APS is the brainchild of Kyle Gross. After getting his feet wet in the sailing community on the St. Mary’s College Sailing team, Kyle recognized the need for a local business that would supply dinghy racers with everything they needed – from foul weather gear to obscure boat parts that seemed impossible to find. In 1991, he did what any young entrepreneur would do – he went to the bank and got a small loan to open a shop. He worked for a boat repair shop at the time, and his boss was a nice guy. He let Kyle borrow his truck and tools to put it all together.
The first collection of hardware was minimal, but the friends were many. The original location (which happens to be 2 blocks from the current location in the Eastport neighborhood of Annapolis, MD) became the venue for Friday night beers in the neighborhood and thus, a local hang out spot for young folks in the industry.
Kyle was quick to realize that the only way his business would grow would be if he had a direct relationship with his vendors. He bought a plane ticket, jumped the pond, and rented a car in England. Driving around, getting lost on off roads, he managed to find and introduce himself to the good old boys who were making equipment and gear for dinghy racers. It didn’t take long for him to realize, there’s a big difference between the US and England. Basically, the US is bigger – and therefore, the sport on this side of the Atlantic was (and still is to some point) justifiably divided regionally. This is what planted the seed for the company expansion into outfitting larger keel boat racing/sailing a number of years later. In the meantime, Kyle decided to start a mail order catalog. It’s well known technology back then was not what is today. He literally had to bribe his friends with beers to be models, take images to a photo shop to be turned into half tones, and cut and paste his catalog together.
That was it. The company has grown steadily ever since. Now, APS has 24 staff members. The vision is realized – APS continues to stock items with your complete needs in mind. For instance, it’s not about just stocking the cleat, APS stocks the cleat, the riser, the wedge, the fairlead, the under-deck mounting kit, and fasteners. It’s not just about stocking the boots. APS stocks the boots, the sock liners, the thermal socks, the gaiters, and the rubber/leather conditioner. Finally, it’s not just about the hardware and the gear. It’s about providing sailors like you with everything you need, including good customer service. 1991 was a good year, and 2011 is going to be even better.
Click here to read an Interview with Kyle Gross, President and Founder of APS.
Located in Annapolis, MD, the self-proclaimed sailing capital of America, we are staffed exclusively by racing sailors and have been relied on by casual racers and the world’s top professionals and Olympians alike. For the one design sailor we have the most extensive offering of one design sailboat equipment for boats like the Optimist, Laser, Sunfish, Club 420, J/22, J/24, Farr 30, and more. Since 1991, APS has been the place to outfit your boat with all of the sailing gear, sailboat hardware, lines and halyards to get you out on the race course.
APS is located at 104 Severn Avenue in Annapolis, MD. We can be reached at 800/729.9767 during normal business hours -- and just to clarify, our normal business hours are 9:00am - 5:00pm Eastern, Monday - Friday. Our Customer Service Center is closed on Saturday and Sunday, but our storefront is open on the weekends from 8:00am - Noon. You can also reach us via e-mail by clicking here.