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Volume 23 No. 14
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W Partners gets into talent rep game, signs Sandberg

W Partners is adding talent representation as a new line of business for the Chicago-based boutique sports marketing agency.

Run by industry veteran Wally Hayward, W Partners has signed its first two clients in U.S. Olympic gold medal swimmer Lilly King and Baseball Hall of Fame member and former Chicago Cubs star Ryne Sandberg to exclusively manage their endorsements, marketing and personal appearances.

Steven Koehnemann, who joined W Partners earlier this year, will lead the talent side of the business and also will be Sandberg’s primary agent to manage all of his business matters moving forward. Koehnemann is Sandberg’s stepson.

“It’s another evolution of W Partners as we look to grow,” Hayward said. “We started with property rights and we are in property consulting and now we are in talent representation.”

Hayward ran his own Relay Worldwide agency from 2001-09, followed by a stint with the Cubs as executive vice president and chief sales officer from 2009-13, when he resigned to create W Partners with the financial backing of the Ricketts family that owns the Cubs. The agency counts the Cubs, the Breeders’ Cup and Gallagher Insurance among its clients.

Under W Partners, Sandberg has signed deals with Pepsi and American Airlines.

“We are looking more at the right athletes where we have a shared vision of their brand and career,” Hayward said. “It is not sports specific.”