Zweave’s Success Story: Nokona Baseball Factory
NoKona Leather Goods Company was founded in 1926, later becoming Nocona Athletic Goods Company. The Nokona baseball glove was trademarked in 1934 (spelled with a “k” when the U.S. Patent Office would not allow the name of an incorporated town to be registered). The company has continued the tradition of handmade, American-made baseball gloves to this day, with the addition of a few sewing and die-cutting machines. The Nokona glove is used by countless professional athletes around the world. Zweave provided PLM Strategy, Requirements, and Implementation services to improve Nokona’s product development processes.
Company Location: Nocona, Texas & Lexington, MA
Partner Locations: China, Vietnam, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala & Mexico
Total Users: 30
Studios in Use: All
Product Categories: Sporting Equipment, Apparel, Accessories
Process: Design, sourcing, marketing & sales
“Zweave’s PLM lets us synchronize our product development like a marching band.”
– Jerry O’Connor, VP of Sales & Marketing, Nokona
The Nokona Baseball Factory is an 80+ year-old maker of baseball gloves that is rapidly expanding into apparel and other categories. The company, since recently being acquired by new investors, has ambitious goals for growth in the baseball sector of the sporting goods marketplace. Growth plans include a big push into the apparel category on two fronts: protective gear and licensed lifestyle sportswear, active wear and team wear. Brands include Nokona Sport, Nokona Lifestyle and Nokona Team Umbrellas.
Partnerships for developing protective gear include Farrell Sports for sourcing and Aird Design for product development. Protective gear requires complex assemblies which include padding, moisture management, energy and impact technologies and testing and perfected fit and assembly requirements to meet critical industry standards for safety. In addition to soft lines, Nokona is expanding its hard lines to include baseball bats.
Jerry O’Connor, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, says Nokona realizes that innovation in product development, namely bringing in fresh new ideas and products that offer great value to retailers, is key to its success.
As such Nokona selected Zweave as its PLM solution to accelerate and push new product lines and increased development.
Zweave’s PLM was built on five years of research and development grants funded by the Department of Defense to manage soldier clothing and equipment. Sporting goods equipment is something our system manages well out-of-the-box because soldier equipment such as body armor and packs have similar technical requirements and assemblies.
Discussing Nokona’s other options, O’Connor says:
“Other PLM brands were too generic, bland, or too complex. They also require years to implement at a cost we chose to not afford. We were impressed with the best practices built into Zweave’s software with Studios for each process and how the product could manage the complexity of a baseball glove assembly with hundreds of pieces and materials or the unique attributes of a wooden bat.
“Our implementation including configuration, customization and training took under five months. As a matter of fact, we were on the system in a matter of days and refining it week by week while training our team on the key aspects of how to use it.”
Nokona not only uses Zweave PLM for Product Development & Sourcing but also in their Marketing & Sales departments.