Ivan Lee Named as AZBilliard’s Man of the Decade

AZBilliards is very pleased to announce that we have chosen Ivan Lee as our Man of the Decade. Mr. Lee is President of Simonis North America and is the Chairman of the Board of the Billiard Congress of America. 

What we at AZB were seeking for this honor was someone who lived and breathed pool and we certainly found that in Mr. Lee. Through his constant support, Simonis is right at the top of the chart of sponsors who promote large numbers of pool events. Simonis North America is a sponsor of regional, national and international events and the players who benefit from their participation run the gamut from ball-bangers to World Champions.  

But Mr. Lee has also stepped up to the plate whenever the game has sent out a distress call for help. He joined the BCA Board in 2005 and first served as Chairman in 2007 after a series of conflicts within the group led to disappointing trade show results and dwindling membership. He served again in that role in 2008, stepping in to fill the void left when Sean Cummings of Brunswick left the office after taking a position outside of the industry and departing Brunswick. The Board again elected him Chairman in 2009, an office that he holds today. 

Another of the Simonis legends, Hank Hayes, speaks very fondly of Mr. Lee.  “As for his service to the BCA, one of his best accomplishments was that he was instrumental in finding Rob Johnson and that is big having such a good man running the organization. Ivan commits a lot of time to the BCA. He is a great businessman and he came on board when things in pool had begun to deteriorate. Everything began to turn sour at that time but through his management Simonis has done very well and has even increased their market share. That is a very fine job. “  

We asked Hank about the sponsorship role that Simonis has so aggressively filled. “We founded Simonis on the thought that we would sponsor the entire game instead of just a player. That way you support the whole sport and affect a lot of players. Ivan has continued that philosophy very well.” 

Mr. Hayes summed Ivan up as: “A very professional, friendly individual and a great marketing man and salesman. He is devoted to the business, his family and his friends. He is out there in the warehouse with everyone else cutting cloth when he needs to and he never feels that he is above the job that needs to be done.”  When we asked Mr. Hayes how Mr. Lee finds the time to both run a business and Chair the BCA he replied: “Finding the time for both is very hard. You have to put in a lot of hours, weekends, and evenings and he does that. “ 

Mr. Lee, it should be noted, was not born into this industry with Simonis. He began as a cuemaker for Schuler Cues and was manager of Atlas Billiard Supplies prior to joining Simonis North America. 

Karim Belhaj, CEO of Predator Cues and a member of the Board of Directors of the BCA, works closely with Mr. Lee on many issues. He spoke of the strengths that he feels Mr. Lee brings to the table: “He is really passionate about billiards and he understands the billiards world. You can feel the love he has for the game and not just for here in the US, but all over the world. He has a long history in pool and it has always struck me just how much he loves the sport.” 

Belhaj continued: “I think he has a great ability to look at issues from different angles. He is able to deal with different personalities be they players, board members, media, whatever. He is a great negotiator who can cause a committee to reach a decision. We are involved in some decisions right now that will make some significant changes, and he is leading the effort.  I would describe him as a strong friend of the sport, committed to his work and the sport and the BCA.” 

We at AZB congratulate Mr. Lee on being our first Man of the Decade. We believe the game is much the better for his presence in it and we look forward to the future of billiards that he is helping create.