Members of Textainer gather for a group photo at the 2009 JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge in San Francisco.
Textainer's long-running commitment
to Corporate Challenge reaches 18 years
SAN FRANCISCO, July 12, 2010 – Textainer won’t be among the largest teams at the 26th running of the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge® in San Francisco. But, it will be among the longest running squads that gather on August 4th at the race’s new site at Piers 30 & 32 on the Embarcadero.
“Textainer first participated in 1993 and has competed every year since for 17 consecutive years,” said Company Captain Jennifer Chu. “This will be our 18th year. Our CFO, Ernie Furtado, has a history that goes back even further when he was participating in 1984 for another company when the race was called the Manufacturers Hanover Corporate Challenge. From there, he decided to form a Textainer team, and we’ve been running in the race ever since.”
Established in 1979, Textainer has become a leader in the marine container leasing industry in a relatively short time. It is a far-flung global company with operations in major ports around the world. Nonetheless, its staff is not large and the San Francisco team comes exclusively from the company’s administrative headquarters on California Street, not far from the new Corporate Challenge site.
“Every year we have the faithful devotees that look forward to the race, but our participation varies from 12 to more than 20,” said Chu, a QA/Computer Specialist in Textainer’s Information Technology department who has been company captain for six years.
Despite the relatively small numbers, three things stand out about Textainer’s teams:
- They can surprise themselves, as they did last year when they finished a respectable 25th among all of San Francisco’s mixed (two men/two women) teams.
“I think coming in at 25th place amongst some very competitive and larger teams is very inspiring,” said Chu. “We participate not so much as a competitive team, but to encourage camaraderie amongst one another.”
- Textainer’s team also not only has the support of upper management, but its participation as well. CEO John Maccarone, hoping to run around 32 minutes, and Furtado, seeking a sub-30-minute time, head the list of middle and upper management on the team.
- And, of course, the Textainer team has had its long run of loyalty to the Corporate Challenge stop in San Francisco.
That starts, as with most companies that participate in the Corporate Challenge around the world, with its company captain – in this case, Chu.
“Mr. Furtado was the initial organizer and cheerleader persuading company participation. After years of his dedication, he passed the torch onto me and I’ve been the point person for this event for our company ever since,” said Chu, who ran in high school, but began running more seriously after college. “I participate mainly in half-marathons and run to stay healthy, but also because I sincerely enjoy it.”
She does her best to spread the word at Textainer, not only about the joys of running, but also about the fun of participating in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge, even for non-runners.
“Every year when I receive the email that registration is open, I start sending out my series of promotional emails to the office and advertise that the race is on the horizon,” she said. “I hang the provided Corporate Challenge posters in our kitchens and I’ll periodically send emails leading up to the race with information, maps, and what they’ll receive with their involvement.
"If I think a person might have an interest or is on the fence, especially for someone who has not joined in the past, I try and encourage that this is not a race, but a corporate event in a safe environment. Sometimes it’s hard to motivate non-runners because of the idea that this is a race. This can be a very foreign concept to some as well as very intimidating. And sometimes it boils down to logistics. When the race was held at Crissy Field, everyone could agree that the area was beautiful, but the date of the race was later in the year where it would get darker earlier and not necessarily convenient for BART or specific Muni lines. This year, with the race in its new location and new date, there has been a renewed interest because it’s closer and central to public transit.”
The effort pays off, year after year at Textainer.
“Everyone is invited to participate and we get employees at all levels. We individually prepare ourselves for the race but always celebrate at the end by either participating in the post race hospitality settings in years past or we’ll reserve space in a nearby restaurant for food and drinks immediately following the race,” said Chu. “We have always had a post-race party which is a good time for everyone to talk about their experiences, whether they ran or walked."
And the rewards extend beyond camaraderie and team spirit for Textainer, which also hosts a golf tournament for employees, family and friends. Everyone is encouraged to play, even if golf is not their sport, said Chu, because the event is designed with team interaction in mind, where each team has an equal chance to win.
The JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge, of course, also adds the aspect of fitness and health in the workplace.
“Active lifestyles are generally very inspiring and pay it forward when motivating and challenging others around us,” Chu said. “Recently, I noticed a regular participant running more regularly not only to prepare for this event, but to stay fit for a lifetime. I think the catalyst was the Corporate Challenge.”