I knew of him long before I met him. Da Whiz, aka Dwayne Peanut Harms, as already an iconic figure in Northern California running circles by the time I started seeing him at track meets, road races and watering holes that shall remain nameless.
As I began publishing magazines, I would see Nut as Reebok’s team manager, where he put together a frighteningly successful team and program: too bad Reebok had no clue what they had created. Nut has built up several companies in the team business, and now, at VS Athletics, he has found his home. The creativity, the focus, and the business acumen of Mr. Harms, who, understands footwear, apparel and how the team business should not be underestimated.
In my mind, team apparel biz and team footwear biz, the giants are Peanut Harms, Freddy Doyle and Jan Johnson. The interaction with their clients, the long time relationships make those three amazingly successful. The funny thing is, it takes alot of work, and these three don’t want to let anyone think that what they do it work. But, like a four minute miler, managing the team business is complicated, and while few have been successful, many have totally screwed it up.
One of the things that makes Billy Smith a strong CEO is that he understands Peanut Harms. The sign of a great manager, someone once told me, is that they hire people who do the jobs they don’t and do them better than they could, and allow them to flourish. One sees that in successful team businesses, but it is easier said than done.
Peanut’s magnum opus is the VS SuperClinic AND his events around the USA Championships. The 2012 Olympic Trials gatherings were fantastic. Again, a chance to meet with coaches, sponsors, athletes and speak about the sport we love and business we love.
As the commissar of fun, a high school coach, a father of amazingly talented young woman, a husband, and a man who understands, better than just about anyone in the country, the need for team business to interact with coaches year round, Peanut Harms is an expert in this business.
This weekend, for example, February 8-9, 2013, Peanut Harms is in Milwaukee at one of the biggest, definitely, in my opinion, the best coaches clinic, the Wisconsin Coaches Association Clinic.
The two questions that Peanut focused on below should be savored. In this modern world, to communicate with your clients, ipads, iphones, androids, social media are all important, but relationships are what counts. Without relationships, and trust, all of the modern communication tools are absolutely worthless.
Oh, and I love and respect this man. He has helped me and advised me over the years, with a smile and a laugh.
RBR, # 7. Key to a team supplier, you hit events, how many events do you go to each year?
Peanut Harms: The team business is acutely relationship driven business, therefore, establishing key relationships while attending events is key to our strategy. Of course, event sales can be significant, but face to face interaction is what drives Team business. It may be labor intensive but, it is necessary. People most often will buy from people they know and are familiar with more often than from some arbitrary catalog that they receive in the mail.
RBR, # 8. VS sponsors coaches clinics, tell us about the upcoming SuperClinic?
Peanut Harms: The 4th Annual VS Atheltics West Coast Super Clinic. I could write a small bok on the need for contemporary, interactive, educational opportunities and their place in the sales paradigm, but I won’t. Let me say that there was a very large void in a large state and the Super Clinic is a low cost, high quality opportunity for Coaches of All levels of expertise to hear from some of the most successful elite, college and high school coaches in the country!
Co-clinic director Dave Shrock and I put this thing together with the main intent of having an opportunity for a staff of coaches to come, sit in the Event Room of their coaching assignment and get information tha tthey can use the following week at practice. We get great speakers because of the relationships we have developed over many, many years in the coaching community. Our goal is to have the largest stand alone track clinic West of the Mississippi and move it to a Casino to cater to the “Social” requirements of coaches as well.