Hays Stromgren factory shutting down
By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT
Stromgren Athletics Inc., a Hays company launched in October 1981, will cease day-to-day operations in September and consolidate in Gardner.
The shuttering of the business at 600 Main affects 17 employees.
Operations will move to the headquarters of Cramer Products Inc., which bought Stromgren in 2011. The rest of the business will be closed.
Waiting until September allowed the company’s football equipment to be produced without interruption and provided employees four to five months to seek future employment, said Steve Arensdorf, Stromgren’s chief operating officer.
“We hope that we’ve done this in a manner that there’s the least amount of impact possible on all these employees,” Arensdorf said. “They’re all good, hard-working people, dependable people, and that’s what we really hope, you know, that transition goes well for everybody.”
Although Stromgren started importing some materials 10 years ago, continuing its sewing and textile operations was not economically feasible.
“Our business model of having manufacturing, that we’ve been doing now since 1981 ... is not a model that we can continue with,” he said. “The business model just really doesn’t work in this day and age.”
The recession and reductions in schools’ budgets for athletic gear also were factors.
Megan Colson, executive director for the Downtown Hays Development Corp., was unavailable for comment about the closure of the downtown business.
The mid-1980s marked the company’s heyday, Arensdorf said. Its innovative compression shorts could be found in nearly every NFL and NBA locker room and countless college athletic programs, he said.
“That’s probably what put Stromgren on the map as much as anything,” he said. “We started the company in ’81, by ’84, ’85, we were household names in the sporting goods industry just because of that.”
Arensdorf, who helped start the company, said his career highlights have included having dinner with such sports icons as Roger Clemens, John Calipari and Carlton Fisk.