A fast-growing Roslyn company will share in the excitement of the Super Bowl Sunday as its hand warmers help to keep the digits of some 80,000 fans at MetLife Stadium from freezing.
The hand warmers, produced by The Northwest Co., will be distributed free to fans through a partnership with the NFL. Near-freezing temperatures are expected for the open-air venue in East Rutherford, N.J.
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Northwest makes rugs, sheets, pillows, throws, blankets and other home goods with licensed logos and artwork from professional football, baseball, basketball and entertainment brands, including Disney and Marvel.
With a cold-weather Super Bowl nearly in its backyard, Northwest hired Victoria's Secret model Erin Heatherton and bought billboard displays near the stadium in New Jersey, and near Penn Station and the Lincoln Tunnel in Manhattan to showcase the model with the company's products, said CEO Ross Auerbach.
Auerbach, 51, said the business began in his parents' Roslyn home in 1987, before sports merchandise licensing had become big business, and gradually grew to about 15 employees by 1993.
The next year, however, an order for 30,000 to 60,000 New Zealand wool blankets for a points program run by cigarette-maker Philip Morris surged to about 1 million over two years.
"We obviously did very well," said Auerbach, whose brother, Glenn, is the company's executive vice president. Rather than harvest the profits, the company invested in expansion.
The result: Northwest now has annual sales of more than $125 million and employs 81 people at its Roslyn headquarters on Bryant Avenue, and 71 more at facilities in New York City; Bentonville, Ark.; Ontario, Calif.; Shanghai, China; Ronda and Asheville, N.C.; and elsewhere.
In December, Auerbach said, Northwest bought a second building in Roslyn to create a design center scheduled to open in March. Northwest plans to make 20 additional hires as part of the expansion.