Endurance Sportswire Executive Interview Series – Headsweats’ Mike McQueeney

August 23, 2018

Endurance Sportswire’s new Executive Interview series features industry leaders and executives, who share stories about their organizations, background and challenges they face in business.

Today’s guest is Mike McQueeney, President of Headsweats who has been with the company since 2009. A producer of innovative headwear, Headsweats features 17 different products available in over 140 different colors and styles, and has delivered well over a million hats to date.

Please tell us a bit about Headsweats (HD) and the size of the business.

Headsweats is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The company has 24 employees in two locations. There are 12 team members in Cincinnati where we manage operations, accounting, IT, production, inhouse decoration, as well as shipping and receiving. There are another 12 in Boulder who manage sales, marketing and graphic design. That said, we are a small company that wears many different HS hats.

We have partnerships with Team Red/White/Blue, National Down Syndrome Society, Diabetes Sports Project, Pickleball and Team in Training.  We also just recently partnered with Spartan Races as the official custom performance headwear.

20 years is a long time in business. What do you attribute to the company’s success? 

Quality of product and services. We provide customers and athletes with products that can help them perform in their chosen activities. We are excellent at managing customer expectations, and creating custom decorated headwear and tech tees. We really strive to help our customers promote themselves.

What is your background and how did the business get started?

I have been in the sports industry for 30+ years and love what I do. I started with Headsweats in 2009 as VP of sales and became the company’s president two years later.

The company began when Alan Romick, the founder, lost his job in 1998. An avid cyclist, he started off producing a do rag to absorb sweat. After pounding the pavement and getting continual feedback within the local endurance community, he moved into technical fabrics, and running hats and visors. The rest is history.

Congrats on your recent acquisition by Intradeco. Can you tell us a bit about the acquisition and how it impacts Headsweats?  

Intradeco is a well-established apparel manufacturer for the wholesale market. While Headsweats will not lose focus on the headwear business that has made us successful, we are now positioned to broaden the scope of the product selection for custom sublimated apparel at competitive price points, with quick turnarounds. In fact, we will be introducing new fully sublimated performance tees and running singlets for clubs, teams and events soon.

For Intradeco, this was an opportunity to broaden its scope in the sports apparel industry by expanding into the technical tee, sleeve and neck gaiter custom business. Our speed to market for custom apparel is 4-5 weeks, with low minimums of 24 units, and the quality of our garments and sublimation capabilities provide them with a competitive edge and value proposition.

What new trends or shifts are you seeing in the headwear industry?  

For Headsweats, the performance side of the business continues to be strong, and now we are seeing the lifestyle segment increasing with some of the same products, specifically our Performance Trucker hats. As such, we are expanding this collection. Functional headwear is a new segment we are excited about – hats that are foldable and can be put into a pocket easily. Other trends include flat bill running hats and hats with more breathability.

What is the biggest challenge you have experienced as president, and what have you learned?  

One of the biggest challenges in running a business is staying focused on what we do best. In our case, it always goes back to offering functional, quality headwear and apparel that athletes want to wear.  Like most businesses, we are always looking for long term quality personnel who are passionate about what they do and our products. We strive daily to maintain a positive cultural environment.

What are your future plans for the company?

The plans for the future are to grow the headwear business with new styles and also update our trucker collections. As mentioned, we are also launching a custom apparel program that we are very excited about. Behind the scenes, we are focused on streamlining the sales process, shortening the speed to market with headwear and investing into marketing in a methodical manner.