The Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Committee elected Ira Silberman, retired senior vice president of Diversified Products
from Opelika, AL; and the late Bob Zide, founder of Zide’s Sport Shop
in Marietta, OH to join the 2014 Class of the Hall of Fame.
The inductees will officially be inducted at the 2014 NSGA Management Conference & Team Dealer Summit next April.
“This year’s two inductees embody exactly what members of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame should integrity, values, a will to succeed and an innovative spirit upon which our industry has been built,” said Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Committee Chairman, Bob Dickman (BSN SPORTS). “On behalf of the committee, I’d like to congratulate Ira and Bob’s family on this outstanding accomplishment, and I look forward to officially inducting them next April at the NSGA Management Conference & Team Dealer Summit.”
After next year’s induction, the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame, founded by the National Sporting Goods Association in 1955, will include 159 of the industry’s pioneers and leaders. Silberman and Zide’s family will be honored at the Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony, an event which has regularly been generously sponsored by GE Capital, Mizuno and W.L. Gore, to be held the evening of Tuesday, April 29 at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, Calif.
More about each inductee:
Retired Senior Vice President, Diversified Products
In 1965, Ira J. Silberman was hired by fellow Hall of Fame member Fob James to initiate and lead Diversified Products’ effort to create a multi-product company for in-home use of exercise equipment which he did for the next 27 years before retiring as senior vice president.
Initially a one-man department, Silberman selectively grew his staff into a full Research and Development department while creating more than 200 new products for the company, making it the leader in mass merchandising fitness products for in-home use.
Responsible for the design, engineering and manufacturing standard of every product the company developed and/or manufactured during this period, Silberman is the inventor or co-inventor of more than 35 U.S. and/or foreign patents for exercise and sporting goods equipment. He was also co-inventor of the exercise device that flew on the Apollo 11 moon mission.
During Silberman’s career, Diversified Products’ sales increased from approximately $2 million to more than $280 million by the late 1980s, and the company’s employment grew from less than 30 employees to more than 2,800 in manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. As a board member and senior officer, he was involved in the establishment of the company’s numerous manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and overseas.
In addition, he initiated and staffed the first significant product testing and research facility by a manufacturer of consumer fitness products. At the request of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), he served as the first chairman of SGMA’s Fitness Products Safety Standards Committee and as their first representative on the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Committee for fitness product reliability. As a committee member he helped initiate the first national safety standards for consumer exercise equipment in the United States.
One year after retiring, in 1993, Silberman was asked by then-Alabama Governor Fob James to serve in his cabinet as Director of the Alabama Industrial Development Office. During his four years as Director, Alabama experienced some of its most significant industrial growth.
He has been an active member of Easter Seals Board of Directors at the state or local level for more than 40 years, receiving numerous honors and awards for his service. In addition, he is a past president of both Opelika’s Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the City of Opelika Planning Commission. He has served on advisory boards at both Georgia Tech, where he is an Industrial Design graduate, and Auburn University.
Founder, Zide’s Sports Shop
The late Bob Zide’s choice of a career in sporting goods was influenced early in his life. In high school he played varsity basketball for four years. In the summers, while still working in the family business, he coordinated the local YMCA basketball and softball recreation leagues. After college, while still coordinating the YMCA leagues, he also helped establish local youth baseball leagues and continued to play semi-pro baseball. Upon founding Zide's Sport Shop in 1958, he turned his passion for sports into a lifelong commitment to athletes and their teams.
Bob Zide’s focus for 45 years was on the athlete’s enjoyment, protection and potential performance. His primary emphasis was on providing the best possible protective equipment for each player, and he was the first team dealer in the country to individually fit helmets and shoulder pads on players, doing so for teams of all levels in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. This fitting program, which was considered revolutionary, was a perfect example of Bob Zide’s dedication to the athletes. That dedication paid off, as many of those athletes became coaches and returned to the store when purchasing football equipment for their programs.
Over the years, Zide's Sport Shop added more salesmen, who Bob consistently and continually trained on fitting techniques. He also included coaches, equipment managers and trainers in his hands-on sessions to educate everyone about proper fit and maintenance of the equipment from the first day of practice throughout the entire season. His insistence on maintaining the equipment resulted in the building of a complete football equipment reconditioning facility.
Bob Zide’s close work with athletes and coaches enabled him to institute equipment improvements in both performance and protection. He held nine U.S. patents on equipment innovations, including the ShockblockerÒ football faceguard attachment, which is used by many NFL, college, and high school teams across the country.
He was always available to act as a consultant and speaker for local, state and national groups and published articles on protective equipment in state and national publications.
Regardless of how Zide's Sport Shop business has grown over the years, Bob Zide’s game plan was always very straightforward to make the game fun and safe for each player that was on the field.
About the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame
The National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) created the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame in 1955 to honor sporting goods pioneers, innovators and leaders, while recognizing and encouraging continued excellence in the industry. Since the first induction in 1956, nearly 160 men and women have been inducted. Inductees for the Hall of Fame are nominated, and then selections are made by the Hall of Fame Committee, which is made up of representatives from all segments of the industry manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers/dealers and agents.