While Kart360 was at the US Rotax Grand Nationals last week, we were able to spend some time with the Director of Race Development at PSL Karting, Andrew Campbell. The 26 year old former driver from Trois-Rivieres,Quebec is springing new life into the PSL operation with fresh ideas and an excitement that’s hard to match. Previously at PSL, Andrew left to join the DeFrancesco Racing team to explore new opportunities, but quickly realized that PSL Karting was his home — returning in December of 2011. Andrew has helped PSL Karting become an international brand by traveling to Brazil to assist drivers and recruit new ones for their racing team that continues to win championships. Learn more on how Andrew is helping PSL stay on top in the very competitive karting market.
Kart360: Andrew, what is your title and umbrella of responsibilities at PSL Karting?
Andrew: Director of Race Development and Race Team Manager.
As director of race development I wear many hats during the day. But it should be noted, there is no single person who brings the entire operation to the track—it’s a complete team effort. During office hours, I manage the shop, overlook our shipping/receiving, ensure we are on schedule, build chassis when necessary, and even load the trailer. It’s a team effort, I love who I work with, everyone is dedicated and WANTS to be there.
I work with each customer on designing a race program that works within their budget and long term goals – it’s important we build a solid relationship with our new drivers so they become familiar with our entire staff and methods to our madness.
I also manage our race team inventory (chassis, engine) and assist with our R&D to ensure the data we provide CRG is clear and concise. It’s not always right, and I’ve messed up some pretty big projects, but that’s what its about.
I handle the company branding, imaging, the overall look and feel of PSL. I know I usually spend too much time and detail on small things like decal placement and size, but even when it comes to our team apparel – every thread, logo, line and even color tone has to be absolutely perfect. Sometimes it will take us 4 or 5 samples just to get the fit of a sweater absolutely perfect. I can’t stand poorly designed race suits that don’t have the proper fit – the right fit looks more professional, and the more professional you look, the more intimidating. We need to win races, right?
Right now I’m working on our new campaign for 2013…I can’t say much more about it… it’s just so cool, no one has done this in our industry yet. I’m pretty excited about it.
With PSL Karting expanding to the USA, what types of initiatives are you looking to put in place to succeed in the American market?
The right people – the CRG product is excellent – We just need the right people to support the brand. Breaking Dominic [Labrecque]'s mold is difficult, so I tend to push new ideas on to him and then get Stephan [St-Charles] to approve. I can’t really say too much about our plans as its confidential at the moment.
Does PSL Karting have a distribution center in the USA, or does all product ship from Canada?
At the moment, everything is shipped directly to Canada and then distributed across the US.
PSL has always had a strong DD2 and Mini Max programs, are there any plans to create the same strengths with your Sr. and Jr. Max programs?
Ha! Our junior programs are strong – our Mini-Max is simply the most important in growing a business and keeping our drivers with us for the long term. And the demographic of drivers changes yearly… its all in waves. Sometimes there’s a group of 15 great drivers in Senior, and other times they all end up in DD2 or WKA or they are prefer to go golfing.
For sure people are doubting our engine program… I advise people to put faith back into it as we have a major secret weapon in the works.
What does the SKUSA Super Nationals look like for PSL? Will you have international presence from CRG Italy?
If I could put 75 drivers under the tent, we could do it this year, this is a fact. There’s a bunch of fire regulations we couldn’t get around for SKUSA. I flew down to Brasil for their National Championship to work with Pedro Cardoso/Gustavo Bandeira, recruit drivers and promote the brand. Needless to say, it’s paid off. We’re showing our drivers we care, and we are not waiting for them to come to us. When we scout drivers, we look at their on and off track characteristics, these say a lot about their long term goals and how they might behave in stressful situations.
This year, we will have many of the top CRG Factory technicians and in-house R&D staff. Actually, at almost all our races we have at least 2 factory employees present to assist us – it makes a world of difference and shows our customers we are serious.
In 2010, PSL was named CRG’s #1 distributor world-wide, that is some accomplishment. Obviously this is a mark which I’m sure PSL wants to retain, but how will this be possible for 2012 and beyond?
Actually, we had earned the title in 2011 as well, but we got screwed on the way they tallied the totals. 2012 should be a repeat of 10’ unless our good friends in France (they received the award in 11’) beat us!
We work long hours, stay well organized and keep in touch with all our customers. We also heavily depend on our dealers who support us and we support them. We cannot express our gratitude and appreciation for our fellow business partners.
Does PSL have any new drivers for 2013, or are you looking to build upon the same core you currently have?
For sure it is important we seek international drivers, as they bring a different skill set to the team. Together we can grow into a stronger PSL. We are targeting the Brasilian driver pool, as they are quick thinking, aggressive, and have a very strong understanding of tire/engine management. The Brasilians also add a new element under our tent, which can create some pretty interesting situations.
What new products, if any, from CRG will PSL introduce to the market in 2013?
At the moment, we are re-vamping our on-track service. Our current line of products are the industry leaders, but for custom parts – we prefer to use all Original CRG. Our new addition to the family of PSL is ORG Racing Apparel. They are our official supplier for all our suits, sweaters, shorts, gloves, rain suits etc. We have been working on this deal for quite some time, and we feel this is the right direction.
We couldn’t possibly talk about PSL without mentioning both Dominic Labrecque and Stephane St-Charles. How is it working with those two?
They are like an old married couple. Dominic and Stephan are two people I look up to…they are completely opposite, yet vividly inspiring. I take what I think is good from both of them and meet in between. Stephan will tell you how it is, and Dominic will have Stephan tell you how it is. It’s a no BS policy with PSL – theres only 10 of us, so we have to be close, like a family. Stephan has been with PSL for 12 years strong, and literally built the PSL shop with Dominic. Dominic is crazy about details – which he has now instilled these values on to me. You can see this in our work. Anyways, these guys have done it all. I just want to carry on the legacy and bring some fresh ideas. Sure, some projects I have are ridiculous, and are often thrown into the garbage, but many of them like our suits, new trailer/tent, apparel, team branding, and team structure…they loved it!