THE EARLY YEARS
As a poor kid in Brooklyn, Brandon Steiner lived for the summer days when he could scrounge together enough change to make the subway trip to Yankee Stadium, buy the cheapest ticket available and bask in the aura of his favorite baseball team for a few hours. Little could Brandon have known then that one day his name would be linked with the team in an exclusive memorabilia partnership and that he’d own some very valuable pieces from that very stadium.
Brandon started out in food service and hospitality in Baltimore, managing a hospital cafeteria and high-end hotel restaurants. Returning to his native New York, he managed the Hard Rock Café in the late 80s, when it was one of the most popular restaurants in the city. During his time at the Hard Rock Café and later at the Sporting Club, Brandon met many of the athletes he would later represent. At the Sporting Club, New York City’s first full-service sports bar, Brandon made his foray into sports marketing – hiring athletes as “guest bartenders” for charity events, and as “guests of honor” for “Fight Night” broadcasts of big-time boxing matches.
As Brandon met and got to know more and more athletes, he learned that most of them did not have anyone to represent them for speaking engagements or corporate appearances -- and quickly recognized a valuable business opportunity for himself. In 1987, to fill that void, Brandon established Steiner Associates (later renamed Steiner Sports) with only $4,000, a one-room office and an intern.
By the late 90s, Steiner Sports had dozens of employees and represented most of the big-name athletes in New York. It was about this same time that the company expanded its business focus to include marketing collectible items since the athletes Brandon was representing were already signing memorabilia pieces that he used for corporate gifts and to help acquire new clients for his company. In time, Brandon’s business partners and clients began requesting autographed items almost as often as they did appearances by the athlete themselves.
Brandon’s unprecedented partnership with the New York Yankees, announced in 2004, provided a way to offer fans authentic Yankees memorabilia and one-of-a-kind fantasy experiences at Yankee Stadium.
Since then, Steiner Sports has developed similar partnerships with Notre Dame Football, Syracuse Athletics and Madison Square Garden that bring fans closer to the games, as well as to the athletes themselves through various programs including meet-and-greets, speaking appearances, signed memorabilia (including game-used jerseys and equipment) and countless other products and services.
In 2008, Brandon created yet another unique market for itself by purchasing the exclusive rights to major portions of the soon-to-be disassembled “Old” Yankee Stadium so that Steiner Sports could develop an entire, authentic Stadium product line that would provide fans with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to take home seats, signs, bricks (from Monument Park) and hundreds of other unique pieces which gave the old stadium its storied history.
Today, Steiner Sports generates $40 million in annual revenue, and employs more than 100 people.
AUTHOR, SPEAKER, MEDIA PERSONALITY
In 2003, Brandon published his first book, The Business Playbook: Leadership Lessons from the World of Sports. It was supported by a national book tour, as a result of which Brandon was invited to be a guest lecturer at some of the top business schools in the country, including The Harvard Business School, The Kellogg School of Business, Columbia and Yale. Brandon had serendipitously became a national motivational speaker of note and was invited to speak to Fortune 500 companies across many industries.
In 2012, Wiley & Sons published Brandon’s second book, You Gotta Have Balls: How a Kid from Brooklyn Started from Scratch, Bought Yankee Stadium, and Created a Sports Empire, which chronicles his long career and the life and business lessons he learned therein.
Brandon has also become a media personality as a regular guest on 98.7 FM/ESPN-NY Radio and co-host of the YES Network’s “Yankees-Steiner: Memories of the Game” series.. He is frequently utilized as an expert commentator on sports and marketing on national news networks including CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and ESPN, and in newspapers including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He also made several appearances on the MLB TV Network while promoting the MLB Fan Cave.
Brandon was instrumental in helping to create the Falk College Department of Sport Management at his alma mater, Syracuse University, and is officially designated a Founding Member. He also sits on the Board of Directors for Syracuse Athletics and, through his business speaking events, he supports a Syracuse University scholarship at the Falk College.
Brandon devotes significant time to, and enthusiastically supports several noteworthy charities - - but he has a special place in his heart for Family Services of Westchester, a not-for-profit organization that helps provide quality social and mental health services to its clients. With Brandon’s help, Family Services of Westchester has been able to open two group homes for teenage boys and girls who have no place to call home.
Brandon resides in Scarsdale, NY with his wife Mara and their two children. He bleeds Syracuse Orange. And of great joy to him are the weekly basketball games he hosts at his home for his employees and friends.
AND IN CONCLUSION – THE CREATION OF THE EVERYTHING BAGEL
Brandon Steiner is generally credited with inventing the highly-popular “everything” bagel” at the age of 14 in 1973 when he was a part-time baker at a local Brooklyn bagel shop. He recalls that one night, as he was “screwing around with different combinations of toppings (sesame, salt, poppy, onion and garlic) making braids, onion flats and other unorthodox concoctions” he had a brainstorm to see what happened if he threw all of the toppings on a bagel at once. It became an instant success – and the rest, as they say, is history