Archive: Interview with Sean Skeffington (VP of Operations at SGC) [2002]

1. What positive effects from the grading phenomenon can you see in the hobby?    

Grading that is done by the reputable grading services has had a great impact an the hobby.  It has created a standard that has leveled the playing field for buyer and seller. When a card is graded properly there should be no guess work in terms of the condition of the card  Perhaps the biggest impact is exposing cards that have been altered, trimmed, etc.  dealers and collectors will often put a contingency on the sale of a card based on how SGC grades the card.  

2. What negative effects can you see?  

Not to be evasive, but I do not think that is a question for me to answer.  We feel grading services provide a valuable service to the hobby.  Naturally some would disagree and that’s okay with us  We understand that grading is not for everyone.  We do not focus on those who are resistant to grading, but if they change their minds we would be happy to serve them.  

3. What is your take on the new “Pristine” set and the attempt to say that the cards “have never been touched by human hands?”  

I do not know much about this, but it sounds more like a marketing idea than a grading thing.   

4. How do you feel about the price guides starting grading services? Doesn’t this affect the pricing of cards graded by other companies? Isn’t this a conflict of interests?  

I have said this many times, I believe grading and pricing should be completely separate.  It is a blatant conflict of interest, but for some reason the people in our hobby are accepting of it.  This practice would not be accepted in any other industry.  There is no regulation and the hobby is predicated on greed.  That is a bad combination.  I am not saying greed or maximizing profits is a bad thing, but in order to keep it fair and legitimate you need some type of regulation.  Currently the sportscard industry has none.  

5. What are the hottest cards in terms of numbers of submissions for grading in MLB? NBA? NFL?  

Like most grading services our submissions tend to be seasonal, but the most consistent is baseball.  

6. What fringe sport (USFL, WNBA, WWF, CFL?) has a significant number of cards being submitted?  

We see cards from all of the above organizations, but none provide a significant number of submissions.  

7. What do you think is SGC’s main drawback from being #1 in the grading industry when it comes to resell pricing?  

I cannot answer this question specifically for a number of reasons, but resale prices are heavily impacted by monthly guides and the producers of the guide have an interest on how the prices are reflected. Therefore a person can potentially make more money by using one grading company over another.  We do not feel that SGC card prices are properly depicted in certain guides and we feel that certain pricing practices have become a legal issue.  That is as much as I can comment on this issue at this time.  

8. What makes SGC different or set them apart from the rest of the grading companies? In other words, what’s unique about SGC?  

I believe what makes SGC most unique is our 100% focus on grading.  Many of our competitors have branched out into other ventures while we still put all of our focus and energy in grading accurately and consistency.  It is difficult for a business to excel in many things at the same time.  We want to excel in grading and I believe the market has indicated that SGC is right at the top in terms of grading ability and consistency.  

9. The only problem I’ve noticed about SGC cards is that the holders are easier to crack open. Has this problem been brought to your attention? If so, will this process be improved in the future?  

I do not believe this to be true.  We test our sealing equipment regularly and we crack open many holders to monitor this issue.  I would recommend that when buying a graded card, not just an SGC card, that the buyer inspects the entire holder for possible tampering.   

10. Is there anything you would like to add about SGC for the readers to know?  

We have covered alot already and I believe the SGC product speaks for itself.  We are most satisfied knowing that when a person buys an SGC graded card, he or she is buying a accurately and properly graded card.  A few years ago we coined the phrase “buy the card, not the holder” and that phrase is more appropriate now than ever.    

Sean Skeffington
Vice President of Operations

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