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Small Business Spotlight: Commercial Event Services

Alerus | FEB 07, 2015

A new company founded in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Commercial Event Services connects universities, arenas, and other organizations and venues with local businesses to create successful event sponsorship opportunities.

About the Owner

To examine Commercial Event Services, or CES, is to examine a company in its infancy. It is to gain an appreciation for the sacrifices that must be made at the beginning stages, as well as a lesson in the value of dynamism in an owner.

Owner Nick Jensen saw CES come to fruition only after a long and painstaking process of developing one business idea after another, and testing and refining each one, only to find one reason or another to discard them all. For years the discouragement of this process mounted, until Nick discovered an opportunity to combine two passions: the business of sports and the strengthening of local businesses.

For Nick, this discovery meant he could build a company that would connect local university athletic departments, such as the University of North Dakota’s, with local businesses in order to create mutually beneficial sponsorship opportunities.  When attending basketball games, for example, Nick noticed wasted space throughout the arena – space that a local company could purchase from the university. This would lead to a “win-win” situation – the university boosts its revenue by selling the space to the sponsor, and the sponsor boosts its profile within the community.

Taking this idea from concept to reality is Nick’s ongoing effort. Much of his time is occupied by the full-time job of nurturing CES, but an eqCommercial-Event-Services-Bleachers-and-Logos-Nick-Jensenual amount time is spent working his actual full-time job. Supported by his wife Sarah, whose selflessness allows Nick to devote so much time and energy to his business endeavors, he has been able to start CES slowly and grow it with the right clients without being forced to quit his job and risk everything.

About the Business

In pure business language, Commercial Event Services offers sales and analytic services to traditionally non-revenue-focused institutions. Translation? Through CES, Nick works with universities, arenas, park districts, athletic conferences, and similar clients to analyze their event marketing efforts and help them understand what revenue opportunities they are missing or failing to maximize.

Once a client decides to make changes in its approach to events, Nick then visits local businesses who he thinks may be interested in being an event sponsor, whether the event is a football game, a hockey game, a county fair, a race, or any other occasion. He pitches these businesses on the value of purchasing anything from on-site signage to radio or television ads to online ads.

This kind of service has traditionally been available only to entities like the Big Ten conference and major Division I schools. CES seeks to bring this service to the smaller programs, including Division II and III schools, for whom revenue generation is a constant pain point. CES partners with these institutions and relieves them of some of the pressures associated with marketing their athletic programs and events.

About the Alerus Relationship

Nick opened his first checking account – complete with Star Wars-themed checks – through Alerus when he was a teenager. After spending a few years away from Grand Forks, he and his wife moved back and made Alerus one of their first stops. They were introduced to relationship banker Mike Helt, who handled their personal banking needs. Nick and Mike developed a good relationship based on a mutual interest in start-up companies. Nick now calls Mike one of his “trusted sounding boards for ideas, problems, and advice.”

Nick says Mike and Alerus were instrumental in getting CES off the ground by providing start-up capital and advice on improving cash flow. CES then became successful enough that Nick wanted to pay back the business loan ahead of schedule, and Mike worked out an early payback plan that saved Nick hundreds of dollars in interest.

Asked what he likes most about Alerus, Nick points to the new online banking system for business clients, but rightly notes that most banks have such a system in place. What really sets Alerus apart, he says, “is its commitment to service and to the Grand Forks community. From Rose Hanson and welcoming tellers – who know my name and ask about my son – to [Market President] Chris Wolf and his commitment to community projects, I see Alerus as a partner in growing my business and helping my community.”

Get in Touch With CES

If you have questions for Nick about event sponsorship and how Commercial Event Services works with clients, call him at 701.330.1577 or send him an email at nick@commercialeventservices.com

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