After spending three decades in the auto glass industry, former Novus senior vice president Keith Beveridge saw a new business venture and went after it. He was attracted to a growing industry, where anyone can participate and that also allows a person to throw themselves into it … literally. The excitement led Beveridge to join with partners to open FlannelJax’s in St. Paul, Minn. Its grand opening is tomorrow.
FlannelJax’s gives its guests the opportunity to throw axes (hatchets, really) at wooden targets and a variety of other timber sports in a safe environment. The company has two primary customers—corporate groups that want a team-building exercise or just an event to commemorate their success or social groups looking to celebrate a milestone or just have some fun.
“We had a corporate group of about 50 people yesterday,” says Beveridge. “They didn’t know what to expect as they came for some team-building exercises but left with a fun experience that most of them won’t soon forget. They crowned their corporate Timberbeast (champion) with the rest of the team vowing to come back soon and claim his title.”
Beveridge says he tries to stay out of the day-to-day operations and focus on strategy, but it’s been difficult not to join in because the company is small but quickly growing.
Guest experience is the main focal point for the business. Prior to our opening, FlannelJax’s hired an architectural design firm to lay out its facility. “We wanted a fun but safe space,” he says. “The active participants are segregated from the group and we provide ample space with both tables and chairs for the rest of the group to socialize before it is their turn to throw. The company also requires all employees, which we call Lumberjacks and Lumberjills, to receive Red Cross and proprietary FlannelJax’s training prior to coaching our guests.”
He adds, “All our activities are directly supervised by one of or Lumberjacks or Lumberjills because providing a safe but fun guest experience has been built in since day one.”
Team building is also at the top of the company’s list. “For our corporate guests, FlannelJax’s focuses on developing activities that will increase productivity and collaboration, improve communication, motive and expand problem solving skills all while having a fantastic time,” says Beveridge.
Out of all the possible business ventures Beveridge could have chosen from, what drew him into this?
“I worked for NOVUS for 20 years and I really enjoyed the franchising business model. It’s satisfying to see someone take an idea and make it into something bigger. The best thing about FlannelJax’s is that it’s enjoyable and anyone can participate, and we believe we can franchise this concept,” Beveridge says.
He likes to think of the business as “premium adult recreation,” because guests must be 18 years or older in order to participate in any activity. But after a few throws even the guests who are hesitant at first become natural throwers, he says. “For most people it takes five or six throws before they get the hang of it, so there’s an even playing field, which makes it so everyone can have fun,” Beveridge adds.
Having fun was not always at the forefront when Beveridge was in the auto glass industry. “I used to work in a business that was full of needs,” says Beveridge. “People needed a repair or replacement, but now I get to work in a business of wants – it’s liberating.”
“Anyone who has given us feedback has given us five out of five stars …I think to date, we’re happy with our performance,” Beveridge adds.
But the work hasn’t stopped just yet. They are already looking to open a second FlannelJax’s location and then begin franchising shortly thereafter.
Beveridge was with Novus for 20 years. Prior to that, he served as marketing manager for the Dow Chemical Co. He also once served as manager—logistics project for Pilkington (and its predecessor, Libbey-Owens-Ford), where he spent seven years.