About Us

The Story.

In the late 1990s, Lauren Polstein was playing softball for her 10 and under team in Miami, Florida. While taking pre-game batting practice, a low pitch popped off the top of the bat and hit her in the nose (this was before the ASA mandatory rule that all batters must use a face mask on their helmets). She was bruised but okay. She was a determined little girl and wanted to jump right back into warm-ups, but due to her injury, she was forced to play with a batter's face guard. The problem with her face guard, however, was that it drastically impeded her vision - and, as a result, her game.

Luckily Mike Polstein, Lauren's father, had a background as an engineering contractor. Into the garage he went - with an idea to design and construct a face guard that Lauren could wear during games. He knew it had to protect his daughter's face, have the best possible field of vision, be lightweight and comfortable – and it had to fit any brand of helmet she decided to wear. Mike accomplished his goal, and the end product was a sleek face guard design that offered a drastically increased field of vision. Thanks to her father, Lauren didn't miss a beat on the field. It wasn't long before the other parents started asking Mike to make one for their daughters. He went to work in his garage and produced a few more for Lauren's teammates. During this time, Lauren's brothers Jason Polstein and Matthew Polstein were in college.

Batter's Face Guard
Batter's Face Guard

Our Start.

In 2003, a few years after the creation of the first RIP-IT face guard (then called the Clearview Face Guard), Jason returned to Miami for summer break. While he was home, Jason assisted his father in building face guards for Lauren's teammates. From there, they created a website and started selling them online and locally to small mom-and-pop stores. As they started to grow, they knew they had to maintain their small-business/family persona. They decided on their core values and agreed to always put the customer first. They sold their face guard out of the garage, and would assemble the packaging and hangtags themselves. When 5 o'clock came, the UPS truck would back up to the Polstein's garage to collect the shipments. This went on for some time – and then, one day, they got their first large order. A retailer wanted to order five hundred face guards. It was at this point that the Polsteins realized they had something amazing here.

This large order spurred the decision to attend their first retail buying show. This particular buying show had retailers from throughout the United States and Canada. It was the perfect setting to gauge interest from retailers – and that interest far exceeded the Polsteins' expectations. Their face guard had something no other face guard on the market had, and this benefitted not only the player, but the retailer as well. Besides providing the best field of vision, the Clearview Face Guard was also very lightweight and could fit on almost every softball helmet on the market.

Rapid Growth.

At this time, Matthew Polstein was finishing up law school at the University of Florida. He knew he wanted in on the action, so he decided to head home to help his brother and father grow the business. After some research, they decided to come out with their first fastpitch bat. The Polsteins continued working out of the garage until the company outgrew the space.

Since Jason had just finished his master's degree at the University of Central Florida, they decided to move the company they now called RIP-IT to Central Florida. Jason and Matthew rented a house in Ocoee with a three car garage. They thought that would be enough space to last them awhile, but they soon found themselves with three products (by now they were also producing the Defense Fielder's Mask) and hardly any space to organize them. The garage was stacked high with face guards, the dining room furniture was replaced by bat boxes, and their living room was full of defensive masks. It was clear that RIP-IT had outgrown the "Ocoee house", as Jason and Matthew affectionately called it, and the decision was made to move to a traditional warehouse.

RIP-IT was relocated to a small distribution warehouse that the family figured would be big enough to last them for about two to three years. Almost immediately, however, Jason and Matthew found themselves overwhelmed with work. They had to hire help. Over the next few months, they added a few team members and within the first year, RIP-IT again outgrew its space.

RIP-IT then moved to a larger warehouse - and again, within the first year, needed more space for product and team members. They leased two warehouses next to their current location, as well as the office space across the street. Exponential growth seemed to be a healthy trend in RIP-IT's early stages.

Batter's Faceguard
ABCA 2012

RIP-IT Today.

From the beginning, RIP-IT was founded on the idea of creating high performance baseball and softball equipment, as well as providing exceptional customer service. While RIP-IT has grown many times larger since its birth in the Polstein's garage, it continues to stick to the core values it created back then. The team at RIP-IT is now made up of nearly twenty in-house team members and over thirty support members. With a workplace that feels more like a Silicon Valley startup than a sporting goods office, RIP-IT is constantly researching new ways to improve the athletic experience for baseball and softball players worldwide.