Switch® is a global manufacturer of bowling equipment and furniture created for those looking to break free from tradition with their Italian-designed, high quality bowling equipment. Here, RLI sits down with Alain Winterhalter, CEO of the business to discuss how the company has grown and what its plans are moving forward.
Formed in 2005 with a focus on design, Switch® offers the only complete line of new, Pininfarina-designed equipment and furniture that’s fully customisable, with the largest selection of colours and styles in the industry.
The company wanted to create something that stood out from the crowd in a market that had begun to show its age. This is what Switch® brings to the table, a product that looks different, is presented differently and marketed differently. From standard and sleek to boutique and chic, their projects span the globe across 13 countries on five continents.
While the last 12 -18 months have of course been the most difficult in the history of Switch® because of the pandemic that swept across the world, the company managed to maintain its entire workforce and used the time available to make improvements to their products.
“We spent some time looking at how to integrate new technology into the game and sports market, which is one that has grown quite static in recent time,” explains Alain Winterhalter, CEO of Switch®. “So in order to attract a younger audience to the game, we looked at how to implement new technology, new venue visibility and new designs. So as of next year, we will be changing the look of a 15-year old product and moving across to a new Italian design.”
Because of the effects of Covid-19, the company has focused a lot on the US market and they have signed deals with two new chain operators that focus more heavily on the entertainment aspect rather than a sporting or traditional bowling concept. The two operators are Launch, which integrates bowling alongside such activities as trampolines and wall climbing and 810 Billiards & Bowling leans more towards upmarket food and beverage parties and offers VIP and product launch parties in its centres.
Before these two deals were signed, they were hard at work completing a prestigious project in Qatar within the iconic fashion mall Place Vendôme in Doha, in which their bowling offer is well-positioned within the wider and complete entertainment area.
“Moving forward we would like to continue to grow and these two deals with Launch and 810 Billiards and Bowling offers us this opportunity. We would like to be recognised as a company that listens to what clients have to say, who predict what the upcoming trends are going to be and a company that adapts our products to those trends,” Winterhalter says.
When discussing new clients, Alain says that the first thing they do when a new client comes on board is review the space that is being dedicated to the Switch® products and the space dedicated to the entertainment offering. From here, the team then go away and devise a suggested layout, which doesn’t just include the bowling equipment, they also suggest F&B ideas as well as where additional entertainment offerings, games and arcade spaces could be utilised if the team feels the space is available. They then sit back down with the client and go through a feasibility study and if there is interest, they suggest one or two of the design companies they work with and then let the client choose how they wish to proceed.
A key factor in the success the company has enjoyed has been the designs by Pininfarina, a company most notable for their designs of thousands of cars for top manufacturers such as Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Maserati.
“It has been pivotal for us, it has been the difference in allowing a small start-up such as ourselves to get out on to this market that is a very traditional one. We believe these designs have also not only helped us in establishing our name, but helped the industry to move into the 21st century,” Winterhalter remarks.
The most important investment made by the company during the Covid-19 crisis has been in its software development and integration of modern technology and social media into their products.
“For instance, the use of mobiles has been greatly enhanced, you can go to one of our new centres and have your score transferred on to your phone, you can take pictures of yourself and send them on social media. In addition, the centre can use the same kind of technology to contact anybody that has downloaded the Switch software in a five-to-ten mile radius and offer them promotions,” Winterhalter explains.
As the interview winds down we ask Alain about the future and what he feels in the biggest challenge facing the company in this
“I feel it is in how investors will look at our offer, because there has been such a huge hit and now restraints are in place on opening standards for companies in the entertainment sector. For us as a company, the challenge is to keep focused on what we are doing and maintain communication with the clients we have and the potential ones in the pipeline, communication is key,” Winterhalter concludes.