A major manufacturer of popular products related to hunting, shooting and outdoor activities can be found right here in Houston: Evans Sports.
Located just east of US. 63 on South Industrial Drive, the firm employs about 25 people and produces dozens of varieties of wooden ammunition boxes, along with several types of “sports buckets” and racks for guns and fishing rods. The volume of product shipped from the Evans Sports loading dock might come as a surprise to some people; company manager Jeff Gabel said 1,008 ammo boxes are made on a typical work day, and the capacity exists to make up to 1,440 sports buckets.
Those big numbers help support distribution to several large retailers, including Ellett Brothers (Evans’ parent company), Walmart, Academy Sports, Tractor Supply Co. and more.
“We do our best,” Gabel said. “I think the quality is good, our price points are good, and it’s made in the U.S.A. Most of our competition is foreign, and we can custom-make and custom-print things. If you order from China, you’re probably going to be looking at only a couple of choices without the custom option.”
Evans Sports’ original owners sold the business in 1995 to Ellett Brothers LLC, a division of United Sporting Companies of Chapin, S.C., one of the largest shooting and hunting equipment distributors in the country. Gabel, a Solo resident, has been with Evans since 1989 (when it was located next to the bowling alley at U.S. 63 and Highway B) and has been manager since 1998.
In the 1980s, Evans Sports primarily made sports buckets (a combination of cooler and stool made from a unit similar to a 5-gallon paint bucket). The company began making ammunition boxes in the early 1900s, and subsequently moved to its current, larger location.
Now, ammo boxes are Evans’ primary product line. They’re made of eastern white pine obtained from sources in New England states, primarily Maine.
Designs on Evans ammo box fronts range from dozens of stock choices, to custom designs of a buyer’s choice. Custom designs can be made from submitted digital images, and are welcome as long as an order meets the 50-piece minimum.
Gabel said Evans is entering its busy season, as dove hunting season will begin in early September in most parts of the U.S. The firm includes three buildings and about 52,000 square feet of space, much of which is now occupied by finished product.
“Our business is definitely seasonal,” he said. “We spend the first part of the year loading up the warehouse, and then the shipping begins with lots of semi trucks coming and going and it empties out in a hurry. Right now there are thousands of boxes piled up on pallets ready to go, and we’ll be emptying things out quickly over the next few weeks.”
For more information about Evans Sports, or to view a catalog of available products, log onto at www.evanssports.com.
See photos from inside Evans Sports online at www.houstonherald.smugmug.com.