SGMA's Industry Leaders Summit: Dynamically On Target

It was back by popular demand and its encore performance was a winner. That short statement summarizes the attitude of those who attended SGMA's 2nd Annual Industry Leaders Summit (ILS) which was held March 5-6.
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It was back by popular demand and its encore performance was a winner. That short statement summarizes the attitude of those who attended the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association's (SGMA) 2nd Annual Industry Leaders Summit (ILS) which was held March 5-6 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

This year's ILS (www.leaders.sgma.com) began on Monday, March 5 at Noon and concluded the following day (Tuesday, March 6) at Noon. This year, the ILS attracted approximately 80 presidents, CEOs, and chairmen within the sporting goods industry.

The purpose of the ILS – an annual town hall-like summit for the sporting goods industry -- was to network and brainstorm on issues of growth and valuation. Discussion ranged from how Wall Street values companies to the shifts in customer dynamics to the challenges of increasing sports participation. In a nutshell, the goal of the ILS was “to establish meaningful examination and momentum for the sporting goods industry's growth.”

The first item on the agenda was the presentation of SGMA's annual State of the Industry address by SGMA President/CEO Tom Cove.

For the ILS, SGMA assembled a roster of experienced speakers with expertise in key areas. The main keynote speaker was former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer (under President George W. Bush) who addressed “The Role of Crisis Communications to Brand Management.” A copy of Fleischer's book – Taking Heat – was given to each person in attendance.

Under the direction of facilitator Al Chiaradonna (Professor of Strategy, Graduate School of Business, Villanova University), the following individuals spoke before the group of industry leaders:

Joe Pellegrini – Managing Director, Wachovia Securities
“The Street – What Drives Growth”

Clay Walker – President, Fantasy Sports Ventures; Tim McDermott – CMO, Washington Capitals; Carlos Silva – President/COO, World Championship Sports Network
“Maximizing Your Marketing ROI”

Ray Kurz and Lewis Leibowitz – Partners, Hogan & Hartson LLP
“Protecting Your Brand Equity”

The ILS culminated in a retailer/manufacturer panel which featured Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour; Tom Raynor, Chairman/CEO of Fleet Feet; Tony Palma, CEO of Easton-Bell Sports; and Mitchell Modell, CEO of Modell's Sporting Goods. These leading industry representatives focused on opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to collaborate on the consumer experience and debate 'Who Owns the Consumer? And ‘How Do We Collaborate To Enhance the Experience?' This event concluded in a lively question and answer session.

In addition to the list of industry experts, those attending the ILS also heard from two ‘Washington, D.C. insiders' – U.S. Congressman Zach Wamp (R-TN) and U.S. Ambassador to Denmark James P. Cain. Representative Wamp, the founder and current co-chairman of the Congressional Fitness Caucus, spoke about “Public Policy Opportunities To Increase Sports Participation and Physical Activity.” Cain, the former president and COO of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, has been the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark since June of 2005. He spoke about “Participation Growth Abroad: Sports as a Diplomatic Tool.”

“The ILS was a great event. I feel SGMA is on the right path with events like this,” said Steve Wheeler of MJ Soffe.

“I found attending the ILS to be very valuable. This was a great forum to hear about mutual industry concerns,” commented Jeremy Stonier of Rollerblade.

“The dialogue was fantastic. The audience was very engaged -- open and honest,” stated Carl Ferraro of Regent Sports.

“The networking was the best value of the ILS. I enjoyed talking with my peers in the industry,” noted Ron Sutton of Accusplit.

“I found the ILS to be very insightful and informative. There's nothing like getting together to discuss issues that are of mutual interest to the industry,” remarked Kellen Winslow of Disney Sports.

“Events like this which are catering to the needs of specific segments of the sporting goods industry are a part of SGMA's present and future,” said Cove. “The SGMA is in the unique position of being able to attract such a large number of corporate leaders in one place at the same time. Despite the fact many of these companies are competitors, there's a great deal to be gained by learning and working together as one, united industry.”

Many of those who attended the ILS stayed in Washington, D.C. for an extra day to participate in the lobbying process associated with National Health-through-Fitness Day – the industry's annual trip to Capitol Hill to lobby for federal funding of the PEP Bill (Physical Education Program), which benefits PE programs, and for the PHIT Bill (Personal Health Investment Today), which is a tax incentive to promote physical activity and fitness.

The Industry Leaders Summit was sponsored by Wachovia Securities and Hogan & Hartson LLP, an international law firm based in Washington, D.C.

SGMA, the trade association of leading industry sports and fitness brands, enhances industry vitality and fosters sports and fitness participation through research, thought leadership, product promotion and public policy. SGMA produces signature industry events including the Spring Market trade show, Sports+Technology Convergence, Industry Leaders Summit and National Health-through-Fitness Day on Capitol Hill. More information about SGMA membership and SGMA's Sports Research Partnership can be found at www.sgma.com

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