“There Is No Finish Line” — a Visit to Nike Headquarters

As the bus pulls onto One Bowerman Drive, your eyes scatter as you look at the architecture inside the vast campus nestled in the quaint greenery that is Beaverton, Oregon. The campus is home to the brand that has transformed a worldwide perception of sports culture with controversy, athletes and hard-nosed, in-your-face marketing. As I wait with the other students from the Warsaw Sports Business Club for our panel presentation and tour, I have this sensation that ignites my senses rapidly wondering what’s going on around me. The students and I are standing inside the nucleus of the sports footwear that is Nike, Inc.

This 193-acre campus is home to athletic research and shoe development; it also acts a playground for its employees. A shivering Jordan Mara came up to the group of students and greeted us (it was around 45 degrees that morning). Jordan is a former college student from the University of Arizona who is a part of Collegiate Recruiting for Nike.

Jordan ushers us into the iconic Pre hall.

When you enter the glass doors, you are greeted at the end of the hallway by a bronzed statue of University of Oregon’s own Steve Prefontaine, Nike’s first endorser who took the country by storm with his hunger to win at all costs on the track. We entered the theatre room inside Pre Hall while Ernest Adams, Nike’s Global Acquisition Talent Manager–whose face is eerily reminiscent of Darius Rucker–saluted us. Ernest began with his story and how he ended up with the swoosh. Right off the bat, I realized that Nike just doesn’t hire ANYONE, and Ernest’s track record proved it. Ernest stressed Nike’s mission to hire those who embody a drive that sets them apart from other candidates. They look for individuals who are willing to improve upon their best. Basically, it comes down to the belief that “There Is No Finish Line.”

Ernest went on with his presentation with a brief history of Nike and its beginnings that started at Oregon with a student, Phil Knight, and his coach, Bill Bowerman. We watched early TV ads, including the iconic commercial that used the Beatles’ “Revolution” song. When Ernest was done, Michael Hansen, who’s in charge of Global Sports Marketing, presented us with slides about Nike’s mission and how they target local and global markets. He presented us with Nike’s eleven maxims, which were created by current CEO Mark Parker. The maxims are the brand’s core values for employees to live by. They are a guideline and template to how the company became what it is today.

The Maxims read as follows:

  1. It is our nature to innovate.
  2. Nike is a company.
  3. Nike is a brand.
  4. Simplify and go.
  5. The consumer decides.
  6. Be a sponge.
  7. Evolve immediately.
  8. Do the right thing.
  9. Master the fundamentals.
  10. We are on the offense. Always.
  11. Remember the man.

Before Michael was done, he stressed the same focus that Ernest explained when talking about Nike’s mission: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

Right after Michael’s slideshow, we were treated to a small breakfast in the Joan Benoit building. When we finished, we were greeted by the Oregon alums in the auditorium. Each of the four alums–including recent graduates Darron Strong and Rob Griesinger–gave us the lowdown about how they started and what they did to get into Nike. They each stated that Nike is the place to work, and that they wouldn’t want to be any other place. But what is necessary to get to where they are, is that you need experience and establish yourself as a product that a company needs; everything–including your work ethic and attitude–has to be honed to perfection.

As soon as the panel discussion was finished, we split into groups with guides who would walk us around the campus explaining each building and its meaning. Alyssa, also an Oregon alum, led us in through the majority of the buildings. Each building was named after a Nike athlete who cemented a bond with the company. The athletes were staple endorsers from the time they became professionals in their respective sport.

There’s a building named after San Diego Chargers legend, Dan Fouts; a building named after home run king, Ken Griffey Jr.; and the building named after the best basketball player ever, Michael Jordan. Every building housed a mini museum explaining the significance each athlete contributed to their sport and the brand. It’s amazing how Nike paid tribute to these people who they consider as “family.” Not many companies honor those who helped them reach new levels of exposure and success like Nike has.

As we saw the remainder of the campus which included Lake Nike, a manmade lake in the middle of the campus, the Lance Armstrong fitness center and the Mia Hamm building that’s home to the Nike Sports Research Lab, Nike gave us one last gift: a pass to the Nike Employee Store.

The store is like any other Nike store, but with an applied discount of 50% to everything inside the store. When each student was done doing damage, the bus was carrying more than 8,000 dollars worth of gear and goods. In all, this trip was such a great way to start a new year for the students. I’m really thankful Warsaw and Nike were able to give us this opportunity. The trip certainly pushed us to try even harder to reach our goals.

By: Christian Prieto, student in the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication

Run under the auspices of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the UO | Lundquist College of Business, the Warsaw Sports Business Club welcomes all UO students, regardless of class standing or major.

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.