Friday, September 18, 2015

Response to Survey Comments- including Scheduling of Tandems

Thanks for all the great comments to our recent Survey. We’ll be moving the Tandems to Saturday morning as per the wishes of the majority. Our objective was to provide activity during the 8 hours on Friday before the Individual competition. And thanks to Cheri for bringing to our attention some of the concerns of the Competitors. We can’t respond to potential issues without input. We realize that we cannot please everyone.

I’d like to address every single comment, but the survey is anonymous; so this broadcast newsletter will have to suffice. 

The Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge is an amateur sport. We tried a box office and it didn’t work. The ability to generate revenue is directly related to the number of people who are willing to pay to watch. When an event is free, regrettably, that’s what people feel it’s worth. 

Virtually everything that you see on ESPN is a professional sport (or a collegiate sport with deep pockets). A time slot is $140,000 - way beyond our operating budget.

While we tout the fact that many of our standout athletes are world-class in their own right, this is not a sport that you can do for a living. However, we have costs not unlike those of professional sports. And for the income to support our operations, we humbly thank Scott Safety, without whom there would be no Firefighter Combat Challenge. There is nothing like this business model- anywhere: an industrial company, putting money back into a market as a way of saying thank you for all you do. 

Saying that, it’s important to understand that for us at On•Target, as a company, we must live within a budget. Sponsor-recruitment never stops. But sponsors will only contribute with an expectation of a return of their original investment and interest on that investment. Scott is a SBU (strategic business unit) of Tyco International, a publicly held company. The shareholders of that company expect a return on their investment. If we cannot demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between Scott’s sponsorship and the sales of Air-Paks, there would be little compelling reason to support the Challenge. 

We have been around long enough (25 years) to create a history. In this very small pond in which we exist, there are no secrets. Sponsors have come and gone; and they talk about their successes and failures. This is a niche that is uniquely filled by companies that make a market in the fire service. The fire service itself is a TLB (tiny little business). For example, Outback Steakhouse sells more product than the entire GNP of the fire service. 

Some sponsors (a very few) support the Challenge for altruistic reasons. But that has limitations. And even if they can’t track sales related to their support, they can measure thank-you’s. Regrettably, some of these companies have stated their reason for leaving is the absence of tangible recognition, including a single thank you.

So, the practical reality is that we will continue to press on, year round, with the selling of the event to hosts that recognize the family values and patriotic nature of this event. And while we would like to believe that our revenue generation would cover registration fees and more valuable prizes, the stark reality is that we have to charge our athletes, just like all the other amateur sports to help defray the costs of what is an expensive operation. The sum total of all the registration fees (which have not been increased for 10 years) for an entire year would not cover the cost for one regional event. 

There have been a significant number of international “knockoffs” and imitators of the Firefighter Combat Challenge®, with liberal “borrowing” of our Intellectual Property around the world. A few sites have formalized a relationship and executed a license agreement. I am proud to be an American and what we have accomplished these past couple of decades. But, this is a very big country- with a land mass bigger than all of the European countries put together. None of these other operators bear the cost of transporting all the equipment to multiple events or paying the salaries of a road crew. We try to accommodate and serve as many firefighters as we logistically can every year. Our transportation costs represent the lion’s share of our operating budget. Foreign sponsor’s support is limited to a single event and can therefore provide a lot of amenities. None of these foreign venues had to invent anything or invest in the years of research and development that we have. This is what our staff does for their primary employment for months out of each year. 

For those of you who expressed your heart-felt thanks and kudos, it does make the crew feel appreciated. I’m always receptive to any input and will respond personally to any email at anytime and I trust that the information above will provide you with a better understanding of the mechanics of running the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge. 

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