Epic Phil Norvold of Max-Bilt fame on episode 103


Let’s do Epic Sh*T! You will laugh out loud with us on this episode of Conversations with Big Rich. Guest, Phil Norvold, founder of Max-Bilt Offroad is a natural storyteller, come along for the adventure that starts with a pizza.  We talk Max-Bilt, leading, Epic Willy’s Adventure and Mo-hab!

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6:39 – I liked taking things apart, if they went back together that was a bonus!

13:04 – not only did I fix a problem, I made somebody’s day

22:55 – old is cool

32:07 – good thing your middle name isn’t Lester

34:09 – there is this pilgrimage to Utah, it’s probably like Burning Man…

43:16 – thanks for worrying enough for the rest of us

53:37 – he rations out two handfuls of salted peanuts for four of us

58:59 – no matter what, it’s going to be better

1:04:07 – there’s no good stories on the easy path

1:07:36 – Let’s do Epic Shit!

We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.





[00:01:20.110] – Big Rich Klein

On today’s conversations with Big Rich, we have Phil Norvold. Phil is the owner of Max-Built Offroad and Manufacturing. He has been in and around the car scene for quite a while. We’re going to talk to him about how he got started in off road and where he’s at now and what’s coming in the future. So, Phil, thank you very much for coming on board. It’s been a pleasure knowing you. For the short time I’ve known you, we got to know each other, I think, because of the Epic Willys adventure. But maybe it was at Masterminds.

[00:01:58.150] – Phil Norvold

I feel like we knew of each other before, but Masterminds, we really got to, I think, cultivate more of a relationship, correct?

[00:02:05.510] – Big Rich Klein

Yeah. So thank you for coming on board.

[00:02:09.190] – Phil Norvold

Thanks for having me. Absolutely.

[00:02:11.230] – Big Rich Klein

So let’s hit it right out of the park to begin with. And where were you born and raised?

[00:02:18.910] – Phil Norvold

So I was born in Hudson, Wisconsin. I lived there till I was six. I guess I’d have to say, though, that my more impressionable years. I was raised on the East Coast in Connecticut, moved back to the Midwest when I was 16, and I’ve been here ever since.

[00:02:43.950] – Big Rich Klein

I’d imagine if you left when you were six, those years up till six are at least with me, they’re a little foggy. It’s more about what people have told me I did or what we did more so than what I remember doing. Is that the same with you or do you have 100%?

[00:03:03.950] – Phil Norvold

I remember talking to the moving guy in the driveway of the house, but that was about it. Most of my memories were from out east. And when I moved back, every once in a while we’ll drive by that house that I was born in. And you remember a couple of things or I remember some memories of the playground out back or whatever, but most of that just kind of like you say, more of a painting in the brain than a real recollection of a story.

[00:03:40.550] – Big Rich Klein

So then let’s start with being in Connecticut. And was that Madison area?

[00:03:47.550] – Phil Norvold

Yeah, it was. So I was in right on the East Coast or right on the Long Island Sound, little beach town. We didn’t have any immediate family out there. I didn’t grow up. I wasn’t into cars. I wasn’t into much of those things. But my dad was my pal. So it was whatever house projects, right? I was fixing or coming up with something to repair a project or make something better. It was pretty crafty. And so that was my nights and weekends and we did some obviously, like the sports as kids and did the Cub Scouts Boy Scout thing for a while. We were brought over there for a job transfer that he had. We were able to grow friendships with people out there. But I always seem to have a connection to Connecticut or to. I’m sorry, to Wisconsin, because we would come back here every summer while I was growing up and stay with my grandma up in the North Woods. And earlier, around eleven or twelve, my parents got a divorce. And my mom had said, well, where do you want to go? I said, let’s go move back to where she grew up in Northern Wisconsin.

[00:05:18.150] – Phil Norvold

And she was like, absolutely not. We can go anywhere on the planet, but we’re not going to go back to Wascott, Wisconsin, mainly because, well, there’s not a lot of opportunity up there. Or if you do have the opportunity, it’s harder. It’s just harder to get everywhere. It’s a little bit more remote. So she’d said there’s a town called Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It’s kind of the mix of everything. She was able to finish her schooling that she was working on. And so it kind of was the best of all worlds. And it was only like an hour and a half, 2 hours from my grandma’s up north. So I was able to go spend time up in the woods and still have some semblance of human connection here in Eau Claire.

[00:06:10.350] – Big Rich Klein

So working with your dad, doing projects and stuff was there in Connecticut, were you? What kind of job was he doing?

[00:06:21.690] – Phil Norvold

So he actually worked in salesman in the food service industry. Okay, so he worked for a company called Viola Marketing Group, and they were a manufacturer’s rep for, well, every subway that you’ve ever been in.

[00:06:39.290] – Big Rich Klein


[00:06:39.760] – Phil Norvold

Has bought all of their equipment to make those sandwiches and keep the meat fresh and whatever from Bio Marketing Group. Okay. My conversations or the ones I was around was about cooking hold ovens and like, hey, that’s a really nice commercial sink. But I do remember at the warehouse or the back of their office, we called it the office and the warehouse. It was just the back of that building. My Uncle Dave, who was who my dad worked with, and it was an honorary family member because that’s all that we had out there. So I still refer to them as such. But Uncle Dave had an old AMC Javelin. Oh, nice underneath the tarp. And I was like, I’d always just be fascinated by it. And I was the kid who just liked to take things apart. If they went back together, that was a bonus. And if they went back together and worked well, that was a rarity. But I just was always wanting to know what’s next and how does it work? That car always intrigued me. And just knowing Uncle Dave’s background, when he was younger, he was into those old cars and old Mopar stuff and specifically AMCs, he was a big Jeep nut, I guess.

[00:08:32.560] – Phil Norvold

And I’m maybe just making this connection right now. But the first Jeep that I could remember was a 19th Jeep Cherokee Laredo Classic. It was two door, tinted windows, had that Burgundy plat interior. And my uncle gave that to my dad in, I think, 91 as a company car. It was his. And the window sticker folded up in the glove compartment. I remember that. And I remember back before we had garbage bags that had drawstrings in the top. There was, remember the yellow Christmas trees that were like jammed in the box. You’d snap them apart and then when you would tie your bag up, you wrap it up with this little soft, tooth looking yellow piece of plastic. And then that would be how you would tie the bag shut. Well, one of those was wrapped around one of the spokes of the steering wheel as a good luck charm. When my uncle said when he gave it to my dad, don’t take that off. That’s good luck to this day.  READ MORE

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