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One-on-One with Max Pearson

Pearson and his wife.

When Travis Elam was promoted to CEO at the Sports. Inc. buying group a little more than a year ago, Max Pearson gladly accepted the role of director of team sports, where he now leads the team division in areas such as member relationships and recruitment, supplier partnerships and some trade show responsibilities.  

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Dickinson State University in 2010, where he became very familiar with team sports by playing football and baseball for the Bluehawks, he went to work for a construction company in Lewistown, MT. In October of 2011, he was offered a job at Sports, Inc. as an assistant in the marketing department, where he shared time between the Outdoor and Team divisions. After five years he transitioned to work under Elam, who was the head of the Team Division at that time.

Here Team Insight goes One-On-One with Pearson to tell his story, explain his role at Sports, Inc. and what the future holds for him and the buying group.

Let’s first talk a little about you personally: What are your hobbies and pastimes when you aren’t at work?

Living in the great state of Montana lends itself to many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. I was born and raised in Lewistown, MT, where Sports, Inc. is headquartered. I grew up hunting and fishing with family and friends. My wife, Sara, and I have two beautiful children, Maeve and Callan. We spend a lot of our time at our family cabin in the Judith Mountains just outside of Lewistown. We are never without a project. Time spent on home improvements, gardening, landscaping or outdoor projects are what we enjoy.

What particular skill set do you bring to this position?

Fortunately for me, I have had a great mentor in Travis Elam. He has taught me how to embrace change and be adaptable. He has helped me as well as Sports, Inc. to challenge the way we do things. Ultimately, being open-minded to new ideas and specifically new technologies will create new opportunities for Sports, Inc. team dealers and supplier partners.

What do you see as your role at Sports, Inc.?

Our main goal as a buying group is to help independently owned businesses be more competitive. There are a lot of aspects included in that.

How do you do that?

Sports, Inc. strives to help our members be profitable and efficient businesses. My role in that goal is negotiating and maintaining competitive buying programs with our supplier partners as well as recruiting prospective dealers for membership. Building relationships within the industry is also a large part of the success of our company, the individual dealers and suppliers that make up our network.

You are heading up the team side at an interesting time in team sports. What are the unique challenges you are facing?

Navigating change within the industry will be the biggest challenge. This is not a new challenge, but it may be a more frequent challenge.

And what are the opportunities?

Increasing efficiency to a dealer’s business with technology is the biggest opportunity. This could include introducing solutions for streamlining order processing or time-saving processes for fulfilling orders. Identifying the bottlenecks and inefficiencies in a dealer’s business will lead to opportunities for increased overall productivity and growth.

The Sports, Inc. team, including Max Pearson (back row, fourth from left) and CEO Travis Elam (back row, third from right) is committed to serving their team dealer members in a challenging enviornment.
What do you like personally about the team sports business?

Team sports have a strong connection with communities. The positive impact an independent team dealer can have on their community is significant. Being a part of that impact is fulfilling.

What is your message to your Sports, Inc. members and vendors as you grow into this role?

First and foremost, I am thankful for the partnerships Sports, Inc. has created with our members and vendor partners. We are committed to the success of the independent team business. Our success is measured by the success of our partners. I look forward to continuing to grow these relationships and building a stronger, more collaborative foundation that will benefit us all in the long run.

Will you be staying in Las Vegas after your November show to watch the F1 race?

I recently read an article about how much it will cost F1 fans to attend the race. In the article the author jokingly made a comment about needing to sell your organs to afford a ticket with reasonable hospitality. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I will not be attending the F1 race. (Note: The annual Sports, Inc. Team Dealers Fall Show has been moved a week earlier this year, to November 14-16, in Las Vegas, to accommodate the inaugural Formula 1 race scheduled for the buying group’s regular time slot in late November.)

Yea, Team Insight editors will not be staying for the race either. Finally, what are you expecting for you and Sports, Inc. for the rest of 2023 and what is it going to take to achieve that?

We have a lot left to accomplish during the rest of 2023, but we’re also already looking ahead and working on 2024. As you mentioned, we have the show in Las Vegas that is historically our largest show of the year. Our members and vendor partners have always supported that show at a high level to create the biggest industry gathering of the year, and we know they will again. F1 week will create some challenges, but it also created new opportunities as we recently finalized plans to host the Fall show in Phoenix in 2024 and in Tampa in 2025. Members are excited to see new venues after a long run with a good partner in Mandalay Bay.