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50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2019

The Fastest Growing Franchise in the Country: D-BAT Sports Lights up The Map through Its Ceaseless Growth of Baseball and Softball Training

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There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you – Derek Jeter

For many in the US, baseball and softball are more than a sport. It is life being played out on a field and is one of the most popular sports in the US for both the spectator and the players. Talent is surely valued in this sport but at the same time those who are enthusiastic, work hard and try to play their part on the field get their opportunity. Cade and Kyle Griffis had to provide a platform for these enthusiasts and thus founded D-BAT in 1998. Cade Griffis (CEO), traveled around to different cities giving private lessons. Cade and Kyle quickly realized that they had a rare opportunity at their fingertips. Their simple goal was to provide an indoor facility that matched the level of quality players in the area. They turned their dream into a reality with their first location in Addison, Texas. This facility quickly became the top indoor Baseball and Softball training center in the country. In April 2001, D-BAT built its own wood bat factory in Mount Pleasant, Texas. This business saw great success and is now selling to more than 250 dealers, 20 private labels, Professional Players, and other buyers in Australia, Korea, Mexico, and Europe. Later in 2009 D-BAT’s team decided to take their idea to the next level by allowing others to own their own D-BAT Academy.

Starting with just 3 locations in their first year, this lucrative business model quickly grew to over 40 locations. Currently, D-BAT has over 80 locations in the US and China.

In conversation with the Founder and CEO, Cade Griffis

When did you decide to adopt the franchise model?

In 2008 we were approached by a VC company called Suntex Capital. The CEO Ned Flemming had a vision for us to open up corporate stores across the US in hot baseball and softball markets. We all know what happened in late 2008 with the market and unable at the time to complete the acquisition due to the collapse.

What are your five biggest assets?

  • Great Franchisees
  • Great Employees at our corporate office
  • A proven business model
  • Powerful but still growing brand
  • The service we provide

What are your future plans for the business?

With our corporate support, I believe the key to this is to continue to look for better ways to operate and increase revenue streams for our franchisees. Also, we will need to better control the real-estate process for our future franchisees. We are currently looking for a partner to help us secure land and build our own buildings in the future.

Where do you see D-BAT a couple of years from now?

I see D-BAT in 90% of the states in the U.S. I also see us in China, Japan, Mexico, Canada and a few other international countries. Our 5-year goal is to have 250 locations. I see myself doing the same thing I have been doing the past 20 years and that is protecting and growing the brand of D-BAT.

The Innovative and Diligent Leader

Cade Griffis | CEO & Founder

Cade grew up playing catch all alone, like all American boys he had a dream to play in the Major League Baseball. His dad thought he was crazy but the man never gave up on his dream and continued to pursue it. But he also had another dream, to open an academy where people like him could learn to play and understand the sport better. Well, he achieved it through D-BAT Sports.

His first job after playing professional baseball was an indoor baseball and softball academy called Adairs Baseball World. Cade learned a lot working for Steve Adair and Bill Blakely. He also says that coaching his own team at a young age taught him many things about how to handle a staff full of different personalities.

Cade’s alumni roster includes three-time Cy Young Award Winner Clayton Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who hails from Highland Park. Many other major league baseball players were also part of Cade’s D-BAT. But Cade says his goal isn’t to develop MLB players: “We are here to make the game just a little bit more fun for each kid and for the parents. It’s what drives our business.”

He did play for the Kansas City Royals for two years but due to a knee injury, he had to quit. But soon in 1998, he came back to the sport, not as a player but as an innovator along with his brother Kyle and an investor, Craig Penfold.

Initially, the company was supposed to be named “Yard Rats” or “Sweat Box,” but the team decided on “Developing Beliefs, Attitudes, and Traditions,” which stands for D-BAT. Cade also created the Metro Scout League and the Battle of the Borders All American Game. This move of his had allowed dozens of college and pro scouts to visit and watch hundreds of high school players showcase their talent. The strategy appealed to parents who wanted to put their athletic children in front of scouts without having to travel around the country.  Now, he plans on expanding D-BAT to various other regions.

“D-BAT stands for ‘Developing Beliefs, Attitudes & Traditions’ and we believe in making dreams come true by providing a quality teaching environment with quality instruction to enhance the baseball experience for players at all levels from little league through the pros.”