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Welcome mat: Fort Worth sports flooring maker continues growth

Betty Dillard bdillard@bizpress.net If you’ve never heard of the Dollamur brand, chances are your children, or grandchildren, have. Founded in the early 1970s and headquartered in Fort Worth since 1996, Dollamur Sports Surfaces LP is a global maker and marketer of high performance, made-to-order sports flooring for wrestling, martial arts, CrossFit, gymnastics and cheerleading for competitive and recreational use in events, schools, clubs and homes.

Dollamur sports mats are used in elite competitive programs throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, South America, Asia and the Middle East, including numerous national championships and Olympic-qualifying tournaments. An innovator and patent holder in the sports flooring industry, Dollamur makes products in Fort Worth and Shandong, China, maintains offices in the United States and China, and supports dealers worldwide. “Our list of clients is a who’s who list from around the world,” said Gary MacDowell, executive vice president for Dollamur. “Our mats are found at USA Wrestling and World Cup events, at NAGA [North American Grappling Association] and judo tournaments, at state and national gymnastics championships and at the Olympics. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders use Dollamur mats, and we were just at the USASF [U.S All Star Federation] cheerleading finals in Florida.” Dollamur will provide mats for the European cheerleading championships in Germany in June, and recently the president of the French wrestling federation paid a visit to Dollamur. France is bidding for the 2017 World Cup.

“Our mission is to be the dominant sports mat company on the planet. We want to be the leader,” MacDowell said. MacDowell joined Dollamur in 2004 as president and chief executive officer. Under a leadership reorganization aimed at positioning the company for significant growth, MacDowell stepped into his new role in February. He’s now focusing on international sales, which have doubled in the past three years and are expected to continue to grow considerably, he said. MacDowell is executive vice president of sales, business development and marketing. He also oversees Flexi-Roll Sports Shandong Ltd., Dollamur’s joint venture in China that provides mats for the Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand markets. “Over the past decade, Gary has helped Dollamur build a meaningful global presence and expand the company’s international market significantly,” said Don Ochsenreiter, Dollarmur’s new president and CEO. Ochsenreiter was previously president and CEO of Burton Golf, the leading manufacturer of custom golf bags. Like Dollamur, Burton is the worldwide leader in each of its market segments, Ochsenreiter says.

“Our board recognizes his business development skills and wants to double the company again. Gary will also lead our efforts to develop new products and new markets for our products,” Ochsenreiter said. “We’re a tag team. We’re looking to take Dollamur to the next level. We still have a lot of market opportunity internationally and in new segments. Our strategy is to be the mat provider at every single leading regional, national and worldwide competition.” Dollamur Sports Surfaces was formed from Spieth Anderson, a manufacturer of specialized gymnasium and sports equipment with headquarters in Ontario. In 1971, the late Murray and Dolly Anderson partnered with Spieth Holztechnik in Germany. Three years later Spieth Anderson began manufacturing the Spieth product line in North America. The company was purchased in 2012 by the ABEO Group and is now known as SA Sport. In 1996, Murray and Dolly’s son, Jeff Anderson, opened the Spieth Anderson USA sales office and warehouse in Fort Worth. He renamed the business Dollamur, a combination of his parents’ names, Dolly and Murray. “Jeff moved the company here because U.S. distribution had started to become larger,” MacDowell said. “Fort Worth is centrally located and is near D/FW Airport. It made sense for production to be done here.”

MacDowell’s background includes teaching, banking and management at Motorola in Fort Worth. Before joining Dollamur, he had owned his own business manufacturing wireless paging devices; he later sold that business. In 2005, MacDowell and several partners in a private equity firm bought Dollamur. “Until 2005, the company had stayed with the three core products – cheerleading, gymnastics and wrestling,” MacDowell said. “They did very little internationally. We began to get into the martial arts segment and continued to expand the international dealer network. The joint venture in China was formed in 2010 and the company really began to grow.” Originally located in three buildings totaling 100,000 square feet on Fort Worth’s East Side, Dollamur moved in June 2013 to the former Ranch Style Beans factory, an iconic 131,000-square-foot facility on East El Paso Street just off Interstate 30 and U.S. 287. “It made everything much more efficient,” Ochsenreiter said. “By and large, all the U.S. customers’ orders are built here. There’s plenty of room to expand here.” All of Dollamur’s high-quality padded mats are custom made with a heavy emphasis on safety and performance. Each school or university symbol or company logo is hand-painted on the mat. Ochsenreiter said the gymnastics and cheerleading segments are the fastest growing, along with martial arts and boxing. Dollamur provides mats for LA Boxing and the Ultimate Fighting Series championship.

The company sells direct, through a distributor network and online, thanks to an increasing interest in yoga and CrossFit mats for the home practitioner. Dollamur has experienced 10 to 15 percent growth year over year, Ochsenreiter said, and the growth goal for 2014 is expected to be in the same range. “We provide mats to junior high schools, high schools, colleges and clubs. We’re now seeing an increase in sales direct to the consumer,” Ochsenreiter said. “Our online sales are about 10 percent of our business. It’s an event-driven, premier-event strategy that is now trickling down to home mats.” A 10-foot by 10-foot home mat runs about $450, while a full-size wrestling mat for a high school costs about $8,000, he said. Although Dollamur is exploring new markets, MacDowell and Ochsenreiter said the company’s concentration remains solely on sports for now. “Our focus is to be the worldwide leader in sports mats, which we already are, but we want to dominate,” Ochsenreiter said.

Dollarmur Sports Surfaces 1734 E. El Paso St. Fort Worth 76102 817-534-3344 www.dollamur.com  

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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