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ARCHIVED  May 1, 1996

Sportronics hopes fans tune into team radios

FORT COLLINS – Sportronics Radios Inc. is capturing a portion of the licensed sports products market with FanRadio, a pager-sized AM/FM radio.

What makes FanRadio unique and desirable to sports enthusiasts is that it is purchased with a particular team’s logo. Fans choose from Major League

Baseball, the National Basketball Association or more than 40 major university logos.

While it is the only retail team-licensed radio product on the market today, FanRadio’s uniqueness is not enough to assure the company’s success.

William Paul Wanker, the Fort Collins-based company’s president, insists that adequate research and planning have been critical to the company’s

acceptance in the retail market.

The company was incorporated in October 1993, but its initial product offering came almost a year later.

Knowing that a great idea is not enough to grow a business, Wanker and his team began to gather as much information as possible on how to put

together a business plan and sales package. They chose the best people to work with that they could find, from suppliers and designers to legal

counsel.

The package they put together was the strongest they could present. That package, together with business-plan follow-through, gave collegiate and

major sports teams a product they couldn’t refuse.

“We spent about six to eight months on proprietary fence building, trademark issues, licensing, artwork, getting prototypes out to the leagues to look

at, FCC approval and things like that,” Wanker said. “We spent a lot of time setting it up properly.”

By late 1994, collegiate versions of FanRadio were ready for sale, with Major League Baseball and NBA logos available the following spring.

Licensing for the National Football League, National Hockey League, Indy and Nascar FanRadios is pending.

Sportronics boasts a three-man team with diverse experiences and talents. Each has strengths that contribute to the efficient and optimal operation of

the company.

Wanker, having had extensive experience with designers, trademarks, copyrights and presswork, knew that finding a company that could accurately

reproduce the logos was one of the first steps. He chose a Wisconsin company for its high-quality work. Colors are printed exactly as dictated by

league or collegiate standards.

As a licensed product with specific royalty arrangements and a widespread marketing base, every piece must be tracked. Jason Reed, the company’s

secretary-treasurer, applied his knowledge of finance and computer systems to set up the complex software necessary to track products and prepare

monthly and quarterly reports.

The product’s uniqueness has made it appealing to a wide variety of markets, but it has also created a challenge in developing a marketing strategy.

Current outlets include mass merchants, such as Wal-Mart and Target, drug and grocery stores, college and professional stadiums, sports specialty

shops and mom-and-pop shops.

Vice president Jim Mauro put his past retail experience to work in developing a mass distribution plan, which includes phone sales, trade shows,

promotional programs and listings in licensed products buyers’ guides. Mauro and Wanker send representatives to areas they can’t visit but often

personally visit buyers to pitch their product.

As a product that appeals to young sports enthusiasts as well as adults, FanRadio is promoted in kids’ magazines. The NBA Inside Stuff magazine,

sent to 750,000 kids, featured FanRadio as a giveaway item in their 1995 Dream Bedroom Contest.

With all the planning that goes into a licensed-product business, problems arise that can’t be predicted or controlled. Just as Sportronics was launching

its initial release of the Major League Baseball FanRadio, the baseball strike hit.

“There are things like a baseball strike that are always going to happen, and you need to be able to ride those periods out or figure out how to get

around them,” Wanker said. “And there’s no way you can predict those things. But you need to try to think of what could go wrong.”

With the collegiate and NBA FanRadios ready for market, the company was able to remain afloat through the strike.

Response to FanRadio has been enthusiastic. Wanker notes that kids and adults think it’s cool, using it to associate with their favorite team. Then it

becomes a fashion statement, and ultimately, a collector’s item.

Once it has secured its distribution base, Sportronics plans to market additional licensed electronics products nationally and internationally.

Sportronics Radios Inc.

208 Commerce Drive, Unit 1A

Fort Collins, CO 80524

(970) 490-2597

1-800-FAN EARS

William Paul Wanker, president

Jim Maura, vice president, operations

Jason Reed, secretary-treasurer

FORT COLLINS – Sportronics Radios Inc. is capturing a portion of the licensed sports products market with FanRadio, a pager-sized AM/FM radio.

What makes FanRadio unique and desirable to sports enthusiasts is that it is purchased with a particular team’s logo. Fans choose from Major League

Baseball, the National Basketball Association or more than 40 major university logos.

While it is the only retail team-licensed radio product on the market today, FanRadio’s uniqueness is not enough to assure the company’s success.

William Paul Wanker, the Fort Collins-based company’s president, insists that adequate research and planning have been critical to the company’s

acceptance in…

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