The ‘King of Bingo’

Years ago Frank Cronin followed in his father’s footsteps and went to work for the family firm of Edward Thompson, a manufacturer of stationary and printing business. In the 1950’s Frank took and order from a Catholic priest that would transform his life and chance the business forever. Within just a few years the family firm, Edward Thompson, became the world’s largest manufacturer of bingo cards. Today Frank is widely known as the “King of Bingo.” Frank told an interviewer “There’s been great fun in my life. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve never been bored in my life.”

A new book titled ‘Good With Numbers’ documents Frank’s rise from a school math whiz to a global business success. The book was written by biographer Nigel Watson and documents Frank’s incredible story and the business he built. Author Nigel stated “Bingo is a game which has brought pleasure to countless millions, and Frank is one of the men who made this possible.” Frank was born on February 3, 1933 at the height of the great depression. Frank was the second of three boys in his family and struggles squint from birth and had to undergo years of treatment. Franks mother had tuberculosis and Frank was forced to take weeks off from school to nurse his mother.

Despite the hardships Frank excelled in school especially in math. The family firm, Edward Thompson, was a small struggling jobber print shop when Frank went to work for his father. Frank recalled “My dad never had more than a dozen people working for him, but all of them loved him. He had hundreds of customers and all of them loved him too. So where else should I go to learn how to run a business than with my dad?” In 1951 Frank was conscripted and served in the Royal Air Force as an air wireless mechanic. His stint in the service enabled Frank to develop labor saving devices.

When Father Jeremiah O’Callaghan approached Frank and asked him to print tickets for a bingo fundraiser frank saw a business opportunity. Soon Frank’s business was printing bingo cards and the company expanded. Biographer Nigel stated “The bingo boom transformed the company. From less than a dozen employees in 1959, it had more than 300 six years later. From selling a few thousand tickets supplied by someone else every month, the company was printing 50 million a week by 1965. And, thanks to his dexterity with numbers, Frank expanded the number of ticket combinations from fewer than 2,000 to nearly 17,000.”

By the 1970’s Franks business became the world’s largest printer of bingo cards. According to bingo news sourced by the late 70’s Franks firm was printing 150million tickets a week and supplied most of the bingo clubs in the UK with bingo cards and tickets. Although Frank stepped down as head of the firm he still takes an active interest and today the firm is ruin by one of his sons. Who knew that bingo could propel a small business into a multimillion dollar operation?