SBJ/20090323/Forty Under 40

Marshall Carlson

Age: 36
Titles: Executive vice president and general manager
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Education: B.S., business administration, University of North Carolina, 1996
Family: Wife, Lynn; daughter Kate, 6; son Hendrick, 2
Career: Joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1996; moved to Hendrick Automotive Group in 2002; named to current position in 2005.
Last vacation: The Bahamas
Favorite book: The Bear, by William Faulkner
Favorite movie: National Lampoons Vacation
Whats on your iPod? Keith Whitley, Led Zeppelin, Peter Tosh
Pet peeve: Rental car refueling charges
Greatest achievement: Being a part of Hendrick Motorsports championships, and seeing the satisfaction it brings to everyone here who works so hard to win.
Fantasy job: Probably doing helicopter tours in Hawaii like that guy on Magnum P.I.
Executive you most admire: Rick Hendrick
Business advice: The Marines say; Of all the consistent patterns we can discern, there are two concepts of universal significance in generating power: speed and focus. They nailed it. When a group of people can work together, at a fast pace, with the same desire and focus, theyll be successful.

Marshall Carlson spent his spare time as a high school youth in a small four-bay garage, running errands, cleaning up and being there for the mechanics when they needed a hand.

Hendrick Motorsports

“I always loved cars, I loved everything mechanical,” Carlson said. “But I never envisioned that I’d be in this type of role.”

That role has taken Carlson into one of the top team jobs in NASCAR, running Hendrick Motorsports — NASCAR’s version of the New York Yankees, minus most of the drama — as general manager and executive vice president.

While owner Rick Hendrick will always be the face of the team, Carlson has emerged as the team’s day-to-day leader, a behind-the-scenes role that puts him in the middle of everything from contract negotiations to sponsorship, engine shop issues and finance.

One minute he might be in a meeting with Hendrick’s competition team, the next minute he might be reviewing a sponsor’s contract.

“It’s my job to stay abreast of everything,” Carlson said. “One of the real fortunate things about this company, given the breadth of what we do, is that we have a pretty flat management structure. We don’t make any major decisions without the stakeholders having input.”

If a department of Hendrick Motorsports needs a new piece of equipment, more staffing, more resources, Carlson’s job is to understand the need and implement a plan “to make sure our people are in a position to be successful.”

At the end of the day, though, Carlson probably spends as much or more time on contracts as anything. With a sponsor roster that includes Pepsi, Lowe’s, DuPont, National Guard, Kellogg and CarQuest, among others, “we’re representing a lot of companies on the track, through licensed merchandise, media,” he said. “These are complicated relationships and we have a significant responsibility to that company.”

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