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Tanners Team Sports Inc. started business in a Richmond, Virginia, garage founded on the bones of a tiny leather care products firm geared toward the horse trade.
Vince Signorelli, company president and CEO, redirected the niche focus from equestrian saddles and such to a different arena.
“I’ve always had a love affair with baseball gloves,” said Signorelli, who moved Tanners Team Sports to Hot Springs in 2002. “Pro baseball players picked up on our glove care, and it took off from there.”
Beginning with glove oil, the company’s lineup of team sports accessories has expanded to 300 items, established a winning partnership with Rawlings Sporting Goods and developed private-label production for big retailers.
Its playing field of sports categories has grown from baseball to encompass softball, tennis and pickleball with products such as grips, batting tees and eye black. In 2015, Tanners Team launched its own in-house brand: Vulcan Sporting Goods.
The company, which exports to 27 countries, received the Arkansas Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade (for Medium Manufacturer Exporter) in 2019. That banner year was followed by pandemic 2020.
“Suddenly, we were a baseball company with nobody playing spring baseball,” Signorelli said. “We pivoted to making high-end masks for athletes. Business exploded.
“That sustained us, so we hunkered down through 2020. Sales dropped by 30%, but we made a small profit.”
He said 2022 is shaping up to be the best year ever in terms of both revenue and profits thanks to a resurgence in outdoor sports. Sales are on track to double the 25% bounce-back in 2021.
“The challenge right now isn’t retail sales,” Signorelli said. “Our retailers want everything we can send them. It’s raw materials, the supply side.”
The company broke ground in January on a 20,000-SF addition that Signorelli hopes to have open before summer. That new space will expand its facility in the Mid-America Industrial Park to 53,000 SF.
Supported by a staff of 29, Tanners Team is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.