When Reebok president Matt O’Toole laced up his Reebok Floatride Runs on Monday, he wasn’t just heading to any old 10K race.
O’Toole joined more than 200 colleagues at the Reebok Boston 10K for Women, one of the area’s biggest and most storied road races. Reebok became the event’s title sponsor this year, after Tufts Health Plan opted to go another route following more than 30 years of sponsorship. O’Toole wanted a good corporate showing from Adidas-owned Reebok.
O’Toole said the sponsorship is a “seven figure” multi-year commitment, but company officials declined to provide details. Despite the name, men can run in the race, though nearly all the runners are women.
To some extent, this was about underscoring Reebok’s commitment to Boston. The company recently relocated to the Seaport from a suburban campus in Canton. But the sponsorship also came about because Reebok wants to show it’s serious about running.
The company in the past two years has launched shoes that have caught on with competitive runners again – namely the Harmony Road and the Floatride Run. Reebok this summer formed the Reebok Boston Track Club, a professional running organization that is competing on the global stage, led by coach Chris Fox. The group of elite athletes spends much of its time in Charlottesville, Va., but will also visit the Drydock Avenue headquarters to help in research and design.
“We’ve been really working hard to rebuild our credibility in running,” O’Toole says.
The sponsorship also happened to help a neighbor. The 10K race, which drew 2,500-plus runners to Boston Common on Columbus Day, is organized by Dusty Rhodes and her event-planning business, Conventures, which is located in the same complex as Reebok’s new HQ.
Tufts spokeswoman Sonya Hagopian says the Watertown-based health insurer’s business has become much more regional, and the company decided to move away from sponsoring one big event to multiple smaller ones across New England. Tufts’ overall investment in sponsorships has grown, though, she says.
O’Toole saw a perfect opening.
“The opportunity, right in our backyard, came up, and we thought it was the perfect first step in terms of connecting the brand to running,” O’Toole says. “[It’s also] an important step in becoming a bigger part of Boston’s community.”
HBS alums highlight philanthropy
Most everyone knows about Harvard Business School’s reputation for training the next generation of corporate leaders.
But fewer people pay attention to the school’s philanthropic legacy. HBS alumni hope to change that — at least in Boston. To that end, the Harvard Business School Association of Boston presented Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca with its Business and Community Leadership Award during its inaugural leadership dinner at the Harvard Club last week.
Pagliuca is well-known for his leadership with the Celtics and at the private equity firm Bain Capital. This award recognizes his civic contributions, such as the decade-plus he served as chairman of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Pagliuca, who graduated from HBS in 1982, was interviewed by WBZ-TV anchor Lisa Hughes at the event in a fireside chat-style discussion.
Stephen Pittman, president of the Boston alumni group, says the goal is to create an annual event to celebrate local business and community leadership, to galvanize the 8,000-plus HBS alumni who live in the area. More than 250 people showed up at the event to honor Pagliuca, including executives from Bain, the Celtics, Merrill Lynch, Dell Technologies, Putnam Investments, and the law firm Kirkland & Ellis.
“He’s a great role model,” says Nitin Nohria, the business school’s dean. “I really do think this award will encourage other people to step up and do what they can to make our community,be a better, thriving community in every sense.”
A loss for the tax collector
Score one for Warren Buffett in his company’s longstanding tax battle with the state Department of Revenue.
The Berkshire Hathaway chairman probably didn’t personally attend to the dispute, which involves the Berkshire subsidiary Jordan’s Furniture. But Eliot Tatelman, the CEO at Jordan’s, was surely paying attention when the Taunton-based furniture chain won a big victory at the Appellate Tax Board.
The board just ruled in favor of Jordan’s to settle a dispute involving the sales tax holiday the state has held most years, on one weekend in August, since 2004.
The Department of Revenue had argued that Jordan’s owed taxes on furniture orders that were canceled and then subsequently rewritten on the holiday weekend, when consumers don’t have to pay the 6.25 percent state sales tax. The tax holidays in question took place in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
But the tax board ruled that the cancellations took place under a generous policy that Jordan’s had offered for years, and that the retailer was not improperly expanding the state’s tax-free promotion. So the board ordered a tax abatement totaling $2.3 million, plus penalties and interest, in favor of Jordan’s. That’s a lot of sofas, mattresses, and sectionals.
Both Jordan’s and the DOR declined to comment.
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