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Build Your Business: Shop Talk
Change AgentsScoreboard Sports continues to evolve in today’s changing landscape that has been defined by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scoreboard Sports’ client base consists mostly of club sports like soccer, volleyball and wrestling.
Six years ago, Scoreboard Sports started offering e-stores. And while several of the industry’s biggest players — Soccer.com, Eastbay and BSN Sports — already were striking gold with their own custom platforms, owner Sean Macklyn thought the initiative was worth the effort. So he and his team dug in, eventually spending two years developing the software platform to support the effort.
Today, Scoreboard Sports’ online stores are a huge success. GoldenGoal, a proprietary and turnkey uniform-delivery program, empowers sports clubs around the country with the tools to manage and oversee their players.
“In my opinion, it’s a game-changer,” says Macklyn, whose company provides high-quality gear to athletes, corporate employees and national organizations. “The concept works well for us. Obviously, soccer and volleyball work great in club sports, and any individual teams — especially in high school — use these platforms. Spirit stores are strong, too. We will continue to offer those. It’s a trend that’s not going away.”
Driven by his passion for soccer and coaching, Macklyn started Scoreboard Sports in 1991 in Bountiful, Utah. With a client base consisting mostly of club sports like soccer, volleyball and wrestling, the company works with a number of high schools, as well as team, individual and youth sports leagues — with a little college business and a heavy dose of corporate apparel sprinkled in to round out the mix. Working with premier brand partners like Under Armour, adidas, and others, Scoreboard Sports services its customers via its online platform, retail stores and sales team.
The Changing Team Niche
These continue to be interesting times for the sporting-goods industry. During the past 20-plus years, the marketplace — especially the team-sports sector — has seen a number of changes, transformed mostly by the presence of online shopping. Customers continue to have myriad opportunities to shop based on price and selection.
“The team-sports business has changed so much,” Macklyn says. “Today, there continues to be a reduction and elimination of team dealers across the country. There are far fewer than there used to be. I laugh at the thought of so few trying to fulfill the needs of so many. I see the supply chain as another drastic change that is going to affect this industry.”
In a business where timing is everything, the spate of recent events — particularly the uncertainty of it all — has been daunting at times. For Scoreboard Sports, a company that defines itself by continually evolving in a changing market, getting its clients to understand this premise has been top of mind.
Macklyn says the biggest challenge in servicing his clients is, first and foremost, planning, especially in today’s climate. The past year has been littered with supply-chain challenges, from a pandemic that put a stranglehold on economies worldwide, to dock dilemmas in California and a cargo ship that recently was stuck in the Suez Canal.
“It is something to see just how fragile our supply-chain system is,” Macklyn says. “There are so many factors involved. You have sports clubs that never know how many players will try out and how many players will migrate. COVID made 2020 very difficult. Like everyone else in our space, we were impacted by the obvious reduction in teams buying at all different levels.”
Some of Scoreboard Sports’ business continued as leagues in Utah weren’t completely shut down on the club level, with high-school sports affected differently depending on the sport. Generally, Macklyn says purchasing was down overall, but his business was not impacted as drastically as some of its other customers.
To help right the ship, Scoreboard Sports did what it does best — change when change is warranted. “We absolutely pivoted our business,” Macklyn says. “We began to look at different sports and groups flourishing during this time, like golf and running groups. The training and workout industry was still strong, so we focused more of our attention there. And obviously, some businesses and corporations were successful, so we were able to take advantage of that, as well.”
Like scores of other companies in industries across the country, the Scoreboard Sports team seized the opportunities that presented themselves. Take the slew of pandemic-related protocols; with people everywhere urged to practice social distancing, mask mandates opened the door to an untapped opportunity.
“We were able to take advantage of the whole mask-decoration piece,” Macklyn says. “We offer screen printing, embroidery spot sublimation and heat-press digital printing. Screen printing continues to be the most consistent. And with sublimation not as strong as it used to be, we do not offer allover sublimation. But I still feel like that is a consistently strong player.”
In addition, embroidery in the corporate world remains a viable option, which is a welcome relief as the decoration method isn’t as prevalent as it once was in team sports. Macklyn says technological advancements continue to provide a number of new opportunities.
“Personalization is always going to be key,” Macklyn says. “People not only like to identify their product, but also like to be identified by it. I don’t see that ever really changing. What I do think changes is how they want to be identified.”
Macklyn says sublimation continues to be a process with a lot of upside, especially when it comes to 100% polyester and high-polyester blends. “The fact that the heat has to be so high and the pressure has to be relatively high often will cause the polyester to change in look. Therefore, you can actually see markings from the heat press where the application takes place. Some customers do not like that, so we shy away from spot sublimation as much as we used to due to that issue.”
In the end, the key to success amid the constant changes comes down to education. The companies that continue to educate themselves on industry trends, customer needs and market adjustments will thrive.
“You have to make sure to align your business and your customers with companies and brands that are dependable — true partners that not only have their interests in mind, but you and your customers’ [interests] as well,” Macklyn says. “There is a lot to be aware of, a lot that is happening. It’s your job as an industry expert to show your customers what’s available. That’s one of the value propositions you have to present them. If you can do that, it can be a differentiator between you and your competition.”
Michael J. Pallerino is an award-winning writer who has written for a number of national consumer and trade publications. For more information or to comment on this article, email Michael at email@example.com.
Scoreboard Sports at a Glance
Company Name: Scoreboard Sports
Address: 509 West 2600 South, Bountiful, UT 84010
Decoration Methods Offered: Screen printing, embroidery, spot sublimation, heat printing
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