By Larry Jacobson
“This has been the MVP Sports Store Pre-Game Show brought to you by MVP Sports and Michigan Custom Embroidery…”
If you’ve watched JTV Sports over the last couple of years – all of those football and basketball games – then you’ve heard that line as part of the MVP Sports Store Pre-Game Show before each telecast.
And, like so many successful businesses, it started with an idea and a garage…
Ray Hines, co-owner of MVP with his wife Kelley, was involved with youth sports as a coach and was having difficulty finding t-shirts, uniforms, hats and paraphernalia for his various teams. Ray and a fellow coach began contemplating what it would take to create their own uniforms and shirts and the seed was planted. They started the screen printing business from scratch and initially started working out of his garage before moving to their current location on Ann Arbor Road and expanding.
“We celebrated ten years in 2014 and we’re very proud of that,” Ray said. “The only way we’ve been able to do that is by taking care of our customers and focusing on that service. Most of what we do in such a small market is based on being involved in the community and the focus on buying local. People recommend us and that’s how the word spreads.”
Hines, who earned an engineering degree from Easter Michigan University, said he really hasn’t seen a drop in business with the recent growth of companies that allow you to design your own artwork and handle everything online.
“I think it’s actually helped us,” he said. “Some of the sites allow you to create your own design and to picture what you want on your shirt or equipment. I have a lot of people that will use the web to design their logo or idea, and then they’ll e-mail me the graphics and ask ‘can you do this?’ Of course, we’re happy to help and it tends to make our job easier.”
Operating a small business, of course, takes a tremendous level of commitment with a lot of long days. But it has its benefits.
“We certainly put in some long days and work a lot of hours,” Ray said. “But there’s a flexibility that comes with it that we value, as well.”
Ray shares those long days – and those hours – with a staff of five employees and without them, well…
“We’d be lost without our staff,” he said. “They do an incredible job in all facets of the business and are the back bone of everything we do.”
The MVP Sports Store Pre-Game Show read concludes with ‘… promotional products and more…’ It’s the ‘… and more’ that resonates most with Ray and Kelley Hines whose greatest challenge is often staying on-top of a competitive and constantly changing business.
“With all of the changes and advancements in this business, there’s a lot to stay on top of,” Ray Hines said. “But our goal is to do it right.”
At the MVP Sports Store, Ray and Kelley Hines and their staff have the ‘do it right’ part down pat – stamped on their business like a logo on a team shirt.