Cyber Report #1116

E-dition No. 1,116 • Friday, July 3, 2020

Editor: Bob Johnson (bjibob@aol.com)

Classic Moves Forward With Restructuring Plan

Classic Products Corp. based in Fort Wayne, Ind., has announced a restructuring of the company’s sales and customer service departments.

While navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, Classic accelerated its restructuring project that had been in the works for several years. Classic President Mike Eid said his team was able to seize the moment and execute the vision.

The restructuring of Classic’s teams is focused on further aligning sales, customer service, operations and marketing. This format change is essentially a move from a single-person responsibility of Classic’s interaction with its customer base to a team-oriented coverage.

These changes represent a key step toward enhancing our customers’ experience,” said Jimmy Land, Classic’s Vice President of Operations. “The headwinds we are all facing in the industry, along with recognition of our need to move forward as a company and support our customers more now than ever, has led us to expedite a process that has been percolating for quite some time.”

Classic’s restructuring plan divides the United States into three Regions: West, Central and East. Each region is divided into two or three sales territories that will be serviced by a Territory Sales Representative, a Regional Coordinator, an Accounting Partner, and an Inside Sales Support Teammate.

This will provide customers in any given territory support from four different team members, specializing in their own field, at any time. The plan enables Classic to provide real-time solutions while continuing to provide a presence at trade shows, seminars, customer events and industry events.

There also will continue to be a strong in-office support team at each of Classic’s five locations.

In addition to the changes in the territories, Jason Shondrick has been reassigned to the position of Center Services and Capital Equipment Sales Manager. Shondrick has been one of Classic’s Midwest Territory Managers since 2005, working with Land to manage the Center Services Division, assist in lighting, sound and other capital projects, and working closely with Classic’s Task Force Division. He has an extensive background in center modernization, and this will enable Classic to offer more focused support to customers.

Shawn Morris has joined the Classic team and will be serving Shondrick’s former Northeast Territory (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky). Morris comes to Classic from Ebonite International, and has been working in the bowling industry since 1993.

Shawn’s passion for bowling, industry experience and knowledge, and superior customer service will be an asset to Classic and its customers,” the company said in a media release. “We are very excited to have Shawn on board.”

California Governor Shuts Down Centers in 19 Counties

Just weeks, and in some cases days, after reopening their doors following a prolonged closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of California’s bowling centers on Wednesday were ordered to shut down again by Governor Gavin Newsom.

The order was the result of what some have called “knucklehead behavior” by certain people who refused to wear masks in public or adhere to social distancing guidelines. It applies to 19 counties that account for nearly 75% of the state’s population, and also targets movie theaters, bars and indoor restaurant dining.

The full list of 19 counties affected by the order is: Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tulare and Ventura.

Bowling centers up and down the state took to Facebook to inform customers of the development. A few of the (unedited) posts:

* La Habra “300” Bowl in La Habra — “Attention All Bowlers: We are sad to report that the Governor has closed all bowling alleys as of July 2, 2020 at 12:01am for 3 weeks. La Habra 300 Bowl will be closing today at 4:30pm. We hope you all will stay safe during this uncertain time and we hope to see you all as soon as we are allowed to reopen again.”

* Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley — “Effective 10pm tonight, we will be closed for a minimum of three weeks by order of Governor Newsom. We will keep you posted of changes.”

* Bowlero in Clovis — “Due to orders of the state of California, we’ll be temporarily closed, effective today. We will let you know when we’re able to re-open. Thank you for your understanding.”

In Contra Costa County, Clayton Valley Bowl in Concord had posted this on June 29: “Due to recent changes to Contra Costa County health services, the July 1st reopening has been canceled. Clayton Valley Bowl will not be opening on July 1st and we have no date or time frame as to when we will be able to open. For those of you that were excited to get back to bowling as much as we were we are sorry! Take care of yourselves and stay healthy and safe! We will try to keep updating as much as possible!”

In California, as in most other states, the reopening process has been far from fluid.

The Next Step for Illinois Proprietors Could Be Court

In Illinois, proprietors frustrated with that state’s governor and his recent actions that place onerous restrictions on reopening their centers (see Cyber Report No. 1,115) have decided to take action.

Here are excerpts from a recent letter to member centers issued by Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association President Bill Brennan of Bluebird Lanes in Chicago:

It’s an understatement that we have all had a trying week with the bad news that we received… Being closed for a more than 100 days and the turnabout by the State of Illinois has compounded our fears and frustrations.

Our Task Force, who have led the communication with the State, are beyond the boiling point of patience, as the State of Illinois provided what was essentially false information and hope that we would be at a capacity number starting June 26. In fact, shortly after the demoralizing conference.. we immediately began to retool our strategy to provide us all relief from this destructive guideline limiting our centers to only 50 customers at a time.

We have made countless phone calls with various elected officials of both parties throughout Illinois. All understand and share our frustrations with the Governor. One such call was with Assistant Majority Senate Leader Antonio Munoz, who was extremely agitated that we were misled, and consequently set an immediate meeting with IDPH and the Governor’s administration.

Through these efforts and your phone calls and emails, we were contacted [and a meeting was] scheduled with DCEO and Bain & Company… They stated they would like ‘to talk through your thoughts and concerns’ with the Phase 4 guidelines and restrictions. Be assured they are going to get an earful!

During this time frame ISBPA’s Executive Committee met and unanimously approved the vetting of several attorneys to file a lawsuit. This was the last action we wanted to take as an association as it could have possibly spotlighted our organization, businesses and sport in a negative light. We feel that public sentiment is much different for us now than it was weeks ago. We also can’t rely on a quick, decisive and truthful response from the State of Illinois, as evidenced in these last few days since the Phase 4 rollout. Time is of the essence for all of us and we feel that litigation may be the only way to get hastened relief.”

According to ISBPA Executive Director Bill Duff, ISBPA representatives were told on Monday’s Zoom conference meeting that the Illinois Department of Health made the final determination on all industry-specific guidelines, and they will not budge from their determination to place a fixed customer count on bowling center businesses.

Their only ‘concession’ was to reevaluate and possibly increase the customer count numbers in the next several weeks, but only as a fixed number,” Duff said. “They will not consider any kind of percentage of capacity, even though they realize it may cause many bowling centers with larger lane-bed counts to be forced to make a decision to remain closed or operate at a net loss.”

ISBPA now has retained the services of Michael Best Strategies, which works with BPAA and several state associations on various issues impacting proprietors — including response, recovery and reopening with COVID-19 — and has an office in downtown Chicago.

Their colleagues based in Illinois have very strong relationships with the State of Illinois administration,” Duff noted. “Scott Beightol sits on BPAA’s Board of Directors and has provided legal expertise to the bowling industry for many years. He knows the industry and is already assembling a legal team for our lawsuit. Michael Best attorneys are currently leading litigation for proprietors in North Carolina on the issue of reopening centers from their Raleigh office.”

Dealing With the Reopening ‘Gray Area’

Remember when a bowling alley was a bowling alley and a bar was a bar?

Those lines have been blurred over the past two decades with business models that blend the two into a single concept, often with food-and-beverage sales trumping bowling revenue on the venue’s bottom line.

It’s a matter that comes into play as operators of bowling centers, bowling-based entertainment centers and hybrid centers seek to reopen.

For instance, just one day after pausing additional efforts to reopen Texas, Governor Greg Abbott last Friday announced another round of restrictions, including closing bars and limiting restaurant occupancy.

Meanwhile, in Florida, bars were prohibited from allowing alcohol consumption, a move that goes to the very heart of what a bar is.

In both scenarios, it probably was better for a business to be known as a bowling alley than a bar with bowling.

In state border cities, business owners without similar limitations could have a distinct advantage over neighbors just blocks away but on the other side of the state line.

For veterans of the bowling business, it’s reminiscent of the early years of smoking bans, which were implemented city by city, county by county, and finally state by state, creating a quagmire of confusion that many believe accelerated the decline in the league bowler population.

In both cases — smoking and COVID-19 — society has struggled with ways to deal with a lethal situation. Only now, the killer can strike with much greater speed.

That’s why there is not, and really cannot be, unanimous agreement over how to reopen America’s economy and America’s bowling centers. The best thing that could happen would be for citizens, en masse, to don masks and end their “knucklehead behavior” in order to slow the spread of the virus.

As long as the virus numbers continue to spike, bowling center proprietors will be forced to deal with restrictions from state governors who have no understanding of their businesses.

January Military Tournament Is Still a Go

The headline for the story about the cancellation of 2020 August Military Team Classic (Cyber Report No. 1,115) apparently caused some confusion in some quarters.

That headline included the word “Championships,” which caused some to speculate whether the 2021 Military Bowling Championships also had been cancelled.

Brad Edelman, President of High Roller Inc., which conducts the two military tournaments, says that event is still a go.

All of us hope that this terrible pandemic will be long gone by then,” Edelman told the Cyber Report. “We’re looking forward to seeing everyone this coming January at the South Point Bowling Center and Bowling Plaza here in Las Vegas.”

A brochure for the 2021 Military Bowling Championships may be viewed here: https://www.high-roller.com/wordpress/home/.

Schilling Receives Laser Tag Industry Innovator Award

For only the third time in the 36-year history of laser tag, an individual has been honored with the Laser Tag Industry Innovator Award.

Jeff Schilling, founder of Creative Works, received the award from the Laser Tag Museum, recognizing his efforts in pioneering, creating and promoting immersive-themed environments for the laser tag industry.

Before Schilling entered the industry, laser tag arenas often were self-made out of cheap plywood or sewer tubes purchased at a local hardware store. Schilling realized that the industry could instead have themed environments that offered amazing gameplay.

His original company was called Virtual Concepts, and it created some unique environments — including one still in existence nearly 30 years later in Indianapolis.

In 1997, Schilling went out on his own and formed Creative Works, now known for creating the “wow effect” in its projects and as a world authority on laser tag arenas and participatory play environments.

As laser tag technology developed over the past two decades, so did laser tag arenas, with Schilling and his team helping to lead the way. As the Laser Tag Museum pointed out, Schilling helped raise the bar for the entire industry and the consumers it serves.

New Owner for Former Ebonite Testing Facility

May 8 marked the five-year anniversary of Creating the Difference, and also was the day the company signed a contract to acquire the former Ebonite International testing facility in Hopkinsville, Ky.

The primary goal of Creating the Difference has been to educate bowlers of all skill levels,” said CEO Ronald Hickland. “This acquisition enhances our ability to do that with a world-class educational facility.”

The facility has four lanes with two different lane surfaces, a conference room, training area and a complete pro shop. It will feature a library of interactive educational topics that cover the physical and mental game, lane play, bowling ball motion, surface and pro shop training. New technology aimed at tracking bowler improvement is planned.

Hickland said the Education Center will be fully staffed and supported by USBC-certified coaches, ball motion experts and pro shop technicians. It features training tools such as Kegel Torch, Specto, Eileen’s Bowling Buddy, Blueprint and Bowler ID, and also has a Kegel Flex lane machine. There are plans to add the Clutch Bowling Coaching System later this summer.

Creating the Difference offers a Regional Staff program for bowlers of all levels, and oversees a private, kid-friendly, educational Facebook group.

Business Briefs…

* Creative Works held its first-ever virtual Amusement 360 event on June 23-24. In all, more than 600 people registered, making it the largest 360 event to date, and one of the largest virtual programs that the amusement industry has ever seen. Watch for more coverage in the August issue of BEC.

* The building that formerly housed Park Lanes in Mansfield, Ohio, is now destined for demolition after being old at auction for $125,000. The 50-lane center had opened in 1959 and enjoyed success during bowling’s boom years. Its original wooden lanes were never replaced, and the center closed in 2018. Read more here: https://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/2020/06/26/park-lanes-bowling-alley-sold-auction-mansfield-adena-corp/3262890001/.

Other News You Can Use…

* Next up on the podcast schedule from the International Bowling Campus is The Gauntlet with Daria Pajak and Verity Crawley, with a first airing on Thursday (July 2) at 4 p.m. Eastern on BowlTV. The podcast will be archived for viewing at anytime.

* The guest this week on Phantom Radio is Barry Asher, who shares stories and memories of Tommy Hudson, Paul Colwell, Roy Buckley and Larry Laub. To listen to the conversation, click here: https://kegel.squarespace.com/phantomblog/2020/7/1/barry-asher-phantom-radio.

* 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.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: