Tom Henderson Backs TESH, Signs 49ers Aldon Smith

Former athlete, Oakland businessman and investor Tom Henderson, who owns the Tribune Tower Building, the Tribune Tavern and CallSocket as well as many other businesses that hire a majority of Oakland residents and minorities, said he was introduced to former professional baseball player Sam Taylor Jr. and his partner Ryan Duke two years ago to consider an innovative “concept-to-product” sports business.

Henderson said he was interested in “Sam’s vision of athletic footwear and apparel. It seemed like a good fit for what we were doing in downtown Oakland.”

Taylor and Henderson formed TESH LLC, a partnership as an investment vehicle to back Taylor’s fresh sports idea. TESH (The Evolution Starts Here) is headquartered in downtown Oakland.


Taylor said, “Henderson’s support gives us an opportunity to take something from nothing to create a footwear and apparel company that will ultimately allow us to give something back to this community.”


Taylor and Duke, who is director of design, are now developing shoes and fashion apparel for the spring and fall of 2015.


They have launched new offices and a large showroom on 17th Street near Telegraph Avenue in downtown Oakland where potential buyers and representatives from around the country can come and view the products.


Taylor said TESH is sold in many sporting goods stores throughout the U.S.


Henderson played on a star-studded UC Berkeley basketball team with Phil Chenier, Charlie Johnson, Ainsley Truitt and Jackie Ridgle. He also knows a little something about safety equipment since he gained notoriety for causing Kareem Abdul Jabbar to wear safety goggles by accidentally poking him in the eye during a game.


Henderson announced that TESH reached out to 49ers lineman Aldon Smithon Smith and signed him as an endorser. They have also signed other professional athletes.


Recognizing that they are tiny players in the huge sports equipment marketplace leaves them undaunted. Henderson said, “Being a small niche player has its advantages.”


“We’re able to be nimble where large manufacturers like a Nike cannot,” he said. “We are able to design and create new types of products using state-of-the-art materials and to take risks with new product lines.”


TESH, though small, is presently creating footwear and apparel for football, basketball and baseball. But Taylor and Duke say, “Our apparel collection could be worn by athletes playing a wide variety of sports requiring high performance and fashion.”


When asked if he wears TESH products, Henderson said, “Absolutely! I wear the athletic shoes, tee-shirts and warm-up gear all the time.”


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