“The future for us in this country is to open the borders and be more international in what we do and how we do things.”

Vicente Navarro knows a thing or two about goals—on and off the field. Originally from Alicante, Spain, Vicente Navarro is director of Hispanic marketing for Sports Endeavors, Inc., which includes the website soccer.com, and is also known for its Eurosport soccer catalog. He attended high school in Ireland, university in Boston, and eventually settled down in Miami where he met and married his American wife. Previously employed as director of sales with sporting-goods manufacturer Kelme, Navarro now oversees all aspects of business development in Sports Endeavors’ US Hispanic market. He has been recognized by the company for four consecutive years for surpassing goals, and has been instrumental in establishing strategic relationships with broadcasting networks and top professional teams. Navarro is passionate about soccer, and while he loves his adopted country, he says, “I get back to Spain any chance I get. I do miss my vino and jamón serrano ibérico.”

"I’m an unconventional guy. I want to be the one thinking outside of the box, otherwise, we’re just one more company on the list," says Vicente Navarro, director of Hispanic marketing for Sports Endeavors. PHOTO: William Buck

What I enjoy most about my role is building and maintaining meaningful relationships with people. It’s something I enjoy and it comes naturally to me. I am also passionate about soccer as it is one of those unique sports that transcends class and culture.

I’m an unconventional guy. I want to be the one thinking outside of the box, otherwise, we’re just one more company on the list. I enjoy creative thinking, and it’s important when you’re dealing with soccer. People think that you’re just targeting the “soccer fan,” but what I’ve found over the years is that there are a lot of silos within the “soccer fan.” If you’re a fan of one club, you don’t care about other clubs. But you might also be a fan of a particular league. So there are a lot of synergies between the silos. For example, about 90 percent of Mexicans are now wearing [Manchester United soccer] shirts because there is a Mexican “Chicharito” [Javier Hernandez] playing in England who they worship.

Soccer is one of the most widely played sports in the world. In the United States, over the past 10 to 15 years, participation in soccer has increased tremendously … Outside of a World Cup year—which is like Christmas every day for our sales department—we are seeing growth in several locations: youth, women (more women are playing in the United States than in any other place in the world), and Hispanic growth (this is 20 percent of our business now, up from nothing four years ago).

Depending on the location, people do business differently. The key to success is adapting your style to suit your audience. In the United States, for example, businesspeople are all about the transaction, about getting the business done. In Europe and Spain, you often don’t close deals in a conference room, you close business in a restaurant over lunch, or in a bar. Business is often completed in the most unusual places that you can imagine. There’s something you have to love about that.

I love my job. In the future, however, I would like to move to more of a global role, to leverage my international experience more. The future for us in this country is to open the borders and be more international in what we do and how we do things. We’re the leaders when it comes to soccer transactions, we’re the number-one e-commerce store in the world, and one of my goals is [to figure out] how we make what we do more global. How can we open countries up to our offering of 45,000 SKUs carried? How can we make those products available if you’re in Brazil or Chile without having to pay a huge amount for shipping and duties?

I’m proud to be part of a company that makes giving back a priority. We started our Passback Program in 1989 as a way to donate used but still playable gear to less fortunate soccer players here at home and around the world. America Scores is another way in which we give back: we empower students in urban communities using soccer, creative expression, and service learning to inspire healthy lifestyles and engage students.