Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group CEO Lou Taylor admits that when some people hear her name, they expect a man. After all, Lou is typically a man’s name, and when attached to a showbiz vet it evokes the image of a burly, brusque, older man with a fondness for whiskey and cigars.
“It’s truly a spirit of excellence that comes out of our firm,” says Taylor. “It’s not enough for me to just half-ass anything. And I’m not just saying that. If you call the receptionist who works for me and said, ‘Give me one thing about Lou that she expects,’ she would tell you that I expect it to be right.”
As Tri Star celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, it appears that Taylor is doing a whole lot right, with offices in Nashville and Los Angeles serving a large and impressive roster of musicians, athletes and actors from pop singer Britney Spears to Cleveland Browns wide receiver Kenny Britt.
Taylor began her career in business management at the age of 25, when she left a job at accounting giant Arthur Anderson to take a job with a South Florida firm with a list of big-name sports and music industry clients.
Among them was Andre Harrell, founder of Uptown Records, which had a roster that included Jodeci, Heavy D & the Boyz and a 21-year-old singer named Mary J. Blige (now a Tri Star client), who was recording her debut album “What’s the 411?” with a hot new producer named Sean Combs.
“I fell in love with doing the personal and business financials, specifically touring, so that became my niche,” says Taylor, who impressed co-workers with her savvy operating the company’s two computers.
Although Taylor was fascinated by her work, she was not fond of the way the firm was run, so she began planning to break out on her own. She invited Shawn Blair, who worked for the international financial services company Deloitte, to join her in the new venture, but Blair was hesitant.
“She said, ‘I have family, I need a guaranteed salary, and you’re just a kid,’” recalls Taylor. “So I went out and over 90 days I signed enough corporate accounting work to be able to pay her salary, take a small office in Boca Raton and hire our first bookkeeper.”
“I fell in love with doing the personal and business financials, specifically touring.”
When Tri Star opened its doors in 1992, it had three big clients that followed from her old firm: baseball stars Tony Fernandez and Jesse Barfield, and boxer Michael Moorer, who gave Tri Star a big financial boost when he won the heavyweight crown from Evander Holyfield.
In 2001, Tri Star opened a Nashville office, which handled country music stars Reba McEntire, Martina McBride and Florida Georgia Line. Seven years later, the firm opened up an L.A. office, which has attracted such clients as Steven Tyler, Gwen Stefani, Priyanka Chopra (“Quantico”) Jack Huston (“Boardwalk Empire”), and producer-writer Bryan Cogman (“Game of Thrones”).
But perhaps Taylor’s most significant signing is Spears, who became a Tri Star client after a period of personal and professional tumult in the late 2000s. Not only did Taylor help get Spears’ affairs in order, she was one of the architects of the singer’s residency at Axis Theater at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. The residency has grossed more than $100 million in ticket sales alone since it opened in December 2013, paving the way for Sin City residencies by other millennial-era acts, including Justin Timberlake, the Backstreet Boys and Tri Star client Jennifer Lopez.
“Now, Bruno Mars is doing a mini-residency and Pitbull is coming in,” says Taylor. “You’ve got people who are still relevant, active, thriving, at the top of their career, going into Vegas based on a business model of risk that we took five years ago.”
But Taylor is probably most proud of her efforts to help women in the industry. “I’ve huge heart to help and protect women,” says Taylor, noting that 78 out of Tri Star’s 92 employees are female.
As Tri Star celebrates its 25th anniversary, it’s also preparing to move its L.A. operation from Century City to 16,000 square-feet of office space on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. The Boca Raton office is now owned and operated by Blair.
Although her business has grown exponentially in the past quarter century, Taylor says she remains largely the same. “The drive never changes, the vision never changes,” Taylor says. “If there’s praise to be given, I give it to my staff. If there’s blame to be taken, I take it, because I’m ultimately the one responsible.”