On this episode, Kris Dehnert, the CEO and Co-Founder of Dugout Mugs joined the show to talk about his emerging company. Don’t miss this one!

Videos from Kris Dehnert Interview

Show notes from Kris Dehnert Interview

Ryan Knuppel: All right. Welcome back to another episode of the Knup Sports Show. I’m your host Ryan Knuppel here with you each and every time. Thank you for giving us a little bit of your day to listen into what we have going on in the world of gaming and today, the world of Dugout Mugs. I got Kris Dehnert, CEO co-founder of Dugout Mugs with me today. Kris, pleasure to have you on the show.

Kris Dehnert: What’s going on? Thanks, man. Appreciate it. Thanks for having us.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, no worries. How are you doing today? You doing well?

Kris Dehnert: Doing really good, man. Wrapping up another Florida winter and it’s 70 degrees outside. Hopefully going to go and go golfing or something soon.

Ryan Knuppel: There you go. You’re probably not going to get a lot of sympathy from the people across the United States right now who’ve been dealing with the cold. Us here, living in Florida, we’ve been enjoying these nice weather. Cool, man. So, Dugout Mugs making some major noise across the nation, really with baseball coming up. I want to get into Dugout Mugs here very shortly, but first I want to hear a little bit about you, about your career path, and how you got started with Dugout Mugs or how you got to where you are today.

Kris Dehnert: It’s pretty fortuitous the way things transpired. I’ve had a number of different deals. I think Dugout Mugs is my seventh venture thus far. Restaurants, I was in the cannabis space, I had social media management companies, I had a huge apparel company where we did eight figures, a lot of different things. And I was really busy being really busy and I had a health scare, nothing lifestyle related, wasn’t anything crazy like that, but I was so busy I didn’t go to the hospital and foolishly, in hindsight, I can’t believe it happened. But when I was laying there in that bed and trying to figure out what next, I made some promises to God and myself to put the right people in the right path and I’ll take that opportunity.

Kris Dehnert: Randall Thompson, my business partner, he invented this really cool mug made out of a baseball bat, so it’s a top of a bat hollowed out to make a really dope beer mug. And he called me, he said, “I need to pick your brain on something.” And I said, “Well, that’s not going to work. I’m busy” and I was like, ” I’m at a meeting on a break at a bar in St. Pete.” And he’s like, “Well, dude, I’m driving through St. Pete right now randomly.” I was like, “All right, well stop.” He was five minutes away, so he stopped.

Kris Dehnert: And this is funny. I just found it the other day. This is the exact mug, it used to be called Thompson Mug Company, before we did Dugout. It’s a little different shape and everything, but this mug, he said, “Take it with you.” And I had an event with Tim Tebow and John Smoltz and some guys, I think that next weekend and Smoltz, he actually signed it for me. I showed it to him and he said, “Dude, that’s really cool.” And that’s what Randall told me to do. He’s like, “Listen, carry it around for a week and call me back.” So I did. And man, it was weird. I thought it was a weird idea. I still think it’s a weird idea.

Ryan Knuppel: The weird ones are the best ones.

Kris Dehnert: Hey man, I’m not arguing with it. And people loved it. And I told him, I said, “Listen…” He had a long way to go. He was a one man show. Imagine those guys on the street playing all the instruments, that’s what it looked like, and it was ugly. And I said, “You have something here.” I said, “I made a promise that put the right person, the right thing in front of me, and we’re going to run with it.” And he said, “Let’s roll.” So we partnered up, I took a good chunk of the company. We’re 60, 40 partners, so nearly half. And man, that was January 1st, new years, 2017. And we’ve now grown by triple digits, on track to be our fifth consecutive year of triple digits. We’re in five countries. We’re in every state, we’re quarter million customers. It’s wild, man. It’s a wild ride.

Ryan Knuppel: Super cool. That’s a cool story.

Kris Dehnert: And we get to do beer and baseball every day. So that doesn’t suck either.

Ryan Knuppel: It doesn’t suck and congrats on all that success that you’ve had so far. I’m sure there’s a long way to go as well, as in any business, the sky is the limit. So, the mugs, the designs, really cool. I’ve seen them up in person and I really think adding the actual teams and some of that is a really cool idea. And I know you guys are creative with some of that. Tell me a little bit about what you have on some of them, some player stuff and some team stuff. I see some in the background and they’re just [inaudible 00:04:28] .

Kris Dehnert: God, dude like take your pick. [crosstalk 00:04:31].

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, yeah. Show us something, show us a little something since we’re on video here, show us the…

Kris Dehnert: Yeah, since we’re on video. So you said you’re a Cardinals fan, right?

Ryan Knuppel: I am, I am.

Kris Dehnert: So we got the one Ozzie Smith.

Ryan Knuppel: Oh my gosh. That’s so cool.

Kris Dehnert: Here’s the one from Ozzie. Then, we work with Pete Rose a lot, so this was the head-first slide by Pete. All these are ones that the guys signed for me, but [crosstalk 00:04:51], Griffey.

Ryan Knuppel: So, beyond being a beer mug, these are really collector’s items.

Kris Dehnert: It’s really kind of a weird space. We created our own space in the market. It’s a collectible that’s practical. Now, I’m probably not going to take my Ozzie Smith or Ken Griffey Jr. one out there and bust it up. But you know what? The Blake Snell or the Justin Verlander or 900 other ones, hell yeah, you throw it in your pocket. You’re going to tailgating, you throw it in your pocket. They’re sold and all the stadiums, so they’ll let you in with them. They’re just fun. It’s a talking point. More than anything, it’s that. It’s a collectible, practical, talking point that’s fun. And fans eat it up, man. They love it.

Kris Dehnert: And it’s a great gift. You got Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up. Next to Christmas, that’s our mega, mega time of year. And a dad has a photo of him and his son that he used to coach 20 years ago, we can take those photos and put them on the mugs and it’s a commemorative thing or a dad, the kid’s learning how to write, we can hand write messages on there, like, “Dad, I love you.” And the L’s are backwards and shit like that. So pretty cool. And then we put that on the mug and for 50 or 60 bucks, you can’t go wrong. It’s the dopest gift.

Ryan Knuppel: The perfect gift, exactly. So, like anything though, you can have the best product in the world, but if nobody knows about it, who’s going to buy it? So tell me a little bit about you guys’ partnerships or things that you’re doing to really get the name out there. Because I’ve been seeing your name out there quite a bit lately, so I know you’re doing some things in this space. What kind of partnerships or things are you working on to get Dugout Mugs out there?

Kris Dehnert: Different collaborations in different areas, but we’ve done everything from podcasts to… A lot of it’s driven through social media advertising, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Google, things like that. Because once people are aware of our product, they buy it, so it’s really just about going where they are. Now, this year we’ve done some fun stuff. We’re finalizing a deal with Barstool Sports right now, so that’s going to go live. That’s pretty cool. DraftKings, we have some really nice mugs that we’re doing for all the guys over at DraftKings. Fox Sports just had a huge order that they’re doing for all the media. God, [inaudible 00:07:26] Media, we just launched our deal with those guys. Chive. Tomorrow, Touch of Modern goes live on Touch of Modern, to their 16 million customers.

Kris Dehnert: So it’s just every year… Like if you would ask me in the first year, “What are you doing?” It’s like, “Hey, we got in at the 7-Eleven up the street.” And we don’t forget those days. I’ll still go into the 7-Eleven and sell them mugs. Well, I don’t. My guys will. But when it comes down to it, man, don’t be scared to grow and go for it. And that’s what we’ve been doing and on the highest level. Fanatics, Bed Bath and Beyond, Walmart, Target.

Ryan Knuppel: Man, these are huge companies that you’re mentioning here and a lot of the people probably listening to this show are really into the gaming space. So the Barstool and the DraftKings deals really hit home a little bit with us. I have to ask, what about in the e-sports space? Are you guys doing anything in that space? Because that crowd as well is kind of the target audience, I would assume, for what you’re dealing with anything. Anything you’re doing there?

Kris Dehnert: Yeah, well different reasons, right? So our mugs are really cool trophies, so in the e-sports space a lot of people buy it for their league and then whoever’s getting first, second… And they drink out of that mug until next year and then wash it, whatever. So that’s actually been a pretty cool use for the mugs and you get to display it at your house all year until the next [inaudible 00:08:49].

Ryan Knuppel: It’s a trophy, you’re right. You’re right.

Kris Dehnert: Right, so it’s a really cool trophy. And it’s als a hell of a premium gift. So when MLB The Show… Last year, 2020 is a wacky year in baseball and MLB The Show had all the players like Snell and Soto and everybody like that. Well, they bought mugs from us to give to the guys to use while they’re gaming. So a lot of those guys, you’ll see the shout outs that they did or photos with them with their mugs while they’re playing MLB The Show.

Kris Dehnert: Again, it’s just a fun thing. And not only is it a cool product, but our tribe, we built brand and a tribe around Dugout Mugs. Our mission is to celebrate the heroes of the baseball community by giving them a unique gift that brings them closer to the game they love. That’s what we do. Yeah, we make mugs too, but what we’re really doing is we’re building a tribe of people that want to be unique, that want to have something fun, that want to enjoy this comradery. And it’s for myself and my partner all the way down to the guy’s wife and off the mugs. And it’s now bleeding into our tribe as well.

Ryan Knuppel: Exactly. That’s great. That sounds like you’re doing everything right. What’s the future look like? So you’ve talked a lot about what’s going on now and a lot of these partnerships, but, one, what’s the future look like? And two, what challenges are you having? What are you looking for? You need any help in any areas? That may be a tough question, but I know all businesses aren’t always running smoothly.

Kris Dehnert: Anybody who pretends that’s not a reality is lying to you.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, so I always like to ask that question and hear what’s one of your biggest challenges you’re facing and then where you’re headed with it in the future.

Kris Dehnert: Well, the challenges we’re facing, we just need more people to know about us, like every single person listening or watching this, go find us at Dugout Mugs across social media and tag 10 people that love baseball. That’s a big thing. It’s a pretty big world out there. 55 million baseball fans across the country and we’re only touching a fraction of them. And then to get the mugs. Actually right now through spring training, on the site, you use the code Spring30 and it’s 30% off. Go buy a mug. Now’s a really good time to do it. You’re getting MLB stuff for 30% off, which we don’t do very often.

Ryan Knuppel: You said that’s right out on your website, that you’re doing that?

Kris Dehnert: Yeah, man. Go pick any MLB thing… You want your Cardinals mug? Ozzie Smith mug? It’s 30% off. So more people buying our products, more people being a part of our dugout. We call them our dugout. More people being in the tribe is super important. As far as sales go, people think we’re lying about it, but every year we sell out. Last year, we couldn’t even sell anything else after like November 10th, six weeks before Christmas.

Ryan Knuppel: That sparks another question I had. Sorry to interrupt you, but the manufacturing of these, where do you get these bats? Are these extra bats from MLB or how does that work?

Kris Dehnert: So originally we would just cut… That’s how it started, but we’re making a lot of these mugs, so now we take the same billet that makes a full-size bat and we just made three barrels out of it because we’re not big on waste.

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah, you’re wasting a lot when you’re just… Yeah, that makes sense.

Kris Dehnert: Right. So we have the same billet that makes a bat and we just turn it into three barrels. Then these, these are our new whiskey coffee mugs. They’re called the shortstop.

Ryan Knuppel: I like it.

Kris Dehnert: These are really, really sick and I don’t have them up here with me, but we have the knob shots, which is the bat handle shot glass and I’ll tell you about that in a second. We’re actually giving those away for free right now. They’re normally 30 bucks with shipping and handling.

Ryan Knuppel: Oh, really? Oh, cool. Out on the website as well?

Kris Dehnert: No, heck no. It’s a private promo, but you can share it with your tribe if you want.

Ryan Knuppel: I would love to, yeah.

Kris Dehnert: It’s dugoutmugs.com forward slash knob shot, promo K-N-O-B-S-H-O-T promo, P-R-O-M-O.

Ryan Knuppel: Gotcha. Perfect. We’ll get that in the show notes, so everybody don’t have to write it down. We’ll put it in there. Perfect.

Kris Dehnert: We only have a few hundred thousand of our shots this year. We only a few hundred thousand of them and we’re giving them all away. So if somebody wants something really cool for like nine bucks, that’s normally 30, that’s a way to go. They get introduced to the other products [crosstalk 00:13:29]. So those are made out of smaller pieces of wood, but it’s all made up in the Northeast, the woods Canadian, but then the rest of it’s done right here in central Florida. They lathe it and they bore the whole with our equipment up there, but they just got good wood up there. So then they send it down to central Florida to us and we handle it right here in Polk County, Winter Haven, Florida.

Ryan Knuppel: Well, I’m going to sneak over there sometime and see the operation.

Kris Dehnert: Right in the home Red Sox and Indians. Huh?

Ryan Knuppel: I said, I’m going to sneak over there someday, just being down the road in Orlando. I’m going to sneak over and check out your operation someday. That’s amazing.

Kris Dehnert: We’ve got like 10,000 square feet, ripping out three to 4,000 mugs a week. It’s quite the show, man. It’s fun to see because people love it, they have so much fun with it. Our staff, and then… We don’t let too many people come into warehouse because there’s a lot of moving pieces, but it’s a sight to see for sure.

Ryan Knuppel: I can tell and I like to say I can read people and I can tell why you guys have such a good culture, seem like a great guy. Great leaders have great cultures in their business. And so, just congrats on all of that and keep up, keep doing what you’re doing. This is one of the coolest products I’ve ever seen. And I’m honored you came on the show. I’m excited about that. We’ll spread it out there to people and anybody listening, like Kris said, man, head out to dugoutmugs.com, shirts, dugouts all over, dugoutmugs anywhere on social. And then we’ll put that link for the free shot glasses or whatever, free shipping.

Kris Dehnert: Yeah, you should. [crosstalk 00:14:56]. We’re doing it anyway, might as well give it to your people, man.

Ryan Knuppel: We’ll do it. Cool, man. Well, Kris, it was a pleasure having you. Any last words? Anything at all you want to tell the listeners before we get out of here?

Kris Dehnert: If you got any crazy ideas in your head, go for it. I’m a big fan of inspiring people. What we’ve done here, it’s not science. It’s just do the right thing all the time and expect the result. Our success, financial and just the enjoyment and fulfillment of what we’re doing, that right there was the plan. The success is just the side effect of it. So if there’s anything you find that’s really cool or something you’re passionate about… Always ask questions, man, like what if? And just go for it. It’s not too far fetched. Those are my thoughts.

Ryan Knuppel: You never know how close you are. Well that’s great advice for all of you listening. Kris, I really appreciate you being here and taking some time out of your day. Enjoy the rest of your day, hopefully get out on the golf course or something.

Kris Dehnert: I need it.

Ryan Knuppel: And baseball’s coming up, man. We’re almost in baseball season, so…

Kris Dehnert: Oh, it’s going to be a good season.

Ryan Knuppel: It’s going to be fun. So all right, Kris, take care. Everybody listening, take care, stay safe. Until next time, have a great day. Bye-bye, everybody.

Kris Dehnert: All right. Later.

Relevant Kris Dehnert Links

More Knup Sports Links

Contact Ryan Knuppel