NHL Supplier: Pro Net Sports
Location: Mississauga, Ont.
No. of employees: 6
Bob Rae began stringing hockey nets in the 1950s to sell in his Scarborough, Ont., sporting goods store. Having worked as a fisherman in Scotland, Rae (no relation to the politician) knew his way around ropes, and his nets were of exceptional quality, good enough to land a marquee client: the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Rae and his son Gary continued to make them by hand in the basement until the late 1990s, when Gary’s wife, Christine, suggested they turn the part-time vocation into a full-time enterprise. She packed up samples and worked her way down the NHL roster. “I used to deliver them myself,” she says.
Today, Pro Net supplies all 30 NHL teams (a single net costs $1,300 to $2,000), with Rae personally making sure her clients get exactly what they need, when they need it. She recalls a drive by Nashville Predator sniper Shea Weber at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics that passed through the webbing. “It was quarter to 10 at night, and my phone started ringing,” she says.
In fact, the advent of high-definition broadcasts and in-net cameras has upped the ante for Pro Net. All the details—from grommets to stains—are visible, which means Pro Net has had to be more attentive to small imperfections. “I don’t watch the game anymore,” Rae says. “I watch the net.”
MORE ABOUT HOCKEY:
- Interview: Team Canada captain Hayley Wickenheiser on how to lead by example
- Tricks of the trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Zamboni driver
- Gary Bettman is the most hated man in hockey
- There’s an amazing new way to value hockey players, but the NHL isn’t buying
- Canadians pay much more than Americans for hockey tickets