This article originally appeared in the June issue of Military Officer.
Air Force Lt. Col. Matt Butler developed his game, Rollors, between deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan from a desire to combine his love of beer, BBQ, and lawn games. Rollors now can be found at some of the country's biggest retailers, such as Dick's Sporting Goods, Walmart, and REI.
Butler, in his own words, describes his concept for the game and the growing business.
The concept came [to me] around my fifth of sixth deployment, about eight years ago, with the limited free time I had. I was thinking about bocce ball and horseshoes in Minnesota. I couldn't wait to get home and have some beers and BBQ, and lawn games just keep everyone going.
How to Play
You set up the goals 25 feet from each other. Players roll discs, and points are awarded to the team that positions their discs closest to the goal. It's really a cross between horseshoes, bocce, and lawn bowling. It also has some chance built into it.
I don't have any full-time employees, so when I'm deployed or training, my wife jumps in. We outsource a lot of things, usually to military companies. That kind of goes back to the 'wingman' concept. But being military only means they get a shot at the business - then they have to earn it.
Progress So Far
I've sold about 45,000 games, and every year, the company grows by about 30 percent. I've now surpassed what I make in the military.
It would be crazy not to make a run at this. How could it not be fun to develop and play an outdoor game?
I've always wanted to play with [former president] George W. Bush, grilling some big slab of meat at his ranch. He seems like a down-to-earth guy who would enjoy the game. Or, the White House would be amazing.
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