Why BRUCE BOLT Switched Fulfilment Providers to ShipBob for DTC & B2B Retail Growth [Case Study]

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Learn how baseball gear provider, BRUCE BOLT, utilises ShipBob as a fulfilment partner in order to scale their quickly growing brand. 

Customer Profile

As an experienced baseball player, Bear Mayer created an innovative batting glove that better fit players’ hands, while providing extra support to the wrist and eliminating the need to manually wrap them. This led Bear to create BRUCE BOLT, a company he named after his grandfather and fellow baseball player, Bruce, who’d been struck by lightning – twice. In addition to batting gloves, BRUCE BOLT offers baseball and softball gear like pants, bats, protective gear, and more.

Key metrics

  • 25,000 shipments per month on average
  • 150+ retail stores by EOY
  • 8 employees on the BRUCE BOLT team 
  • 16 year-old-founder 
  • 30 MLB and 150 MiLB players use BRUCE BOLT gloves

About BRUCE BOLT

In 2017, 16-year-old Bear Mayer had just bought his first car and needed gas money. Bear’s dad, Gard, gave him two options: get a job or start a business. Bear opted for the latter. 

Gard, an entrepreneur, advised Bear to develop a product that people needed. Being a high school baseball player, Bear thought about what could help him on the field. Because he played various positions, Bear found it time-consuming to wrap and unwrap his wrists when he went from being on the pitcher’s mound to up to bat.

This inspired him to develop a batting glove with a long cuff that would give athletes extra support, making it feel like they had taped their wrists even though they hadn’t. In addition to a strap system that provided extra support, the gloves were made with premium leather that were more comfortable and lasted longer. 

Between the high quality and first-of-its-kind design, Bear’s idea set his company up for success. The brand quickly took off, attracting attention from not only youth and high school players, but from minor and major league athletes. 

Currently, 30 MLB and over 150 minor league players use BRUCE BOLT batting gloves. And because many of those minor league players were high school players, much like Bear, when the brand was just getting started, in several years those players will be headed to the majors. 

As a small team, BRUCE BOLT is up for the challenge that comes with the growth. But they needed a fulfilment partner that could not only help guide them through the unique challenges that come with scaling, but enable further growth. 

We spoke with Courtney Trevino,  BRUCE BOLT’s VP of Finance & Ops, to learn how the brand outsourced fulfilment to ShipBob to continue their path of exponential growth. 

Switching fulfilment partners to one that offered scalable, white-glove support 

As told to ShipBob by Courtney Trevino, VP of Finance & Ops at BRUCE BOLT. 

As a family-run business, BRUCE BOLT initially started fulfilling their own orders. In 2019, Bear and Gard were running the business out of their home, where order fulfilment took place. As the brand started growing, I joined the team as  BRUCE BOLT’s first employee. Our order volume started to take off, so we began utilising a small, regional 3PL here in Austin, Texas. That company was acquired by a larger fulfilment company last year. 

While we loved the people at our former 3PL, it was going through big changes at the corporate level that impacted our experience. Simultaneously, we were hitting a period of tremendous growth while the 3PL was trying to navigate their internal changes. It was bad timing and ultimately, we decided to make a change.

We knew we needed coaching and support from a new fulfilment partner that could scale with us. The core of our business is Bear, Gard, and me, and none of us had navigated this before. We knew the trajectory of growth that  BRUCE BOLT was on –  that our catalogue was already large and growing, that we had a robust B2B business, and that our sales were going to double or triple year-over-year for the next several years. Not all fulfilment partners can take that on. 

We talked to a handful of technology-led logistics solutions before ShipBob was on our radar. I was scrolling through LinkedIn one day, and the universe knowing I was searching for a fulfilment provider, I got a post saying “Need a Fulfilment Partner?” from ShipBob. I thought, sure, I’ll bite. And several months later, here we are. I’m so glad it happened that way. 

Physically going to one of ShipBob’s fulfilment centres in Texas was what really sealed the deal for us. We’d spent a lot of time in our previous 3PL’s warehouse, and we’d seen firsthand how much of a mess it was from a cleanliness and process standpoint. So after seeing ShipBob’s facility and all of the technology they’re using and how fast orders are processed, we knew we’d be in good hands. 

“We weren’t looking for the cheapest option, we were looking for the partner that was going to help us scale and would give us a white-glove customer experience because we knew we needed it. Not being able to get in touch with someone when a pro player needed gloves overnighted just wasn’t an option for us. ShipBob has been able to provide that for us.” 

Courtney Trevino, VP of Finance & Ops at BRUCE BOLT

Deciding against opening our own warehouse

With the amount of orders we do, people often ask us “Why don’t you set up your own warehouse?” We definitely thought about it. We vetted buildings that would be big enough and people we thought could run the program. But at the end of the day, I knew it would be up to me to manage it, and that wasn’t something I wanted to take on. 

“Fulfilment is a business within a business. We decided we wanted to bring on a partner that could do it for us. There hasn’t been a day where I wished we made the decision to run our own warehouse. In fact, every day I think, ‘I’m so glad we partnered with ShipBob when we did.'”

Courtney Trevino, VP of Finance & Ops at BRUCE BOLT

I believe that the people you work with are a reflection of the product itself, and that’s been the experience we’ve had with ShipBob. The support we get from Carmen, our Merchant Success Manager, is wonderful. She’s been a big reason why we’ve had so much success with ShipBob. 

Our Implementation Specialist, Jordan, also did an excellent job. We knew we wanted support through the fulfilment process, and we got that from the beginning. Jordan held our hand the whole way. Everyone we’ve worked with – from Aaron, our Account Executive, to Jordan, to Carmen – has been excellent. 

We’re really happy we made the change when we did because of the significant growth we’ve experienced in numerous areas of the business. 

Reclaiming time previously spent managing our old 3PL for more strategic initiatives  

Making the move to ShipBob has freed up so much of my time. Previously, I was using so much of my time managing our old fulfilment centre, but ShipBob has allowed me to start growing and spending more time in other segments of the business. 

The trust I have in ShipBob’s capabilities and processes has been a huge game changer in how I manage my workload. As a result, our organisation has been able to plan and execute better on campaigns, launches, and peak seasonality periods.

I’m heavily involved in getting our other sales channels up and running for next year. That could be a multi-million dollar endeavor for us. I’m able to spend a lot more time thinking strategically about the business now that I’m worrying less about fulfilment. I can dive deeper into what new marketing initiatives can we explore and what other audiences can we reach.

The  BRUCE BOLT customer community is really strong, so that’s something I now have the chance to dig into. In our post-purchase survey, the number one way people report hearing about our brand is “word of mouth.” That is pretty uncommon for a DTC ecommerce brand. The cult-like following we have with our customers is really important for us. We’re working on nurturing that more. 

Scaling B2B relationships with a reliable EDI-compliant fulfilment partner 

We have relationships with multiple sports and baseball retailers. By the end of this year, you’ll be able to find BRUCE BOLT products in almost 150 retail stores.

A core team, including myself, oversee our relationship with Dick’s Sporting Goods, which is our largest account. We have taken a “crawl, walk, run” approach with them as we expand in terms of store count throughout this year, which has proven to be very beneficial for both them and us. 

We’re now looking into ways of growing our audience and strategically expanding our catalogue with Dick’s while staying true to our overall retail strategy as it relates to the rest of the company.

“Our fast-paced, quickly growing retail relationship with Dick’s is not something we would have been confident about if we were still with our old fulfilment provider. We wouldn’t have said yes to this growth with Dick’s without the support and capabilities we’ve gotten from ShipBob. The ability to connect with Dick’s via EDI for seamless retail distribution with ShipBob fulfilling these orders has been instrumental for making this a success.” 

Courtney Trevino, VP of Finance & Ops at BRUCE BOLT

With our previous 3PL, it was a pretty common occurrence for us to have to reach out and ask them why they’d had a B2B order for 3 weeks and it still hadn’t gone out. The way our manufacturer prepares the cartons, ShipBob doesn’t even need to pick and pack B2B orders – it just needs to be labelled and then it’s ready to send out. ShipBob seamlessly manages those orders and gets them out in 4 days. Our retail partners are significantly happier since we’ve made the change to ShipBob.

The ‘problems’ we have now aren’t really problems – they’re growing pains. For example, I’d never had to send a retailer an LTL load before, but now that’s a common occurrence. We’ve experienced some kinks but we worked through them.  BRUCE BOLT has 4,000 SKUs, so of course there were going to be bumps in the road with that many products, but we got them sorted out. Now our fulfilment operation is running pretty flawlessly.  

The technology that ShipBob has, like bulk uploads and their advanced reporting, is how we know we’re with the right partner. ShipBob’s ability to meet SLAs, whether it’s receiving our inventory or getting a B2B order out, is incredible. At the end of every week, I look at the report of how many orders ShipBob sends out with Bear and Gard and we’re always amazed. 

The #1 rule at BRUCE BOLT is to be kind. Being kind to our partners is part of the rule, and something we have led with in our relationship with ShipBob, and we’ve gotten it in return. ShipBob saw the potential in BRUCE BOLT. We know it is going to be a long-term, fruitful relationship.

Things are going to get really cool and even better than they are right now. We have some exciting plans for our products and where the company is headed in the next couple years.

We’re really glad we have ShipBob as a partner as we navigate these big changes. 

BRUCE BOLT’s team at ShipBob

Aaron Hodes

Aaron is the Enterprise Account Executive who connected with BRUCE BOLT and brought them into the ShipBob system.

Jordan Thomas

Jordan is the Implementation Consultant who helped BRUCE BOLT get onboarded with ShipBob.

Carmen Primus

Carmen is a Merchant Success Manager at ShipBob and provides support to BRUCE BOLT and other brands.

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Written By:

Meredith is a Content Marketing Specialist at ShipBob, where she writes articles, eGuides, and other resources to help growing ecommerce businesses master their logistics and fulfillment.

Read all posts written by Meredith Flora