A local small business defies all odds against the COVID-19 pandemic
RPM Raceway | Race Play More, the country’s longest indoor track and a premier entertainment destination, was born as a family-owned business in Jersey City in 2010. Over the years, RPM has contributed in a multitude of ways to the Meadowlands’ growing tourism and hospitality industry sector. But, like nearly all businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic slammed down major roadblocks and spun RPM’s plans well off track. And while this is certainly the toughest race the business has ever faced, RPM is now on the road to recovery with a landmark upgrade project at the finish line.
For this feature piece, we sat down with Co-Owners Karen Davis-Farage (who serves on the Meadowlands Chamber’s board of advisors and the Meadowlands Live! Tourism Advisory Council) and Eyal Farage to learn more about the business’s pursuit of growth and giving back amid the unprecedented conditions of the past two years.
While nearly all people and businesses were faced with the hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic, RPM confronted unique roadblocks that made operations difficult and impossible at times.
Classified as part of the entertainment industry, RPM was among the first group of businesses forced to close by state authorities. The menacing unpredictability of the situation then made it very difficult to come up with a plan for the business to move forward. For many months, even as restrictions loosened on other categories of business in New Jersey, it remained unclear when or how RPM would reopen their doors.
While RPM didn’t have a blueprint or official guidance for how they should approach the situation, the team persevered – staying driven by resilience and never looking back.
Making the best of a bad situation
From the onset, RPM took the wheel and digitally transformed their customer experience into virtual possibilities. With this, they formulated their very first online racing stimulation which they named RPM Sim. Notably, the proceeds gained from this venture were automatically donated to The Salvation Army and the NAACP.
Upon reopening their doors, the team behind RPM ensured the implantation of safety protocols and procedures prescribed by the CDC. As per the current situation, the team is staying up to date with any new announcements regarding COVID-19. Their main priority of protecting the safety of all workers and customers remains intact. The RPM clean team ensures a clean environment through regular cleaning and requiring masks for the safety and pleasure of all guests.
Nurturing the business
It hasn’t always been a smooth ride but RPM brought back stability in the short-term, while keeping the company’s long-term growth in mind.
“We needed to nurture the business to overcome the losses from the pandemic,” says Eyal.
These wise words reflect a lesson many have learned since the onset of the pandemic: a business must be cared for when overcoming tragic losses and obstacles. For RPM, heeding this lesson has helped them find new ways of navigating the situation. According to Karen and Eyal, it is a matter of taking it day by day and one step at a time – finding a positive step forward in each new day.
And through it all, the RPM team keeps learning and continues to grow.
RPM renovates to make way for new experiences
As a growing business, it’s important to generate new products throughout the course of the business lifecycle. As time passes us by and the world continues to modernize, RPM must keep pace with the latest technologies in its field.
RPM is committed to their guests and the experiences they provide, which is why each experience is jampacked with fun and excitement. An important goal for the company is to provide their guests with the most exhilarating experiences possible. And it’s safe to say that, since RPM’s founding 11 years ago, they have proven their passion for this mission.
In fact, RPM recently decided to rev up the engine and update their customer experience with a revolutionary renovation plan. These update plans include a new fleet from the 2022 OTL Electro Kart line, multi-level tracks and live music. Pending government approvals, the project is expected to begin in February of 2022 and finish by spring.
Staying involved in the Meadowlands business community
Karen plays a big part in ensuring the company is involved in the Meadowlands’ hospitourism (hospitality and tourism) industry. She has served on the Meadowlands Chamber board of advisors since the company opened in 2010 and also serves on the Tourism Advisory Council for the Meadowlands Live! | Convention & Visitors Bureau (MLCVB).
RPM’s team has strived greatly, often in the face of roadblocks, to come up with exciting ways for the company to expand on its unique value proposition. With that being said, RPM provides a variety of business-centered options that local companies can take advantage of, such as end of the year parties, appreciation gatherings, co-branded events and a fun space outside the office for hosting meetings. OUTFRONT Media is just one of several local companies that have been hosting their offsite meetings at RPM, encouraging employees to come together and enjoy some friendly competition.
In navigating through the times we currently live in, not every company is comfortable with booking such large events. This has pushed RPM to come up with new, tailored programs. One of the tailored programs they hosted with local company Fabuwood Kitchen Cabinetry included voucher purchasing, letting them send vouchers to employees to use at their own discretion. Vouchers can also be sent to customers and clients as well, with an additional co-branding opportunity if the company so chooses.
RPM also thrives on showing appreciation to the businesses and people who helped them build up from square one. With this in mind, the team finds it important to include these companies when giving their care and appreciation around. As RPM spreads care and appreciation, the cycle always comes back around.
Karen and Eyal expressed gratitude for the support RPM received from the Meadowlands Chamber and fellow members, encouraging struggling businesses to reach out to someone on the MC staff for guidance or an ear to listen.
Building the team and giving back
As a family-owned business, the RPM staff understands the importance of working together as a team and acknowledging their team members’ hard work and dedication to hospitality. These values are core to RPM’s operations.
“Employees are where the business starts,” says Eyal.
Indeed, RPM’s employees are the individuals who interact with customers on an eye-to-eye level each and every day.
Another core value that comes along with this is the act of giving back to the community, showing appreciation to those who helped push RPM Raceway to what it is today.
With this notion of giving back in mind, Karen initiated RPM’s CAReS (Cancer, Alzheimers, Recovery, those in need) program dating back to 2010 when the company was in its first steps.
“Giving back to the community allows the community to give back to us and vice versa. What goes around comes around,” says Eyal.
Karen and Eyal instill this message in their business plan. According to Karen, it’s crucial to build your brand and your reputation around something positive because customers remember your compassion, employees are attracted to your care and fellow business owners will feel comfortable forming beneficial relationships with you. All in all, this makes for a more successful path, she says.
What does the future look like?
The road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is just the current race that RPM is on. Once they cross this finish line, the company’s future course includes more upgrades to their locations in Jersey City, Stamford, CT and Long Island, NY (Farmingdale). The company’s future expansion plan includes prospective locations both inside and outside of the tri-state area.
The push for such an innovative future requires the support of strong employees. Because RPM has become so surrounded with strong, compassionate employees, they are able to stay ahead of the game and provide world-class experiences.
Thanks to strong values and determination, there’s no doubt that RPM will continue to grow and give businesses and consumers in our area the gift of entertainment.
RPM Raceway is the country’s longest indoor track and a premier entertainment destination, providing an authentic, exhilarating and memorable racing experience second only to climbing into an actual race car. To learn more, visit www.rpmraceway.com.