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Icebreaker

Icebreaker: Morgan Lucas

On Continuing A Family Business Culture

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Amy Antenora has served as editor of aftermarketNews since 2002 and has worked in the field of journalism for two decades. A graduate of Kent State University, Amy also earned her AAP designation from Northwood University's University of the Aftermarket in 2009.

For Morgan Lucas, motorsports and the automotive world are practically part of his DNA. As the son of Forrest and Charlotte Lucas, founders of California-based Lucas Oil Products, Morgan grew up immersed in the world of drag racing and it set the stage not only for his future career path but truly his passion.

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“When I was a kid, it was a hobby [for my dad.] He was driving dirt track cars in California and transitioned from that to asphalt, local stuff at County Raceway in San Bernardino, and I just grew up loving cars in general. My parents took me to my first drag race when I was around 10 years old and I fell in love with it. It’s kind of a family sport. Kids can get into the pits and see things up-close. I used to take home broken parts,” says Lucas.

“I had this whimsical idea that I was going to have one of each kind of part from an engine and that was going to be the closest I was going to get to having a race car. As time went on, I got more invested. I started working on different cars with some of the teams we sponsored, and I got to learn my way around the mechanical side of race cars more and more. I started driving and I started maintaining my own race cars,” he says.

Morgan began racing professionally in 2004 and soon established his own race team, Morgan Lucas Racing, winning multiple event championships. This experience worked hand-in-hand with the inherent knowledge he gained working his way up the ranks in the family business that led Lucas to where he is today.

Morgan Lucas was appointed president of the company in May, reporting directly to his father, Forrest Lucas, who is CEO of the company. Morgan’s experiences in racing and building a successful race team offered a lot in the way of teaching him smart business strategies that he applies today in his role at Lucas Oil Products. “In racing, you get really good at spending money,” Lucas jokes.

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“With racing, you do have a fairly set budget and you’re always worried about making sure you have enough money in the account to keep it rolling,” he says. “At the end of the day, you always have to have more coming in than going out. That’s kind of the fundamental, really, the crux of most business in general.

“When I stepped out of racing, I got on the sales side of Lucas Oil, working with our VP of sales, I started meeting people and understanding how dynamic the aftermarket sector really is. That opened my eyes to a lot. I began to realize that at the end of the day, common sense plays a massive role and also understanding and knowing your strengths and your weaknesses when it comes to what you’re doing. Don’t never being afraid to ask a dumb question.

“You have to stay open-minded in order to grow in any of these environments, whether it’s racing or business,” Lucas adds. “It’s all about being open, looking at everything from every angle and trying to find a way to make it work. I’m a big believer that when we are trying to make something work, try to make it work for everybody, and build a sustainable relationship that can carry on for many years.”

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Making it work for everybody, as Lucas says, is ingrained in the culture his parents created with their family-owned business, and something he’s keen to continue.

“My parents put everything back into the business. That’s something a lot of people forget to do when they’re starting a business. I saw a lot of the hardships that went into it growing up. I also saw those exciting moments. I think more than anything, I love the people within the company. There is a worry every day for me: How do we make sure that we’re going for the next 20, 30-plus years, for all of the people who are kind of like lifers, if you will. They’re making a career here. It’s not a just job for a lot of these people.

“Having a family-based atmosphere has always worked for us,” Lucas says. “We really try to make everybody who is involved in this company feel that it’s part of the life they’re living. That’s in large part the culture I would like to continue on.” 

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