Many persons are surprised to know that Finish Line Shoe Company started almost 40 years ago. How do you manage to stay afloat? How do you manage to stay current? Are questions we get from time to time and the answer is simple. VISION

Finish Line started out as the vision of three friends lan Cohen, David Klapper and John Domont. Being athletes themselves they understood why one would want a store that provides the latest and best styles in athletic footwear. However, as with most businesses they were faced with a challenge. Their challenge was the fact that The Athlete’s Foot already established a business that mirrored their idea. To that end, they did what every smart entrepreneur has come to realize, namely that especially when you enter an industry as a start-up it is perhaps to join the competition before you try to beat them. To that end, they decided to purchase the franchise rights for The Athlete’s Foot in the state of Indiana and the greater Louisville, Kentucky area and began operating in 1976.

Another great lesson in the Finish Line Inc. story is the fact that the partners clearly had an understanding among themselves which enabled Cohen to continue practicing law whilst being involved on a part-time basis, Domont to be a silent partner without Klapper expressing dissatisfaction with running the day to day business. To that end, it is abundantly clear that for start-ups to be successful where persons have agreed to be partners, there must be clear agreement in relation to the roles of each.

By 1981 Cohen left his law practice and became a full-time partner as Klapper was at the outset. However, they never forgot their initial visions and when the opportunity arose; they opened Finish Line Inc. as a competitor of The Athlete’s Foot. In early 1982, Cohen, Klapper and Domont asked two others to join them in a bid to expand their business. To that end, Larry Sablosky, their friend who had a background in retail, along with Dave Fagin, their Puma sales representative at the time, were enlisted as partners. By mid 1982, the five owners opened their first Finish Line store. Once again a great lesson for entrepreneurs is to be had from this part of the Finish Line Inc. story. Whilst it is good to have partners who see eye to eye on matters and in relation to the business vision, this is not the only thing of import. It is evident that the other two partners were chosen because they also had tremendous expertise and would have been of great value to Finish Line Inc’s business.

When the franchise rights for The Athlete’s Foot expired, in 1986, all TAF stores were converted to Finish Line stores. By 1991, the company had grown to 105 stores located primarily in Midwestern and Southeastern states with yearly sales of nearly $100 million. In order to expand Finish Line's presence nationally and to eliminate some of the personal financial risk as a company has separate legal personality and responsibilities from its directors, Cohen, Klapper, Sablosky and Fagin took the company public in 1992. At this stage, Dumont opted out. Once again lessons are here to be learnt. Firstly, as a partner if for whatever reason a partnership is taking a direction with which you are uncomfortable, feel free to opt out. Secondly, in business there is a need to separate yourself and your assets from those of the business to that end, choosing the right business model is critical.

Just four years later, the company had grown to 220 stores and recorded $300 million in sales, and Finish Line made two secondary public offerings. Although Fagan opted to retire and Finish Line Inc. had achieved remarkable success, the three remaining founders never stopped concentrating on store growth. However, with the rise in internet use and online shopping, they also began to turn their attention to the online channel. As early as July 1999, www.finishline.com recorded its first sales with the online business doubling each year until 2004. At the end of Fiscal Year 2004, Finish Line had over 500 stores and a little bit fewer than one billion dollars in sales. It was no surprise then that in the following year, Finish Line hit the billion-dollar milestone for the first time. The lessons in this part of the Finish Line story include the fact that with changing ways of doing and optimization business, entrepreneurs ought to modify the way they offer products and/or services or else the competition will outstrip them.

FinishLine.com is the online store of the company. In addition to selling athletic shoes of the word's top brands, the company also offers a lot of useful information through its Youtube channel about athletic shoes and the latest technology.

 

With over a billion dollars in revenue each year, certainly, Finish Line Inc. is an incredible success story showing that it takes, time, effort and dedication to make a business succeed. Indeed, its story is overall a great lesson for entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial at heart.

Read my Article about Finish Line Coupons.