The Sperry Tents Story: Developing the world’s finest tent
Sperry Tents is a family-owned company through and through. It began with Steve Sperry, a talented sailmaker who started his career during the ’60s working at Hood Sailmakers under the legendary Ted Hood. In the mid-’70s, Steve struck out on his own, starting Sperry Sails in Marion, Mass., where he and one employee built sails and did custom canvas work for local sailors. During the following years, Sperry Sails’ much-loved, colorful sun logo was seen up and down the coast of New England and the Sperry Sails brand became known and respected among the sailing community.
One upcoming weekend, he was heading to a party and decided to try his hand at making a party tent. He had everything he needed on hand: sailcloth, sewing machines, grommets, nautical line. He even crafted the wooden support poles at his own personal sawmill, where he also milled the lumber to build his house. For an extra flourish, he sewed in a huge version of the Sperry Sails logo, loaded it into his truck, and was off, not knowing that he was unwittingly starting a revolution in the world of event tents.
From that day forward, the “Sperry” tent grew in popularity, with more and more crafted by the sailmakers at Sperry Sails and rented locally throughout Southeastern New England. In the early days, Steve and his crew came up with a variety of different, creative designs, including a ribbon, dragon, landscapes, and the signature navy sailcloth dotted with white stars (our “Blue Star” tent is still widely available today) – all of which served to set the tents apart all the more from the conventional striped canvas and white vinyl tents of that era.
Fast-forward to 1996, when Steve’s sons, Tim and Matt Sperry, returned from circumnavigating the globe on a 41-foot sailboat with three other friends. Tim joined his father’s company and established Sperry Tents as a separate rental entity, while Matt stayed on the Sperry Sails side, working on sails, tents, and directing and enhancing the family’s signature fabric designs.
Today, Tim Sperry is still president of Sperry Tents and helms the original office, Sperry Tents Marion, while advancing the brand’s reach by signing on privately owned and licensed Sperry Tents providers both nationally and internationally. Meanwhile Matt took over from his dad as Sperry Sails president and launched sister company Sperry Fabric Architecture, which manufactures each and every Sperry Tent as well as custom fabric structures for commercial venues and private homes.