A Great Vision Well Executed
- Wilson was not directly in the biggest baseball product category (Bats).
- They had a licensee partner who was doing no business.
- DeMarini was a niche slow pitch bat company with a great technology. They grew quickly but were stagnating and losing focus. They did not have a strategic plan and others copied their technology.
- Considine terminated the licensee relationship for bats.
- He met with Ray DeMarini numerous times, developed trust and showed Ray what could be accomplished together.
- Wilson bought DeMarini. By bringing new resources together, the results have been incredible. DeMarini has gone from a niche, slow pitch bat company with $14M in sales to a market leader in baseball, fast pitch and slow pitch bats with $70M in sales.
- Chris kept/improved the DeMarini brand which is much different than the Wilson brand.
Together they made each other stronger. Wilson’s business in Baseball/Softball has grown significantly as well. Adding Wilson’s capital R&D and Sales/Marketing expertise exploded the business. This has created 100 new jobs and more than doubled the manufacturing facility.
“Ray sold his company to Wilson because of Chris! He trusted Chris to do the right thing.”Jerry Garnet, DeMarini's first employee
Enter A New Sport & Elevate The Brand
The Wilson brand is authentic, high quality, and performance driven, but it is not seen as contemporary. Definitely not “cool.” Wilson has leadership positions in traditional team sports but lower positions in newer, niche sports. Virtually no position in volleyball.
Chris led the strategic development and execution of gaining a leadership position in Beach Volleyball. It was a sport where Wilson had very little presence and it was a growing “cool” sport, making it a great place for the Wilson Brand.
Wilson developed a new line of beach volleyballs and targeted the AVP – Association of Volleyball Professionals, as a key partner to authenticate the Wilson brand in this space. The AVP was the premiere pro beach volleyball tour in the world. All the best players in the world played on the AVP Tour. This tour had been with another brand since its founding years earlier. Wilson put together a comprehensive plan for the AVP like they had never seen before.
Wilson won the adoption – the holistic program included a brand new product line, on-site activation at events, retailer tie-ins, grassroots programs to grow the game, adding players/appearances to promote Wilson & AVP, etc. Wilson generated millions of dollars in incremental business, secured the market leading position in Beach Volleyball, and the Wilson brand is now THE volleyball in a really cool sport.
“I am very excited to be a member of the Wilson Advisory Staff. Wilson has a great reputation in the sport of Volleyball and I am looking forward to being part of the Wilson family, said Kerri. “With the leadership of Chris Considine and the opportunity to work with the Wilson team on developing even better performing volleyballs – I’m honored to be an Ambassador for the Wilson brand’”.Kerri Walsh, Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist
Bringing Wilson Basketballs Back
Wilson had historically been one of the leading basketball brands. Before Chris was running the Team Sports Business, the basketball business had problems. Michael Jordan (Wilson endorser) had retired, Spalding had the NBA and their game basketballs (new technology) were on fire, and Rawlings had the NCAA Adoption. 80% of the Rawlings NCAA business was large revenue, but very low end product.
Chris’ plan was simple. Step One was product innovation. New resources in Research & Development were brought in. The entire development process was changed. Really digging into consumer insights was paramount. Two breakthrough products were developed – The Evolution and Solution basketballs. They were instantly successful, backed by several patented technologies that enhanced gripability and control.
More subtle innovations were implemented throughout the product line. This innovations push had never been done in the Basketballs category before as many had looked at the product category as an annuity.
Step Two was to secure the NCAA basketball adoption. Wilson’s better product got them “in the game” with NCAA. Wilson’s plan to elevate the NCAA Brand in this category blew away the competition.
Wilson basketball sales/profitability grew consistently each year and were at record levels. 28 out of 50 states adopted Wilson basketballs as their official ball for High School State Championships. The NCAA Brand in basketballs went from low end to Premium immediately with Wilson’s new product range and focus. The NCAA was ecstatic and Wilson has since renewed the adoption three times, in the face of serious competition from very large brands.
“Chris pushed us to reinvent the Basketballs category. He thought it was possible and we found a way”Mike Kuehne; Wilson GM
K Factor Performance Racket Launch
Wilson has consistently had a leadership position in performance rackets. There are good competitors always trying to steal their racket share.
Wilson was working on a new racket line with new technology: a high tech carbon fiber that improved the rackets feel and performance.
Under Chris’ leadership, Wilson put together an integrated plan and launch that led to tremendous sales and profit growth.
- Most players on Tour to committed to playing new K Factor rackets. Wilson has almost 40% of the Professional tour, so this stamp of authenticity and credibility is a big deal.
- Do a truly global launch in one place at one time. Wilson flew all the largest customers in the world to Las Vegas. This was a first in this industry.
- The actual launch was a huge success. Customers got the story, saw the benefit and were passionate disciples who took this back to their market.
- K Factor sales took off.
- Pros on tour had tremendous success.
- Wilson cemented its position as the leading racket brand in the world.
“I’ve literally grown up with a Wilson tennis racket in my hand,” said Federer, whose mother gave him his first Wilson racket at age 10. “Having come this far, I can’t imagine competing with anything else. Wilson and I share a commitment to advancing tennis and fostering athletics, and I’m very proud to sign a lifetime agreement with Wilson. I’m really proud of the relationship we have developed together and I appreciate the confidence and support from Chris Considine the President and the Wilson family”.Roger Federer, Winner of 17 Grand Slams
The Wilson Golf Comeback
Business was in very bad shape when Chris became President. Chris very quickly:
- Changed leadership and culture in the division. From negative and disengaged from the market and customers to “All hands on deck.” Over the next few years: The “Golf Teamwork” culture was a competitive advantage.
- Focus. Focus. Focus.
- Wilson’s heritage and best business in Golf was Irons and low compression performance golf balls for the average player. Wilson irons have won more Majors than any other brand. By a lot.
- Wilson put a stake in the ground on irons.
- R&D, Marketing, Sales Focus, etc. were primarily on Irons.
- Sales grew consistently every year. Many years it grew 10% +.
- Margins grew 8%. Wilson was not closing out Drivers and other items yearly.
- Inventory Performance greatly improved. Focus. Consistency.
- Product line improved dramatically with laser focus.
- Wilson established the low compression performance golf ball category with The Duo franchise. It is a resounding success.
- Wilson Golf is now gaining presence in the market.
- Growing market share.
- Adding Tour players.
- Product leadership in low compression performance golf balls.
- Wilson irons have won numerous industry awards.
“Chris’ vision, focus, and inspiring leadership were critical to turning around the Wilson Golf Division. He made us believe”.Tim Clarke, Wilson Golf President
Product Innovation is the Lifeblood of the Company
For a performance brand like Wilson, product innovation is a critical driver. Players are looking for that edge, and that process of continuously making better product needs to be part of the culture. “We are never satisfied” is what Chris would say in development meetings.
Prior to Chris leading Wilson, the R&D effort sometimes could be a bit fragmented. Some efforts were in Chicago, some were at Wilson factories and some R&D was expected from vendors.
Chris led the strategy and execution of building a hub of Research & Development known as the Innovation Center. The concept was to have one place where the engineers and product developers could create. These folks were from all the different business areas at Wilson. They could now share ideas, concepts, materials, etc. They invested into 3D printing, rapid prototyping and play-testing on site for immediate feedback on new product ideas.
Lead times for product development have been reduced by 20%. A tennis racket concept to a prototype racket can now be done in a few days, not months.
Control of the innovative ideas is much more effective when done in your own environment. There has been less stealing of I.P.
Product innovations have surged. These premium products drive increased sales and margins and elevate the brand.
Spin effect technology rackets, new golf irons and “Connected” Team Sports products all were born in the Innovation Center.
It has evolved into the center of excellence for new product development at Wilson.
“Chris’ vision to bring us all together has paid immediate dividends. Our shared technologies and talent have enabled us to leverage our resources for greater innovation”Doug Guenther; Former VP