The Reconditioning Challenge Discussed
One of the biggest jobs in the sport is to get football helmets reconditioned on an annual basis and for many dealers it is both a headache and opportunity – both made even greater because of the COVID impact.
According to Tony Beam, executive director of the National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (NAERA), whose membership plays a role in repairing damaged helmets and deciding on how much longer any given helmet can still be worn, COVID-19 issues affected the reconditioning process last year, but those issues have been resolved.
“The reconditioning times in 2020 were off slightly, due to COVID,” Beam admits. “For the 2021 season, reconditioning was, for the most part, back to normal in terms of timing. Reconditioning was affected some in 2021 with supply chain issues due to COVID, mostly caused by the slowing in production of replacement OEM parts.”
To get a complete picture of the state of reconditioning in the 2021 season, Team Insight Extra turned to Darren Cato, president of Mercury Sports in Evansville, IN, about the demands of being a football helmet reconditioner in today’s COVID-19 impacted environment.
Team Insight: In recent months, I have heard about delays in the reconditioning process, dating back to last spring. Is this true?
Darren Cato: Mercury Sports had minimal delays, only with receiving parts from manufacturers to complete orders.
Are the delays due to the nationwide slowdown of the supply chain?
Delays were due to the world slowing down. Parts took longer to get and the logistics companies took additional transit days to deliver.
Did those delays impact the ability of some schools or programs from starting on time this past August?
Delays came more in the new equipment side. It was nearly impossible for manufacturers to fill orders due to their supply chains. I’m not saying there wasn’t delayed delivery of reconditioned equipment, but not with our company.
Under normal circumstances, do teams ship their helmets for reconditioning after the fall season or after spring football practice in April/May?
The majority of equipment sent to us comes after the fall season. Most late orders that come are youth programs with a changeover with their board and individuals waiting until the last minute to get their helmet reconditioned.
Does every helmet get reconditioned every year?
It is recommended by NOCSAE, NAERA, and manufacturers that helmets be recertified each year. With that being said, there are many helmets on the field that do not get recertified each year. The awareness is continuing to grow and the goal is that all helmets are recertified each year.