Net Worth

April 16, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — A five-year-old local company has netted an exclusive agreement with a fledgling women’s professional volleyball league.

Schelde North America recently became the official provider of net systems for the U.S. Professional Volleyball League (USPV), a new four-team league that includes a franchise in Grand Rapids. Schelde is providing the league with game and practice nets.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Bethany Tap, marketing director for Schelde North America, which is located at 4180 44th St. SE. “We’re in it for the long run if it proves to be a viable resource for us.”

The Schelde system makes its local debut on Wednesday when the Grand Rapids Force opens its 18-game home schedule against Chicago at the DeltaPlex Expo and Entertainment Center in Walker. The Force is the city’s entry in the USPV.

Schelde is supplying the league with its International system, which was used in the 1992 and 2000 Olympic volleyball competition.

“We feel that our equipment really is the best in the industry. We’ve only been around for about five years so we’re really trying to get started marketing it properly so that we can put ourselves in the position to be number one,” said Tap. “And we feel that this contract will help us to do that, to get more visibility and help people understand that our stuff really is the best.”

The Schelde system is already being used in colleges, high schools, clubs and on beaches. The firm, an exclusive North American dealer for Belgium-based Schelde International, also offers systems for basketball, tennis and badminton.

“We have five NBA teams using our portable basketball goals. Madison Square Garden just signed on for that. We have thousands of colleges across the country using our stuff. It has been a great business for us,” said Tap.

Schelde North America employs about 15 workers locally. Jim Peterson is president of Schelde North America. Schelde International is a certified ISO 9001 manufacturer.

The International volleyball system that the USPV will use is an updated model of the one used in the Olympics, and Tap told the Business Journal the product has been very good for the company.

“As far as introducing new game equipment, we’re not really looking to go into that now because we’ve been so successful with the volleyball and basketball that we don’t even have enough time to concentrate on that right now,” she said. “Things have been really great.”

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