Switch International recently opened a New Jersey based joint venture called Switch Bowling, partnering with John Fatigati, a third generation proprietor with over 25 years experience in the bowling industry, who will be running the company as president.
Fatigati is the proprietor of Jersey Lanes in Linden and Parkway Lanes in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, as well as being the current President of the North Jersey BPA.
The company was founded in order to introduce European-designed and engineered bowling products at affordable prices to the US proprietors. It will have a supply ranging from complete new centres to modernisation, spare parts and consumables. We asked him what the thinking was behind the project…
What’s the purpose of the joint venture and how did it come about?
I was brought in by some associates from the West Coast who had begun preliminary discussions with Switch International to return to the states aligned to a proprietor or group of proprietors. After a bit of time, and discussions, it came down to me and Alain and Ahmet making an agreement to move forward together. From the beginning, we had easy relations and felt that we share the same goals and philosophy to bring Switch to the US market. The combination of the insight and experience of the US bowling market that I can offer and their ability to produce very high quality products at reasonable prices is going to propel us to the top of the market.
What sort of European products are you bringing over to the US and from which companies?
We are bringing the entire Switch portfolio to the States. It is everything from shoes to Pinsetters(both traditional and string), lanes, scoring, furniture etc. Included in that are some really high quality aftermarket parts for both AMF and Brunswick machines.
Is there a difference between US and European bowling products?
European style has always been regarded as the trendsetter for global fashion. It brings sleek lines and modern color palates to life in an integrated way. The US based companies have always felt to me as if they always played catch-up to what the market needs are as opposed to driving peoples expectations about how great the experience can be.
How has the market reacted to the project?
It has been amazing! There is already a buzz about having a real alternative to look at. We already have some serious potential centers that are looking to Switch for their projects. There is excitement both in that they can easily buy and maintain their centers with our USA based operation.
What qualifies as success for the JV?
Market domination! Seriously, we will look to have sustained success for the short term, and continue to make our first in-roads to the market in year one. From there, we feel it will be an easy transition to a major player.
Isn’t Europe the growth market for bowling and is there therefore a reciprocal arrangement to bring US products to the European market?
There is a huge bowling market in the States right now. It has been regaining as the sport of choice for Americans. It is the #1 participation sport in the country, with over 60 million people bowling last year. There is a huge base of centers that are now seeing the need to upgrade and are willing to make the investment as the market continues to heat up. Europe may have the straight line growth numbers, but the US has the foundation in place. As the market evolves and centers continue to upgrade to the latest style and technology, thee younger generations are really connecting to the interactive social activity in this very digital age. Currently, we are going to be supplying pins from the states, and as the company evolves, we will always assess the best product for the best price, and take the lead from our strong global presence to always be on the forefront of style and technology.