A Hot Springs company considered the world's leading supplier of baseball accessories and training gear was recognized for its accomplishments last week with the Medium Manufacturer Exporter Award during the Governor's Award for Excellence in Global Trade event in Little Rock.
Tanners Team Sports, which was founded in Richmond, Va., in 1990 and relocated to Hot Springs in 2002, "derives no revenue locally, and revenue from within the state is a small fraction of 1 percent," the company's CEO and founder Vince Signorelli told The Sentinel-Record Wednesday.
About 12 percent of the company's revenue comes from customers outside the United States, Signorelli said, noting the company has been exporting for over 25 years, starting with Canada, and making international distribution a priority after moving to Arkansas.
"Our top export markets are Canada, Netherlands, Australia, South Korea, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Germany, the UK, and Japan. Our new markets in the last three years include South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Czech Republic, Botswana, Denmark, and Greece," he said.
"As we emerged as the market leader in our categories it was vital that we become the 'world leader' in baseball-playing countries," he said. Tanners also produces accessories for basketball and tennis and a complete line of pickleball products.
On May 23, Tanners was recognized by Gov. Asa Hutchinson during the 10th annual event at the governor's mansion honoring Arkansas companies involved in global trade.
The other three winners honored at the event were Bio-Tech Pharmacal Inc. in Fayetteville for Arkansas Rising Star, Pinnacle Energy Inc. in Fayetteville, which won Small Company Exporter, and Welspun Tubular in Little Rock, which won Large Manufacturer Exporter.
Signorelli said Tanners was nominated by Gary Troutman, president and CEO of The Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Hot Springs Metro Partnership, Cole McCaskill, HSMP's vice president of economic development, and Michelle Ratcliff, the HSMP's economic development manager.
"From what I understand, the original idea came from Keith Smith, who is vice president of sales of Keith Smith Co. here in Hot Springs. Mr. Smith approached the HSMP and told them this is an important award and we really need to nominate one of our wonderful local manufacturers to compete for it," he said.
"Once Tanners was nominated, the Arkansas District Export Council approached us with the application forms to complete. There were a variety of questions about the last three years including company size, number of employees, total international sales dollars, export as a percent of total sales revenue, the top export markets we serve, and the newer markets we have entered in the last three years," Signorelli said.
"Then there was a section where we provided a narrative describing how the company met the applicable selection criteria together with a complete description of the company's overseas activities and accomplishments."
Signorelli said one thing consultants have stressed about how to drive economic development in Hot Springs and Garland County is "nurturing those businesses in your community that derive their revenue from elsewhere as that brings in new money to the community rather than shuffling existing money around the community."
He said Tanners is one of "those special local businesses" that infuse new money from outside which gets paid to employees and local suppliers and to the community through the company's charity work.
"That idea is something I am proud of. We may not be a huge business but we are making a healthy contribution to our local economy and that's a big reason why this award is meaningful to me," Signorelli said.
"As the founder of a business with such humble beginnings, it is incredibly rewarding for the company's success to be recognized not only by the Hot Springs business community but also by the entire state. Honestly, I was surprised to win, surprised to learn that what we've built with Tanners matters to the State of Arkansas and matters to the governor of Arkansas," he said.
The chance to meet Hutchinson and his wife and visit the governor's mansion and "to meet so many important business leaders around the state is a special memory that I will never forget," Signorelli said.
"I'm just humbled that the business I dreamed of building many years ago is not only still sustaining but also still growing in such exciting ways," he said. "But the success we are having today is mostly credited to the fantastic management team that leads Tanners today and in the future."
Local on 06/03/2019