Daily Dart Peeps Profile: Player & Flashpoint Designs Founder & President Darin Van Handel, Wisconsin

NDA: Darin, tell us a bit about yourself—where you grew up and live now…and your family.

 DARIN: Thank you for the opportunity to share a bit about the Man under the Fedora. I currently live in Little Chute, Wisconsin less than 5 miles from my Great, Great grandfather’s farm. I grew up on the outskirts of the city – and ultimately moved back to the area after college and a few years of work in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I graduated from UW Madison (Go Badgers!) with a multi-major in Business Administration, Human Resource Management, and Industrial Relations. I supplemented that later with Police Science at FVTC. I like to think of my life as being one of the last of the renaissance men as I have had involvement in so many things it is hard to even mention them all – over 10 years in corporate apparel and cleaning supply sales, 15+ years as a Sheriff’s Deputy, 10+ years as a cleaning supply, chemical and sanitation expert and for the past 7 years leading Flashpoint Designs Sublimation apparel.

I have been blessed with a beautiful Wife – Valerie for over 20 years and 3 boys – Dustin (22), Logan (21), and Brodie (18). My family has made all things possible. For free time fun I have been and avid dart player since the early 1980’s with many great friends!

 NDA: What do you do for work these days? 

DARIN: With the Covid-19 situation, the Flashpoint Designs jersey business has been very slow but I have been working with several large businesses setting up cleaning sanitation plans and processes to help keep their employees safe from the Outbreak and to help plan to get life back to normal – or what the “NEW NORMAL” will be. 

NDA:  Given your background in sanitation, what is your best advice to players and operators as we (hopefully soon) begin to emerge from the pandemic-induced shutdown? 

DARIN: As with anything attitude is everything. We need to keep a positive attitude and use common sense in everything we do. The human race has endured 1000’s of challenges throughout time and this one is just another chapter in history. I have faith that God has a plan and we will continue and emerge into a new status quo. We cannot let fear dictate our lives and stop us from living and loving our family and friends!

NDA: How and when did you start playing darts? 

DARIN: I started playing darts in my parent’s basement in 1981. My older brother Dean started playing a little and I fell in love with the game.

NDA:  How is your game these days?

DARIN: In life there are ups and downs and sometimes when you reach the bottom there is no where to go but up… lol. My game is a fraction of what it once was and somedays that is frustrating, but I still love the friendship and comradery that goes with the game.

NDA: How often do you get to play? 

DARIN: These days not as much as I would like to. Life and work are keeping me very busy. At the height of my game I played every day. The past couple years I have become a league night shooter and an occasional weekend warrior. My youngest son has shown some interest in the game so I hope it may lead to more time behind the oche.

NDA: Tell us about your apparel business…how it started and how it has evolved to date? 

DARIN: Many years ago my team had a great sponsor (pre cell phone) and he came out to Vegas to see us play at the Riviera and he walked around for an hour and could not find us because everyone was wearing black T-shirts. He said he wanted to sponsor us the next year – but we needed to have a shirt that stood out. I designed a shirt and used some uniform contacts to contract with a company to make them for us – sublimation shirts.. in time for the NDA 25th anniversary in 2010. They arrived just days before our flight to Vegas – made wrong – in Long Sleeve… The manufacturer did not care and left us out to hang. A friend helped us convert the sleeves and we had sublimated jerseys in Vegas in 2010. The shirts were great, but after that crappy experience a dream was born – that we could do better… and over the year we did – making jerseys for our team, our bar, and ultimately for players around the world today. All because of a bad customer service experience.

NDA:  How has your experience as a player helped you with Flashpoint Designs? 

DARIN: I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play with some of the best players in the world and to play in events all over the country – getting to know some of the greatest people in the world. Conversation and word of mouth has brought us to where we are today. Treating people the way we wish we would have been on our first order!

NDA: What do you like most about darts?  

DARIN: It’s all about the people. The dart community is a big family. When people are in need – they all pitch in to help. I have met people from so many different places and occupations and we have only one thing in common – the sport of darts. People that I know I would never have met or associated with if not for the game. It is a beautiful thing!

NDA: What’s the coolest thing you’ve gotten to experience as being affiliated with the dart industry? 

DARIN: There are just so many great things.  The game has evolved so much over the years as technology has evolved that you can sit in your home establishment and play a game online with a friend in a different country. How cool is that?

NDA:  When you meet a new or novice player, what advice do you give them? 

DARIN: Relax and have fun. I have played with many people over the years playing in their first tournament and the nerves are the biggest obstacle to success. Play like you practice and everything will be fine!

NDA: If you could pick one person who you would like to play with or against in a game of darts, who would it be (can be anyone!) and why? 

DARIN: This one is hard… I would love to play a game with Michael van Gerwen as a partner (he’d eat me alive in head to head) as he seems to me a “Real” person with a passion for the game and I have Dutch heritage that I can’t overlook the “Van” in his play!

NDA: Since the time you first got involved in darts, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen to the game? 

DARIN: I remember having conversations with some of the greatest players of their time in the 80’s who walked away from the sport because – “it was just a game.”  Today I feel more people are starting to recognize the skill involved as it evolves into a bigger and bigger sport.

NDA:  One of the tough decisions made by the NDA board recently was the cancellation of Team Dart, which would have been conducted earlier this month.  Your thoughts on this? 

DARIN: Immense disappointment. I was really, really looking forward to this year. My 29th consecutive year of attending the event… I was so looking forward to playing with my team – a couple veterans of the event and one who was making his first trip to the show…. Then the new Pink Event… really wanted to see that… I hope it just gives everyone another year to plan and make it even better!

NDA:  What have you and your family been doing to get through these challenging times?   What’s a typical day like for you? 

DARIN: We have been seeing a lot more of each other!! My oldest son Dustin is working from home in customer service, my youngest son Brodie is a senior in high school – stuck with online school and no sports. Me working all hours of the day and constantly on the go – it’s been crazy – and my amazing wife Valerie keeping the pieces together. I really cannot wait to get back to “normal.”

NDA:  No one has a playbook on this, but what is your outlook during the next 6 to 9 months?   

DARIN: I feel that this will resolved and we will return to life in the new

normal. Our economy will take time to recover, but I think we will be stronger and more prepared for future catastrophes if they happen. I will just keep being positive and try to keep improving on our quality, designs, and keeping the costs affordable for the coolest jerseys on the planet.. lol.

NDA:  What is your favorite…

Movie:   Caddyshack

Music or band: AC/DC, Motorhead

Food:  Ribeye Steak…mmm….

TV show: NCIS

Things to do in Vegas (besides playing or working dart tourneys): Love the Fremont street experience. The live music and party atmosphere.

NDA:  Anything else to add? 

DARIN: I thank you for the opportunity to share. I owe so much to my wife Valerie and all my great friends and acquaintances that continue to support and promote our jerseys. I cannot thank everyone enough for their support. I cannot wait to see everyone again in the months.

Published April 27, 2020

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