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Falken Blog

A Day at the Ballpark with Falken Tires CEO Richard Smallwood

To those who know me, I’m not a typical CEO who sits cooped up in the office all day; I enjoy getting outside, meeting and talking to the people who sell and use our products every day, chatting with Falken employees and taking on new experiences.
In late 2015, Falken Tires announced a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Major League Baseball to become the Official Tire of MLB. As we begin this great new partnership, I wanted to share my personal experience from our event in Phoenix, Arizona, the Falken Tires MLB Spring Training Ride & Drive; where we kicked off our newest products: the WILDPEAK A/T3W, SINCERA SN250 A/S, AZENIS FK450 and the WILDPEAK M/T.
 
 
I am a car guy through and through and love adventure of any type. Having the opportunity to throw out the first pitch is my kind of adrenaline rush. 
 
With that said….Let’s Play Ball! 
 
 
To those who know me, I’m not a typical CEO who sits cooped up in the office all day; I enjoy getting outside, meeting and talking to the people who sell and use our products every day, chatting with Falken employees and taking on new experiences. And while I’m fortunate to have many memorable moments in my career, throwing out the first pitch of a baseball game is definitely an experience I never imagined doing as CEO of a tire company. 
 
With a few tips before heading to the mound, I took a deep breath and walked out onto the field to an almost sold-out crowd of over 14,000 people at Sloan Park. After a quick introduction, I threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Chicago Cubs vs. Kansas City Royals game.
 
 
Although I haven’t picked up a baseball in years, I tossed a high strike to the catcher; thankful I didn’t bounce it over the plate (*Number one rule of ceremonial first pitches*). What a thrill it was to be on the field with two major league teams, with some of the finest athletes in the world, representing Falken Tires.
 
After my nerves settled and I realized the cool memory I had just made, I went to hang out and watch the game with some of our tire dealers we brought to Phoenix from all over North America to learn and experience our newest products. When I met up with our group, I was congratulated by dealers, Falken employees and even random fans. Not only did this make me reflect on the uniqueness of throwing out the first pitch, but also how excited everyone was to be with Falken Tires at the game.  
 
 
After the game, the entire group was given a tour of beautiful Sloan Park. Our first stop was home plate, as we took a group photo on the field; the smiles and excitement from our group made my afternoon. What a fun experience to be on the actual field of a Major League team!
 
 
From our group photo, we walked to the left field bleachers where two knowledgeable tour guides shared insight on Sloan Park. As you may know, the Chicago Cubs play in famous Wrigley Field, one of the oldest ballparks in baseball. As a guy who appreciates detail and precision, as seen in our products, I enjoyed listening to the fun facts on how Sloan Park mimics Wrigley Field. The direction the field sits, the dimensions of the outfield, the reason for the visitor dugout being on the 3rd base line (Hint: bright sun), to the outfield bleachers and famous green clock adorned above the scoreboard, all elements mimic and replicate the environment one would find at the legendary Wrigley Field. 
 
 
During the final stop of our tour, we were greeted by Cubs player Dan Vogelbach for a Q & A and photo opportunity. Dan couldn’t have been more gracious with his time and I know the dealers in attendance loved being able to talk to a professional athlete about life, sports and of course, tires!
 
As we returned to the hotel and got ready to begin our track and trail ride & drives over the next few days, we couldn’t have asked for a better kick-off experience to showcase our four new products (WILDPEAK A/T3WSINCERA SN250 A/SAZENIS FK450 and the WILDPEAK M/T) and our MLB partnership.
 
 
I’d like to personally thank the Chicago Cubs Spring Training Staff for their hard work and hospitality, all of our Falken Tires employees for making the MLB Spring Training Ride & Drive a great success and all of our valued dealers who attended the event; we are preparing for a big year this year and it wouldn’t be possible without their support and interest.
 
 
I’m still a car guy for the through and through, but after our Spring Training Tire Introduction event I now have a bit of baseball in my blood!
 
Go Falken,
 
Richard Smallwood