Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack on leadership and service

Last year, Dick’s Sporting Goods made headlines by announcing that it would no longer sell assault-style weapons and or guns or ammunition of any kind to those under 21. But talking to Chairman and CEO Ed Stack, it becomes clear that taking a stand on that issue is just one of many examples of how the 35-year retail veteran is leading with conviction and vision. From promoting a culture that emphasizes work-life balance to committing $50 million to support youth sports programs, Dick's is making a mark on the industry.

At NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show, Stack took a moment to talk to Retail Gets Real’s Bill Thorne, and co-host Steve Barr, consumer markets leader at PwC, about leadership, giving back and the future of Dick’s in an evolving retail landscape.

At its core, a passion for sports drives the business, and concern about the trend of cutting funding from youth sports programs drove Dick’s to create the Sports Matter program supported by the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation. Since 2014, the Foundation has committed more than $50 million to help support teams, from donating equipment to partnering with DonorsChose.org to match funding for those trying to save programs. “Economics shouldn't keep anyone who wants to from playing. Sports give you opportunities that teach life lessons…teamwork, commitment, responsibility — all of that. And if kids don't have an opportunity to do that, they miss out a lot,” Stack says.

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Stack has led Dick’s since 1984, seeing momentous changes in the industry along they way. Stack identifies the consolidation of retail channels as the most impactful change in recent years. To stand out, customer experience becomes even more important. In an effort to create a next-level experience for baseball players, Dick’s is adding high-tech batting cages to 150 stores across the country that help customers find the right fit. But he emphasizes that tech can only go so far; people matter even more. “The store manager is really the most important person to our success because that store manager is the one who’s interacting with the consumer... [they’re] the lynchpin of being successful or not being successful.” Stack says.

Listen to the full episode to learn more about how Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation is giving back to the community, as well as how Dick’s is innovating the customer experience.

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