James Hartford serves as operating head of the group, which includes three managing partners: Bernard Brennan, former chief executive officer of Montgomery Ward; Matt Powell, previously with Sneaker Stadium, Modell’s and MVP.com, and Rusty Saunders, founder of a Midwestern sales representation firm.
Hartford told WWD that the four partners will continue to operate their own businesses.
“Rather than working independently as lone wolves, we formed a group of associated services firms,” he said. “It’s a great brain trust, and it stands to reason that a company doing business with one component of our group would be inclined to do business with the others.”
Hartford continues as president and ceo of Sportsexpo.com, a sporting goods industry business-to-business portal that will be among the companies affiliated with SOS. Hartford, whose professional credits include stints at Reebok and Benetton, divides his time between the group’s offices in Los Angeles and Charlotte, N.C. Brennan is based in Jacksonville, Fla., and supervises the brand development, merger and acquisition and software solutions practices of the firm. He continues to operate The Brennan Group, a venture-capital company.
Powell, president of Princeton Retail Analysis in Princeton, N.J., oversees client development, retail management and market research and analysis for the company. Working from a base in Cincinnati, Saunders is responsible for executive search, rep search and training. He had previously sold his sales firm.
“We connected with a number of very talented, highly experienced people working in the industry as consultants and independent contractors,” said Hartford, noting that SOS will be adding specialists in areas it already covers and possibly others. “Many industry companies were looking for solutions to reduce costs, while attempting to grow brands, build sales and increase profitability. We simply took the initiative to bring these professionals together under the SportsOneSource umbrella to provide these solutions for the industry.”
Powell added: “Retailers and suppliers have cut just about everything they can to improve profitability, risking real degradation of the top-line revenues that drive the business. Solutions exist that can improve operating and merchandising processes far more efficiently and effectively than cutting people or services.”