Retail veteran takes Rad Global sourcing agency to next level

Three years after starting his own sourcing business as his next step after a retail career, Erik Metzdorf has found his niche: displays. You need a display? Rad Global can find it or design it for you.

Three years after starting his own sourcing business as his next step after a retail career, Erik Metzdorf has found his niche: displays. You need a display? Rad Global can find it or design it for you.

“We’ve picked a niche that’s fairly unique,” said Metzdorf, formerly of City Sports, and founder of Rad Global. “And I’m selling my experience.”

Metzdorf knows retail. He worked his way up the ladder, starting as a stock clerk “as a kid” in the mid-80s and basically did just about everything there was, finishing his stint at the Boston-based chain as the hardgoods buyer in 2007. Displays may seem like an afterthought, but take his word for it -- they can make your sales.

“They are powerful in the scope of driving ROI at the retail level,” he said. He said he remembered one small store with his former company that was fairly small but was practically on a college campus where every single student, of course, wants a daypack or two. Metzdorf said all they had to do was re-merchandise the pack wall, re-arrange the displays, or put up a new sign about something new and -- bam -- five more bags would sell in a snap of the finger.

“The investment paid for itself time and time again,” he said.

Sensing a lack of agencies specializing in displays with an emphasis on the small, mid-sized or regional retailers and on sports, fitness and outdoor manufacturers, Metzdorf started Rad Global ( He said what sets him apart is having nine people based in Shenzhen, in the Guangdong province of China, as well as a business partner there, Marty Penichter, who speaks fluent Chinese and has a degree in international business.

“Essentially, we are cutting out layers,” he said, and, therefore, a few layers of expenses. Rad Global works with its own designers to customize the display for the products or retail needs, and then sources it, with its own staff in the factories checking on manufacturing. So far, Metzdorf has worked with categories such as sunglasses, baseball, hockey and even kettlebells.

“The need was to have a reliable gun-for-hire sourcing agency that understood the nuances of the sports and outdoor markets’ merchandising needs,” he explained, “as well as to provide a cost-efficient, process-driven resource for fulfilling odd items that are not ready off-the-shelf -- and offer these services with reasonable minimum order quantity requirements.” 

As a manager and buyer at a regional, sports, outdoor and fitness retailer in his previous incarnation, Metzdorf knew so well the frustrations: “I was keenly aware of the ROI that could come from a customized display or a value enhanced product with some incremental tweak that spoke directly to our customers or brand. But I also continually ran into roadblocks as a buyer when trying to solve very specific merchandising concerns, or when I wanted to implement a product idea passed along by our managers or customers.” 

He added, “I vowed to create a company specifically to fulfill those types of needs, and cater to merchants and visual retail staff to enable their ideas to become profit generators or major savings vehicles.”

But the business may not stop at sourcing displays since his experience is much broader. With an interest in the growing area of more environmentally friendly products, Metzdorf is in fact investigating “foam fitness” products that will be kinder to the earth.

Now about that name: Yeah, no fancy acronyms here. Just a “totally rad” kind of business.

“It’s a word we like,” he said.

--Therese Iknoian


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