MEDIA RELEASE FROM SMITH POWER EQUIPMENT
Chris Wood –Polaris RZR Racer, Entrepreneur, Inspiration!
A Polaris RZR racer, an 8-handicap golfer, the managing director of a well-known, highly successful iron ore mining company, father of three wonderful, successful children. This certainly paints a story of a successful man. And down-to-earth Chris Wood is just that – a successful man. But given that he has achieved all this with one arm makes his accomplishments, well, close to superhuman!
According to Chris the motorcycle accident which tore his body apart – crushed right arm which had to be amputated near the shoulder, both legs broken, knees smashed, ribs crushed, punctured lungs – was a massive, divinely inspired, wake-up call for him to get focused. He was just 21 years old at the time!
“One’s choices are clear after such an event,” Chris says. “You can choose for your spirit to be defeated by the circumstances or you can choose to learn from what has happened and move forward in a positive way without dwelling on the past.”
“That’s where people go wrong generally. Governments, sportsmen, business leaders and ordinary individuals blame their failures on the past – oppressive government, poor education, poor economy etc. They are not prepared to take responsibility for their own lives by accepting the past and moving forward, focused on their future goals and aspirations, while giving their all to what they are doing in the present moment.
“Take my Polaris RZR 1000 racing as an example. This is a demanding sport. I could focus on how tough this is to do with one arm but I choose differently. One or two minor modifications and we’re away competing in these gruelling races. And I love racing my Polaris. It’s the best machine in its class,” says Chris.
Chris races in the side-by-side class with his teammate and navigator Peet Markram. “We’re both big guys and it’s a bit cramped in the RZR. But he’s an off-road fundi and knows what’s going on and where to go and, most importantly, stays calm … always.”
It was the last Dakar race that sparked Chris’s interest in the RZR. “There was an Australian team – the co-pilot was a woman -racing a Polaris RZR and I was captivated by their energy throughout the race and the performance of the machine. I went out right away and bought a 700cc RZR in Upington, later changed it in Bloemfontein for a 900cc machine and then finally bought my 1000cc machine from the Midrand Polaris dealer. While I’m focused currently on improving my performances in the side-by-side class locally – so much so that I have employed my own mechanic to lower my maintenance costs – I’ve set a goal to do the Dakar in my RZR,” Chris says.
The Dakar? Now that must be one of the most gruelling sporting events on the planet! But for Chris a challenge is a challenge. “I think the secret to success is to set your goals high and then enjoy the journey. I’ll do the Dakar and realistically speaking I probably won’t win. Of course I’ll try to, but if I don’t, I know that just to finish, even just to have participated, will be exhilarating enough.”
He adds that he has no doubt about the ability of the Polaris RZR for these long-distance races. “The last Dakar is a case in point and I am also a keen follower of the Baja 1000 which is a tough, approximately 1000-mile off-road race on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. The Polaris RZR has competed successfully in both these races.”
Talking to Chris Wood one gets the immediate impression that he is a people’s person. He converses easily and confidently and is very comfortable in his own skin. After a minute or two you completely forget that he has a severe physical disability. He makes one feel totally at ease!
“My body took a blow,” he says, “not my spirit! And my spirit is continuously nourished by people – from my children to the people I work with on the mine to the people I race with, play golf with, read about or meet casually on a daily basis. It’s all about people,” Chris says.
And the proof of the pudding is clearly demonstrated by the relationships he has developed and nurtured at Tau Mining, which Chris founded in 2002.
“I employ more than 600 people and I have never had a strike at the mine. This is not luck nor is it extra special management skill. It’s simply the result of understanding that the number one asset in any company is its people – all the people, not just management. We have very special people in this country who can work harder and longer than in most other countries. It’s time we recognised this and time we demonstrated our appreciation of this.
“We do this at Tau Mining and the result is that people are not only happy here but they are also extremely productive. We are currently 9-million tons ahead of our production budget , way ahead of any of our competitors, and this is because we know what we are doing and because we have a motivated team.
“To implement our business model successfully doesn’t take rocket science. It takes an unshakeable faith in the human spirit and in the ability of all people to reach their fullest potential. It requires a respect for the tasks performed by each and every individual in the organisation and to remunerate everyone generously and fairly in line with performance.
“To implement this management system will require a significant paradigm shift by government and management in the South African mining industry. But I have no doubt that it will happen and that
South Africa will once again, sometime in the future, reach the pinnacle of global mining production,” says Chris.
Inspiration is the word. Chris Wood could have chosen to feel sorry for himself after his devastating accident. Instead he decided that it was a sign to make something of his life. This he has done in the most emphatic way! And whether it’s racing Polaris RZR’s, playing golf with his mates or shovelling iron-ore from the earth, he does it with passion and, above all, with a deep and enduring respect for his fellow human being.
For more information contact Smith on 011 284 2000