Company Profile: Taking Care of (Family) Business
With a focus on customers and relationships, Nova Sports USA continues build up its ‘family’ around the world.
As is the case with many family-owned businesses, Jacob Righter says he must occasionally address the misconception that Nova Sports USA is a small operation. In fact, the 25,000-square-foot corporate headquarters and factory in Milford, Mass., is one of the largest manufacturers of acrylic sport surfacing in the world.
“We grew by word of mouth — through people playing on our surfaces and builders recommending us to other contractors — and now we’re working in all 50 states and over 40 countries,” says Righter, the sales and marketing director. “If anyone in any country wants a coating — indoors or outdoors, over asphalt or concrete — we can get an experienced installer there.”
The company was started in 1984, when the late Benjamin Righter — formerly president of Tru-Flex Recreational Coatings — and his wife, Ruth, founded Nova Sports USA with the desire to manufacture the highest quality sport surfaces. It was a family affair from the start, involving their sons: Jeffrey managed production and product development for 15 years, and Robert, now president, joined as marketing director in 1995. Robert’s twin, Bill, now chief financial officer, came on board as sales manager in 1998.
Bill’s son, Joe, is the company’s logistics manager, and Jacob took over his father Robert’s former sales and marketing duties in 2005. According to Jacob, other staff members and longtime customers alike are considered extended family members.
“For my dad, traveling to see customers who go back 20 or 25 years is like going to see old friends,” he says.
Customers benefit from the close-knit nature of the company, which means every employee is empowered to provide technical and customer service assistance. Employees also can act immediately on customer feedback. Plus, with a full-time chemist on staff, the company continually develops new products.
“We’re always looking for ways to advance our current product line, along with bringing innovative systems to the market,” says Righter.
Nova’s early developments include an elastomeric caulking system, mold/mildew resistant formulations and unique low-abrasive textured surfaces. In 2015, Chief Chemist David Commito developed a first-of-its-kind epoxy primer for concrete that not only controls vapor emission, but also eliminates two previously necessary steps in the concrete coating process.
According to Righter, Nova Sports USA is also unique because producing acrylic sports surfacing is its sole focus. “Every product we manufacture has a unique acrylic blend appropriate for that sport,” he says, noting that using a proprietary mix of factory-added texture adds years of life expectancy to the respective surfaces.
Since it is privately owned and operated, Nova Sports USA retains full control over the manufacturing process, allowing coatings to be customized and produced in ways that most reflect the company’s values. Equally important, says Righter, is leaving the smallest environmental footprint possible through eco-friendly products. “Just by using one of our surfacing products, an installer applying for LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council can earn up to three credits on their project,” Righter says.
Righter acknowledges the importance of having a network of trained installers and tennis court contractors. “We’re only as good as the installers applying our coatings,” he says. “We strive for total satisfaction, from architect to end user, and this couldn’t be done without a strong, experienced dealer network.”
Classified by the ITF for medium- and medium-fast tournament play, Novacrylic surfacing systems have been used at hundreds of events worldwide, including the Davis and Fed Cup finals, the ATP Masters 1000 at Toronto, NCAA championships and national games in Asia, Europe and Central America. But even when its product isn’t selected, Righter says the company willingly provides technical support. It’s this what’s-best-for-the-industry mentality that has earned Nova Sports USA such a loyal customer base.
“We take a lot of pride in what we do,” Righter says. “Not a lot of companies make it to the third generation. I’d love it if my daughter takes over someday, because this company is more than our livelihood. It’s part of us.”
See all articles by Cynthia Cantrell
About the Author
Cynthia Cantrell is a contributing editor of Tennis Industry magazine.
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