Calhoun Sportswear is a leading provider of screen printed active wear. With 40 years in the industry, Calhoun Sportswear began globally sourcing products in 2000, due to market demands for a lower priced product.
Covering a wide variety of products, Calhoun Sportswear primarily provides custom printed apparel to multinational retailers. In 1981, Calhoun Sportswear consolidated its domestic manufacturing in the Niagara Region, where the proximity to the United States allows the company to serve both the Canadian and American markets. As such, Calhoun Sportswear is now recognized as an exporter of choice to several American-based major retailers and corporate clients.
Beginning in simple active sportswear, Calhoun Sportswear has grown its base over the years as a retailer to many major accounts, from licensed apparel and custom orders to university branded active wear for campuses across Canada and the United States.
Led by the husband and wife team of Martin and Michelle Myers, Calhoun Sportswear currently manufactures and markets more than 100 styles of branded active wear for the North American marketplace, representing several major product licenses, including Corona, Molson Canadian, Coors Light, the National Hockey League, the Canadian Football League, General Motors, and, its latest bestseller, Sons of Anarchy.
“We’re niche players,” Martin Myers, Founder and President of Calhoun Sportswear, told
The Canadian Business Journal. “Our products fit into a niche. It’s all about manufacturing and marketing what people want, and finding that retailer who also understands what their consumers want.”
Accordingly, Calhoun Sportswear supplies to major retailers like Walmart, Sears, Spencer’s, and Giant Tiger, and as a result has continued to realize growth in providing these retailers with new products each year.
“Throughout the years, we have been in different segments of the market. Some of those times mirrored what was going on in our life,” Michelle Myers detailed. “For instance, when our children were small, we produced infant wear. At one point, we had a running line, because my husband is a marathon runner.
Marty is now a cycler, so we make a limited line of cycle wear. Sometimes your product line is inspired by what’s happening in your life. Being aware of changes in the market allows you to reinvent your services and stay in business.”
As the industry has grown and developed, so too has Calhoun Sportswear, particularly in a time of more recent economic difficulty. The recession pushed Calhoun Sportswear to perform better, despite fewer sales. It wasn’t the first time that the company modified its direction for its own betterment. In this market since 1973, Calhoun Sportswear is familiar with the challenges of any business, particularly in the printed apparel industry.
With much of the apparel industry moving offshore, Calhoun Sportswear began importing goods from overseas in order to meet the price requirements of its larger customers. Over time, Calhoun Sportswear also grew its product line to continue offering a wide selection to its customer base. Calhoun Sportswear specializes in providing imported products as well as domestically produced active wear to the marketplace and for clients seeking custom orders.
“The puzzle is figuring out what license will sell with our customers. Marty is the creative link. He knows what will sell and what it should look like,” Michelle Myers explained. “The difficulty is choosing the right license and having the funds to purchase them, as financing the production and sale of these products is very costly. We have always had some licensed products in the past, but today the majority of our sales are based on licensed products.”
As a producer and retailer, Calhoun Sportswear not only manufactures sportswear, but also markets its products and pays a per unit royalty fee for each licensed product sold.
Years ago, Calhoun Sportswear produced the iconic ‘I am Canadian’ T-shirts for Molson Canadian. Today, Calhoun Sportswear’s hottest license is Sons of Anarchy, an FX Network television show that has garnered a cult-like following.
Martin Myers concluded, “Every once in a while you get lucky with a license like Sons of Anarchy and it sells really well just about everywhere. We believe that we’ll see growth through licensing.”