Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack sat down with Business Insider to discuss his new book “It’s How We Play the Game,” which chronicles the rise of the retailer, along with Stack’s relationship with his father and predecessor, Richard “Dick” Stack.
Stack also spoke at length about his company’s decision to move away to from gun sales. Dick’s dropped AR-15-style weapons from its hunting specialty stores after last year’s Parkland massacre, and had previously dropped them from its big box stores. It destroyed $5 million of the guns it pulled.
Stack called out Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying that he wished the Kentucky Republican had the “guts” to bring a bill establishing universal background checks to a vote. He also advocates for the renewal of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that lasted between 1994 and 2004.
The CEO talked about the business’s renewed focus on private label brands, its recently shaky partnership with Under Armour, the best leadership lesson from his dad, and why he always looks for “left tackles” when hiring.
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Last year, Ed Stack made a decision that instantly made him both a hero and villain across America.
Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, said he’d stop selling AR-15 rifles and guns like it. His retailer also began limiting all gun sales to customers 21 and older. This was a big deal: Dick’s had 732 big-box and 35 hunting specialty stores at the time, with more than $8 billion in sales, making it by far the United States’ largest sports retailer.
As mass shootings increasingly became a regular part of the news cycle, the debate in the country over gun-control grew fiercer than ever. By picking the side that limited access to high-powered weapons, Stack knew that even in the best circumstances, it would hurt his business in the short term — but he decided it was necessary for the integrity of his company.
In an interview with Business Insider around the debut of his book “It’s How We Play the Game,” Stack explained why he went forward with his plan, and how he’s dealt with the blowback in the year-and-a-half since.
Stack told us why he believes stepping back from the gun business is a “blessing in disguise.” And because his new book is part memoir, we took the opportunity to ask him about his take on the sports retailing industry, as well as his evolution as a leader after taking over the business from Dick’s namesake founder, his father Richard “Dick” Stack.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Why he destroyed $5 million worth of assault weapons
Feloni: The book opens with the idea of having a responsibility to community, especially how it’s impacting kids affected by gun violence. When you were making that decision to get rid of the AR-15s, is this what was also going through your mind, its relationship to the community and the children in it?
Stack: After Sandy Hook, we took the assault-style rifles …read more
Source:: Business Insider