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Pulling the 180-degree switch
Tom Broach (BBA '78) gave up selling insurance to transport sports fans to the Super Bowl... like that was a tough decision?
For 12 years, Tom Broach went through the motions of his insurance job in Gastonia, N.C. He has a degree in insurance and risk management, but selling insurance made him miserable. So Broach (BBA '78) decided to make what he calls "my total 180-degree switch."
"I've always loved sports and traveling, but I couldn't do those things and work in insurance," says the fun-loving Broach, whose cell phone rings "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
When Broach told his wife he wanted to quit his 9-to-5 job and start a sports tour company, she said, "It's about time."
Broach's 180-degree switch resulted in the formation of Broach Sports Tours, which is one of the few travel companies in the country that specializes in baseball, NASCAR, and special sporting event travel packages. Based in Charlotte, BST is ably supported by Broach's business and life partner, wife Linda, whose first response to her husband's career-change idea was:
"It's about time . . . you've been talking about this since I met you."
When Broach Sports Tours became the official motorcoach of the Carolina Panthers NFL team in 1995, it added name recognition to the three-year-old company.
"The Panthers came to Charlotte in 1995, only there was no stadium to play in," says Broach, who was asked to transport fans to home games—which were in another state. "The Panthers played their home games at Clemson in South Carolina. People didn't want to commute the 140 miles to Clemson on their own, so we offered them the chance to go with a group."
Smart move by Broach, whose company has grown to include three permanent employees, 25 freelance tour hosts, and more than 200 trip options per year. This year's most extravagant trip, the San Diego Super Bowl Package, carries a $3,850 price tag, which includes four days and five nights at a hotel, game tickets, ground transportation, and entrance into the NFL Experience.
But Broach Sports Tours doesn't cater solely to well-heeled sports fans. It also offers a number of weekend trips for around $100.
"I anticipated a male audience, but it's actually only 60 percent male and 40 percent female," says Broach, who prohibits alcohol and smoking to maintain a family atmosphere—which makes female sports fans feel more secure.
Brenda Rumley and her husband have gone on countless NASCAR trips with Broach Sports Tours, but Brenda is the diehard racing fan. "I'm 61 years old," she says, "and I grew up in rural Surry County in North Carolina. Some of the first racing was done in this area. And as a tour company, Broach can't be beat." Steve Floyd and his 14-year-old son, Chad, are baseball fanatics. They have taken Broach's East Coast Baseball Tours for six years, and plan on keeping up this tradition. "I work all the time," says Floyd, who is president of the Hasty Plywood Company in Maxton, N.C. "To be able to get on that bus with my boy and not make any decisions is wonderful. Getting autographs and catching balls—just the excitement of the ballpark—is such an experience for us."
Georgia Magazine, June 2002
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