Chessex News, Part 4: The Company

At Spiel in October, Michael Schäffer from the DMC sat down with Donald Reents from Chessex. The interview lasted 2 1/2 hours, and we’ll be releasing the information in parts. Part 1: Borealis, Part 2: Test Sets , and Part 3: Speckled Dice were already published.  This is the fourth and final part:  The Company.

One of the most common questions that we see about Chessex in the DMC is “what’s going on with their website?”  Chessex is one of the most popular brands of dice and perhaps the most well known, but the website is outdated and difficult to navigate.  So why is that the case?

Donald Reents has the surprising answer:

“At the moment, the worst thing that could happen would be for us to have a great webpage, great social media presence, and suddenly increase sales by 20%”

One of the reasons Chessex is so well known is that in addition to being a manufacturer and seller of dice, they also supply gaming stores around the world.  They simply don’t have the capacity to increase sales right now.  Donald did mention that he’d like to eventually have a website with an archived section so that people could still see discontinued sets, but that they simply don’t have the staff to dedicate to updating the site.

Regarding social media, the answer is largely the same.  Donald explained that he did manage to get some promotional items like pens and tapestries, but the reason they don’t have more social media presence is the same reason for the outdated website: a combination of a lack of time to dedicate to it and a lack of supply to meet any increased demand that could come from that.

So what does Chessex think of the DMC, and swarms of peculiar questions about dice in particular?

“I view the DMC as our fans, and everybody likes fans!…”I really appreciate that there’s other people who agree with me on that, who like what we’ve produced.  Thank you for the recognition.”

Is Donald a collector, too?  He’s denies having any sort of personal fascination with dice, but adds that “dice hate me,” a statement all too relatable to those of us who use them in RPGs and end up cursing the rolls of that which we hold so precious to us.

He compared dice collecting while working at Chessex to eating ice cream or chocolate when making ice cream or chocolate for a living.  Since he’s around it all the time, he doesn’t really have a collection.  But he did mention having “some Vortex dice, which look particularly cool.”  Perhaps there’s a window-admiring DMC nerd within him after all!  When asked if he had a white whale, he said he didn’t really have a set he was searching for, but he did mention that they used to keep a dice board with one die from each set glued onto it for reference, but that it hadn’t been updated since nebula circa 2002.  If your reaction to that is “oh, man…I’d love to see that and cry over what precious OOP dice are glued on….” ….me too, me too.

So what is he into if not dice?  Donald mentioned being into the chess world and wheat beer with a chuckle.  But he came back to dice, pointing out that though he doesn’t exactly have a dice fascination, he is interested in producing fascinating colors.

So how does Chessex feel about the production of dice using Chessex’s molds or those who base their colors off of Chessex’s existing or out of production lines?

The short answer is that Donald doesn’t really have time to worry about it, so it isn’t a big deal.  He says that D&G produced their own borealis line, and that he doesn’t mind.  He added that the molds were originally created by Jorgen, a valued employee of the factory who recently passed away.  Chessex asked permission to use them.  Donald points out that he doesn’t mind, especially for personal use, but that it can be confusing in the market.  He is annoyed about large scale Chinese factories using molds close to their shape, but that there’s really nothing that can be done about it.  Making their own, new molds isn’t something on Chessex’s agenda.  They are staying focused on current production plans.

Want to read more about the expanding market or what Chessex thinks about layered dice?  Read the complete interview yourself!  The interview contains content from Chessex News Part 1-4 as well as unreleased content: DMC Chessex interview

Thanks again to Michael for conducting the interview, Donald Reents for participating and sharing Chessex news, and Paulina for transcribing the interview!

Image Credit:  Steven Kahn, Chessex Tapestry

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