Q&A: Shots America Execs Talk U.S. Expansion

Ariana Rodriguez

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — Shots America today kicked off a week-long private grand opening of its new distribution center and offices located in Santa Clarita, Calif.

The company, which was recently launched as the U.S. expansion of Netherlands-based Shots Media, is welcoming customers, industry media and colleagues to explore its new state-of-the-art 30,000 square feet facility.

After two decades of building its brand overseas, Shots Media owner Oscar Heijnen says the decision to launch Shots America was largely based on Ruben Deitz accepting the role of CEO and president. Deitz brings more than 25 years of experience, and is fluent in Spanish and English. He holds a Masters in Business Administration and graduated from National University with Summa Cum Laude Honours. He formerly served as the vice president of Pipedream Products.

With the opening of Shots America, the company is taking over its own distribution channels, making its 1,900 SKUs available in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and South America.

The company showcases its full product line in its spacious showroom located on the second floor of the new building. Featuring lavish couches and a stocked bar, every wall is stocked from floor to ceiling with products organized according to brand. The facility’s warehouse is ready to fulfill orders with plenty of products on hand.

Shots Media account manager Hein Schouten told XBIZ he traveled from the Netherlands to see the new establishment, and was surprised at the size of the building.

“It was quite special to see,” Schouten said. “It’s bigger than I expected. I feel very proud about it. It has brought us closer as a family and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Mike Singer, who recently joined the company, told XBIZ that when he first started, the building was mostly empty but he was inspired by the opportunity to work with Deitz.

“When I first came in there was nothing more than a chair and a desk, but I knew what Shots is capable of," Singer said. "Ruben is a super star in this industry, and just to be able to shadow him and work alongside him is a gift in itself. It was easy to take the leap. With 1,900 products there is a lot of potential.”

In this exclusive interview with XBIZ, Heijnen and Deitz offer some background on the company and their expectations for the company’s expansion.

XBIZ: How has the experience of establishing Shots America been so far?

Ruben Deitz: Exhausting. I’ve used every minute within the last few months to finish. It’s very fulfilling, very emotional. It took a lot of work and now I see the results. I think it’s the best work I’ve ever done.

I’m a perfectionist, I thought of every single detail from the color of the slatwalls to making the entire office wireless — attention to detail is part of our business model.

XBIZ: When was Shots Media established?

Oscar Heijnen: Shots Media was established exactly 20 years ago in the Netherlands, in Europe.

XBIZ: What makes Shots Toys unique?

Heijnen: Shots America manufactures not only Shots Toys but also 10 other brands, including: Bad Romance, Boom, Love Line, Real Rock, Denamour, Goodfellas, Ouch! S-line, Touché and Pharmquests,

Deitz: We’re the only company that has a major presence in two continents.

XBIZ: Discuss the existing popularity of Shots Toys in the U.S. How familiar is the brand to consumers and retailers?

Heijnen: In Europe it’s one of the No. 1 selling brands; in the U.S., it needs to grow. Our distributor always offered just 300 products, but from now on, we offer the full assortment of 1,900 SKUs to the market.

Deitz: The problem with only carrying 300 products is that it doesn’t give the full effect. Shots products stand out the best when you can see the full collection with the accompanying signage.

XBIZ: Why did you choose this year to take control of your presence in the U.S.?

Heijnen: Ruben Deitz, the CEO of Shots America, was the key component for me! Without his knowledge and experience I would have never taken this huge step on my own.

I am really honored that he chose Shots over many other opportunities he had when he decided to leave his old position.

Our cooperation feels very natural like we are family and have known each other for decades!

XBIZ: How did Ruben Deitz become involved with Shots?

Heijnen: We met in Australia at a Calvista Adultex event in the Hunter Valley approximately six years ago. Shots Media was the sponsor of the Saturday Night Party (it was medieval-themed). We met that day and ever since, we have remained very close friends.

After Ruben resigned from his position as vice president of Pipedream this past February, he gave me a call and the rest is history.

XBIZ: What are your expectations for the future of Shots America?

Heijnen: I believe that the potential is incredible. We have one of the largest assortments of products anywhere in the world. We have 1,900 SKUs and only approximately 300 SKUs have been introduced to the American market. This represents only 15 percent of our product range.

Shots’ brands and products are unique in design, functionality and materials. They have great packaging; will bring great value to the consumers; and will be easy to merchandise both at brick and mortar stores and e-commerce sites. Our quality will be outstanding and our customer service will be world class. We will continue to innovate and develop new products in new and emerging markets.

Deitz: That we will continue to make great products, have creative product designs and packaging, the best price points and world-class customer service.

XBIZ: Discuss the new facility. How will it enable the success of the brand in the U.S.? How fast do you predict the company will grow?

Heijnen: Our facility is around 30,000 square feet, and is based 20 minutes outside of Burbank, Calif., in Santa Clarita. We will offer a Shots assortment that is almost seven times bigger than before. Saying something about the potential is a very difficult thing to do but if this doubles our result I will already be a very happy man!

We think it will be bigger than that but we have to let the company develop and grow at its own pace, like we did with our European headquarters. Rome wasn't built in a day as they say, and I like to do these things in a steady and well-structured way.

Deitz: I think Shots will grow quickly but we want Shots America to grow intelligently, not just for the sake of growing. I want us to establish good lasting partnerships, and so far I’ve seen a strong commitment coming from a lot of the big players.