Maker of pool cues from 1968 to 1972 in Baltimore, Maryland as a partner in Joss Cues, from 1972 to 1974 in Aspen, Colorado, from 1974 to 1978 in Tulsa Oklahoma, from 1978 to 1989 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from 1989 to 2000 just outside Austin, Texas, and from 2000 to present Josswest is located in Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico.
Bill Stroud learned to play pool while growing up on a farm in Missouri. At the age of fourteen, he moved to Dallas, Texas to live with his sister. It was there that he began to play pool more seriously. Bill spent his evenings in the pool room frequented by "Titanic Thompson," who was soon teaching Bill about pool, and about life. By the age of seventeen, Bill went on the road and began playing pool for a living. Starting in the late fifties, Bill covered the United States playing in virtually every part of the country. During this time, Bill traveled with, and learned from, Eddie Taylor and U.J. Pucket.
In the mid-1960s, Bill started a small ski business in Aspen, Colorado. For the next three years, Bill worked in Aspen during the winters and played on the road with his friend, Dan Janes, during the off-seasons. But eventually they found themselves dissatisfied with life on the road.
Believing there was a market for quality custom cues, the two founded Joss Cues in 1968 in Baltimore, Maryland. The name Joss was chosen from an oriental word that loosely translates to good luck. Although the two knew very little about making cues, they knew a lot about how great cues played. Soon, they were very successful in the custom cuemaking business.
In 1972, Dan Janes bought out Bill´s share of Joss, and Bill returned to Aspen to make cues on his own under the name Joss West. He started hand-engraving a small stylized logo with an upright "J" connected to a "W" on its side on the butt caps of Joss West cues for identification. Over the next eight years, these marks gradually got larger.
In 1974, Bill moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he made Joss West cues for the next four years. In 1978, Bill moved Joss West to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Here he began to experiment with CNC construction. Around 1980, Bill developed his current points which are cut out on a CNC mill but have mitred veneers. During this time, the logo changed a little, with the "W" being upright. Bill experimented more and more with computer-aided design and construction, executing designs with a precision that could not be attained entirely by hand. Bill felt that the design and execution of Joss West cues was so distinguishable that, in 1983, he stopped marking his cues. His customers seemed to prefer identification marks, so he started marking them again in 1985. But, knowing that his cues were starting to become collectible, he also added the date of manufacture.
Before leaving Colorado Springs, Bill was featured in an article which appeared in the November 1989 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. At this time, Bill moved again to Austin, Texas. In 1990, Bill changed the Joss West name to one word, Josswest, and again stopped putting visible marks on his cues. Instead he put "JW" followed by the date and a serial number under the bumper. It was that year that beautiful "his" and "hers" Josswest cues were offered in the Nieman Marcus Christmas Catalog. Around 1992, Bill started using the Uni-Loc joint, which has been available on his cues ever since.
Customer demand for external markings brought them back again in 1995, when he settled on his current logo which reads "JW" right-side-up, or upside-down. Although the unmarked cues from the mid-1980s may be hard for the un-initiated to recognize, those who are familiar with Bill´s work can easily identify them by their style, flawless execution, and playability. He is happy to identify his work when there is doubt. When Bill gets these cues back in the shop, he presently adds identification marks to avoid future confusion. Bill was the first cuemaker to begin using CNC technology on custom cues.
In early 1999, Bill won the first cuemakers´ tournament ever held, at Magoo´s in Tulsa, Oklahoma. All of the top cuemakers were invited, for a double elimination one-pocket tournament. Bill continues to play when he can, and should be a serious contender to win at future cuemakers´ tournaments. In 2000, Bill moved Josswest to Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico. He held his first collector cue show there in 2003.
Bill has a state-of-the-art website which allows the customer to design their own cue and view it in three dimensions. Once the customer is satisfied with the design and materials, Bill will make it to their specifications. Bill feels that playability is the most important factor in a custom cue, and he believes that his road experience gives him an advantage over many other cuemakers in this area. He is willing to make virtually anything a customer desires, and will change any of the standard specifications if a customer desires. Bill believes that the great cues of the future will result from technology, and he is always experimenting with new ideas. He noticed that many players hold their cues on the butt sleeve
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