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By: Doug Kelly

Director of Communications

Football Bowl Association

For student-athletes going to a bowl game, one of the top highlights of the trip is the gifts awarded by bowl hierarchies to every player, coach and staff member. Over the past few years, Performance Sports USA has become a gifting industry leader, notably for its introduction of the "gift suite" whereby products are selected up to a predetermined dollar amount per person. Jon Cooperstein, who came up with the idea of the original gift suite, sat down with FBA Communications and talked of his company's goals, growth and future endeavors.

When did you form Performance Sports USA and how has it grown from its inception?

"We established the sports division for our parent company, Performance Awards Center Inc. in 2010. At that time, we were dealing with approximately ten bowls and a couple of schools. Since then, we have grown into dealing with somewhere between twenty and thirty bowls yearly, as well as six conferences, four NFL teams, two MLB teams, one NHL team, the men's and women's basketball Final Four, regional tournaments leading up to the Final Four and the postseason NIT."

Your company invented the gift suite. How did this come about?

"The gift suite was a concept that I came up with in the mid 2000s, after listening to bowls repeatedly having a hard time deciding what "gift" they wanted to provide for that year's student-athletes. The problem was that by providing only one option, an average of fifty percent of any given team already had the item. The gift suite immediately solved the problem, by offering a variety of products to choose from. We know that most of our clients will have some of the items offered, but the gift suite allows them to still have a large quantity of quality items to choose from. No one feels like they didn't have a good choice."

How do you stay current with the types of gifts that young athletes like to receive?

"Easy answer, we have Brenda [Johnson]. She is the best sourcing agent in the business. Brenda is constantly searching for the best new products available. All the best suppliers in the country want to be on her call list."

What year did the gift suite become available and what was the initial reaction?

"I believe 2005 was year one for the gift suite, and the reaction was mixed. Some people were excited by the potential. Others thought it would never work."

What other services does Performance Sports USA provide, and how large is your Texas-based staff?

"We have expanded into decorating team gear. Our facility can embroider up to seventeen thousand [17,000] units daily, as well as screen print an average of two thousand [2,000] units an hour. Besides the basics, we provide tackle twill, elasticized, rubberized and woven patches, heat transfers, foils and metallic inks and thread. Currently, we decorate the on-field and sideline team gear for thirty-seven [37] major collegiate programs.

"Additionally, an arm of our sports division decorates equipment trucks as well as coaches' offices, equipment areas and locker rooms. We provide complete design work, manufacturing and installation."

What new directions do you see for your company going forward?

"PAC Sports will continue to grow our current business aggressively, using our plan to be 'The One Stop Shop' for collegiate and professional sports. Wherever we find a need, PAC will provide a creative, innovative and service-oriented solution."

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job with Performance Sports?

"Providing an opportunity for a student-athlete to choose a product that he or she may not be able to get otherwise. Listening to the phone calls to family members or significant others as they get involved in helping make the selections. Our products have become part of the fabric of the student-athlete's college experience."