Thomas Olson keeps the Green Bay in Packers
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of profiles about the leadership of the Green Bay Packers and how business in managed at 1265 Lombardi Ave.
GREEN BAY – Thomas Olson is as Green Bay as it gets.
The lead director of the Green Bay Packers played youth baseball on the same team as Jerry Tagge, who graduated a year ahead of Olson at Green Bay West High School and was drafted as a quarterback by the Packers. Olson, 65, graduated from St. Olaf College and Wisconsin Law School and practiced law in Green Bay before becoming CEO of U.S. Paper Mills, now Sonoco, in De Pere. He's now chairman of MECA & Technology Machine, Inc., Ashwaubenon.
Olson was named lead director in 2015, after election to the 40-plus board of directors in 2006 and to the executive committee in 2012.
"We all have the same interests," Olson said of executive committee members. "We want to make sure we're as best postured as we can to win championships and make sure football has the appropriate resources.
"Of course, we never want to see this franchise any place other than Green Bay, so we need to make sure we're financially successful enough that we can continue to have our franchise here."
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Development of the 35-acre Titletown District west of Lambeau Field grew from that goal. The district will include commercial, residential and recreational elements.
"Early on, you're talking with a consultant to kind of explore what-ifs, and what could be," Olson said. "Over time, the picture gets a little bit clearer."
Olson is Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy's main contact on the seven-member executive committee. He and Murphy talk frequently between the monthly meetings.He is the third lead director during Murphy's tenure, following Peter Platten III and Larry Weyers.
"The lead director is the person I work most closely with," Murphy said. "Tom Olson is somebody I really respect."
Olson said his role is to provide feedback and counsel to Murphy when appropriate, to serve as a liaison to other board members and lead meetings.
The lead director role is about nine years old, becoming needed as the organization has changed.
"You've got to remember before the Atrium was built and the stadium expanded, it was a $79-$80 million business that had something going on 10 days a year, maybe 11 ... but now the Atrium is activated 360 days a year probably and a $400 million operation," Olson said.
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Thomas Olson quotes:
» On conceiving Titletown District: "As the picture gets clearer, it becomes more exciting and I think most people pretty much fell in line. The feedback I've gotten and most everybody else I've talked to on the executive committee is the community is pretty excited about the prospect."
» On Titletown Districts benefits: "We expect to get a fair return, but we also aren't going for the very last dollar, recognizing it's going to be good both from an economic development standpoint and also just from the community having a place to go and share the amenities."
» On executive committee members: "We all feel comfortable stating our position and do so freely, and yet it's a pretty collegial group. Nobody's afraid to speak their peace."
» On whether he grew up a Packers fan: (Looks incredulous)