TOLEDO – Dan Royer, a 2002 Greenville High School graduate has his imprint not only on the city of Toledo, but throughout the United States and around the world as the Toledo Mud Hens and Walleye’s Creative Director.
“Dan is our Creative Director,” said Kim McBroom, the organizations CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and Royer’s immediate boss. “That means that he is in charge of everything connected with the brand, both visually and from a usage prospective, so he has full control over how things should look, how they should represent, guidelines, everything like that, and he does a super job with that.”
Royer, the son of Steve and Diana Royer is married to his high school sweetheart, Jennifer (Shade) Royer. The couple have a four year old daughter Haddie.
The 6’4” Royer played baseball and basketball for the Green Wave, having played under Coach Doug Fries’ program as a freshman, with Brian Stickel as the JV coach before going on to play varsity ball his sophomore and junior seasons under Coach Bill Romine and his senior season for Coach Dickey.
The power-hitting Royer played varsity baseball for Coach Joe Marker and was a teammate of GHS assistant football coach Adam Eberwein.
“Dan was a hardworking, dedicated team oriented athlete,” said Fries, now the school’s Superintendent. “He worked hard at the fundamentals, was very sincere and represented himself and school well and was always a pleasure to work with. It is great to see Dan carry his high school interest over to a career.”
Royer graduated from Bowling Green State University majoring in Visual Communication Technology (VCT) and it was through the university’s internship program the Greenville native made his way to the Toledo Mud Hens; the Detroit Tigers Triple ‘A’ baseball affiliate.
“Part of the VCT program at Bowling Green, you had to do three internships, usually with three different places just to get a feel for what the industry is like, what you like and what you don’t like,” said Royer. “I applied for the Toledo Storm, the old hockey team back when it existed but that was the year they were basically shutting down things and then I applied here.”
“Thankfully I got an interview and came in and started,” continued Royer. “They wanted me to start the next week in the video room so I did my first internship here as a designer for the video room, just pretty much doing head shots – ads for the video boards, nothing printed, just doing the video board graphics.”
“After a few more semesters at BG I was debating, do I go somewhere else, try something different, but this was what I really wanted to do, to design, but also be involved with sports so I decided to come back here and do a second internship,” Royer added. “The longer I was here I felt like if I keep doing this I might have a chance of getting a job, so I decided to stay and did my third internship here too and was hired after graduating.”
Royer was hired by the Mud Hens organization on January 2nd, 2007 and became only one of two full-time graphic designers in all of minor league baseball.
“At the time I had to make a case for it a little bit because designers weren’t in front offices at this level yet – minor league teams were so small, their GMs were tearing tickets, operations were very slim and teams didn’t have fulltime designers on staff,” noted Royer. “They would just use agencies for their pocket schedule or printed materials. Marketing was more about working various jobs at the games, not necessarily marketing.”
The most iconic team of all the teams in minor league baseball, much of the credit goes to MASH, the TV show that aired from 1972-1983 while still continuing to be a fan favorite.
“It seems like anywhere you go, if you say Mud Hens, people at least know, ‘oh yeah, Toledo,’” noted Royer of the organizations popularity. “They’ve heard of it. They may not know the whole story, but it’s very recognizable and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy working with the brand.”
When Max Klinger, the iconic character played by Toledo native Jamie Farr in the show MASH wasn’t wearing dresses, Klinger famously exposed millions of the show’s fans to the Mud Hens by wearing the team’s gear on the show.
“We did a video board segment where he (Jamie Farr) recorded a welcome for the All-Star game and I was running camera, I was in the room and I shook his hand,” Royer said. “Very good guy, so positive.”
“When you’re around him and you’re getting ready to shoot a segment for the video board, he seems like he’s so loose,” added Royer. “You wonder is he going to be able to do this segment quickly and then you say, ‘ok ready to roll,’ and he just launches into his on-screen mode and wow, its professional and he gets it right the first time.”
Royer designed the 30th ECHL Anniversary Logo that is incorporate into league and team materials including all league team jerseys as the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League) proudly celebrates 30 years of hockey tradition.
One of Royer’s designs, a drawing of Klinger hangs in the Mud Hens’ baseball stadium.
As the organization’s head of graphic design, Royer leads a team with multiple responsibilities.
“My team is responsible for all the graphics, any printed signage, the jerseys on the ice, pretty much anything you see with our logo on it, as well as marketing and sponsorship sales materials,” shared Royer. “We supply the video room with the graphics for the scoreboards. My primary role is to oversee the brands and make sure that everything looks correct for the Walleye and Mud Hens, everything is the right colors, the right cohesive look – so we really have to touch everything.”
All of Royer’s designs, “anything with our marks on it,” noted Royer – Mud Hens, Walleye and Hensville are federally registered trade-marks.
“Branding is very important,” said McBroom. “It extends not to just the marketing but even to the design of uniforms. Dan just did a complete redesign of all the Mud Hens uniforms and he also does the design of all the Walleye uniforms and on top of that the printed pieces. He did all the design for all the signage for Hensville for us. He really works hard on the consistency, how to make things complete, continuity and all of that…and it is so important.”
With nearly 11 years on the job as a fulltime employee, Royer has lost count of the many designs he has created.
“I’ve lost count at this point,” said Royer. “It started out as small brands, sub-brands of the Mud Hens and the Walleye but now as we have gotten Hensville Restaurants, in-stadium restaurants, the season ticket and group materials and all kinds of creative projects, I love doing that and it gives me that freedom to be creative in many ways. I’m happy that I’m not stuck just working with one logo all the time. We have many style guidelines that we follow, but we also get to kind of reinvent elements of the brand when the time is right.”
Royer’s interest in design work began as a small child growing up in Greenville, attending Greenville schools and sitting at his father’s desk drawing and coloring while Steve was managing Greenville Lumber and Supply.
“I was always coloring,” chuckled Royer, “I was always drawing. I remember being in the lumber yard with crayons drawing football players and uniforms. I remember drawing Greenville football players. I always liked sports – but I was always asking myself, why are they wearing the colors they’re wearing. What if they did this, what if they changed that to something different, what if the Bengals had different stripes or whatever.”
“That was always something I just loved thinking about and now here it has just expanded,” continued Royer. “The jersey thing is still a major interest and love of mine but now I understand the business side of things, marketing and trying to assist sales teams so that they can get tickets to the right people and help companies entertain employees and clients, essentially helping them build their business. I enjoy the art, but also the sport aspect and just the mesh-up that I have here.”
“It’s a very cool feeling,” Royer said of seeing his designs just about any place he goes. “When you step into the conference room overlooking Fifth Third Field, you sometimes have to pinch yourself. When I first saw fans wearing my work after being here for a couple of years it was like – wow that is something I designed, someone is wearing it around town and now there are so many things that we have designed and you see it all over the place.”
With this past Saturday night the Opening night of Toledo Walleye Hockey, most of the more than 8,300 fans were wearing Walleye apparel.
“When we go to Walleye opening night, any jersey, most of the logos you see on that merchandise our team had a hand in,” Royer said. “It’s not an opportunity a lot of designers get and that is one of the reasons why I love working here. You get to see your designs in real life and you get to see them come to life. It’s more than just doing a brochure for a company and they send it out and that’s the last you see of it – you really don’t get to touch it and see it.”
Much of Royer’s work over the years have received local, regional and national attention as well as receiving well-earned awards.
The American Advertising Awards, also known as the ADDY Awards, is the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting more than 40,000 entries every year.
“The NINE logo, one of the restaurants at Hensville won a Gold Toledo Addy in 2015,” Royer stated. “When it wins gold it automatically goes to regional district (including) 11 states and it won a gold there as well. Fleetwoods, the brand logo won a gold in Toledo as well in 2016.”
“Will Mellon, a designer on our team, won a gold for the Walleye game program cover designed in 2015, so we have some Addy awards for not only logos but print and layout design too,” said Royer.
Royer is proud to be part of the Mud Hens and Walleye organization and staff that puts an affordable family outing on the field and on the ice in beautiful downtown Toledo.
“It is definitely affordable,” Royer noted. “Our whole model is affordable family fun. We do a lot of promotions that are fun for kids. Toledo has so much to offer. There’s a world class art museum, the zoo right down the road and obviously both the Mud Hens and the Walleye.”
“This is like a home to Dan, it is second nature and it comes naturally to him,” concluded McBroom. “We are happy to have him – I would be lost without him. He is a wonderful asset to our department and to our organization.”
PHOTO CAPTIO: Dan Royer and CMO Kim McBroom prepare for Toledo Walleye Hockey opening night from high above the ice at the Huntington Center in the Toledo. (Gaylen Blosser photo)