By Geghard ARAKELIAN
Having given a presentation at Glendale Community College on how his business has managed to stay afloat during hard economic times, the CEO of Sport Chalet says that his trials were a great learning experience and can be a lesson for aspiring business students as well.
During Glendale Community College’s Business Lecture Series, held April 29, Sport Chalet CEO Craig Levra gave a detailed look at the inner workings of Sport Chalet.
“I thought it was a real honor that [GCC] asked me to speak to [students],” said Levra.
During his presentation the company leader stressed that the biggest hurdles the company had to face were with their leases, payroll, store maintenance and inventory.
“We started to work with occupancy costs early in the process in the fourth calendar quarter. In 2008 we said we’re unhappy with business and weren’t sure what’s going on with the economy and that we may need assistance with the occupancy cost,” recalled Levra.
By crunching numbers and examining expenditures, the company was able to make prudent decisions for Sport Chalet stores so that they could stay open.
As highlighted in his lecture, his company went as far as examining how light bulbs were changed throughout their stores to save money. They kept their full-time employees while ridding themselves of part-time workers and marked down prices in an attempt to keep inventory fresh and selling.
One of the reasons Levra enjoyed taking part in the lecture series was because he got to bestow his business know-how to students who may someday aspire to venture in the business world.
When the Sport Chalet CEO was a student, guest lecturers helped him out the most, said Levra.
“It was mandatory [to attend]. We had some amazing presenters,” he added. “The list was pretty amazing and it was pretty amazing taking concepts and seeing how those concepts were being applied to real world situations … it was pretty fascinating.”
Despite what most would view as hard economic times the executive officer believes in “the idea that no matter what happens don’t give up. Pay attention to the world and look for external forces in the environment. The economy is certainly going to have an impact on everything and everybody. The trick is: what do you do about it?”
In observing the potential crisis his company was facing and taking note of the economy, Levra stressed that, for him, business is an ongoing learning experience.
“I got another MBA in the last 18 months – no question about it,” said Levra. “It was an unbelievable learning experience and we’re still learning.
“That never stops anyway.”