In 2003, Learfield Communications Inc. was at a crossroads, and President and CEO Greg Brown knew that something needed to change soon. The radio and sports content space that Learfield had occupied for 30 years was transforming, while the company itself remained stagnant.
“We were on the brink of going out of business,” he says. With a career at Learfield spanning nearly 30 years, it was Brown who took the lead in reinventing the company’s business model to capitalize on new market opportunities and revenue streams. A key opportunity that Brown and his leadership team saw for the business was establishing outsourcing partnerships with university athletic departments. Many of these departments lacked expertise in advertising and brand marketing — Learfield’s bread and butter.
However, he knew that it would also take significant cash investment from the company to fund the contracts and hire people to support the new business, meaning Learfield would go into large debt for the first time in its history. Understanding that the window to invest was limited, Brown and his management team agreed that they needed to make the “meaningful investment” for future success. And before long, the risk was paying dividends.
In less than three years, the company won 27 new major university contracts and expanded its workforce from 75 to 200 employees. Under Brown’s leadership, Learfield’s revenue tripled and its university relationships have doubled. The company has also expanded these relationships across a spectrum of services, including broadcast content, video scoreboards, concessions and other Web-based opportunities. A clear testament to Brown’s success in leading the transformation is the fact that Learfield’s new business lines now account for more than half of the company’s revenue.
How to reach: Learfield Communications Inc., www.learfield.com