How Strikeforce Bowling became Strikeforce Bowling
1968 – Stuart Wolkoff, along with his father Wally, purchased a product line that produced a Stadium Seat. They purchased it from “All-American Products”. The product line, equipment and inventory cost Wally $2,500. The company started in 3,000 square feet of loft space above a plating company.
Approximately six months later, Stuart was out of money and needed a partner. He asked his friend, Bob Handelman, to purchase 50% of the business for $20,000. Bob was working for a family business. He borrowed the money from his father, Lou, and bought into the company. The company was known as “Kimberly Rose Company”.
From 1968 to 2000, Stuart and Bob worked every job imaginable. They worked the night shift, and the day shift. They sold, helped manufacture the product line, and cleaned the bathrooms when necessary.
During this time period, they added the following product lines or companies:
1970’s – Licensed the images of most colleges and the National Football League. They were one of the first licensees of the NFL.
1979 – Changed the name of the company to KR Industries, Inc.
1980 – Purchased Atlas Seating Company – Commercial Seating and Tables.
1981 – Charles F. Clark, a golf and bowling company was purchased. The company was now making golf bags.
1981 – Imported weights and exercise equipment, under the brand “KR Power Pack”.
1984 – Purchased “triangle Leather company” out of bankruptcy. The inventory and equipment were purchased for $40,000. “Triangle” manufactured vinyl-bowling bags. Stuart loved bowling and decided this was a way to be involved with it. KR Manufactured Vinyl Bowling Bags with Stella as the supervisor.
1985 – Bob and Stuart made the decision to manufacture replacement boat seating for the retail market.
1986 - Mike Stout joined the company. Mike was a collegiate bowler looking to make a career move. He signed with KR as the resident pro bowler.
1990 – The bowling division was re-branded “KR Strikeforce”.
1991 – The Major League baseball License was acquired.
1995 – All American Bike Products was purchased (The original company that sold Stuart the Stadium Seat). KR Industries manufactures Bike Helmets, Baby Carriers and Bike Racks, under the brand name, Byke Ryder International. Phil Bishaf joins the company as Vice President Operations, from All-American Products.
1995 – Started a partnership with the Brunswick Corporation. Became the licensee for bags and accessories. This is the start of a long-term business partnership.
1995 – Manufactured Team Licensed Imprinted Tables and Chairs.
1997 – KR Industries screen prints high school clothing products for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. More than 2000 different high schools were made. This was the start of Wal-Mart’s “grass roots” program.
2000 – Through-out the 90’s, the company grew more than 300%. Great runs don’t come to an end, they are re-invented. Hunter Manufacturing, of Lexington Kentucky, purchased the Licensed Stadium Seat and Cushion division. The boat seat, exercise and bike accessory divisions were all closed. It was a complete re-structuring of the corporate company, and the focus remained on the sport of Bowling.
2000 - Bob Handelman retired.
2001 – Bob’s son, Brad, already at the company for 10 years, led the re-structuring of the company along with Stuart Wolkoff and Mike Stout.
Throughout the first 30 years, some of the more memorable personalities included:
Jr. (that’s all anyone ever called him)
2001 –Strikeforce Bowling was born.
2003 – The first “full-time” company salesman was hired – Brian Bever, the two time Maryland state bowling champ.
2005 – Leading Edge Promotions was purchased. John Harbuck became the managing partner of this division. The Atlanta office was opened.
2006 – Brian Bertsch joined the company and started the accessory division for Strikeforce.
2008 – Ontheballbowling.com, the only personalized digital imagery in the bowling industry was developed. Tony Mendiola joined the company as Vice President of Sales and a partner in the company.
2009 – The company moved to its new headquarters to Broadview Illinois.
2010 – Stuart Wolkoff and Phil Bishaf retired. Phil worked for 16 years with Strikeforce, retiring as its Vice President of operations. He plans to lower his handicap and travel. Stuart, after founding the company 42 years ago, retired to Arizona and Michigan. He lost 18 pounds in the first month of retirement, while returning to his passion of exercising.
2011 – Strikeforce was granted the license to produce Brunswick Bowling Footwear.
2013 – Jason Guest joined as Bowling Footwear Product Manager, bringing more bowling and product knowledge experience.
2015 – Former U.S. Open champion Robert Lawrence joined the company as Director of West Coast Sales. Jeff Newkirk was hired as our Director of Business Development and Accessory Manager.
2016 – Strikeforce Signed a licensing agreement with Ebonite International. Bringing Hammer, Ebonite, Columbia, Track, Robby’s, and Powerhouse into the Strikeforce licensing umbrella. Strikeforce Athletic and Hammer Bowling Shoes were released to the market.
2016 – Jeffrey Lind sold Linds Bowling Products to Strikeforce. He only trusted one company with his family name. We were honored to be allowed to purchase this great name.
2017 – Strikeforce moves to a new 81K Square foot facility in Melrose Park, IL.
2018 – A celebration of 50 years in business. Strikeforce celebrated with many original customers and their founders in Las Vegas.
2019 – Brunswick purchased Ebonite International. As such, Strikeforce’s license with Ebonite International was terminated. A new Era in bowling began. There were only 2 U.S. manufacturers left in the United States. Storm Bowling Products in Utah and Motiv Bowling in Muskegon Michigan. Again, Strikeforce was left with no choice and reinvented itself.
2020-2022 – Strikeforce begins focusing on their own brand – KR Strikeforce. And while there are no market share numbers available; We have made a statement. Our products are widely recognized and accepted throughout the world. Always following our mission of providing the most value. Great Collegiate Bowlers were added to our already deep bench in Benji Martinez, Collin Smith and Matt Farber as Full-Time Team Members. And Jason Guest became an owner of the company.
The Strikeforce Mission: To provide the most value of any bowling products company in the world through quality, service and “being easy to do business with”.
We are the most trusted name in bowling.