Interview: Detlef Schrempf

Former pro basketball player Detlef Schrempf still aiming high

Detlef Schrempf retired from the NBA in 2001 after stints with the Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, Seattle SuperSonics, and Portland Trail Blazers. The University of Washington graduate had a plan for life after basketball, and his second act has proven in many ways more successful than the first. Today, Schrempf is a partner and business development officer with Bellevue-based Coldstream Capital Management and has raised more than $16 million for Northwest children’s charities. Schrempf recently spent some time talking with us about his life’s second act — and a little about his athletic first act, too.

Can you speak a bit about your transition to the business world from the sports world? Did you have opportunities lined up when you retired from the NBA, or was it just, “What am I going to do now?”
I was fortunate to have good friends who were pretty active in the local business community, mostly in tech. At the end of my career, we were always discussing the next steps in life, and I knew I could not just retire from pro sports and not do anything. I decided to partner up with one of them and a group in San Francisco to start a venture fund (Athlon). The idea was to take advantage of my name-brand and large network to raise the fund, get our foot in the door, and get deal flow.

You’re also well-known in the area for your charitable work done through your foundation. What is it about giving back that you enjoy most? Why do you do it?
This community has given us a lot, and we want to do our part to strengthen it. The Detlef Schrempf Foundation believes that our children are our future, and we need to make sure all of them have an opportunity to succeed. When we got started over 22 years ago, we had no idea where it would go. We figured it would run its course after I retired from pro sports. Instead, it has grown, and our golf and gala event raised close to $1 million this year. It is amazing to see the impact we can have on an organization and/or on one child. The success stories are what make it all worthwhile.
I am part of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership for another reason — to help us as a nation become healthy again. In the last 30 years, we have gone from one of the healthiest to the worst. I want to spread the knowledge of the benefits of eating seafood at least twice a week.

Let’s talk about what your day looks like in your current role with Coldstream. Can you tell us what Coldstream does and what a typical day in the work life of Detlef Schrempf looks like?
Coldstream is a comprehensive wealth management firm. We provide relevant, unbiased financial advice to help our clients achieve their financial and lifestyle goals. I focus on business development and building relationships. Most of my time is spent getting to know people, discovering and understanding their unique circumstances, and evaluating if Coldstream is a good fit. I work with four teams internally who take on the day-to-day management of a client relationship. I can be in the office early or out late on any night of the week. My days hardly ever look the same, and that allows me to meet a lot of interesting people.

How do you spend your free time?
I think I have come to a stage in my life where I have to check off a few things like playing basketball. I still think I can play and yearn to do so, but I am not sure my body can still take it. I do love horses and ride them, but usually once a year at my friend’s ranch in North Dakota. I spend a lot of time on the golf course now with my wife, friends, clients, and a few troublemakers. It is all about the laughs.

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