|by Jeremy Sexton '07 • June 15, 2009|
Wes Zirkle ’98 lives life in the fast lane, literally. He is the in-house General Counsel and primary legal advisor for the global motorsports marketing firm, Just Marketing International.
“Just Marketing International represents exclusively corporate sponsors of motorsports,” Zirkle said. “We represent the people who appear on the cars. We don’t represent race teams. We don’t represent drivers. What we do is conceive and manage their motorsport programs.”
The 33-year-old Warsaw native credits Wabash College and his experience shaping him into the lawyer he is today.
“I think you either feel it or you don’t and it gets under your skin. You think this is where I have to go,” Zirkle said of Wabash. “My experience was fantastic. It gives you the tools you need to be successful. I didn’t train to be a lawyer at Wabash. I didn’t know anything about motorsports, marketing, or business, but I really feel like I am well rounded.”
Being well rounded is an attribute commonly linked to being a lawyer; however, Zirkle has something that makes him stand out from the rest.
“A lot of people at work compliment me when they say ‘I am going to have my lawyer call you and don’t worry he is a nice lawyer,’ ” Zirkle chuckled. “I like that. My temperament is pretty measured. As an attorney I negotiate a lot of business. I deal with a lot of people who are disrespectful and I don’t get it. I don’t understand why they take that approach. It never crosses my mind to do that. I think a lot of it has to do with the Gentleman’s Rule. You don’t play games because you don’t play games. You respect your colleagues and your opponents. You play a fair game and I think a lot of that came from Wabash. I think that position of respect and the Gentleman’s Rule come through my life and my work.”
Zirkle was a Religion major and Rowing Team founder/member at Wabash. He thinks giving back is important.
“There is a really strong desire to give. I think a lot of alumni feel that way,” Zirkle said. “For the past three years I have been a part of the marketing immersion program. I am glad to do it every time. I think it is fun to be around the current group of Wabash guys and see what they are all about. The students get to come and see what a real business looks like.
“Obviously I had a great experience at Wabash and I want to be able to give back. I want to make sure these opportunities are available. I think part of that is opening up the experience and showing students what else is out there so they can start getting creative.”
As a lawyer and businessman the religion major has plenty of advice.
“I kind of like the idea and I hope this doesn’t come across as egotistical,” Zirkle said, “I like the idea of ‘guys, hang in there you can make it.’ Not that I have made it. I am not done with my career. When I see the students I remember being in their seat meeting alumni and thinking that must be a great life he has got and I’ll never get that. It is a dream. You can definitely get there. The hard work will pay off. Wabash means something. Your experiences mean something. I do have a great job. It is not ‘look at me’ it is look at what Wabash helped me get.”
Zirkle isn’t ready to wave the checkered flag. He sits back, smiles and thinks what direction he may take in the future.
“I feel so young,” Zirkle said. “I feel like there is a lot more that I can do and that comes with no disrespect to my company and my current position. I have a job a lot of lawyers would like to have. It is fantastic. I feel like I am beginning in many respects. I don’t have any particular eye out for the next step. I do have a strong belief that there is more out there. I would eventually like to plant a flag out for myself and make my own ideas come to fruition. I think it is really exciting to plant a seed and watch it grow and do great things like create jobs.”
Zirkle’s life isn’t just multi-million dollar racing contracts and giving back to the school that gave him so much. He has a wife, two children, and for him life couldn’t be better in Fishers, Indiana.
“My wife Jennie is very supportive,” Zirkle said. “She is awesome. She has to be because I put in long hours. She knows family is important to me and I don’t work anymore than I have to. I do the job I have been hired to do. I do it well and then I put in effort with my family. I love law very much but I love my family more. When you have kids there is nothing better than hearing ‘daddy’ when you walk in the door and the baby starts to reach out. That is a great feeling. I wish everybody had that feeling.”
For now, Zirkle smiles before racing off. “Life is turning out pretty good. I am very pleased.”