Friday, March 31, 2017

Supporting a Healthy Disc Golf Market

There have been a few questions and concerns brought up lately regarding the Dynamic Discs auction page on Facebook, “cherry picking” in the warehouse, and the Dynamic Discs online store. It is time to help everyone understand the reasons and motivation behind each so that we can all better understand the Dynamic Discs operation.

First of all, Dynamic Discs started out back in March of 2005 as an eBay store only. A couple of years later, thanks to the help of one of my best friends, Adam Searle, who is still with the company today, the eBay store started to merge over to an actual online store. We built a massive and diverse customer base by placing an emphasis on customer service, immediate order turnaround, and a diverse product offering. We sold almost all major manufacturers and spent a significant amount of money on advertising to make sure that customers would find our website and hopefully turn into loyal customers.

December 2012 came, and we added a new category of discs to the website, Dynamic Discs. The Fugitive, Judge, Trespass, and Escape sold alongside the other manufacturers, and we didn’t know whether other manufacturers would continue to let us sell their products on our website. That day never came, but we made the decision in March of 2014 to no longer sell discs from anyone other than Dynamic Discs, Latitude 64, and Westside Discs. It was a difficult decision to make and one that confused our customers because they still wanted to rely on us to get everything that they needed.

Some criticized us for competing against our very own retailers who were trying to push, promote and sell our products. We started out as a retailer, and we made the decision that we never wanted to go away from that as we had too many customers to cater to. It isn’t uncommon for a manufacturer to sell their own products on their own website. In fact, most manufacturers that you see will sell their own products through their own channels and it will be done to support the full MSRP. These websites actually serve as a way for the customer to discover or learn about the product and then make a purchasing decision from there. Often times, this purchasing decision is to buy it at the cheapest place possible. You will not find that Dynamic Discs is the cheapest place online for a majority of our products.

In January of 2015, we made the bold decision to sell at full MSRP to better support our other retail partners who were trying to find ways to sell our products. Overnight we became the highest priced online store in disc golf. YIKES! We certainly lost customers, but knew that we needed to better support a healthy online retail market and our retail partners. With that said, our large customer base remained loyal because they came to rely on our customer service and passion to grow the sport.

Dynamic Discs and Dynamic Distribution are two separate and independent companies. They are both located in Emporia, Kansas, but are different business operations with different employees, different buildings, different tax ID’s, etc. Dynamic Discs operates much like any other retailer and purchases products from Dynamic Distribution. There are certainly advantages with Dynamic Discs and Dynamic Distribution being in the same town and the lines of communication being so open. Dynamic Discs is, in fact, the largest customer of Dynamic Distribution and does significantly more volume than any other retailer.

So what does all the above mean and boil down to? Dynamic Discs does significant business through our online store because we have spent 12 years building this business and invested millions of dollars into making sure that we built the infrastructure and established a loyal customer base. We aren’t just going to give this away overnight as we have worked way too long and way too hard to not continue this operation. Despite all that, we just flat out like serving our customers and work our butts off to make sure they receive excellent service!

Long story short, the Dynamic Discs online retail store isn’t going anywhere and is taking on a new facelift as we speak to improve on everything that we have already established. You can see the new website now, and you will notice that and are both the same website.

Now to the Facebook auction concerns as this seems to be the biggest concern or issue that we continue to hear. Eric McCabe started up the Dynamic Discs auction page on Facebook about two years ago as a way for Dynamic Discs to get the true collector pieces out and available to the disc golf collector market. There is no such thing as a collector market if the collector pieces are not available and/or the information or story about the product is not there for the collector to understand.

McCabe started this auction page while he was transitioning from a touring professional and world champion disc golfer into a world-class course designer. A very small portion of the revenue generated from the page went to McCabe as a way to keep him employed at Dynamic Discs. The larger portion of the revenue is used to fund the Dynamic Discs events and the Dynamic Discs Team. We spend a lot of money on our events and our team players who we believe are responsible for driving the marketing and promotion of the Dynamic Discs brand. If Dynamic Discs doesn’t have a brand that is desirable and highly sought after, then there is no profit for the retail stores to make because our products just sit on the shelves. We believe firmly in the fact that our growing team and our growing promotions through our events are the fuel that fires the brand. Of course, there are many other factors that go into building a brand but these relate directly to the auction page.

So what is all the fuss about then? The Dynamic Discs auction page sells an average of 5-10 discs per day. 1-2 of these are a cool or unique swirl plastic blend, and the others are some sort of disc golf collector item that is too rare or specific to sell in other avenues. Selling these rarities is the only way that they can become available to the collector market and provide a chance for anyone interested in owning the disc. It is the only way that there is a collector market and the only way that a value can be established for a specific product. Some of these items sell for way above what I would consider market value and some sell for considerably less than what I would consider market value. The customer is solely the one who places the price on the disc and establishes the ‘value.'

We have a lot of eyes watching the DD Facebook auction page. We have paid a lot of money to raise awareness for the page, and we have worked hard to make sure that we share some of the pieces of the DD history book on the page. One could say that I’m selling my personal collection to help raise some capital to improve our events and provide for our sponsored players. I believe that these events and our sponsored players have created a more desirable DD brand that has brought more profits to your business operation.

We have sold some items a week or so ahead of the official release date and use this as a way to build awareness for the new releases and drive traffic directly to your store. These are the very same new releases that you are profiting from in your store and we believe that the selling of one disc will not turn the disc golf market upside down.

So what about the “cherry picking” of unique and swirl discs? We typically sell one or two of these each day and are certainly not clearing out all the availability of the warehouse. If you look at the Dynamic Discs store, you won’t find a single unique swirl disc, yet the DD store is by far the largest customer of Dynamic Distribution. Does it not make sense for Dynamic Discs to receive a unique swirl disc or two out of the massive amounts of discs that the store orders? I can promise you that Dynamic Discs receives less unique discs than others when comparing on a percentage of discs purchased. These unique swirl discs typically sell for more on our page because we have such a large and captive audience.

It is challenging to get swirl or unique discs to our retail customers who are getting discs shipped because there are so many retailers that visit the warehouse on a daily or weekly basis and these discs are certainly the ones that get picked first. In all reality, there just aren’t all that many of these unique items at this time but we are trying to find a way to increase the availability as we know there is a demand for these. Please rest assured that Dynamic Discs and Truly Unique/Derek Broockerd are not the only ones that get the unique discs. Each day 1000’s of discs are restocked on the shelves from boxes that have never been opened. If there are unique discs discovered in the box, they simply go on the shelf and get pulled with stock orders or picked up by retailers who come and visit the warehouse.

We do not have any intentions on changing our warehouse visitation policy. We love having our retailers and customers visit, and we love the relationships that are formed when we meet people face to face. We have always been open and transparent, and I believe that is one of the things that makes our company great. We hire amazing people and look forward to showcasing our staff to our customers. I think it is very important that our staff has the chance to get to know our customers on a personal level. I hope everyone that took the time to read this will make an attempt to see our operation one day.

We are doing everything that we can to help the brick and mortar locations succeed. The trend in retail today is more online than ever before. Companies like Amazon are slowly taking large chunks of business from local shops. It is occurring in all types of business, and it is going to be very difficult to counter. I believe disc golf is best experienced in person and hope to find more ways to keep this alive.

We developed a Buyback program that is designed to give the end customer a new experience with finding the right disc at no risk to them. The customer can try out our plastic for 14 days and make sure it is the right one. If they are not satisfied with the disc, they can bring it back and try another disc at no charge. They can do this as many times as they need to find the right disc for them. That experience can only be found at a Buyback location. We offer Buyback retailers exclusive discs one month before the First Run becomes available. The customer has to actually travel to a Buyback retailer to have access to these new special edition discs.

We see tremendous value in our brick and mortar locations because most of us disc golfers love to touch and feel the plastic in person. We love the discussions that take place in our retail stores. We love the service our retailers provide to the disc golf community. Helping players find the right disc will ultimately increase the enjoyment of the game and keep us all in business for the long haul. Most disc golfers, including myself, have experienced buying the wrong disc and knew it on the first throw. It doesn't make us feel great about the brand on the disc, the retailer it was purchased from, and didn't help our game. This program was designed to connect the dots between the customer and the retailer and our brands. By giving the customer a soft place to land when the wrong disc is purchased gives us an opportunity to gain a customer for life. We want our customer for life to have that connection with our retailer and offer a new experience in our industry.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope that it provides even more insight to the “why” of some of the things that you may have found to be in question about what we are doing. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you and love putting our passion into growing the sport that we all love so much!

Jeremy Rusco
Owner & Founder
Dynamic Discs

Who’s That Lady? Catching Up With Tina Stanaitis

Have you seen a flash of bright red hair and heard an infectious laugh coming from somewhere on the disc golf course? If so, you’ve experienced a Tina sighting! With 2016 being her first full season on tour, chances are you’ve said hi and talked about whales. But there’s so much more to know about the newest member of Dynamic Disc’s Team Fuzion. I had the chance to chat it up with Tina recently; I got some great tips about golf and really learned what motivates her to pursue her passion.

Focus And Dedication Translate Into Pure Talent

When you talk with women disc golfers, it’s not uncommon to learn that they have a background in volleyball, soccer, or softball. Those softball players have some snap! It’s easy to see during round coverage that Tina has some real skill and talent, so I was curious what kind of athletic background she had.

“Does marching band count?” she asked, with a laugh. Surprisingly, Tina doesn’t possess the kinesthetic background that you’d image an open player having. From being able to crush a drive or dialing in her putt, Tina’s solid form comes from determination and lots of practice. Free time for her includes a lot of field work, and is one of the things she enjoys most during the off-season.

Stanaitis started playing in tournaments about two years after falling in love with disc golf, and she suddenly found a competitive side of her that she didn’t quite know about. She notes the sport as a constant learning experience; this season she’s focusing on her reach back and perfecting her form. She’s also looking forward to experimenting with some rollers and other trick shots. Ultimately, she wants to be a distance thrower, and by the looks of it, I think she’ll be there in no time.

Giving Back Has Its Rewards

In her downtime, not that she has much of it, Tina is heavily involved with Women’s Disc Golf Outreach. At the time of our interview she was in Arizona, and was able to get a lot of work done there before hitting the road.

Tina acts as the group’s treasurer, and also handles other miscellaneous tasks when needed. One exciting thing she shared with me was the introduction of women’s only online bag tags through Partnered with DGA, this application allows for women across the country to utilize one bag tag system, a system that’s designed just for them. A portion of all tag purchases also go to charity, and should be available by Spring 2017.

I also got clued in to another project that Women’s Disc Golf Outreach is working on; while it’s still in the planning stages, Tina and her group are creating a “sister network” between the US and Europe to arrange for hosting while traveling. This type of program works to further strengthen the women’s disc golf community, and fosters stronger ties with ladies overseas.

2017 Has A Pretty Bright Outlook

Tina has big dreams for the coming year. Along with continuing to generate revenue from her business Whale Sacs, her and Eric Oakley have joined forces to embark upon the Whale Pants tour. Stopping in cities near major tournaments, they are hosting free clinics and attending local leagues.

“It’s rewarding on a mental level” she says, when talking about the Whale Pants efforts. Tina grabs the gals while Eric takes the guys, and they spend an afternoon or evening teaching shots and helping to perfect people’s form. If only a few people show up, they end up getting some 1 on 1 lessons. Both Tina and Eric have a huge list of stops throughout the country, and between competing, teaching, and vending at tournaments, they have their hands full.

Not too full to add a mascot to their RV, however. Despite Simon Lizotte calling to give her some grief, Tina has adopted a road kitty named Spout. The goal is to eventually get Spout on the course, but until then, she spends her time chewing cords all over the RV.

A Few Words Of Wisdom

The life of a touring pro is grueling - you go weeks at a time without seeing family or certain friends, and sometimes you get surprised with RV repair bills that total into the thousands. When the days are long and the courses are hard, what keeps Tina going? “You gotta grind, that’s the life. Be willing to work as hard as you possibly can for what you love to do. But it’s all worth it, that’s why we’re here!” I’d say with that attitude, she’s off to a great start for the 2017 season.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Keeping up with growth

Last week there were some concerns and negative feedback brought up on the Disc Golf Buyer Feedback Group on Facebook about Dynamic Discs. Jeremy Rusco, owner and founder of Dynamic Discs, took the time to answer and address these concerns and we wanted to share it on the Dynamic Discs page so that anyone interested could read and learn a little more about the challenges of a rapidly growing business.

This is a great time to reflect on the past couple years, the current situation at hand, and the future of our sport and Dynamic Discs. Just over four years ago (December of 2012) we introduced our first four discs to the disc golf market and had no idea whether they would sell or sit on the shelves. Four pallets of discs showed up, and we were excited beyond belief to see whether we could find placement for the 8500 discs.
The first retail release came, and a couple hundred orders came in that first day, and we were celebrating that the initial release of the Judge, Fugitive, Escape, and Trespass seemed to be on a successful start. I remember being able to take the time to write some personal thank you messages to long time DD supporters to thank them for their purchase while we all packed orders. It was an exciting time but also a scary time due to the unknown future. We immediately needed to rush over more discs, and the whirlwind of growth that nobody could have predicted accurately was in front of our faces.

Customer service is everything to me and all of us at Dynamic Discs. We genuinely and truly care about taking care of our customers, passionate followers, and fans. It isn’t just something that we talk about; it is something that we are very serious about. We love what we do, and we love having the opportunity to work in an environment that is filled with growth and positivity.

Dynamic Discs started 12 years ago in March of 2005 as my college based eBay hobby. I never would have expected for it to become anything other than that: a college hobby selling a couple discs per week. The growth that we have experienced over the last four years (since manufacturing started) has just been incredible, and for that I am humbled and thankful for every opportunity that we have today. We went from my college house attic with a couple shelves of discs and a slow internet connection to three different basements/houses, to a 1500 sq. foot office building, to a 6000 sq. foot retail store, to a 10,000 sq. foot warehouse, a 20,000 sq. foot warehouse and now we are buying containers to place outside to inventory all the products that we carry that are overwhelming in demand. All of this has happened in just a few short years which creates a lot of exciting challenges.

We are smart and calculated in our decision making, projections, and business decisions. Business growth at the pace that we are on, can and certainly will, put a lot of businesses “out of business”. There is truth to the saying that you can grow yourself out of business. We have done absolutely everything that we can to keep up with the overwhelming growth at Dynamic Discs and the growth at Latitude 64. The answer to keep up with the growth isn’t as easy as everyone thinks. It isn’t just a matter of producing more products and increasing production capacity. We have achieved this year after year and are still perfecting the processes and increasing production efficiencies to this day. We operate production around the clock with precision automation and don’t shut the machines down when it is time to sleep because disc golf never sleeps. “Disc golf never sleeps” is Westside Discs owner Janne Penttila’s favorite saying. We are producing at maximum capacity right now, but still challenged to keep up with the growing demand for our product lines.

We are selling our discs as fast as we can produce them, and we are certainly producing what is in the highest demand. We are rushing over 6-12 pallets of discs per week right now which comes at a premium. In addition to this, we have multiple containers jam packed with discs in transit. We have more discs in transit alone right now than we sold in all of 2013. Think about that one for a second. We also have more discs in our warehouse inventory right now than we sold in all of 2014. Think about that for another second as well. Again, the problem isn’t that we aren’t producing a significant amount of products. The problem is that our products are at an overwhelming and unforeseen demand for 2017. I’d like to think that this means that we have created a monster in a sense. Our marketing, branding, advertising, and customer service set us apart from everyone else and this trickle down effect has created more demand and more sales for our products than we ever would have anticipated for the 2017 season.

Now, take another second to think about how to keep up with paying for all that inventory and growth. Most vendors want terms in order to do business with us. Our account receivables are significant which creates strain on our business cash flow and ability to operate, because we have to pay our bills and pay our staff to stay in business.

Keeping up with the production and growth when faced with these delays in collecting the necessary cash/capital that we need to operate only allows us to grow at a certain rate. It is important to say that few companies in the world can grow at this rate without multi-million dollar investments and those investments mean that the investors own a percentage of the company and often have a say in how the company operates.

I’m humbled and thankful to say that Dynamic Discs is not owned by outside investors and that we are keeping up with this growth in an incredible way by the legal limits of our bank, community support loans, and even some family loans. It doesn’t take money to make money as Dynamic Discs started by an $800 order, but it certainly takes MORE MONEY to make more money and grow at exponential rates year after year.

Massive amounts of discs are being produced, and we recognize which ones are in highest demand by closely reviewing sales figures every single week. We take these sales figures and work closely with Latitude 64 to determine the production schedule. Latitude 64 always produces exactly what we need and we never get a back seat to production so there are no issues with our working partnership. We are looking 10+ weeks in advance for what needs produced based on sales figures and planned growth. The discs that are out of stock frequently are being produced in higher volumes than ever before so there are more of these discs on the market than ever before. The challenge that we are seeing is that when these discs become available again through our distribution, they sell out quicker than they ever have before and exceed our projections significantly. It is a race to see who can order the fastest and keep our vast and diverse product line in stock, and the only way to do that is to order frequently with new inventory arriving weekly or even daily. Most retailers don’t have the working capital to order week after week and it is unrealistic to think that we can keep 100% of our products in stock around the clock when we have over 5000 SKU’s to keep up with.

So the answer seems to be even easier at this point, right? Just produce more of those most popular molds and keep the production going longer. Well, that is exactly what is happening and it is keeping other products from being produced. The comments about bringing the Trident and other out of production discs back bring a smile to my face. There are still Tridents on the market, and we sold such a small number each year that spending machine time on these products only takes away from machine time for the most important products that are in the highest demand. I hear the complaints about us not having this variation and that variation of something, and then I hear the complaint about us not having our most popular products in stock. We can only produce so much at one time, and we have to focus on producing what is in the highest demand.

If our growth was not at an exponential rate year after year, we could have sustained healthy growth that would allow for all variations to be produced because we could fund an even larger production facility and more machines. We must grow at a sustainable and healthy pace that is more aggressive and risky than most would be willing or able to achieve. We have made the decision to produce the most popular products that are in the highest demand and are trying to produce as much variation as possible. It is also important to understand that we will not sacrifice a lesser quality product for more quantity.

I want to thank everyone again for providing this feedback. Please know that it doesn’t go unheard and that we are always listening and always looking to improve. We care about the Dynamic Discs brand image, and we want to be the best at everything that we do. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you, and we look forward to being around in the disc golf world for a very long time thanks to the backing and support from the disc golf community. We have emerged from a small business into a medium size company that has a lot on the line each and every day just like each of our retail partners. We will find ways to improve our product availability, but please understand that these changes can’t happen overnight. We are certainly always working on something!

Jeremy Rusco
Owner & Founder
Dynamic Discs

A Message to our Retail Partners

It is hard to believe that just a few short years ago a majority of our retailer partners were telling us to stop producing first run stamps as it was hurting the sales of newly released molds. Stock stamps were all that customers were asking for. For this reason, it has been almost two years since the last first run was released for retail sales. We gave a lot of thought to 2017 and listened to what the customer wanted. We decided that it was time to bring back first run production stamping and gauge the interest for 2017. The response has been overwhelming.

The First Run Sheriff sold out in record time and created some major challenges and frustrations, and for that, I apologize. Overwhelming demand and limited production on the first run meant that not everyone was able to capitalize on the opportunity to have the first run Sheriff for retail sales. That was never our intention and something that we have spent the last couple days to determine the best action steps to improve the upcoming Slammer and Criminal releases.

Retailers, please review the upcoming Dynamic Distribution newsletter for the release schedule for the Slammer and Criminal, take advantage of the pre-order option, and never miss out on new releases again. All of us at Dynamic Discs appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding. Please know that we don't take things like this lightly and we want to do everything possible to help set up our retailers for success and the best year of business to date.

Jeremy Rusco
Founder & CEO
Dynamic Discs