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Sparking Success
This article was published in May 1998 International Bowling Industry. Republished with permission.

The "part" that makes the operation run smoothly is the company's founder, Tommy Stahl.

If a sense of humor and total belief in the ability of those who work behind the scenes is the hallmark of an effective leader, Stahl fills the bill. He's fun, personable and filled with admiration for his staff of five. Eventually, Stahl's talents also were recognized, and he worked his way up through the ranks to serve as a shop foreman.

"If every business owner had employees like mine, they wouldn't have a worry in the world," he says. "They're all very talented."


Not that Stahl is inclined to worry; it's not in his nature. He's viewed the world through optimistic eyes since 1959, when he first entered the bowl industry as an AMF Bowling Worldwide employee.

He says, "I began my career as an electrical technician in the Air Force. When I returned to civilian life, I entered college to earn a degree in electrical engineering. But I just couldn't settle down to my studies. So I went job hunting."

An employment agency sent Stahl to AMF, where he was hired and trained as a field technician. "I was a kid from a small farming community," he says, "which was why AMF chose me. Where I come from people have a work ethic and overall, are a very reliable stock. Those qualities in an employee are what AMF was looking for."


"In 1969, I decided to open my own machine service business to cut down on the time I was spending on the road," he recalls.

"As it turned out, I did twice as much traveling, so I turned to manufacturing and selling parts, and installing pinspotter machines across the country. That first business evolved into Stahl's Seventy's."

Stahl attributes much of his success to the help and moral support he's received from Gayle Stahl, his wife of 38 years, who previously maintained the company's books. Two out of his three children work for the company as well.

His daughter Connie, 28, is in charge of shipping parts and managing the paperwork.

"Whenever a mechanic attends our school, we gain a friend and a customer for life."  
  His son Eric was only 12 when he learned how to drive a forklift to transport pinspotter machines into the facility. Eric, now 29, designs new parts and carries out shop and field work.

"New blood is good for the business," Stahl maintains. "Eric, who's smart like his mother, had an idea for developing the Tuffy Air Exit product to eliminate problems such as kickers unable to pull oily balls out of a ball exit system. So he quit Ford Motor Company a year ago, developed the device, and now works for us full time."

The two story facility, the length of the backend of a 24 laner, also has four other frequent visitors Connie's boxer and a dog described as a cross between a Dalmatian and a husky referred to by Stahl as his "granddogs."

"I have a customer who brings his dog with him so all the animals can play together. It's a very relaxed atmosphere," Stahl states proudly.

Apart from a lineup of industry products, like those from Omega Tek, Eastern Bowling, Vantage, Qubica, Horizon and Tuffy parts, Stahl believes the company's pinspotter mechanics school has contributed to its success.

"Whenever a mechanic attends our school, we gain a friend and a customer for life," he says. "They always come back to us for their parts."

Stahl's Seventy's also has a high standard of customer service, a much appreciated aspect of the operation which mechanics value, Stahl says. He adds that Lee Jungels, the company's electronics tech who carries out electronic repair on chassis, foul lights and electronic conversions, often spends hours on the phone troubleshooting machine problems.

He adds, "We wouldn't have come this far without the backup of our parts distributors across the country.

In the meantime, Stahl, who recently turned 62, is planning to retire this month. His idea of retiring, however, is cutting back from a 60 work week to 40.

"I'd like to travel in the U.S. and overseas," he says. "Time spent at the company will be used for internal organizing and all the projects I've never had time for."

Stahl is proud of the company he's built and his part in the bowling industry.

"We're happy with our position in the industry," he says. "We're also a good match with proprietors and we've always bonded with them. They're such a friendly group. Stahl's Seventy's will always be here for them."

Housed in the rear of Apple Place Bowl in Apple Valley, Minnesota is Stahl's Seventy's. Since the company's inception in 1980, the company (named for the AMF 82-70 pinspotter) has specialized in pinspotter parts and service.

Copyright © Stahl's Seventy's, Inc.| Phone: 651-322-2141| Fax: 651-322-2142