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Volume 24 No. 178
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New Era President Pete Augustine Discusses NFL Headgear Deal One Year In

Buffalo-based New Era, the privately-owned business that “made 40 million hats” in ’12, was focused last year on its “new investment in becoming the exclusive headgear company of the NFL and with other projects.” New Era President Pete Augustine recently chatted with's Darren Rovell. Below is an excerpt:

Q: You look in the crowd during an NFL game, and you look on the field, and that hat hasn’t really been an essential part of game day. Have things changed?
Augustine: The numbers on the business before us suggested there wasn’t much of a business. But we saw that as an opportunity. When we were talking with the NFL, they told us that most players threw their caps into the stands after every game and we were pretty sure the guys weren’t going to throw our caps out. ... There were a lot of guys who weren’t sure a fitted cap was them (that were) wearing it by the end of the season. Going into the season we felt like if 15 players per game wore a hat on the sidelines we’d be happy. And I think we’re at double that.

Q: I’ve seen a lot of the guys wearing the knit hats and obviously fans have caught on, too.
Augustine: It will be a 1 million program for us and it’s primarily fueled by the NFL. What surprises us is that none of the on-field hat products before we came in had any performance fabric in it.

Q: Any issues with the players?
Augustine: We’re happy that a guy like Tom Brady is wearing our product. He used to black out the Reebok logo on the hat, and Reebok was apparently fine with that. We made sure coming in that the NFL supported us here.

Q: You have 14 stores, which is an interesting strategy in the e-commerce world we live in. I was surprised to hear the goal is to get to 100 worldwide. Why are you guys doing this?
Augustine: We look at it as an opportunity to tell a bigger brand story. We’ll put more in mall-based stores this year, but it really gives us a chance to celebrate movie launches and broaden out our product testing (, 1/2).