Teall Investments LLC, a new private equity firm, has acquired a “significant” stake in Alabama-based Tailgate Guys, an event management company specializing in sports hospitality. No financial terms were disclosed.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Oct. 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Ben C. Sutton, Jr., widely recognized as one of the most accomplished entrepreneurs and business leaders in the sports and entertainment industry, has formed a private equity company—Teall Investments, LLC together with several Teall affiliates. Teall has already announced the acquisition of a significant interest in Alabama-based Tailgate Guys, and anticipates a continuing rapid growth track through additional investments focused primarily in the sports, media, marketing and entertainment industries. Sutton serves as chairman of Teall, which is based in Winston-Salem, NC, Atlanta, GA and San Francisco, CA.
Sutton founded ISP Sports in Winston-Salem in 1992, and after rapidly becoming the market leader in collegiate sports marketing, broadcast, publishing, sponsorship services, ticketing and stadium seating, the company merged into IMG College in 2010. Sutton, who became chairman and president of IMG College in 2010 and had served as chairman emeritus since September 2015, left IMG College late last year to focus his efforts on Teall.
Sutton is credited for creating the collegiate multimedia rights business as the industry knows it today. Under his leadership, 75 percent of the IMG College portfolio consisted of the three national, market-leading businesses that Sutton and team grew from their infancy. By the time he stepped down as President in 2015, the IMG College multimedia (TV, radio, digital, out-of-home, publishing) business was a nearly $500 million business unit representing over 100 major universities. He also started IMG Ticketing (now IMG Learfield Ticketing), a nearly $150 million business unit with more than 40 partner schools, and IMG Seating, which ISP acquired in 2009 and expanded from a $2 million enterprise at that time to a $30 million business five years later.
By the time Sutton had made his mark on IMG College, the company managed the multimedia rights for 37 of the 65 College Football Playoff equity conference schools and nearly 60 percent of the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision schools in multimedia. Through its stadium seating, ticketing and licensing divisions, the company also represented more than 250 schools, venues and conferences. After significant earnings growth at IMG College helped drive an increase in IMG’s overall valuation, Sutton helped engineer the sale of parent company IMG to WME/Silver Lake Capital for $2.4 billion in 2014.
Since Teall invested in Tailgate Guys about 9 months ago, that company has experienced meteoric growth. Tailgate Guys, which provides turnkey hospitality packages to fans, represented six universities – Auburn, Florida, Georgia Tech, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M – at the time of Teall’s investment. Since then, Tailgate Guys has added several PGA tour events, professional sports franchises and bowl games, as well as representing 10 additional major universities: Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Penn State, Pittsburgh, South Florida, UConn, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
Joining Sutton on Teall Investments’ executive management team are seven individuals, including six who were previously members of the senior leadership at ISP Sports and IMG College:
Wes Day, Vice President, Investments
Lou Doherty, General Counsel
Kelli Hilliard, Chief People Officer
Rex Hough, Senior Vice President of Business Development
Anna Barton Kolda, Vice President, Chief of Staff
Mark McKeen, Chief Information Officer
Joe Weatherly, Chief Financial Officer
“I worked side by side with this group of individuals for years as we created the best sports marketing team in America, bar none. Each of them is incredibly talented and dedicated, and we are all excited to be part of a new team at Teall Investments,” Sutton said. “The American entrepreneurial spirit defines Teall Investments’ leadership team, and we’ve already hit the ground running with tremendous success in a couple of our investments. This highly competitive leadership team which built from scratch most of what is IMG College today, certainly understands that the sky is the limit for what we can accomplish together at Teall Investments.”
About Ben C. Sutton, Jr.
The founder of ISP Sports and former Chairman and President of IMG College, Ben Sutton was recently inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and is a member of the boards of the United State Olympic Committee, Ronald Reagan Presidential, National Football, and Naismith Basketball foundations. He also serves as a director with the Wyndham PGA Championship, the Falk School of Sports Management at Syracuse University, and at Wake Forest University, his alma mater. Sutton has received numerous awards including the Wake Forest University Distinguished Alumni Award, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine (highest civilian honor in North Carolina), induction into the NACMA hall of fame, as well as being named one of the top or most powerful sports executives in America by numerous publications.
About the Teall Investments team
Wes Day oversees all new investments and acquisitions for the company. The former BB&T executive is also the former co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of Encapsio, an early stage biotech company. Wes received his BS from Wake Forest University and his M.B.A. degree from Duke University Fuqua School of Business.
Lou Doherty oversees all legal related matters for Teall companies pre- and post-acquisition. With more than 25 years of experience, Doherty offers invaluable knowledge and practical legal experience, especially with regard to businesses engaged in sports and entertainment. In a private practice environment, Doherty represented clients on a wide array of legal matters formative to the growth of business and integral to managing operations and minimizing risks. He represented Ben Sutton and the leadership team at ISP Sports through formative years and participated in the business combinations leading to the formation of IMG College. He left private practice and joined IMG College as its first general counsel and has since been general counsel for numerous businesses and affiliates. He has integrated legal departments and led legal efforts on business acquisitions, large-scale sponsorships, and major rights agreements. In his leadership of various teams, Doherty’s aim is to improve teamwork, implement best practices, resolve disputes, and pursue creative solutions. He received a J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law and a B.S. in economics from Duke University.
Kelli Hilliard leads all personnel and integration efforts for Teall. She was recognized as a 2012 Sports Business Journal “Game Changer – Women in Sports Business,” an annual recognition accorded to only 40 women in all of sports who regularly shape the strategy, investments and programs that make teams, leagues and companies thrive. She has been a major supporter of Habitat for Humanity and is currently the Chairperson of the Board for Atlanta’s Leadership Buckhead. Hilliard attended the University of Georgia and holds a bachelor’s degree of business administration from Augusta State University.
Rex Hough leads business development efforts across Teall businesses. Rex has served in leadership capacities in college athletics for the last 27 years with a record of driving sales, building high performance teams, and creating new growth verticals. He is a proven college administrator, college business executive, and business development strategist. Hough is a graduate of West Virginia University.
Anna Barton Kolda leads all cross-company and firm operational efforts. Anna has nearly a dozen years of executive administrative and management team experience with a strong background in business development, project management, event planning and teambuilding in both the sports and music fields. With her proven ability to support operations and executive leadership through periods of fast-paced change and acquisition, Kolda will continue to lead that cause with the Teall Investments team. She is a highly agile strategist who coordinates and collaborates cross-functionally to drive branding and growth. Kolda is a graduate of Texas A&M University.
Mark McKeen oversees firm wide Information Technology efforts. Mark is an experienced Information Technology executive with a career spanning more than 20 years. His expertise is in strategic planning, project design and implementation, quality initiatives (CI), and line management. Throughout his career, McKeen has successfully lead process re-engineering efforts, entire IT infrastructure redesigns and new business startup initiatives for Weather Channel, Jefferson-Pilot, Lincoln Financial, and ISP Sports. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University.
Joe Weatherly is responsible for managing all financial functions pre- and post-acquisition. With more than 26 years of Chief Financial Officer experience, he serves as financial and business advisor to Sutton and works to identify and evaluate strategic alternatives, seek new investment capital, and evaluate potential investment and acquisition opportunities. Weatherly is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill undergraduate and Kenan-Flagler MBA program at UNC.
About Teall Investments
Teall Investments is a privately-held set of investments in innovative, high growth potential lifestyle brands and services. The company’s leadership has extensive experience in sports, media, marketing and entertainment, and the group provides its operating companies deep expertise in a number of disciplines: corporate strategy, organizational management, culture and training, financial strategy, employee operations, recruiting, and expert legal diligence.
Teall Investments is led by Ben C. Sutton, Jr. and an executive management team that built and expanded four national market-leading businesses in the college sports space: IMG College Media, IMG Seating, IMG College Licensing and IMG Ticketing. Teall invests in complementary organizations that can strategically work together to realize greater value, sharing in expertise, thought leadership and networks.
For more information, please visit TeallInvestments.com.