Monday, February 21, 2011

Bowling Innovation - Jeff & Tom England

I decided that this week we would venture off our normal path for this site.  We've discussed a lot of key aspects involving our game, hopefully which is helping some people out there bettering their game.  This week I'd like to take the time to shift our attention to the proprietor side of things.  Anyone from southern Ontario or anyone having played the Oshawa Open recently would know that NEB's Funworld is exactly as advertised.  Over the last few years, I've called it the bowling alley with the amusement park attached.  The place is always packed and in a time where many centres are shutting down, places like this are a rare find.

What better resource to talk about bowling and where it'll stand in the future than the family behind NEB's Funworld?  I'm hoping that this is the first of many articles by the Englands in which they can shed some light on how they've made steps to be the frontrunners in bowling innovation.  I'd like to welcome to the site for the first time as contributors, Jeff and Tom England...

Innovating bowling in Canada.

Over the years bowling in Canada has had a lot of innovation, starting with Tommy Ryan whittling some 10-pin pins down, to create the game of 5-pin bowling. However the innovation didn't stop there, during the last 60 years we saw the rise and fall of free fall bowling machines. With string machines eventually dominating the marketplace. Automatic scoring has become a permanent fixture in most bowling alleys, and bumper bowling has allowed us to reach an even younger demographic. What I would like to talk about is the future of bowling in Canada and specifically what we're doing at Neb's Fun World to help the game of bowling in Canada stay current and cutting edge.

The string pin bowling machine has been great for proprietors over the years. They have dramatically reduced power consumption and have significantly reduced the amount of time and money spent on bowling machine maintenance. However even with all these advantages we needed to find another revenue stream to help keep our business alive and profitable. The solution, a convertible bowling machine that can set two different types of bowling. So instead of sending customers away because we don't offer their "game", we can now ask customers "what game would you like to play today?".

Creating this machine creates a number of challenges. The first being a convertible bowling machine has to handle a wide variety of bowling balls. So we needed to completely redesign all of our pits and create a new ball return system. To unite all these innovations we needed a new type of automatic scoring system. We found from our old system that switching between the games needed to be as simplistic as possible. Now when our employees turn on a lane from the front counter all they need to do is press a button to select 5 pin or 10 pin and the machine automatically sets the correct game.

We have had our new set up installed and operational for 6 months. If the early results are any indication it seems to be a success on all levels. Maintenance is the same, if not lower and customers love the options. We are finding that customers may bowl one game five pin then one game ten pin. We're also hearing customers say "hey we should come back and bowl 10 pin next time". Overall the results couldn't be better and hopefully they continue into the future.

Jeff & Tom England

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