Interview with Chase Leavitt, Founder & CEO at Upstreet Brands

This article is part of a series featuring business executives who choose to live and work in Utah. If you know of an executive we should interview, please contact us.

Gone are the days when someone would characterize pickleball as a game for senior citizens.

Pickleball has grown in popularity over the past few years and was recently crowned as the “fastest growing game in America.” The sport is now enjoyed by players of all ages and competition levels.

Chase Leavitt, CEO of Upstreet Brands, left a career in information systems to build one of the fastest growing pickleball brands in the world.

Upstreet pickleball has made a name for itself through its unique paddle design and affordable prices. The company has carved out its niche with its neon-colored paddle design and artistic innovations.

Utah is one of the main epicenters for pickleball. Until recently, none of the major pickleball paddle manufacturers were based in Utah. Upstreet Brands has changed that.

The company proudly supports local youth pickleball clubs throughout Utah by supplying professional equipment to Utah’s public schools.

How did you initially get started in the industry?
I was introduced to pickleball as a student at Southern Utah University. When I discovered new pickleball courts near my work in downtown Salt Lake City, my colleagues and I started playing at lunch. We thought we were pretty good and decided to enter a professionally sanctioned tournament.

I learned two things from the experience. First, we weren’t very good (we lost 10 of 11 games). More importantly, I discovered why pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in America, and I wanted to be part of it.

I was in the early stages of forming Upstreet Brands and decided to create a line of pickleball paddles. Today, we sell thousands of pickleball paddles and have one of the fastest growing brands in the sport.

What recent professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
I originally built Upstreet for the fun of it. It thrills me that the business has done well enough where I can devote my attention to Upstreet. Secondly, being recognized as the pickleball brand of the year in 2017 by Pickleb.com was satisfying.

What drew you to Utah?
I grew up in Utah, and the longer I’m in business, the more appreciative I become about the pro-business climate. I’ve been able to find the engineering talent I need, and the tax and regulatory systems are business friendly.

What do you like most about living in Utah?
The overall quality of life is what keeps me in Utah. To name a specifics: affordable golf, major summer and winter sporting events and family-centric festivals.

What do you like most about doing business in Utah?
Everyone is willing to introduce you to their business mentor and contacts.  On countless occasions, I’ve had friends, and acquaintances extend invitations to meet ‘this person’ or ‘that person’ all in hopes of helping me professionally. I’m sure this type of gesture goes on everywhere around the world, but my guess is, nowhere does it quite like Utah.

What advice do you have for individuals considering starting a business, or relocating their business, to Utah?
Just do it.

What is your primary challenge of doing business in Utah?
I’m excited about the Inland Port project. While it’s possible to ship materials by train and truck from the coast, I love the idea of goods arriving seamlessly into Salt Lake County.

Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
While pickleball surrounds my day-to-day life, my true loves involve high-contact sports. I played football in high school and collegiate rugby for Southern Utah University. I even won a gold medal in boxing at the Utah Summer Games as a middle-weight.

Is there anything else you would like the reader to know about you?
I have big aspirations for Upstreet Brands. Business is never easy, but I find it rewarding. I enjoy the thought that by making Upstreet Brands a success, I’m building a community that I love at the same time.

Chase Leavitt, CEO of Upstreet Brands, left a career in information systems to build one of the fastest growing pickleball brands in the world. Connect with him on LinkedIn.