Scott Fitchett, MSN Lazer Take Athlete Branding to Next Level
Passion usually doesn’t spark out of necessity.
For Scott Fitchett, it did.
Challenged between saving the family business, continuing to serve the game of lacrosse, and fostering a creative spirit, he had to find a way to tie it all together or neglect a major piece.
A kid who was obsessed with his own dreams of making the big leagues, the younger version of Fitchett would be in heaven with the athletes he call clients. Working with icons of the NHL like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner would be a dream come true for countless Canadian sports fans. While their status means the world to him, the change he is also hoping to create for the greater lacrosse community and the people who make it so special would be the ultimate fulfillment.
Throughout a major part of his life, it was easy for Fitchett to find identity in the lacrosse community. Growing up in Scarborough, Ontario, Fitchett practically made melted rinks his home. He was also drawn to field lacrosse, often a novelty in Canada, taking his game as far as winning the 2008 Baggataway Cup, the Canadian university field lacrosse national championship.
As his talent developed, alongside came a deep knowledge of the game. Coaching is in Fitchett’s blood, and it became quick work for him to find fulfillment on the sideline.
Yet, lacrosse couldn’t be everything.
Scott’s father, Rick Fitchett, suffered a massive heart attack in 2006, eventually passing from heart failure in 2015. Through those years, the family business of trade show displays and marketing started to slip into limbo. With the family energy focused on health, Marketing Services Network stayed planted in time as trends and technology moved on.
Only a few credit hours from a degree from the University of Guelph, Fitchett made the decision to step away from traditional learning and apply his do-it-yourself upbringing to his own small business. Putting an immediate focus on founding and scaling his start-up media agency, Fitchett was quickly drawn back to the foundation his fathered had laid for a family business. Combining income potential with family legacy, Fitchett made the redirection to revitalize his father’s work and take the reins for himself.
I was naturally adopted into my parents’ family business, the trade show business,” Fitchett reflected. “I’ve really only had one job, and I’ve worn many hats, but I’ve only ever done my own thing along with my family on the trade show side. My father sort of forced me, now very thankfully, to work on the trade show floor.
It was back to the trade show floor: floors like the ones he worked on as a kid helping his dad build, operate and tear down display after display. The outdated business practices and materials he inherited weren’t going to catch many eyes. Looking to get ahead of the curve, Fitchett started combing other industries for inspiration to bring back to his repertoire of display marketing.
As he expanded his skills through the demand of print media in advertising, Fitchett was quickly exposed to the good and bad of marketing. Quick and constant event opening deadlines revealed the cut-corner world of production underneath it all.
What I found is that the majority of marketing people don’t know the basics of file creation,” Fitchett explained. “I’d be working with big brands, and you’d have marketing people that don’t even know what a vector file is. So, I’d be stuck in the middle of trying to get a vector file of a huge corporation. There are all kinds of corporate red tape, and then there’s a trade show coming up with a deadline.
The trade show circuit is a cyclical grind of promotional marathons, repeating the process to new faces across North America. Even those unfamiliar can take notice of the industry’s endless hustle. After enough outsiders questioned how he could withstand it after all these years, Fitchett too started to second guess his path.
For a lot of years, I used to think to myself, ‘I don’t know how the hell I’m doing this,’” he said. “It’s just our family business, and it’s what I know.
If he wanted his events to run more smoothly, he would need to bring more of the process in-house. That meant a complete pivot from his traditional operation toward mastering new tools and techniques to not only streamline his output but learn how to get ahead of what the competition was doing.
Proudly continuing the family business but jaded by monotony, new life was brought into the family business in the form of laser beams. Looking to feed his hunger to create more with his own hands, a chance to learn a new craft and develop a business-boosting skill reared its head. He pulled the trigger on buying his first laser in August 2019 and in quick time added two more to his fleet.
While the original focus was improving on the trade show game, Fitchett was assembling an arsenal of materials and engineering knowledge. Baby steps soon turned to a mad scientist locked away with his experiments. Finding time to balance his wife with three young sons provided a different challenge.
“If you were watching me a little bit when I started, I was almost neglecting my family,” Fitchett said. “I was falling in love with a laser and the one material that I hadn’t sort of mastered in the trade show world: wood.
Everything in trade shows is aluminum and fabric, human manufacturing materials and kind of just poor core manufacturing materials,” he continued. “So, literally, in the last eight months, I’ve dedicated, I’d say on average, 14 to 16 hours a day, mastering wood, acrylic and laser process.”
Holed up in his workshop, Fitchett lost track of the time. Like levels of a video game, once one new skill was unlocked, it was time to chase the next attribute to elevate the final product.
Hours were logged under the guise of growing the family business, but quickly a gray area formed between work, play and a new vision. While the trade show industry would benefit from the effort, things came to an abrupt halt with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. With no public gatherings, the trade show industry fell flat. A racing mind started to connect the dots between Fitchett’s first love in sports and the tools he now has at his disposal.
Like most Canadians, hockey has a special place in Fitchett’s heart. But with a long-time coach as a father, he was indoctrinated into a love for lacrosse at a young age. Playing the game since he was 3 years old, Fitchett has been banging rubber off the boards for practically his entire life. Through the years of sharing benches with some of Canada’s top young talent, the roster of athletes Fitchett has called friends over the decades has developed into a star-studded list of the game’s most accomplished.
As MSN Lazer started to take shape, Fitchett wanted to instill one principle into his business: the game comes first.
That means working only with athletes that fit the mold.
It’s kind of the opposite of how businesses function and manufacturer nowadays, where there’s a lot of profit, hunger, greed and selfishness and kind of just duplicating what other people are doing,” he said. “What we do is the opposite of that in every sense.
It translates into creativity in products and an operation that really creates,” he added. “I don’t even want to say products, but creative and tangible solutions that have various applications based off our custom capabilities to manufacturer with lasers and our deep knowledge of various materials in their applications.
Fitchett’s team at MSN Lazer includes painters, fabricators, designers, and other masters of their trades. He has the same respect for the talents of the team he’s curated as he had for those who have reached their goals on sports biggest platforms. The admiration generates a more selective process when deciding which athletes are the right fit for the MSN Lazer brand.
There are plenty of ways to peddle sports memorabilia, and there are even more current and former competitors to work with. Fitchett is almost implementing an authenticity and purity litmus test of sorts to find the right fit. MSN Lazer only looks to collaborate with athletes that not only appreciate all aspects of their sport but also can respect the effort Fitchett and his team put into each creation along with the effort to help build the athlete’s brand.
While his first love will always be playing lacrosse, a new found passion in laser work and design has created a beautiful new outlet in the community.
Laser cutting and woodwork are by no means new to the lacrosse space. Neither is reselling used gear and memorabilia. Like the athletes, MSN Lazer creations are held to a higher standard, serving to bring meaningful value to the recipients. The focus isn’t just on the materials themselves, but how Scott Fitchett and his team of visionaries conceptualize and bring to life unique encapsulations of sports history.
MSN Lazer is not only finding ways to beautifully display relics of sport history; they’re adding to the story.
“Like the guys we work with, we are sports levers and athletes,” Fitchett explained. “So, what we have just doesn’t come from, you know, some overseas company that might make a massive thing or whatever. It’s made by someone creating a better-looking, unique item and sometimes more collectible item. Someone that is creating a solution to a problem.”
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