Baton Rouge Business Report Features Pete Bush

September 2, 2015

Originally Published on 9/2/2015 by:

It’s the bottom of the ninth in Alex Box Stadium. The bases are loaded, and the Tigers are down to their last out. The batter falls behind in the count. It seems as though they are done for—until a hope and a prayer and a seeing-eye single up center field sends the Tigers to Omaha.

As the players pile atop the pitcher’s mound, the fairytale ending has every ingredient for a historic night in Tiger athletic history—except the stands are empty and the stadium silent.

The triumphant play did not come in a game at all, but was instead a savvy leadership tactic employed by legendary LSU baseball coach Skip Bertman.

“He was talking about Omaha in the fall of 1985, like we’d done it all the time,” says Pete Bush, co-founder and partner of Horizon Wealth Management, and a former first baseman at LSU from 1985 to 1989.

For a team that had never made it to the College World Series, Bertman knew how to get them there—not just by practicing athletic skills or game strategy, but by making them experience winning. By celebrating future success, the team began to feel like making it to the College World Series was something they not only deserved, but would undoubtedly achieve.

“What he was doing was painting a picture in your head of how to visualize yourself attaining your goal,” Bush remembers. “That has been invaluable for me because since then, I’ve always been able to visualize what it is that I want and sort of experience what it feels like.”

Bush’s freshman year at LSU was only Bertman’s second year as the baseball coach, but he had already begun to leave his mark—not just on the program but on the players that would go on to become valuable members of the city’s business community.

As an adult, Bush says he has come to realize that the competitions, practices and work on the field toward becoming a better athlete were only half of the story. “The real story was all the character building and the gifts that he gave us [and] how to pull the most out of your ability.”

Bush got his start in the wealth management industry with another former LSU baseball player, Wally McMakin, who saw talent and drive in Bush. With a natural knack for business, Bush utilized his LSU network to take his reputation in the community from athlete to respected businessman. Once he successfully established himself professionally, Bush founded his own firm, now Horizon Wealth Management, in 1999.

Although his baseball days are long behind him, the game is not. He credits his success in business to his vast and tight-knit LSU network developed from his time in Tiger baseball.

“It built my credibility early on,” Bush explains. “My sphere [of influence] was at LSU. I would talk to every baseball player that came out of here who was any good, who was getting talked to and drafted, and offer services to be their financial adviser.”

Many of his early mentors and teammates are now clients. One former LSU teammate, Jeff Reboulet, enjoyed a long MLB career and was a client of Horizon until he retired and joined the firm as a partner in 2004.

With Reboulet’s extensive MLB network, the company has expanded its client portfolio to even more professional athletes, who now comprise 20% of the company’s annual revenue.

In an effort to remain credible in an industry with steep competition, Bush and Reboulet co-authored a book, The Challenges of Big League Money. It is the first in a three-part series, the goal of which is to help major league players understand the importance of money management.

“Baseball is a fun niche,” Bush says, standing in an office full of baseballs adorning shelves, cabinets, end tables and his desk—all of them signed by MLB players, local celebrities, a few rock stars and even his kids. “It helps scratch the itch of staying involved in the game a little bit.”

Since his college days, Bush has made a conscious effort to stay involved in the LSU community—not just in athletics by forming the Tiger Baseball Alumni Foundation, but also in the E. J. Ourso College of Business by helping to kick-start the Certified Financial Planner curriculum. He also leads workshops for LSU’s Executive Education program, part of the Stephenson Entrepreneurship Institute, to teach MLB players about transitioning from baseball to their next career.

Bush achieved his long-term goal of being named to the Tiger Athletic Foundation board in January.

“I thought I’d be an old dude by the time I got a chance to do it,” Bush, 48, jokes. “Then I’ve realized, maybe I actually am an old dude.”

LSU still opens door in many ways for Bush. But he’s finding that it is his turn to open those doors for others. Bush says that is a “Skip thing, too.”

“I think it is the thing you do,” he says. “You go back and pay it forward [because of] the people who paid it to you.”