DELHI -- An expansion at a Delaware County sports equipment firm is expected to generate more than two dozen new jobs in the next three years.
In a deal between Sports Specialties LLC and Spalding announced Thursday, the Delhi-based company will manufacture equipment for indoor sporting facilities with Spalding name and logo.
Sports Specialties is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sportsfield Specialties, which was founded in 1998 and opened its plant in Delhi in 2004. Spalding, which dates to 1876, is an industry-leading sports equipment company.
Sports Specialties and Salisbury, N.C.-based Promats Athletics, a second subsidiary of Sportsfield Specialties, will look to hire five to 10 employees this year, another dozen in 2013 and a dozen more in 2014, Sportsfield Specialties President Wayne Oliver said.
Oliver, who toured the plant Thursday with U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, said that the deal will involve Sports Specialties focusing on ceiling and wall-mount basketball hoops, volleyball poles and officials stands, as well as other accessories. Protective wall padding and netting will be made by Promats Athletics, he said.
Sports Specialties will be responsible for all facets of business operations, including manufacturing, marketing, shipping and customer services, according to Oliver.
"We are selling what we are good at. We are the equipment folks," Oliver said. "We have already started some design work."
On his tour, Gibson asked questions of company officials about individual products made by Sportsfield. He also questioned how their business model worked, as well as how workers are recruited and trained.
Afterward, Gibson spoke to a gathering of workers, and the retired U.S. Army colonel said the company reminded him of some of the cohesive units under his command.
"In my (Army) duties, I very quickly was able to get a feel for an organization. There's a sense that this is a family," Gibson said.
He applauded the company for the innovative work it does, as well as its ability to follow up with its customers.
"You do it better than anyone else, and that's why you are expanding," Gibson said.
After his tour of the plant, Gibson said he was enthusiastic about the expansion.
"I'm very impressed with Sportsfield Specialties," Gibson said. "This is creating jobs. It's very promising. It's a good day today. We're getting 2012 off to a good start."
Gibson said small- to medium-sized manufacturers such as Sportsfield Specialties are key to the state's economic recovery. He said he was also encouraged the company will look to recruit workers locally and even invest in training them in skilled trades, such as welding.
Gibson said he sees Board of Cooperative Educational Services vocational programs as important for improving the state's economy by providing workers for businesses such as Sportsfield. He said he will be lobbying for more support for vocational programs when an education re-authorization bill is considered by Congress.
"We've got to make the right investments in terms of education," Gibson said.
Sportsfield Specialites was founded by Scott Clark in 1998. Clark was on hand for the announcement, along with several Delaware County and Delhi town officials.
Under the terms of the deal, Spalding will sell manufactured components, such as backboards, rims, winches and controls to Sports Specialties, which will then build them into complete basketball and volleyball systems, according to Oliver.
Portable floor-positioned basketball goals will continue to be made and marketed by Spalding, he said.
The company has about 100 employees with about half in Delhi. A majority of the new jobs created will be in Delhi, according to Oliver.
Gibson also toured Northeast Fabricators in Walton on Thursday. That company, which employs about 50 workers, is seeking assistance from Gibson in securing military contracts. Customized trailers and cabinets are among its production lines.