GAI Split: Baker Buys Grading Division

Long-time grader Mike Baker has purchased the card and wax pack grading divisions of Global Authentication, moved to Iowa and promised to turn his new company into a more respected player.

After 17 years on the west coast, first as Director of Grading for PSA and then as head of the trading card division of Global Authentication Incorporated, Mike Baker has become his own boss.

Earlier this spring, Baker completed the purchase of GAI’s card and pack authentication and grading assets. He’s moved from southern California to Bettendorf, Iowa and turned the brand into Global Authority, Inc.

Global Authentication, troubled by the sudden loss of its lease and financial problems in 2008, remains in business as an autograph authenticator. The company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but the case was dismissed when the company’s attorney failed to file the necessary paperwork. Baker said GAI operated under three Chief Executive Officers in a twelve month period.

Baker told Sports Collectors Daily the sale of the card and pack operations included the sealing machines utilized by Global Authentication, various supplies and the existing database of previously graded cards and packs. Submissions to GAI in California as the sale was taking place were slabbed in Global Authority holders.

 "The cards and packs which were affected by the company transition were all processed and shipped back to the customers," Baker said. "As quickly as everything happened we had clear communication with individual clients and were able to receive goodwill and the establishment of our new credibility."

Baker said collectors who want to switch their cards from GAI holders to GA encapsulation can submit them for review at a nominal rate.

While seeking a fresh start and no doubt an escape from the woes that began dogging the GAI name, Baker felt he needed to maintain a connection with the old moniker to keep some consistency for customers who already own GAI cards and packs.

"It would have been easy to come up with a new brand, but we felt there was enough equity in GAI to resurrect the brand and improve its identity and place within the market. There have been many companies, which have had brand issues, and with some adjustments, leadership and experience they came back stronger."

Baker has long been respected as a vintage card grader, with an eye for spotting alterations or ‘doctored’ cards. He promises to approve every card submitted to GA. The GA slab will remain unchanged except for the certification tag or ‘flip’ as it’s called in the industry. "We have security measures within the product to help protect against any type of alteration or counterfeiting," Baker promised. "We believe we are at the forefront in ensuring our product retains all the latest technology to provide anti-counterfeiting measures."

Global Authority has launched a preliminary version of its website with card authentication and submission prices starting at $6 and wax pack authentication starting at $5. Demian Werner will authenticate and grade all unopened submissions.

"The decision was a natural fit, to take on the card grading division that for me has been my core area of expertise for almost two decades," Baker said. "The decision for the wax or unopened division was also seamless because Demain’s passion for this division over the years and his experience adds a needed component to a very popular segment of the collectibles marketplace."

GA has hired consultants to develop its website and technology which Baker said will be "extremely interactive and social network based." The new website will allow customers to enter their items directly into the GA database. "It will be an industry first and enables the client to have a shared interest in ensuring the product is accurately described and will cut down on the turn times for all services," Baker explained. "While we will verify everything entered into the system, the fact a customer is assisting in the receiving process will help our clients better understand the first stage of the process. Most clients know what they have and it will be very interactive."

"We are also scanning items submitted on the ten dollar or higher service lines, once a customers order is complete they will receive a pdf.file which they can then use for selling on eBay or showing what they have to their fellow collectors. We have been offering this over the last thirty days and it has been extremely well received by our client base. We have an action list of things we are currently developing but one of the things that plagued the former company was doing 10% of everything and 100% of very little. So as we develop and launch our new products and services we will announce them when they have been tested and ready to go. This is all part of our common sense business approach, don’t over-promise and under-deliver."

Despite challenging economic times and strong competition in the industry, Baker believes he can turn Global into a profitable venture. He plans for Global Authority to have a presence at six to eight sports card shows this year, including the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland. Baker said the new Iowa location will make it easier to conduct business at shows in virtually all areas of the United States.

"There is always room for a company which does something a little bit different and a little bit better. That said, our strategy is to innovate ways to make our customer experience the best possible. Escalating the visibility of our brand, products and adding new technologies to have our customers understand what our vision is both in the short and long term. We understand it won’t happen overnight but we are confident it will happen."


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