Over on The APBA Blog today, The Baseball Zealot is getting ready for a new year and a new interview with the President/CEO of APBA, Mr. John Herson. The Zealot asks:
So, if you were in my shoes, what would you ask Mr. Herson?”
I started to leave a comment, but about 500 words into it, I thought I better pop on back to my own blog and stop hogging Tom’s space over there. These are the questions I’d like to ask:
- How did you first get involved in tabletop sports games?
- Why did you buy APBA?
- In your opinion, what makes APBA special? What does APBA have that other games or game companies don’t have?
- After 50-some years in business, what does APBA continue to do well – and what things are broken?
- Anecdotally, it seems that APBA’s demographics skew towards the over 45 age-group. Do you have a target demographic in mind when you consider future products and marketing?
- Though I’ve been playing Strat-o-Matic for over 10 years, I bought my first APBA product ever just this past October when I purchased APBA Soccer. I love the game. I’ll definitely buy more soccer season sets, and I’ll probably give the baseball & football games a try, too.
Since becoming involved in the APBA online community, however, I was baffled to find that there are older APBA collectors and players out there who seem genuinely angry at you, John Herson, personally. Why do you think that is?
- Though you’ve spoken to the topic directly before, I’d like to ask the question in a different way: What was the emotional impact of moving headquarters from Lancaster to Alpharetta? What was the emotional impact on your customers, and what was the emotional impact on you?
Personally, I disagree with those out there who call Herson out as gruff or unfriendly. In my career I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses – I noticed long ago that there are many varied personalities who have had success in business, but that the most successful small business owners are a lot like successful wartime Generals.
The best have this trait in common: they believe in their numbers and they act with pragmatic solutions and make decisions with unflinching rationality. There is no room for sentimentality in business or in war. Call me an amateur psychoanalyst, but from what I’ve seen, John Herson seems to fit that mold perfectly.
This trait is perfect in a startup software company. This pragmatism will serve you terrifically well to keep in mind if you run a mortgage brokerage, or a law firm. But what if the product you sell IS sentimentality? That’s the crux of the issue between APBA’s clearly intentional and pragmatic business decisions and the skepticism from APBA fanatics.
I don’t know the answer to mending the rift, and I don’t know what John Herson thinks the answer is. But I’m interested to find out.