At first, the main idea was that we would be doing customization and just special vehicles. As that developed, however, we saw the benefits of expanding on our involvement in Mopar Performance Parts to allow us to market PVO-based equipment, and also having the technical/engineering side of the company's motorsports programs under one roof, which will give PVO a lot of respectability. We've won championships, we've won LeMans, we've won manufacturer awards, we've now won Daytona; you can use those things to put a halo effect on the group, to point to the rest of what the group is producing and building.
As we talked these things over during those six to eight months, our biggest struggle was finding someone on the corporate level who would say, "Yes, go do that." We got so frustrated with it that we finally decided to just do something, do a project to jumpstart the idea and sort of force our way into it. That was the Dodge SRT-4. That project really extended our resources; we probably needed 150 people to do it, but we all worked harder and took on the work.
Our big break came when I had a chance meeting with Wolfgang Bernhard, who is in charge over here and had been with Mercedes AMG. He called me up to his office so we could discuss it further, and he said, "Yes, this is what we want you to do. We want you to take over Mopar Performance Parts and we want this to be a profit center." He massaged our ideas, we created a plan, and it then had to go through the corporate Personnel and Organization committee, which is how it is recognized as a new entity with a corporate charter. That was formalized on December 7, and we were also given the resources we needed. Now, where we are today is getting additional people in place; these will probably come from inside the company, and my job right now is figuring out how to extract them from five other vice presidents who may not want to let them go! (laughs)
Beyond that, my primary job is making sure the people have the resources they need to get the job done. Once that is done, we will start to actualize what we see PVO becoming. Motorsports is ready, Viper is already there, and we will start to expand on the other products like the SRT10 by getting the manpower behind that.
As you look around here, you will see a lot of younger people; I've probably got 30-40 percent of my people under the age of 30, and they bring a lot of energy and creativity to the process. They bring a lack of experience which helps them make the point to some of my older guys that just because it didn't work 25 years ago does not mean it won't work today; even though they may be wrong, you've got to listen to them. In the end, we've got a blending of younger talent with people who do have 20-25 years experience; this is what they love to do. All I have done is get them under one roof.
MM: You mentioned the plan; how does PVO fit into the corporate structure?JF: We are a profit center; we have a five-year plan that we need to adhere to if we are going to be effective, and meeting those goals is a big part of my responsibilities. Now, Motorsports Business Operations, who handles the sponsorship deals and the business and marketing of motorsports, is under Jim Julow. In other words, if Mopar Performance Parts wants to do something related to image like a car sponsorship, Jim handles that aspect of motorsports. Where PVO comes in is that anytime someone in the company wants to do a motorsports program, whether it's Winston Cup racing or go-kart racing, it becomes our job from a technical standpoint to make sure the teams racing have the best possible equipment and technology available to them.