Dennis Grapenthin

Dennis GrapenthinDennis Grapenthin was born in Chicago in the 1940's and raised on the South Side. Dennis attended both grammar and high school in Chicago and later attended Northern Illinois University. Dennis began his career with H.J. Heinz and then worked in sales with Procter & Gamble for 15 years in the coffee business (Folgers). He then began his sporting goods career in 1977 with Wilson Sporting Goods in sales. Dennis was a Midwest sales manager selling all Team Sports, Racket Sports and Golf. In 1981 Dennis was promoted to corporate in the capacity of merchandise manager. In 1984 he as asked to move to marketing for inflated products i.e. Football, Basketball, Soccer, Volleyball. As the sporting goods industry grew, categories grew to a point where specialization was necessary and football became his specialty. For 20 years Wilson has taken a direct approach to growing the football business to a point where Wilson footballs are the number one brand in football. Today Wilson enjoys over 80% market share with two key exclusive endorsements, the National Football League and NCAA. Wilson continues to make leather footballs in their dedicated factory in Ohio.

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“Coach George Smith is not only an influence on young people, but the influence is multiplied many times in the beliefs of the young people he helped mold into amazing human beings. George is an outstanding coach, but more importantly, he is an outstanding gentleman.” —Tina Jones, Principal of St. Thomas Aquinas High School