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
  1. Thanks DD for all the amazing work. See everyone at GBO!!!!!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Has there been any consideration to bringing some of the production to the states to save shipping time? Please understand that I am an engineer and not a business person so I really have no idea if this would be helpful or not. Was just wondering.

  4. Production in Emporia, Kansas would certainly be beneficial and something that is likely going to happen in the near future. Setting up a production facility takes time and is something that will be done in partnership with Latitude 64.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.