Monday, December 19, 2011

Six Quick Questions With An IndyCar Sponsor: Mouser Electronics

We often hear about the driver and team side of the sponsor search, and how much work it is to find that successful partnership that allows them to go racing. No one denies it's tough work, and it takes a lot to make it happen.

I wanted to get the view from the other side of the table, so to speak, and so I went out and interviewed Larry Johannes, Vice President of Strategic Marketing for TTI/Mouser. Mouser Electronics was a sponsor of Alex Tagliani's #77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car at Indy, and also primary sponsor for Ho-Pin Tung's debut at Sonoma. As the latest entrant for Six Quick Questions, we asked Mr. Johannes about Mouser's plans in 2012, working with teams on sponsorship, and what companies look for when they sponsor a team.

-For those unfamiliar with your company, can you give a brief company profile for Mouser Electronics, Inc.?

LJ: We're a part of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway family of companies. Mouser is an award-winning authorized semiconductor and electronic component distributor, focused on the fastest introduction of new products and technologies to electronic design engineers and buyers.

Mouser.com features more than 2 million products online from more than 450 manufacturers. Mouser publishes multiple catalogs per year providing designers with up-to-date data on the components now available for the next generation of electronic devices. Mouser ships globally to over 300,000 customers in 170 countries from its 492,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility south of Dallas, Texas. For more detailed information, please visit http://www.mouser.com.

-I understand the Mouser has an IndyCar in display in their lobby! Is this the car Ho-Pin Tung drove in Sonoma this past season?

LJ: Yes it is. HPT was the first Chinese driver to ever qualify for an IndyCar event (see picture).


Tung's Sonoma car sits in Mouser's lobby.

-Mouser worked with both Ho-Pin Tung (Dragon Racing) and Alex Tagliani (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) in 2011. Obviously we know you can’t comment on specifics, but do you see yourself increasing your involvement in the series for 2012?

LJ: Absolutely, we're reviewing opportunities with 4 different teams and expect to make a final decision within the next two weeks.

-Will Mouser look to promote some of their business partners on the car sidepods as part of their strategy going forward?

LJ: Yes we will, very much like the "Target" or "Kmart" strategies of the past. Mouser.com is our award winning online store with over 450 supplier brands and over 2 million searchable parts online. Our top suppliers partner with us to help promote their brands and to help drive more traffic to Mouser.com.

-What does a leading electronics company such as Mouser see as the benefits and upside to IZOD IndyCar Series sponsor participation in today’s economic climate?

LJ: Partnership with a "high technology" series and a very strategic race for us in China. In addition, Indianapolis, Texas and Sonoma are key opportunities to stage events that build partnerships and solidify longstanding relationships.

-We hear a lot from the team’s side of a sponsor relationship, but what does a company such as Mouser look for in that team/sponsorship relationship? What sort of “red flags” can come up when in negotiations to sign on as a sponsor?

LJ: Most of the teams we meet with are high integrity teams, Penske, KV, Dragon, Sam Schmidt. They're very accommodating and flexible with negotiations. I've found that they set a standard for the team and support the sponsors with whatever is required to ensure that the experience is enjoyed and remembered by everyone attending the race and pre-race events. "Details" are usually easy to work through to find agreement with teams like this. The red flags I look for from a new team might be factory support or not, new chassis purchases or not, engine deals with tested engine packages, financial backing, previous dealings, ect. There also has to be chemistry between the partners involved to ensure direct, honest dialog as development inevitably goes through it's typical high's and lows.

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