NDA: Ed, tell us a bit about yourself—where you grew up and live now…and your family.
ED: I was born and raised in central Illinois, with my longest tenure there in Monticello, IL In 93/94. I moved to the Dallas/ Fort Worth area and lived here mostly for the last 20+ years. I am married with two amazing kids. Love them to death. When I am not doing dart related activities, I am doing the family thing.
NDA: Besides work, any hobbies or interests?
ED: When with the family, I enjoy camping (glamping) and fishing. My daughter and I have a rabbitry–EC4 Rabbitry. We show mini Rex rabbits (ARBA). I also do a little biking on the side.
NDA: How did you get into the coin op business and specifically, darts?
ED: We always had a dart board in our house, but when I was 21, my cousin David took me to a local Sunday afternoon dart tournament. I drew the best player in the house and we won money. I was hooked. That was in 1993. After moving to Texas, Jeff Mahan and I formed TXDARTS to run leagues in the DFW area. I also began working for One Source Amusements to run dart and pool leagues, and started working closely with Shelti when the new Radikal boards came out. Mark Robbins of Shelti hired me to do tech support, and then Mick White started to take me on sales calls. All of this led to running the parts and warehouse for Radikal Darts, US, and eventually Director of US sales. Last year, I accepted the CEO position with Phoenix darts, US.
NDA: So you started as a player. Take us through that journey. How old were you when you started? How proficient did you get? Do you still play? How’s your game these days?
ED: After that first event, I played almost every weekend, including in college leagues in the Bloomington, IL area. It was much the same in Texas—I played a lot of darts and connected with a lot of players. Some of my most meaningful friendships have been formed from this sport, both soft and steel tip. I managed to make master level through NDA events, and continued playing pretty well. However, I find that my greatest strength is in promoting the game. My game these days is middle of the road. Traveling for work has made consistent practice, difficult at best. I do play as much as I can, still on some local leagues who allow me to play when I am in the DFW area and have some time.
NDA: What’s the coolest thing you’ve gotten to experience as a dart player?
ED: My favorite experience so far in darts, beside the blessing of just being able to travel and meet so many great people in this game, was being in Spain for an international event and being asked to play with Team Norway’s top team and top rated players. It was an amazing experience and created a few life- long friends.
NDA: If you could pick one person who you would like to play with or against in a game of darts, who would it be?
ED: This is always a fun question and I am sure there are many who would be amazing to play with. I would say Joe “Grizzly” Hefley, a close friend who died a few years back. Without him pushing me in the direction I have taken, I would not be where I am. I would love to sit and have a drink with him and just laugh about where this wonderful and crazy game has taken me. I promise he would not believe me and think I was telling one of my stories.
NDA: Tell us about your responsibilities at Phoenix. What is the current status there?
ED: I am the CEO of Phoenix Darts, US. While my main job is still to sell dart boards, I enjoy the challenge of making this great company even better. I am enjoying getting to know the staff and watching us grow daily. In these hard times, we have grown awfully close. We have been able to keep the entire staff working in these rough situations.
NDA: You’ve been an operator, a player and for the past several years a manufacturer? Do you still think of yourself as a player first?
ED: I don’t necessarily consider myself a player first, but I do think from a player’s point of view, when making decisions regarding our product and services. From leagues to tournaments and any and all events. I still operate day to day, with great respect and enthusiasm for the game and the way it brings people together. If the players are not happy or having fun, then operators and clubs are not having fun, and nobody wins–the sport doesn’t grow. So we must always think of the player experience first.
NDA: Since the time you first got involved in darts, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry over the years?
ED: The biggest change I have seen is how social media has changed the game. Some good and some bad, but it has helped make a large community get a lot closer overall. From product videos to PDC events streamed and most large dart tournaments streamed as well. It is really fun to see and watch.
NDA: What do you like most about darts?
ED: Socializing with old friends and making new friends. Darts is one of the truly great social mediums in the world. Anyone can throw, and have fun doing it. With all the great Fun Zone games available, it’s easy and exciting for beginners up to the pros to enjoy.
NDA: While you’ve been in the industry for a long time, you’re a relative newcomer to NDA’s leadership. Describe your tenure so far on NDA’s board of directors.
ED: I am the newest and almost youngest (lol) member. I have enjoyed the few meetings I have been involved with and getting to know everyone better. I may have interacted with many involved with the NDA over the years, but am thoroughly enjoying connecting on a more personal level. The NDA board really does care about the players, operators, and the game. It may not seem so to those not in the loop. It is eye-opening to see all the work, discussions and even disagreements that go into running this organization.
NDA: One of the tough decisions made by the NDA board recently was the cancellation of Team Dart, which would have been conducted earlier this month. Your thoughts on this?
ED: While, it was a difficult one, it was also a no-brainer. No event or game or sport is worth risking our friends and family’s health. It is painful, but I think it is the best decision. As the relative newcomer, I could see the pain and stress it created for all the members.
NDA: What have you and your family been doing to get through these challenging times? What’s a typical day like for you?
ED: Homeschooling, daily walks or bike rides. Lot of spring cleaning. Patience and understanding has been a required theme lol. There are a few good items, such as lots of practice of darts, and really for the first time in most of our lives–slowing down and really taking time with our families. Probably a very good lesson for us all…to just slow down and appreciate our family connections.
NDA: No one has a playbook on this, but what is your outlook during the next 6-9 months?
ED: Dart players are an amazing group, and I have seen them set up go-fund-me accounts to help their local bartenders out. People are giving what they can to help others. Some have set up cameras to play online. As for the next few months, when the shutdown ends, and our watering holes open up, I believe that players and owners and those that lost jobs in the venues will come together to help one another get back to business. They will celebrate their time together, and I think all of us will be more cognizant of our relationships outside of our home, and just how intertwined we all are. Without players, there are fewer clubs/venues. Without clubs, there are fewer operators, and without operators there are fewer boards being built and purchased. My hope is we are all in this for the good of the game and not just ourselves.
NDA: What is your favorite…
…Movie: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
…Music or band: Iron Maiden
…TV show: Cabin Builders
…Things to do in Vegas (besides playing or working dart tourneys) I am usually working and do not see much other than the hotels, but Jack K, has been kind and shown me more of Vegas than just the usual spots, thanks Jack.
NDA: Anything else to add?
ED: I would like to thank you for asking me to participate in your profile series and I hope it entertains and distracts for at least a few minutes of the day. I love this game, and all it has blessed me with. Here is to at least 40 more years of growing the game to new heights. I would not be here without my wife, my close friends like Jeff Mahan and all the darters along the way here and abroad.
Published April 16, 2020