There are a lot of experiences that have shaped the company, some which have set the precedent. Naysayers and the underlying premise of you'll never make it is what drove Freddie and the crew to push along. Tater from it's infancy was being compared to the largest players in the industry - while the comparison at the time was unfair, it was what ultimately drove the company to be where it stands today.
Yo soy Aaron Bracho, y yo soy Tater (I am Aaron Bracho, and I am Tater)
I'm Quentin Holmes, and I am Tater
I am Onix Vega, and I'm Tater
Miah: Welcome everyone, we're here back for another episode of We Are Tater. I'm your host alongside, Freddie. Let's talk about this first episode. This is gonna be a jam-packed one. It's gonna be kick-ass. We're gonna talk about what makes Tater undeniable. What drives us and what keeps us going. This first story is a good one so we're just gonna jump right into it. Freddie let's go.
Freddie: So, I know we talked about the Tater Kong, 2015, a couple other things, but there's a lot of underlying, you know, the underlying premise of the Tater Kong and why we had a chip on our shoulder, why we wanted to make something of that nature. There was a lot of experiences that I think were, you know, we didn't really want to talk about in the beginning because we didn't know how the podcast was going to be. But with all the good feedback and great feedback everybody's been giving us, you know, some people who do know those stories say hey you should just share it, why not? I mean this one is really what sets the precedent when we first started the company, was, you know, when we talked about I was leaving my lunch break for my job I'd go to different facilities and show off the bats and I would I'll just try to get people to either learn about the brand, demo the bats out, and it was like there's always this recurring theme where it's like, well you're not so so-and-so. You're not this company. You're not that company and I'm not gonna drop any company names. But you're talking about the biggest companies in the industry that have been around for over a hundred years. I'm like well yeah I'm a 24 year old, college graduate, literally graduated like four months ago, with 100 bucks in my pocket. Yeah I'm not a multi-million dollar company. But where we win is going to be on quality. And there's been times, countless times, where I would go into a place and they'd be like hey you're pretty smart. How much do they pay you to work at Tater? And I'm like no I'm like the owner of the company. They wouldn't believe it. I'm like I'll just pay you to work, you know, don't you know you don't need to do that and uh people wouldn't understand it. It was a lot of naysayers, it was like this underlying like, you'll never do it, you'll never make it, you know, what makes you so good. Like what is there a magical force where you get your wood like that nobody knows about. Like being super sarcastic and it just left a bad taste in my mouth and it really just, you know, gave me a reason to kind of push along. So before even putting a final product out there, we ended up ordering wood from all over the country.
Miah: Literally every single supplier. So to break it down for you guys, most MLB grade or big league grade wood comes from the same section of North America. I mean, but when we were starting, we were learning. We had to try everything out. You never know.
Freddie: So we went through big mills, small mills. I mean guys that were doing it on their own. We went to mills that were making what would they call billets or dowels for the biggest companies in the game. What I didn't realize was for some of these bigger players you'd need to put a bigger P.O., or purchase order, for those of you who don't know. And being a kid that just graduated college, working a minimum wage job. Not necessarily. Barely over minimum wage job. I was barely making my car payments and student loan payments. So, you know, for a couple, we just use my credit card and I pay them down little by little and sometimes we got screwed over with the quality wood where we couldn't do anything with it. You know, we couldn't even make training bats out of it so we would do like trophy bats. Like I remember one of the bats, you know, one of the first billets that we had, I ended up gifting. You know we made the bat very nice, was a trophy bat for display, but we did it for my high school coach. One big issue with that was you needed to have a big order of a skid or a large quantity of billets. So we ended up uh, we didn't have any money to buy the wood. But we got a couple orders from a couple different colleges around the area. It was thanks to Georgie, he's a guy who's a family friend of ours. We've known him forever. He actually called me up because he knew that, you know my dad was talking to him, and he has a company that he runs and getting advice. He's been a, you know, he was very...
Miah: It's always good to have someone who's been in situations to talk about.
Freddie: Like a mentor in the beginning too where we didn't really know what was going on. He fronted us the money. He was like here here's 20 grand and if you can't pay me back then it's all right and I was like, I was in shock.
Miah: Yeah because what we didn't know when we started the company, and this is still 2015. We were still doing everything in our house. The lathe is now in our garage. What used to be the old room where, it was like a computer room and slash like I guess you would say laundry room. My dad had built a couple of racks out of two by fours where we would end up storing the wood because we couldn't store the wood in our garage. The garage was too moist and humid. The wood would have picked up weight. So that's super important when you're making bats. There's a specific moisture content that you got to keep the wood at. So we're like, you know let's keep it in the house. Room temp. So luckily we had, Serrano, who we talked about last episode. That he drove up to get the first couple skids of wood because we didn't have enough capital to pay for the shipping to get it shipped to us.
Freddie: Yeah it was kind of, it's kind of crazy when you think about it. You know I remember one time we had to wake up at like 6 a.m. because when we did have enough cash to pay for a shipment, we couldn't have them delivered to our house. So we had to go to George's place.
Miah: There's no loading dock at your house. There's no loading dock.
Freddie: I still remember it was like six inches of snow. We have a huge slope we have to go up and we don't know if we were gonna make it up the hill. But thankfully we did. But that's kind of like, you know, we needed to find the best quality wood because I was tired of people saying like, oh your bats are this, your bats are not this, oh you know what I know a guy who owns a company they can just make the bats for you. It's like no we don't want somebody else making the bats, we want to make them ourselves.
Miah: Yeah we will spend the money to get the best wood out there like it's okay. We'll do it.
Freddie: Yeah, that's something a lot of people didn't understand or didn't want to understand and really they were just a bunch of, you know, some people, you know. I still remember people say, oh you're not going to make it, or you'll never have a pro player using your product. I remember that conversation. And those are the times that kind of like juiced me up.
Miah: Yeah, you know, now we look back on it. We just finished 2021, you know, pro season, and 16 guys in the bigs. Over 200 minor league guys. Independent guys. Players overseas. It's like you remember those conversations and those are some of the conversations that motivate you when we would talk about them as a family. Like so-and-so said we'll never have a pro player. We're going to prove them wrong.
Freddie: Yeah and I mean it wasn't just, even people that weren't involved in baseball. It could be just, you know, somebody I grew up with or even some of my high school friends were like you know what. You know what I learned one time? And this is word for verbatim what he said and we were just like catching up. I haven't seen him in a long time. He goes people with the lowest IQ try to start a company. I said what do you mean by that? Why? What do you got to say? And now it's like he's the one that always wants to wear a Tater shirt or Tater hat or wants to be featured on something. He's like you don't even play baseball bro. It's like you used to talk so much crap and now that Tater's successful and this is, and it could be anything. Could be players that saw us grinding and were like, oh, give me a free bat, right. We didn't, we don't give out free bats. So they hated on us and now they were like oh how can I be a part of you guys. I'll pay for whatever, whatever. And that's great. I mean I'm glad you guys, but those moments where people don't know what you're going through. People don't know that you haven't eaten in eight hours or ten hours during spring training because you're budgeting and you're eating dollar menu day to day because you only have a thousand bucks for the next three weeks to hold you over. And you have, you know, there was times where yeah we skipped meals and we had to go to Walmart and buy cliff bars and use that for lunch and dinner. Yeah, we did. But people don't know that, you know. And those are the moments where people when they doubt you. it could be coaches, baseball players, family members, friends. It could be anybody.
Miah: Yeah there's, now that we're seven years into it, it's like you remember the stories and you remember all those days that you grind. You remember all the things that you went through and then it's just not only the motivation but, as although we have talked about the big Tater community that has fueled and helps us out so much. There's some other things that happen that really push us to keep doing better, you know. We had a good bat. Our bat is still very good and it will continue to be one of the best bats in the market. But then we want a fielding glove. Oh what makes your fielding glove as good. So for those who don't know, 2022 we are officially, officially launching, uh we have been in four or five years now, in the R & D phase of our fielding gloves. And for the last three years, we've had guys game the gloves in the professional level, 140 games, and they've been loving them. So that's another thing, you know. They're not only, it's just something that continues to happen.
Freddie: Yeah you know what and honestly as much as I appreciate my Tater community that supports us, I also appreciate the people who doubt us because you really push us to be better, right.
Miah: This ties into baseball, right. We both played baseball. This happened to us when we were playing baseball. Oh you're too small. You're not good enough to play on the varsity team. But guess what? It still happened. You know freshman year. Or you're too short. You're too slow. All those things, it happens to baseball players on a daily basis. You know, you're from New England. The chances of you getting drafted are much lower, right.
Freddie: Yeah I mean look at, and this is why I love Matt Batten. He's one of our AAA players for the Padres now on the cusp of being in the big leagues. And he's a guy that went to a smaller school. Connecticut kid, kind of overlooked. Put into work, just like us. We really relate so well because of that because he hits for three hours a day, he puts into work, he lifts, he does everything he needs to do, he does everything right. You know one thing about us we always take the high road. So as much as people talk and send us emails or whatever, DM's, or even just say to people who we know that are that very close to us and they don't know. We don't take it to heart and we don't backlash. And the same thing with Batten and just it's just like numbers don't lie. So we'll keep on producing. He keeps on producing and at the end of the day, that's all that really matters. Consistency. Yeah it's those types of players like Batten, who are the gritty guys who have something to prove that really all the guys that use Tater are those kind of guys.
Miah: Yeah they're the foundation of the athletes that promote our product on the biggest stage.
Freddie: Those are the guys that really push it to the next level. Whether it's their game, their branding, their personal brand, how they carry themselves as a person, they always take that high road because they know that, you know, and as much as they have something to prove, they also have people to lead, right. You have people at home that are looking up to them. So yeah maybe you're the 30th round pick or whatever or late round or last minute invite, free agent sign, but there are kids in the facility that you train at or your family members that look up to you because as athletes and also us as you know business owners, people look up to us because we're following our dreams because a lot of people don't do that. They're either too afraid and they and they find the confidence through us, right, and that's why they promote us and they support us so much.
Miah: Yeah they feel so closely related to the brand.
Freddie: Yeah so that's one thing that defines the company and I really feel like that's very unique. You know we do have a brand voice. We do have, you know, the Tater Kong obviously that has a chip on the shoulder. But the Tater logo goes beyond just what's on the bat. It goes beyond just the quality of the glove or the batting glove. It's the people who make the company. That work here. That use the product. Used the product. Or just overall just support us with shares, likes, comments. Giving us feedback. You know I love getting those messages from people from a DM that maybe they've never even played baseball before but was like wow you guys are really doing.
Miah: It's like some of those days get hard and it's you know seven days a week you're working. Shout out to, and I'm sorry if I bombed the last name, but Sammy Shivo from Cali. I appreciate you man. You sent us messages. You sent us a video of you saying how much you like the Tater stuff. It's like it really helps out. We love it.
Freddie: Yeah because it's those tough days. You know and it doesn't really get to us because as you know the negative comments or you know I don't think people even have the confidence to say to my face anymore or your face anymore but in the past when people didn't know maybe we're even in the room. They were talking about Tater like oh they're not gonna be anything. Or I've even been in places where people would say they were the owner of the company and I'm sitting in a room they don't even know who I am. Yeah, because it was like Tater was on its uphill and they were like trying to show boat or whatever. It's like those moments where even, you know, like you hit it when we were younger and were smaller athletes and people were saying oh you'll never play high school baseball. Like, yup, varsity four years. Oh you'll never played college. We both did it. So it's like well get there one way or the other. And at the end of the day that's what makes this company so great. And the people like I said, it's not the logo. It's obviously all the people that stand for what we are and how we do because it's just, I know that when people wear the Tater shirt or the hat or whatever, they're proud. Because they know they live the same lifestyle in different industries. Or, you know, they look up to the guys who use this stuff.
Miah: Yeah I mean you get guys who wear the, you know, don't even play baseball and they're going to a big league game they're wearing a Tater shirt and they're showing off that they're wearing their Tater shirt. They're sending us pictures. That's awesome because that's part of that's the reason why we do this. You know, this is the big community that everyone under this umbrella of Tater all cares about one thing and it cares about seeing Tater grow as big as it can be.