There’s no such thing as too much time spent outside, socializing with friends and family – at least according to Air Force veteran Matt Butler, who was inspired to create his award-winning lawn game, Rollors, in an effort to bring people together.
“Everyone is so attached to electronics, people don’t even socialize or verbalize much anymore. I wanted to create a way to get people to have fun together.”
The thought behind the now-popular lawn game was born during his 20+ years spent in the service, where he flew onboard the JSTARS aircraft, and accruing over 1,400 hours flying as a senior air battle manager.
“But more importantly, it’s a tool to get people together to have fun.”
The retired Air Force officer Lieutenant Colonel joined the military straight out of college in 1998 through the ROTC program. Throughout his career and 10 deployments supporting overseas contingency operations, he traveled all over Europe and the Middle East and picked up popular pastimes such as bocce ball, horseshoes, lawn bowling and rolle bolle.
“I played a lot of bocce ball in Italy, and rolle bolle in Belgium, and then horseshoes and lawn bowling,” the Minnesota-native shared. “But there were a lot of little things that I didn’t like about certain games.”
“An example,” he continued, “is the scoring in bocce ball. People would pull out dollar bills to measure who got closest.”
Then during downtime between deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, Butler hatched an idea to eliminate the headaches of certain games and maximize potential fun, thus creating Rollors.
“The concept came to me while I was overseas, but I didn’t build a prototype until I was home. I built it in my garage,” he said.
To play, Butler explains that you throw disks that are “like big hockey pucks” toward a wooden triangle goal marker. Players then tally the score of whoever’s disc comes closest to the goal.
“It’s just an easy, leisurely outdoor game.”
The roll-out of Rollors was slow, though, he tells Fox News, with him only showing his friends and family his creation. The response was so overwhelmingly positive, that he decided to try it at a church craft fair, where he said he was shocked by the reaction.
“I was there with just a sheet over a table and my Rollors game. I did not have any branding or packaging. I just had a brown box that I had found,” he said. “But someone came up and asked if they could try it outside.”
“One of the things I learned in the military is being risk-averse and planning things out. We don’t just jump into things without planning.”
“And then when people came, the first thing they saw were people outside playing this game,” he continued. “That day we sold out. I only had about 50 units and they were all gone. People started coming to me with custom orders.”
Now, as the game was grown – with people even starting leagues – Butler sees it as a “tool for interaction.”
“[The game] is easy. It’s portable. But more importantly, it’s a tool to get people together to have fun.”
And though growth for the company, which officially started in 2010, is on the horizon, with Butler sharing that they recently started adding expansion packs that include different colors so more teams can join in, he credits his military training with keeping him grounded and not trying to move the business too fast.
“One of the things I learned in the military is being risk-averse and planning things out. We don’t just jump into things without planning,” he said.
Regardless of the challenges he has faced – in both his career and with his new business venture – Butler is happy to be learning and growing and able to give back to his military family.
“We’ve had the opportunity to work with Homes for Veterans, among other military programs,” Butler said, noting that he sends each vet a full version of Rollors.
“It’s about coming together.”
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