MILWAUKEE, WI -- More than 240 industry members thronged the Hilton City Center here for the annual Wisconsin Amusement and Music Operators conference, setting a new record for turnout. A variegated program of business sessions and recreational activities offered something for everyone.
The first day of the WAMO 2009 confab led off with a choice between a technical training school led by Randy Fromm, the pioneering founder of Randy Fromm's Arcade School, or several social activities. The latter included fishing on Lake Michigan (participants reported netting 47 salmon) and an outing to Miller Park for a baseball game pitting the Milwaukee Brewers against the Colorado Rockies, who eked out a 4-2 victory. The day was brought to a festive conclusion with dinner at the Gehl Club and the eagerly anticipated WAMO Hospitality Suite afterward.
The next day began with a "meet and greet" exhibition at which conference-goers had the opportunity to view the wares of 22 suppliers. Held concurrently was a board of directors' and past-presidents' breakfast.
At the ensuing general membership meeting, WAMO lobbyist Tony Driessen brought the operators up to date on the prohibition on smoking in places of public accommodation that's slated to be imposed in Wisconsin next July. Chris McSwain of AH Entertainers (Rolling Meadows, IL), a WAMO member, presented a PowerPoint slideshow detailing the ways in which his company has adapted to the smoking ban enacted in Illinois.
PHOTO: Cheering on Milwaukee Brewers are Wisconsin Amusement & Music secretary Al Lucchi, Quarter Time Distributing, and executive director Maxine O'Brien. Baseball outing was one of several appealing activities offered in conjunction with WAMO's 2009 annual conference in Milwaukee.
The prestigious C.S. Pierce Award was accepted by Jon Kleiman, Pioneer Sales & Service, on behalf of his father Joel, who was unable to attend the meet. Established in Milwaukee more than four decades ago, the famous distributorship now maintains offices there and in Menomonee Falls and Green Bay.
Dale Saunders was honored for his quarter-century of service as director of WAMO's annual dart tournament, which presently entertains some 11,000 shooters and may be the largest in the world.
The membership elected Scott Dougherty, D&D Amusements (Waupaca), and Steve Murphy, Games Are Us (Milwaukee), to three-year terms as directors. At the board meeting that followed, the directors elected officers for the coming year. Re-elected as president is Mary Lavine, Bullseye (Madison); president-elect is Bruce Dentice of Sam's Amusement (Kenosha). Al Lucchi, Quarter Time Distributing (Waunakee) and Neil Gilbertson, Northern Lakes Amusement (Hurley) are re-elected as secretary and treasurer, respectively. Maxine O'Brien of Association Max (Madison) is executive director.
Other highlights of the 2009 WAMO meet included a luncheon for spouses and children and tour of the Discovery World Museum, followed by an excursion on Lake Michigan that offered a spectacular view of Milwaukee's skyline.
The annual conference was climaxed by a lively evening program that included a banquet, comments by Amusement and Music Operators Association president Russell J. Mawdsley, Russell-Hall (Holyoke, MA), "silent" and live auctions with past-president Larry Von Rueden serving as auctioneer, and entertainment by hypnotist Robert Ian and the WAMO volunteers whom he mesmerized.
The WAMO 2009 conference committee was chaired by Steve Murphy; members included Brent McKennon, Lieberman Cos. (Menomonee Falls); and Al Lucchi, Chris McSwain and Jeff Williamson of Gardner Sales (Janesville).