TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – There’s not much better than beer and baseball. Former professional baseball player and coach Randall Thompson brewed up a way combine both: why not drink beer out of a bat?
In 2014, Thompson, then a coach at Florida Tech, was sitting in the dugout and listening to the hitting coach tell his players to “focus on the hands.” To emphasize his point, he sawed the top off of a baseball bat and left the barrel sitting next to the bench.
“I had a light bulb moment, that you could probably drill it out and drink from it,” Thompson said.
Coming up with business ideas wasn’t new to Thompson. He’d often tossed around ideas in his head. But, he thought, this concept could actually work. So, he began sketching and plotting how to turn a baseball bat into a beer mug, and the idea of “Dugout Mugs” was born.
After coming up with a prototype, he found a pitchman to make his “Dugout Mugs” reality, connecting with now partner and CEO Kris Dehnert over Facebook messenger. Dehnert, who met Thompson for a beer, wasn’t initially convinced the idea was a hit, but admits, “sometimes things are weird enough to work.”
After three years of planning and establishing a home base in Winter Haven, “Dugout Mugs” stepped up to home plate in 2017 and has been knocking it out of the park, even in a year when America’s favorite pastime is striking out. Dehnert says sales have grown exponentially since the business launched, providing income and jobs.
“In June alone we added eight new people locally, in our warehouse and distribution facility,” Dehnert said. “But, because of the way our business is structured, we actually hire nationally.”
He adds that because “Dugout Mugs” is primarily an e-commerce business, employees are located in multiple states, and business deals are being made on a global scale.
The company has also added to its product line – turns out some people would prefer to drink wine out of a baseball bat – and now makes four different products from bats. And “Dugout Mugs,” which is primarily gifted, is also available at some specialty stores, with talks to expand to more locations.
When baseball fans return to the stands, they’ll see “Dugout Mugs” now licensed with MLB, at 29 of 30 major league stadiums, as well as many minor league stadiums. The product is supported by some of baseball’s legends, too. “Dugout Mugs” social media platforms also provide live-stream interviews with well-known baseball icons.
Despite the success of his business, Thompson isn’t celebrating yet. He measures achievement in innings.
“I don’t like to talk about wins until we make the last out in the bottom of the ninth,” said Thompson. “But I’d say we’re somewhere in the seventh or eighth inning, and the score is looking good. I think we’ll keep adding runs to the scoreboard.”
Want to learn more about “Dugout Mugs?” Visit their social media pages or website, DugoutMugs.com.