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Eurosport, the first Sports Endeavors, Inc. retail company was founded in 1984, based on a love of soccer and a high school business project.
The Moylans were a soccer family of six children who all played soccer, four of whom played in college. During his junior year in high school, Mike Moylan was working at a mail order swimwear company that had a small retail outlet. In the retail outlet, along with the swim product that the company sold through the catalog, they also sold a few pairs of soccer shoes. Mike thought that the real opportunity was creating a soccer catalog, and in a car ride on a college recruiting trip his senior year, he proposed the concept to his father. Dr. Moylan was a surgeon at Duke University Medical Center but his father had owned a dairy business so Dr. Moylan had grown up in a family business. He liked the idea of starting another family business. It was Ann Carole, Mike's mom, who came up with the name Eurosport for the catalog.
The concept for the company was a simple one; the mail order catalog would carry only the best soccer products from all around the world. In order to graduate from high school Mike was required to do a senior project, so for this project he created a business plan for the mail order company he envisioned. He was joined in this by Jody Maxwell, classmate, life-long friend and current employee. That plan was the first road map for the fledging business and became the foundation for the success of Eurosport.
The first Eurosport catalog was mailed in the fall of 1984. Because of the limited product availability, the selection included everything Mike could find that was soccer related and he even added in a little tennis gear to fill out the catalog. It was 24 pages and while 20,000 were printed, the first mailing went to only 6,000 soccer players and friends. The location of the company was less than 900 square feet, which included a retail space, a few desks to take phone call and a stock room to store products and process orders.
After high school, Mike entered Georgetown University, where he played soccer. So for the first four years while Mike was at school, his mother ran the company along with Gary Lloyd and then later Eric Vaughter, both of whom had tremendous impact on the business. In the beginning, it was difficult for a business that was catalog-only to establish relationships with sporting goods manufacturers. Therefore the family had to open a brick-and-mortar store in order to build those all-important vendor relationships. Ultimately there were two stores in the Raleigh-Durham area. As the catalog business grew, the decision was made to focus on this part of the business. By 1996 the stores were closed and their resources focused toward the rapidly growing mail order segment.
A year after Eurosport's founding, Brendan graduated from high school and went to Duke University. Brendan worked at the company part-time and when he graduated in 1989, he joined the company on a fulltime basis.
1991 was a big year for Sports Endeavors. The growing company moved from Durham to the former White Furniture factory, just down the road in Hillsborough, North Carolina. The building was creaky and in need of some repair, as parts of the facility were constructed in the early 20th century, but it allowed plenty of room to expand. Areas were renovated as additional space was needed.
Also in 1991, the father of a childhood friend of Mike and Brendan Moylan came by to purchase some soccer balls. The friend was now serving with the Peace Corps in Malawi and soccer balls were a great way to open doors in the smaller communities. As luck would have it, the company had just taken a return on some team uniforms that were already customized. Since the uniforms were not fit for resale, it was decided to donate them to the Peace Corps friend as well.
In talking about this later, Mike and Brendan realized that there were probably a lot of kids with closets full of extra gear that was older and going unused. So a campaign was organized to solicit used-but-usable equipment from customers, who would in return receive a small gift certificate as a token of appreciation. As word spread the company soon started receiving requests for donations from medical teams, missionaries and military organizations to supply product to be used in the same way as that first shipment to Malawi- to help kids who are less fortunate and open the doors for others into places where they could be of assistance. This was the birth of the Passback Program. Today, the Passback Program is administered in conjunction with the US Soccer Foundation and continues to help supply the needs of the less fortunate and disadvantaged around the world. Since its inception, Passback has distributed nearly 800,000 items. Please go to www.Passback.org to learn more.
In 1993, Sports Endeavors expanded beyond soccer. Former UNC lacrosse player Chad Watson, who was working at the company, approached Mike and Brendan about selling gear for his sport. Great Atlantic Lacrosse Company was soon founded and the first catalog mailed to 17,000 players in March of 1994.
Also in 1994, a good friend, Jim Covington, came back from serving with the United States Navy and went to work here at Sports Endeavors. Jim returned from lunch one day and said he had spent the hour speaking with an associate about an emerging computer network called the world wide web. So Brendan and Jim did a little research and registered the URLs www.Soccer.com and www.Lacrosse.com. Later that year the company launched a commercial site on www.Soccer.com, followed in early in 1995 by a store on www.Lacrosse.com. (Alas, we didn't have the foresight to also register Eurosport or Great Atlantic...)
Sports Endeavors' biggest competitor at that point, a company called TSI Soccer, was located right across town in Durham. In January of 2001, SEI acquired that company and merged it into Eurosport. At this point a new emphasis was placed on growing the team business, combining a team catalog and website with an active sales group. Between the acquisition and building the team business, the company quickly filled up a distribution center expansion completed in 2000.
By the end of 2003, Sports Endeavors had broken ground on a massive addition, giving more distribution capacity, more office space and a large new "town center" in which employees could gather, relax and eat. Since as far back as 1998, there has always been a large-screen TV in the room and work slows considerably when a match from one of the big events like the Champions League, the FIFA World Cup or UEFA European Championships is being broadcast.
In 2004, while planning for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the leadership team determined that even with the two recent expansions, the distribution center was not still going to be able to handle the capacity that would be required for this event as well as the rapid growth. After determining that expansion of the existing facility was no longer feasible, a new location was sought.
That location was found in Mebane, North Carolina, eleven miles from Hillsborough, where the customer service center and offices remain. The new distribution center provided 225,000 sq. ft., twice the size of the space in Hillsborough. The company's distribution center operations moved in to the new facility in May of 2006, just prior to the start of that year's World Cup. In November of 2007 a larger breakroom and offices were added.
Sports Endeavors' biggest online competitor was a company called 365, Inc. based in Birmingham, Alabama. Mike and Brendan had met the owner, Bernard Frei, at a vendor event in August of 2004 and discovered the two companies shared a lot of the same growth aches and pains. It was also realized that the companies could be better together, and late in 2005 Sports Endeavors acquired 365. Bernard remained on board and today plays a large role in the running of Sports Endeavors.
The merger with 365 also brought a new sport to the fold. Rugby was -and is- Bernard Frei's passion. He played the sport from the age of 11 until an injury while playing in Parma, Italy sidelined him at age 40. Bernard's playing days began in the UK and took him to France, Australia and the United States. Sports Endeavors was excited to welcome the sport of rugby, which had been a growing business for 365.
During this time, it was decided that Sports Endeavors would become a non-smoking company, which meant no smoking on the grounds. This decision was made for the health of our employees as well as to set a positive example for the youth sports with which we are so involved. It was also decided to offer healthy alternatives for employees and today, each employee can schedule with their supervisor to take one hour of paid time a week to participate in a variety of classes offered by the company. Classes offered have included Weight Loss, Smoking Cessation, CPR, Aerobics, Yoga, Ballroom Dancing, Zumba, Bodyfit, lunchtime basketball and of course, lunchtime soccer.
Since the beginning, Mike and Brendan were fortunate enough to be able to call on friends with whom they had grown up or with whom they had a family connection for a helping hand in building the business. In addition, every Moylan sibling (Sean, Maura, Kiernan and Katie) has worked in the business at some point as well as a few cousins, nieces and nephews. Many of the early employees- Jody and Julie Maxwell, John London, Ed Hinshaw, Kevin Sullivan, Drew Blum, Mandy Tabor, Darlene Chapman, Jimmy McIntyre, Linda Turner, Durward Williams, Billy Lalor, Chad Watson- are still with the company. Many more have moved on to other careers within the industry.
Sports Endeavors has grown well beyond that high school project. It is still a family owned business and Mike and Brendan are still very involved but Sports Endeavors, Inc. has become the largest soccer specialty retailer in the world.
In 1984, the company had three fulltime employees. Today, it has over three hundred fulltime employees and more than 400 part-time and seasonal employees.
That first Eurosport catalog was mailed to 6000 players and friends. Today, a little over a million soccer, lacrosse and rugby players receive a catalog each month.
The company began customization by silk-screening t-shirts and later added a heat press for numbers and letters. Today, there are hundreds of employees picking, packing, silk-screening, embroidering and applying transfers 7 days a week and during peak periods, 24 hours a day.
While it was difficult to find enough gear to fill up the first catalog, today over 60,000 different items are sold through the catalogs and websites. The goal of Sports Endeavors, Inc. is to ship that same day every order placed before 6 pm that doesn't require customization.
Today, Sports Endeavors, Inc. has partnered with the FIFA 2014 World Cup, UEFA Champions League, the 2012 UEFA European Championships, Major League Soccer, Chelsea FC, Arsenal FC, AC Milan, Manchester United FC, FC Barcelona, Juventus, Santos, FC Bayern Munich, the Mexican Football Federation, USA Rugby and South Africa's Springboks among others.
Two brothers, supported by their parents, family and friends.
A team of people dedicated to service.
One love for soccer, lacrosse and rugby.