A big chunk of the operations of the newly organized and renamed United Sports Brands will move into a 134,000-square-foot shop in Fountain Valley in December—just in time to remind employees who will be relocating from the Midwest of a key reason for the move.
“At the end of the day, given that we are in the sporting business, California is a wonderful hub of outdoor living and activity,” said Chief Executive Tony Armand. “That’s important to us—to both be close to our consumers and to be able to attract amazing talent to the business.”
The maker of protective sports gear has a product lineup that ranges from mouth guards to gloves, and it brings in an estimated $200 million in annual revenue.
The company took on its new name last week with the integration of the operations of Minnetonka, Minn.-based Shock Doctor Sports and McDavid Inc. in Chicago. It will keep an office in Minnesota under the United Sports Brands banner, shut down operations in Chicago, and continue to market products under the Shock Doctor and McDavid brand names.
The Fountain Valley office will be a co-headquarters as soon as construction crews put the finishing touches on the new two-story building on Slater Avenue. It will serve as a hub for sales, marketing and product development, and house some distribution and manufacturing operations.
The company’s decision to relocate to Fountain Valley runs counter to the recent perception that California’s business climate and tax structure is more likely to chase enterprises out of the state than draw them here.
That view has been punctuated by some real-life examples in OC: software maker Sage North America recently announced plans to move its U.S. headquarters from Irvine to Atlanta as part of a global restructuring plan; and Armada Skis Inc. relocated its headquarters from Costa Mesa to Park City, Utah, in December, citing the state’s “business environment” and a 20% tax credit as reasons for the move.
Fountain Valley likely got a boost from Armand’s status as an OC resident and his Southern California roots. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California-Los Angeles, attended the Anderson School of Management there, and has split his time between a home in Orange County and Shock Doctor’s office in Minnesota for some time. He held the chief executive post at Shock Doctor before the deal with McDavid to create United Sports Brand, and in 2013 established an office in Huntington Beach.
“We are super excited about expanding our presence in Orange County,” Armand said, adding that the Fountain Valley location “is exactly what we were looking in developing that state-of-the-art facility.”
The new building is the third phase of Southpark Business Center, which sits on a 140-acre patch of land where the Sakioka family—a leading landowner in OC for decades—once grew strawberries. Its neighbors include Kingston Technology Corp., D-Link Systems Inc. and Mitsubishi Materials U.S.A. Corp.
The December move-in date should give United Sports Brands’ management enough time to reorganize its work force of more than 250, including any who might be offered the opportunity to transfer here.
It said it plans to keep finance, customer service, operations and information technology in Minnetonka. McDavid’s facility in Chicago will close, though its offices in Belgium, Switzerland and Tokyo will remain open.
Fountain Valley Office
Shock Doctor’s 10-person marketing office in Huntington Beach will shift to Fountain Valley, where the company plans to grow once the dust settles on the move.
“We are still evaluating the amount of positions that will be created there,” Armand said. “Certainly, there will be many, but right now we are focused on helping the employees that are affected by the closure of our Chicago facility. Over the coming months, it will become clear exactly what the starting model will look like there in Fountain Valley.”
United Sports Brands will continue to market mouth guards under the Shock Doctor name and an array of equipment and apparel designed to protect athletes in a wide range of sports, including football, basketball, hockey, baseball and lacrosse.
Its roster of brands also includes the Cutters line of athletic gloves and McDavid’s sports medicine, protective braces, and performance apparel.
The companies were similarly sized prior to the merger, Armand said.
Shock Doctor was on track to reach $100 million in sales by the end of the year, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Private equity firm Bregal Partners in New York acquired it in 2014 from Minneapolis-based Norwest Equity Partners. McDavid was privately held.
“They were both great companies on their own,” Armand said. “And we think they’ll be even better together.”