SBJ/March 12-18, 2012/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40


Photo by: IMG
Lawton Logan showed up in the Atlanta offices of Hope-Beckham without an appointment, without any experience and without much of a clue, other than his strong desire to work in sports.

Logan, now IMG’s senior vice president of U.S. business development and the guy known for not taking no for an answer, was prepared to stay at Hope-Beckham’s offices until Paul Beckham invited him in. Or the office closed, whichever came first.

The year was 1994, two years before the Atlanta Olympics, and all that Logan knew was that the time was right to be working in sports in Atlanta.

Logan’s athletic history was limited to the high school basketball team where he grew up in south Georgia. Well, that and his grandfather’s college football experience playing for John Heisman at Georgia Tech. But Logan, a University of Richmond graduate, had always been drawn to the business side of games and he wanted to see if there was a career in it for him.

“Business, finance, the marketing of sports and entertainment, that’s what excited me,” Logan said.

That day in Atlanta 18 years ago, Logan had done the reconnaissance, developed with the aid of an unnamed administrative assistant, who advised him that Beckham would be in the office most of the day. After a few hours passed, Logan finally got the invitation into Beckham’s office that he sought. An entry-level job in public relations soon followed.

“Lawton Logan, that’s a name from the past,” Beckham said with a laugh. “He was a young guy when he was here, very aggressive, very capable, really handled himself well.”

That was just the start of Logan’s run in sports business, which took him to Cox Communications, Host Communications and eventually IMG when the company acquired Host. At IMG, he has assembled a national sales team that works on U.S. business development across the company’s growing college division, as well as golf, tennis and other units.

Despite Logan’s rapid rise, there were several more moments of ignominy in addition to his marathon wait in the Hope-Beckham lobby. Like the time he interviewed for a job at Cox and while there Marc Morgan, an executive doing the hiring, turned around, handed Logan a package and walked back into his office.

“He thought I was the courier,” Logan said. “I knew right there that I had to elevate my game.”

But Logan wasn’t the type to be turned away, an attribute that still serves him well. Since leading IMG’s national sales effort, Logan has helped close major deals with UPS, MillerCoors, Hyundai and Aaron’s, with more on the way.

“In all my years in the sports business, Lawton is the Mahatma of multitasking,” said Andy Dolich, a consultant to IMG and former COO of the San Francisco 49ers. “He can complete 40 complex tasks in under 40 minutes when others are still tying their shoelaces.”

Prior to this role, Logan also played a hand in the development of the Longhorn Network through Host Communications’ role as multimedia rights holder at the University of Texas.

“I have very high expectations, and Lawton has overachieved every step of the way,” said Ben Sutton, president of IMG College. “He’s put together a whole [national sales] team, he’s written tens of millions of incremental business and he’s simply one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever been around.

“You’ve got to remember that this idea of selling colleges nationally, this is all novel and new. None of us have ever really done it before.”

It’s not just what Logan has gotten done at IMG, it’s how he’s done it, according to a friend in the business, Erik Logan, the president of Harpo and the Oprah Winfrey Network.

When he was the programming chief at XM Satellite Radio, Erik Logan (no relation) worked closely with Lawton Logan on assembling college rights in 2008. Erik Logan’s assignment was to gobble up as much college content as XM could hold.

It wasn’t just that Lawton Logan sold him college inventory that he represented at IMG College, it’s that he helped XM build its portfolio of rights, even if he didn’t earn a penny from the deal. That’s what Erik Logan recalls.

“When I was at XM, we did deals with every major sports property,” Erik Logan said. “We were in the content acquisition business. Through all of that Lawton stands out as someone who truly understood what we were trying to do and he helped with the larger picture. He gave us a road map. And told me who to call. He really helped me craft a strategic approach, and that was his gift.”


Age: 40 (turned 40 on Jan. 24)
Title: Senior vice president, U.S. business development
COMPANY: IMG
Education: B.A., communications, University of Richmond; MBA, Georgia State University
Family: Wife, Ashley; children Lawton Jr. (7), Alston (5) and Grant (3)
Career: Hope-Beckham (1994-96); Cox Broadcasting (1996-2004); Host/IMG College/IMG (2004-present)
First job: Intern at Wachovia Bank
Last vacation: Blowing Rock, N.C.
what's on your ipod? U2, Dave Matthews, Black Eyed Peas, Frank Sinatra
guilty pleasure: Second latte of the day
best stress release: Playing sports with my kids
pet peeve: No Wi-Fi on airplanes
fantasy job: White House press secretary
what keeps you awake at night? Noisy elevators
business advice: One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time. — Anonymous

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