Towson's 'stick doctor' makes lacrosse a career

Posted at 7:10 PM, Jul 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-21 19:36:06-04

In another life, Greg Kenneally could be in a suit and tie crunching numbers for a large accounting firm. But you'll find him in Towson wearing flip flops and shorts, stringing sticks, engineering mesh and maybe ripping a few shots from the break room. 

He and his twin brother Mike started East Coast Dyes from their parents' basement after graduating college in 2012. 

"Instead of going back and being a busboy, I thought why don't I string some sticks and eventually I got around to inventing this waterproof wax lacrosse mesh in the basement of our house," Greg said. "And for a long time it was just a hobby and then it started to pick up some steam."

Originally, he created a wax coated nylon mesh that repelled moisture, making it easier to string and keeping the pocket in tact, even in wet conditions. The mesh wasn't quite perfect, so the guys replaced the nylon with a different fiber that held better in the heat and cold, while still repelling moisture. 

This "hobby" got so big that Greg had to recruit his brother Mike to help. But it wasn't enough. The demand was so large that the twins brought on their third founding partner, college teammate Ben Landis, and moved the business out of the basement. 

By May of 2013, East Coast Dyes was in a 2,000 square foot facility in Lutherville. And the company's brand had exploded online and around Baltimore. 

Greg's love for lacrosse started at a young age. 

"I started playing lacrosse when I was five," he said. "In the Baltimore area, you're born with a lacrosse stick in your hands."

He played lacrosse at Loyola Blakefield and then at Elizabethtown College. In college he became the team's unofficial stick stringer. 

"In college I was kind of the stick doctor," he said. "There was me and one other kid who strung sticks. I did it because I liked it, it was fun... and then in college it kind of became necessity. A lot of these guys didn't know how to string and we wanted to win, so we needed good pockets and they kind of relied on me to string them up."

When they first started East Coast Dyes, Greg and Mike took to social media to grow their business. Greg posted videos on Instagram and YouTube with stringing tutorials. Now you can see their products on ESPN. 

They partnered with another Baltimore business, Under Armour, which outfits many of the area's colleges including Maryland, Towson, Stevenson, Loyola and Navy. Under Armour takes care of uniforms, sticks and protective gear and East Coast Dyes does the mesh. 

"It's really cool to be able to get together with Under Armour, a local company who we really like and also all these local schools, see our mesh on the field on Saturdays on ESPNU. It's a really cool experience and we're lucky to work with those organizations," Greg said. 

The company continues to grow from Greg's college room. East Coast Dyes now has more than 40 employees from their Towson facility. They remain focused on creating better, more innovative lacrosse products and staying local. 

"We're going to focus on staying small, still trying to build that social connection and that tight connection with fans," Greg said.

East Coast Dyes just partnered with recent college grads Deemer Class, Duke '17 and Ryan Brown, Johns Hopkins '17. Both of whom are from the area, graduating from Loyola and Calvert Hall, respectively. 

When they were first starting out, both Greg and Mike earned their CPAs, intending to pursue accounting careers. They worked at an accounting firm by day, stringing sticks by night. Luckily for them, their lacrosse hobby exploded. 

"My brother and I were both working in the tax world and we liked it, you know as much as a person would like any other job, but to be able to do a sport for a living that I've played since I was five and work here with a lot of close friends," he said. "To wake up and do something that I really love everyday, you know anyone who does that will tell you, you can't beat that."