For Stephen Hailey, a long-awaited day dream of owning his own business has come into reality. His company, The Baseball Mission, is not just a hit, it’s more like a grand slam home run to many of its supporters.
With 237 students, ranging from ages 6 to 22, coming coming from six states to attend his unique baseball training course, Hailey has created a business that just might enhance America’s favorite pasttime.
“We teach the complete game of baseball, but my thing is pitching,” he said. “We do it all here.”
The CEO and owner of The Baseball Mission has always loved baseball and wanted to have his own training facility, but “just had no clue,” he said, about where he needed to start.
The starting point was Cleveland State Community College’s Small Business Development Center. In October 2011, Hailey called his stepfather and told him his dream. His advice was to “find our local small business association and start there.”
Hailey went online and found the TSBDC at Cleveland State and signed up for a financial seminar. One of the first things he learned was to prepare a business plan. With the help of Bob Hotchkiss, he spent the next several weeks researching and writing his plan, studying demographics and facilities, and interviewing coaches.
“I put myself on the other side of the table and asked, ‘Why would I give me money to start a business?’” Then he gathered information in order to answer every question “that could be thrown my way.”
Hotchkiss helped Hailey with cash projections and explained the expenses involved in starting a business. “I then realized if I would have tried this on my own,” Hailey confided, “I would more than likely have failed.”
Although an unfortunate incident delayed his moving ahead somewhat — “really shattered my dreams” — Hotchkiss remained positive and told him not to give up. After a friend read his 15-page business plan, Hailey was further encouraged when he was told, “Anyone that has done that much research and has put so much effort into making certain of all of the facts, will not fail. Come pick up a check.”
That gave him the impetus to began looking for a building, again with the help of Hotchkiss. “He repeatedly called,” Hailey said, “and checked up on me, asking if there was anything that he could do for me.”
The TSBDC worked with Hailey in finding funding to open his business, and suggestions were given as to how to make contacts and find investors. He opened the doors of The Baseball Mission on Sept. 1, 2012.
But the support from TSBDC and Hotchkiss did not stop. When tax time rolled around, Hailey signed up for a tax seminar at CSCC, but decided he couldn’t do his own taxes and hired Scott Goble from Sound Accounting to be his CPA.
His success is phenomenal. He became a distributor for Rawlings sports equipment — and now is the largest bat distributor in Tennessee.
Hailey is looking to expand — adding more employees — and should triple his sales through the sale of sporting equipment to his clients.
The Baseball Mission, located at 3127 Frazier Park Dr. N.W., Cleveland, is a training program and facility which provides training for young adults in baseball and softball.
Primary customers include local baseball and softball teams, athletic organizations and recreational programs.