profile

Exec Seat: Sportsheets President Julie Stewart

Lyn Bimey

After 16 years with the award-winning manufacturer Sportsheets International, Julie Stewart was announced as company president last summer. Today, Stewart works closely with Sportsheets’ top executives and customers, and oversees the company’s sales and marketing, finances and human resources.

According to Stewart, in her current role there is no typical day at the office.

Running a small business is exciting, rewarding and challenging, and I’m constantly inspired by Tom, whose visionary, entrepreneurial mind and limitless imagination and generosity are key to the company’s success.

“The only thing typical at Sportsheets is a hectic pace and a multitude of projects going on concurrently,” she said. “Team meetings, private label planning, working with department leads, talking to customers and vendors, putting out fires, starting fires, eating lots of chocolate.”

Julie joined her brother Tom Stewart, founder and CEO in 1995, and 13 years ago became his business partner and vice president.

“I was 23 when I entered the industry and did not have much experience in business,” Julie Stewart said. “I had to work hard to earn the respect of customers and vendors and Tom. In 1999 I attended Pepperdine University in their Executive MBA program, and it was an extremely conservative environment (Ken Starr was in their legal school.)”

Julie says she enjoys working in the family business and with her husband Ed Hayes, the COO for the company.

“I’m grateful every day that I get to work with my brother and my husband as well as our amazing team, great customers and vendors to build something that makes people happy,” Stewart said in a company press release. “Running a small business is exciting, rewarding and challenging, and I’m constantly inspired by Tom, whose visionary, entrepreneurial mind and limitless imagination and generosity are key to the company’s success. We have all worked really hard to build Sportsheets into the dynamic and respected company it is — and it’s way beyond just Tom and me.”

Stewart has done it all at Sportsheets — setting up trade show booths, visiting customers and doing product training, purchasing and product design, and even operating the forklift (“Not a pretty sight,” she said).

According to Stewart, the most rewarding part of her job is the people she interacts with.

“Hearing from satisfied customers and seeing our employees excel and develop,” she said, “seeing employees that have been with us over a decade — watching their kids grow up.”

While being a part of Sportsheets’ successes — which Stewart lists as “launching Sex & Mischief, buying our building, surviving and thriving the last six months through our huge growth of 2012” — she revealed to XBIZ her mantra.

“Balance, focus, delegate,” Stewart says, “Don’t take yourself so damn seriously — that’s a daily challenge!”

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