What We Do
Silent Partner Marketing is a sports marketing consulting group specializing in three particular areas:
1. Making Critical Sports Marketing Decisions: We work with companies that have interest in making a motorsports marketing investment decision. We help them determine whether such is a cogent direction of the brand. We serve as a fiduciary to help determine certain and specific objectives, establish budgets, demonstrate and design numerous fully integrated activation elements, classic SWOT, media planning, and sourcing the "brand vehicle" through a stringent vetting process - including issuing RFPs. That vehicle could be a league, team, facility or athlete affiliation. We've been trusted by major motorsports facilities to successfully step in to "right the ship."
2. Team/Driver/Athlete/Facility Representation: Silent Partner consultation services have served some of motorsports' most noted team organizations, driver athletes and facilities in providing guidance in applying meticulous processes from operations management to securing major sponsorship. We apply more than a decade of experience in successfully acquiring marketing partners at NASCAR's largest team operation, which set a new standard for sponsorship acquisition across all professional sports. This ranged from full Primary Sponsorships to athlete/driver/talent Personal Service Agreements that granted marketing rights of name, image, likeness (NIL) bringing incremental resonance of the brand.
3. Sports Finance: We analyze, verify and ensure that the CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is within critical parameters of the value proposition, as well as pro forma construction and financial analysis, which ultimately determines accurate ROI expectations to the mutual benefit of all parties.
The Launch of Silent Partner
It pays to make enduring and genuine business relationships. Not that we need them to pay off. But a good relationship just has a way of bringing unexpected upside further downstream. As a much younger PR and media professional for drivers Michael Waltrip, Kyle Petty, Robby Gordon, Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Sterling Marlin, Jon Sands' place to find solitude away from a fast-paced, high-pressure NASCAR marketing and media relations career was deep inside the Grand Canyon. Jon stole away to the Canyon often in the late 1990s, simply to reset and clear his mind mind. He ended up logging more than 600 miles on the national park’s most primitive and rarely trekked hiking trails - almost always with his two older brothers and a few close friends (pictured).
His Grand Canyon escapades during the mid '90s caught the attention of Roush Racing president Geoff Smith. Mr. Smith and his motorsports executive daughter one day approached Jon inquiring if they could join his group on one of their upcoming GC adventures. The Smiths, as was eventually revealed, were avid and very experienced hikers not known to shy away from exploring some challenging terrain. That first trip with the Smiths turned into many more Grand Canyon backcountry adventures as the 90s progressed. Jon even felt like he was a part of the Roush family - although not being employed by Roush.
In 2000 Jon suffered a health setback that required taking about a year off to undergo a variety of treatments, surgeries and some intense physical rehabilitation. While there were unfounded rumors making their way through the sport of his impending demise, there was one person who felt comfortable picking up the phone to ask the difficult question as to his health status.
By August 2001 Jon was recovering quite nicely, but had no idea on how or when he was going to be able to re-enter that niche work force.
Around mid-August 2001 Smith phoned Sands. “Hi Jon, it’s Geoff … when will you be cleared to go back to work?” Jon enthusiastically replied that he'd been recently cleared by doctors and was ready to get back on a team in any capacity.
“Be at the team plane at 5:30 Sunday morning," Smith said. "I have an idea. We're going to meet with Jack and we can do it face-to-face up at the Watkins Glen race.” Mr. Smith didn’t know if Sands was terminal or on the mend back. The call was indeed a blessing.
Within a week after that race day trip to the Glen, Smith offered Sands a position as Senior Director, Special Projects. His first area of focus was to perform analysis of new areas of business that could be spun off from core competencies of the entire Roush Industries organization. Although Sands identified numerous areas of accretive business, by mid 2002 it was decided to move him into the team's sales & marketing division concentrating solely on sponsorship acquisition. That turned into a storied run where Sands threw all he had into his desire to repay Mr. Roush and Mr. Smith for their life-changing gesture, trust and confidence to join the legendary advance automotive engineering and motorsports organization.
Over the course of the next decade the Roush business development/sales team flourished, allowing the organization to expand from six to as many as 15 teams under one roof while establishing an industry-wide reputation for making sports marketing activation programs work for any brand. The Roush Sales & Marketing department rode the "wave" of NASCAR's unprecedented popularity, made the race team quite profitable, and most importantly delivered each sponsor significant returns on their investment.
Between 2002 and 2010 the Roush Sales & Marketing department inked sponsor agreements that made the team so valuable, John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, implored Mr. Roush to sell him the team. Mr. Roush declined (Mr. Henry) on two prior occasions. By Henry’s third attempt in 2007, Jack Roush agreed to sell half the team. This was effectively a merger that made sports and business news headlines. Roush Racing became Roush Fenway Racing, with Jon in the middle of it.
This became a period of building the now-famous Roush dynasty during which time Jon was able to hone his motorsports business skills alongside some of the most respected professionals in the industry. The Roush Sales & Marketing department closed some of the most robust sponsorship deals in modern sports marketing history. They were an unrelenting business development machine that between 2003 and 2010 secured more than $1 billion in cash-based sponsorship agreements across all team assets - while winning a few Daytona 500s and four series championships.
Sands, by then an SVP at Roush, turned down numerous outside offers to take employ with competing team organizations. They were never considered. He didn't want to hurt Roush by taking his talents to a competing team. But when he was offered a compelling and heart-warming opportunity to take a senior executive position with the nonprofit Patient Advocate Foundation to head up its first-ever corporate partnerships department, he took pause to consider deeper ramifications. Sands felt he needed to take a year away from the intense crucible of sponsorship marketing to meaningfully pay tribute to his 10-year anniversary of beating stage 3-4 cancer.
Mr. Roush and Mr. Smith both approved Jon's decision to step away for a planned one-year sabbatical. Mr. Roush even emphasized that there would always be a place for Jon at Roush when he was ready to return.
After taking 2010 away from racing to serve as EVP for the Patient Advocate mission that assisted patients facing life-threatening illness, and getting PAF's new corporate partnerships department in place, Jon, as planned, opted to return to the Roush fold, this time with legendary engine builder Doug Yates, CEO of Roush Yates Engines - and Mr. Roush's business partner. RYE needed a Vice President of Marketing and the opportunity to work with Doug on a daily basis proved to be an amazing two years where Jon was able to secure strategic partners and create new revenue streams to offset the costs of producing those very expensive racing engines. They also opened a 50,000 square-foot retail parts store in Mooresville and built Roush Yates Performance into an internationally recognized and respected brand.
In late 2012 Robby Gordon approached Jon with an opportunity to help launch his all-new mega stadium off-road truck racing series that was receiving a lot of national media attention After discussing the situation with Doug Yates who gave emphatic words of encouragement to go act on the lucrative opportunity, Sands set off with Gordon and his new series called Stadium Super Trucks for its 2013 series premier. Putting on massive race events in NFL stadiums - on dirt - was going to be an exciting adventure and challenge. It turned out to be a successful launch of the new series, which is going strong to this day.
Once Stadium Super Trucks was successfully operating, Jon was asked to come manage the budding racing career (and sponsor marketing) of future NASCAR Cup Series star Cole Custer - under the (Gene) Haas Racing Development umbrella. Haas was doing very well and was expanding quickly during the same time with its formation of an F1 team. Sands served Haas from 2014 through 2015.
In late 2015 Sands entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and he formed Silent Partner Marketing, LLC, with two great clients already inked - Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix and Charlotte's Boxman Studios. Since its launch SPM has served noted motorsports entities in consultation capacities that have included Chip Ganassi Racing, 4-time NHRA Top Fuel World Champion Torrence Racing, to name just a few.
Outside of racing business, Jon is proud to assist professor Tom Smith, department head of Emory University's Goizueta Business School's department of Sports Finance, as a regular guest lecturer serving undergrad and MBA programs; is a founding member of the Board Of Directors for the 501(c)(3) LEO Project serving families of injured and fallen first responders; and is an Honorary Commander for the 56th Logistics Wing (supporting the 56th Fighter Wing) at Arizona's Luke Air Force Base.