Episode 56 of Conversations with Big Rich is part two of an exceptional interview with Bob Bower. If you haven’t met Bob, read what Ron Stobaugh had to say about him on the occasion of his 75th birthday.
“Off Road Hall Of Fame. Racers Racer. Marketing Professional. Trainer of the Tire Pros. Most of my friends know these accolades as related to Bob. Many don’t know he may or should be in the Tuna Fishing / Airplane Shuttling / Train Car Hopping / Corvette Club Hall Of Fame. Bob not only put up with me as a nor-cal squid that dreamed of Baja racing, he acted. A surprise trip to San Felipe (first time to a desert/Baja/off road race), picking up some kid named Robby Gordon, introductions to every person I had read about or watched on ABC Wide World of Sports, and the occasional kick in the ass when I veered too far off course. Taking me tuna fishing, even though I get motion sick, he hung in there with me – unforgettable experiences. I believe in Karma/Fate whatever you want to call it. I met Bob just before my dad passed away and six months after our son was born. This calm, tough, supportive, willing to let our 2 year old pull on his beard to the point of tears “lawn gnome” was there when we needed that type of figure in our lives. He deserves the Hall of Fame Induction, as well as all of the other known or unknown accolades. But Bob is most deserving of being called – a good human being.” No kinder words could be spoken.
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I’m going to forego the Show Notes for this second part of the Bob Bower interview, because if you listened to part one, you already know you want to listen to part two. One of the pieces Rich and Bob talk about in part two is “What About You?” It’s the best common sense piece for off-roaders out there. Written 20 years ago, updated only to change the dates – for you, put in the day after any big event you are attending. It should be top of mind for everyone, it even applies to day-to-day life. This is what matters most. I’ve put it here with credit to Bob Bower.
What About You?
I will be blunt. Not brief. This may be the wrong time for brevity.
Deal with it.
It is possible that there will be at least one less member of the greater off-road community around, come November 22, 2020.
Someone could die because of their involvement in the Baja 1000.
Will it be you?
“Of course not”. “No way”. “That stuff happens to other people!”
If it pleases you, just toss this thing now. After all, it’s just the ranting of one of those guys who never lacked an opinion, or wasted the opportunity to thrust it upon you. Now is the time. There’s a trash can around here somewhere. Toss it if you want to.
If, on the other hand, you might be open to what one guy with a little experience has to offer, read on.
People, the single biggest danger to our safety as we involve ourselves in this race is us. Us.
We represent the single largest jeopardy to our own well being out of all the freak things that could happen. On the surface, it would seem that those most in danger of clobbering themselves are those that have less experience down there. I wonder.
I am one of those with experience, and I know how seductive it is to tell myself that my experience gives me license to risk more than those without it. “The rules are for the new guys” “I can compress time frames”. “I can eat later”. “I don’t need to take a nap”. “If I follow this stupid overloaded truck all night, I’ll miss my deadline”. “I’ve got great lights, and I can see past all 6 vehicles ahead of me and take them all in one pass”.
This race is one long son of a gun. All drivers will feel the pressure to drive past sunset. It’s a given. It’s a must! There are loads of stories about Baja at night. What is interesting is that very few of the really scary stories come from the race cars. The most amazing and most tragic come from the highway travelers. Is that you? Have you had “Your Story” yet? It’s out there, waiting for you. There have been times when the situation happens very far north. Like a tanker full of fish crashing around Santo Tomas, and closing the highway for over 5 hours. Now your time frames are shot. What do you do?
The history of what goes on and how we deal with it is not something to take lightly. Motorhomes crash. People fly, land, and suffer. Tractor-trailer rigs roll over and burn. A pickup full of drunk locals veers over the line and smacks a perfectly good Bronco with chasers in it.
It is not a case of “Will it happen?”, but a fact that it will happen. To whom, we don’t know. We will know when the flash comes on the radio. Not right away mind you, but only after all the wrong information has had its chance to stab the hearts of those that know names, and care.
Know this. Medical assistance for emergencies comes late, and is lacking. You have to hope that someone associated with the race will be close by and help you. It is first aid at best. Worse is going through a nasty wreck, and you coming through it fine, but your buddy is bleeding and out cold. You were behind the wheel. How do you feel? He trusted you to take care of business so he could sleep.
Here is what you should do to increase your chances of staying out of harms way.
Eat food even if you are not hungry.
(Energy drinks will not nourish. They are not food)
Drive for a maximum of 6 hours and give it to your partner. (There is only one Ironman)
Plan on getting to your destination late.
Don’t drink alcoholic stuff. Period.
Do not use drugs. Period.
Ask yourself, “Are we important enough to the people in the race car that they will feel good about us getting maimed trying to catch them?”
Ask yourself, “Would I do this if my kids were with me?”vity.
Think about the great time you will have when you make it back home.
Think about the great feeling of being involved in the toughest off-road race in the world, and getting back home to tell the tales.
Think about how those at home will roll their eyes, and be patient, when you start on one of your stories.
Think about how proud of yourself you will be when you hear a horror story about someone else and realize you did things the right way, and went through the danger successfully.
It may sound corny, but think about how happy your Mom & Dad, or wife, or sister or brother, and yes, your kids, will be when you talk to them after you are home, safe and sound.
You’ve just had the adventure of a lifetime, and you are back! Wagging your tail, your mouth going like a ducks butt, telling everyone what an experience it was.
I’m going to the Baja 1000. I am going to have a ball. I won’t forget a moment. It will be the biggest, baddest damn race ever.
And, I’m coming back from it.
With stories. With experiences. With laughs. With memories, and with the pride that comes of doing a good job.
What about you?
“Life Is A One Lap Race!”
I’m sure you enjoyed last week’s part one of the interview with Bob Bower today, sit back and listen to Part two. Let’s get into the formation of the Bower group and then with that, the different clients that you’ve had, I know that I believe that you had something to do with the beginning of Offroad Expo. Am I correct on that? Was that part of the Bower group?
Yes, actually. I should see jobs I’ve had. Give me a better question. OK, in 90 asking about in 1994 when you started the Bower group.
Right, which is a for people that don’t know it’s a marketing and I would say it’s probably a marketing and information. Business to help racers, is that correct? No, no, no, no.
The reason the Bower group was formed, it was because I was no longer employed by B.F. Goodrich, OK?
And I’m not a genius, I promise you that. But I had I wanted I was in business. I wanted to go in business. And what I wanted to do, I mean, the whole reason I even left the company was I didn’t leave mad at all. I I have a son. And in his early years as a young boy, I used to give my son, the dad talk about, you know, you can be anything you want to be, Bobby.
You know, you can do anything you want to do. It’s all up to you. It’s a wide open world. You can do anything you want to do. But it’s good. Bobby, if you think ahead a little bit and plan it out a little bit, I said, for example, I have a plan. And so I told about my plan. I wanted right from the very early in my early 20s, I recognized that the professional sales was a profession and I wanted to learn every bit about it.
I could, because eventually in my mind, my plan was in my forties. I wanted to become a teacher of it because I had such a respect for it. And I did take jobs in my in my lifetime that that kind of led me to experience a variety of sales methods or styles is an example. One of my early jobs, oh, mid 60s was with a with a company called John T. Rietz when they were a rep firm that would represent manufacturers and carry in their briefcase five or six manufacturers.
And they would go into an aerospace company like TRW and say, you know, I have snap action switches, I have knobs, I have circuit boards. I have this, you know, and rep it. Well, that was one way of selling where it’s all done by purchase order and long term negotiation. Then I went and took a job with a photocopier company. They made the photocopier and that was the whole story behind that was you take a photocopier out of the back of your company car, wheel it in, wheel it into an office building.
Hard sell it and come out with just the cart sell machine off the cart. So it’s hard, hard, hard close, wham, bam, thank you, ma’am, get out of my way, I’m selling yo a you machine. Totally different.
So so like a fuller brush on the first one and then the vacuum cleaner salesman on the second one, or worse or worse, but then I wanted to learn, how do you sell something that doesn’t come in a box?
It isn’t a part an intangible. I got a job with Dunn and Bradstreet in their marketing services department where we sold the information they collected on their reports, you know, and reformat it into, you know, the metalworking guide, the, oh, all kinds of directories, things like that.
OK, so selling intangibles and and that’s kind of how it went with me. And I knew I wanted to do that. Well, so I’m with BFG. I didn’t expect to stick with BFGoodrich, I thought I was. I approach it at first in those first years as a is a chance to still work inside the major corporation to find their soft underbelly and how to sell to a major corporation without going through purchasing that. I know it sounds crazy, Rich, but that was Bob’s goal when he started and I didn’t realize.
But I fell in love with the job and it it took me it really did it. And I was I was known to be pretty decent at it. Well, now my son is like 12, 13, 14 years old.
And I’m realizing, you know, he knows I’ve been telling him his dad’s plan is what I’m going to do. Well, I realized that if I didn’t do it, he’d never have to follow through on a plan of his own ever, right.
So I mustered up the courage and and tendered my resignation and went out to get my first client, which was going to be a training, I wanted to be a training agency at first. That’s what I thought my first client was. Let’s see, was it was discount tire company out of Scottsdale. OK, I designed and developed a kind of like a management training program for internal use where they were they recognized that they were having some challenges and that they they were not opening stores at the increased rate that they had been.
Therefore, the store managers were not moving into bigger, better stores, bigger, better paychecks. They were in the doldrums.
Plus, they were also have a marketing problem is that their business was built on selling the cheapest tire you could get that would fit on the car and the industry changing, too. You had to sell the right tire for the right car, right. So they had culture change. READ MORE