Long-time National Hockey League Referee Tim Peel remembers the moment he decided to get involved with Verbero Hockey.
While browsing the Internet, he came across a piece about Verbero Owner, CEO & former NHL veteran Andy Sutton, and his interest was piqued immediately.
“I read an article online about Andy and how he had purchased Verbero and was taking it to the next level,” Peel, who called over 1,300 NHL games, recalled. “What I saw a need for, specifically in St. Louis and other regions, too, were the Verbero Online Team Stores.”
Peel and Sutton were colleagues - of sorts - for years, although they were on different sides of the puck during their careers. Peel served as a referee while Sutton performed as a player but the two maintained a respectful friendship on and off the ice. That's why it was easy for Peel to whistle down the retired defender to discuss the opportunity.
It didn’t take long for Peel to be welcomed to the team as a Verbero Representative.
A resident of St. Louis, Peel is heavily involved in the city's minor hockey community at a grassroots level. He coaches clubs alongside former Blues forward Jamal Mayers and also holds referee clinics for youths looking to wear the stripes. Peel began introducing Verbero’s online and on-demand team servicing system to top programs in the area through those connections.
“An association in St. Louis will usually, once or twice a year, get a couple of volunteers sitting in a lobby and filling out forms with the kids having options to buy a sweatshirt or maybe a T-shirt. It’s an antiquated way,” Peel explained.
“I saw a need for the associations in St. Louis to have an Online Team Store, so that the parents, the children, the grandparents and entire family can go there and purchase apparel for their organization. I saw a huge need for that.”
Many St. Louis associations were impressed with Verbero’s operation, prompting Peel and good friend Mayers to host an equipment fitting for the premier minor hockey programs in the city.
That was when the Verbero Fitting Experience was created.
“It was a massive hit,” Peel, who attended the event to assist the minors, said. “This was the first for Jamal and me, and we signed on three organizations. They were all with Warrior or Bauer and now they’re pulling all of their business to be with us.
"If we deliver, everyone will be happy.”
Peel believes the simple approach to team servicing can support the minor hockey scene in St. Louis. The city is considered the ‘Heartland of Hockey’ by many, undergoing evolution since the St. Louis Blues captured the Stanley Cup in 2018.
“Our Learn To Play Program doubled in size because all these kids just got so into the Blues’ playoff run. It wasn’t just great for Blues hockey fans but it was great for our community because it grew the sport here.”
Peel is hoping to continue that growth by welcoming more clubs, programs and organizations to Team Verbero.
“The growth of hockey over the last 10 years has taken off in St. Louis,” he said.