Bill Supper is a bowling man for all seasons and all reasons By Dick Evans

    06/17/09

    Column

    BPAA's Bill Supper gives new meaning to a man who knows bowling balls up close and personal with a background that stretches from new jersey to Japan and includes executive positions at every stop during an amazing journey.

    ColumnistDickEvans.jpgBill Supper knows bowling inside out, matter of fact it would be no exaggeration to say he knows bowling balls inside out and outside in because he has spent his life throwing them, selling them and producing them all across the world.

    And I almost forgot, Supper has weighed and measured more than 100,000 bowling balls at High Roller Tournaments across the country and he has coached some of the tour's top stars.

    In many ways, Bill Supper is an American success story and I know of no other man, or woman for that matter, who has flourished at big-time executive positions at bowling ball companies like Ebonite, Storm, AMF 300 and Columbia Industries and now is the No. 2 man as Deputy Executive Director behind John Berglund at the Bowling Proprietors Association of America's home office in Arlington.

    And to think, he didn't get into bowling until high school and never had any formal training until Teata Semiz took Supper under his wing. Supper lettered in bowling two years and also earned high school letters in football and baseball.

    Bowling became his first love and the base's bowling center became his "personal hang out" while serving in the U.S. Army in Japan. He got so good Supper represented the Army Far East in international military bowling tournaments. He also bowled his first 300 while stationed in Japan and wound up winning four Japanese titles before heading home.

    He tried the PBA tour but with the help of his young wife JoAnn soon decided he wasn't going to make a living rolling a bowling ball professionally, but to his credit his rivals voted him the coveted PBA Pat Patterson Award in two regions – East and Central.

    So to many of his peers he was a winner even if he hadn't won a title.

    Supper says "my wife of 40 years has been a faithful trooper" but he made a big sacrifice in order to meet her. "About two months after I reassigned from Japan to Long Island, one of my friends (Danny Denasi) asked if I would double date with him and his girl friend one Friday night. I reluctantly agreed because Friday was my bowling night."

    Supper must have been on his game that night because his blind date became his wife and the mother of daughter Alice and son of Billy.

    Bill Supper Sr. put bowling balls in his children's hands at an early age and they still are bowling today and now granddad is working on his eight grandchildren's games.

    Bill Supper always seems to be thinking about how to help bowlers with innovative ideas. I once was working the Vienna Open in Austria and wrote a column that a woman was in contention against some of the world's best male bowlers because the ladies were given an eight-pin handicap in every game, which had resulted in several women winning European titles.

    Bill Supper sent me an Email and said something like this: "You should write a column advising every top female bowler in the United States that they should head for Europe and bowl and win a lot of Euros."

    He gave me a lot of facts and after I finished writing the column advising elite American women bowlers to head "East Young Lady" I wished had enough money to sponsor four or five super female bowlers on he European tour.

    Below you will find Bill Supper's answers to my questions about his amazing tour through the bowling world:

     


    Dick Evans: "How and when did you become associated with Ebonite and what were your positions and then please trace how and why you went to Storm and to Columbia before landing with the BPAA. and how you advanced to your current positions?"

    Bill Supper: "In 1980, Ebonite International was looking for a sales representative to cover 10 states from South Carolina north to New England and west to Pennsylvania. Peter Boyle, then VP Sales for Ebonite, was given my name by Chuck Pezzano and Frank Esposito and the rest is history.

    "I was hired in January of 1980 and began my career in the bowling industry and have NEVER regretted one day since.

    "In 1984, Tom Malloy then owner of Ebonite, asked me to become National Sales Manager and move to Hopkinsville, Kentucky. My wife JoAnn, our two children and two dogs moved from New Jersey to Hopkinsville in May of 84.

    "In 1985, Tom promoted me to VP of Sales. I have great respect and gratitude for Tom and everyone I worked with during my 17 years at Ebonite. I was given opportunities that will last a lifetime.

    "Traveling the world with Earl Anthony, Nelson Burton Jr. and Carmen Salvino and working on the PBA and PWBA tours with the greatest male and female bowlers in the world was a wonderful experience. I had the privilege of signing Earl Anthony to three Ebonite staff contracts. I also signed Walter Ray Williams Jr., Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, Leanne Barrette-Hulsenberg and Kim Terrell to their first pro contracts.

    "In 1997, Storm Products owners Bill and Barbara Chrisman offered me a position of President of Sales and Marketing. In September of 1997, I joined the Storm team. Both Bill and Barbara Chrisman bowl competitive and so does 90 percent of the management team. I also was able to work with very talented people at Storm such as Dave Symes, Hank Boomershine, and Corbet Austin. These guys bleed Storm and bowling.

    "I had a number of positions with Storm from President to V.P. European sales, to handling all negotiations with the large professional and amateur Storm staffs. My seven years with Storm was a wonderful experience, which I cannot say enough about.

    "Then in 2004, Columbia Industries President Mike Allbritton approached me on moving to San Antonio, Texas, to take over as President of AMF 300. After much deliberation, JoAnn and I both felt at the time in our careers being near our children and grandchildren was the compelling decision maker. Austin is 80 miles from San Antonio and Salt Lake City 1,000 miles.

    "Texas it was and we are watching three of our grandchildren Grow up, great fun.

    "My position with AMF 300 was elevated in March of 2005 to Executive V.P. Sales and Marketing of Columbia Industries.

    "Then in September of 2006, John Berglund, executive director of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America, and Frank DeSocio, VP Sales of Strike Ten Entertainment, asked me to join the BPAA staff. John explained there was a very talented group of associates inside the Arlington office but he felt one component was lacking, a person who was tied into the manufacturers, distributors and bowlers.

    "I believe I bring that missing link to the organization. I am currently Deputy Executive Director of the BPAA. I am also Director, Member Services, and Executive Director for eight states, which the BPAA currently manages. I am also Executive Director of the International Bowling Pro Shop Instructors Association and Executive Director of the Billiard and Bowling Institute of America."


    Dick Evans:
    "Why did you weigh all those thousands of bowling balls during old High Roller tournaments in Las Vegas? Wasn't that hard and tedious work and how many balls do you think you weighed and for how many years?

    Bill Supper: "Why did I and my staff of five weigh over 5,000 bowling balls in one tournament for the High Roller in 1982?

    "Because it was fun and I was involved in the sport. I was a PBA member so I could not bowl in the High Roller and when Norm Edelman and Frank Esposito asked me if I wanted to get a free trip to Las Vegas and get paid to weigh bowling balls I said yes.

    "I hired my close friend and tour roommate, Jim Potenziano, along with his girlfriend Debbie Nolan plus Billy Das and Mike Monyak (now general manger of South Point) to help me in the ball room.

    "The tournament was held for many years at the Showboat and drew close to 2,000 entrants and lasted for a week. The first year everyone had to weigh his/her equipment anytime before they bowled their first squad.

    "Little did we know 1,500 of the 2,000 bowlers would show up at 8a.m. the first day of practice? Bowlers with two double bags were lined up through the casino, up the escalator into the Showboat arena for five hours.

    "The following year we only weighed bowling balls two hours before the squad times. In my 10 years working for the High Roller and the PBA Eastern Region, my team weighed an estimated 100,000 bowling balls. It was hard work."


    Dick Evans:
    "You have enjoyed a remarkable career at all stages but do you think you have achieved the most accolades for what you have done with IBPSIA and BPAA?"

    Bill Supper: "I am very proud of my career in the bowling industry. In each era I have been fortunate enough to enjoy success and recognition. I have traveled the world promoting the sport and the companies I have been involved with.

    "When I joined the BPAA and IBPSIA, I told JoAnn everyone will now be my best friend.

    "At first she did not understand what I meant but within a few months she realized that for the first time in my bowling career everyone wanted to be my friend and I was not a threat to anyone.

    "The Ebonite folks would invite me to its functions, The Storm folks to their parties and the Brunswick guys were calling once a week asking if they could help in anyway.

    "Prior to joining the BPAA and IBPSIA, I was a fierce competitor and the company I represented knew I was 100 percent committed my employee.

    "Things are great now. My close friends at Ebonite, who still were my friends when I joined Storm, became close again. My Storm family friends when I joined Columbia once again became family once I joined the BPAA.

    "During my previous lives before joining the BPAA, I had a number of proprietors as close friends, Ted Hoffman, John Tierney, Mark Voight, Frank and Cathy DeSocio, the late John Crum, Cathy Cooper, Darrell and Mike Ducat and Jimmy Sturm to name a few.

    "Now I have come to know and respect from a personal and business relationship so many more proprietors. I thoroughly enjoy working with and for the BPAA. I have been involved with pro shops and IBPSIA since 1980. My relationships and respect for these folks are monumental. My relationship with IBPSIA President Del Warren, V.P. Ken Keegan and Treasurer Mike Luongo go back 15 years or more.

    "Working with past IBPSIA President and friend Susie Minshew was a wonderful experience. IBPSIA needs to recognize the leadership and dedication of these and many other talented people who have dedicated their lives to bowling."


    Dick Evans:
    "Do you think the International Bowling Campus in Arlington is really going to attract bowlers from around the world a second time after their first visit?"

    Bill Supper: "I am extremely excited about the global possibilities for the International Bowling Campus. Being located 15 minutes from the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport we are very convenient to visitors from all over the world.

    "The International Training and Testing Facility will be up and running in late October. This facility will be first class from the ground up. Everyday I check out the progress of the building and wish today would be the day we opened. Neil Stremmel and his NGB team have not left any stone unturned. It will be magnificent.

    "The Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum will be the finest sports museum in the world. I have been privileged to be part of a number of planning sessions with Jerry and Jim Baltz, Pat Ciniello and Keith Hamilton and can envision the magnitude of this 18,000 plus square foot facility. From Egyptians to old time pin boys, to a movie theater and old time diner, then moving on to today's game and the people who made our sport a reality is breathtaking.

    "It will be the bowlers' Mecca for history to reality all under one roof. I am very pleased and honored that I am part of watching and participating in the bowling lifeline experience."


    Dick Evans:
    "Do you think bowling has benefited from the USBC moving to Arlington and if so, in what ways?"

    Bill Supper: "The entire bowling community will benefit from the move by our partners the USBC to Arlington. The communication among both the BPAA and USBC has been less than acceptable in the past. Both organizations had their own focus, goals and direction. Both organizations did not consider how a program or direction would impact the other organization in the past. This lack of communication, not on purpose, but by oversight could not continue for bowling to move forward in a positive manner.

    "Today, the BPAA meets weekly or more often face to face with USBC departments for the purpose of working together in helping promote bowling from the proprietor, to the bowler, to the manufacturer.

    'Bowlopolis, the newest kids craze, came out of meetings with the USBC, BPAA and Strike Ten Entertainment. We are into episode #4 with 464,000 cds in circulation to date.

    "IBPSIA and USBC Coaching are within 50 yards of each other in the International Bowling Campus. Steve Kloempken, David Garber and I meet three or four times a week concerning the future of coaching, pro shop operation and education of the pro shop, the coach and most importantly the bowler.

    "Remember, the proprietors provide the playing field and the USBC provides the players.

    Why did we ever operate 700 miles apart?"

    Email address: Evans121@aol.com