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When it comes to casual outdoor games, many of the most popular ones are meant for only a small handful of players. In the right atmosphere, games like Cornhole, Badminton, Ladder Toss, etc. can be a lot of fun – but they’re somewhat limiting in terms of participants at a given time. So naturally, if you have a bigger group looking to play around outside, you need to look for other options.

There are popular choices for team outdoor games as well. Kickball, disc golf, ultimate frisbee, etc. can all incorporate fairly large groups of people. But here are 3 more options you might not always think of for casual outdoor games for teams.Handball1

Dodgeball

For some reason, people tend to think of Dodgeball as exclusively an indoor sport. Sure, it helps for the walls in a gym to contain stray balls, but the bottom line is, Dodgeball is one of the most versatile team games in existence. Play with volleyballs, order dodgeballs online, or if you want to get more intense about things, try it with tennis balls. You can set your own boundaries, make up your own tweaks to the rules, and even come up with various ways of making this a drinking game. One idea: every time a player gets knocked out, he or she has to complete a minor drinking challenge in order to re-enter the game. Of course it’s best to take it easy with these kinds of details, but it can add a new dimension to the game.

Handball

It’s always surprising how few people play this sport, but it’s actually a pretty big deal. Team Handball is actually an Olympic sport! It’s major in Europe, and you can even publicly bet on matches at Betfair news! This is a sports book online that covers all major sports with various gambling options, and sure enough, Handball is right there. Yet considering all you really need to play the sport is a ball and a few improvised goals, it’s incredibly easy to play in a backyard, the quad at a college, etc.

Quidditch

Let’s get something straight: playing Quidditch – the sport invented in the Harry Potter franchise – is completely ridiculous, and the movement to turn it into an NCAA sport is well beyond insane. Fun fact: people can’t fly on broomsticks, so this sport can’t exist. However, if you feel like taking it lightly and goofing off with some friends, it can’t hurt as a backyard guilty pleasure. You can set up goals pretty much any way you want, find a few different sized balls, and improvise a bit with some of the less realistic details of the game. For example, try giving “beaters” water balloons instead of balls. Consider having someone on the sideline randomly launch a tennis ball into the air now and then to simulate the “snitch.” It’s all ridiculous, but with the right tweaks it can be fun.

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This edition of our Business Spotlight comes from Donnie, owner of DMAC SPORTS, makers of custom built cornhole boards in Bowling Green, KY.   What follows are Donnie’s responses to some basic questions about his business, and how it started and developed.

Q&A with DMAC SPORTS
Location: Bowling Green Ky

Made my first set of boards for myself, after being invited to a friends house to play. Had never heard of cornhole before. Was hooked immediately. So I checked around to find information on building myself a set, ran across a little site called Cornhole Game Players.  Asked questions and got a lot of support and advice from several people on the site. Made my first set as one board UK and 1 board U of L. they turned out fair. But my friends seen them and started requesting me make them some. So I thought not a bad little hobby to help relieve stress from my day job. When I look at those boards now and compare to what I currently make, I can’t believe anyone wanted those.

I make my boards out of the 3/4″ red oak from Lowes or Home Depot (depends on which has better material).
I use pocket screws and Liquid Nails to assemble each set, sand and then paint and stain, apply decals then spray at least 5 coats of Poly on each set. Use different color of stains , depending on theme, also do several with camouflage. Also make the mini versions that kids enjoy.

Well my hobby has turned into a part time job. Each set I make I strive to find ways to improve the quality of them, it must be working because I have a constant flow of orders. Most all I make are custom ordered. I made a few over the winter and set up at a local community yard sale one day recently. Sold 4 sets of full size and 1 set of my mini’s and got orders for 5 sets. Was very surprised at how well they were received.

I have set my workshop up to build these boards, and the money I have made has bought all my equipment. Still not in it to make a lot of money, I spend a lot of time on each set, so if you break the profits down to man hrs, not such a good business venture, but its stress releive is priceless.

I have worked out a good relationship with a couple of decal suppliers, and we have designed some new decals and have a very good relationship. That helps a lot on with the boards that I make.

The positive comments that I get on my boards helps me stay focused on a high quality product. when 50% of your customers are driving up to 2 hours to pick their boards up, it makes you feel good when they tell you they look better in person than in the pictures.

I have no plans to expand, and I’m actually considering slowing down some. This is my 2nd year of selling boards, only advertise on Craigslist and by word of mouth. Last year I averaged 5 sets per month, so made around 60 sets. So far this year I have already sold 40 sets and have orders for 5 currently. My normal build time is 7-10days, depending on my real job and keeping the wife happy with her to do list.

Been doing a few new designs with full boards using the vehicle wrap decal. Looks really good, but profit margin isn’t, so may not make many that way. I don’t want to raise my prices any higher. I work with a local lady that makes bags, and we have a good arrangement that helps us both.

I would like to give thanks to the members on the forum, their tips and information have been very helpful. Never thought I would be a wood worker, but its a good HOBBY/Business.

DMAC SPORTS can be reached by phone at 270-202-8588.

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We’ve been working on a series of articles for the Outdoor Games Blog that will feature Outdoor Game business owners. We want to know how these businesses came to be, what makes them unique, their general workflow, and their plans for the future.

This edition of our Business Spotlight comes from Alan Casucci, President & CEO My Pole-ish Horseshoes.  My Pole-ish Horseshoes, LLC is a manufacturer of an outdoor game set for playing Pole-ish Horseshoes.  The following are the responses from Alan from our Q&A.

What’s your business?

MPH is a competitive outdoor Frisbee game for people of all ages that combines skill and endurance as players defend their post from opposing teams. It provides friends and family with hours of competition and fun. The object of the game is to score points by throwing a Frisbee at the opponent’s pole and knocking the wiffle ball off its perch. The first team to get 21 points wins the game!

My Pole-ish Horseshoes game sets are the best designed, best quality game sets to play Pole-ish Horseshoes. Our game sets are built to last for years…not one season! You can play MPH in the gym, on sporting fields at the beach, in the backyard, tailgating, on vacation, while camping or on campus.

MPH game sets come with a propriety custom designed base making it the best designed game set for playing Polish Horseshoes. You don’t need to pay extra for a base when you purchase a MPH game set. You can also play My Pole-ish Horseshoes indoors because of our propriety design base.

How did you learn about the game that is/are the basis for your business?

When my son Eamon Casucci, who is Vice President of My Pole-ish Horseshoes was attending College he was introduced to the game Polish Horseshoes that was played with a single pole stuck into the ground with a beer can on top of the pole. As a company, My Pole-ish Horseshoes has now designed the best game set on the market today to play Polish Horseshoes and instead of using beer cans we have mainstreamed the game for people of all ages by adding wiffle balls to the game set.

Talk about moment MPH became a business.

After spending two years traveling around the country introducing My Pole-ish Horseshoes to consumer from the East Coast to the West Coast and doing our due diligence regarding our brand positioning, messaging, price points and seeing if consumers would pay to play, My Pole-ish Horseshoes passed with flying colors. We are now ready to move our company from a research development stage to a sales and marketing driven company.

Is this a full time or part time job?  How much of your life is this business?  Do you have employees?

At the present time there are two full time positions, my-self, as President & CEO and Eamon Casucci as Vice-President of My Pole-ish Horseshoes, LLC. My Pole-ish Horseshoes is a family business with my two other sons Tyler & Ethan chipping in on a part time bases. Ethan just graduated from college and has joined the company as full time as Director of Marketing.

Where is your business located?  Does that have an effect on your sales or distribution?

My Pole-ish Horseshoes is located in Marlboro, MA. Our location does not have an effect on our distribution. We are a web based company. Our product are also sold through a select group of Business to Business and Business to Consumers catalogs.

Have you ever worked with other related groups or businesses?  Online/Offline

Yes, I also own a creative boutique named Thought For Food. We work with food companies all over the country providing Brand Development & Positioning, Public Relations and Packaging Design.

What sets your business apart from other similar businesses?

Quite simply, we offer the best designed game set to play Polish Horseshoes on the market today. We offer consumers a choice of ten color combinations to choose from and we understand what it takes to launch a product and how to provide value to our customers.

How do you market your business?

My Pole-ish Horseshoes markets its games sets using a integrated media mix of Public Relations, Social Media, On-line Advertising, Trade Shows and Events.

What is your favorite part of the business?

To see people playing our game!

What are your future plans and aspirations for your business?

To continue selling our game sets to consumers and also to look for custom order opportunities with large consumer product companies that can easily use My Pole-ish Horseshoes as a promotional product. We have the ability to provide consumer goods companies with the color poles of their choice. It would be a terrific branding tool for the companies. We could easily attached their logos to our game set poles.

At this present time, we have Resorts, Camping Grounds, YMCA’s, Boys & Girls Clubs, Colleges, Schools and consumers buying our game sets. As we like to say, My Pole-ish Horseshoes is the “NEXT GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOOR GAME!”

My Pole-ish Horseshoes can be found online at www.mypole-ishhorseshoes.com

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We’ve been working on a series of articles for the Outdoor Games Blog that will feature Outdoor Game business owners. We want to know how these businesses came to be, what makes them unique, their general workflow, and their plans for the future.

Our latest Q&A is with Matt Butler, creator of a game called Rollors. We’ve been working with Matt for years, and wanted to share some details about the evolution of his business here on the Blog. Here’s what Matt had to say!

Business Spotlight : Rollors

What’s your business?

I created the new award winning game called Rollors. Think of Rollors as a game that combines the fun of Bocce Ball, Horseshoes, and Bowling. There are both the elements of skill and chance to Rollors. The homepage for the game is www.rollors.net

How did you learn about the game that is/are the basis for your business?

My family has a lake house cabin in Minnesota and back in those days there wasn’t Internet, satellite TV, portable gaming systems, etc, so we played a lot of other activates like Bocce Ball and Horseshoes. Then, later in life when I joined the Air Force, I was on a deployment in the Middle East and was thinking how nice it would be to be back at the lake house, and started developing ideas for other outdoor games that could be played. I figured everyone seemed to have a set of Bocce Ball or Horseshoes in their garage.

How did Rollors become a business?

I had some local woodworkers create a prototype and played it with my friends and family. I received a lot of positive feedback and even offers to purchase the prototype so I had more made and then it was on a “roll” from there. Starting in the Summer of 2009, Rollors was available only online at first, but now it’s available in retail stores like Menards, Meijer, REI, Camping World and various specialty toy/game stores. You can see the list at http://www.rollors.net/retailer_locations.html

Is this a full time or part time job?

It’s a part time job. My other job is an active duty officer in the Air Force.

Where is your business located?

Since I’m in the Air Force it moves from time to time. Currently I’m located in Dayton, Ohio. I started the business in Destin, FL.

What is the biggest challenge in selling, promoting, and marketing Rollors?

The most difficult part of Rollors is spreading the word about the game. I’m continually trying new and innovative ways to spread the word through press releases, gift guides, review sites, sending samples to various news stations. I try and team up with outdoor review sites, online retailers, etc. I’ve also done quite a few donations to organizations like The Boys Scouts, VA, USO, and Toys for Tots.

What sets your business apart from other similar businesses?

There’s no other game out there like this. Many people have told me they’re so impressed with the craftsmanship of the game, especially in a time where everything seems to be plastic. You can see some of the testimonials at http://www.rollors.net/testimonials.html

How are your games made? Is there any element of construction that is different than your peers?

They’re all had made from hard wood. The wood pieces are very durable. Here’s a quote from Jeremy, “The game pieces are all made of wood. They’re put together well, and will stand up to the usual wear and tear that games go through. The pieces have a quality look and feel. Numbers are neatly printed on to the discs.”

Do you create everything you sell? Do you hire anything out? Drop ship or Wholesale?

I use to have everything made in the USA but after the demand started to rise I had to find other means to lower the cost. It’s now manufactured overseas but continues to keep the same look from the original prototype I had made. It’s also been ASTM toy safety tested and approved. We do both Drop Shipping and Wholesale. For wholesale inquires you can email me at customerservice@rollors.net.

What is your favorite part of the business?

One of my favorites was when I first saw the game on retails shelves….I was on ecstatic.

Another favorite was when I went other to a friend’s house for a BBQ and someone had brought the game over. I asked them what they thought of the game and they said they’re kids play it all the time. Then I asked if they knew who invented it <with a smile on my face>. I flipped the game over on the side and showed them a blurb about the inventor.

What are your future plans and aspirations for your business?

I have another game that I’m researching the patent protection for. One thing I did with Rollors is made sure no other companies would try and knock off this classic and so I have multiple issued and patent pendings.

What are some fun facts about Rollors?

To date we’ve sold over 25,000 games. Rollors has won several prestigious awards from Creative Child, Dr. Toy top 100 games for 2010, Dr. Toy top 10 active toys, Major Fun in several categories and Mr. Dad.

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SO, you’ve been wanting the cornhole book for a while. Perhaps you’ve been struggling financially, or maybe you’re just waiting for someone to buy it for you. Whatever the case, here’s your chance.

Derrick Smash (derricksmash.com) and Mark Rogers (author of Cornhole: Throwing Bags in a Hole) have come to an awesome agreement. They have agreed to set an all-time low price record for a brand new paperback of Cornhole: Throwing Bags in a Hole to be sold via derricksmash.com. Not only is the book being sold for the strikingly low price of $12.99 (lowest publicly published price on the internet), but each book sold will have the autograph of the author himself, Mark Rogers!

Click Here to Take Advantage of this special offer! The holidays are coming up – what better way to spruce up your loved one’s cornhole equipment than with the original Cornhole Book! Buy it now!

Here is an example of what your inside cover may look like:

And here’s a photo of the book itself:

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We’ve been working on a series of articles on the Outdoor Games Blog that will owners.  of Outdoor Game related businesses.  We’re especially interested in members of the Cornhole community who have started businesses. We want to know how these small businesses came to be, what makes them unique, their general workflow, and their plans for the future.

Our first Q&A is with Dan Sinnett, owner of GamedayToss.com.  Dan offered up some great information that really gives you an idea of what it’s like to be in the business of Cornhole.

Business Spotlight : Gameday Toss

What’s your business?

Gameday Toss manufactures and sells custom cornhole boards, bags and accessories. In the very near future we will also offer washers, ladder golf, beersbie, and other ‘backyard’ games.

How did you learn about the game that is/are the basis for your business?

I grew up in southern Wisconsin and we had a set of cornhole boards growing up. We played quite often but just thought it was a simple game that a few people in the area played. I didn’t realize its recent boom in popularity until a Saturday afternoon Brewer vs Cubs game at Miller Park in Milwaukee back in 2006….at that point I knew I had to start building and, as they say, “The rest is history”.

Talk about the moment your hobby became a business.

A peek into a custom paint booth/room that I built. Air is filtered coming in and out of the room (out vent in background) Keeps the dust down and creates a bit of a down draft for real nice finishes.

I have always had an interest in being an entrepreneur but didn’t want to do something where I was just another small fish in a big pond. I wanted to find something that was unique, something where I could produce the product and do a really good job at it, and something that was fun. The last thing I wanted is another “job” since I already have one of those. I always had a wide range of interests from wood working, programming and web development and a general interest in business and wanted to find some kind of way to bridge those into a “hobby with benefits”…. something fun that I could pull some extra cash by doing. Building, marketing and selling cornhole boards was going to be it!During the summer of 2006, my wife and I went with a bunch of friends to Miller Park in Milwaukee to watch the Brewers play the Cubs on a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon. We tailgated in the parking lot as we always do and then as we headed into the stadium I was blown away by then number of people playing cornhole. I didn’t know that people knew about this game. I thought it was just a simple game that we had growing up but nothing that was that popular. I saw everything from the commercial boards to people’s home built versions and it got me wondering what kind of market there really was for this game.

That night when we got home I went on eBay to see if/how many boards were selling out there, as eBay is (well used to be, not as much anymore) a great resource for finding what a market is like and I was stunned by how many boards were out there and how much people were making on them.

I have always loved wood working and was looking for a good excuse to fill the garage with new tools and saw dust….and this was it! The next day I made a trip to Menards to pick up materials and a few tools and made my first set. That night I started building the original gamedaytoss.com website and it has been a very fun adventure since then.

When did this business start? Offline/Online

Officially as a business we have always been online. I started with about $100 to ‘invest’ and already had the knowledge and resources to host a web site and do basic, inexpensive advertising. I put together a shopping cart and started pushing traffic and low and behold people started buying boards. I distinctly remember getting the first automated email that an order had been placed…I couldn’t believe it! It was actually working. Ever since that email I have been hooked.The business will remain online only into the foreseeable future. There just is not a compelling enough argument for us to go “brick and mortar”. We do however try to interact with our customers as if they are standing there with us. We are very hands on and want to make sure that the product our customers buy is more than they expected. You can have the best products in the world but unless you have happy customers you won’t have a business.

How much of your life is this business? Is this a full time or part time job?  Employees?

Removing the paint stencil that I made using a vinyl cutter. Most people make decals with those cutters, I make paint screens. I prefer paint over decals.

This is a fun question to answer. Technically my full time job is as a Network Engineer for a large international Managed Services company. That is the job that I get out of bed at 7am to go to every day.

Gameday Toss is what keeps me up at night…but in a good way. It is safe to say that unless I am at my full time job, I am ‘working’ on Gameday Toss. Very rarely does it not come up in conversation or there are thoughts about marketing, product development, pending orders, process improvements, etc, etc bouncing through my head. It is a personal challenge, something that I have a lot of pride in and something that I can call mine.

I also have to say that I have been blessed with the most wonderful, supportive and understanding Wife in the world. Like I said, I spend a LOT of time on GDT and she is always right there with me, supporting me, helping me make decisions, being a great listener and giving some of the best ideas and advise. Without her, Gameday Toss would not be .

Where is your business located? Does that have an effect on your sales or distribution?

We are located in Madison, Wisconsin. I operate the business out of my home. The garage has turned into my workshop, leaving the vehicles on the street for the harsh Wisconsin winters. I have even built a completely enclosed and vented paint booth in the basement for finishing boards in a clean, dust free environment.We have always had good sales numbers. Considering what we have done for advertising I have been very happy with our volume. We are on the outskirts of the epicenter of cornhole being the Ohio River Valley region but we are close enough to still keep our fingers on the pulse of what is going in the world of cornhole.

From a distribution perspective I think we are very fortunate being centrally located in the US. It help to keep our shipping costs down and with Chicago only 2 hours away, shipments make it to the FedEx hub that night so our products move around the country very nicely.

Considering our central US location and the partnership we have established with FedEx we are able provide flat rate shipping rates using FedEx Ground to anywhere in the lower 48 states. Shipping starts at $9.95 for your entire order and will never be more than $19.95 for your order. If you have ever done calculations or shipped boards across country, you know it is not out of the question to have it cost $40 or more. We have shipped 5+ sets for a single order and charged $9.95 for shipping.

Our philosophy is that we are in the business to get our products into our customer’s hands, not take all of their money. So we will eat some of the shipping costs if it means our customers get the highest quality products that they will be able to enjoy for years and years to come.

Have you ever worked with other related groups or businesses? Online/Offline

About half done with the boards paint work. Picture of me with the design and the work in progress.

This year we have partnered with a custom cabinet builder from the Madison area who is now manufacturing our boards for us. This was a strategic move because I was quickly learning that there was no way I was going to be able to keep up with demand out of my garage.The tools that I have are not designed for larger volumes of production, nor am I; being the primary builder with occasional assistance from my brother-in-law. I needed to figure out a way to get extra hours in a day or find the ability to produce by way of tool investments and process improvements. I looked into figuring out how we could slow the Earth’s rotation to get a few more hours in a day, but all attempts failed J and investing $20,000 in my own shop was out of the question so the next logical step was to partner with a local wood worker who already had the tools and manpower to create our custom boards on a larger scale.

I auditioned a few cabinetmakers in the area and the ones we partnered with do UNBELIEVABLE work! I have a lot of pride in the work that I do and the boards that I made, but with their access to premium materials, which Menard’s, Lowe’s and Home Depot would only dream of carrying, and their machinery and attention to detail, the new 2011 Gameday Toss boards could almost be considered furniture!

We are always going to be a quality over quantity business, and our partnership has given us the ability to improve the quality AND quantity at the same time.

What aspect of your business do you feel is your weakness/room for growth/open area for new partnership?

A business that says the have no room for improvement is either blind or lying to you. We are no exception. We are constantly looking for ways that we can better serve our customers. We are not just interested in shipping a set of cornhole boards to a customer and calling it a day. We want to make sure that they are happy with every aspect of working with Gameday Toss. From product quality, web site experience, access to information, trust and security, we want to bring that “Main Street” shop feel to our Internet based store.Right now we are working on creating a series of informational videos ranging from product tours and demonstrations to general information about different wood, finishes, advantages/disadvantages, building techniques to buyers guides, just to name a few. We want our customers to know whom they are dealing with when they come to Gameday Toss and we want to build that relationship and trust with them.

We are also working on new ways to get customer feedback so we can ensure that we are meeting and exceeding their expectations. We want our customers to know that when they contact us it is not going into a black hole and you are not going to get a canned response. I personally answer all email and phone correspondence to Gameday Toss. In a day where call centers and response scripts seem to rule, we want to still believe in that personal communication to make sure our customers needs are met.

We are also constantly looking for ways to make our processes more efficient, our quality better and how to bring more value to our customers so they get the most they can for their dollar.

What sets your business apart from other similar businesses?

Custom boards completed. Very patriotic customer...I really enjoyed making these boards!

We honestly think that we make the highest quality product out there. Our 2011 boards are made with Ash frames and Birch surfaces with a price point of those who make their boards with pine 1×4’s. You can not beat the quality or the looks of these boards. The wood grain that you get using the Ash and Birch are beautiful. I wish my furniture in my house looked as nice as some of these boards ;-)
We also offer up front, flat rate shipping prices. We have all experienced this. You are on a website and want to buy something from them, you add the item to the cart and go to check out only to find that they want to charge you $25 to ship a 1lb box. It is those hidden charges that scare customers away.That is why we have our flat rate shipping program. All of our orders are shipped via FedEx Ground. Shipping starts at $9.95/per order and will never go higher than $19.95 for your ENTIRE order. We will ship up to 4 sets of bags (32 bags total) for $9.95 anywhere in the lower 48 states. Anything over 35lb then is adjusted based on the shipping address. We use 3 zones centered around Madison, Wisconsin. The closest zone will is $9.95 for all orders regardless of weight, zone 2 is $14.95 for orders over 34lbs and zone 3 is $19.95 for orders over 35lbs. That means if an board set is order and shipped to Southern California, it will only cost them $19.95 in shipping, not ~$50 that other places charge.
How are your games made? Is there any element of construction that is different than your peers?
All of our products are hand made. Our boards are made out of Ash and Birch. We use pocked hole joints to conceal the screws and it makes for a more finished appearance.
We spray all of our finishes using HVLP spray guns in our custom built spray booth. We use General Finishes Polycyclic clear coats on painted boards
Our bags are made of high quality USA made duck cloth. They are surged and then stitched again for extra strength and durability. We fill the bags with filtered/screened whole feed corn and all of our bags come with a 1 year warranty again breakage or manufacturer defect.
We believe in quality over quantity. Sure, I could farm out bags somewhere else and probably find less expensive manufacturing processes for our boards, but that would sacrifice quality and that is not what we are in the business of doing.

How do you market your business?

At first we primarily used internet marketing using PPC campaigns on major search engines. Last year we spent a lot of time and money updating our website to have better SEO and also started putting our products in more places like shopping.google.com and other similar sites to increase organic traffic. By the end of last season well over 40% of our traffic was organic, meaning we didn’t have to pay for it.This year we are focusing on building our social marketing campaigns and local advertising and word of mouth campaigns. We want to become more involved in sponsorships and donations to charities and youth organizations.

What is your favorite part of the business?

The adventure. The challenge. The unknown. I love to push my limits, which is how you learn. Trial and error and a lot of hours of reading to figure out new stuff or how to make things operate better. Most of all, I love having this business being of my creation. I answer to my customers and no one else. My failures are my fault and my successes are my fault. I love the feeling of freedom that you get when you run your own business.

What are your future plans and aspirations for your business?

We want to continue to grow as a company, but at the same time we don’t want to lose focus on what we do best. If we go into a market or launch a product we want to be the best at that. There are a lot of different things that the market demands, but what is the purpose of doing those if you can’t give them the attention that they need to be deployed correctly.We just want to keep building the business on the values that delivering the best products to our customers is our goal.

Working on a prototype for a electronic scoreboard with "Auto Scoring"

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Cornhole Epicenters

My name is Derrick Pugh – I own and [85% of the time] fully operate derricksmash.com. I’m here to talk about my evolved perception of the Sport of Cornhole and provide my simple idea of what will ‘save’ the sport.

When I accidentally got into this industry of Cornhole building about 6 years ago, I had one mission: to build so many cornhole sets that no other builder in the country was able to compete. Big dreaming, huh? No, that isn’t feasible – with my resources anyways…nor would it be good for the Sport. Spreading the name of derricksmash.com isn’t nearly as effective for business as it would be to simply spread the name of Cornhole first!

Then I started to know the community a lot better. Spent last summer playing in tons of tournaments, met a lot of fellow players, many big names in the game (Randy, Matt, Vanderver, etc) and took an entirely different approach to derricksmash.com’s perception of “self”. A lot of these big players would reminisce of the game, as if it were an ancient sport or something. These people spoke with phrases such as, “remember the good ole’ days of cornhole?”, “…it used to be”, “…the game needs to come back”, etc, etc. All of these people saw something that I didn’t because they were part of it this whole time – you can go so far as to say they triggered the cornhole revolution in the first place.

After having some talks, chats and emails with enough people, I eventually got a mentality of “Wow, I had this all wrong. It’s not all about competition, It’s about community…and sharing moments within said community!”. This one really hit it on the spot:

“…the sport is in a critical stage right now in my opinion…it could blow up and become a staple sport like softball, or it could fizzle out and 10yrs from now we’ll be saying, ‘remember bags?’ (aka cornhole)”
Rudy Rutherford

All I was doing this whole time was selling derricksmash.com products with all intents of saying “F you” to the competition – what I should have been doing was realizing that the products I was selling, like every other builder, was part of a bigger picture – that’s spreading the name of Cornhole. Don’t worry, I now see it that way.

Cornhole’s dieing in the Midwest. That’s the reality right now. Perhaps if I had spent the last 6 years spreading the name of Cornhole instead of hocking off my products, maybe I could have prevented the state we’re in now…maybe if only a tiny bit.

I met some of my competitors, Clinton from Ripped Boards and Chris from Naperville Bags. They are stand-up guys and their companies offer something another doesn’t. I respected Chris when I met him for many reasons. For one, he wasn’t the douche I was expecting him to be with his massive inventory and huge sales reports. I figured he was all about that and nothing more – almost envious of him because I thought he became what I used to want to be. He became that “big boy” in the Cornhole Building industry but he also had something else: being well-known by in the Tournament Side of the Sport – the real community of the sport. I was WOW’d. As for Clinton, I personally feel he used to be the same way I was (screw everyone – my company or no one), but is now on the same side of the field that I am…and I’m glad.

Then I talked to Steve Vanderver on the phone for what seemed to be a few hours! He had just recently created the Cornhole Players Association to help fight the foreseen drop in Cornhole’s Reputation. He was upset, emotional and confused about what happened to his beloved sport in the last couple years. “…annual tournaments that used to draw 90+ teams are now barely able to get enough for a 20 team mini tournament”. He talked to me about how he saw this a long time ago (due to a bigger organization) and when he left that organization, he realized that he had to go back because he was classified as “too good” or “pro” to play in many of the smaller, private [and in my opinion, more fun] tournaments.

I also feel [and hope] I gave him some insight, too – I am not speaking for him in any way. He’s out in the East Midwest, and what he sees is totally different than what I see, being here in Chicago. In Chicago, the sport is still waiting for it’s initial BOOM. We got a little one last summer, but this summer should be bigger. If not, next summer will. And out West, not many people are playing this game at all. I told Steve, “Let’s not only worry about reigniting the spark in the over saturated area of the Midwest you reside in, but remember that out West and probably 80% of the country has probably still never seen the Sport!”.

My buddy’s parents in Surprise, AZ have one of my sets and they say people are going APESH*T over it! I got a few orders out that way because of this and I pretty much shipped them for free just to get some Cornhole boards out that way. Also, there is a cornhole tournament taking place next weekend on USC Campus (University of Southern California) to benefit Relay for Life – they are expecting a huge turnout! Out there, it’s something new and exciting. derricksmash.com has donated $200 in product to this event. USC is way out of the cornhole’s heartland and they are just now starting to see the excitement of cornhole and tournaments like this are sprouting everywhere out there. If you look at the customer map on my website, you’ll see the major lack of my company’s cornhole products East of the Mississippi River. The “centralization” of cornhole is probably why the Midwest is losing it’s flare. A lot of the areas of our country that haven’t yet been exposed to cornhole have one advantage when it comes to the introduction of a new sport – they don’t have a winter. Growth and reputation of cornhole will spread year round – not like the Midwest…where the sport finally gets its spotlight of growth, then is abruptly shot down and throw into hibernation after out our first November snowfall forcing us to start all over again this time each year. Florida, Texas, Mississippi, SoCal, Arizona, New Mexico, etc are all places that haven’t yet been properly introduced to cornhole – but once they are, people will be hooked year round – no downtime. These states occasionally get snow, but it is melted within a day due to 65+ degree days. Once the name of cornhole is spread, the sport won’t die. We need to make sure we prioritize spreading the Sport’s name before it loses it’s name in the small region it exists now – the Midwest.

Basically what I’m saying is don’t give up hope on the sport of cornhole just because your town or state seems to have lost it’s flare – the sport needs to be known nationwide – worldwide – to get a real effect. Trust me, if the sport is dieing in Kentucky, but these same Kentuckians hear that people in San Francisco are now hot on the game, a rivalry will form and those cornhole boards will get dusted off. Rivalry = Sport = Addiction = Awesome. All the places in the country that are “cornhole’d out” are basically ticking time bombs for exploding once again and I think that will come with the increase of Cornhole’s footprint as a nation, not cornhole’s local reputation as it is now. Keep playing folks! Keep your city, state, town or whatever at least a bit involved…because when there are enough little seeds from coast to coast, rivalry forms and everything in the middle will fill itself in. It’s sport – it’s how every sport still exists and survives. It’s how any brand becomes a “brand”.

If there were only four MLB teams in the league, and all of them were in the same geographic region, I assure you MLB would be as cornhole is now…only known locally. MLB and all other “leagues” and “associations” survive because they have a “representative” team in pretty much every major city. If one team is doing bad, so does their representing region’s morale, but the sport in a whole doesn’t struggle to thrive because of all the other teams in the country (ie: Chicago Cubs…haha). Right now the sport of cornhole fills the geographic triangle created by Western Chicago, Nashville and Eastern Ohio – that’s not big enough…especially because “Chicago” was probably pushing it…I really don’t think the spread truly this far yet.

The popularity epicenters of the Sport of Cornhole need to look like this:
Future of Cornhole's Name
(source: www.studybreaks.com)
Cornhole needs enough branding throughout the country’s population spikes. This is the next step and is the only way to ensure the future of cornhole.

So, players, keep playing – Builders, keep building and if someone out West contacts you and wants a cornhole set, make it happen. If you can’t make it happen, refer them to someone who can, instead of just telling the client, “sorry, can’t help you”.

Cliffnotes: Spread the game enough, and it won’t die.

cheers, derricksmash

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It’s Spring! That means it’s contest time on the Outdoor Game Players Network! It’s been a long Winter, and it’s time to dust off the tools and get to building your first games of the 2011 season. As a little encouragement, we have teamed up with 4 great sponsors to reward you for your efforts.

Here’s how it works.  Build or Make any game we feature on the Outdoor Game Players site, next, post your photos to the Gallery section in the OGP Forum, then give us a link in the Official Contest Thread in the forum.  Four winners will be randomly chosen to receive one of 4 prizes from our sponsors!

We have 4 great sponsors for this one!

Ripped Bags has offered up a set of their STORM BAGS and a matching Cornhole Bag Carrier. STORM BAGS are ACA Style Resin Bags – Canvas on both sides – Color choice is upto the winner.
T’s Yard Toys awarding a winner with their Red Eye Resin Bags.  These all-weather, Resin filled bags are great for Cornhole play in any weather.
Naperville Bags is giving away a set of their Slick “n” Stick bags.  A ‘best of both worlds’, these Stick ‘n Slick bags have one side that is duck, and a second that is a Ralph Lauren Micro Fiber.
DerrickSmash.com has tossed in a set of their Standard Cornhole bags.  These “bulletproof” bags are made to regulation standards  and backed with a one year warranty.

Check out the Contest Page for full contest information.

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Spring Preparations

Triple-A ball clubs are swinging, birds are starting to chirp in the mornings, and streams are flowing. Spring is in the air and cornhole builders all around the country are starting to dust off their tools and restock their lumber in preparation for what seems to be a big year in Cornhole.

Perhaps one can go so far as to say this will be a “make or break” year for builders across America to establish their brand – or simply get left behind. Participation in cornhole events should be on the climb this year in direct correlation to the increase of our population’s general exposure to the game. There are more and more “cornhole blogs”, websites and small associations sprouting up throughout this past winter. One such example is the blog you’re reading now as well as the traffic increase over at The Cornhole Game Players’ Forum. Something else to keep your eyes on is the Cornhole Players Association formed by top cornhole player Steve Venderver. CPA’s intent is to 1) bring back the spark in Cornhole in already-flooded areas such as Ohio and more importantly 2) spread the popularity of the game outwards and from coast to coast to the other 99% of the population who still haven’t been exposed to the game. They want to make sure everyone knows about the game. With all of this comes the demand for cornhole boards…and builders all around America are prepping for it.

Many northern builders take advantage of the winter months by taking care of things they don’t have time to when the season is in full swing – repairing some things around the shop, obtaining new tools, creating new jigs, developing new building methods, implementing marketing strategies, etc. But many of the northern climate builders haven’t had the down time they are used to in these cold winter months. This is probably due to the still -gaining popularity of the sport in the warmer southern states – or perhaps these builders are finally attaining the reputation and brand recognition that they’ve been fighting for. Whatever the case, Derrick Smash of derricksmash.com is a perfect example. Derrick says, “We’re not saying that we’re upset for staying busy throughout the winter months – but these southern-bound orders have left us without the ‘slow winter’ that we’re used to having and therefore hadn’t the time to complete the many tasks we had set for this upcoming spring. It’s a double-edged sword. Derricksmash.com has higher keywords ranking in search engines down in the southeast states than we do in our own home town – Chicago! Additionally, Chicago Cornhole Rental is something we kicked out live a few months back with the intent to have a full working inventory before spring – we don’t yet have it and it’s already March! The website has already gotten a few dozen inquiries from potential clients and here we are referring them away because our inventory isn’t quite there. The season isn’t even here yet but here we are already playing catch-up with the custom orders. We know we’ll be fine because with all the expanding we’ve done in the last 3 years, we’re used to working under pressure. Growth is overwhelming. If we’re not struggling to do what we do best, that means we’ve reached a plateau. We won’t let that happen. If you’re not growing, you’re actually shrinking.” But even with the overwhelming custom orders throughout these cold months, they’ve still managed to get a few tasks done over winter. “In addition to Chicago Cornhole Rental’s creation, another plan that we did fulfill over winter was the full implementation of “weatherproof” cornhole bags. They’re filled with recycled plastic and they still bear the one-year derricksmash.com warranty. They’re already on the site and available for sale. And speaking of the site, keep your eyes peeled for the total redesign of derricksmash.com, which is going live in the next couple weeks!”

Other builders have been just fine over the winter months in regards to their planned preparations.

Clinton Bylo of Ripped Boards, seems to have everything underway. He, too, has implemented his rendition of “weatherproof” bags. “With 2011 underway, Ripped Boards has been gearing up for another great year. Too help keep customer costs down in an economy where many items are increasing, we have purchased wood, corn, resin and bag material in large bulk quantities. With our new line of Resin Bags (‘Storm Bags’) and our push to increase cornhole bag sales, we have pre-seamed over 4,000 cornhole bags allowing for small or large orders to be completed and shipped same day. Ripped Boards has also built new jigs, recalibrated saws and replaced all our saw blades to ensure our cuts don’t damage a great looking board!” With their cornhole board sales already seeming to surpass last year’s, Clinton finalizes his thoughts. “2011 is going to be a great year for us. Ripped Boards has taken many steps to help increase production, increase marketing and help keep the sport of Cornhole growing.”

Another excellent example of a builder’s use of slower downtime is TJ of Buckeye Gameboards out in Ohio.“…the winter season is always slower, which is actually a very nice change after the busy season. We usually run ragged all the way up until Christmas Eve, so we enjoy the breaks while we can. We don’t let the down time go to waste though. We have made major changes to BuckeyeGameboards.com – we have increased our bandwidth to accommodate a larger photo gallery, video gallery and expected traffic. We are also in the process of launching a new line of affordable tournament boards. They will be marketed as our “Gold Series” boards, and will be unpainted hardwood with clearcoat finish. We anticipate a price point around $150 with bags.” And of course, TJ is yet another builder who has jumped onto the “weatherproof” style bags bandwagon. “We’ve introduced a new line of microfiber, synthetic fill tournament bags. They can be seen on the pro bags section of our website.” All-in-all, Buckeye Gameboards is anticipating another very busy and successful year.

Now, derricksmash.com of Chicago, Ripped Boards in Michigan and Buckeye Gamesboards in Ohio all dealt with this brutal Midwest winter. They are all also envious of the builders in the South – the ones who don’t really have a winter. But maybe they’re wrong. Joe of Carolina Joe’s says that in South Carolina, they “…had not 1 but 2 snowfalls”. Us Midwest builders laugh, but according to Joe, “One of them shut the state down for a week making it hard to get materials and I had to for the first time crank up the heater in the shop while I worked.” Well, Joe, us Midwestern builders aren’t gonna ‘console’ with you on having to crank up the heater in the Carolina Joe’s shop (derricksmash.com went through more than 1000lbs of propane in their shop this winter) – but we will console with you on the crappiness of not being able to buy materials for a week. But again, this down time gave Joe the ability to refine some of his procedures in building. “Overall this winter was a very productive experiment in board building and finishing. Carolina Joe’s is a one man operation I can now build several sets in just one day…I believe that if you are a serious builder you should always take time to improve your methods and keep looking for better more efficient ways to create the best quality product possible for you customers.”

Meanwhile, BagBoards.net down in the sunshine state of Florida spent all ‘winter’ doing what they do without having to deal with horrendously cold temperatures and snow. They are doing what they can to expose the sport in a state that has yet to be completely exposed to it. Joe Pertile says, “BagBoards.net and cornhole in general is slowly being introduced to more people and things are starting to look better for a state that pretty much lacks Cornhole. The game is getting bigger every day here and we hope we can introduce a product that is to the Highest Quality Standards and keep up with the predicted increase in the sport’s popularity.”

So, there’s the pre-spring scoop on just a handful of builders around the country. There are hundreds of builders of custom Cornhole sets all over America and it’s safe to say that they’re all bracing for this upcoming year. If you’re looking for a good cornhole set this year, just look around.

We’ll end this article with a tidbit of advice from Derrick of derricksmash.com: “I really do think this will be a make or break year for serious builders to really establish their product and truly get their name out there in the mainstream. Keep up or get left behind…”


A winter set by derricksmash.com and Burner Boards


One of Buckeye Gameboard‘s winter creations

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Cornhole may be a funny name for a game, but it’s popularity has been spreading like wildfire over the last several years.  What started out as a somewhat regional, mid-western game, has quickly spread across the country.  With each passing year it’s getting harder and harder to find a tailgate area that doesn’t have at least ONE set of bags being tossed.  With the growing popularity of the game, comes a book that will tell you just about anything you could have ever wanted to know about the game of Cornhole… and probably a little more.  “Cornhole, Throwing Bags in a Hole”, by Mark Rogers, is that book.

Cornhole, Throwing Bags in a Hole

I had the opportunity to check out a copy of the Cornhole book this week, and I was pleasantly surprised.  Having been around the game for a few years now, I would have thought I’d absorbed a good bit of what there is to know about this great tossing game.  Turns out I was wrong.  The author has really done his homework to get this book written.  The book contains interviews from several of the major players in the Cornhole world.  Interviews with the president of both the ACA and ACO, tournament advice from NEO Cornhole, playing tips from several respected pro players, and more.

How can you possibly fill an entire book with information about a simple game?  That’s what I wanted to know.  As it turns out, there’s plenty to cover, and the book is a nice resource for new players and old tossers alike.  A wide range of topics is covered within.  Chapters covering the history of the game, social impact, and cornhole as a sport are fun, light reading for those already familiar with the game.  Other chapters get into the specifics, covering rules, building instructions, and strategy.

Book Highlights

If you’re looking to throw a cornhole tournament, the chapter on running a tournament is worth the price of the book, all by itself.  The author has put together a great collection of information that would be invaluable when planning your first tournament.  There are excellent bits of wisdom from tournament director Michelle Cahill, of NEO Cornhole.

If we’re being honest, I might be biased… but I really enjoyed the chapter on the Cornhole Builder Community.  I loved that the author took the time to discuss my personal favorite facet of the game.  Board building and customization, and the community that has formed around it, is a special part of the game for me, and I’m honored he took the time to mention it!

Strategery.  What’s better than tossing tips from the pros?  An interesting chapter that covers different tossing styles and strategy during game play.  Some great bits of info in this chapter, for sure.

Cornhole, Throwing Bags in a Hole is a fun, light read.  The book is a wealth of information for anybody who is just getting started with the game, but is also a good read for anyone who already spends far too much time tossin’ Corn bags.  Mark Rogers has done a great job of putting together a really nice guidebook for the game of Cornhole.  Rules, strategy, building, slang – it’s all here.

Check out Cornhole, Throwing Bags in a Hole for more information.

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