In 2008 I started working with young students to teach them pitching and hitting. I wanted to teach them the things that I was never taught at a young age. I started working with a few students over the summer but I quickly realized that the best way to rebuild the mechanics of a young pitcher is to do it over the winter. So I went to a local baseball facility and asked the owner if i could rent some space from him so that I could teach pitching lessons and he did not want to allow it. So I went went to a friend who had an empty retail space and offered to pay him some rent on a month to month basis while he tried to fill the space with a long term lessee and he agreed.
I decided that if I was going to make a go of this, I would do it only as long as there was demand for it. If I could not cover my overhead and make some money for my time, I was prepared to shut it down and walk away.
The Beginning - In November, 2009 I moved into my first location and started to get the word out. The location was perfect because it was next to a family restaurant and people started calling to find out if they could get lessons for their kids. By January, I was getting calls almost every day to schedule lessons. I also brought in a softball instructor and started to develop a softball pitching clientelle. The facilities were very rudimentary but perfect for what I was doing. I started to get calls from teams wanting to rent the space for their teams to practice. I couldn't believe it because it was so small but it proved to me that there is a demand for this type of business. In April, 2010, the facility was leased to a business for a long term contract so I had to move out. It was decision time, should I shut it down or take the next step?
The Move - Once again I was on the lookout for a facility. I had looked at every local building over the past few months to find something that would be more suitable. I wanted something bigger with higher ceilings, durable walls and good light with no outside light that causes glare. I called another friend who had empty warehouse and it turned out to be perfect in every way (except for a large support beam in the middle). We made a deal for rent and I moved all of my stuff to the new place. I decided that I wanted to go through the proper channels to make sure the zoning was proper and it turned out that I needed to get a slight change to the zoning in order to operate. Thus began a six month process of meetings, fees and lots of support from the community, all while still paying rent for a building I wasn't allowed to use. After six months, on December 9th, 2010 Stow City Council unanimously approved the changes needed to allow me to operate in the new building. Was it worth it? It's already late in the off-season but it's full speed ahead. Oh, one more delay....I had to wait 30 days for the new zoning rules to take effect. The business will officially be open on January 10th, 2011.
The Upgrades - I've said many times that I want to coach baseball, not paint walls. So now that the zoning is approved, I begin the process of painting the walls and upgrading the rest of the facility. As they say, you've got to do what you've got to do. The upgrades will include adding new netting, painting the walls (to provide a good throwing background) and installing turf. In addition, I will be upgrading the lobby and parent viewing area. I guess it's starting to look like a real business now. But the most important part of this business is not the facilities but the instruction. I've brought in some excellent instructors and I am confident we will provide the best baseball and softball instruction in Stark and Summit county.
To find out more about our current facility, click here.