Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Wilson Sporting Goods Co.
Wilson Sporting Goods Co.

Wilson Sporting Goods Co.

Wilson Athletic Equipment, 1930
This Chicago-based manufacturer of athletic gear began in 1913 as Ashland Manufacturing, which was as a subsidiary of the Wilson & Co. meat company. At one point, the enterprise became known as the Thomas E. Wilson Co., taking the name of an early chief executive. In 1931, the name was changed to Wilson Sporting Goods Co. During the mid-1930s, the company's plant on Powell Avenue in Chicago employed about 800 people. By the middle of the century, Wilson had become the leading sporting goods manufacturer in the United States. The company's headquarters moved from Chicago to the suburb of River Grove in 1957. After LTV purchased Wilson & Co. in 1967, Wilson Sporting Goods was spun off as a separate company and grossed about $100 million in annual sales. In 1970, Wilson Sporting Goods was acquired by Pepsico, the New York–based beverage giant. In 1985 the company reemerged as an independent entity, Wilson Sporting Goods Inc., which had its headquarters in River Grove and employed about 400 Chicago-area residents among its 4,200 workers nationwide. At the end of the 1980s, when Wilson Sporting Goods was purchased by the Amer Group of Finland, annual sales had exceeded $400 million. In the early 1990s, the executive offices were moved back to Chicago from River Grove. By the early 2000s, Wilson was still headquartered in Chicago and had annual sales over $600 million. See also Wilson & Co.