No business like shoe business

"It's nice to be able to come back to your hometown, and Schenectady is going through a huge rebuild," said Mann. "Metroplex, who we rent this building from, has been a big part of that rebuild."

The company has a family feel to it. Mann's mother works as a receptionist, and his three children " two sons and a daughter " help out when they're not in school.

"They're always in here helping with cleaning or maybe boxing the shoes during our busy season (January through March)," he said.

Mann's goal was to develop a line of shoes specific to a baseball player's individual needs, such as the position they play in the field and what type of surface (artificial or natural turf) they play on. He also wanted to create shoes that were lightweight and ready to be used out of the box.

"The nice thing about them is that you don't have to break them in," Mann said.

Having worked for Nike and having played amateur baseball himself, Mann knew that a shoe created by a company specifically geared toward baseball would have an advantage over one created by a company that makes shoes for a variety of sports.

"I wasn't in the marketing (of the shoes), but it's all stuff that you learn by osmosis and just listening," Mann said. "Nike is the best company to learn from."

Mann isn't solely focused on outfitting professional baseball players, either. His company has developed baseball shoes for amateur players ranging in age from Little League through the collegiate ranks. 3N2 also outfitted the 2004 United States women's baseball team that played in the world championships, members of the Long Haul Bombers traveling softball team and the 2003 Russian team that played in the Little League World Series. More recently, 3N2 was the official shoe company for the Sony PlayStation All-American high school baseball game in New Mexico.

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