SBD/February 3, 2011/People and Pop Culture

What I Like.... With New Era CEO Chris Koch

Koch says he's a wine collector with around 4,000 bottles in his collection
In our continuing series, SportsBusiness Daily/SportsBusiness Journal asks top sports personalities for their thoughts, ideas, aspirations and likes. Today, New Era CEO CHRIS KOCH.

An influential person in my career: My father, because he was also my boss and my mentor. He always asked a lot of hard questions and taught me the value of being evenhanded and maintaining good relationships.

What I like in a business deal: Our recent NFL rights deal. We were talking for about a year and now we'll be able to put product on a sideline where a lot of people can see it.

A sports facility: Yankee Stadium for baseball; Cowboys Stadium for football.

Sports event: The energy at a World Series stadium and around the cities that are involved is tough to match.

A strategy: Diversification and taking the New Era brand around the globe.

A hire: PETE AUGUSTINE (hired in 1990 as controller; became president in 2003). He was originally our (out-of-house) accountant who did our audits. He's that rare commodity: a numbers guy who understands sales and marketing, and he is also an incredible people person.

A brand: Nike is tough to beat in sports. In fashion, Louis Vuitton has more in common with Nike than you'd think. They've both built great product and stayed relevant to their customers for a long time. It's all about staying fresh and reinventing.

A league or team business initiative: MLB's strategy of best in class for their licensing model.

A trend: Authentic sports headwear crossing over into fashion.

An innovation: Bringing technical fabrics into sports for better performance.

A timeless idea: Great customer service always wins.

A story that bears watching: What becomes of the whole college bowl system and the search for a real college football championship playoff system. That was one of the reasons we wanted to get in on the ground floor as (title) sponsor of the Pinstripe Bowl. If we do get to a college playoff system, they will need three or four more cities, and I have to believe New York will be one of them.

An idea or invention I wish I had thought of: Facebook. Or maybe the Internet overall. Of course, that was AL GORE's (laughs).

An out-of-the-box idea: KNIGHT and BOWERMAN developing a running shoe with a waffle iron.

Fantasy job: Professional golfer. I have a five handicap, which is good enough that I can make caps for a living!

What I like about my job: It's ever-changing. There's always a new deal, a new country or a new product.

Sports: Competition, whether it is sports or business.

Sports business: I love seeing our products being worn by the best athletes in the world.

Sports technology: The integration of technology with running apparel is really interesting. It allows more amateurs to enjoy the sport more.

Sports fans: The passion they hold for their teams. Fortunately for us, buying team caps is a big part of that passion.

What I'd like to change in what I do: Spend less time at work and more time with my family, but that is probably everyone's response.

See more of in sports: Better sportsmanship. There's just not enough.

See more of in sports business: Collaboration. There's room for the big brands to work together more.

See less of in sports business: Competitors' headwear and apparel (laughs).

What I like that would surprise those who know me: I am a closet chef. My favorite is Italian food, but my wife doesn't like it, so whenever I am out of town that's where I eat.

Heroes: BABE RUTH. From my boyhood, it was JACK NICKLAUS, and my favorite teams were the Yankees, Bills and Sabres.

Pet peeve: Waiting in line, especially if it's to pay for something in a retail store.

Favorite city: New York. You can't turn it off.

Favorite possession: My (2009) Yankees World Series ring.

Favorite memento: A guitar signed by all of the Rolling Stones.

Time of year: Summer in Buffalo.

Music: Stones, Beatles and anything new/alternative.

Books: Anything by JACK WELCH.

Magazines: Anything about food and travel.

Gadgets: I have an iPad, and it's great for movies on long flights, among other things.

App: Urbanspoon. It tells you all the good restaurants before you get to your destination city.

Hobbies: I'm a huge wine collector. I probably have 4,000 bottles, mostly California wines. I started out with a lot of Cabs, but more recently it has been Pinots.

Vacation spots: For warm weather, I love Grand Cayman. For cold weather and skiing, it is either Vail, or Snowbird and Alta in Utah.

Movies: "Apocalypse Now" and "Scarface."

TV: "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" and "SportsCenter." Someday I will find a way to combine my accumulated knowledge from both of those shows.

Concert: Coldplay. I saw The Who when I was 16, so that might qualify also.

Food: Anything that BOBBY FLAY has anything to do with.

Dessert: A good port.

Drink: Double Cross and soda.

Car: Porsche Panamera Turbo.


Quote: "Surround yourself with great people and learn how to listen."
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