S&S Activewear Now Promo’s Second-Largest Company
One of promo’s most impressive growth stories in recent years has been S&S Activewear (PPAI 256121, S12), the Bolingbrook, Illinois-based supplier that muscled its way to the No. 2 spot on the inaugural PPAI 100 supplier list.
In the process, it’s also become No. 2 for revenue itself, as well. Amid PPAI’s research into PPAI 100, the company revealed its 2022 revenue at $2.15 billion, surpassing alphabroder ($2 billion) to trail only SanMar (estimated at $3.7 billion) among suppliers.
The company has grown 62% since just 2019, and 10-fold since 2014, doing so through thoughtful planning, wise investments and strategic acquisitions.
S&S Activewear Today
Over the past decade, S&S has funded significant expansions in North American capacity and technology. Founded in 1988, the supplier has grown from a midwestern t-shirt and fleece provider into an industry leader with approximately $2.15 billion in sales in 2022. Its single location in Bolingbrook has expanded to facilities across the U.S.
Today S&S offers a wide selection of apparel types, including t-shirts, sweats, polos, headwear and outerwear, and its 80-plus brands span numerous well-known names in the fashion world. It has also steadily expanded its network of distribution facilities to more quickly and efficiently serve customers.
- In August 2022, it opened a 200,000-square-foot facility in West Chester Township, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati. It serves customers in the Midwest and the eastern United States.
Despite its size and scope, the company remains agile. At The PPAI Expo 2023, S&S was the inaugural winner of “The Pitch,” promo’s version of The Voice in which seven supplier participants tried to win over a respected panel of veteran distributor judges.
- The supplier took first place with its Quikflip Apparel line product, the Hero Hoodie, an easily reversible hoodie and backpack.
S&S cites its focus on leadership as a critical factor in its success. Several members of its senior leadership team have long tenures with the organization and have been instrumental in the execution of its strategy.
In November, Frank Myers was named CEO of S&S. Previously the company’s president, he has been with S&S since 2009. Myers led its strategic acquisitions and the complex operational design build-out and set-up of S&S’s North American distribution network.
- At the same time, Jim Shannon, the previous CEO and 30-plus year veteran of S&S, transitioned to vice chairman of the company’s board of directors.
- Myers and the leadership team have also been cited as instrumental in guiding the company through the pandemic, ensuring that S&S retained all of its employees during that two-year period.
“Frank is a seasoned executive,” said Shannon at the time. “His breadth of experience makes him the ideal candidate for overseeing S&S’s next chapter, and I believe there is no one better fit to handle this position. With Frank’s leadership and the combined expertise of the executive team, S&S will continue to provide excellent service to our customers, leading the company into the future.”
In January 2021, the company brought in new investment with the announcement of a partnership with Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. CD&R-managed funds invested alongside current owners and management to acquire S&S.
READ MORE: See the PPAI 100 rankings.
At the time of the transaction, CD&R Partner Ken Giuriceo commented on the parties’ shared vision of strong growth and opportunities, noting, “We are delighted to partner with a talented, entrepreneurial S&S team that shares our core values in a business we know and understand.”
Over the last few years, S&S has made several significant acquisitions that have expanded its capabilities and footprint. EVA Tees, Americana Sportswear, Technosport Canada, TSC Apparel and TSF Sportswear all grew the company in meaningful ways. The latter three, made in the last couple of years, highlight S&S’s growing reach:
- In April 2022, S&S acquired TSF Sportswear. Bringing the Pompano Beach, Florida-based supplier onboard gave the company greater access to the markets in the Southern U.S. It retained TSF Sportswear’s south Florida and Puerto Rico locations, and folded its Arlington, Texas operations into S&S’s Fort Worth facility just down the road.
- S&S acquired Cincinnati-based TSC Apparel in November 2021. TSC Apparel, which was founded in 1976, had grown into a national supplier of blank apparel and accessories with more than 30,000 customers. The acquisition of TSC Apparel brought S&S a greater depth of inventory and allowed it to offer the marketplace an expanded line of products.
- Bringing Technosport Canada into the fold expanded S&S’s operations north of the border. In December 2019, the company announced the acquisition of Montreal-headquartered Technosport. With a physical presence across all of Canada, with Technosport also operated distribution centers in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec.
These acquisitions have been instrumental in growing S&S to more than 4 million square-feet of warehouse space and over 2,000 employees. Its distributed operations means that S&S products can now reach 99% of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico within two days and 44 states in the U.S. in just one day.