Alli Sports Group Formed By Three Southeast Dealers
Recognizing that there is strength in numbers in a challenging environment, three long-time and well-respected team dealers in the southeast have formed what they are calling Alli Sports Group as a unique strategy to compete in a changing team sports business.
The three team dealers – Bakers Sporting Goods, Jacksonville, FL, which covers Florida, Georgia and Alabama; Johnson Lambe, Raleigh, NC, serving North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia; and First Team Sports, Greenville, SC, selling in South Carolina and Alabama – will be holding their first joint sales meeting next month under the Alli Sports banner with the stated goal of “coming together to make us all better and stronger,” in the words of Johnson Lambe owner Rhett Johnson.
The three principals describe Alli Sports Group as a regional alliance. And, as the company says on its website – allisportsgroup.com – “it just seemed like the right thing to do.”
“We are three like-minded companies coming together to make us all better and stronger,” says Johnson, explaining that what they have all been doing successfully separately will now benefit from the alliance.
“We are three dealers who all want the same thing and share a similar idea on how to operate our businesses,” adds Josh Baker.
“It will allow us to trade ideas and strategies so we aren’t all going at it individually,” echoes Mike Miros, of First Team.
The idea for Alli Sports Group grew out of longstanding relationships between the three men and their companies – Miros has 37 years of experience in team sports, Johnson, 35, and Baker, 24.
“We saw the conglomeration in our industry and realized between us that my customers were very similar to yours and we sell the same brands but don’t compete in our territories,” Baker points out.
What Alli Sports Group definitely is not is a buying group, they stress. Indeed, all three are active members in Sports Inc., which is in support of the alliance. “We are 100 percent committed to Sports Inc., “ says Johnson, who adds that a strong partnership between three members can only help make Sports Inc. stronger as well.
And while the combined size of the three dealers – almost 50 sales reps among them totaling approximately $30 million in sales – will give them a degree of buying power among their key vendors, that is not the group’s primary goal.
“We are not going to be going to all of our vendors and asking them for programs,” Johnson says. “But we do want to find vendor partners to sign up with us to help drive our growth and the growth of their brand.”
The thinking is that the team market in the southeast – a region from Virginia to Florida to Alabama covered by the three dealers – has different demands than markets in other parts of the U.S. and that brands will benefit from being able to better target their marketing and sales strategies in the region.
Among the brands participating in Alli Sports Group’s inaugural three-day sales meeting next month, which will be hosted at the headquarters of Augusta Sportswear Brands, are Schutt, Under Armour and ProLook. Other key brands highlighted on the group’s website include Adidas, ASICS, Badger, Bison, Champion, Jaypro, Mikasa, Mizuno, Molten, Porter, Rawlings, Spalding and Wilson.
While the fledgling group is just beginning to operate, the principals will be looking to individually add reps throughout the southeast and would welcome discussions with other like-minded team dealers and brands.
“We would certainly welcome others who would like to be a part of this,” says Johnson.