Steve "Hammy" HandwerkerA lifelong athlete, from team sports to endurance sports, backpacking to sailing, Steve Handwerker is also a lifelong entrepreneur, PR man and event organizer. He went to his first NSGA show at 10 years old and instantly "got" it. At the University of Illinois, Handwerker represented NCAA heavyweight champion wrestler Jon Llewellyn and contracted and promoted reggae acts there and in other college towns. All the while, he swam, biked and ran for fitness and a leg up in team sports.
Over the coming years, Handwerker worked as an award-winning public relations agency executive placing clients like BDO Seidman, BFGoodrich, Cooper Lighting, Cummins, and Valvoline on the covers of magazines and on the radio, building brand awareness and loyalty, planning press lunches and product launches. By now, he put the swim, bike and run together, competing as a sponsored amateur triathlete earning the occasional podium spot.
After a downsizing and a hard season of racing, he married PR and endurance sports and launched SLHCommunications, Inc. His first media relations account, Gulf Coast Triathlon, a legendary half-ironman, was an instant success. So much so that Handwerker received a call from German pro Lucia Kühner asking how she got so much press coverage all over the world. Though he had handled sports marketing and sponsorship activation for traditional industry clients, she became SLHCommunications'/SLHSports' first pro athlete and long-lasting success.
Handwerker later accepted posts as Director of Brand Development and Marketing for U.S.A. Field Hockey's Olympic team and pipeline, where he crafted a well-received, Olympic-season logo, first-ever brand standards, world-class look of venue, and sold-out, new line of retail merchandise; Director of Public Relations for The San Jose Group, where he won numerous Publicity Club of Chicago and International Association of Business Communicators awards for his work on U.S. Cellular and others in the Hispanic space; and Director of Account Services at Caffeine Communications, where he worked to turn business around for clients like publicly-traded, $750MM Waterstone Mortgage Corp.
Handwerker was a pioneer of true public relations in triathlon. Sought out to launch Ironman Europe's re-branding as Challenge Roth, the Philadelphia (PHLYTri) Triathlon and numerous others, he's also helped launch CPG's like MOTOR TABS sports nutrition and various hard good lines. For event clients, he often plays a role in course design, and strategic partnership, sponsorship, participant, and expo marketing, helping them sell out to capacity and makes them must-do races.
His athletes are Olympians, world champions, Ironman and 70.3 Ironman champions, national champions, U.S. Pro National Champion cyclists, world-champion ultra-distance runners, mountain bikers, athlete-coaches, and cancer survivors. They say that building their brand has helped to grow their sponsorship value and across-the-board earnings, and that having the right sports marketer, and sometimes manager, helps them cross the line ahead of their competition.
SLHCommunications/SLHSports has seasoned relationships with PR and sports marketing colleagues, licensed sport- and immigration-focused attorneys, high-performance coaches, manufacturers, events, coaches, engineers, designers, and event equipment, printing and promotional product vendors.