Inside DICK'S Sporting Goods distribution center in New York's Southern Tier.

DICK’S: Fostering a Lifetime of Sports

May 15, 2018

The story of DICK’S Sporting Goods —  a national retail chain that employs more than 3,400 people in New York State alone — is one of perseverance and gumption. In 1948, an 18-year-old named Dick Stack was asked by his boss at a local Army surplus store in Binghamton, N.Y., to make a list of items that would lure fishing tackle clientele. That list ultimately inspired Stack to open his own bait-and-tackle shop, that in just 10 years, grew to include sales of sporting equipment; the same mix of items that DICK’S stocks today at more than 720 stores around the country.  

Stack’s son, Ed, now runs the business, one that he and his siblings have expanded into a chain across 47 states, with five major distribution centers. The fifth center opened in January 2018 in Broome County, in New York’s Southern Tier, where it all began.  Three months later, in April, Governor Cuomo announced the company will expand at the site, adding its first ever in-house eCommerce fulfillment center.

The company sells equipment for nearly every sport — from boxing to swimming, lacrosse to softball — and believes strongly in the values that playing sports instill in kids and adults. Thanks to their distribution centers, that equipment is readily accessible; a key aspect of the sporting goods business, explains George Giacobbe, DICK’S Senior Vice President of Supply Chain. Giacobbe spent 15 years with the New York-based department store chain Lord & Taylor before joining DICK’S as a distribution center manager in Smithton, Pa.

“Online and on-site shopping are important to the DICK’S customer,” Giacobbe says, and DICK’S addresses that through its omni-channel approach, offering customers the ability to shop both in-store or online.  The way people shop is ever-evolving, but in the world of sporting goods, customers still love to come into a store to swing a bat or golf club before they buy it,” Giacobbe explains. DICK’S also maintains a robust web presence that caters to their e-commerce and mobile customers. “We are where they want us to be,” Giacobbe adds.

Like DICK’S other distribution facilities, the new Broome County center in Conklin prioritizes using the “newest designs and technology to optimally move goods,” Giacobbe notes. “When researching a location for a fifth center, our team found that Conklin was a perfect place because of its business-friendly environment, and the quality and reliability of the workforce.” Plus, he says, “the opportunity to bring jobs to DICK’S hometown” was an exciting aspect of the new location, in the southern part of the county.

The Conklin Regional Distribution Center plans to incorporate employee ideas and warehouse processes, including the LEAN program, which enables DICK’S associates to share their ideas with company leadership. Processes include advanced warehouse control systems for workflow management, and put-to-light technology, which uses lighting to expedite sorting for stores and customer orders.

A Distribution Center with Roots
“We’re a proud employer,” Giacobbe, says, referring to the company’s focus on employees, and its long relationship to New York State. The Southern Tier facility was picked, in part, due to Conklin’s proximity to the I-81 corridor, a primary north-south travel and commuting route, which is “a huge benefit” for the company’s distribution work.

In 2015, the Southern Tier was awarded $500 million as part of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, geared toward helping Upstate cities thrive. Recent Southern Tier projects have focused on growth in areas including agriculture, and quality of life projects such as the Watkins Glen International Speedway, currently undergoing upgrades to attract tourists.

The approximately 650,000-square-foot Conklin distribution center occupies 65 acres on a 123-acre site. The center services more than 160 retail stores in the Northeast. Site construction added roughly 350 construction jobs, Giacobbe adds, with local partnerships contributing to the center’s design.

The distribution center is pursuing LEED Silver certification, a prominent designation given to green, environmentally friendly design, from the U.S. Green Building Council. To achieve that distinction, the facility is making areas like water conservation a priority with water efficient landscaping, LED interior and exterior lighting, and high-efficiency HVAC units that manage ventilation.

To further minimize environmental impact, the facility will make recycling a priority with balers, which can handle recycling for corrugate (for corrugated materials like cardboard, and the bin or packaging itself) and plastic recycling. To help preserve the preexisting landscape, work on the grounds will also incorporate wetland mitigation — the creation or enhancement of wetlands to offset any wetlands that are impacted by the construction.

The new eCommerce fulfillment center, at approximately 245,000 square feet, will create additional full-time jobs for a total of more than 500 new, full-time jobs at the site in the next five years.

The Hometown Advantage
Giacobbe says the company feels a broad commitment to sports, plus a very personal one in the places where it does business.  “We take pride in becoming active members of the community,” he says, and that pride is manifested through company initiatives and support for community athletic programs. The company also cites the developmental benefits of playing sports. “We believe sports build character, increase confidence, motivate kids to stay in school and aim for higher education,” Giacobbe adds.

To that end, both DICK'S and The DICK'S Foundation have made a $50 million multi-year commitment to provide funding to youth sports teams. Those resources go to youth sports leagues and teams, as well as to The Foundation’s Sports Matter program, which focuses on the team- and confidence-building aspects of sports. “We have helped over 1,800 teams and raised awareness” about the value of sports, Giacobbe adds.

DICK’S also offers a digital platform, Team Sports HQ, for sports league management. It includes mobile apps that can be used for scheduling, live scorekeeping, specialized uniforms and a central location to access information on sponsorship and donations to provide teams nationwide with the resources they need.

Giacobbe explains that, today, DICK’S is about catering to the needs of the 21st century customer. “Customers should be able to shop any way and anywhere they want,” which is why DICK’S is focused on a distribution model that gets the goods to wherever players are out on the field.

And, bringing the company’s fifth distribution center back to its home turf will honor the list that founder Dick Stack made, back in 1948; one that is still growing today.

For more information on the distribution industry in New York State, contact Gio Holmquist at [email protected] or (518) 292-5200.