Carrollton-based baseball company D-BAT signed a deal that had the company rounding the bases and sliding into the global big leagues as it became an international enterprise.
The March 31 franchise agreement, inked by D-BAT CEO Cade Griffis with D-BAT Vice President Kyle Griffis, Cade’s brother, grants Douglass Sports and Culture—a company that owns sports training facilities in China—permission to open 10 franchised D-BAT locations in China.
The company’s new baseball “academies” will be the first of their kind in that country, and represent D-BAT’s first step into the global market. “We will basically be somewhat introducing baseball to the youth in China,” Cade Griffis said. “I think it is going to open up some doors to other international markets for us.”
D-BAT is a baseball brand that sells baseball equipment and owns and franchises baseball academies. Each of the academies has coaches and indoor batting cages. The company currently has 40 academies across the United States, with franchise agreements sold for 22 additional locations in the U.S. that are expected to open soon.
Griffis says that Beijing is the first Chinese location D-BAT has targeted. Follow-up plans include opening academies in Shanghai, Guangazou, and Shenzhen. If the Chinese venture is successful, the company aims to expand next into countries like Taiwan, Korea, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Canada.
A franchise agreement with D-BAT costs around $35,000 per location, which would make the Chinese deal a $350,000 venture for D-BAT, which is an acronym for “Developing Beliefs, Attitudes, and Traditions.”
The D-BAT China stores will look similar to their American counterparts and will be located mainly in malls. The locations will feature American coaches who will come to Dallas to train and then fly to China on year-long contracts. “We would like to find guys that are right out of college who want to explore, and amp up their resume by going abroad,” Griffis says.
In a statement, Weitao Ji, group vice president for Douglas Sports & Culture, said, “President Donald Trump is going to like D-BAT China, because we are buying American and hiring American.”
The Chinese deal thrusts D-BAT one step closer to Griffis’ goal of 100 locations. “I had a goal six years ago to get to 50 locations, and we have kind of blown that out of the water,” he said. “In six years we have gone from a $2 million company to a $30 million company.”
The company expects to see 35 to 40 percent growth this year, Griffis added. “When I started D-BAT in 1998 … I honestly didn’t think we would have more than one location,” he said. “[But] growth is also about finding the next big trick up your sleeve, and I think we just pulled a Houdini.”