Golf News for Friday, March 7, 2008 | People

Steve Skinner succeeds founder Lesnik as KemperSports CEO

NORTHBROOK, Ill. -- Steve Lesnik, co-founder and chief executive officer of KemperSports, announced last week at the company’s annual managers meeting that he is turning the mantle of CEO over to President and COO Steve Skinner. “Steve will have complete authority over the day-to-day affairs of the entire company, effective March 1,” Lesnik said.

“We have been implementing a succession plan for several years now and this is a critical milestone. My role in the future will be limited to supporting Steve, who becomes only the second CEO in the company’s 30-year history,” said Lesnik.

Lesnik said that with Steve Skinner assuming the duties of chief executive officer, President Josh Lesnik will continue to focus on overseeing all development, operations, and marketing activities at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort as well as supervising other KemperSports partnerships with Bandon Dunes owner Mike Keiser. Lesnik also will be the senior executive responsible for industry relations and golf competitions on behalf of the company.

KemperSports is entirely privately held. Initially it was owned by Kemper Insurance. It was acquired by Lesnik and co-founder James S. Kemper Jr. in 1983. Lesnik has been the controlling shareholder for the past decade during which time the Kemper family’s shares were repurchased. Recently, both Skinner and Josh Lesnik have become shareholders of the company.

Lesnik’s philosophy has been to emphasize premier service, grow the company gradually and to keep ownership within active management. KemperSports currently operates in 24 states and Latin America. The sports marketing and public relations firms have been in continuous operation since 1979, when they were founded by Lesnik and his wife Mady, and represent many well-known corporations and sporting events. Today, the company’s orbits of business activity are golf operations, athletic clubs and lodging; sports marketing; and, public relations.
In 2007, the company eclipsed a billion dollars in assets under management.

Skinner has been president and chief operating officer of KemperSports since 2006. He formerly was president of KemperGolf Management, a division of the company focused on third-party management operations. Since joining KemperSports in 1998, Skinner has been charged with various assignments, including piloting the company’s growth initiatives and development operations.

In 2001, Golfweek named Skinner to its annual “40 under 40” list. In 2000, he co-founded along with Mr. Lesnik, The First Tee of Chicago. He is also a member of the Illinois PGA Golf Hall of Fame Committee.

Prior to joining the golf industry, Skinner practiced law with Mayer, Brown & Platt in Chicago and served as an official in the first Bush Administration. He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Lawrence University.
Josh Lesnik began working for the company part time as a teenager 23 years ago. He is a graduate of Drake University and has a M.A. in Marketing from Roosevelt University. He is a director of the Western Golf Association, serves on the regional affairs committee of the United States Golf Association, and serves on the boards of the Chicago District Golf Association and The First Tee of Chicago.

Steve Lesnik will continue as chairman of the board of directors. He is also a member of the board of directors of Career Education Corporation (NASDAQ) and has been a member of the boards of many civic and charitable organizations in Illinois, including a term as chairman of the board of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

About KemperSports
Northbrook, Ill.-based KemperSports operates golf facilities as well as athletic clubs, lodging venues and major sporting events, including nationally ranked courses and tournament venues such as Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Chambers Bay, Harding Park, Dorado Beach Resort & Club, The Glen Club, Desert Willow Golf Resort and the Chicago Park District golf facilities. Affiliate KemperSports Marketing & Communications, a sports marketing, events and public relations agency, has produced and managed major national and international events and communications programs, including the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational college basketball tournament and numerous PGA TOUR events. For more information, visit

Editor’s note:
Steve Lesnik and Steve Skinner are available for comment. For interviews with or high-resolution photos of Steve Lesnik and/or Steve Skinner, contact Kristin Schaner or Susie Chang.

Kristin Schaner