IBPSIA November Spotlight
Lori Mraz – Director of Marketing for Turbo
By Matt Cannizzaro and Josh Blanchard
Leaves are changing color, temperatures are dropping and bowling season has kicked into high gear across the country.
Snow has fallen upon some of our northern states, and this month’s profile takes us to one of them – Michigan.
The Great Lakes State is home to the headquarters of Turbo Bowling Accessories, a one-stop shop for finger and thumb grips and products, skin protection and fitting tape, storage cases, bowling bags, apparel and more.
Located about 50 miles north of Detroit, the Turbo facility has been there for three decades, growing and thriving after getting a humble beginning with the innovative 2-N-1 finger grip.
The concept of the finger grip is simple, of course, but just as ball technology has advanced over the years, Dave Bernhardt Sr. and the staff at Turbo have been innovative and creative in improving and growing the brand and offerings.
Bernhardt founded the company in the late 1980s intent on improving the production and distribution of finger grips. Things evolved from there in an effort to keep up with changes in bowling ball technology and the needs of competitive bowlers.
As reactive resin bowling balls grew in popularity, so did the importance of having a consistent feel from ball to ball – from plastic to urethane to reactive resin – since they vary in hardness and tackiness.
Decades later, grips are available in a plethora of colors and textures. Some are harder. Some are softer. Some have round holes. Some have oval holes. Some have lips or bumps or texture dots.
While the concept remains relatively unchanged, the needs of the bowlers have dictated a greater offering.
The work didn’t stop there for the Turbo crew.
As bowlers started carrying 5-6 bowling balls to league and tournaments, the need and want for a more consistent thumb feel became a bigger discussion, too.
Sure, vinyl and urethane slugs and sleeves – and eventually custom thumb molds of your favorite thumb hole – became the norm, but a recent game-changer has been Turbo’s version of an interchangeable thumb insert, the Switch Grip.
Instead of trying to replicate the perfect thumb hole, players now can move the entire thing from one ball to the next.
Beyond the array of products Turbo now offers, the company also has its own world-class training facility and a variety of events geared toward youth and collegiate bowlers.
The training facility, in their warehouse, offers private or group lessons for bowlers of all skill levels. It not only includes lanes for practice or coaching with the latest technology, there’s also a gym on-site to help bowlers work on their off-the-lanes training.
Currently, the Turbo Tech facility is headed by longtime Team USA member and past Professional Bowlers Association Player of the Year Andrew Anderson.
Bernhardt’s creation of the Turbo brand wasn’t a far leap from the path he started on within his family’s molding background and business. Simply enough, after mechanical engineering school, he wanted to go into business for himself.
Eventually, he was able to combine his passions and build one of the most recognizable brands in bowling.
Along the way, Bernhardt never deviated from the family concept and tradition. Among the company’s leadership are Dave Bernhardt Jr. (president) and Lori (Bernhardt) Mraz (director of marketing)
For this month’s spotlight, we spoke with Mraz, who has been with the company since its inception, to hear more about the evolution of the Turbo brand and product line, along with her growth within the company and its continued support of IBPSIA.
Q: Tell us more about your start with Turbo and how the company has grown.
LM: My father, Dave Bernhardt Sr., started working on his first insert designs in 1988 and incorporated 2-N-1 Grips Inc. in early 1991. He applied for his first of many patents in 1990 – the original 2-N-1 finger insert, the Power Oval.
Later, Turbo was the first brand to introduce neon-colored inserts, which really propelled brand awareness and market success through the 1990s.
Q: How long have you been an IBPSIA member?
LM: While I don’t have an exact date, it’s as long as I can remember. I started with Turbo in May 1991, and I want to say my first trade show was the IBPSIA show at the Sahara in Las Vegas in August of that same year.
I didn’t know much about bowling then. My dad suggested we get involved in the industry, and thus encouraged us to join IBPSIA and attend show. It was a memorable first trade event!
Q: What does being an IBPSIA member mean to you and your business?
LM: IBPSIA was instrumental in connecting us with our core customers – pro shop operators and instructors.
While consumers are also very much important in building demand and brand awareness, it’s the pro shop owner/operator that really has the largest influence on promoting and selling our products.
IBPSIA is the standalone organization in our industry that supports, promotes and fosters growth for bowling retailers. We’ve been a consistent advocate of IBPISA since its inception and will continue to be for many years to come.
Q: Do you have any five-year goals to help grow the game of bowling?
LM: One-year goal, five-year goal, 10-year goal. … growing and supporting the sport of bowling has always been at the forefront of our operation.
Be it new product innovation, technical support and application or coaching and training programs, we do well when the sport and our retailers do well.
While the past couple of years have been challenging moving through the pandemic, we remain committed to providing quality inserts and accessory products. We appreciate the brand loyalty of our distributors, retailers and consumers.
Q: What is your favorite part of being in the bowling industry?
LM: Hands down, the people and camaraderie of the bowling community. It really is a big, but small, family.
Q: In your free time outside of bowling, what hobbies do you enjoy?
LM: Next to spoiling my grandkids, of course, golf is definitely something I enjoy and love to watch and learn.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past summer really working on my game, playing, practicing, YouTube videos, lessons – you name it.
With the best caddie by my side, Jeff Mraz, I was fortunate to win our AA Women’s Club Championship this past summer. It certainly was an event to cherish.
Jeff and I continued our winning streak and also won our Club Couples Championship this fall. It has been a fun and memorable year!
Q: In your opinion, what is the best tool invented that has moved the pro shop industry forward and helped you the most?
LM: There’s certainly so much technology that has been developed for the pro shop over the past three decades. But speaking of Turbo specifically, hands down it would have to be the Pro Sect Quarter Scale. Most, if not all pro shops, have at least one, if not two, of this essential tool.
Q: What is one tip you can give future bowling coaches/instructors to help them become better?
LM: I’m certainly no coach or academic of the sport to give advice, but never stop learning. There’s always something new and more to learn and explore.
Our sport continues to evolve in many ways. Keep an open mind to the possibilities.
We want to thank Lori for taking the time to sit down and share some of her personal insights and keys to success.
We are proud of our members and encourage them all to work together to share knowledge. It will help make their businesses AND the industry stronger.
If you want to learn more about Turbo Bowling Accessories, the vast product line or world-class training facility, visit turbogrips.com.