Luke Snyder, a former professional bull-riding star who two years ago moved into a marketing role for Bass Pro Shops, this morning discussed his career and transition into the business world.
Snyder spoke before an audience of roughly 100 that included Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris - Snyder’s father-in-law - for Springfield Business Journal’s 12 People You Need to Know live interview series.
During his 13-year career with Professional Bull Riders Inc., Snyder took the record for consecutive events, at 275, and became the No. 13 all-time highest earner, at $1.7 million. In October, Snyder became the 42nd rider inducted into the PBR Ring of Honor, the organization’s equivalent of a hall of fame designed to honor those who have made a large impact on the sport.
“That’s voted on from your peers,” he said this morning. “That was probably the one that got to me the most.”
The journey came with bumps and bruises, including a time when he tried to switch his riding hand after breaking some bones.
Snyder said he was lucky, given some bull riders have been seriously injured and killed on the job.
“Obviously I did ride through some injuries, but that could have ended at any time - just one wrong move or get stepped on,” he said. “I was fortunate - a lot of miles in a short amount of time.”
Toward the end of his bull-riding career, Snyder said every ride became the most difficult eight seconds of his life. But his mindset was steadfast.
“When you’re on and you’re in the zone, you’re on autopilot and it feels pretty good, but man when you get in a slump, you can’t go to the batting cages and hit it out,” he said. “You have to keep getting on and getting your bell rung until you get it figured out.”
Following his retirement at age 31 and the birth of his daughter, Snyder now works for Bass Pro developing partnerships and leading sports marketing efforts. He brings past experience in marketing with PBR to Bass Pro, and he’s regularly in contact with sponsored sports stars, such as NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. Bass Pro also sponsors NASCAR drivers Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray.
“It’s not as nerve-wrenching as getting on a bull, but it’s close,” Snyder said. “We want to make a relationship with them, not just make a [get] rich quick scheme.
“We try to gauge our return just from the traffic at the stores and then the folks coming to the races and the folks at the Legends of Golf event that we do.”
Snyder also is working toward the opening of the Outdoor Academy near Big Cedar Lodge. While 12-13 private events have been held for companies, as well as two for the public, he said an opening date is currently not set. A public opening had been scheduled for May.
Married to wife Jennifer, that means company founder Morris is not only Snyder’s father-in-law, but also he’s his boss.
“It’s alright,” Snyder said jokingly of the dual relationship with Morris. “No, it’s great. We have a good time.”
The interview was opened to a 18-minute audience Q&A session, and 11 people asked questions. After the interview, a line formed by guests wanting to meet Snyder. Features Editor Emily Letterman live-tweeted