Tire guy, Jeff Cummings, is a great storyteller; it must have been a prerequisite at BFG – listen in as he shares some great insight on tires and life. From Wisconsin farmer to Baja Pro, Jeff brings life to every story. Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.
2:34 – My grandfather probably qualified as the Farmer in the Dell
14:00– you’d put a paint stripe where the rubber started and where it ended and then initial it so you got credit
27:18 – Lord, it was painful, you had these Robert’s Rules of Order, and you couldn’t really talk unless you understood all of those things
43:13 – “that kid’s too stupid to sell tires”
54:46 – “you know, you do some things that really irritate folks, but as long as I don’t catch you sitting still, I can cover up any of your ills.”
1:10:43 – “what do you know about rockcrawling? …she proceeded to let me know, Goodyear is winning everything there and I want you to stop that”
1:30:34 – the best tire in the world misapplied is a piece of crap
2:05:54 – I either credit or blame Rod Hall with my move to Nevada
[00:00:46.400] – Big Rich Klein
On today’s episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have the infamous Jeff Cummings. This is Jeff from BFG Michelin in the tire industry that I know of over 40 years. I can’t wait to hear all of his stories and who he’s worked with and what life has been like on the asphalt and in the dirt. Jeff, thank you so much for coming on board and being part of conversations with Big Rich.
[00:01:15.430] – Jeff Cummings
Well, I guess it’s about time. You bug me long enough and I’m finally sitting still. So you got me.
[00:01:23.140] – Big Rich Klein
Perfect. Everybody kept asking me, So when are you getting Jeff on? When are you getting Jeff on? And it’s when we saw each other at the Aramhoff Inductee dinner and you said, Yeah, I guess it’s about time. And then I gave you a call and you had time. So it was really good. Thank you.
[00:01:45.060] – Jeff Cummings
Well, persistence pays off.
[00:01:46.750] – Big Rich Klein
I guess. Oh, yeah. Hopefully, it pays off with some others, too. I got to bug the hell out of people, but hey, it’s fun. So let’s get started and let’s find out where you were born and raised.
[00:02:01.870] – Jeff Cummings
Well, I was born and raised in central Wisconsin. Grew up outside of a sprawling metropolis called endeavor, Wisconsin, but we didn’t live in town because we couldn’t deal with the congestion. That was about 300 people. P art of early on, I discovered that I really liked living on a farm, but I didn’t like working on a farm. There’s a real big difference there.
[00:02:29.340] – Big Rich Klein
What were you guys… As a kid, what were your parents farming?
[00:02:34.430] – Jeff Cummings
Well, my grandfather, at one point in time, had the second largest poultry operation in the country. I remember as a kid on vacation one year, going to the LA farmer’s market and seeing poultry that had come out of my grandfather’s operation. So we had a little bit of everything. My other grandfather would have probably qualified as a farmer in the Delta because there was everything from sheep to pigs to goats to cows to you name it. He had it and raised it. But man, what an awful lot of work.
[00:03:18.480] – Big Rich Klein
What age did you start helping or having chores at the farm?
[00:03:25.060] – Jeff Cummings
Oh, man, probably about as early as I can remember. My father had this you’re eating, you’re working approach to things.
[00:03:33.290] – Big Rich Klein
Well, that’s good. We could probably use more of that nowadays.
[00:03:39.700] – Jeff Cummings
As much as I hated it then, it was absolutely invaluable because you’re right, if the world operated on the you want to eat, you ought to be doing some work. And there’s a lot of different scales of work, but doing something productive with your time, that was a pretty important lesson from the entire family. My mother likes to joke about the fact that my father built a gas station due to the fact that it was pretty apparent that farming wasn’t going to be my calling, but decided, Okay, well, I’m going to build this gas station, and that’ll keep me busy about 18 hours a day working there. From that point on, the beauty of growing up living on a farm is you got to drive stuff at a really early age. With the programs that I’ve been doing for quite a number of years at work, I’m dumbfounded by the folks that have no idea why there’s three pedals in a vehicle. I’m not exactly certain, but I believe between me and my next youngest brother, we learned how to drive a manual transmission at ages seven and eight. Although it was a pretty easy deal because it was a 49 F 100 with a granny gear.
[00:05:14.010] – Jeff Cummings
So it was pretty easy to get to the pretty easy to learn that clutch operation at a pretty early age and live on a farm as long as you could drive something from point A to point B and get it hooked up to a trailer properly, you got to drive stuff. So that was pretty cool. Got me started dealing with that stuff.
[00:05:37.520] – Big Rich Klein
I know some people that have grown up on farms. One, she had a chicken as a pet when she was younger. And even though they raised chickens, I think they were… I don’t think it was a big operation, but she won’t eat chicken. Is there anything off the farm you won’t eat?
[00:05:59.920] – Jeff Cummings
[00:06:00.660] – Big Rich Klein
Not. Perfect. You didn’t name any of them, right?
[00:06:06.470] – Jeff Cummings
I wasn’t big into the cattle end of things as my younger siblings were. I recall getting this lecture, me and my two younger brothers, as we were about to have our first meal from my little sister’s prize heifer. And around the dinner table, it was, You clowns don’t say anything about what we’re about to eat. And I don’t know, about halfway through dinner that night, my little sister says, Wow, clementine is really good. And my mother was like, Oh, my God. My baby is like the rest of the of this brood that I’ve got here. So a lot of things got named. There was a reason they were being raised. A lot of people don’t understand that. It was just the environment that I grew up in. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to have any less respect for that animal or treat that animal any more poorly. I watched my little sister feed that animal out of her hand for a while, but time has come. We raised you to eat you. READ MORE