7 Questions With … Tony Butler, president and owner of FSA Management Group

Tony Butler

Tony Butler, president and owner of FSA Management Group | Courtesy

It’s a true testament for a company to make it five years, let alone 50. The Louisville-based FSA Management Group is celebrating its 50-year milestone this year, complete with a new 50th anniversary logo and branding — as one might expect from a management and marketing company.

Tony Butler, current president and owner of FSA, can be credited with some of the company’s recent successes, but first, a little background.

FSA actually was started in Chicago in 1969 by Phillip Cooke and Daniel Maye, who later relocated the company to Louisville in 1979. Lebhar-Friedman bought the company after Cooke and Maye retired.

FSA logo

FSA started in 1969.

Butler, who was well-versed in event management and production, came on board in the early 2000s, and in 2008, he was named president. A year later, he bought the company.

While the move was the epitome of job security, it also was a major risk for him.

“It was an opportunity that only comes around once — it was either going to be the best thing to happen to me professionally or the worse,” Butler tells Insider. “It has definitely turned out to be the best, but it was a gamble in the shaky economy of 2009.”

He brought a lot of new ideas to the table, having served as the executive director the Louisville Gardens for a time. And he helped hone in on the company’s key to its success.

“I think our success is driven by our level of customer service,” he says. “We go the extra mile to provide a very high level of service to our clients — it is definitely our calling card.”

Butler says FSA employs 14 people who are just as driven as he is. And not only does the company manage various associations and work with others on events, finance and marketing, but it also helps produce the annual Bourbon Classic event, along with The Bourbon Review folks, held each winter.

We caught up with Butler during this momentous anniversary month to ask him some very important questions …

What was your first concert?

Now that was a long time ago. I’m actually not sure, but it was either Styx or Journey (saw both around the same time) at the Louisville Gardens, which I later ended up managing prior to FSA.


The bad boys of Journey

What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

Pretty much anything related to producing an event. I have been producing events in one way or another for the last 29 years, so I could talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of the business for a long time!

What job would you be terrible at?

A funeral director. No offense to those who do this important job, but it would definitely not be for me.

What is your favorite restaurant or bar?

I’m going to choose a non-Louisville restaurant for my response. If you are ever in Providence, R.I., go to Al Forno owned by Chef Johanne Killeen. It is truly wonderful.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once?

NuLu Mural

NuLu has flavor. | Art by The Art Cartel, photo by NuLu Business Association

I think everyone should wait tables at least once in their lives. Being a server teaches you how to multitask, prioritize and work with a variety of people. Anyone who has done it knows what I mean.

Where would you direct a newcomer of Louisville to get a feel for the city?

Visit NuLu (my neighborhood) — it will give you a real flavor for our city, and then visit our Louisville-based distilleries. Louisville is truly a unique city and like nowhere else in the world.

What keeps you here?

I love it here, I never considered leaving. It is definitely home.