Thursday, May 7, 2015

ACTIVE Network Launches Activity Cloud

Original article from businesswire.com

DALLAS--()--ACTIVE Network®, the global leader in cloud-based Activity and Participant Management™ and data solutions, has unveiled its widely anticipated ACTIVE Network Activity Cloud™ solution, a robust, comprehensive data insights platform designed for event and activity organizers. ACTIVE has combined the power of big data methodology with over 15 years of its registration history to offer customers actionable and unique insights and analytics.
“We look forward to working with ACTIVE to better understand the trends and competitive landscape that affect our events.”
“With the launch of Activity Cloud, we are offering unparalleled business intelligence to event organizers to help them drive participation growth and increase revenue,” said Darko Dejanovic, Chief Executive Officer at ACTIVE Network. “We have made significant investments and have spent the past 18 months with our team of data scientists while leveraging our relationship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to aggregate registration data, real-time participant behaviors and social media trends. Our goal was to create in-depth insights and analytics to help our customers optimize revenue, increase participation, understand the competitive landscape and make better business decisions. The use of data to more intelligently manage all types of activity and participation-based events is a game-changer for our industry and our customers.”
ACTIVE Network Activity Cloud seamlessly weaves together data from activity organizers and participants with powerful insights such as participant propensity, social media trends and household demographics, providing event organizers with actionable intelligence that has previously not been available in this market. ACTIVE’s Activity Cloud application uses mathematical and statistical algorithms to consolidate data from ACTIVE’s proprietary data platform and third-party inputs to curate the most important insights. This allows ACTIVE’s customers to access powerful intelligence in an easy-to-read format that will help them solve immediate business needs and improve their event performance.
“Accessing data and insights, with the depth and scale that ACTIVE Network is capable of, is the holy grail for our industry,” said Jack Caress, President of Triathlon Business International and CEO of Pacific Sports LLC, whose events include the Los Angeles Triathlon at Torrance Beach, U.S. Open Triathlon and Long Beach Triathlon. “We look forward to working with ACTIVE to better understand the trends and competitive landscape that affect our events.”
ACTIVE Network Activity Cloud is initially available to ACTIVEWorks® customers in the domestic Endurance community. ACTIVE will release additional features and functionality in a phased approach that will augment the currently available offerings both internationally and across markets for all types of companies and organizations that can leverage these valuable data insights. For more information on ACTIVE Network Activity Cloud or ACTIVE Network’s other solutions, please visit us atwww.activenetwork.com.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pacific Latitudes May 2015 - Pacific Sports Newsletter

Picking up from the previous Pacific Latitudes Newsletter, 

I opened Sportech, the first triathlon pro shop, in 1983. Our first shop was in Irvine, California at a very modest 1200 square feet. We quickly outgrew this store and opened another in across from UC Irvine about double the size and later added another store in Dana Point in 1985. My partner (Steve Brugh) and I felt there was a burgeoning market of triathlon and the individual sports of swim, bike, and run. 

After completing the 1982 Ironman (in those days it was in February) we began discussing the void of where to buy gear and importantly having someone who actually knew about the three sports and triathlon. Traditional bike shops were not serving triathletes and the desire for all the latest new bikes (sadly, you can generally still make that argument), equipment, and innovations. Running stores were popular including some top individual shops in major cities with places like Second Sole (who made their mark on the industry by giving you a “second sole” glued on after taking off the old one. It was a success for many years until we started realizing that it was the midsole that needed replacement) and Fleet Feet were just beginning to grow. Swimming really had no competition in retail. We owned it and loved it. We found that to be a pleasant surprise and a good segment of our business every year. And the most fun was always the new stuff that was coming from innovators in the early days of triathlon. DeSoto, Tinley, Garneau, Vitus, Asics (or as we called the brand then “Tiger”), Speedo, Barracuda, Scott, FiBar, magazines like Triathlon and Triathlete, Oakley (a nearby company who has done pretty well since) all of which were new and cutting edge. Even Shimano was new in the U.S. in those days. Traditional bike shops carried virtually nothing but Campagnolo and couple of other French or Italian brands. Having lower cost and in many cases better performing components from Asia was new. Certainly not now.
A couple of individuals and their mark on the industry have memorable stories for me, among many more that could take up a lot of space and time. Let’s go with two. 

I sold Dan Empfield’s first wetsuit. He loves to tell the story of how we got together and he presented the product to me. I have to be honest at this point—I thought no one would buy it. Wearing one was essentially cheating. You could float like a surfboard in one! And, you swam more quickly. Triathlon was all about being an individual sport and this gave someone an advantage. But Dan was way ahead of me. Wetsuits changed the sport permanently and allowed all kinds of people who were not great swimmers compete and it also became a great and safe way to have swims in cooler water temperatures. He likes to also tell people we would only take them on consignment. All true. But we sold them through and people were hooked. The other is about Steve Furniss and TYR. I knew Steve from Arena. We hit it off immediately as both of us can talk for hours. He decided with some partners to launch a new swim line called TYR. That name alone was a conversation and to this day people still pronounce it wrong or just use the letters T-Y-R. (it is pronounced TEER). They had great designs in their new swimsuits for both men and women, great new goggles and innovative swim training gear. Swimmers always like to punish themselves with newfangled kickboards, paddles, draft suits, and various contraptions. We carried pretty much everything they had and it sold really well. Both Steve and Dan are still good friends, I always look forward to seeing them. We can all talk a bunch. 

The stores were always a hub for training and conversation. We had regular training rides, runs, and swims and all kinds of informal workouts. People would meet at the store just to hang out and for the always welcome camaraderie. TEAM Sportech emerged. We sponsored a team of age groupers and budding pros as well. I worked with sponsors and manufacturers to create a team that included over the years Joanne Ernst (IM Champ), Tom Gallagher, Bob Belzer, Matt O’Day, Rick Daniells, Bill & Julie Leach (IM Champ) and some very solid age groupers along the way. We also put on events at the same time including the Human Race Triathlon which later became the Newport Beach Triathlon, Huntington Beach Triathlon and one of the first reverse triathlons—the UCIrvine/Sportech Triathlon which included a bike, run, swim format finishing in UCI’s pool.
In 1989, we made the decision to sell for a couple of reasons. Retail is tough, no question. The first catalog businesses were really having their affect on us (this was pre-internet) on pricing. We could not compete easily with their no-brick-and-mortar and lack of overhead, volume business. I was also a full time faculty member at Chapman University, working as a consultant at IMG and our own event business was beginning to take shape. We got an offer and took it. I still miss parts of it, but it also laid the foundation in merchandising and marketing that helps us at Pacific Sports today. 

Triathlon began to shift in the late 80’s and early 90’s, as did my role. 

More to come later in May,

Jack Caress
President & CEO Pacific Sports, LLC

Monday, March 23, 2015

Welcome University Hospitals As The Official Medical Sponsor Of The Cleveland Triathlon


We are proud to announce that University Hospitals has recently entered into a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Pacific Sports, LLC, to be the official medical sponsor of the Cleveland Triathlon.

University Hospitals James Voos, MD, Director, Sports Medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center is looking forward to the opportunity of becoming more involved with community athletes.  “Our Sports Medicine team at UH is honored to support the dedicated athletes participating in the Cleveland Triathlon,” Dr. Voos said. “We are prepared to serve athletes of all levels before, during and after this exciting event.”

Pacific Sports President Jack Caress noted the new partnership will yield positive experiences for all athletes involved with the event.  “We are excited to work with such an innovative and dynamic brand that is fully engaged in the sport of triathlon,” he said. “University Hospitals commitment to sports medicine will enhance the quality and participant experience for the Cleveland Triathlon. We are also proud to celebrate in 2016 the 150th anniversary of University Hospitals with the 30th anniversary of the Cleveland Triathlon."



ABOUT UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS:
University Hospitals, is the second largest employer in Northeast Ohio with 25,000 employees, serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 15 hospitals, 28 outpatient health centers and primary care physician offices in 15 counties. At the core of their $3.5 billion health system is University Hospitals Case Medical Center, ranked among America’s 50 best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in all 12 methodology-ranked specialties.

The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, UH Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopaedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and genetics. Its main campus includes UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University.

For more information, go to www.uhhospitals.org

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pacific Latitudes Newsletter March 2015

Picking up from February Pacific Latitudes Newsletter,

The 1980’s experienced a significant boom in both running and triathlon. The Ironman exploded after the February 1982 event where Julie Moss & Kathleen McCartney had their famous finish that was on Wide World of Sports several times. It changed triathlon forever. I also competed in that one—but way behind both ladies. The biggest challenge for most of us (and we are talking small numbers in 1982, a few hundred) was trying to train in the winter months for a February race. Even in California it was tough, but I met people at the race who had not ridden outside in several months. Needless to say, there were real acclimatization issues from winter to the sun and humidity of Kona. It was quite an experience. Thankfully, the race moved to October after this event making the future training for the race far easier. International (we did not call them Olympic distance in those days, since Olympics was far off in the horizon and the distances then were longer at 1.5k swim, 40k bike and 15k run) and sprint distance and everything in between. Whatever fit the terrain was acceptable.



At IMG we launched the Tri-America Triathlon Series and brought in both Stroh’s and Jeep to sponsor it. It included our Newport Beach Triathlon (still then called the Human Race Triathlon), Memphis in May, Wilkes-Barre, Chicago, Cascade Lakes, Clearwater, Wildflower, and Catalina. It was a true national series and it had great pros and media, especially for the 80’s. After several years the series came to an end, things were beginning to grow and splinter on sponsorship and distances were being more standardized. I still remember a meeting in Bend, Oregon, where Stroh’s (but the way—it was “fire brewed” which even today I am not sure what that means) told us that they were not going to renew their deal. The reason, “our surveys are telling us that triathletes do not drink beer”. Since I knew these folks at Stroh’s and their agency, I thought they were kidding. Nope. I told them this was crazy and part of the reason people did triathlons is so they CAN drink beer. Of course, Stroh’s did not last much longer as a singular brand—perhaps that was why. Still makes me laugh. The series was a great opportunity for me to meet some of the best in the business, several who influenced me personally and professionally—still do.

When someone asks me who were the best race directors in the sport, I have had the same answer for now decades. The three best I knew were (and are) Valerie Silk, Jerry Kowalski, and Peggy Heath. Valerie was the original director of the Ironman, but she was far more than a race director. Her personal touches and warmth made the experience unforgettable. I learned what ohana truly meant in the Hawaiian culture and I still (thankfully kept them) have the Christmas, birthday and personal cards she would send to me. Jerry (a woman, but yes, named Jerry!) directed the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon for many years. She put her heart and soul into the event and made it special from the moment you would arrive. It was a destination that you had to put on your calendar and the quality of the event was top flight and at the highest level in every aspect. Peggy directed Memphis in May, which combined a triathlon in the midst of the Memphis in May Festival each year. Again, first cabin. It brought the charm and hospitality of Memphis to the sport of triathlon in the perfect mix of racing, parties, food and fun and her personality was in every aspect. What these three women did was make me realize how much more triathlon was than just a sport. There is a special personality to triathlon that these ladies brought to their events in a way I am not sure I have seen since, and certainly not with the consistency they showed. They affected a lot of us who worked with them and I still think of them at the top of any list in the history and direction of this sport.

This was a time in triathlon where there was great innovation both in the type of racing and the equipment. The rules for triathlon were still evolving. Virtually all of the races had every participant start at the same time. The biggest races could have over 1000 start on the beach at once. It was a combination of both chaos and at the same time, spectacular. Seeing that many athletes go into the water a once was incredible and the one thing I always liked about it as a participant was that you always knew where you were in the standings of the race. There was never a doubt how far you were behind someone. As a race director, it was good also, because the race itself took far, far less time. If you think about it, an Olympic distance race from start to finish would take perhaps 3.5 hours at the most. Now, a race of the same size with wave starts could take 5+ hours—even more if the race is larger. Drafting was just being seriously addressed. We all knew what “wheel sucking” was, but how to police it or its effects on a race were another matter, (more on this later) and the equipment—this is where triathlon really made its mark. Handlebars, triathlon specific bikes, trisuits, unique goggle styles for swimming, disc and carbon wheels, bike shoes with straps, real bike helmets (not "brain buckets"—that is what they were called) and wetsuits. Homemade stuff and innovations were encouraged.

More on this aspect and the first triathlon pro shop in 1983, in the next issue.

To be continued,

Jack Caress
President & CEO Pacific Sports, LLC

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pacific Sports 35th Anniversary...Continued From January

Picking up from January Pacific Latitudes Newsletter, 

The real opportunity (the proverbial fork in the road) came when I was hired by IMG (International Management Group) in Cleveland in the early 80’s. IMG was at that point a privately held firm led by Mark McCormack and Jay LaFave. Mark was essentially the founder of the sports marketing and agency business. His first client was Arnold Palmer and together they changed sports forever. Mark would travel the world, physically and literally, and Jay ran the place from Cleveland. They were huge in golf and tennis, but by the time I was hired, they were being called to do projects in sports of all types because frankly, no one knew who to call, these guys were rock stars in sports and way ahead of their time. There was no real developed sports industry to speak of and this was the wild west. Very few people considered sports a “business”, it was just fun and passion for most. If you look at the value of sports properties, athlete contracts, prize money, appearance fees, sponsorships, and televised sports from the 1980’s and compare it to now you would see the most incredible increase in valuation perhaps of any industry. It went from mom & pop to one of the most incredible growth industries in the world—and it is definitely not slowing down. 

IMG had landed (as I would find out later, a whole other story) the city of Nice, France, to develop a triathlon and also National City Corporation was interested in putting together a triathlon project in Cleveland. At the time, I was teaching at Chapman University, working on a doctorate, training for Ironman, and owned the first triathlon pro shop (more on that in March) in Irvine, California. I would work in Cleveland during the summer when we were out of school and regularly fly there during the year after my last class on Thursday. I loved it. At IMG I had the opportunity to be involved in not just triathlon, but many of the projects in the Athletics & Fitness division and stuck my hand in on golf, car racing, and endorsement deals. IMG had made its name in golf and tennis in the early years and the exponential growth of both production and rights fees in television. Representing professional athletes in all sports was new and there was very little knowledge on valuation. How much could you sell a sponsorship for to have an athlete wear a company’s sunglasses? How much was an appearance fee to have a top athlete show up at a corporate event? and one of my favorite projects of all time—how do we create a World Golf Ranking? (read Wikipedia, but trust me this is the very, very condensed and varnished version. The details are quite fun). And for a little seasoning, events like “The Skins Game”, “Stars on Ice” were developed and it affected how we looked even at triathlon and individual sports. IMG figured out early to own the events, the broadcast rights, and most important—the athlete contracts.
It created an incredible opportunity to both learn, to be creative, and achieve results. For someone like me from academics with an economics background, it was an incredible environment. I regularly see colleagues of mine from when I was there and we can tell stories and experiences that can always go on for hours. This was also at the time when Mark wrote two books that are classics. The first was “The Terrible Truth About Lawyers” and the other was “What They Still Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School”. Even now these books are relevant and I have given more than a few of these as gifts, especially to attorneys. They were openly discussed while they were being written and the lessons go way beyond sports. Highly recommended. 

In those early 80’s the two big challenges in our sport from a business side were (a) what three sports made up a triathlon?, and (b) how do you spell it? Virtually everyone that was not involved with the sport would spell it T-R-I-A-T-H-A-L-O-N, with the “A” in the word. But I saw much worse including “tryathalon”, “trithlon”, “triathon”, and my personal favorite “tricathalon”. At the time, there was only one city in the U.S. with a major urban triathlon, that being Chicago. We would be the second in Cleveland, and we had far better sponsors. We timed it perfectly with resurgence of Cleveland in the 1980’s as the U.S. location for many Fortune 500 firms and the building of both a new baseball stadium (Jacob’s Field, now Progressive) and first class arena (Gund Arena now Quicken Loans) that brought the Cavs from Richfield to downtown. It was a fun place to be and shocking to my family and friends, I fell in love with the city. I was also fortunate enough to work on the Nice Triathlon and develop the Tri-America Triathlon Series, later to become the Stroh’s/Jeep Tri-America Triathlon Series. 

To be continued in March,

Jack Caress
President & CEO Pacific Sports, LLC

Friday, January 30, 2015

Welcome to 2015 ... Our 35th Anniversary

Thirty-five years is a long time to do anything, but in the industry of “lifestyle sports” it pretty much spans the entire history. I get asked often how Pacific Sports became a business. To quote Hemingway, “Gradually, then suddenly.” Few of us who were participating in the sports of running, swimming, cycling, and eventually triathlons early thought of it as anything but fun and something we liked to do together.  Making money or a living at it was simply not even a thought. Pacific Sports started even earlier (as Pacific Sports Management) when I started helping out on events while I was in graduate school.  It is time to give some perspective and tidbits, stories, and fun on our history while also presenting a monthly look at our 2015 events, business and perspective.    

So, how did it all start?  I went to school at UC Irvine on a small golf and academic scholarship. I was lucky enough to play on some great teams including an NCAA Championship and got a great education. I started running when I was an undergraduate because I would become really tired during our golf tournaments.  Many of the college tournaments were 36 holes in one day and somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-10 miles of walking over 10-12 hours. I would become pretty exhausted both physically and mentally. One of the team docs suggested two things — doing pushups to develop some arm strength (golfers pretty much never lifted weights in those days) and running to get my legs in shape.  So I did.  I use to run barefoot at Crawford Field and at the beach (I lived on Balboa Island.  I used to tell myself it would never get better than this.  It didn’t.)  After a few weeks, I could really tell the difference and I like the feeling.   And it became part of my routine. UCI was great because all of the athletes interacted together.  I had friends and roommates in baseball, water polo, tennis, basketball, and tennis in my time there and we all shared the same locker room.


Fast forward to 1978.   I had become friends with Randy Howatt and Pete Siracusa who started the Rusty Pelican and Ancient Mariner Restaurants in Newport Beach. I hung out a lot at their restaurants—great food, some beautiful women worked there and of course, my friends ran the place.  The decision was made to start a triathlon that year. Mainly for fun but also as a competition against the other restaurants in Newport Beach including Cask & Cleaver, Five Crowns, Chart House, Reuben E. Lee, El Torito and more. And hence, the “Ancient Mariner & Rusty Pelican Human Race Triathlon” was started in the Back Bay of Newport. It started with a mass start bike, followed by a run and the finish was a swim at the Newport Dunes. It rained that morning but later cleared up into a beautiful day. There were bike crashes because the road was too thin for that many bikes but in the end it was damn fun just to do it.  Most people did relays but there was also an “IronMan” competition (yes, it was called that) for individual athletes.  

A few years later while I was working on a PhD, I ended up volunteering to work on the annual race because the restaurants had become a chain around the U.S. and I sort of was in the right (or wrong) place when the discussion came up on being the point person.  Little did I know this would be a fork in the road of my life and the beginning of Pacific Sports.  More to come in February …