Nashville, June 26, 2008 -- Former NFL superstar wide receiver turned ESPN NFL commentator Cris Carter kicked off ESX 2008 officially this morning with his keynote address. To a room packed with a few hundred attendees, Carter addressed the crowd on the topic of how excellence in sports has translated to his work at security and fire systems integrator and construction project management company Carter Brothers LLC.
Carter was introduced by Dean Seavers, president and CEO of GE Security, a mentor to both Cris and his brother John Carter since their early days of entering the systems integration industry. GE Security was the sponsor of the keynote address.
As Carter took the stage, he was admittedly nervous.
"I'm used to looking out and seeing 70,000 to 80,000 people watching me, but they're normally up in the stands," joked Carter, who is chairman of Carter Brothers. "I'm not used to them being close enough to actually touch me."
Carter spoke about how he went from living with his six brothers and sisters and their single mother in an Ohio housing project to playing for Ohio State and then the NFL. As he came out of Ohio State's notable football program, he was drafted in 1987 by the Philadelphia Eagles. Carter went on to make a name for himself at the Minnesota Vikings (1990-2001). He closed his pro football career at the Miami Dolphins in 2002.
While playing for the Vikings, his older brother John asked him, "What are you going to do when you grow up? When are you going to get a real job?" After years with the Vikings that included numerous sports accomplishments, Carter did indeed "get a real job."
He started by taking on a commentator position with HBO's "Inside the NFL" and then with ESPN as an NFL commentator. Around the same time, he also joined his brother and formed Carter Brothers LLC to provide integration and project management solutions to large commercial projects. At the time he entered the industry, Carter joked that he was so "green" that, "I thought Tyco was a toy company."
Carter, who with his brother kept the audience laughing throughout the keynote program, says the company is currently interested in purchasing a central station operation to add to their business. He's very clear that he is always focused on business goals, a strategy he found necessary in the NFL. He defined his current business goals as follows:
- increase profitability
- establish a competitive advantage
- establish even better relationships with customers
- advance and utilize the brand of Carter Brothers as they pursue partnerships and clients
His brother John, who helped bring Cris into the industry, said that their strategy is focused on large commercial accounts.
"Large national accounts are really looking for a solution that they hadn't seen before," said John Carter. "While I don't believe fire and security is recession proof, at the same time, I don't thing it's going anywhere."
Cris added that the company's strategy is to be a full-service company, and that large accounts react well to that ability.
"They like that [full-service/central management], because when things go wrong, they want one person to choke, not many," added Carter.
As agile as he was playing the wide receiver position on the football field, said Carter, he's found the same agility is needed in the security to stay competitive.
When Carter Brothers started, he said, "I wanted to build a speed boat that could react to an aircraft carrier industry."
Asked how to sum up his business plans, Carter explained it simply to the audience: "Build lasting relationships with integrity and excellence."