Redskin buyer, 34, realizing his dream

Entrepreneur: Daniel M. Snyder has already created one winning organization, Bethesda marketing firm Snyder Communications Inc., which he heads.

January 12, 1999|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF

Daniel M. Snyder is used to making something out of nothing.

In other words, he's wonderfully qualified to own the Washington Redskins.

Snyder, the chairman and chief executive officer of Bethesda marketing firm Snyder Communications Inc., is one of the partners who agreed Sunday to buy the underachieving Redskins for a National Football League-record $800 million.

At 34, Snyder is younger than any majority owner in the NFL, and is even younger than some of the Redskins players, such as cornerback and franchise mainstay Darrell Green, who turns 39 next month.

If the sale is approved by the league, Snyder and New York real estate executives Howard and Edward Milstein will have pulled off an unprecedented deal to own one of the most storied franchises in sports.

However, he is hardly cut from the same flamboyant cloth as, say, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones or Los Angeles Dodgers boss Rupert Murdoch, men of enormous ego who took the reins of other high-profile teams.

Born in New York City, Snyder moved with his family to the Washington area when he was a boy. "It's a lifetime dream to be in a position to own the Redskins," he said.

Snyder attended several colleges, including the University of Maryland, but never earned a degree.

While he was in college, he began a publishing company, but that project failed. Soon after, he managed to persuade U.S. News and World Report publisher Mortimer Zuckerman to invest in a marketing company focused on database management and product sampling.

Snyder has quietly and methodically built that company into an international advertising and marketing firm valued at $2.4 billion.

He has achieved this growth by gobbling up other companies with the all-consuming gus- to of a defensive tackle at a steak fry.

In February, for example, Snyder spent $71.6 million to buy two New Jersey companies that provide the pharmaceutical industry with sales support and training.

The next month, Snyder took over Boston-based Arnold Communications Inc., one of the 35 biggest advertising firms in the country and the creator of Volkswagen AG's ubiquitous "Drivers Wanted" advertising campaign.

On the same day the Arnold purchase was announced, Snyder said it also had bought Publimed Promotions SA of Paris to bolster its strength in pharmaceutical marketing.

Three weeks later, like a feaster going for seconds at the pastry shelf, it bought another French firm in the same industry.

Snyder's buyout banquet continued for the rest of the year. Most recently, on Dec. 2, the company announced its purchase of Partners BDDH of London, its first purchase of an advertising company outside the United States.

The company now has 9,000 employees in 14 countries.

The company's ability to handle all that growth remains to be seen. Wall Street has watched Snyder Communications warily, and the firm's stock trades 36 percent lower than its high point last spring.

Snyder and his partners will try to revive a Redskins team that was supposed to contend for the playoffs this year but instead turned in a disappointing 6-10 record.

Snyder is vague about his plans for the team, saying only that "our philosophy is that we want to continue the tradition of the Washington Redskins."

However, his past business strategy raises at least one intriguing possibility: If all else fails, perhaps he could try merging the 'Skins with whoever wins the Super Bowl.

Pub Date: 1/12/99

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