Hi-Pro Corporate Sportswear and Promotional Products is the North Okanagan’s largest embroidery house. Hats, jackets, gifts, awards and more have been offered by the local company since 1989. Hi-Pro’s products have been sported around town by everyone from business leaders to athletes playing recreational soccer at Marshall Field.
One highlight from its three-decades in business was seeing one of its products on a hit television series in November 2017. “One of our hat designs for Great West Equipment was shown on Gold Rush,” Bob Sattler, general manager.
The company started in 1989 when Don Kelly and Dennis Miller bought the struggling Dees Sportswear, located in the Alpine Center. which at the time was making jackets for schools. Kelly and Miller changed the name to Hi Pro Sportswear. The company was then making melton leather jackets for most of the schools in the valley.
In 1991, the pair expanded to other fabric jackets and in order to meet the need for embroidery on the jackets it was producing, bought a six-head embroidery machine.
As time went by, overseas jackets started to show up in the market and Hi-Pro stopped manufacturing in the early 2000s and moved from the Alpine Center to its current location on Coldstream Avenue, beside Fishers Hardware.
Over the years the company branched out from supplying jackets and embroidery for schools to the forest industry, becoming the major supplier of jackets for companies such as Tolko, West Fraser, Canfor, Weyerhauser, Pope and Talbot, Riverside, as well as Kal Tire to name a few.
Kelly travelled the province and in the mid-1990s the company expanded into promotional products to meet the needs of its clients. It now offers awards for the health and safety sector, as well as employee recognition programs.
Kelly and Miller sold sold the business to Sattler in January 2007 and retired. But just one year after he bought the company, the recession hit, hard. But, bound and determined to succeed, Sattler developed a new strategy and diversified back into schools and mining. We started working with Teck, Centerra Gold, Taseko Mines, Shell Albian and many other large companies.
The forestry industry came back up too, and Hi-Pro hasn’t looked back. Sattler added more ways of decoration besides embroidery, such as screen printing, digital printing, digital transfer printing and vinyl for numbers and names on jerseys and has grown the business to sales of more than $1.5 million
In 2020 Alan Tomiak was appointed Sales Manager. With his experience in sports wear and sales his focus will be paving the way for Hi-Pro to move forward with the times and create new sales opportunities in various industries.
Published in: Vernon Morning Star, April 2019.