With an impressive list of clientele that includes all of the Big 12 schools, Plano-based Maverick Jackets has certainly left its mark as the leading manufacturer of letterman award jackets, blankets and customized athletic apparel.
Growing up in Indiana, founder Don Giddens was a venture capitol investor for eight years at a company that would be the precursor to Maverick Jackets. When the original investors decided to pursue other business endeavors, Giddens bought the company and moved it to Plano.
“I’ve been involved in athletics pretty much my entire life, and it made an impression on me,” said Giddens, who attended St. Edward’s University in Austin on a basketball scholarship. “It was just a very logical choice with the amount of universities in the Texas region and their commitment and interest in athletics. It was a no-brainer that an athletic award company should take advantage of all that school spirit in the Texas region.”
Despite being the go-to athletic awards company for every Division 1 school in Texas, Giddens insists that no stone is left unturned.
“We aggressively market to every university in the country,” he said. “We truly are a national company and have customers throughout the United States. There are about  schools that play D1 football, and we do about 85 of them. We’re kind of a real big fish in a really small pond. Our footprint is rather large, but it’s not indicative of our [company size].”
About 45 people work at the Plano office cutting, sewing, embroidering, framing and manufacturing everything in-house. And while its impressive customer roster includes big names like Stanford, UCLA and Michigan State, Giddens said his company does a lot more work for D2 and D3 schools and is tapping into the high school market.
“We’ve made a really aggressive push this year to do more high schools,” he said. “We do all of Plano ISD schools, McKinney, Richardson and Highland Park … our real growth for our company in the future really is high school. We do business with maybe 250 or 300 high schools; there are about 40,000 high schools in the country. Our challenge for growth over the next decade will be to really tap into those high schools.”
Giddens said his company supplies Plano ISD with about 400 jackets per high school per year.
While secondary education may be the future, higher education comprises the majority of Maverick’s business at the moment.
“They do all our embroidery and they do some seamstress work for me, and that’s a five-star company,” said Albert Veytia, director of equipment operations for Southern Methodist University. “The quality of their work is excellent, and they’ve got a wide array of services.”
Known for their jackets, Giddens said the company is slowly working to change its name to Maverick Athletic Awards, which is a better representation of their business since the company also manufactures a variety of sports related items and apparel.
“We’ve got a lot of competition and great competitors,” he said. “Our challenges are being an entrepreneurial-based company in a segment of a business actively dominated by much larger conglomerates [like Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Holloway].
“We have to really try to outwork them and create a different mousetrap, if you will, and come out with innovative products, like framed chenille, that are out of other people’s wheelhouse. That product resonates with a lot of small schools that don’t have enough traction to start a jacket program but want to give their athletes something of consequence.”
In addition to collegiate and high school award apparel, Maverick also services corporate organizations and occasionally, professional sports teams.
“Several years ago Mark Cuban bought jackets for everybody on the Mavs, which was probably one of the coolest experiences we’ve ever had,” Giddens said. “They even bought jackets for the sportscasters, and we embroidered the names of all the recipients.”
And for the past eight years, Maverick has manufactured custom jackets for the National Football College Hall of Fame, which inducts between 12 and 15 people every year.
“I give them 100 percent endorsement for their excellent work,” Veytia said. “The prices are reasonable and I believe in this world you get what you pay for, and we get more than what we pay for in my opinion.”
For information, visit maverickjackets.com or call 469-374-9000.