By P.J. Harmer — RattlingChains.com Staff
What started out as a way to make a few extra bucks after getting laid off from his job has turned into something a bit bigger for Craig Myers.
Myers is the owner and sole employee of Zing Mini Flyers, a company that has designed and created three different mini discs. These discs, which often are used by some as marker discs, are also used when playing mini disc golf.
But how would one get into something like this?
Myers said the company started as a need for extra income when he was laid off from an engineering plastics job in 2008. He took the severance package offered and invested into something he enjoyed — disc golf.
Since then, he’s been employed and laid off another time — he notes that engineers are often disposable — but the mini discs have always been a steady income supplement.
He said his experience goes back a ways in making mini discs as he owned another mini disc company, which he sold to a disc distributor located in Minnesota in the 1990s.
But why minis?
“I love the sport of disc golf, and being a career plastics person, I felt the need to make something for the sport,” Myers said. “I like to produce mini discs. Everything about them is small. From the expense of designing and cutting the injection mold, the costs are much lower than larger discs.”
The lower costs can also be attributed to less plastic and smaller machined. Myers said it’s everything the bigger companies have, but on a smaller level. There’s no big warehouses to store them — just make them and ship them.
“Plus, I have a huge allegiance to the large disc manufacturers,” he said. “I just don’t want to compete with them. I’ll just stay happy in my mini world.”
With that in mind, Myers said he has no intentions of ever competing with larger discs or going into making his own large discs.
“I’ll never mess with the big boys,” he said. “I have helped many of them out in many facets, and have allegiance to them. I will never compete with them.
“I can, however, design and build just about any kind of disc that someone has in mind,” he continued. “I just won’t run the molds on my equipment. But I have lots of connections that will.”
Myers is a certified scientific molder with training the best in the country, such as Bozzeli, Beal and Kleese. He’s also proficient in decoupled molding methodologies and mold tooling development.
Basically, he knows his stuff.
He has worked in plastics for more than 25 years, which is almost as long as he has been playing disc golf.
“This is going to sound crazy, but I come from a long line of plastics in the family,” he said. “My grandfather made telephones for Western Electric. Dad made TV’s for RCA and two of my three sons are both injection molders making medical devices and consumer products.”
Through his time in plastics, Myers has also developed many connections for tooling, design and production.
Zing Mini Flyers has its own molding press, hot-stamp machine and all production equipment. Basically, there’s no middle man. Just Myers.
So if you call Zing Mini, you get Myers.
If you e-mail Zing, you get Myers.
It’s a personal touch that not many businesses in disc golf seem to have.
To date, Myers has created six mini designs. Zing has three of them – Aerofoil, Snipe, Microfoil.
These minis, however, stand out in different ways. Many who know Zing Minis will immediately smell them. That’s because some of the discs have a fragrance to them. He also has glitter, glow, UV, sparkles, metallic, swirls etc. He also notes there are new things coming.
“Since I only have three mini disc molds, I have to come up with other ideas to make them unique,” he said. “I think I’ve established a small trademark with the scented minis. I have my finger on the pulse of the plastics industry and have been lucky to run across some really cool suppliers.”
When designing his minis, he said his goal is to basically make the next new thing, just bigger and better.
What to do with minis?
Many disc golfers will look at a mini or get one at a tournament and figure they are used for marking during play.
These minis can be used for that, without a doubt.
But you can also play with these discs.
Mini disc golf is on the rise. One needs to look no further than the Lancaster, Pa., area, where the home of the Mini Disc Golf Federation is located. Mini is played just like regular disc golf, just with the mini discs and smaller baskets.
“To be quite honest, I believe Zing minis are both when it comes to markers and mini golf,” Myers said. “When I started Zing, I had a large pool of advisers, such as Donnie Brooks (founder of the MDGF) and long-time friend Dennis Byrne (former PDGA administrator) who gave me advice along the way.
“I want my minis to be legal in both mini disc golf and as a marker for professional tournaments,” he continued. “All Zing minis meet PDGA and MDGF standards.”
The making of the discs is pretty standard, Myers said.
CAD models, prototypes, some modeling clay, cut the steel, mold some up, tweak as needed, select the material and a new mini is made.
When done, he tests them.
“I just chuck them around the yard and hand them out to the locals for opinions,” he said.
Myers also notes he sends them to the MDGF for testing and to get approved for use in competition.
Competition in the big disc world can be fierce. So what’s it like in the mini world?
“To be honest, it’s a miniature version of the big disc world,” Myers said. “There are a couple of other manufacturers our there, but the big boys have better things to do, in my opinion. They have a better chance of profitability in creating some of the best golf discs for our sport. Besides, most new players don’t even think about a mini disc until they have to use one in a tournament.”
In the next 5-10 years, Myers said he sees the company making more minis.
And there are plans already for more minis.
“I plan to enter the Ultimate Mini disc world in the near future,” he said. “I love floater discs and I plan on making a small line of them for other recreational disc sports.”
Share with us, in the comments below, a mini story or two. Everyone has them, so let us know in the comments. We’ll select a few to win RattlingChains.com logo mini discs (made, of course, by Zing) to give out as prizes.
We have snipes and the new Microfoil. So give us something — story about throwing minis, what you use them for or whatever else. But be entertaining and we’ll give out two or three of each mold that we have!
We’ll announce the winners in a week or two.
P.J. Harmer is the lead blogger for Rattling Chains. E-mail him at: pj [at] rattlingchains.com.