By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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LOVES PARK — An innovative Loves Park company that has darted its products from here across the world was named the U.S. Small Business Administration Illinois District Office 2022 Small Business Exporter of the Year.
Arachnid 360, which invented and developed the first self-scoring electronic dart machines, has its product in bars, restaurants and taverns across the world. This week, the SBA presented company president Sam Zammuto with the award.
Zammuto, who has been with Arachnid for more than four decades, gave credit to the team of 55 employees who develop, manufacture and sell dart boards and other electronic games from the company’s home base at 6212 Material Ave.
“It’s a real team effort with the manufacturing, the sales department, the marketing, the software guys, to produce a product that we can sell around the world,” Zammuto said. “Everybody needs to feel like they’re part of something very special.”
Zammuto, a Rockford native, was overseas in the U.S. Air Force when he was first introduced to the game of darts. He started traveling throughout England to play competitively. When he returned home in the 1980s, he joined the company and helped it grow into a leading manufacturer of electronic dartboards.
“Sam has spent his entire career pioneering even more innovative techniques to take this game to the next level,” the SBA wrote in an announcement of the award. “By using the electronic dartboard industry as a standard for the sport, this Illinois-based company continues to grow staying at the top of its game with new technology, products, and a host of many other accessories. In doing so, Arachnid 360 continues to build upon and open new marketplaces throughout the world.”
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Arachnid was incorporated in 1975 by Rudy Allison, who developed the first machines with Dick Jones. Early iterations of the machine had issues with proper scoring, and the company was sold to Paul F. Beall, who helped the product and the company flourish.
The latest product, the Galaxy 3 Fire, has a first-of-its-kind glowing cabinet and allows for live remote play with anyone across the world. With a built-in camera and monitor, you can play face-to-face with anyone, anywhere.
“At 10 o’clock in the morning in our lunch room or bay room, we’re playing Paris, France,” Zammuto said.
The Galaxy 3 has more than 37,000 systems plugged in across the country, and it’s been built for customers in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and others.
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Zammuto and Arachnid have also focused on teaching operators to run leagues. There’s been one in Rockford since the early 1980s, he said. Since 1986, the company has run BullShooter Regionals across the country throughout every dart season, and it started its own tournament, the renowned BullShooter World Challenge of Champions.
The Challenge of Champions finals takes place May 26-30 in Chicago with $150,000 in prize money on the line.
“It’s a product starting as a game and we turned it into a sport,” Zammuto said. “So to me it’s the Olympics of electronic darts.”
The SBA said it helped Arachnid obtain an SBA loan, a STEP grant to attend shows in India and Dubai and provided guidance from the Illinois Exportech program to help it grow its export business. It gave the company the award this week as part of National Small Business Week.
Arachnid 360 also makes DiscGlo Shuffle, a glow-in-the-dark electronic miniature shuffle board, and its team with four software engineers are always working on the next improvements.
“We’re constantly introducing new ideas toward people playing darts and having fun,” Zammuto said.