Mark Davis receives John Davis Award for 2014

    07/01/14

    United States

    2014JohnDavisAwardMarkDavis.jpg Mark Davis (pictured with Len Nicholson, left), younger brother of the late John Davis, founder of the Kegel Company, has been named the 2014 recipient of the John Davis Award. The surprise presentation was made at International Bowl Expo in Orlando, Fla.

    The award is presented annually to a deserving person who is actively involved in trying to advance the sport of bowling. A perpetual plaque, bearing each recipient's name, is on permanent display at the Kegel Training Center in Lake Wales, Fla.

    John Davis developed a lane cleaning product called the Key in St. Joseph, Mo., in the early 1980s. It proved so successful that it enabled his family to purchase a bowling center in Florida and, eventually, found the Kegel Company. John's wife Linda and family friend David Jennings were there at the start, with Mark Davis being employee No. 4.

    Davis first worked out of his parents' house by helping with the final design and assembly of the Key, and then assisted with sales before making the move to Florida in 1983. There, he worked in the Key's manufacturing department, drilled bowling balls in the bowling center's pro shop, and maintained the center's pinsetting machines and lanes.

    His current title at Kegel is Vice President of Research and Development, which would have fit him all along except that the family wasn't big on titles - until the company grew big enough that titles became necessary.

    Davis holds several patents on various designs that deal with the workings of lane machines. John Davis often was the "idea guy," and Mark Davis helped transform those ideas into reality - and products. Each time Mark delivered another successful design, John would tell him, "Once again, you have saved my company."

    Later, Mark took over the programming of the lane machines from John, expanding upon his father's ideas with revolutionary concepts still being introduced today.

    As a child, Mark Davis took apart toasters, lawn mowers and anything else he could get his hands on in order to see how they worked and how he could make them better. It was a "hobby" that used to drive his mom nuts, but served him and The Kegel Company well in future years.

    While a junior in high school, Davis became the lead mechanic for Belt Bowling Lanes in St. Joseph. He would get calls while at school to help troubleshoot the repair of a machine, or asking him to come in and work on a repair himself.

    Davis has worked in bowling virtually his entire life, and his wife Julie knew what she was getting into when she married him. "If he could find a wedding ring to fit around the building, he would do that," she says. "I used to tease him about putting in sleeping quarters in the mechanics' room."

    John Davis Award Recipients
    • 2001 - Joyce Deitch
    • 2002 - John Weber
    • 2003 - Ted Hoffman, Jr.
    • 2004 - Jim Dressel
    • 2005 - Mark Gerberich
    • 2006 - Carmen Salvino
    • 2007 - Linda Davis
    • 2008 - Gary Parsons
    • 2009 - Len Nicholson
    • 2010 - Walt Steinsiek
    • 2011 - Gary Beck
    • 2012 - Kim Thorsgaard Jensen
    • 2013 - Barbara and Bill Chrisman
    • 2014 - Mark Davis


    About John Davis
    20130125KegelCEOJohnDavis.jpgJohn Davis (right), founder of The Kegel Company, was involved in bowling for nearly his entire life. His father taught all of his children how to bowl at early ages, and that "love affair" continued for more than half a century.

    Although The Kegel Company is relatively small, Davis' personal investment in bowling was enormous and always unselfish. His leadership in technology and humanities, in the United States and worldwide, made him perhaps the most sought-after figure in the game, and his behind-the-scenes committee work was always welcomed.

    Because of his vast accomplishments and devotion to the sport, the John Davis Award was established by Kegel in his name and is now perpetuated in his memory.

    The Constant Flame - Recalling the life of John Davis By Fred Groh