440 W. Colfax, Unit 841, Palatine, IL 60078
Industry: Corporate Sales Performance Awards
Annual revenue: $450k
Number of employees: 6
Age: George: 62; Business: 20 years (founded in 2000)
Family information: Formerly married, have an adult daughter and son, Valerie and Derek.
Hometown: Rolling Meadows
Q: Describe your company.
A: We provide subscriptions of exotic cars, both for individuals and for corporations. Corporations use their subscriptions for sales performance and employee recognition awards. We bring the experience of driving different, exciting automobiles to people without having to spend crazy money. We pioneered exotic car sharing on the back of a napkin, 21 years ago, in the year 1999, and have since expanded the service to include cities outside the Chicago area.
Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
A: Definitely planning to expand staff in 2021. We'll need office staff, sales personnel and detailers. Looking at expanding geographically to include Atlanta and possibly Nashville. Also, with investor/owners we plan to add vehicles, including a Lamborghini Huracan, Acura NSX and McLaren 720S.
Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?
A: The top three challenges, as we expand, will be finding the right people, finding the right people and finding the right people. Besides that, managing all the nuances of adding the Atlanta market this winter, with the help of our local Atlanta business partner.
Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?
A: Multivehicle subscriptions. Unlike a single-brand subscription for one brand of vehicle, multibrand subscriptions allow the subscriber to drive different exotics, based on their mood and their plans, throughout the year. A Maserati four-seat convertible for an anniversary week, a Ferrari Spider for a mini vacation in Wisconsin, a Lexus LC 500 luxury supercoupe for a few nights on the town, and a Lotus 2+2 or a new mid-engine Corvette for a week of some time off with good friends.
Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie executive, what would it be?
A: Don't be afraid to use financing strategically and conserve cash to weather economic downturns (like the 2008-09 financial crisis and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic recession). Bonus tip: Set your morning alarm an hour earlier. You'll have a leg up on your former self, never mind on your competitors.
Q: Do you have a business mantra?
A: As a manager, "If you bring me problems, bring me solutions. Bonus mantra: "Don't fear the existence of competition. It makes us stronger and better at our own business." Gratuitous? Third mantra: "Specificity matters, and always cut your revenue projections in half."
Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?
A: Craig Jelinek. He's demonstrated on a large scale that you can treat your employees well, treat your customers well and treat your vendors well while achieving success.
Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?
A: Most people don't know that we were the first company to offer exotic car sharing services in the United States. The idea for the concept came from a side business that we had in the 1990s, of exotic car storage. We saw a business opportunity in the fact that many exotic car owners, after spending up to hundreds of thousands on a single exotic, almost never drove it. Why not just pay for when you drive it, be able to drive multiple exotics, or if you want to buy one, why not monetize it and at least cover the cost of depreciation?
Bonus interesting fact: Curvy Road is now offering the sought-after and hard-to-get new C8 mid-engine Corvette for weeks, weekends and full subscriptions in the Chicago and Atlanta areas.
Q: Was there a moment in your career that didn't go as you had planned? What lesson did you learn from it?
A: My employer in the early 1980s changed management, and new management took the business in a direction I couldn't support. So I quit without a plan. It ended up being a good thing. I landed at a startup tech company that was then acquired by a billion-dollar corporation. As VP of Emerging Markets, I was fortunate enough to build a successful career at that firm for 20 years. The lesson I learned was that you can stick to your principles and still be successful.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I listen to music to relax, follow vintage auto racing, am involved in politics, participate in a couple of social causes, play the drums at a couple of churches in their Praise Bands and harass my two adult kids to play more music and stay involved in the things they believe in.
Q: What book is on your nightstand?
A: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey (still!) and Mass Affluence by Paul Nunes and Brian Johnson.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: The possibility of another long-term recession.
Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?
A: Probably consulting on sales management or marketing, ideally in Barcelona, Spain.
Q: What was your first paying job?
A: Worked on a paper route in Norridge, on my bike, at the age of 10. Helped me learn to get up early and work hard every day, even in snow storms.
Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?
A: The Chicago Blackhawks' new Curvy Road Stadium.
Q: Two people to follow on Twitter and why.
A: Eric Ries (@ericries) and Business Insider (@businessinsider).