We had the good fortune of connecting with RJ Vukovich and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi RJ, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
I think industries across the world are all very similar when it comes to this one point I want to make! When educating outsiders, or, people looking to become entrepreneurs, the BEST piece of advice I can give is to get as much feedback as possible! That means the good feedback, and most importantly, the feedback that helps you learn! Many people would call it negative feedback. There is no such thing when being a business owner! Any type of feedback that I receive as an owner has deeper meaning! Being able to decipher what the customer is actually trying to say is the goal every business owner should strive to do! I see many business outsource or “pawn off,” for lack of a better phrase, the customer service portion of the business! I understand that it is the owner’s job to grow and scale the business, so that it makes money, etc. But, by never being in direct lines of communication with your customers, I truly believe it can hurt a brand’s image or positivity in the market. So, I do my best at responding to all customer emails that deal with product feedback along with social media comments (which is a whole, other beast)! I believe when the owner responds to a customer on any communication channel, it not only shows that the company truly cares about that person’s opinion, but it is also a great opportunity to make sure that customer still remains a customer and feels positive even if the their reason for reaching out was about a product concern.
When you see 3rd party platforms that are in the world today outsource the customer service, it just goes to show that size does not always mean greatness.
Most of those 3rd party platforms would rather send a replacement product to a customer at no charge than to communicate directly with that customer about the issue. It is very easy for a customer to blame the product if something negative occurred. When, in reality, many product issues are user error (which is true for across all industries)! Business owners understand that things do happen in the transit process that is out of their control. But, having an American Made product that I manufacture 15 mins from my house, I have a quality control process that is above many other companies. So, when there is a product concern, instead of sending out a free product right away, it is my job to connect with that customer to enhance the experience for them! While, also seeing what may have actually caused the product concern in the first place!
Anyone starting their own business, no matter the industry, needs to be able to communicate with people! They need to understand that any type of concern that comes in is because that person felt that their experience did not go as planned. Now, while it may seem like that person is really upset and they never want to buy another product again, that is not always the case! Being able to communicate and retain those customers in the growth phase of business will only lead to greater success! There are cases where “we can’t please everyone” becomes true! But, I honestly feel that if people started communicating again, outside of a keyboard, they will see greater success with their business!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I had the blessing of playing professional baseball for over six years! But, while doing that, I was able to develop, test and use all of my products that I currently sell to all of my customers! That is not the case for many, many companies out there. Sure, you may get people who use their own products. But, by being able to see and feel my products everyday at the highest level of competition has not only allowed me to make the adjustments need to succeed, but it also allows me to sell my product differently! And, I also set up my own manufacturing for my products! I use to do it down in my basement! But, since having grown, I now utilize a separate location to make my grips! To think it all started down in the basement when my sister, Taylor, gave my my first $6,000 to get started! From there, my Mom (Judi), my Dad (Ross), and my Wife (Danielle) have all dedicated enormous amounts of time, money and hours into not only my business, but into building me up as a person and business owner! Again, no one can do anything in this world alone. I made sure to always ask for help when I need it and to make sure that everyone who does lend a helping hang, to some degree, knows how much it meant and will continue to mean moving forward!
Also, I have two Guinness World Records as well by creating my company and using my products! I wrapped a baseball bat and a softball the fastest in the entire world back in 2021! Hopefully, there are many more to come!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am not sure this a great question for someone who only exercises, eats, sleeps and works! But, North Canton and NE Ohio have a lot to offer! From great hometown pubs/restaurants, to having tons of major sports teams within from High School up to the very highest in the MLB, NFL, NHL, MLS, and the NBA!
NE Ohio has a ton of great family owned breweries as well! So, if you like to taste different types of drinks and like to go out on a night on the town, NE Ohio is a great place! And, locally in Canton, OH is Gervasi! A well established vineyard that supports breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening stays! Plus, it is great place to host a party or even a date night with the Mrs!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Family is and always will be a the staple in my support group! I tell them every day “Thanks!” I also want to give a shoutout to every tournament direct, show manager, player, coach, parent, friend, business owner, and customer who gave VukGripz a shot! No one ever does anything on there own! Every time you hear a song that says “I did it on my own,” just know that there was that one promoter, record label, investor, or DJ who played that artists song and helped during the process! Give credit to those where credit is do! And, when you give thanks to people who have gone out of their way to either invest their time, their money, or their efforts (directly or indirectly), karma will always treat those people great!
And, you know that you have people in your corner that you can call on when times get tough!
Linkedin: VukGripz & RJ Vukovich
Other: TikTok: VukGripz