Justin Dunn admits he thought hockey was just a “Canadian sport.”
“My first instinct was it was a Canadian sport,” he said. “I didn’t think it was an athletic sport. I thought it was more a bruiser sport.”
After spending six years with the Columbus Blue Jackets organization, Dunn knows better.
“These guys are athletic,” he said.
A 2008 graduate of Wilmington High School, Dunn is the manager of inside sales for the NHL franchise. He manages the franchise’s 12 entry level sales reps, whose focus is to drive ticket sales, whether they be partial season tickets or group sales.
“They encompass all of the selling process but do it on a smaller scale,” he said.
From there, the entry level candidates can be promoted to a senior level sales team.
Dunn started his Blue Jackets tenure in 2012 as an entry level sales rep then was promoted to manager of inside sales in March 2015.
“We usually have 12 reps on the team,” he said. “I do all the training, most of the training, recruitment. I go to colleges and sit down with kids. It’s competitive with most other sports team sin Ohio. We have a good track record at colleges.”
Dunn’s Blue Jackets career, however, started on tenuous ground. He was hired in April 2012, had the summer to sell tickets but then the season was derailed with a lockout that went from October to January. Despite the lack of official games, Dunn had a strong selling campaign and was the top revenue producer.
After WHS, where he played baseball for the Hurricane, Dunn majored in sports management at Ohio University. Dunn was the facility manager for the Western Southern Open tennis tournament in Mason his junior year at OU then went to Dallas for the Major League Baseball winter meetings his senior year.
“That is when I decided I wanted to do ticket sales,” he said. “Typically some people would assume (I wanted to be) part of the management team, dealing with players, marketing, sponsorship, or facility management. When I went (to OU) I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.”
Dunn said he received offers from several minor league baseball teams to work for a stipend. Growing up a Bengals and Reds fan and then playing club baseball in Athens, Dunn was hoping to land a job in that profession, thus the trip to Dallas.
“I was hoping it would be as easy as going (to Dallas) and getting a job in baseball,” he said. “When I got back, I knew I wanted to be close to home.”
Even though he knew nothing of hockey or the Blue Jackets specifically, he knew Columbus was close and that was good enough to get the ball, or puck, rolling when the Blue Jackets came calling.
“I had no idea the Blue Jackets were in last place,” said Dunn, who believes he and other WHS athletes would have been good hockey players had they worked at it. “I wasn’t a huge hockey fan but it was a huge opportunity.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email email@example.com or on Twitter @wnjsports