When Billy Race looks back at his days in oil industry sales, he admits that he was ''almost embarrassed.''
''I was so green,'' he said.
But the Jamestown native, using lessons learned at the heels of one of the most famous stock-car racing families, is now among the rising stars in one of the nation's largest accounting firms.
Kyle Petty, left, and Billy Race chat at a Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen.
P-J file photo
Race, 39, is a business development advisor for CliftonLarsonAllen and lives in Albuquerque. Although he's been with the firm for only 2 years, his work has been recognized by the New Mexico Business Weekly, which has included him as one of its state-wide ''40 Under Forty'' honorees. Race attended an awards dinner last week.
''It's incredible to see how many young professionals hold positions of power in New Mexico, and how much they are accomplishing in their roles,'' wrote Rachel Sams, New Mexico Business Weekly associate editor, in an on-line blog. '' ... New Mexico's young businesspeople are not only finding those opportunities, they're making the most of them - and making the state a better place to live in the process.''
Race was one of more than 400 nominees, who had to complete an application and provide letters of reference. The information was reviewed by a panel of five judges, who scored the applicants on professional achievement, leadership and community involvement.
''The accounting world is new to me,'' Race said, ''but I've gone into accounting the same way I've always gone after anything and that's with the attitude of 'What do I have to lose?' The worst people can say is 'no.' If I had a dollar for every 'no' I've had in the sales world I wouldn't have to work.''
But Race's business resume, which dates to 2000, has served him well, most notably the five years he spent with Richard Petty Racing and Kyle Petty Development, NASCAR's father-son royalty.
''I've said it a million times,'' said Race, a 1991 graduate of Falconer Central School. ''I've had a lot of different sales jobs, but the Petty experience really taught me how to treat people. Richard and Kyle treat every fan like they've known them forever.
''You always have to treat each individual account like it's the only account you have.''
Race also credits his mother, Ann, and his father, Bill, for their roles in developing the skills necessary to be successful on the job.
''Mom taught me never to be afraid of change,'' Race said. ''When someone gives you a 'no,' I look at it as an opportunity to turn it into a 'yes.'''
Race, married and the father of two, said he learned tenacity from his dad, the former Falconer Central School football coach.
''Those influences were probably the biggest (reasons for) my success,'' he said.
Race's responsibilities with CliftonLarsonAllen include: developing strong relationships in the Albuquerque market, which then turn into sales in the region; playing a key role in branding, marketing and advertising the company's image; and developing relationships with current clients.
''New Mexico is relationship driven,'' Race said. ''You have to gain people's trust in order to get their accounting business.''