Eastern Mountain Sports

  www.ems.com
  www.ems.com

Eastern Mountain Sports Reviews

Updated October 30, 2014
Updated October 30, 2014
77 Reviews
2.7
77 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
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Mark Walsh
4 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • This company offers great discounts and deals to it's employees (in 7 reviews)

  • Employees get great discounts on gear and clothing (in 4 reviews)


Cons
  • The issue is just how much they focus on the rewards program (in 7 reviews)

  • Low pay, understaffed, inefficient/outdated computer systems, typical disconnect between cooperate and stores (in 7 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great In-Store Experiences Marred by Incompetency at Corporate Level

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Store Guide
    Former Employee - Store Guide

    I worked at Eastern Mountain Sports part-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    The people I met in store really kept me on board this company for so long. You meet some great friends inside and outside work that share a common love of the outdoors. Discounts are plentiful and often almost negated my paycheck -- but it was well worth it at the time, and really helps you be a better associate. Also, if you like the gear you're selling, going to work is really a pleasant experience from a customer interaction point of view. With regard to company interaction, that's a different story.

    Cons

    Schedules are produced last minute because corporate management is full of penny pincers. In response to poor store performance, they cut hours, only further reducing employee morale. Stores are chronically woefully understaffed. Employees are held to unrealistic standards in terms of rewards program capture rates, (of which EMS is already well above the national average) and this is the only means of employee evaluation. When it comes to pay, overtime, and overall outlook of retail teams, corporate language can be downright insulting. I recall a figure shared by multiple managers of mine (I had 3 in my 3 years there -- including a period of 6 months without a manager) that corporate estimated ~90% of company losses were due to employee theft, not shoplifting. 90%? That's downright insulting as a hard working employee, who has seen firsthand losses in the store due to shoplifting.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop waving rewards capture rates in employees faces while disrespecting them with unreasonably short scheduling time frames, call-in shifts, and low pay. After seeing the company takeover through and spending time under the new management, I saw almost a full turnover in my store staff, and horrendous decline in morale.

    Implement actual training procedures for new hires, and MANAGEMENT as well. During my last few weeks at EMS, my store brought on a new floor supervisor. On my last day, he thanked me, a 19-year old part timer, for being "one of the only ones who actually gave him any training around here." It blows my mind that a company can bring on new hires and leave the training process to store employees who share their product and company knowledge on the fly. All I did was help this poor guy out at the point of sale, walk him through returns, and walk the store with him giving him product basics. Where is the training plan? In my 3 years at EMS, it was always trial-by-fire, all the way up to management.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  2.  

    Lost in the Woods of New Hampshire

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Peterborough, NH
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Peterborough, NH

    I have been working at Eastern Mountain Sports full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Pretty good work crew.

    Cons

    Main office was like working in a Barn, terrible unqualified management who favored friends, the longer you work their the better you become and being terrible at your job, no skills or training, and almost lost their best employees by promoting incompetent people.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Move a side

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. 4 people found this helpful  

    EMS- Be Wary

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Assistant Store Manager in New Haven, CT
    Former Employee - Assistant Store Manager in New Haven, CT

    I worked at Eastern Mountain Sports full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    You will be surrounded by good people, for the most part. Not everyone has the same experience, as some stores have more jaded employees than do others. Its a straight-forward job, and expectations are clearly set. Good product discount opportunities, if you are so inclined.

    If you have aptitude and energy, you will be considered for advancement. Internal candidates are generally preferred and encouraged over outside hires. There usually are opportunities for advancement, but not past the position of store manager.

    Benefits include a great medical-dental-vision plan, with the usual extras. Full-time management gets a good amount of vacation time (assuming there is adequate staffing to cover your time off).

    Cons

    Upper management has struggled to reconcile payroll issues, and as a result many stores are seriously under-staffed, and over-tasked. The company is in transition, and as a result has lost much of its core following, both staff and customers. Questions persist regarding exactly where the brand is headed. Hopefully in another year many of the issues are solved, the past year has been eventful for all the wrong reasons.

    Retail salaries are average. Nothing to write home about unless you are a manager of a high-volume store, but then you will be living in your store...

    Customers in certain markets can be a challenge, and the return/exchange policies need to clarified. EMS has a rewards program which is the thorn in the side of most every employee. There are certain levels of signups that staff must reach, and it can become stressful and irritating.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Produce better EMS brand clothing, it is lacking in style and fit.
    Advertising is uninspiring and not competitive.
    Buy into more relevant brands/products
    Set a return policy that is more stringent

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    CEO is a duche bag....company has gone to hell!!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Store Manager in Paramus, NJ
    Former Employee - Store Manager in Paramus, NJ

    I worked at Eastern Mountain Sports full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    2012 company culture and promises of a marque store opening made EMS to good to not join. So I Took a twenty K pay cut to join the team.
    As store manager there were great opportunities for training in cool locations; white mountains, Gunks, mount Washington, Chesapeake, for climbing, kayaking, paddle board, camping with the coolest group of people from the Peterborough basecamp.
    Originally felt appreciated with all of the focus on expanding my expertise in the outdoors and all the free gear.

    Cons

    Once Vestis came in, it all went to hell quick.
    Product quality dropped, stock levels fell, core product lines ceased to exist, corporate values changed, mass exodus of key management, labor budget cut in half.
    When Will Manzer left a value for the employees left EMS.
    Here is my issue with EMS in a nut shell, cause I could write an entire book:
    New CEO walks in my store and tells me we should repackage our returned climbing gear and sell it as new.....I walked away bitting my tongue. Industry standard is that all climbing gear, once it leaves a store, can not be resold due to your inability to view with the naked eye or machine, how much wear or fatigue it has been through. Besides being unbelievably unethical, it is unbelievably unsafe!
    He later in his visit told me that I spend to much time with my customers!
    EMS as a brand was built on the talent of its staff to "outfit" guests. That is what differentiates EMS from competitors who have greater selection and better prices. I was told that we are no longer an outfitter. It's more important to get shipment processed to the floor than spend time with customers. Oh yeah, heard CEO D-bag was fired..sure HR had some serious clean up over that.
    The "Bob's" mentality for retail (Vestis) is to put out boxes of merchandise and wring up sales, no customer interaction or product knowledge needed. This practice in the outdoor industry will ruin the outdoor experience for most (one sale Vs. life time of sales) and is extremely dangerous. We sell flotation devices, flammable gasses and knives. It is grossly irresponsible of EMS to not spend time with these potential consumers explaining the safest usage of this gear.
    I submitted a payroll to sales analysis to my district manager explaining how an extra $7.50 an hour in labor could equate to a growth in sales, and as a company philosophy, could show substantial profitability....I was fired within a week for poor attitude

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    EMS was once a true outdoor retailer that believed in championing the outdoor experience. Staffing it's stores with local outdoor experts who could truly outfit a guest with a valued selection of gear for the adventures in front of them. Now, staffing is at such a low level, these once great ambassadors of the brand are reduced to stocking shelves and hounding guests for their email address at the point of sale. Forget adding valuable knowledge and building a relationship of trust with your customers, you are not allotted time for that.
    The EMS brand is dead. Within three years, EMS will only exist as a logo on crappy outdoor gear in a handful of big box outdoor retailers and in the memories of those of us who were lucky enough to see it before the fall of Rome.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    If you work here, it should be for gear, not money

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Foot Guru/Guide in Carle Place, NY
    Former Employee - Foot Guru/Guide in Carle Place, NY

    I worked at Eastern Mountain Sports part-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    -Pro deals can get you up to 70% off of expensive gear
    -The community is nice
    -Most people who work here know the gear very well, so you can learn a lot

    Cons

    -The pay is abysmal.
    -The companies management is bad.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Actually stock more brands relevant to the idea of the store (Sperrys are not really a hiking shoe, ect)

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 6 people found this helpful  

    Absolute Nightmare. Stay VERY far away!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Store Manager in Newton, MA
    Former Employee - Store Manager in Newton, MA

    I worked at Eastern Mountain Sports full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Co-workers are amazing. Met some people I will keep in touch with for life.

    Cons

    Way too many to list. The days of the old EMS are gone. The new parent company (Versa) really has no sense of direction or identity. Consider them the Walmart of outdoor stores. Additionally, they constantly run stores with no payroll. Meaning, 2 people to cover a 10k square foot store at times! Then they're all over you when shrink numbers are high!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Upper management is a disaster. The leadership and direction are changing by the minute. A project you start today most likely won't be finished since they'll have you working on the next one within hours. (in the opposite direction)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8.  

    Great people, great atmosphere

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Guide in Portland, ME
    Former Employee - Guide in Portland, ME

    I worked at Eastern Mountain Sports part-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Laid back environment. Worked with like minded people who love the environment and had positive energy. Looked forward to work everyday.

    Cons

    Management was lacking. There was some disconnect from corporate down to the store level. Lack of communication higher up.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 2 people found this helpful  

    A great way to get into the outdoor industry.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Eastern Mountain Sports full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    A fun place to work if you enjoy getting outside. Employees get great discounts on gear and clothing. Most employees seem to care a bit more about their jobs than in your typical retail environment. People will notice if you're willing to put that extra effort in and it won't take long before opportunities to move up are presented. Many past employees have used their experiences working at EMS to get into other areas of the outdoor industry.

    Cons

    The new owners are changing the company, but it seems like the only thing that's improving is their bottom line (maybe). All of the stores are understaffed at the moment due to significant cuts in payroll, which can lead to projects not being completed or customers not being sufficiently helped. This company's reputation was built on the great customer service that it used to provide, but it seems like the new owners are less concerned about that these days. There has been a significant amount of turnover in management in the retail stores over the past year or so. If that isn't a red flag to Vestis about how they are running things, then I don't know what is.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Realize that we are more than just an apparel store (like Bob's) and that having a well-staffed sales floor will help increase sales, not to mention the stores will look better overall.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 6 people found this helpful  

    Lacks leadership and a commitment to their employees

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Eastern Mountain Sports full-time

    Pros

    The employees are passionate about the outdoors so the products in the stores are tried and true. The employees are also compassionate toward each other and working with them has felt like a real team effort BUT it's changing quickly for the worse with the new management.

    Cons

    Some highlights of the last year at EMS:

    A long time factory partner of ours dropped us for failure to pay our bills.
    Vendors have put us on credit hold for the same reason.

    Our CEO was hired and then fired 9 months later.
    Our VP of Marketing quit after less than 6 months on the job.
    Our VP of Store Planning quit after 2 months on the job. Then our Merchandise Planner quit.
    Our VP of Human Resources quit.
    Our Head of Technical Design quit.
    4 out of 5 Product Managers quit.
    Countless others have quit. Someone leaves nearly every week.

    VP's have the power to affect change so why are they leaving? Maybe they didn't like the direction EMS was headed? Maybe they lacked the resources and support to do the job? Maybe the magnitude of the problems became clearer the longer they were on the job? Either way, it's not a good sign when your VP's are jumping ship at such a fast rate.

    The new leadership is sorely lacking. They don't value their employees. They have not been transparent. They haven't done what they said they would do. Few employees have any confidence or trust in the current leadership.

    EMS has been stripped to the bare minimum (It's that corporate shell game of reducing overhead to appear profitable). As people flee from EMS, they are not being replaced and as a result EVERY PROCESS IS BROKEN. We spend our days in plugging holes, putting out fires, and slowing the bleed and it's systemic. Every single department is short staffed and lacks direction and leadership.

    The leadership has not shared any transition plans or an exit strategy from Peterborough NH to Meriden CT (where Bobs Stores are headquartered and to whom EMS was merged by Vestis, our parent company) but it's obvious they are not investing in the people of Peterborough. The lack of transparency is shameful and shows a lack of respect for their employees.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Your employees are passionate about EMS and the outdoors. Had you truly valued them and invested in them, they would have followed you willingly. But you were too quick to dismiss the them when you purchased EMS and now you're left with a broken company.

    Position doesn't make you a leader. Being smart enough to show a profit doesn't make you a leader.

    So my advice to you is to hire leaders, the kind that inspire confidence, that create visions of success, that motivate others to follow.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11.  

    Great environment with many like-minded staff. Flexible hours and very diverse customer base.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Sales
    Former Employee - Sales

    I worked at Eastern Mountain Sports part-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    The broad range of experience the store staff shared from skiing to climbing and kayaking. Beginners to expert but all very humble. Many "After work" gatherings to discuss trips, etc.

    Cons

    Pay was generally not in line with experience foe most of staff ( Manager was OVER paid)

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop trying to create an "Abercrombie" style staff and don't go to the other extreme either.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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