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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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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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