What do yellow hats, gas tanks, Jeeps, and bicycle parts have in common? Tony Pellegrino and Genright. Tony is the founder of Genright, a company now supplying thousands of SKUs for your Jeep, listen to how it began with a gas tank. Lots of personal history in this one with Tony and his family, Debbie, Jamie and Jordan. Names you know in the industry.
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4:37 – My parents sent us to parochial school to straighten us boys out.
10:14 – I won an award for building a four-wheel drive radio controlled car from scratch.
12:27 – I drove home in reverse so I didn’t miss my curfew
14:41 – the start of the off-road bug
17:23 – I did my homework
18:58 – the next job found me
24:00 – I met the one
26:10 – I worked like a dog
31:18 – remember the rc car?
36:53 – the evolution of Genright
41:43 – The problem with ramping up a company during an economic crash
49:45 – too many guys that are disconnected from reality
58:44 – the importance of trail etiquette
1:05:30 – tremendous industry relationships have come from Ultra4
1:12:02 – the origin of the yellow hat
On today’s episodes of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Tony Pelligrino, yes, that’s Tony from Genright.
Tony’s been in the off road world for quite a while. We’re going to find out exactly how long he has been and how Genright got started and everything about Tony. So, Tony, I want to say thank you for coming on board today and sitting down and talking with us and letting the listeners know something about you. Pleasure to be here. So let’s jump right in with both feet and we’ll ask the most basic question of all. Where were you born and where did you grow up?
[00:01:59.860] – Tony Pellegrino
I was born here in Southern California, in Burbank, we lived in Thousand Oaks at the time, but that was the closest hospital. So, yeah, I basically grew up in Thousand Oaks, OK, so they’re kind of the coast. In Thousand Oaks is it’s an inland valley north of L.A., but it’s really it is it on the coast or is it just inside, like over the first little coastal range?
It’s just inside that.
So we’re between Los Angeles and Ventura, but we’re about as a crow flies 20 miles from the coast.
OK, yeah, that’s kind of what I thought. I went to college in Santa Barbara and I had a roommate at one time that was from Thousand Oaks. So we’d go down there once in a while and I don’t remember seeing the beach, but I remember going to. Passed the beach to get there, yeah, the 101 runs right through it, and then we go through the 101 toward Camarillo Ventura.
[00:03:02.810] – Big Rich Klein
It goes back along the coast. That’s right. OK, yeah. Cool. So you were born in Burbank, grew up or went to school in Thousand Oaks. So basically that was your hometown.
[00:03:14.270] – Tony Pellegrino
Yes. And when I was in high school, they expanded and started another high school over in Westlake Village.
And I was part I lived on the line where I got transferred halfway through high school over the Westlake Village. Oh, what was that like?
Was it would also when you were in with new kids or were you in with the same kids?
[00:03:36.320] – Tony Pellegrino
Some were the same. Some were new. The school was brand new. So as far as I was concerned, it was totally cool because Thousand Oaks High School, where I started, everything was old, you know, they had old projectors, old everything.
And then when you went to the new school, it was all video and nice. So I actually really welcomed the new school. Well, that’s kind of cool, did you go over when you transferred schools, did you go did they start off all the way through 12th grade or did they start off with, you know, a certain age and then bring everybody in?
[00:04:12.570] – Tony Pellegrino
Yeah, here in California, it’s nine through 12 is considered high school. So I, I moved over for my junior year, eleventh grade. So I finished 11th and 12th at the new school.
[00:04:23.910] – Big Rich Klein
OK, what did you do in in Thousand Oaks when you were a kid. I mean, besides going to school, did you go play up in the mountains or what was your what was your go to on free time?
[00:04:37.860] – Tony Pellegrino
Well, here’s a tidbit that most people don’t know is I actually from grade one through eight, went to parochial school. So really, I wouldn’t guess that, yeah, I’m the oldest of three boys and we were absolute terror, we terrorized the babysitter, we terrorized everything, each other, you know, we were a handful and a half. So my parents wisely sent us to parochial school to straighten this out.
And that actually served me quite well when when I got out of that in eighth grade to go to high school in ninth grade, I couldn’t believe how disrespectful the students were to the teachers. I was in complete shock how they treated it with, you know, it was just crazy. Right. Obviously, that also had me better prepared for high school because the curriculum in the private school was much more stern. So it actually made it quite easy for me to go to high school. READ MORE