Wilson Sporting Goods
|Founded||1913(as Ashland Manufacturing Company)|
|Headquarters||Chicago, United States|
|$930 million (2010)|
Number of employees
- 1 History
- 2 Products and sponsorship
- 2.1 American Football
- 2.2 Baseball
- 2.3 Basketball
- 2.4 Soccer
- 2.5 Golf
- 2.6 Tennis
- 2.7 Squash
- 2.8 Volleyball
- 3 In popular culture
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Les founded the Ashland Manufacturing Company in 1913 to use animal by-products from its slaughterhouses. It started out making tennis racket strings, violin strings, and surgical sutures but soon expanded into baseball shoes and tennis racquets.
In 1915, Thomas E. Wilson, former president of meatpacker Morris & Company, was appointed President and renamed the company Thomas E. Wilson Company. The company acquired the Hetzinger Knitting Mills to produce athletic uniforms and a caddie bag company which produced golf balls but soon expanded into footballs and basketballs.
In 1918, Wilson left to concentrate on the beef-packing business, changing the Sulzberger company to Wilson & Co. (which would ultimately become Iowa Beef Packers and then be taken over by Tyson Foods). The packing company continued to have control in the company until 1966 when it was sold to LTV.
Under new president L. B. Icely it acquired the Chicago Sporting Goods Company and struck a deal to supply the Chicago Cubs. It also hired Arch Turner, a leather designer who would design the leather football.
In 1922, it introduced the Ray Schalk catcher's mitt which became the standard. It worked with Knute Rockne to introduce the double-lined leather football and first valve football and the first waist-line football pants with pads.
In 1925, it was renamed Wilson-Western Sporting Goods following a distribution agreement with Western Sporting Goods.
In 1931, it renamed itself Wilson Sporting Goods Company. During World War II it introduced the Wilson Duke football, featuring the best leather, ends that were hand-sewn, lock-stitch seams, and triple lining, which was adopted as the official ball of the National Football League.
After the war, Wilson focused on tennis and signed Jack Kramer, who developed its line of Jack Kramer signed tennis rackets.
Icley died in 1950 but the company continued to expand with many[who?] believing that Icely's introduction of a computer to monitor inventory had been a huge help. In 1955, it acquired Ohio-Kentucky Manufacturing for making footballs. In 1964 it acquired Wonder Products Company, which made toys and custom-molded items. It transformed the custom-mold section to make protective equipment in football and baseball, such as face masks for football helmets and leg guards for baseball catchers.
In 1967, it was acquired by Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV Corporation). In 1970 it was acquired by PepsiCo. It sold the official balls of the National Basketball Association and National Football League, and provided most of the uniforms of teams in Major League Baseball, United States Summer Olympics teams.
In 1985, it was acquired by Westray Capital Corporation through subsidiary WSGC Holdings.
Products and sponsorship
Many teams of the NFL have worn uniforms provided by Wilson, such as:
Wilson makes a variety of baseball gloves for several different patterns: pitcher, catcher, infield, outfield, and first base. Wilson's best known baseball glove models include the A1K, A2000, A2K, A3000, and first base mitt 2800. Wilson also makes custom gloves
- NCAA basketball – Official ball
- NCAA soccer – Official ball
Wilson Staff is the golf division of Wilson Sporting Goods. The company designs and manufactures a full range of golf equipment, accessories and clothing using the Wilson Staff, ProStaff and Ultra brands.
Many of the worlds top professional golfers have used Wilson equipment including Nick Faldo, Arnold Palmer and Ben Crenshaw; the latter two of whom used Wilson 8802 putters. Crenshaw even received the moniker Little Ben due to his proficiency with it. Current Wilson Staff players include British Open and PGA Championship champion Pádraig Harrington.
Wilson is a major manufacturer of tennis rackets. The original kevlar Pro Staff model racket, known for its use by Pete Sampras, was heavy (more than 350g strung) and small-headed (85 sq. in.); Roger Federer also used the same racket model. As of 2015, he uses the Pro Staff RF97 Autograph model that is heavy (340 g/12 oz unstrung) and larger (97 sq. in.). Jim Courier and Stefan Edberg also used the Pro Staff Original, Edberg later switching to the Pro Staff Classic in 1991, which was the same racket (85 sq. in. with slightly rounded frame edges) but with different paint work. In late 2009, Wilson unveiled their latest line of rackets, codenamed 20x, which they would later rename BLX. This line directly replaces their previous K-Factor series with all new technologies. Also, many pros use custom-made rackets that perform differently from the mass-produced versions.
Aside from tennis rackets, the Wilson sporting goods company also makes tennis balls (including the official balls of the Australian Open and US Open major championships), shoes, balls, strings, clothes, and racket bags.