Hall Of Fame Inductee
Inducted into: Builder Division in 2009
From musician to the incoming president of Bowl Canada, the trade association for Canadas bowling proprietors, Mariano Meconi has enjoyed a nearly thirty year career in the bowling industry.
Born in 1956 in Windsor, Mariano lived on the family farm in Puce, just outside of Windsor. With music as his first love, Mariano participated in a high school revue and, from that adventure, a group called Dogbreath was born. On keyboard, Mariano and his four partners played at a variety of venues, from other schools to the local bars. As this group dissolved, he continued to play with a second group called Julian Oak and this experience lasted until he was twenty-four.
At this time, educated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Windsor, and without permanent employment, Marianos father, Norando, suggested that Mariano should take over the family business, a ten lane five pin bowling centre called Paladium Recreation. The centre was run by Marianos aunt and uncle, Aldo and Alda Pavan, who had chose to retire. Thus, in May of 1980, Mariano joined the bowling industry and he jumped in with both feet.
He attended the Bowling Proprietors Association of Ontario (BPAO) convention in Niagara Falls and took notes on everything. With the start of the 1982 bowling season, Mariano took an active role in the decentralized five pin association and he continues to play a part to this day. In this process, Mariano has accepted every role except the presidency as he realizes the strength of the bowlers association as it relates to his business sustainability.
With an active decentralized association, Mariano had an automatic seat on the local bowlers association, originally the Windsor 5 Pin Bowlers Association and now the Western Ontario 5 pin Bowlers Association. While a board member, Mariano has also been Treasurer and Average Book chair for the bowlers group.
However, from his first appearance at the proprietors convention, Marianos enthusiasm caught the eye of both BPAO president, Alex Feldman and also Lyle Storrey of Parkview Lanes, also in Windsor. Alex owned the bowling centre in nearby Chatham and together they encouraged Mariano to takeover for Lyle as association president for the local owners and, in 1982, tabbed Mariano for that position.
In an eight year stint, Mariano got a taste of both the local scene and also the provincial board as he attended several Zone President meetings each year. In 1985, Mariano was elected to the provincial Board and served as both first Vice-President and Youth Bowling Council representative, before being elected as provincial president in 1993.
Faced with a two year term, Mariano realized that he couldnt possibly complete his mandate in such a short time. With advice from Executive Director, Walter Valentan, the BPAO actually changed their constitution to eliminate term limits, and allow Mariano to stay as president for nine years, the longest term in their fifty year history.
Before turning the leadership over to the current President, Don Gorman, Mariano initiated several new directions for the BPAO. New tournaments such as the Family Twosome, the Combo and the High Low Doubles were beginning to involve more youth bowlers in the tournament stream. Building on his four year term as YBC Chairman, Mariano developed a long term plan to positively impact the YBC program by empowering the volunteers at all levels and build a trust that would allow the youth program to stabilize in an ever-changing bowling environment.
In addition, under Marianos leadership, the Bowling Proprietors Association on Ontario changed on a variety of levels. As well as incorporating, a new YBC dress code was introduced, a ceiling of 32 lanes was placed on membership dues and a ten dollar per lane advertising fund was introduced. This money, in turn, funded a 52 week advertising campaign on CHEX-TV and also introduced mascots, Five-Pin Freddie and Tenpin Teddy.
Following his term as Ontario president, Mariano set his sights on the leadership of the Bowling Proprietors Association of Canada. The eight year process, passing through four progressive portfolios, will hopefully come to a positive conclusion in June of 2010. While trying to plot a new path for Canadas bowlers, Mariano can only look at his success at Paladium Recreation. A believer in the elite stream, Mariano has seen several of Ontarios top bowlers, including Terry Little and Gail Matis, bowl at his centre.
A father of two boys, Marc, 23 and Gavin 25, Mariano has seen them both receive university educations and Marc has taken to bowling both on and off the lanes. He is an administrator with Bowl Ontario and, on the lanes, has attended the provincial bowling school and now averages over 230. Mariano himself has raised his own average to 227 and prides himself more as a coach, having coached in his zone twelve times at the provincial Open and reaching the step ladder final on two occasions.
Through all of this, Mariano continues to edit the Forum newsletter for Bowl Ontario, the new name of the BPAO. Published four times a year and with messages from the provincial president, individual proprietors and suppliers, Mariano is able to keep his hand on the pulse of his industry, one he intends to stay with for a lifetime.