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Pegulas' stake in AdPro Sports is 'rocket fuel' for company, president says

AdPro Sports already has a robust business making custom-branded merchandise for sports teams and corporations.

But its president, Ron Raccuia, believes AdPro can reach greater heights now that Kim and Terry Pegula have bought a majority interest in the company.

"It's rocket fuel for us," said Raccuia, noting the Pegulas' "stature in the sports world" and the "expertise and talent of Pegula Sports Entertainment.

"It just gives us everything we need to become a true national company in a short period of time," Raccuia said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Pegula Sports and Entertainment will serve as the management company on behalf of the Pegulas, just as it does for the sports franchises and other holdings in the Pegulas' collection of companies.

While the deal with Pegulas marks a significant change for AdPro, which was founded in 1999, much about how the company runs will remain the same. Raccuia is still the president and maintains ownership in the new partnership, and the company's management team remains in place. AdPro's hub of operations will continue to be its 88,000-square-foot facility in Cheektowaga, near the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

For the Pegulas, the AdPro deal marks another step to diversify their business holdings beyond the Bills, Sabres and Bandits. PSE is partnering with Labatt USA to redevelop a building next to KeyBank Center, and in June, PSE announced the formation of PicSix Creative, a marketing and communications agency.

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PicSix already offers a variety of services to customers, including graphic design, video production, public relations and digital media. The AdPro deal expands those capabilities to include making branded merchandise for clients, said Bruce Popko, PSE's chief operating officer.

"It could be anything from a wineglass to a hat," Popko said. For instance, AdPro might produce uniforms for a company's employees.

"The branded merchandise business is as large as any advertising vehicle that there is," Raccuia said.

Raccuia will lead AdPro's integration with PicSix Creative. AdPro customizes products at its Cheektowaga facility, including uniforms worn by athletes, as well as products that a sponsor might give away, such as water bottles with logos on them.

"We have clients throughout the country," Raccuia said. "I like to say we're regionally dominant and nationally known the way we stand today. We're looking to expand on that with this new partnership with the Pegula family."

A sampling of products at AdPro Sports in Cheektowaga. (Matt Glynn/Buffalo News)

AdPro represents brands including Nike, Under Armour, Adidas and New Era. It also provides custom-branded merchandise to more than 250 colleges, 500 high schools and hundreds of corporations, including M&T Bank and Ingram Micro.

AdPro has about 100 employees and generates about $20 million in annual sales. Raccuia believes the company could "double or more" the size of its workforce in the next five years as its sales grow, and it has room at its Cheektowaga facility to accommodate the growth.

AdPro for years has had a business relationship with the Sabres and Bills. The company's name is on the Bills' indoor practice facility in Orchard Park. Raccuia also used to be an agent who formerly represented players including Fred Jackson and Brian Moorman, but said he is no longer working as an agent.

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