Why you may need a fractional consultant?
Over my 32 years within the Sporting Goods industry, which includes outdoor, run, cycling, footwear, apparel and accessories, I have been fortunate to have worked with many wonderful companies, brands and people as a territory manager, eastern region manager, national sales manager, vp sales and president . Reebok, Avia, Lotto, Mizuno, Guess? Sport, Rossignol, Uvex, Merck, Bayer and Bureau Veritas are the most recognizable ones.
But most were small, under $3M in revenue, and very short staffed. Some because honestly, they were small. Others due to budgetary constraints that made hiring someone with the experience to make a real difference, whether in finance, operations, sales etc., impossible. But more often than less, when one of these companies made a hire, it ended up costing them more than money. They hired what they could afford, which was usually inexperience. And so they lost TIME! Time needed to focus on what they did best, whether thinking up new ideas and products, managing the financials, or making sales, and unfortunately, many dreams ended prematurely.
How did I get here?
In 2001, I left a job I absolutely loved, Sterling Sports, where I had risen to president of its consumer division. In fact, I was pretty much EVERY position. We manufactured inflatable furniture and put NFL, MLB, NCAA, NBA and NHL logos on them and sold everywhere. We even had an entire Greg & Dharma show dedicated to our furniture. What a blast! But, as business happens, and an inflatable competitor wanted an NFL license as well, and they were far bigger than we were. Seeing the writing on the wall, I convinced Sterling’s owner to let me negotiate a sale of my division, including the licenses rather than battle over a tend product. We sold our business, (and my job consequently) for over $10M. He was very generous with my severance, and it was then that I decided what I wanted to do.
Almost immediately after I started to make plans to open my fractional sales and strategy consulting firm, I received a call from a recruiter. He wanted to know if I’d be willing to speak with a small shoe care brand (Penguin Shoe Care) based in Philadelphia, PA. I immediately said yes and made plans to visit their office. Then the twin towers came down. I thought everything would be put on hold, or worse yet, cancelled. But surprisingly, the meeting was held.
This is where I really learned that my place in the universe. The owner of the company, Jon Reichlin, said to me, “we are an $8M business and 75% of it is being done with 1 account, Foot Locker. It makes me nervous to have so much invested in one account. I also want to be a $24M business in 4 years…..so, what can you do?” Almost instinctively I asked what the average sale price was for his products (shoe laces and shoe care). “about $.95” he tells me. I didn’t even reach for a calculator before blurting out “I don’t think there are enough people on the planet to get to $24M with those products, we’ll need to do something in addition.” Without boring you to death with all the details, the short story is we bought Nathan reflective and turned it into a leading hydration brand, we partnered with Sorbothane to created an insole line, we co-branded with Atsko to make Penguin brand Sno-seal and Sportwash AND got to $25M in 4 years!
That lead to other opportunities with Ronhill Running Apparel, Bureau Veritas, Dr. Scholls, Coppertone and most recently Delta Cycle. Delta Cycle was a company that had been surviving as a small pure play IBD accessory brand for over 20 years, and who’s revenue hadn’t changed for about as long. They called and asked what I would recommend doing to finally grow the business. After three years, Delta has doubled sales, re-branded and is able to afford a full time sales manager.
What is it that you can’t do as well as you’d like?
Are you an inventor, accountant, tech guru or fitness junky? There many business owners that have great products or ideas, but don’t have the time, experience, contacts or finances to be able to really drive their dreams home. If you are one of the thousands that recognize the need, but don’t feel you can afford, or quite frankly, believe there is enough work for a full time sales or strategic business development position, then you should at least make the call, or email me. Let’s chat about what you want to do, what you can afford, and work it out.
Our ramp up process is designed to empower your team and outfit them with the tools they need to succeed. Talk to us today about how we can support your growth and put you on a solid track to success and profit.