Sales in the fast lane

If you think a round of golf is the best way to cap off a business deal, you obviously haven’t experienced the bond created by driving expensive sports cars around a race track at high rates of speed.

Scott Bove knows the thrill and discovered along the way it is also a great way to land new clients.

The owner of Avon-based Technifab Engineered Products Inc. got involved in sports car racing after attending a driving school in 1996. He did so well he was invited back free of charge. That was four years, 84 races and four championships ago. And it was during Bove’s time on the sports car racing circuit that he figured out how to use this hobby to market his foam fabricating operation.

At first, he gave away foam to other pit crews and drivers to use as padding while working on their cars. Then, he started selling it.

But, the real boon for Technifab was Bove’s discovery that nearly every other driver on the circuit was a business owner who could use his product in one way or another.

“We’re friendly with most people, and I usually ask them where they’re from or what kind of work they do,” explains Bove. “Nine times out of 10, they’re usually a manufacturing business owner, and nine times out of 10, they could be a customer of ours.”

Technifab has grown an impressive 25 percent each year since 1996, and Bove attributes a solid 10 percent of that growth to new customers he landed on the racing circuit. Whether it’s padding for a company that builds bombs for the U.S. government or packaging to ship wheels for cars, Bove has found the fraternity of racing has put him ahead of his competitors who are going after the same types of work.

“They will do business with people who are sharing their conviction,” he says. “It’s easier for me to carry on business at the track when the common denominator is racing. It gives us an advantage over a competitor who is simply going in on price.”

Bove’s racing hobby has also created a rallying point for employees, who routinely volunteer to help prepare the car for its weekend excursions around the United States, and also are invited to attend nearby races to cheer on their boss. With all these benefits, one might wonder how much of Technifab’s revenue Bove uses to maintain his love for racing.

Although many business owners he meets on the circuit use their business to subsidize their hobby, Bove points out that he has been able to finance his racing operation through sponsorships with suppliers and customers rather than digging into the company coffers.

“If we went back and did an economic analysis, there is no doubt our cost of running the motor sports business would be dwarfed by the sales benefits,” he says. “But, the intent is to grow the business and not have it be diluted by the cost of the operation.”

How to reach: Technifab Engineered Products Inc., www.technifabfoam.com; Team Tech Racing, www.teamtechracing.com

Jim Vickers ([email protected]) is an associate editor at SBN.