Sunday, November 20, 2011


By Robert Cook

After starting out in the food industry and serving over two million satisfied customers at Filling Station Three in Monmouth, Chuck Fry decided to move into a less time consuming business.

He chose handmade furniture and now supplies the surrounding counties with traditional, hardwood furniture, much of it traditional Amish hardwood. In the same building as his once famous restaurant, Fry has worked with Monmouth
College for the last eight years. Seven of the buildings in Monmouth College are furnished with handmade, Amish craftsmanship, including Founders Village, North Hall, Peterson Hall, Cleland Hall, Winbigler, the fraternity complex, and the new Greek house on Broadway. Iowa Weslyan College is now following in Monmouth's footsteps and filling its halls with Mr. Fry's products.

Traditional Amish Hardwoods is an international distributor of its unique products. "We do most of our business outside of Monmouth", Fry said, and explained how necessary it was to expand his business beyond the local community. Mail order is Fry's most profitable enterprise.

Small, homebound shops in Pennsylvania are Fry's largest producer of handmade furniture. Some are Amish, while others are merely dedicated to the craftsmanship. Fry is always honest about what furniture is of Amish make and what is not. The pieces can be custom or premade

to fit the customer's needs. Oak, quarter-sawed oak, cherry, and maple are the most common hardwoods used. When furniture is in need of repair, Fry often contracts the work to the original builders.

Questioning the product is every buyer's right, but Fry has no worries about his products. "It's solid, quality wood" he said, "our reputation speaks for itself." Fry gladly offers anybody to lift a chair and feel the solid construction of the furniture, some of which is even signed by the
artist. Fry warns against cheap, wood veneer that is glued on top of particle board to make a piece of furniture that merely looks like hardwood.

Fry does not bother with sales and coupons. He said he believes his product is worth the same price all year round and he does not need marketing ploys to sell it. So far, his honest, simple business has served him well.

Monday, November 14, 2011


By Kevin Lindsay

When you used to walk into a bar or grill, you would see what was perceived as normal; multiple televisions showing sports highlights, people feeding dollar bills into the gambling machines and some people playing the occasional pinball machine. But ever since 1989, Golden Tee Golf, a coin-operated videogame, has been changing the infrastructure of not only bars and restaurants but the changing the face of arcade industry as well. Golden Tee Golf is your typical stand-up arcade game (think a little bigger than a PacMan machine). The player stands in front of the cabinet and spins a trackball which is basically a cue ball . Depending on the way you hit the trackball, the golf ball responds in different ways such as the distance the ball goes, the height and the accuracy (how far left and right).

According to the website of Incredible Technologies, the makers of this revolutionary video game, Golden Tee Golf ‘is the most successful coin-operated amusement game in history. With more than one billion games played to date, Golden Tee has generated over $3 billion in revenue for thousands of small business owners around the globe and revolutionized the coin-operated amusement industry.’ To explain just how big Golden Tee Golf really is¸ Marketing Director of Incredible Technologies, Gary Colabuono said the following, “Since 1996 we've sold 50,000 cabinets but over a quarter million game updates.”

Over the past 23 years, Golden Tee has done what no arcade game has ever done and that’s evolved from a small time arcade game to a multimillion dollar a year success. Pac-Man was and still is a huge success but it never has obtained the status and the money that Golden Tee Golf has. One of the biggest reasons for all of the success was the beginning of the International Tournament System (ITS) in 1995. The creation of this tournament system linked every single Golden Tee across the world through a simple telephone line. This brought together monthly tournaments where players would spend more money playing more games in the monthly tournament in order to increase their ranking. With the release of Golden Tee Fore! in 2000, the ITS grew even bigger with the monthly tournaments being divided by brackets. Gold was the cream of the crop, silver was in the middle and bronze was for those players just starting off. Fast forward to 2005 and the release of Golden Tee LIVE changed everything. Players now had their own players account. Player cards have been around since 2000, but now a player could check in (and pay for their game) with a credit card, their Golden Tee Player card or gift cards. Gone were the monthly tournaments, because now, every game played was its own tournament. Every time a player started a game for prizes, they would be placed in a fifty man tournament. First place through 20th would win some sort of money. First place would win $10 and 11 through 20 would win a dollar back. 21st through 50th also wins a virtual golf ball.

With the release of Golden Tee LIVE 2012 in September 2011, Incredible Technologies now has a world ranking system and anybody who has played at least one game gets ranked. According to Colabuono, “we have had over 63,000 players play at least one game of 2012 in the last month and a half. There are also almost 17,000 people who have actively played each of the five 2012 courses as well.” Even though there are over 60,000 Golden Tee players, only a decent amount can say that they have made a living from the game. Brian Bernhardt of Alexis, Illinois has been playing Golden Tee for over 10 years. “I started playing Golden Tee while working at a bowling alley in Iowa City, Iowa. The more that I kept playing the game, the better I got. 10 games turned to 20 games and it just grew from there.” When Bernhardt was asked about his earnings over the years, his answer was astonishing, “I would have to say that I have made between 80 and 100 thousand from Golden Tee. I work for an operator (of arcade games, including Golden Tee) that’s based in Iowa and the way I found that job was through playing Golden Tee. If I didn’t start playing Golden Tee 11 years ago, I don’t know what I would be doing with my life now.”

For a lot of players like Bernhardt, the main reason they keep playing the game is for the money, but that’s not the only reason. The competitiveness keeps the guys glued to these games as well. Andrew Haas from Ohio explains it best, “I'd be lying if I said I'd play as much as I do now if there was no monetary incentive, but I really do enjoy the competition aspect of the game, especially the live tournaments. “Andrew Haas is a name that is instantly recognizable in the Golden Tee community. Haas is constantly at the top of the leaderboards. He credits his love for the game of golf and the live Golden Tee tournaments as one of his reasons for getting so attached to the game. “I always have enjoyed golf, so that's what initially drew me to the game, but going to my first live tourney and seeing how good those guys really were made we want to get better. Combine that with seeing how much money you could make on the monthly tournaments (and now daily tournaments), and I was hooked.”
Golden Tee Golf is one of the biggest entertainment entities in the video game industry.

The game has garnered mainstream media attention year after year, even having the Golden Tee World Championships taped for the Golf Channel a few years ago. Some of the biggest names in sports also play Golden Tee, including Chicago Bears player Brian Urlacher. From 1995 until 2001, professional golfer Peter Jacobsen’s name was included in the games title and to this day he still supports the game and appears as an on screen commentator for Golden Tee LIVE. With media playing such a pivotal role in everyone’s life, Golden Tee can only continue to grow from here. As long as there is money to be made playing the game as well as the occasional sand trap or water hazard to throw off player’s scores, Golden Tee will continue to be a coin-op success.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Good Year For Crops

By Kelsy Lewis

Farmers don’t have much to complain about this year. Gene Pool of Fulton County has been in the farming business for 38 years and explained that there were very few problems this year. Matt Frakes, a farmer of Warren County, also commented on the yield and price of locally farmed crops.

Pool farms beans and corn. Compared to last year, yield is up. Before harvesting this year Gene expected that the crops would be about the same as last year because it was mainly dry, but we also had a pretty wet spring. He referred to the fields as a “garden spot” for growing in these weather conditions. Corn yield is up about 30-45 bushels, from 135-150 bushels last year to 165-195 bushels this season. Beans were about the same as last year producing 55-70 bushels. This year corn is going for $6.25-$6.40/bushel and beans are going for about $12.00-$12.50/bushel for a Fulton County farmer.

Matt Frakes of Warren County farms corn, beans, oats, and alfalfa hay. Crop yield in Warren County tends to be a little higher than in Fulton County, getting about 231 bushels/acre, which is going for $6.40-$7.10/bushel. Beans are yielding 71 bushels/acre and selling at $12.97/bushel.

The two farmers agree that input costs tend to be the highest. The three main elements that go into crops are seed, fertilizer, equipment, and gas. Since farmers can trade in their equipment, it keeps cost lower. “Farmers incomes are effected considerably, but over the years losses and gains seem to average out. The farmer has the power to control what goes on.” According to Gene, “when the farmer has no money, the consumer has no money.”

Pool found that beans were a little too dry and corn had nearly perfect moisture levels. This year the expense of a dryer was cut out, which impacted input expenses substantially. The dryer is used to dry the corn to get the moisture level at 15% to sell and about 14% to store. This year, monitors were reading that corn was picked at about 22%-23% moisture. In order to store beans, they need to be at about 13%, but this year when cut, they were at about 9%. The difference in the moisture levels in corn and beans is that a dryer can only be used on corn. Beans have to dry from the air for the moisture level to drop.

Most of the crops sell for exports. Gene says most farmers around Fulton County go to Havana, IL where they sell to river terminal barges that take the corn and beans along the Illinois River and then is transported through St. Louis, eventually connecting to the Gulf. Another option is to sell to ethanol plants in Pekin and Peoria Illinois.