Detroit Lacrosse Co. owner, Ken Rymiszewski will be celebrating his 12 anniversary in the lacrosse retail business later this year. From humble beginnings to a name that speaks volumes about lacrosse in the area – his story is a testament to solid ideas and execution.
Ken was introduced to the sport by his brother who was at West Point. “He told me that I had to play and I would love it. He was right” Ken said. Ken went on to play at De La Salle Collegiate and was the first All State laxer from the school in 1986. He was also was a three year captain. Ken went on to be an assistant coach for the Pilots at two levels – varsity and freshman.
Being a coach and not having your players properly equipped drove Rymiszewski to start “D-Lax”. “I was coaching at the time and so many of the kids were ordering equipment on-line. They had to wait for the gear to be delivered. Some of them would come to practice and explain that the UPS guy hadn’t shown up yet. They couldn’t practice without the equipment. I thought that we could maybe start a business.”
That business got its start in 2001. Detroit Lacrosse started small – 60 hoodies at the 2001 State Finals. “We had to borrow a tent from a funeral director – it was that or out of the trunk of a car”, laughs Ken. Ken promoted the company by getting the name in front of coaches. He gave away t-shirts at Ron Hebert’s coach’s clinic – something to remember the name. And yes, those came from out of the trunk of his car.
The word of mouth approach is critical for D-Lax. They have stores in Novi, Clinton Township and Pontiac / Auburn Hills. “Most of our customers are from referrals from other coaches”, Ken says. “We always have to be aware of what our customer needs and to provide excellent service. Our customer is the “boss”. We provide the best service, the best products and we always need to be looking to improve.”
Detroit Lacrosse prides itself on providing the complete lacrosse experience. It’s not just about equipment. Ken explains, “We provide customization on just about all pieces of equipment. But we also give the customer up to date information about rules, stringing, and we match the gear up to the level of the player. We need to make sure that the gear we give them will be legal for game play.”
The gear certainly has changed over the years. Rymiszewski says it’s for the better. “The equipment has become more protective, lighter. The helmets have gotten much better.”
Ken is committed to making the sport of lacrosse better in Michigan. “We need to support each other more than we do now. All of us need to stop worrying about ourselves being the best and make the state better as a whole. All of the teams need to practice harder – the “bad competition” does not help the overall growth of the sport.”
One of the most recent inductees into the Michigan High School Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame is not without his personal tragedy. His son, Kyle passed away from a heart attack caused by Cardiomyopathy in 2009. Creating awareness of this disease is a goal for Rymiszewski. “I had so much support from the lacrosse community when I needed it (when Kyle passed away). We support each other and this is important to me. I want to keep working… to make a difference.”
Ken gives so much back to the game and to the programs and individuals who work for the love of the game. “I’ve been involved with lacrosse for 30 years. It’s a great sport with great people and it’s given me so many true friendships over the years.”
Novi: 43381 Grand River, Novi 48375
Clinton Township: 21186 Hall Rd, Clinton Township 48038
Pontiac / Auburn Hills: 3999 Center Point Parkway, Pontiac 48341
For additional information go to: http://detroitlax.com/
For information on Children’s Cardiomyopathy go to: http://www.childrenscardiomyopathy.org/
To “Stick it to Cancer”, go to: http://www.karmanos.org/