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Derby Fever This business is racing to build team spirit by getting everyone involved in fun.

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Distractions in the workplace are not always considered good for company morale--or productivity, for that matter. But for Columbus, Ohio-based Priority Designs, a 50-person industrial design consultancy with Fortune 500 clients like Adidas, American Standard and Lowe's, one particular non-income-producing activity may do more to bring the company together than any collaboration on a client-based project does. It's called "Derby Fever."

Every year, Priority Designs enters a car in the Industrial Designers Society of America's Derby Competition (sponsored by IBM), where more than 3,000 designers congregate to see which model car moves the fastest down a 40-foot-long aluminum track. At Priority, employees who don't normally work together pair up, and engineers stay up until three in the morning working on cars. Over $10,000 is spent on the design and development of Priority's derby car. "Lots of design awards are subjective," says company principal Paul Kolada, 49. "But this one is purely objective: The fastest car wins."

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