CORTLAND, N.Y. - This town in central New York received a big boost in summer tourism in 2009, when the New York Jets moved their training camp here. Since then, the NFL team has been utilizing UTVs from CNY Power Sports during their pre-season prep.
For 2014, Jets management and grounds staff rented 38 Kawasaki Mules to get them around their temporary home on the State University of New York (SUNY) Cortland campus.
For CNY Power Sports, the marketing opportunity is as important as the revenue.
It all started one day in 2009 when Tim Law, Manager of CNY Power Sports, got a surprising call from a member of the Jets staff. Tired of their unreliable golf carts, the team needed something with a little more heft for hauling equipment on and off the training fields. Law provided them with a couple of Honda Big Reds. The team started an annual rental agreement with Law the following year, and three years ago the team began to use Kawasaki Mules.
Training camp lasts just three weeks, but the Mules are out and about for five weeks because the grounds staff has to come in a week early to set up, then stay a week after the players have moved on to pre-season games. Although CNY Power Sports is ready to handle any maintenance issues that may arise with the rental fleet during that time, Law stresses that it is an unlikely occurrence. By the end of camp, most of the Mules have only 10 to 30 hours on them.
After camp, Law turns around and sells the units, offering them at a discounted price. The relatively low wear-and-tear on the Mules is a big perk, especially for local farmers, who are some of the dealership’s biggest customers.
“Kawasaki has a great loaner program, so when I get these things back, they’re at a discounted rate [so] I can turn around and pass that savings on to the customer. It’s a good enough deal to encourage people to buy them, but it’s not a steal, either,” Law said.
Each year, the rental units that the Jets receive are a mix of Mule models, with wide variations in colors and accessories. CNY Power Sports lists the units for sale while training camp is still ongoing, and by the time the team is finished with them, most are already sold.
CNY Power Sports gets a lot of marketing value out of the deal with the Jets; however, working with an NFL team comes with some fine print. Law said that he is not using the Jets to promote his business. Rather, “I’m more or less using the training camp and the thousands of people that come visit to my benefit, to make sure that our name or our logo gets in front of every single one of them.”
According to Syracuse.com, this year’s 15-day camp drew 22,609 fans.There are CNY Power Sports signs on the Mules, providing moving advertisements in front of grandstands. The signs, though, are moderately sized, and there are a few rules about what can and can’t go on the Mules.
“I have my machines running out there that say ‘Kawasaki’ on them, but I couldn’t put other name brands all over the side of them. They were specific about how big the logos were,” said Law, adding, “One thing that Kawasaki asked me if I could do was put some banners up, and I couldn’t do that because they’re not an official sponsor of the New York Jets.”
That division between being a vendor and being a sponsor is one that the Jets are very careful about to keep team sponsors happy. CNY Power Sports may not have the rights to use the Jets name and logo in its marketing, but the dealership still receives a great deal of exposure through the relationship.
“It’s great, because I’ve got 38 machines running around campus with ‘CNY’ all over the side of them,” Law said. “We’ll get visiting people from out of state who will stop in on their way back out.”