|New Allen owner Jack Gulati|
I am sure most of you have heard by now the new owner of the Allen Americans is Jack Gulati who also owns the Reading Royals. Here is a little background on Jack taken from the Reading Royals website.
Jack David Gulati was born in India on September 20, 1942. His family immigrated to America in 1958 when he was fifteen years old. He attended high school in New York City and graduated in 1959. He enrolled at the University of Minnesota, and after a somewhat circuitous route, he received B.S. in Mathematics in 1966.
Like his father and grandfather before him, Jack had ambitions to become an entrepreneur. He acquired his first business in 1968 at the age of 26, and in the ensuing years he bought, sold, or created forty businesses. Among his companies have been Fidelity Technologies Corporation, TeleAlarm Group, Fidelity Investment Corporation, SafetyCare Technologies, and Stokesay Castle, located in USA and Europe.
Jack has received many honors over the years. President Ronald Reagan appointed Jack to the White House Conference on Small Business in 1986. In addition, President George H. W. Bush appointed him to the Small Business Advisory Committee of Federal Communications Commission. In 1992, Jack was part of a delegation sent to Dakar, Senegal to advise African countries on matters involving the transition from military to civil rule.
Jack has contributed to the communities in which he has lived. He was elected Township Supervisor in Upper Merion Township, Pennsylvania, and served from 1980-1986. He also ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress from the 13th Congressional District of Pennsylvania in 1982. Over the years Jack has been involved in civic and business organizations, namely Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce, and the National Federation of Independent Business.
Jack and his wife, Rosemary, have three sons, David, Charles, and Michael, and 11 grandchildren. Jack retired from full-time business activities in December, 2011. He turned over his remaining companies to his three sons, who have inherited the entrepreneurial spirit, and have continued to grow the businesses that Jack started. Jack bought the Reading Royals in March of 2014.
I had the opportunity to have a one on one chat with Jack Gulati as he was working away on the Allen acquisition. I mostly wanted to congratulate him and thank him for rescuing the Allen franchise from a tenuous situation. It didn't take long to realize we had a lot in common as we attended the University of Minnesota at the same time in the 1960's, we both have a passion for fishing and we share the same birthdate of September 20. What really impressed me in the brief discussion was he doesn't talk like he has all the answers. He asks lots of questions and is interested in feedback from all of his stakeholders. He believes in the use of customer advisory groups/councils and other forms of obtaining feedback. As a matter of fact, at the end of our brief discussion he asked if I would be willing to be part of his advisory group and of course I said yes. At the end of our chat I felt comfortable enough to mention to Jack I was working on a blog post that I was calling, "An Open Letter to Jack Gulati" where I was sharing my thoughts on what needs to be done to make the franchise successful. He wasn't defensive at all and was very encouraging. He gave me his business card and asked me to email my thoughts to him as soon as it was complete.
Jack Gulati has forgotten more about running a business than I will ever know but I feel I am in a unique position to share my thoughts as he takes over in Allen. Over the last five years I have spent a considerable amount time covering the team on a daily basis. I also coordinate all season ticket sales, single games tickets, suite nights, veterans nights and miscellaneous other promotions at Heritage Ranch where I live. Each day I have the chance to talk to players, coaches, fans, front office staff, off ice officials, other media, Allen Event center staff, vendors and many others. That is a lot of time and energy for someone that has no formal connection to the team. I do feel I have a perspective that nobody else has and want to share that perspective to represent the views of many that don't have a voice. Here goes my letter to Jack Gulati. This was written prior to today's press conference so some of the issues raised below were addressed by Jack such as the fact Big Red was not part of the deal and the end of the season will be the end of the line for Big Red in Allen. I will go into more detail in the blog tomorrow.
STEVE MARTINSON - First among equals is signing Steve Martinson to a long term contract. His record as a coach and General Manager in unequaled with four championship in four years in Allen and 10 championships in 20 years as a head coach. His bond with the fans is unparalleled and he deserves to be the best compensated coach in the league. If Steve Martinson is not part of the long term plan it will make the sales and marketing of the team much more difficult. Also consider the value of the affiliation with San Jose which has been a vital part of the success in Allen. There are good and bad affiliations and the relationship with San Jose has been outstanding. My guess is San Jose is more connected to coach Martinson than the Allen Americans so another thing to think about. It is easy to talk about an affiliation with the Dallas Stars but that is unlikely.
THE PLAYERS - You have a reputation of taking good care of your players and that will surely be welcome. A successful on ice product is a key to success. Unfortunately the team has won the last four years not because of how the players have been treated but inspite of how they have been treated. Housing, utilities, travel, medical care, skates, equipment, bonuses, perks are all examples. If you want details from someone outside of the organization let me know. Again, if you take care of the players as you have with your team in Reading it will be a big improvement. Housing, facilitates, equipment and travel arrangements are all key elements to success. Make sure if you haven't already heard the stories about taking Big Red (the bus) through the mountains in the winter you have someone who was on those trips tell you all about them.
THE FANS - The Allen fans are loyal but many feel they have been left behind over the last few years and taken for granted. Each year there are fewer perks for season ticket holders and fewer opportunities to get together with the players. Fans ideas for improvement are not solicited on a regular basis. I know in reading about your background this is an area that is near and dear to your heart. You have used surveys, costomer advisory groups and you walk around and engage fans. You know how important it is to get feedback from the die-hard fan as well as the occasional game attendees. Fans are so happy you have purchased the team a little outreach effort will do wonders. Fans will become a key component of the marketing plan as there is nothing more powerful than season ticket holders that feel part of the team.
THE FRONT OFFICE - I have had the opportunity to work with every single front office employee over the past five years. I am sure I am biased but they are a talented group that seems overworked and under appreciated. I know from your past experience you see the importance of sufficient staffing to grow sales, promotions and sponsorships. My belief is if you treat employees in a professional manner and as full partners of the team they will give you their discretionary energy. Something as simple as attending the league conference, which hasn't always been the case in the past, speaks to professional development. With your leadership the whole will become much greater than the sum of the parts. I know you value work-life balance from reading about your lectures and book. To instill that concept in your employees is a great gift.
THE COMMUNITY - Relationships in the community are badly in need of repair. The reputation of the Allen Americans as a slow pay or no pay organization is known far and wide in the business community. This can be repaired by showing you are responsible corporate citizen that is active in the community.
MARKETING - It is interesting the single topic you hear about more than any other is how the Allen Americans could better market themselves. There is a sense that the marketing budget is either woefully short or the money set aside for marketing is never spent. The DFW Metroplex presents some difficult marketing challenges but also so unique opportunities. There are some very bright stakeholders that would be more than willing to share their ideas. Put a process in place to capture, analyze and implement the best of these ideas.
Maybe the best description of what the Allen Americans are getting with their new owner, Jack Gulati, is captured in a quote from a professor at Chestnut Hill College where Jack is a former board member. Last year Gulati was the keynote speaker at the school's Business Speaker Series. Here is what the professor had to say, "What impresses me most about Jack is not only what he has accomplished, but his willingness to give back to the community. He exemplifies a model leader, entrepreneur and good citizen."
I hope everyone joins me in helping in whatever way possible to make the Allen franchise successful.