Tomi Gerhold is half of the University’s two-person licensing department, working with Mike Low, director of licensing, and an outside agency, CLC (the Collegiate Licensing Company). She manages all the work involved in preparing licensee applications for the approval process.
Gerhold works closely with the Notre Dame Licensing Committee. This 10-member oversight group, selected by the president or designated vice president, is charged with approving requests from organizations to become a licensee, and ensuring that all authorized products bearing Notre Dame’s trademarks are manufactured under acceptable working conditions by companies that have adopted the University’s Licensing Code of Conduct. Any national application must go before the committee for final approval.
In deciding whether to approve a company for licensing, Gerhold looks at more than just its product. “While a company may have a great product, an important question to ask is whether they have the capability to distribute their product,” says Gerhold. “We look at their entire manufacturing process and where it takes place.”
Additionally, every applicant must submit a detailed business plan that includes the market they are targeting. Gerhold looks for companies that can take a product nationally, not just limit it to Notre Dame’s bookstore. Once approved, the licensee is required to pay Notre Dame a percentage of wholesale on every item sold.
Many of the large universities can have as many as 400 to 600 licensees, but Notre Dame has only 177.
“We purposely have a smaller number of licensees so we can maintain a true partnership. One of our new departmental goals is to personally meet annually with each licensed company, preferably on campus,” says Gerhold.
Although adidas is Notre Dame’s No. 1 licensee, one of Gerhold’s favorite companies to work with is Knights Apparel. “I love working with them because they are so socially conscious. They opened their factory, Alta Gracia in the Dominican Republic, in an impoverished area and pay their workers a living wage that is 3.5 times the prevailing minimum wage.”