For many in Winona, the Super Bowl may not mean as much as it did a few weeks ago when the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings still had a chance at winning the championship. For one Winona company, the Super Bowl proves to be the busiest time of the year.
Headquartered on 960 E Mark St. (pictured), Wincraft, a sports merchandising company that has license rights for the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, and the NCAA; the Super Bowl is one of their biggest events of the year.
According to Wincraft’s director of sales and operations, Derek Horvath, the company has been making 60 different products for each team in the big game such as decals, pennants, and a variety the sports memorabilia. The company also produces the signature Gatorade towels that are handed to the players at the conclusion of the big game.
Horvath confirmed the Super Bowl is the biggest money-making event for the company throughout the year.
“Playoffs are a great and a hot market for any sport,” Horvath said. “So, the Super Bowl is one of our best-performing events, and usually production picks up significantly from the second week of January through the balance of February.”
Horvath also noted this year’s game is especially marketable given the competitors in the game, the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, two teams that have not been in the Super Bowl in more than five years.
“Market-specific, demand changes a lot,” Horvath said. “Last year with the Rams and the Patriots was good, not great. This year with the 49ers and the Chiefs, it is going to set records. The fan support is all new. Fans that really want to capture the first time for them in their lifetime or, something that has not happened for a long time.”
Horvath also noted the teams’ lack of success compared to a dynasty like the New England Patriots, who have appeared in four of the last five Super Bowls, means that their fans are more likely to purchase products that a typical Patriots fan.
“If you think about it, the Patriots were dominant for a long time in the league, so often the market actually said ‘you know, AFC Champs, we don’t need as much AFC Champ product, we are just going to focus on the Super Bowl Champ,’” Horvath said. “While with these two markets, the Chiefs and the 49ers, AFC/NFC Champ product is in high demand. So, they want to prepare for this Super Bowl and then compound that with the Super Bowl.”
A team like the 49ers also creates the need for a new product that would not be made if any other team had been in their position, such as special edition seven-time NFC Championship apparel.
Despite this being the biggest event for the company, Horvath has said they have not had to rely on overtime for employees. Instead, shifting their focus ahead of time before the event.
AUDIO: Does Wincraft make Super Bowl Champion merchandise for teams before the big game? Wincraft’s director of sales and operations, Derek Horvath address the longtime rumor.
Horvath dispelled the rumor that Wincraft makes a certain amount of Super Bowl Champion apparel ahead of time, saying the company waits until a champion is determined to “hit the presses.”
While the NFL’s biggest game proves to be the biggest event for Wincraft, the company is still constantly busy throughout the entire year.
“It is a really dynamic business because we hold so many licenses. Every month something is going on,” Horvath said. “You have the Super Bowl in February, you have March Madness, you have NBA/NHL playoffs when May and June hit, then in July and August you hit training camp and back to school.”
Horvath also noted how it is important for Wincraft to keep a local presence in Winona throughout the year, despite their sales being nationwide, citing their relationship with Winona State University.
“WSU is one of the great partners of Wincraft, we love to volunteer and talk to students, prepare them for the real world, tell them how a pro-sports license company works, and what to expect post-graduation,” Horvath said. “We have speaking events at WSU and St. Mary’s. We volunteer on boards around town and we try to help as much as we can with young professionals and help them understand what Winona has to offer.”