"I have no special gift - I am only passionately curious". Albert Einstein
Some refer to John Davis as a genius in the field of lane maintenance and bowling. Davis however will tell you the same as Einstein; it was his fervent curiosity that led him to his inventions and a successful career in the bowling industry. His curiosity is even ingrained into his company’s mission statement – “we research the sport of bowling to find solutions, create products, and provide systems to enhance the sport of bowling.”
A recent announcement by the Billiard and Bowling Institute of America (BBIA), a non-profit association formed in Chicago in 1940 to service the billiard and bowling industries, confirmed Davis’ contributions to the game have not gone unnoticed. Davis is the 2012 recipient of the association’s Industry Service Award, to be presented by long time friend and associate Len Nicholson during BBIA’s Annual Convention in La Jolla, California in April 2012.
Starting with The Key™ Lane Cleaning Tool invention in 1981, a simple device that helped bowling centers clean lanes better and more economically, to his most popular invention, The Sanction™ Machine, Davis was never content with status quo. In his mind, there is always a question to be asked, and a better answer to be found.
In 1991, Davis’ company, Kegel, developed and released the DBA® LaneWalker™ - a revolutionary lane machine that moved from lane to lane all by itself. This technology lives on today in the form of the battery powered Kustodian Walker, allowing lane maintenance personnel to focus on other responsibilities while the machine does all the work.
But it is not just bowling products that make John Davis special to the bowling world; it is his unparalleled commitment to the sport of bowling, and to those who play the game.
In 1998, Davis started an organization called The Foundation, a group of expert lanemen who were working towards an ultimate goal of creating fair play for all styles of players. Another goal of The Foundation was to form and train groups of lanemen worldwide that would take care of lane maintenance at every major bowling event throughout the world.
When the bowling world approved the short oil rule, Davis created a tournament called Option One, an alternative to the low difficulty short oil option. This monthly tournament held in their bowling center in Sebring Florida helped the likes of Jason Couch, Ricky Ward, amongst many other up and coming Florida bowlers, develop their games in a way that helped them compete at the highest levels.
In 1997, Davis opened The Kegel Training Center, first known by the name HERBIES – a bowling Center in the Sky. This private ten lane facility was the first of its kind, and featured state-of-the-art technologies that took the bowling coaching and learning experience to another level.
After the company moved to Lake Wales in a new manufacturing facility in 2004, the Kegel Training Center was taken to another level. The 12 lanes in the training center included another industry first – all lanes are fully adjustable, which allows Kegel to control and study the effects of topography on ball motion and oil patterns - Davis’ curiosity at work once again.
In this new training center, Davis’ curiosity quest posed another question to his staff: "What do we have to do to create a program that will result in the best team of junior bowlers on the planet?"
Out of that came the creation of the highly successful Kegel Junior Elite Team – a group of six junior bowlers based on ability, attitude, and love of the game. The program continues on today at the Kegel Training Center with youth bowlers competing yearly for a spot on the elite team.
Furthering Davis’ dedication to the sport, along with then PBA Commissioner Mark Gerberich, Kegel became the first independent lane maintenance company to take care of the lanes on the PBA Tour. From 1997 until 2004, Kegel lane maintenance equipment and staff performed lane maintenance duties for every PBA Tour event.
Since 2001, Kegel staff has been involved in every WTBA World Championship and today Davis continues his unselfish world wide support to organizations like the European Bowling Tour, United States Bowling Congress Championship, and all WTBA zones.
To Davis however, his latest invention, the Kegel LaneMapper, a device that efficiently measures the topography of a bowling lane, might be one of his most important and greatest contributions to the game. Prior to this invention, the tools available to measure a bowling lane could not expeditiously provide the needed information to see how the shape of the lane affects ball motion, and more importantly, “fair play” – which is at the heart and soul of Davis’ quest.
John Davis began his pioneering quest in the game of bowling seeking answers to problems that many experts could not give him. Luckily for many in our game today, his quest continues on not only because he himself still possesses that curiosity, but because he has ingrained that same curiosity trait into the culture of his company.