SBJ/March 3 - 9, 2008/Forty Under 40

Gabby Roe

Like an investor who only plays in emerging markets, Gabby Roe has a penchant for what he terms "high-growth sports."

Gabby Roe
Age: 39
Title at the time of selection: Chief growth officer, AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour
Current Title: President, ASA Entertainment
Education: B.A., communications, University of Virginia, 1991
Family: Wife, Lauren; children Jordan (7), Jack (5) and Davis (3)
Career: Began career in the West Coast office of Boathouse Sports, running sales and marketing; became director of marketing for a beach soccer startup venture in 1994; bought the company in 1997 and sold it to Octagon Esedos in 1999; executive director of Major League Lacrosse, 1999-2001; named vice president of the AVP in 2001; hired by ASA Entertainment this year.
Last vacation: Cabo San Lucas
Last book read: “Veeck — As In Wreck,” by Bill Veeck
Last movie seen: “Charlie Wilson’s War”
What’s on your iPod? Quite a bit of ’80s hair bands (Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, etc.), some rap/hip-hop (Snoop, Dr. Dre, Soulja Boy), a little classic rock/punk (Stones, Clash), plus a lot of reggae for Sunday afternoons
Pet peeve: People that lack passion for what they do — you need to love it.
Greatest achievement: Marrying my wife
Business advice: Work hard, follow your gut, don’t do anything stupid and you’ll be just fine.

Roe, who last month took on the role of president of action sports producer and programmer ASA Entertainment, played in the indoor National Lacrosse League before switching to the front office and helping launch Major League Lacrosse as executive director. He was on the ground floor of beach soccer in Europe and South America, now legitimate enough that FIFA sanctions its championships.

Then there's the AVP, where Roe worked for the past six years, most recently as chief growth officer. It's an apt title.

During Roe's tenure, the pro beach volleyball league has increased from six events to 20, from zero sponsors to around 20, and the number of outdoor events from seven to 20. More recently, it added both an indoor league and an Australian AVP. An aborted sale to Shamrock Holdings last year was a disappointment, but it did place a $40 million valuation on a league that declared bankruptcy in 1998.

Roe also helped the league shift from a centralized ownership model to one in which local promoters take on event ownership and risk. That business model has attracted the likes of the San Francisco Giants, Hicks Sports Marketing, the Miami Heat, and Nets Sports and Entertainment as local promoters. Continuing in the growth mode, Roe is forecasting that the AVP will turn its first profit this year.

Roe has sold and serviced sponsorships, worked with TV and other content rights holders, put up stands, had his hands in licensing, and made endless cold calls on behalf of a property that a lot of would-be sponsors still don't know well.

"Never once in all of our conversations did I feel like he was trying to unload inventory," said Kevin Adler, founder of Engage Marketing, Chicago, the sponsorship agency for Crocs, which sponsors all three AVP tours. "It was always very much about legitimately understanding a client's objectives and creating a solution."

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