and distribute funds for the purchase and use of sports equipment, arts and crafts supplies, pet therapy activities, games, dance, drama, music and community outings at VA medical centers, vet centers and state homes around the nation. Through the sport of bowling and Libbi’s dedication, BVL has become a cause embraced by all. “We are trying to do a better job at talking about what BVL does and about our mission to make sure people in the bowling community understand who we are and why we are here,” explains Libbi. “I see this wave of people that are supporting BVL, and its wonderful! Along with individuals and bowling centers, the bowling industry itself has really started to embrace BVL as our charity.”
Beyond Expectations The rewarding work that Libbi does comes with perks even she couldn’t have dreamed of. One of the fondest and proudest memories for Libbi came on Veterans Day in 2013. As one of the biggest service organizations for veterans, BVL gets the privilege of participating each year in the services at Arlington Cemetery. “I carried the BVL flag alongside Marci Williams [who was] carrying the American flag,” said Libbi. “To stand there and see President Obama with his hand over his heart as we marched toward him….it was amazing. One of my absolute favorite days.” 58
Outside of BVL, Libbi served nationally with WIBC for four years prior to the merger, and five years under the USBC umbrella. She was the first president of Metro Detroit USBC (MDUSBC) during the time period when four area associations merged creating the largest local association in USBC. While humble about the work she has done in every position, Libbi is recognized as an icon in the industry and revered as representing the true essence of the sport. “Having served with a number of icons over the years, Libbi’s integrity was by far the most impressive. She always came to the table selflessly, with the remarkable ability to step outside of her local Detroit knowledge, and truly driven by an unwavering passion to really look at what was best overall for the sport of bowling,” said bowling veteran Marci Williams. While Libbi has worked in the IT world for most of her life, she would leave it all behind to work in the bowling industry full time. “I always thought, ‘who wouldn’t love to just get paid to talk about bowling!’
Libbi loves her Detroit Tigers.
I always think about it and don’t think I would ever turn it down.” To learn more about the programs BVL provides, to get involved, or make a donation, please visit: http://www.bowlforveterans.org/. ❖
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.
THE SOULFUL EXPERIENCE The mindfully designed landscape and interlinked themes that changed perspectives, inspired businesses, and formed the shared experience that was the Soul of the F2FEC. Photos courtesy of Tim Sealy and Sealy Media
By Sean Krainert
he remarkable turnout of professionals from the top tiers of the family entertainment industry in the room at the F2FEC set the stage for this compelling experience, with Soul marking its fourth year. From the inspirational videos and soulful soundtrack to the thoughtful sensory cues, the Three Amigos — Rick Iceberg, Ben Jones, and George Smith — orchestrated a seamless experience that maintained an anticipatory momentum throughout. The thoughtfully designed environment created a space for people to come and enjoy business and pleasure in harmony without any need to hold back. In fact, letting go was the only way in. The conference reached beyond the professional realm and into the personal with reoccurring messages that began to compound and spread from one moment into the next, becoming the underlying buzz of the week. These messages began as topics chosen to add value to the businesses and lives of the attendees. Yet as impassioned presenters shared their thoughts and experiences, and attendees connected with each other for hours on end, the importance of these ideas became clear again.
The Humanitarian Efforts That Define Us The thought and effort we put into generating happiness in our own lives is something that shines through in the businesses we run. The FEC industry in particular has a unique responsibility to create moments of happiness for the customers that step inside our doors. There were dozens of touchpoints throughout the F2FEC that integrated this stream of thinking of investing in people as part of the culture of a business. Even though these two topics justify having their own room to roll around, they are inarguably dependent upon one another. One of the biggest takeaways from Soul was the conversation around the interdependency of investing in staff and defining culture was abundant. It wouldn’t make sense to discuss investing in your staff 62
without first defining a culture that serves as the support system for doing so. And when defining your culture, it must encompass the people you want to attract and how you will ignite their likeminded passion to help leverage your business. This symbiotic relationship caught fire in discussions across the conference, from subtle notions to full-on passionate conversations. The conference’s dynamic speakers were to thank The Three Amigos montage.
Alliance partner meeting.
for fanning this fire. Benny Anderson of Metropolis Resort painted a vibrant picture of what it means to truly engage and empower staff to add to the value of a business. Alexandra Valentin from The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center shared that the lynchpin of their established brand is their culture that attracts and nurtures their ladies and gentlemen of the workplace. Nick Madden of
Marine Johnny “Joey” Jones tells his remarkable story at F2FEC.
Red Door Escape Rooms also sharpened the point when he shared that choosing staff to lead their customers on adventures is the absolute most important part of the experience they offer, a cornerstone of their business. Feeling the energy around this idea of investing in staff and defining culture was inspirational. A purpose of F2FEC reminded attendees that a 64
successful customer experience is generated from within a company, starting with its leadership and core ideology.
Adding Value to Objects Through Purpose While the entertainment business is experience-driven, it is the products and attractions that set the stage. Initially, these items could appear to be unequal to some of the more intense or conceptual topics on the table at this engaging conference. Then again, would anyone argue that the Three Amigos would ever do anything just to check off a rudimentary box? Quite the opposite: knowing that they purposefully planted the seeds that developed the framework around this topic made it as significant as any other at Soul. The connection between the selection of attractions and the way we intentionally choose our staff and design our culture was shown to them through the presence of the esteemed vendors and distributors and the videos they shared of the people behind the production. These are the advocates for the quality of the items we use in our FECs that serve as a mirror to our brands. And these producers hand these items to us filled with soul that reflects the humanity of their organization. Amigo George Smith meticulously and passionately talked about this very topic — the pure heart behind these companies. George reminded us that every detail matters, and that by investing the time, energy, and money into products that not only Amigo Ben Jones. work well and attract customers but continued on page 67...
CONFERENCE WRAP-UP ...continued from page 64
dialogues into the mix around what it means to acknowledge the individual customer. Whether we are aware of it or not, every business already does this on some level. For example, your shift leader recognizes and welcomes the family that comes in every Tuesday night by escorting them to their favorite table. Or maybe it’s the couple that your general manager prepares for on every one of their birthdays and anniversaries that they love to spend at your facility. By dropping these scenarios and challenging the status quo of customer care, discussions became enlivened by generating and sharing ideas of how businesses could leverage the power of a customer profile to reinforce their brand and the humanity behind them.
The Power of Innovation and Technology Amigo Rick Iceberg (left) and Don MacBrayne.
also generate the pure joy in the people that use them.
What Makes Us Tick As the ideas of business culture, staffing, and attractions began to take hold, the soul of the conference continued to take shape: identifying a target market. Establishing a customer profile helps to guide decision making for any business. Target markets are specific, but do they always encompass who our customers really are and what makes them tick? And what if who we really are, and what we want to offer, doesn’t match up to an already established market? Dale Schwartz and Chris Soukup from Pinstripes addressed this issue. Their challenge was that they created a unique style under the FEC umbrella that went beyond its typical defining characteristics. Instead of yielding to the precepts of an industry, Pinstripes is helping to redefine it by shaping a new customer. “Our true north is sophisticated fun. The challenge was breaking the stereotype of what people thought of an FEC with a bowling alley and how it would function, including the type of food served and overall level of service. We’ve had to break those stereotypes simply by inviting people to experience our exceptional quality of food and service, the main distinguishing components of who we are.” The customer profile also brought other
From data collection to having a social media presence, the point was sharp: embracing technology is the way forward. Why it may seem like a far stretch from our soul to the Internet, there is indeed a connection between them, with business right in the middle. Many moments during the conference were filled with clear and firm reminders that technology is our friend. So, what is the connection? In order to realize the full potential of our business’s soul we must define our culture and fill it with the people we want to represent our brand. We follow our business plans that define our target customers and we aim to exceed their expectations once inside our facilities. We then need to find these customers, intrigue and engage them, and invite them in to our centers with quality service, attractions, and experiences. Enter our friend the Internet and the social media platforms that are not only a mass communication tool, but the most popular go-to channel for people to connect and share Digital marketing guru Paul Chambers of Element 5 Digital took center stage for this conversation, sending ripples of chatter. His presentation
Speed-rapper Mac Lethal thanks the room. IBI
Opening dinner at the Lakeside Terrace.
included utilizing technology to reach out to new customers and interacting with current ones outside the walls of FECs. Social media marketing can sometimes be a daunting task, but with the help of companies like Paul’s, every business can harness the influence of the modern communication tools used to reach today’s customer and without fear of losing the power of human connection.
the F2FEC was to share ideas with the intention of bringing more value to our businesses and to enhance
The Experience Economy and the Future Customer The common denominator at F2FEC was that the entertainment industry, of which we are all a part, relies upon experiences. When innovative pioneer Nolan Bushnell spoke, the room listened. His words spanned from the importance of social media to confirming one of the most resolute topics at the core of the event: the reemergence of the experience economy. With every product from around the world now accessible by the touch of a button, people are yearning for more than things. Product-driven businesses themselves have been forced to go beyond attracting customers with quality goods or low prices due to the rise of customer expectations. The Age of the Customer is upon us and thus puts the entertainment industry center stage. “There is a huge opportunity to create a concept that is endorsed and embraced by the millennials because of their search for authenticity, socialization, and entertainment,” said Michael Long of Trifecta Management. “In the entertainment industry we are in today, we provide all of those things.” Nolan Bushnell gives his expert opinion The premise of being in the room at on the world of gaming. 68
High tech is needed to put on a great conference.
the humanity behind them. The elegant ebb and flow choreographed by the Three Amigos drove home the ultimate effect of creating a customized experience. With orchestrated details that appealed to each of the senses, every moment was designed to ignite relationships that would change lives. We as FECs are the leading pioneers of the reemerging experience economy, and the souls of our businesses are what will lead the next generation of our industry. ❖ 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.
JUNE 7-10 Pro Shop Training Classes Jayhawk Bowling Supply Russ or Alex (800) 255-6436
15-17 IBPSIA Master Class Southpoint Hotel and Casino Ibpsia.com
17-21 International Bowl Expo Paris Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, NV Bpaa.com/bowlexpo
7-8 LaserTAG360 Creative Works www.lasertag360.com email@example.com
East Coast Bowling Center Convention Kalahari Resort â€“ Poconos www.bpaa.com
8 Nebraska State BPA Annual Meeting TBD Chris Gallas firstname.lastname@example.org
11-12 TrainerTainment Business Coaching BPAA Training Campus, Arlington, TX Trainertainment.net (817) 886-4840
22-23 Trainertainment Advanced Sales BPAA Training Campus, Arlington, TX Trainertainment.net (817) 886-4840
DECEMBER 6-9 Pro Shop Training Classes Jayhawk Bowling Supply Russ or Alex (800) 255-6436
OCTOBER JULY 17-19 BPAA Bowling University Management School Toftrees Golf Resort State College, PA
30-31 BCA of Florida Seminar & BOD Hammock Beach Resort Palm Coast, FL Chris Gallas email@example.com
4-7 Pro Shop Training Classes Jayhawk Bowling Supply Russ or Alex (800) 255-6436
BPAA One-Day Management Boot Camps Available to state associations & multi-unit centers Upcoming Management Boot Camps:
7-9 Southwest Trade Show Texas Bowling Centers Association Golden Nugget Group rate available ($119) Lake Charles, LA Karen Miller (512) 467-9331 firstname.lastname@example.org
July: Missouri, Skip Merryman, (817) 385-8446 Pennsylvania, Chris Gallas Ohio, Lewis Sims, (419) 935-1394 Idaho, Skip Merryman
September: Louisiana, Marc Pater, (225) 925-5471
AUGUST 2-5 Pro Shop Training Classes Jayhawk Bowling Supply Russ or Alex (800) 255-6436
8-9 BCA of Florida Annual Meeting Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club Palm Harbor, FL Chris Gallas email@example.com
Contact Kelly Bednar (817) 385-8462 Kelly@bpaa.com
IBI June 2018
Official magazine of the convention
SHOWCASE EASY E-SHOPPING
Managing orders for parts and supplies for your center doesn’t have to be frustrating. There is now a better way to buy! QubicaAMF introduces eShop, where ordering your parts and center supplies just got amazingly easy. The QubicaAMF eShop offers easy ways to find the parts you need quickly, ensure they’re the right parts, and manage your purchases efficiently. Get started today by visiting qubicaamf.com/eshop.
BMi Merchandise has unveiled the perfect Keymaster/Prize Locker product assortment. On the lower tier, prizes include Pokemon trading cards, Squishies, and more. Mid and top tier prizes feature winners like Batman collectible watches, Fingerlings, drones, and dash cams. All items come strapped and sized to fit Keymaster/Prize Locker’s prize parameters. A beautiful display helps create a showcase for your arcade. For more information, contact Jim Chapman at (800) 272-6375 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SCORING & CENTER MANAGEMENT
Sync by Brunswick is the industry innovator for the next generation of scoring and center management, combining advanced technology, stunning 1080p graphics, and a powerful suite of center operations, point-of-sale, and automated marketing tools to help centers drive traffic, increase sales, and encourage repeat visits. for more information: brunswickbowling.com.
PROGRAMMABLE LED SYSTEM
ZOT offers a truly unique LED lighting and control system that is changing the way the industry thinks and markets its business. ColorSplash provides new and existing businesses with the ability to create custom light shows comprising a myriad of colors for an all new entertainment experience and, at the same time, promoting revenue and profit. ColorSplash is more than a lighting system. It’s a marketing tool that can be tailored for virtually any promotion, ranging from birthday parties, corporate team building events, holidays, and major sporting events. For more information contact Steve Szabina, (405) 503-1710; www.colorsplashlighting.com; or visit booth #820 at Bowl Expo.
VR FOR YOUR BEC
LAI Games invites Bowl Expo attendees to try the industry’s first attendant-free attraction, Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride, at booth #409. While attendant-free, Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride operates and is serviced like any other coin-op amusement game. Created in partnership with pioneering video game developer Ubisoft, it will provide a VR experience that will entertain everyone. The Rabbids brand offers three thrilling experiences suitable for all ages. It includes a D-Box motion platform, HTC Vive headsets, dynamic wind simulation, and hi-fi audio. Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride is an unforgettable experience for guests and a winner with operators. Give it a try or visit www.laigames.com for more information.
FURNITURE AND MORE
Facility Concepts’ wide range of high-quality lane, lounge, and food service area seating and tables, along with their expansive custom millwork capabilities, means they can provide nearly any furniture, fixtures, millwork, and décor that your bowling center might need. Pictures tell it all. Facility Concepts can be found at www.facility-concepts.com or reach them at ContactUs@fcius.com and (800) 915-8890. Going to Bowl Expo? Stop by booth #234. IBI
to place your Classified Ad in International Bowling Industry Magazine
Call (818) 789-2695
Fax (818) 789-2812
your ad to:
CLASSIFIEDS EQUIPMENT FOR SALE Looking for affordable automatic scoring?! Email email@example.com. We might have the ANSWER for you. NEW & USED Pro Shop Equipment. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
MECHANIC WANTED HEAD MECHANIC for Brunswick A2 pinsetters and Qubica BES X scoring, with overall center expertise needed. Busy 40-lane center in St. Clair Shores, a suburb of Detroit, MI. Good working environment. Salary negotiable. Send resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
REPAIR & EXCHANGE. Call for details (248) 375-2751.
EDUCATION & TRAINING EQUIPMENT WANTED LANE MACHINES WANTED. We will purchase your KEGEL-built machine, any age or condition. Call (608) 764-1464.
PRO SHOP TRAINING. Classes always forming. Jayhawk Bowling Supply (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
SERVICES AVAILABLE POSITION WANTED Certified Brunswick mechanic versed on all American and Japanese serial machines and ZOT conversions. Seeking part time or full time in the Denver and central Colorado area. Will furnish all tools and equipment. Very experienced; with excellent references. Call (303) 948-8770 or (720) 527-4287.
ATTENTION: AMF 82-30 owners! Chassis rebuilding & all AMF 82-30 motor rebuilding. One-year guarantee. We deliver. [We reserve the right to decline service.] For information, call (330) 716-5735. Drill Bit Sharpening and Measuring Ball Repair. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
CENTERS FOR SALE CENTRAL IDAHO: Busy, updated, 8-lane (synthetic) center: electronic scorekeeping, league play & 50-seat restaurant with drive thru. Easy highway access. Assumable loan. Call (775) 720-2726 for more details. FLORIDA: Central. Attractive, mid-sized center with revenues trending up. Owner retiring. Call David Driscoll (352) 735-8065.
CLASSIFIEDS PROPRIETORS WITH AMF 82-70 S.S. & M.P. MACHINES Save $$ on Chassis & P.C. Board Exchange & Repair! A reasonable alternative for Chassis and P.C. Board Exchanges MIKE BARRETT Call for Price List
Tel: (714) 871-7843 • Fax: (714) 522-0576
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
TECHNICIAN NEEDED QubicaAMF, the worldâ€™s largest bowling equipment provider, is seeking a technician wanting to take their skills to the next level by joining our Technical Support team located in Richmond, Virginia. We are seeking a self-motivated professional with excellent communication skills, who pays attention to details, is a great listener and technical troubleshooter.
MINIATURE GOLF COURSES Indoor/Outdoor. Portable/Pre-Fab. Black Light/Traditional/Pro Putter. 202 Bridge Street Jessup, PA 18434 570-489-8623 www.minigolfinc.com
LOCKER KEYS FAST! SELL YOUR CENTER
All Keys done by code # Locks and Master Keys E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org TOLL FREE
The ideal candidate will have practical knowledge on lanes, ball returns and scoring equipment and working knowledge of pinspotters and/or pinsetters. They will know safety procedures and standards of bowling equipment. Can easily troubleshoot, identify and suggest repairs and/or replacements of malfunctioning bowling equipment. This position will be will be responsible for answering incoming calls for customers, conducting comprehensive assessments of issues, troubleshooting and providing solutions to challenges. We offer a competitive compensation package which includes medical and a 401K plan. If you have the desire to work for the market leader in the industry, please send your resume along with a cover letter detailing your experience to Peggy Martin at email@example.com.
1969 ‘Avon is calling.’ ‘For me?’ she asked ‘No, for him.’
or 130 years, Avon Products has sold beauty products designed for that special lady of the house, who was just too busy to go shopping. Presently, it is the 5th largest beauty company, according to Wikipedia, and the second largest direct-selling enterprise after Amway. Our Fuller Brush guy couldn’t hold a candle to the Avon lady. Sitting down and spending a few moments during the day selecting products was a treat and a respite from the day’s
chores. There were not only products for her, but (maybe to assuage her guilt over her buying spree) there were goodies for the kids and hubby. Avon for Men offered fragrances just for that guy. Golf during the day, bowl at night, and then top it off with a “brisk, manly fragrance.” To mix my commercials…it’s manly but she likes it too. Sorry Irish Spring, I couldn’t help myself. Which to choose? The King Pin, of course! ❖ - Patty Heath