By Jeff Louderback
There was a time when it was difficult to tell teams apart in local sports leagues, aside from the different colors that the players and fans wore. For years, the standard uniform included a cotton shirt with vinyl numbers and lettering, for example. Uniforms and spirit apparel have evolved, especially the lineup produced by Centerville-based Pauer Sports, which offers fully customized uniforms and apparel for sports teams, businesses and events.
“The logo, colors and designs of uniforms and jerseys for schools and club athletics are a source of pride, as is the spirit wear worn by students, parents and supporters of their local teams,” said John Radich, founder and owner of Pauer Sports.
“Whether you are a leader or an employee at a company; an athlete, coach, parent or booster of a team; or an organizer or participant in an event; the clothing you wear is a symbol of support as well as brand recognition,” Radich added. “This is why it’s important to produce quality and visually appealing apparel that make people feel good about what they represent.”
A Columbus native who graduated from Grove City High School in 2004, Radich earned a spot on the Wright State University baseball team as a walk-on pitcher before earning a mechanical engineering degree. After college, he worked as a project manager for engineering firms and played softball, which led to his introduction to the sports apparel business.
Two teammates were apparel sales reps, and the entrepreneurial Radich started working out of his home in his spare time outfitting softball teams and youth baseball clubs with uniforms. By 2016, sales had grown so dramatically that he faced a decision.
“I could either remain at my engineering job, which provided the comfort and security of a check every two weeks and benefits; or I could leave that behind, take a chance and pursue what had become my true passion – the sports apparel business,” Radich explained. “It was worth the chance, and once Pauer Sports became my sole focus, sales started climbing even more.”
Adult softball leagues and youth sports (ranging from baseball and basketball to soccer and football among others) represent a significant part of Pauer Sports’ client base. Radich also makes shirts and apparel for businesses and event organizers.
Radich’s engineering background has helped propel Pauer Sports. He incorporates his engineering background through design and technology, and the project management side with customer relations
“In engineering, the client has an idea and you create it,” Radich said. “It’s the same concept with apparel.”
The company’s apparel is made through dye sublimation, which is why teams that wear Pauer Sports’ brand uniforms stand out.
Sublimation printing is a process that uses specific sublimation inks that, when heat activated, transform their dyes into a gaseous state that penetrates the fibers of polyester materials, infusing or embedding an image into the fabric. The design becomes part of the apparel, compared to those days when vinyl numbers and lettering were ironed into cotton shirts.
“With dye sublimation, there is no limit to colors and designs. You can feature any design you want on shirts, jerseys and pants,” Radich explained. “Since the design and the apparel are one in the same, the colors remain vibrant. There are around 50 fabrics available, but the most popular one is polyester with added spandex. It provides a dry fit feel, which is ideal year-round.”
Pauer Sports is also actively involved in helping the community, including his recent effort to make “Strike Out Cancer” sweatshirts and t-shirts to raise funds for Jeff Kennard, the Centerville High School Athletic Hall of Famer who pitched in the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds organizations for several seasons before opening a sports training facility in Centerville. Beloved by the families he has worked with, Jeff is battling Stage 4 bone cancer, and all proceeds from the Strike Out Cancer apparel are given to Jeff and his wife, Kate, who also owns a small business in Centerville (called Kate’s Plates). The couple has two young children.
Radich has seen sales triple since moving into Pauer Sports’ Centerville facility at 138 Westpark Drive. The company plans to expand its reach with youth sports leagues and schools across the Miami Valley and southwest Ohio, and delve more into soccer and football.
For more information, visit www.pauersports.com.