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Come for the Wrestling, Stay for the Culture

The following article is featured in the 2017 Spring issue of Memphis Crossroads MagazineClick here to read more from this issue. 

Come for the Wresting, Stay for the Culture
Young Professional Spotlight

YP-Teddy-Gorman-18-(1).jpgTeddy Gorman’s zestful embrace of what lies ahead and roving appetite to make a big impact on his adopted city more than qualifies him for his leadership spot on the Greater Memphis Chamber’s young professional council. As part of the executive team for SoundCheck, the curly-headed sales director for construction equipment supplier Gorham/Schaffler Inc. found a passion for cleanup initiatives and connected with the business leadership around the city.

And Gorman loves to connect people with one another, just as much as he loves to connect people to Memphis. Gorman is known by associates as a cheerleader. If he hears a negative word about the city, he offers a positive. He fell for the culture, he said, and the diversity of locally-owned restaurants. He keeps a list of favorites handy and gives it to newcomers, as he once was.

“He didn’t come from here but he’s made it his own,” said Alco Management employee and life-long Memphian Thomas Robinson, who met Gorman while they were together in the New Memphis Institute fellows leadership program that concluded in September 2015. “He often brings more positive energy than people who have been here a long time. I respect that a lot.”

A communications graduate of the University of Central Florida, Gorman, a native of Tampa, latched onto Memphis 15 years ago after coming here to wrestle. That’s right. Wrestle. He was working with a technical recruiting firm when promoter/owner offered him a wrestling job. “If you move to Memphis,” the man said, “I’ll put you to work.” Gorman, who had played football as a youth and had studied wrestling, took the name of Tyler Gates. “I came to see if I could make my way here,” he said.

But wrestling doesn’t pay all the bills. After interviewing with six companies, he walked into The Commercial Appeal to buy a Sunday paper. The woman there suggested he apply for a position at the newspaper. He got on as a business development specialist. He moved up the ranks until departing in 2013 as director of sales and marketing. He then got on at Gorham/Schaffler.

True Grit

Gorman fell for Memphis’ “true underdog vibe” and for the variety of what the city offered.

He loved Grizzles games, where all ages, socio-economic backgrounds and races got together for a good time. He liked the option of going to the symphony or taking in the art of the blacksmithing community. He liked that cultural and social events that would never get on a list in New York City got publicity in Memphis. And he liked that influential people were involved in pulling up the next generation of community leaders. “You are two people away from being connected to everyone in the city,” Gorman said.

Gorman became an unofficial advocate for the city, a “real defender of the community,” he said. “I tried to be informed and spread that information.”

While assuming that mantle, he did not immediately join an organization to leverage his cause. His advocacy was delivered to individuals he’d meet, but he kept his eyes open for the best way to get involved in the well-being of his new home city.

Making an Impact

The first organization Gorman attached himself to was the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis. He’d played football in a Boys & Girls Club in Florida as a youth. Gorman also wanted to join a young professional organization. In 2014, he learned the Chamber was starting SoundCheck. “I knew I could make an impact early,” he said. “I was excited about being on the ground floor.”

After hearing a presentation at SoundCheck on one of the new moon missions, Memphis Clean by 2019, Gorman volunteered. He liked that it offered work on a deadline with measured, concrete steps to success. He is a co-chair for stakeholder engagement and support for blight and litter reduction in Orange Mound. He’s also become a mentor to college-bound students at Tennessee Promise.

Robinson, who admired Gorman for his love of Memphis, described his friend as “a player-coach. He’s not just telling people how great the city is. He is a part of something positive.”

Memphis Heritage’s Melissa Pope, who met Gorman through Chamber events, said, “He’s a get-in-there-and-get-your-hands-dirty kind of person."

Gorman believes young professionals are uniquely positioned to get involved.

“It’s easier to get involved when you have fewer responsibilities,” he said. “You’re freed up to make an impact. You’re getting connected with like-minded people early on. I feel people get set in their network. Establishing a broad network in your life is going to reap rewards long term.”

Story by Toni Lepeska
Photos by Troy Glasgow

Posted: 5/30/2017 2:39:51 PM | with 0 comments
Filed under: MemphisCrossroads, YoungProfessionals

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The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 ( or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (