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Football Coach Dabo Swinney Revisits Days in Shopping Center Industry

Nothing Bundt Cakes is a unique franchise with a successful niche bakery concept. Dabo knew they would be quality tenants. Now they are nationwide.

Photo Courtesy of ICSC

In the early 2000s, Coach Dabo Swinney spent two years as a shopping center leasing professional and one of the tenants he signed during that time has grown into a multimillion-dollar operation.

After being released from the coaching staff at his alma mater the University of Alabama at the end of the 2000 season, the 31-year-old Swinney took a job working at AIG Baker for his former strength coach.

He recruited bakers Dena Tripp and Debbie Shwetz to open their second Nothing Bundt Cakes store at a project in Las Vegas the company was developing. They also had major national tenants like Nordstrom Rack, and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

They knew that they needed to expand, so Dabo went to bat for them.

Schwetz and Tripp signed the lease, and Swinney ended up taking a job coaching at Clemson University before the Nothing Bundt Cakes store opened.

Nothing Bundt Cakes now has more than 300 stores all over the country, and a couple outside the country.

Schwetz retired from Nothing Bundt Cakes three years ago. Tripp continues to run the company, which still operates in the space Swinney leased to them all those years ago.

Meanwhile, Swinney left the shopping center industry after being recruited back to Clemson University.

Swinney said recruiting quality tenants is like recruiting football players for a well-balanced team.

“It’s very similar,” he says. “You just get a sense. You’ve got to have the right fit. When you’re in the shopping-center business, your tenant mix is important, and the chemistry of the tenants. You might get some of those five-star recruits who don’t pan out, and sometimes those who weren’t highly rated coming out, turn out to be some of the best tenants you have.”

2019 ICSC.

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