On My Mind:OMG and BSN
It is really quite remarkable that two companies that arguably have most changed the face of the team sports industry sit just 18 miles apart as the crow flies in the Dallas area. It’s just a 25-minute drive (with no traffic) from OrderMyGear’s funky offices in downtown Big D to the campus of BSN Sports in nearby Farmers Branch, both of whom have disrupted – for better or worse, depending on your perspective – how the team sports industry goes about its business.
I had a chance to take that drive last month while in the area for, ironically, the Nation’s Best Sports buying group Summer Market in Fort Worth. Who knew there was so much going on in the world of team sports in the heart of Texas these days?
I made it a point to stop by both offices because, just like we did with Under Armour 20 years ago and Nike before that, we like to see first-hand how these previously small companies are growing and how far they have come since we last visited. For UA in its early days it seemed every time we drove into Baltimore they had added a new building to their complex. I got the much the same feeling on a slightly smaller scale on this Texas road trip.
When I last visited OMG the entire company was housed on one floor in what could generously be described as a building and neighborhood in transition. Today the team tech giant is a centerpiece of a burgeoning tech center that is still a work in progress. The OMG operation has taken over that entire building, complete with a rooftop deck overlooking the town’s downtown.
The vibe inside reflects the role OMG is playing in team sports. Three floors with a decidedly hip feel — mobile workspaces, common meeting areas, even a ping-pong table – give it an early Silicon Valley feel. The mostly young, tech-savvy employees definitely do not reflect the general makeup of the team sports business, but that’s a good thing for a company whose technology has kept customers – many of whom have gone kicking and screaming into the world of technology – in business.
The atmosphere over at the new BSN Sports headquarters is definitely more team-oriented, with flat screens airing ESPN 24/7, meeting rooms named after famous high school and college coaches and a wall adorned with school logos from around America. BSN purchased the building a few years back after its previous HQ flooded and then it rapidly outgrew its temporary offices. The building itself is quite an investment by a company with some big money behind its efforts to change the team game.
More than just a building, there was a corporate feel around the BSN offices that you don’t feel at many team sports business, with the exception of big guys like Under Armour or Rawlings. Those meeting rooms were occupied with BSN sales pros in from all corners of America for training, with managers upping their leadership skills and a board meeting peopled no doubt by the money guys fueling its rapid growth through acquisitions and technology investments. (Ironically, even though they are virtually neighbors BSN does not utilize OMG’s tech platform, but that’s a story for another day.)
My spring and early summer travels – to these companies, to the Sports Inc. Summer Market in Indianapolis two weeks earlier and the NSGA Management Conference in May in Georgia – allowed us to really feel the pulse of the team sports business. Our prognosis: Despite some challenges, that pulse is beating strong.