Above: photo by Peter Taylor
Fernando Aguirre (PPL 2009) owns the Erie SeaWolves minor league baseball team, and he runs it with the same management strategies he employed during his career in consumer goods.
One is a hands-on approach: While CEO of Chiquita, he once worked in lettuce fields as part of the TV show Undercover Boss ; in his first year as SeaWolves owner, he served as a color commentator for the home radio broad casts and sometimes helped the grounds crew pull the tarp on the field. Another is focusing on just a few big initiatives a year—a lesson he first learned during his 20-plus years at Procter & Gamble. “To make truly meaningful things happen in a business, you ought to tackle two or three things at most,” he says. One of those big things in 2017? Negotiating the naming rights for the SeaWolves stadium with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a deal that Aguirre handled personally.
A standout college pitcher, Aguirre—who also owns part of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans—understands that most might view owning a ball club as more of a passion project than a business. “You can’t do that anymore,” he says, noting that the Miami Marlins, one of the majors’ worst franchises, sold for $1.2 billion last fall. “I guess there are people who have a billion dollars to spend on a hobby,” he says with a laugh. “I’m not one of them.”
Class of PPL 2009