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Friday, May 21, 2010

10 Questions with Renie Hippler, President and CEO of Track Data Systems


Click the video to see Renie speak about Track Data Systems plans to promote racing online.

Click the logo to see the NEW TrackInfo.com!

Please tell us a about Track Data Systems and your role with the company.
TrackData is a family run business. We were founded in 1981 by two brothers Dave & Glenn Hobson. Their father Pres Hobson worked various jobs throughout the racing industry – one of which being the Editor of the National Greyhound Update – for those of you who were around when it was published! Pres was working in the print shop and had a brainstorm that with the advent of the personal computer the production of a greyhound racing program was an ideal project for automation. And from there TrackData was born and went on to pioneer the computerization of the Greyhound Racing Office.

Dave Hobson was at the helm of the company until his passing in April of 2008. Dave hired me as TrackData's first employee in May of 1987. I have done everything including answer the phones, accounting, client installs, programming, customer service, operations – and now at the request of Dave and his family have taken on the role of President and CEO.

Over the last two years we have streamlined our operation, improved the efficiency of our products and now we are launching our new full featured website. The new generation of TrackData will integrate the younger generation of Hobson's by utilizing their areas of expertise in the internet and social media.

Track Data Systems recently launched a new and improved website. What can race fans expect to find at TrackInfo.com?
We are hoping for full integration of greyhound data - current, historical, replays, wagering, social media hub - from track specific to national in scope. What we would like to call a one stop shop. We will also have comparable thoroughbred and harness data just not as large in scope.

How long was the new website in development, and what were the biggest challenges?
The site has been in development for about a year now. Our old site had morphed over the years so analysis and reorganization was complicated. From a business stand point the biggest challenge was to incorporate all of our existing content in a manner that our current users could easily find. But we also wanted to improve the layout, functionality and content to draw in a new set of end users. From a personal end delegating the project out and having to depend on others to produce the vision – I'm definitely a hands on A Type personality so that has been very difficult.

How long does it take a track employee to create a typical race program and how does this compare to the program creation process from 20 years ago?
Before the advent of computer technology at the race track and print shop, producing a racing program was an overnight project. The race track would type a list of entries and send them to the print shop to compile a proof copy. After checking this proof for errors the track would then give the ok to print and the next day printed programs would be available. Today the process is streamlined and we can get a printed program out in less than an hour – from draw to program stand.

In your opinion, what is the best service Track Data Systems offers racing fans?
We offer the racing fans the largest, most complete and accurate source of Greyhound historical data. For many years the greyhound public has asked for a national Greyhound Data Base and we are able to answer that request with our Greymatter Data Base. There are still a few tracks who choose not to make their data available which is unfortunate.

Most race fans probably associate Track Data Systems with racing programs and results. What other types of products do you offer tracks that are "behind the scenes"?
The perception is that TrackData only handles greyhound data. Trackdata has a complete record keeping system that resides at the racetrack and that allows them to produce everything from the racing program, statistics and weekly purse earning checks for greyhound owners and the federal government. TrackData also has a branch of the company that supplies simulcast information on thoroughbreds, harness and greyhound racing. We have clients all over the United States as well as internationally.

What are Track Data Systems plans for promoting and creating new products to help the greyhound racing industry going forward?
The industry is struggling and the many untruths that the AR people are circulating and their campaigns to shut down live racing are having considerable success and the industry has done little in the way of a counter attack. We need to fill the airways with as much positive information as possible on all aspects of greyhound racing. Social Media can be a huge help. Now that the website is ready to launch, TrackData is in the unique position to be able to handle this on a national level. We need to focus on the greyhound athletes, the success of the adoption programs and the families and individuals who have devoted their lives to this sport and the athletes. The tracks need to look to their sport for survival not to other gaming ventures.

Along with promoting the sport the new site will also implement useful real-time data geared to the greyhound gambler. As the year progresses look for TrackData to unveil new and innovative products to enhance your enjoyment and profitability of greyhound racing.

How many content providers does Track Data Systems work with, and how does that process work?
We have 3 major content providers outside of the greyhound tracks themselves. Our 3 major content providers send their information to our servers as soon as the information is available – results are instantly available from the tote company. Entry information comes anywhere from 24 to 72 hours ahead of time. For any greyhound track that has TrackData Systems racing office software the information is automatically sent to us – other greyhound tracks that wish to make their information available provide it to us in a variety of methods. Once the information is on site we run it through quality control to confirm that there are no errors in the file and then we produce product and feed the website.

What makes Track Data Systems products stand above the competition?
Besides the accuracy of our data - one word that comes to mind is customer support. At the track level we know it is a real time situation and we gear our support to resolve any problems in the period between races which generally give us only twenty minutes so we have to be prepared, competent and on call and ready to respond. Not all issues can be corrected in a twenty minute time frame but never the less that is our goal.

A typical day in the life of Renie Hippler is...?
Crazy, hectic, exhausting and full of laughter and stress from juggling! – I have a 2 year old!

I am one of those insane women who has a full time job and a little one at home. 2 years ago my life changed on two fronts – we as an industry lost one of the good guys – Dave Hobson whom I had worked with 5 days a week for 21 years and a week later my daughter was born. Two extremely emotional events and two full time jobs collided!

Thank god I am blessed with a husband who took to parenting like a duck takes to water. I couldn't do it without him. He is a fireman so his schedule is ideal for being the primary parent and I have flexible hours and the ability to telecommute when he is at work.

I live by lists – some days they get thrown out the window and sometimes things fall through the cracks but overall all fronts seem to be on an even keel.

Many thanks to Renie for taking time out of her busy schedule to give us such informative answers! It is great to see Track Data Systems taking the initiative to help promote our great sport. If you haven't already done so, make sure to check out the NEW TrackInfo.com and give them your feedback.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with Renee 100%. Greyhound tracks need to look to there sport instead of other venues. Greyhound racing has been putting food on their table for 50+ years but now they look to slots and poker to save them and the racing is on the backburner or dropped all together.

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