Made in the Stateline: Exclusive Pro Sports

ROCKFORD - Big name sports teams want their athletes to look good on the field or the ice.

"The level of work we do is very, very, very good," said Terry Taylor, President of Exclusive Pro Sports.  "We do a lot of really, really nice stuff."

Taylor says that with confidence about his business.  A lot has changed in the 27 years since the company's been around.  Its gone from an in-home mail order business, to a storefront, to a huge facility in Rockford.

"We were almost 100% retail when we started.  We did almost no teams.  Then, as I saw the emergence of manufacturing going offshore, we had to start filling some of that work time that we were not getting."

It was tough to move into that team market.  One big break came when Terry got a shipment of jerseys he didn't think were good enough from a big name company.  He tried to return them, but to no avail.

Terry persisted and eventually spoke with a high level executive who invited him to corporate headquarters.  Terry compared the company's jerseys to the work he was doing.  The executive was so impressed with the quality, it led to a licensing deal with the NFL.

"I would have never even known the opportunity was presented.  It's not something they advertise.  It was all an inside circle thing."

Now, Exclusive Pro Sports does on-field and on-ice gear for teams in both the NFL and NHL.  There are really three parts to the business: manufacturing from scratch, decorating jerseys made somewhere else, and apparel for club teams.

The company uses some high-tech processes, such as sublimation.  A big heat press actually infuses designs into the fabric.

"When you do good work, your name gets around.  So, our name started getting around with equipment managers, particularly in the world of hockey.  I think we're doing around 55-60 teams on ice between all levels of hockey."

Those Division I colleges are big names, such as: Notre Dame, Michigan, and Ohio State.  Exclusive Pro doesn't do a whole lot of local teams, like high schools.  But, it's an area they'd like to expand into.

But, you've likely seen their work locally at the BMO Harris Bank Center.  The company's decorated the IceHogs jerseys since day one.

"It's really about just getting your name out there and getting contacts.  You also have to do really good work."

Exclusive Pro is also doing jerseys for the new NHL team in Las Vegas.  The company's truly a family business, with Terry's wife, and three grown kids all running the show.

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