As many of you know, I recently toured the Vaughn Custom Sports factory in Oxford, MI.
If you haven’t already, check out the photos and videos from the tour on our Facebook page. I posted more photos on Twitter (June 17-18 for reference), and you can also get a glimpse of a factory tour on Vaughn’s website.
Like a hungry, pudgy kid getting a free tour of the Hershey’s Chocolate factory, I spent the better part of two days spinning around the Vaughn factory in blissful circles, checking out all of the different machines that transformed colorful leather, foam, and laces into tasty, finely constructed, top-of-the-line goalie gear.
Not only did I have a chance to learn what makes Vaughn’s pad-making process so unique, including the new carbon materials being used in their game-changing V6 line, but I also met a group of very skilled handcrafters.
Almost instantly, I came to the obvious realization that Vaughn was nothing like a typical major corporation; it was a tight-knit family.
I met Dan, who has been in charge of making blockers for over 20 years. Then I met Marie, who is in charge of making the gloves. I also met Jason, who is in charge of running the Gerber machines, which are used for cutting all the different types of leather. Then I met Paul and Carl, two guys that are in charge of stuffing and packing the pads. I also met Pam, who is in charge of making the chest protectors.
Finally, I was given a chance to sit down and talk with the legendary Mike Vaughn. Listening to his story and some of the history behind the Vaughn company was pretty inspiring, and it was a real treat to finally meet the man that has been constructing some of the best gear known to goalies for many decades.
Amidst all of the intoxicating highs that came with my glorious tour of the Vaughn factory, the main purpose of this trip was to discuss the details of a new partnership and working relationship between our two companies. Alongside pro reps Adam Berkhoel and Scotty Hughes, two guys that I really admire, we discussed a plethora of different ways in which The Goalie Guild could support Vaughn’s future social media projects and endeavors.
One piece of this new partnership is making Vaughn Custom Sports the exclusive sponsor of our all-new CoachTracker Map, which has already received a lot of positive feedback from goalies, coaches, and parents alike. As such, we will soon be adding a number of Vaughn-oriented locations to the map, including sponsored camps, retail outlets, and more.
From there, The Goalie Guild has agreed to support a number of Vaughn’s future promotional and educational projects through their website and other interactive platforms.
On a personal level, this is an exciting time for me. As some of you know, I grew up in Dallas, Texas idolizing two goalies: Chris Osgood and Eddy Belfour. Both of them were Vaughn loyalists throughout most of their careers. For that reason, I have always worn Vaughn gloves and chest protectors.
Now I’m excited to say I’ll soon be wearing a new set of custom Vaughn pads and gloves, and I’ll be continuing to wear Vaughn gear as the years roll along.
Touring the factory and meeting Mike Vaughn was a memorable end to a chaotic, exhausting month of worldwide travel. But the most gratifying feeling of the whole experience was being introduced to this small family of dedicated handcrafters and pro reps.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to take this factory tour, and I’m excited for this new partnership, one that allows The Goalie Guild to promote and support the loyal Vaughn family as time goes on. I’m excited for what the future brings, and will wear my new Vaughn pads with great pride!
To get an idea of what Vaughn is currently offering through their website and social media platforms, check out this educational video below on fitting masks! Be sure to follow them on Twitter @VaughnHockey as well!