Considering the business he’s in, Clint Kuecker’s analogy was perfect.
“You might be down in the count, 0-2, but somehow you’ve got to fight and claw to find a way to win that at-bat,” the co-owner of The Batter’s Box told The Banner-Press on Monday. “…and I think that’s kind of the situation we’re in right now.”
The situation Kuecker was referring to is the current outbreak of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, which has forced businesses across the United States — large and small – to make drastic changes or temporarily suspend operation as the virus continues to spread across the nation.
The Batter’s Box, located at 2350 FM 389, here, is a baseball and softball training facility for youth athletes, and the brainchild of Kuecker and fellow co-owner Dustin Majewski. The facility is both an athlete factory with a laundry list of college- and pro-level alumni on its resume and a club team baseball program which serves numerous athletes in Washington County.
It’s a model with a proven track record since the facility’s inception in January 2005, but Kuecker and Majewski, two baseball-minded, home-grown athletes and entrepreneurs, are now making on-the-fly adjustments to their business model in the wake of a statewide effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a list of guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing (six feet of separation between individuals) and social gatherings that do not exceed 10 people.
With the CDC’s guidelines in mind, Kuecker and Majewski have opted to scrap all team and group activities at The Batter’s Box for the time being, and have shifted to private 1-on-1 training lessons.
“For one, we are trying our best to go with all the requirements and recommendations with state and local government,” Kuecker said. “These are scary times right now, and we know that. There is a lot of uncertainty and unknown going around. But we’re going to do everything we can to continue to provide an outlet to kids while also adhering to the CDC.”
The Batter’s Box recently released its own list of guidelines as it continues to host individual lessons. The list includes constant handwashing and sanitization by both its staff and athletes, prompt drop offs and pickups of athletes by their parents and no group or team facility rentals.
Kuecker also said lessons are being staggered to provide his staff ample time to disinfect the facility before welcoming in another athlete.
“We have everything on hand that we need,” Kuecker said. “Hand soaps, sanitizers, cleaning supplies. We’re taking this thing seriously because we know we have no other choice.”
Kuecker and Majewski said their decision to remain open, albeit in limited capacity, stems from a dedication to their community, as well as a commitment to their staff.
“Everybody has been really appreciative, and you have to understand that a lot of the kids that train with us, baseball and softball is the one thing they do besides school,” Majewski said. “And taking it away from them is pretty tough.
“So we’re not just providing a service, we’re trying to bring back some of that sense of normalcy during a really tough time.”
The owners are extending that normalcy to The Batter’s Box other instructors and staff, who rely on the business for their livelihood. While Majewski has a second source of income through the Kieke Egg Farm in Burton, Kuecker said he and several others at The Batter’s Box rely on the success of the company.
With the business’s services limited to just the private lessons, and even those have taken a hit since the coronavirus pandemic began (Kuecker said lessons are down 40-50% since the outbreak), Majewski said the decision to push forward was made with his colleagues in mind.
“We’re just making sure that all the people who have been with all us these years as we were growing this business are taken care of,” he said. “We have got to do what we can to help them out right now.”
The Batter’s Box is just one of numerous locally owned businesses in Brenham which are adapting to CDC guidelines in an effort to remain running. Majewski said he hopes Washington County residents see the need to support those local businesses and shop local.
“There’s so much going on out there, and there are so many different avenues to where you can buy the things you need online and some of these bigger companies,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what — Amazon isn’t donating to your kid’s little league team, or your 4H fundraiser or your school fundraiser.
“Those of us running these local businesses are apart of our community, and we ask that you don’t forget about us — the small guys.”