The founder and owner of a store that sells customized baseball equipment and merchandise has found his “home” plate, but not on a baseball field.
Carlos Cruz, a Panama native who played college baseball for Queens College, now has a physical location and machine shop for his sporting goods company Crunoz, which had previously only operated through online sales.
Crunoz, which is located on 728 E. 136th Street, is the perfect source for ballplayers of all ages and skill levels who are looking for customized baseball gear, such as bats, batting gloves, fielding gloves, hats and uniforms.
The choices are endless. Customers can choose the color, size, weight and design of their product. They can also watch their customized bats be made, step by step – in house.
“We want customers to get the full experience when they walk into the store and pick out their customized equipment – the same experience that a professional baseball player would receive,” said the founder and owner, who refers to his store as the “baseball man cave” and a “boutique for baseball” in the Bronx.
The waiting process for a customized bat is only a half an hour, a glove or batting gloves can be made within two to four weeks and uniforms (which are usually sold to an entire team) made within four to six weeks. Cruz said that customized batting helmets and cleats would be available in the near future, as part of a product-expansion process that takes place every few months.
Customers can ‘road test’ their merchandise afterwards at New York Sluggers, a batting cage just one floor down from the mecca of customized baseball merchandise.
The store’s location in this baseball town has a significant meaning for Cruz, who stamps every single bat he makes with a ‘MADE IN THE BRONX’ logo. “No bat will ever leave the store without it,” Cruz vowed.
Crunoz’ began playing baseball at age five, before moving to the United States when he was 13. Cruz graduated from Newtown High School in Queens and earned a scholarship to play baseball at Queens College, where he was school MVP for two years and made the All-Conference North East Team in his senior year prior to graduating in 2003.
“This company was formed from my belief of the importance of customer satisfaction and my love for baseball,” said Cruz. “Unfortunately, I was never able to afford name brands when I was growing up, so my goal was to give children who were in the same position an opportunity to purchase customized baseball equipment at an affordable price.”
Crunoz’ success did not come easy.
Cruz began planning his company with just $50 after graduating college, saving money while receiving helpful advice from close family members and teammates about ways to run the business.
Eventually, he started selling bats to customers online while working his day job at Canon, where he has been working in human resources since 2007.
“If you have a dream and you have the passion for it, then you can make it into a reality one day,” said Karla Cruz, Carlos’ sister who is the Crunoz accountant. “My brother is a perfect example of that.”