By Vicki Salemi
For ND Today
Going from calling plays in the huddle to calling the shots in business has been a seamless transition for Rick Mirer ’93. The former Notre Dame quarterback’s career has come full circle at Mirror Wine Company.
After studying marketing at Notre Dame and being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks to launch his NFL career, the San Diego resident has recently called upon his marketing roots and launched his own wine company in 2008.
Back in the day, he knew marketing was going to be solid training to eventually fall back on.
“It’s been quite handy to have that background,” he said.
Although he points out those classes today might be different than his courses due to social media, Mirer is grateful for his marketing roots.
“I’m glad it was more of a broad spectrum instead of a real precise, fundamental course,” he said. “You have to have the ability to adapt and that’s what’s so exciting.”
In fact, this entrepreneur tries to take a step back and evaluate his hands-on business from a distance, not unlike his courses from the early 1990s.
“There’s so much common sense involved in how we go about what we’re doing and how to figure out how other people perceive certain messages, the look and feel of the product, the quality of the website, things that all help build the business, build the brand,” he said.
As he’s building the business, Notre Dame is not far from Mirer’s mind.
“There’s Notre Dame everywhere,” he said. “We’re going to say, ‘Hi,’ to the alumni group in Atlanta when I’m there for another event. It’s an easy introduction, it’s an easy conversation. It’s generally a room full of people who are highly motivated and successful and nice enough to listen to what we say.”
This instant connection feels like home.
“Notre Dame to me means family,” he said. “There’s a connection regardless of vintage, regardless of era, I feel like I meet people from all corners of the country, from the Class of ’66, Class of ’81…”
And Rick’s already introducing his own family to his Notre Dame one. His three sons, ages 13, 11, and 7, will head to campus for football and lacrosse camps this summer.
“We’re as far away as you can be, but going back to campus they have a sense of pride around that,” he said. “Being around USC fanatics, we’re outnumbered here but they go to the bookstore and load up on Irish stuff.”
As his sons get accustomed to the Fighting Irish, Mirer and his wife are already entrenched with Notre Dame on another level — they created an endowment to provide financial assistance to students who have gotten accepted into the school.
“Fifteen different kids have received partial scholarships through that and hopefully it’ll be lots and lots more,” he said. “It’s important to give back.”
Above all, his Notre Dame experience didn’t just end when Mirer received his degree nearly 20 years ago.
“I figured, regardless of what happens in football, I’m going to have a degree from there and that degree gets put into play more than ever before,” he said. “I knew that going in and my family got bigger on the way out.”
It's easy enough to spot Garrett and Betsy Busch at tailgates: They're the ones who bring wine.
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