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:: CHILL OUT - A Temecula company supplies the misting systems to sports teams
It's the fourth quarter at Jordan-Hare stadium in Auburn, and the only thing higher than the opponent's score is the temperature on the field.
A 300-pound lineman sits on the bench, and while he can't escape the wrath of his coach, he can find refuge from the Alabama sun with a little help from a Temecula company.
The misting machines found on the sidelines of 23 professional and college football games every weekend is provided by Big Fogg.com Misting Systems , a twenty-four person company off Zevo Drive in Temecula.
"On days in Southern California or in the South, like when we went to Alabama, it's critical. The Misting Fans rejuvenates the players and gives them an extra edge," said Dino Dennis, head equipment manager for the USC football team. The misting machines could be seen on the Aug. 30 telecast of the USC-Auburn game.
Before football teams had the misting machines, teams had to rely on towels soaked in buckets of ice or a garden hose to keep the players cool, Dennis said. The machines pump water at 1,000 pounds per square inch through a pinhole, spraying the mist, which is then blown by heavy-duty fans.
The misting machines can drop the temperature around a sideline bench by 10 to 25 degrees, depending on ambient temperature and humidity, said Christopher Miehl, founder of BigFogg.com Misting Systems.
Why the dot-com name? When Miehl left competitor Cool Zone in the late 1990s, he needed to raise money for his new business, and because it was the heady days of the Internet, Miehl thought having a dot-com name might attract investors.
With almost no cash, Miehl started his company with the experience he had and the connections he made at Cool Zone. "I didn't have two quarters to rub together to start this business, but I did have the contacts," Miehl said. He started by supplying USC with the misting machines at a home game against the University of Washington. Soon, his business began to grow as other teams began using his service.
Most of his football business came from teams in the northern part of the country, Miehl said, because teams from the South have used the heat as an advantage. The big break came when Miehl was able to persuade teams in the National Football League to use his misting machines. And that was no easy task. For every 1,000 companies that want to do business with the NFL, only one will get licensed, league spokesman Dan Masonson said by telephone. "The field and the sidelines are our biggest stage, so we're very strict about what can be on them," Masonson said. The reason the league controls its fields so tightly is because 120 million people are watching professional football on any given weekend, he said.
"There's a reason why Nike gives their shoes away to football teams," said Roger Noll, Stanford economist and sports-business expert.
For companies able to land a contract with a team, the exposure is invaluable. Not only do other college and professional teams see the company, but also high school coaches watching the game at home will want a unit for their teams, Noll said by telephone.
"We don't make a lot of money from the games, but we get a lot of prestige and credibility," Miehl said. When the company first provided NFL teams with the misting machines, each unit carried the company logo. But other companies who were paying for the privilege of having their logo on the sideline complained. Now Miehl can only have his logo at college football games. Even then, some schools arrange sponsorship deals and use the side of his misting machines to put the logos of other companies, such as Sparkletts, Miehl said.
In 2000, BigFogg Misting Systems first full year of operation, a third of the company's business came from supplying the misting machines to teams. Then, revenues were less than $1 million.
Now the company gets 80 percent of its revenue from installing misting systems in homes, restaurants and businesses, Miehl said.