New Exporter of the Year
Founded in 1981 in Salina, Kansas, Pop-A-Shot literally created the basketball arcade game. By putting baskets on a backboard and attaching a ball return ramp, former college basketball coach Ken Cochran launched an all-time arcade classic. And while the company’s name serves as shorthand for all basketball arcade games, there’s only one real Pop-A-Shot, says current owner Tony Stucker, who purchased the company with his wife Kelly in 2016.
While the Pop-A-Shot Classic is much like the model built nearly 30 years ago, the company has expanded to include four models geared toward private gamers for home use, and another four models in its Premium Series targeting public venues, including athletic, school and company events. They also offer options for promoting brands and personalizing games with customized artwork or team colors—including significant activities with the NBA.
As sales skyrocketed from 300 to more than 50,000 units a year, Pop-A-Shot relocated to Peoria’s Warehouse District, where it now maintains office and warehouse operations. “Our decision to locate in Peoria and renovate a historical building,” Stucker says, “was based on our need to be centrally located and attract creative and talented employees to grow our business.”
International sales are integral to their growth strategy—a proactive approach bolstered by consultation with the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship at Bradley University. “We have experienced tremendous growth over the past four years, but almost all of it has been in the U.S.,” he explains. “With the growing popularity of basketball around the world, we feel there are a lot of opportunities for Pop-A-Shot globally.” The company is currently exporting to China, Canada and Mexico, while Amazon has reached out to discuss utilizing its distribution centers in Mexico to expand their reach.
Pop-A-Shot’s participation in Bradley’s International Senior Consulting Project also stands to pay dividends. The project involved a team of final-year seniors working with the company to identify countries with the greatest sales potential and devising detailed market entry strategies for each. As a result, Pop-A-Shot is considering potential opportunities across Europe and Asia. With their new headquarters established in Peoria, company leaders are bullish on the future. “I’m very confident that Peoria will continue to support Pop-A-Shot as we expand internationally,” Stucker declares. pop-a-shot.net PM