By Edwin Folven, 8/30/2012
Terry L. Karges plans to boost attendance, education and funding
The new man in the driver’s seat at the Petersen Automotive Museum is a life-long motorsports enthusiast with four decades of experience in the automotive and entertainment industries.
Terry L. Karges became the museum’s new executive director on Aug. 13, replacing Buddy Pepp, who retired after serving the past two years as executive director. Karges is anxious to continue the legacy established by publishing magnate Robert E. Petersen.
“It’s given me a chance to work doing something I love,” Karges said. “It’s a chance to come here and actually participate in something that makes a difference. I’m humbled, I’m honored and I’m challenged.”
Karges said his background in the entertainment and automotive industries has prepared him to lead the museum. He started his career in marketing with Disney in 1965 when founder Walt Disney was still alive, and added that Disney’s motto, “Dare to Dream”, has always stuck with him. Karges went on to serve in marketing management positions at Disneyland, Sea World and Marine World in San Francisco, but after more than a decade, he realized he wanted to pursue a career in the automotive industry. Karges said he grew up in a family with a strong passion for cars and racing, so it was a natural progression. He later became vice president of sales and marketing for Roush Performance, where he worked for 17 years, and most recently was vice president for sales and marketing for Venchurs Inc., a Michigan-based company that provides supply-chain management for automotive parts companies.
Karges spent his first week on the job with the Petersen at the Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance, where he represented the museum. Although he had attended the event previously on his own, Karges said attending as a representative of the Petersen Museum was an honor.
“You meet people from around the world, and they all say the Petersen is the best of its kind,” Karges said. “I spent my first week on the job on stage in a Ferrari accepting an award. There are not many jobs where that is remotely possible.”
Karges said he is particularly interested in boosting attendance, increasing memberships and expanding educational programs at the Petersen Museum. Increasing funding will help him accomplish those goals. He wants to draw on the resources in Southern California, which he added is the epicenter of car culture.
“What’s interesting is the lifestyle and the culture here. We are still the world’s largest car market. Every manufacturer has a design studio here,” Karges said. “I want to do the outreach. I want to look at sponsorships. I want to open doors and make it interesting to a lot more people.”
Karges added that with people like Disney and Petersen as inspiration, the sky is the limit.
“The Petersen is not a static display of automobiles. We will have some professional educational outreach, symposiums on automotive design, safety events and a lot of other things,” Karges added. “There are so many different things we can do given the opportunities and the incredible talent we have at the museum.”