By: EVAN SHAUB – Staff Writer
The University of Dayton’s own bowling mechanic for the Hangar, 48-year-old Kevin Mathis, has installed a bowling lane on almost every inhabitable continent in the world. His skill has taken him all the way from military bases in South Korea to Howard Stern’s house.
“It goes way back before I took my first steps in a bowling alley,” Mathis said. “As I grew up I would see pieces of technology, take them apart and then put them back together.”
Mathis, a Middletown native, frequently went to the lanes with his father and was running coffee back to the mechanics since he was six. Later, in 1984, he graduated high school and went to work as a car mechanic, moonlighting on the side repairing bowling lanes until there was an accident in late 1995. He was working on a bowling machine and nearly lost two of his fingers in the process.
“After I got injured I decided to stop working as a car mechanic,” Mathis said. “I went back to work in the bowling alley, but I wasn’t making enough. Around that same time my wife, Kimberly, needed surgery and we had to file for medical bankruptcy. So in 1997 I took a job as a mechanic at Wright-Patterson.”
Mathis also had to help put food on the table for his two children. He was working 40 hours a week at the base and servicing 240 different lanes in the Montgomery County area on the side. After repairing the in-house lanes at Wright-Patterson for a few years, his reputation spread and the army asked him to install bowling lanes on American bases in South Korea. Since then, he’s been all around the world to places such as Guam, Japan, Germany, Italy and Greenland.
“After four years of that I got a call in 2001 from the vice president of a company called Qubica, and he offered me a job working for them,” Mathis said. “Less than a year later, I got trained, left my job at the base and became an independent installer.”
Mathis frequently found himself on the road fixing bowling alleys until seven years later, when his life drastically changed again.
“In 2007 my wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and my concern was just to keep her insured. Needing money, I went back to the bowling alley. I lost her a little later in July 2009,” Mathis said. “I needed to take a year to get myself back together so I went back to working at Wright-Patterson.”
Mathis found himself working on the lanes at UD for the first time in 2010. A year after he started working at the base, he went back to being an independent contractor in October 2011, and he’s found himself installing lanes in a number of interesting places since.
“The most unique place I think I’ve installed bowling lanes in was probably in the Hamptons. Eighty-five million dollars, 60,000 square foot houses. I spent two days last year installing a set of lanes in the owner of Google’s 120,000 square foot vacation home in Colorado,” Mathis said. “Those were all pretty cool.”
Mathis has installed and repaired bowling alleys from Middletown to Japan, and still takes time to maintain the little lanes at The Hangar for UD students and guests to enjoy.