ProAthleteInc.com 3.0: A Dedication to Improvement

We’re always striving to enhance everything; including our company website. That’s right; we are excited to announce the rollout of our newly-updated company website!

Over the past few years we have dedicated ourselves to better capturing our history and memories, and now we have a great place to showcase that for the rest of world. If you have been to our building, you have seen most of the things listed on our site in person, but now we can share that with everyone else.

Our new website captures our core since we added videos, updated Alumni and Wellness pages, and even added a virtual tour that we hope will give you a closer look inside Pro Athlete.

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All of the development and design work was accomplished by our Memory Officer. He did a great job of taking the site to a whole other level.

Please check out the site and provide us any feedback you might have to make it even better. Also, be sure to take the Virtual Tour. It’s so life-like you can almost taste Chef Nathan’s lunch when you pass through Ballpark Bistro!

The Game of Details

You’ve probably heard the expression, “it’s the little things that matter.” At Pro Athlete, we believe in this, and even obsess over it! We live in the details and do our best to make sure every single little piece of everyone’s experience with us is game-changing.

One of the companies that we admire is Disney. If you have ever been to Disney World, you know that they live for the details. Every aspect of the entire operation is carefully planned and executed to ensure every guest receives a magical experience. We believe in that here at Pro Athlete, as well.

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We do our best to try and play to your senses. For example, when you walk in, you are greeted with the smell of genuine glove leather that covers the interior walls of our breezeway. Then, right before you enter the lobby, you are greeted over our sound system by a recorded welcome message from our good friend and Kansas City Royals’ announcer Ryan Lefebvre. As you enter the lobby, there is a cornfield graphic on the door. This is meant to feel like you are walking into a cornfield, just like in Field of Dreams, one of our favorite baseball movies.

Once you are in the building, the attention to detail continues to grow. We are fortunate to have a lot of cool spaces in our building that are intended to make you feel like you aren’t at work. From our bar to our spa, we make sure that we brand each of those spaces with cool names, decor, and signage to make you feel like you are in a real bar or at a real spa and not at your job.

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Why do we spend so much time on these little things? It all goes back to our roots of creating a world-class experience for everyone we meet. It’s a rush for all of us who work here to see a guest take notice of our attention to detail. It’s addicting and turns into a game where we are constantly trying to one-up what we did before. There isn’t anything cooler than seeing a guest who is touring our office for the first time walk in and see their name and their college logo on our welcome boards. Then to see them take a selfie with it takes it to the next level!

As we continue to grow our team, we continue to look for people who share in this belief of wowing everyone through small details. If you think this concept is pointless or if the thought of this doesn’t excite you, then Pro Athlete is not the right place for you. However, if you get that warm and fuzzy feeling when someone notices and appreciates the attention to detail that you paid to something, then Pro Athlete is a grand slam fit for you!

Make it a game worth playing!

Not Your Typical Company Ballgame

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In 2012, a group of Pro Athlete employees casually took batting practice at Community America Ballpark. Five years later we now play a full-fledged baseball extravaganza with real jerseys, batting practice gear, mascots, walk-out music, locker rooms, videos, and much more. 

When the players arrive at the park, their BP gear and uniform hang in their locker with their nameplate. During batting practice, our assisted stretching professional helped everyone stretch. Pro Athlete employees announced the game, sang the National Anthem, and facilitated the in-between inning activities. All food and beverages were free of charge to all the spectators (it was a sell out crowd…..ok, so not really). And, the game concluded with a postgame concert from a local Kansas City band, Minor Rewind.

As much fun as the game was, the best part of the night was interacting and helping our friends from the YMCA Challenger Program. 30+ Challenger athletes and their parents were in attendance and on the field to escort players during lineup announcements. A lot of the athletes ran the bases in between innings and even stuck around to watch well-below-average baseball.

Employees raised more than $4,000 for the YMCA Challenger program, and everyone in attendance raised nearly $3,000 for the family of one of the Challenger athletes. Create Stewardship is one of our Core Values, and during our annual company baseball game, we were able to give back to a great organization, family, and athletes.

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We plan to improve the on-field and off-the-field components of the event each year. Our goal is to involve other Kansas City companies and raise even more money for charitable causes.

Thank you to the T-Bones, Minor Rewind, LFC Media and Charlie Hustle for making this year’s game another special one!

Perk Profile: Home Loan Program

A while back we noticed that more and more of our employees were going through the home buying process for the first time. One thing that we witnessed was all of the stress that can come along with making such a large purchase like one’s first home.

As an employer, we wanted to do everything that we could to help alleviate the stress that comes with the homebuying process, so we give all of our full-time employees the opportunity to take advantage of an interest-free home loan of $5,000 towards the purchase of their first home. The loan can be used towards anything to help the employee get over that hump that might seem hard to overcome.

It’s a pretty great feeling for the employee and our company to be part of something that special!

Perk Profile: Safe-Ride Program

If you know our company, you know that we obsess over customer service. That isn’t just for our customers who are buying our bats and gloves, but also for our business partners, our lenders, and our employees. That dedication to treating our employees like royalty is why we implemented our Safe-Ride Program nearly 10 years ago.

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We want to make sure our employees are safe if they are spending time out on the town. If an employee is out-and-about and doesn’t feel like they should be driving because they have had one too many drinks, Pro Athlete will pay for that employee to get to their final destination safely. Before ride-sharing apps, employees could take a cab and just bring in a receipt the next business day, and they would be refunded immediately for the ride.

Now, with Uber and other ridesharing apps, we just provide each employee access to our Uber Business account. It’s as simple as requesting an Uber and just choosing the Pro Athlete profile over your personal one. We have no limit on how often you can use it. The only rule is that it’s not to be used to bounce from place to place; it’s meant to get you to your final destination safely. The first thing a lot of people will ask us when they hear about this perk is “how do you keep employees from taking advantage of it?” First of all, we hire for culture first, and part of that is hiring people that are thankful. Secondly, we have spent years creating what we like to call an Empowerment Culture. Mainly, provide resources and allow employees creative freedom and great things will happen. In turn, nobody takes advantage of that empowerment. We might be singing a different tune if an employee tries to take an Uber from Chicago back to KC after a late night out or something!
 

Pro Athlete Family Assists In Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

Have you ever canceled a family vacation for a great reason? When Hurricane Harvey made landfall, one of our employees postponed her long-awaited vacation and, instead, traveled to Houston to assist with the recovery and rescue missions. Below is a first-hand account from Ellen Harris, a Pro Athlete front-end designer, and what she and her husband witnessed as they traded their big-vacation in for a round-trip drive to Texas to help with Hurricane Harvey recovery.

We have all been there, that countdown to a big vacation. You know the one you have been planning for months, the one you have requested off of work a whole year in advance for, the one you vow to do nothing but relax? For the past five years, Labor Day weekend has always been the placeholder for those types of vacations for my husband Toby and I. We were married over Labor Day weekend in 2011. So, every year since we have planned a vacation to a new state as a chance for us to reconnect; we hope to reach 50 years and all 50 states.

This year was no different. We booked our travels to Tybee Island, GA, and requested PTO from our work for the time off and started the countdown. But, four days before we were scheduled to leave, Hurricane Harvey barreled down the Gulf and wreaked havoc in Texas.

Georgia is nowhere near Texas, but my husband is a volunteer firefighter and Pro Athlete, the company I work for, encourages all employees to Embrace Stewardship. That’s why we changed our plans and made our anniversary vacation a mission trip to Texas instead.

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We left Thursday, August 31 with a car full of water, food, an inflatable boat, and other supplies that had been donated by fellow Pro Athlete employees, parents from our son’s daycare, and ScriptPro employees. The entire ride down we listened to the Zello walkie talkie app, planning and driving according to the needs that came over the air. When we reached Beaumont, we knew the Ford Pavillion Center was where we needed to be.

Since I have three years of animal rescue work experience, it was the perfect place. The Ford Pavillion Center had become the epicenter for all Jefferson County animals (dogs, horses, goats, pigs, etc.) that were rescued from the storm by the army of other volunteers.The animal rescue volunteers came with their trucks, horse trailers, and boats with one mission in mind: rescue the animals.

Despite the Ford Pavillion Center being filled with animals, it was eerily quiet. You could see the look of exhaustion on the animals faces from days of worrying how they would survive the flood waters. We spent the day helping organize as much as we could, unloading supplies for both animals and workers that kind-hearted people from all over the country had brought, and also loading up supplies for those who had lost everything. There is not enough empathy in the world, and no words to be said when you look into the eyes of someone who tells you they just lost everything knowing that at the end of all of this, we were going home to a house we left just the way it was.

While working at Ford Pavilion we received an email from Ashton Morgan, one of the creators of Helpers of Houston (www.helpersofhouston.com), requesting volunteer workers for different neighborhoods in the Houston area. Knowing that we wanted to help those whose homes were damaged, I quickly responded letting her know that we were willing to help with any moving or demo work that was needed and we had brought all the tools necessary for the job. Within moments, Ashton gave me a call about a lady in Pasadena who also needed help with the cleanup of her home. Without hesitation, I told her we would be there to help.

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On Saturday, September 2 we headed from Houston to Pasadena. On the way there I told Toby that I never realized how silent floods are. As you drive down the road, you can hardly tell if a house was affected by the floods until you turn the corner and see the piles of carpet, pressboard furniture, and mattresses that lined the sides of houses and buildings. It was no different when we pulled up to Donna's house; her home looked untouched, but just 25 ft to the left were overflowing dumpsters and a large pile of debris from her home and others in the neighborhood.

Saturday was spent just trying to organize a plan for her home, in all the chaos. When water gets into a house, the moisture in the air ruins more than just the items it touches. For Donna that meant having to part with a lot of items from her childhood, furniture she inherited from her mother, hundreds of books that pages would have turned moldy if not tossed, and tiny knick knacks that she had collected over the years. Along with all the organizing came the unintentional game of chess. It was a process of moving items from one room to another to sort through all the damage but also ensuring you left enough room to work on removing the drywall.

By the end of the day, Toby and I left exhausted and with the feeling of despair that we may not be able to see the house through to the end with just one day left. We exchanged numbers with Ryan, a member of the Coast Guard and also a volunteer with Helpers of Houston. His house was spared from the flooding, and because of that, he made sure to get out and help those who were not as fortunate. We let him know that we would be back tomorrow and would let him know when the house was ready for the drywall to be cut out so he could help us with it.

We woke up Sunday with the determination to finish Donna's house and leave Texas with the feeling of knowing her house was at least ready for the rebuilding stage. When we arrived at Donna's, we moved the last remaining large items out of the way, took pictures of the mold already starting to come through on the walls, and started the demo work on the wet drywall and insulation. True to his word and despite putting in as much work as we had, Ryan showed up ready to work and with the same determination we had to finish Donna's house. It was a lot of hard work, but we passed the time by listening to the hold music on Donna's phone while she waited to talk to FEMA, learned more about Ryan and his wife, and took breaks outside to talk with the neighbors around us who were also working on cleaning up homes. Around 5 pm that day the 2 ft of drywall in every room of the house was cut out and a bleach mix was sprayed to help with the possible onset of mold. Before leaving we made sure to take a picture of all us, so we could document not only the work we had done but the bond that was created through something as devastating as Hurricane Harvey.

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It is overwhelming to think how much damage Hurricane Harvey did to Houston and the surrounding areas, but it is even more amazing to see just how many people came together. From those who created the Zello groups and stayed up countless nights dispatching and rescuing those who pleaded for help, to those who went out to rescue our four legged friends who couldn't call for help, to those who volunteered and are still volunteering at shelters, with home clean-ups and rebuilding, to everyone else who has donated supplies and money to help with relief. This is what they mean by Texas Strong.

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Our drive home on Monday was a little bittersweet as we reflected back on our trip and volunteer efforts, but I kept coming back to one thing. A little over a month ago I did my 6-month self-assessment for Pro Athlete, and one of the questions asked is about how well you are doing with living the 12 Core Values. I gave myself a lower score and put on the assessment, "I still feel the same as I did at my 90-day review and that I really need to step up to the plate with Embrace Stewardship. I have started to think more recently about what I would like to spend my time volunteering for, and I just need to put a plan in action."

My plan was certainly not to be helping those in Texas after a devastating Hurricane, but I was so glad that both my husband and I could step up to the plate together and hit this one out of the park.

If you would like to donate to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey, you can do so by visiting the Houston Flood Relief Fund.

KU Basketball Strength Coach Drops Knowledge on Pro Athlete

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We were fortunate to have one of the most talented and recognized strength coaches in all of college sports in our office yesterday to speak with our employees. Andrea Hudy, or just Hudy as most people know her, spent an hour educating our employees on her methods that have helped her cultivate the most cutting edge strength program in the country.

At KU, they focus on culture, technique, and technology to help their student athletes be successful at the college level and at the professional level for some. They have data on basically anything, and everything an athlete does and they use it to help put together championship caliber athletes and teams.

Hudy has quite the resume to back up everything she is teaching her athletes. How many people can say they have worked for three different College Basketball Hall of Fame coaches? Probably not too many! She has worked for Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma at UCONN and Bill Self at Kansas. She has helped several athletes make it to the professional ranks, and she maintains great relationships with many of them still today.

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We have had several speakers come to our facility to talk with our employees, and one thing that has remained constant with all of them is how important creating and maintaining a specific culture for your organization has to be. There is no more important thing you can do than to have a great culture and an identity. We use our Core Values as the backbone for that culture. Think of the amazing culture that must be present for the KU Basketball team or the Kansas City Royals! It’s awesome to see that dedication to culture take place in so many other places!

Thank you to Hudy for inspiring and educating our team today! We even saw the Mizzou fans in the room engaged and clapping, which tells you how great she was!

Core Value Spotlight: Create Fans Through Service

At Pro Athlete we have 12 Core Values that we use to make every single decision in our business. They are without a doubt the most important part of what makes us who we are!

We want to give you all a look inside the meaning behind each Core Value in something we like to call our Core Value Spotlight. Each month we will feature a different Core Value and explain it in more detail and most importantly we will have members of our team tell you what each Core Value means to them. Check out our first spotlight of our #1 Core Value: Create Fans Through Service!

Corporate Housing - Pro Athlete Style

It started as an idea. We wanted to provide our out-of-town vendors with a lodging experience better than a hotel, and it grew from there.

A few years ago we bought a house in the neighborhood near Zona Rosa so our vendors could stay close to our office, but also have a whole house to themselves. We gave the house a true Pro Athlete-inspired makeover and equipped it with a workout room, arcades, full bar, and a game room.

The house is free for our vendors and comes fully stocked with all the drinks you can imagine. The house backs right up to Zona Rosa and includes a secret gate that visitors can access to walk to Zona Rosa easily. But, the coolest part? The house comes with a blue light on the roof, so guests can identify the house from a distance (especially if they have had a few beverages at Zona Rosa).

Needless to say, vendors loved the Pro Athlete house.

But, vendors don’t visit every day, so there were still a lot of vacancies. That is when this awesome perk took a turn toward total awesomeness. We offered the houses up to our employees free of charge. And, we still offer this perk today.

The house can be used for staycations, family in town, group gatherings, team outings, etc. Just like for the vendors, the house is rent free and fully stocked.

We didn’t stop there. We didn’t want to take the chance of renting it to an employee and a vendor needing it later, so what do you do in that case? Yep, you guessed it! You buy the house next to it and do the same thing. So we did! The only major difference is that instead of a game room, the second Pro Athlete house has a full theater room.

So, now we have two houses for vendors, employees, job applicants, etc. For the past year or so, both houses have been booked solid every weekend of the year. It’s an amazing perk that has allowed some employees to experience great memories with their friends and family. The houses have hosted birthday parties, graduations, department meetings, staycations, and everything in between. 

Pro Athlete’s Take On Customer Service

As a follower of our blog and members of the Pro Athlete Fan Club, we are seeking new and exciting opportunities to give you insight into what’s going on around the office.

This week, we sat down with one of our own employees, Austin Hall. Austin has been a member of our team for several years and oversees our customer service experience that we strive to provide to all of our customers that have questions or need assistance when ordering a product from one of our eCommerce websites.

Q: What is your role within Pro Athlete?

A: My role at Pro Athlete is to oversee the entire operations revolving around customer service and the customer experience. We are a Net Promoter company, so we do our best to make sure that our customer's voice is always heard. A big component of our team is to be the voice of the customer. If the customer wants something done, we act as liaisons between the customer and the company to make sure the end user is always happy at every interaction. Lastly, the biggest component of our team is to make sure that our Customer Coaches are always available to provide expert advice on all of our products and available to assist our customers with any inquiries that come our way.  

Q: How does Pro Athlete make working in a contact center role an exciting and rewarding position?

A: We are very lucky at Pro Athlete to have a CEO who really sees the importance of providing excellent customer service.  After thorough on-boarding training, all of our Customer Coaches have the same authority to make executive decisions when it comes to making sure our customers are happy as the owner of the company would. Many contact centers have scripts, policies, procedures, and rules put into place that really limit the agent's ability to make a customer happy.  Our Customer Coaches are empowered to make their own decisions and really do their own thing to achieve the same results. Not to mention, our Contact Center is modeled after Kauffman Stadium, so we have an amazing office.

Q: Describe the environment that you and your team work in?

A: We have a very relaxed environment compared to the traditional contact center environment. We definitely have a state of the art set-up, we have a lot of fun, and we definitely have a team atmosphere. Our Customer Coaches answer phone calls, live chats, emails, questions & answers, and social media inquiries.  When we are busy you will find all of our Customer Coaches working extremely hard but between customers or during down time, you will see the team having a lot of fun interacting with one another or everyone tuned into the “big game” on one of the multiple flat screen TV’s we have in the Contact Center.

Q: Why do you refer those who work in the Contact Center as Customer Coaches?

A: At Pro Athlete everything seems to take on a sports or baseball reference, and this became part of that branding. Many others call their agents either agents or customer service reps, and we feel that our team is much more than that. The guys and girls taking care of our customers truly are experts in the field of products that we offer of whom many have real life experience playing or coaching at very high levels using the same products they are giving advice on. They do so much more than yield phone calls, they provide expert advice and really create lifelong customers. It is not out of the ordinary for customers to build relationships with any of our Customer Coaches and they prefer to speak to that person as they have trust in their advice and choose to deal only with that person. I would refer to our team more as inside account managers than a front line customer service representative as they build relationships and they handle every problem until it is resolved to completion. There are rarely ever escalations as the Customer Coaches have full-authority to do everything in their power to resolve every issue in whatever way needed to make sure the customer is happy.  

Q: You aren’t operating as a traditional contact center, why not?

A: We feel like traditional contact centers put way too many limits on the front line employees answering customer inquiries. If a frontline employee has so many restrictions, why even have them answering the phone calls, chats, or emails only to have to escalate the issue to someone else in the company?  Most traditional contact centers have scripts that the agents have to follow, the agents have to adhere to their schedule down to the minute and are very restricted in their day-to-day workflow. At Pro Athlete, our Customer Coaches are very intelligent and talented employees, and we want to empower them to use their talents to do whatever it takes to make sure our customers are always happy. We have lifted all of the traditional rules and guidelines that others have in place, and as long as we are achieving the same or better results, we don’t think there is any reason to not empower the employees to make their own decisions and control their own processes.

Q: What qualities and traits do you look for when adding MVPs to your team?

A: We really like to see someone who is definitely a culture fit within the company and shares the same values and believes in living out our core values not only in the office but also outside of the office. Some of the best Customer Coaches are social people who are very detailed, patient, and have a strong will to really help others and are passionate about making people happy. Real life experience in the field of the products that we offer is a plus, but some of the best Customer Coaches have never played the game.

Q: Who’s your most memorable customer that you have interacted with?

A: It is so hard to narrow it down to just one of the most memorable customers as there are so many great ones. We have dealt with so many current and former professional athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, MiLB, MLS, and NASCAR, so those are always fun but the one that sticks out in my mind the most is Chip Gaines from HGTV’s Fixer Upper. Chip Gaines was a customer who called in and had a great experience with one of our Customer Coaches that he had one of his employees who works for their eCommerce site, Magnolia Market, reach out to me to talk to us about the way we ran our customer service department. I spent a week or so working with them and giving them tips on how we did things as their website was taking off with the popularity of their show. After working with them, I later received a handwritten thank you letter from Chip Gaines, and I thought that was a pretty memorable interaction.

Pro Athlete "Grows" Wellness Program

Despite all of our different benefits and amenities, we always see room for improvement. So, it wasn’t a surprise when members of our Wellness Team wanted to create their own garden at our Kansas City office.

After researching all avenues, we determined that installing Tower Gardens would be in our best interest. We’re starting off small by installing three tower gardens just outside of our I.T. Wing.

So, what does this mean?

No matter what the weather has in store, we’ll be able to grow fresh vegetables in our backyard, whether or not they are in season. We aren’t the only ones that believe in the process of the tower gardens. Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has more than 50 tower gardens that source all of the restaurants in the airport a bulk of their food.

As many fresh vegetables that Chef Nathan uses to prepare our meals around Pro Athlete, we believe that the tower gardens will translate to less time shopping for fresh veggies and reduce costs.

Soon, Chef Nathan will be able to walk a matter of steps and pick out fresh ingredients to implement into that day’s breakfast or lunch menu for our employees.

Tower Gardens, a vertical, aeroponic growing system, allows us to grow up to 20 vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers in less than three square feet—indoors or out.   The reason for aeroponics is how much faster it harvests compared to plants within soil.  Harvest time tends to be around 4-6 weeks.

Have we inspired you or your business to install or begin to look into the implementation process of starting a tower garden? Check out our friends at http://www.towergarden.com/ for more information.

If You Build It. The Story of the Pro Athlete Baseball Field.

Our office isn’t located in Dyersville, Iowa and we’re not an office full of farmers, but there are a few parallels to Pro Athlete and the things mentioned above. Ever heard of the classic baseball movie Field of Dreams?

In the movie, an Iowa farmer hears voices from his corn field prompting him to build a baseball field. At Pro Athlete, we also built our own baseball field by our office.

The field was built in 2007 for employees and their families to be able to use for fun at work and practice for the kids’ teams. Instead of having to drive across the city to try and find an available ballfield, you could just walk out the door right after work for practice. So, how do you start building a baseball field at your office?

While we think we know how to sell bats online pretty well, and even some employees think they can still play a little, we know we have no clue how to build a field. So we recruited the Head Groundskeeper for the Kansas City Royals. Trevor Vance and his staff helped build the whole field, which included these features:

  • 800 tons of ag lime was used on the field
  •  160 ft down the line with a 28 ft high wall that ran to right center
  • 300 ft to the street in left
  • There was a block wall backstop
  • We had the batting practice turtle
  • We furnished all the equipment for anyone who used the field
  • Center over the roof was our parking lot
  • Had to hit one 280 ft - 300 ft to land it in the parking lot
  • A former high school baseball coach and then-employee would drag it on days there was practice. He would line it, put the bases in, and make it look perfect.
  • A bonus was that it taught the kids to hit opposite field because they all wanted to hit it on the roof.

The field was part of the Pro Athlete family for two seasons before it was taken out. It was removed because we were running out of space in the office and needed to make more room. Supposedly, we needed room to add the Pool, Cardio Room, Contact Center, and, most importantly, the Cafeteria so we could hire a chef.

However, another popular reason for the ballfield being removed is because our owner hit a moon shot over the roof and into the parking lot and dented the receptionist’s car. Take your pick of which of the stories you believe.

If you take a tour of our office, you will see where we sunk the original home plate from the field into what is now concrete with carpet on top of it in our IT Wing. The plate is in the same spot that it was back in 2007, but now it’s just inside our building.

We built it...many people came...many people played...dents were made, but, more importantly, memories were made for everyone who was fortunate enough to step on our field of dreams.

It’s Always Tournament Time At Pro Athlete

At Pro Athlete, it’s no secret that we’re competitive in everything we do. We practice speed, agility, and endurance throughout the year in our in-house weight and cardio room. The real competitive edge comes out during tournaments that we host for all of our employees each year.

Our tournaments range in skill levels and sports, including volleyball, dodgeball, and even a little ping-pong and racquetball. Our Corporate Wellness Coordinator seeks feedback from our employees on what tournament they would be interested in participating in, and he then sets up brackets and schedules games based on everyone’s skill level.

We are true believers that it’s important to step away from the computer, telephone, or shipping station and pick-up a dodgeball, paddle, or even a racquet. That’s exactly why we allow all of our employees to take a break and have some fun while on the clock. That’s what work is all about, right?

Over the last several weeks, our employees have been competing in our annual dodgeball tournament, and we’re down to the final two teams. In fact, we want to give you an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to play like a pro on our Sport Court. On Tuesday, July 25th, we will be streaming the 2017 Pro Athlete Dodgeball Championship game on Facebook Live. We are inviting you into our world for an afternoon. From start to finish, you’ll be able to view the competitive edge that our employees display both on and off the court.

After each tournament, we honor the winning team by enshrining them into the Pro Athlete Wellness Hall Of Fame. Who will be added to the wall next? 

Pro Athlete’s Take on Out-of-Office Messages

Don’t you hate that feeling when you email someone needing something and a few seconds after you hit send on your email you receive an auto responder “out of office” message?

Yes, there are “out of office” messages that are written well, but there are also some that deserve a little scrutiny. For example, if someone sets up their “out of office” message while they are on vacation because they will not have internet access for the next two weeks. First of all, I can’t imagine too many places that have no internet access. Secondly, now the person who sent the original email might feel bad that they sent you an email while on vacation even though they didn’t remember you were on vacation.

At Pro Athlete, we are an internet company, and we know the internet never sleeps. That doesn’t mean you have to be waiting anxiously by your phone all the time, but it means that we have customers from all over the country in different times zones with different needs that shouldn’t be burdened because someone here is on vacation or unavailable. We simply like to apply that same approach to our internal operations.

Think about this. You go on vacation and set your “out of office” message to say you will get back with everyone in two weeks when you return. So if that is the case, you would be fine if the person who runs payroll at your business did the same, right? You email the Payroll Specialist to say you didn’t get paid and get an “out of office” email saying they will get you paid in two weeks when they return. It’s basically the same thing, but that never happens, right? So why is it ok the other way?

Here, we know that your phone is with you 24/7. To pretend like a vacation would be ruined if you have to answer an email or two during your downtime is pretty far fetched. We don’t expect you to do a big project proposal on vacation, but we believe it’s reasonable to respond to an email inquiry without an “out of office” email to keep that personal touch. Just let that person know you might be slightly delayed, but you’ll do your best to help them.

Please don't take this the wrong way after reading the paragraph above. We encourage our employees to take vacations and time off with our Unlimited PTO plan along with our flex-time program. We just work to make this place extra special, so if someone does need you on vacation or after hours that it never feels like a burden, in fact, it feels kind of good knowing you get the chance to help someone. That's all we are saying with this. If you build it right, it won't feel like work or a burden to help someone when you are doing something else. 

We know a lot of people and companies use the “out of office” method for communication, and we are fine with it. At Pro Athlete, it just doesn’t make as much sense or fit into the way we do business. Our motto for our JustBats.com website is “Always there for you FROM CLICK TO HIT,” and we want to carry that out with our vendors and partners as well.

Tech Talk: How Technology Plays into the Pro Athlete Game Day Experience

A 130” 2x2 video wall for our new yoga studio? Check.

A self-service solution for employees to seamlessly use their ID badges to get JustBats.com and Pro Athlete gear? Done.

A need to get into a room or the building using a biometric fingerprint? No problem.

These are a few of the many examples of how technology works for us at Pro Athlete. With some engineering, design, and, most importantly, out-of-the-box thinking, we make ideas into reality while streamlining manual processes.

As you walk through Pro Athlete, you will notice digital signage, visualizations, TV’s for watching baseball games, and stereo equipment among other things. These are all systems that we have built and designed through technology to make the experience first class for our customers, guests, vendors, and employees. Embrace Innovation is one of our twelve Core Values that direct the way we do business. This arguably applies most to our technology. We recently had the idea to play a motivational song close to our shipping cut-off time as a reminder to our Distribution Center employees each night. Using some progressive thinking, we were able to accomplish this using a Raspberry Pi, A/V receiver, and IR controls to turn this fun idea into an automated solution.

We also provide a specialized technology service to our employees known as the Triple Crown Program. This program allows employees and their families to bring in anything tech-related they need to have repaired. We fix it for them at no cost outside of any materials and also provide consulting/advice for any questions they may have. This service is heavily utilized and has led the team to work on computers, phones, TVs, RC cars, and children’s toys among other things. We will attempt to fix anything we can to help our fellow teammates.

Having such a unique culture requires us to do things our way; the Pro Athlete Way. Boxed solutions to solve a problem rarely work for us here which is why we value creative thinking, resourcefulness, and problem-solving. The IT department takes pride in taking abstract ideas and turning them into working parts of the business. Having the freedom to experiment with new technology to deliver exactly what is needed equates to a tool provided to truly Embrace Innovation. With this approach, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

One for the Other Thumb: Pro Athlete Pulls Off Six-Peat In Kansas City Corporate Challenge

We learn a lot about who we are as a company and who our employees are by stepping outside of our comfort zone both in business and in sports.

Over the last two months, members of the Pro Athlete team have been competing in the 2017 Kansas City Corporate Challenge. It was great to see many of our employees out there competing and picking up where they left off after playing high school, collegiate or even recreational sports leagues growing up.

Competing in events that test endurance, strength, and skill such as disc golf, fishing, bowling, volleyball, and tug-of-war is exactly what we did. In fact, we had 33 of our employees participate in one event or more. With so many employees competing, we were able to bring home:

  • 12 gold medals

  • 7 silver medals

  • 2 bronze medals

The employees were flat out All-Stars, especially:

  • Jodi S. brought home the most female gold medals (4)
  • Mac M. brought home the most male gold medals (5)
  • Ellen H. was our female employee that participated in the most events (18)
  • Derek R. was our male employee that participated in the most events (16)

This was the first year that we’ve won Tug-Of-War and Swimming!

We competed in the smallest division of the Corporate Challenge and squared off against some other excellent companies such as XenometricsApex Sports Medicine, InQuest MarketingThe Miller Group, and Ad Astra Information Systems.

So many people ask us if they had to have played sports to be able to work here and that is not true at all. We do take the Kansas City Corporate Challenge pretty serious, but we don’t make it part of the hiring process. That would be crazy! We have applicants do a standard phone interview, in-person interview, background check, 400 M Dash, throw darts, hit a few softballs and complete a triathlon. It’s pretty much your standard hiring practices that most businesses have!

#questfor7startsnow

Challenge Accepted: Pro Athlete Employees Give Back

Baseball season is upon us and that means the YMCA Challenger baseball program is in full swing too. This year marks the tenth year of the YMCA Challenger Program. For six weeks, athletes from around Kansas City come to the Fred and Shirley Pryor Sports Complex to learn about the game, hang out with friends, and get on the field and play.

So, it seemed like another great season was coming up, and then something truly special happened. A “challenge” was issued to the employees of Pro Athlete to come out and volunteer as buddies for the baseball season. We had a few employees who volunteered in the past, but that was about it. Then, just like that, twelve Pro Athlete employees volunteered to help.

What made this so cool was that those twelve first-time volunteers were able to give back and create even stronger bonds with their coworkers at the same time. The twelve employees were all buddies on the same team. How cool is that?

This year we were in gold jerseys with our favorite baseball bat company logo on the back. No, not Dick’s Sporting Goods. JustBats.com! The athletes always get to pick the team name, and there have been some doozies. After a close vote, the team selected their name to be the Suns.

It doesn’t get much better than playing baseball with kids for six weeks. On behalf of all the volunteers from Pro Athlete, we want to thank the YMCA for giving us this opportunity to meet such amazing and talented players and strong parents and family members. While many of the parents told us how important our efforts were to their kids and themselves, we feel like we were the fortunate ones to get to meet them all.

We thank all of these kids for teaching us so much and for their strength and resiliency.

Twelve employees set out to help teach baseball to some kids once a week and what they found was a life-changing experience, establishment of new relationships, and life-long memories. It just goes to show the power of giving back. You go in thinking you are going to help change the lives of others and you come out with your life changed in the most positive way possible!

Thank you to the Suns for the awesome shirt that we will be putting up in our office soon. We have some cool signed memorabilia in our office from famous athletes, but this one ranks up at the top!

And yes, in the video when we did our final team huddle, we did say Banana Bread, you heard it right. Lauren got to pick what we said!!!!!

Dear Dad,

Former New York Met, Bobby Bonilla is known for saying, “Kids today are looking for idols, but sometimes they look too far...They don’t have to look any farther than their home because those are the people that love you. They are the real heroes.” At Pro Athlete we strive to live each and every day with Bonilla’s quote in mind. So much so, we’ve formed one of our Core Values after it. We take the idea of putting your Family First around here very seriously. Earlier this week, we sat down with many of our employees and asked them to write letters to their fathers. See what they had to say in the video below:


Dear Dad,

Thank you for being my biggest fan, biggest disciplinarian, and biggest motivator. Our relationship hasn't always been a bed of roses, but I know that I can count on you and ask for advice about anything life may bring my way. With the middle name "Clark," I always considered you to be my own personal Clark Kent. Who needs Superman when I've got a Dad like you?

Your son,

John P.


Dear Dad,

Thank you for teaching me the value of a hard day's work, the meaning of responsibility, and the importance of honesty among other things. These qualities have helped me to be a better father, a better friend, and a better co-worker. I'm not sure how many hours we spent playing catch together growing up, but I remember the only thing that stopped us was running out of light. Happy Father's Day! Love you, Dad!

-Kaleb G.


Dear Dad,

Though most of the time we were miles apart you always made sure I knew I had your support and love no matter where I was or what I was doing.  Thank you for always taking the back roads and teaching me that the path less traveled leads to some of the greatest discoveries.

-Gypsy B.


Dear Dad,

Thank you!  You've been there when I needed you the most and you've always given me advice throughout life's journey.  You're a caring, kindhearted and funny father and both you and Mom have been my biggest supporters.  I enjoy spending time with you and am very grateful for all you've done in my life.  You've raised Kyle and I to be good men and I'm excited for the many more memories our family has coming!  I love you dad and thank you for loving me. Thank you, your son.

-Kris G.


Dear Dad,

Thank you so much for choosing to be in my life and accepting me for who I am.  I'm forever grateful for your constant support and I honestly don't know where I would be without you.  I love you so much. Thanks for everything!

-Alex W.


Dear Dad,

It is hard to put into words how much of an impact you have had on my life. Thank you for always being there for me during the best and worst of times, I can always count on you. Thank you for supporting me in everything I have done, whether that is in sports, academics and just life in general. Thank you for the countless life lessons you have taught me, I am not the person I am today without your guidance. Thank you for not only being my dad, but my coach, teacher, golf partner and friend too. Happy Fathers Day Dad!

-Kyle G.


Dear Dad,

Top of the Mornin to you....and the rest of the day to myself!

I am so thankful I am your daughter.  You have taught me how to love, laugh, work hard, play hard and have faith.  You have always put family first and for that I am grateful.  Every life lesson worth learning was on display in our house.  You and mom are amazing parents.  Thank you for your love and support, you are my hero.  

-Jodi S.


Dear Dad,

You have always been the most admired man in my life. You are kind, generous, honest, and resilient. I love your enthusiasm for life and how everything is more fun when you are around. Thank you for teaching me how to play sports, attending all my games, and supporting me in everything. Thank you for teaching me to be tough and work hard. I'm so glad you didn't treat me differently because I was a girl. Thank you for all you sacrificed for me. I have so many great memories growing up going skiing, boating, camping, fishing, canoeing, playing cards, basketball, catch, and going to ball games. And thank you for also being just as good to my boys! They adore you. We all do! I love you and will always be grateful for you!

-Pam M.


Dear Dad,

Words can’t describe how truly grateful I am for having you as my dad. I can only imagine the sacrifices you had to make as you were a just a 19 year old kid yourself when I came into your life. You took the challenge and became the definition of what a good father should be. You never missed a practice, a game, or life event. Your patience, perseverance, and fortitude molded me into the person I am today. I’ll always cherish everything we’ve done together and continue to do. I’ll always look up to you. And to top it all off, your continued love for Mom after 30 years of marriage is an inspiration. I love you dad. Thank you for being you.

- Jeramey J.


Dear Dad,

Thank you for always pushing me to be my best self, supporting me through my personal ups and downs, and giving me the freedom to find my own way. I could not have asked for a better Father / Coach / Friend. I love you, Dad!

-Mac M.


Work-Life Balance...Or Is It Just Life?

A big buzz phrase around the business world is work-life balance. Experts talk about how important it is to make sure you have a healthy balance between your job and your personal life. That is certainly one way to look at it, and for some, that might be the best way to look at it for themselves. At Pro Athlete, we have a different approach to this.

 We believe that if you create an amazing culture and an amazing place to go to work every day, then there is no work-life balance, it’s just life! At Pro Athlete, that experience doesn’t stop with you; it extends to your family and friends. We want them to be part of what we call the “Good Life” around here. Work hard, play hard, get results, and have fun at the office and at home. It’s the way we do business!

 Who made the rule that so many people seem to follow that says you should dread going into work the next day? If we knew who it was, we wouldn't be his or her biggest fan!  We have all made that moaning and groaning sound when our alarm clock goes off in the morning knowing you have to go into a job that maybe you aren’t passionate about. Because of that dreaded feeling and many other reasons, we have dedicated ourselves to try and never have anyone associated with our business feel that way again.  

Most of our employees look forward to coming into work because they have a place they can come hang out with friends, be challenged, be cared for, and accomplish goals together. To us, no balance is needed if you build it the right way. Why not make it fun and already balanced for everyone? After all, “if you build it they will come.”