Company Closeup: Zing Mini Flyers

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.

A finished Zing mini Snipe.

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?

The 1956 hot stamp machine Myers uses. It’s an antique, but Myers says it runs great for 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.”

Background

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.

The final die (on the right) and the pattern, which is disposed of.

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.

This is the photopolymer reverse-reading die made to make the matrix board — the first stage.

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.

A disc being hot stamped. Here, Myers sets up the process by draping the foil fim across the disc.

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 process

The making of the discs is pretty standard, Myers said.

A whole heap of finished minis.

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.”

The future

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.”

CONTEST

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.

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0 thoughts on “Company Closeup: Zing Mini Flyers

  1. I brought a group of 20 kids from my church group out to play a few holes one night, and there were loads of questions. One kid asked me about the little disc I had (my mini) and I told him what it’s for. I handed it to him, and he was throwing that thing further than some of the kids were throwing actual discs!

    I brought him out a few weeks later and now he’s a regular at the course, all because of a little orange mini with a jack-o-lantern custom dyed on it.

    https://twitter.com/kevdking/status/210798171956314112/photo/1

    Like

  2. My fiance and I decided to look into getting some custom minis for our after wedding bbq to go with our discgolf themed wedding. We chose white aerofoil minis with red stamped foil…. Wade had chosen a special song, “I wanna Grow Old with You” from the Wedding Singer, so we incorporated that into the disc along with our names and wedding date..
    When I first met Wade, I thought he was crazy doing this weird thing called “discgolf”! I had no idea what it was. Then he took me out to play one day and I was hooked!! After all what other sport can you play in all weather, that doesn’t cost anything or is low cost?… and you get to play all over, meet great people and get to golf in the forest and other cool places?!! Our Zing minis turned out awesome and we can’t wait to hand them out at our bbq. Pictures to follow. 🙂

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  3. Whenever people come into my house one of the first things they see is my bag of discs, and so I always explain to them which each one does and the mini disc always comes up as a question as to it’s purpose. On one occasion the explanation of the mini solely being a marker was not good enough. To make the story short I found out that a mini disc can be thrown very accurately and quite fast, and after a half hour they can leave quite a few welts on two people when in close quarters.
    I love your story and hope to be representing the zing mini in my bag in the future!
    Thanks for the post!

    Like

  4. You’re story is about making lemonade when life gives u lemons…I’m also making lemonade. After becoming disabled due to a careless surgeon, I’m in the process of opening up a disc golf store to go along with the estabished course. Lil slice of heaven disc golf course in indiana will be a Disc golf speciality store, different from the box stores. As far a I know we were the 1st course to go solar for night golf and lite all the baskets. Minis aren’t sold anywhere around here.

    Like

  5. I think it would be cool if minis were made from something biodegradable (like the cheap beer coasters they give away in bars). Then when I leave a mini behind, it will just return to nature or get shredded by a lawn mower. My friends & I use beer coasters instead of minis in casual rounds.
    As a lifelong disc flinger I have well over 100 discs. About half of them are smaller than a golf disc. A few are so small they came with a device to launch them. One looks like a large pair of tweezers with the ends curved to hold the mini-disc between them. Insert a 2.1 inch diameter disc, squeeze the tweezers and zoom, the disc is flying.
    The Fireflyer is a small (2 inch Diameter) container made of two discs put together. It was filled with tiny candy. Directions explain how to separate the two halves, and open a small notch in one. Then use the notch like a spear thrower to launch the other disc.
    The smallest discs I have are for the Disc-O-Punch. It is a launcher that has a pistol grip under a 4 inch plastic circle. This is partly covered so you can use this platform to catch a disc. Hidden under the platform is tweezer launcher. Load a 1.25 inch disc, pull the trigger and your mini is in flight.
    On Father’s Day a few years ago as disc golf was spreading into Schenectady, one of my friends was excited when he heard that his 2 young sons had bought him a whole disc golf set: 3 “Frisbees” AND a basket. It was a mini disc golf set!

    Like

  6. Great article. I have been doing business with Craig for 25 + years. He makes a great product and is an innovator. Thanks for the MDGF mention. Here are some other uses for minis. #1-Coaster, #2-floor protectors under furniture legs, #3-Stash container for your valuables (Microfoil fits into the Snipe) #4-Air fresheners (scented models), #5-Toys for my Parrot, #6-Business cards, #7-Announcements and memorials. The list can go on and on. Do not forget to throw them too. Zing minis are some of the BEST flyers on the market for Mini Disc Golf or just throwing them for fun.

    Like

  7. One of the best mini tales I like to tell people is when the Girl Scouts were scheduled for three consecutive nights at Mushroom Manor Mini course to play glow golf. Just imagine 45 girls from kindergarden to 5th grade all with flashlights a mini and lots of energy packed onto a one acre lot with 9 baskets. Laughing, giggling, screaming, cheering, and running every which way. One of the best moments was standing near the river looking up the toward the house and 50 flashlights shining in every direction! It looked like the opening scene from the movie ET. It was a beautiful sight! I get to experience that every year with the local Girl Scouts!

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  8. Mini disc golf is one of my favorite games of all time. I’ve always been competitive and played a lot of different sports. At age 65 it’s hard to find sports in which I can be competitive. Ah, minis. There is a group of us in Lancaster, Pa. that get together every Thursday to play. We have 7 different courses we play. Five are at private residences, one is in a public park and one is at an entertainment venue call the Laserdome. I have to admit as Linc says, “These are some of the greatest times of our lives. That pretty much says it all!!!!

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