The archery and bowhunting industry bid farewell to the Archery Trade Association’s long-serving CEO/president, Jay McAninch, Friday morning in Indianapolis while officially welcoming the ATA’s new leader, Matt Kormann, to its helm.
McAninch was hired in August 2000 to run the Archery Manufacturers and Merchants Organization, the ATA’s predecessor. He announced in March 2017 that he would retire before the year’s end. The ATA Board of Directors named Kormann to the job six months later, and he began working with the ATA in October.
Friday’s “change of command” breakfast ceremony took place at the Indiana Convention Center during the annual ATA Trade Show, the industry’s largest and most inclusive event worldwide. The Show features over 650 exhibitors and attracts over 9,500 attendees. It also covers nearly 240,000 square feet of space, ranking it as the nation’s 84th largest trade show, according to Trade Show Executive magazine.
Jay McAninch and his wife, Janet, often visited archery shops when on ATA business nationwide. Photo Credit Shane Indrebo.
Kormann, who lives with his family in Marietta, Georgia, said the archery/bowhunting industry and its sports owe much to McAninch for his 17 years of dedicated work, leadership and accomplishments.
“When (a new CEO) comes into an opportunity like this, it's usually because there's been a huge problem,” Kormann said. “Boards often make these changes because they have to, not because they see a great opportunity to evolve and move forward. The latter scenario is certainly true in this case. Jay built this organization in a way that put us in incredibly good shape. Jay, we give a ton of credit to you and the ATA team you assembled for putting us in the great state we’ll now work from. You’ve been a great coach for me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one.”
In his previous job, Kormann was senior vice president of corporate account sales for the Freeman Co., a $2.4 billion world leader in event marketing. His 17-year career there helped him learn the best practices of hundreds of businesses, industries and associations while becoming a business leader and team coach. Kormann also learned grassroots politics while serving as a trustee for the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, and as a member of its budget and finance committee.
Kormann also told the crowd, which numbered about 200, that there wouldn’t be an ATA logo on the large screen, nor an ATA or ATA Trade Show if not for McAninch. “If you're a business owner, your company would probably be much worse off today if not for Jay,” Kormann said. “Jay, you rebuilt this organization, and we appreciate what you’ve done.”
Kormann then introduced one of “Jay’s bowhunting friends from Wisconsin,” a man who couldn’t attend the ceremony, but took time to send a recorded video message. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, then appeared on a large screen behind Kormann.
“I want to commend my friend Jay McAninch on his retirement,” Ryan said. “Jay is one of the best champions of archery and bowhunting that we've ever had in America. He rescued this association from the brink when he took over as CEO/president, and today the ATA … is the No. 1 organization for advancing our sport across the country.
“Because of Jay, the ATA has been able to fund youth archery programs, develop USA Archery at the national level, and pass money down to state agencies and community facilities to grow our sports and ensure their growth for the future. When I came to Congress as a bowhunter myself, it became clear to me that most legislators knew nothing about our sport. That's how bad laws get written. To my delight, I became fast friends with Jay McAninch. … He did more than any one person to preserve and promote our sport and its heritage. I’m confident that I speak for every bowhunter and archer when I say Jay, thank you. Our beloved sport would not be where it is today without you.”
Randy Phillips, owner of Archery Headquarters Inc. and Arizona Rim Country Products in Chandler, Arizona, is on the ATA Board of Directors, and was on the AMO Board that hired McAninch in 2000. Phillips said McAninch was “the right man, at the right time, at the right place” to lead the ATA. He noted that McAninch and his wife, Janet, often visited archery shops when on ATA business nationwide.
“Jay asked questions, heard our stories, and found ways to build our businesses and promote our sports,” Phillips told the crowd, adding that the transformation was steady and impressive.
“In 2000, the AMO was in chaos,” Phillips said. “Our Board meetings were like the WWF (World Wrestling Federation). I thought Jay had to be desperate to want that job, but I soon learned that he took it because he was so passionate about archery and bowhunting. It’s been an honor these past 17 years to see what Jay has done. He turned all that chaos into a well-tuned machine.”
Also praising McAninch were ATA Board chair Ben Summers, director of operations for T.R.U. Ball Release Products in Virginia; Board vice chair Mark Copeland, store director of Jay’s Sporting Goods in Michigan; and Board members Jimmy Primos, brand ambassador for Vista Outdoors; and Greg Easton, president of Jas D. Easton Inc. in Salt Lake City.
Matt Kormann said he’s honored by the opportunity. “Our goal is to grow your businesses, promote conservation efforts, and to keep growing and evolving the ATA,” he said. “This industry (has greeted me with) open arms and open minds. I cannot thank all of you enough for this opportunity and all your support.” Photo Credit Shane Indrebo.
The Board members noted that McAninch got the ATA out of debt by taking ownership of the ATA Trade Show, and then kept the ATA on a tight budget that enabled the association to use the Show’s net proceeds to create and fund programs like Explore Bowhunting, Explore Archery and Explore Bowfishing.
McAninch also worked with state and federal agencies and nongovernment organizations to create nationwide hunter-advancement and advocacy groups like the National Deer Alliance and the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports.
The Board members also expressed confidence that Kormann is the best person to keep pursuing the ATA’s goals. “Matt’s passion for archery is palpable,” Copeland said. “We interviewed some high-quality people for this job, but Matt quickly rose to the top.”
Kormann said he’s honored by the opportunity. “Our goal is to grow your businesses, promote conservation efforts, and to keep growing and evolving the ATA,” he said. “This industry (has greeted me with) open arms and open minds. I cannot thank all of you enough for this opportunity and all your support.”