Come ready: Pat Cavanaugh shapes Crons around his own story

The story of CEO Pat Cavanaugh and his company Crons — Come Ready Or Never Start™ — is hard to separate.

“My whole life, people told me I was too small, too short, couldn’t play divisional sports, couldn’t play professionally and would never be successful in business,” he says.

Cavanaugh proved them wrong.

He walked onto the University of Pittsburgh basketball team, earned a scholarship and became team captain.

The promotional products company, Cavanaugh Marketing Network, began in his college apartment and grew into an Inc. 500 company ranked in the top 1 percent of its industry.

And most recently, through the Crons brand, he founded and developed an athletic apparel line, a motivational goal-setting program and propriety nutritional bars for adults and children under Come Ready Nutrition. All three are linked to the pillars of the brand — goal setting, nutrition and exercise — that ultimately help athletes prepare to compete.

Once again, it was Cavanaugh’s can-do attitude and passion that enabled him to overcome hurdles and expand the company’s sales across the U.S. and beyond.


Gauging barriers

Building a brand is never without obstacles.

“I heard a great quote a few weeks ago, ‘Any time you’re building something, it’s messy,’” Cavanaugh says. “I think that’s very true, you know, whether you’re building a house or building a brand.”

With his athletic clothing line, which places motivational messages inside or upside down for the wearer, there are major players in the market.
Cavanaugh says key accounts were given ultimatums by other clothing companies, who felt their own market share was being threatened.

“If you continue to wear [Crons], this product that we give you at no charge is going to go away,” Cavanaugh says.

In other situations, factories put Crons orders on hold because larger brands took over the production time.

In nutrition, plenty of small to midsized competition makes it hard to differentiate.

Finally, educational cutbacks changed the customer base. The onus, in particular for his goal-setting program, moved over to booster groups and parents.

Cavanaugh says every day he and his employees continue to find strategies to overcome these kind of challenges by remembering the meaning behind the Crons brand. In fact, today they don’t emphasize “Come Ready Or Never Start,” its just “Come Ready.”