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Nation’s Best Sports (NBS) is a nationwide sporting goods buying group that was established in 1956 when E. Claude Manning owner of Manning’s Sports Center in Fort Worth, Texas, and a group of friends and surplus business associates decided to pool an order for merchandise to obtain a lower price. To be competitive they knew they must buy direct from the manufacturer and buying direct meant buying in volume. From this modest beginning the first sporting goods buying group, originally named the Southwest Buying Syndicate, was born.


During the first decade, the founding members persuaded others in the war-surplus business to join them, and through the years, the Southwest Buying Syndicate grew through word of mouth by both Vendors and Members. After changing the company’s name to National Buying Syndicate in 1969 and then to Our Nation’s Best Sports in 1996, NBS has continued its expansion, helping both Members and Vendors grow and become profitable. 


The NBS mission is to provide independently owned dealers the ability to effectively compete in an everchanging environment through aggressive purchasing, marketing, and service opportunities. NBS connects the vendor community to the highest quality independently owned sporting goods dealer network through mutually beneficial relationships and negotiations.


DECEMBER 15, 1907 – JANUARY 19, 2005

E. Claude Manning was born December 15, 1907, in Fort Worth, Texas to a pioneer family. In 1929, he graduated with honors from Texas Christian University, where he was president of his class and one of the founders and an officer in the Alumni Club. Mr. Manning was a major in the Army Air Corps, which became the Air Force during World War II.   

In 1946, following his duty with the Army Air Corps, Mr. Manning started a war surplus business. After ten years, his surplus business evolved into a sporting goods business. In 1956, a group of four business associates who had also been in the surplus industry pooled an order for merchandise to obtain a lower price out of necessity to compete profitably with the large discount houses infiltrating the nation. From this modest beginning, the National Buying Syndicate was born. For thirty years, Mr. Manning owned and operated Manning’s Sports Centers, a six-store operation located in Fort Worth, Texas.

During his tenure as President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of National Buying Syndicate from 1966 to 1991, Mr. Manning worked vigorously to conceive, develop and bring to fruition the nationwide operations of NBS, giving his time and resources selflessly and tirelessly to assure all members were provided with the best possible buying support. In 1986, to express its gratitude for Mr. Manning’s unfailing devotion to the organization, the Board of Directors and membership of the National Buying Syndicate named him Chairman Emeritus unto perpetuity. In 1995, Mr. Manning was inducted into the National Sporting Goods Association Sporting Goods Hall of Fame as the “Father of Sporting Goods Buying Groups.”

Mr. Manning served two terms on the NSGA Board of Directors, was a former bank director, an Exalted Ruler of the Elks, an amateur radio operator and a Mason and Shriner. He is listed in Who’s Who in Commerce and Industry and Who’s Who in the South and Southwest.  He received awards from the Governors of Louisiana and Kentucky as well as from Mayors of Louisville, Kentucky and Fort Worth, Texas for his leadership of NBS. He was honored by the Sportsman’s Club of Fort Worth and Ducks Unlimited. He was honored by The Sporting Goods Dealer with its Spinks Leadership Award, “for services of the highest order to the sporting goods industry.” 

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