As the year closes, SGB Media remembers the active lifestyle industry business leaders who passed in 2023 and once again acknowledges their contributions to the market.

Al Andrews
Co-Founder and Chairman, Tasc Performance

In 2010, with his son, Andrews founded Tasc Performance, the activewear brand based in New Orleans. Before that, he had been an executive working at multiple apparel firms, including Nautica, and, in 1996, founded Andrews Sport, also based in New Orleans. Tasc Performance said, “Al is the patriarch of Tasc and a pillar of our company values—his passion for retail, competitive spirit, team camaraderie, and genuine care for his family and team will have a lasting impact on Tasc.” 

From his early years as a college basketball star to founding the Tasc brand, Andrews set the tone for consistently working hard to meet his goals, strived to be the best and led by example, while achieving his dreams with his family and the Tasc team.

Ken Block
Co-Founder, DC Shoes

Partnering with designer Damon Way in 1994, Ken Block founded DC Shoes, one of the earliest footwear brands focused on skateboarding. In 2004, Quiksilver acquired the company for $88 million, and Block became a well-known name in motorsports. Five years after driving a rally car, he was a five-time X Games medalist in RallyCross. The American Rally Association called Block “a massive influence on everything he touched, including the global world of rallying.”

Norm Cavallaro
Founder and CEO, North Cove Outfitters

Cavallaro, with G. Edward Carney, in 1988 founded North Cove Outfitters in Old Saybrook, CT. The store became a destination shop for paddlers, a traveling outdoor film festival promoter and a nationally recognized retailer encouraging people to take up canoeing and kayaking until it closed in 2012. Cavallaro was an OIA Board member and brand ambassador for Swarovski Optik, reflecting his passion for birding.

Jim Chick
President and CEO, Chick’s Sporting Goods

Chick’s father, Jim Sr., opened the first Chick’s Sporting Goods store in 1949. It was purchased by Jim Jr.’s grandparents, Ralph and Hazel Chambers, as an investment in their grandson’s future. Jim Chick, Jr. worked at the store during high school for 30 hours a week while a full-time business student at Cal Poly Pomona University. 

In 1968, at age 21, Chick purchased the company from his grandparents, and, in 1976, he moved the store into an old 22,000-square-foot grocery store while most of his competitors were in spaces between 2,000 and 5,000 square feet. The move kicked off the transformation of Chick’s Sporting Goods, based in Covina, CA, from one small-town store with $180,000 in annual sales to 16 stores and $90 million in sales. The company also impacted communities by donating $10,000 per store to local schools and sports-related youth organizations. 

Chick’s was honored by the active outdoor industry with the Sporting Goods Dealer Leadership Award in 1988, the Licensed Products Retailer of the Year in 1995 and the Retail Merchandising Trendsetter of the Year runner-up in 2001. 

In 2007, Dick’s Sporting Goods acquired the business, and Jim Chick retired. Chick also served as Board Chair of the NSGA and was inducted into the NSGA Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame in 2004.

“Mr. Chick exemplified the best attributes of our industry,” said NSGA President and CEO Matt Carlson. “He led a family business in Chick’s Sporting Goods to tremendous growth, and he made sure the company gave back to the people in the communities where they were located.” 

Phil Dickinson
Lululemon’s SVP and Global Creative Director 

A 15-year Nike veteran, Dickinson spearheaded Nike’s 2007 push into soccer as global creative director of football (soccer) from 2017 to 2010. He was also the global creative director of Nike Sportswear from 2010 to 2011 and then led the turnaround of the Umbro brand in 2011 as VP and Umbro’s creative director at Nike. 

In 2013, Dickinson founded the London-based design agency Some Ideas, with clients including Adidas, Rapha, Diadora, Woolmark, and Richard James Savile Row. He joined the UK-based apparel brand Superdry as creative director before joining Lululemon in 2022 in a similar role. 

In his last role at Lululemon, Dickinson was responsible for shaping the brand’s global creative strategy and roadmap for product design. Calvin McDonald, CEO of Lululemon, said, “Phil was a visionary and inspiring leader who will be remembered for his positive impact on his teams and the company.”

Mort Finkelstein
Co-Founder, MC Sports

Finkelstein’s family opened Michigan Clothiers, a men’s clothing store in Grand Rapids, MI, in 1946. Jack and Genevieve Finkelstein founded the store, which their three sons, Ed, Raleigh and Mort, took over and ran. The retailer transitioned to government surplus goods until Mort and his brothers switched their focus from clothing to sports equipment, footwear and apparel, changing the store’s name to MC Sports in 1961.

After the Finklestein brothers grew the company to 21 stores, it became a subsidiary of Pacific Enterprises, a holding company that, during the early 1990s, also held interests in Big 5 Sporting Goods in California and Gart Bros. in Colorado. In 1996, former CEO Jim Minton led a young management team in a leveraged buyout, returning ownership to local management and a few investors. MC Sports filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and closed.

Mort Finkelstein remained part of the sporting goods industry as a sales agent and consultant for Riddell, a financial backer for Gear 2000 and the owner of Shoeless Joe’s baseball and softball gloves. He was an influential member of the NBS buying group.

Dave Hollander
Co-Founder, Ocean Pacific

In 1980, Hollander, along with his business partners Phil Becker and Steve Mangiagli, bought out the Rick Surfboard factory, expanded the operation, and opened the first Becker Surfboards shop on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach. Becker Surf now has six stores in Southern California and a sizeable online operation. In 2000, “Transworld Surf” named Hollander one of the surf industry’s seven most influential people. Billabong acquired the business in 2010.

Becker Surf attorney and long-time friend Kent Burton told Hermosa Beach’s Easy Reader & Peninsula Magazine, “Dave would tell you he wasn’t a gifted athlete. But he knew how to get priority. So he always got more waves than anyone else. He was the same in business. Dave could see what was coming before everyone else.”

Will Howard
Founder, Dragon Alliance

Will Howard, an early Oakley employee, founded the Dragon Alliance performance eyewear brand in his garage in 1993, aiming to build a company that encompassed his passions for surfing, snowboarding, and riding dirt bikes.

Dragon Alliance said on its website, “Will’s love for sea, snow and land was as impassioned a pursuit as chasing swells, shredding powder and ripping dirt. His niche expertise and exceptional craftsmanship quickly captured attention in small surfer communities. Soon, Dragon’s popularity and distribution expanded from Florida to Hawaii, reaching as far as Australia and Europe. Its technical design and rider-inspired styles have propelled Dragon to become much more than the leading eyewear and accessories brand in the active lifestyle market. Dragon symbolizes a quest for pushing our own boundaries while keeping the impact our adventures have on land and sea in sight.”

Jim Jenks
Founder, Ocean Pacific

Ocean Pacific (O.P.) began as a surfboard brand founded by John Smith in the 1960s and sold to Don Hansen of Hansen’s Surf Shop. Around that time, Jenks, who worked as a shop rep, was looking to launch a clothing line that met the demands of surfers in and out of the water. In 1972, he received the Ocean Pacific name from Hansen and O.P. was born.

The O.P. brand dominated the surf category in the 1970s and 1980s, “fusing sports, music, art, and fashion with beach culture,” and is considered the first company to translate the West Coast culture into a lifestyle brand, the Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach, CA said in its recognition of Jenks as a “Surf Culture” inductee in 2017.

Jenks retired eight years after he launched the brand due to its immediate success and set out to cruise the world on his 90-foot yacht; however, when O.P. president Larry Ornitz died in 1988, he returned to run the company.

“O.P. invented the big marketing and broad distribution of surfing and apparel,” Ian Cairns, an early-era championship surfer, told The Orange County Register. “O.P. just took that surf marketing thing and made it big. Ocean Pacific was all about California, surf, and the beach lifestyle. It’s pretty incredible.”

Willi Klein
Founder and Owner, Willis Ski and Snowboard Shops 

Born in Kufstein, Austria, Klein opened his first Willi’s Ski Shop in 1970 in Castle Shannon, PA, one of America’s largest ski and snowboard shops, winning three times the best ski shop in the U.S.  Klein changed the name to Willi’s Ski and Snowboard Shops and influenced thousands of skiers, snowboarders, and his wife Linda. He never lost touch with his Austrian roots.

Stanley Kravetz
Footwear Industry Executive

After serving as a medic during the Korean War, Kravetz began his career in footwear, first as a traveling salesman for Gold Seal Rubber, the boot brand now known as Sporto. He then worked in retail, leading a division of Boston Camping, a sporting goods chain under the ownership of the Fireman family, paving the way for Kravetz to run several companies including, but not limited to, Timberland, The Rockport Shoe Company, The Frye Boot Company, Geox USA, and Thorlo as well as serving on the boards of Rocky Shoes and Boots and Clark’s of England.

“Stanley’s unwavering tenacity, vivacious energy and innate strength remain an inspiration to us all,” the Kravetz family said in his obituary. “An exemplary marketer, an empowering mentor and a globally acclaimed salesperson, Stanley’s professional accomplishments were vast and impressive. However, his most treasured role was that of a family man—a title he cherished above all else.”

Laurie McCartney
President, NASM And AFAA

Since 2016, McCartney served as president of Fitness and Wellness at Ascend Learning, which owns the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and Club Connect, all of which she led. During her tenure, the company bought Club Connect and PTontheNet.

“Powered by Laurie’s innovative and creative business strategies, these brands have significantly expanded on their mission to prepare today’s fitness and wellness professionals for successful careers,” said Ascend Learning.

Charlie McCormick
Founder and Owner, City Bikes 

McCormick started his first bike shop in 1987 in the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington, D.C., focused on commuter bikes and repairs, and led the store for over thirty years. He was also instrumental in launching the Capital’s Bike To Work Day ride and was a board member of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

In a blog post, City Bikes posted, “The staff of City Bikes are devastated by the loss. Charlie touched so many lives in a positive way.”

Augie Nieto
Co-Founder, Life Fitness

Nieto bought the marketing rights to the Lifecycle exercise bike in 1977 at age 19, and three years later, he co-founded Lifecycle, Inc., now Life Fitness. During the next 20 years, Life Fitness grew under his leadership into the world’s largest commercial fitness equipment manufacturer. Nieto also served as chairman of Octane Fitness, a manufacturer of ellipticals, fitness rowers and fitness bikes. 

Nieto was an operating advisor with North Castle Partners, a Connecticut-based private equity investor focusing on building companies that advance healthy, active and sustainable living. Nieto was a 2008 NSGA Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame inductee. 

In 2005, Nieto was diagnosed with ALS. He was the Chairman and Co-founder of Augie’s Quest to Cure ALS and the chairman of the ALS Therapy Development Institute.

Bill Parks
Founder, Northwest River Supplies

In 1972, Parks took $2,000 of his savings, stocked an inventory of gear in his garage and started Northwest River Supplies (NRS), based in Moscow, ID. After founding NRS, he joined the faculty at the University of Idaho in the College of Business and Economics. He continued to build NRS while teaching, often hiring his students to assist customers, help out in the warehouse and fulfill orders. 

NRS grew to become a multi-million-dollar international company, and, in 2013, Parks sold the company to his employees. In later years, Parks remained involved in the business and continued to carry out his longstanding tradition of having lunch with every new employee.

NRS said, “Bill was known as a businessman, river runner and educator, but he was foremost a humanitarian. He leaves behind a 50-year legacy of serving customers and community, people and the planet, steadfast in his belief that business can be a force for good in the world.”

Dan Pearson
Owner, PleasureLand RV Centers

PleasureLand was founded in 1971 as part of Plaza Buick, owned by Pearson’s father, Vern. He started working at the dealership when he was 11 years old and took over the dealership in 1982 with 20 employees. Today, the company is one of the largest RV dealership groups in the Upper Midwest, with locations in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Pearson served as Board Chair of the RVDA from 1993 to 1994, was a member of the RVDA Board of Delegates, Vice Chairman of the Mike Molino RV Learning Center, and Co-Chair of the Go RVing Coalition. Pearson received the Entrepreneurial Success Award from the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce in 2018.

“Dan was a pillar of both the RV industry and RVDA,” said RVDA President Phil Ingrassia. “He was active in every facet of our association’s work over the past four decades. Dan was a passionate advocate for dealers at the state and federal level, supported continuing education for dealership employees, and a champion of market expansion efforts that helped lead the industry to unprecedented growth.”

Robert Tucker
Founder, Shoe Show

While in high school and on the track team, Tucker took a job at Baucom’s Shoe Store in Concord, NC, in his senior year, marking his entry into footwear retailing. In 1960, Tucker opened the first Shoe Show with his wife in downtown Kannapolis, NC. The business expanded into a national chain with more than 1,100 stores across 47 states with banners including Shoe Show, Shoe Dept., Shoe Show Mega, Shoe Dept. Encore, Shoebilee, and Burlington Shoes. Lisa Tucker, the couple’s daughter, now leads the business as president and CEO.

Hubert Vogelsinger
Soccer Camps Pioneer 

In 1965, Vogelsinger founded the Vogelsinger Soccer Academy, one of the first soccer camps in the U.S. Vogelsinger was also a coach in the original North American Soccer League (NASL), starting with the Boston Minutemen in 1974. He later led Team Hawaii and the San Diego Sockers.

“Hubert Vogelsinger truly left his mark on soccer in the U.S.,” said Brendan Doyle, executive vice president for U.S. Sports Camps, the licensed provider of Nike Sports Camps. “U.S. Sports Camps is proud to continue his legacy through the Nike Vogelsinger Soccer Camps, which will have 1,000 players in camps this summer close to 60 years after the first Vogelsinger Soccer Camps.”

Louis Welch
Co-Founder, LA Fitness

Welch co-founded L.A. Fitness in Southern California with Chinyol Yi in 1984. Under their leadership, L.A. Fitness became one of the country’s largest fitness club chains, with over 700 locations and four brands across the U.S. and Canada.

Fitness International, LLC, the parent company of L.A. Fitness, said, “As a driving force behind the L.A. Fitness signature design model and the company’s commitment to enhancing the physical and emotional well-being of its members in each community it serves, Louis’ almost 40 years of passionate dedication to Fitness International, LLC, has shaped it into the industry leader it is today.”