Some people quietly make an impact on an industry, others do it with a big splash. We’d like to introduce you to the Quiet Man, Ben Bower, making a ripple through off-road since the 1970s. Gold medals and chrome are his M.O., but so is listening – learn why it matters.
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3:34 – there’s lots of time to think with a ShopSmith
6:19 – making surfboards to get through the month
9:22– All-Marine volleyball team
12:23 – how the BART tube under the bay is made
17:36 – no food today, we’re buying a Honda
22:01 – Enduros fit my math/engineering background
28:02 – you’ve got to finish to win
31:05 – it’s a collective
41:43 – I’m a welder…and then I’m not
45:20 – first date
51:46 – I want to run the dunes and the Rubicon
1:00:57 – hooked into learning the video camera
1:05:38 – independent suspension
[00:01:20.520] – Big Rich Klein
On today’s episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Ben Bower, Ben has been around the Off-Road industry a long time. He was a motorcycle racer. He owns a gorgeous flat fender, which we’ll talk about. He’s very meticulous in his preparation of parts. I always kid him about, you know, the cars polished way better than than any four wheel drive needs to be. But we’ll get into that. And we’ll also get into his relationship with Jason, Scherer and IFS and and the problems that they solved and have overcome with that.
So, Ben, thank you for being on board with Conversations and talking with us and myself and with our listeners. I just want to say I miss you, dude. It’s been a while since I’ve seen you.
[00:02:13.620] – Ben Bower
It has been a while. And I’m honored to have your call and set this up.
[00:02:18.750] – Big Rich Klein
Yeah, well, we want to we want to find out your history. You know, I’ll let everybody know that Ben is Charlene Bower’s Dad. we’ll get into that a little later. But before Charlene came, Ben and his wife Deanna. So we’ll talk about about them.
But first, my number one, pit crew, my number one pit crew, Deanna. Absolutely. Absolutely.
So let’s talk about your beginnings. Where did you grow up and go to school and all that kind of stuff?
Well, I think a lot of this podcast was kind of go toward techie stuff and thinking about that, I was born and raised in basically Berkeley, a little small community called Kensington. And my dad was a maintenance manager for the 76 Union Oil Refinery Out Rodale. You should know that because you’re a local guy. Absolutely. And I can’t believe it. But he bought me a ShopSmith, when I was ten years old.
OK, we may have to tell tell everybody what a ShopSmith is.
I happen to know because I had to have multiple tools that you have to make to do to work with wood basically all that. I’m using it to cut aluminum. Oh, really? And it’s just table saw and lathe and drill press and all that kind of stuff. And every time you want to change to something else, it takes fifteen minutes to a half an hour. So you have a lot, a lot of time thinking about things about that.
Yeah. I can’t I’d forgotten all about the shop Smiths. There was one in our garage is growing up and it was the first thing I got to work on with wood without my dad actually knowing I was doing it until he found holes in everything.
And some of the stuff that he had that he had precise cut wood for certain things, and then he’d come in and they’d be shorter.
So I learned well, it was a great learning experience and I can’t believe that I still have ten digits after all that.
That means your good and careful. Sure. And my dad being a maintenance guy, you know, I said, you know, I kind of want my own bedroom and we had to live down the hills there in Kensington. And so this is will go build yourself a room. So I started digging and you know, we went went on from there. But that kind of was the beginning of putting things together. And really, when I went through school and all that, I was not really a techie.
I was more of a more of a jock and played basketball. And although, you know, most of the varsity teams and things like that, then I got recruited in the San Jose State to play basketball there. Oh, awesome. As I was, I always claimed myself to be the sixth man. I was never the A player. I was always the sixth man. And I was ready to come in. And cheer and not cheer, but play like I had to play like they wanted me to. I was never the A player. So I went in to San Jose State and. Majored in engineering, started out as mechanical and wound up as an industrial engineer, because some of those things like strength materials and other courses just I couldn’t get my head around it. Differential equations and logs. You remember logs and all that stuff? Oh, yeah.
Now all that stuff’s easy.
Oh, just your mind was blown. And, you know, here I was kind of being a jock more than a student. And so something got me going into surfing. And so I quit the basketball deal. I really wasn’t happy with a sports team sports that time. And I got into surfing. And then after I really had no money to make boards or to buy a board, so I decided to make a board and so I bought the Styrofoam and stuff and started making surfboards and eventually started making, I’d make five surfboards in a weekend. READ MORE