Guest blogger, Travis Muszynski writes:
I work for a company called APR in Opelika, Alabama. Although I’ve only been with the company for about three years, it all started with a few very smart people that wanted to make parts and software for their own cars. The parts became products and before you know it, APR was born. From that day on, APR has gotten to where we are through hard work, late nights, attending shows and simply doing what we love.
We are known for high quality performance software and hardware for Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche. The vehicles we modify range from entry level to over $100,000. We have dealers all over the world and support many vehicles we will never see in the United States.
Our products range from stage 1 software which can add up to 200 horsepower depending on the vehicle, bolt-on accessories, all the way to stage 3 kits, which add a lot more power and involve replacing the factory turbocharger with something a bit larger.
For me, passion is something that makes you want to get out of bed and go to work, not for the paycheck, but for the enjoyment of doing what you do. Passion sometimes wakes you up in the middle of the night with the next great idea that you MUST write down immediately before you forget it. Passion causes our calibrators and software engineers to sleep occasionally under their desks so they can wake up and keep working on the latest problem or calibration. This passion is fueled, ironically, by our love for high octane, fire breathing, turbocharged German cars. For us, hearing the sound of a tuned, big turbo engine makes us giddy. It’s that feeling of being forced back in your seat and knowing that you were at least a little bit responsible for making others feel the same way.
Every day we demonstrate our passion and obsession for what we do. We do this through every detail whether it be a CAD model, engineering drawing, a complex code change or a meticulous calibration. The effects of our passion, are the products. Not all products get to leave the development center and become an APR products. If it doesn’t meet our standards, it will never see the light of day.
Everyone that works here knows what it takes to design an APR product. It does indeed require passion. It also requires pride, caffeine, teamwork, heated discussions, collaboration, testing and drive to succeed. Failure is a failed attempt to success. It takes passion to drive through the failures to achieve success.
Productivity, for my team, is tracked by the products we release. The more products we release, the more potential for profit. Passion for the products will always drive productivity. The issue at APR is not usually productivity. Instead, it is keeping the productivity, productive. With the amount of passion we have for the products we make, it’s easy to get distracted and pulled off track. My main job function is to guide the passion and productivity in the correct direction and lead my team to timely product releases.
Hiring great people is critical to passion and productivity. There are several factors that are important in APR’s hiring process. In our industry, it’s not difficult to find candidates that are passionate. Just look for the guy or girl that is spending most of their spare time and money on their car or reading about the next thing they want to install on their car. The type of people that work at APR usually have more than one car, at least one of them is a “project car”. When a potential employee tours our facility, it is extremely easy to see their passion. You see it in the gleam in their eyes and in their conversation.
We also look to see if the candidate believes in and possesses our values. Our values include trust, extreme customer focus, extreme performance, and care more than just about yourself.
“Passion (which fuels productivity) + APR’s Values (which encompasses giving back) = the perfect candidate for APR.”
There are several ways to get existing employees excited and passionate about working here. The most important thing is to let them know the work they are doing is meaningful. What they’re working on today could lead to making someone’s dreams come true. What they’re doing will give someone that feeling of being pushed back in there seat that we all love. The work they just completed might make someone’s drive to work just a little more fun and could possibly create a domino effect that changes the mood and attitude of everyone around them.
Another way to get an employee engaged and passionate is to let them experience the fruits of their labor. We toss them a set of keys and let them take a car out for a drive and feel firsthand what they helped to accomplish. Doing what we love gives that feeling to everyone that buys our products.
Every day at APR I take it as my responsibility to let someone know how special it is to work at APR. All positions here at APR are extremely important and allow the company to function. There are not many jobs that give you this sort of experience and allow you to live out your childhood dreams of making cars go faster. Every little boy has one of the same few car posters on their bedroom wall. I like to remind my fellow co-workers that we get to design and build the products that will be on the future bedroom posters. How cool is that?!
As the company grows and matures, we have started to do things to give back to the community. APR has taken on a volunteer incentive and begun involving itself in causes that are important to the APR staff members and the community. We are so excited for our upcoming holiday event where we will be sponsoring girls, from the Lee County Sheriff Girls Ranch, with a gift for the holidays as well as hosting them at APR, LLC for a meal.
APR has also partnered with a local nature preserve to lend a helping hand from employee volunteers to work on special projects that keep the preserve beautiful and functioning for the community.
For years, APR has been involved with Auburn University’s Formula SAE team. This relationship has allowed APR staff members to mentor and foster the growth, development, and passion for the automotive industry with the team. Because of this relationship, APR has hired and provided many internship opportunities for Formula SAE members. Having the opportunity to share these experiences and passion with the students has been very rewarding on all levels.
Other small events we have been involved with include the Auburn- Opelika Touch-a-Truck Event and a supplies drive for the Lee County Humane Society.
Giving back is a way of showing how grateful we are for the opportunities we have been given to do what we love for a living. Our hopes are that the little things we are able to do to give back will be contagious and create an epidemic that will make the world a better place for our children and grandchildren. Giving back is what humanity is all about.
We also recognize that these volunteer opportunities allow our employees to better connect with the community, provide an opportunity for morale boosting and teambuilding, promote networking opportunities, and provide a way for employees and APR to give back. At the end of the day, volunteer work just makes you feel good and we would like to support that effort at our company.
APR is a growing company that has had a very rough road to get to where we are. We have worked very hard to get here, but without passion and being given opportunities along the way, it never would have been able to happen. GO APR!!!