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Volume 23 No. 8
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Plugged In: Josh Furlow, Competitor Group

Since 2013, Competitor Group Inc. has seen several of its leading executives depart. The latest move occurred in January, when former CEO David Abeles left less than a year into his tenure. That opened the door for Josh Furlow. As the company’s new president, Furlow now oversees the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon series, the TriRock family of triathlon events, and a small media empire focused on endurance sports. Furlow’s background is in events operation, and before overseeing CGI’s events he held a similar role with AEG Sports.

We’re doing quite a bit on international expansion, and we’re looking at Australia, Asia and South America. The international business is still just in its infancy.

On restoring confidence after the executive changes: The events business is a relationship game. I’ve spent the last four years on the road 300 days a year making personal relationships with the city partners, sponsor reps and other executives. I have lots of face time with them. So yes, there has been change, but I don’t see it as enormous change, because I’m still here.

On where he sees growth potential: The last five years we’ve seen huge growth with Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Glow Runs. We see that, but we are going to focus on what we do best, which is to capitalize on the shorter-distance — like 5k and 10k — runs, and then focus [those runners] on the longer races. You won’t see [themed] runs at Rock ’n’ Roll races. We’re focused on our core.

On the challenges of launching a half marathon in Brooklyn this October: We spent the last four years working with Brooklyn city politics and citywide politics after our [2011] 10k run there. It was all about face time and relationship building. The biggest hurdle was the administration change. With [Michael] Bloomberg out and Mayor [Bill] de Blasio in, we had to start over with our relationship building in City Hall. It’s taken lots of trips out there.

On creating repeat business: How do you take that person who is a first-timer and then turn them into a multi-user? We’ve spent years thinking about that. We rolled out our Tour Pass loyalty program last year: For a certain price, you can come and run three events. We’re starting to see big growth with the Tour Pass. We’re also spending hours going through customer satisfaction data to try and figure how to capitalize on that program.

— Fred Dreier, correspondent