A true American success story, Premier Sports Products was founded in the Pacific Northwest
where our innovative sports shelters were invented.
THE BEST PORTABLE SPORTS SHELTER ON EARTH!
Premier Sports Products (PSP) is a small company located in the Pacific Northwest, just south of Seattle, Washington. PSP operates from a warehouse where we store, customize, and ship our sports shelters, benches, and other products and accessories
Owner Andy Johnson is soccer enthusiast and works hard every day to take the sports shelter and other innovative products worldwide.
The company’s mission is to put a sports shelter on every sports field in the WORLD!
HOW PAUL INVENTED THE SPORTS SHELTER
PSP was born when Paul—a Seattle firefighter, soccer coach, and father to three girls—recognized the need for a better sports canopy while watching his daughters’ games. At the time, every shelter on the market was heavy, unwieldy, and extremely challenging to assemble, so Paul began his journey to invent something better.
For nearly a year, Paul daydreamed about how the perfect sports shelter would look and operate. He wanted it to be light enough for one person to carry and easy enough for even a child to assemble in less than five minutes. He finally began sketching plans and building models, using popsicle sticks and scraps of wood to test his idea for a collapsing frame. After Thanksgiving dinner in 2007, Paul approached his engineer father-law with the sketches and models. At first he was skeptical, but after an hour of questions he finally agreed: "Paul you have to do this!”
That was the beginning of a long road of trial and error, sleepless nights, thousands of miles of travel, self-education, networking, cold calls, doubts, humiliation, elation, time with a patent attorney, and considerable financial investment. Paul bought material from e-Bay and junk yards, paid for help, begged for help, taught himself to sew, and turned his house into a mini-prototype factory. He ended up sewing the first four shelters himself because he couldn't afford it any other way.
Paul says this process would have been impossible without the dozens of people who offered advice and support along the way. From family and friends to professionals, Paul had help at every turn. His journey was a crash course in designing, prototyping, sewing, manufacturing, and business. Some of the best design ideas came from his kids, including the time one of his daughters said: “Dad I can't see the game! You should put a zipped-down window there, like a boat top.” That led to the mesh side paneling—another lightbulb moment for the design.
Every day for years, Paul worked on the sports shelter design and business, keeping a journal with him at all times for thoughts and sketches. He read book after book on inventing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling. Once the retail prototype was developed, tested, and evaluated, it was time to make manufacturing decisions. After sourcing the material and building four models, he chose a manufacturer in China where all the materials were made, and soon developed an extremely positive working relationship with a highly capable and experienced Chinese manufacturer. Armed with his retail prototype, Paul and his brother flew to China to meet him and discuss the project. They visited the factory, met with the plastic developers and metal developers, and went over every detail and aspect of the shelter’s design.
As a soccer coach, Paul used the shelter at every practice and game to get feedback and ideas from players, parents, and coaches. From the very first time he set it up, the response was overwhelming. That first time happened to be a soccer tournament in Lake Oswego, Oregon, during 96-degree weather, playing on polo fields with no shade to be had anywhere. Paul remembers taking a deep breath, taking out the shelter, and beginning to set it up. It was the moment of truth. Unfolding the sides, locking the corner braces, and locking the center latches, he started to pull it into the open position. Before it was even raised, over a half dozen people were surrounding Paul, peppering him with questions: Where did you get that? How much did it cost? What do you call it? Paul gave out all 12 of his business cards, and in the process learned his first real business lesson: Always have enough business cards! This weekend sealed the deal for the sports shelter project, along with Paul’s commitment to the business of manufacturing and selling the best lightweight and temporary outdoor weather protection product in the world.
Five years later, the journey isn’t over yet. Paul still think eats, sleeps, and drinks Premier Sports Products—he says he could talk about the sports shelter for longer than you would care to listen! But when he looks back at everything he has learned and achieved—including the challenges, risks, long days, and late nights—Paul says he would do it all over again in a heartbeat. The experience and education he has received from inventing the sports shelter is one money can’t buy. The people he’s met, the friends he’s made, and the places he’s been have made everything worth it.
Today, the sports shelter has been sold in 39 states in the United States and five Canadian provinces, as well as Europe and Australia—and Paul promises they’re just getting started.