On My Mind: Takeaways from NSGA Management Conference
I recently returned from the 2022 NSGA Management Conference and Team Dealer Summit in (very) warm Scottsdale, AZ, and feel the need to share with our readers some insights from the annual gathering of the sporting goods industry. (BTW, that’s a picture of me above asking a hard-hitting question at the “Name, Image and Likeness” session. If I had known they were going to take my picture I would have combed my hair.)
- First, everyone agreed it was great to see friends and colleagues in person again – for better or worse, there wasn’t a mask in sight, so we actually were able to have face-to-face conversations. Attendance topped 210 — well above recent conferences, a welcome sign that maybe, just maybe, the world of sporting goods is returning to a semblance of normalcy. Kudos to the NSGA staff for the quick turnaround from the rescheduled 2021 meeting that was held last September In Naples, FL.
- Because this is a team sports publication I can (somewhat seriously) safely say this — the name of the event should be changed to the Team Dealer Summit and Management Conference. There were dozens of team dealers in attendance and let’s just say there were less than a dozen sporting goods retailers who made the trip to Arizona. More seriously, I – and our team dealer readers – suggest that the program conference reflect this support by the team side of the business with a session or two focused directly on the issues confronting team dealers.
- There were mixed feelings about the preponderance of 15-minute “Sponsored Content” sessions that were essentially sales presentations from Conference sponsors. Everyone realizes someone has to help pay the bills, but not everyone was pleased that an hour-and-a-half of the sessions were given to sponsors. On the other hand, the breakfasts and lunches were delicious.
- The main topic of informal conversations between attendees was most definitely supply chain issues, and a session focusing on the challenges drove home the point. Number two concern: Hiring and retaining employees.
- OK, I admit I was fired up by the opening keynote presentation by fighter pilot Lt. Col. Waldo Waldman, who used an assortment of Top Gun references to fly home his point that we are all in this together and no one can be successful on their own. Among my favorites: “We cannot dodge the missiles of change;” “Do you stay in the hanger of your fears?;” “You can’t ease up on the throttle of commitment;” “The more you sweat in peacetime the less you bleed in battle;” “We survive solo, but we win together;” and my favorite, “You have to think out of the cockpit.”
- Coming out of the annual meeting of the Sporting Goods Hall of Fame Committee, of which I am a member, comes news that due to a change in its guidelines sales agents in the business of sporting goods are now eligible for consideration for the Hall of Fame. Up until this year, sales agents were not eligible for the NSGA Hall of Fame. The rules have been changed and the categories for eligibility have been eliminated. There is a nomination process for potential candidates and those nominations come from dealers, manufacturers and sales agents. Nominations open later this year – watch this newsletter for the exact time – and the nomination form will be available on the website of the NSGA — www.nsga.org Nominations require information about the nominee, testimonials and accomplishments.
- An excellent panel discussion on “How Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Enhances Your Business” was incredibly well received and long overdue in the sporting goods industry. You could tell because everyone was paying attention and no one was checking their email or texting a friend (I looked around to see if they were). Led by John Scipio, president of SV Sports, the session was a conversation, not a presentation, and the uncomfortable fact that there is a lack of diversity in the business of sporting goods was addressed. “It is up to us now to be intentional. It is time to recognize this and now what are we going to do about it?” Scipio challenged.
- As for supply chain problems, Chris Lee, an expert on the topic from Arizona State university, pointed out that the cost of a shipping container has risen from $2000 to more than $20,000, yet they still remain sitting for weeks on ships in harbors on the West and East coasts. That explains a lot.
- Closing speaker Herm Edwards, former NFL coach and television commentator and current coach at Arizona State University (we bet he makes a lot more money than Chris Lee), rambled on about teamwork and building a team and how important it is for everyone to be a part of a team. At least that’s what I got out of it.
- See you next year in Nashville, TN.