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Volume 20 No. 42
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Forty Under 40

Before becoming a dominant retailer of licensed sports merchandise, Fanatics Inc. was a sports apparel store run by Alan Trager and Mitch Trager in a Jacksonville mall in 1995. Brent Trager was a manager at WellSpring Resources, working as a third-party administrator for 401(k) plans, when he received an invitation from his father, Mitch, and uncle, Alan, to become the manager of their second retail store in 1997.

“We really are fanatics. The guy that they hired to run the store walked out on them,” Trager said. “The amount of inventory that we carry and our customer service policies — we’re very focused on the customer having stuff and doing things that a lot of companies don’t do.”

Since moving online, and shipping the company’s first online order in 1998, it’s been Trager’s push to increase Fanatics’ Internet presence, and that’s been key to turning the company into the business it is today, operating online stores for leagues, brands and more than 200 collegiate and professional teams. Among those properties are the NFL, NBA, NASCAR and ESPN.

While the focus now is on e-commerce and not brick-and-mortar stores, Trager says the company hasn’t changed much from those early days.

“We’re still running a retail business and we’re still trying to satisfy our customers and we’re still doing things a little bit crazy,” he said.

Chief operating officer since 2002, Trager still works alongside his uncle and father; Alan is CEO, Mitch is chief strategy officer. In total, Fanatics has more than 2,000 employees in product management, graphic design, technology and logistics as well as the customer service department.

“I’ve never been a great athlete, but I’ve always been a great fan,” Trager said. “That gives me a lot of pride and gets me excited about the opportunities that are before me now to continue to service the fan and bring assortments and collections together for large-market teams and small-market teams alike.”

— Anna Hrushka

Age: 40 (turned 40 Feb. 6)
 Title: Chief operating officer
COMPANY: Fanatics Inc.
EDUCATION: B.S., business administration, University of Florida
FAMILY: Wife, Alison; twins Brooke and Elli (7)
CAREER: Worked for John Hancock and as a manager at WellSpring Resources before joining Fanatics in 1997

FIRST JOB: Worked the bleach and bar soap aisle at a grocery store when I was 14.

BEST BUSINESS ADVICE RECEIVED: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
FAVORITE IPAD APP: The kids love to play Video Star, and I get to be the director.
PERSONALITY, IN A TWEET: Even keeled, calm, sociable and usually smiling or passionately trying to influence change for something important.
STRESS RELEASE: Pilates class
PET PEEVE: Those who look out the window instead of in the mirror.
GUILTY PLEASURE: Golden Corral with my kids
FANTASY JOB: Business teacher