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Gil Losi JR Interview

Das amerikanische R/C Magazin, XTreme RC Cars, hat Ihr Interview (in Englisch) mit Gil Losi, dem ehemaligen Gründer von Team Losi und dem neuem Entwicklungs- und Forschungschef von Kyosho Amerika online gestellt:

Derek Buono: We’re going to cut to the chase and get right into the questions that everybody is asking. What? How? Why?
Gil Losi Jr.: Horizon is a very well run company and I don’t want to slam them for doing anything that’s “bad business,” but in a way, it was too much business for me and not enough passion. I had to answer to a corporate world where so many of the functions were starting to be done from Champaign—Horizon’s main office—and not California, and I really had no voice to participate. Decisions were being made that really affected my reputation and my passion for the industry. I’m not going to say that they were the wrong decisions, but they were decisions I really didn’t agree with. Then when my Dad retired, they brought in new management, and since then, they are on their second set of new management. Every transition took another bite out of what we were and the things we did well. The focus of Horizon has dramatically moved away from what I was passionate about. Not in a bad way, but it was harder for me. It was hard because of the affect it had on my perception of the industry and the people that were at Losi forever. I was actually fighting depression for about a year and half over it, and it was kind of miserable. I’d look around and think that what they were doing wasn’t stupid, so why was I miserable?

Derek: Do you think it was a cultural difference?
Gil Jr.: Yeah, I think it was a cultural difference, and I thank them. I learned a lot from working with them. They are very good business people, and they make decisions for sound reasons. It’s not like they are going to go out and kill Team Losi. I was having a hard time. It was the first time I wasn’t enjoying this hobby. For me, as a person, I decided it was time to go out and find my passion again. I wasn’t actively looking, I was at a race discussing it with Joel Johnson one day and he was saying how they’d like to create a design group in the US for Kyosho, and they were actively discussing it. At the time, they weren’t ready to do anything. So I left by saying that if things continued the way they were, and I couldn’t come to grips with Horizon, I was interested. And that’s how it started. I went through a couple more projects at Horizon and the way things went, I felt that the security of working at Horizon wasn’t worth it to me, so I decided to take a chance and go out and work with a group that was passionate about racing and racing products. If I could get back into a group like Joel and Steve in the US, along with the team in Japan—the really passionate racing people—it would become more of a home to me than what Losi had become.

Derek: How important do you think racing is in driving the RC market? It seems that the big names in the industry that have a large racing background, like Team Losi, seem to have switched focus away from racing a bit.
Gil Jr.: Everything goes through cycles, and racing went through such a wonderful period in the 90s that you have a lot of good racers, lots of people who are capable of doing product development, capable of winning with products that are copies of good racing products. Currently, we have a type of inequity in RC product manufacturing. Right now you have Chinese companies—first it was Taiwanese—that can basically just go out and copy a product and build it for so substantially cheaper than what a Japanese or American company can do. They have so much profi t built in that they can just walk in and pay drivers a lot of money. And with the cost of drivers, when you’re manufacturing in a Tier 1 country like Japan, Europe, and the US, it’s very difficult to match the money a Chinese company pays. They aren’t developing the products, and their cost to manufacture them could be half or a quarter of what it is for us. It has made it difficult for the high-end companies that traditionally compete to make enough money to support the racers and the races. That’s what you’re seeing right now. How do you compete with people when you put a lot of money into development and you can’t protect it and make money off it?

Derek: How long before we start seeing some “Losi” influence on Kyosho products?
Gil Jr.: I hope you see the influence very quickly, as far as the support. We have a great young team with a lot of talent. They just need some help in creating the right team environment and the right testing programs to work the existing products. The current line, for the most part, is very good. It’s just that bringing them to the US and adapting them to the US styles of racing hasn’t been done correctly yet.

Derek: What is the first project you want to start working on?
Gil Jr.: Getting to know the team. Helping Ryan Lutz with leadership skills and testing. I’ve worked with Ryan and Cody King the past few weeks, running 1/8-scale and learning the product line. They have always been up to speed, but we’re getting them more involved in planning main event strategies, setups that give them an advantage… that sort of stuff.

Derek: Are we going to see features that many of us consider “Losi” on Kyosho products, or are you going to have to try harder to set your new projects apart?
Gil Jr.: I’m not going to reinvent myself. My core beliefs will be in anything I work on. Part of my core beliefs is looking to explore design flaws in current products. Get out and work with them, fi nd the weak points and improve on them. Sometimes that means wholesale changes and other times it’s small detail changes. That’s something that we have to look at product by product. For example, is it a category we can reinvent, like some people think of me, or can we take something that’s current and make it better.

Derek: Is it strange for you not to see your name on projects or boxes, stranger to see product with your name that you’re not involved with, or that the only Losi family member still working at Horizon is your mom, Janet?
Gil Jr.: Well, she’ll be gone from Losi by the time people read this, so the Losi family will be completely gone. It’s very difficult for me to be away from Team Losi because that’s my family. That’s been really hard. There was one point where I could barely pick myself up off the floor because I was so freaked out by everything, but at the same time I wasn’t going forward anymore in my own development and I had to do something for me. I like to think of Team Losi now as a division of Horizon, and it’s not the Team Losi I knew. I can live with seeing my name on the product, but it’s hard to go to the track and not work with Adam Drake or Todd Hodge.

Derek: Is that what you’re going to miss the most… the relationships?
Gil Jr.: Definitely. I was involved with hiring, teaching, and training most of the people, there, and they are all great people. The fi rst engineer we ever hired—Clarence Smith is still there. He’s really one of the most important teachers I left behind, along

XTreme RC Cars Magazine

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