Ian Kinsler Working out Business Chops as Co-Owner of Warstic
Four-time All-Star Ian Kinsler has that whole baseball thing locked down. The 36-year-old Boston Red Sox second baseman has made Major League Baseball his business since breaking in with the Texas Rangers in 2006. But he’s added a new style of business to his repertoire after buying into Texas-based Warstic in 2017.
“I really knew nothing about business and little about how businesses operate,” Kinsler told Baseball America. “The oversight of a company has been a learning experience for me.”
Former minor leaguer turned graphic designer and brand strategist Ben Jenkins founded the minimalistic bat company Warstic and Kinsler started swinging the brand for the first time in 2016. Creating a relationship with Jenkins led Kinsler, and rock star Jack White, to become co-owners in the brand in 2017.
Jenkins calls Kinsler a representation of the mentality of the brand, showing off a work ethic that others will want to emulate. “He is a great model and ambassador,” Jenkins said. “Internally, with the company, he is a calming influence. He calms the crazy creative people down and his vision is incredible. He is the same way he is in the locker room, as valuable as the coach. He is the leader you want to take into battle.”
“I understand his vision, his passion for Warstic and why he started it,” Kinsler said. “I had to swing the bat. I had to see if it was well-balanced and felt like everything else I was using. That was it. Once that was check marked, it was an easy decision for me. It was a good fit and it was exciting, a company that could make its mark in Major League Baseball and with the kids.”
The simplicity of the Warstic design drew Kinsler to the brand, interesting him in it from the start. “From there it kind of blossomed into talking about an investment,” he said. “It didn’t take that long.”
Kinsler said he has learned about business by working with Jenkins and White. “For me, that side of the coin has been to sit back and learn and take it in as much as I can,” he said. “I can help with the baseball side of it.”
Kinsler has proven key in giving Warstic staff feedback from the Major League fields. He has also wrangled quite a few other big-league players into the company’s fold, creating a stable of players using the bat and providing comment. “That has been a huge help to the company,” he said. “We are at least getting product criticism and getting it from big-league players.”
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Kinsler uses his relationships with players—when he feels the timing is right—to discuss switching to Warstic. “I think to approach another player to swing a new company or a bat that is new, it is difficult if you don’t have big-league guys,” he said. Instead, Kinsler is walking up and telling players he uses it in games, the only bat he uses. “It is different than a random company. That really helps.”
Moving forward, Kinsler wants to stay involved in all aspects of Warstic, not just convincing players to give the bat a swing. He’ll have his hand in the development of bats, for baseball or softball, the expansion of product lines beyond baseball and even the creation of the new Dallas retail store that aims to support players in more than just bat-fitting, but also nutrition, physical fitness and life off the diamond.
“It is interesting,” Kinsler said of the business side of his life. “It has been a lot of fun, I know that.”
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.