With a marketing degree (1987) from the University of Wyoming in hand, Paul Andrews started his career humbly, making cold calls to sell season tickets and group sales for the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche. But with the skills he developed at UW, he worked his way up Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, becoming executive vice president in 2005.
“It really prepared me for the president and CEO position at the National Western Stock Show because I had a venue management and business operations management background that I could bring over,” Andrews says. “I have a passion for the livestock industry because my family has been raising Polled Herefords since about 1915. So I married my love of agriculture with my love of sports and live entertainment, and I was fortunate enough to come to the National Western in November of 2010.”
We recently chatted with Andrews about his time at UW and his successful career path.
What made you choose UW?
Wyoming was just a couple hours from Denver, where I grew up. I also thought it was the perfect size. It wasn’t so enormous that I’d be lost, but it wasn’t so small that you don’t have all the benefits of having a really top-notch university. I also thought Laramie was the perfect size town for me to escape from Denver.
What was your experience like at UW?
My experience was fantastic. I loved all my professors. I really gained the experience to succeed at the next level at the University of Wyoming. Without that college experience, I can assure you that my career would not have been the path that ended up being taken.
What activities were you involved in at UW?
I was involved heavily in a lot of intramural activities. I loved playing intramural basketball. In fact, my team won the championship one year and played in the Dome of Doom/Arena-Auditorium. That was fun. I also played coed softball, and we won the championship a year in that also. I really enjoyed all the intramurals to take me away from the heavy studying load that I was doing. I also worked out in the weight room of the gym religiously.
How did UW help prepare you for your career?
The great thing about college in general but specifically Wyoming is that it teaches you the discipline that you’re going to need out in the workplace. What I found in my career is that there are certain habits that people develop starting in college. If they develop them, they’re going to be successful, and if they don’t develop them, they’re likely not going to be successful. Those habits are discipline, work ethic and positive attitude to keep moving forward.
If you think about college, it’s a testing ground. Your professors are testing you. They’re seeing if they can pile you up with such a great workload that you’re going to be overwhelmed by it. Then what you have to do is keep pushing through that, because that’s exactly what you’re going to face in the real world. In any business that you’re in, you’re going to face an excruciating amount of workload. Those that push through that workload and never give up are going to succeed. I found that to be a skill that I developed in college. There were a lot of Friday and Saturday nights that I didn’t do anything but sit in my room and study, because I was not going to be overcome by the workload. That’s why I think college graduates of any degree have proven that they’re not going to give up, and they’re going to keep pushing through things.
In my hiring of over 200 to 300 people in my career, I can honestly say that the qualities of the students at UW mean I never have to worry about them or their work ethic or discipline. I have five of them on my staff at the National Western Stock Show, and I assure you that they’d be elite in any company in this country.
What have been some of your career highlights?
During my time with Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, career highlights included winning two Stanley Cup championships with the Avalanche. I’m the proud owner of two Stanley Cup rings, and that’s something I’ll never forget. We won a national lacrosse championship with the Colorado Mammoth, which is a team we created in 2003. And we won a championship with the Colorado Crush in arena football. Those four championships along with many, many decades of service to the Denver Nuggets—and coming close many times to winning championships—were highlights of my career.
Here at the National Western Stock Show, we’ve done some magical things. We’ve grown the revenues from $13 million to over $23 million since 2010. We’ve become a lot more aggressive at booking events across this complex for all 365 days a year. In fact, this last year we had 270 events at the complex, not counting the stock show in January. We’re very proud of that. We’re very proud of the fact we’ve risen our scholarship trust and our support of scholarships across schools to 100 students we’re now supporting, including 22 scholarship students at UW.
I’m also very proud of the business operation that we’ve formed here. We’ve grown our sponsorship numbers from $800,000 to more than $3 million since 2010. We’ve set up an events booking department with experts in their field in both customer service and running events.
We’ve expanded the National Western Stock Show in great ways. We’ve started a barbecue contest opening day that is one of the Kansas City Barbecue Society’s featured events. We started an event called Colorado vs. The World Rodeo on opening day. It was brand new five years ago. It’s where Colorado rodeo champions face off against world champions, and it has become one of the premier rodeos in the country.
We also started Rodeo All-Star Weekend in April of every year. It’s a rodeo where leading associations across rodeo get to compete against each other instead of against themselves. It’s the only place they can do that.
We’re continuing to develop new ideas every year, because you have to keep things fresh in order to be successful.
What are your goals and plans for the future?
We are under a redevelopment of our entire complex. Our yards will be expanded for the National Western Stock Show, and we’ll have a new rodeo arena and a new expo hall. In the next decade, we will redevelop this complex into an agricultural education facility and entertainment facility that is second to none—where innovation can meet research in agriculture, and where entertainment can be used to educate people on food sources. We’ve been blessed with about $1 billion to redo this complex. It will be called the National Western Center moving forward.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I was extremely fortunate to be at UW and graduate from there. It was an experience that really allowed me to grow up and be ready to face the challenges of the real world and overcome them. I can’t say enough good things about UW.