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Real estate and sports do mix

Former Oakley CEO and vice president of marketing for Gatorade Bill Schmidt has joined Gables & Gates, Realtors in Farragut in a newly-created position — vice president of marketing and business development.

Schmidt began working for Gables and Gates the first week of May to help the company become “relocation experts.”

We’ve “got a lot of companies and groups moving here … we’ll provide a custom based relocation package … satisfy all their needs,” Schmidt said.

He said the baby boomers are a moving generation and he believes they are headed to this area.

“Retirement changed. [They] don’t go to Florida, go halfway looking at the Carolinas and East Tennessee.”

Schmidt first became interested in the Knoxville area when he attended graduate school at the University of Tennessee. After receiving his Master of Science degree in business education (he received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas), he worked for the 1982 World’s Fair as sports director.

Working with “no budget,” Schmidt said he contributed a $300,000 surplus to the fair. He created a Gatorade sports camp hall of fame, which, he said, was one of the most popular exhibits.

Schmidt moved on to work for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles as vice president of sports.

A bronze medallist in 1972 Munich Olympics in the javelin, Schmidt said, “I would have paid them for that job.”

At Gatorade, Schmidt said he grew the business from $80 million to $1.8 billion. The vice president signed Michael Jordan, which, he said, had a national and international impact.

“Countries didn’t know sports drinks, but they knew Michael Jordan. We couldn’t afford him … we did a 10-year deal not knowing how good he would be.”

Schmidt said he worked for Gatorade with no real budgets to speak of and it is now one of the most recognizable brands around the world.

He then moved on to work for Oakley as CEO. He was already on the board of directors.

“I felt if I built such a good brand at Gatorade, I could help at Oakley,” he said.

After two-and-a-half years, Schmidt said he felt he had left Oakley in “pretty good shape.”

“I felt I could double their numbers in three years,” he said.

The former executive left the company with a good plan where he was “excited about helping build a brand.”

Schmidt decided it was time to move on again and began Pegasus Marketing. He said several people and companies were coming to him; “a lot wanted to rent my Rolodex or wanted insight.”

Living in California, Schmidt was in the area for a game in Florida and thought, “Why not Knoxville?” So, he decided to return to Knoxville.

He bought two properties in the Smoky Mountains that are now rental properties.

Schmidt said, “There’s something about the area, a low cost of living, no state tax, you can get where you want in a reasonable amount of time.”

He said he renewed his relationship with the university where he became an adjunct professor of exercise, sport and leisure studies. He teaches a class per quarter and plans a sports conference each fall.

Teaching at UT, Schmidt said, gives him the opportunity to “give back to the students.”

He added that the sports conference has the best renowned sports people, at no cost to the university.

“They come in free for me, they are willing to give back as well,” he said.

Schmidt said he does not feel challenged unless he is working on three or four different things, so he decided to work in real estate. He became a licensed realtor and Jerry Whitehead at Gables & Gates, Realtors took advantage of the marketer’s skills.

Schmidt said he liked Gables & Gates because he thought they “understand how they could best utilize my skills.”

He said he thinks he gives “added value to the company.”

Whitehead agrees.

“Bill’s experience, resources and contacts will be invaluable to Gables & Gates, Realtors as we continue to grow our business and develop specific projects and services to take advantage of a growing and changing marketplace,” Whitehead said.


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