Talkin’ With Lou: Brian Lounsberry

Apr 22, 2011

They say to be the best you must have an almost supernatural ability to stay focused. The best musicians, the best writers, the best race car drivers, they all have remarkable focus.

And focus (hang on, there’s a new text message coming through on my iPhone), well, focus these days is difficult.

It’s even more challenging for a brick and mortar business to remain focused on a shifting business model pinned down by a tough economy. Just look at your average chain store, where you can buy everything from a jar of cashews to a set of wiper blades to a 14-inch air cleaner kit.

I remember a buyer once telling me he couldn’t get back to me because he had over 400 lines to review, he was on “F” and I’m an “S.” He went on to say, “too bad your company doesn’t start with an ‘A.'” Um, right.

Curiously, a random Amazon search for books on focus yields 69,499 results. So Amazon’s search results aren’t any more focused than my A-Z buyer’s.

Focus is elusive; almost unattainable. We’re driven to multitask now that we’ve sold our souls to the Devil with our first Blackberry purchase back in 2002. So, to find a person, much less a company, with a stringent policy of focus is inspiring.

Led by sales manager Brian Lounsberry, Motovicity Distribution utilizes a Zen-like focus on its business model to ensure customer support and success. It’s this kind of laser-like attention that keeps Motovicity growing year after year.

I sat down with Brian on a recent spring-like Friday in Detroit to find out who he is and how he’s able to keep it all focused.

LJ: First off, congratulations on getting married. But I gotta ask, you must have one amazing wife because,  for as long as I’ve known you, you’re always working!

Brian: Thanks for the kind words. Yes, she is a very understanding woman, and frankly, she is my support system. She is almost done with her 12 years of medical school and will soon be a doctor. Watching her put everything into her dream has taught me a lot about hard work.

She puts up with all the late nights, travel, and still has time to keep our personal life intact. I love what we do at Motovicity, and without her support, I would not be able to continue. I set some high goals for my team and myself and I will not slow down until we hit them.

LJ: And that kind of passion is clearly established throughout your team. I just read on the Motovicity blog about Mark’s new Lotus Elise. Mark is one of the sales guys, right? So what kind of mods does he have planned for the Lotus?

Brian: Yes, and Mark has done an outstanding job at Motovicity over the last six years and we are all so excited for him with his new toy. He deserves it; that man works his tail off.

He had parts coming for it before he even made the purchase! You watch, that car will take on a new life under Mark’s insane vision.

LJ: So, what’s your background, you know, what brought a kid from Hell, Mich., to an import performance WD just outside of Detroit?

Brian: Same story everyone has probably already heard many times-small-town kid moves to the big city to build a new life…

LJ: But of course, it’s interesting to readers because “Hell, Mich.,” isn’t some obvious metaphor for a rundown city. “Hell” is a real city in Michigan.

Brian: It’s true. There are several stories for how the town came to be named-nobody is quite sure, and it’s a beautiful part of the state. Oh, and there’s a great 10-mile road race you should run!

LJ: Yes, I’ve heard of it, the “Run Through Hell.” I’ll add it to my list for sure. OK, the downturn in the economy has affected everyone in the aftermarket, but I’m wondering if for a WD operating in a tight niche like import performance, that the downturn might’ve hit Motovicity harder than other WDs with a broader business model?

Brian: To be fair, we had our challenges just as everyone has. We’re certainly not bulletproof.

However, it showed us that we needed to be a value-added partner with our customers and suppliers. It forced us to focus on what is important and adapt for the long haul. If that was the bottom, then it’s all uphill from here and that is very exciting to me and the rest of the team here at Motovicity.

LJ: What kinds of things do you and your team do to be sure customers don’t just survive, but thrive, in this arduous and exciting business climate?

Brian: Once we’ve determined that we are both out to help each other, we get inside each other’s heads.

Our team is in the customer’s business with them. We learn what a customer needs, and we do our best to accommodate. Our salespeople do things that boggle the mind-everything from flying a part personally to a customer so they can make a race, to being there to support them after a death in the family.

Our key partners are just that: partners in this great industry. We do not compete with them and they do not compete with us. It’s a good ol’-fashioned sales channel.

LJ: I’m always fascinated with Motovicity’s focus. Heck, over the years I’ve tried to sell you guys everything from a valve cover to a carburetor and you’ve always said, “No thanks Lou, we’re focused on the imports.” When it seems so many WDs have become all-things-to-all-people, you’ve stayed true to your vision. Do you find it becoming more or less difficult to remain focused like this as the business climate changes so dramatically?

Brian: What’s a carburetor? Just kidding-¦ If we picked up every line, we would just confuse our sales reps and remove the focus on the interaction that we have built with others.

If we do not believe that we can sell and support the brand, we wait until we can or do not do it at all.

Detroit is an odd place for us; we feel like Jed Clampett with everyone telling us that California is the place to be, but Detroit is our home. I can assure you that all of us here can talk inline-four motors all day long, but ask us a question about 5.0 Mustangs or an LT1, and we have those roots too. It makes for a very balanced enthusiast-based sales team that services the customer no matter where we are.

LJ: Indeed, I know the feeling. Detroit, well, it’s home. So, you know the drill. You and I have an import performance shop, let’s call it “Hell on Wheels,” and we’re gonna break out of this sales funk and have a killer summer by doing what?

Brian: We have to focus on being knowledgeable, honest, and driven. We have to make a plan that ensures the achievement of our goals, we have to follow that plan, and keep the company marketed at our target audience.

We’ll track our metrics and keep a pulse on what we’re doing, what’s working, etc. We’ll get involved in our local community and the best interests of our core customers, and in the end we’ll gain a larger piece of the pie.

LJ: Sounds good. Thanks again. See you in Hell!

Brian: (laughing) Exactly!

More With Brian

Last book read? “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson
What’s on your iPod? “LCD Soundsystem”…for some reason, I’m addicted to them these days.
Person you’d most like to have lunch with? Kid Rock.
Favorite vacation spot? Hawaii.
Favorite place to drive? My hometown. I love seeing all the changes and I love the memories.
Current daily driver? 2007 BMW 335i Coupe.