CRAIN’S 40 UNDER 40
Nov. 21, 2005
36, President Sport & Social Clubs Inc.
Why him? With friend and nightclub business partner Marc Bortz,
Jason Erkes took the Lincoln Park meet-and-greet from bankruptcy to
Like many young urban professionals, the two had played in the club’s
sports leagues, but they had no professional interest in the company
until a friend mentioned its owner was considering Chapter 11.
Knowing that the clubs’ single, college-educated, 21-to-35-year-old
crowds were an advertiser’s dream, the duo decided to buy the company.
That was in 2001, when it had $2.1 million in gross revenue and a roster
of 45,000 participants among clubs scattered in 22 cities.
Today, the restructured company has annual revenues of $3.6 million
and 80,000 participants in just four cities: Chicago, San Francisco,
Philadelphia and Orlando, Fla. Profits, which were non-existent in 2001,
are up nearly 400%, Mr. Erkes says.
How did he turn it around? Old-fashioned pressing the flesh.
“He’s well-received by groups because when they meet him, they feel
like they’ve always known him,” says Roland Burris, whose 1994
gubernatorial run Mr. Erkes helped manage.
Off the clock: Despite the nature of his job, he prefers a political debate to a Cubs game.