THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
6 SHORTS • Up-and-coming Gazmine ‘GG’ Mason on ABC’s Good Morning America • Betson promotes Britannie Betti • Tip of the Hat to Dart Bowl, Cloverleaf Family Bowl, and Glacier Lanes • Spare Time Entertainment, NY, salutes Joseph Gentiluomo at reopening • Shaffer Distributing’s latest projects • Photos that capture the time and tell the story
22 COVER STORY Keeping The Lights On Small town centers find ways to survive By Mark Miller
30 FEATURE Leagues Get Rollin’! Flooring leagues in the age of the coronavirus By Joan Taylor
By Natalie Davis 22
The company passes a major milestone
46 REMEMBER WHEN
By Paul Lane
1966 All About the Rubber By Patty Heath
19 MEMORY LANE Remembering A Giant
Paying tribute to PBA and USBC Hall of Famer Dick Ritger
By Paul Lane
OFFICE MANAGER Patty Heath email@example.com
CONTRIBUTORS Natalie Davis Patty Heath Paul Lane Mark Miller Joan Taylor
MARKETING MANAGER AND SALES Natalie Davis Natalie@bowlingindustry.com
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jackie Fisher firstname.lastname@example.org
www.dzynwrx.com (818) 735-9424
Getting the go-ahead at the Some Strings Attached Invitational
ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER David Garber
ART DIRECTION & PRODUCTION Designworks
email@example.com Skype: scottfrager
DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Stephanie Davis
By Patty Heath
Steltronic: 40 Years Strong
PUBLISHER & EDITOR Scott Frager
FOUNDER Allen Crown (1933-2002)
P.O. Box 7350 Overland Park, KS 66207 (818) 789-2695(BOWL) Fax (818) 789-2812 firstname.lastname@example.org www.BowlingIndustry.com
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.
MEMBER AND/OR SUPPORTER OF:
EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS
OPENED WITH PAZAZZ
After five months of no bowling, Scott McGlauflin, manager of Spare Time Entertainment in Halfmoon, NY, wanted to open the center with flair. New York senators, Daphne Jordan and Jim Tedisco, were there to celebrate ‘normal.’ However, the celebrity of the moment who rolled the first ball was 98-year-old Joseph Gentiluomo. Who may you ask is Mr. Gentiluomo? He just happens to be the man who invented the modern bowling ball in 1980. As he explained, “The old ball was molded with one material and had a heavier cover. I put all the Joseph Gentiluomo, properly masked, reminisces with his drawings weight inside to get more of his modern bowling ball invention. power at the pins.” Gentiluomo is a World War II Army veteran who served in Okinawa and in Korea. He worked at GE, IBM, and Mechanical Technology before branching out on his own. He is the owner of 28 patents, including several different golf balls and a mechanical hand used by NASA. Not particularly an avid bowler, Gentiluomo knew what to do to put life into the game of bowling. On the reopening of Spare Time, the day was dedicated to Gentiluomo’s legacy. Senator Tedisco called it a monumental occasion that has been a long time coming. He and Jordan presented Gentiluomo with a senate citation to honor his years of service to his country, his region, and to the invention community.
BUSINESS: BRIGHT LIGHTS AHEAD It’s good to focus on the positive which, recently, has been hard to do. Priya Amin, marketing director at Shaffer Distributing, informed IBI of three of their recently completed projects. “Our hope is to add some optimism to these times.” At Highlands Sports Complex, scheduled to open in the fall in Wheeling, WV, Shaffer installed 48 games. At Roadhouse Cinemas in Colorado Springs, CO, 42 games were added. This venue is the company’s first location that features bowling, arcade, and expanded F&B. The third project is Pizza Ranch in Sun Prairie, WI, which will open at the end of September. Shaffer installed in the Fun Zone 22 video and redemption games. May this just be a preview of business to come for the industry.
NO BOWLING? HOW ABOUT A CORNHOLE TOURNAMENT? Harvest Park Bowl in Brentwood, CA, holds a weekly cornhole tournament in its parking lot. It was created to help support owner Jim Wangeman and benefit the Brentwood PAL (Police Activities League).
ALSO HAPPENING Owner Michael Ducat announced on Facebook that Cypress Lanes in Winter Haven, FL, will be adding a two-story laser tag arena and 75 arcade games, including virtual reality.
Breakaway Lanes & Rec owners Don and Jane Jenkins have sold their center to Eric and Carrie Boerner who have renamed it Legendary Lanes. Carrie grew up in Huntingburg, IN, and bowled at the center as a girl. Her grandmother was the manager in the 1980s. The Boerners have done a lot of cleaning and sanitizing and are ready to jump into their new world and serve the community.
In February, arsonists nearly destroyed Maple Lanes Bowling Center in Waterloo, IA. It started as a robbery where a maintenance worker was attacked. Two-thirds of the roof, exterior walls, lanes, equipment, and other contents were destroyed. The building is now gutted and ready for new construction which co-owner Rich Eighme says they hope to have complete, bigger and better, by May of 2021.
James Sterling Davis opened Thunderbird Lanes in Wrightstown, NJ, in 1958. It has provided family-friendly fun overseen by the Davis family. Closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus, the brothers Jim, Joe, and Matt Davis felt sixty years was time to sell the center and the shopping center. Matt Davis said the new owner plans on keeping Thunderbird Lanes.
Downtown Greensboro, NC, is going to have a new gathering place. The Bourbon Bowl project will feature six bowling lanes, a bar, a restaurant, and a patio. The opening has not yet been set. However, Double G Properties is looking at 20 full-time and 35 part-time positions.
EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS
BOWLERO, CRYSTAL CITY, VA
MAIN EVENT, LUTZ, FL
Designed with a luxury-meets-retro vibe, the 50,000-square-foot venue has 32 bowling lanes, an arcade with 80 games, hi-def video walls, and a sports bar.
Here are a few of the photos taken around the country that show bowling is not to be messed with. Scott McLaughlin, owner of Lucky Strike Lanes in Malone, NY, is happy to be open after being closed for more than 150 days.
After five months and 72-hours notice to get ready after Governor Cuomo reopened bowling centers, Rab’s Country Lanes welcomed bowlers of all sizes.
Another 50,000-square-foot entertainment venue is Main Event’s latest venture in Lutz, FL. It includes 32 bowling lanes, laser tag, rock climbing, mini golf, billiards, 100 arcade games, virtual reality, gravity ropes, and casual dining.
Ben Madsen, GM and owner, of Madsen’s Bowling & Billiards in Lincoln, NE, defied county health orders and opened his center.
Bowlers in Washington state make their desires known outside of Lancer Lanes & Casino in Clarkston.
THE FREWINGS GIVE BACK When an industry gives you a good life, it is even better to give back. That is exactly what Daroll and Dolores Frewing of US Bowling have done in a big way. Their college scholarship which carries a $25,000 value was set up to assist a child or grandchild of a BPAA member with their education. The generous amount, according to Daroll Frewing, was to “make a real difference in someone’s life.” Daroll and Dolores Frewing The scholarship administered by the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame was given to Andrew Amoré, the son of Ohio bowling proprietors Ron and Dianne Amoré. Like the Frewings, Andrew gives back. A student at Muskingum University in New Concord, OH, in high school he maintained a 3.9 grade point average and was part of the football, track, wrestling, and bowling teams. His community service includes raising funds for the Bowlers to Veterans Link (BVL) and working with Special Olympics Bowling. Here are just a few of the
other organizations and activities through which Andrew has given his time: a 10-year member of 4-H; serving on the Ohio state USBC Board; and the state’s USBC Youth Committee. “It’s important to give back to organizations that have been good to you,” Andrew said. “The Frewings have been tremendous supporters of the Hall of Fame for many years, and we’re thrilled to help with the scholarship,” said IBM//HOF Chairman Mike Aulby. “We appreciate the continued generosity of the Frewings. This scholarship will greatly benefit members of the BPAA family for many years.”
VENTOLA IS BACK LIGHTING UP THE LANES
BOWLING WORLD CUP MOVED AGAIN
Now that the lockdown in the UK is over, Ventola Projects is doing what it does best, installing lighting systems. For Ten Entertainment Group, the country’s largest tenpin operator, Ventola has fitted a new range of VAvR LED lighting systems. The energy-efficient range of solutions can project light shows onto individual lanes, using color-changing and glow effects. It can also be geared up to illuminate different non-bowling areas to ensure people don’t access restricted areas. Mick Ventola, founder and managing director of Ventola Projects, said: “There is a lot of uncertainty around, so we’re working as hard as we can to help leisure and entertainment businesses innovate and differentiate.”
World Bowling, the international governing body for tenpin, ninepin, and Para Bowling, and QubicaAMF Worldwide (QubicaAMF) announced the further postponement of the QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup from March 2021 to October 2021 in Kuwait as a result of the current pandemic. “We remain committed to taking a responsible approach to enable athletes, hosts, and organisers enough time to prepare for these events, including the necessary local qualifying events. We feel that an October 2021 timeframe will allow for safe planning and execution which now is not feasible,” stated Andrew Oram, CEO, World Bowling. World Bowling has established an Event Portfolio Working Group charged with looking for new dates to reschedule events once the pandemic subsides. The inaugural Para Bowling World Cup will also be postponed and is planned to take place in Kuwait in May 2021 to avoid the congestion of events in the latter part of the year.
Andrew with his two coaches, Doug Smith (L) and David Jones (R)
Tip of the Hat 2020 has not been a nurturing year for bowling or any business for that matter. While many centers have held on through long closures, three iconic centers in their sixth decade could not see it through. Dart Bowl has been a staple in Austin, TX, for 62 years. It was founded by Harry Peterson and now run by his grandson, John Donovan. Two of its claims to fame are the shooting locations of the television series Friday Night Lights and the Richard Linklater film Boyhood. One more mainstay was the enchiladas “It’s tough to let this place go, but it’s worse to say goodbye to people like Peggy Zamarippa who has worked here for nearly 60 years,” Donovan said. “We all look forward to folks who have enjoyed the place making one last visit, rolling one last game, eating one last order of enchiladas.” For 61 years, Cloverleaf Family Bowl in Fremont, CA, has been the place for birthday parties, arcade games, and bowling. While the prospect of a housing development loomed over the property and its lease which had three years left, it was COVID-19 that finally did the center in. Co-owner Mike Hillman’s grandparents bought the center in 1963. In the 1980s, Jim Chambers became a coowner with the Hillmans. Chambers and Hillman lamented the loss of the senior leagues as well as an expansive youth bowling program. “We’re devastated. Our whole life has been the bowling alley. It’s our family,” said longtime employee Debi Bischoff. “It just hurts to see it go,” said Mary Scott, 89. “We’ve been bowling there since the beginning of time.” Hillman summed it up, “It’s almost like, if you can imagine that you lose a family member, and you didn’t get to say goodbye.” For six decades, Glacier Lanes in Everett, WA, has been an entertainment staple in Snohomish County. Co-owner Larry Miller’s father Ernie Miller opened the center. Ernie was a championship bowler, inducted into the Bowling Hall of Fame in 2000. Miller shared, “Very heartbreaking, lots of sleepless nights. I probably woke up every morning at 2 a.m. with anxiety because I have staff that [has] been here for 24 years, 16 years, 14 years, 22 years, and my heart goes out [to] them.” 14
PEOPLEWATCHING Betson Enterprises announced the promotion of Britannie Betti to business development manager and Northeast regional sales manager. Britannie has worked in the family business for 12 years, working in customer service, financial services, and, in 2016, she joined the equipment sales team in an account executive role. Britannie will be working with Rick Kirby, reginal sales director and executive VP of gaming, Britannie Betti to manage the Northeast region; and Jonathan Betti, senior VP of sales and marketing, to manage Betson’s entire sales organization and business development efforts.
WATCH A BREATH OF FRESH AIR Bowling got a shot in the arm just as New York opened up centers at 50% capacity. On a segment of ABC’s Good Morning America on Aug. 18, Robin Roberts interviewed an up-and-coming, energetic, young, pro bowler, Gazmine ‘GG’ Mason. GG is a threetime Olympic gold medalist and graduate of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Her first year as a pro found her in the top 35 women bowlers. Roberts revealed that as a youngster, she was a junior state bowling champion in Mississippi. With that intro, there was a friendly face-off. Roberts showed her moves, and GG charmed the viewers and crushed the pins. GG embraces bowling and sees herself as a global ambassador for the sport and for women of color in particular. A big advocate of bowling being incorporated into the Olympics, her company, Got Game LLC, is just one more way she elevates bowling. Got Game offers sports programs and camps for children, ages 5 – 12. She also started #BGCB2 (Black Girls Can Bowl 2). GG Mason is definitely a breath of fresh air. See the segment here: https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Living/video/robin-robertsbowls-pro-bowler-gazmine-gg-mason-72438832
Steltronic’s North American headquarters in California
40 YEARS STRONG The company passes a major milestone By Paul Lane
rescia, Italy-based Steltronic, founded in 1980, celebrates its 40th anniversary as a well-established, independent leader in the field of automatic scoring systems that include a wide variety of computer-based business management related features. The company was founded by Roberto Simeone and his two brothers, Claudio and Mario, all three of whom have degrees in electrical engineering. The partnership between the brothers continued until 2000 when Roberto purchased Claudio and Mario’s shares and became the sole owner of Steltronic. The name of the company Steltronic is very unique. Roberto says he created the name by selecting letters from Simeone Technology Electronic, as follows (in RED)
Simeone Technology Electronic For the first two years, Steltronic was operating in a variety of electrical fields related to the mechanical industry. The introduction to the bowling industry came when a proprietor in Roberto’s hometown of Brescia contacted him asking if Steltronic could 16
IBI September/October 2020
Steltronic’s worldwide headquarters in Italy
develop a cash control system to better manage and enhance the business operation. The original system was not an automatic scoring system. It was designed to automatically detect bowling balls, charge a tariff, preset and automatically apply different time zones of the day and different days of the week. There was also a complete reporting system using a magnetic card for granting special discounts, the ability to control timed bowling, and many more business enhancing features. The brothers developed this system in a DOS environment. Remember that this was in the 1980s. Steltronic’s introduction to bowling soon led to other bowling related electronic products before the company developed and entered the automatic scoring arena. These included a microprocessor-controlled chassis (control system) in 1982 for AMF 82-30; 82-45 and 82-70 pinspotters; plus foul detectors, electronic motor starters for 82-70 pinspotters; and a variety of additional smaller electronic products. “Thanks to the great interest of many bowling proprietors,” Roberto remembers, “within a few years the chassis for AMF pinspotters, which incorporated the new microprocessor systems that were introduced in 1982, we started to grow the company, focusing on products that would make the bowling industry more efficient and modern. This led to the logical conclusion that developing an automatic scoring and management system would be next on our agenda.” The first Steltronic automatic DOS-based scoring system was introduced in 1988 and was a complete system; it included features like statistical reporting,
FEATURE tournaments, time-bowling, magnetic cards, the first dynamic spare maker, etc. The first Steltronic graphics displayed a static image of either a strike, spare, foul, or gutterball. This was far more enhanced than systems offered by the competition. “Within three years the company grew so fast we had to hire more than ten additional technicians to keep up with orders,” said Roberto. “In fact, we gained over 50% of the European market in less than five years.” In the early days of Steltronic, Roberto’s friends Hans Krol and Nick Keppe at Bowltech in the Netherlands installed the scoring system throughout Europe. During that time, Steltronic had the automated scoring market cornered in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and France. Bowltech became a competitor to Steltronic in more recent times. “Happily,” Roberto reports, “Hans and Nick remain good friends of mine and have been an important part of Steltronic’s growth and success for more than 20 years.” While Steltronic was continually updating and redesigning their scoring system, they clearly understood that they already had a unique product and saw no reason not to broaden their international horizons, starting with the U.S. market. The first distributor for Steltronic in the U.S. was Dave Selzler’s American Bowling Corporation (ABC), who exhibited the Dacos scoring system at Bowl Expo in San Francisco in 1995. A young Jim Osdale — who had DOS-based computer programming experience, and later a Windows 95-driven inventory management program for mechanics — also attended that show, his first Bowl Expo experience. Osdale met and spoke with Selzler, who told him he was looking for some help in Eugene, Oregon. It was a good fit, so Osdale was hired and relocated from California to Oregon to join ABC in 1996. That same year, Roberto visited and made an agreement with Selzler for ABC to become the main distributor of Steltronic scoring in North America. Jim Osdale was put in charge of taking care of the Steltronic automatic scoring that ABC sold both directly and to distributors throughout the U.S., including Steve Raasch’s Great Lakes Bowling in Wisconsin. Great Lakes was the first U.S. distributor to purchase Steltronic scoring from ABC. And that was the start of Jim Osdale Jim’s 24 year working relationship with Roberto and the Steltronic product line. ABC was also selling a full line of bowling capital equipment to China, including scoring, representing 75% of ABC’s business. Unfortunately, China imposed a 55% import tariff on bowling equipment which caused the dissolution of ABC in 2000.
“Since Steltronic sales were just beginning to take off in the U.S.A.,” Osdale remembers, “Roberto asked me to run Steltronic in the U.S.A, which I did from 2000 to 2006.” In 2006, a new distributor partnership between Steltronic and US Bowling was formed. Osdale returned to California to head up what was called US Steltronic. US Bowling, much like Bowltech in Europe, helped Steltronic advance the company’s Roberto Simeone global market share. In 2011, Roberto decided to dissolve the partnership with US Bowling, a mutually agreeable and amicable separation. Osdale continued to run the U.S. operation as an employee of Steltronic, with Roberto being the sole owner. “I later concluded I wanted to offer investment opportunities to a group of men that had always been loyal and key [people] to the growth of Steltronic in the U.S.A., men with a long and successful history and familiarity with the Steltronic brand,” said Roberto. Osdale became one of those investors, along with Steve Raasch, the owner of Great Lakes in Wisconsin, who had been purchasing Steltronic scoring from ABC, yet continued to purchase Steltronic scoring as a distributor in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan. Rick Woodward of Mountain West Bowling, who has been in the bowling business since 1984 and managed Steltronic sales in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho, became the third new investor in the company. Rick is also the owner of the 16lane Miracle Bowl in Orem, Utah. The four partners — Osdale,
Steltronic recently installed their system at Strike City
Raasch, Woodward and Roberto — formed a new corporation called Steltronic North America, Inc., in August of 2014 with Osdale as CEO. Steltronic’s scoring system is light years away from its modest beginning where they succeeded in producing a high-tech system while accepting the challenges of the limitation of being DOS based; WINS was not introduced until 1996. The bowler consoles on early models were just joystick driven until a few years later, they developed an alpha-numeric membrane keypad. Before it became fashionable they started with a camera designed for the industry, not the consumer which was used for each lane. A two-lane camera came later. Roberto’s younger brother, Claudio, developed sophisticated software that would detect every pin in its nominal position, allowing for pins being off-spot, dirty, or scratched. The cameras also automatically adjusted to fluorescent pindeck lights and any other form of ambient light that could affect scoring accuracy. “This was no easy task, believe me,” said Roberto, “and no other system was based on actual pin images to be digitalized and analyzed via software at the time. Amazingly, today, some 32 years later, there are still about 1,000 of these original Steltronic Automatic Scoring (SAS) systems still installed and still fully operational.” Steltronic’s Scoring System (combining Focus•NEX and Vision•NEX), was developed utilizing the latest Microsoft SQL Server technology. It’s a user-friendly scoring system with interactive 3D graphics, time-game capability, point of sale (POS), online reservation system, and reporting capabilities to help manage every aspect of the business. A proprietor simply logs in and center operations are up and running. The Steltronic team never rests on its laurels or accepts the status quo: imaginative and creative enhancements, improvements and updates designed to make all aspects of managing the business easier and more efficient and more enjoyable for customers, are 18
simply a way of life for the R & D technicians in Brescia. In terms of marketing the business–in addition to a website, extensive print advertising in various industry trade publications, collateral material and the occasional email blast– Steltronic has been an avid proponent of participating in industry trade shows. Roberto says, “Exposure through industry trade shows has maximized exposure for the Steltronic brand.” Shows such as Bowl Expo in the U.S., the Bowltech European trade show in the Netherlands, numerous shows in Germany, Moscow, Dubai, Shanghai, and the annual ENADA show in Italy (an exhibition for the entertainment and gaming industries) have been critical to the growth of Steltronic. Typically taking eight or more booths at a trade show, they display their complete system for live, hands-on demonstrations. Roberto hasn’t considered adding products such as lanes and pinsetting machines to his business. “It has always been my decision to stay away from pinsetters and machinery,” he said. “We plan to maintain our focus on developing systems that enhance a proprietor’s business from the front desk to the back office, from league to open and party bowling, to taking reservations, managing sundry items such as shoe rental, special promotions, and to promote customer satisfaction which generates added revenue and profit.” Steltronic’s reach is global with more than 23,000 lanes installed in 91 countries. Steltronic has come a long way since they started in 1980 with just one employee, Claudia Ghidina, who is still with the company today handling the warehouse, logistics, and production lots. Presently there are 15 employees in the Bescia, Italy, headquarters and manufacturing facility. Steltronic North America, Inc. has a total of eight employees in its office/warehouse facility in California. One thing is for sure: a 40th anniversary celebration is well deserved for the Steltronic team. When you reach such a milestone, you know there’s a close-knit team of dedicated professionals all pulling together for a common goal. Congratulations. ❖
Paul Lane is former Director of Marketing and Marketing Services for AMF Bowling, Inc. He has been the director of 18 AMF World Cups, an officer in national and international trade associations, and a pro bowler during a career that spans more than 60 countries and 50 years.
Remembering A Giant Paul Lane pays tribute to PBA and USBC Hall of Famer Dick Ritger, who died at his home in River Falls, WI, at the age of 81 By Paul Lane Dick Ritger’s bowling and coaching accomplishments are well documented and known to bowling fans everywhere. However, this tribute focuses more on the Dick Ritger I knew, had the pleasure of working with, and who became a close friend. It also incudes a few anecdotes from friends who also worked with Dick over the years. I first met Dick in the early 1970s at Madrid Airport in Spain, which was to be the first leg of an AMF organized European-wide exhibition and clinic tour of commercial and U.S. military base bowling centers. The tour included USBC Hall of Famer Cheryl (née Kominsky) Robinson and Dick’s wife Judy. My role in the tour was as the overall organizer and tour manager for AMF. Dick and Cheryl were both members of the elite AMF Staff-of-Champions comprising anywhere from 25 to 30 professional men and women bowlers at any one time. After checking into our hotel, we had dinner together, which was where I started to get to know Dick. By the end of the meal we were no longer colleagues working for the same company. We somehow transitioned and had become close friends, a relationship that would last until Dick’s passing on August 27, 2020. To have Dick as a friend was something special. The friendship was deep, intense, unquestioned and, over the years, developed a momentum where nothing could stand in its way. Of course, I am not arrogant enough to assume that there were not others who shared that experience, but I was happy to simply be a member of his close-knit cadre of friends. One such friend was fellow Hall of Fame member, Wayne Zahn, who, like Dick, originated from Wisconsin and relocated to Tempe, AZ, where he owned and operated a 24-lane center. Dick was active on the tour from 1964 to 1980, and he and Wayne roomed together for 15 of those years. Wayne says, “Dick was more than a friend, he was like a brother, and we shared so many experiences together, both on and off the lanes. Yet, when we met head to head in match play, we became fierce competitors. There was no such thing as a ‘gimme’ to help the other one out, regardless of how far apart we were on the leader board. Yet, win or lose, our friendship always
remained intact. And, if either one of us made the TV show, the other would stay an extra one or two days to be there and offer support.” “Another thing we had in common,” added Wayne, “was we both viewed and managed being on tour — or giving exhibitions and clinics for AMF — as running a business, and I believe that made a difference.” After I made the move to AMF in the U.S.A. in 1983, I became heavily involved with AMF’s ongoing bowling ball research and development program. We would assemble up to a dozen IBI
MEMORY LANE members of the AMF Staff of Championships to test eight to ten different ball prototypes with various cores, weight block configurations, and cover stock materials. The tests would last a minimum of two days. We used Dick to orchestrate and manage the entire testing process. He would define the variety of lane dressings and patterns, and chart and interpret the input from each bowler and each ball being tested so we could make informed decisions about which prototypes would become production models. Dick, in his wisdom, said, “These guys are highly competitive. They need a goal, something to shoot for, or they will simply spend two days becoming bored and tossing balls down the lane.” He suggested we give cash prizes at the end of each round of testing. Rick Milner, AMF’s consumer product brand manager at the time, arrived with a bag full of money which he doled out at the end of each test, based on who had the most strikes. The results were amazing. The competitive atmosphere was electric and resulted in many new products that dominated the top 24 and TV finals on ABC’s Wide World of Sports coverage of the PBA Tour. The exposure from these TV shows also generated additional sales of the new balls in pro-shops all over the country. Steve James, the editor of ABC’s Bowling Magazine, told me that in 1974 he was asked to work with Dick to produce a quality instruction book for their member associations called Bowler’s Guide. A few years later, when the ABC merged with the WIBC, the WIBC produced an instruction book which had a direct impact on its members. Judy Soutar was hired to work with Dick and me to have a combined publication rather than starting over. Both people were instrumental in making it a quality product. And, while Judy offered her own expertise and input, I recall that even Judy was impressed with Dick’s knowledge and understanding of what would help female bowlers. In 1984, in his new role as executive director of the ABC Hall of Fame, Steve said, “I had the honor of calling Dick to give him the good news of his election to the Hall of Fame; one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job.” After Dick resigned from the PBA and competitive bowling to pursue a coaching career, he seamlessly became a global bowling figure. He took programs he had developed to more than 24 countries, conducting bowler development programs for bowling centers, training instructors, and international bowlers’ associations to prepare their national team members for competing in events like the FIQ World Championships. The list of gold, silver, and bronze medalists who benefitted from those training programs is prodigious, including Sweden’s Matts 20
Karlsson who won the 1991 AMF World Open and 10 medals in the FIQ World Championships “We arranged for Dick to conduct a Learn to Bowl training program for AMF in Thailand, at one of Sonny Lim’s centers [an AMF distributor and proprietor who also hosted three AMF Bowling World Cup Tournaments],” remembers Pierce Murray of ABS in Singapore. “There were about twenty students in the classroom, and Dick was explaining the different lines that you could throw, for example, inside, outside, etc., and how to count boards. We then went out to the lanes and Dick proceeded to demonstrate the principle. He threw the first ball starting with 10-10 line. The ball came up high on the headpin. Dick asked the class, ‘What should we do?’ They counted the boards and came up with a suggestion. Dick followed their suggestion, bowled, and hit the new line for a strike! Using the formula, he then proceeded to hit ten different inside and outside lines: all strikes! He picked up his ball and said, ‘I think you understand the principle, let’s get back to work in the classroom.’ The students were speechless.” Steve Mackie, proprietor of Tenpins and More in Albuquerque, NM, and formerly with AMF in Australia, added, “We started bringing Dick over to Australia in 1981 and [he] worked his tail off for six weeks, traveling the length and breadth of the country for media, staff coaching, bowler coaching, Beat Dick Ritger exhibitions
MEMORY LANE secretly added a new member to your family?” Dick would laugh and say yes, but only temporarily. Dick and Judy fostered thirteen babies, from three days to three months, until they were ready for adoption. Judy follows their progress in their new lives. Even today, years later, Judy keeps in contact with one of the children that is currently attending college. That is what the Ritgers are all about: they are altruistic, showing a selfless concern for others. They are pillars of their community and their church. Simply, they are deeply good people. I am proud to call them friends.
and more. Dick was a tireless worker and a great inspiration to the AMF employees who interacted with him. Employees, proprietors, and bowlers all over Australia who were a part of that experience still talk about Dick today, and about what they learned. No other professional bowler that has visited Australia has left such a lasting impression.” Wherever Dick went, a sense of magic followed him. Once, when we were at the famous Bowling De Paris center in the Bois de Boulogne — a large public park located along the western edge of the 16th arrondissement of Paris — a local TV station was filming the action. The producer/director was a totally off-the-wall creative madman. He said to Dick that he wanted to film the highest score possible that is still beatable on TV, a 299. Dick shrugged his shoulders and said okay. The idea was they would edit the footage and save the strikes and final nine count. Dick rolled twelve in a row for a 300 game. The French TV producer went crazy, running down onto the lanes shouting, ‘No! No! No! I want a nine!’ Dick shrugged his shoulders again and said ok. He did no more than move is heels maybe half a board to the left, came in a fraction light, and hung a ten pin. ‘Magnifique!’ shouted the director. Job done. Above and beyond his bowling abilities, Dick and his wife Judy are givers of the highest order. Over a period of years, I have called Dick at home many times and was greeted with background noise of babies crying. I would tease Dick and say, “Have you and Judy
I will always be grateful that I had an opportunity to talk to Dick just a few days before he died and was able to say goodbye. We both seemed to understand that it was probably our last conversation. Dick is survived by his wife Judy of 60 years; three children, Scott (Amy), Shari (Joe) Hammer, and Cyndi; 13 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; and many more extended family. ❖
Paul Lane is former Director of Marketing and Marketing Services for AMF Bowling, Inc. He has been the director of 18 AMF World Cups, an officer in national and international trade associations, and a pro bowler during a career that spans more than 60 countries and 50 years.
Small town centers find ways to survive amid the pandemic By Mark Miller ith or without a pandemic, small-town bowling centers face their own unique challenges and reap their own sets of rewards not usually found in their larger city brethren. Small town centers are where people gather not only to bowl in leagues, attend parties, and dine, but to get to know and engage their neighbors to build a stronger community. International Bowling Industry magazine learned about three such places: one in Idaho, one in Wisconsin, and one in Illinois. Each has a unique combination of challenges and successes before and during COVID-19.
The Bowling Alley, Homedale, Idaho Opened in 1958 as Owylee Lanes with a restaurant added in the 1960s, this eight-lane center in Homedale is a town of 2,700 people, about 10 minutes east of the Oregon border and 45 minutes west of Boise. Donna and Mike Marese originally bought it in 2006 strictly as an investment, a bowling version of a house flip. Both Donna and Mike worked for many years for WinCo Foods located 45 minutes away in Donna’s hometown of Meridian, ID, where Michigan-native Mike was working at Meridian Lanes.
Proprietors Mike and Donna Marese
“Mike has always loved bowling. He’s always been a big bowler recreationally and in leagues,” Donna said. “We had just finished a house that we were putting on the market to flip. My sister lives in this area and saw [Owylee Lanes] for sale and thought it would be a good project. The physical building was run down and the bowling business was slow. Like their residential project, Donna thought, “We could do some upgrades and sell it. We didn’t expect it to be the huge, viable business it ended up being in a quick time.” Despite not being Homedale natives, the Mareses soon felt part of the community due to their niece, Ginger Loucks. “We didn’t know anything about bowling or restaurants, so Ginger helped us get started,” Donna said. “People in the [Homedale] community trusted her, and I think that helped us get a foot in the door.” The Mareses understood immediately how important it would be for the town to have the bowling center up and running again. They needed a place to gather together, play,
and eat. “The timing was just right,” said Donna. Renovations were widespread throughout the alley. In the kitchen and dining areas, an upgraded kitchen hood system, double ovens, refrigeration/freezer units, and new flooring were installed. In the bowling area, new coolers, a furnace, scoring system, Brunswick Anvil lanes and four lanes of bumpers completed the upgrade. When the Mareses sold their upgraded center in 2012, they thought they would move on to the next project. Fate had another ending: the business was returned to them when it foreclosed in 2015. They haven’t looked back since, and the business has taken off. “We have great community support,” Donna said. There were only 15 league bowlers When they took back the center, league business was down. Up until the impact of the pandemic, league play had wildly expanded to Tuesday and Thursday nights, with a youth league in place and additional leagues on the horizon. Though newly renamed, The Bowling Alley still has its vintage feel, with above-ground ball returns and the famous restaurant with home-style food which was featured in the January 2020 issue of Only in Your State. The restaurant opens for a classic country breakfast at 6:30 a.m. and features prime rib on weekends. Among its specialties is lemon merengue pie. “People look forward to the food because we put out good, quality food at the best possible price we can afford to do it,” Mike said. “It’s definitely not bowling alley food,” Donna said. “And the recipes we use are recipes that have been here for years, even before we bought the center. The clam chowder recipe is the same recipe that has been used for at least 40 years.” The Bowling Alley closed for 30 days, from the end of March to the end of April, when the pandemic hit. Once Idaho deemed bowling centers safe to open, The Bowling Alley needed to
The restaurant is a well known and loved business in the region IBI
COVER STORY implement safety precautions. The restaurant reopened with carry out orders at first, then later with limited dine-in. Tables inside the restaurant have been spaced out to comply with appropriate physical distancing and single use utensils and condiments. Bowling is spaced out to every-other lane, and rental shoes are brought to customers in a designated tote. “We ask them to leave their balls and shoes on the return and we sanitize everything on the lane,” said Donna. “It’s not a lot different, just a little different,” Mike said. “People have been good about doing what we ask them to.” The business got an upgrade during the pandemic shutdown
Dogger’s Bar and Lanes, Wautoma, Wisconsin Before becoming a bowling establishment in 1954, Dogger’s Bar and Lanes in central Wisconsin was a car dealership and garage. Natives Bridgette and Dean Tschurwald became the six-lane center’s fifth owners when they took over in 1999. Both were very familiar with the establishment; Dean, 52, bowled in youth leagues there and later worked part-time for previous owner, Jack Mares, as a bartender and lane mechanic; 54-year-old Bridgette, who was managing the local Subway, bowled for more than 20 years at the center. “[Former owner] Jack called me and said, ‘Do you want to buy the place?’ ” said Dean, who was working at his parents’ lumber yard. “I talked to my parents [about a loan], but they were getting close to retirement age. Three banks in town told me no. Then, Jack and I went to a banker who we both knew.” Dean said. Jack vouched for Dean, the loan
The lanes at Dogger’s 26
The mural at Dogger’s Bar and Lanes captures Dean almost perfectly
was processed, and the business transferred to Dean. Dean had a steep learning curve as the new proprietor of Dogger’s. “I had never oiled a bowling lane in my life! Jack showed me how to oil lanes, but I didn’t know you had to strip them. He told me the profit margin you should have on your booze. That was my education in this.” When the Tschurwald’s took over Dogger’s, league play was down and there was not much open bowling. In time, the leagues expanded, and the youth league grew from 95 kids to 160. “The schools bus the kids here for after-school leagues which is really nice,” Dean said. “We’ve had very strong league play.” Before the pandemic, Dogger’s had up to two leagues each night on two shifts. “Usually this time of year, I’m worried if we’ll be able to fill our leagues. This year I’m wondering if we’re allowed to,”
COVER STORY Dean said. Dogger’s closed from March 17 to May 20. Because Dogger’s food offerings are more on the snack bar side, carry-out service was not a revenue option. Since Wisconsin’s reopening, business has been close to normal; Waushara county has pandemic recommendations with no mandates. Just to be safe, the Tschurwalds removed all barstools, and during open bowling, an empty lane is maintained between groups. The house balls and all tabletops are bleached as well. Staff wear masks and gloves. Many customers have told the Tschurwalds they are ready to come bowling. Unfortunately, the corona virus found Wautoma. “We’ve had a few customers come down with the virus,” Dean said. “In a small town, they came here, they went to the bar or supper club down the street,” and then the establishments were closed. These closures caused customer apprehension. But the Tschurwalds feel that the community supports them, and business will eventually stabilize. With the Tschurwald’s only child Joe living hours away in Janesville and wanting nothing to do with the center, they likely will remain
Front counter at Dogger’s
owners for quite a while. “The bad news is you don’t have a back up to buy it from you. But the good news is when we sell it, we don’t have to give a steal of a deal,” Dean said. “There’s no family discount.”
Logan Lanes, Lincoln, Illinois Shawn Taylor, 51, worked for Brunswick managing centers in California and Washington before buying Logan Lanes in central Illinois in 2000. Two of his best friends from California who moved to the town of 15,000 people told him the 16lane center was for sale and he and one buddy bought it. “When we bought the place, the thing I liked about it was there was a large league base,” Taylor said. “Other than that, the place needed to be completely renovated. There was no cosmic or glow bowling or anything like that. It was really a league-based center. They didn’t really push open bowling and birthday parties.” In 2003, Taylor and his business partner completed a large expansion, put in a sports bar, added a birthday party room and added two golf simulators. “These are same ones Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth have in their houses worth $100,000 each,” relayed Taylor. Everything on the property has been renovated. “Three years ago, we switched to Bes-X scoring units and upgraded the golf simulators,” Taylor said, making the renovation complete. For Taylor, the switch to a small-town center took some adjusting. “I was a big city person, go, go, go, go, and I always ran large bowling centers [with] 40-56 lanes,” he said. Running a large, urban bowling center with many employees, management doesn’t get to know the customers. Taylor knew 28
Logan Lanes’ distinctive exterior
his employees very well, and they in turn were the ones dealing with the customers. “Here, it’s a whole different world. I run the counter, wait tables, pin chase, and know every customer. The hardest thing is trying to remember peoples’ names. Everybody knows your name. It’s hard to remember 15,000 names!” Making it easier for the recently divorced Taylor is his daughters Tonya and Ashley and his three grandchildren who live nearby and love to bowl. “I am a big fan of the bowling industry. I wouldn’t be where I am without the Brunswick Corporation,” he said. “They taught me everything I know. That’s the good thing about coming into this center; when we came here there was no bumper bowling. There was no restaurant. It was all microwave cheeseburgers and that was it. They had taken the restaurant out and we put it back in.” In recent years, Logan Lanes has been hurt by the closing
of businesses, including a developmental center that employed 400 people and a bottle factory with 300 jobs. “We’ve struggled like everybody else has. League bowling has been on the decline since Day 1,” he said. “I think this will be the last year we have a 9 o’clock shift. We’re still fortunate to have at least one league every day of the week. They are just not as large as they were before.” To combat that trend and bring people through the door, Taylor has promoted birthday and corporate parties and fundraisers. “It’s been a very good business for me,” he said. “The last three years have been tough. It definitely had its ups and downs, and COVID-19 has had an effect on the entire industry.” Helping to make up for the lost business during the pandemic was a $25,000 Illinois Downstate Grant for smaller towns and businesses. In addition to the grant, Taylor negotiated a more manageable payment schedule — his bank agreed to a couple months of interest-only payments and a couple months of escrow-only payments. Fortunately for Taylor and other proprietors, the Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association lawsuit against Governor J.B. Pritzker and the state of Illinois was settled effective Aug. 3. It reclassified bowling from indoor entertainment to an indoor sport which changed the restriction of the lesser of 50 people or 50% capacity to 200 people or 50% capacity. “I don’t think anyone outside the bowling industry understands what this will do to us if we don’t put leagues on the floor,” he said. “If you are a center like Kingpin [in nearby Springfield] with 30 teams to put on the floor, [the 50-person limit] would have killed them. People don’t want to bowl at 9 o’clock. People don’t bowl four or five nights a week like they used to.” This past summer was, of course, slow for Logan Lanes — the revenue numbers for June and July were down 50% from last year. “We’re lucky we got the PPP funding,” said Tayler, “so we brought back employees, first to repaint the building, strip and wax everything, and then prepare food for carry out or delivery.” Taylor also quipped that his center has never been cleaner. With the time and the manpower to attend to overdue 30
projects, there was no twiddling of thumbs. But Taylor still needed help. “We took out a big loan, which is the last thing you need, but [you] have to survive. That’s the bottom line,” he said. Taylor normally hosts 1,000 youth in the Kids Bowl Free program, but this year Logan Lanes had only 420 kids register due to the delayed opening; the center was closed for 101 days. He started delivering food which he had never previously done. Taylor broke even simply to keep five of his people employed. Taylor reduced open days from seven a week to five. Most of the 17 laid off employees were either previously retired or had other jobs to rely on. “People always ask me what’s the hardest part of owning your own business and the answer has [always] been you are now responsible for other people’s lives,” he said. “If something happened to Logan Lanes, I could get another job in the bowling industry, but you worry about the people who work for you.” Taylor feels lucky his business is open at all since some
Despite these uncertain times, Shawn can still smile
states still haven’t allowed centers to re-open. Plus, ten centers within 30 miles have closed in the last 30 years. “The first 17 years were pretty golden. We just couldn’t miss,” he said. “The last three years have been a struggle, but nothing like it is now. But you can’t stop. You can’t quit. You have to keep on fighting. That’s what we’re doing.” ❖
Mark Miller is a freelance writer, editor, and public relations specialist from Flower Mound, TX. He's the author of Bowling: America's Greatest Indoor Pastime available at Amazon.com.
Some e h t t head a ational a o g the Invit Getting s Attached String
By Natalie Davis invitation-only to 48 professional bowlers. Headliners included Walter Ray ith care and planning, the Williams Jr., Norm Duke, Amleto Monacelli, and Jason Couch. On Sunday Some Strings Attached the 26th, the tournament was open on a first come first serve basis. The twoInvitational was hosted at day tournament hosted 65 participants. The winner of Saturday’s Invitational HeadPinz Entertainment was Kenny Ryan; the winner of the Open tournament on Sunday was Jason Center in Naples, FL, July 25 Couch. “I was very impressed with – 26, 2020. It was the first tournament EDGE String. I think these machines featuring a combination of string and free- John Losito and Lucas Wiseman live-streamed the are a step in the right direction for fall machines and the first major tournament on FloBowling bowling,” said Couch, 16-time PBA tournament in the coronavirus era. tour champion and PBA and USBC Following proper procedures made spectators and guests feel safe. Custommade masks and temperature checks were mandatory for entry. New hand sanitizer stations were placed throughout the whole facility. Additionally, the tournament was bowled socially distanced across 16 lanes split evenly between eight free-fall machines and eight EDGE String machines. HeadPinz general manager Mike Cannington was a bit nervous about this first pandemic tournament. “I’ve got to be honest, operating an event of this magnitude in the coronavirus-era presented some challenges. We had to greatly limit the number of spectators in the area and make sure those not competing were wearing masks. I was thrilled with the acceptance of these rules by everyone. We had zero complaints on the safety front.” The Some Strings Attached tournament gets underway with proper safety and health The tournament kicked off Saturday by
FEATURE business success was dependence on hard-to-find pinsetter technicians, and we did not have a solution.” Moises explained that lane downtime has now been
When asked if they would participate in another tournament with EDGE String pinspotters, 97% of bowlers said they would. Winner Kenny Ryan (center) receives his prize from Pat Ciniello (left) and John Hough (right)
Hall of Famer. The results showed very little scoring difference between EDGE String and the free-fall machines. The overall results for both days was a score of 204.76 on string and 203.43 on the free-fall machines —only a 1.3 pin difference.
STRING MACHINES String machines are the new kids in the world of bowling. Touting low cost, and low maintenance, the new string pinsetters are simple to operate. With the QubicaAMF EDGE String pinspotter, an employee could be trained in an afternoon on the system, and by evening, they could fix a problem with just a smart phone using the innovative Tech Wizard app that guides users with operation and maintenance through a combination of videos and text instruction. Moises Jafif, who operates Strike 10 Bowling and Sports Lounge in Hallandale Beach, FL, said, “One of the biggest threats to our
eliminated and they are saving between $9,000 and $11,000 in pinsetter parts costs per year. Darrin Skinner, owner of Lake Wylie Bowl N’ Bounce in Lake Wylie, SC, is saving around $45,000 per year in parts and labor across 16 lanes. His room full of spare pinsetter parts has been reduced to just one small shelf. He says, “The EDGE String pinspotters have given me peace of mind. They transformed something that was a major source of heartburn into something that is no longer an issue.” Skinner can now perhaps dedicate that extra space into a money-making space.
THE TALLY? As might be expected, pinfall behavior on certain shot combinations did behave a little differently than what folks are used to with free-fall machines, however the overall scoring between string and free-fall was very consistent. The overall feedback and perception of the bowling experience on the EDGE String pinspotters from the tournament participants was very positive. The vast majority of participants agreed that they would bowl in a tournament with string pinspotters again. ❖
Natalie Davis is the marketing manager for International Bowling Industry magazine and its parent company B2B Media, Inc. Helping recreational businesses connect with millennials is her forte. She enjoys working from her home base of sunny Fort Lauderdale, FL.
The QubicaAMF crew IBI
Leagues Get Rolling! Flooring leagues in the age of the coronavirus By Joan Taylor
ith the entire planet stricken with COVID-19, the effects have been felt heavily by the bowling industry. Centers have closed temporarily or until further notice, while sadly, others have had to close completely. According to Tom Funk, proprietor of Chippewa Bowl in South Bend, IN, “We have [some] states that have not allowed centers to re-open; we have states like Indiana where we can be at only 50% capacity. So many factors affect each center.” Each center has its own local and state challenges when it comes to operating a business during a pandemic. And each center has its own unique financial complexion. Some questions to be considered: u Does the center have a mortgage? u Does the center rent or own the real estate? u Will the bank foreclose if a center misses payments? u Will the landlord shut the center’s doors if rent isn’t paid? u Will the local county padlock the center’s doors 36
due to unpaid property taxes? u Did the center benefit from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)? u What are a center’s fixed costs? The bottom line is most centers are trying to survive until things can get back to normal. Funk’s advice? “Do anything you can to preserve and protect your business, until you get to the other side. Try to break even, or lose as little cash as possible, until this pandemic is over.”
SEEING AND FEELING THE COVID-19 IMPACT Kids Bowl Free (KBF) has seen and felt major COVID-19 impacts. Andy Vasko with KBF said, “Participating centers are only at about 30% from where they were last year.” The variables come from all directions. Vasko explains. “One state [which doesn’t permit openings] is California, and a sad example [of the pandemic devastation] is Cloverleaf Lanes in Fremont, which couldn’t hold on, and they have closed permanently. They were in business for 50 years.” Centers that are — or will be permitted to — open with limitations might implement new lane-spacing rules. “One or two lanes are turned off in between the league bowlers’ teams,” Vasko explains. It’s easier
FEATURE for a larger center to accommodate a bigger group this way; in a smaller center, it is harder to skip lanes because lanes can’t be turned enough times per day to make the minimum revenue. Other centers feel they can properly space customers and still use all of their lanes. Another strategy to maximize league capacity is to alternate start times, for example, one team bowls at 4 p.m. with the opposing team bowling at 6:30 p.m. Overall, proprietor anxiety is high as the bowling business tries to resume some sort of normalcy. But this is difficult when customers have video cameras on their phones. If a video goes viral showing a lack of masks or social distancing, this can be devastating to a business. “A proprietor is concerned with paying his bills, and so he is willing to take a chance. It’s [either] that, or close his doors,” notes Vasko. Striking that
JERSEY LANES AND PARKWAY LANES OPEN AFTER A FOUR MONTH HIATUS
John Fatigati is a bowling business survivor as the sole owner of Jersey Lanes in Linden, NJ, and co-owner of Parkway Lanes in Elmwood Park, NJ. New Jersey permitted businesses such as bowling centers and restaurants to open with restrictions at the end of June. Being closed for four months, how did each center keep from closing permanently? “We were lucky,” Fatigati said. “Jersey Lanes is a family-owned center. I am a third-generation proprietor. We don’t have a huge mortgage.” Fatigati understands that he is lucky that he owns his building, because most proprietors are renters of their space. “I [was] stretched [financially] to maintain property taxes, utilities and all, without the burden of hefty mortgage payments,” explains Fatigati. But Parkway Lanes has mortgage payments which Fatigati and co-partner Nadine DiLeo had to maintain payments. “We had owned this place for only four years. But I felt we just had to ride it out. Sometimes you have to dig into your pocket if you believe in the business.” To stay afloat in hopes of reopening in a realistic timeframe, Fatigati said that they had to take out an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan. It is a maximum loan of $150,000 for a tenyear note with a one-year deferment. “They qualify you based on your sales from the previous year,” explains Fatigati. “Fortunately, we qualified for the maximum. [Next month] we will have to start repaying it. We are optimistic that our business will get back to where it needs to be by then.” More federal assistance was provided by the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, a forgivable loan based on two and a half months of payroll. If a small business satisfies all of the loan requirements, a business can ask for loan forgiveness. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy permitted the bowling centers and other similar businesses to operate at 25% of their capacity. “Fortunately for both of our centers it is pretty high. 38
The new reality in the era of the coronavirus: temperature readers
Most New Jersey centers have relatively high capacities. Each of our centers has only one league affected by the occupancy restriction. Of course, we have to limit open bowling and any guests watching the league bowlers.” More recently, the governor opened up indoor dining. Fatigati explains that some businesses feel the state and local restrictions and safety measures are subject to interpretation. However, Fatigati explains, “We are mandating that masks to be worn at all times throughout the center — only for dining and drinking can a mask be removed temporarily. We serve our customers at the lanes rather than having them come to the counters to retrieve their orders.” Fatigati has noticed that for the majority of bowlers, it’s such a pleasure to be bowling again that they don’t mind adhering to the mandates, recommendations, and new plastic barriers between the lanes. “They are just happy to be back,” said Fatigati. “They are with their friends, doing something they love.” Fatigati estimates his business will be down about 30% from last year. “At Jersey Lanes, three leagues are not returning this season. One is a 14-team senior ladies’ league and another is a small 14-team church league. I have every expectation they will come back next season, or maybe early 2021. I have suggested a split season for some leagues. For those bowlers who currently feel uncomfortable, maybe they’ll see their friends coming in and having fun and they’ll be encouraged.” How does the future look? “Our goal is to creep back to where we were in the middle of March. The industry was doing well - centers were doing well and open play was great,” said Fatigati. “We want to be allowed to do what we used to do. Here’s hoping there’s a vaccine! We want people who aren’t feeling comfortable now to be comfortable again and to come back. That’s all we can do.”
Some centers installed temporary lane partitions to keep groups separated
necessary yet delicate balance between customer safety and business success is a tightrope walk for everyone in the bowling business.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE LANES Flexible space and time usage will be key to a bowling rebound. Brett Hockensmith, who runs Nelly Fox Lanes in rural Chambersburg, PA, realized that much of his customer base is too poor to afford the internet, much less bowling. While the school system has gone totally virtual, he turned two of his meeting rooms into virtual classrooms. He contacted Comcast and found he could share his Wi-Fi with up to 30 computers at a given time, which he did. ‘”It’s not always about the cash register ringing,” said Hockensmith, “I have a building.” In another example of flexible space and time usage, 600 participating centers extended their KBF program to November 24, 2020, to make up for the months lost to the lockdown. A flexible schedule also works for open/free bowling and leagues. “Proprietors have to be creative,” Vasko says.
customers who were able to open in time for fall leagues. Called BLS [Bowling League Secretary] 2021, it allows the scorers to accommodate various methods for team bowling while staying within the rules of the USBC. “One such example is same-lane bowling, as opposed to alternate lane bowling,” explained Rasmussen. “This reduces the back-and-forth traffic and allows for better distancing between bowlers. It also has been approved for sanctioning 300 games and 900 series.” The odd-numbered team can bowl its session, and the even-numbered team can bowl at a later time, all scored with the same-lane system. As an added benefit to the proprietor, BLS cuts down on re-conditioning the lanes between shifts, as each team has its own lane. “We had to do a lot of work on our programming to make this happen,” said Rasmussen. “This was [a need] that CDE Software, as well as [our parent company] QubicaAMF, saw when looking at potential social distancing requirements,” Rasmussen said. As of this printing, each city, county, and state have different requirements. This means there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for social distancing, mask requirements, and capacity limits. “So many centers are teetering. If they can’t get their fall leagues going, they may be closing,” warned Rasmussen.
THE BOWLING FAMILY STEPS UP Proprietors, state bowling associations, the BPAA, and industry leaders like QubicaAMF are hosting webinars to share experiences and ideas, like protocols for full center sanitation, online reservations, and contactless check-in. See IBI’s Resource pages for more information. There is optimism balanced with realism about the reopening of bowling centers after the COVID-19 crisis. Getting past these unprecedented times sooner rather than later is the industry-wide hope. Bowlers will experience first-hand (once they visit a center) the thought and effort that centers have put into new, improved systems to ensure the health and safety of customers. ❖
SOME HELP FROM A SOFTWARE COMPANY Lance Rasmussen, president of operations at CDE Software based in Seattle, WA, offered newly-specialized league software to their
Joan Taylor is a multi-award winning bowling writer based in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.
A small sampling of the activities offered at Silverlake IBI
SHOWCASE INSTANT MESSAGING
New for 2020 is Steltronic Instant Messaging. Here are just some of the things you can do with Instant Messaging. From any Focus workstation, you can send an instant message to the lane monitors, and you decide how long it remains on the overhead LCD monitors. From the front desk, league secretaries can send an instant message to the lanes stating that a league meeting will take place, e.g. in the lounge at 5:45 pm. Snack bar employees can announce, ”Your pizza is ready for pickup in the snack bar.” For more than 40+ years, we are YOUR bowling center management specialists. For more information: (800) 942-5939 or email@example.com.
Player One Amusement Group (P1AG) is pleased to offer special financing terms to help customers bounce back from months of closure. From direct purchase, revenue-sharing, consultation, or merchandise and parts, customers now have even more options to tailor to their individual needs. Whether you are looking to update the game floor or add to an arcade attraction, P1AG is there for you with individually personalized solutions, starting with consultation and concept development through to curated layout, game, and merchandise selection. For more information on P1AG and their services, visit www.winwithp1ag.com.
When you hear AC RadioCom, you first think a leading distributor of high quality, business communications products, such as Kenwood and Ritron wireless solutions. However, AC RadioCom is much more. During this COVID pandemic, they are your one-stop shop for everything to protect you, your associates, and your customers. Everything from face masks, shields, gloves, disinfectant wipes and sprays, air purifiers and fresheners, sanitizer wands, and infrared non-contact thermometers. Let AC RadioCom help you reopen your center or FEC successfully. Mike Pascuzzi can be reached at: (888) 271-0647 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
IBI September/October 2020
EXPAND ONLINE SERVICES
Booking software is traditionally a one-trick pony that does one thing – book. Partywirks says, “Retire the pony!” Partywirks’ multi-function, all-in-one software includes options such as Book-Now, Shop-Now, InquireNow, Share-Now, and Invite-Now. It brings the power of ecommerce and instant gratification to any webpage or Facebook post and delivers more ways to entice, inform, and encourage people to take action. Try Partywirks risk free. No credit card or contract required. If Partywirks delivers the results, special BPAA Smart Buy pricing is available. Sign up for a product tour at https://calendly.com/partywirks/partywirks-productdemo. For more information, call (877) 345-4012 or email email@example.com.
SHOWCASE MOBILE APP CONNECTION
OpenLane®, the mobile app by Brunswick, makes it possible for your customers to control their experiences from their mobile devices just as they do when booking travel, shopping, or buying a cup of coffee. With OpenLane, guests can sign onto wait lists, track and share their score achievements, and access specials and coupons. They may even edit their names and photos within Sync games, using Brunswick’s patented mobile scoring system integration. OpenLane increases customer loyalty by making it easier and more rewarding to connect with your center. It provides you with one of the most effective marketing tools available today. Visit https://brunswickbowling.com/openlane to learn more.
CENTER REOPENING MARKETING KIT
In anticipating businesses such as bowling and FECs transitioning to “open,” QubicaAMF is offering its free digital Welcome Back to Bowling , a center reopening marketing kit, focused on bringing back old and welcoming new customers. The kit is complete with social posts, in-center monitor ads, email templates, outdoor signage, labels, checklists, and more! The kit will continually be updated with new content. Download the kit at www.qubicaamf.com/support/center-reopening-marketing-kit.
A&A Global Industries, distributor of an extensive merchandise line for vending and amusement industries, and BioCide Laboratories, offering safe, antifungal, antimicrobial products for in-home and work environments, have signed an exclusive distributorship agreement to sell BioCide 100 in the bulk vending, redemption, arcade, and amusement park industries. BioCide 100 is a highly effective mold cleaner against disease causing fungus and mold. It is EPA registered as highly effective against COVID-19. Used on medium-to-low usage touch areas such as buttons, coin-slots, and handles, BioCide 100 may have a long lasting and persistent effect for days and up to four weeks after application. For more information call (800) 638-6000 or visit www.aaglobal.com.
CARPETS TO COMPLIMENT
Omega Pattern Works Carpet’s colors create a nice environment whether in a glow or non-glow pattern such as Power House shown here. Omega’s Power House pattern is designed to make customers feel excited about visiting your center. Check out the company’s website for detailed information, OR re-color a pattern you like to match your facility. More? Go to omegapatternworkscarpet.com.
Grow your revenues through in-house promotions! Make sure your customers know ALL of your services. Place that message where they can’t miss it – on the floor. As you rebuild your revenues, this is no time to risk missing out on the additional income. eBowling.biz’s Marketing Floor Decals will deliver your message to your customers where they can’t miss it – at their feet! All decals are American made from high quality vinyl and are designed to adhere to carpet, tile, laminate, and counter tops too. For more info: Stick2theFloor.com.
IBI September/October 2020
VISIT OUR BRAND NEW FACEBOOK PAGE WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/ BOWLINGINDUSTRYMAGAZINE
THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
CENTER OR EQPT.
CLASSIFIEDS EQUIPMENT FOR SALE INFECTED with the REMODEL BUG as you FALL into League Season? ENTERTAINING the idea of a face-lift? Got you covered: A2s, parts, lanes, scoring, seating, and, of course, masks. firstname.lastname@example.org. FOR SALE: 10 pin drilling machine with vacuum system, measuring ball, scale, etc. Call Vic at (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.
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. NEBRASKA: 32-lane center, land & building. Features Brunswick A2 pinsetters, Brunswick Pro Anvilane lanes, Brunswick 2000 ball returns. Also, large lounge seating to 250; party room seating up to 80; game room, cafÃ© with established catering service. Center caters in-house and to other locations year-round. For more information, call Don Mehring, Action Holdings Real Estate, office (308) 384-3777 or cell (308) 380-0444.
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.
LOCKER KEYS FAST! All Keys done by code # Locks and Master Keys E-mail: email@example.com TOLL FREE
VISIT OUR BRAND NEW FACEBOOK PAGE WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/ BOWLINGINDUSTRYMAGAZINE
THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
SELL YOUR CENTER OR EQUIPMENT
FAST! (818) 789-2695 VISIT OUR BRAND NEW FACEBOOK PAGE WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/ BOWLINGINDUSTRYMAGAZINE 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
THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
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 - firstname.lastname@example.org
SELL YOUR CENTER
ALL ABOUT THE RUBBER
oodyear Chemicals, aka Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, has been rolling along since the bicycle craze in 1898 when Frank Seiberling borrowed $3,500 from his brother-in-law to purchase a factory site in Akron, OH, and started making bicycle tires. The company was named for Charles Goodyear, an homage to the man who invented vulcanized rubber. The rest is history. In 1966, Goodyear Chemicals took its rubber, specifically PLIOFLEX®, an easier name for emulsion styrene butadiene rubber (ESBR), and joined the bowling craze. The veneer of PLIOFLEX, molded to a bowling ball’s core, was just what Ebonite was looking for – Gyro-Balanced. It was their top ball in 1966, followed by a commercial in 1967 touting “the pros depend on the Ebonite Gyro.” The ball was hard and tough, went farther, and had better control. While in 1967 in The Graduate, it was all about plastics, Ebonite knew it was all about the rubber! Note: Anybody catch an oddity in the copy? Try the headline. Thunderball was a Brunswick ball! Wonder if they ever caught it? For fun, go to YouTube to watch the commercial: https://youtu.be/NA_PJL1-gps ❖ - Patty Heath