15 May JOG Athletics – the Evolution
Scott Whitcomb and his company JOG Athletics make hockey jerseys for some of the most prestigious universities in the United States from a factory in suburban Bangkok. The company was first called Jamcomb after co-founders Jamie Marriott and Scott Whitcomb. They had met while teaching at Ruamrudee International School and needed to set up a business as in 2004 they had started running ice hockey tournaments and an ice hockey league in Bangkok called the Thai World Hockey League (TWHL). They outsourced their first hockey jerseys for the TWHL, but Vanchalerm “Top” Rattapong, also a hockey player, who was helping them out at the time, urged them to start making their own jerseys.
Jamcomb’s original office was run out of Jamie’s house. Scott, meanwhile, operated out of his Japanese classroom, after he took a position as a Special Education Learning Disability Teacher at the Canadian International School in Kobe, Japan from 2005-2007. Top was the company’s only full-time employee then and ran around the city sourcing material and getting the jerseys made. Another Ruamrudee teacher, Dave Cote, joined the team soon afterwards.
Scott moved back to Thailand in 2007, and rented a home office about 20 minutes from downtown Bangkok, and the downstairs became the office area. In 2008, they changed the name of the company to JOG (Join Our Game) Sports. In 2009, they moved the office to Sukhumvit Road, one of Bangkok’s main thoroughfares, and had a small sewing team though they continued to outsource the material for their jerseys.
In 2010, they rented a factory, also on Sukhumvit; they stored the material upstairs, controlled their cutting, putting the numbers on (they had about 15 sewers at one time).
But it was a grueling and stressful time, Scott and his wife Jeab drove back and forth to Nakhon Pathom in suburban Bangkok twice a day (ninety minutes away). In rainy season, they drove through torrential downpours to get the shipments out on time.
As the operation grew, they realized they couldn’t rely on another company’s production facilities anymore – they had to have their own.
Then in 2012, Scott hired a woman from Pittsburgh named Maureen “Mo” Kachachiva who had previously worked for a company called Wechwiwat Co., Ltd., which did work for Nike and a number of other major brands. In 2013, Scott started outsourcing to Wechwiwat, located about 45 minutes outside the city.
Owner Chomkamol Larbprasertporn was nearing retirement and considered closing the factory so Scott talked to her about possibly taking over her staff and renting the factory. She agreed, and in March of 2016 JOG Sports took over Wechwiwat walking into a garment company that was already set up, including all the sewing machines.
In addition, to purchasing all of the sewing machines and other essential equipment, JOG then invested in four sublimation printers, two heat transfer machines, two laser cut machines and a pattern making program.
For the last four years, Scott has been ordering most of the material for his jerseys and uniforms from Taiwan. Scott has also changed over from the Italian ink the company previously used to Japanese ink, which is manufactured in a state-of-the-art Japanese factory subject to the strictest environmental controls.
Neither Scott nor his wife, Jeab (the couple has two boys, Gannet aged 8, and Griffin aged 6) previously had any experience in the garment business, nor did any of their family members, but they are experts in the field now. Ironically, Scott, who has a real passion for making jerseys, did have an epiphany while teaching at Ruamrudee that he would one day get into the garment business.
Today, the company has close to 50 sewers plus a sewing manager, a cutting team, a pattern-maker team, a design team, merchandisers, a sales team and an accounting/logistics department, plus a quality-control team. There are over 100 employees – from production to those in sales and marketing. The only thing the company outsources now is its embroidery, and screen products.
Scott has had a couple suitors over the years, but luckily, he stuck to his guns and kept the business, which is now worth far more than what he was offered both times he considered selling.
Scott believes JOG Athletics has grown because of hockey tournament expansion and related marketing opportunities. In 2014, the company opened a US-based office that has had 100 percent growth in production since 2015.
Scott and his wife have done basically every job in the company. Jeab excels at dealing with clients, putting out fires and problem solving. Scott has played every role in the company as a CEO should, and he has even been the delivery driver at all hours of the day and night, time and time again, to make sure the orders get to their destination on time. His determination has driven the company to where it is today.
It is JOG’s motto to do everything it can to get deliveries to customers on time. And it’s an impressive list of clients including Arizona State, Cornell, Iowa State, the University of Kansas, the University of Georgia, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and the Central Canada Hockey League. Some very big names. JOG also produces basketball, soccer, volleyball, rugby, track & field, lacrosse and American football jerseys. In addition, it produces performance t-shirts, polos, shorts, tracksuits, hoodies – any kind of apparel desired.
Scott and Jeab have put in many hours and a lot of hard work to get to where they are today, and their efforts are finally starting to pay off. JOG started as a company run from a home office and classroom in Japan with its staff running around helter-skelter outsourcing to get their jobs done. The company has grown ten-fold proving that hard work does pay off and JOG continues to go above and beyond to get its work done.
JOG Athletics has come a long way. The very first uniform order was from a club team in Los Angeles called the Donkeys. The order was made when a guy came to Bangkok to referee the Land of Smiles hockey tournament, held annually in late October.
Today JOG makes jerseys for Ivy League schools…quite a progression.
Today, Jamie Marriott is a high school teacher in Vancouver, and Dave Cote is a Vice Principal at an international school in Chile. Top is a full-time ice hockey coach in Thailand. All three played a vital role in making JOG what it is today.
Jogsports has also worked with CanCham at numerous events and golf tournaments over the years and supplied CanCham with the Hall of Fame jerseys for Sam Cohen, Sean Brady, Peter van Haren, and Don and Daniele Lavoie.