BOULDER, CO (BRAIN) — Friends, family and colleagues recalled Jim Spring Thursday as a retail visionary, a mentor and lover of life, who will be remembered as much for his boisterous laugh and sense of humor as for his career-long search for truths about the sports marketplace.
Spring died last month at 75. He was the founder of Leisure Trends Group, a sports retail research company based in Boulder. He spent much of his career in the ski industry and was a former executive editor of Ski magazine and editor of Ski Business.
At a packed memorial service in Boulder, stories of Spring's love of words, data, food, wine, and friendship filled the room.
Spring was passionate in pursuit of data and insights that could help sports retailers run their businesses better, colleagues said.
Spring's companies helped lead sports retail from the time of simple mechanical cash registers to the data-driven industry it is now. Spring's first company, SMART, gathered data from ski retailers by having cashiers hand-fill forms with item codes that were later optically scanned. Not surprisingly, Spring was a proponent of the use of the UPC bar codes and is considered one of the fathers of that technology's use in retail.
He had little use for decisions or assumed industry knowledge that did not have hard data at their core, and he was rigorous in his examinations of the numbers, said David Ingemie, president of SnowSports Industries America.
"He was never defensive about his data," Ingemie said. "If we had a problem with a number he would dig into it until we figured out what we needed; he never let anyone shape data the way they wanted to."
Despite his love for data, Spring was far from being a dry numbers cruncher. Many remembered long dinners at industry events where Spring would entertain and enlighten friends into the wee hours.
"You could always find him at a party by listening for his laughter," said David Scott, a friend and colleague.
Spring loved to write and authored three published books on business, in addition to scores of articles and columns for industry publications including BRAIN. He also left piles of unpublished writings, including novels and poetry, said his son, Jim Spring.
"As a poet he was just a bit too successful at his day job for his own good," his son said.
His family distributed a pamphlet at the service containing some of Spring's humorous writings and his son Tom read one his father's poems during the memorial.
A native New Englander, Spring moved to Colorado about 20 years ago; a second memorial service and burial will be held November 10 in Falmouth, Maine. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that Spring be remembered with donations to the MPN Research Foundation or The Conservation Alliance.
Related: Jim Spring obituary on Legacy.com