Columbia father-son duo take their sports apparel company to professional football

Columbia father-son duo take their sports apparel company to professional football

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A local sportswear company, Phenom Elite, has announced their partnership with the Arena Football League for their biggest deal to date. The father-son duo behind the brand is now in charge of providing apparel for all six of the league’s teams. Custom-designed and produced uniforms for the AFL’s 2019 season were unveiled at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. last week.

Nathan Dorton and his father, Wes Dorton, serve as Phenom Elite's CEO and CFO, respectively. They say that their company has only grown since its founding six years ago, beginning with 65 dollars and a dream.

When Nathan left college football, he noticed that players were responsible for paying for their uniforms. He immediately began searching for ways to create his own.

Nathan then used his father’s 65-dollar-investment to make his first pair of football gloves. It wasn’t long after that before he made his first official sale to a team that he had previously played on. “Our first order ever was back to the school I had just came from,” Nathan said, “and we sold like 20-something pairs of custom gloves. So after that happened we were like - wait a second, we can probably do this for every small school, college, high school and program in the country and then it just started to evolve from there.”

Flash forward to today, the Dortons have expanded beyond football gloves to create a variety of items, such as jerseys and footwear. They say that Phenom Elite's increased business has only made their relationship stronger.

“For me personally, I feel like I’m living the dream to work with my son,” Wes said as he beamed. “That’s just awesome.”

As the apparel provider grows, the Dortons’ roots run deep in Columbia. Wes Dorton explains that since their family has embodied the “Friday Night Lights” lifestyle for over 20 years in Irmo, it is especially meaningful to them to see local teams wear Phenom Elite uniforms.

“We lived Friday Night Lights. He was the captain, his younger brother played varsity, their baby sister was a cheerleader and I was on the sidelines. That’s what neat - to be able to go into the community and see our apparel on kids that are now playing on Friday nights,” Wes said.

From a single pair of gloves, to creating every uniform for America's second oldest and longest-running professional football league, Phenom Elite is welcoming change. Whether it be for a high school in Columbia or the Arena Football League, the company plans to continue providing quality sportswear for all types of football teams in the future.

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