Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. Participants are asked to respond to a series of questions that can be answered in about the same amount of time you might spend chatting at the office coffee pot or waiting for an elevator. In today’s installment of “Five Minutes With,” we get to know a little more about Chris Douglas, chief operating officer of COMP Performance Group. The group includes COMP Cams, TCI Automotive, FAST, RHS, ZEX and others.
What was your first job in the industry?
I grew up around the automotive business. My dad owned a used car lot throughout my childhood so I spent many days detailing and upgrading cars. My first “real” automotive aftermarket job was a part-time role at a custom van and 4×4 installation shop while working through college. It was a great experience as it allowed me to experience a broad cross-section of the aftermarket, learn how to operate a business and understand what it means to interact with the public. If you don’t fully understand the passion people have for their automobiles, it doesn’t take long of working in a retail environment to quickly grasp that point.
What do you like best about your current position?
The variety of opportunities and challenges that come with each day and the ability to help our employees succeed both professionally and in their personal lives. Simply put, I thrive on solving challenges, both internally and externally. The fact that our business and industry is evolving so rapidly, from business technology to customer demographics, makes this an extremely fulfilling role for me at this point in time.
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and what keeps you here?
Building a career in the aftermarket was never really on my radar as I always saw myself as a professional race car driver. Starting at the age of 8, I raced everything from karts up to the lower levels of NASCAR and my focus was always on making a living at the highest levels of racing. I had great success on the track over the years, but in my early 20s, with a marketing degree in hand, I realized that I had to make a tough career choice. I could continue chasing the dream of racing professionally but if that didn’t pan out… it would likely be to the detriment (timewise) of building a “Plan B” career.
Ultimately, I decided to turn my professional focus to building a career where I felt like my work ethic and talent played a larger role in succeeding, versus racing luck and the ability to attract sponsorship. From that time forward, my focus immediately turned to the automotive aftermarket as the next closest thing to professional motorsports. Today, I compete just as hard as I ever did on the racetrack but it’s now in the marketplace with our brands rather than a racecar.
Along the way, I have been very fortunate to have some of the most amazing industry mentors that have helped shape my skillset and direction. I truly love the passion that you find throughout this industry.
What do you do when not at work?
Spend time with my amazing family. I have a beautiful wife and two very active sons, six and three years old. My faith and my family are what keeps me centered and I would not be where I am today without either. I also enjoy pretty much all outdoor activities (especially running) and attending motorsports events as a “fan” these days.
What one word best sums up your personality?
What was your first car?
Don’t laugh… a Hyundai S-Coupe that couldn’t seem to keep a transmission in it. My father had the right idea in putting me in a 4-cylinder that would seemingly limit the trouble I could get into. Unfortunately, a 109 mph speeding ticket disproved his theory and led to many days of riding the school bus as a junior in high school.
What are you currently reading?
“Principles to Fortune: Crafting a Culture to Grow a Business” by automotive e-commerce leader (and racer) Scott Bintz. I really enjoy business, technology and sports books, especially when they are authored by those who have results on the “playing field” to support their viewpoints.
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” – Vince Lombardi