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The coronavirus pandemic is affecting the bowling industry, as it is many industries, in a very difficult way. Bowling centers are closed and people can’t bowl. The economic impact on the sport is still yet to be determined.
One domino fell late Tuesday night, however, as Global Manufacturing, which makes 900 Global bowling balls, announced it has ceased production at its San Antonio plant and has shifted all production to Storm Products in Brigham City, Utah. It was not immediately clear how many employees this impacted in San Antonio.
Storm owners and founders Bill and Barbara Chrisman own 900 Global, though have kept it operating independently. Given the tough economic conditions, those operations have now been consolidated, presumably offering significant operational savings.
“Our decision was based on the market conditions affecting everyone worldwide,” 900 Global Executive Vice President Wes Pye said in a release. “The bowling industry is very resilient and will come back strong, but it will take time. We also want to thank all of the past and present team members of Global Manufacturing for their great work and efforts building 900 Global.”The news release, posted late Tuesday night, not only pointed to the coronavirus pandemic as a contributing factor but also said the move was due to “the executive orders of the Governor of the State of Texas.” Presumably this means Global Manufacturing was unable to operate its plant during this time.
While the production side of things has been shut down in San Antonio, some 900 Global staff will remain in the city.
“The team assigned to the design, research and the development of 900 Global bowling balls along with sales and marketing will remain in San Antonio,” Pye said.
The consolidation of operations between Global and Storm represents another contraction in the bowling ball manufacturing industry.
In November last year, Brunswick shocked the bowling world when it acquired the Ebonite International. The result was EBI's long-running plant in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, was shut down and many lost their jobs.
All Brunswick brands and acquired EBI brands are now manufactured just across the border in Reynosa, Mexico.
One question, which is minor in the midst of the pandemic, is how this will impact 900 Global staffers on the PBA and PWBA Tours. With 900 Global balls being manufactured in the same plant, will Storm allow those staffers to throw Storm and Roto Grip equipment moving forward?
Some of the bigger names on 900 Global staff include Chris Barnes, Sean Rash, Daria Pajak and others.