There is something fitting about the final hats off to Indiana State University’s Class of 2016 being delivered by alumnus Scott Molander at the Dec. 17 commencement ceremony.
Co-founder of Hat World and now executive vice president for BSN Sports, Molander, MBA ’16, knows a thing or two about headwear and the heavy lifting required — not only to get an idea off of the ground, but also to nurture it into a successful, multi-million dollar endeavor.
“I try to always tell people to never stop improving themselves,” he said. “I try something new as often as I can, and I do my best to keep up with the changes in my craft. It’s an idea that I hope the graduates take away from hearing me speak.”
During the holiday season in 1995, Molander and his business partner began selling sports logo-emblazoned baseball caps from a temporary retail mall location in Lafayette, Ind.
Within five years, the company had grown to 157 shopping mall outposts. In its sixth year of business, Hat World acquired Lids Corp., its largest competitor.
Today, the Indianapolis-based Lids Sports Group’s retail business is comprised of more than 1,000 mall-based, airport, street level and factory outlet locations in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
“Scott has been tremendously successful as a business leader, building a company from scratch that has billions of dollars in sales today,” said Jeff Harper, executive director of graduate programs for the Scott College of Business. “He has certainly learned many lessons over the years with so many robust experiences. He has fascinating insights into character, work ethic, planning and preparing for success, and the importance of family and community and giving back.”
A North Dakota native and married father of two, Molander’s aspirations for entrepreneurship developed throughout his early days on the farm and at Bobs Service Center in North Dakota, his instructors in college and careers with Target, Preston Trucking and Foot Locker, where he met Campbell and the duo began crafting a plan to start their own business.
Molander received an associate degree in business from Williston State College, attended North Dakota State University for one year to study animal science and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Dickinson State University.
Last May, he received a Master of Business Administration from Indiana State and will teach at Scott College’s MBA site in Plainfield this spring.
“I wanted to sharpen my skills and I want to teach someday, so going back to school for my MBA was a natural next step,” Molander said. “It’s about always trying to get better and improve myself every day. It’s something I stress to others to do in whatever way they can.”