The Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Committee has elected six new Hall of Famers, who will be inducted at a special 50th Anniversary Hall of Fame induction ceremony next May.
Alan Cohen, The Finish Line, Inc.; the late Dave Koch, New Era Cap Co.; Don Pfau, Sports, Inc.; Joachim Schroeder, retired from Karstadt Sports (Germany); Jim Soffe, M.J. Soffe Co.; and Edward W. Stack, Dicks Sporting Goods, will be honored in ceremonies Tuesday evening, May 23, during the 42nd Annual NSGA Management Conference & 8th Annual Team Dealer Summit. The Conference & Summit will be held May 21-24, 2006, at The Westin La Cantera Resort in San Antonio, Texas.
Since 1956, the sporting goods industry has honored its pioneers, innovators and leaders, and the election of the Class of 2005 brings the total number of Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Famers to 130.
“This years class of Hall of Famers is special, not only because of their noteworthy accomplishments in the sporting goods industry, but also because their induction marks a half century of the Hall of Fame recognizing the best and brightest of our industry,” said NSGA Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Mickey Newsome, Chairman & CEO of Hibbett Sporting Goods. “Election to the Hall of Fame is the highest honor one can receive in the sporting goods industry, and these inductees meet the high standards to which all Hall of Famers are held.”
Alan H. Cohen
The Finish Line, Inc.
Alan H. Cohen, a co-founder of The Finish Line, Inc., serves the company as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, positions he has held since 1982. Until November 1, 2003, Cohen also was the companys president.
Cohen traces his successful experience in the specialty athletic footwear and apparel industry to 1976, when he co-founded the company in Indianapolis that would eventually become the Finish Line.
Formerly a practicing attorney, Cohen has received numerous national and regional awards for business performance and achievement, including being recognized by Inc. magazine and Ernst & Young as Entrepreneur of the Year in 1991.
He serves on the Board of Visitors for Indiana University Law School (Indianapolis), on the Deans Advisory Council for the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and on the Board of Directors for the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP). He served two terms on the NSGA Board of Directors in the 1990s.
His philanthropic and community work is extensive, including serving as a national trustee for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and as a director on the board of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. He received the “Spirit of Philanthropy Award” from the Indiana University and Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) in 2002.
Cohen and his wife, Linda, live in Indianapolis.
David C. Koch
New Era Cap Company, Inc.
David C. Koch, known by his friends as “DCK,” grew up in his familys Buffalo, New York-based business. New Era, founded by his grandfather Ehrhardt Koch in 1920, was what he lived and breathed from an early age. Watching his grandfather and father, Harold, build the familys headwear business from the ground up, he learned the value of hard work.
In the family tradition, DCK started out sweeping the factorys floors, worked his way through every operation within the organization, and was appointed the companys President in 1972 by his father. During his 30 years at New Eras helm, DCK committed himself to developing the company from a small business of 30 employees into a company of 1,700.
DCK built the company on his vision and goal to consistently sell New Eras baseball caps to every Major and Minor League club on an annual basis; making the company an authentic name in the sports industry.
After becoming New Eras CEO when his father passed away in 1982, he nurtured the companys 50-year relationship with Major League Baseball and in 1991 New Era become the co-exclusive manufacturer of Major League Baseballs official uniform caps worn on the field of play by every player. As a result of New Eras continual support of Major League Baseballs brand building strategy, in 1994 MLB rewarded the company with the exclusive right to manufacture, market and distribute the leagues Authentic Collection headwear.
Under DCKs direction New Era solidified its relationship with MLB, branched out by growing its license-based relationships throughout the professional and collegiate sports arena, and became a significant player in the headwear industry.
Before laptops and cell phones, DCK managed the big, and the small details, of the business, but always making sure to balance that with his personal life. DCK raised a family of four children with his wife Valerie, who was also a major contributor to the companys success. He was an active athlete; in high school he was outstanding in track, swimming and pole vaulting, and as an adult he was an avid golfer, winning most tournaments he entered.
DCK never tired of living life to the fullest, through work, family and play. In 2002 New Era and the sports community lost DCK to cancer and yet his legacy lives on. The content of DCKs character can be found in everything that is New Era; in its product, its employees and in the way his son Christopher has grown the company into the international powerhouse that it is today.
Donald E. Pfau started Sports, Incorporated, in September of 1964, enlisting six other sporting goods store owners in Montana and the Dakotas to become part of the founding board of directors. The company did $83,000 in business the first year, and the company now has annual sales of almost a quarter of a billion dollars.
Dons first retail business was a surplus store in Lewistown, Mont., which he opened February 7, 1947, and he later opened a sporting goods store. Through all of this he learned that the independent retailer needed to work with his friends in the business to be able to buy competitively in order to stay alive as a merchant.
Rather than keeping the ownership of the buying group to himself, Pfau established Sports, Inc. as a company whose stockholders are all equal owners.
Don served two terms on the NSGA Board of Directors, during which time he co-chaired the Successful, Independent Retailer (SIR) Program, which provided assistance to independent retailers who attended NSGA trade shows. He also served many years on the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Committee, most recently as Vice-Chairman, a position he relinquished when he retired from the Committee after its 2004 meeting.
Don has been as active in his community as he has in the sporting goods industry. He spearheaded local fundraising drives that raised millions of dollars for civic improvements that included a new hospital, a new high school, a flood control project, a performing arts center and an adult education center. He also organized a program for junior high school students to help clean up a local recreation area. He has been deeply involved in city-county planning.
One newspaper named Don “Man of the Century” in his area.
Joachim Schroeder, retired since 2002 from a 28-year career at German sporting goods giant Karstadt Sports, is the first European sporting goods retailer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining the late Adi Dassler of adidas, Frank Lowy of Unicorn Products, and Kenjiro Mizuno of Mizuno Corporation as the only non-Americans so honored.
Schroeder joined the company in 1974 as a store assistant, and by 1977 had become a buyer in the head office. In 1981, he was head buyer of sporting goods equipment and became Director for sports and toys in 1991.
He made his first trip to the United States in 1982 to visit the NSGA show in Chicago, and since then has more than 100 trips to the U.S. to conduct business.
He embraced American marketing of brands as a first mover in Germany. As an example of marketing American brands in Germany, he sponsored a $1 million shot during a pre-season NBA basketball game; sponsored a par 3 competition with Tiger Woods and nine other top golfers from the roof of the Karstadt Sporthouse in Hamburg across the street to the next building; and he brought innovative American brands like Nike, Reebok, New Balance, Columbia, Eastpak, Callaway, Titleist and others to Germany.
Joachim developed the Karstadt Sporthouse Concept, which were stores ranging in size from 20,000 to 70,000 square feet. Today there are more than 30 units. He also developed the Runners Point Chainstore concept, similar to Foot Locker, in which there are more than 120 units.
When he joined the company in 1974, sporting goods sales were less than $100 million in Germany, and when he retired, sales had topped $1 billion, at which time the Karstadt Group was the leading sporting goods retailer in Germany.
M.J. Soffe Company, Inc.
Born in Fayetteville, N.C. in 1946, Jim Soffe attended graduated from Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. in 1968 with a degree in Business Administration. After two years in law school and active duty in the U.S. Army, he returned to Fayetteville.
The M. J. Soffe Company is one of the country's leading vertical manufacturers of active apparel. Since 1946, Soffe has created casual and athletic styles to meet the changing apparel market.
Jim became the active president of the Soffe Company, in 1970, when his father passed away. He held this position until October 2003, when he became CEO of M.J. Soffe, after the acquisition by Delta Apparel, Inc.
On Jims watch, the company grew from $3 million in revenues to more than $100 million in 2001. The company grew from 25 employees in 1970 to a high of more than 2,000 in 2001.
Jim and his wife Nancy have three children, Jim Soffe, Carol Soffe and Steve Wheeler.
Edward W. Stack
Dicks Sporting Goods
Dicks Sporting Goods was started by Richard “Dick” Stack in Binghamton, N.Y., more than 50 years ago when Dicks grandmother gave him $300 from her cookie jar in the kitchen. The business started as a small bait and tackle shop, and Dick continued to expand until 1977 by adding general sporting goods, workwear and golf to his merchandise mix.
After graduating college in 1977, 22-year old Ed Stack laid aside his dream of attending law school and returned to Binghamton to help his ailing father operate two small sporting goods stores. Shortly thereafter, Ed struck a deal with is dad to purchase the stores.
At the helm of Dicks Sporting Goods as Chairman and CEO, Ed Stack now leads the largest sporting goods retailer in the country with more than 250 stores in 34 states.
In 1994, Ed made the decision to move the companys headquarters to Pittsburgh, bringing 49 of the 51 office employees with him. Today, Dicks employs more than 2,130 people in stores, distribution center and corporate offices.
In 1997, Ed was named “Sports Executive Visionary of the Year” by SportStyle magazine, and in 1999, he was named “Entrepreneur of the Year in Southwestern Pennsylvania” by Ernst & Young. Sporting Goods Business magazine named Dicks “Trendsetter of the Year,” in 2000 and “Retailer of the Year” two of the last three years.
Ed has served on the Board of Trustees of Seton Hall University.
The Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony is co-sponsored by W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., Mizuno USA, and New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. All Conference/Summit attendees are invited to the Hall of Fame induction, which will be held Tuesday evening, May 23.