In August 1969, Tighe King was a young, and newly retired Air Force fighter pilot who had flown 158 combat missions in Vietnam. He returned to his hometown of York with his wife, a young child and a plan to work at his parents’ sportswear business, King’s Sportswear, for a year.
Fast forward to today and that business, now known as Perform Group LLC, is celebrating its 45th anniversary and is widely recognized as an international leader in dance and gymnastics wear. The journey from fighter pilot to athletic designer and manufacturer might appear unexpected, but as King said, “Anything and everything I’ve done, I’ve done with a passion. When I joined the business, I wanted to see where I could take it.”
The young father immediately applied his military sense of order, planning and teamwork to grow the business. In 1969, he acquired Curtain Call Costumes (today Curtain Call®), tripling its market in his first full year. Nearly a decade later, he formed a new division of gymnastics apparel called Alpha Factor®. The company was renamed Perform Group LLC in 2006 and began focusing on both mail order and direct sales of specialty performance apparel. The company’s brands now also include Curtain Call for Class® and Aerials by Alpha Factor®.
What has—and will continue to—set Perform Group apart, said King, is a focus on quality, value and customer service. “Anything I said I’d do, I did it,” he said. “If I made a mistake, I corrected it. Both our competitors and our customers know that our approach is grounded in integrity and honesty. That has always been our base and foundation.”
Perform Group was one of the first big manufacturers to bring technology into the manufacturing process, from computerized pattern making and cutting to a high-tech production system. It pioneered the use of spandex in costuming. It also led the way to better customer service management, by installing relationship managers around the country to provide support to dance schools and gyms—anything from locating product samples to ensuring proper fit and sizing for athletes.
Along the way, the apparel manufacturer outfitted the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team on its way to its first-ever gold in the 1996 Atlanta games and the Russian men’s and women’s gymnastics teams in 2012, when they earned silver. The company’s dance costumes have appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, at the Super Bowl and at Kilgore College, worn by the legendary Rangerettes dance team.
Although today not heavily involved in day to day operations as he once was, Tighe is seriously involved in strategic development and assuring the values of the company continue to be retained going into the future. “My biggest motivation has always been to do something better today than yesterday,” he said. “As time goes on, we want to continue to do what we do to the best of our ability.”