Two years ago when the Tennessee Titans running back, LenDale White (currently a Denver Bronco) stomped on the iconic Pittsburgh Steeler Terrible Towel, the players and many fans viewed the jester as a sign of disrespect. Eugene Berry visualized the situation as a business opportunity.
|TOWEL A-PLENTY—Owner of Steel City Stomp Towels, Eugene Berry, prepares to deliver towels to one of the stores that sells them. (Photos by Diane Daniels.)
Berry has taken what White meant as a joke and turned it into a business operation. “After the Titans stomped on the towel, I took the meaning to heart and created the Steel City Stomp Towel,” says Berry. “The concept came to mind after my son took his blue wash towel and started tramping on it.” From the actions of an adult, six-year-old Guy has assisted his father in developing the stomp towel concept. Eugene Berry Enterprise LLC was born.
Similar to the Terrible Towel, originated in 1975 by Steelers radio broadcaster, the late Myron Cope, Berry is working toward building the reputation of the Stomp Towel to become a fan symbol used by all 32 National Football League teams.
Pleased with the response the towel has been receiving, Berry says several of the Steelers— LaMar Woodley, Jeff Reed, Ben Roethlisberger and James Farrior—have provided him positive feedback and endorsed the towel. Charlie Batch allowed it to be distributed to participants in his summer camp.
In addition to being able to purchase the towel from the stomp towels website it is sold at the Pittsburgh Fan Store on the North Shore, the Steeler Store on Wood Street and YINZ in the Strip District. Another market has been local bars and lounges throughout Allegheny County.
Often traveling to cities the Steelers play like Cincinnati, Cleveland and Baltimore, other than Pittsburgh, by far Berry says the city he has received the best support from has been Nashville. During the Sept. 19 game, Stomp Towels were sold at the place where he met former Steeler Nate Washington, now a Titan.
Like the Terrible Towel, the Stomp Towel is used for fundraisers and to assist non-profit organizations. He has contributed to Hands on Nashville, an organization that has connected over 17,500 volunteers with needed flood relief projects. He also has worked with the Breast Care Center through the Volunteer Services Department of McGee Women’s Hospital. “The women here really appreciate and like the towel,” said Diane Lacey, a McGee representative.
A Pittsburgh native, but raised in Nashville, Berry is partial to both cities and excited about the opportunities ahead. Aiming to meet Steelers owner Dan Rooney and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, he says their endorsement can enable him to help a lot of people as well as, “Put my stamp on the world.”
At age 28, Berry expressed that some people refuse to take him serious as he designs, markets and distributes his product. “My biggest problem has been finding a reliable printer that can meet my needs,” he points out. “I try to utilize Pittsburgh suppliers and printers, but for some reason they do not provide the best prices or meet deadlines.” To solve the problem, his desire and goal is to own his own equipment. “By owning my own, I not only can control my prices, but I can provide employment for others.”
A single father, Berry relishes the opportunity to work with youth. Like his father he wants to be a good role model to his son and his friends. “I want to empower young people, get them in the mindset that hard work pays off.”
A Homestead resident, Berry is a graduate of McKeesport Senior High School with a business degree from Kaplan Career Institute formerly the ICM School of Business. He has worked for a major financial company and now operates his business on a full time basis.
Not satisfied with operating one business under Eugene Berry Enterprise, within the next few months Berry has plans to operate a video production company which will enable him to provide additional employment as well as a way to work with more non-profit organizations.
In the meantime he says he is in full gear for the remainder of the football season aiming to provide Stomp Towels for the Steelers and the other 31 NFL teams.
Stomp Towels can be ordered from the website; www.stomptowels.com or by calling 412-896-6170.