By Mike Garrison
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!
This week we sit down and chat with Yokomo and Muchmore USA team manager, as well as newly appointed Muchmore USA sales manager, Joe Pillars.
LiveRC: Welcome Joe to this week’s “Talk-It-Up Tuesday”! You have been a team manager in the industry for many years. When, where, and how did you decide you wanted to become a team manager in the industry?
Joe: Hi Mike, thanks for the interview! I would say I was first interested in the roll of becoming a team manager around 2004. This was after working at Team Orion for 3 years in the motor and packaging department. My boss at the time, Rick Hohwart (who still to this day I have so much respect for) gave me the opportunity and I never looked back. I have really enjoyed working with the drivers over the years and helping in any way possible for them to be successful.
LiveRC: Often times people assume a team manager’s duties is just being at the track on the weekend’s to support drivers, but there is far more to the job than just that. What are some of the “behind the scenes” work that is required to be a team manager?
Joe: Yes, that’s just a small part of my roll as team manager for both Yokomo and Muchmore. I also build and manage our USA race teams, manage our product and travel budgets, book all race related travel reservations, and I also have a direct line of communication with every team driver.
LiveRC: As a team manager is majority of your time spent at the track or in the office?
Joe: I would have to say this year has been a pretty event split of being at the track and in the office.
LiveRC: Last time we chatted you had just made the jump over to Yokomo and Muchmore. The two brands have seen some major success in the United States since that time. Tell us a little about how things are going?
Joe: Everything has been going great with both Yokomo and Muchmore this year. Both brands like you said have seen a big increase in our market over the past 9 months and are continuing to grow. It’s really rewarding to be part of the success for both companies here in the USA.
LiveRC: Not everyone driving for Yokomo uses Muchmore, and vice versa. Does that make it difficult at the track when trying to make sure everyone gets the support they need?
Joe: It honestly works out really well. I’ve had so many years of doing this same type of thing when I worked for Kyosho and Team Orion. It really hasn’t been to difficult to manage as I feel I have a good grasp on what needs to be done and how to provide great support to everyone.
LiveRC: You are team manager to both Ryan Maifield (Yokomo) and Ryan Cavalieri (Muchmore). Which Ryan tests your patience as team manager the most [laughs]?
Joe: Haha, that’s a tough one…just kidding ; ) Both Ryan’s are great to work with. I especially like their desire to win and dedication they have for their jobs. Both drivers have a great work ethic at the track and away from the track.
LiveRC: It was announced last week that you are now working as the USA Sales Manager for Muchmore Racing as well as being team manager. What all does the new job entail, and will anything change for you on the team manager front?
Joe: Yes, this was a great opportunity for myself, especially when looking towards the future. I love my roll as the USA Team Manager for both Yokomo and Muchmore. I have no thoughts of making any changes there. The idea behind me leading the sales here in the USA is to help make our Muchmore products easier for hobby shops, tracks, and customers to get. Along with taking on the customer service roll to help give all our customers the best possible help.
LiveRC: What do you believe sets Muchmore Racing products apart from the competition?
Joe: I have to say coming over to Muchmore was a great change. Their products are truly awesome and very competitively priced with the other major manufacturers in the market. Another cool part of Muchmore is they make so many great items to help bling out your pit area.
LiveRC: Yokomo has just announced the YZ-2T stadium truck. Tell us a little bit about the new truck and the involvement you and the team have had in developing it.
Joe: Yes, the YZ-2T has been in the works for awhile now. Ryan Maifield and Shin Adachi have had the biggest influences in designing this truck. We all wanted to bring the best and most competitive truck to the market, which I feel we have done. I am really excited to see our team drivers and customers running these very soon!
LiveRC: The ultimate goal for most drivers is to reach a level in their racing that they become sponsored. As a team manager what are some major key things you look for when considering a driver for sponsorship?
Joe: The first thing I look at when checking over a racing resume is if that driver is already running our cars or electronics. To me, this shows they have confidence in the brand and is what they choose to run. I also like to see race results from local series races, regional races, and national level races over the past 2 years. This helps show how frequently they are racing and at what events. Lastly, if I haven’t heard of the driver before…I ask them to provide 4-5 racing references with a phone number and email that I can contact. I have learned over the years that sponsoring team drivers can help sell and promote your product if it’s done right, but can also do the opposite if not done right.
LiveRC: Silly season is just around the corner, are there any shocking new signings in the works we should be looking forward to?
Joe: The end of this year will be very interesting for sure. With top name drivers such as Ryan Cavalieri, Jared Tebo, Spencer Rivkin, and Dustin Evans all with contracts up at the end of this year, you can be sure there will be some big news coming.
LiveRC: What races can we expect to see you at for the remainder of 2018?
Joe: I have the JConcepts INS Race at RC Excitement coming up in two weeks, possibly the International Off-Road Carpet Championships in Las Vegas, JConcepts INS Finale Race at Beach RC, as well as competing in our local Rockstar Winter Series at my home track of PDX RC Underground.
LiveRC: When you aren’t juggling the duties of being team manager and sales manager, what are some things you enjoy doing outside of R/C?
Joe: I would have to say spending time with my family is #1. My wife does such a great job with the kids while I’m at races (which I know isn’t easy). My daughter Emily is now 7 and my son Joey just turned 3. I also started mountain biking again this summer which has been so fun.
LiveRC: What is one thing most people don’t know about Joe Pillars?
Joe: Most people I talk to at the races didn’t know I was born and raised in Michigan. I moved out to California when I was 19 years old to pursue a career in the R/C Industry. I first moved in with Adam Drake after I made my way out to California. I travelled around to local races with him during my first couple years in California. I learned a lot from Adam and its great we are still friends today. It’s kind of cool looking back as I used to pit for Adam in Gas Truck during club races out in Hemet those early years, then just a few months ago I was able to pit for Adam in the 1/8 Nitro Buggy A-Main at the ROAR Nationals. I can’t thank Adam enough for opening up his house to Me and showing me the way. It was definitely a great learning experience all around and a big part of why I feel I have been successful in this industry.
LiveRC: Thank you for joining us today Joe, it’s always good to catch up with you. Is there anything you would like to add before we go?
Joe: I would just like to thank the great companies that support me; Yokomo, Muchmore, JConcepts, A-Main Hobbies, Protek, Sanwa, Stickit 1, Hella Graphics, DiBrino Designs, and PDX RC Underground.