The run specialty industry has some unique pairings of people, personalities and purposes, but perhaps none more interesting than that of Midge Good and Maggie Butterfield, well known to the many in the business as executives at run specialty retail consultants Karnan Associates. Their story is insightful and inspiring for women – okay, and men, too – so Running Insight reached out to them to tell their story.
The First Meeting … Maggie attended The Running Event alone in 2011. Adam White, her store owner, urged her to connect with the Naperville Running Company crew. After gaining some confidence she approached the NRC table and introduced herself. Maggie and Midge hit it off instantly, so much so that after some rooming confusion with the NRC team Maggie and Midge shared a hotel room and a true friendship was developed.
Maggie’s Background … Maggie came to Karnan Associates with a diverse background. Most recently she was the executive director of Pearce Community Center, a non-profit organization focused on promoting and enhancing the overall wellness of all members. During her five-year career at PCC, she was responsible for all leadership, daily operations and fiscal management of the Center. Prior to that she was the GM of Running Central, now RC Outfitters, in Peoria, IL, where for seven years she focused her talents on team development and work culture and was the apparel buyer. Maggie attended the University of Illinois, where she ran cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track. In her free time, you will find her running the trails of Jubilee State Park or running after her three kids – Hattie, Nellie and Freddie – along with her husband, Nick.
Maggie Joins Karnan … While Maggie was the GM of RC Outfitters, they used Karnan Associates’ consulting services, where she developed a great relationship with Parker and his team. That led to her joining the Karnan team in January 2022. She assists clients with all things HR and apparel buying.
Midge’s Background … Midge joined Karnan Associates from Naperville Running Company, where she served as GM for 15 years. She helped create and build a healthy team work culture during her tenure. Two of her biggest accomplishments were when NRC received the honor of “Store Of The Year” in 2009 and 2013.
More on Midge … She coaches the Naperville North High School XC program, Girls on the Run and also leads marathon training groups. When not running, you will find her riding her bike along the Fox River just a few blocks from her home. Midge attended Auburn University, so in the fall months you will find her cheering for any and all SEC teams with the exception of Alabama. With Karnan Associates Midge focuses on team development for its clients and HR related topics.
Fun Fact No. 1 … They are often referred to as the “Margaret Sisters” because both of their legal names are Margaret — they just go by Midge and Maggie.
Women in Business … When asked the sometimes controversial question “Do you consider yourself a woman in the business or as a professional in the run specialty space?” their answers are the same: “I consider myself a professional in the run specialty space.”
M&M Fun Fact No. 2 … When asked for photos of the two of them together they discovered they only have selfies. They love traveling together and are always roommates, so Midge usually drags Maggie out of bed every morning to run when they travel and of course they always have to take a selfie.
Do you agree that run specialty is perhaps more equal in gender participation than many other businesses? “As we looked at our client portfolio we discovered that 60 percent of our clients are owned by a female independently or co-owned.”
M&M Fun Fact No. 3 … While traveling across America last year they ran along both the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean and everywhere in between — including Mexico.
Promoting More Diversity … One of Midge’s and Maggie’s goals as consultants working with run specialty is to have their teams resemble their community. One of their initiatives is working with colleges in the communities where their clients are located, even encouraging track and field and cross-country athletes to consider run specialty as a career.
A Women’s Perspective … Both Maggie and Midge are firm believers in Strength Finders. “We believe team members’ strengths as individuals bring different perspectives and different strengths also help diverse teams,” they say. “As females we have found that typically female leaders tend to be more compassionate and better relationship builders, while male leaders tend to be more strategic thinking.”
M&M Fun Fact No. 4 … When they were both GMs they would meet halfway between their homes to help each other. They loved bouncing ideas off each other and always left those impromptu meetings re-energized.
Advice for Run Specialty Retailers … As could be expected, they use a women’s analogy to get retailers thinking about growing their women’s business. “Like a good fitting bra, if you want them to be comfortable you need to make it comfortable. For example, they point to Running Wild in Pensacola, FL, and Fairhope, AL, which have Wild Cheetah Girlz; West Stride in Atlanta, GA, which has Women of the Woods; and Ridgefield-Darien Running Company in Ridgefield and Darien, CT, that have Women in the Woods. These groups were established to create a safe environment for females to run comfortably.
M&M Fun Fact No. 5 … When together they always skip the salad and go for the cheeseburger and fries — regular coke for Maggie and diet coke for Midge.
Advice for Other Women … If they want to grow in the run specialty business – indeed, in any business – women can’t be afraid to speak up, take risks or try a new position, they advise. “You will learn from each one and that will give you a new and sometimes better perspective on how to run the business. Every role is a learning experience.”
Next From Karnan Associates … A core value both Midge and Maggie share is creating a positive team culture for their clients and their teams. They want to see their clients’ teams continue to grow and develop. “We believe our clients build trust with their teams by getting to know them through interests, consistency and expertise.”