With Mother’s Day only two days away, we decided to sit down with a few of our employees and learn about what makes their mothers special. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there from all of us at Pro Athlete!
As a company, we have let down some of the most important people within our organization. Our hope is that this article will be a start in a more frequent occurrence of recognizing and appreciating those who are often overlooked at Pro Athlete and businesses around the world.
The group we are referring to is the family members of all the employees who work at Pro Athlete. They are rock stars day in and day out and never get the proper credit they deserve. There is no way we would be where we are today as a company (or as people) without our significant others, kids and all of our other family members. Just think of all the times they have stepped up to the plate and helped our team knock it out of the park:
Employee - “I can’t pick up the kids tonight because I am going to go throw horseshoes for the KC Corporate Challenge so we can win our 8th straight championship”
Significant Other - “You better win then, because I don’t want to be married to someone who can’t win 8 straight!”
Employee - “We are going to work late on Tuesday evenings for the next 3 months so we can get our revised websites out in time for the busy season.”
Significant Other - “No problem, that sounds very important.”
Employee - “We are reorganizing our whole warehouse and I am going to go up and fold boxes on Saturday so we can get ahead.”
Significant Other - “Well, I know a way to get it done fast, I’ll help fold the boxes too!”
Employee - “I am having a hard time finding an insurance broker for the company.”
Significant Other - “Oh, you should use “Company X.” That is who we use and they are great!”
The past six years of significant others offering to help decorate the locker rooms or being our umpires at our company baseball game… for FREE! What!?
A son or daughter that just smiles and gives an employee a hug when they get home or a dog that pees on the carpet in excitement every time you walk in the door.
The list could go on and on, but the bottom line is that every single employee that has come through Pro Athlete has had help from their family in some form or fashion and we couldn’t be more thankful for that! Think of all the home runs that have been hit across the country and all the diving catches that have been made thanks to the assists from our family members.
From all of us here at Pro Athlete, we just want to say thank you:
You make us the people we are today and you give us the chance to make dreams come true for our customers. There is no way we could express how much we love you and appreciate all the times you have helped us over the years!
We Love you,
Pro Athlete Employees
One thing that really gets us excited at Pro Athlete is when some of our best employees leave the company. Yep, you read that right. Sounds weird, huh? Well, let us explain. Something we love is to see employees leave to start a company of their own or chase any dreams they’re passionate about. Because our company was started from a true entrepreneurial venture, we get excited seeing others nurture their own next big idea. A real entrepreneurial thinker would never be happy long term at any business that wasn’t their own, so we never want to be ones to hold employees back just because it might be in our best interest. Don’t get us wrong, it always stings to lose good people, but it feels so awesome when you see them flourish. This is true for Pro Athlete alumni, Jeramey Jordan.
Jeramey started at Pro Athlete when he was 16 and literally grew up here. He did every job we had from shipping packages to overseeing our entire office as the Building Manager. He always had an entrepreneurial itch in him and 15 years later, he finally scratched that itch. Jeramey felt like he had done all there was to do at Pro Athlete and decided to partner up with members of the Pro Athlete family to start a new business. Enter Second Door.
Second Door is a short-term rental management company based right here in Kansas City. After years of managing the Pro Athlete building, a vacation home in Orlando and two corporate houses for vendors in KC, Jeramey realized he had created and mastered systems that would translate to the now-booming Airbnb market. Taking what he learned from Pro Athlete coupled with his own entrepreneurial drive, Jeramey was able to open Second Door in January of 2018. One year later and Second Door has over 10 properties in the family and a number of happy customers.
The message is simple for the team at Second Door: We Host -- You Profit. If you or someone you know is looking to capitalize on a second home or even rent your house out when you are out of town, feel free to check out Second Door. It’s stories like this that make our Alumni Program slogan, “Once a Pro, Always A Pro” feel so right!
Valentine’s Day is a day of love; a day to show those you love how much you care for them. Often times, it is celebrated with that one special person in your life. The day is filled with love, admiration and appreciation. But stress is often a result that comes from the planning of February 14th. There are flowers and chocolates to buy, dinner reservations to make, surprises to keep and meaningful cards to write. We understand all of the time and work that goes into making the day perfect for your sweetie and in turn, the stress it might cause!
In order to make the lives of our employees easier, we decided to offer a special little service for Valentine’s Day. We teamed up with The Little Flower Shop, owned by Leslie Brett and Chuck Matney, to provide our employees with a special flower delivery service. The idea came a couple of years ago from Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and one of our vendors, George Brett, the husband of Leslie, over a business dinner. Employees are able to order flowers from the office and the arrangements are conveniently delivered right to their desks! For a day, our office is blooming with the most beautiful arrangements of flowers!
While Valentine’s Day 2019 might be coming to end, there is no single day to show someone your love and appreciation. Let The Little Flower Shop help you brighten the day of that someone special all year long! From the entire Pro Athlete team, Happy Valentine’s Day!
If you are lucky, you will maybe meet a handful of people in your life that you can say truly made a lasting impact on your life. That designation is held for those truly special people on this planet. The Pro Athlete Family was privileged to know one of those special people, our founder, Wes Hedrick. Since Wes and his wife, Judi, started a little sporting goods store in Kansas City called Pro Athlete Sporting Goods back in 1987, there have been over 400 people employed at Pro Athlete. There were countless vendors, partners and fans that worked with us over the years and who can forget the millions of kids around the country that received bats and gloves.
Two weeks ago, Wes passed away surrounded by family. In true Wes fashion, he was upbeat and positive throughout his entire battle with cancer. Even on his last day, Wes told his nurse that “today is gonna be a big day”. He knew his time had come and he was ready to embrace it. He lived his whole life like that. He always took the high road and taught his family to do the same. Go figure that taking the high road is a common practice used at Pro Athlete, too. On Wes and Judi’s Hall of Fame plaque in our lobby the name “The Foundation” graces the top. While his passing put a crack in that foundation, the kind of person he was and the impact he had on all of us and our company will only get stronger thanks to him.
Wes will be remembered as an amazing father, husband, grandfather, businessman, friend and Royals fan. He loved attending his grandkids’ activities and was always paying attention to the weather no matter where he was. He and Judi loved to travel around the world together, and it’s no surprise that they always made a lot of new friends on the trips they took.
We can never thank Wes and Judi enough for what they have done for all of us who have been a part of the Pro Athlete Family. We were told that Wes enjoyed a nice cold Schlitz in his day. A week after his passing, we were proud to tap a keg of Schlitz in the bar at our office and the day before his funeral a number of employees met in the bar to honor Wes with a Schlitz. Over 50 Pro Athlete employees and alumni members attended the service for Wes. Within a second of arriving, we saw the parking lot was full- that truly tells you everything you need to know about the kind of person Wes was. The first thing we saw when we walked inside was the letter jacket that Wes was given as being part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2016. The jacket is an iconic symbol of why Wes and Judi started Pro Athlete 30+ years ago.
On behalf of everyone associated with Pro Athlete, we want to thank you, Wes, for giving us a life full of amazing memories and experiences. It’s safe to say that one of the biggest honors of working at Pro Athlete was getting to learn from you. We thank you for building the foundation you did for all of us and our families and hope we can carry it on in a way that would make you proud. It was an honor!
Four years ago our employees got together and told the company that they didn’t want to do giveaways for airline tickets, TVs, iPads, gift cards or any gifts at our annual Holiday Party. They instead decided to take that money and give it to those in need. The first two years, the employees teamed up in small groups and went around the city and gave money/gifts to anyone that they felt could use it during the holiday season. Then last year, we took a different approach and decided to go as a whole company and donate our time and some gifts to the Burlington YMCA in North Kansas City. You can check out the blog post about last year’s event here. Fast forward to this year. We decided to do it again. This time we gave it a little twist and combined a few different things into one special day. Check it out!
We told everyone in the company to meet in our lobby by 8:45 am to board a bus. None of them knew where we were headed, but they all seemed excited to find out. We started our journey by heading down to St. Mark’s Child and Family Development Center. There, we were greeted by the amazing staff and teachers who give their all to the students and families they serve. We brought them supplies to help them with their day-to-day operations but that wasn’t all! We couldn’t just show up and drop off gifts and leave- we wanted to hang with the kids! The team was split into four different classrooms where each employee got to help a 3-5 year old create a holiday card for someone special in their life. Stickers, markers and lots of smiles were shared and the students left a lasting impression on our employees.
Each quarter we do an all-staff meeting and we decided to mix that in with this journey as well. So, from St. Mark’s we continued onto our next stop: Alamo Drafthouse. We all gathered in Theater 2 where we would host our meeting. The employees filled the seats as the leadership team took center stage in front of the big screen. The team running the meeting was really in the holiday spirit as they came dressed up like Cousin Eddie and Clark Griswold from Christmas Vacation. Unfortunately for them, they got literally zero laughs and their much anticipated entrance into the theater flopped right out of the gate. (Thank you, employees!) They were able to recover, the meeting went on and it didn’t appear that very many employees fell asleep, so that was a big win. And that should have been a wrap on the day right? Not so fast! The aforementioned flop during the entrance by Eddie and Clark had a hidden meaning, though. The company was about to watch a holiday classic together in the theater. Christmas Vacation was played on the big screen while employees ordered food and drinks and laughed the rest of the meeting away.
All in all, the day was a big success. The team got to Embrace Stewardship- a Core Value of ours that we value immensely. We got to talk about the current and future state of our business and got to have a little fun with the Griswold family. One employee was asked if she was surprised about the events of the day and she said, “If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised.” We call that a success!
Happy Holidays from all of us at Pro Athlete! Cheers to an awesome 2018 and for great things to come in 2019!
How does someone go from little old Parkville, MO to being the Pitching Coach for the Chicago Cubs? Well, if you know anything about Pro Athlete alumni member Tommy Hottovy, you are not one bit surprised.
Tommy was a standout high school athlete in multiple sports and after graduating he took his baseball talents as a pitcher to Wichita State University. From there, Tommy was drafted in the 4th round of the MLB draft by the Boston Red Sox. Tommy spent 7 years in the minor leagues and during the off season, he would come back to Kansas City and work at Pro Athlete. It was mutually beneficial as he was just as sharp behind a desk as he was on the mound. He would come in and help us do special projects. He did several, but one of our favorites that any of you who have toured our facility will appreciate is the basketball court. We had extra warehouse space and said, “Tommy, go figure out how to put a basketball court in” and just like striking out the side, we had ourselves a gym.
In 2011, Tommy got called up to the big leagues as a relief pitcher for the Red Sox. He pitched in 8 big league games that year and then something crazy happened: he became a member of his hometown team the following year! He spent some time in the minors, but got the call to the Royals in April of 2012.
When his playing career ended, he wanted to stay in the game and ended up back with the man who drafted him back in 2004, Cubs GM Theo Epstein. Tommy was a former player so he understood that side of the game, but also had a knack for numbers and took an online Sabermetrics course to sharpen his knowledge even more. He would call himself a defensive coordinator for the team. He was an advanced scout and run prevention coordinator which meant he worked with the pitchers on strategy for how to pitch to each batter.
Can you think of a better mix of skills for someone to be a Major League pitching coach? Former big league pitcher, scout, Sabermetrics experience, and a baseball lifer. Oh and not to mention, he is one of the absolute best people you will ever meet. He was back in town earlier this year and made a point to walk around and say hi to every single member of our company. We couldn’t be happier for Tommy, Andrea, Cameron and Chloe! At Pro Athlete, we have a saying for our alumni members- “Once A Pro, Always A Pro!” That seems pretty fitting here! Congratulations, Tommy!
So you’ve just ordered your brand new bat or glove- Congrats! Maybe it's for you or maybe it's a special holiday gift for your favorite all-star. Either way, have you ever wondered what happens on our end in-between “From Click to Hit”?
After you “click”, our fulfillment center steps up to the plate to get your bat or glove to you ASAP. Once your order is submitted, a fulfillment specialist is alerted that there are orders needing to be picked and shipped by TV monitors displayed throughout the fulfillment center. Pickers then enter the shipping module and begin to pick the items in the most efficient route provided automatically by our enterprise resource planning system (ERP). Scan guns worn on the forearms of our pickers tell the employee exactly where to go, what barcode to scan, and what item to pick. All of the items are put into specific bins and then placed on a conveyor belt and sent to our shipping stations.
At the shipping stations, our shippers use a hand held scan gun to scan the specific bin and product barcode. A UPS barcode is scanned to automatically print a UPS shipping label and the program advises the shipper of the appropriate shipping box to use. Once the products are placed in the proper box and sealed, the shipping label is then applied. Finally, the box is placed on a pallet ready to be delivered to you by UPS on time, every time, exactly as promised!
Check out the video below to see what our fulfillment process looks like and remember, we're always there for you, FROM CLICK TO HIT!
At Pro Athlete we have many things to be thankful for: an awesome place to work, amazing employees (and their families), the best customers, vendors and partners in the world! We have so much to be thankful for that it would take us forever to include everything and everyone. Instead, we decided to ask a few employees to share with you what they are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Cue Pro Athlete’s Thankful Notes!
What are you most thankful for this holiday season?
With Thanksgiving only a week away, we found it only appropriate to share one of Chef Nathan’s most delicious (and healthy!) recipes, perfect for the holidays: a keto, dairy free and gluten free pumpkin pie! We know what you’re thinking: how could it be this healthy AND taste good? Well, give this recipe a try and the proof will be in the pudding (or pie filling in this case)!
Keto Pie Crust
2 1/2 cup Blanched Almond Flour
1/3 cup Erythritol (or any sweetener of choice; omit for savory pie crust)
1/4 tsp Sea Salt (or 1/2 tsp for savory pie crust)
1/4 cup Ghee (measured solid, then melted)
1 large Egg (or ~2 tbsp additional ghee)
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9 inch round pie pan with parchment paper, or grease well.
In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, erythritol (if using), and sea salt.
Stir in the melted ghee and egg, until well combined. (If using vanilla, stir that into the melted ghee before adding to the dry ingredients.) The "dough" will be dry and crumbly. Just keep mixing, pressing and stirring until it's uniform and there is no almond flour powder left. (Alternatively, you can use a food processor to mix it all together.)
Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. You can flute the edges if desired; if it crumbles when doing this, just press it back together. Carefully poke holes in the surface using a fork to prevent bubbling.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. (Add fillings only after pre-baking.)
Keto Pumpkin Pie Filling
1 15-oz can Pumpkin Puree
1/2 cup Coconut Cream
2 large Egg
2/3 cup Powdered Erythritol
2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Blackstrap Molasses
Beat together all ingredients until smooth.
Pour the filling into the crust. Gently tap on the counter to release air bubbles.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the pie is almost set but still slightly jiggly in the center. (Check on it occasionally, and if you see the crust start to brown, cover the crust edge with foil and return to the oven until the filling is done. It should still jiggle a bit in the center, like a custard before it sets.)
Cool completely on the counter, then refrigerate at least an hour before slicing. Pie can be refrigerated overnight.
For the past 6 years, we’ve taken over T-Bones Stadium for a friendly, company baseball game- Team Pro Athlete vs. Team JustBats. Once a year, employees get the chance to live out their glory days with a full-fledged game complete with uniforms, batting practice and walk up music. This year, with the help of top-notch videographers David Sosna and Kevin Berg from Creators Group, we were able to capture what exactly this ballgame means to our employees and why we continue to make this not-so-average tradition happen. Take a look!
As a company that offers unlimited paid time off (PTO), we find it super important to have systems in place that ensures we do not miss a beat when employees are out. However, having systems in place goes much deeper than making sure tasks are still fulfilled when people are away. Systems ensure that when an employee takes another position within the company, at another company or has unforeseen things come up, we are able to keep moving forward no matter their role.
One of our core values is “Build a Systems Dependent Company” and we feel like we have done just that. Every position at Pro Athlete has an Accountability Chart that is filled with System Action Plans (SAPs) that take every daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual tasks and maps out each process step by step to ensure that we will never miss a beat. By creating these systems, we feel like we are not only doing the business a favor, but also making the lives of our employees easier. While the initial process of creating all of our systems was a task and the upkeep can sometimes seem overwhelming, by having very specific systems in place we, as a company, are able to run like a well oiled machine. And because we are able to run like a well oiled machine, employees can take two week vacations if they want (we just had someone take an unbelievable trip to India and Sri Lanka) and not worry about a single thing while they’re gone!
Benefits of a company having systems in place:
Systems ensure that no one holds the keys to the castle. All tasks are mapped out and can easily be picked up by the next person.
Stress free vacations or sick days for employees- there is no need to worry about being present as you know a backup is in place! Employees will never have to worry about a teammate calling in sick either as their tasks can be picked up by reviewing their accountability chart for that day.
Adding new members to the team or losing members will be a much easier process.
Systems may lead to potential franchise opportunities to grow your business. With systems in place, anyone can carry on your business model.
What systems are in place at your company? Leave us a comment or email us at email@example.com!
Creating a culture is never easy, and maintaining it is no walk-in-the-park either. We have found that the following five tools were instrumental in helping us build and maintain our culture. Check them out!
North Star - Instead of a mission or purpose statement, we have a North Star. Our North Star is something that keeps us pointed in the right direction. We landed on the idea after our mission (to be an admired ecommerce company) was continuously scrutinized due to a lack of way to measure achievement. So, we decided that a North Star made more sense for us. From there, we would come up with a mission that we wanted to achieve in the upcoming year. We wanted that mission to be measurable while still pointing towards our North Star.
Core Values - We believe a clearly defined set of values is the most important key to a winning culture. Maybe you have 4, maybe you have 8, maybe you have 20. A lot of “consultants” will tell you that you shouldn’t have more than 5. In our opinion, you can have as many or as few as you want- the key is that they are easy to understand and are actually put to use. Don’t just put the values up in the lobby because someone told you that you needed values. Create them and use them in every single decision you make in your business.
Personality Profiles - For 5 years, we have used a personality profile (Culture Index) to help us hire and get to know each other better. Each employee fills out the survey and then gets a unique profile with 4 plotted points. The profile measures autonomy, sociability, pace and detail. Knowing how social or patient your coworkers are can really help with working relationships. If you know someone is an introvert, you might not invite them to a networking event or keep them in long meetings. If someone has little detail, you might not hire them to be an accountant or an auditor. We believe in it so much that we put employee profiles on the outside of office doors and on our company intranet.
Cheers for Peers - We use a tool called TINYpulse that allows us to send employe engagement surveys to our employees as often as we want. In addition to that, TINYpulse has a platform that allows employees to give props to their coworkers. It’s super simple and is sent directly to the person who is receiving the props. We then take those and put them on a feed on our intranet and our internal video boards so everyone can see them. It’s easy to do and really makes people feel appreciated.
All-Staff Meeting - It’s hard for everyone in your organization to be in the loop on what is going on with the big items in the business. We get together quarterly with the whole company and talk about the business. We make it fun with a few games and awards for the employees, but also talk about important business matters. We used to do it for around four hours, then it went to two hours and now we are able to get it done in an hour. We do it in our cafe and have some snacks and drinks during the meeting. It’s a great way to communicate to everyone as a whole in a very relaxed and comfortable setting.
Instead of talking about methods that work, these are 5 things that you can actually implement yourself. If you have suggestions for other tools or want some more information on these tools, please comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In last week’s blog article, we hit on our 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions. One of those included, “Who are your biggest customers?” In answering that question, we hit on all of our obvious baseball and softball related customers. After writing that blog, though, it came to mind that there is another very special customer of ours who is not a baseball or softball player at all, nor is he a parent or coach buying for a young player. Instead, he uses our bats to change the lives of those around him.
Meet Jon Pritikin. Jon faced a great amount of adversity as a victim of bullying at an early age through his teen years and even as a young adult. Fortunately, Jon eventually met a few key people in his life that believed in him and provided him with the confidence to change his life. Since then, he has overcome incredible challenges and has made it his mission to better the lives of those around him.
Jon founded Feel the Power, a nonprofit organization that empowers and inspires students to believe in their own strength, in 1994 with his wife Rhonda. He now travels the world making a huge impact on the lives of others through his message of internal strength (while also providing entertainment for the audience with his extreme external strength). Since then, he has been able to impact the lives of 8 million students around the planet!
So, how does Pro Athlete fit into the picture? Well, Jon is a regular customer of JustBats.com, one of the eCommerce sites that we power. Although Jon does not play or coach baseball or softball, he is a regular buyer of wood bats. One of the “feats of strength” that Jon presents during his shows is breaking wood bats over his legs (we’re not kidding- check it out). JustBats.com is the proud provider of the bats that Jon happily breaks.
Back in 2015, we were able to personally meet Jon when he visited our office in Kansas City. We got to see first-hand how impactful and motivating his presentations are. Our employees were left feeling inspired and had a great time. We are extremely fortunate to have Jon as a very valued customer and love that Jon embraces stewardship just as much as we do. We are extremely proud of what Jon, his wife Rhonda, and daughter Jaden do on a daily basis to help others around the world.
If you are an educator, PTA parent, or know someone who is interested in hosting a Feel the Power event, please get in touch with Jon by booking an event here.
We are extremely fortunate to share what we do with several interested visitors from other businesses and organizations. As a part of that, we give thousands of tours each year and talk about how we do business and the purpose behind what we do. In doing so, our tour guides are often asked several questions on every tour. To give you a glimpse of what those questions are and potentially answer some of your questions, we threw together a list of our most frequently asked questions.
Are you a sports agency or workout facility?
Nope! We’re actually an eCommerce company who specializes in creating game-winning experiences for everyone we meet while selling baseball and softball bats and gloves on the side through JustBats.com and JustBallGloves.com!
Why do you only sell bats and gloves?
At one point, we sold everything under the sun sports related. Back when Pro Athlete first started as a brick and mortar store in the northern part of Kansas City, MO, equipment and gear for all sports could be found. After going completely online in 1999, we decided to stick with what we knew and were good at- baseball and softball. At that point, our niche in bats and gloves was created.
Do you have to play baseball or softball to work there?
Absolutely not! While we do have some employees who used to play (or still do in old man’s league), several of our employees have never played baseball or softball. It is great to have a wide array of employees with different backgrounds.
Why do you have so many Core Values?
With a total of twelve, a lot of people think we have too many Core Values. We, however, believe we have just the right amount. Our Core Values are the foundation for how we do everything, personally and professionally, at Pro Athlete. We stand behind and continuously live out all twelve. If you are ever interested in working here, review our core values and make sure that your personal values and beliefs align with those core values. If you agree, we might be the place for you!
How do employees get their work done with all of the fun stuff they are offered?
Many think our perks would be distracting to employees and disrupt their work. However, we chose to focus on results instead of the work. When, where or how our employees complete their tasks isn’t our top focus- we’re much more concerned with the quality and results of their work. Our employees are encouraged to get a massage, work out or take a nap as long as they’re producing results!
How do you measure if all of your perks are working?
One of the best ways we measure the influence of our perks and culture is through employee engagement. Seeing our employees engaged, hungry and proud to work at Pro Athlete is a key indicator that we’re doing something right.
How much do all of your perks cost?
We could definitely answer this question, but we actually just put out a blog post at the end of September answering this question in more detail. Check it out, “It Doesn’t Cost...It Pays”
Can I just come to your office and buy a bat or glove?
While we love visitors at the office, our fulfillment specialists take great pride in getting our customers’ dream bats or gloves shipped to them as soon as possible. Plus, wouldn’t you rather just order a bat from your phone while watching the MLB playoffs instead?! We know we would! With a no hassle returns policy, all of this is possible!
Who are your biggest customers?
Our most popular customers are those playing youth to high school baseball and softball. We do outfit several high school and collegiate teams as well. In addition, we have a great relationship with several current and former Major League Baseball players, coaches, and GM’s who use us as their go to for their kids’ equipment. Our customers range from the early ages of tee ball all the way up to a few Minor League Baseball players.
How can I get a job there?
We are fortunate to have a very high retention rate so we don’t lose a ton of employees and therefore, don’t have a ton of job openings come available. However, we are always coming up with new ideas that require new skill sets to be added to the team. The best way to learn about those opportunities and stay connected to what is happening at Pro Athlete is to sign up for our Fan Club. Before wanting to work here, make sure our core values align with your core values. If there is a match, sign up for our Fan Club and really set yourself apart from the rest!
Have a different question for us? Leave it in the comments or send us an email at Contact@ProAthleteInc.com.
Along with our wellness coordinator, Pro Athlete Chef, Nathan Decaro, sets the foundation for creating a healthy work environment. He plays a huge role in the wellness of all of our employees by serving a healthy, creative menu on a daily basis. Recently, he chose to not only focus on the health and wellness of his Pro Athlete family, but to start a health and wellness journey of his own. Through important changes and tons of determination, he has been able to drastically change his life all while inspiring those around him.
To date, Chef Nathan has lost 77 pounds and is down 23% body fat per our on premise InBody test. He says, though, that those are just numbers to him and the bigger key is constantly working on his mindset. By taking control of his mindset, he has been able to take control of his body. Setting daily goals, meditating and getting in the right headspace has allowed him to hold himself accountable and persevere.
Aside from improving his mindset, Nathan has persistently eaten right and added physical activity into his lifestyle. He loves to run, play racquetball and spend time in the weight room often doing several body weight exercises. Because of his “can-do” attitude, others around the office have taken notice and joined in. Chef Nathan formed a weekly, after lunch running group that meets two times a week and runs at least 5 miles per outing. He is a person people can go to for questions, resources and motivation.
One of his main motivators throughout his wellness journey has been his family, specifically his two daughters. He strives to show them that anything can be accomplished with hard work and perseverance. He also attributes much of his success in his journey by being the company chef. He says that his position has allowed him to talk to others about the foods they are putting in their bodies and that has helped him keep himself accountable.
Last weekend, Chef Nathan, his wife and their two daughters took a trip to Independence, KS where he accomplished a bucket-list goal and completed the Flatrock 50K Ultra Trail Race equaling out to 31 miles! Over the course of 7 hours and 40 minutes, he ran through rugged terrain and did so with pride and a positive attitude. This is just one of many goals he continues to achieve and says he looks forward to the next 50K Ultra.
We look forward to the progression of his journey and are all so proud of how far he has come! Thank you, Chef Nathan, for continuing to make Pro Athlete a motivating and healthy work environment!
One of the most common questions we get around here from people who take a tour or reach out to us is, “How much does it cost to provide all these perks?” While it seems like a valid question on the surface, to us, it tells us we didn’t do a very good job of explaining what we are all about to the person who asked the question. Because, if someone truly understood what we were all about, they would know that we don’t look at how we run our business in that way. We always say, “it doesn’t cost to offer these things, it pays.” Right now, you’re thinking that sounds like a kumbaya, pie in the sky answer, right? It might be, but what do we really mean by it? We mean that if you do what’s right for your employees and invest in things that are meaningful to them and their families, the financial cost will always be outweighed by the payback you get from those employees. You gain employees who trust in your organization, who are proud to dawn the company name, who will have the back of the other employees and the company and who will work hard to help the company and the employees of the company grow.
So many people ask us why we don’t cut all the perks and just make more money to the bottom line. Again, if you would ask us that question, you haven’t been listening to our story and why we do things the way we do. We believe in this way of running a business, but it doesn’t work for every company out there, and that’s ok. We aren’t saying our way is better than yours, but it is better for us. And quite frankly, we wouldn’t know how to do it any other way, and even if we did, we wouldn’t want to.
In the long run, we think our way will pay. We sure hope it will pay financially, that would be awesome, but we also hope it pays by seeing an employee buy their first house, and by an employee getting promoted to that position they had always been hoping for, and by being covered through health insurance during a tough medical scare, or even by seeing an employee leave the company and start their own business. Some might ask, “what would it cost to help employees achieve all that, sounds expensive?” We say, “no idea what the financial cost was, but whatever it was, it sure seems worth it.”
In a technology driven world, things change at a rapid pace for an eCommerce company. This is especially true with the way customers research, navigate, compare, and ultimately purchase items online. Over time, there has been a steady shift in the amount of people shopping on their phones and tablets rather than computers. To accommodate this, eCommerce retailers have had to adapt to those changing trends to continue to provide a great online shopping experience. This reason is exactly why we made the decision to overhaul JustBats.com and JustBallGloves.com by using responsive design.
What is Responsive Design?
Traditionally, most eCommerce sites, including us, used two separate versions for their website;
A desktop version that had the best content and was optimized for people to make a purchase
A mobile version with less content and different layout from the desktop site
With responsive design, the user is always getting the same, full featured version of the site optimized for whatever device they are using. A responsive site will automatically detect the screen size of the device they are using and show them the content appropriately for that space. For example, some things will stack, font sizes will change, and spacing will adjust to make sure they have a great, consistent experience regardless of how they choose to browse.
How Did We Do It?
At Pro Athlete, we are fortunate to have a world class team of developers. They were issued a challenge to do a complete platform change from scratch and have it done before the holiday season. Challenge Accepted. The team worked tirelessly for 10 straight months to make this dream become a reality. Knowing the importance of getting this out to our customers before the holiday season, the team worked until 9:00 p.m. every Tuesday night without hesitation and without sacrificing quality for time. Our development team believes perfection is in the details. Any opportunity to save our customers a click or help them find their perfect bat or glove was taken.
Was it easy? Nope. There were several roadblocks along the way the team had to figure out how to work around. There were disagreements about how things should be built. There was only one controller to play Donkey Kong and Mega Man. But, in the end, the team showed why they are an elite group of individuals who can accomplish great things when working as a team. Their alignment with our Core Values and how we play the game was on full display; Be Resourceful, Embrace Innovation, No Surprises, We Have Each Other’s Backs (just to name a few).
All of our decisions at Pro Athlete are made with our customers in mind. This was no different and we will continue to leverage technology to provide a world-class experience to our fans. The talents of our employees are really able to shine on a project of this magnitude and we hope you enjoy the new sites. Let us know what you think!
If you have feedback regarding our new websites, please email us at Contact@ProAthleteInc.com.
We receive hundreds of bats and gloves at our fulfillment center everyday. In order for the products to become live on our websites (so our customers can buy them and hit homers), product photos and videos need to be taken of items in our inventory (we don’t mean every single item, but at least one item from every bat or glove model). We’re lucky to be able to do that in-house and have found a pretty seamless system for getting it done. Here’s an in-depth look from employee, Kyle G., on just how he and his fellow rockstars here take our product photos and videos:
A new item is received in our fulfillment center.
It is transferred from our receivers to a specific location in our fulfillment center specifically made for holding these items that need photos and videos. Then our system will send an email notification notifying that pictures need to be taken for this item.
Once the email has been sent, our photographers remove the new item from the location and take it to our photo booth.
For bats, seven different pictures are taken: four of each angle of the barrel and handle, one of the certification of what leagues the bat is allowed for and one of the end and knob.
For gloves, six different pictures are taken: two pictures of the inside of the glove, one of the glove’s web, one of the back and two of each side of the glove.
Once all of pictures of the item have been shot, they are then off for editing and will be live on our sites within a 24 hour period.
The final step is to deliver the bat or glove to our media room..
Once the lighting, microphones and cameras are set up, we grab the product number from our system to pull up the item and start recording the video. We have developed a set up that allows the video production process to be only a one person job.
Our videos range from 1-3 minutes and give our customers an in depth summary of the features the item has to offer.
Once the product video has been recorded and completed, it is then downloaded to our software and is made live to our site for that product under the product page. It is also downloaded to our YouTube sites for our customers to view and get an insight of what product suits their game the best.
Product videos are the most nerve wracking part. We aren’t actors or performers here and being in-front of the camera can be an intimidating place to be. Here are some tips from employee, Dan P., to make the experience better for yourself and your customers:
Do 2 or 3 practice takes before going live.
Write down the highlights of each product. This helps organize your thoughts.
Give the most accurate information you can. It’s ok if your delivery isn’t the best but it’s vital that the information is correct.
Remember to smile and have fun! (It can always be reshot!)
If you currently run an eCommerce website or one day plan to start selling products online, we hope that our tips may help you out! If you are interested in learning more, feel free to reach out to us at Contact@ProAthleteInc.com and we will get you in touch with our experts!
Credit to employees Kyle G. and Dan P. for providing the information for this week’s version of our blog.
We pride ourselves on creating a university setting (Core Value alert!) at Pro Athlete. We believe that if our company is growing and learning, our employees should be too! Because of this, we strive to provide top-notch resources to our employees in order to promote continuous education. With that goal in mind, we recently introduced to employees the Pro Athlete, Inc. Speaker Series.
Our Speaker Series consists of three main areas of topic: Get Inspired, Get Involved and Get Well. Within the series, we connect our employees with impactful people and missions in order to get them feeling motivated both mentally and physically. Get Inspired speakers speak on inspirational and motivational topics. Get Well speakers include health and wellness professionals that talk about the latest and greatest trends in the health world. Get Involved speakers come from various charitable organizations around our community that bring awareness to their causes and provide our employees with new ideas and ways to get involved. What better way to learn than from the experiences of others!
Last week we were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to host current United States Army Major Chad Agustin as the first installment of “Get Inspired”. He spoke about his journey as a former NCAA Division I baseball player at the University of Hawaii at Hilo to becoming a Major in the United States Army. Major Agustin is also a Louisville Slugger Slowpitch Global Ambassador in the military and police communities so it was natural that we hit it off!
While at Pro Athlete, Major Agustin hit on five key takeaways that he found to be important to his successes throughout his personal and professional life and shared them with all of our employees in attendance.
Major Agustin’s Five Key Takeaways:
- Have an open mindset.
- Be goal oriented.
- Be honorable.
- Be transparent.
- Have compassion.
… and remember, you can’t do it alone. Everyone is important and plays a huge role!
We look forward to having a continued relationship with Major Agustin and are extremely thankful for not only his message to our company, but also his service to our country and community.
If you are interested in being a future guest speaker at one of our Speaker Series events, please send an email to Contact@ProAthleteInc.com. We would love to consider you for a future spot!