Saturday, June 2, 2012

Meet the Pensack Sports Management Group

Tales of extraordinary effort and achievement are always inspiring and the account of the Brothers Pensack is no different. Now partners in the Bay Area-based Pensack Sports Management Group, Adam and Ben didn't just one day decide to become agents and hang out a sign, hoping to land an Anthony Davis.

Ben Pensack

Adam Pensack

No, it's been a learning curve and long haul, preceded by meticulous preparation and planning and buttressed by hard work and diligence. Yes, it began with a lot of dreaming and hoping but always followed by doing, the taking of action to make the desire become reality.

Now they are established, on the cusp of breaking into prime agent territory.

But way back in the beginning, it was simply basketball, a sport beloved by older brother Ben and younger sibling Adam.

As Adam described, "we quickly realized [as players] that we were not going to the NBA. So how could we remain around the sport?"

Ben finished up at UC Santa Barbara and then headed to law school at Pepperdine. Adam completed his undergraduate work at UC Davis before earning a Master's in Business Administration at San Francisco State.

"We knew we would become business partners and our [separate] degrees would help in becoming agents," Adam explained.

But then came the Zen-like conundrum: if you announce that you are player agents (in a forest or elsewhere), will anyone notice, let alone step forward and say "I want you to represent me"?

"It was tough going, a super competitive business with not a lot of dollars to be made early on," Adam recalls. "We weren't nearly as experienced or savvy as we are now but we worked extremely hard to learn. We haven't quite reached our pinnacle of success yet but I am confident our knowledge and skill now stacks up extremely well against any other agency and thus the future is bright. We've been told by multiple NBA and international teams that some of the things we do now to market our clients are unique and better than what our competition is doing. And we are always working to continue to get better as we are firm believers that if we work harder and smarter than the competition good things will happen for us and our clients."

However, a Kevin Durant was simply not going to stumble in off the street and walk through the front door of their office.

Their breakthrough came when Shawn Dirden, a family friend and 6-foot-3 guard finished up playing at Idaho in 1997.

He stepped up and said "I'll be your client."

After giving it a go in the training camp of the Phoenix Suns, Dirden went on to play abroad in China, Sweden, Lebanon and Venezuela. After his playing days concluded, Dirden returned to the states and became an assistant coach at Montana State. He is now an assistant at South Dakota.

"Shawn told a lot of people about us," Adam remembered, and that started the proverbial ball rolling."You have to get a player, who tells a second player, who is hopefully an even better player."

"With Shawn, it was like we were in the first inning. Now we're in the third inning and we're innovating and doing things for our clients that are having a major impact."

The Pensack Sports Management Group now manages the careers of former Utah Staters Gary Wilkinson  and Tai Wesley, forward Bill Amis and guard Matt Lojeski, point La'Shard Anderson out of Boise State and many others.

"We have guys in all the top leagues in Europe." Adam proudly offered. "We have a great relationship with the Utah State coaching staff and their guys transition well to the pros. Spencer Nelson [one of the best ever Aggies who is currently playing in Spain after time in Germany and Italy] is one of our best clients and players like him can make three or four times more than the NBA league minimum salary after considering different income tax structures in the U.S. and Spain for players over there."

Yes, there is a wide range of compensation for players in Europe but some of Pensack's clients make more in Europe than they would in the NBA.

Former Newark Memorial High and San Jose State University star forward Marquin Chandler is another Pensack client. Chandler didn't play last season but earlier plied his trade in the Philippines and South Korea, making very good money and now is an entrepreneurial businessman and back in the Bay Area.

Justin Love is also part of the the Pensack clientele. The 6-foot-3 guard out of Sacred Heart Cathedral High and St. Louis University has enjoyed a lengthy career in Germany, China, Latvia and now the Ukraine.

"We feel we're on the precipice of breaking through to the next level," Adam said. "We're moving up."

A looming question he and his brother face though is 'who do you have in the NBA?'

"The answer is we have two former NBA draft picks who both played in the NBA (Kaniel Dickens and Dan McClintock) but right now nobody," Adam responded.

However, some of that is attributed to the fact that scruples and ethics are cornerstone building blocks for the Brothers Pensack: "We're just never going to cut corners and we won't have to. Some of the new marketing strategies we are beginning to implement for our clients bring a lot of value and ultimately this differentiation is going to be recognized by top players out there. It just takes time."

Adam added, "we develop really close relationships with our players and we want the right players and persons. We don't want to work for knuckleheads."

Their selling points are "we are very hands-on and we won't ever become complacent. Ultimately, we want guys in the NBA but that will happen because we pay very close attention to the European markets and enjoy success there. We also offer promotion and marketing advice as well as transition services which is a pretty big piece of the puzzle for a lot of guys."

It's worth noting that Pensack clients do not make headlines due to filing for bankruptcy, even after earning millions.

Oh yes, for the sports film fans out there, it might not have exactly been "show me the money" but Adam acknowledges hearing similar themed lines.