TALK IT UP TUESDAY: Yokomo US team manager Joe Pillars
Tuesday, Nov 7, 2017 02:30am
By Aaron Waldron
Welcome to LiveRC's weekly column, "Talk-It-Up Tuesday!" Here we spend a little time talking with industry icons including racers, manufacturers, team managers, developers, promoters, and everyone in between! Sit back, relax, and go behind the scenes as we interview them all!
Silly season got off to an early start this year with a handful of drivers making moves before the end of the 2017 season, but the biggest surprise so far came when Joe Pillars, a staple in the Kyosho pits for over a decade, made the jump to Team Yokomo as the brand’s new US team manager less than two weeks before the start of the IFMAR Worlds. Read what Pillars had to say about making the switch in this week’s Talk It Up Tuesday.
AW: Congratulations on the switch to Yokomo! What was the main factor behind your big move?
JP: Thank you very much! There were a few factors behind my move. I am really looking forward to this new challenge with Yokomo!
AW: I saw that you were in Arizona this past weekend to build and try out your new YZ-2 buggy. How did it go? Will you be racing more often in your new role?
JP: Yokomo thought it would be a good idea, since my announcement was set for Wednesday, November 1, for me to attend the Worlds test with most of our Yokomo Worlds Team in Phoenix. With everything being so new, this would be a good way to help with the learning curve beginning with the YZ-2 DTM 2wd and YZ-4 SF 4wd. It was great working with Maifield, Shin, Hara, and Kaito while I was there. The team environment is already very good there and everyone worked great together. Yes, I will be racing more for sure — especially regionally. I feel this is very important to help our customers at the races and be more in-tune with what is going on with the cars.
AW: How much did your Team Orion teammate, Ryan Maifield, have to do with your switch?
JP: As many people know, Ryan and I have been good friends for a long time. Ryan was definitely a major part in making all this happen. Yokomo is very motivated, as this was seen when they sponsored Maifield at the start of 2017. Now, adding myself as the USA team manager, only justifies the dedication they have made towards the US market.
AW: You were with Kyosho for a very long time, and you and Jared Tebo had incredible success together. Was it a difficult decision to leave?
JP: Yes, for sure. This was my eleventh year at Kyosho and it was definitely a hard decision to make. Jared and I have worked together for nine of the years I was at Kyosho. It is rare in our industry to have two people work that closely together for so long, not to mention the incredible success we had together. I learned so much from Jared during this time. His work ethic is second-to-none, and his motivation for success is very clear in his preparation. He is a perfect example of a person who puts in the time and his consistent results have shown this time and time again. I'm happy I will still be working with Jared moving forward, as he still races for Team Orion.
AW: When did you start talking to Yokomo? What excited you most about the opportunity?
JP: I first began communication with Yokomo around the middle of September. The most exciting part of this for me was helping a well-established company like Yokomo get back into the US market. I knew this wouldn't be an easy move, but I am up for the challenge as this is something I have done before with Kyosho.
AW: How will your role with Yokomo differ from your responsibilities at Kyosho? Is this a sign that Yokomo will be trying to grow in the U.S. market?
JP: My role at Yokomo will be very similar to what I did at Kyosho: I will build and manage our USA Race Team, manage the USA team budget, make all travel reservations, update our social media outlets as well as write press releases, and attend the 1/10-scale electric races with Maifield and our team. Yokomo is definitely working hard to get back into the US market. I feel they have a very good game plan with extremely high-quality products.
AW: The Yokomo team has had a long history of being competitive in international off-road racing, but hasn’t won an off-road world championship in 20 years. Do you feel any pressure to get the team back to competing for championship wins?
JP: Yes, there is always pressure to perform for any company. I feel that Yokomo has a very good base to bring back their brand here in the US. The cars are all current and up-to-date with the latest technology, along with very competitive pricing. These two things are very important. Then it will be my job to provide great customer support, along with keeping our customers up to date on new products and car set-ups.
AW: Did you talk to any other brands about joining them in 2018 before making your decision?
JP: Yes, a little bit. But Yokomo was by far the best option with the best opportunity to grow.
AW: Will you be changing any of your other sponsors? Are you continuing as team manager for Team Orion and Mx?
JP: For myself, the only sponsor that changed is I will no longer be representing AKA. They have been great to me and I have ran for them since the beginning. But now that I’m working directly with Maifield, it didn't seem right to stay as it would be a big conflict of interest. I will continue as the USA team manager for Team Orion while starting my 18th year there, and the plan is to also to stay with Mx for 2018.
AW: Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
JP: Thank You Aaron for the interview! I would first like to thank my awesome wife, Tiffany, for all her support — especially during the past couple months with all this going on. She really is the key part in making all this happen, especially when I am out of town. She takes care of the house and both of our kids on her own, which is not easy. Anyone who has kids understands, especially at the ages of 6 and 2! I would also like to thank all the great companies I work for and represent: Yokomo, Team Orion, A-Main Hobbies, Hella Graphics, Sanwa, Fusion Graphix, DiBrino Designs, and Lunsford!