Coopersburg Sports Before The Profit
Coopersburg Sports, located in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, is a sports novelty company in the heart of Amish country. Established in 1791 as a tool handle company, the business was forced to transform once power tools became prevalent. In 1991, Scott Pino took the reins from his father and began selling mini baseball bats that were manufactured by the Mennonites in the area. When Scott acquired the rights for all of the Major League Baseball teams’ logos, Coopersburg Sports began to print the team logos on the mini bats and sell them in stadiums across the county. At its peak, Coopersburg Sports was bringing in $4 million in sales and was highly profitable. But since competitor Louisville Slugger entered the market, the company has taken a big hit, and their sales have been halved. Coopersburg Sports needs help. Could Marcus improve its record?
Marcus Tours Coopersburg Sports
The Profit Season 2 Episode 14
When Marcus entered the facility, the first thing he noticed was disarray and lack of organization, and the ventilation was so poor that Marcus had to cover his nose to block the chemical stench. Scott introduced himself to Marcus and told him the history of the company, and then he described how his business had been suffering due to the economy and competition. When Marcus inquired about Scott’s costs, he learned there was only a $.37 margin. Asked about his losses, Scott estimated he would lose $12,000 that year, but Marcus noted that was based on materials only and didn’t account for labor and lost time. Scott told Marcus that if the bats were painted elsewhere, they could save $.10 in costs. Marcus did the math in his head – if 300,000 bats were sold each year, a 10-cents savings would equal $30,000, and they could save an additional $12,000 if waste was eliminated.
Scott led Marcus to the printing area. The company used traditional HP printers and rigged them to print on the bats. Marcus could see there was tremendous potential if they were used to print on other items.
Marcus then met Scott’s daughter Jackie, who was in charge of the Collegiate market. She was bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t track her orders, and because they didn’t have an inventory system, they didn’t have enough boxes to ship the orders. She told Marcus her Dad wasn’t open to new ideas because he was emotionally invested in the mini bats.
Marcus asked Scott about his debt and learned that the company owed $700,000 in to the bank. Since the company was not making a profit, they had to use their roughly $40,000 in cash flow for payables. Marcus warned that if things didn’t change at Coopersburg Sports, the business would come crashing down.
A meeting with Scott’s son, Ben, who was the plant manager, reinforced Marcus’s feeling that the facility was run inefficiently. The business needed to move to a space with better flow, but Scott said he couldn’t afford it. Marcus told him he couldn’t afford not to move. Meeting with Scott and his wife, Wendy, Marcus asked to see the financials. With the bank loan and payables, they were down close to $1 million. Marcus let Scott know that it was his kids who contacted the show. Years ago, Scott had rescued his father’s company; now the kids were ready to save the business for their father. Scott had to let them participate and stop trying to control everything.
Marcus Makes an Offer
At that point, Marcus let Scott know what needed to be done and what he was willing to offer. He began by stating that the process was broken. They absolutely needed a new facility that would allow for better work-flow, and they desperately needed tracking and inventory systems. They would also have to start developing new products beyond just the mini bat. Baseball is seasonal, so they always lost money during the fourth quarter. Marcus offered $630,000 in exchange for 50% of the company. Scott thought that was way too high – he felt that 30% would make more sense. Marcus said he’d be willing to decrease his percentage but would not provide more that $630,000. Plus, he would need to make a 3% royalty on every product sold. Scott agreed, and the deal was made.
Marcus summarized how his investment would be spent: $150,000 to pay down debt, $180,000 to cover past due payables, $150,000 for the new facility, and $150,000 for working capital and product development. The facility would get new inventory and accounting systems, and the Pinos would have to expand the product line because they couldn’t continue to be only a bat company. They had to acquire licensing deals with other leagues, and develop relationships with retailers.
The Pino Family Prepares for Change
Marcus and the Pinos toured a potential new facility, and Marcus was able to negotiate nine months free rent on a six-year contract, since the building had been vacant for two years. In the new building, the company would be able to become profitable, but the next task was to challenge the family to develop new products.
Jackie had thought about capitalizing on the at-home tailgating trend, and had ideas for home decor. She mentioned that baseball isn’t that popular in college, so it would make sense to go after different sports leagues. Penn State had sent her a list of needs, which included coasters and football-shaped cutting boards. But Scott was worried that they were moving too far away from their core product. After Ben demonstrated how the printer could work on products other than bats, Marcus had an idea to start a business model where Coopersburg would personalize other companies’ products for a fee.
After Marcus met with Scott about setting up processes for his financials, he headed to PIttsburgh for a meeting with MLB. He wanted to see the mini-bats in the parks. But Marcus discovered that Scott wasn’t entirely truthful when he said that the bat was in every major stadium; the bats were only in about five or six stadiums. Marcus felt like Scott was hustling him.
Next, Marcus took Scott and Ben to the facility where the bats are made. His purpose was to show Scott that other products could be manufactured there. When they saw what looked like a table leg, Ben had the idea that they could make kids’ furniture – such as stools – and use their technology to print team logs on the pieces. Marcus thought this had great potential since they could sell the furniture for a much higher retail price than the bats.
Later, in the parking lot, Scott opened up and admitted he felt like a failure. He had worked so hard to acquire the MLB licenses that he felt that moving away from the bats was like giving up. Marcus assured him he wasn’t a failure but that he needed to be open to new ideas.
The New Products are Revealed
Three weeks later, Marcus arrived in Pennsylvania to see the family’s new prototypes. There was a mini bat rack for toothbrushes, the aforementioned stools, and Jackie’s home tailgating kitchenware. Marcus set up a meeting with Bass Pro Shops to pitch the new items, and when Scott began the presentation, the response wasn’t positive. But then Jackie chimed in with knowledge about the Bass customer, and she presented the home tailgating items as perfect for the growing female market. The buyer really liked what she saw, and when Ben said that items could be personalized, she was pleased, since branding was a high priority for them. It seemed as if Coopersburg Sports was finally going to be a forward-looking company.
Coopersburg Sports After The Profit
Coopersburg Sports appeared on The Profit in December 2014. An update in May 2015 revealed that Marcus had put more money into the company than the $630,000 that was part of the handshake deal. He actually invested a total of $1.4 million to cover payables, the new building lease, and the inventory system. The new warehouse processes helped the company turn a profit, and sales increased to $3 million within the period of a calendar year.
Today, the company has licensing agreements with the NBA, NCAA, NHL, and NASCAR. On the website you can purchase a wide array of products like salt and pepper shakers, key chains, bathroom utensils, ponchos, coat racks, and coasters. Other items are available for sale in Walmart and on Amazon.
Marcus and Scott are no longer partners, and the Pinos are looking for another investor. The two may have had a falling out after Scott kept asking Marcus for money, but Scott is indebted to Marcus for helping to turn the company around. “He saved us,” Scott recounted. He certainly increased the company’s batting average.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is strictly informational; INSIGNIA SEO is not affiliated with Coopersburg Sports, The Profit, or any of its subsidiaries.