Bill Farrell, Asics America/T.W. Promotions; John M. Forzani, The Forzani Group Ltd.; and Julie and Ken Nimmons, Schutt Sports have been elected into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame. The four will be honored in ceremonies, May 4, during the 46th Annual NSGA Management Conference & 12th Annual Team Dealer Summit.
The Conference & Summit will be held May 2-5, 2010, at Saddlebrook Resort/Tampa in Wesley Chapel, Fla.
Since 1956, the sporting goods industry has honored its pioneers, innovators and leaders, and the election of the Class of 2009 brings the total number of Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Famers to 147. The Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony is co-sponsored by GE Money; Messe München GmbH (ISPO); Mizuno USA; New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc.; and W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
“We are proud to announce the Hall of Fame Class of 2010 because of their innovative and lasting contributions to the sporting goods industry,” said NSGA Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Randy Ruch, CEO of Schuylkill Valley Sports, Pottstown, Pa. “Each of these individuals meets the high standards to which all Hall of Famers are held, which makes election to the Hall of Fame the highest honor one can receive in the sporting goods industry.”
Asics America and T.W. Promotions
Bill Farrell has been characterized as a non-stop force within the Asics family and wrestling community. Bill started his career with Asics in 1958 when the brand was just making a name for itself in Japan, and with his help, the Onitsuka Tiger brand was introduced into the U.S. market. He tirelessly worked on behalf of the brand – and eventually Asics – until it became the No. 1 wrestling shoe.
He is a legend in the wrestling community. In addition to competing internationally, Farrell took on the responsibility of coaching the New York Athletic Club wrestling team to 11 national AAU title and several USA Wrestling national team titles. He coached the U.S. freestyle wrestling team to six medals at the 1972 Games in Munich. He also found time to serve as strength and conditioning coach for Vince Lombardi in Green Bay and Washington.
In 1959, with Onitsuka Tiger and Resilite, Farrell started his first company, Olympic Resilite, which distributed a variety of wrestling products. He also purchased the company that sold the Universal Gym. Then, in 1988, Farrell turned his attention to the wrestling division, which marked the beginning of TW Promotions, Inc. Since 1988, TW Promotions has been the wrestling arm of Asics America Corporation.
Bill was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1985 as a Distinguished Member for his contributions to the sport. In 2007, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Wrestling presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award, in which they stated that no other person has had a more positive effect on the Olympic sport of wrestling.
Bill is a graduate of Hofstra University and holds a law degree from St. John's University. He retired in 2008 and lives in Centre Island, N.Y., with his wife Lorraine and children Leigh and Kyle.
John M. Forzani
The Forzani Group Ltd.
John Forzani is the Founder and Chairman of the Board of The Forzani Group Ltd., Canada's largest and only national sporting goods retailer, with more than 567 corporate and franchise stores that account for more than $1.7 billion in sales and employs more than 14,000. The Forzani Group enjoys more than 16% of the Canadian sporting goods market, estimated at $7.4 billion.
Forzani Group stores operate under five corporate banners: Sport Chek, Coast Mountain Sports, Sport Mart, National Sports, and Fitness Source. The company also franchises as Sports Experts, Intersport, Atmosphere, Econosports, Tech Shop/Pegasus, Nevada Bob's Golf, Hockey Experts and Fitness Source.
He is also Chairman of IIC-Intersport International Corporation, an international buying group and franchisor of more than 4,600 sports stores in 28 countries.
John also played for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League and is currently a partner and Chairman of the club. He also serves as a director of two other corporations in Canada.
Upon graduating from Utah State University, John returned to his hometown and began his professional career in Calgary, playing offensive guard for seven years. Football opened doors to a new career as a sporting goods retailer. He opened his first store in 1974 with brothers Joe and Tom and friend Bas Bark, all former CFL teammates. The 1,200-square-foot store was named Forzani's Locker Room. In five years the business had grown to 23 locations in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
After working in the factory during high school and college vacations and teaching for three years, Julie Nimmons joined the family business, Schutt Manufacturing Company, the precursor to Schutt Sports, in May of 1982. After serving in a variety of positions, Julie acquired Schutt in January of 1986. Through acquisitions of companies involved with manufacturing football helmets, baseball helmets, baseball/softball field equipment, and product line extensions, the company's revenue grew significantly. Schutt Sports remained a family owned business until April of 2005.
During her tenure with Schutt Sports, she was twice named as one of the 25 Leaders to Watch in the sporting goods industry. Other recognitions for Schutt Sports during this time were two new product introductions in the Top 5 New Products of the Year, and the Equipment Manufacturer of the Year by Sporting Goods Business magazine in 2004.
In Washington, D.C., Julie lobbied and testified on behalf of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association before committees in both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate for tort reform. Additionally, she lobbied several years for the Carol White Physical Education Program (PEP Grants) continuation, as well as for other issues relative to health and physical fitness as well as trade issues. Julie was the first woman elected to the Board of Directors of SGMA and later served as Chairman.
Julie and husband Ken were recognized as Business Persons of the Year by her hometown Litchfield Chamber of Commerce, Litchfield, Illinois. She was featured in CNN's All About Women, and appeared in interviews seen on CNN and ESPN.
Julie has served on advisory boards for Lincoln Land Community College and Eastern Illinois University. She also served as an advisory member of the Illinois Governor's Council on Health and Physical Fitness, as a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association Research and Education Foundation Board, and on the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Committee.
Julie has served on the Board of Trustees for Eastern Illinois University, as Chairman of the Steering Committee for EIU's first capital campaign, as Vice-Chairman for the National Board of Trustees for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for the Future of Israel, as a volunteer at Children's Hospital in St. Louis, MO, and as a mentor for the Advancing Women in Leadership program at St. Louis University, St. Louis MO.
Julie is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University. She and Ken have two married daughters.
From his first day with Schutt Sports, Ken Nimmons' focus was on designing and implementing improvements for others. After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Studies at the University of Illinois, Ken joined Schutt Manufacturing Company, the precursor to Schutt Sports. At the time, Schutt's focus was on manufacturing football faceguards, basketball goals, and ball inflators.
Ken was responsible for designing new manufacturing and distribution facilities. Through the years, Ken developed new manufacturing techniques and in many instances, worked with machinery and equipment vendors to develop the tools, attachments, and components needed to accomplish those changes.
Not only was Ken called upon when facility and production improvements were needed, Ken was asked to assist in developing the first football faceguard standard. When there was an opening on the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) Board of Directors from SGMA, Ken was asked to fill that position and served more than 15 years.
Ken has been the sole inventor and a contributor of many patents. His patent for tension mounting for face guards eliminated the need for specific sized football faceguards to fit medium and large football helmets, which took the guesswork out of fitting faceguards on to helmets. This was a tremendous cost savings for dealers and schools since it reduced the number of faceguards needed in their inventory.
Ken also focused on community improvement having served on the Litchfield, Ill. Chamber of Commerce Industrial Committee, the St. Francis Hospital Advisory Board and the Lincoln Land Community College Advisory Board, as well as other area civic groups and committees.