Cyber Report #1105

E-dition No. 1,105 • Friday, April 17, 2020

Editor: Bob Johnson (bjibob@aol.com)

BPAA Hall of Famer Bill Bojé Passes Away

Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America Hall of Fame member Bill Bojé, who received the association’s Victor Lerner Memorial Medal in 2003, passed away on Monday.

Bojé owned Brandon Crossroads Bowl in Tampa, Fla., and Sunset Lanes in south St. Louis, Mo., with his son Jeff, who himself received the Lerner award in 2012.

According to the Brandon Crossroads website, “Bill and Gloria Bojé built their first bowling sports entertainment center in St. Louis in 1959. The center’s original name was Marlborough Lanes (after England’s Duke of Marlborough, and also the name of the little village that the center was in). Later it was renamed Sunset Lanes (after the beautiful sunsets glowing through the famed gateway to the west, the St. Louis Arch).”

Bill and Jeff built Brandon Crossroads in 1990, and were joined by Bill’s two daughters and son-in-law in building The Alley at Southshore in Riverview, Fla., in 2008.

Bill was proud of Jeff’s achievements and enjoyed taking credit for grooming Jeff,” said John LaSpina, who served as BPAA President from 1992 to 1994, and received the Lerner award the year before the elder Bojé. “I cheered when [Bill was the Lerner recipient] as he represented the selfless side of bowling proprietors who will leave their businesses and their families to work on behalf of our business and our industry.”

Jay Trietley of Alley Cats Entertainment Center in Arlington, Texas, described Bojé as “a member’s leader.” Trietley served with Bojé on the Member Benefits Committee, and said Bojé “made sure we offered the best products and best prices for our members.”

Bev Ulrich said she would remember Bojé as the person who enabled her to break into the bowling business.

I applied for a job at Crossroads Bowl fresh out of Vincennes University with my new bowling management degree in hand,” she said. “He took a chance on a 19-year-old with virtually no experience and gave me a start in the bowling industry.”

In terms of first impressions, Ulrich was just as impressed with Bojé as he was with her.

When I walked in for my interview, Bill was up on a ladder changing light bulbs,” she recalled. “I was impressed by his hands-on approach. He wasn’t a guy that just sat in an office.

I worked for him for three years, the last as general manager of Brandon Lanes. He made me do every job in the center in preparation, including the snack bar, the nursery and the back end. Then Bill made it possible for me to go into the pro shop business at Crossroads Bowl when he decided to lease out the shop. Thirty-three years later, I’m still in the pro shop business in the area.

I will always be grateful to the Bojé family for allowing me to get my foot in the door.”

Bojé spent time as BPAA’s secretary/treasurer and sergeant-at-arms, as well as a regional vice president at different times for Missouri and Florida. He also served those states’ proprietor associations in officer and board positions, and was a past president of the Tampa Proprietors Association.

BPAA Executive Director Frank DeSocio noted that Bojé developed youth and adult programs in Florida’s Pinellas County for more than 20 years.

Long before anyone ever dreamed of having the headquarters of the BPAA and bowling’s membership groups under one roof, Bojé was instrumental in founding the St. Petersburg Bowling Council, which brought proprietor, ABC and WIBC representatives together to work on programs at the local level.

Bojé not only devoted countless hours to volunteerism, but served as a role model for other proprietors, including LaSpina.

Though I attended the 1975 BPAA Convention, I only went to the trade show and took a boat ride around Manhattan,” recalled LaSpina, President of Maple Family Centers in New York and Florida, and Chair of the Bowlers to Veterans Link. “It wasn’t until 1976 — when we packed our one-a-half-year-old daughter, flew to San Diego, and went to all the meetings — that I realized there were people volunteering, running projects and doing things that would help our business.

I related to the guys in the blue polyester jackets with BPAA emblems on the front pockets. One gentleman I met in those early years was Bill Bojé, who wore one of those blazers. I watched him from afar and enjoyed his folksy way of speaking. He had a storyteller’s demeanor and a comforting voice that went with him.”

Bojé also was a trusted counsel.

I remember his supporting me when times were difficult when I was president,” LaSpina said. “He always offered practical and straight-up advice, and he could disagree with me and we could still enjoy a cordial meal afterward.”

Concluded LaSpina: “Bowling lost a good friend, one who represented the role of a bowling proprietor — being an entrepreneur, taking risk and reaping the rewards.”

Condolences may be sent to the Bojé family at: 115 Hickory Creek Drive, Brandon, FL 33511.

 

Matriarch of Bowling’s Most Famous Family Dies

Juanita Weber, wife of the late PBA legend Dick Weber and matriarch of bowling’s most famous family, died at a St. Louis assisted living center late Monday night. She was 89. Born on Aug. 28, 1930, she had been in declining health for some time.

Juanita was the mother of long-time PBA Midwest Region Manager Rich Weber, daughter Paula Darmon, Director of PBA50 and PBA Regional Tours John Weber and 37-time PBA Tour champion and Hall of Famer Pete.

Juanita and Dick Weber had met in a bowling center when both were teenagers. According to the story she later told her children, Juanita went to the center with a girlfriend to watch a guy named Curt Heady bowl league. Her father, she had said, didn’t want her going to the “bowling alley” back then because “nice girls don’t hang out in bowling alleys.”

According to her story, her future husband approached her and said, “Don’t I know you?” That inconspicuous beginning grew into something much more serious after Dick bowled in the American Bowling Congress Championships Tournament, won some money and returned to Indianapolis with marriage on his mind.

They were too young to be married without parental consent, but got permission and were married in Indianapolis on Dick’s birthday: Dec. 23, 1948.

Dick and Juanita moved to St. Louis shortly thereafter, where Dick joined the famous Budweisers of St. Louis and launched one of the most successful careers in bowling history.

Juanita also bowled. “I never bowled a 300 game, but I did win a state title,” she had said.

But her greatest claim to fame was her behind-the-scenes role as advisor and manager of one of the most decorated families in bowling history.

In keeping with family tradition and her wishes, Juanita Weber will be cremated. No funeral services will be held. The family asks that any memorials in her honor be donated to the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, 621 Six Flags Drive, Arlington, TX 76011.

 

More COVID-19 Updates from the Bowling Family

* International Bowling Campus Youth Development has cancelled its national youth championships events, including the Junior Gold Championships Presented by Hammer, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cancellation of events includes the USA Bowling National Championships, the Bowling.com Youth Open Championships, and the Survivor tournament. More than 4,000 youth bowlers already had qualified for the events, which had been scheduled to take place at seven bowling centers in Las Vegas from July 8-26. “All of us at IBC Youth understand and share in the disappointment, as July is our time to celebrate youth bowling with the athletes, families, coaches and volunteers,” said Gary Brown, IBC Youth Managing Director. “But this summer is the time to ensure the focus is on the safety and welfare of our bowling families.” Full report: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/covid-19-forces-cancellation-of-2020-junior-gold-championships/

* The scheduled start of the 2020 USBC Open Championships and 2020 USBC Women’s Championships will move to September and include a modified format to allow for increased social distancing for competitors. The move to September is intended to give tournament bowlers more time to focus on their personal situations during this difficult period. In surveys, registered competitors said they still would like to participate in the tournament late in the year, if public health conditions allow. Moving the tournaments to September gives everyone a chance to consider their options and plan for their own circumstances. The Open Championships at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., is now scheduled to start on Sept. 12 and run until Nov. 21 (last team date), while the Women’s Championships at the South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas is set to kick off Sept. 19 and run through Oct. 18. More: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/2020-usbc-open-and-womens-championships-start-dates-moved-to-september/

* The 79th annual National Championship Tournament of The National Bowling Association has been cancelled. The tournament originally was to be held May 21-31 in Las Vegas, then was rescheduled to dates in August. Further information and links to TNBA President Dewann Clark’s Facebook Live reports can be found at: http://tnbainc.org.

* The USBC has suspended the Team USA and Junior Team USA programs for the remainder of 2020 because of uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of international competitions to 2021. All 2020 Team USA and Junior Team USA members, if they remain age-eligible, automatically will be placed on their respective 2021 teams. “We know this is disappointing for our Team USA athletes who worked hard to earn the honor of representing our country in competition,” said Team USA Head Coach Rod Ross. “Unfortunately, we do not see any possibility of Team USA competing this calendar year. We look forward to 2021, with a stronger expanded team that includes current team members and those who make the squad at the 2021 Team USA Trials.” More: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/team-usa-programs-suspended-due-to-covid-19/.

* The factory of Switch Bowling in Turkey has been closed temporarily because of the pandemic. Chief communications officer Cynthia Winterhalter said that the company was falling into line with the stricter measures that were being brought in internationally. The company’s factory in Izmir will be closed until Monday, May 4, Winterhalter confirmed. “Through unity and solidarity, it is our strong belief that we will overcome these hardest days and come out the other side even stronger than before,” she said.

* Cara Honeychurch, CEO of Tenpin Bowling Australia Limited, told Bill Vint of Sleeping Dogs Communications that TBA’s office was closed for two weeks, but there are hopeful signs in Australia: “We’ve jumped on it pretty hard and have seen the number of [COVID-19] cases being reported on a daily basis now down under 100 per day. So we’ve flattened the curve reasonably quickly, but it will be interesting to see how long it will be before restrictions start to get lifted and what impact that then has on spreading the virus again. I think it’s the view of most Australians to just stay in lockdown a bit longer than what otherwise might seem necessary so that we only have to go through this once.  I don’t think the economy would survive a second shutdown.”

 

One Proprietor’s Success Story With a PPP Loan

Rich Kenny, the owner of Forest View Lanes in Bedford Township, Ohio, can’t wait to re-open the doors of his 20-lane center. He has a good feeling that the business will be there.

On Friday nights we must get 50 calls asking if we have open lanes,” Lenny says with a chuckle. “Seriously, have people not been watching TV?”

Kenny, who worked in the corporate world before buying the center, said he applied for the Paycheck Protection Program Loan on the day it became available, and it was approved last week. His Economic Injury Disaster Loan is still pending, and he says he is beginning work on another long-term Small Business Administration loan.

The PPP loan approval is a huge relief,” he says. “We have been keeping about 25% of the team working during the shutdown and doing some pre-planned improvements. We are looking forward to bringing all 46 team members back to work early next week. We will get them starting with some online training from home, opening the kitchen with our full menu for take-out on Friday, and additional cleaning and on-site training to get everyone on the same page and ready to serve our customers when we open our doors to normal operations.”

Kenny is hoping that a May 1 re-opening is allowed, and that’s the date he’s targeting. And he’s not waiting until April 30 to get ready.

We are taking extra steps in our bowling center, volleyball facility and restaurant to keep our customers, our team members and our community safe and healthy,” he says. “We are not only following the state, federal, CDC and WHO requirements and recommendations, but we are doing much more.”

Kenny says he hasn’t stopped working since he was forced to shut down.

This has been a time for planning, to think creatively, to put a strategy together,” he says. “For us, the government loan programs are a lifeline, but it’s not going to be enough for us just to survive. When we re-open, we need to get the word out that our bowling center is not only a fun place, but a safe place.”

Even as he and about a quarter of his staff have been working during the closure, they’ve been practicing social distancing, using PPE, washing hands constantly and even taking the temperatures of staffers.

We want to ensure we provide a safe, family-friendly environment for our team members, community and customers,” Kenny says.

And while the immediate future is uncertain, Kenny has a positive outlook — perhaps enhanced every time he gets a phone call on a Friday evening inquiring about open lanes.

We are all going to need some fun, food and drinks to celebrate the end of this pandemic and honor those that lost their lives,” he says. “We will come out stronger as a nation, community, family and business. For us, this is the time to go big or go home.”

 

Business Briefs…

* The production of 900 Global Bowling balls is being moved from San Antonio Texas, to the Storm Bowling facility in Brigham, Utah. “Our decision was based on the market conditions affecting everyone worldwide,” said Wes Pye, Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing. “The bowling industry is very resilient and will come back strong, but it will take time. We want to thank all the past and present team members of Global Manufacturing for their great work and efforts in building 900 Global.” While Global Manufacturing has ceased production in Texas, the company’s design, research and development team, as well as sales and marketing team members, will remain in San Antonio.

* Early reports that Pollards Bowl in Versailles, Ind., had been destroyed in a strong storm that hit the region last week turned out to be inaccurate. The BJI Cyber Report reached out to Ron Pollard, one of the family members who operate the center, and he got back to us with the news that the damage was “not as bad as initially thought.” He said that the family is working with its bank to secure financing for the needed repairs.

* The news is not as good for Wilsonville Lanes in suburban Portland, Ore. Proprietor JP Muller told employees and bowlers that he was being forced to close the center “due to financial and coronavirus problems and other unforeseen problems.” Muller added, “We are putting all our efforts into saving and keeping Mt. Hood Lanes alive for all our great league and tournament bowlers.” Muller had operated Wilsonville Lanes for 28 years. Early on, there was no competition in the area. Today, the Bullwinkle’s FEC, just a third of a mile away, has added bowling lanes, and Langer’s Entertainment has opened in nearby Sherwood with 26 lanes among its attractions.

 

Other News You Can Use…

* As you will hear from PWBA Tour champion and registered nurse Brenda Mack, if framing the battle against COVID-19 in the context of a war provides an apt analogy, then it is a war against an unknown enemy. On a new edition of The Bowlers Journal Podcast, Mack — wife of USBC Hall of Famer and Storm European Sales Manager and ball rep Tim Mack — talks about the frustration of waging that war as a nurse in an Indianapolis-area hospital without having a full grasp of how exactly to treat this illness. Some of Brenda’s patients have died. Sometimes Brenda has been on the other end of phone calls with sobbing family members who must make life-or-death decisions for loved ones without being allowed to see them. Brenda talks about those heartbreaking aspects of her job as a nurse at a time like this, how and when she believes the bowling industry will be able to kick back into gear, and much more. Listen to the conversation here: https://soundcloud.com/user-658733792/brendamackfinal

* New PWBA Tour and USBC Open Championships podcasts also being launched over the next week. Here’s that schedule: April 17, The PWBA Podcast with longtime Team USA member Shannon Pluhowsky; April 21, Inside The OC with lane maintenance guru Nick Hoagland; April 22, The PWBA Podcast with PWBA Director of Operations and USBC Hall of Famer Tennelle Milligan; April 23, Inside The OC with three-time eagle winner and USBC Hall of Famer Bob Hart.

* CONTACT: Please send business news, event information, etc. to Bob Johnson at bjibob@aol.com. For breaking business news, visit bcmmag.com or bowlersjournal.com, “Like” Bowling Center Management and Bowlers Journal International on Facebook, and follow BJI on Twitter (Twitter.com/BowlersJournal). BJI Cyber Reports are now archived at bcmmag.com. Please remember that the Cyber Report is a B-to-B publication and not intended for consumers.

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