A Family’s Love of Basketball


by Deborah Circelli

And teamwork carries over into the business world, both nationally and internationally.

On the basketball court at the State University of New York (SUNY) Brockport, Mauro Panaggio taught his players, including his two sons, that whatever they do in life, do it well.

Mike Panaggio and his brother, Dan, have carried their father’s advice over into the business world with approximately 15 businesses, including DME Sports Academy, a top-level athletic development training and life skills mentoring facility that was started in Daytona Beach three years ago as a tribute to their father.

“He was a tremendous basketball player and just an amazing man,” said Mike Panaggio, whose dad passed away last year at age 91. “Everything he did, he did well. Most of my business strategy I learned from my dad through sports. He taught us to be proactive, work as a team, practice hard, and that little things make big things happen.”

Beyond Daytona Beach

From software and digital companies to marketing and entertainment, the Panaggios are making a global impact. DME Software is a sports software, programming and design company in the Ukraine, and DME Video, in Serbia, involves website creation, design for direct mail, video, film and editing. A feature sports-related film, for example, is in the planning stages with American actresses and actors that will be produced in Serbia.

Originally founded by CEO Mike Panaggio in 1984 as a direct mail company, DME has about 300 employees with its various domestic and international businesses. Mike Panaggio’s advice to other companies when it comes to the global market is to find the right people to manage businesses overseas and to protect your interests. It’s also important to know the rules in the country being considered and test a partnership for at least a year before making a permanent commitment.

“Make sure you have a strong relationship with whomever is the CEO. Use the services on a test basis and don’t make a big move until you are sure you know the group you are dealing with,” he said. “Do not sacrifice quality for price.”

Because of DME’s success with its businesses, it was able to open DME Sports Academy, which includes an international school operating now at Daytona State College with youth from all over the world.

“I love Daytona Beach and I love what sports does for kids. High schools are deemphasizing sports because they just don’t have the budget,” Mike explained. “I’m putting some well-deserved profit back into the support of the community. I’m trying to push Daytona as a great sports venue location. I plan to build and develop additional facilities in Daytona Beach.”

DME Sports Academy, which includes basketball, volleyball, lacrosse and hockey programs, has two full NBA basketball courts, five youth basketball courts, seven regulation volleyball courts, one all-purpose football field, two weight rooms, a 47,000-square-foot meeting place, conditioning room and television studio.

Family is an important part of the business. Mike’s son, Matt, is Regional High School team head coach and JV High School team head coach, and Dan’s son, Michael, is Women’s High School team head coach. One of Mike’s daughters, April, also works for DME in Serbia with DME Video. Mike and Dan’s sister, Kathy Wise, is CEO of DME Delivers, the marketing and direct mail operation which was DME’s first company. Their brother, Tom, has also been involved with the company since the beginning. Mike’s wife, Jennifer, is a co-founder of DME Sports Academy and established a similar version
in China.

International reach expanding

The company is planning to expand the academy concept into Germany next year. DME already operates basketball camps in the U.S. and overseas as well as owns a German professional basketball team, coached by Dan, who is a former assistant coach for the LA Lakers and has coaching experience with other NBA and international teams. DME is drawn to Germany because it has the most potential for success.

“We have made personal investments into the German NBA because we feel it shows that we can offer a path for our DME Academy kids who excel at the sport,” Mike said. “The German Basketball League is becoming the best in Europe, which means the best outside of the NBA. We also plan to invest in the new NBA Africa Basketball League, a newly formed league in nine African nations.

DME Sports coaches will also conduct a basketball clinic in Amman, Jordan in May with 250 attendees.

International teams love visiting the DME facilities in Daytona Beach. In March of last year, a Holland international team came to visit for 10 days.

“The international teams love Daytona Beach, love Florida and enjoy the hardcore competition that we can offer them in the USA,” Mike said. “There is no downside for anyone with this kind of program.”

Investment in Daytona Beach

The Panaggios lease the former Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium, now called Daytona Stadium, from the City of Daytona Beach. They have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations on the property which sits on LPGA Blvd. Millions more in renovations are underway at the stadium, whose CEO is their long-time friend Dean O’Brien. Panaggio said they also put a million dollars into the Daytona Ice Arena in South Daytona, which they are leasing and plan to buy, as well as almost $2 million into the Daytona Field House.

Area high school football teams and Bethune-Cookman University play at the Daytona Stadium as well as a soccer franchise. Discussions are also ongoing to bring a professional football team to the area.

There will be 35 events at the stadium this year, up from 12 just two years ago, Panaggio said, including several concerts for Bike Week and a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) event in the fall for elementary through
college students.

“We’ve had nothing but total cooperation with Daytona Stadium and DME Sports Academy from the community, including the City of Daytona Beach and Daytona State College,” Mike said. “Everybody has come out to help. That’s why I love Daytona Beach.”