Web designer Raj Dhaliwal keeps Pakmen on line and in the news

By DAVID WINER

Not many years ago a sports club’s lifeblood was colored in blue.

Lots, and lots of blue. The more ink freshly dried on registration forms directly translated into the strength and vitality of the organization in the sheer numbers of youngsters taking to the court, field, pool, and ice rink.

But, to paraphrase a Bob Dylan classic, The Times They Are A Changin’.

You may still find a near dried-out ballpoint pen in a clubhouse these days, but most of the filling out of forms to register Bobby and Cindy for ball, are done online.

Online presence is now as key to success as top-notch coaches and first-rate facilities.

That’s why Mississauga Pakmen president and founder Kelly Smith credits the volleyball club’s web designer Raj Dhaliwal as much as he would a top coach, or a rising star.

For without Dhaliwal, the Pakmen would be the best kept secret in Mississauga.

“Our online presence is impressive. No volleyball club in Canada has a greater one,” boasts Smith. “Raj uses a combination of website, email marketing, digital marketing and social marketing.

“We have been online for 10 years,” continued Smith, “and our website is ranked the 1,993,007 most popular website in the world. People from all around the world visit our website–google analytics gives us this information. Our brand recognition is excellent.”

Times haven’t always been smooth when it came to having a presence for the club online.

“We went through three different companies with regards to the online system,” recalled Smith, “but all systems were flawed and caused us a lot of work.”

Finally, a year-and-a-half ago, with more headaches arising with the club’s registration, Smith turned to Dhaliwal.

“A recent university grad, Raj came in and saved the day. He has really helped us in a myriad of ways, with website design, online registration, social media, etc. etc. Raj re-built it and it’s excellent now.”

Ironically, Smith didn’t have to stray too far from home to find Dhaliwal, the owner and founder of REVOLT Sites (revoltsites.com).

Fifteen years ago, Dhaliwal attended Dolphin Senior Public School, the same time Pakmen coach Jessy Satti and many other Pakmen alumni first took to the sport of volleyball under the tutelage of coach Smith. While friends with Satti and company, Dhaliwal shied away from the game.

No one realized at that time how important a role Dhaliwal would indeed play for the club, even though he never served,set, dug, or worked up a sweat on the court.

It’s his presence on the keyboard that’s worked wonders.

“Raj custom built our online registration system that works perfectly for our membership and there are no monthly fees we incur that we have to pass on to anyone. This allows us to direct more funds directly into the programs,” said Smith. “Although he is young, he has a lot of common sense and always gives us good advice.”

After attending Streetsville and Mississauga Secondary Schools, Dhaliwal turned his focus to earning a Computer Programming Diploma from Sheridan College, followed by a Bachelor of Computer Science from the University of Windsor.

Not long after, Dhaliwal received a phone call from a familiar voice.

“I have known Jessy for approximately 15 years and one day he brought up their website issues with me,” explained Dhaliwal. “I had just graduated at the time and I was able to solve the problems they were having. Everything just worked out from there.

“(Since then) I have done web design, development, and maintenance. I have developed a custom WordPress plugin specifically for Pakmen that allows them to view and manage all player registrations, which helped improve overall organization. I also keep the website up to date with all the programs for each season and fix any problems that may occur, or are reported to us, by users.”

Dhaliwal has since added to his list of clientele, doing work for Kingsway Eye Care (kingswayeyecare.com), TOPS Volleyball (topsvolleyball.com), and, most recently, Pingalwara Canada (pingalwara.ca).

The secret to a strong online presence is quite simple says Dhaliwal.

“Learning is key. There is always something new being introduced, so you have to be willing to spend time learning.

“Currently, my main focus is on websites, since there’s always more to learn. In the future, I can see myself focusing more on app development for my clients and helping create a better mobile presence.”

That’s a far cry from those not-so-distant days of having to constantly replace those Paper Mate and Bic pens, or sharpen those stubborn lead pencils that kept breaking in an untimely manner.

“(Enrollment and registration) used to be all by mail,” recalls Smith of the so-called good old days. “and I’d have to go to the bank each day to deposit. I’d also have to type out a receipt and mail it out to each and every person. We’d have a ‘register in person night too’, but most people preferred to register by mail. Canada Post reported a noticeable downturn in business when Raj arrived.”

But Smith, Dhaliwal and friends aren’t about to rest on their laurels now that the website is up, running, and exceeding all hopes.

They want Pakmen’s online presence to continue ‘serving’ its customers and ‘spiking’ up the charts.

“(Continuing to make strides is) extremely important since an online presence provides growth,” says Dhaliwal. “and new players are registering every day. For parents, registering their children online is much more convenient than coming in and filling out forms by hand.”

Perhaps it’s best to leave those hands free for the court of popular opinion.