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      May 04, 2001:

-Ebonite Acquires Vantage; Now 1 Of 3 To Provide Full Service

05/04/2001 - Ebonite
      HOPKINSVILLE, Kent. - Ebonite International, Inc., a Kentucky-based bowling consumer products company, has acquired Vantage Bowling Corporation, Inc., a Denver-based bowling center service parts and capital equipment company, announced William T. Scheid, president of Ebonite. Terms were not disclosed.

      Prior to this acquisition, only two companies had significant interests in both sides of the bowling industry: consumer products and capital products. "This takes us to an entirely new level from a competitive standpoint," said Scheid. "Both companies have quality people, make and sell quality products, and are positioned for expansion. We are really 'right sized' to meet all of the needs of today's bowling marketplace.

      "This transforms both of us from being two already strong suppliers to the bowling marketplace to one company that can provide everything from balls to capital equipment to replacement parts for equipment. And, we're still nimble enough to quickly adapt to the changing needs of our business."

      As part of the agreement, Vantage Bowling Corporation becomes an operating division of Ebonite International. While Scheid will be president and chief executive officer of the parent company, Mark Schmidt, founder and president of Vantage, will remain as president and oversee day-to-day operations. This division will remain based in Denver.

      "This is truly a win-win situation for both companies," said Schmidt. "Both of us have histories of increasing sales, improving profitability and incredibly strong balance sheets versus others in the industry. Now, we are combining our strengths to become a full-service company. We will have a presence from the back end to the front end and into the front office of a bowling center and from the showroom to the drilling room of a pro shop."

      Another key aspect of the acquisition was the fact that both companies were privately held. "Being a significant privately-held entity in the bowling business allows us to build a solid foundation based on long-term strategy...not short-term results. Our customers will see a consistent, focused effort to help them improve their business that won't change on the whims of Wall Street," said Schmidt.

      From an organization standpoint, Robert W. Reid, currently Ebonite's vice president of marketing, will oversee domestic sales and marketing efforts for both companies. One of his first initiatives will be to aggressively market the Vantage brand in the replacement parts market and the VanTech brand (also part of Vantage) in the capital equipment market.

      "We feel as though we have two hidden gems with Vantage and VanTech. These two brands offer some of the most technologically-advanced products in the business but just don't have widespread awareness," said Reid. "With Ebonite, we do have that brand awareness and strong relationships in the key distribution channels. Our immediate goal is to begin to optimize those relationships to gain market share for Vantage and VanTech.

      "In many ways, this acquisition is different from others we have seen in the bowling industry. Many times, the deal has come first....the strategy second. Much of our discussion with Vantage leading to this point was based around strategy and the synergy of our companies."

      As significant as Ebonite's purchase of Vantage is domestically, it also has tremendous international implications. J. Michael Quitter, Ebonite's vice president - International, will assume responsibilities for international sales and distribution to further this effort.

      "For the past several years, our international trading partners have told us of the need for viable, fully-integrated alternatives to the status quo," said Quitter. "By now being able to service both our customers' consumer and capital needs, we can now fulfill our vision of becoming a strategic international marketer. This could very well become the 'first to see' benefit of the acquisition."

      Ebonite International's brand and product portfolio now consists of four lines: Ebonite, Robby's, Vantage and VanTech. Ebonite features bowling balls for all skill levels, bowling bags, bowling accessories, bowling attire, and pro shop supplies and equipment. Robby's offers premium bowling accessories. Vantage manufactures and markets AMF and Brunswick pinspotter replacement parts. VanTech is the capital equipment arm offering pinspotters, ball returns, seating and tables, scoring systems, center management systems, masking systems and synthetic lanes.

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