Youth sports participation has become an important tool in catalyzing positive change to upstream health solutions, character development, and fueling the economic engine of communities. As seen in mainstream media outlets such as HBO Real Sports, TIME Magazine, and The TODAY Show, topics surrounding youth sports such as the state of healthcare, the future of youth physical activity, the family dynamic and the economic growth throughout our country are making headlines. So much so, that youth and amateur sports have become big business. The intersection of this emerging market, life experiences, and an ethic to service have manifested into a dedication to social entrepreneurship for Jason Clement.
Jason Clement is the Founder Partner and CEO of a successful sports management solution, Sports Facilities Management (SFM) and Managing Partner of Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA). Today, these firms have overseen more than $8 billion dollars worth of planned investments and over 60 million visits in associated venues. Raised in Iowa, Jason was surrounded by an industrious, entrepreneurial family who successfully owned agricultural service various other businesses ranging from manufacturing, auto and plane dealerships, grain elevators, and real estate development. Building on this foundation, Jason honed his instincts through a hands-on architectural and entrepreneurship programs at Iowa State University, which taught him to value originality in problem solving, innovation and the pragmatic aspect of business. During his adulthood, he made the most out of his formal and informal learning to build a successful enterprise, Sports Facilities Advisory and Sports Facilities Management.
Capturing Opportunities to Create an Enterprise
Jason was working for an outsourced corporate real estate management firm when he saw an upcoming opportunity to create an enterprise in an emerging market. The corporate real estate firm provided facility management services to growing corporations like Cisco, NOKIA, USAA and more. During his time with this corporate real estate firm, Jason saw an opportunity to help public entities, private developers and entrepreneurs avail sophisticated management solutions in the sport, entertainment, and recreation industry. Today, SFA and SFM provide a wide-range of solutions starting from strategic planning all the way to organizational development and management services. SFA and SFM have become a global force in the industry. Over the course of 15 years, the firms have created various entities including numerous SFM-managed venues, Empower Adventures, Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports Development Group, Sports Leadership Centers of America, and more. Their work towards the development of sports, leisure, and entertainment industry has also lead to the creation of over 60 entities around the world. SFA and SFM, during inception, were a small leap of faith in the future on the part of Jason and his partners, and today they are a glowing face of success in the industry.
Measuring the Immeasurable Scale of Excellence
In the early days, SFM and Jason faced many challenges in order to establish their presence in the industry. Of which, one of the most recurrent struggles has been scaling to the “next” level of organization. In the beginning, Jason and a dedicated team worked hard to prove the business concept, serve the operations, and set the highest standards of service to their clients.
During its early stages, building a culture of accountability, controlling quality, and setting a bar for service was the unspoken norm. As the company grew, it expanded into a team of over 300 managing over 2000 venue staff. As a result, the company holds the values of accountability, collaboration, excellence and service sacrosanct for all team members. Scaling those standards is the recurring challenge Jason and the leadership team seem poised to meet.
One of Jason’s core beliefs is that people do not care about what leaders know until they come to understand the extent of their care, passion and dedication. He believes every organization and entrepreneur should consider making a positive difference in the lives of the people they intersect. This passion provides the fuel for perseverance required to reach new ground. This passion drove SFA and SFM to succeed during the most challenging growth periods, something which Jason makes every effort to share with employees, clients, and the management each day.
The Future and a Sound Word of Advice
SFM continues to innovate their management solutions by applying new technologies and incorporating the latest industry trends. Jason envisions a future for the industry that will serve families and participants in new and innovative ways in which they will interact on the courts, fields, pools and ice differently as the result of new technologies. “Smart courts”, entertainment and active amenities will be more prevalent as compared to now. Hence, he invests the resources of SFA and SFM in finding strategic partners and solutions that will take their service offerings to the next level. Additionally, Jason recognizes the current trend of dwindling youth sports participation rates. The downstream effect results in societies around the world becoming less active, healthy and investing less effort on physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Jason believes in the importance for the industry to provide opportunities for access to all kids and innovate within communities to promote participation for people who cannot afford quality sports services.
Jason led the company from the front in difficult times and has learned that in order to dive into the future, entrepreneurs must accept this as a way of life. Jason shared that giant corporations like Apple, Uber, Amazon, and others grew over a long period of time and were established through continuous efforts and change. Additionally, these companies also keep innovating to stay ahead of the curve and be the best in their respective fields. Hence, he advises young entrepreneurs to invest their time, effort, and focus without wasting time worrying about overnight success. According to Jason, success is not a destination but a journey marked by sustained effort filled with relationships, collaboration and commitment to service.