We had the good fortune of connecting with Drew Hardee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Drew, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Coming out of law school, I knew I wanted to be a sports agent but wasn’t sure the best way to get into it and really be able to do what I would like to do in the industry. I interned at a NFL Agency based out of Charlotte, NC and loved what I did there but wanted to do it on the baseball side of things. When looking for a position with an established firm, there were really only intern positions available. Because of that, the risk taker in me thought that if I could be my own boss and start my own business I could climb through the ranks a lot faster than interning with a group. Knowing me and how hard I work, I would run myself ragged before letting something fail. Also being able to make my own schedule and do things how I want to do them has been huge for the growth of this company and for my own personal well being. i was lucky enough to get partnered up with a guy who was already doing this on his own for awhile and we hit it off and have been able to build something pretty special in only 5 years! Excited to see where our business is in another 5 years.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
So in 2017, my partner and I started KHG Sports Management, which is a sports representation company that focuses primarily on baseball players and helping them with all things that come with being a professional athlete. From contract/arbitration work, to endorsement deals and marketing, we do it all. Our job is to make sure that our athletes only have to focus on what they are being paid to do, and that’s playing their sport. We take care of everything else off the field that they don’t have time or resources to get done and put a team around them that can help with everything. If we can maximize their production on the field by doing what we can off of it, then we’re doing our job!
I think at KHG Sports, we set ourselves apart from other companies in that our relationship with each player goes beyond just a working relationship. We genuinely become family with our guys and want nothing but the best for them as humans both on and off the field. Each one of our clients trust us and know that what we tell them is the truth, even if it’s not what they want to hear.
Without honesty and trust in this business, the relationships don’t last. Between that and what we do developmentally is top notch. You don’t see many, if any, agencies of our size that have the training facilities and resources we have for our guys. Whether you’re a top rounder or a late rounder, we have the resources to get our guys outworking their competition and getting them to the big leagues. I think I’m most proud of and excited about the fact that we’re still in our infancy of this business, yet I’d put our brand and company against any of them in this industry. We already have multiple big leaguers and first rounders, which is extremely tough to do in this world. Thinks are only pointing up for KHG.
Honestly to get where we are today definitely wasn’t easy. Especially starting a new company in the dog eat dog world that is the agency business. We’ve been told no more times than I can count but each no has allowed us to grow and get the clients that fit our brand and get guys that trust that what we’re doing around here is pretty special. We just have had to outwork our competition and look for the diamonds in the rough with a chip on their shoulders that maybe they miss.
I think along the way, we’ve learned what to really look for in a player and not trust something you see on social media or a publication. Also learned that having trusted people in the industry and relying on their opinions is so much more beneficial than thinking you know everything and don’t need help on anything. Your network is everything, in not only this world, but everything you do. We’ve gotten guys in the past, that maybe we didn’t have a chance with but they trusted someone who trusted us and it got us in the room. And once we’re in the room, I’d put us against anyone in this industry.
So If I could say one thing that I want people to know about our Brand and company, is that we’re going to outwork almost everyone and if we say we’re going to do something, we get it done. At KHG, you’re getting good people, but also phenomenal business people and hard workers. That’s all you can ask for in this industry.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ah, this is a great question. I live in Charlotte about 10 min from what they call “Uptown” and there are so many things you can get into, both from an entertainment standpoint and a food/drink standpoint.
If you’re a sports fan, there aren’t many better places to watch a ballgame than in Charlotte. You have probably one of the best fan experiences and views in all of baseball with the Triple-A team for the Chicago WhiteSox, in the Charlotte Knights. If not baseball, you can catch a Panthers game, Hornets game or Charlotte’s new soccer club, Charlotte FC!
If my foodie friends are in town, then there are more places that I can even count to take them. But some of my favorites are probably Ru San’s for sushi, Paco’s Tacos and RuRu’s for Mexican food or Pizza Omaggio for great Italian style pizza. There is also a really cool spot called Optimist Hall that has over 25 restaurants and bars all in a large warehouse. Great environment to hang out or even get some work done if you need.
I’d say some of my favorite hang out/drinks spots are Selwyn Pub to watch games or a brewery like OMB or Sycamore. You can also go to a cool arcade bar and bowl or play some video games at Pins Mechanical Company. If you’re looking for a great outdoor place that holds different festivals and concerts, then we’ll head out to the National Whitewater Center. The NWC has white water rafting, paddle boarding, hiking trails, ropes courses and a climbing wall as well. Plenty of things to do out there. Or if you really want to enjoy the outdoors, we can take a short drive north to Lake Norman and rent a boat to go out on the water for the day!
We may not be able to get all of that in during a week but we can certainly try. So many different things to do in the Charlotte area for families and individuals. Great city to be in and we love it here.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There’s honestly too many people, and not enough time, to thank for helping me get to the point I’m at today in my career. I’ve been blessed with having great people along this journey who have helped me at every step. But there are a certain few that, without them, I would never be able to do what I’m doing.
First off, I want to give a ton of credit to my amazing wife, Lauren. Without her none of this would even be possible. She has been by my side through this crazy agent life and all my travels. She doesn’t blink an eye when I tell her I have to be gone for a few days and holds down the fort with our little one. I remember the day I told her this is what I wanted to do for a living and she said, “Go for it. If that’s what makes you happy and you think you can build something special, I believe in you.” Having a supportive spouse makes it that much easier to put your all into something and I’ve been blessed with that.
Next, without my business partner, Josh Knipp, this would just be a pipe dream and I’d be practicing law somewhere instead of watching baseball for a living. I got connected with Josh back in 2017 after I graduated Law School from the University of Oregon through a mutual connection. We met up once I moved back to the Charlotte area and started our company on the spot basically. And 5 years later, we’ve built something special and it only continues to grow. He took a chance on a young guy and let me run with it and I knew I had to work my tail off to not have him regret putting his trust in me. I’ve been able to learn under him, one of the smartest guys in this business, and how best to go about our business but also work collaboratively on things that only push this thing forward.
Lastly, just want to give a shoutout to the professors, the people I’ve had the chance to work with, and the agents I talked to leading up to me starting this business that gave me advice about how this world really is. Without all of their insight and pushing along the way, none of this would be a thing. I’ve learned immensely from them all and without each of them, who know’s what I would be doing now.