Jason Sugarman on Why He Invested in a Merchandising Brand When Retail Stocks are Tanking

Jason Sugarman was not messing around when he invested heavily in Marucci Sports, a well-known baseball merchandising brand. It was not a spur of the moment investment, he says, but a carefully calculated one. He is a huge baseball fan, a game he loves as much as football, but his decision to invest in Marucci when retail brands are closing outlets countrywide was not driven by personal passions.

What is Marucci?

Marucci is a brand closely associated with Major League Baseball. The company originally made a name for itself by manufacturing maple wood baseball bats at a time when ash wood bats are prominently used. Marucci’s unique bats quickly became popular among pro players such as Ortiz, José Bautista, Chase Utley, and Albert Pujols. The company was first founded in 2002 by the former head baseball coach of Louisiana State University, who lent the brand his name. About a decade later, nearly a third of all pro baseball players were using Marucci bats. The brand retains its popularity still and has expanded to other baseball gear like gloves, apparel, and hats.

Marucci’s branding strategy is also unique in the sense that the company doesn’t sponsor individual players, like Nike, Adidas or similar sports brands. The brand instead brings in players to the company. This ensures that the Marucci name remains closely associated with baseball.

Investing in Merchandise When Traditional Retail is Failing

Mr. Sugarman follows MLB games, so the Marucci name has always been recognizable to him. He has watched the brand grow from baseball bats into conventional money makers like clothing. He sees great potential in Marucci to grow even more. Interestingly enough, his investment comes at a time when retail outlets are in the news for the wrong reasons.

Traditional retail is giving way to online shopping, Mr. Sugarman admits. But he doesn’t think that merchandising would suffer from lack of support from traditional retail outlets. He thinks brands like Marucci can thrive online, as legacy brands like Nike did in retail shops in malls in the nineties. Marucci may even have a bigger advantage thanks to how digital marketing drives online shopping, Mr. Sugarman thinks.

How a Brand like Marucci can Thrive in the Age of Online Shopping

Online shoppers are more scrutinizing than outlet shoppers because there are so many options available to them. So how does a brand like Marucci get to them? Mr. Sugarman thinks targeted digital marketing is what could make the difference for a brand like Marucci. Digital marketing can carefully choose a target customer base thanks to big data. Marucci is a brand that goes side by side with baseball. It’s not that difficult to get the merchandise on the computer screens of baseball fans, according to investors like Mr. Sugarman.

Marucci still makes sales offline as well as online. But with a carefully planned out marketing strategy, the brand can really bloom. Mr. Sugarman expects that Marucci will continue to make profits in the coming years, and more importantly sustain its current profit margins.

Jason Sugarman Talks about What He Loves Best

Jason Sugarman, the veteran private equity investor, is ready to talk about what he loves best after his family: sports. The financier has made quite a name for himself investing in professional sports teams, including Los Angeles Football Club, and Oklahoma City Dodgers. Mr. Sugarman also has investments in the e-sports teams Team Liquid, Marucci, and DSG Golf. He is also an active investor in L.A’s ever thriving restaurant scene as well.

Investing in LA Football Club with Celebrities

Mr. Sugarman is an investor in the Los Angeles Football Club, along with some other 26 people including former major athletes such as Magic Johnson, Nomar Garciaparra, and Mia Hamm. Both sports and movie star names are nothing new to the Club’s ownership team. Early last year, superstar comedian Will Ferrell became a part owner of the team. The Club’s ownership team is estimated to have a net worth over $4.5 billion.

Plans are already underway for the Club to have its own stadium at the Exposition Park, right nearby where the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will soon be. The club is dropping a whopping sum of $350 million for its future home. The stadium will have an open-air design and high-end NFL-style amenities like private suites and a rooftop bar, according to Los Angeles magazine.

The L.A. Football Club is scheduled to debut in 2018 season with an in-house trained team. Right now, fans can get a peek at the Club’s activities on its official website.

Investing in Innovative Restaurants in L.A.

Mr. Sugarman, an alumnus of Stanford University, is a dedicated foodie who has invested in some of the best restaurants in L.A., including a chain of local BBQ restaurants in Orange County, The Viper Room, El Dorado, The Six at Studio City, new grass fed hamburger restaurant. The Viper Room is a legacy restaurant in the city frequented by A-list celebrities like Johnny Depp. It was once a favorite diner of Johnny Cash.

Mr. Sugarman loves classic American dishes, and he invests in restaurants that serve mostly American cuisine. It’s not always easy in L.A., where tastes are for gluten-free, low-calorie, vegan, and mostly sugar-free dishes. The foodie scene in the city has been reinventing itself to match the tastes of high-flying millennials as well as traditionalists always in the search for the perfect pork chop. Mr. Sugarman, himself a fan of both fusion and classic style dishes, prefers to invest in restaurants that focus on quality and innovation with an eye out for improving social engagement.

What’s Next for Jason Sugarman?

Mr. Sugarman is expected to continue with his significant sports investments in the future. He will be heavily invested in the debut of the L.A. Football Club, which has ambitious plans for the future. He will continue his involvement in the ever rising e-sports sector as well. As a restaurateur investor, he hopes to pour his money into both new and old establishments that embody the foodie spirit of the city. Mr. Sugarman would mainly be invested in his sports portfolio that he hopes to expand in the coming years.

Jason Sugarman Adds Marucci Sports to his Investment Portfolio

Veteran investor Jason Sugarman has added baseball merchandising brand Marucci Sports to his ever expanding investment portfolio. Mr. Sugarman has been in the private equity business for over 20 years, but he is best known for his extensive investments in sports. He is a part owner of the Los Angeles Football Club, a Major League Soccer team that will debut in 2018 with a grand stadium. He partially owns several other football teams, has stakes in e-sports, and has dabbled in L.A.’s restaurant scene as well. The Marucci investment is Mr. Sugarman’s first ever major foray into baseball and merchandising.

Marucci, a Big Name in MLB

Marucci Sports is practically synonymous with Major League Baseball. The brand manufactures the world’s most famous baseball bats. The company was founded in 2002 by Jack Marucci, who was then the head training coach at Louisiana State University. Currently, Marucci Sports is co-owned by Kurt Ainsworth and Joe Lawrence, two of the best known MLB players. Marucci made a name for itself by promoting maple wood bats over ash wood ones, which was once the most prominent material for baseball bats.

Marucci bats have been used by a number of the best known MLB players, including David Wright, David Ortiz, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, José Bautista, and Carlos Beltrán. By 2013, more than one-third of all MLB players were using Marucci bats. The brand now makes more baseball gear, including batting gloves, aluminum bats, fielding gloves, baseball clothing, and similar merchandise.

Unlike other major sports brands like Nike, Marucci does not individually sponsor players. Instead, the brand brings in players to be part of the company itself. Marucci’s current board of directors includes José Bautista, Andrew McCutchen, David Ortiz, and Albert Pujols.

How Jason Sugarman Came to Love Baseball

Mr. Sugarman’s investment in Marucci is not solely a business decision. Along with football and soccer, baseball is one of his major passions. He likes the game because of the immense physical effort that goes into play, as well as the mental strategies players have to devise to actually win. Mr. Sugarman’s all time favorite baseball player is Clayton Kershaw, the prolific pitcher for Los Angeles Dodgers. The hometown team of Dodgers is, of course, Mr. Sugarman’s favorite team as well. Kershaw tops the baseball’s highest paid athlete’s list, along with the three-time World Series champion Buster Posey, who has an endorsement deal with Marucci.

Mr. Sugarman is invested in baseball nearly as he is invested in football. He never misses a Dodger’s game, at least not if he can help it. He hopes to cash in on the popularity of the Marucci brand, which doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon. Mr. Sugarman’s immediate plans for his baseball fandom are to sit back and enjoy the games. Next year, the LAFC, which he partly owns, will debut at its grand Banc of California Stadium. While that presents an ambitious step for Mr. Sugarman and his co investors’, he plans to simply enjoy baseball in the meantime.