Answering The Call for Back-To-School

Team sports vendors supported team dealers’ efforts as their schools attempted to re-open in a pandemic.

As schools prepared to open this fall and hoped to play a semblance of a fall sports season, team dealers turned to their key vendors for assistance in getting the right product to the right places at the right time during this school year unlike any other. Coupled with their ongoing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, these vendors answered the call with programs ranging from advice on re-opening to product introductions to shipping and billing options. Team Insight surveyed these vendors about their Back-to-School 2020 efforts benefitting team dealers. That response is impressive.

Founder Sport Group: Free Masks

In addition to its effort to get back to work, back to sports and back to school with a full line of personal protective gear, as further assistance to its customers, top Founder Sport Group dealers in every state received 10 free face guards for their employees and each dealer could choose a school or organization to receive 100 additional free face guards.

Bison: Support Program

As part of Bison’s athletic fund support program, schools could earn up to $500 for their athletic fund. Bison continued to ship daily for facilities maintaining their gyms and sports fields.

Over the summer, K-12 schools in the United States were eligible for a five percent factory direct rebate for all purchases of Bison sports equipment made by September 30, 2020, through a qualified Bison dealer of course. Checks are being made payable to a school athletic department or school booster club, maximum $500 per school.

Stahls’: Going LIve

Throughout the summer of 2020, Stahls’ produced and hosted live educational events on Facebook Live. According to Carleen Gray, CEO of GroupeSTAHL North America, “Since no one is traveling for business and all industry tradeshows are cancelled, rescheduled or online only, Stahls’ free online education has been essential in helping customers find ways to print the custom items they can sell now. We’re showing how to print facemasks, fundraiser shirts and all types of on-demand printing our customers need now.”  

The series featured garment decorating experts Josh Ellsworth and Jenna Sackett. Shows aired live on Facebook every Monday and Thursday and were geared to businesses using heat transfers, heat presses and heat transfer vinyls. A wide range of topics have been covered, including printing team uniforms, specialty heat printing effects and printing caps.

Cap America: Waiving Fees

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Cap America was offering EQP at 24 pieces to all customers, waiving all drop ship fees and lowering its 30 Day custom overseas program’s MOQ to 72 pieces. All of these moves were an effort to help its customers continue to be successful in a time when everyone has been feeling the repercussions of the pandemic.

Sanmar: New Website

SanMar recently unveiled a new website – – to help vendors and end users navigate through its product offerings and, according to Rachelle Manning, channel manager for Sporting Goods, so they could create custom individual sports fliers with school or team logos.

SanMar also offered Zoom trainings to assist its vendors with its logoizer, which helps its customers compare product features and to build marketing resources such as fliers and look books. Some of the trainings also covered team store best practices.

“One of our new catalogs is called the 2020 Team and Fanwear Catalog.” Manning says, explaining that it is just over 200 pages and each item in this catalog was hand selected by SanMar’s sporting goods team of experts and they are now offering custom covers for that catalog.

“We guide our customers through the process to help them get the best result,” she adds. “Our customers can use actual school images and school mascots to fully customize the cover. Schools getting their own custom cover catalog love them and it helps our customers do more business with these schools.”

Carron Net: Keeping In Touch

Reflecting on its experience with customers, a number of things took place at Carron Net.

The company made an effort to reach out to its customers to find out if their orders were still on track and delayed shipping as well as billing on many orders. They continue to check in with customers to make sure that if they ship an order, someone will be there to receive it.    

In some cases, Carron Net extended credit terms because, as the company puts it, “it seems a little goes a long way on this front.”

Carron net also ran summer and fall specials with product discounts and up to 90-day delayed billing on qualifying orders.

Jaypro Sports: Staying Safe

Jaypro Sports continued to actively maintain a strong, safe workforce to make its athletic equipment and as schools returned it stood ready to support each athletic department’s needs. Its ability to provide customized solutions in any capacity continued to support the dealer through this difficult time.

Jaypro Sports continued to follow Connecticut’s proactive state mandate of social distancing, requiring masks and sanitizing with additional cleaning services to provide a safe working environment. The company worked with each employee to make sure they were protected and were comfortable with their conditions. Working from home, limited work hours, off-site, rotating shifts, whatever was needed to continue to support both employees and customers alike.

Transfer Express: Supporting Research

What started as a way to help apparel decorators raise money for businesses allowed Transfer Express to support COVID-19 research at Johns Hopkins Medicine. According to marketing manager Sue Wilcosky, “Thanks to the high level of interest in our stock Stay Strong transfer packs, we have been able to donate over $10,000 to Johns Hopkins Medicine.” Transfer Express started selling the stock transfers back in March, with all proceeds donated to support Johns Hopkins Medicine.  

“The donation is presented to Johns Hopkins on behalf of our customers. We truly appreciate the opportunity to help our customers raise funds as well as give back to a worthy cause at the same time,” Wilcosky adds.

The Stay Strong stock transfers are no longer available as a fundraiser, but the design is still available as a custom layout. In fact, Transfer Express has also introduced dozens of new custom layouts and clipart and text art that allows businesses to quickly and easily create designs reflecting the state of the world.

Under Armour: Feel-Good Stories

Under Armour, as could be expected, put in place a number of efforts and “feel good stories and initiatives” to help its team dealers deal with BTS challenges.

  • Virtual Armour Days for its partners across the country.
  • Virtual challenges for its athletes and brand fans across the country, such as its Better Together Challenge that launched in mid-July.
  • Community Givebacks.
  • UA athletes and ambassadors active on UA social handles, sharing their workouts and insight.
  • Sport-specific sell-in/informational decks.

Bownet Sports: Training At Home

Bownet Sports is known more now as a sports training company. “Train Like a Pro!” means players and coaches can train – even at home – with its line of nets, training balls and tees. While the company had to leave its offices twice over the summer due to government mandates, it was able to keep its warehouses open throughout and continued to ship.  

Bownet sought to have its core training products (nets, training balls, tees) in multiple team sports available to the dealers who are supplying coaches, players and other customers while training at home or in restricted circumstances. It realized that the key to helping its dealers has been to have the right stock available when they need it, which is not a simple task trying to balance inventory, with disrupted supply lines, to meet unpredictable levels of demand.

GILL: Monitoring State Guidance

Vendors answered the call with programs ranging from advice on reopening to product introductions to shipping and billing options.

“Planning for the return to sports has certainly become much more rocky and uncertain,” says Steve Vogelsang, VP-sales and marketing–Team Sports, for Litania Sports Group (Gill Athletics and Porter), and the company spent the summer monitoring state association guidance and plans for high schools’ return to sport. The uncertainty “made selling team sports equipment difficult, to say the least,” he adds.

“We work with team dealers every day to modify their Selling Game Plan to find opportunities in this uncertain environment and we are equipping our dealer partners to effectively sell remotely or virtually,” Vogelsang continues. This included a series of equipment selection videos dealers used to increase their personal effectiveness selling its equipment, as well as a series they could share with coaches via email covering volleyball, track and field and gymnasium equipment.

Additionally, Gill and Porter were offering product rendering proposals featuring custom graphics and colors for school-specific sales proposals dealers could pitch in virtual presentations.

Vogelsang reports that dealers did have success as larger facility projects already planned and budgeted are proceeding. Dealers who actively managed their open deal pipeline converted larger orders for track equipment and volleyball equipment necessary to outfit a new gym or field.

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