Posted by Phillip Poole on 2008-02-19

Service is the key to business success, according to Hibbett Sports CEO Mickey Newsome of Birmingham.

Speaking Feb. 19 to a crowd of about 180 at a Business Before Hours event at Samford University, Newsome said his company has grown because of the emphasis on "service, service, service." That is a central theme in employee training, and "that's what separates us from our competitors."

Newsome, a 1962 Samford business graduate, said the company "has not changed our approach in 30 years because what we are doing is working."

Hibbett Sports is based in Birmingham but is a "small market operator," he explained, placing stores primarily in areas with population between 30,000 and 100,000. Quoting the late Birmingham business leader A. G. Gaston, Newsome said Hibbett "finds a need and fills it. We go where we're needed."

The company provides product and services that are unique to a market and place their stories primarily in strip shopping centers. Newsome referred to the "de-malling" of America, saying that people now want the quick convenience of strip centers rather than spending all day at a mall as they did decades ago.

Newsome even called Wal-Mart "one of our best allies." He said Hibbett Sports looks for strip centers adjacent to Wal-Mart stores because "they bring customers to the parking lot and then they see our store."

Newsome also noted that Hibbett Sports does not "waste money." Among cost-saving measures, the company ships product in company-owned trucks, re-uses cardboard boxes for shipping and sets store thermostats at 68 degrees in winter and 74 degrees in summer.

The Business Before Hours was sponsored by Samford's Brock School of Business and the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce as part of a weeklong series of events celebrating the recent naming of the Brock School for retired Birmingham banker and Samford philanthropist Harry B. Brock Jr.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.