January 23, 2011

Dick Coffey worked his way through the ranks to presidency of company

Olympia Sports' president has taken advantage of changing technology, an industry observer says.

By J. Hemmerdinger jhemmerdinger@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WESTBROOK — Dick Coffey, president of Westbrook-based Olympia Sports, is well aware many folks don’t know Olympia calls Maine home.

But that’s OK, said 57-year-old Coffey. The company, which is privately owned and has been selling sporting goods for more than 35 years, likes to keep a low profile, he said.

And so do its leaders.

“Dick is a soft-spoken leader in the industry. He is a very quiet and understated fellow, not one to stand up and pound his chest. He works behind the scenes to influence the direction,” said Matt Carlson, president and CEO of the National Sporting Goods Association.

Carlson was hired at the NSGA about three years ago when Coffey was on the group’s board of directors.

Coffey enjoyed serving in the volunteer post, which he did from 2004 to 2010.

There was some talk of Coffey becoming chair of the board, but he said the post was too high profile.

“Getting up and speaking is not my thing. I am not afraid of it, but I do not have the gift of gab,” he said. But Coffey, who grew up in Owls Head, has years of experience at Olympia.

He joined the company in 1975, shortly after getting a business degree from the University of Southern Maine. (He also worked for a brief stint at lumber and hardware company Diamond International).

Coffey was assistant manager of the first Olympia store, which was in the Maine Mall, and helped Olympia founder Edward Manganello expand his fledgling chain,

Coffey moved through the ranks at Olympia, working as merchandise manager, buyer and, now, president. In his current post, he oversees the company’s real estate deals, scouts new locations and visits stores to meet with local staffers.

Carlson at NSGA said Coffey has taken advantage of changing technology. He said Coffey compares the Internet revolution to the expansion of catalog sales roughly 100 years ago. Like catalogs, the Internet is another sales method – one that Olympia has embraced with a robust online catalog.

During a tour of Olympia’s Westbrook warehouse, Coffey also discussed sophisticated product-tracking technology, such as Get it!, a system that allows store employees to locate and sell out-of-stock items.

Coffey now lives in Windham with his wife, Ann. He has two children, 29-year-old Brad, who lives in Cambridge, Mass., and Mark, 28, who is Olympia’s IT manager. Coffey also has a stepson, David, 23.

Coffey has a house on Little Sebago Lake and a 19-foot Stingray power boat.

He’s a fan of local sports teams and a former school athlete. He played forward in basketball and first base in baseball and ran cross country.

Staff Writer Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or at: jhemmerdinger@mainetoday.com

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