Prep Sportswear kicked off in 2003 and appeared either in the Inc. 500 or Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private U.S. companies six years in a row, from 2009- 2014, according to online data from Inc. Magazine. The custom sportswear vendor has achieved 130-percent growth over the past three years, says Mike Jones, Director of Technology, Prep Sportswear.
Prep Sportswear clothes more than 200K US schools including most middle schools and high schools with custom-printed sportswear for their school sports teams. Prep Sportswear maintains a catalog of each school’s logos so that teams can create their own shirt or jersey representing that institution and team using its colors and logo or mascot. “So you can create a jersey and for me it would be for the class of 1986, Lake Washington High School, and you would see that Kangaroo on the back or on the front,” says Jones.
The custom-printed sportswear firm serves local teams not affiliated with schools as well as golf courses, colleges, and religious groups. Each customer gets its own store, and Prep Sportswear now maintains more than 2M stores.
Prep Sportswear: Small Team, Big Technology Play
Prep Sportswear produces its own sports goods and maintains manufacturing and attendant technologies while also serving ties to firms such as Active Network and others that use its API.
“We support retail customers, consumers, and our own plants and equipment. On the technology side, we do that with a very small team of ten people. They cover the e-commerce site, our API, and manufacturing needs,” says Jones.
Prep Sportswear programs its codebase and platform using C# and .NET. It also provides for manufacturing components such as ink and vinyl printers and embroidery hardware. Prep Sportswear manages its supply-chain and its related processes and mechanics. “We do it all in-house despite the fact that it is such a large system with a number of components,” says Jones.
How Prep Propped Up DevOps
When Michael Jones arrived at the company, the CTO was deploying releases directly to production from his laptop. “We didn’t have a DevOps team really until Richard came on board,” says Jones, speaking of his colleague Richard Dominguez, Developer in Operations, Prep Sportswear; “before that we were running in start-up mode, just kind of out of a garage until recently.” Richard describes the technical setting when he came on board.
“A lot of the automation they had was not really automation but little scripts that they ran individually,” says Richard Dominguez, Developer in Operations, Prep Sportswear; “when we released something, we had no idea whether it would break.” At the time, there were few tests on software and there were no external tests at all.
The Arrival of Change
With Richard at hand, Prep Sportswear ultimately adopted TeamCity for CI for deploying to its test and production development stages.
The company also added the Selenium browser-based test suite, coded in Java to run the user-based interactions to determine what the user experience is like. “It checks to see that the page and elements load properly when a user clicks a link,” explains Dominguez.
Richard found Dynatrace installed when he arrived but not in use. He revived it as the main APM for front-end monitoring. “We also use another tool a lot for our internal monitoring of infrastructure on the back-end and that tool is PRTG,” says Dominguez.
DevOps Done Right Brings Cheers from the Sidelines
The combined revenue from all channels last year was about $23M, says Jones. “Since Richard came on, we’ve seen a decrease in time to resolution of more than 50-percent just by having the APM and other tools,” says Jones, with reference to Richard’s revival of Dynatrace and addition of the other aforementioned tools.
Up times have improved by .50-percent as well. “That stems from simply being able to find an issue and resolve it faster. For an e-commerce site where we don’t have any sales people, it’s just the website, that additional up time is very important to us,” says Jones.