Hobby Interview: Leaf President Brian Gray

Photobucket

Leaf President, Brian Gray was nice enough to answer a few questions for Sports Card Info today.  With the release of Valiant this week, I just had to catch up with him.  I hope you enjoy!

  • What separates Leaf from all the other card manufacturers?

Leaf is founded on one simple principle. Be what the other manufacturers aren’t while giving collectors what the other manufacturers won’t.

We are a 100% customer driven company. We do not rest on laurels of our history. We fight every day to make compelling products and provide the best service in the industry.

Plus, I collect too! I can assure you most owners of manufacturers in this market do NOT collect. How can they have a customer/collector driven vision, when they don’t even collect?

  • When it comes to releasing a new product, you truly listen to what collectors want to see.  Why do you think this is so difficult for other companies?

Honestly, it isn’t hard at all. The problem is that bigger companies have systems and red tape that makes being flexible for customers difficult. I don’t think collectors should have to settle for bad customer service just because a company is big. Or, they shouldn’t have to deal with checklist switcharoos because a manufacturer has an exclusive.

  • Since taking over the Leaf brand in 2010, what has been your favorite project you have worked on?  Why?

Working on Muhammad Ali products was amazing for me. First, I love Muhammad! He is a true hero of sports and an idol to millions worldwide. In addition, I learned a great deal in preparing these products and added Ali to my PC (personal collection).

  • Ichiro has been a huge draw for collectors opening your newest baseball products.  Do you have plans to incorporate any more active MLB players within your products?

Yes, we will be announcing another deal in the coming weeks. I am so excited to add “championship” talent to our roster.

  • Resurrecting the popular Crusade design from the 90’s was a great idea.  What other insert designs would you like to see make a comeback?

There are so many.  In 2012, Leaf will be exploring many lost (and some new) technologies in bringing that unappreciated era back to the forefront.  Plus, look for 1990 Leaf and 1948 Leaf designs to make appearances.

  • If you had to open a Leaf product right now, what would it be?

For resale value, 2011 Leaf Valiant Baseball… 10 autos with Ichiros at that level are crazy… plus I love that old Crusade design!

As a collector, Muhammad Ali Metal. It is underappreciated in the market and I would take this opportunity to break wax and use eBay/stores to fill sets while prices are reasonable.

  • Which vintage Leaf product do you find the most interesting?

1948 Leaf. Simple set with simple art that changed cards. The first color post-war baseball set was huge. We will be celebrating this in 2012.

  • Do you have a personal collection?  If so, what is in it and what is your favorite piece?

Yes… too much to itemize. I have an extensive presidential autograph collection, but frankly my favorite items are pictures of me and our personalities together signed… Ali, Tyson, etc…

I would like to thank Mr. Gray for taking the time to answer my questions.  Leaf has been releasing some great stuff and I look forward to what the future brings.

On a side note, I noticed that a Hak-Ju Lee 2011 Valiant autograph popped-up for sale and was signed in silver ink.  I asked Mr. Gray if there were any ink variations within Valiant and he said there were none.  Lee just happened to pick-up the wrong pen.

Photobucket

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: