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Ball company Baden Sports quietly moves to Renton
After 20 years in Federal Way, Baden Sports Inc. moved its world headquarters so quietly that city officials found out after the fact.
The company specializes in sports equipment like basketballs, footballs, volleyballs, playground balls, baseballs and axe-handled bats.
In December, Baden upgraded to a bigger space in Renton, the city where the family-owned company first launched in 1979.
Baden needed a larger facility and "couldn't find one in the immediate Federal Way area that met our needs," said Steve Thompson, chief operating officer. "We had basically outgrown the building there."
In 1993, Baden opened a nearly $3 million factory and warehouse in Federal Way with 70 employees. Annual revenue in recent years has been reported between $27 million and $36 million, according to online sources, and the private company employs about 90 people.
The 60,000-square-foot Federal Way facility now sits vacant at South 341st Place and 21st Avenue South, tucked in a cul-de-sac next to I-5. The new Renton facility is located at 3401 Lind Ave. SW, just off State Route 167.
Patrick Doherty, economic development director for Federal Way, said city officials were unaware of Baden's departure until a real estate broker inquired about the company's empty building.
"We were never informed by Baden Sports that they were considering leaving before they did leave," Doherty told The Mirror, noting that the city would have explored options to keep Baden in Federal Way. "We don't have as much industrial land and building supply as some of the other valley cities, but we certainly would have tried."
Further inquiries about company details were directed to Baden CEO Michael Schindler, who is on vacation this week and unavailable for comment at press time.
(A basketball by Baden Sports Inc. Photo courtesy of facebook.com/BadenSports)
Baden the 'official ball'
Legendary NCAA coach Bobby Knight has endorsed Baden's basketballs, and several state high school athletic associations nationwide use Baden as their "official ball."
Some of the company's clients include the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), American Volleyball Coaches Association, the University of Washington and the Harlem Globetrotters. Baden also produces promotional products for the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls.
Baden's athletic balls are manufactured in Chinese factories as well as in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Pakistan and Malaysia, according to a 2007 report in the Puget Sound Business Journal.
A 1997 report by the U.S. Department of Labor details Baden Sports and its practice of labeling soccer balls as being produced without child labor.