How Reebok-CCM battle-tests hockey jerseys before they hit the ice

Quality control and quick turnaround mean keeping manufacturing close to the action

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Toronto Maple Leafs jersey hanging in the changing room

(Raina + Wilson)

NHL Supplier: Reebok-CCM
Location: Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.
Established: 1899 (CCM)
No. of employees: 380 (in Montreal)

At its plant near Montreal, sports giant Reebok-CCM offers a glimpse of the densely woven global-local process involved in making gear for professional hockey players. A decade ago, Reebok acquired the original Canada Cycle & Motor Company (CCM), as well as hockey brands JOFA and Koho, for US$329 million. The conglomerate subsequently won the rights to supply jerseys and socks to all 30 NHL teams, which each require 80 to 90 jerseys at any given time, the lifespan of which is typically 20 to 25 games, according to Keith Leach, Reebok-CCM’s global market director for the NHL licence.

The jerseys and socks—made from four types of fabric that are designed to breathe and stretch according to the demands of high-performance athletes—are all made in the company’s Saint-Hyacinthe facility, which also supplies the American Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League. The supply chain includes product designers in Massachusetts and fabric suppliers from Quebec, North Carolina and Asia. While minor-league and consumer replica jerseys are made in Asia, Reebok manufactures the NHL gear in Quebec to take advantage of skilled technicians, rapid turnaround and an intensive quality-control process. “Before the fabrics are used,” says Leach, “they are subjected to lab testing for stretch, abrasion and wash testing. These jerseys get heavy usage—the equipment managers are washing them every day.”