Sean Wolfington Recognized as “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Haute Living Magazine
Serial Entrepreneur By Meredith Mulligan on June 16th, 2010
Sean Wolfington was destined to be a pioneer. One of those self-motivated leaders who forges paths for the development of unchartered industries. One of those self-taught types who revolutionizes industries through brilliant insight and an ahead-of-the-game mentality. That is who Sean Wolfington was meant to be, and at just 39 years old, he has become all of that and more. Wolfington’s résumé runs the gamut from CEO of Wolfington Companies, film producer, digital marketing expert, and automotive pioneer, to all-around family man. He is an entrepreneur in every sense of the word, with experience in the realms of technology, finance, real estate, film, auto, and charity. The great, great grandson of one of the first carriage makers in the automotive industry, Wolfington’s entrepreneurial gene is inherent. His grandfather owned one of the first automotive dealer groups, his father was an automotive retailer, one uncle invented the automotive car lease, and another founded Carey International. An appetite for tackling new ideas is in his blood, as well as in the blood of his many extended family members. Of 86 first cousins on the Wolfington side alone, all but a handful run and operate their own businesses in the fields of transportation, technology, finance, real estate, and energy.
At a young age, Wolfington learned the tools of entrepreneurship from his extended family, and he has been building empires around his ingenious ideas ever since. His first business lesson came when he was seven years old, and his older sister was challenged with selling candy bars to raise money for her school. She was shy while he was industrious—he figured out that by selling the $1 candy bars for an inflated $2, he could gobble up one candy bar for each one sold. This savvy skill was not lost with his youth; at eight years old, Wolfington and his twin brother Ryan launched their first company, “Wolfington Works,” a make-it-happen, do-anything business adept at mowing lawns, babysitting younger children, and taking out the trash. A native of Pennsylvania, Wolfington has homes in Philadelphia; Avalon, NJ; and Palm Beach, but he lives on Key Biscayne with his wife and four children during the school year. He earned a first-class education at Malvern Preparatory School, and later attended Dickinson College. It was while studying at college that Wolfington began working in the automotive industry. And through years spent working his way up in that industry, Wolfington grew a passion for revolutionizing the business. “I saw what could be and got addicted to perfecting automotive retailing and changing the way the world buys and services their cars over the Internet.”
To fulfill this mission, Wolfington co-founded Cyber Car in the late 90s, which grew into one of the largest automotive consulting organizations in the world. Later he partnered with David Boice and his technology company Automark, an automotive kiosk company. Together, Boice and Wolfington grew Automark into the industry’s leading digital marketing company that helped manufacturers and retailers gain the tools and training to sell and service vehicles over the Internet. The companies were doing something never before seen, or even imagined. So when automotive retailing solutions company Reynolds and Reynolds purchased Cyber Car and Automark in 2000 for an enterprise value of $200 million, it was no surprise that Wolfington moved on to blaze new trails.
Fast forward a few years, and Wolfington finds himself in the midst of another huge payday. BZ Results, the third company he built in the automotive sector, develops digital solutions for dealerships and manufacturers. Under Wolfington’s watch, it became the industry leader in search marketing, mobile marketing, websites, CRM, and consulting, effectively revolutionizing the way vehicles are sold over the Internet. The company became Google’s No. 1 reseller in all industries, and Wolfington has contributed to more than $5 billion in automotive sales throughout his career. All of this was the genius conception of Wolfington, who was amongst the first to realize the potential the Internet held for automotive marketing. Just three years after its launch, BZ attracted the attention of ADP, which bought it for an undisclosed value, reported in the neighborhood of the previous Reynolds and Reynolds buyout. Wolfington’s companies worked with 12 automotive manufacturers, 76 of the top 100 dealer groups in the country, and more than 4,000 dealerships in 18 countries around the world. A strict non-compete prevented Wolfington from reentering the automotive marketing game for three years, so what’s a guy who has built three multimillion-dollar businesses to do next? “Like any other entrepreneur I always wanted to play on the field, so I picked up another sport,” he explains. His new playing field was the world of film and entertainment.
Along with his uncle, Eustace Wolfington, he formed The One Media Group, in 2006. Thus far, Wolfington has produced three major motion pictures: Self Medicated, The Mighty Macs, and Bella. The Mighty Macs is the true story of the first NCAA Women’s Championship basketball team, while Self Medicated was the most award-winning film of 2006, earning accolades at the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Los Angeles DIY Film Festival. But it was Bella that stole the show. The independent film is a love story about how New York City changed the lives of three unsuspecting people. It certainly changed the life of Wolfington. The film won top honors at the Toronto Film Festival, one of the largest and most prestigious film festivals in the world, considered the gateway to Oscar recognition—American Beauty, Life is Beautiful, Slumdog Millionaire, and Precious all received awards at TFF and went on to garner Oscar fame. After winning top prize at Toronto, the Bella team was honored at the White House and the Mexican Embassy, received the Smithsonian Institute Legacy Award, and won Best Picture at the Movieguide Awards. By the end of 2007, it was the No. 1-rated movie of the year by the No. 1 film site Rotten Tomatoes, topped the box office for all films in its category (despite a $3 million budget), and achieved distribution at the precipice of a brutal recession. “It is a small film but it has a big heart, and it was an honor to be a part of its success,” says Wolfington. The Wall Street Journal said that Bella was the “biggest surprise of the year.” But perhaps the biggest surprise in this story is how a driven young man, with all the aptitude for building big businesses, transformed a low budget film into such a heralded breakout piece of entertainment. Alejandro Sanz, the most Grammy award winning Spanish singer/songwriter in history, donated two compositions after being floored by the performance of the film, as did the lead singer of Switchfoot, who donated the song he wrote for his wife when they were dating. Moreover, Grammy and Emmy Award-winning singer-songwriter Tony Bennett hailed Bella as “The best movie of the year, a perfect film, a masterpiece.” This is a true story of underdog on top, inspiring many unsuspecting players in the entertainment industry. Currently, The One Media Group has three more motion pictures in development, including Phonies, an animated film in which cell phones rule the world.
For someone who placed so much importance on his family life from an early age, an animated flick seems like a natural progression. “The most important thing to me is my wife and children,” says Wolfington, who, along with his wife, Ana, has four children ranging from eight months to seven years old. Ana, who lit up his world during a business trip to London years ago, is his partner in life and in business. She is the co-chairman of the board of the Wolfington Companies, where she “is an incredible source of wisdom.” And, Wolfington brags, “She is the most unbelievable mother and wife that anyone could ever want, and she is my best friend” Their life in South Florida began in 2006 after Wolfington purchased Cher’s iconic house on Mashta Island (the posh location for the Haute Living photo shoot featuring Wolfington and his beautiful wife) as a vacation home. But after falling in love with Key Biscayne and the surrounding areas, the Wolfingtons decided to relocate from Philadelphia to Miami full time. They still spend summers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in order to connect with their large family. And this summer, Wolfington’s eldest son will follow in his father’s entrepreneurial footsteps by selling water bottles on the beaches of Avalon, a hobby he picked up last year after selling collected seashells at the local pancake joint. At just seven years old, he has brought the Wolfington legacy full circle.
The Cher home is a dream. With seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, unparalleled views of the ocean, infinity waterfall and pool, and many more luxurious features, it is a resort-like playground of first-class amenities right at home. But Wolfington, who is going to build a new dream home on the island, ended up placing this top dollar house on the market at the bottom of the recession. The miracle? They fetched an impressive $2 million more than their buying price at the peak of the market. As the release of the next film from The One Group is patiently anticipated, Wolfington’s non-compete has expired, allowing him to reenter the automotive industry.
Using his experience in both film and autos, he started an impressive seven new marketing and technology companies serving both the automotive and entertainment industries. These companies include Level 5 Marketing, which focuses on outsourced sales and marketing solutions for international automotive associations, films, and musical artists. Tier10Marketing.com is a holistic approach that specializes in results-oriented marketing for auto companies. Then there is Call Revu, a service that monitors 100 percent of retailers’ calls to track advertising sources and the customer experience. And there is also Team Velocity (thevdrive.com), a digitally targeted marketing company devoted to the automotive industry, Mobile Marketing USA, and Webmercial, responsible for creating and streaming advertising videos throughout the World Wide Web. His company developed the entire digital marketing campaign for Grammy Award-winning artist Shakira, and he was bestowed the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2008 for his work with others under The Wolfington Charitable Foundation.
Wolfington was a finalist in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award when he was 34 years old—a huge accomplishment, being that Wayne Huizenga, founder of Blockbuster and AutoNation, won this coveted award the previous year. In addition to Huizenga’s credits in these parallel industries, he is also the only person to have six companies simultaneously listed on the New York Stock Exchange and to build three Fortune 1000 companies. Wolfington’s co-finalist, Bill McDermott, is the CEO of SAP, the largest CRM company in the world with approximately $10 billion a year in revenue. Not bad company for Wolfington to keep. With such a list of accomplishments, anyone would assume that he has accomplished his fate and then some. But not Wolfington. He is always multiple steps ahead of the rest, anticipating the evolution of new business and industries. After Wolfington’s non-compete period expired, he has now created and invested in multiple companies in the automotive industry. One of which he was chairman of the board of, Vin Solutions.com was bought by AutoTrader in June of 2011. Others include Tier 10 Marketing, Level 5 Advertising, Team Velocity Marketing, the Automotive Advertising Network, Car-Mercial, CallRevu, the American Dream Network, DealerAPPVantage, Intellacar, GroupCars.com and BusinessRater.com.
While others who have found such success would spend more time in leisurely pursuits, Wolfington stays true to his ways as a Serial Entrepreneur and continues to contribute new innovations in the field of digital marketing technology. http://www.hauteliving.com/2010/06/serial-entrepreneur/ http://www.hauteliving.com/2010/06/haute-100-miami-update-sean-wolfington/ Below are pictures from the photo gallery of the Haute Living profile on Wolfington: Sean Wolfington and Ana Wolfington with Rafa Nadal, #1 ranked professional tennis player and one of the greatest of all time Bella Team at Super Bowl XLII – New York Giants Vs. New England Patriots – Sean Wolfington kissing the Lombardi Trophy Super Bowl XLII – New York Giants Vs. New England Patriots – Eduardo Verastegui (Actor and Producer), Frank Gifford (NFL Legend and Sports Commentator) and Sean Wolfington (Financier and Producer) celebrate on the field Super Bowl XLII – New York Giants Vs. New England Patriots – Sean Wolfington (Financier and Producer) holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the field Super Bowl XLII – New York Giants Vs. New England Patriots – Sean Wolfington (Financier and Producer) celebrates with Reuben Droughns (Running Back, NY Giants) on the field Super Bowl XXXIX – New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles – Bella team goes to the Super Bowl: Leo Severino (Producer), Ana Wolfington (Executive Producer), Sean Wolfington (Financier and Producer), and Eduardo Verastegui (Actor and Producer) Super Bowl XXXIX – New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles – Ana Wolfington and Sean Wolfington with Russ Hochstein (#71, Patriots) after New England victory Sean Wolfington (Financier and Producer) and Ana Wolfington (Producer) with Tony Bennett (Music Legend) Bella Actors and Tony Bennett – (starting clockwise from bottom) Sophie Nyweide, Manny Perez, Eduardo Verastegui, Tony Bennett (Music Legend), Alejandro Monteverde, Aly Landry, Sean Wolfington (Financier and Producer of Bella), Ana Wolfington, and Ewa Da Cruz Tony Bennett gives Bella team Award (Ali Landry, Alejandro Monteverde, Eduardo Verastegui, Tony Bennett, Susan Benedetto, Sean Wolfington, and Ana Wolfington Eduardo Verastegui (actor), Tony Bennett (15 Grammys), Alejandro Sanz, (17 Grammys, most of any Spanish musician) and Sean Wolfington (financier + producer) gathered at Bella’s NY party to celebrate Bella becoming the #1 Rated Film of 2007 by RottenTomatoes, the biggest film review site in the world. Bella was also #1 rated movie by Yahoo, Fandango and the New York Times Readers’ Poll while in theaters. Alejandro Sanz made a song for the film and Tony Bennett presented the “Tony Bennett Media Excellence Award” to the filmmakers. Producer of Today Show Hoda Kobb, Eduardo Verastegui , Kathie Lee Gifford, Tony Bennett, Susan Bennett and Sean Wolfington Susan Benedetto, Tony Bennett (Music Legend), Eduardo Verastegui (Actor and Producer) and Sean Wolfington (Financier and Producer) The Bryan Brothers and Sean Wolfington at the Icon Brickell Tennis Daily Party The Bryan Brothers, Melky Jean (Grammy Nominated Artist and Sister of Wyclef Jean), Ana Wolfington and Sean Wolfington at the Tennis Daily party at the Icon Brickell Ana Wolfington and Sean Wolfington at the Tennis Daily Party at the Icon Brickell The Bryans, the Wolfingtons and the Tennis Daily team Rory Cordial, Lucille Williams, and James Blake Nicolas Almagro, Ana Wolfington and Sean Wolfington Mike Bryan, James Black, Sean Wolfington and Bob Bryan Sean Wolfington, Alec Baldwin and Charles Aiesi at Tony Bennett’s dinner gala (From left to right) Stan Smith, Sean Wolfington, and John McEnroe at the US Open Final between Nadal vs Djokovic Stan Smith, Sean Wolfington, Ana Wolfington, and John McEnroe