The Tale of Two Companies...
Ripon Athletic is really the story of two companies whose identities are linked together by their experience and passion for producing made in the USA products with an emphasis on professional quality, product performance and customer service.
History of Sand-Knit
- 1921 – Sand Knitting Mills was established in Chicago by John Sand II. Some of the first products made were sweaters using natural fibers including wool yarns, cotton yarns, or combining (plaiting) both yarns. The sweaters were knitted on hand-operated flat bed knitting machines. Chenille letters were hand made and sewn on. Those wool and cotton yarns were then used to make fabric for athletic uniforms for sports like football, basketball, baseball and softball. Lettering and numbers were designed, cut and placed on the garments to be sewn on. Initially, the sweaters and uniforms were sold by team sporting goods dealers to high schools and colleges in the Midwest, but within a year sales spread across the United States.
- 1939 – Synthetic fibers (nylon) extruded into yarn for Sand-Knit uniforms.
- 1941 – Nylon and cotton knit together (plaited) for uniform fabrics.
- 1953 – John Sand II moved the company to Berlin, Wisconsin. Its close proximity to his summer home on Green Lake was a key reason in the location choice. Many operators and supervisors were paid to move to Berlin to ensure a smooth transition and to train new employees.
- 1960 – JM Nash acquires Sand-Knit, 20,000 square feet added to building. First No Fly Practice Football pant (1233NF) added to football products.
- 1964 – JM Nash changes corporate name to Medalist Industries.
- 1967 – The year brought the next revolutionary football pant style. Sand Knit helped develop the first ever double knit stretch nylon fabric which was used in the very popular #1211F football pant. This pant was used for both game and practice. Over 130,000 pairs were sold in the first year.
- 1970 – Sand Knit was among the first to utilize imprint for uniforms. Sand Imprint provided a lightweight and more cost effective option for customers.
- 1972 – Sand Knit introduced the Sandmark line of basketball uniform designs. It made the ordering process much less complicated. Early Sandmark designs were based upon Sand Knit’s unique knit striping features and eventually included braid, inserts and imprint. This made ordering easy for dealers, coaches and teams. All they had to do was pick their favorite design and customize the colors, sizes and numbers.
- 1974 – Plant expanded by 38,000 square feet, to total 78,000 square feet.
- 1975 – Sand Knit used its knitting prowess to significantly impact the Major League Baseball team the Houston Astros and the recreational softball market. Hank Derleth and his team were able to provide the team with the striped “Sunrise” look they had been searching for. The iconic “Astros” look was born and opened the doorfor Sand Knit in Major League Baseball. The year also saw continued expansion of team dealer business with professional leagues: NFL, NBA and MLB including Licenses for retail sale.
- 1984 – MacGregor Sports acquired Sand-Knit from Medalist.
- 1990 – MacGregor Sports files bankruptcy and abandons Sand-Knit name.
- 2008 – Sand-Knit name registered and used on line of stock and fleece products.
History of Ripon Athletic
- 1949 – Ripon Award Jackets, Inc. is established in Ripon, Wisconsin.
- 1950 – Over the next three decades, Ripon Award Jackets manufactures and sells award Jackets and Nylon Jackets to schools in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.
- 1982 – Ted Overmyer and Hank Derleth acquire Ripon Award Jackets, Inc.
- 1987 – Football, Basketball, Baseball/Softball uniforms are added to the products being made. Ripon Award Jackets starts doing business as Ripon Athletic and moves company to Berlin, Wisconsin in former Kolpin Manufacturing building.
- 1991 – Ripon Athletic re-establishes relationships with former Sand-Knit dealers and NFL, NBA and college teams, and added many styles, fabrics and colors to product line.
- 1992 – In the midst of football deliveries Ripon Athletic moves into the original Sand Knit building at 290 Junction Street. Hank Derleth, with the help of local investors, acquires the building and equipment out of bankruptcy court.
- 1993 – Ripon Athletic applies the Sandmark design concept across all product lines. “Ripon Athletic Concepts” take center stage for uniform design and ordering, such as the M15 “Wisconsin” concept on the stealth wing basketball pullover. In 2006-07 The Sand Knit Collection of uniform designs “Sandmark” are reintroduced into the team sporting goods market. Using current fabrics and production methods customers could order retro or throwback looks for their teams.
- 1995 – Derleth family acquires Ted Overmyer’s stock and turns the company into a family business.
- 2003 – Ripon Athletic re-introduces a line of Sand-Knit products.
- 2006 – Ripon Athletic acquires 12,000 square foot building and green space adjacent to its building and moves the Jacket production to this building.
- 2010 – The year brought about the unveiling of a brand new football jersey called “4601 Edge.” The edge this jersey had over other styles is its durability, compression, performance, customization and breath-ability, all without the use of Lycra side inserts. This was achieved by using the high-performance fabric #51 Pro-Stretch Mesh.
- 2012 – Over the next two years, Ripon Athletic introduces Sublimated uniforms across all product lines. Branded as “DyFuze,” this new method carries on the tradition of excellence in uniform manufacturing.
- 2015 – “Versa” takes the stage. Utilizing DyFuze methods, Ripon Athletic introduces a single-ply, reversible basketball, baseball and softball jersey that is sublimated on both sides of the fabric. In conjunction with a special fabric the Versa jersey provides two looks in one piece, without the normal “grin-through” associated with other one piece offerings.
- 2017 – The “4061LZ Lazer Edge” football jersey debuts. Combining the performance features of The Edge jersey with the technology of lazer perforation, the “4061LZ Lazer Edge jersey adds holes into the body panels, with the option of four unique patterns.