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RUOFF AT INDY: Why racing sponsorship makes sense for Ruoff Home Mortgage

The Ruoff Home Mortgage-sponsored car of Carlos Muñoz awaits its turn in the tech inspection line at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last weekend. (By Justin Kenny of news-sentinel.com)

INDIANAPOLIS — When Ruoff Home Mortgage elected to be a primary sponsor with Andretti Autosport for Takuma Sato last May, little did it know how it would affect the business.

One year and one Indianapolis 500 later, it is plain to see.

“Without question in every possible way it has exceeded our expectations,” said Clint Morgan, Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer at Ruoff Home Mortgage about car sponsorship. “It is a risk-reward thing. There is no guarantee the car is going to finish the race, the first lap or even make it into the field.

“It is having faith in who you are electing to partner with and what they are bringing to the table.”

Ruoff Home Mortgage President and CEO Mark Music has always had an affinity for racing. After connecting with Andretti Autosport a few years ago, a relationship was cultivated, culminating in last year’s primary sponsorship of Sato’s car. It was the first venture into being a primary sponsor at the Indianapolis 500 and it turned out pretty well.

Ruoff Home Mortgage signage is peppered throughout the pit of Carlos Muñoz at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (By Justin Kenny of news-sentinel.com)

How Ruoff has capitalized on the race win in a variety of ways. Earlier this week, members of the company involved in an office contest were able to watch Indy 500 practice from an Andretti Autosport suite, complete with free food and drinks. Being able to offer incentives built around the company’s racing ventures is a unique platform most others cannot offer.

“You have customers that buy houses and that’s an incredible thing that swells the idea of your brand holding weight in the marketplace,” Morgan said. When you get into charitable things and (sponsoring the music center in Noblesville) and race cars, it becomes more in the conversation for people who work for us. People know the company you work for by other means, and that’s very helpful.”

Similarly, things like car sponsorship and naming rights to a music center are different ways to advertise than just the tradition 30-second commercial spots in TV and radio or a billboard.

“For us to be in the mouths of the public more than just a real estate who is going to send their buyer to us is huge,” Morgan said. “You get traction in other ways. Rather than a paid commercial, it takes on more of a life of its own.”

As Ruoff Home Mortgage ventures into new markets and locales, the name recognition of a company that adorns winning cars in the IndyCar Series can be all that it takes for certain people to inquire further about the business.

With high hopes that Carlos Muñoz can have a strong run in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 driving the Ruoff Home Mortgage car, anything is possible as the company looks for more benefits from sponsorship in auto racing.

“Winning the race is always what you’re thinking in the back of your head when you sponsor a car, we just tried to make the most out of it in every possible way,” Morgan said. “When the checkered flag came down and we were the winner, all of a sudden the idea of sponsorship took on a whole new life.

“We had to think outside of this particular race and think big picture and how we were going to use that in the Midwest and beyond.”

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