Finish Line Report: Employees Give Their Feedback

Employees sound off on favorite Finish Line moments, big company changes and why being CEO is the coolest job.

Al Goizueta, VP of customer care
Years of service:
13
Duties: “Four months ago, I took a new position as VP of customer service. I supervise the call center and various customer touch points.”
Favorite moment:
“We had a national managers meeting at Nike’s headquarters. We all went into a Nike hall [but] didn’t [know] what was going on. We’re [waiting] in anticipation, and then Michael Jordan walked out on stage. Managers and the entire company just lost their minds. Michael sat on a couch with Tinker Hatfield and they talked about designing Jordan’s shoes. There’s Michael, talking about the ideas behind them.”
Proudest accomplishment:
“We’ve stayed focused on our employees and understand that we’re only going to be as successful as our people. I came to Finish Line when we only had 275 stores.”
Biggest change:
“Shifting from thinking like a small company to acting and thinking like a big company.”
Management role I’d like to play:
“CEO. I want to experience being an ambassador of Finish Line — communicating with the people Glenn Lyon communicates with and talking to vendors [and] the financial world.”

Jenni Dillon, VP of planning & allocation
Years of service:
6
Duties: “We work closely with buyers. My team decides which stores [product] goes into. We deal with sales, margin and inventory forecasts.”
Favorite moment: “The people I’ve met here. There are lots of us, and we’ve all gotten to know each other personally. It’s [about] working with good people and how that translates into [our] personal lives.”
Proudest accomplishment: “Putting the customer first. [Founder] Alan Cohen’s focus was always on creating an environment [where] employees could feel good about where they worked. [He thought] about their futures, things we had in place and [what needed to be] put in place.”
Biggest change: “Running the business for today to focusing more on long-term initiatives. We’ve all been working more cross-functionally across divisions to create a seamless experience for our customer.”
Management role I’d like to play: “CEO, for an opportunity to see all aspects of the company [and] be able to impact [it] from every dimension.”

Bob Edwards, SVP of distribution
Years of service:
30
Duties: “I am responsible for the more than 80,000-sq.-ft. distribution center, as well as logistics and transportation.”
Favorite moment: “Twenty years ago, Finish Line became a publicly held company, which led to faster-paced growth and a renewed sense of confidence and pride from employees. Ten years ago, it initiated direct consumer fulfillment, making us an industry leader in that respect.”
Proudest accomplishment: “The great assortment of product. We offer sports and fashion footwear and apparel, compared with competitors who sometimes only offer one or the other.”
Biggest change: “The fun, rewarding and exciting work environment. Departments always work together in active partnerships, holding meetings instead of just emailing. In the past few years, there’s been a staggering amount of personnel growth, and with a greater number of people comes better, fresher ideas.”
Management role I’d like to play: “Board member. I’d love to be part of the big picture.”

Todd Kuebel, VP of inventory management
Years of service:
16
Duties: “I’m in charge of two teams for inventory control, [including] inventory analysts and indirect procurement team.”
Favorite moment: “I chaired the corporate social responsibility team, organizing Habitat for Humanity Builds. I [also] put together the first group of Big Brothers Big Sisters participants at a nearby Indianapolis public elementary school. This program is still alive and well at Finish Line.”
Proudest accomplishment: “The never-ending desire to exceed customer expectations in every step of the buying process.”
Biggest change:
“The online business has far exceeded anything I ever expected. I hired our first customer service representative, Artelia Poindexter, who is now in e-commerce.”
Management role I’d like to play:
“CEO. I’d love to see the view from Glenn Lyon’s office.”

Jeff Morrell, VP & DMM of footwear
Years of service:
20
Duties: “I’m in charge of the buyers for men’s and women’s running and basketball. I must keep up with current footwear trends, vendor relations [and] store setups.”
Favorite moment: “Finish Line’s development of social responsibility. It’s never just been about making money. [We have a] new Special Olympics partnership. It couldn’t be a better partner for Finish Line’s vision. Also, Habitat for Humanity Builds, [where we] invested in the revitalization of the east side of Indianapolis.”
Proudest accomplishment: “It’s a family, not just a job. My wife always tells me it seems like I skip off to work in the morning, and to some extent, that’s true. I love what I do.”
Biggest change: “When I first started, Finish Line had just opened its 107th store. We’re now opening our 660th. [Next] is the unbelievable growth of e-commerce. [However], it’s still in its infancy. Take a look at the strides we’ve made in the past 10 years and expect the same for the next 10.”
Management role I’d like to play: “CEO. I’d use Glenn Lyon’s credentials and pull to play a few holes at Augusta National Golf Club. But I wouldn’t do anything differently, businesswise.”

Ronnie Jefferson, VP of lifestyle & kids’ footwear
Years of service:
5
Duties: “[I’m responsible for the] direction of all fashion and kids’ footwear.”
Favorite moment: “About three years ago, Finish Line was building a Habitat for Humanity house and I signed up. But I wasn’t able to make it because of a last-minute vendor call. I had entered a raffle, though, to win a 60-inch flat-screen LCD TV. I won, but [decided to] donate it to the Habitat family. It was life-changing to see their faces when they got it.”
Proudest accomplishment: “I’m a merchant at heart, so working with a company of ethical merchants is fantastic. Finish Line really treats employees and brand partners alike with respect.”
Biggest change: “Going from being reactive to proactive. We’re more able to adapt to change because we’ve become strategic in our planning, and we do frequent evaluations of our plans.”
Management role I’d like to play: “District manager, to see issues faced by managers and store employees at the ground level. These are the future leaders of our company.”

Bruce Fuhrer, Director of store support
Years of service: 19
Duties:
“I oversee all field expenses related to labor, travel and payroll, deal with all corporate contests, incentive programs and communicate plans of other departments in the corporate office.”
Favorite moment: “When I was district sales manager, I loved seeing the promotion of my store managers to district managers. I was able to promote six people in eight years.”
Proudest accomplishment: “Finish Line is a leader not just in athletic retail but all of retail. Not being a follower attracts a lot of great new talent, which brings us new ideas and perpetuates our leadership.”
Biggest change: “When I started, there was no HR, corporate communications or loss-prevention departments. The development of these areas has led to a lot of learning opportunities and a lot of talent acquisition.”
Management role I’d like to play: “Product designer. I’d like to work on the product side, dealing with brand partners such as Nike and Adidas, and developing and designing the shoe of the future. I have a great love for our product.”

Barb Reasinger, Senior merchandising systems analyst
Years of service: 17
Duties: “I work on the planning and allocation team as the IT liaison for software implementations to support ongoing business needs.”
Favorite moment: “I couldn’t wait until we hit $1 billion in sales [in fiscal year 2006] so I could proudly say I work for a billion-dollar company.”
Proudest accomplishment: “Finish Line is always thinking about what’s next: the hottest fashion, vendor, color. It strives to become the destination for such product. It’s always adapting to the customers’ needs and is focused on meeting their expectations during the shopping experience.”
Biggest change: “Doubling the store count and support staff since I started. The website was in its infancy with about two members [when] I started at customer central. Now it’s a large division.”
Management role I’d like to play: “I’d take the opportunity to speak to the investment community about what Finish Line employees are doing on a daily basis to raise the bar in specialty retail.”