EUGENE — The University of Oregon plans to deal with just a single manufacturer for Ducks apparel rather than dozens — a move that has in-state companies worried about being cut out of the business.
The university is following the lead of other large universities such as Ohio State, Texas and Oklahoma to use a single manufacturer for consistency and to maximize revenue.
A number of Oregon apparel makers said they aren’t large enough to guarantee the $500,000 a year in royalties from apparel sales sought by the university.
The school, however, has added a provision allowing companies that can’t meet the royalty threshold to submit proposals saying how they could contribute to the manufacture of apparel — leaving open the possibility of doing subcontracting for a larger manufacturer.
Records at the university’s merchandising office show more than 70 apparel licensees were issued in 2012, but only one Oregon firm — Springfield-based McKenzie SewOn — exceeded $100,000 in royalty payments.
Rick Lieberson of T-Line Design in Canby said university-related sales make up about 10 percent of his business and he had expected that share to grow. “Nobody in Oregon will be able to do this, so it will have to be out of state,” he said. “I don’t think anyone’s going to bite.”
Matt Dyste, the university’s director of marketing and brand management, said the change has consequences but will benefit the university as well as the people who buy UO apparel.
But Oregon manufacturers said they also fear the move will kill the innovation and quick turnaround expected from local manufacturers, and that retailers will have to choose from a smaller, more expensive pool of products.
“It will cut creativity, originality and a lot of vendors out of our business, and that hurts the Oregon economy,” said retailer Candace Vincent, general manager of Made in Oregon stores.