Sports Inc. said its Summer Show drew record attendance, attracting  more than 500 store personnel from 193 store locations. Lee’s Sporting Goods of Alabama won store of the year, Cliff Keen won vendor of the year, Kendall Whitley of Adidas won rep of the year. 

The show ended on June 25th. By design the show was limited to 108 vendors exhibiting in 170 booths.  Sports, Inc. members had the opportunity to work with 450 exhibitor staff and industry representatives.

Jeff Scott from Lee’s Sporting Goods said, “It has been unbelievable to see the growth of members attending Sports, Inc. shows in the past three to four years.  This increase in attendance proves that Sports, Inc. is by far the best buying group in the sporting goods industry.”

“Rawlings Sporting Goods and Worth Sports recently kicked off our 2012 Spring selling campaign in Denver, CO. at the annual Sports, Inc. Spring buying show,” said Greg Bialis, VP-Team Sales for Rawlings & Worth.  “The show enables our companies to touch base with approximately 200 key team dealers in a two day period.  We are given the opportunity by the Sports, Inc. team to preview new products, highlight key items and offer incentive programs to facilitate sales and strengthen our bonds with Sports, Inc. members.”

Bialis continued to say that “Sports, Inc. is the largest buying group that we are affiliated with, and we appreciate the relationships we have built over the years and the business we have secured.  Sports, Inc. is a fantastic partner and we are grateful for their support.”

2011 Sporting Chance Award

The Sports, Inc. Sporting Chance Award has donated nearly $500,000 to communities and the industry in the years since its inception.  Each February and June, the winner of a random drawing is awarded a $20,000 prize to be given to a worthy group(s) that promotes sporting goods in their market area.  The June 2010 winner was Nicklasson Athletic in New Ulm, Minn.  Their award money was used to purchase baseball/softball equipment and make field improvements to youth league fields.  Freddy Battaglia’s Sporting Goods in Scranton, Penn. was the winner of the 2011 Sporting Chance Award.

New Sports, Inc. Athletic Dealers

Sports, Inc. had eight new members and one guest attend its 2011 summer Athletic Show in Denver in June.  The Sports, Inc. Athletics Division has added nine new members since its fall show in November.

“Shawna and I feel strongly that we made the right choice in joining the Sports, Inc. family,” said Dan Wells, who co-owns Bases Loaded in Folsom, CA with his wife Shawna Wells.  “The show was great and very productive for us.  We are growing quickly, and we know our Sports, Inc. relationship will be a critical part of our continued growth and profitability.”

The eight team dealers attending their first Sports, Inc. show as an official member were Sportsmen’s of Litchfield (Litchfield, CT), Egelston-Maynard Sporting Goods (Covington, KY), Eich’s Sports (Plainfield, IL), David Bowen Sporting Goods (Pace, FL), Bumblebee Team Sports (Nicholasville, KY), Locker Room (Spring Valley, IL), and Westside Team Sports (Santa Monica, CA).  Koch Sporting Goods (Cincinnati, OH) was scheduled to attend but experienced travel issues that prevented attendance. In addition to the new members in attendance, Sports Plus (Chantilly, VA) attended the show as a guest.

“We were very pleased with the group of new dealers attending their first Sports, Inc. show as members,” said Travis Elam, Sports, Inc. Athletic Division Marketing Manager.  “They are a diverse group, like the rest of our membership, and we feel we added quality dealers who will be members for many years.”

In addition to the nine new members since the fall show, Dannco (Centerville, IA) and Play It Again Sports/DESU (Springfield, MO) joined between last year’s summer and fall shows and were attending their first Sports, Inc. summer show.  Overall in the 12 months since the last summer show, Sports, Inc. has added a total of 32 new members with 16 new athletic team dealers, 11 new outdoor dealers, and 3 new full line dealers.

“Becoming a member has been like joining a family,” said Ariana Caldwell, who represented Westside Team Sports at the show.  “The staff has been extremely helpful and responsive.  Their communication and training of us as new members has been unparalleled.  The show was informative; the contacts that I made there will help us significantly in growing our business.  Over- all the show was set up to help us to become more profitable in the future.”

2011 Sports, Inc. Store of the Year

Lee’s Sporting Goods, Inc. was named the 2011 Sports, Inc. Store of the Year.  Located in Huntsville, AL, Lee’s was opened in 1987 by W.C. Lee and was the traditional sporting goods retailer.  When second generation owner Brian Lee and business partner Jeff Scott took over the day-to-day operations in 1998, they gradually moved towards more of a niche market – team sports and spirit wear.  The decision to change directions was so popular with Lee’s customers that nearly ten years later they eliminated nearly all of their retail sales operation so they could focus solely on providing quality team gear and uniforms to northern Alabama high schools, youth organizations and universities.

Lee’s Sporting Goods joined Sports, Inc. in 2001.  “Brian, Jeff and their staff are extremely supportive of their group,” stated Matt Martin, the athletics marketing director for Sports, Inc.  “Whatever we offer, this store takes advantage of, from programs, shows, credits and claims center, electronic payment center, dealer forums, our in-store coordinator project and fellow dealer interaction”.

After receiving the award, Jeff Scott said, “Our Sports, Inc. membership has made us much more profitable in the 10 years that we have been members.  It gives us the ability to compete and grow our business in these tough economic times”.

“Each year we have a hard decision to make because of the number of quality dealers that make Sports, Inc. the premier team dealer group in the nation,” stated Travis Elam.  “Brian and Jeff are extremely supportive and are very worthy recipients of the 2011 Store of the Year award.”

Brian Lee told the Sports, Inc. staff, “It is a great honor to be named the Store of the Year.  We feel very fortunate, considering many of the 200+ members would be more than qualified to receive this recognition.  The knowledge that we have gained from other dealers, along with the support of the Sports, Inc. team in Montana, is an invaluable part of our membership.”

“W.C., Jeff, Brian and their entire staff have been tremendous members,” said Sports, Inc. CEO Todd Adams.  “I wish we could say that we have had a tremendous relationship with them from the first phone call, but that’s not entirely true.  They were tough to recruit.  This is not an uncommon story because many of our great members were initially not interested in joining a group.  They were running a successful business on their own and didnt think they should change.  I am glad that finally gave us a shot.  They said what almost all members say, “We should have joined a long time ago!”

2011 Sports, Inc. Vendor of the Year

Cliff Keen was announced as the 2011 Sports, Inc. Vendor of the Year at the Denver Show.

“We are fortunate to have many outstanding vendor relationships,” said Elam.  “Our suppliers appreciate what Sports, Inc. does for their business, and more importantly they appreciate working with our members who comprise the largest team dealer network in the nation.  With so many strong vendor partnerships, it’s never easy to choose one to be Vendor of the Year, and this year was no exception.”

“What set Cliff Keen apart,” added Elam, “was their willingness to work with us to offer the very best buying program for our members.  Tom Keen, Chad Clark and their team are willing to try new things to continue to grow the business and the relationship with our members.  Everyone who works in the sporting goods industry knows that the people at Cliff Keen are quality people, and we appreciate all the things they do for our members.”

Cliff Keen Athletic is a wrestling and officials wear company dedicated to the advancement of athletics through innovative products. Cliff Keen Athletic exemplifies the rich traditions of sport and the superior quality of athletic wear required for holding up to the rigors of competition. Legendary wrestling coach Cliff Keen started the company in 1958, and for over 50 years the company has understood the dedication, hard work and passion wrestlers bring to the sport every day.

“The Sports, Inc. partnership means a great deal to the success of Cliff Keen Athletic,” said Cliff Keen president Tom Keen.  “We work very hard for the member dealers and put them on a pedestal.  It was a tremendous boost to the entire Cliff Keen team and validation of their hard work to receive this wonderful honor.  We are sincerely appreciative.”

Added Vice President of Sales Chad Clark, “We couldnt be more thrilled to be given the Vendor of the Year Award.  For years we have appreciated the friendships and camaraderie weve shared with the entire Sports, Inc. family.  We work hard to give the best product and service available to Sports Inc., and it is truly a thrill to receive such an honor.”

2011 Sports, Inc. Sales Rep of the Year

Kendall Whitley of Adidas Team was named Sports, Inc. Sales Rep of the Year.  Whitley has been Sports, Inc.’s main contact since the two companies began working together in 2009.

“Kendall has been instrumental in developing the Adidas/Sports, Inc. relationship and program,” said Elam.  “We had a number of people that were deserving of this award this year, but the fact is that without the role Kendall played within Adidas, we wouldnt have the program we do.  In fact, it possible that Sports, Inc. and Adidas wouldnt even be doing business together if not for the work Kendall and Todd Adams did to get the program going a couple years ago.”

Whitley’s strength is that he was once a team dealer himself.  He understands the challenges Adidas has faced, and he has worked both internally at Adidas and with dealers to move the ball in the right direction.  His understanding of the team market and willingness to support the independent team dealer will be critical to Adidas success in the team market.

“In addition to his work in getting this program going,” added Elam, “Kendall has been outstanding in his responsiveness to Sports, Inc. issues.  From putting together show deals to organizing the Adidas social reception at the show to working through new dealer requests, he has been great to work with this year.”

Sports, Inc. is a national sporting goods buying group with over 400 members and 550 locations in 48 states.  Sports, Inc. was established in 1965 and is headquartered in Lewistown, Mont.  The Sports, Inc. Athletics division consists of 205 team dealers with over 1,400 sales people plus an additional 35 athletic / full line retailers.