2007 Builder/contractor of the year: Sportsline
Talk to customers and suppliers about Rob Werner, the founder and president of Sportsline Inc., and certain phrases keep coming up — things like “professionalism,” “attention to detail” and “takes pride in his work.”
“Rob is amazing,” says Tina Tharp, the acting executive director of Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis & Education in Philadelphia, which has eight indoor and eight outdoor courts that Sportsline put down. “His attention to detail and overall professionalism is beyond words. He’s very specific in his work and takes great pride in his work.”
Tharp also is impressed with the level of service that Werner and his staff give to the AAYTE, even well after the job has been completed. “He comes by just to check up on things,” she says. “He popped in a few months ago to see how things were running. He and his staff are very reliable.”
“Rob takes great pride in everything that bears the Sportsline name,” echoes Tom Magner, the Eastern regional manager for DecoTurf. “When I’m working with Sportsline on a tennis court project, I have complete confidence that it’s going to be done exactly by the book.
“Sportsline is a first-class contractor,” Magner continues, “and the dozens of certifications and awards they have achieved are a testament to that fact.”
In the tennis-court-building business, the Villanova, Pa., company has proven itself to be a leader in all the things that customers are looking for. And beyond that, Werner has been very involved in the industry itself. All of this is why Sportsline Inc. is RSI’s 2007 Court Builder of the Year.
Werner, who is a Certified Tennis Court Builder and a Certified Track Builder by the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA), started Sportsline in 1987, when he was still an independent rep for another court construction company. In 1990, Sportsline became his full-time business.
“We do all types of courts, and a little bit of everything in the sports-building business,” Werner says. Tennis, he adds, is 60 to 70 percent of his business. “We probably build or resurface close to 200 courts a year,” using 15 to 20 employees, depending on the season.
While the “Tennisline” is the biggest part of Sportsline’s business, Werner also has other divisions, including Trackline, Turfline and Golfline, in addition to selling sports equipment and accessories.
“Rob does everything well,” says Gordy Pierce, the ASBA’s Tennis Division president and the owner of Cape & Island Tennis and Track in Pocasset, Mass. “He is versatile — he encompasses everything that the ASBA does.”
Pierce praises Werner’s involvement in the industry and with the ASBA. Werner was on the ASBA board of directors for four years, then the Track Division president for four years, and has also been involved with other committees in the organization.
“He’s never happy with the status quo and is always looking for something better, something to progress the industry,” says Pierce.
Currently, Werner says, he sees growth in installing synthetic fields that can handle, tennis, soccer and other sports. “I’m searching for a [synthetic] turf that’s easy and can be used for multiple sports. The turf manufacturers have been interested in the 80,000- or 90,000-square-foot fields, but haven’t really been looking at tennis and understand that there’s a need for a good product.”
“Rob is always looking to stay on the cutting edge of technology from a construction standpoint,” says Tracy Lynch, the wholesale accounts manager for Lee Tennis. “He’s great to work with and very open-minded. And he’s committed to doing a good job in whatever he’s involved with.”
“When I’m doing a court, I like to build it as if it were mine,” says Werner. “There’s nothing more refreshing than putting the net up and having the owner thrilled to death.”
Tips for success
- Prepare your customers. “I try to be a bit more aggressive in explaining upcoming steps and what to watch out for,” says Werner. “I try to problem-solve ahead of the game.”
- Share as much information as you can with others. “In our industry, a lot of times people don’t want to share,” says Werner. “If I can help out, I’m glad to do it.”
- Be flexible. “If employees have a way they like to do a certain step, I’m fine with that,” says Werner. “As long as the goal is there, I’m flexible about how to get there.”
- Enjoy what you do, and try to pass that on to others.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.