A Formula for Leadership Success – The right people, in the right place, at the right time

AcuSport Corporation, one of the nation’s leading distributors of outdoor and shooting sports products, is a privately-owned company with headquarters in Bellefontaine, OH. The company started as a hobby in a garage of a small home in 1965 and has grown to more than 200 employees, with regional locations in Arlington, TX, Atlanta, GA, Billings, MT, Philadelphia, PA, Sacramento, CA and Waite Park, MN.

The challenge

As a result of a reorganization of the senior management team, AcuSport had two director positions to fill – Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Merchandising.  The Director of Operations, Mary Grim, remembers recognizing immediately that they needed outside help to fill these very key positions.

The Oliver Group had recruited positions for AcuSport in the past, and having worked with The Oliver Group for over 20 years, Mary said it was only natural to turn to them to perform an executive search for these two positions. Mary cited three main reasons for using The Oliver Group to recruit these two senior positions:

  • Recruiting expertise – demonstrated by successfully filling other executive-level sales roles for clients and managing the onboarding of those employees.
  • Knowledge of AcuSport – acquired through years of training AcuSport employees and consulting with AcuSport management on business strategies.
  • Use of the Predictive Index® (PI) in the screening process – a process that AcuSport believes in and relies on heavily, not only for hiring, but also training, communication issues, performance management and motivation, and strategic planning.


The Process

The Oliver Group set to work walking AcuSport through an initial process to

  • Define the skill sets and the responsibilities for both positions.
  • Objectively identify the specific behaviors that would lead to optimal job performance.
  • Select the ideal industry background for targeting candidates for the positions.
  • Interview company peers and employees above and below the director level.

Mary points to this careful and very detailed process as one of the key factors that set up the hire for success within the company.

Using the information gathered in the initial process, The Oliver Group created a benchmark for the range of acceptable behaviors and skills that fit the job descriptions. With this benchmark in hand, The Oliver Group began contacting people who were already successfully filling the same roles in other companies and industries. Scores of candidates were contacted and given a vision of the opportunity with AcuSport. Those who expressed strong interested moved to the next stage in the screening process—taking the Predictive Index® survey, which helped determined the candidates’ suitability for the roles. Those candidates who were found to be a good match for AcuSport were then interviewed in detail, and from those who continued to have a high interest in the opportunity, The Oliver Group identified the candidates they were interested in presenting to AcuSport. To narrow this group, The Oliver Group conducted a second round of interviews, administered questionnaires they had designed specifically for each position, performed thorough background checks, and called all references. The final screenings produced five qualified and fully vetted candidates.

The Oliver Group presented the candidates to AcuSport, and continued to assist AcuSport until the new hires were in place. This included scheduling AcuSport interviews with the candidates, making travel arrangements for the interviews, providing AcuSport guidance with interview questions, helping the company evaluate the candidates after their interviews, and assisting in salary negotiations.

The Change

AcuSport hired both directors from the candidate pool that The Oliver Group recommended. Both were a good “fit” for AcuSport’s company culture, which is fast-paced, yet based on family, and community involvement. Both are still with the company, and according to James Broering, President of AcuSport Corporation, “this is the best management team we’ve ever had.”

With years of executive search experience and superior assessment tools like the PI®, The Oliver Group was able to increase AcuSport’s competitive advantage in the industry by providing the right people to help run the company. The Director of Merchandising and the Director of Sales and Marketing positions have a profound impact on the company’s profitability, and in a time when the outdoor and shooting sports industry as a whole has not grown substantially, AcuSport has. Both directors have helped to increase business at AcuSport by meeting and exceeding annual sales and trade margin goals, establishing new vendor relationships, and forming new strategic partnerships and alliances.


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