Industry Summit: Leaf’s corporate address

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By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

LAS VEGAS – Leaf’s Brian Gray didn’t hold back during his corporate address at the Industry Summit in Las Vegas on Monday.

Gray talked about the company’s mission for 2013 but also tried to empower dealers in attendance. He implored them to take charge and tell card companies about what they will and will not accept.

“You need to tell other companies you’re not happy,” Gray told the crowd about 300. “And if you don’t stick up for your customers, you don’t deserve a (patch) database, a better redemption process. … The other card companies can suck it or change.”

Gray has been vocal about his opinions in the hobby since he entered the market. He grabs attention by saying what’s on his mind and bringing special autograph guests to the Industry Summit. This year, Leaf brought in Frank Thomas.

However, that was not the point of Gray’s address.

Here are the highlights from Leaf’s session:

1. Gray said Leaf will be a different company in 2013. The company’s name has a long history and Leaf intends to use that name to its advantage. “Ask people what they want. Listen to what they tell you and give them what they want,” Gray said was the company’s mission statement.

2. One of the focuses on 2013 products will include pre-draft items, which are popular in football. However, Leaf is expanding into other sports such as baseball. These products will seek out younger athletes and give collectors the first cards of potential future stars.

Leaf has a tennis coming with 2013 Ace Signature Series. It’s one of the last tennis products with the Ace name and after it will be branded Leaf.

3. New product: Trinity Football. Product will include jumbo patch autographs, inscription autographs and cards made out of glass.

Along with card products, Leaf will continue with packaged memorabilia. Autographed baseballs are coming out this year. Gray says some of the baseballs will be worth thousands. “It’s going to be a gamble,” he said.

4. Leaf addressed redemptions. Gray said that as of Monday, there shouldn’t be a redemption card that is not immediately available to receive from his company.

5. Gray talked about issues with other card companies and redemptions. He used the analogy that if you went to McDonald’s and ordered fries, you wouldn’t take it if you were told you wouldn’t get them for three to four weeks. “I don’t put up with that and I don’t think you guys should either,” Gray said.

6. Leaf acquired a license to The Mortal Instruments, a series of young adult novels being created into movies. Gray says this should be the next Twilight.

7. Leaf used Johnny Manziel cut autographs and artwork as redemptions in recent football products. Gray said they pushed the envelope and plan on doing more of the same. Gray said his company is protected by first amendment rights in this scenario: “Someday there will be no license and I will change that. I don’t live in fear. I’m more concerned about delivering value.”

8. One dealer was concerned about Leaf’s exclusive with NBA rookie Damian Lillard and the inability to push Panini America basketball products without Lillard’s autographs. Gray said Leaf has just one basketball exclusive where Panini has 12. Gray said he tried to call Panini to say he didn’t want to do exclusives, but no one would take his call. He also promised not to do any future exclusives if Panini promised to do the same.

9. While the “Best of” series has been popular for Leaf, he recognized that the last football wasn’t as good as it could have been. Gray bought many of the cards about eight months before the product came out and the market change so much in that time on certain players. “Hate to say collecting is gambling sometimes, but it is,” Gray said.

Susan Lulgjuraj is an editor of Beckett Sports Card Monthly. You can email her here with questions, comments or ideas. Follow her on Twitter here. Follow Beckett Media on Facebook and Twitter.

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  1. Bart The Explorer 19 March, 2013 at 08:38

    brian grey is a joke. his products will never hold any weight in the hobby. he can suck it or change

  2. Hscshooter 19 March, 2013 at 09:30

    I do agree with his assessment of redemptions. There are just too many redemptions on Panini’s part now . They used to respond to your request for an exchange but now won’t. I have left four messages on items from 2011 and not a word. Upper Deck is not much better and forget about Topps. These three heavyweights don’t want to do make drastic moves on athletes not signing. Leaf was smart enough to see the potential in Damian Lillard and signed him to an exclusive. Brain Gray will definitely make an impact with tennis. Let’s wait and see. At least Leaf has very minimal redemptions and are fulfilled in a timely manner.

  3. Brian 19 March, 2013 at 10:02

    If trademarks, licensing and publicity rights don’t matter, I’m starting my card company today. It’s called Leaf. My first card will be of Brian Gray.

  4. Ryan R 19 March, 2013 at 12:38

    He does have a point with redemptions. I don’t mind waiting on guys like Bryce Harper, Luck, Kyrie Irving, or really anyone that is actually good. But as an example I bought a box of prestige in November and got a Jeremy Lamb redemption, I still don’t have the card. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have little desire to put extra effort into getting an item of a player who is closer to being a D-Leaguer than an NBA player at this point. I just won’t buy the product in the future.

  5. charles 19 March, 2013 at 14:48

    I totally agree with the redemption thing, these IOU’s as some would call them,where and
    are forced upon collectors, i have seen 2 to 3 redemtions in a single pack, panini is falling into the same routine that other card companys have done in the past, i mean look they are still pumping 2012 football 2 to 3 months after the season has finished same with Topps and i bet one of the reason they were pushed forward a month was because of the redmption, i understand that they have make money, but why at my expense, why must i wait 4 to 12 months for something i own, i know of no other thing thats works like this, yea i buy a house, and have to wait till i own it out right, but i live in it, use it. what if companys had to pay a devalue settlement for cards that declined in value, i’m sorry but there has to be a way to make them understand that this is not exceptable way of doing its customers. i get tired of hereing we are sorry but we are trying to do better and then they try and turn it around buy saying we are just trying to give the customers what they want, and making it seem like its our fault somehow, just saying

  6. mattmaldre 20 March, 2013 at 22:00

    Leaf listens to what the customers want? I’ll tell you what customers want. Affordable packs their kids can buy. I just bought two boxes of Topps Opening Day, because the packs are a buck each.

  7. Matt Fieser 6 April, 2013 at 03:17

    I have a 2010 Donruss EEE Jeff Bagwell /35 redemption I redeemed in November of 2010…. still have not gotten it and no response from Panini on it. Redemption’s are garbage.

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