Grant McKnight of DuraEdge Discusses ABI Sports Turf

I’m Grant McKnight, president of DuraEdge Products. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process of working with ABI Sports Turf. Their commitment to excellence and commitment to innovation pairs very well with us at DuraEdge products. Ten years ago, I began producing infield skins and there was no specification for infield materials.

We worked very, very hard as a company to develop a series of products that could amend infield materials and all the while creating a standard for different levels of play, realizing that one product wasn’t for everybody. We had to have multiple products to meet the industry needs from park and recreation facilities the whole way to professional. So after 10 years of innovating in the infield skin material and creating the DuraEdge product line, I was really looking for that right piece of equipment, that tool that would really make the surface better for the length of its life.

We’ve learned over the years that the DuraEdge surface has a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, but we didn’t possess the ability to get the most out of that lifespan. So a year or so ago, I started talking with ABI Sports Turf. I looked at their equipment, looked at the rigid construction of it, really enjoyed the process of being involved with the VibraFlex nail board and its construction and their ideas. They were able to bring the ideas that I had to life. And I thought, that’s the perfect marriage. It’s a perfect relationship. Whenever you can take someone who has that experience and knows what you’re looking for. And in creating a tool that has finesse on the surface and isn’t too overbearing on it, a lot of the tools that are out there, they just use them in a way that destroys the surface. And when you put in an engineered soil like a DuraEdge product, this surface has been in for over a year now and it doesn’t move around. They’re not having lip issues and that sort of thing. So know, when you have an engineered base soil that plays down in place firm, you can utilize a piece of equipment to really get the most out of the surface. And I think that’s really exciting with the folks from ABI Sports Turf and the Rascal line and the Force motorized unit.

I think we’re bringing new innovations to the market, something that no one else has. Overall, the heavy duty construction, it’s going to last on a site for years. Our product has a 10 to 15 year lifespan on it. I want my tool to have the same. And so I thought all of those pieces and coming together and creating that finesse, that really is what we needed. ABI Sports Turf has some roots in the equestrian industry, equestrian. You’re wanting to open that soil up much deeper to three inches at a time. Here we’re working on quarter to half inch, 90 percent of our time on infield skin maintenance. And I thought that that is sharing those experiences with ABI Sports Turf team and seeing what they’ve created out of that has been really exciting for me.

I look forward to many years of being able to improve infield skin maintenance practices. And really our industry needs this. It’s it’s the industry is so far behind the golf industry. No one’s really ever dedicated a lot of time to it, obviously, by building facilities like this. The markets here, the need is here for these types of places. The head groundskeeper, James Bergdoll here, Elizabethtown Sports Complex, has said the demand is so surprising to him how many people come from all over the country to play. And when they do, they need to show up. They need to have not only the fan experience of of the lights and hot dogs in the concession stand, but the players have to have that experience, too. And for many, many players, this is as close to the big leagues as they’re ever going to get. And I think it’s really exciting that they can play on the same clay that many of the teams in professional baseball play on. The players can come out here and they can be ballplayers. And I always revel when young kids run out on the field and enjoy it and the ball stays down and they can improve their skills.

If you have a poorly maintained infield, you can’t improve as a child. And I think a lot of times all you’ve got to do is take one ball in the face. And that might be the end of that kid’s career. And he might just say, no, I don’t want to do that anymore. But when you have a facility that looks like this, you’re not going to take that ball in the face. You’re going to get better at the game. You’re going to want to come back and play. With the competition in youth sports today, that’s very important for the game of baseball. We have to raise our game. We have to elevate what we’re doing and make it better than than what it has been in the past.

We didn’t have access to this kind of stuff when I was a kid. The whole purpose of this is to make it affordable and easy for someone to do this anywhere in the country really at this point. There’s no reason that anyone shouldn’t have a balanced base soil, shouldn’t understand their infield skin material enough to be able to maintain it. Now, the equipment exists at a reasonable price point to be able to do the work. And that’s why I look forward to many years of innovating with ABI Sports Turf.