When Aaron Knight sees a problem, he tries to solve it.
And when he settles on a solution, the 35-year-old entrepreneur launches a business built around it.
The founder of Cartridge City, a 10-year-old company that sells remanufactured black- and color-ink printer cartridges, found his latest challenge on the ballfield.
While coaching youth sports, Knight noticed his baseball and basketball players were running out of energy. Some kids also complained of stomachaches.
He consulted parents, dietitians, coaches and athletes in a quest to develop a tasty, portable snack that gives young competitors the fuel they need to perform at an optimum level.
Knight and investors in 110 Athletics, his new company, have scheduled a news conference at 10 a.m. today to introduce their first products, bite-sized chocolate- and vanilla-flavored wafers.
He gave The Journal Gazette a sneak preview Monday.
Knight found that many parents didn’t know the best foods. Others had trouble fitting good nutrition into hectic schedules.
A meal of broiled chicken, brown rice and steamed broccoli isn’t a practical option for middle and high school students rushing from the classroom to sports practice.
The mix in protein bars isn’t right, according to the nutritionist Knight hired.
You need (carbohydrates), not tons and tons of protein, said Sue Delagrange, a local registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics. You need a little protein.
Knight hired Delagrange to come up with the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals for various sports.
Although athletes in each sport might be fit and dedicated, the energy a center fielder exerts during nine innings isn’t on par with what a starting center expends during a close basketball game.
Delagrange, who has a private consulting practice, based the formulas on scientific research available to her as a member of the National Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association.
I don’t like my athletes to eat empty calories. We want them to eat something as nutritious as possible, she said.
Knight sees opportunities to expand the product line into additional flavors and formulations that target sports, including golf and cross-country running.
The nickel-sized wafers are made locally at Ellison Bakery. Tom Ellis, whose father helped found the bakery, is among Knight’s investors.
The Ellis Co., a private-equity group, typically buys controlling interest in well-established, well-managed companies being sold because of illness, death, retirement or divorce, Ellis said.
He made an exception with 110 Athletics, which was named to reflect the 110 percent that coaches are always asking athletes to give.
The investors were impressed by Knight’s motivation, business plan and integrity.
Ellis said his grandkids have tried the products.
To be really honest with you, I can’t tell whether it helps their performance or not, he said Tuesday. But it helps their attitude. And it’s sure a lot healthier than a Snickers candy bar and a Coca-Cola.