Originally published on the Providence Journal
WARWICK — An e-commerce company that uses special software that allows customers to decorate sports apparel, uniforms, gear and other items with stitching, numbers and logos is expanding its workforce, according to its president, Todd Grant.
Squadlocker Inc. recently added 30 employees to its production facility on Bald Hill Road, mostly in shipping, receiving and embroidery operations. The company now employs 80 people, including “50 team members with an additional 30 contractors,” according to the company.
Grant said the company plans to add 50 more employees in 2017. The company also plans to fill several management positions, including a vice president of manufacturing, a human resources director and a merchandising manager.
Squadlocker has built a business on allowing customers, including parents, coaches, players and others, to customize team uniforms, “spirit” gear and other pieces of clothing or accessories through an online store. The company buys the apparel from companies like Nike, Champion and Under Armour. Squadlocker attaches or stitches on the team’s name, logos, names and numbers of players, at the request of the customer. Squadlocker said it has more than 30,000 items.
“Starting with a blank sheet of paper, Squadlocker has completely rewritten the playbook for e-commerce for teams and fans, and that innovation is being rewarded.“
- Thorne Sparkman, managing director of Slater Technology Fund
Parents, coaches and other buyers pay for the customized items directly through the online store.
Privately-held Squadlocker was founded in 2015 by Gary Goldberg with Grant and Frank Tillinghast, chief financial officer. They were joined after launching the business by Keith Roberts, chief technology officer.
The business is owned primarily by the founding team, equity investors led by Jim Lombardi, George Overholser and the Slater Technology Fund, a Providence-based organization that invests in emerging companies. Also, every employee participates in the ownership through stock awards granted when the company was formed.
Squadlocker declined to release revenue figures. The company said in a statement that its year-over-year growth rate exceeds 800 percent. Grant said decorated apparel, which for decades has been managed by corner store sole proprietors, is an $8-billion business in the U.S.
“Starting with a blank sheet of paper, Squadlocker has completely rewritten the playbook for e-commerce for teams and fans, and that innovation is being rewarded, “said Thorne Sparkman, managing director of the Slater Technology Fund. “Sports teams matter and that’s why Squadlocker is so driven to improve their experiences.”
Squadlocker in May signed an agreement with USA Football, the national government body of youth and high school football, to become its official gear store. The two-year agreement is expected to generate several millions of dollars in new revenue, the company said.
“We have just experienced our biggest fall season...” Grant said in a statement. “Thanks go to the best employees in Rhode Island and to our business model (that) utilizes innovative technology to transform the buying behavior of coaches, league organizers and parent volunteers who are demanding an easier method of buying decorated team apparel.”
He said there are no plans to move from the current location, a 40,000 square foot facility where there is room for expansion. He said the company may consider expanding to a second operation, likely near a FedEx or UPS hub in the Midwest, as its national customer base expands.
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