MVP Lab Report – Jan 2021
The MVP Lab Report January 2021
I am excited to bring you this long overdue MVP Lab Report. In this report, I’d like to provide some insight on the progress of our ongoing efforts to increase our capacity and keep up with the unprecedented demand that disc golf has been facing since the onset of the pandemic. Since we have missed a couple of months of Lab Reports, I will make sure to touch on a handful of topics in this report to make up for the extra time everyone has been waiting.
We’re excited to say that we have achieved our previously mentioned goal of doubling our production capacity by the end of last year. The expanded capacity has been tremendously beneficial in getting more items back in stock for this new restock release. This most recent release consisted of one new disc (Cosmic Neutron Insanity) along with a restock of 28 discs.
We still have a lot more machines and auxiliary equipment incoming to our facility, and we’re expecting to double our capacity again by March. Over the next few months, we expect that most items in our lineup will see a restock, however, we expect that it will still be quite some time before products become fully stocked and remain in stock. We are closely evaluating current production and sales trends to determine whether or not an additional increase in capacity is needed. Our facility has much more room for continued expansion beyond this, so we’re ready to take on the long term growth of disc golf.
We have also rapidly grown our staff to keep up with this demand. We had 22 employees on staff in early 2020, we have scaled up to 40 employees by the end of 2020, and we expect to have close to 60 by March. Nearly all departments of the company have doubled in staff, and the production team will have 4 times as many personnel than in 2020.
For most of the 28 recently restocked discs, we produced a quantity that was greater than what sold in all of 2019 (last “normal” pre-pandemic year) for each model. With that being said, we still sold out within 24 hours of this week’s newsletter announcement. I cannot overemphasize how unprecedented the rate of growth has been for disc golf, and how much effort is involved to scale capacity this quickly – especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has consumed the supply of plastics molding equipment. The equipment incoming by March was purchased more than 6 months ago.
Another essential element of our rapid expansion is the implementation of a new ERP system, which will replace the small-business accounting platform that currently we use. The new ERP system will be crucial to our revamped order and inventory management. The rapid growth experienced in 2020 overwhelmed the system we had in place, and the need for a new system was readily apparent. We will be transitioning to our new ERP system by this Spring or Summer. Our dealers have been incredibly patient throughout 2020 with the ongoing order delays and stock outages, and we’re eagerly looking forward to having a new system in place that will dramatically improve the dealer ordering experience.
I also want to touch on a handful of other topics aside from our rapid expansion. We have some new bags and accessories that will be available in upcoming releases. Axiom will see a nice expansion in options of bags – including the Axiom Cell, Axiom Voyager Lite, and the long awaited Axiom Watermelon Voyager Lite. Axiom Shuttle will also see a restock soon.
With the apparent high demand for Axiom Watermelon products, we also decided to produce an Axiom Watermelon Umbrella. The seeds have already been planted, and we expect to have this batch of Watermelon Umbrellas by summertime. Does anyone have any other requests for Axiom Watermelon accessories?
One other new accessory item that will be coming soon is the large 51-LED UV Flashlight to complement our new Eclipse line, as was discussed in GYROPalooza. We also intend to expand our glow lineup with some new options this year. However, there have been some unforeseen challenges with our glow technology that it requires special equipment in the production process. This additional equipment will not impact the performance of our glow material in any way, rather it means that it requires more time to develop new glow models than we had originally planned. With that being said, we already have the necessary equipment for additional glow models en route to our facility.
The biggest factor that will limit how many additional glow discs we add to our glow lineup will be how quickly we can scale production with getting discs back in stock and releasing new items. Our top priority still remains restocking the existing discs in our lineup. We do plan to release new discs throughout the year, although new releases might be smaller than in previous years in lieu of restocking many items.
We have been listening to your feedback about the new Fission plastic. We want to assure you that we are always in the mindset of continuous improvement, so we will look into ways to achieve the properties that everyone is looking for in Fission plastic. The reason that Fission plastic is more firm now is to achieve more consistency and compatibility with a larger range of models. The softer plastic poses a higher risk of inconsistency, especially with increased dome. We will work on developing a formulation that balances achieving a better grip without increasing the dome too much, although an increase in dome will inherently occur the softer the blend becomes.
We have also heard everyone’s feedback about Electron Plastic being more firm than anticipated. We have overestimated how firm the new formulation is for solo-molds (i.e. the previous runs of Cosmic Electron Pilots) as most of our trials previously conducted were in overmold discs. We will work on developing a formulation that is more suitable for both overmold and solo-mold discs.
One of the greatest challenges with developing new plastic formulations is the fact that the properties of the plastics change over the course of 24-72 hours after being molded. That means once a trial has been conducted, we must wait at least this period of time before forming any conclusions and start working on a new hypothesis. This includes anything such as dome, grip, flexibility, parting line height, etc. This is why the development of new processes and formulations requires many weeks or months to achieve the desired and repeatable results. Regardless, our philosophy of continuous improvement always remains in place, therefore, our capabilities and quality will remain ever growing for the long term.
Another process we will improve in the near future is the trimming of flash and injection points. In the past, we reported on the implementation of flash trimming for all of our discs – this was partially done by machine and hand. We’re redeveloping this process to be completely done by machine, which will result in much more repeatable and smoother trim. Other companies apparently charge more for their “smooth feel” and “high polish” golf discs, but these qualities will remain commonplace for all discs in the MVP, Axiom, and Streamline lineups.
Lastly we want to extend our humble thanks for the extraordinary support from all of you in 2020, and we look forward to making 2021 even more exciting. We’re also beyond excited to have James Conrad join Team MVP, and we look forward to supporting his performance for many years to come.