published Thursday, March 29th, 2012

'Thunder' Thornton picks former Vol Dane Bradshaw to run venture

Dane Bradshaw, president of Thunder Enterprises, speaks about Jasper Highlands complex while leading a tour of a new 9,000-acre residential development which is opening April 14.
Dane Bradshaw, president of Thunder Enterprises, speaks about Jasper Highlands complex while leading a tour of a new 9,000-acre residential development which is opening April 14.
Photo by Dan Henry.

DANE BRADSHAW

Title: President and chief operating officer of Thunder Enterprises

Age: 27

Education: Earned a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's degree in sports management while playing basketball for four years at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Career: He authored "Vertical Leap: Inside the Rise of Tennessee Basketball," after graduating from UT and then played for a year in the European professional basketball league. He joined Thunder Enterprises in 2008 to help start Taxi on Demand and later moved to marketing properties before being named president of Thunder Enterprises last fall.

Personal: He and his wife have a 3-month-old child and reside in Knoxville.

Dane Bradshaw may not always have been the best basketball player on the court during his career with the Tennessee Vols or with the Den Helder Seals in the Netherlands professional basketball league.

But since the Memphis native joined his first basketball team in kindergarten, he always was the team captain picked by his coaches or teammates to lead his teams.

Last fall, after only three years working for Chattanooga developer John "Thunder" Thornton, Bradshaw was named president of Thunder Enterprises and "captain" of sorts for Thornton's newest venture in Marion County.

Bradshaw is heading a sales effort being launched today to market home lots on Jasper Mountain to relocating retirees, vacation home buyers and area residents eager to enjoy the mountain vistas in the new "Jasper Highlands."

Since last summer, Bradshaw has worked with Thornton to carve a road through the rock up the mountain and clear hundreds of acres for development atop the plateau overlooking the Tennessee River and Sequatchie Valley.

The 27-year-old former basketball star still keeps his home in Knoxville, where he and his wife had their first child in January. But during the week, Bradshaw lives and works with Thornton to map out the property and strategy for what they hope ultimately will develop into 3,200 home lots and the biggest residential development in Southeast Tennessee.

"John and I literally eat, sleep and breath Jasper Mountain," Bradshaw said.

As Thunder Enterprises begins a national marketing campaign for the first phase of development, Bradshaw says he is as up for the challenge as any basketball game he played.

"I'm as passionate about this as if I was getting ready to play in the Final Four," he said Wednesday.

Bradshaw says assembling a business team and developing the Jasper Highlands project is similar to leading the players on his basketball teams in the past.

Thornton, who says he has hired about 20 former college athletes for his businesses over the past couple of decades, said Bradshaw "has exceeded every expectation I had for him."

Thunder and his son, Johnny, recruited the former UT basketball star to join Thunder Enterprises in 2008 to head Taxi On Demand, a credit card service to ensure taxi fares were prepaid for students and others who might need such commutes.

With thousands of acres of land to sell as the real estate market soured, Bradshaw soon turned his focus on helping market Thunder Enterprises properties.

"I knew he would be a fabulous manager and a great worker when I saw him play basketball because nobody ever out-hustled him on the court," Thornton said. "Dane is such a hard worker and I told him last year he needed to captain our team."

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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