Column #272 Umby’s UnFranchise

Sepember 4, 2006
Column 272
Umby’s UnFranchise

For the past few months I’ve been talking with Jerry “Umby” Umberger about an idea he has to help aspiring darters achieve success. While I can’t claim to completely understand the idea and probably never will, let there be no doubt about Umberger’s motivations or that his idea can work.

As Umberger – one of the best joke tellers and most feared darts players ever to step to the line in America – puts it, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” That’s what he’s doing and he’s searching for a handful of darters interested in joining him. If the following paragraphs spark even your slightest interest then pick up the phone and give him a call at 1-800-982-6460 or send him an e-mail at jg81@ptd.net. He’ll be delighted to tell you more.

But first a bit about the man they call Umby.

Like most players of his generation (he’s 64) and from his area of the country (just west of the Pocono Mountains in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania) Umberger got his start in the American (widdy) game. As a little boy back in the 1940s he used to watch his father play in the local fireman’s league. It wasn’t until the middle 1970s that he tried English darts. Steve Farkas, editor of the old International Spider magazine, introduced him to “this funny new game” and the rest is history.

Although (confidentially) Umberger is practicing again with an eye towards competing in the 2007 World Series of Darts, he officially retired in 1999 after winning the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) national 501 singles championship. This topped a stellar thirty year career in the sport during which he represented America numerous times in international play. Umberger proudly recalls his win at the Royal Hawaiian International in 1982 and his finals battle in England against Peter “the Fen Tiger” Evison at the World Darts Council’s (WDC) Sampson Classic in 1995 (where he knocked off Dennis Priestley, Cliff Lazarenko, and Phil Taylor to get to the stage). In 1983, he won the Lucky Strike Triple Crown of Darts MVP award for points accumulated in the trilogy of the time – the Royal Hawaiian, the Unicorn Darts America tournament in Atlantic City and the North American Open.

Umberger’s route to the top of the sport of darts was typical for his day – and today. After graduating from Pottsville Area High School in 1960, he passed on college and went straight to work. For almost forty years, before retiring in 1997, he worked for Sprinkler Fitter Local 669 installing automatic sprinklers for fire protection. Although he eventually attracted sponsors, for the most part it was his day job that footed the bill – the travel, hotels and entry fees – that go with the territory for any darts player trying to rise in the ranks.

“For fourteen years I also owned and operated Arachnid electronic darts machines and, certainly, I owe a lot to my sponsors – Dart World (when Paul Hong was owner), Bottelsen, Voks, and then Dart World again and their super new owners, Mark & Donnie Amirault,” Umberger told me. “But still, it was always a struggle, a real balancing act financially. I worried about money all the time.”

It’s memories of the hard times and a desire to give back to the sport that gave him the chance to experience so much of the world beyond the mountains and valleys of Eastern Central Pennsylvania coal country that led to Umberger’s current path in life.

That and a chance encounter with something called OPC-3.

Those who go back a few years with Umberger will know that he’s long battled bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia in the winter months. He’d cough at the line or just plain opt out of some tournaments during the winter months.

Last October an acquaintance introduced him to the dietary supplement OPC-3, a product sold by a company called Market America. Skeptical but willing to try anything, Umberger gave it a go – and the results were amazing. For the first time in memory he sailed through the winter without even a sniffle.

“I’m not saying it was a miracle,” Umberger told me, “but my wife Gloria and I are now both taking OPC-3. My blood pressure is down considerably and we both have had blood tests for cholesterol, which is just about perfect. We feel better than we have in a long, long time. Although I still take medication for these problems I am convinced that the results would not be nearly as good without OPC-3.”

This experience led Umberger to take a look at the company behind OPC-3, which he eventually joined. What he learned led him along a path to “a healthier life and financial freedom” and that led him to his current idea.

“Oh, I’m going to play some tournaments – I just got back from the Hall of Fame shoot – and if I feel I can be competitive again I’ll be putting in the practice to take a shot at next year’s World Series of Darts,” said Umberger. “But my real interest these days is to help other players, younger than I am now, get healthy and be financially set so they can travel and not worry about making ends meet.”

“I feel that America’s darters, both the men and the women, would do much better if they were free of financial worry and able to finance their own way to tournaments to hone their skills against the best players out there, he continued. “You have to play the best to become the best and you can’t play the best if you can’t get around the circuit.”

That’s the motivation behind Umby’s UnFranchise. Umberger is now one of a new breed around the country and world called UnFranchise Owners (or UFOs) who have embraced a system proven to turn on the spicket to financial independence. It’s not a get-rich-gift pyramid or multi-level marketing scheme. It’s not some sort of buyer’s club. It’s a product brokerage and internet marketing company that is legal, respected and works.

Indeed, the very name – UnFranchise – was chosen because it is like a franchise (with a time-tested business plan, popular products, sound procedures and management support) but unlike most franchises, in that there are no franchise fees or monthly royalties to pay out and no employees, inventory or overhead costs – hence there is limited or no risk. And the business can be successfully operated on a part-time basis.

The UnFranchise is the brainchild of James “JR” Ridinger, founder and CEO of Market America. This wildly successful company (predicted to soon break into the Fortune 500) has in fourteen years of consecutive growth revolutionized the way people like you and me shop for products. In addition to the United States, the company has operations in Canada, Australia and Taiwan and will set up in Hong Kong later this year.

The product line is extensive and the company is gearing up for the day when anything can be purchased (easily and for less than through any other means) virtually from what they call their Mall without Walls, which can be accessed through the website portals owned by people like Umberger.

Umberger’s aptly named site can be found at www.sponsoryourself1.com. While he is initially focusing on health and nutrition products (because they have made a difference in his life), the line of brand-name products available through his franchise runs the gamut from cosmetics to home and garden to automobile care to pet care products to electronics to even a flower and gourmet coffee shop. It’s endless.

Now perhaps at this point you are scratching your head and saying to yourself, “Yeah, yeah – I’ve heard all this before.” Possibly you’re thinking that the system involves you hitting up all your friends to build a team that then hits up their friends to sell stuff door-to-door like Amway or Mary Kay – where nobody except the few guys at the top of the pyramid make a buck.

That is NOT what this is. And anyone who knows Umberger will not for a moment doubt that that is NOT the sort of thing he would ever push at the thousands of friends he made during his career in darts. A very sensitive guy and honest to a fault, Umberger is driven, not by any potential financial reward but rather to “help darts player’s sponsor themselves” and “give back to the sport” that gave so much to him for more than thirty years.

This is not to say that Umberger isn’t making a few bucks. The average UnFranchise Owner who starts out working just ten to fifteen hours a week can add about $1,000 a month to their bank account inside of twelve months and more than $3,500 a month in three years. But there are no limits – the most successful UnFranchise Owner, a woman from Boston named Elizabeth Webber, earns an average of $100,000 a month.

This is also not to suggest that Umberger isn’t building a team and hoping to build it from the ranks of the darts community. “Those are the people I want to have the chance I had,” he told me. Darter Bill Dye from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania was one of the first to join Umberger’s team. “If you can’t trust Jerry,” says Dye, “you can’t trust anybody.”

Another UnFranchise darter, Jim Black from Lusby, Maryland, echoes that sentiment, “Anybody who knows Umby knows he’s a class act and anybody who doubts that he’s in this for anything other than to help people doesn’t really know him.”

Despite the fact that seventy-four percent of America’s millionaires own their own business, for many people such a dream is tempered by the associated risks and costs. Not so with Umby’s UnFranchise. The Market America UnFranchise concept completely eliminates these concerns and provides all the systems and tools for anybody who is interested in seeing their talents work for them instead of their boss.

“I’m telling you, it works,” said an enthused Umberger. “I feel better and am more optimistic about my future and the future of darts than I have ever been. And really, I just want to share it with other darters. I earn nothing from those who are joining me. This is not that kind of thing.”

“My first aim is to find more darters like Bill Dye and Jim Black – not that many, just a half-dozen or so people-oriented, ambitious, hard-working people who want to take control of their finances and have a real chance to make it big in darts,” said Umberger. “You can’t win a doubles 501 match with just one player. This takes team work too.”

“My plan,” he continued, “is to start traveling around the country again to tournaments to play and tell people about how they can become their own darts sponsor. Then as they become UnFranchise Owners I see the group of us giving back even more to the sport by hosting tournaments to support charity and by helping fund youth events and scholarship programs for young players like the ADO’s Youth Scholarship Fund. The kids are the real future of the sport.”

Exactly how Market America, their UnFranchise and Mall without Walls can work for you is something I will leave to Umberger to explain. As noted earlier, if his idea intrigues you even a little bit don’t hesitate to give him a call at 1-800-982-6460 or e-mail him at jg81@ptd.net.

When I finished up my series of conversations with Umberger about his plans I couldn’t help but try to bring the discussion back to basics. “Come on Umby, this is really all about money?” I said.

He didn’t hesitate with his response…

“You know, everybody needs to make a living but there’s no point making a living if can’t enjoy the living your making. So, yes, part of this is about making a few bucks.

“But honestly, absolutely in all honesty, for me this is about giving back to darts and helping people. I often think back to when I began in the sport. My first partner, Rich Doyle, and I had such a wonderful time.

“Over the years I met so many people and I miss being out there with friends like John Part, Paul Lim, Stacy Bromberg, Larry Butler, Rick Ney, Tony Payne, Brian Dougherty, Jim Watkins, Dave Kelly, Darin Young, Roger Carter, Johnny Kuczynski and Laurette Meddis. There are just so many. I shouldn’t even have started trying to list them.

“You know, when I was playing I never really practiced much. Not practicing was my worst habit and that’s what I tell the younger players: don’t do what I did.

“I’m practicing now though. My arm was even hurting and at first I thought I just slept on it wrong. But it isn’t hurting any more. You can tell people that my UnFranchise business even has products for sore darts arms!

“I’m back. I’m looking forward to getting out there again with old friends, making new ones, helping people and promoting darts in any way that I can.

“And I even have some new jokes!”

From the Field,

Dartoid

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Dartoid
Author of the column that since 1995 has been featured by Bull’s Eye News, the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) Double Eagle and numerous other darts publications and websites around the globe.
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