Go down the Daytona 500 starting lineup for this weekend and you'll see only two brands are the primary sponsor for more than one car: Red Bull and Window World.
We've heard of Red Bull before, but never of Window World. So we got in touch with the private company's CEO, Todd Whitworth, to find out who they were and why they were invested in NASCAR and the Daytona 500.
Darren: First of all, who are you guys?
Whitworth: Window World is a 13-year-old company. We're the largest replacement window company in the United States by leaps and bounds. We have 212 offices in 46 states. And until now, many people have never heard of us. We felt like the Daytona 500 and NASCAR provided us with a great opportunity to let the secret out. NASCAR fans and their demographic fit our customer base really well.
Darren: Why is now a good time? I assume business is good enough so that you can make a deal like this.
Whitworth:Our business is doing well. Last year was a good year for us and sales are holding steady. When new homes aren't being sold people need to have their windows replaced. And during this time, when people are looking to stretch the dollar as far as they can, people are installing our windows so that they can make their home more energy efficient and save money from the minute they invest in them.
Darren: Why NASCAR?
Whitworth: Well, I grew up in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. So we were always a stock car family. But we got into NASCAR because I got about four voicemails from someone who said they were John Andretti. And I'm thinking to myself, 'Is this the real John Andretti?' So I called the number back and it was him. He told me he met our Indianapolis Window World store owners and wanted to see if we could do business together. So he invited me to the Indy 500 and I was just blown away. So we knew we were going to do something and then this deal came toghether.
Darren: So you are on both John Andretti and Terry Labonte's car?
Whitworth:And we have a sponsor deal with Michael Waltrip. So we sort of have 2 1/2 cars in this race.
Darren: Could this be it for Window World's sponsorship after Daytona?
Whitworth:We're going to do more with John. We're working out a deal to have our Window World logos on his car in Fontana (Calif.), Las Vegas, Atlanta and Bristol.
Darren: The two brands that are sponsoring two cars aren't public. That isn't lost on us in this environment when it seems like there's backlash against public companies advertising, especially in sports. How much easier is it to do deals like this when you don't have shareholders to criticize you?
Whitworth: A reporter asked me how long it took me to make this decision. I told him five minutes. It just felt like it was the right thing for the company, which I own. It's not like I had to go through a board or anything like that to get it approved. But that doesn't mean that I'm not going to put careful considering into what I think our return on investment is going to be.
Darren: So how much are you paying? Less than $1.5 million?
Whitworth: Yes, it's less than that. It's less expensive that it was last year. We wouldn't have been able to do this last year, but the price has since come down.
Darren: Do you need John and Terry to have a great race in order for you to make your money back?
Whitworth:We're already seeing some nice returns. Our Web site hits are up by about 80 percent, just from people who I presume want to figure out who we are. In the next 30 days, we'll really be able to put a number on it, but I'm already hearing some great stories. Our manager in Louisville, Kentucky, told me he got a call from a customer who had already bought our windows to tell him how excited he was that Window World was going into racing. In an industry where wer've seen a lot of companies come and go, to be in NASCAR is good from a credibility standpoint as well. When you are on a car in the Daytona 500 people might feel a bit more comfortable that you'll not only be in business today, but you'll be in business tomorrow and for many more years to come. Our products have lifetime warrantees on them, so it's really important. We also look forward to making money for our Window World Cares charity, which people can see on the car. We've donated and pledged about $400,000 to St. Jude's Children's Hospital and we hope people will see that and donate as well. We take no administrative fees, and my wife who runs Window World Cares takes no salary, so it's all going to St. Jude's.
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