Brunswick Celebrates 50 Years In Europe

Throughout 2011, Brunswick Bowling celebrates its 50th year of continuous presence in Europe. The global bowling leader officially established its European headquarters and the entity, “Brunswick GmbH” on April 25, 1961, in the Frankfurt am Main area, where it continues to operate today. From the beginning, the newly incorporated office has had two operating divisions, one that represents Brunswick bowling product sales and another representing the Brunswick Recreation Centers (BRC) operations. Several other Brunswick offices and facilities began operations throughout Europe in the past 50 years, further strengthening the industry leader’s presence.

Brunswick Bowling Products has been present in the European market for many years before the opening of the manufacturer’s first office in the region, but the opening of the European headquarters marked a milestone in the development of Brunswick as the premier bowling brand in Europe. With a physical presence in the region, and a growing number of employees and business associates all over the continent, Brunswick quickly established itself as a reliable and credible partner in the bowling industry. These European operations allowed Brunswick to realize an even larger number of bowling center projects, including several that helped revolutionize the European bowling industry.

Brunswick’s impressive pioneer work included, among others, the installation of bowling lanes in East Berlin (in the former German Democratic Republic) and Moscow (in the former USSR), in 1975 and 1976, respectively. “The installation of a 16-lane center in the Gorky Park in Moscow turned out to be quite adventurous.

There was no building in place, and Brunswick was expected to deliver the bowling equipment together with a big air tent! Ultimately, we found the appropriate tent through a supplier in Finland, and installed the lanes along with the plumbing, kitchen, heating, lighting, electrical installations, etc. Brunswick has always been a solution-oriented, full-line-supplier,” recounted former Brunswick Europe, Middle East, and Africa Service Manager, Günther Levin, with a smile.

The move of Brunswick’s pinsetter production to the Szekesfehervar, Hungary, plant in 1998 opened yet another chapter in the company’s successful history in Europe. After a short start-up period, the continuously increasing efficiency of the Szekesfehervar manufacturing site allowed Brunswick to consolidate its entire pinsetter production in Hungary. Today, every Brunswick pinsetter sold anywhere in the world is being assembled in, and shipped, from Hungary. The Hungary facility also serves as the European warranty center and product warehouse, thus providing quick and reliable service and delivery for Brunswick’s clients across Europe.

“The establishment of our European office 50 years ago marked an important milestone in our evolution to a global corporation. We recognized the importance of the European market very early on and made a strong commitment to best serve our European customers. Today, with several Brunswick facilities in the region Brunswick can certainly also be considered a “truly European” company,” said Brent Perrier, President of Brunswick Bowling products.

Milestones in Brunswick’s history in Europe include the following:

1961 – Opening of European Headquarters and establishment of the “Brunswick GmbH” company
1965 – Opening of the 40-lane “Heninger Turm” center in Frankfurt, Germany, one of the first Brunswick owned and operated bowling centers (BRC) in Europe
1975 – Installation of 8 bowling lanes in the Palace of the Republic (Palast der Republik) in East Berlin
1976 – 16-lane bowling center installation in the “Gorky Park”, Moscow, Russia
1984 – Acquisition of the Schmid Group, a leading manufacturer of pinsetters
1989 – Foundation of Brunswick Bowling & Billiards (UK) Limited
1992 – Installation and operation of a 16-lane center in the Barcelona Olympic Village
1998 – Opening of pinsetter plant and start of production in Hungary
2000 – Introduction of the GS® pinsetter series
2009 – Opening of the largest bowling center in Europe – the Brunswick-equipped “Dream Bowl Palace” in Munich (Unterfoehring), Germany – with 52 continuous lanes