Robbie Buhl, Kirk Taylor teleconference 2008-06-18

An interview with Robbie Buhl and Kirk Taylor Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript THE MODERATOR: Next, our guests are Robbie Buhl, co-owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in the IndyCar Series, and Kirk Taylor, president and CEO ...

An interview with Robbie Buhl and Kirk Taylor
Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript

THE MODERATOR: Next, our guests are Robbie Buhl, co-owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in the IndyCar Series, and Kirk Taylor, president and CEO of Express Auto Delivery. Earlier this week, Express Auto Delivery signed on as the sponsor for Buddy Rice's No. 15 car for this weekend's race at Iowa Speedway. Good afternoon.

Robbie, can you tell us a little bit about the relationship with Express Auto Delivery.

ROBBIE BUHL: Well, Kirk and I first met last year at Iowa. He told me a little bit about this company that he was building, Express Auto Delivery. He was very interested in using the IndyCar Series and the platform that we have from the ability to help with some branding, entertaining some people at the racetrack, and getting the message out of what his company is. There's a lot of people that are in the car business, whether it's new cars, there's a lot of car dealers that are involved in our business, a lot of people that like cars. So it's a good place for him to be in to grow his business and his platform.

I guess I would turn it over to Kirk to tell a little bit more of what his business is. Obviously Kirk is a big race fan. The growth that we're having in the IndyCar Series right now, I think the timing is right. Unfortunately, it's been a tough week for what he's tried to do with being based in Cedar Rapids.

THE MODERATOR: Kirk, the floor is yours. Tell us about Express Auto Delivery, if you would, please.

KIRK TAYLOR: We're a logistics management company that arranges transportation with independent auto transport trucking firms. We pool them together to provide more consistent service, auto auctions, manufacturers, car dealers, so on. What we found is, as I have been communicating with our customers and even our shareholders, there's a tremendous amount of excitement about us sponsoring Dreyer & Reinbold and Buddy Rice. The enthusiasm is just fantastic.

We think it's going to be a great relationship. We look forward to continuing on, as well. We haven't even got our first race under our belts yet.

THE MODERATOR: Kirk, we're glad to have you at the IndyCar Series. What about the series and with Dreyer & Reinbold in particular was attractive to both you and Express Auto Delivery?

KIRK TAYLOR: Well, Express Auto Delivery, I started this company up approximately two years ago off of my experiences in logistics, Internet technologies, and actually in the automotive sector from buying at auctions and selling, even selling online. But I've always been somebody that's had to come -- I didn't have a big budget or anything. I put together people with talent and made things work.

So when I met Robbie, I immediately could tell the passion and the love just for the IndyCar Series. I myself have been going to IndyCar races for the past eight years. I thoroughly enjoy it. I really wanted to get involved with it.

That really attracted me to Dreyer & Reinbold, just the passion they have for racing. I really think I see Dreyer & Reinbold continuing to build and becoming a really strong team. So I'm excited to be with them.

THE MODERATOR: Robbie, Buddy has had three consecutive top-10 finishes. You guys have had some other strong runs this season. It really looks like things are coming together for the team. What's been the biggest reason behind the resurgence?

ROBBIE BUHL: Well, we are happy with the way things are going. But, like everybody that's out there competing, you're not happy till you win. But as competitive of a business as we have, and you have so many different facets that you have to continually get better in as a race team, and right now obviously we're really getting some good consistency and good growth, and we've had some solid finishes. You know, it's the old story: you have to walk before you can run. The walking in this case is good consistent racecars, solid finishes in the top 10, keep working on that format and, you know, then we'll be in the top five, top three, and the opportunities will present themselves.

It's nothing that just kind of dropped out of thin air. It's been part of our plan through the wintertime to keep improving our engineering package, keep improving everything, all the components we have as a race team from just being prepared when you show up to a race weekend, having a plan in place, all those little things are happening.

From my standpoint, from the business standpoint of where we're going with Dreyer & Reinbold, really this is the first year we spent a lot of time and energy planning for 2009, not just kind of worrying about from one day to next of what we're trying to accomplish this year in 2008. Obviously there's bits of that that are all going in the right direction because at the end of the day it is all about performance, don't forget about that. We need to keep growing our revenues for '09. We have a focus on that of paying attention to how we get there for '09 so we can continue to grow.

It's a little long-winded version about it, but we're excited about it. It didn't just happen. I mean, there's a lot of guys from our team that are all working hard.

THE MODERATOR: Robbie, what does it take to get to the next level, competing for race victories on a week in, week out basis?

ROBBIE BUHL: What that is, as we come to a conclusion for this year, but also as we finish this year, is just we have to be candid with ourselves as a race team and evaluate ourselves, saying, Here's the areas we need to concentrate doing that. Some of that comes with some manpower, so we got to look to add manpower to our team, maybe spend a little bit more time in the wind tunnel or the shaker rig in the off-season, grow with some certain departments in the race team. That all comes back to growing the revenue.

What's exciting as we look forward to that is this relationship with Kirk and his company, Express Auto Delivery, is we met a year ago at Iowa, we talked a couple weeks ago, said, Hey, we need to give them an opportunity with our team to get their feet wet, to really understand how they can apply our business model of IndyCar racing to help enhance and grow his business.

I'm excited about this scenario as well as a lot of other great partnerships that we're developing with the race team that are going to put us in the position to keep following through on that growth plan.

I think, you know, if you knew the answers to everything and what it took to win races, make those guarantees, if it was that easy, you'd see a lot more people trying to do it. It's not that easy and there's no one right answer to things. You've just got to keep pushing and, again, like I said, we've just got to be candid with ourselves and with our team of what we do right and what we don't do right and improve on those things.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Kirk or Robbie.

Q: Kirk, when you join a team like Robbie's team with a driver like Buddy Rice, what are you looking for as far as return on investment with your sponsorship?

KIRK TAYLOR: What we wanted to do is get ourselves into a position where we can show that we're a serious player in the marketplace. We have a fairly large team in our industry handling the transactions that we do. While we have a lot of credibility with our partners and because of how we handle things, I guess a testament to this would be we were flooded out of our offices this last week. We were able to bring up our services to partner locations. Actually two people sitting on my board, they offered space in their location. We're running out of an old Chrysler dealership today actually.

So we were able to move very fast and provide -- still provide the reliable service that we were there with.

But in the auto transport industry, it's very fragmented. So the companies come in and out so fast that we want to show that we're a stable company and that we're in the marketplace. Obviously, to do this type of sponsorship, you've got to be a fairly stable company, and you have to be a reputable company to do it.

Additionally, what I'm getting out of it is our investors are coming back to us, and they're so excited about this. They know who Buddy is. They like him. They think he's a great driver. For us to be able to put our name on a car at the stage we are in our business and for us to really get out there really says a lot from where we've come from in just two short years of being in business.

ROBBIE BUHL: I think obviously, as Kirk said, to establish themselves in the marketplace, credibility, letting people know who they are, that they're a stable company, that's one thing. But another thing that it provides, too, whether you're a big or a small company, it really is a great thing internally for your employees, in this case Kirk's employees. It gives them something to sink their teeth into, to get behind and root for. With a lot of the companies that are partners of Dreyer & Reinbold, it's been a great thing for all those companies internally because it gives a little camaraderie amongst that company to get behind something and tie them together.

KIRK TAYLOR: You are so right. And, actually, I forgot to mention that. This week what it has done is it's put so much excitement in place. We're not dragging because of the floods; we're excited about what's coming this weekend. Everybody is absolutely excited about this in our office.

Originally I thought it was poor timing for us to have this happening at this time, to be the first launch that we do this. And now I'm thinking this is absolutely the most perfect time because it's such a positive for our group.

Q: When I used to go to the 500 as a kid, you could tell where the Borg-Warner people were, bright yellow hats. They all sat in the same section. Are you planning some kind of activation of your sponsorship by putting on some kind of public display like that in Iowa, a section with your people in a certain garb?

KIRK TAYLOR: Actually we have T-shirts made up. Yeah, I've got a whole crew of people coming that are all going to be sitting in the same section. We have tickets. I believe we're up to 50 to 75. If it wasn't for the situation that we're in and all of the other business owners in the area, I would be surprised if we had anything less than 200 people and maybe even a thousand people there.

The Iowa Corn Indy, people might not understand it in other areas, but to have a professional sport come into Iowa, next to Hawkeye football, this is really huge. We have no professional teams in here. So you're into the college football. But the fan base of racing in Iowa is huge and it really is an important thing for our community to have this here. So it's real easy to get people to turn out and be enthused about it.

THE MODERATOR: Robbie and Kirk, we really appreciate you taking the time today. We wish you the best of luck this weekend. Kirk, welcome to the IndyCar Series.

KIRK TAYLOR: Thank you. I'm really excited about being here.

ROBBIE BUHL: Thanks for having us on.

-credit: irl

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robbie Buhl , Buddy Rice