On Wednesday, the Atlantic Sun's signature event, the Men's and Women's Basketball Championships, will tip off from Mercer's University Center. For the fifth consecutive year, General Shale Brick has lent its name as the event's title sponsor. For some insight as to the relationship forged between the Johnson City, Tennessee-based company and the Atlantic Sun, Bob Propes, Director of Marketing for General Shale Brick recently spoke of the partnership.
Q: Why was it important for General Shale Brick to partner with the Atlantic Sun in sponsoring its premiere event?
A: There were a couple of reasons. First was it's a good fit marketing wise. The geography of the Atlantic Sun covers a lot of important markets for us, so it gave us an opportunity to get our name out in front of a lot of customers and potential customers. On the other hand, it gave us a a way to give back to a lot of excellent schools in those markets in one broad brush stroke.
Q: Have you seen the desired effects in those markets over the five years?
A: Yes - people see us, especially on the television broadcasts and remember us and it has given us a way to get out name out there in a repeating way, just over and over again. It's been pretty strong for us.
Q: Since the tournament moved from Johnson City, first to Nashville and now the Macon, talk about the the desire to remain affiliated with the A-Sun Basketball Championship.
A: Nashville has been a very strong market for us - we had a number of customers who came to us and wanted tickets for the tournament and we we glad to oblige them. I think the same will be true in Georgia. Even though we're headquartered in Johnson City, Tenn., these markets are very important to us. The Atlantic Sun got excellent schools and high academics, so from a corporate perspective, it's easy for us to support that kind of organization. In one broad stroke, we can support a lot of really excellent schools by supporting the conference and the tournament.
Q: How has the relationship between the Atlantic Sun and General Shale Brick grown over these five years?
A: We got off to a great start with the first championship, at ETSU, when we began our involvement and from that point, this situation has really been a good one. We've made a long-term commitment and its been an excellent working relationship with the conference and with the schools. The schools have been very gracious as hosts of the tournament. They provide good venues for the spectators. It's just been a good matchup for us.
Q: What led you to choosing a basketball tournament as your initial venture into college athletics?
A: In this part of the country and throughout the Atlantic Sun geography, basketball is a super popular sport. You don't have to be a huge university to have good, competitive basketball. I think the A-Sun's tournament winners have really represented the conference well at the NCAA Tournament and it really speaks highly of the conference.