The Firm that Builds Derby Racers Together Stays Together

priority.jpgWhat’s the best way to retain employees? Derby-car racing! (Of course, it helps to be an industrial design firm.) It was this employee retention tactic that nabbed Columbus, Ohio-based Priority Designs a cameo in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. While other firms profiled talked of holding scavenger hunts, “re-birthday parties” on the anniversary of each employee’s hiring, and concerts by a visiting guitarist, Priority won the cool contest with its company-wide participation in derby-car races sponsored by the Industrial Designers Society of America.

Four years after entering its first contest, Priority now dominates the annual event, having nabbed first, second, and third-place finishes. Paul Kolada, the firm’s principal and owner, says that such competitions have become a showcase for the firm (this year’s winning car, “Slingshot,” is currently featured on the firm’s homepage). What’s the secret to their success? Total dedication. They installed a racetrack in the office, and employees stay late into the night tweaking car designs. According to the WSJ, constructing a car may cost as much as $10,000, including engineers’ lost billable time. But the morale boost? Priceless.