Stu Cowan: Montreal business makes mark at new Islanders arena

Delmar International, Inc., established as a Canadian customs broker in Montreal in 1965, has purchased on-ice ad for games at UBS Arena.

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The Canadiens wouldn’t have been the only ones representing Montreal Monday night at the New York Islanders’ new UBS Arena if the game hadn’t been postponed Sunday by the NHL because of COVID-19 concerns.

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UBS Arena, which is located at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., opened on Nov. 19 and cost US$1.1 billion to build. Delmar International, Inc., which was established as a Canadian customs broker in Montreal in 1965, is one of the companies that purchased an on-ice ad for every Islanders game. The cost for the Montreal-based company, which now has offices in 15 countries, was likely in the seven-figure range.

“Our company received a lot of visibility from our association with the Canadiens over the years,” Robert Cutler, the CEO of Delmar International, said in a statement announcing the advertising deal with the Islanders. “This is our home base, where we were established more than 55 years ago. We are well-known in Montreal and in the Canadian market in general. Our company’s performance in the United States has been outstanding, so this was a prudent move.”

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Frank Bello, a former U.S. Marine who has been the president of Delmar’s operations in the U.S. since 2015, is an Islanders fan and a season-ticket holder.

Delmar’s connection to Montreal and hockey is a strong one. Former Canadien Mathieu Darche — now considered a leading candidate to become the team’s next general manager — was vice-president of sales and marketing at Delmar for seven years before becoming director of hockey operations with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019.

The man who replaced Darche in his vice-president role at Delmar is Frederick Corey, the son of former Canadiens team president Ronald Corey.

“We felt New York being New York, it’s great visibility for our brand,” Corey said about the on-ice ad at the Islanders’ new arena. “We’re doing very well down there, but the brand is not as mature as it is up here in Canada. It was a nice opportunity for us.

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“We’ve seen the success we’ve had in Montreal supporting the Canadiens over the years, which has included rink advertisement and board advertisements and so on,” Corey added. “That’s always been a good investment for us up here, so we’re going to see how it translates down there.”

Frank Bello has been the president of Delmar’s operations in the United States since 2015. He is also an Islanders fan and season-ticket holder.
Frank Bello has been the president of Delmar’s operations in the United States since 2015. He is also an Islanders fan and season-ticket holder. Photo by Photo courtesy of Delmar International, Inc.

Corey got an up-close look at how hockey and business relate during the 17 years his father was president of the Canadiens, starting in 1982. The Canadiens won two Stanley Cups with Corey as president, in 1986 and 1993, and also moved into the Molson Centre (now the Bell Centre) in 1996. Corey was also the one who decided to fire head coach Jacques Demers and GM Serge Savard after a 0-4-0 start to the 1995-96 season, replacing them with Mario Tremblay and Réjean Houle. That led to the feud between Patrick Roy and Tremblay two months later when the star goalie was left in net for nine goals in an 11-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at the Forum. After finally getting pulled, Roy walked over to Corey sitting behind the Canadiens bench and told him he had played his last game with the team. Four days later, Roy was traded to the Colorado Avalanche.

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“I learned many lessons from him,” the younger Corey said about his father. “Business-wise, when he left the Canadiens, I was probably about 22, 23 years old. When we were talking about the team we were talking more about hockey operations than the business of the Bell Centre, or Molson Centre. What he taught me in business that I still apply today is how considerate he was with his colleagues and his employees. It’s probably one of the greatest lessons I witnessed from him is how he always had time for everyone. He still behaves that way today.”

Ronald Corey turned 83 on Dec. 13, but his son said he is in great shape, works out every day and “still plays too much golf, according to my mom,” he added with a laugh.

What was it like growing up as the son of the Canadiens president?

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“It was fantastic because I was a big hockey fan,” Corey said. “The access to players, to the team in general, being able to attend the majority of the games was incredible. One of my first memories I have of my dad being president was the ’84 playoff run that ended against the Islanders when Steve Penney was having an incredible playoff and took us to the conference final. I remember travelling with the team to New York to the old Nassau Coliseum. That’s truly one of the oldest memories I have … one of the many great things that came with being the son of Ronald Corey and being able to witness some of these events.

“In terms of business, growing up with him in that position and spending so much time around the Canadiens and sports teams and venues and so on, I’m definitely a believer that in terms of these marketing and advertising efforts they go a long way,” Corey added. “We’ve witnessed it here, so I’m sure it will be as successful down in New York.”

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twitter.com/StuCowan1

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