Recently, I had the opportunity to spend time with a few of our dealers and direct customers at the six-hour Tudor sports car championship race at the historic Watkins Glen Track in upstate New York.
The No. 10 Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype led a race-high 55 of 160 laps in the Six Hours of the Glen. The driving of Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli was brilliant, despite a variety of challenging weather.
The racing team itself is quite similar to our business in that culture, teamwork and strategy are the key elements of their success. Meticulous planning, practice and preparation are required for every race. Engineers, drivers and mechanics all work to create the best strategy based on their knowledge of the track, classes of cars running and competitive drivers. Very similar to how we look at markets, customers and competitors as we build our business plans.
As preparation and planning are critical to success in any venture, so is the understanding that there is a need to adapt to changing conditions. The car was not quite the fastest at the Glen, so we had to leverage our drivers’ skills, our extremely fast pit crew and fuel management. As the rain returned, Jordan Taylor stayed on the track on slick tires when all other teams pitted to change to rain tires. His ability to turn good lap times allowed us to build a substantial lead. Ricky Taylor then took over when we pitted to change to rain tires, maintaining a 25-second lead. Just as we expand our business domain into areas like IT services and ECM to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.
Track conditions continued to deteriorate and a full course yellow was called. This means that a pace car is in front of the leaders to control the speed. No one is allowed to pass under a yellow, but they can move up to the car in front, so we lost our advantage. This was followed by a full course red, sending everyone to the pits.
After a restart, Ricky was brilliant in keeping the lead and was extending it. But then, on Turn 10, the car broke loose and hit the tire wall, effectively ending our day.
You may ask how this relates to our business. Why didn’t the team just sit on the lead? To me, it’s simple. The team would not be in the lead if they were complacent. They had to continue to work and be aggressive to stay ahead.
The same is true for us. We have been very successful over the past several years. But we cannot be complacent. We are transforming our business plus our industry is transforming. Both competitor actions and external market conditions present risk to us every day. We must continue to evolve and come up with new ways to improve and grow our business. We can never take our success for granted.
In the case of the Watkins Glen race, we didn’t get the result we wanted. But we would not have been in a position to succeed if we were complacent. More often than not, our speed and ability to adapt to change will bring a successful result.
We win as a team. If we do not, we learn and grow as a team. Our curiosity, passion and willingness to embrace new ideas are the key to our future success. We may not win all of the time, but our passion and motivation ensure that we will most of the time.