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 its stores around the country.
In 1984, Stack’s son, Ed, took charge of the business, and together with his siblings, 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. And in 2019, the distribution center expanded and became the company’s first-ever direct to consumer fulfillment center. In a span of just three years, the distribution and fulfillment center brought over 530 additional full-time jobs to the Southern Tier region. DICK’S sells equipment for nearly every sport — from running to swimming, lacrosse and 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.
“The DICK’S customer likes to have options for how and when they buy and receive the products they need,” Giacobbe says. “DICK’S addresses that through its omni-channel approach, offering customers the ability to shop in-store or online – and to have what they’ve ordered delivered to their house or available at the store for pick up. We are where they want us to be.”
Like the company’s other distribution facilities, the 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.
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 expansion of the distribution center added an additional 250,000 square feet to house DICK’S first in-house fulfillment center. The center features over six miles of conveyor and showcases technology that is the latest in ecommerce order fulfillment, including 134 robots that place product into a grid of 97,000 bins. Prior to the fulfillment center, the facility completed about 2,000 online orders a day; now, it completes 18,000+ orders on an average day, with ability to process a much higher amount during peak fulfillment season.
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, since 2014, DICK'S and The DICK'S Foundation have given over $100 million in funding to youth sports teams in need through the Foundation’s Sports Matter initiative. “Throughout the years, we have given over one million youth athletes the chance to play and raised awareness” about the value of sports, Giacobbe adds.
“DICK’S Sporting Goods was born in Binghamton, and we’ve never forgotten that,” said Giacobbe. "To be able to bring jobs to this region through our distribution center, to still operate stores here – including store #1 – and to be able to give back to the Southern Tier communities means so much to us. It’s our history – but also a big part of our future.”