Our Story

A note from the original Tailgate Guys.

We started with a pickup truck and two trailers in a backyard. That was the spring of 2009 in Auburn, Alabama. By the fall, we were hosting 53 groups every game day. Today, we host more than 300 groups at Auburn alone. Through hard work, determination, and attention to detail, we've seen Tailgate Guys expand across the country. From California, to New York, to Miami, we've learned that where you find sports fans you also find plenty of room for quality service and old fashioned hospitality.

Now we employ more than 100 staff members, offer our services to tens of thousands of fans, and—needless to say—have successfully moved out of Michael's backyard. As we grow and gain national recognition, our goal remains to deliver outstanding service, anticipate needs, and create settings where fans make their greatest memories.

Parker Duffey, Founder & Chairman // Michael Otwell, Founder & COO

Our Bench Is Deep

 Senior Leadership

Ray DeWeese

Chief Executive Officer

Ray DeWeese

Chief Executive Officer

Ray serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Tailgate Guys.  Prior to joining Tailgate Guys, Ray enjoyed a prosperous career with IMG College, now Learfield IMG College.  His tenure started at Ohio State Sports Marketing as the Associate General Manager where he was quickly  promoted to General Manager, Ohio State and then Senior Vice President, Midwest. Ray was ultimately named Executive Vice President, Learfield IMG College where he successfully provided seasoned leadership, experienced management and strategic oversight to 48 multimedia rights (MMR) properties and 200+ team members.

DeWeese was recognized by SportsBusiness Journal in the 2015 “Forty Under 40” class for his accomplishments in leading the largest college multimedia rights property in the country. The Ohio State property saw $28 million in annual revenue under his leadership, with the property achieving 104% of Budget in FY17 and 101% of Budget in FY16.  The growth of the Ohio State property can be directly tied back to DeWeese’s ability to create new platforms and strategically manage categories.

An active community member, DeWeese has served on the St. Catharine Parish Council, St. Stephens Community House Board and Damascus Advisory Committee, among many others, and volunteers his time to coach his kids’ baseball and lacrosse teams. Ray holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University and a Masters of Education, Sports Management from Baylor University.  He resides in Bexley, Ohio with his wife, Mandy, and their six (6) children.

Michael Otwell

Co-Founder / Chief Production Officer

Michael Otwell

Co-Founder / Chief Production Officer

As a co-founder of Tailgate Guys, Michael has been the mastermind behind our logistical operations and game-day planning from the beginning. Michael has continually strived to refine and streamline the Tailgate Guys production and has successfully implemented the Tailgate Guys system at each of our locations. Michael, his wife Jenna and two daughters, Lily and Maddie Tate, reside in Auburn.

Chad Cleveland

Senior Vice President, Marketing & Technology

Chad Cleveland

Senior Vice President, Marketing & Technology

Chad brings 15 years of collegiate rights experience to Tailgate Guys, having most recently served as Vice President at IMG College. In his role at Tailgate Guys, Chad oversees marketing strategy, creative, and consumer-facing technology and digital platforms. He is based in our NC offices and he and his wife, Brandi have two kids. When he's not working, Chad is typically hiking or camping with his family.

Eric Darvin

Director, Sales Operations

Eric Darvin

Director, Sales Operations

A Plano, Texas native, Eric has extensive experience in athletic event management. Before joining the Tailgate Guys team, Eric served on the athletic event management team at Auburn University's Athletics Department. Eric's background paired with his natural enthusiasm for customer service has made him an ideal fit with Tailgate Guys. If you think you are a sports guru, try this guy. As Tailgate Guys' "sports almanac,. we dare to try to stump Eric. He and his wife, Morgan both Auburn grads, are happy to return to Alabama to raise their daughters Hadlee & Sadie.

Parker Duffey

Co-Founder & Chairman

Parker Duffey

Co-Founder & Chairman

Parker helped found and through 2020 successfully led Tailgate Guys to substantial growth, while establishing successful partnerships with universities and bowl games spanning from Florida to Texas. Parker, his wife Melanie, a professor at Auburn University, and daughter Elizabeth James reside in Auburn.

MARY LOUISE KENNEDY

Director, National Events

MARY LOUISE KENNEDY

Director, National Events

When she's not completing a calligraphy order or creating seamless event plans, ML likes to run and spend time with her husband, two daughters, and thier four bird dogs. Born, raised and remaining in Opelika, AL, ML knows the value of close-knit community and Southern hospitality- the perfect combination for our senior project manager in our HQ.

Ray DeWeese

Chief Executive Officer

Ray serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Tailgate Guys.  Prior to joining Tailgate Guys, Ray enjoyed a prosperous career with IMG College, now Learfield IMG College.  His tenure started at Ohio State Sports Marketing as the Associate General Manager where he was quickly  promoted to General Manager, Ohio State and then Senior Vice President, Midwest. Ray was ultimately named Executive Vice President, Learfield IMG College where he successfully provided seasoned leadership, experienced management and strategic oversight to 48 multimedia rights (MMR) properties and 200+ team members.

DeWeese was recognized by SportsBusiness Journal in the 2015 “Forty Under 40” class for his accomplishments in leading the largest college multimedia rights property in the country. The Ohio State property saw $28 million in annual revenue under his leadership, with the property achieving 104% of Budget in FY17 and 101% of Budget in FY16.  The growth of the Ohio State property can be directly tied back to DeWeese’s ability to create new platforms and strategically manage categories.

An active community member, DeWeese has served on the St. Catharine Parish Council, St. Stephens Community House Board and Damascus Advisory Committee, among many others, and volunteers his time to coach his kids’ baseball and lacrosse teams. Ray holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University and a Masters of Education, Sports Management from Baylor University.  He resides in Bexley, Ohio with his wife, Mandy, and their six (6) children.

Michael Otwell

Co-Founder / Chief Production Officer

As a co-founder of Tailgate Guys, Michael has been the mastermind behind our logistical operations and game-day planning from the beginning. Michael has continually strived to refine and streamline the Tailgate Guys production and has successfully implemented the Tailgate Guys system at each of our locations. Michael, his wife Jenna and two daughters, Lily and Maddie Tate, reside in Auburn.

Chad Cleveland

Senior Vice President, Marketing & Technology

Chad brings 15 years of collegiate rights experience to Tailgate Guys, having most recently served as Vice President at IMG College. In his role at Tailgate Guys, Chad oversees marketing strategy, creative, and consumer-facing technology and digital platforms. He is based in our NC offices and he and his wife, Brandi have two kids. When he's not working, Chad is typically hiking or camping with his family.

Eric Darvin

Director, Sales Operations

A Plano, Texas native, Eric has extensive experience in athletic event management. Before joining the Tailgate Guys team, Eric served on the athletic event management team at Auburn University's Athletics Department. Eric's background paired with his natural enthusiasm for customer service has made him an ideal fit with Tailgate Guys. If you think you are a sports guru, try this guy. As Tailgate Guys' "sports almanac,. we dare to try to stump Eric. He and his wife, Morgan both Auburn grads, are happy to return to Alabama to raise their daughters Hadlee & Sadie.

Parker Duffey

Co-Founder & Chairman

Parker helped found and through 2020 successfully led Tailgate Guys to substantial growth, while establishing successful partnerships with universities and bowl games spanning from Florida to Texas. Parker, his wife Melanie, a professor at Auburn University, and daughter Elizabeth James reside in Auburn.

MARY LOUISE KENNEDY

Director, National Events

When she's not completing a calligraphy order or creating seamless event plans, ML likes to run and spend time with her husband, two daughters, and thier four bird dogs. Born, raised and remaining in Opelika, AL, ML knows the value of close-knit community and Southern hospitality- the perfect combination for our senior project manager in our HQ.

Brendan Reilly

Vice President, South Region

Brendan Reilly

Vice President, South Region

Born in PhiIly but a Florida native, Brendan has a passion for sports. He holds a bachelors degree from University of South Florida and not one, but two masters degree (MS and MBA) in Sports and Entertainment Management from USF. He has worked in sports events management and sales with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the University of Texas before starting out with our Austin Tailgate Guys team. Brendan is based in our Gainesville office, and can be found trying the latest food spots in town.

Brad Sexton

Senior Vice President, Sales

Brad Sexton

Senior Vice President, Sales

Brad brings 15 years of sales and executive level leadership to Tailgate Guys, having most recently served as a Senior Vice President with Learfield IMG College.  In his role at Tailgate Guys, Brad oversees sales, business development and partner relations.  He is based in Greenville, SC and he and his wife, Magee have one child.  When he is not working, Brad is consumed with home improvement projects and Pirates baseball.

Eli Wilkerson

Vice President, East Region

Eli Wilkerson

Vice President, East Region

Joining us from his home state of North Carolina, Eli is a welcome addition. With athletic experience from Auburn University and the University of Oklahoma, Eli brings top skills and expertise to the team. He and his wife, Kelby, enjoy spending time with their lovable boxer-mix named Happy.

Paul Willis

Senior Vice President, Internal Operations

Paul Willis

Senior Vice President, Internal Operations

Paul has valuable experience and a passion for hospitality. Prior to joining Tailgate Guys, Paul had several years of valuable experience in restaurant management. Paul manages all of the day to day in the Auburn office while also keeping his thumb on the pulse of all other Tailgate Guys locations and PRE Event Resources operations. He and his wife Stephanie also call Auburn their home. No, that's not "E" from the show Entourage. That's just Paul.

Brent Bonner

Director of Production

Brent Bonner

Director of Production

Brendan Reilly

Vice President, South Region

Born in PhiIly but a Florida native, Brendan has a passion for sports. He holds a bachelors degree from University of South Florida and not one, but two masters degree (MS and MBA) in Sports and Entertainment Management from USF. He has worked in sports events management and sales with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the University of Texas before starting out with our Austin Tailgate Guys team. Brendan is based in our Gainesville office, and can be found trying the latest food spots in town.

Brad Sexton

Senior Vice President, Sales

Brad brings 15 years of sales and executive level leadership to Tailgate Guys, having most recently served as a Senior Vice President with Learfield IMG College.  In his role at Tailgate Guys, Brad oversees sales, business development and partner relations.  He is based in Greenville, SC and he and his wife, Magee have one child.  When he is not working, Brad is consumed with home improvement projects and Pirates baseball.

Eli Wilkerson

Vice President, East Region

Joining us from his home state of North Carolina, Eli is a welcome addition. With athletic experience from Auburn University and the University of Oklahoma, Eli brings top skills and expertise to the team. He and his wife, Kelby, enjoy spending time with their lovable boxer-mix named Happy.

Paul Willis

Senior Vice President, Internal Operations

Paul has valuable experience and a passion for hospitality. Prior to joining Tailgate Guys, Paul had several years of valuable experience in restaurant management. Paul manages all of the day to day in the Auburn office while also keeping his thumb on the pulse of all other Tailgate Guys locations and PRE Event Resources operations. He and his wife Stephanie also call Auburn their home. No, that's not "E" from the show Entourage. That's just Paul.

Brent Bonner

Director of Production

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