In the small town of Winnsboro, where the population is around 3,500 people, the employees at Team Worldwide are excited to support their favorite winter athletes by doing the job they love.
The company is like travel agent for cargo and it was started in 1979 — so they’ve been around a while.
“Can I say that the men all lose their hair and the women gain weight?,” said employee LaWanda Ray Smelley with a laugh as she pointed to pictures from the company’s early days.
LaWanda has worked at Team Worldwide for 33 years.
“As you can see in the other pictures — a lot of us were a lot younger,” laughed co-owner Bobby Brunson.
Inside their headquarters, it’s easy to find a whole lot of winter sports pride.
“This is one of their helmets that they so nicely gave us,” Smelley said while picking up an autographed helmet.
It was worn by a luge athlete, they’re the ones who race down a mountain on ice while riding on a sled.
Those sleds get to the races on time, and even before the athletes, because of Team Worldwide. The company is the official cargo carrier for USA Luge.
“That means we move their equipment from event to event to be on time every time,” Smelley said.
”How much did you know about luge before you got that phone call [from USA Luge inquiring about transport]?” asked NBC 5’s Kristin Dickerson.
“Zero, zero,” said co-owner, and Bobby’s son, Jason Brunson.
“Well, hadn’t really heard of it until we sponsored ‘em,” said Bobby Brunson.
Their sponsorship started 20 years ago, and ever since, Team Worldwide has picked up and delivered equipment anywhere from hotel rooms to the sides of mountains.
“What do you love most about being a supporter of USA Luge?” Dickerson asked Smelley.
“Oh the kids, and we call them kids — they’re not all kids,” Smelley said about the luge athletes. “But they’re fantastic.”
“Everyone likes to help someone,” Bobby Brunson said. “But, if I just wipe the mud off their shoes I feel like, ‘hey I contributed.'”
It’s a special relationship that was solidified after the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. USA Luge won their first medals ever and afterward they came to say ‘thank you’ to Winnsboro.
“The city really rolled out the red carpet if you will,” Jason Brunson said. “We had a parade downtown.”
That’s where they decked out the lugers in all-things Texas.
“The boots, hats, whatever—and just really had a good time celebrating the win with them,” Jason Brunson said.
And they continue to do so with today’s luge athletes.
“It fills your heart, makes your heart feel good,” Bobby Brunson said.
They are celebrating a 20 year partnership with USA Luge, while also fulfilling that old adage, “if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” Bobby Brunson said. “And I haven’t worked yet...a lot of people complain about that,” he said with a laugh.
Team Worldwide has 40 branches in the United States and all of the individual branch owners contribute financially to support USA Luge.