With nearly 450 sporting goods industry leaders in attendance, the 43rd Annual NSGA Management Conference and 9th Annual Team Dealer Summit – held at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs, Fla. – was described by many attendees as the best educational and networking experience available in the sporting goods industry.

This year’s Conference/Summit was the fifth consecutive sellout, and the final count of 442 attendees didn’t include dozens who arrived Tuesday to be part of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

“The consistently high turnout shows that the industry really values an event that delivers strong educational content and great networking year after year,” said Bruce Ullery, President of MC Sports and Chairman of the NSGA Board of Directors.

“As a first-time attendee, I did not know what to expect,” said Tommy DeSimone of Modell’s Sporting Goods. “I can tell you that it was most informative. The number of people I met and can now exchange ideas with, or just call to see how business is, (is) a bonus of the networking breaks and the workshops. These contacts are immeasurable.”

“I brought home some ideas from the Team Dealer Summit that we’re going to put into action,” said Ken Caravati of Dixie Sporting Goods. “I thought the breakout workshop sessions in the Summit were great, and I got some great networking with some vendors and other dealers and learned a lot from their sharing ideas. I’ll be back next year.”

“There were a few factors that I enjoyed,” said Jack Queally of Tailgate Toss, a first-time attendee and event sponsor. “No. 1 is the networking of retailers and suppliers. People let their hair down a little bit, relax and share ideas, talk about the future, so this industry doesn’t become stagnant. The other thing is the seminars. I walked away from at least two of them with notes that I can make changes either on our e-commerce site, in our business, or the way we think about things.”

“This is the best Team Summit I have been to,” said Nelson Gage of Hibbett Team Sales. “The Tuesday workshop was great. All the topics were good.”

“It is the best event I attend every year,” said Ray Fowle of Champion.

“Every time I attend, I leave a better businessman,” said Pete Schneider of ADA.

The 2008 Conference/Summit will be held May 4-7 at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs in Phoenix, Ariz.