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Volume 21 No. 2
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Forty Under 40

Steve Dupee was set to take a job selling newspaper advertising in Minneapolis when he heard that the convention and visitors bureau in nearby Eau Claire, Wis., where he went to college, wanted to hire someone to bring more sporting events to town.

Dupee took the job, which evolved into the creation of a sports commission, a trend that was taking off in midsized communities across the country. It gave him the chance to interact with people across amateur sports. Three years into the job, he married, and he and his wife wanted to move to warmer climes. Dupee tapped into his budding network and landed with the National Sports Forum in San Diego, selling trade show booths and conference sponsorships.

Three years later, when he and his wife wanted to move back to the Midwest to start a family, Dupee turned to friend Steve LaCroix, who is now CMO of the Minnesota Vikings. LaCroix connected him with Steve Lauletta, who then headed up sports marketing for Miller. The two had lunch and hit it off. Lauletta recommended Dupee for a job at GMR Marketing, the agency that worked with Miller.

“Both moves I made, it was all about networking,” said Dupee, who started on Miller’s NFL sponsorship but quickly built his portfolio out to handle all of Miller’s sports sponsorships. “It was up to me to make the most of those opportunities, but I owe a lot to the connections I’ve been able to make.”

Five years ago, Dupee moved into a broader role landing and managing new business for GMR. Now, as senior vice president of client management, he spends most of his time on clients Hershey, Northwestern Mutual and Comcast, the last of which never had a national sports marketing program before hiring GMR to build out a March Madness program four years ago.

“Sports is a great way … to change the conversation about the company,” Dupee said. “Instead of thinking about how the cable guy was two hours late, you think about how Comcast gives you all this video on demand and gives you streaming with WatchESPN. It’s a great opportunity.”

— Bill King

Age: 38
Title: Senior vice president, client management
COMPANY: GMR Marketing
EDUCATION: B.S., journalism/advertising, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
FAMILY: Wife, Sarah; son, Braden (8); daughters Olivia (5) and Norah (3)
CAREER: Senior sales manager, Chippewa Valley Sports Commission, 1998-2001; director,  business development, National Sports Forum, 2001-03; joined GMR in 2003 as NFL manager for client Miller Brewing; took on business development and broader client management role five years ago

WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT?: Catching up on emails
HOW DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?: I try my best to be home for dinner and to spend time with the kids every night.

BEST BUSINESS ADVICE RECEIVED: Have a positive attitude about everything you do.
WORST ADVICE RECEIVED: Always look out for No. 1.
PERSONALITY, IN A TWEET: #focusontheimportantthings: #family #fun#friendship. #makethoseworkwith: #love #caring #kindness #compassion #optimism #positiveattitude
STRESS RELEASE: When I can sit down and read a physical newspaper with a cup of coffee on a weekend morning before anyone is up.
GUILTY PLEASURE: When I’m trying to get work done at night and my wife puts on reality TV; I can’t peel my eyes away.
FAVORITE MOVIE LINE: “Freedom!” (“Braveheart”)