Basketball return made in Iowa loses enterprise relationship with Dick’s Sporting Items

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A Belle Plaine company says it is now losing money after Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the country’s largest sporting goods stores, ended its relationship. BallBack Inc. makes the Ballback Pro, a device that returns the basketball to the player who shot it. According to the company, the product has now been replaced by another product at Dick’s, which is made in China. BallBack had been in business with Dick’s for about 10 years and sold 70% of their Ballback Pro units there. An order just before Christmas would be the last time Dick bought the product to sell in stores. “On February 10th, I met with them at their facility,” said Mitch Smaller, customer service representative at BallBack. “While visiting there, I went to a local Dick’s and found what appeared to be a competition.” The competition was PRIMED Basketball Return, distributed by ASL, which has the same address as Dick’s Sporting Goods Headquarters near Pittsburgh. “He said we’ll just be honest with you. That’s our brand,” Smaller said of the meeting. “PRIMED is their Dick’s line, they produced abroad and were now technically the competitor. BallBack is part of a Chicago-based company, Mapletag, but is manufactured at Kelly Plastics in Belle Plaine. “It’s affecting production and staffing,” said Mike McInnis, President of Kelly Plastics. “I mean, it affects everything from production to shipping and receiving. Several, not just our company. There are many other companies that serve him as well, that figure is around $6,000, reducing the number of products sold by thousands. Now we’re on track to produce maybe 10 or 20 (thousand),” McInnis said. Kelley Plastics makes plastic products for various companies, but the Ballback Pro was a good seller. If a resolution doesn’t come between Dicks and BallBack, McInnis estimates he could lose anywhere from three to six employees, depending on what other customers need. “Becomes very concerned,” McInnis said. There’s no real prior notice from Dick’s that it would be gone anytime soon. “The cardboard insert that comes with the PRIMED Basketball Return shows that the product is made in China. It gives people in the US jobs beyond this factory,” said Kleiner: “It gives people in the US jobs, and you’re taking those jobs away from the people of the US and giving them to the people of China.” When BallBack complained to Dick about the termination of the distribution relationship, and Dick’s New China-Made Product, Dick’s denied doing anything wrong BallBack claims to own a patent on the Ballback Pro, but in a letter to Smaller, Dick’s says their product does not infringe that patent Smaller says he would like to resolve the issue with Dick’s and enter into a relationship with them In the meantime, he’s hoping the company can find other retailers to go to Comment KCCI a I’ve also reached out to Dick’s with the same request for a n Get an interview but never get a response.

A Belle Plaine company says it is now losing money after Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the country’s largest sporting goods stores, ended its relationship.

BallBack Inc. company makes the Ballback Pro, a device that returns the basketball to the player who shot it. According to the company, the product has now been replaced by another product at Dick’s, which is made in China.

BallBack did business with Dick’s for about 10 years and sold 70% of their Ballback Pro units there.

An order just before Christmas would be the last time Dick’s bought the product to sell in stores.

“On February 10th, I met with them at their facility,” said Mitch Smaller, customer service representative at BallBack. “While visiting there, I went to a local Dick’s and found what looked like the competition.”

The competition was PRIMED Basketball Return, distributed by ASL, which has the same address as Dick’s Sporting Goods Headquarters near Pittsburgh.

“He said we’ll just be honest with you. That’s our brand,” Smaller said of the meeting. “PRIMED is their Dick’s line, they produced abroad and now they were technically the competitor.

BallBack is part of Chicago-based Mapletag, but is manufactured at Kelly Plastics in Belle Plaine.

“It affects production and staffing,” said Mike McInnis, President of Kelly Plastics. “I mean, it affects everything from production to shipping and receiving. Several, not just our company. There are many other companies that service it as well.”

McInnis expects Ballback Pro sales to be down 70-80% by the end of the year. In 2021, the company had sales of $157,000. So far this year, that number is $6,000, cutting the number of products sold by thousands.

“Annually (it) probably ran somewhere between 40 and 60,000 units. Now we’re on track to produce maybe 10 or 20 (thousand),” McInnis said.

Kelley Plastics makes plastic products for various companies, but the Ballback Pro was a good revenue generator. If a resolution isn’t reached between Dick’s and BallBack, McInnis estimates McInnis could lose anywhere from three to six employees, depending on what the other customers need.

“Brings a lot of concern,” McInnis said. “We have a lot of stock. There’s no real prior notice from Dick’s that it’s going away anytime soon.”

The cardboard insert that comes with the PRIMED Basketball Return shows that the product was made in China.

“There are jobs for people in the US that go beyond this factory,” Smaller said. “There are jobs for people in the US and you’re taking those jobs away from the people in the US and giving them to the people in China.”

When BallBack complained to Dick’s about the termination of the sales relationship and Dick’s new Chinese-made product, Dick’s denied doing anything wrong. BallBack claims to have a patent on the Ballback Pro, but in a letter to Smaller, Dick’s says their product does not infringe that patent.

Smaller says he would like to resolve the issue with Dick and resume a relationship with them. In the meantime, he hopes the company can find other retailers to go to.

KCCI’s affiliate, WTAE in Pittsburgh, has contacted Dick’s for an interview about the story, but the company declined to comment. KCCI also contacted Dick’s with the same request for an interview, but never received a response.