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Outdoor Sports Headquarters, Inc.

War? Recession? A stale firearms market? all of these factors are having a major influence on the marketing of products designed for the traditional outdoor sports, such as hunting and fishing, but one company has taken these difficulties in stride and is maintaining a continuing increase in annual sales.

Outdoor Sports Headquarters, Inc. is based in Dayton, Ohio. Originally founded by Vince Shiel in 1961, Outdoor Sports Headquarters, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centuri, Inc. which is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The president of Outdoor Sports Headquarters, Inc. is Dick Turner and he has been with the firm for 18 years.

During a recent tour of their headquarters and warehouse in Dayton, Ohio we got to examine this national distributor of hunting and fishing equipment. The warehouse in Dayton, Ohio is one of 10 warehouses across the continental United States with each one having its own regional distribution and sales manager. The modern, functionally appointed facility in Dayton is six years old and covers 180,000 sq. ft. with 40,000 sq. ft. being used for office space. The remainder is the warehouse area for the Great Lakes region.

This regional distribution system provides Outdoor Sports with an extremely timely and quick response to their customer's needs. If the order reaches their desk by noon, Outdoor Sports will ship the completed order out that same afternoon.

O.S.H.I. has coordinated their warehouse facilities together with their computerized ordering system for enhanced efficiency. Each order is handled by one individual who starts at the back of their warehouse and works forward to the actual shipping area. The location of the product on the order sheet corresponds to the location of the product in their warehouse as the products at the top are located furthest back. This eliminates worker backtracking and maintains flow and efficiency for those warehouse personnel responsible for filling orders.

But an important, and perhaps overriding, advantage to the regional warehouse system is it allows them to fill the order from the next closest warehouse if the regional warehouse is temporarily out of stock on the ordered item. If an item is out of stock at the first location they will automatically cross-ship from the next closest warehouse where it is in stock. The result?

The customer still gets his order filled on time without having to experience back-order delays.

Besides the ten regional warehouses Outdoor Sports keeps two hundred road salesmen, ten in-house order personnel, and twelve telemarketing specialists in constant contact with their customers across the United States. The total number of Outdoor Sports Headquarters, Inc. employees for early 1991 was 573 and this represents all ten regions plus the various staffs; including sales, service, administration and warehouse.

In describing the nature of their business, Turner related the majority of their trade was to the independent stocking gun dealer and not the mass merchandisers. They do sell to the regional merchandising chains, but it is a smaller part of their overall sales.

The major portion of that business falls into two areas; spring and fall. Turner used the term spring to describe those items associated with the recreational fishing industry. The term fall is used for those items one normally associates with hunting and shooting and the break down for their business usually runs one-third for spring and two-thirds for fall.

There are exceptions to this one-third/two-thirds division, because those items falling into the categories of athletic, camping, and marine comprise approximately six to seven percent of their annual sales, but the domination of the national mass merchandisers has made it a tough sell for any distributor entering these markets.

There are areas outside of the traditional spring and fall lines that show growth for Outdoor Sports as Turner described Archery as being a growth area for Outdoor Sports Headquarters, Inc. Air guns are also growing in terms of yearly sales, but not to the extent as archery. In traditional firearms, the sport of sporting clays has been a real bright spot and a growth area in an otherwise dormant market. Overall, Turner says they see a trend toward .22 rimfire rilies, .22 rimfire handguns. and centerfire handguns.

When asked if this could be evidence of the increasing growth of urban areas where the only place to shoot was a commercial indoor range, Turner agreed this could very well be evidence of the fact that public shooting ranges are becoming increasingly difficult to find as the number of shooting ranges dwindle nationally.

The brands of handguns carried by Outdoor Sports Headquarters, Inc. runs the list of the prominent manufacturers, save one. Because they are a distributor for Sturm, Ruger and Company they no longer carry Smith & Wesson. Yet, they continue to offer Beretta, Glock, Colt, Browning, SIG, AMT, American Arms, Taurus, Interarms. Llama, Magnum Research. and Para-Ordnance as well as many others.

Outdoor Sports markets a wide range of firearms for the traditional shooting sports as they also own the private label Charles Daly for the well made over/under shotguns which are available exclusively from Outdoor Sports Another private label name they own is the Catchmaster line of fishing tackle.

They participate in the military surplus firearms and ammunition market on a hit or miss basis as Turner said it was not an area of prime concern.

An area of growing interest as well as increased sales is their export business. Among the items they export are a wide variety of reloading tools, components and supplies. Turner said the whole export program was growing for them, but he questioned if it was for the industry.

When asked about the recession everyone was talking about in early 1991, Turner answered that they had seen a slow down, but it was not a drastic downturn in sales. What they had observed taking place was the frequency of the orders had increased while the size of each of these orders had decreased.

A tour of the facility in Dayton, Ohio revealed a modern office complex that was expressly designed to satisfy their customer's needs. The computer department is staffed 24 hours a day and was always ready to process each order as it arrived. Outdoor Sports can now access the dealer with their main frame computer through the dealer's personal computer. In this manner the dealer can make sure the ordered item is in stock before guaranteeing delivery to his customer.

Turner related his firm has always maintained a close relationship with the over 15,000 dealers they service nationwide and to do that representatives of Outdoor Sports Headquarters, Inc. attend and exhibit at eight dealer shows throughout the year.

This commitment to the individual dealer may be a primary reason for their success, but it is not the only one as they continuously search for new ways to better serve their customers. Perhaps that is why Outdoor Sports is enjoying increased sales during a period of war, recession, and what some have called a flat sales firearms market.
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Article Details
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Author:James, Frank W.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:company profile
Date:Apr 1, 1991
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