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Ron Getto—Cleaning Up the Strikes

Ron Getto has two Ivy League college degrees and has spent 22 years on Wall Street. So, one might wonder, what brought the Starlite Lanes owner to Flagstaff?

His career path has not been smooth. In fact, there were some pretty big bumps along the way.

Getto was born and raised in New York. He attended Columbia University as an undergrad and a graduate student in its business school.

In 1986, he pursued a career on Wall Street, which he described as “spectacular.”

He was happy there until the crash of 2008 when he lost his job.

“They said goodbye,” he said. “I had only two jobs in 22 years, but when the crisis came there were just not enough seats for everyone anymore.”

He said he initially looked for another job on Wall Street.

“I couldn’t find one,” he said. “Where I have ended up is bizarre. I wouldn’t have believed it.”

The little book, “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spence Johnson, helped him change his perspective. It’s about the experience of mice who live in a maze that always had cheese at a particular location. One day, the cheese is moved and the mice must find the cheese at a new location.

“I worked on Wall Street for 22 years. The cheese was there every day. I grew fat, along with all my fellow mice. One day, the cheese wasn’t there. I went back every day looking for the cheese,” Getto said. It still was not there.

He soon realized he had to do something else.

“I decided I was going to buy a business. I understood what a good business looked like.”

He looked at franchises and other opportunities, but then someone mentioned bowling to him.

“I don’t know anything about bowling. I began to research I and discovered a it is a favorite pastime and that people have been bowling since Egyptian times.”

He figured that bowling would be a great business for many reasons, including the fact that it fills a social need and there were tremendous operating margins. Plus, Starlite Lanes was the only bowling alley in Flagstaff.

Bowling alleys had been disappearing at an amazing rate and were being replaced by big box stores. Still, bowling remained a popular sport.

Getto says he did a tremendous amount of due diligence. He attended trade shows and answered an ad in a bowling magazine for a facility for sale in Texas. “The broker said he had just listed one in Flagstaff, Arizona. I said, ‘Send me the information and I will take a look at it.’ That was in August of 2010.”

“I never imagined I would find my cheese in a bowling alley,” he said.

He bought Starlite as a fixer upper and has spent the last six years doing that. He has just about finished the project. Now, he wants to spend more time with Four Peaks Wealth Management, which he co-founded a few years ago.

“We recently merged with Sedona Sterling Financial Services. We are just beginning the integration process.”

Getto says the mission of the merger is to facilitate a deeper relationship with existing clients.

In his spare time, he shares his financial experience with others by mentoring business owners and public speaking.

He has been mentoring Jonathan Netzky, the owner of Tepa Burger, a manufacturer of plant-based items, like veggie burgers, for commercial food services.

“His background in New York and finance gives him a more worldly view than you can get in Flagstaff,” said Netzky. “At the same time, he has a strong financial background. Ron really understands money.”

Getto also does guest lectures at Northern Arizona University in the W.A. Franke College of Business. “I speak about finance. That is where I met my Wealth Management business partner, Matt Haertzen.”

In addition, he writes a regular column in a bowling trade magazine about wealth management for bowling centers.

Getto said his life since moving to Flagstaff has changed for the better, so has the life of his wife of 26 years, Karen, who is graduating from NAU in May. They have two daughters, ages 19 and 23. The empty nesters just adopted a German Shepherd puppy, Thea.

Another aspect of Getto’s life is giving back.

“We support not-for-profits by doing fundraising here in the bowling alley.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ signature fundraiser, Bowl for Kids’ Sake, is Starlite Lanes’ longest running fundraising event.

Getto also believes in treating employees with respect and providing them health care benefits.

“I have one motivation and it’s all about doing the right thing.”

Who is your role model and why?

“Warren Buffet has shaped my professional career from business school to this very day. I share his investment philosophy.”

What advice would you give someone who wants to own his or her own business?

“You can never do enough due diligence before writing that check. Be sure your skill sets are complementary to the business you are pursuing.”

When was the last time you sang out loud?

“It was the Orpheum Theater at a concert with my wife.”

Describe the perfect pizza.

“Any corner pizzeria in New York City. You can’t beat New York Pizza by the slice. I subscribe to ‘Pizza Today.’ No one is more a pizza snob than me.”

What do you do for fun?

“One thing that has changed in my life is that I was introduced to yoga five years ago. For fun? I work for fun. I love what I do. Why shouldn’t work be fun if you love what you do?”

Starlite Lanes is located at 3406 E. Route 66. For more information about Four Peaks Wealth Management visit fourpeaksweath.com.





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3 Responses to Ron Getto—Cleaning Up the Strikes

  1. Kathy August 16, 2017 at 12:41 PM #

    “I have one motivation and it’s all about doing the right thing.”
    I have a hard time with the hypocrisy in the article on Starlight Lanes owner Ron Getto. Does doing what is right include kicking out a group 8,7 and 4 year old boys because their grandmother brought in a taco for the 8 year old who has a severe food allergy and could not eat the food available at the bowling alley? Does doing what is right include telling the grandmother when asked that he does not have to provide an ingredient list for the food he serves? This man is rude and has no compassion for children with such disabilities. This man has an ” It’s my business and I’ll do what I want regardless of who it might hurt” attitude. These 3 boys left in tears. The one with the allergy kept apologizing because he thought it was all his fault their afternoon was ruined. This man does not deserve the praise and attention this article gives him. One small taco should not be a reason to crush the spirits of 3 small children. This man should be ashamed of himself.

  2. sam April 8, 2018 at 1:16 AM #

    While I get along with some of the employee’s couple of which pre-date Mr. Getto purchase of the business. I have issues with him, as Kathy mentioned he doesn’t seem to care about anything other then mighty dollar.

    I’ll give credit where due that he has generally improved the physical parts of the building at least inside.

    I’ve heard he disbanded a 14 team league just because it wasn’t a 16 team league even though if he did research he would understand that a league is guaranteed money for however long it runs. Also doesn’t do anything to promote leagues but runs special deals on bowling almost every day of the week. I know he has a special right now which is fine 60 cents a game in celebration of 60 years.

    I know he serves food from the snack bar to Museum Club customers.

    Rumor has it he convinced his mechanic to move here from Texas who was a mechanic there but on different pin-setters and also current manager to move here from Tuscon.

    Based on what I’ve seen and others have told me, should a better run center that cares more about its bowlers open at least league bowler wise they’ll go to it, I would not be surprised if a lot of the non league folks do as well.

  3. Dorothy April 11, 2018 at 12:36 PM #

    Since he has owned the alley he has gotten rid of almost all the leagues that have been there as long as I remember! He has raised prices so high that most people can not even afford to go bowling. It used to be a cheap way to take your family and have a day of fun. Now you worry if you have enough to pay for 2 games then the lanes don’t work correctly, The choice of house balls is awful. Not every person has a small,medium or large hand!!There is not a person onsite to do drilling or any sort of bowling accessories onsite. I think it is not even close to being done. He has sooo much more he needs to improve on but especially his customer service

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