TWINSBURG — A local business is celebrating 20 years of serving its customers’ needs.

RDP Sports Plus Inc. was founded by Jim Rallo, Ernie D’Amato and Paul Prospal in 1997 only a year after the idea to start it was conceived on a beach in Maryland. The company provides screen-printed apparel, embroidered apparel, signs, banners, and promotional items with most being printed in-house. The company also offers organizations online ordering to eliminate coordinating paperwork and payment.

A lot of things have changed over the years. Prospal left in 2002 to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time teacher and coach at Trinity High School. In his place, Simeon Richmond was brought in to run the day-to-day operations. 

Rallo said advancements in computer technology have improved and quickened the design process, but silk screening itself has changed very little over the past two decades.

"We have some automatic machines that also use computer technology, but putting paint onto shirts has not changed," Rallo said.

RDP’s customer base has grown over the years. Rallo said the majority of his business comes from the southeast part of Cleveland. When RDP was founded, its first customers were from Twinsburg and Solon areas.

"We’ve gotten wider," he said. "When we first started, we sold to Twinsburg and Trinity high schools, Solon Recreation and a couple of friends and relatives, and now we’ve got about 600 active customers."

Rallo credits Richmond with increasing the company’s sales tenfold.

Today, RDP Sports has four owners. In addition to Rallo, D’Amato and Richmond, Caitlyn Budd is an owner.

Over its two decades, the company has grown from one employee to nine full-time employees and seven part-time employees. A big decision for RDP was to start doing screen-printing themselves to maintain control and improve customer service. This, along with its commitment to service and delivery, is what drives business.

Another differential is the focus on women selling to women. In the beginning, Rallo said, all of his salesmen were men were former coaches selling to coaches and athletic directors, who were also men. 

"We discovered the moms buy way more than the coaches," Rallo said. "We didn’t have a brilliant idea but we thought, after it started happening, we would focus on selling to the moms and to the team parent and spirit wear sales."

That strategy paid off in increased sales, Rallo said, and today most of his sales staff comprises women, many of whom are former customers. 

In Twinsburg, this is seen by the relationship of RDP Sports salesperson Sue Nock with the Twinsburg City Schools, PTA, Twinsburg Community Theatre, and City of Twinsburg just to name a few. Most people who live in Twinsburg know Nock and RDP Sports, according to a press release.

Rallo said his business has thrived in a competitive field because he emphasizes customer service and getting orders done on time.

RDP Sports Plus Inc. is located at 9261 Ravenna Road. For more information, phone 330-405-3501 or visit www.rdsports.com

Reporter Steve Wiandt can be reached at 330-541-9420, swiandt@recordpub.com or @SteveWiandt_RPC.