Last summer while living temporarily in the Silicon Valley accelerating our startup company Green Way Labs with the 500 Startups program, we received a request from our website for samples of our eco-friendly green cleaning wipes from a racing team that was running the #95 and #59 car in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owned by Circle Sport/Leavine Family Racing in Concord, North Carolina. They found our company by searching on Google for high-performance green cleaning products. We eagerly fulfilled their request for samples hoping to get positive feedback from them about their performance in the shop. The advanced plant-based technology in our formulas was designed specifically to clean petroleum based substances. It is non-toxic, VOC-free and safe on skin and all surfaces. We were confident they would love the product, but we didn't know where that would lead beyond them possibly buying and using them in their own team garage.
After a couple of months, we heard back from the team that they had tested our patented product MastiClean and their reaction and results were very positive. It was important for us to know that the crew in the shop who use cleaning products everyday did not have to compromise on performance to "go green". Typically when we demonstrate the product for the first time, we do not make it known to the user that the formula is green. Why? Because our experience shows that many consumers of green products are disappointed in their performance or they are deemed too expensive. Once it is validated that MastiClean works better than legacy toxic cleaners, we point out to the testers that the product is also eco-friendly, green, safer and competitively priced compared to what they have been chronically exposing themselves to. (MastiClean is rated by NSF as safe enough to use around food) The decision had been made by the race team to switch their cleaning products to MastiClean.
The Director of Marketing and Sponsorships contacted us to see if we could consider providing more samples of MastiClean in exchange for some possible sponsorship opportunities. They were one of the smaller teams in NASCAR and were building a full season program for the first time and were looking for partners and alliances that could grow with them. They appreciated and understood the challenges associated with being a startup company (limited resources and capital for advertising and marketing). We setup a face-to-face meeting in Concord, NC at their facilities to discuss the relationship and soon learned that working together made perfect sense. We agreed to provide enough product and cleaning accessories to support their shop and race team while on the Sprint Cup circuit for the entire 2016 season. For a startup company, this was a sizeable (but obviously smart) commitment.
Our VP of Sales has an existing relationship with IDG Racing, a leading industrial distributor to the motorsports industry. IDG Racing Supply is a specialty division of Industrial Distribution Group - Hagemeyer North America (IDG-Hagemeyer) who are owned by Sonepar, a large private industrial distributor based in Paris, France with over $22bil in annual sales, 43,000+ employees and operates in 44 countries on 5 continents. We thought that our product sponsorship could best be supported by IDG Racing Supply who agreed to stock our entire line of products in their distribution facilities in the Southeast for efficient delivery to the racing team, and eventually in IDG-Hagemeyer distribution centers across the United States for other industrial markets. IDG Racing always has an eye out for innovative products, especially ones that work well, are green, and most importantly can bring value to their thousands of customers. They were also looking to expand their reach into motorsports, IDG is and has been a big sponsor in the NHRA (drag racing), sponsoring championship drivers for years, but not so much in NASCAR. IDG Racing Supply's Business Development Manager knew that MastiClean's product sponsorship with Circle Sport | Leavine Family Racing could be a catalyst for them to strategically expand their excellent reputation and experience into the NASCAR community. This synergy has led IDG Racing to pursue being Green Way Labs' exclusive distributor for MastiClean for the motorsports industry and we are thrilled to pioneer our brand with their world class distribution infrastructure.
In this year's Daytona 500, the most prestigious race in motorsports that opens every NASCAR season in February, the MastiClean logo was placed on the #59 race car driven by Michael McDowell. It was also added to the the team's trailers and websites. For our small company, it was very exciting to see our brand on a race car (no matter how small).
But wait it gets better, on April 24th, 2016 at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia, to show the CS-LFR's commitment to support NASCAR's 4th annual Race To Green campaign, the team surprised our company by announcing that we would be a main sponsor of the race and our brand would decorate the car's rear quarter panels and our brand would be showcased in the teams pit stall.
They did this without charging us any additional sponsorship fees. Why? Because they treated us like a true partner, investing in our brand, knowing that someday MastiClean will become a household name and can then afford sponsoring a race team for some or part of an entire Sprint Cup season.
They provided us Hot Passes for the race and treated us like VIPs the entire Sunday. We posed for pictures with the #95 MastiClean paint-schemed Chevrolet and their driver Michael McDowell who graciously thanked us for being there and for sponsoring their team. We got invited to sit high on the crew chief's tower and listen to the race with headsets as we watched our brand battle with drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Bush and Carl Edwards (the race winner).
Although the #95 car is still working on building their program into a Chase contender, we were very proud of our association with Bob Leavine, the racing passionate owner of the CS-LFR team. We realize now that having our logo on the car is just icing on the cake when you consider the many valuable aspects of a long-term program to build your brand. It's clear to us after the impressions we made at the race to our own stakeholders, followers, customers and future customers that NASCAR provides a customer experience like no other sport. Right before the start of the race before opening ceremonies, the entire 95 pit crew and their driver signed a MastiClean branded banner that hung from their pit tower and its now on its way to adorn our own offices. Cool!!
Green Way Labs looks forward to a long lasting partnership with the #95 team and that's how a startup company ended up as a main sponsor of a NASCAR team.