I love stories about people who identify a niche and succeed at developing that niche. That sums up Chris Dingman’s business. As founder and CEO of the Dingman Group, Dingman takes care of athletes on the move.
When a player gets drafted, waived or traded, Dingman consults with the athlete and helps him find a new home, sell his old home and offers to do all the other tasks so that an athlete and his family can move in without doing any work himself.
In five years, he has helped more than 200 athletes make their moves, including the likes Chris Pronger, Bobby Abreu and Jason Campbell. He helped Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, who he played with in junior college, find a house for his mother across the country.
“Pro sports is based off transactions and those transactions lead to what we do,” Dingman said.
In a day and age where there’s virtually no loyalty from either player or team, those transactions are up, which is a good thing for Dingman’s business.
Dingman also calls his business “recession proof” because athletes are continuing to move at the same pace and their salaries haven’t — for the most part — suffered with the rest of the population.
"Not all of these guys are rich millionaires."
Something that has changed in the real estate game is the fact that the majority of athletes, when they move cities, are now renting. Dingman said that years ago an athlete wouldn’t mind buying a house even if he had a shorter contract because he could turn it around and make some money. Since that doesn’t happen anymore, Dingman says as much as 70 percent of athletes are renting the homes that they are living in.
The best part for the athletes is that Dingman’s services come at no cost. He makes commissions off the realtor, the mover and any other business that’s involved in the actual moving process.
And since athletes often like the same glitz and glamour — houses with fish tanks, theatres and even bowling alleys — Dingman says that he frequently moves one athlete out only to move in another one of his clients into the same place weeks later.
Dingman said he just moved a baseball player out of Milwaukee and moved an NBA player into the same home.
But Dingman says it’s not always about moving the wealthy athlete.
“Not all of these guys are rich millionaires,” Dingman said. “We’ve got guys that have been on four or five or six teams in one season — that’s six months. That’s once a month, they are packing up their home and moving and that’s usually a guy that’s making league minimums on a practice squad.”
Dingman says his business continues to grow, thanks to recommendations from athletes, financial advisors and agents vouching for his services.
“This niche is a very new niche,” Dingman said. “There’s so much room to grow and it’s exciting that the people that are taking care of the lives of athletes and the athletes themselves are coming to us during these transactional times, during the circumstances under which they have no control.”
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