Sleeping Giant Lanes Takes Family Fun to the Next Level

Turning a favorite past time into a successful business is a dream come true for Ron and Danielle Bolan, owners of Sleeping Giant Lanes since November 2016. 

Their two children practically grew up at the bowling center, and Danielle has been a league bowler for many years, starting at a young age.  The opportunity to purchase Sleeping Giant Lanes came along when the original owners decided they wanted to retire.  “They weren’t necessarily planning to sell, but the timing worked out and everything just fell into place,” said Ron. 

After spending more than 20 years as a fixed operations manager for Lithia Motor Group, Ron was ready to try something new.

Ron and Danielle worked closely with SCORE mentors Chick Rolling and Jan White and received assistance with their business plan.  “Once we started going over the financial statements, we got pretty excited about buying the business,” offered Ron.

The couple approached First Community Bank, and with the assistance of Loan Officer Chris DuToit, they received SBA financing and purchased the business in November 2016.

“The foundation of Sleeping Giant Lanes when we purchased it was good.  We just wanted to take the bowling experience to the next level with some fresh ideas,” said Danielle.  Their priority was building an all new pro-shop, a suggestion that came from the community’s league bowlers.  The pro-shop was an immediate success, sales increased nearly 800 percent, and a full-time manager was hired to run the shop.  The bowling center has a fresh new look with new flooring and arcade games, along with a new point-of-sale system.  The menu and snack bar offerings have been overhauled and expanded and additional front-end staff were hired to better serve customers. 

What has been their greatest challenge?  “In the beginning, learning taxes, payroll, the business side of things.  Our overall challenge is managing and retaining good employees,” offered Ron.  The business has grown from 18 employees to 25 employees in the last three years.

Ron and Danielle Bolan are focused on making Sleeping Giant Lanes a fun and inviting place for families to spend time together, offering a welcoming environment with a sense of community.  The bowling center hosts programs to support Special Olympics and other groups such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Junior league bowling is offered for youth ages four to 18, a program that has a diverse number of scholarships available for higher education.

Options are key to bringing in customers and Sleeping Giant Lanes strives to offer something for everyone. In addition to bowling, there is a horseshoe league and pool league. 

Plans are underway to expand the business with the help of an SBA 504 loan that will bring in 25-40 new jobs.  Ron and Danielle are tearing down the rundown mini golf area adjacent to the bowling alley.  In its place, they plan to build a trampoline center that will include outdoor batting cages, an arcade, eatery and party rooms and provide the Helena community with more options for family fun.   They are breaking ground soon and hope to have the project completed as early as January 2020.

With the expert advice of SCORE mentors and the SBA loan that allowed them to purchase the business, Danielle and Ron are living their dream. “SCORE and SBA are a great part of why we’re successful,” said Ron Bolan.  

 

 

 

 

Company Name: 
Sleeping Giant Lanes
Location: 
Helena, MT
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