T his week LAKings.com catches up with Justin Kemp, the President of the Ontario Reign of the ECHL.
As President of the Ontario Reign, Kemp oversees all aspects of business operations, including ticket sales, public relations and community relations, finance, corporate partnerships and marketing efforts.
A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a degree in Sport Management, Kemp began his career with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2000 as a corporate account executive. After three seasons in Phoenix, he joined the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim as an advertising sales manager, selling corporate partnerships for the Ducks and Arrowhead Pond. After his stint in Anaheim, Kemp joined the ECHL’s Long Beach Ice Dogs. As vice president of business development with the Ice Dogs, he sold corporate partnerships, managed the club’s public relations department and transitioned the team through an ownership change in 2006.
Kemp grew up in the Los Angeles area and currently resides in Rancho Cucamonga.
Q: Can you talk about your current job responsibilities?
A: Basically my job is to oversee all aspects of the business operations, sales, marketing, finance and also hockey ops. I’m responsible for making the majority of the personnel decisions, setting budgets, planning the overall strategy and organizational direction. We have a foundation so I oversee the Hope Reigns Foundation here as well and then represent the team at all league meetings and board of governor’s meetings with the ECHL.
Q: No two days are the same, but can you try to describe a typical day at the office?
A: It usually starts with going through and responding to a bevy of emails and returning some phone calls. It usually involves a staff meeting of some kind whether it’s a department head meeting or an all staff meeting, or a hockey ops meeting. I keep in very close contact with all our department heads on a regular basis. It might also involve a meeting that takes place with the foundation or with a sponsor, potentially a marketing-based meeting that might be with one of our advertisers, promotional-type meeting and sometimes it might also include a conference call or two. So it can go a lot of different directions but I guess you can say more of a typical week than a typical day.
Q: How about a typical game day? What is your role in the arena for a home game?
A: Well, it’s basically to visit with fans and sponsors. I try to make myself as visible as possible. Prior to each game, before doors open, I do a walk-around just to make sure everything is in place and make sure I’m visible with the arena staff as well and say hello to everybody.
Q: What helped prepare you for your current position?
A: I’ve done a lot of different jobs in pro sports since the time I was 16. I’ve done everything from ticket sales to corporate sales, PR, I’ve worked in the locker room before…I had an opportunity to be a part of all of those pieces, so when it came time to run a team myself, I could kind of say you know I’ve been there and done that at some time or another. I felt all of that experience coming up to this point was very valuable.
Q: Who have been some of your mentors?
A: First and foremost, definitely my parents. My dad and I share a very common interest in the business side of sports and he’s been a good sounding board for me, certainly in terms of what it takes to be a professional and run a professional organization. I would say that my time spent at my first pro job out of college with the Phoenix Coyotes, the person who hired me, a guy with the name of Tim Weil, who ran the corporate department there. I also learned quite a bit from our president Shawn Hunter, so I would list all of those people as definitely mentoring personalities in the early goings.
Q: What is the best advice you would give to somebody who wants to work in the sports industry?
A: Best advice I would say, it would definitely be persistent and patient – both. You want to make sure that you’re heard and that you’ve heard about all of the other people that are trying to get into this business and patient because you’re not going to get through on your first or second try, so don’t get too discouraged. The other thing I would say is to absorb each experience whether it’s good or bad and learn something from it because it’s those real life experiences more so than what somebody tells you or what you read in a book that you’re going to learn and take back with you the most.
Q: What does it mean to you to have the relationship with the LA Kings?
A: It’s awesome. The Kings are the reason I took an interest in sports. As a kid growing up here in LA and having the opportunity to be an affiliate, play some small part in the success, is definitely exciting and I enjoyed every minute of it for the past few years and I look forward to continuing that.