Friday, March 7, 2014
SACO - Peter Carlisle doesn't need a calendar to tell him how close the Sochi Winter Olympics are.
Peter Carlisle stands in front of a gallery of his clients in his office at the MHG Ice Centre in Saco. He said when he started his own agency in 1997, he considered the growing popularity of action sports, such as snowboarding, and saw opportunity. “He was a visionary,” says his brother, Jeff Carlisle.
Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer.
Peter Carlisle talks about his career as a sports agent in his office at the MHG Ice Centre in Saco earlier this summer. He said when he started his own agency in 1997, he considered the growing popularity of action sports, such as snowboarding, and saw opportunity. “He was a visionary,” says his brother, Jeff Carlisle.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
Gold Medal Clients
From the time he started his own one-man shop in 1997 to today, where he oversees the Olympic and Action Sports division for Octagon, one of the largest sports agencies in the world, Peter Carlisle has represented some of the most successful Olympic athletes in U.S. history. Here’s a look at some of them:
– By Mike Lowe, Staff Writer
As the managing director of the Olympics and Action Sports division for Octagon -- one of the world's most prestigious sports agencies -- Carlisle has been working toward the Feb. 7, 2014, opening ceremonies in Sochi, a Russian city on the Black Sea coast, for months. His job is to market his clients, many of whom will be medal favorites, to global corporate sponsors.
"I look at it this way," he said. "There are 10 major stories going into the games and 10 major stories coming out of the games. Sometimes they're not the same."
For the last year or so, he has been selling those stories.
"Anywhere from a year to nine months out, the pace quickens significantly," Carlisle said. "There are still some things to do, some photo shoots, some ad shoots, but we're more than halfway done in terms of solidifying the athletes' corporate sponsorships for Sochi."
That the 45-year-old Carlisle, who grew up in Cape Elizabeth and now raises a family in South Portland, does this from a corner office located at the MHG Ice Centre here, that he represents some of the most powerful Olympic athletes of all time, might surprise some people.
But he is one of the most accomplished sports agents in the world. His clients include swimmer Michael Phelps, snowboarders Seth Wescott, Ross Powers and Kelly Clark, speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, and gymnast Aly Raisman. All are legends in their sport and Olympic gold medal winners.
In representing them, he has marketed them internationally and locally, putting their faces and words in ads and commercials in every medium: on a Wheaties cereal box, in Subway commercials, in "Got Milk?" ads.
Earlier this year Carlisle was named one of the 15 Most Influential Sports Agents in the world by Sports Illustrated. He ranked 14th, the only person on the list associated purely with Olympic and action sports stars. He dismissed the significance of the honor.
"Well, as my children have told me, I was second-to-last," he said, with a smile.
COMPETITIVE? 'OH YEAH'
In what he does, Peter Carlisle is second to no one.
He began his career as a sports agent without any clients, leaving a Portland law firm because he had a vision that people would care about snowboarders and skiers and swimmers. He started a one-man agency in 1997 on Fore Street in Portland and soon began signing clients who would become the top names in their sports.
Then he sold his business to Octagon, which was recently named the second-most valuable sports agency in the world.
"Not surprised in the least," said Jeff Carlisle, Peter's older brother and a managing director of Vigilant Capital Management in Portland. "Peter is brilliant and creative and has a terrific moral compass. He is ideally suited for the business that he's in."
Those who know Carlisle and have watched him negotiate sponsorships for his clients use the same words to describe him: laid-back, smart, intuitive, creative, hard-working, competitive.
Make that very competitive.
"Oh yeah," said Powers, who was Carlisle's first big-name client after winning a bronze medal at the Nagano Olympics in 1998. "Whenever we get together, the weekend becomes a bit of a competition. We keep a points system on everything."
And Carlisle seldom loses, whether it's at golf or board games such as Ticket to Ride. "It's kind of funny," said Wescott, "to have your agent beating up on all these Olympic athletes."
Carlisle feeds off the competition. When he first started his agency, he had to outwork what few action sports agents were out there. Now he's going against the bigger firms that now realize there's money to be made in Olympic athletes. While his past experience gives Carlisle an edge, he knows he still has to work hard to sign new clients.
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