Bart Campbell has done rather well for a Palmerston North lad who held stop-go signs on the road for Higgins contractors.
The new part-owner and chairman of the Melbourne Storm is now the 42-year-old boss of the fourth-largest sports agency in the world.
He heads a consortium which bought the NRL champions from News Ltd on Monday night.
His companies did the signage for the London Olympics, handles sponsorship for British and Irish Lions tours, and works with the International Rugby Board and All Blacks' sponsorship outside New Zealand. He founded Global Sports Management in 1999 which grew to become the world's leading rugby player management business with the likes of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter on its books.
He is the son of former Palmerston North couple Terry and Nan Campbell, who are now working out of the Hilton Hotel in Taupo. As a lad, Bart had other menial jobs.
Terry remembers him coming home from Noel Eales' horse-racing stables covered in hay on a daily basis.
He attended College Street School, Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School and Palmerston North Boys' High School, where he was an opening bowler in the first XI.
Campbell obtained arts and law degrees at Otago University and in the student holidays played senior cricket for Palmerston North Marist, as well as working in a holiday job with IMG in Sydney.
He finished his masterate, doing his thesis in sports law and the media at the University of Vermont in the United States.
"He always said that was the business he wanted to get into."
In 2010, he went back to study at Harvard Business School.
He has worked in the sports industry as a lawyer, athlete manager and sports marketer since 1994. A year later, he was in the right job when rugby turned professional.
He has been in London for 16 years. He moved there in 1997 and worked as in-house counsel for Greenwich NatWest Investment Bank for a year.
His first client was his brother-in-law Tabai Matson, the All Black who is now the Crusaders' attack coach and who married Campbell's daughter, Nadia.
Matson was playing for Brive in France at the time. In a year, Campbell's business expanded as an agency of rugby players, one of whom was Scot Gregor Townsend at Brive, and Campbell ended up representing all the Scottish players outside Scotland.
In 2006, he set up a sport and entertainment marketing company called Essentially, absorbing his earlier companies, whose New Zealand arm looks after many All Blacks and 40 per cent of rugby players in Europe. He grew that business from 20 to 120 professionals, with offices in London, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India and Japan.
After it merged with Chime Communications in 2009, he became the chief operating officer of its sports division, CSM Sport & Entertainment, with more than 650 staff in 13 countries.
He is also non-executive chairman of TLA Worldwide, the largest basketball agency in the United States.
The Storm's new owners plan to make the NRL club break even by 2017.
The sale came two years and 10 months after the salary cap scandal saw it stripped of the 2007 and 2009 premiership titles.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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