Behind the Scenes with Ultramax CEO James Krajsa
Ultramax Sports is a full service timing and event production company that has 20 years experience producing world class events. In this behind the scenes look, James Krajsa explains that hard work, a great team, family, friends, and community support are the essence of what it takes to produce these large scale, active lifestyle events.
What’s your position with Ultramax?
I’m not huge on titles but officially I am the CEO.
How long has Ultramax been in business?
Technically, Ultramax started in 1999. Mark Livesay (my boss), started putting on triathlons on the side to help raise money for a non-profit he worked at. His first iron distance triathlon he put on was called the “Ultramax Triathlon” at Lake of the Ozarks I think in 2003 or 2004. The company pretty much evolved from there after he started putting on more and more events.
What does Ultramax do?
A very broad answer, we serve the active lifestyle community. We provide opportunities and experiences for people to be a part of a more active lifestyle. More specifically, we are a full-service timing & event production company. We cover every single aspect of the event production process.
How did you first get involved in this type of business?
I was an athlete growing up and all throughout college so I think I have always been drawn to events. My first job was with Sporting KC and eventually an opportunity presented itself at Ultramax so I took it and haven’t looked back.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
This is probably the most challenging but would also say exciting is trying to figure out where this company can go. We have such a skilled team and so many opportunities. It can be extremely hard and stressful to manage all the different facets of our operations, especially how the event industry keeps evolving.
Tell us about your team:
Anyone that works for us is called an “Ultramax Carny”. They are Rock Stars. We are very blessed to have the team we have. Not many people are willing to get up at 2AM in the pouring rain to go sling barricade or have the skill set to time a complex triathlon. We have a wide range of skilled team members.
What are the main components of setting up these large events?
I think a lot of it is similar to setting up a business. What is the why or the purpose of the event. Why are you putting on the event and will the community benefit from it. Once the why has been established, more of the foundational components would be like city permitting, venue location, course design, marketing plan, sponsor acquisition, charity partners, etc….
How was the recent AdventureMax event at Two Rivers?
I thought it went great. Weather was perfect for trail racing. You can’t go wrong with an amazing venue like Two Rivers and SBC beer at the finish line. We are looking at adding a 25k distance next year so that will be an exciting option for 2019.
What are some of the pros and cons of being in the event production industry?
The event industry is relatively new compared to other industries. Its evolving so being a part of it and watching the industry change is exciting. The industry is also very small. Everyone knows everyone. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing but its unique in that respect.
What do you like to do during your days off?
Hang out with my family, with my 2 year old son Asher. He is at the age now where I can run around with him. I have been slacking recently but I do try to get a run or a bike in at least a couple times a week.
What's your favorite event and why?
We have a triathlon at a private resort in Innsbrook, MO just west of St. Louis. Its a brutal race to put on and to participate in but the venue and views are breathtaking. We all rent a house together, grill and hang out as a team. Its a lot of fun.
What Springfield events are coming our way?
Some great ones. Bass Pro Marathon is right around the corner, first weekend in November. Melissa Bondy from Bass Pro always puts on great events. We are very fortunate to be partners with them. Also the largest Thanksgiving Day race in the state, the Springfield Turkey Trot is coming up as well. This will be its 24th year.
What's special about these Springfield events?
I think mostly the community of active people in Springfield that come out and support these races. Several great groups and clubs like SBC Athletics, OMRR and OMC have helped create the running/active lifestyle culture you have in Springfield. Also the city & police are pro events, that really makes a difference in the type and quality of events you have in Springfield.