UK Distributor Acquires Rock-Ola, Plans New 45-RPM Vinyl Jukebox

Posted On: 7/15/2019

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WEYBRIDGE, England -- British games and jukebox entrepreneur Alexander Walder-Smith has acquired Rock-Ola from its former owner, Glenn Streeter. He plans to revolutionize Rock-Ola's market presence by manufacturing a brand-new 45-RPM vinyl jukebox, which will feature a powerful state-of-the-art speaker system as well as offering music streaming from phones and tablets for a unique blend of mid-20th Century styling and 21st-Century technology.

Streeter will stay on for the next two years and help expand the company's range beyond jukeboxes into more home entertainment and recreational room products. He is the founder of Antique Apparatus (Torrance, CA), which purchased Rock-Ola in 1972.

Walder-Smith grew up in the jukebox business; his father, Reginald, had hundreds of Rock-Ola Jukeboxes hired out in bars and pubs across the United Kingdom. Their relationship with Rock-Ola began in the 1950s, when Reginald first visited Chicago.

Alexander has been working closely with Streeter for almost 20 years. During that time, he became the British Rock-Ola distributor and also restored and resold a great many of the company's classic early machines. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am pleased to be working with Glenn and the long-standing team at Rock-Ola as we take the company towards its centenary," he said. "This is one of America's great brands, up there with Harley Davidson and Jack Daniels, and as we move into the exciting next stage we'll be dramatically raising its profile across the world. Using our expertise in these products and knowledge of marketing, we will capitalize on the vinyl trend and introduce the only authentic American-manufactured 45-RPM vinyl jukebox to the world."

Walder-Smith has presided over a period of strong growth with his British-based luxury games and jukebox business, The Games Room Co. Rock-Ola has been one of his key suppliers as the manufacturer of the prestigious "Bubbler." Rock-Ola's pioneering designs have shaped the popular image of jukeboxes over the last 90 years, and the company is now the only authentic American jukebox manufacturer left on the planet.

"The two companies have a shared history dating back decades," Streeter observed. "The Games Room Co. is the official UK retailer of Rock-Ola jukeboxes, and has been selling and restoring vintage jukeboxes since 1962. With their peerless knowledge of the background and workings of these products, Alexander was a natural choice to take the helm."

The Rock-Ola purchase has been financed by Vita Nova Hedge Fund. Its chief executive, Jeremy Leach, has tracked the Games Room Co.'s success and has backed Walder-Smith's transatlantic venture.

"We are delighted to have been involved with the acquisition of Rock-Ola," Leach explained. He described it as "a perfect private equity venture for Vita Nova, and it is quite special to have had the opportunity to participate in the acquisition of one of America's most iconic brands."

The original Rock-Ola Scale Co. was founded in 1927 by David Cullen Rockola to manufacture coin-operated entertainment machines. The company introduced its first jukebox in 1935 and, as Rock-Ola Mfg. Co., became a leading manufacturer of jukeboxes during their glory days in the 1950s and '60s.