Nik Lubisich is was raised in the Northwest and continues to call that region of the United States his home today. He is a former professional baseball player (stuck in the Minors for 6 years before suffering career ending shoulder injuries) who has translated his knowledge of the game and what players look for out of their agents, into running a growing sports agency: Northwest Sports Management Group.
Nik earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon and was a two-time Northwest Conference player of the year in Baseball and an All-Conference pick in both baseball and basketball.
Nik and his team have found a niche in the Northwest, representing some of the top young talent in the last few drafts. It was a pleasure interviewing Nik for this site. The transcript is below.
Darren Heitner: What made you want to become a baseball agent?
Nik Lubisich: I became a baseball agent because I wanted to stay in the game in some facet after my playing career ended. I liked the idea of working with kids that are chasing something that I once did. I understand the value of a good agent having had two while I played and being your own boss isn’t a bad thing either!
Darren Heitner: What kind of competition exists in the Pacific Northwest, where your company is located? Do you strictly recruit in that area? Are you looking to expand to cover more ground?
Nik Lubisich: There is some competition here in the Northwest, mainly from other agencies located outside of the Northwest. Many send “runners” up here to try and lure them away from the Northwest. In Oregon, there isn’t much competition, but up in Seattle there are several agents working out of that city. I do tend to stay and recruit strictly in the Northwest. I may expand over time but enjoy working from the ground up.
Darren Heitner: How long have you been in the sports agent industry? What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned?
Nik Lubisich: I have been in the industry since the winter of 2007. I think the most valuable lesson I have learned is the most simplist: Treat people how you want to be treated. I have been in the other side of my business and I remember getting frustrated when I never heard from my agent or he didn’t follow through on what he said. In this business, you better back up what you say or you will lose your clients.
Darren Heitner: Tell us a little bit about the first client you signed. And what about the most recent player that has become a client?
Nik Lubisich: The first client I signed was Ehren Wassermann with the Chicago White Sox. It was a little strenuous in that he was represented by another firm. At the time, the “boat” wasn’t “rocking” so to speak, but he saw the potential and opportunity that lied ahead for him with my firm. The most recent would be the kids from our past draft class. Darrell Ceciliani is a good one in that he was drafted in the 4th round by the Mets and it has been fun watching him grow and play through his first year of rookie ball. He was the #2 player taken out of the Northwest and has the potential to be an outstanding baseball player. He is often compared to Jacoby Ellsbury as they coincidentally reside from the same town of Madras, OR.
Darren Heitner: With Spring Training and many Major League teams and their Minor league affiliates being far away from your office, how tough is it to meet with your clients face-to-face throughout the year?
Nik Lubisich: As many people will tell you, if you want to stay sane living in the Northwest, you better travel to the sun as often as possible! Several of my clients played in the Northwest league this summer so it was easy for me to get around and watch them play. The others, I had to hop a flight back East and catch them there. Spring Training isn’t too far away and I usually live in Phoenix for 6 weeks with past players and coaches that I know, as well as scouting new talent at the college tournaments, and seeing my clients.
Darren Heitner: How does spending 6 years in the Minors with the White Sox help you run your business?
Nik Lubisich: I think it serves as a tremendous advantage in that I know what kind of a road it is to be in the minors. And I don’t care what people say, it isn’t an easy road or as glamorous as people think. You have to be strong willed to get through it and have a lot of luck on your side. It is comforting to many families that they know I have been where their sons are going.
Darren Heitner: Do you represent any of your former teammates?
Nik Lubisich: I represent Ehren Wassermann. I have played with some very big stars in the majors but feel it inappropriate to chase them down and ask them to sign with me. If they reach out to me and need help, I am always there for them, but I don’t want them to feel like I am using our friendship and connections as a benefit. Ehren took a leap of faith with me because we were best friends while playing and I know he trusted everything I said I would do. He is happy to be with us and we are fortunate to have him as a client.
Darren Heitner: Can you tell us a little bit about some of the unique marketing deals you have been able to secure for your clients?
Nik Lubisich: I think the major marketing deals that we have rest in our sports camps. In the Northwest, it is important to me that our clients give back to their roots. We set up a business calld Future Stars Sports Camps (www.futurestarssportscamps) where kids can meet our clients and learn from their instruction through various camps and events. Each one of my cleints will have a camp in their name, in their hometown during the off-season. We handle the promoting of it and set up all the logistics. Proceeds from the camp are donated back to the hometown communities in the name of our client. They seem to like the camps and it is truly a win-win for everybody.
Darren Heitner: Anything else you would like to add?
Nik Lubisich: I think that about sums it up. Let me know if you have anything further for me. Thanks Darren.