Made in WNY: KanJam

Jul 2, 2014|

Brian Mazurowski sits down with KanJam Co-Owner Mitch Rubin to talk about the origins and future of what is becoming America's new favorite backyard game.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Can -- original is. In outdoor game that is played. In backyards parks beaches. Anywhere you can set up the the game. It's a game that is played with two people on each team. And you throw -- deflect the frisbee to score 21 points. It's a friendly game but it can be very competitive. Way guy. Trying explain it to people lose it's like horseshoes. But far easier to setup. Is that somewhat accurate -- it's only like court issues in that sheer youth you're throwing an item to score 21 points but where it totally differs is that -- engine is in -- active. So when you throw the disc you're throwing to your partners deflecting that this. So you're never really standing around waiting for your turn Euro is involved. You don't get out of the way you get into yes to your partners standing there to deflect to score points to 21. But. As you know can Jim has -- unique feature of an instant win slot so if you're losing. By nineteen to four and thrown instant win its instant win game over. And there's hardly anything more exciting than throwing instantly what we've seen here in the back incredible. Lots of -- -- -- your assembly line set up twenty plus people working in the factory at one time but that's not how it all started right can you give us a sense of where the idea came from and then how would you and your partners democratic change. It goes back to the mid ninety's when when atrocious under my current business partner and his. Partner -- swisher. Were playing a game in north kind of -- that at the time was loosely called garbage can frisbee. And there were group of guys that were played together once a week and eventually. Charley and Paul got together and said you know. Let's come up with a rules system for the us. So. State did and Charlie took the bull by the horns and I came up with a -- system they both got a patent on the game. And they moved forward. From the mid ninety's to the early two thousands. At that time Charlie was. Working on developing manufacturing process. And Paul was a teacher and in north I don't want to schools. So they together that they came up with -- idea they will present this to schools. As PE curriculum and they ended up getting into a number of high schools in Western New York. By the the early two thousands. Things were moving along but they needed a little push to bring it to market. So. That's when I came in and the three of us. We're going to work together when Paul decided that it was better for him to step by the side so I've bought him out. Then Charlie and guy in 2006. Became business partners and we read develop the game we made it consumer friendly. And we started to market the game. In those early days of manufacturing arm every time -- phone you're making -- jam on a pool table in the basement can you give us a sense of what that's like trying to make these games and then where you. Kind of under pressure did you sell the games before you had a -- You back in the early days in 2006. Charlie had goals in his basement and I Hackl holes in my basement. And we would get orders. IA by phone call or by mail -- -- our web -- wasn't even up and running to accept orders at that time. So we would get phone calls from individual people. And we would put together. Games in our basements and then that morning. I would take them to the post office. And put them on line and put him on the floor and I would usually have four or five games and I would be pushing them up to the pet owner and then eventually get there and we -- them out by. Priority now. You talked a little bit about how you've grown in the game in schools now that that seems pretty unique and unique to a product like -- -- now many products will be able to do that. Because can -- meets the the criteria and standards of the PE class for a hand eye coordination and four. Quality and courteous play amongst the students. It has grown. In schools because gym teachers look at it as a as a game it's not a physical contact game. It has sportsmanship. And principles solos that teachers like to have it. In schools so that -- it students that may be. Very athletic two students who are not as athletic. Have the same ability and can jam and can compete against each other so it's not uncommon for. Someone who is not. Generally considered athletic can beat the high school quarterback king -- engine. -- results of that and being in schools have you noticed that -- him very popular amongst a younger audience and kind of to that points. How popular is that with people who are older or -- that something like court. -- our target marketing can -- is sixteen to 25. And it's played in middle schools and high schools. Students play there's a portion of them that like it and they go out by it they tell their parents they the parents buy into the students. But you find that that all ages play can -- so what's really nice about the sport is that. It brings families together you look at. You'll get middle and high school students playing with their parents and and uncles and aunts and cousins that are at a family get together. And play all day. Your product is made him buffalo made you sick when people like me in buffalo OK it's put together its packaged in buffalo but it's really made in buffalo every aspect of what's in that box when you biking -- can you talk a little bit about that in no -- you get some of the things that. You see when you open McCain -- Charlie and I have made a a real point to. We have can jam made in the United States and in particular -- and buffalo. So our materials suppliers are all -- conference. We use -- plastics for our goals we used PM plastics. In Orchard Park for our injection molded discs. We used Jamestown container for our corrugated boxes we use it. Queen city imaging on main street in buffalo to print our instructions. We used Niagara label out and Akron to produce our labels for the games and we use. -- idea. As our advertising agency so in all aspects of the game. We use buffalo companies and we're proud to -- started here but how -- -- seemed to gain grow throughout the region and throughout the country over the last. Quite a decade yet I would say our first year. Of moderate success was to thousands. So. Because we started out in buffalo area schools and the popularity grew from buffalo when. The students went off to college and most of them went to SUNY schools. Around New York State they brought the game -- them. And they turn people line two hand jam around New York State. And then as we added schools throughout New York State and throughout the country. Students were bringing the game to college so it spread rapidly across the country. That way so from 2007. Where our first customer was -- sporting goods. And I always look at them very fondly because that's where all began at the retail level. And since then we are now in 4500. Retail locations across North America including Canadian tire in Canada. We are in Europe. We have a European distributor in in the Netherlands there about thirty miles outside Rotterdam and they distribute -- gym across Europe. We're currently in seventeen countries in Europe at the retail store level. We just signed a deal with another company to. To export can -- him to New Zealand and Australia. And we have some other countries that are interest -- including South Africa so. We just keep growing and the reason is that -- that people love. The game and if they didn't love playing it and they weren't passionate about it the game wouldn't spread -- What do you think of when you know people in Europe and possibly soon people all the way across the world in Australia are opening a box with big game that you make canned products that are made it break your -- buffalo. Well I can say Charlie. And myself are blown away by the fact that people are playing around the world. It's it's a great feeling to know. But I also say that it's not just us it is a complete team effort we have. Great. Core of people here -- Jamestown container that that work with us very closely on the assembly and then all of our suppliers -- buffalo. And I think all of us take great pride when they see the game. Played around the country and around the world because every -- take every component in the game very serious. So every. Company that produces a component takes great pride in that just does -- -- expanding and so we use your product line. The original game. Was our main product line. Right through 2000. And well in 2013. We launched our second game can -- mini which is the indoor outdoor version. Can jam it's a smaller version can be played. Inside the home basement. Rec room it's also great for college students in their dorms. This year at the international toy fair in New York City in February we launched our third game can -- splash. Which is the floating pool version and that has been big success. So far this year we have a new game that we're going to be launching. In. This fall. And I can't -- -- in the name yet but -- it it's just about ready to be to get our trademark and patent on it. And then we have another game that will be launching either in 20152016. Depending. The manufacturing process. We also have a complete. Flying disk line. Where we sell the tangent disk in in seven different colors we have glow in the dark. Product line. So we developed a a glow in the dark kit for the -- Jim games and now people can play. Can jam. After the sun goes down. We are also launching two new products. Accessory products. In the next month we're going to be selling can engine blows and it can Jim Carrey in case -- Angola. You wouldn't think he'd need to -- loves to play can't other serious players have been calling her candor and gloves for for quite awhile when you throw the -- for hours upon hours. You could potentially develop the area of blister on on your index finger. And then when you play. For long periods of time in -- deflecting. You develop. Bruises on your fingers at times and I'm talking about playing for hours the globes we'll eliminate that problem. The one last question I almost forgot to ask you is it's a great game as you mentioned before for the backyard fun for the whole family. That's at the T shirt that you're wearing right now and I'm sure that there is one year of off she roots in the league's around the world now may be can't -- can be a pretty competitive sport tenders league's teams popping up everywhere. There there are leaks all over the country now -- shirt I'm wearing right now is the the Rochester league. The league that started off as the other national hand gently right here in buffalo and error flew home runs that and he is really at the forefront of the league's. And helps out some people who call up to find out how to start a league in their area. And the important. That. I'm a Saturday August 9 will be having -- can -- world championship. At the birthplace of candor -- north kind of Wanda. People come from all over the United States and Canada. Two. To play in that and the winner is crowned the can jam world champion. And what's unique this year is there are leagues in Europe. And they are going to have a European champion ship and the winner of the European Championship is getting a flight. And and entry into the can -- world championship here.