Elite Corporation (www.elitejapan.co.jp)
Since 2007 Paul Goldsmith has been organizing various events, including his own classic car competition, Tokyo Concours d’Elegance. Before venturing into a world that for many is purely a hobby, he founded and ran his own IT recruiting, web and outsourcing company for 13 years. In the past four years, in between car events, he has been occupied running a boutique placement firm focused on management positions at luxury brands and auto-makers.
What is a Concours d’Elegance?
A Concours d’Elegance is a beauty show for classic cars aged from the early 1900s through to 1975. The cars are usually privately owned and are entered by their owners to be judged by professionals with great knowledge of cars and design. The cars are expected to be in pristine condition or immaculately maintained to ensure their originality. The cars are judged on their beauty, elegance, condition, correctness of replacement parts, and in cases of restoration, the sensitivity of workmanship.
Are these events only interesting for people who love cars?
No. From my experience attending and organizing classic car events, I notice that many people, ladies in particular, who have no interest in cars love looking at these moving objects of art. They are like pieces of sculpture, as they were designed and built with a passion that has disappeared from today’s cars.
Is this a business or just a hobby?
It has become a serious business. The events I have organized rely upon funding from sponsors, typically today’s modern car makers, luxury brands involved with fashion and watches, and automotive product related companies. Without their financial support these events could not take place.
Why is a Concours d’Elegance relevant in this modern day and age?
These classic car events give modern car makers and luxury brands a unique opportunity to talk about heritage, to look back, and to look forward. In some cases the general public has little to no idea about a brand’s history, so a Concours d’Elegance is a great platform to present these heritage stories.
What executive skills do you think are necessary to successfully hold such an event?
Perseverance, stamina, and a thick skin to handle the constant negative response from potential sponsors as one tries to gather funding. Great diplomatic skills and an ability to multi-task, as there are many demands from all sponsors and participants involved in such an event. Managing everyone’s expectations about what is possible to deliver is an enormous challenge. In this kind of event everyone is a VIP and therefore needs to be treated accordingly.
Managing everyone’s expectations about what is possible to deliver is an enormous challenge.
How many Concours d’Elegance events have you organized?
This month’s event will be my fourth. The first two were in central Tokyo at Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills. The third was in Kuwait in January this year, where 54 classic cars were gathered under the management of a business partner and myself. The next one will be at Shiokaze Park, next to the Nikko Hotel in Odaiba, from July 23 to 25.
What are the major differences between putting on an event in Kuwait and organizing one in Japan?
Surprisingly, there are not so many differences, however even up to the day before the event in Kuwait it was unclear how many classic cars would show up, as no one wanted to be the first to enter his cars without knowing who else was entering theirs. In Japan we confirm all cars participating well in advance. The event was very well received, as Kuwait had never held such an international exhibition that appealed to the general public. A key difference though was the support we enjoyed from the prime minister of Kuwait. Having such high level support did make many things go extremely smoothly.
What challenges do you encounter organizing these events?
Ridiculous rules and regulations that restrict what can be done with moving cars. There are various regulations that really don’t make sense whether an event is inside or outside. There are restrictions about what time cars can be delivered, whether or not they can drive under their own power or not, fears about hurting members of the public even when cars are not moving, how blatantly commercial an event is allowed to be, etc. Once again, diplomatic skills are required to work around such restrictions.
What do you do in your spare time?
These days life is very full, so I try to dedicate at least one full weekend day to my young family. I have a daughter who is five and a half and an eleven-month-old son. Entertaining them has become a weekend priority. If I get a chance to do guys’ stuff though, then it’s off into the mountains on my motorcycle, or classic car rallying with friends.
Tokyo Concours d’Elegance