Average to Savage
Average to Savage

Episode · 3 years ago

David Beckerman | Average to Savage EP31

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This is the thirty-first episode of the Average to Savage podcast featuring founder of Starter David Beckerman. Paul Guarino talked with David Beckerman discussing his life growing up in New Haven, Connecticut, how he created Starter, and his high school basketball coaching career! Follow David Beckerman www.instagram.com/CoachBeckerman Powered by PG Sports www.pg-sports.com

This is the average, this saverage podcast with Paul Greno, everyone in anyone, athletes, setts and much more so, everybody. I'm back for another episode of the average ice podcast. Or special guests today is David Beckerman, founder of starter. Dave, how's it going? Terrific. How you doing? Good, good, good. Could you just give us like a brief summary About Yourself? I'm originally born in Britain, new haven, Connecticut, went to James L use high school, graduated then from University of new haven. Started by working in the in business after that and started to start in nineteen seventy one and left in ninety six. Perfect. So you graduated from UN Ah from in nineteen ninety six and you created starter in nineteen seventy one. So how? How the idea? I graduated haven in nineteen sixty six and I started started five years later. Yeah, so what? So what gave you the idea to create started? Well, really development of a niche. During the summertime, slow pitch softball was real big sad and I noticed, you know, everybody wanted the best equipment and wearing what the professionals were, but there was one item which happened to be a windbreaker and all of the windbreakers had an elastic cuff. Their risks all the problem was that if you're a big guy, that elastic cuff will cut off your circulation. If you were a small out, a small risk the ear would go through. So I just casually set the one one of my friends why don't they put a Knick cuff on it? And no one had that. So I said, you know, I'm going to try to do that and I went out and bought a couple of samples and then bought some materials and went to a tailor and I said, take this feature from this sample, take this feature from that sample and make a sample. And then we made the first starter jacket, which at that time was a license. It was just for the institutional trade, and then I started to showing to retails to see if there was an interest. We were in it too. Some problems, but the those problems. I've always believe you taken the negative and turn it into a positive. That problem was is that all of the retailers had jackets that had a lastic cuff. So here we would come in with a I was showing a sample with a knit cuff and consequently that was a different inventory, so they couldn't mix it. That was the negative. The positive was is is that we, I turned round and told them that they could have an exclusive in the area so that it improve their gross margins when they sold it. Yeah, you got it. Could you talk to me about a little like how you came up with the name starter and also the logo? The name started first of little people in generally remember one word. If you start thinking about the great brands all over the world, whether it be Ford or polo or coke or whatever, people tend to remember one word. Hinds, you know. So it made sense that I wanted one word. Second is a starter was I always wanted to be started and not a substitute. Yeah, how did you call up with the logo with the s and the Elsa by name Billy Silverman, who's passed on from Silverman Group. He and I collaborated and we came up with the idea of a logo with a star, because we were ultimately trying to get to the stars, and with the SID combined...

...both of them together. Yeah, yeah, iconic logo right now, and I know you briefly touched on it before, but like what was it like just figuring out like all the manufacturing stuff, and I'm pretty sure probably back then it was harder than it is to well, first, even before they hated, you need to settle on and how you're going to get the money to develop the company. As I said, it made one sample started showing the retailers created some interest in the garment business or the apparel business. You book six months in advance. When stores receive their spring merchandise, they booked that business in August or September. So the manufacturers, regardless of who they are what they're manufacturing, have ninety of maybe a hundred twenty days to produce it. So I accumulated orders, had them, had no manufacturing, didn't have anything, but I didn't have any money. I went to the banks. They really weren't very supportive and I found a local businessman who who saw the and understood the division and Co signed a note for me. At that time it was I don't know, maybe I could about Twentyzero, and so I had the money. And then then can simply went into the yellow pages and look for sewing contractors and found some and went to them, gave him a sample and show them what I needed and and by hitting miss being sometimes the first kind tractor didn't do the quality as well as we wanted. Eventually found one and he manufactured for us, sent the to are my location and I begin shipping. Later on, we as we developed and we had our own factories. Yeah, how long did that process take? Like years or months or like going to being well, to get the factories? Initially didn't take along at all. As I says. I went to the yellow pages. That took probably, looking back at it now, probably a few months, because there were a few and I was just a question of selecting the right one. After we did, after a couple of months of selecting one, and it was a question of buying raw materials and Nice said. I then had a line of credit from someone who co signed a note for me in exchange for an equity position and we were off and running. Yeah, and in what was like your first brig break paper starter, I get put it on the map. I would probably say to you. The first impact as when we had the exposure on national television and that was when Joe Tory was the manager of the match. He we had a mutual friend was passed on man by the name of Tonia Mondola who, well, he was in the trick, I'll say transportation business, but he was a truck driver and he would come and deliver merchandise to us and and we would help him with his charities in a variety of different states. Kind of an interesting story. He had always said that he knew people in baseball. We didn't really take him seriously initially. We found out later on that he take his vacation time and worked for a roundic bat, that was a wooden bat manufacturer of state New York, and drive to spring training and make bats. That's how we met Joe and a variety of other people. Any event, we had did some favors for him and Joe came to a show in New York and you...

...know, at that time he was the manager and it was we were a little just a little little company. Yeah, he was appreciative that. I helped Tony and also helped I made some donations to at that time it was the through Tony has a church, which ended up being Joe Tory's sister, who was a nun. Wow, that's crazy. Well, you know, in business today or just in relationships, one of the things that you never did, as you never burn a bridge and because you never know who can help you in it. Was a fellow was worked very hard, but with the labor and you wouldn't think that he has those connections that he did. Then he brought them to our boots. Are Remember Joe asking, you know, as years a preacher, that what could he do, and all I said was just wear some coats, you know, and he put his host staff and the mets with the first team that were professionally the wore the the jackets and if you remember, Joe as just part of his John Ore would cross his arms and put his foot on the first step and we got exposure on television and once that happened, that was the probably our first break. That'sn't that's awesome story right there. I was reading like previous articles about like you guys getting licenses and stuff like that, and I read the story about you go into like the NFL office like thirty three times. I think it was eight years, fourteen years. Yeah, is so. So you got all of them fairly easy, besides the NFL one. Right, I would say fairly easy. First Roll. You have to understand that with all of these things comes financial commitments with a minimums meaning. For example, our first license, which was was baseball, was through an age and coal license corporation of America. I work with a man by the name of little two people, Joe Grant, who ran the operation, and Ralph are is Arey. My first contract was, I believe, twenty fivezero dollars and a royalty and each piece. But if we sold one piece we had a damn the twenty five thousand regardless. So it was a huge risk at the time, but we felt it was worth an obviously, at the end of the day it was. So it's you know, it's it's a combination of of having the product in the quality, having the distribution and having the financial wherewithal and willing to take the risk. Yeah, so when you got the NFL, when did that take started to like a new level. The NFL clearly was a catalyst. Yeah, you see, the NFL has a huge advantage at the retail level, not because of its sport, it's because of its timing. If you think about retail in general, most of the retailers a significate a balance, their volume is done in the fourth quarter. Well, the fourth quarter is when football is you know, on the rise and at its peak, combined with the thing called Christmas. So it was from all different points of interest, in a value something that that no other sport really had.

Baseball's world series was just about over and October hockey was just starting. So basketl didn't start until later. So the football really between and for us the weather began to change. So the fourth quarter was really a key area for us. So and football captain, we became one stop shopping. So the retailer could buy any of the sports, all the sports from us. Okay, and in the early nine or s you guys became like the number one sports briant. So how'd you pull that off? Hard work, I'll think it. How about all so ninety two, fill knight offered to buy you out and you said No. What happened? Like you the time to Phil Knighted come to our office pretty frectally unannounced. It was incredibly flattering. I did go out to visit the facilities, which was amazing. He was very cordial. At the time it was very clear to me that while it would, from a financial point of view, would be win fall our people would lose. All the Connecticut operation would close that would be four hundred people without jobs. That they want me to move to Oregon and at the time I just felt that that's not what I wanted to do. I had too many people that weren't oil and had the passion and I respected that and I didn't want to. I just didn't want to. So I had nothing to do with the money. He's certainly. Certainly the dollars were there. So it wasn't a question of finances. was beyond that. Yeah, that's it. And then you said you left the company in one thousand nine hundred and ninety six. So what happened there? What do you mean? I retired, you u. So you retired from it from thousand ninehundred and ninety six. So you left a business. So so it was there a reason why? Well, yeah, there's a couple reasons why. I mean from a financial point of view, I was putting in huge sums of money. Banks were not being cooperative, and especially the Bank of Boston, which was really making our lives very difficult, not understanding the business itself, and they were under their own had their own issues. So, you know, I left and then the business was sold and then resoldnike owned it and then Nike, I think, just sold it again to coal, I believe it is. Yeah, so what were you say was your most memorable moment at start? Like, well, running starter my most memorable moment? Yeah, well, I've had a lot of them. I for one, I always felt had great pleasure and seeing the employees grow and their families and that kind of thing. From a sports standpoint, we did some clinics across the country with Bobby Night, with coach K, with Jim Calhoun, you know, on a variety of people meeting. I wasn't still I am a trustee at the basketball hall of fame meeting, you know, coaches is and people of that. Ilk was always, you know, something that I cherished. You know, as...

I said, it was a it was a great opportunity, a wonderful run. You know, probably one of the highlights is when I met coach Woulden, who I admired for what he stood for. Yeah, and that's that. Well else, what about how do you? How do you feel about people are still wearing starter today? Well, you got it to find that. I know there's been a renaissance on the the vintage bridge and nice to a point where they're paying two, three, four or five times what we sold it for. Its kind of interesting and it goes to show that we had an iconic brand and have that and that it stood for something. We always said that it was the symbol of American sports when we tied everything in together and the quality was there. They it's a little bit different. The quality is not the same, the distribution is not the same. Yeah, so, yeah, yeah, I was kind of saying it from like a celebrity standpoint. I guys seen like a lot of even like like ad current athletes and like celebrities today like wearing it. So I want to know how, how do you feel about that? So well, I it, whether be a celebrity or not, anytime we saw a product or a person wearing our product, obviously we always felt the appreciative and people buying the product because when they purchase something, you buy it because you believe it's something that you like, obviously, or if you wouldn't buy it and you believe that it's the quality level that you adhere to and that I always respect it. So I was always pleased to see that happening. Yeah, that's it. So do you ever, just like today, like walk around and you see somebody just wearing like a starter jacket or yeah, well, you know, I do see some is two different things when I see the old ones or the vintage ones. That was the old vintage one. You know, I can recall and we made it and or what it stood for. As far as the no one's concerned. As I say, it's a different market place, different distribution, different quality level. But some of the things, you know, you have to understand that we were innervators, totally different than some of the other businesses. Yeah, for sure. So so buy I you could tell if it's a it's a vintage stuff, where the new stuff, like in person, you could sell. Yes, that's awesome. So did you see that, though, Alliance of America football, the new league, is actually going to be started to release? I saw that. Yes, how you feel about that? Well, it's kind of question of how I feel because I don't know the particulars. I don't know, you know, how much exposure they're going to get. I don't know about the TV contracts, I don't know who what's there's a difference between and making an investment. Yeah, in a start up, which has its advantage because theoretically it's should be cheaper and that company in the company is gambling on that, plus the fact they're trying to link their the past tradition of the professional sports of the president. But on the same token, if it fails it you know it's not really a positive kind of reinforcement. But I have no opinion on one, on the new league, because I don't know much about it at this point. Yeah, sure, there's a lot of new leaks coming up. I don't know how all of them will succeed or not succeed, but we'll say, I guess. So let's Jump Into Your Your basketball coaching career. Where's your passion for basketball come from? Well, I started is playing basketball as a Jewish community center in new haven and we lived in a say, a...

...tough neighborhood, but it was next neighborhood and the center was the place where we went and we played ball and from there we played at the center and so I had that passion. I played high school at at a hill out of high school and then freshman ball at southern and then I but the it really was the coaching and I coached the JAYCC in one thousand nine hundred and actually looking back at it. It's been really a lot of fun. I coach the Jaycc to a national the only national championships they ever had, and then I got a high school job. I was building a company, a prep school called hands at all. We won eight New England championships, six consecutively. Trying to think what, I don't remember exactly what we won. We want. Any event, I was there for eleven years. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience. When I retired I went to Florida in two thousand and four and a two thousand and three and ended up coaching another prep school called Pine Crest, which had never won any districts or or even qualified for the State Championships. And we won. We went to the state final four six years in a row. One three state championships, two of them with fellow who's playing in the NBA now, Brandon night, and ended up within the little over, I don't five hundred over, five hundred games and only losing about a hundred and twenty years Sol. But it too was a passion. I love working with kids and I love the game. How was what was your what's your key to success of winning all these trophies and championships good players. Good players could coaching well, no matter how good of coach are, you don't have a good players, it's very hard to win. But I think that is a combination. That, too, we had a coaching was a combination of the business direction where I made parents and players sign a contract, written contract was league prior to the season so that they understood the rules, and also an understanding and building a relationship with the players that they knew you cared and you were trying to teach them and being a help and supportive of them. And they worked out, you know, as I said to him, and all was a wonderful experience pine crest. The kids were terrific and both schools were high academic schools and post terrific. Yeah, what was it like Coaching Brandon Knight? He's wasn't as a great player and we had some other great players. I can only tell you. I'll tell you one story about Brandon and it probably tells you what it's like. We were playing I believe it was his junior soph Boorg, a sophomore year, I believe. Not. Yeah, I think it was soptware engineer, and we were playing in the regional final, semi finals of the region and if you lose, the seasons over. If you win, you you go on to the State Final Four. So it was the regional finals and we're playing team COLA SAL at a neutral court in Florida. We were down eleven points with two and a half minutes to go and I had done everything that I thought, that I knew, called every trick that I could try to motivate...

...the kids as best we could, but we were down and the kids do that if they lost, the end of the season was over. And I called time out and Brandon looked at me and I looked at him and so to gave them that look, you know, now's the time. And in the Hutle he had said to me, in front of all the kids, coach, they call me coach. Be Coach me. What time is practice tomorrow? And the kids looked up at them, knowing they're eleven point down. I said, brand at four o'clock. There he went out. We went out from there. He stole the ball, hit two threes in a row, got a charge, was created a charge, an assist, scored fifty two points for the game and we ended up winning bite free. Of all the players I ever had, obviously being in the NBA, was athletically the best player. But the thing about him it was tremendous work ethic. Yeah, if he missed a couple of files shots, he asked if he could use the shooting machine, come in and and has some extra practice, or he would and he was an honest student. I mean this is a kid that could go on any place. I remember bringing him up to see coach James Jones at Yale. I mean he could go on to Yale, I mean he but obviously went to Kentucky and and I know you have not one but two athletic centers named after you. So what were those feelings like getting those? Well, it was very nice. It's each of us have an obligation, regardless of our financial we'Rewithal is to give back into share within the community that has raised you. And it's actually people who have been supportive and in both the case of the Jewers Center naming its building or at the REC center at you ah or or him at all and all those three buildings, was our family wanting to be and continue to be supportive of the community and it was great. Yeah, that's what I love how you just contribute throughout like Connecticut and Danny, like, like you said before, I get up and like leave. You could have just sold it, but you like stayed everything in Connecticut and because that's your home. Yep, and last one, what advice would you give today to young entrepreneurs? I give you a couple of things. I mean, I certainly would tell you the problem that they said about Edison, which is ninety nine percent perspiration one percent inspiration, meaning you got to work hard and you got to build relationships. This generation is tends to be quick and in personal I see it so often even in our own family, our grand film, you know, they'll pets people or send an email to people there, versus getting on the phone and calling somebody, versus getting in a car and going needing them. FACETOFACE, the texting. They may be quick and it may be current, but it's not a way that you build a real strong relationships. A strong relationships are built eye to eye, so the you just see the face of the people you're talking to. Those are the kinds of things that really make more sense, and that's so little advice. You've got to work hard, you got to work hard. You got to work hard and you've got to build relationships and and I don't know any other way of building relationships other than facetoface. We were...

...one of the very, very few companies, for example, that didn't have a showroom in New York or some other places. Show rooms are set up in the customer comes to the show room. I always believe in putting the product into bag and going and flying to meet the customer in his or their environments. That's the way you've built strong relationships. You show them your care enough. Yeah, yeah, definitely. Actually that's what I've been doing recently, just meeting up with more people instead of talking to them on the phone and, like you said, it just it's just like a different impact and they have a different respect for you. Yeah, so I appreciate you coming on.

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