Richard Murad grew up as a casual baseball fan in the 1970s, but he wasn’t especially passionate about it until his son, Jack, fell in love with the game at 8 years old.
Jack would practice at a somewhat run-down batting cage complex in El Segundo, near their Manhattan Beach home.
“It had old pitching machines, dirty floors and pinball machines that were broken,” said Murad, general manager of El Segundo skin care company Murad Inc.
But his son loved it, and when he heard the owner was interested in selling, he bought the place.
“It was very attractive because he wasn’t looking for a lot of money,” Murad said.
He assumed he would keep it pretty much as it was so his son and other regular customers could continue practicing there. But Murad couldn’t help but start upgrading things. He installed artificial turf. He replaced the old pitching machines. And now, since buying the facility five years ago, he’s made $2 million worth of upgrades. He renamed it Beach City Baseball Academy.
And it turned out not to have been a sunk cost. Murad said the facility brings in about $1 million in annual revenue – up from $200,000 before he bought it – with a 10 percent profit margin.
“It really has surprisingly become a business itself,” said Murad, who works there part time.
The academy also sponsors travel teams, summer camps and clinics, where kids can learn from instructors such as retired major league all-star Kenny Lofton.
Murad, who was a litigator before taking over the skin care business founded by his father, Howard, said he wouldn’t trade the baseball life for anything.
“It’s by far the best job that I’ve ever had,” he said.
– Matt Pressberg