DICKSON, TN -- The Amusement and Music Operators Association installed Bobby Hogin as its next president on March 27. Hogin brings to the yearlong term some three decades of experience as a coin machine operator. He succeeds John Pascaretti of Michigan’s Pascaretti Enterprises, an equipment distributorship. Pascaretti describes his successor as a Tennessee gentleman who is a nuts and bolts operator who knows the industry; Hogin is quick to point out that it’s more nuts.
"This position will be taken with dedication and vision on my part," Hogin said during AMOA’s membership meeting in Las Vegas. "Our past presidents have set a bar that I must meet or exceed. I’m looking forward to traveling and meeting operators from all parts of the country -- and if I don’t have answers to their questions, I’ll find someone who does."
As founder of the Dickson, TN-based Hogin Amusement Co., he has witnessed the dramatic changes in the industry that have prepared him to represent operators around the country.
After discovering a need for affordable entertainment in the middle-Tennessee area, Hogin started his music and games operation in the mid-1980s following the great videogame crash. From a simple beginning, Hogin’s operation has grown to serve a six-county territory west of Nashville.
"Like everyone else, I was looking for a job. I was working for another amusement operator who decided to retire. That gave me the opportunity to purchase his route," Hogin recalled. "That would have been around 1984. We started out with truck stops -- those were the main locations served by my previous employer -- but I started securing bar and tavern accounts, bowling alleys, skating rinks and convenience stores."
Today, Hogin Amusement Co. covers nine counties in Tennessee. As the new AMOA president can attest, building a route, even during the Golden Age of arcade games, is no simple feat.
"One of the first challenges I faced was trying to find places where I could gain more knowledge of the industry," he said. "So I started going to the AMOA shows and the educational seminars. AMOA was a big help to me. I attended the Notre Dame program, which enabled me to share information with other operators. These experiences and opportunities did contribute to the growth of my route."
By 1990, Hogin was becoming more active in the AMOA, first working as a director and later working his way up through the various committee chairmanships. Chris Warren of Capital Music (Helena, MT) and Kenny Price of Price Music (Parkersburg, WV) were among the AMOA leaders who had the greatest influence on his decision to become more active in the operators’ association.
Hogin told VT that retaining and building membership is among the top AMOA priorities today. "There have been so many consolidations in the amusement industry," he acknowledged. "We don’t have as many operators as we used to."
PHOTOS: At left, Bobby Hogin shows off one of his game installations. At right, the new AMOA president hosts a visit from Congressman Jim Cooper (D-5th Dist.) at Hogin Amusement Co.'s Dickson, TN, office.
To help the association address membership challenges, Hogin is putting his full support behind AMOA’s state association rebate program, and will focus on building stronger ties with state and regional groups.
State association outreach, put into high gear during Pascaretti’s term, has been met with a warm response from key regional groups, Hogin noted. "I attended the Council of Affiliated States meeting in February in Florida, where many state representatives remarked about John’s visiting their states and bringing them up to date on AMOA activities. I plan on doing the same, and I’m looking forward to visiting every state association that asks an AMOA representative to be there."
Attracting new entrepreneurs to the industry and young operators to the association is another challenge faced by AMOA. "We have to really dwell on the young people getting into the amusement trade," Hogin said. "They are more technologically savvy than us old guys, so it’s just a natural fit for them. And they’re out there."
Despite the challenges confronted by the 66-year-old association, and a current lull in the amusement industry in general, Hogin remains optimistic. "I see a bright future. I think there will always be a demand for a low-cost entertainment -- where people can play games in the lobby of a restaurant or movie theater, or in a family entertainment center," he said.
"You can see the changes from the previous years; we’re going to more prize-dispensing games, such as cranes and merchandisers. Our industry has always evolved. And I think there will always be equipment there that will keep the people interested and entertained."