In 1920 a family took the risk of bringing craftsmanship and innovation into headwear. It was a bet on a Gatsby to lead them to baseball.
After working for the John Miller Cap Company for 18 years, German immigrant Ehrhardt saw the opportunity to bring his skills to the next level. In 1920 his dreams became reality when he borrowed $ 1000 to start E. Koch Cap Co. With the new name of New Era Cap Co., Ehrhardt's company began producing 60,000 Gatsby-style fashionable caps every year. .
In 1932, the only son of Ehrhardt, Harold, went to work with him in the company. Harold noted that the demand for fashionable hats was diminishing, and with professional baseball growing in popularity, he took the opportunity to launch a new market item: the baseball cap. The first New Era professional baseball cap was produced in 1934 for the home and away uniforms of the Cleveland Indians.
The Second World War represented a moment of difficulty for everyone and New Era was no exception. Tissues were scarce, but the Koch had resources, obtaining colorless fabrics thanks to a variety of innovative tools. In fact, the fabric used to make caps for a multitude of local colleges and for major and minor league baseball teams was actually dyed in the family's washing machine. The adjustable caps with elastic buckles of New Era made their debut in 1940.
In 1950, New Era was the only independent manufacturer of caps to provide hats to the biggest baseball league teams. His impressive list of clients included the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Cincinnati Reds, the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers. In 1953, New Era's precursor founder, Ehrhardt Koch, died at the young age of 68. His legacy of passion, integrity and originality still lives through the brand and shapes the fundamental values of today's company. In 1954, Harold redesigned the New Era tailored hat, giving it a more contemporary look. It was then that the 59FIFTY cap was born.
To better address the growth of the company, New Era opened the doors of its production facility in Derby, New York. This plant would become the exclusive producer of the iconic 59FIFTY cap. In 1961, the company was invited for the first time to the Winter Baseball Meetings. Faced with the opportunity to sell directly to all major and minor league teams, New Era management showed off its capabilities by converting motel rooms into small showrooms for their extensive headwear collection.
In 1972, Harold was named CEO of New Era and his son, David Koch, was named president, 14 years later he started working for the company. In 1976, David's son, Chris Koch, continued the tradition by joining New Era at the Derby facility. In 1974, 20 of the 24 professional teams in Major League Baseball signed with New Era.
Under the vision of David Koch, 1980 turned into a decade of steady growth for the company. Caps for college colleges, AAAs and international baseball championships have seen the addition of a new headwear collection for tennis and golf. During this period there were also special orders, such as the one for the armed forces. In 1982, the entire company was devastated by the death of Harold Koch. David Koch remained the unique leader of New Era, reinforcing his commitment to the company's tradition of innovation. In 1986, the official collection of 59FIFTY hats from New Era was added to the Diamond Collection.
In the early 1990s, the New Era was seen to sign a major agreement that ensured the company's future. Led by David and Chris, who was named president of the company in 1993, New Era has become the exclusive supplier of hats for Major League Baseball. In 1996, New Era had its first contact with fame beyond the sports industry, when the company received a special request from renowned director Spike Lee for a red-colored New York Yankees cap. This episode started a long-standing relationship with Lee, who directed the first New Era commercial in 1997.
The company's globalization efforts continued with the opening of offices in Europe, Japan and Australia over a two-year period. In 2001, Chris Koch was named CEO. After a tough and courageous fight against cancer, David Koch died in 2002. In 2006, the company's headquarters moved back from Derby to Buffalo where it all began 86 years