HANOVER – When he was a college student, Paige Wingert liked to wear baseball caps, but didn’t care for the style or the way they fit.
After finishing law school at Dickinson College and working a short time as a real estate attorney, the budding entrepreneur set out in 1992 to create a better designed, better fitting cap that embraced the style of a bygone era.
Nearly 25 years later, Hanover-based Legacy Athletic is one of the leading suppliers of high-quality custom vintage headwear and fashion accessories for the collegiate, resort/destination, golf and camp markets.
The company has recently experienced tremendous growth, doubling in size over the past three years.
That growth spurt led to the company being recognized in the Small Business category of the 2014 Governor’s ImPAct Awards. (A founding partner and ongoing sponsor, Team Pennsylvania Foundation is supporting the 2015 awards program, scheduled for May 21st at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center.)
“Headwear has driven the bigger part of our revenue, but organic growth along all product lines has also made a tremendous contribution,” Wingert said. “Our products can be found in all 50 states, Canada and the Caribbean.”
A decision in 2007 to branch out into new product lines was the catalyst for the company’s expansion over the past three years.
“We asked ourselves, ‘What products are underserved. And how can we add our spin to them and do a better job than the competition?’” Paige said.
Other products to be launched from those conversations included bags and wallets, belts and keychains, casual, special occasion, “bling” and spirit jewelry lines, home decor, flip flops and sandals, and personal accessories.
“We didn’t launch all of these products at once, but took a strategic approach in introducing new product lines,” Wingert added. “We did jewelry the first year, then bags and accessories. We have really seen huge growth in our home decor line.”
Home decor products, which are completely manufactured in-house, include such items as banners, signage, and other items typically used to decorate a man cave, recreational room, or child’s bedroom, Wingert added.
Legacy’s niche is in the collegiate athletic wear and resort destination markets.
“Of the 1,500 colleges and universities in the United States, we have product agreements with between 1,200 and 1,300 institutions and 400 licensing agreements at schools around the nation,” Wingert said. “Our resort and destination wear has been the biggest part of our recent growth.”
Although headwear is purchased from overseas, embroidery, graphic design and production is performed by the company’s 110 employees at its headquarters in Hanover, York County.
Synchronized rows of 9 or 15 sewing machines simultaneously apply the embroidery, which can consist of just a few stitches or up to as many as 10,000.
“Our specialty is turn times and low minimum order quantities that support the just-in-time inventory models of our customers,” Wingert notes. “We can handle an order of 45 hats one week and turnaround and, if necessary, produce another 45 hats for the same customer a few weeks later.”
The company’s legacy – and the company’s footprint – will only be more pronounced in the months and years to come.
In May, the 20,000-square-foot warehouse will be moved into an adjacent 28,000-square-foot building and production will expand into the old warehouse space.
“We expect continued growth and new opportunities in the resort/destination apparel line and we have plans to expand into other apparel including fleece and other types of fabric,” Wingert noted. “This is a good place to be, a good place to work,” he added.
The Governor’s ImPAct Awards were created to celebrate companies and individuals who are investing in Pennsylvania and creating jobs.