With Mr. Hoop, You Can Have a Ball Without All the Bother
by Dona Bolding
In 1989, Eric Elofson visited Herman’s Sporting Goods to buy a basketball hoop for the home he shared with several housemates in Waltham. Fifteen years later, it still might be the smartest purchase he ever made.
Eager to get out and play, the former Millis High School basketball and University of New Hampshire football player asked if the store could set up the hoop. To Elofson’s surprise, no such service existed, so after he and his buddies erected the backboard in a satisfactory fashion, he told Herman’s they were available for hire. Shortly thereafter, Elofson assumed the moniker “Mr. Hoop” and began installing basketball goals during evenings and on weekends, hauling a wheelbarrow and bags of concrete in the back of his Ford Taurus.
Thanks to an advertisement in the Middlesex News and numerous recommendations by sporting goods stores, installation requests skyrocketed, and Elofson quit selling electronics for his father’s company to make Mr. Hoop a full-time business. Today, however, they require no advertising and rely primarily on word of mouth and sporting goods stores for referrals. “We put up more than 400 systems a week – that’s 20 to 25 a week – from the time the ground thaws until it freezes,” he says, adding that they can do garage mounting or portable systems any time of the year except the last two weeks of January and throughout February.
With three trucks and five employees, Mr. Hoop can complete an installation request in about 10 to 14 days depending on the customer’s location. When they arrive at the site, the installation team consults with the homeowner to determine the best location for the hoop so it will be square with the playing surface and plumb form front to back and side to side.
Elofson admits being more particular than any customer about the installation’s accuracy, which is why even professional players count on him to get it right. For example, Danny Ainge, director of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics, and his wife Michelle, recently called Mr. Hoop for their family’s home court.
The largest residential projects cost as much as $35,000 and include fencing, lighting, paving and painting lines on the court. Elofson once created a custom arena in a garage with 25-foot ceilings, complete with hanging banners and retired jerseys to replicate Boston garden. He’s even converted an old squash court into a full basketball court at a Milton mansion property.
Mr. Hoop can fulfill most requests, including sinking a pole through a pool deck for swimmers to shoot from the water. A standard installation includes setting a structural steel pole with 640 pounds of concrete then affixing and level a back board – one purchased from Mr. Hoop or a customer’s store-bought model – a few days later.
Lewis and Carey Collins of Wellesley bought a Goalrilla basketball system late last fall for their 7-year old daughter Taylor, and called Mr. Hoop for help when the ground thawed. “it isn’t that we aren’t handy” Cary says. “Considering the weight, height, size and cost of the system, it made more sense to hire a professional.”
The Collins family thinks having a basketball hoop builds a sense of community in the neighborhood. “Since the hoop went up, we’ve had many pick-up games,” Cary says. Taylor even chalked an invitation on the wooden fence lining her freshly blacktopped driveway, reading, “Please come for a basketball game at 6:30. Bring sneakers.”