A look back at our history, and where we are today.
If you looked back in time, the Ultra PRO of 70 years ago would be nearly unrecognizable compared to today. Founded in 1952, Rembrandt got its start in manufacturing for the photo industry and went on to become Ultra PRO. While we made our name for our innovation of photo pages, we most notably carved out our place in history with the creation of our 9-pocket polypropylene page for collectible sports trading cards.
In 1989, Rembrandt launched the first polypropylene pages with the claim that they would not yellow and degrade cards and photos like the PVC pages of the past. At the time, nearly all collectible products were stored utilizing PVC-based products and collectors were looking for ways to both store and preserve their treasures.
Entering the trading card game craze in the 90’s with Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon, Ultra PRO had the exciting opportunity to UP our game by not only providing safe card storage solutions, but also playable card protection. It was at a gaming convention where our staff cut up our trusted 9-pocket pages to form individual card sleeves to hand out to collectors who were opening prospectively high-valued cards on-site. We took the idea immediately back to the development team and got to work on individual card protection—thus the Deck Protector® sleeve was born.
With a continued emphasis on collectible cards and the rising interest in collecting and displaying valuable cards, Ultra PRO focused our attention on improving card storage and display options. Down the pipeline came keystone products and features such as the ONE-TOUCH® magnetic holder, diamond corners, displays with UV protection, the first Deck Box®, and most recently our ChromaFusion Technology®.
One of our most noteworthy keystone products is the ONE-TOUCH magnetic holder. We saw a need to make traveling with cards easier, as airport security had a strict list of permitted tools for carry-on luggage.Because a screwdriver was a standard tool in a collector’s kit due to screwdown card displays, we went straight to the drawing board to draft solutions. The ONE-TOUCH magnetic holders were a much needed innovation, allowing collectors the protection they were looking for with the benefit of simplified travel.
Similar to the path of the ONE-TOUCH, ChromaFusion Technology came as a result of a deep need in the Trading Card Game (TCG) community. Wizards of the Coast® was printing tournament legal cards that were double-sided, and players were desperate for fully opaque sleeve options to conceal the identity of cards in their deck. Using a proprietary fusion process, we were able to layer materials to offer full opacity for our solid color Eclipse Deck Protector sleeves. Our ChromaFusion Technology also allowed us to offer the same for our printed art sleeves with the added benefit of improving lamination strength—all while retaining the vibrancy of the artwork.
In 2016, we took a leap to further our presence in the gaming space by establishing our own board game publishing division. Since its inception, our Entertainment Division has been responsible for launching award-winning games such as Burger Academy, Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth, and Ascension Eternal; as well as bringing games published in other languages to an English-speaking North American audience for the first time, including Deranged, CuBirds, and Jurassic Snack. Joining with Stoneblade Studios, we have continued the publication of the ever popular Ascension Deck Building Game and fostered the growth of newer Stoneblade titles such as Shards of Infinity, Sweetlandia, and Ringmaster. Through our acquisition of Playroom Entertainment and Tabletopics, we maintain a diverse catalog of family, party, and strategy board games.
TableTopics "Questions to start Great Conversations" continue to grow in popularity and can be found in independent gift stores including retailers such as Barnes & Noble. This extremely popular gift item is available in themes focusing on Family, Friends, Inspiring Women, Pop Culture, DIY therapy, Teens, and Date Night editions.
While Ultra PRO grew into other collectible spaces, our passion for safe photo storage and creative solutions remained. In addition to traditional photo storage, our Creative Solutions division continues to help preserve cherished memories through an array of polypropylene pocketed pages and albums. In addition to photo storage, this team has developed and maintained a robust folder program supporting educators nationwide to get the supplies they need at affordable prices.
In 2019, in addition to supporting hobby through our global distribution network, we expanded our sales channels by adding a direct-to-consumer online store. The addition of shop.ultrapro.com has allowed our teams to create new product offerings and limited edition collaborations with our partners. Our goal has always been to make collecting accessible to EVERYONE, and this channel serves to connect us to the harder to reach collectors who may not have a locally accessible community or store. We are excited to continue this goal with the launch of our European distribution center, available through shopultrapro.eu.
On the onset of COVID in 2020, a collaboration effort of our Engineering, Manufacturing, and Distribution teams produced face shields and Ultra Sleeves (sleeves for tablet-sized devices). and donated large amounts of these PPE products nationwide to hospitals in hardest hit areas. We also utilized our powerful global manufacturing network to negotiate affordable medical supplies for communities that were struggling to get them.
As we look back on these 70 years, our team at Ultra PRO is honored to be a part of this history and thank every collector, gamer, crafter, and fan for believing in our vision and collectible accessories over the years. Whether you have been with Ultra PRO from your first photo album or are a new collector, we thank you for trusting Ultra PRO and look forward to continuing to grow with you.