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BOULDER, Colo. (July 30) – Earning the right to wear an Ironman “Finisher” t-shirt is fortunately not a requirement for forging a successful business partnership.
Requirement, absolutely not. Benefit, most definitely.
Charles G. Duggan II, MAS+ and David Shultz discovered their Ironman connection when a discussion at an industry networking event signaled involvement with the grueling endurance event. It’s not something Ironman finishers would overlook. Arguably the world’s most difficult one-day sporting event, participants start with a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bicycle ride after which the athletes run a full 26.2-mile marathon. Complete the course in under 17 hours or it doesn’t count.
Duggan, Director of Sales and Marketing for industry supplier Astor Chocolate (UPIC: astor), and Shultz, Vice-President of Operations for industry technology provider DistributorCentral, LLC, (UPIC: dc), have earned their respective “Finisher” shirts, albeit under different circumstances and times. This week they’ll both be at the 2014 Ironman Triathlon in Boulder, Colorado.
Again, different circumstances. Duggan will be competing in Boulder as an athlete in the 140.6-mile race while Shultz will literally be one of the boys in the band. His band, “Ironband,” is comprised of triathletes who write and perform parodies related to Ironman and the triathlon world in general. Ironband was invited to Boulder to play at the opening ceremony party.
“This time I get the easy job – playing guitar and watching the race – while Charles and the other athletes do all the hard work,” Shultz said. “Then on Monday we go back to the office and dive back into the business of technology and the world of promotional products.”
Duggan and Shultz have worked together on a number of technology and marketing initiatives in the promotional products industry. DistributorCentral designed and hosts dynamic, custom websites for Astor Chocolate that can be quickly launched and customized to suit Astor’s distributors’ needs. Astor hosts educational session to teach their distributors how to leverage the tools provided by DistributorCentral to drive sales.
“DC provides Astor with a technology platform that enables their team to instantly launch new products or seasonal promotions across each of their distributors’ websites,” said Shultz. He’s convinced setting goals for technology initiatives in the promotional products industry can be similar in nature to setting goals when it comes to the triathlon world.
“The technology needs of customers can sometimes be overwhelming,” said Shultz. “But break up seemingly impossible tasks into achievable milestones and it’s not as daunting. Same for a 140.6-mile Ironman: The swim is done, if I just finish this bike leg all I have to do is run a marathon.”
Duggan agrees. “To be at the top of your game you have to do things every day to reach your sales goal,” he said. “Same as training for an Ironman. You need a good support network just like in business.”
In 2002, after his father suffered a stroke and losing his mother to a heart attack, Duggan ran his first marathon to raise money for Train to End Stroke. Since then he’s completed over 100 races including 17 marathons, seven half and five full Ironman competitions. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of Duggan’s accomplishments is maintaining a disciplined training regimen in the midst of a busy and travel-filled sales career.
Shultz has an equally demanding professional schedule. Plus, after his inaugural Ironman experience, it’s a wonder he didn’t give it up. In his first Ironman Shultz collapsed four miles shy of the finish line due to over-hydration. Doctors kept Shultz in a medically-induced coma for the next 48 hours as they slowly raised his sodium levels. Sufficiently educated in the intricacies of proper sodium intake and hydration techniques, Shultz returned to the same Ironman scene one year later and earned that finisher t-shirt.
Duggan may be one of the few to truly understand Shultz being compelled to complete an Ironman. And, he knows Shultz’s competitive spirit and process-oriented focus benefit their business relationship.
“That Dave and I will both be in Boulder adds to the excitement,” Duggan said. “For road warriors, it’s all about planning and execution. Just like the sales process, you plan to succeed.”