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Alli Sports Group

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The 1on1 Project becomes a 1on3 Project this issue as Team Insight sits down with the three founders of the Alli Sports Group, a group of team dealers in the southeast formed this year to compete in a changing team sports business.

The three – Josh Baker, of Bakers Sporting Goods, Jacksonville, FL, which covers Florida, Georgia and Alabama; Rhett Johnson, Johnson-Lambe, Raleigh, NC, serving North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia; and Mike Miros, First Team Sports, Greenville, SC, selling in South Carolina and Alabama – held their first joint sales meeting this month under the Alli Sports banner with the stated goal of “coming together to make us all better and stronger.”

Miros has 37 years of experience in team sports, Johnson, 35, and Baker, 24. The combined size of the three dealers totals almost 50 sales reps with approximately $30 million in sales.

Team Insight: What’s the “elevator pitch” on what Alli Sports Group is all about?

Alli Three: Better together.

What does the name mean?

It is short for “Alliance,” and the three sides of the triangle logo represent the three united dealers.

You are not a “buying group.” How would you classify Alli?

Just as the name implies, an alliance. It is not about buying better, it is about being better.

How did this all come about?

Pre-COVID, we were listening to the same industry discussions trying to figure out the best way forward and honestly we were not excited about what we heard. Josh simply said why don’t we just do this ourselves and it just felt right immediately.

How does the alliance operate?

The idea is to flip the typical corporate style model upside down, so instead of having the focus on the top brass and stock numbers we want all of the focus on our most important asset, our people. If they have everything they need to succeed, then we as owners will do just fine.  

What is unique about your shared southeast territory that makes this concept work?  

All regions have their small differences and we hope to capitalize on those in our space. We are rooted in this territory with history and relationships and understand how to use that as an advantage.  

Are there certain opportunities unique to your region?

There are opportunities in certain regions that don’t exist in others and we plan to target these in the southeast.

Any examples of this?

An easy example is travel baseball — it is huge in our region and Baker’s has a large footprint in that space. First Team and Johnson-Lambe will look to learn from and piggyback off of their success. We will work together and build off each other’s strengths to dominate our space.

What has been the vendor response to Alli Sports Group?  

They are excited and eager to be involved in what we are doing. To have the opportunity to grab our focus as a group is very appealing. They know what we are capable of separately and understand the power of this alliance with the right partners.

What will you be asking of your vendors when they come calling on the three different dealers?

We are looking for partners. We are asking vendors to get creative, challenge us as a group and reward us when we deliver. Find ways to make our salespeople’s lives easier or more rewarding. All three companies have a history of delivering when given a unique opportunity and our vendor partners know that, so we are looking to build stronger partnerships and deliver better results for both sides.

All three of you belong to Sports Inc. How does this impact that membership?  

This is all possible only with Sports Inc.’s backing. They are a huge part of what we do and why we are successful as individual companies and they will be a huge part of what we do and why we are successful as an alliance.

How can you see this benefitting your customers?  

Anytime you can create an advantage for your company it will benefit your customers. If we get better, stronger and our people benefit, then our customers also benefit. If you want to take care of your customers, take care of your people.

Are you looking to add additional dealers, more key vendors and territory?    

We are always looking to grow and welcome a conversation with anyone interested. Our goal moving forward is to be stronger than we were yesterday — that can mean improving what we have and/or adding to it.

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