We treat our customers and employees like royalty and are constantly looking for that next new thing that might make a difference in someone's life. We do sell bats and gloves, but we believe we are doing a whole lot more than that.
The Hedrick family’s poor customer experience at local sporting goods stores spark a big idea.
It all began in 1986 with a quintessential symbol of sports - a letter jacket. Wes and Judi Hedrick wanted to get award patches sewn on their son Scott’s jacket. They visited several stores and came away disappointed each time, both with the product selection and how they were treated. So after many dinner table conversations, they shifted from the oil change franchise they were considering to a sporting goods store. It was a big risk - but one that would pay off.
December 1, 1987
Pro Athlete opens a storefront in the Picture Hills Shopping Center.
Pro Athlete sponsors the Jets youth football program and 16 local baseball teams.
Pro Athlete moves to Tremont Shopping Center across the street.
Horizons expand as the Hedricks attend their first trade show and purchase screen printing equipment.
Services continue to expand with the purchase of an embroidery machine.
Responding to demand, the family purchases a Chenille Machine and ends up with a full printing facility at their house.
Weary of the long hours and minimal profits, the family explores selling the company but there are no takers.
The Launch of Online Sales
- In 1997, some stores were tentatively exploring the emerging world of online sales. We jumped in too, but we had a lot to learn. Prices were high, ground service shipping was $15 and no one got any confirmation emails. Not acceptable for a customer service-focused company, so we buckled down and got to work. Beapro.com launched in 1999 - and it was quickly apparent we were onto something. Soon, more products were headed out the back door through internet sales than out the front door.
- The book "The E-Myth" by Michael Gerber inspires a rethinking of the business, eventually becoming the blueprint for Pro Athlete.
Scott is introduced to Mike and Brian Kearns by Steve Warger, the head football coach of the Pro Athlete Jets.
After a challenging search for the right programmers, Scott partners with Mike and Brian and BeaPro.com launches.
Everything starts to come together: JustBats.com launches and Pro Athlete joins the Sports Inc. buying group and begins advertising online.
Creating Systems and Defining Values
- Pro Athlete’s first few years were defined by strategic risk; the next few defined by innovation. From 2001 to 2009, we turned our company into a franchise prototype - building it as if you plan to franchise, even if you never do. (It’s one of the many lessons we learned from the book "The E-Myth"). We built processes, honed our values, solidified our brand essence and committed to never stop getting better. We also grew, demonstrating a 3,700% increase in sales during this time period.
- The shift from traditional retail sales to online sales continues.
Outgrowing its 2,400-square-foot location, Pro Athlete moves to a 10,000-square-foot facility at 6520 NW Prairie View Road.
The company is 100% online!
- More inventory means increased space needs; Pro Athlete moves to a 20,000-square-foot facility at 10800 N Pomona Avenue.
- The idea of Bat Packs is born.
David Hilton is hired as the company’s first business coach.
- Expansion continues with a building addition of an additional 33,000 square feet.
- Mark Gandy is hired as a shared CFO.
- Creation of the core values - the driving force behind Pro Athlete!
Efficiency and Innovation
Never stop learning. It’s a foundational belief that’s still driving our evolution. So our focus for the future is simple - take everything to the next level. We’ve always thought strategically about buying and selling; now we have a sophisticated collection of custom-developed algorithms. We’ve always focused on our employees’ well-being; now we’re one of the healthiest companies in the country. We made a promise on Day One and we’re sticking to it: Give the customer what they need, on time, every time and exactly as promised.
- Pro Athlete installs the first ERP System that managed inventory and finance.
- Champions of Kansas City Corporate Challenge - the start of an ongoing legacy!
New Processes at Pro Athlete
A significant bat rule change positively affected sales, but prompted difficulties in our internal operations. This, coupled with the emergence of Amazon as a key player in the bat and glove market, had Pro Athlete turning focus to playing defense, getting the right team on the field, and creating new processes. This timeframe was a turning point in the state of eCommerce and a landmark in our operations strategy.
- Drawing from decades of sales history, in-house experts develop a series of algorithms that becomes an industry-specific version of Sabermetrics.
- Pro Athlete is named the healthiest company in the United States under 250 employees.
Pro Athlete is honored as the 3rd healthiest company in America by “Healthiest 100.”
Pro Athlete is named the Healthiest Employer in Kansas City with 5-99 employees.
- New JustBats and JustGloves logos are released.
- Pro Athlete gets the naming rights of JustBats Field at T-Bones Stadium.