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For The MacLaren's, The Success Of Wamesit Lanes Is Rooted In Family Values

Oct 25, 2016 09:43AM ● By Bill Gilman

Donnie and Don MacLaren have built Wamesit Lanes into an instant success.

In early 2014, Don MacLaren Sr. approached Tewksbury officials with a plan -- a vision, really.
He and his partners wanted to replace a controversial eyesore along Main Street with a unique business that would serve as a centerpiece for a revitalized Route 38 corridor and a gateway to the community that paid homage to Tewksbury's proud heritage.
Two-and-a-half years later, MacLaren admits to being overwhelmed at the rapid growth and success of Wamesit Lanes Family Entertainment Center.
"It's far exceeded my (expectations), far exceeded it," said MacLaren. "Obviously we wouldn't have done what we did if we didn't think it was going to be successful. We sacrificed everything to make this work. At times, it's overwhelming what we've done in such a short amount of time. We're one of the top-rated facilities in the country in a little less than a year's time."
With state-of-the-art candlepin and 10-pin bowling, golf simulators, an arcade, snack bar, private function room with private bowling lanes, and the award-winning Firewater Grille sports bar and restaurant, Wamesit Lanes quickly established a reputation as being far more than "a bowling alley."
And then, as the warmer weather kicked in, guests were treated to the outdoor patio venue, complete with fire pits, bocce courts and cornhole.
 On Nov. 9, Wamesit Lanes will celebrate their 1-year anniversary with a day-long celebration, featuring door prizes, special guests and free bowling throughout the day. The event is being billed as a "Thank You to the community for their incredible support."
MacLaren is quick to credit his management and ownership team for Wamesit's success in the first year. Partner Steve Bourgeois oversees the day-to-day operations and Loretta Ryan joined the team shortly after the facility opened, as a sales and marketing dynamo.
But the lynchpin of the team is co-owner Don MacLaren Jr., who has worked should-to-shoulder with his father on Wamesit Lanes, from the moment of conception. For this father and son tandem, Wamesit Lanes is far more than a business and its success goes far beyond the bottom line.
"My thing was I wanted to do something with my son, it was my only driving force," said Don Sr. "I wanted him to have the same opportunities i had. I this situation, I get to watch my son grow, as a man. And in a year, I've seen that ten-fold."
Don Jr. had worked with his father at the family welding company for sevral years. But he recognizes that Wamesit Lanes presents a unique opportunity to build a family legacy.
"I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity to do something like this with my father," he said. Him, being a very unselfish person, he's lined this up for me, for us, for our family to be successful. I don't take it for granted one single second. I've put more time and effort into this than i ever put into anything. I'm grateful and I thank him for the opportunity."
Don Jr. has grown into the face of Wamesit Lanes, traveling the country to talk with various organizations about the business model the MacLarens have developed. At the same time, he is looking to the future and mapping out plans to grow the company asnd improve customer experience.
"It's nice to build something and have the community come to support it. We haven't even hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we want to do. We're excited about what's about to come down the pipeline," said Don Jr.
Among the plans for 2017  -- Free valet parking on weekends and New England's 1st PBA Tour event in more than 30 years.
As a father-son team, there is nothing more important to the MacLaren's than family. And it's that sense of family that they have tried to instill in their team of 152 employees. The message is simple -- pay attention to detail and never forget how important you are to the overall success of the team and your individual co-workers.
"(Wamesit Lanes) was built by a family, for families, and we try to build that culture in here," said Don Jr. "I think these employees feel that, that we care about them and they are willing to go that little extra. We have a lot of drive from our management and from our staff to see this place be successful."
"We've been very blessed," said Don Sr. "We've hired some great people from Day 1. We have a good nucleus of people that work very well together."
It's no accident that customer service, cleanliness and friendliness have become the trademarks of Wamesit Lanes. They are priorities the MacLaren's have stressed from Day 1.
"The things people take for granted, we pay attention to," said Don Sr. ""Nobody takes that extra time, nobody makes sure their bathrooms are spotless. We do.
"We wanted to build something no one had ever seen. There's nothing like this anywhere. And we wanted the town to be proud of us. The town bent over backwards for us and we wanted to build something they could be proud of."
Mission accomplished.

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