Special Ops Paintball: A Letter to KEE Action Sports - Special Ops Paintball

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A Letter to KEE Action Sports The Future of Paintball Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   I Am Oz 

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Posted 01 January 2010 - 09:54 PM

I wanted to speak to someone about the above topic; the future of paintball. I chose KEE because they seem to be the best hope for helping make sure my chosen sport will have a future... besides, KEE seems to be attempting the ma-Bell monopoly approach on the product line. - Could be a good thing if you listen to the players and field/store owners.

After watching company after company of paintball equipment manufacturers surrender to the current economy (and bad decisions on their own part), I find that paintball has now been set aside by a growing number of veterans as well as newer players. More and more players simply do not have the cash flow to offer up $50-$60 bucks per case for decent paint, and most field owners do not allow brands other than what they sell to be used at their fields. By the way - most of my friends and store owners that I have asked would have sold all of their gear and found a new sport if the .43 cal paintball "deal" had gone through. Greed takes its toll though, eh?

Buying a first marker, as well as all of the goodies that a new player wants, is now not an option. $150 - $180 for a pair of good pants is, well... just plain ridiculous.
Even I scoffed after seeing the new prices for the 2010 line on a couple of name products. Personally, I feel that the the fellow that is offering up the Valken line of clothing is completely out of touch with reality, and the line will never take off at their current pricing - no matter how hot the designs are.
Bobs markers are still king in my opinion, but your manufacturers make some good stuff as well. I know - I have pretty much everything in your entire lineup, either in my history or in my garage.

E-Bay, by far is now the most visited site for all of my team mates, buddies and new players that still spend their money on the sport. We support our local shop when we can, but for the best deals, he simply cannot match brand new or barely used items on the net. This is a lesson - hopefully KEEs backers (or bankers) will understand this and take the industry forward with their pricing.

KEE has a chance here to do just that: Keep the industry, and more importantly - the SPORT, alive. There are plenty of lessons out there for you to learn from. Hopefully, the conglomerate does not consider KEE a tax write off for the larger good. KEE is not designed to lose money.... is it?
If not, and if offering great products at good prices to the end user, and keeping the sport of paintball alive is what your company hopes to do...
Here's your chance.
Paint prices seem to now be the single largest reason that players are falling away from the sport. How about you start with lowering your paint prices to the store and field owners, so that they can offer this up as an incentive to bring in more players?
More players / new players entering the sport is what keeps the industry not just alive, but thriving - correct? So how about show us what your motives are:
Cash and dash - or sustaining our sport by doing whatever it takes to keep it alive.



Thanks for your time,

Michael "Mufasa" Daniel
Team Bad Juju / Wichita, KS.
Never try to corner anything that is meaner than you are
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#2 User is offline   Pirate 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 12:32 AM

View PostI Am Oz, on Jan 1 2010, 09:54 PM, said:

Personally, I feel that the the fellow that is offering up the Valken line of clothing is completely out of touch with reality, and the line will never take off at their current pricing - no matter how hot the designs are.

You're in the minority on that one. Valken gear is probably the best stuff out there. I use the Empire LTD pants from '09, and I like the Valken stuff more (especially that purple :P). But I'm like you. With college tuition/books and not having a job, I'm just not playing anymore.

By the way, Invert and Proto both make quality pants for under $100. I don't know where you're buying pants, but if they're $150+ then you're looking at the special runs/limited edition pants. Like the Valken stuff. Yeah, they have a run of $125 pants and $65 jerseys, but that's the top end stuff. Look at their lower tier stuff, it's not as much. The people paying $150 for pants are the people that play every weekend (like I used to). My LTD's were $150 and totally worth it. They've taken one hell of a beating since I got them and look just about new.

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#3 User is offline   UWANNAGO 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 12:36 AM

View PostPirate, on Jan 2 2010, 01:32 AM, said:

View PostI Am Oz, on Jan 1 2010, 09:54 PM, said:

Personally, I feel that the the fellow that is offering up the Valken line of clothing is completely out of touch with reality, and the line will never take off at their current pricing - no matter how hot the designs are.

You're in the minority on that one. Valken gear is probably the best stuff out there. I use the Empire LTD pants from '09, and I like the Valken stuff more (especially that purple :P). But I'm like you. With college tuition/books and not having a job, I'm just not playing anymore.

By the way, Invert and Proto both make quality pants for under $100. I don't know where you're buying pants, but if they're $150+ then you're looking at the special runs/limited edition pants. Like the Valken stuff. Yeah, they have a run of $125 pants and $65 jerseys, but that's the top end stuff. Look at their lower tier stuff, it's not as much. The people paying $150 for pants are the people that play every weekend (like I used to). My LTD's were $150 and totally worth it. They've taken one hell of a beating since I got them and look just about new.


Eh im kind of in the middle on both of this.

Personally I think most of the valken stuff is atrocious, the packs are cool...the pants are designed like the old empire pants but lack the extra padding that makes the new ones so great. I think the valken tactical line is going to be extremely successful though and I feel that alot of the "speedball" gear will take off with noobs...they seem to be a new redz in terms of sponsorship...selling slighty discounted packages for teams to get all matching gear but it really doesnt look that great. I think its good that valken had the backing to come into paintball with 20+ products and market hard and I think it will really help newer players but in the tourney scene I dont see anyone legit teams wearing their gear because I doubt they offer real sponsor packs and they are kind of the ed hardy of the paintball world.
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#4 User is offline   I Am Oz 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 10:43 AM

On the main point of the letter (The Valken comment was just a side note) - are there any other players / shop, or field owners that understand where I am coming from with the concern here? This is not about who makes the coolest / toughest / cheapest / most expensive / sexiest gear...

Players are simply not showing up in the droves that they use to. New players are for the most part, interested in the sport, but see paint prices (as well as the higher-end, good stuff that we all want) and realize that this sport aint cheap... especially if you are a junky like me.
Middle class American parents are simply not able to shell out the bucks to support juniors habit, and junior now understands that if they want to play - they have to put in the hours at work and then spend that hard-earned cash to be able to be on the field.
My plea with KEE is simply this: They have the cash... well, KEEs backers have the cash... believe me. They are in a position to bring paintball back from the brink. You guys know how many companies have been embraced by KEE thus far, right?
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#5 User is offline   5N1P3R 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 10:48 AM

Valken's pod packs are the same exact thing as my Empire 08 Action pack, just with different designs. Have you gotten a respond from KEE yet?
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#6 User is offline   I Am Oz 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 10:53 AM

I think its good that valken had the backing to come into paintball with 20+ products and market hard and I think it will really help newer players but in the tourney scene I don't see anyone legit teams wearing their gear because I doubt they offer real sponsor packs and they are kind of the ed hardy of the paintball world.
[/quote]

Teddy - I agree with the Ed Hardy comment. If you knew this guys history in paintball, you would have your doubts about them making a go of it as well. I wish them well - anything that helps us, I will support. I'll leave it at that.


View Post5N1P3R, on Jan 2 2010, 11:48 AM, said:

Valken's pod packs are the same exact thing as my Empire 08 Action pack, just with different designs. Have you gotten a respond from KEE yet?



No bud - I have not. In all honesty, I will end up speaking with one of the KEE reps. The fellow I sent the note to was the sales/marketing director. I'm sure he has no time for a lowly player like myself.
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#7 User is offline   mike7822 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 11:19 AM

View PostI Am Oz, on Jan 2 2010, 12:53 PM, said:

View Post5N1P3R, on Jan 2 2010, 11:48 AM, said:

Valken's pod packs are the same exact thing as my Empire 08 Action pack, just with different designs. Have you gotten a respond from KEE yet?



No bud - I have not. In all honesty, I will end up speaking with one of the KEE reps. The fellow I sent the note to was the sales/marketing director. I'm sure he has no time for a lowly player like myself.


If you resend the letter make it sound like your buying a lot of stuff :happy:
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#8 User is offline   Pyrate Jim 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 12:19 PM

View PostI Am Oz, on Jan 2 2010, 12:43 PM, said:

My plea with KEE is simply this: They have the cash... well, KEEs backers have the cash... believe me. They are in a position to bring paintball back from the brink. You guys know how many companies have been embraced by KEE thus far, right?


They may have the cash to bring it back, but is it worth it to them?
It's far more likely to come down to income, and if it ain't coming in then the corporate stance is cut the losses.
And if Kee cuts their loss, how many of these businesses they own go down?

The future of paintball is not in the hands of Kee or any other corporation. It's in the hands of the players.
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#9 User is offline   slinkyaroo 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 12:28 PM

I really don't understand what the OP is asking. KEE sells a case for $25 maybe. Dropping it $5 or 25% isn't going to do anything. Fields will still sell them for $60+.

KEE is good for setting up small customers. They can set up any field and such. Products that are weak sellers are discontinued and not produced at lower costs.

There's a reason KEE is the powerhouse. K2 had power once but look what happened to them when they went cheap and box store available.


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#10 User is offline   I Am Oz 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 01:40 PM

View Postslinkyaroo, on Jan 2 2010, 01:28 PM, said:

I really don't understand what the OP is asking. KEE sells a case for $25 maybe. Dropping it $5 or 25% isn't going to do anything. Fields will still sell them for $60+.
KEE is good for setting up small customers. They can set up any field and such. Products that are weak sellers are discontinued and not produced at lower costs.
There's a reason KEE is the powerhouse. K2 had power once but look what happened to them when they went cheap and box store available.



So a power player like KEE dropping some of their prices would have no effect on players coming out more often?
And you are correct - ultimately, the final price is going to be offered by the vendor / field owner.... so, if his plan of not passing along the $5 - $10 discount on paint backfires on him, and he has no up-swing in players or sales at his store - then he is the only one to blame. KEE tried.
However - offer the discount to a kid that is struggling to have enough cash to be able to play, and I promise you.... that will be the decision maker for him.
It certainly helps my friends decisions to play more often, as well as my own.
K2 had more problems than simply "going cheap". KEE doesn't need to go cheap - they already have the product lines... all they need to do now is make them more readily available to players, even if it is for a limited time (like maybe until Obama leaves office and provided the economy hasn't collapsed? How's that "change" workin' out for ya?)

Not too far from here, in Neosho MO, Brass eagle paintball manufacturing division will close its doors in Feb. (look for KEE to go after them as well)
JT remains in business for now, but case in point is a pair of FX pants (2010) selling for $150. Granted, to me the pants are worth it because like the poster above, I play and or ref every weekend (weather permitting) at The Edge - so I will get my moneys worth out of them. However... charging a player $99.00 for the same pair of great pants, say until March 2010, will generate a hell of a lot more sales from players - both new and veterans. Considering it costs JT about $21.00 to make the pants... the profit margin is still way there.

Our local field / store owner is in survival mode right now. Between jobs being lost, weather in the Midwest, and the jokers we have in office making life-changing decisions for all of America at the moment, it's a wonder anyone spends money on anything except the bare necessities. KEEs backers have more cash than I can even fathom; they have the ability to at least make the attempt to get more players on the field by helping the store/field owners.
Speedball teams alone are not going to keep the sport alive. No amount of sponsorship or team building will generate enough revenue to keep the vendors in business. It simply does not work like that.
All I want to see is our sport growing with new players, and the veterans remaining in play. I have already seen far too many friends and players dump their gear and buy Wiis and Xboxes in place of their once upon a time favorite sport in the whole world. It doesn't appear to be getting better. If anything - it grows worse every year.
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#11 User is offline   Sheriff Matt 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 01:51 PM

I think the success of the future of paintball rests more in the hands of the consumer/field/store owner than it does anyone else. I think the future of paintball is going to rely on the revision of the sport. The way it has gone so far it has gotten cheaper and cheaper to play, but, on the other hand players were shooting more and more paint. Tournaments have already dropped their cap on max rate of fire. I think the future of the sport is going to rely on offering an even cheaper way to play which many people have already embraced. Limited rate-of-fire tournaments and pump-only tournaments/games really cuts down on the costs greatly. That's just my opinion but in the end people want what people want. People spend whatever they're going to spend on paintball no matter how fast they can shoot or how cheap the paint is.
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#12 User is offline   slinkyaroo 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 01:54 PM

Paintball products have never been cheaper then they are now. A SLG for $200. In 2005 you got a Spyder Rodeo for $200.

View PostI Am Oz, on Jan 1 2010, 11:54 PM, said:

Our local field / store owner is in survival mode right now.


View PostI Am Oz, on Jan 1 2010, 11:54 PM, said:

E-Bay, by far is now the most visited site for all of my team mates, buddies and new players that still spend their money on the sport.



^^^^ Besides the economy you are answering yourself why fields and stores are dying. Internet sales have hurt the local guys. Locals guys are closing up and the internet shoppers have no where to play. We are groomed to play on fields now. We started as an outlaw sport and I personally would love to go out and play a few outlaw games.

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 02:19 PM

Yeah, to the actual point of the thread (I got defensive because a good friend of mine's team has a Valken sponsorship, and he's helped me out a lot :dry:)

KEE is really just a distributor. I have some experience with distribution, middle men, etc. We won't go in to that.
KEE is just providing an easier way for all these companies to sell their product. KEE doesn't really control the cost, that lies with the manufacturer. Dye is the one selling a DM10 for $1000 or whatever. KEE passes along the DM10's to the stores, but in order to make a profit for their shareholders, they pass them along at $1100. The stores know the street value...sorry MSRP is $1200, so they buy them up below that cost and turn around and sell them for $1200. Everywhere along the line bumps up your price (Dye is probably selling them for less than $1000...the stores is where most of the price goes up).

In the end, you really can't ask the stores to lower their costs. They have to cover cost of employees, the building, utilities, etc. That's why you see these internet stores able to sell stuff cheaper. That's some guy keeping this stuff in his basement. The real place to lower costs is the manufacturer, and I really doubt you'll get Dye to drop prices.

The players are the voice and pulse of this sport, true enough. You need to get a lot of players behind you if you want to change anything. We all need to show the companies that we can't afford their $60+ case of paint. Shoot pumps, save money :P

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#14 User is offline   I Am Oz 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 02:21 PM

View Postslinkyaroo, on Jan 2 2010, 02:54 PM, said:

Paintball products have never been cheaper then they are now. A SLG for $200. In 2005 you got a Spyder Rodeo for $200.


^^^^ Besides the economy you are answering yourself why fields and stores are dying. Internet sales have hurt the local guys. Locals guys are closing up and the internet shoppers have no where to play. We are groomed to play on fields now. We started as an outlaw sport and I personally would love to go out and play a few outlaw games.


Things are a bit different now than they were in 2005. Even Smart Parts was forced to lay off quite a few people. At least they are still alive. As much as it pains me- Smart Parts played a huge role in the price of markers becoming more reachable. The Ion was a B-slap to every manufacturer out there... even Spyder.
When the Ion was released, we saw a huge market-flooding take place (kinda like '68 Mustangs), and the prices steadily went down from there.
The problem with flooding the market, is that there will start to be a 2nd market showing up on Ebay, PBN, etc for far less than the new price.
Again - hurting the store owners.
It's a balance, I know - but when you can offer a player a brand new product for only slightly more than last years, they will probably go for the new line up stuff... even if it's only to be "cool" in your friends eyes.
Me? PCS Jungle Camo Jersey is the toughest SOB ever made. XSV Camo pants - same. If all of my gear held up like these two items, the manufacturers would REALLY be going broke!

This post has been edited by I Am Oz: 02 January 2010 - 02:21 PM

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#15 User is offline   slinkyaroo 

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 02:33 PM

IMO the prices of items have to go up. Right now we are waiting for companies to dye off and see who survives. SP has done wonders for the industry for pricing. However they also showed that you can't make a vibe in the US and sell it for $90 to a reseller.

I think it's the scenerios that keep the sport going. New people and vets go to the events. It's like a rock concert where people want the experience of the event. I personally would like to see more manufacturers show up to these functions.


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