Dale Tadlock, President of Tadlock Roofing & Solar, headquartered in Tallahassee, Fla., called it “something we will always remember.”
Mike Wright of Ace Roofing and Construction Inc. in Toledo, Ohio, called it “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
They’re talking about the chance to rub elbows with A.J. Foyt and his race team and visit pit row on the day of an IndyCar race - and see their company’s name on the No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Indy Car.
Wright and Tadlock are just two of the many contractors who have enjoyed that experience thanks to ABC Supply Co. Inc.’s “Your Name Here” program, which was started in 2006. By the end of the 2011 season, 74 contractors will have been honored since the program’s inception. ABC Supply is in its seventh season as the sponsor of A.J. Foyt Racing.
Sponsoring the racing team began as a fun way to engage ABC Supply associates and to create opportunities for contractors to participate as part of the extended ABC Supply family, according to Tom Kuchan, Vice President, Northeast Region for ABC Supply.
“We chose racing as a way to bring our associates - our own internal people - closer together,” he said. “We’re all a part of ABC Supply, but each branch is also its own entity, and this gives them a common thing to root for.”
Soon everyone in the company got involved, including its customers, and the “Your Name Here” concept was born. Contractors are chosen by members of the region team responsible for the area in which the race is held. “Contractors think of ABC as an extension of their business, and ABC wanted to extend something back to them,” said Kuchan. “I get calls all the time from people asking, ‘How’d our car do this week?’”
How it WorksAt each IZOD IndyCar Series race in the United States except for the Indy 500, a contractor is chosen by members of the region team responsible for the area in which the race is held. The lucky contractor gets his company’s name placed on the sidepod of the No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing Indy Car for the race, a private meet-and-greet with team owner A.J. Foyt, and an autographed photo of themselves with A.J. Foyt, driver Vitor Meira and the No. 14 car with their name on it. They also get a day of fun in the sun at the race with their colleagues and family members:
ABC Supply also contacts branches within about 100 miles of an upcoming race and allows them to bring in their associates and their families, and the company picks up the tab. “It’s a perk for being part of the ABC family,” said Kuchan, who often can be found flipping burgers at ABC’s hospitality station at the events. “It’s a pretty big production. How many times do you get to talk to a four-time Indy champion?”
For Tadlock, who was invited to attend this year’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Fla., it was the first race he had seen in person. “I was already looking at going to the race, and one of the primary reasons I wanted to go was I have two boys - one 14 and one 15 - and I thought this would be a great father-son adventure,” he said.
Rich Thompson, Business Manager – Steep Slope for ABC’s Southeast Region, asked Tadlock if he’d like to be part of the program for the race. “I thought it would be great,” he said. “As he told me more and more about it, I got even more excited.”
Tadlock and his sons stayed in the same resort that hosted some racing teams. They had photos taken with Meira and the team in the pits before the race. “That was one of the great things - being in the pits, seeing the pit crew, being able to spend time with the team,” Tadlock said.
Wright and his wife attended a race at Michigan Speedway in 2006, but the memories are still fresh. “We had passes to the track, and we got to meet A.J. Foyt and take some pictures with him,” he said. “He’s a super nice guy. It was an enjoyable time because I grew up watching A.J. race. It was a super experience. He’s a real down-to-earth fellow and easy to talk to - just a super individual. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet A.J. Foyt, and it was a great experience to take in a beautiful day and watch the racing.”
“The race was great,” Tadlock agreed. “What made it so much better was to be there with my two sons to make a memory. What I mean by that is this is something we will always remember. Since we’ve been there, we all watch the races and keep track of how the team is doing. They converted us into race fans.”
Building RelationshipsBut Tadlock, Wright and Kuchan found benefits beyond the excitement of the race. “The best part to me was establishing relationships with ABC associates,” said Tadlock. “We had a couple of days with those folks, and they couldn’t be nicer.”
Tadlock was impressed with ABC’s focus on building relationships, and in the 31 years he’s been in business, Tadlock has found that they are the key to success. “What we try and do is establish a relationship first of all - then we build on that relationship,” he said. “As they get to know us, they’ll trust us. Our motto is ‘When Trust Counts,’ and we feel that people want to do business with people they trust. And I really saw the same value in the way the people at ABC treated their associates and the people they work with. They made me - and my boys - feel like someone who is greatly appreciated. For me as a businessman, it really told me they appreciate me and my business.”
Wright agreed that the time spent talking with the ABC associates was the most valuable part of the experience. “It reinforces the rapport you have with your supplier,” he said. “Everything they do is appreciated. It’s always nice to get together with a supplier, in town or out of town, and catch up about business and our personal lives. Things like this are a benefit to both of us. It’s great to see them and take some time off from work and relax.”
For Kuchan and the ABC branch managers and associates, it’s all about getting to know the “extended ABC Supply family.” According to the company, more than 25,000 ABC Supply associates, contractors and guests have been in the stands to cheer on the No. 14 car since ABC Supply began sponsoring it in 2005. “For me, it’s great,” said Kuchan. “I get to meet customers I’d never have a chance to meet, and they get the time to ask questions and find out more about the company.”
“It also shows our mission of being a people-first company,’” Kuchan concluded. “The contractors see the driver there who delivers their products, the person they talk to at the counter, and people bring their families. This all ties into our core values of family, giving back and taking care of our people. You can’t have a great company without great people.”
For more information about ABC Supply and ABC Supply Racing, visit www.abcsupply.com and www.abcsupply.com/racing.