It's football heaven: Riddell facility adds another layer to Ohio's reputation as football mecca
NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Ohio is widely known as the birthplace of football.
And everywhere you look around the Heartland state, it is obvious that Ohio is obsessed with the most popular sport in the United States. The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton and the Wilson Football Factory in Ada are just a couple of examples. But there is a place in North Ridgeville just a few miles off of Interstate 71 in Northeast Ohio that is football heaven.
Riddell, the biggest supplier of football helmets and football helmet services, has a 350,000-square-foot build-to-suit facility that is further engraining Ohio as the football mecca of the entire world. Every year, more than one million helmets make their way through the doors for reconditioning making the facility the leading conditioner of athletic equipment in the world. Throw on the shoulder pad and laundry services Riddell provides and the facility becomes the central hub for football all over the nation.
Every single football-playing high school, key Division I NCAA program and National Football League organization has seen some, if not all, of their equipment make its way to North Ridgeville.
"Riddell works with the majority of the football-playing schools and organizations throughout Ohio," said Erin Griffin the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications at Riddell. "Riddell is a proud authorized supplier of helmets to the NFL, as well as the exclusive licensing partner of collectible helmets for the NFL, working with the league and all 32 clubs in both capacities. Riddell is also a proud supplier of protective equipment and services to all elite college programs, including all the Power Five conference schools."
As soon as the final whistle blows on a football team's season, that is when the real season starts at Riddell with truckloads of helmets and shoulder pads making their way to the North Ridgeville facility where Riddell puts each piece of equipment through the ringer. Each helmet is disassembled down to the outer shell where it is then inspected for any faults that compromise the integrity of the helmet and its safety. If it fails, it is bagged, tagged and returned to the team or organization it belongs to with a detailed reason.
The rest are sent through the ringer. They are sanded and prepped for painting before being reassembled and tested. If the padding inside of the helmet needs replacing, it is all done during the process. If it fails during testing, it is returned with a sticker that alerts teams that the helmet should no longer be in circulation.
Once it passes tests, it goes through a final inspection from top to bottom and is sent back to the team. On any given day, helmets from the Oregon Ducks to the Philadephia Eagles and down to Pop Warner teams will make their way through the assembly line.
"As a company, Riddell reconditions more than one million helmets per year as the leading reconditioner of athletic equipment in the world," Griffin said. "Riddell’s North Ridgeville operations serve as its primary production facility and is a combination of office-based, sales, and manufacturing employees that totals approximately 700 people during its peak leading into the football season."
The North Ridgeville plant is also tasked with producing brand-new full-sized on-field helmets as well as collectible, replica helmets for display purposes only. About 800,000 on-field and collectible helmets are produced each year in North Ridgeville and those are distributed to high schools, colleges, professional and youth teams all over the country.