A Brand New Game

For these athletes, entrepreneurship is the next playing field

some 40 employees and 2002 revenues approaching $15 million, Carter Bros. is positioning itself as a future BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 company. The company’s largest client is ADT, which it landed in 2001. After forming a partnership with the electronic security services giant, the Carter brothers’ firm began supervising ADT systems installation in large-scale domestic projects such as corporate headquarters and high-rises. The firm also coordinates ADT’s host of subcontractors. The deal is expected to result in some $100 million in business.

The Carter brothers launched their company in 2000 when they decided to combine their business acumen with John’s 15-year background in construction. John’s projects include the former Enron Field in Houston, Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, and Turner Field in Atlanta. “With my expertise coming out of construction, it made a great deal of sense,” says John of the venture. “I understood the management side of it, managing large, complex projects.” The company initially went after construction projects but focused on security and project management after partnering with ADT.

Cris, who in 16 seasons in the NFL has 130 touchdowns on 1,101 receptions for 13,899 yards, holds nearly every receiving record for the Minnesota Vikings, where he spent 12 seasons. He retired in 2001 but returned to the league midway through the 2002 season to play for the Miami Dolphins after receivers Chris Chambers and Oronde Gadsden fell to injuries.

The future Hall of Famer says he’s always thought beyond his playing days. Partnering with his brother, he says, was an ideal fit. “I never saw being in the NFL as the last thing that I would do,” says Cris, 37. “I had someone who had run a company, and I could really trust him with something we could build together. That’s one of the biggest hurdles for an athlete to get over because so many people are taking from them and they don’t trust a lot of people.”

Despite Cris’ celebrity status, the Carter brothers have had their share of challenges in the business arena. Potential clients initially viewed their company as a minority-owned firm without the resources to handle sizeable projects. “The first thing they say about minority companies is, ‘It’s a big job, can you handle it?’” says John, 39. “But when you walk into a company with ADT, it’s very hard to say, ‘Oh, you’re not big enough.’”

Cris’ ultimate goal is to follow in the footsteps of Black Entertainment Television founder, chairman, and chief executive officer Robert Johnson, and eventually own a professional sports franchise (see “Slam Dunk,” this issue). Cris says he sees his venture as a step along that path, as he gains the skills and experience needed to manage an NFL franchise in the business world. “I think athletes have limited themselves as far as their overall potential by just saying that they want to make it in pro sports, but ultimately the job to have is to own a pro team,” he says. “I believe there are going to be plenty of minorities in

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