Center Of Attention

Los Angeles Laker Shaquille O'Neal opens shop in Compton

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Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal is a firm believer in TWISM (“The World is Mine”), his recently created sportswear manufacturing business. So much so, the NBA all-sear has the letters tattooed–along with a picture of a fist clutching a globe–on his arm as a constant reminder of this philosophy. Now Shaq hopes to spread the same message to disadvantaged youth in the Compton, California, area by opening a new 27,000-sq.-ft. production headquartered in Compton.

The TWISM facility houses three divisions: a young men’s apparel collection, a screenprinting facility and integrated marketing services specializing in the corporate promotional produces industry.

But why Compton? “Compton reminds me of a lot of the cities where I grew up,” says O’Neal, who lived in severe cities growing up on army bases down South and overseas. “The negative images of this city are nothing compared to the good things it has to offer. That’s why we’re here.”

Joining O’Neal in the effort is Cyrk Inc., a 25-year-old Massachusetts-based company in the promotional products manufacturing and continuity marketing business. TWISM and Cyrk partnered in 1996 by marketing the sports-wear line to department and specialty stores worldwide. They also plan to develop, design and manufacture specialized produces for outside clients.

Currently, TWISM Inc. produces more than 11,000 units of merchandise per day for major advertisers like Pepsi, OP, Joe Boxer and Fila. The company, which grossed over $5 million in sales in 1997, employs 30 residences directly from the Compton community and has employment training, scholarship and funding programs in place to benefit young people through various organizations. Another 40 workers are employed by TWISM in Los Angeles and New York.

“We have the capacity at this Compton plane to do difficult and precise things, such as high-density rubberized printing,” says Jeffrey Tweedy, TWISM executive vice president and former vice president of Karl Kani Infinity. “We’ve built a world-class facility in Compton and we plan to be here for a long, long time.”