Two Harbors (the company) backs big race
Scott Keenan says the bulk of his work on company sponsorships for Grandma's Marathon involves keeping the supporters it has. So it was a treat eight months ago when a company with a familiar name came calling on its own.
Two Harbors Investment Corp. announced this week it will be a "major" sponsor of the annual race and events that surround it June 17-18.
The Minnetonka-based real estate investment firm, formed in 2009, has no business connections to the North Shore city. But Two Harbors Investment CEO Tom Siering said at the time that employees spent a lot of time on the North Shore, "a lovely area," and found Two Harbors to be "a nice name."
Now it's putting the company name to a marathon that begins in Two Harbors - the city.
"That's their logic," Keenan said of the name association between the company and the city. "It's neat they like the name 'Two Harbors.' "
Siering said the same spirit that led to choosing the Two Harbors name led to the Grandma's sponsorship. "We've always thought Grandma's was a great all-around event," he said.
The race is what Minnesota is all about and the company takes pride in that connection, he said. "We want to give back to the community."
Gordy Anderson, president of the Two Harbors Area Chamber of Commerce, said he'll take any possible confusion over the name gladly. Maybe some people will think the chamber is sponsoring the race. "We can't afford a major sponsorship," he said with a laugh.
Anderson said he has been trying to contact company brass and urge them to become a member of the chamber. Siering said he'd give the idea some serious thought.
The city of Two Harbors is a "participating" sponsor, with many in-kind services offered to race preparation just south of city limits on Scenic Highway 61. The chamber organizes the volunteers at the starting line for the marathon.
Just because the company sought Keenan out for a sponsorship didn't mean landing Two Harbors Investment Corp. was easy.
The executive director of Grandma's Marathon said figuring out the details was a six-month process. In essence, Two Harbors Investment will have a presence with signs at all events, a booth at the Fitness & Health Expo, and sponsorship of the three running races that weekend.
Siering said there are four employees and some sponsors planning to run the marathon.
A major sponsorship is the second of four levels available for companies to support Grandma's, Keenan said. There are just three presenting sponsors, the top level, for companies like Wells Fargo, Toyota, and Target. There are 29 major sponsors.
Keenan said the race gets just a few new sponsors each year. "Ninety percent of our energy is spent on keeping the ones we have," he said.
Siering said there has been mixed reaction to his company's name the last few years. Regionally, customers start relaying their memories of the North Shore when told the origin of the investment firm's name. Those who don't know about Two Harbors, the city, are impressed that it's a "real place," Siering said.
The investment firm, which deals mainly in residential mortgage-backed securities, isn't alone in the use of the Two Harbors name. A resort village on the island of Catalina off the California coast also is called Two Harbors.