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How to Choose a Bowling Alley Contractor

Fusion Bowling is special type of subcontractor. We focus on small, customized projects for high-end residences and clubhouse amenities. Below we will try to help lay out some basic factors you should consider when choosing a contractor for your bowling alley project.

Important Contractor Questions

What type of pinsetter machine does the bowling contractor provide?
The most important part of your bowling alley is the pinsetter machine. A good one will go completely unnoticed by the bowlers, but a bad one will give you headaches. The two big pinsetter manufacturers that have been around for decades are Brunswick and QubicaAMF. Both have maintained good reputations and build good machines. Fusion Bowling prefers the Brunswick GS-X and Brunswick StringPin machines because of their high FPS (frames per stop) ratings and overall reputation for reliability. Any other pinsetter options generally fall into three categories: used equipment, inferior knock-offs, and mini-bowling (which is really a different product category).
How good is the overall equipment that the bowling contractor provides?
In addition to the pinsetter machine, there are hundreds of components in a bowling alley. Bowling alleys may all look similar in photos, but there can be significant differences in the reliability, usability, and durability over time. Make sure you have a good understanding of the materials that go into the subfloor, lane underlayment, the lane panels themselves, scoring system, scoring monitors and mounts, gutters, bumper rails, capping, lighting, pins, etc. Fusion Bowling tries to hand-pick the very best components. See our bowling alley equipment page for a more detailed description.
What are the different types of bowling alley contractors?
There are only a handful of bowling alley contractors in the USA. They fall into three main categories:
1. Official distributors of brand new Brunswick or QubicaAMF equipment who serve a region of the country and focus on large commercial bowling centers.
2. Distributors of lesser known private label products and/or string pinsetters who focus on commercial bowling centers.
3. Installers who take on any project they can get, and whose projects often involve some portion of used or "flipped" equipment.
Fusion Bowling falls into a unique fourth category: We are an official Brunswick distributor, who is allowed to cover the entire USA territory, and focuses solely on non-commercial projects. To learn more about the main steps and milestones in the process, visit our bowling alley process page.
Should I care about which types of projects a bowling contractor usually focuses on?
Nearly all bowling alley contractors focus on large commercial bowling centers because they are the most lucrative projects with the biggest contract value. These contractors will take small projects, but it's not their primary focus. It takes roughly the same amount of legwork and paperwork for a salesperson to sell a 40-lane project as it does a 2-lane project. Thus, larger projects get more attention and smaller projects are more likely to be pushed to the back burner. Large projects require fast installation since construction loan interest accruing, and revenue can't be generated until the project is complete. So, speed and quantity inevitably get prioritized over quality.

Fusion Bowling, on the other hand, is the only company that specializes in small, private projects (usually 1 to 4 lanes), which are usually installed in a single-family residence or multifamily clubhouse amenity. Our customers typically require a lot of hand-holding - they want us to guide them through the process since they aren't in the bowling business. They require graphic design, coordination with interior designers, and unique customization. We typically work in buildings that are NOT centered around the bowling equipment. Thus, we're used to working very carefully with very expensive finishes installed by other trades in custom homes, for example. Check out our resources page for lots of helpful info to get you started.
Does the contractor divulge any price info on their website?
There are two schools of thought: You can either 1) force potential customers to call you to get pricing information, or you can 2) just publish the pricing info on your website for the world to see. The logic behind the first method is that by talking with each prospect, you can feel them out, and see if they are a movie star, and then charge them a high price. Or if they aren't sure they want to buy, you can try to twist their arm and sweet talk them into it.

Fusion Bowling has adopted the second approach. We hate feeling pressure to buy things ourselves, so we don't like to subject other people to it. And we charge the same price for the same scope of work, regardless of who the buyer is. Therefore, why not just show everybody how much a home bowling alley costs?
Does the bowling contractor have good insurance?
This isn't a problem with the big corporations, but things can get dicey dealing with some of the smaller companies. Make sure they have general liability, worker's compensation, and auto policies - at least $1 million of coverage in each category.
What evidence can the bowling contractor provide that they do good work?
Do they just say they create beautiful projects, or can they provide galleries of gorgeous home bowling alley photos?

Do they just say they have happy customers, or do they actually provide a list of testimonials from custom bowling alley customers - architects, homeowners, builders, interior designers, and developers?
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Our family was considering a purchase of something fun our whole family could enjoy with ages ranging from 4 to 78. We started researching a number of bowling companies and decided on Fusion Bowling. Why Fusion Bowling? After a short conversation with Matt and Ryan you will know they have the most knowledge and have the best equipment. It turned out to be a fantastic decision. They went above and beyond my expectations. The bowling lanes turned out great. Our whole family is enjoying making memories. I am so impressed with their professionalism and workmanship. I am telling anyone considering bowling lanes or a bowling alley to feel free to call me anytime for a more in-depth reference.
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Keith Mustain
Owner
Brennand Airport
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The finished product was first class. Every item and detail drawn and discussed was executed as planned. Access was difficult and they catered to this. They are true specialists and make the design and construction process very simple, even if you've never done a bowling alley before. I strongly recommend Fusion.
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James Margeotes
Architect
Sound Beach Partners