Mark King, the president of TaylorMade adidas and father of two girls, wouldn’t want things in his life any other way. When asked if there was ever a time in his life that he may have wished he was doing something else, the answer was a quick and emphatic, “never”.
The intention to be where he is now was not something he has been planning since childhood. A scratch golfer, King earned a golf scholarship at Northern Illinois University. After two years, he went to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general business. “I thought I would pursue being a professional as either a player or certainly as a club professional, and I think that’s really where I thought my career would take me.”
The great athletes are what Mark King has used to influence his enthusiasm for success. Mohammed Ali, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, just to name a few, are the types of individuals who have achieved great success, and King says their attitude is what makes them, or made them that way. “Every day, you get up and you can either choose to be excited about what opportunities that day presents, or you can choose to focus on the negatives.” King chooses to be excited about each day, and the result is a successful rebirth of the TaylorMade company, now known as TaylorMade adidas.
TaylorMade was founded by Eddie Langert and Gary Adams in the late 1970’s. Langert was running a golf shop at a range in Green Bay, Wisconsin when Mark King walked in and glued his eyes on a beautiful set of clubs which he could not afford. Langert told King to put the clubs in his bag, and that they would work out a way to pay for them. King became Langerts’ employee, and with the exception of a few years at Callaway Golf, he has been one ever since.
That short stint at Callaway was good preparation for the role King has now at TaylorMade adidas. “I think whatever you do in life prepares you for the next thing.” After being away from TaylorMade for a couple of years, King had a greater appreciation upon his return. “TaylorMade and all that it stands for was something that was the most important to me in reference to my professional life.”
Knowing this, over a period of 20 months, the product, the morale, and the company in general has gone from what King described as “on a downward spiral”, to being at an all-time high. Also in that span, TaylorMade adidas has gone from $300 million to $500 million, and that turn-around has been the most rewarding success of his career, so far.
For those who may dream of one day being an executive in the sports industry, or any industry for that matter, King says “all dreams are possible if you are willing to do what it takes to achieve them.” The key of course, are you willing to do what it takes? “That might mean networking, higher education, harder work or different jobs, or taking a step back to take a step forward”, King added. “You have to have dreams, and you have to live every day in pursuit of those dreams.”