A Custom Built World
Growing up around my dad and being in the custom wheel business my entire life, “custom built” was a way of life for me. Today, we are seeing more and more custom-built and/or one-off products being produced from all industries. Because of the consumer demand, all kinds of products are being custom-built and personalized to better fit an individual needs and tastes rather than the needs of the masses. Similar to the custom wheel and hot rod market, other founders of custom-built companies have a passion and a drive to improve their respective industries. The majority of these custom built companies occupy a niche market within their industry that the large manufacturers tend to ignore because it’s not conducive, and in most cases a hindrance to their production lines.
Recently I ran into one of these custom built companies and I wanted to share my story. My son’s Rawlings baseball glove was pretty worn out, so I decided to buy him a new glove for the upcoming spring season. I did an Internet search on “baseball gloves”. Have you shopped for a new glove lately? Almost all gloves come in the same colors, various types of leather, almost no choice of pocket design and they are far from game-ready. That’s how I found Tony Ross, owner of Rico Custom Gloves in North Kansas City. Ross was a pro ball player that custom builds his own line of professional-quality baseball gloves. He started Rico Gloves because he wanted to try to make the best-customized glove available at a reasonable price.
Tony handpicks only top grain leathers, and he doesn’t just sell you a glove – he sells you the right glove, custom built for you and in the design and colors you want. Skilled glove smiths from beginning to end handcraft every Rico Glove. Each process follows a set of exacting procedures to produce the finest quality glove available. When I ordered my son’s glove Tony wanted to know what position my son plays, how tall he is, how frequently he plays and his skill level, etc. Then Tony suggested the perfect fit – an 11 ½ -inch infielders glove with an I-web. As I went through the process of ordering my son’s glove, I realized just how similar the process is to building my own custom wheels.
Tony’s online “Custom Glove Optimizer” creates almost every aspect of your gloves design. The Rico Glove Optimizer can be found here http://www.ricogloves.com/glovecustomizer. On the Glove Optimizer you can choose multiple colors, size, web design and Rico even offers you the option to embroider your name and your state or country flag on your glove. Rico also offers you the option to have your glove steamed so when you receive it, its close game ready.
This year alone Rico added another 20 Pro players to the list of names using Rico Gloves. Tony has made gloves for current and former MLB players Kendrys Morales, Miguel Montero, Bobby Abreu, Mike Piazza, Bobby Dernier, Frank White, Brett Merriman, and MLB coaches Mike Butcher, Eddie Rodriguez.
Just to show how custom Rico Gloves are, Tony built me a custom Boyd Coddington built glove in my favorite color, Boyd Red.