As the weather cools and the leaves fall from the trees, life begins to slow down and offer time for reflection. Daily life provides plenty of challenges, and yet we still have much for which to be thankful. At Collectors Universe, we’ve experienced a significant amount of company growth and we are eternally grateful for the opportunity to better serve our customers and the collecting community.
In early 2021, PSA struggled to meet the hobby’s increasing demand for our services. The trading card market had grown exponentially in a very short amount of time and the rapid increase in desire for PSA-graded cards was simply staggering. In the blink of an eye, we were receiving 180,000 cards per day and had accumulated a backlog of more than 11 million cards. New submissions flowed in at record rates. It was described as “an avalanche of cards,” and got to the point that the PSA security team had to begin taking three trips a day to the local post office to retrieve submissions because the USPS staff was not equipped to handle deliveries to our offices.
Business increases are wonderful, but so much at once made the ability to properly service the hobby extremely difficult. Thankfully, a series of events took place that allowed us to stem the flow, concentrate our efforts and take the steps necessary to grow the company and continue offering the best third-party authenticating and grading services in the hobby.
In February 2021, Collectors Universe was purchased out of public holding by an investment group led by collector and entrepreneur, Nat Turner, who now serves as CU’s Executive Chairman. Far from a hands-off ownership group, Turner’s group made significant investments in strengthening PSA in ways that allow us to better serve the hobby. The results were immediate, significant, and something for which we are all very grateful.
On January 1, 2021, Collectors Universe employed 659 people. As of today, that number has risen to 1,071 total employees and shows no signs of slowing. Included in that total is a 58% increase in the number of people who have gone through our exhaustive in-house training program and are now actively authenticating and grading cards.
Collectors Universe had already obtained new office space in October 2020, but it was several months before the space was ready for use. We were operating in 62,000 square feet at the beginning of the year but have since expanded twice more to a 185,000-square-foot facility in which we conduct business far more efficiently.
In April, CU announced the acquisition of Genamint, a software company that used technology to assist human graders by providing diagnostics, measurements, and detecting alterations or other changes made to a card’s surface. Additionally, by identifying each card’s individual “fingerprint,” PSA graders can track provenance and identify resubmissions, condition changes and other attributes over time. This game-changing tool has started to be implemented in the authentication and grading process. We’ve seen impressive results and the benefits of the technology will only increase with time.
This strengthened infrastructure has revealed itself in the exceptional growth of our daily capabilities.
When 2021 began, PSA could process and ship an average of 18,000 cards each day. That number has more than doubled. We are expected to average 40,000 cards per day in the final quarter of 2021 and have every reason to expect continued increases.
At the close of 2019, PSA had a backlog of 700,000 cards. Once COVID-19 shutdowns began in March 2020, the hobby experienced unprecedented and exponential growth, and submissions skyrocketed. By mid-2021, the backlog had risen to more than 11 million cards. With the implementation of new employees, tools and processes, the backlog has now been reduced to 7.5 million and continues to shrink every day.
One final comment about our growth is that now PSA not only has the ability to expand grading operations by setting up new offices in different parts of the country, and ultimately the world, but also the framework to make it happen. This opportunity is new to our company but is the type of thing that will prevent us from ever finding ourselves in a position again of struggling to manage the requests by customers requiring our services.
Lastly and most importantly, we at PSA are grateful for you, the collecting community and our customers. None of this growth would be possible or even necessary if we did not have customers that valued our services and believed in us as a company. That kind of support keeps us wanting to improve to better serve you all. Your support will never be taken for granted.
Happy Thanksgiving to PSA’s customers and the hobby community at large. Thank you for your continued support through this incredible year of discovery in the hobby. We look forward to sharing many more enjoyable moments with you in 2022 and beyond.