Asked & Answered: Gino Postorivo of Valken Paintball

Gino Postorivo of Valken Sports (Valken Paintball) and former President of National Paintball Supply, has graciously accepted 68Caliber’s invitation to be the first guest of ASKED & ANSWERED, a new feature on 68Caliber.

For the next week, anyone in the industry is welcome to submit (appropriate) questions here in the comments and Gino will answer them. Be mature, be responsible, be interesting and who knows, Gino just might decide to answer your question!

But first – a little background on the man who is the subject of this week’s ASKED & ANSWERED!

The picture above shows three of the many faces of Gino Posotrivo, one of the most influential (if not at times controversial) personalities to have ever graced the paintball industry.

Far too many years ago for many of us to want to count, Gino, as the story goes, began selling “smoke grenades out of the trunk of his car” at local area paintball fields. Or perhaps it was “with a few dollars from his dad and operating out of a pizza restaurant” or maybe it was even “don’t ask and don’t get in his way”. Regardless of the accuracy of any origin story, the bottom line is this: from humble beginnings, a Jersey boy parleyed his natural talents for business and salesmanship into what ultimately became the largest and most influential company in the paintball industry – National Paintball Supply. A company who’s distribution operations were the envy of nearly everyone (and probably the envy of others in many other industries).

Gino’s take-over and dominance of paintball did not happen overnight, nor was it accomplished entirely with fuzzy bunny slippers and chocolate chip cookies; as Gino grew the empire that would ultimately become EMPIRE Paintball, no little amount of controversy followed as his company – National Paintball Supply East (headquartered in Sewell, NJ) would displace Rick Fairbank’s National Paintball Supply (the original company of that name that Gino had partnered with early on in his career) and would ultimately win the name (NPS briefly changed its name to Paintball Inc, if you remember); he was also perceived as using his distribution muscle to eventually take over several brand names (Air America and Icon-Z being two among many) and there was quite a bit of discussion (to use a family-friendly word) over his creation of 888-Paintball, an on-line retailer that frequently offered NPS distributed product direct to consumers for the same (or nearly the same) prices as NPS was selling the product to dealers for.

All of which has to be countered by the view from the other side: Gino’s NPS offered a viable alternative to PMI, which was then the dominant distributor in the industry. (This gave field owners some previously unavailable leverage in the paint pricing department and the competition between NPS and PMI steadily drove paint prices down over multiple years.) Gino also invested heavily in sponsoring events and teams; NPS’s support of a series was frequently the only thing keeping a series going; his sponsorship of the Ironmen (Bob Long’s Ironmen) was one of the major contributing factors to that team’s international dominance.

He was also responsible for pumping large dollars into promotional campaigns for new products, lending them a professional level of advertising and marketing that had not been seen previously in our industry. NPS’s support and distribution of the Kingman Hammer contributed in no small way to the nation-wide acceptance of the Kingman brand (now one of the largest companies in the industry); he was also directly responsible for ridding the industry of one of its biggest problems – The Henry’s and their next-best-thing-to-blackmail publications – The Monday Report and The Paintball Player’s Bible magazine (which eventually became Paintball 2Xtremes magazine).

For those not concerned with industry business machinations, Gino was also known for putting on the best players parties anyone has ever seen (I remember with particular fondness the Hawiian Luau at an Am Open one year: there were mermaids floating in the pool!).

Controversial, a tough negotiator, a man who saw his goal, did what he had to in order to reach it and did reach it, Gino Postorivo is also the kind of guy who isn’t afraid to park his Hummer outside of the local diner.

Most folks probably remember Gino as the guy who brokered a deal to sell BOTH Pursuit Marketing Inc & National Paintball Supply to a group of investment bankers. That company is now known as Kee Action Sports.

One of the conditions of the sale of NPS to Kee was a non-compete clause (meaning that for several years, Gino was not legally allowed to work within the paintball industry). That non-compete ended a while ago. Shortly thereafter, the rumor mill in paintball began to buzz with news of Gino’s return.

Gino had, in fact, not left sports. In addition to a variety of other concerns (Gino likes to stay busy), he’d been applying his distribution acumen to other sports by establishing Valken Sports, a company that supplies gear lacross, in-line hockey, mixed martial arts and, of course, paintball.

It’s taken Gino about a year to get everything lined up, but now it appears that Valken Paintball is moving full speed ahead, damn the torpedos! The Valken line of gear now includes paintballs, clothing, protective gear, packs and an ever-growing list of new product.

In addition, Mr. Postorivo seems intent on getting the Valken name and brand-recognition going sooner, rather than later, with sponsorships of teams and events being announced almost weekly.

I’ve been around for the entire Gino Postorivo story; like many others I’ve both worked with him (coaching one of his first sponsored teams, in fact) and have opposed some of the things he’s done; like most I admire what he’s managed to accomplish. I also know enough about the man to know that not only is he just getting started, but he will undoubtedly do some things that will surprise me (and probably nearly everyone else).

Having know him for so long, I think it only appropriate that 68Caliber kick this whole thing off by asking the first question:

Gino: what is the single biggest difference between then (NPS days) and now (Valken Paintball days)?

Tune in here to see Gino’s answers and to ask some of your own!  If you would like to ask Gino a question, click on the COMMENT button and ask away:  please note – all questions are being moderated, so you may not see your question appear immediately:  Gino will be answering those questions he chooses to answer and we will be editing out inappropriate or wildly off subject questions.  Remember – play nice!

12 thoughts on “Asked & Answered: Gino Postorivo of Valken Paintball

  1. Gino, how much further are you looking to expand your Mil-sim line. Also how do you think the market fairs for mil-sim vs speedball? It seems to me that locally the woodsball players are where the money is currently, how has your mil-sim line done so far? Are you planning on bringing more mil-sim markers to the market?

  2. The question from ‘anonadude’ was generally inappropriate and mean-spirited and it was held back in the moderation cue because it came from an anonymous source; since it was asked of Gino, it was forwarded to him and he decided that he wanted to answer it anyway (and has). Allowing this anonymous, non-working email address commenter through this time does NOT mean that 68Caliber has altered its policy.

  3. Old skool – It feels great. I’m having a lot of fun, reconnecting with a lot of friends and enjoying every minute of it. In the morning I can’t wait to get into work – every day is an adventure

    I think we need to have woods and speed ball simultaneously at each event like we used to have in the old days. We need to put the politics aside and concentrate on what is going to help grow the sport.

  4. Blake – I asked my guys what’s selling and they say everything. That makes me smile.

    I’m REALLY HAPPY with our paintballs right now, and we’ve introduced an excellent, low-cost ball with ZING

    And of course, to belabor the point a little, with Redemption we have a great high end paintball at a very fair price.

    Our Sly goggle is very hot right now and we’re in the midst of making a low-end field goggle.

    We’re also working on two Valken Loaders right now (a High and a Low), we’re doing the patent thing with those.

    As a teaser – we’ve got a few new guns coming….

  5. Blake – It feels great. I’m having a lot of fun, reconnecting with a lot of friends and enjoying every minute of it. In the morning I can’t wait to get into work – every day is an adventure.
    I think we need to have woods and speed ball simultaneously at each event like we used to have in the old days. We need to put the politics aside and concentrate on what is going to help grow the sport.

  6. Anonadude – That’s actually a very interesting question. I’ll answer the subject, rather than the intent. When you say that companies that worked with NPS seemed to go belly up, are you referring to companies like Tippmann (that sold to investors for around 100 million)? Or ProCaps (that sold to investors for just under a hundred million)? Or JT USA that John Gregory sold for around 30 million in 1999, or Viewloader that sold out for phat cash in 1999, or maybe even Kingman that NPS did 7 million dollars worth of business a year before they decided to go dealer direct?

    I suppose you could call that ‘belly up'; I wonder if the guys with those new bank accounts would use the same words…

    But maybe It is my fault that they only got millions, instead of billions.

    Valken currently distributes for 30 manufacturers (which we’ve put together in just 8 short months). I don’t think any of those manufacturers are afraid of going belly up. We will work hard for them to try and grow the pie for the entire paintball industry.

    The question kind of raises another subject – paintball politics. I’ll have to admit that back in the day I was as much involved with it as anyone else in the industry. It was a part of doing business back then (and even though most, if not all of us hated it, we had to deal with it). I’ve had a chance to see what it’s done to the industry (as has most everyone else). It hasn’t contributed one positive thing, which is why I – and Valken Paintball – are personally committed to a policy of no politics. Doing good business and helping the industry grow is our focus – politics is not.

    Let’s all work together to get paintball on track. We can do this!


  7. From an outsiders perspective…It seemed to be a trend that companies that worked with your former company, NPS, seemed to go belly up and/or get absorbed into that company (NPS). The rumor was it was because you some how strong armed control of these companies. Basically, what I’m asking is, when did you stop beating your vendors?

  8. How does it feel to be back?
    what do think the future holds for The current tournament scene?

  9. What products are you currently most excited about carrying\developing?

    Any plans to enter the goggle or loader market? (Your company DID bring us the Halo and Events before :) )

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