Clippers: Meet the man behind the sale success

Apr 20, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of the Los Angeles Clippers logo at midcourt during game two of the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples center. The Clippers defeated the Trail Blazers 102-81 to take a 2-0 lead. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 20, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General view of the Los Angeles Clippers logo at midcourt during game two of the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples center. The Clippers defeated the Trail Blazers 102-81 to take a 2-0 lead. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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Carl Lahr’s positive attitude and dedication helped the Los Angeles Clippers go from laughing stock to selling out the Staples Center.

Carl Lahr, senior vice president of sales and service for the Clippers, has seen it all in his 35-years tenure with the Clippers.

Lahr began his career as a ticket salesman when the team was in San Diego in 1981. Since, Lahr has sold through three different venues, two different cities, two different owners and two different logos.

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After celebrating his 35-year anniversary with the team last month, Lahr agreed to do a rare interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Lahr has seen the Clippers go from the laughing stock of the league amassing nearly 2,000 losses to becoming one of the leaders in attendance with 235 consecutive Staples Center sellouts.

“I haven’t seen everything, but I’ve almost seen everything, and I’ve seen some things twice,’’ Lahr said via Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke.

Lahr’s employee legacy includes: getting hired by sending a hand-written note, mopping sewage in flooded bathrooms, placing T-shirts on arena seats, managing the team’s first dance team, directing traffic, and even renting a moving van which he placed in front of the LA Sports Arena during the team’s move to Los Angeles.

Lahr is the longest tenured employee of the Clippers, a team that leads the league in employee tenure according to the Times.

“This was my dream job,’’ he said. “And it still is.”

Through the dark days of the Clippers’ previous regime, Lahr always kept a positive attitude. He always believed in the team and their loyal employees.

What was the key to his success?

The salesman turned sales boss instituted a policy that the Clippers would not sell against the Lakers. The Clippers would turn down campaigns aimed at bashing the other basketball team in Los Angeles.

Instead, the Clippers favored selling the NBA experience and the family feel of an underdog franchise.

If you’ve been to a Clippers game it is a unique experience. Beyond the high-flying basketball the Clippers play, the music, and lights make it a fun atmosphere for the entire family. Clearly, the strategy worked as the Clippers keep the arena filled.

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Obviously, new ownership and a better brand of basketball helped the Clippers become a hot ticket in Los Angeles.

However, Lahr’s dedication and positive attitude made the journey easier. He sold and believed in the Clippers even when the rest of the community did not. The Clippers are lucky to have a dedicated employee.

Pete D. Camarillo interned with the Clippers for the 2014-15 season.