Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Small glove maker lands giant MLB deal

Vinci cracked the majors by building relationships with up-and-coming baseball players.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)

Vinci's CP Kip Leather Series, $249
How we got started
The founders of four breakout companies on how they built billion-dollar global brands like Costco and Re/Max from scratch.

(Fortune Small Business) -- Wilson. Rawlings. Easton. Big brands like these dominate the $132 million baseball glove industry, paying star players big bucks to wear their gear.

Enter Vinci. For the past 12 years the Richmond-based family business has sold its baseball and softball gloves to recreational and minor league players. Its revenues are in the low six figures. It can't afford any licensing deals.

Yet the tiny company recently hit a home run. Vinci has cracked the big leagues, becoming the only glove manufacturer with less than $10 million in annual revenues to attract major league players.

Usually big companies "have a stranglehold to prevent players from wearing other gloves, by basically throwing money at them," says Peter Vinci, who runs the company his father, Pete, founded in 1997.

Vinci's strategy is different. By befriending promising athletes and giving them free gloves, the company tries to get a toehold with players before the bigger brands come knocking.

The strategy seems to work. In the past two years, two Vinci-equipped players have joined major league clubs: Pitcher Vladimir Nez signed with the Atlanta Braves and hurler Carlos Torres went to the Chicago White Sox. Both players brought their gloves with them.

"That glove, it's quality," says Torres, who pitched a shutout wearing a Vinci model MV30 glove in September, during his third-ever major league start. "And if I have [a glove design] idea, I can call and talk to them about it. A bigger business like Nike (NKE, Fortune 500) isn't going to change a glove for one player."

Torres says that although he expects to pick up licensing deals next year, "my agent knows I am keeping my glove."

Torres met the Vinci family in Richmond when his AAA team was playing the Richmond Braves. The Braves have since relocated to Gwinnett, Ga., which Peter Vinci admits may hurt his efforts to nab players as they pass through town.

After all, he doesn't have the budget of Akadema, a $10 million glove manufacturer in Hawthorne, N.J. whose 20 star major leaguers -- most of them paid -- include Manny Ramirez of the L.A. Dodgers. "We could probably have triple the amount of players, but it just comes to a point where we can't afford them," says CEO Joe Gilligan.

Vinci says he's picked up more than 10 new retail outlets since Nez joined the Braves. And with some 100 minor leaguers using Vinci gloves, he's hoping for more hits next summer.  To top of page

To write a note to the editor about this article, click here.

QMy dream is to launch my own business someday. Now that it's time to choose a major, I'm debating if I should major in entrepreneurial studies or major in engineering to acquire a set of skills first. Is majoring in entrepreneurship a good choice? More
Get Answer
- Spate, Orange, Calif.
Super Bowl bound? Things to do in Houston besides the big game If you're one of the thousands of fans are headed to Houston for the Super Bowl Sunday, here are five things to do when you're not at the stadium. More
Sneak peek at Super Bowl 51 ads The ghost of Spuds MacKenzie and an ad about immigration steal the show in the swell of upcoming Super Bowl ads. Advertisers are paying, on average, $5 million for 30-second spots during Sunday's game on Fox. But if you want to watch something other than commercials, the New England Patriots happen to be playing the Atlanta Falcons. More
Most expensive cars from the Scottsdale collector car auctions The ten most expensive cars sold at the annual Arizona collector auctions went or a total of $44 million. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play