Business Leaders: Brooks Sports’ Jim Weber

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Name: Jim Weber
Date of Birth:
Jan. 1, 1960
Company: Brooks Sports
Position:  President and CEO (2001 -- current)
Previous role: Managing director at U.S Bancorp Piper Jaffray: Seattle investment banking office (1999 -- 2001)
Education: BA University of Minnesota, MBA the Tuck School at Dartmouth College
Quote: "We are having a blast right now. We are in a great category. It's very healthy. It's not just countercyclical in a recession. The trends that are driving running have been in place for awhile."

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Not one to slow down, Jim Weber (CEO of Brooks Sports) has hurried from one position to another throughout his career. Once you think you understand where he is, he's on to the next project.

Most of his business endeavors have centered on his passion for athletics. This interest enables him to have a refreshingly honest discourse with consumers about Brooks Sports' products. When appointed CEO he said, "As a runner for more than 25 years, I am passionate about taking this brand to the next level."

When running barefoot was in the spotlight, Weber penned an open letter to the running community, bringing Brooks Sports into the discourse. He was upfront about his business' interests ("Let's call a spade a spade. We make running shoes."), while providing a case for the continued use of its products: "For us, supportive, cushioned footwear is not only beneficial, it also plays an essential role in delivering a comfortable, injury-free running experience."

Weber had a blue-collar Midwestern upbringing. His father ran a bowling alley in North St. Paul, Minn., where he learned the value of hard work observing his father and from competing on the ice. Weber played hockey throughout high school and remembers giving locker-room pep talks to his team before big games. The power of motivational rhetoric would loom large in his future as CEO.

He played college hockey for one year and although the stint was brief, he recalls, "The idea of team play has permeated the way I think and play the game of business." Even today, Brooks Sports has one cafeteria and one parking lot. All employees are welcome to attend meetings and events. In Weber's words, "At Brooks, executive perks are few and far between." Through hockey, Weber grew to value the team over the star.

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Weber was president of Sigma Nu fraternity. He challenged his rush committee to triple membership and learned the importance of branding when holding events for incoming freshmen: highlighting the fraternity's members who seemed destined for success (pre-med/pre-law students) and downplaying the others.

Weber didn't simply inherit this coveted position as CEO and president. He worked tirelessly for multiple companies, often at the same time. During the first half of the 1990s, Weber held multiple executive positions with The Coleman Company; he was president of O'Brien International Inc. and president of Coleman Spas Inc. In 1996, he became chairman and CEO of action-sports company Sims Sports Inc. He also held various marketing and strategic development positions at The Pillsbury Company. During the new millennium, Weber was director of Nautilus Inc., and shortly after, he became director of Zumiez Inc.

As managing director for U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, Weber dealt with public and private consumer products companies. He also served on the Brooks Board for two years before becoming president and CEO.

Weber's goals are to strengthen Brooks Sports' brand, increase sales and improve marketing relationships. A few years after Brooks Sports started operating a subsidiary of Russell Brands, Weber become vice president of Russell Corp. He is also an executive of Norwest Equity Partners.

Weber has served on the boards of Eastside Catholic High School and the Seattle Sports Commission. He was also chairman of the Young President Organization, before serving as a member.

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