Behind the NFL’s High-Tech Safety Gear

By Gabrielle Karol Features FOXBusiness

Garment Business Evolves to Become Main NFL Supplier

McDavid CEO Bob McDavid and vice president Terry Fee on creating and supplying protective garments to the NFL.

Founded in a basement, protective-garment manufacturer McDavid has grown over 33 years to become the NFL’s main supplier of high-tech pads.

Continue Reading Below

In this edition of Conference Room, McDavid CEO Bob McDavid and his co-founder, vice president Terry Fee, tell FBN’s Jeff Flock they built the business using a pattern for the first protective knee-brace, developed by McDavid’s father.

“Terry and I went down and decided, we’re going to start a business, and we’re going to do it when we’re young and still can risk it all. We didn’t have much to risk,” says McDavid, who says he’s been learning every day since.

The company’s “hex-pad” technology provides flexible protection that conforms to athletes’ bodies; McDavid manufactures hip pads, thigh pads, protective shirts and sleeves for forearms and shins.

Competing With the Big Guys

While McDavid counts major companies like Nike and Under Armour among its competitors, CEO McDavid says his company’s smaller size helps it stay highly competitive.

Continue Reading Below

“As a company, we have to be very cognizant of the fact that we’re smaller. We have to react quicker; we have to be more passionate about our business,” says McDavid.

He says specialization also benefits the company, as they don’t get distracted by other consumer items.

“We’re not concerned about shoes because we don’t make shoes … We’re concentrating on this type of product,” says McDavid.

Additionally, manufacturing a percentage of the pads in the United States helps differentiate McDavid. The co-founders say domestic manufacturing allows them to turn around orders within 24 hours, fulfilling customers’ needs as soon as they arise.

Fee says U.S. manufacturing has helped them make an impact in the Chinese market, as Chinese consumers appreciate the American-made quality of McDavid’s pads.

What do you think?

Click the button below to comment on this article.