Dan French, The Strike Zone, Essex Junction
The Strike Zone in Essex trains young athletes for success in baseball – and in life. Owner Dan French says that he has lived, slept, and dreamed of baseball for as long as he can remember. With Dan at the helm, The Strike Zone impacts a new generation of baseball players, helping kids achieve their goals, “no matter where they are, where they’re from, or their current skill level.”
Dan’s idea for The Strike Zone started as a project when he was a senior at Southern Maine Community College. Tasked to write a business plan, Dan envisioned returning to Vermont to create a premier baseball and softball training facility that leverages technology to build and connect strong athletes to opportunities on a nationwide basis.
Despite passion and planning, Dan learned that finding funding could be challenging. “We were shooting in the dark, shopping around for who would be willing to accept the business model I put together. There were a lot more “no’s” before I made my way to Community Capital.” Dan received a loan to build The Strike Zone from the ground up. “Community Capital saw what I was trying to do and understood. They are very involved in the businesses in which they invest. Once I made that connection, we hit the ground running. It was a very quick and easy process.”
Dan notes that his experience with Community Capital departed from routine lending. The process was not transactional, consumed by collateral and credit. “I found confidence, knowing that I have the support of very highly skilled and knowledgeable individuals who care universally about me and my business. My courage translated directly to success with my business.”
As a guiding principle, Dan cites the first lesson he learned as a coach: patience. He now instills patience in his athletes, helping them develop a sense of diligence, humility, and endurance, both on and off the field. “It’s going to be fun to see all our young guys grow up and see how they develop personally.”
Now that he hit a home run with The Strike Zone, Dan is investigating next steps in franchise models. He credits the broad vision of success that Community Capital rooted within him with helping blaze a path to his future. “They want to see me continue to grow and evolve. I feel very humbled to have been able to come back home to Vermont and have such a high level of support for my business and my concepts. Without Community Capital this would not be possible. I promise to never let them down.”