Ed Stack stays close to his business to make Dick’s Sporting Goods better

Edward W. Stack had all sorts of doubters when he suggested expanding his family’s business beyond its two stores in upstate New York. Even his father, the founder of what is today Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc., didn’t see a reason to grow.

But what Stack had that others didn’t was a vision to build on what was already a solid business.

“You’ll have a lot of people who won’t really share your vision and will tell you all of the reasons why it won’t work,” Stack says. “But if you really believe in it, you move forward anyway and find ways to make it work.”

That confidence in his vision helped Stack, chairman and CEO of the sports and fitness specialty retailer, overcome obstacles, such as moving the company’s main offices from Binghamton, N.Y., to Pittsburgh, taking the company public (NYSE: DKS) and expanding from two stores to a national business. As of May 1, Dick’s Sporting Goods had 424 stores in 41 states, as well as 91 Golf Galaxy Inc. stores in 31 states.

As the company has grown throughout the years, the vision has evolved and helped to create what is now a $4.4 billion company that employs nearly 26,000 people. Just as important as developing a sound vision is being able to clearly communicate the vision and being aware of when it needs to progress.

“If you don’t have a solid vision, you probably aren’t going to be able to grow profitably,” Stack says. “It isn’t any different than if you were going to jump in the car and drive from here to New York City. If you didn’t have a road map or a vision of how to get there, you wouldn’t get there.”