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CRAIN’S 40 UNDER 40

Nov. 21, 2005

JASON ERKES

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

solvency.

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.

Margaret Littman

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