Member Spotlight: Pro Athlete

For a company that prides itself on its office culture, physical workspace, and unique employee perks such as an in-house trainer, chef, and even a hair stylist, 2020 Top 10 Small Business Pro Athlete spent a lot of time reflecting on their core values when COVID hit.

Founded in a shopping center in 1987, Pro Athlete has evolved into an eCommerce giant that now operates from its own facility in Parkville. Pro Athlete has become a go-to retailer in the area for baseball bats and gloves.

Consistently ranked among the best places to work in Kansas City, Pro Athlete boasts a workplace that feels much more like a sports fan’s paradise. With amenities like a batting cage, a swimming pool, a bar, and a basketball court, Pro Athlete emphasizes a culture in the office that encourages work-life balance and makes its employees truly enjoy coming into the office every day. But when COVID hit, like many small businesses, the CEO of Pro Athlete made the decision to close their office doors, and have their employees work from home for the rest of 2020.

“This decision allowed us to not risk the health of the majority of our staff,” said CEO Andrew Dowis. But more than that, Dowis said the company was also able to really focus on their mission and one of their core values: family first. “Yes, we have all these really great benefits and perks for our employees, but we focused on the strategy behind the perks. Whether it’s a haircut or hitting the gym or something else, we want our employees to do these things during their work time so they don’t take away from family time. When you get home, we want you to be the best person you can be.”

Pro Athlete has also looked at how their business can shift gears a bit to work with the Kansas City community. That includes the “Storied” series with the Negro Leagues Museum. The series tells twenty-two stories about the Negro Leagues, narrated by the Museum’s President Bob Kendrick. CEO Andrew Dowis said the project isn’t just about sports. “The Negro Leagues Museum isn’t just a baseball museum,” he said. “It’s a civil rights museum and it was an honor for us to help tell those stories.”

Despite the challenges of running a business during a global pandemic, Dowis put it best in baseball terms, “Even when we got behind in the count, I’m glad that our team stayed together and kept swinging.”

Cheer on Pro Athlete and the other Top 10 Small Businesses at the Small Business Celebration Virtual Awards Event, Thursday October 15. Register here to find out which business takes home the Mr. K Award!  The Presenting Sponsor for the Awards is the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.  Our 2020 Small Business Programming is presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and Evergy. The CEO Level Sponsor is Honeywell.