DECATUR – What do Kofi Cockburn and an electric compressor have in common?
Well, according to T / CCI Manufacturing from Decatur, they’re both “cool”. One led college basketball in the dunks. The other helps to control temperatures in machines and installations.
And now the two have an integral business relationship with the success of the company.
To kick off the first major 7-foot Illini Center chord using his name, image, and likeness, Cockburn made an appearance at T / CCI headquarters on Monday to show how the company’s compressor, and manufacturing jobs typically are “#CoolLikeKofi”.
“We’re excited about T / CCI’s compressors, their cooling vehicles, and the pursuit of careers in manufacturing, which are cool as… well, you know,” Cockburn said, laughing across the room.
T / CCI, led by prolific athletics donors Illini Richard Demirjian and Kara Demirjian Huss, partners with 20 different Illini athletes on each of the school’s varsity sports teams for the company’s first NIL venture.
The company and athletes are embarking on an eight-month marketing campaign to showcase the clean energy, electrification and gender movements in the manufacturing industry.
“We see a lot of similarities between Kofi and ourselves,” T / CCI President Rich Demirjian said.
He and Cockburn made a comparison between the center and the founder of the company: both are first generation immigrants.
“I know what it takes to build yourself from scratch, all the sacrifice, the hard work and the determination,” Cockburn said.
At the launch event, Cockburn spoke and mingled with a few dozen local high school students, who were eager to meet the imposing star player.
They took selfies, even circled a hallway hoop setup with Cockburn. One of the students, MacArthur High School senior Brooke Swinford, even walked away with an autographed All-America center shirt.
Swinford believes Illini’s athletic image could have a big marketing impact statewide.
“There are a lot of athletes from Illinois that we look up to. Seeing them collaborate with local brands, it’s cool, to see that it’s not just a champagne thing, but that it goes beyond that, ”she said.
The Demirjian family has funded two major athletic projects: an indoor golf facility on campus and the newer Demirjian Park, primarily for soccer and track athletes.
Drawing on its many connections with athletics, T / CCI strived to identify Illini athletes whose personalities and academic pursuits aligned with the self-proclaimed pillars of dedication and courage of the company.
Illinois men’s tennis coach Brad Dancer made an appearance on behalf of his team’s representative in the company’s campaign: second student Hunter Heck.
The athletes will use their personal stories – and their social media presence – for the company’s promotional campaign, linking their athletic experiences with the principles of success in manufacturing and business, said Demirjian Huss.
“We see this as a partnership between the athletes and us as a company,” she said. “We choose those athletes who have the same philosophy as what we do. “
Another slogan to watch out for: “Performance matters,” she said, in games and in the marketplace.
“T / CCI works hard to outdo the competition just like I do on the pitch,” Cockburn said in his prepared remarks.
The Illinois Manufacturing Association, where Demirjian Huss sits on the board, also made an appearance at the event, highlighting job openings and direction from the manufacturing scene.
“Manufacturers today face a struggle to find manufacturing workers,” said IMA President and CEO Mark Denzler. “Too many people have this perception of manufacturing as dark, dirty and dangerous. It’s not: today’s manufacturers are clean, high-tech, sustainable and diverse, and we need to share this message in order to attract more young people to manufacturing jobs. “