By Maria Saporta
Just about everything that Steve Koonin has touched has turned to the corporate equivalent of gold – whether it was at National Distributing, the Coca-Cola Co. or Turner Broadcasting System.
Now Koonin hopes to create some of the marketing magic at the Atlanta Hawks where he has been working for the past eight weeks as the team’s new CEO.
Koonin was the speaker at the Rotary Club of Atlanta Monday where he shared some of the lessons of business that he has learned along the way.
But Koonin’s closing message to Rotarians was that now is the time to believe in our city’s basketball team – the Atlanta Hawks.
“We are going to help bring the Hawks back,” Koonin promised. “Sports is the consistent marketing tool of the city.”
But Koonin said that the Hawks have had some difficulty building a strong rapport with the city’s fan base and its corporate partners.
“Why are we no doing better with more companies,” Koonin asked rhetorically. “Of the 16 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Atlanta, we are only doing business with three. What can we do better?”
The three Fortune 500 companies based in Atlanta that currently are corporate sponsors of the Atlanta Hawks are: SunTrust, the Coca-Cola Co. and the Southern Co.
The rent-to-own company – Aaron’s – also is corporate sponsor, but ranks as one of Georgia’s Fortune1000 companies at No. 907.
After his talk, Koonin said he views that part of his role with the Hawks will be to build stronger ties between corporate Atlanta and the basketball team.
Koonin said that success in business is based on knowing one’s strengths and being willing to take chances.
“Don’t be afraid to take chances,” Koonin told Rotarians. “Ideas are like disposable diapers. If they are full of crap, you throw them away.”