Most of us have never played defense in the NFL, but that’s not to say we haven’t had the football rushed past us a couple times.
It probably happened on the interstate, and you didn’t even realize it.
“It is a really good feeling to know we have a small part in the delivery of those footballs,” said Joe Robinson, president of Eagleview Logistics in Northwood, near Toledo.
The NFL kicks off its season today for real, ignoring that strangely timed Wednesday night game. When it does, every team will use Wilson footballs made at the company’s factory in Ada.
The factory in Hardin County, the only facility in American producing only footballs, churns out an average of 4,000 footballs a day, employing 120 people, according to the company’s website. Footballs have been made in Ada since 1955, and Wilson footballs have been a part of the NFL since 1941.
The factory’s workmanship is legendary, as experienced professionals hand sew the cowhide panels, sewing them inside out, steam them, turn them right-side out and lace them just right.
What might not be as well known is how the company gets its footballs from Ada to the respective cities for the games. That’s where Robinson’s team picks up the ball, quite literally, for FedEx Ground.
“We’re responsible for picking up the footballs, with whatever demand they have, and getting them back to the terminal in Perrysburg,” Robinson said. “From there, they’re dispersed to wherever they’re going next.”
The lesson all businesses can learn from Robinson’s company is the value of flexibility. His trucks go to Ada every day but seldom for the same-sized order.
Some days the plant might only send out 30 to 40 balls. Some days, it might have a full 53-foot trailer Eagleview Logistics left behind, knowing a big shipment was on its way.
“In December and January it goes up quite a bit, because of the playoffs in the NFL, the football college bowl games and things like that,” Robinson said. “It spikes up quite a bit sometimes.”
FedEx Ground chose the company as its 2011 entrepreneur of the year, quite an honor for its owner, a former real estate agent living in Walbridge in Wood County. He’s just as excited about the future, as he worked with corporate managers at FedEx Ground and Wilson Sporting Goods for the last eight months on details to film a commercial eventually.
“It’ll be the FedEx brand and logo there, but we’ll know we’ll be there,” he said.
Some of Robinson’s drivers are excited about stopping off at the Ada football factory. Others just think of it as another stop. Robinson knows there’s something special about helping deliver the most important piece of equipment for many fans’ fall tradition.
“When you see a bowl game or see an NFL game, it’s a good feeling to know, ‘Hey, that football right there probably was on my truck at one time.’”
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