Receiving the “Race Engine Builder of the Year” award from Engine Builder magazine is no small honor, and Joe McCaul of Borowski Race Engines takes that honor very seriously, both acknowledging the work everyone at Borowski has done to deserve the recognition and looking ahead to the potential growth the award is likely bring to the performance engine company.
Following the awards presentation at the Performance Racing Industry show, McCaul sat down with RacingJunk to talk about Borowski, family, and what receiving the award means for the present and the future of the company and it’s diverse applications.
RJ: First, congratulations on the Engine Builder of the Year Award. That’s quite an honor! What was your reaction when Engine Builder magazine first contacted you?
JM: Thanks for the congrats. It is a huge honor.
When entering our 150 word submission for the award this year, my thought was that if we didn’t win this time, I didn’t know what else we could do to win in the future. The preceding twelve months had been a period of heavy capital investment for us. The net result however was the most advanced suite of engine machining equipment that money could buy. The most prominent and expensive piece was our Rottler EM69P 5-axis CNC, which was commissioned in June. This completed our wish list of machinery so there was nothing left there. We were also making a bit of a splash with our first PRI booth, a 30 footer with an Unlimited Class Drag Week car. It felt like now or never!
Ken (McCaul’s son) got the phone call from Engine Builders Magazine and then called to let me know. Despite believing we were serious and deserving contenders, my first reaction was, “You’re kidding me!” After that however, it quickly shifted to how to make the most of this golden apple from which we could only hope to have one bite. We are now in the process of rebranding all of our marketing collateral with the award and using our social media to to let everyone know. Bottom line: this is an opportunity that cannot be squandered and we are all-in to capitalize on it.
Race is our second largest segment encompassing drag, road race, autocross, drift, dirt and off-road. The off-road segment is pretty diverse in its own right. Our customers’ applications include mud trucks, sand buggies, rock crawlers and perhaps the wildest: Icelandic Formula off-road. This sport involves competition climbing up steep dirt or volcanic lava slopes, rock crawling driving across bodies of water hoping not to sink but usually having a snorkel in case you do.
We recently shot a video at an event which gives you an idea of how wild it is:
Another segment for us is marine, and a surprising sub-group of that is fan boats.
RJ: We know that you work closely with your son in the business. What are some of the best parts of Borowski being a family affair?
JM: Small family businesses are the backbone of our economy here, as well as in virtually every other country in the world. They offer a unique set of advantages, most notably being able to work within bonds of absolute trust. That being said, they bring special challenges as it is hard to leave business behind when the work day is over and family time begins. The advantages extend beyond the family to the employees, customers, vendors and community. A sole proprietorship, regardless of legal form, is limited to the career span of the one individual. The typical pattern is active growth, comfortable coasting and then disinvestment/decline. The business is eventually sold or just closed up. A multi-generational family business has a much longer time horizon offering a more promising and stable future for all the various stakeholders. This longer time horizon will hopefully provide me with a secure retirement income and my son with an opportunity to continue growing the business for years to come.
RJ: With the recognition and opportunity that comes with this award, what do you hope to do in 2019 that you didn’t think you’d be able to a year ago? In addition, what sort of changes do you anticipate this award bringing to the business?
JM: The Race Engine Builder of the Year award bestows tremendous credibility on the recipients. With effective marketing, it can attract more customers who are actively seeking the best. It also facilitates closing transactions with them as our credibility was established in their mind before picking up the phone. Our challenge this year is to turn those calls into successful sales and happy customers. We have the machines and can access the necessary working capital to fund a big growth spurt. The resources hardest to come by are the right staff. We are always looking for rock stars, whether engine builders, machinists or sales staff. I’d love to find another rock star engine builder now, as engine assembly looks to be where we will first hit a capacity constraint.
Since acquiring the business in 2010, we have grown revenue by a factor of about 10x but that of growth rate is hard to sustain. I would love to see us double revenues this year and believe we have a good shot at it between the new equipment, augmented staff and increased market visibility.
RJ: What are some projects you have in the works that we can look forward to seeing come to fruition in 2019?
JM: One major new project that will roll out shortly is our debut on ToyMakerz. This TV show will have its Season 3 premiere in February on the History Channel. Its move from Velocity Channel is expected to greatly increase its viewership. BRE has supplied a ProCharged, nitrous equipped LS engine for a 1941 Willys Coupe designed for drift racing. Ken was down to North Carolina a few weeks ago for filming that episode with the star, David Ankin. Our Lead Technician was on the phone with them earlier this week guiding them through some parts of the install and tuning procedure.
We are working more directly now with high-end car builders. One such project underway is with The Garaj Mahal in Maryville TN. They are building a Pro-Touring 1936 Pontiac with an 1,100 hp turbo LS.
I’m hoping to be able to exhibit it at some shows with the ToyMakerz’ Willys. Going forward, I’d like to develop more of these type of close relationships that yield a steady stream of high-end projects.
The Pontiac will run pump gas with the inter-cooler. That set up ran 1,136 hp on our dyno. This is a Pro-Touring style street build intended for events like Power Tour. We will be supplying a custom 4L80e 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission from Hughes Performance.
Scott’s Hot Rods and Customs will be delivering the new chassis next week. This frame will deliver a superb ride and awesome braking with an ability to handle the power of our turbo LS engine. The vehicle will have a killer interior and sound system with all the modern amenities. We are hoping to see it debut at the Pigeon Forge Rod Run in April, even if not mechanically complete at that time. This is a spec build for sale once completed.
In the short run, we are getting prepped for the likely flood of orders once the ToyMakerz episode airs with our engine. For us, that means ordering the parts now.