Tommy Rowlands' New Conquest | www.buckeyewrestling.com
Tommy Rowlands has done almost everything that can be done in the sport of wrestling. As a two-time NCAA Champion, four-time All-American, and the school record holder for career wins and takedowns, he is the most decorated wrestler in Ohio State history. On the Senior level, he has twice qualified for the World Team, and has placed fifth in the world. He hopes to be the United States' heavyweight representative in the 2012 London Olympics, and trains at the Ohio RTC (for which he serves as the Executive Director).
Monday, he carved another notch by launching his own sports apparel company. Like all of his other undertakings, this company has a heavyweight goal: To be an iconic global performance brand that changes the sport of wrestling for the better.
Rowlands, along with co-founders Mark McClain, Chris Snyder, and Tom Kazcowski, has announced Conquest Brand, a wrestling outfitter that pledges 10% of its sales to an Olympic Hopeful of the customer's choice. "It's the right thing to do," Tommy explained. "The Olympics are the pinnacle of our sport, and they should be showcased. It's crazy to think about winning the NCAA Tournament in front of 20,000 people and many more on ESPN, then you go into this no-man's land of world-class wrestling."
Pledging a tenth of sales is a formidable commitment for any company, but Conquest believes that such an investment in wrestling will pay dividends of fan support. "We like it as a business model and company culture builder," claims Rowlands. "We want it to be a constant awareness thing in our company culture. Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays. They sacrifice 15% of their business because of what they believe in. Their company culture is better for it, and to be quite honest, many people eat there the other six days a week because they have the guts to be closed on Sundays."
"And most importantly," continued the Olympic Hopeful, "we want to help. Wrestlers need the support, and wrestling people understand that. I can't imagine what it would have been like for me as a kid to buy a shirt and have the proceeds support Tom Brands' dream of being an Olympic Champion."
Conquest orchestrated its debut to coincide with the annual Beat the Streets Gala in New York City. While they officially launched on Monday, they have advertised on Time Square for the last three weeks. The kick-off games continued with video ads during the main event, and will wrap up with a Conquest-sponsored after party at The Plaza Hotel's Oak Room. Rowlands anticipates a 'Who's Who' of the wrestling world to show their support at the mixer, and confides that many of these athletes will soon endorse the brand officially. "One day, all of them will. We want to change the face of wrestling."
Eventually, the company plans to offer hard equipment such as shoes, headgear, knee pads, etc., but will only provide apparel in the early stages. They control their production, and offer "high quality garments that are made for training and competition." Product materials will vary from cotton, 'dri fit,' micro fiber, and mesh.
While the brand is currently focused on wrestling, it plans to bridge over to MMA soon. "Wrestlers fuel a multi-billion dollar global industry. As a wrestling community, we need to have a piece of that."
They currently list three shirts for pre-order online, and will release their full product line in time for wrestling season. Currently, all sales will be conducted from their Facebook page, but they will develop a website as their business grows. "Right now, we are completely debt free with substantial capital. We want to keep it that way and control costs while creating a large fan base," explained Tommy.
This new model for a wrestling apparel business comes at a critical time. Just since the NCAA tournament, a handful of Division I programs have been cut. For the latter half of the last decade, many of wrestling's best competitors have opted for MMA and cashed in on its financial superiority.
Another of that decade's finest hopes to spark the wrestling community, slice off a piece of the MMA industry, and use it to support the wrestlers who do choose the Olympic path.
"We are entrenched in the national wrestling community. Wherever we go in the coming years, wrestling is coming with us. That is my pledge."
To check out Conquest's new apparel or make a purchase, visit them at ConquestBrand.com