Tom Yash brings a ton to the table for any industry company he works for. He’s got all the classic over-achiever qualifications we can all relate to. Never satisfied with just one thing, he’s always building and growing. Loved this interview, Tom is a great guy, easy to be around, and always up for a beverage or two. We appreciate his participation in Dirt Riot and his contributions to 4Low Magazine.
3:55 – teacher called me a hammerhead
8:44 – who here knows how to drive a stick?
11:35 – “you bought yourself a plastic coffin!”
20:49 – we don’t pay for our friends, we pay for our beer
31:19 – my first trip to Compton, I’m reading street signs, I’m like, I heard this in a rap song.
41:48 – oh, that’s Brad, he can do what he wants
46:17 – holy cow, which vehicle am I going to build?
1:05:34 – I hit the front-edge and the leading edge of the box truck, felt like I ripped the whole box off
1:10:45 – is the juice worth the squeeze?
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.Support the show
[00:00:06.310] - Speaker 1
Welcome to Conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviewed are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle, not just a job. I talk to competitive teams, racers, rock crawlers, business owners, employees, media and private park owners, men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world we live and love and call off road.
[00:00:53.730] - Speaker 4
Whether you're crawling the red rocks of Moab or hauling your toys to the trail, Maxxis has the tires you can trust for performance and durability, four wheels or two, Maxxis tires are the choice of Champions because they know that whether for work or play, for fun or competition, Maxxis tires deliver. Choose Maxxis tread victoriously.
[00:01:20.350] - Speaker 1
If you still love the idea of a printed magazine, something to save and read at any time. 4Low magazine is a magazine for you. 4Low cannot be found in a storefront or on a bookshelf, but you can have it delivered to your home or place of business. Visit 4lowmagazine.com to order your subscription.
[00:01:42.250] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Tom Yash. Tom has been in the industry for quite a while. We'll find out exactly how long, but I met Tom, I believe, the first time some time back in the mid two thousands when he was working for JKS, I believe so. Tom, thank you very much for coming on board and talking about your history. And it's great to have you on here.
[00:02:08.710] - Tom Yash
Thank you, Rich. Thanks for having me.
[00:02:10.730] - Big Rich Klein
So let's jump right in. And where were you born and raised?
[00:02:16.810] - Tom Yash
I was actually born in Youngstown, Ohio. Pretty sad city. So sad. Springsteen wrote a song about it. I grew up in the area, basically have lived in Lake Milton for most of my life, but bounced around, went to College in Athens, Ohio, lived in Nebraska, Boston, New York. So been a little bit everywhere. And for about five years I lived on the road.
[00:02:40.630] - Big Rich Klein
Well, for me as a San Francisco 49er fan since I can remember first understanding what football was, DiBartolo owning the 49 ers was like the greatest thing ever. Did a great job. And he's from Youngstown.
[00:02:59.120] - Tom Yash
Yeah. The DiBartolo's, yeah, still got the 49rs logo on the side of their building here.
[00:03:04.430] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So then primarily where did you go to school and stuff? Was it Youngstown going to Jackson, Milton?
[00:03:15.730] - Tom Yash
It was a really small town, so I think we have a total of two stoplights in our town. Graduating class is about 50 people, and that was the biggest in I think ten years was my graduating class. And then right after that, I went to College at Ohio University where I think my freshman class was over 1400 people or something like that. So it was a pretty big jump in a different direction. It was a lot of fun now.
[00:03:45.930] - Big Rich Klein
So when you were in high school, question I got to ask, were you studious, athletic, or did your own thing?
[00:03:55.570] - Tom Yash
Yes, I was a problem child, probably up until about 6th grade. And then I had one teacher called me a hammerhead, which it stuck with me. And I was like, I'm not dumb. Come on. And after that, I applied myself more and actually just paid attention in class and realized if you did that, you get good grades. So I did well with that. I was my senior class student Council President. I started the golf team. My parents, unfortunately, got stuck with doing football, baseball, wrestling, track, and eventually golf. So there wasn't a free moment of space to get a breath of air in anywhere.
[00:04:39.830] - Big Rich Klein
And I know you have a brother because you raced with him and we'll get into that. Is he older or younger?
[00:04:45.660] - Tom Yash
Older one year older. He's my co driver. Yeah.
[00:04:47.940] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And was that town, if it's that small, that must have been fairly rural. Is that correct?
[00:04:56.520] - Tom Yash
Absolutely. Yeah. Our football team would diminish once the students got old enough that the parents wanted them to come back and work on the farm. So up until about 6th grade, we were Dynamite. We would beat everybody around. And then 7th and 8th grade, all those farmers would have to go back and work on their farms and we lose all that muscle.
[00:05:16.980] - Big Rich Klein
Wow. Okay. Yup. That happens. And as a kid riding bikes. Motorcycles. What was your thing for outdoors?
[00:05:32.210] - Tom Yash
Bikes was a way of life. We live so far away from everybody else that you have to ride a bike to go see the neighbor. And that was a good pedal. So there was times where you'd be riding 5 miles just to go see a friend. Then you have to ride 5 miles back and you didn't have a cell phone. And thankfully our parents weren't hovering at that point. So we were allowed to go out and explore. And I grew up next to a golf course, so we were always causing havoc there and looking for golf balls and being chaotic there. But yeah, eventually you grow up and you buy some bigger toys. I think I was 14 when I bought my three Wheeler ATC 350 X. So I bought the biggest, fastest three Wheeler I could find that they ever made. And I just remember my mom crying and having to promise them I'd get a helmet. And yes, it was just chaos after that ever since. And basically the next year I was starting to buy Jeeps and cars and everything else and it just snowballed to where I'm at right now.
[00:06:34.490] - Big Rich Klein
And so while you were in school or did this happen at home, how did you gain mechanical aptitude.
[00:06:43.370] - Tom Yash
It was a challenge. So both my grandparents, mother side, father's side were mechanics. One worked for a local bakery here, Schwabelles Bakery, doing fleet maintenance there. My other grandfather did fleet maintenance for Holly soda Pop, which is more regional here. And my father, growing up, saw what his father went through. And my mother's father. And he's like, I don't want my kids to be mechanics, so he really wouldn't show us much. But, like, the absolute basics. You get oil change and you hold a flashlight maybe once in a while. But when I got into high school, once again, like you said, it was a rural area. So we had the FFA program, and our FFA program also was a welding shop. So immediately I was drawn to that. And I spent as much time as I could doing that while working at the golf course that was right down the road that I used to get in trouble at. So couple that with my neighbors being farmers and then needing help. It's the joke that when you run into people from rural towns, it's like, oh, what age did you start driving? And it's like 13, 12, 11.
[00:07:59.830] - Tom Yash
And it was the same thing. I'd go over to my neighbor's house when he would get stuck, hop on his tractor, go down to the field, pull him out, and he's the joke. I was a chauffeur. I was a 60 year old man, and I'm driving around in his truck in town, and the neighbors are freaking out. And he's like, no, he's a good kid. So unfortunately for my father and family, we fell right into the trap of mechanics and automotive. And if it made noise and went fast, we were trying to crawl on it.
[00:08:31.680] - Big Rich Klein
So you worked at a golf course? From what age?
[00:08:37.910] - Tom Yash
I believe I started when I was twelve.
[00:08:40.310] - Big Rich Klein
[00:08:41.390] - Tom Yash
[00:08:41.940] - Big Rich Klein
And what did you do at the golf course?
[00:08:44.870] - Tom Yash
It was grunt labor at first. So pushing around a lawnmower, weed, whacking emptying trash cans. So they put me on a golf cart. And that was the happiest day of my life. And then within a few years, I remember the one day the boss came over and he's like, who knows how to drive stick or standard? I was like, and I raised my hand and nobody else did. I'm working with guys that are like 20,30 years old, and I'm the only one that knew how to drive stick. And I'm like, he's like, Are you serious? And I'm like, I can run the loader, too. He's like, if you want, I'll just drive the dump truck up here, fill it up. And ever since then, after that day, I didn't have to do nearly as much grunt labor, and it was a lot easier.
[00:09:27.050] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, see, all you young guys and women out there that are listening that you need to learn how to drive a stick.
[00:09:35.210] - Tom Yash
Oh, 100% paid off. I was the little kid in the cab listening to the radio, working the tilt bed while they were in the back shoveling after we were doing some Tarn scratch. So that made my summer way better.
[00:09:49.780] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. So working at a golf course, was it like Caddyshack?
[00:09:55.430] - Tom Yash
Yes. The 19th hole was the place to be after work. So you'd get into work at 530. You typically would work till around noon or so, and then you'd basically sit there and wait for a group to go out golfing with. And then you'd start gambling and the drinks would come out. And then I would basically go home to get something to eat, come back, do the watering, and then go home and fall asleep and repeat.
[00:10:26.570] - Big Rich Klein
And so a job like that allowed you to be able to afford the three Wheeler and then getting into trucks and Jeeps and stuff. Yeah.
[00:10:34.900] - Tom Yash
And then afford a lot of the other chaos. And that's where a lot of the mechanical abilities and understanding actually spawned from, too. So the owner knew that I kind of enjoyed that. And when golf carts would break, he would show me some things and teach us. And eventually I started becoming, like, the backup to help fix and repair a lot of the golf carts. And eventually I bought my own golf cart because I was golfing entirely too much. 36 holes a day was normal. And having a lift. Kit, tires, wheels, stereo, all of that on the golf cart. Being this little punk kid was pretty fun.
[00:11:11.510] - Big Rich Klein
Did you take it out on dates?
[00:11:13.670] - Tom Yash
Oh, it's surprising.
[00:11:21.270] - Big Rich Klein
So you're growing up, you're working on the golf course, you got an ATC, and then you say you're working into vehicles. What was the first vehicle?
[00:11:35.130] - Tom Yash
I consider it kind of a tie. I was gifted our family MonteCarlo, and that was my father's. He purchased that car brand new. And I believe my aunt had owned it for a while, and then my godfather had owned it. And then it kind of made the full circle back, and I drove it for a little bit. But officially, the one that I purchased, I still called my first car. And that was a 76 CJ 5304 fiberglass body, four wheel disk brake or drum brake. Sorry, no power steering. And once again, I pulled it home, and my mom started crying. And I will never forget the words she said. After that, I came inside. She's like, you bought yourself a plastic coffin? And I was like, it was poetic. I couldn't think of anything funny to say or anything like that. And I felt the general concern, and I was like, she's probably right.
[00:12:32.470] - Big Rich Klein
A plastic coffin.
[00:12:34.030] - Tom Yash
I was going to say so fast, too.
[00:12:36.220] - Big Rich Klein
Coming across a fiberglass bodied CJ Five as a kid, that's amazing.
[00:12:45.040] - Tom Yash
I was only because we lived in Northeast Ohio.
[00:12:47.130] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, because everything rolled right.
[00:12:48.500] - Tom Yash
Hardware was right down the road. They would sell those bodies nonstop because they rotted so quick up here from the salt. So I had, like one of the originals and the frame was garbage. And I learned immediately afterwards after buying it's, like, oh, I'm going to have to replace this now, too. So still on the Jeep, too.
[00:13:08.260] - Big Rich Klein
Wow. Yeah, that's pretty good. That's pretty good. I don't have anything that I previously owned.
[00:13:17.450] - Tom Yash
I'm starting to become that guy that you thought about as a kid. I had this conversation with somebody else in the industry recently. Like, when you're growing up, you see the guy that has all the cars in the driveway and parked in the garage. When the doors open, you see it and you're like, man, that guy. You should really sell it to me, just doing nothing with it. And then as you get older, you start to realize you're like, oh, I'm becoming that guy.
[00:13:41.190] - Big Rich Klein
So do you have any kids in the neighborhood that look at stuff and go, I'd like to have that.
[00:13:45.870] - Tom Yash
I'm not sure if kids are the same these days, but there are definitely. So I got a side by side now and I ride around on that and they definitely gravitate towards that. Probably more than even the race Jeep or some of the other toys that we have.
[00:14:01.780] - Big Rich Klein
Right. That makes sense. So then when you went into well, let's explore the earlier years. You get the Monte Carlo DJ Five somewhere in there.
[00:14:23.230] - Tom Yash
Driving 16 at that point. Yeah. And I've been driving for like three or four years.
[00:14:27.980] - Big Rich Klein
Right. But now you're legal. You got to driver's license.
[00:14:31.050] - Tom Yash
Exactly. Yeah. And I get pulled over by the police and ticketed within two days after getting my driver's license for street license in the Monte Carlo or the Jeep. No, of course, I was in my parents borrowed car at the time.
[00:14:47.830] - Big Rich Klein
What was that?
[00:14:48.530] - Tom Yash
Within a month of my it was dumb. It was just kids being kids. We were driving stop light to stop light next to each other on a four Lane strip, driving past each other, making goofy faces and just driving too fast and being kids. And the cops saw us and pulled us over and tried to say we were drag racing. The furthest thing from the truth. But it's a funny story. Now to look back, I thought I was going to get murdered by my family at the time.
[00:15:16.370] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I had that similar situation happened, me and one of my best friends growing up. It was shortly after he got his driver's license, though, and I'd already had mine for about six months. But we had met some girls and he jumped into the girl's car and some of the girls jumped in with me. And then we're driving around and we got stopped at like 11:00 at night and then held until after 02:00.
[00:15:45.610] - Tom Yash
There's a lot of similarities in that story, except we didn't get held till 02:00.
[00:15:50.850] - Big Rich Klein
[00:15:52.270] - Tom Yash
You could have copied and pasted that into my story because it was very similar and there might have been some showing off and having too much fun.
[00:16:00.160] - Big Rich Klein
You know, the only thing that saved me? Well, the girls got in a lot of trouble because it was one of the girls parents car and then they got a notice that their car had been ticketed with somebody else driving. And seeing that we had just met them like a half an hour before, it didn't go real well.
[00:16:25.630] - Tom Yash
No, I can see that.
[00:16:28.390] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. They tried to get us for exhibition of speed and we ended up beating it.
[00:16:33.970] - Tom Yash
Similar thing. You go into court and you talk to your side of the case and I think we just got off with court fees. It was nothing big. I think they just realized it was boys being boys, if you will.
[00:16:44.030] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. Things were a lot easier. I know that you're younger than me. This happened to me in the early to mid 70s. So we could get away with a lot more than anybody can get away with now, probably.
[00:17:00.470] - Tom Yash
[00:17:02.230] - Big Rich Klein
So then you graduated high school. You said you were senior class President.
[00:17:07.030] - Tom Yash
Yeah, I was senior class President. I was pretty active with a lot of the classes and things like that, advanced placement. So I had some College credits going into College. I was accepted to Ohio University and a few other ones. But I chose Athens just because I had some friends that went there. And the campus was beautiful. It was 3 hours away from home. So it was far enough that I couldn't run home if I got scared. So I made the choice to go down there and thankfully studied business and came out with a couple of degrees in business management, sports management, recreational management. And yeah, immediately from there it went right into four wheel drive hardware. I was actually interviewing it right before I graduated.
[00:17:52.790] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, really? Okay.
[00:17:54.060] - Tom Yash
[00:17:55.270] - Big Rich Klein
Four wheel drive and that is right there.
[00:17:59.350] - Tom Yash
Right in the same area. Yeah. A lot of folks don't know northeast Ohio is kind of a hotbed for hot rodding and cars in general. And off road Jags is not too far down the road. And Columbus four wheel drive hardware was right there in Columbian, Ohio. Tp Tools, which is like a national tool provider is right there in Canfield. And the big one summit racing right down the road in Talmage.
[00:18:26.830] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So then when you were in College and was it just all about school or did you participate in any sports then?
[00:18:36.970] - Tom Yash
Oh, yeah. I was the vice President of the Ohio University water ski team, if you could believe that. Rich.
[00:18:41.390] - Big Rich Klein
[00:18:42.490] - Tom Yash
Yeah. It was the safety captain did that and then safety captain. Yeah. I did some intermural volleyball and I tore my rotator cuff, which is the coolest story I can say I ever did in College. How tough of a guy you got to be to be the guy that does a partial chair and his rotator cuff, playing volleyball, of all things. But, yeah, I was on the snow Cats, so we did a lot of snow skiing as well and a little bit of interim stuff here and there and then outdoor pursuits. So we would take a lot of kids that never went camping or backpacking or canoeing and things like that, and we would take them on trips. So I got to do a practicum in that.
[00:19:27.130] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. So then were you in Scouting at all or just FFA?
[00:19:32.050] - Tom Yash
I was growing up, but I don't want to speak negative of Scouts. We just didn't have a really good program where I grew up. It was more classroom based, where I would rather be out doing the actual activity. And I think that was why I didn't really follow through, unfortunately.
[00:19:48.020] - Big Rich Klein
[00:19:49.570] - Tom Yash
[00:19:49.920] - Big Rich Klein
That's different than where I grew up. We were always out.
[00:19:53.510] - Tom Yash
No. I've seen some of the California scouting, and I was like, no, I wish we had that.
[00:19:58.180] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. I think I was nine years old, and I went on my first well, they called it I got a 50 miles patch, but they didn't have hiking patches for more than that. I think we went out for like seven days or eight days and did like 10 miles a day.
[00:20:14.650] - Tom Yash
10 miles a day. That's legit for a kid. Yeah.
[00:20:17.270] - Big Rich Klein
And I had to carry my own shit. My dad wasn't going to carry it for me.
[00:20:21.550] - Tom Yash
Yeah. Do you guys have real Hills out there, too?
[00:20:23.880] - Big Rich Klein
[00:20:26.050] - Tom Yash
[00:20:26.930] - Big Rich Klein
And now that same area we wheel in that's Fordyce area.
[00:20:31.510] - Tom Yash
Oh, is it really that'd be beautiful to hike?
[00:20:33.820] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, absolutely gorgeous. So then in College, God, sounds like you did all sorts of sports across there. Were you in fraternity or anything like that?
[00:20:49.370] - Tom Yash
No, Athens. We had a kind of. I don't want to say people look down at it, but it was almost like a joke. Sometimes with fraternities, it was really good for networking. And I looked back and I was like, yeah, you should probably have done that. But it was more like the joke was we don't pay for our friends, we pay for our beer. And it was kind of like us versus them with the fraternities. And sororities where, like I said, looking back, I think it probably would have been beneficial career wise, but no regrets. I probably had the same experience with club sports and other things that you could get from that.
[00:21:28.780] - Big Rich Klein
[00:21:29.260] - Tom Yash
[00:21:30.810] - Big Rich Klein
And you said you're a business major in sports. Business.
[00:21:35.930] - Tom Yash
Yes. So the business management, sports management and recreational management were like parallel classes. So if you look at the actual curriculum required for each of them, it was basically exactly the same. So basically my last year talked to my advisor and said, well, if I just take some of these electives over here and some of these from here, I have the same degree and he's like, yeah. So I took some canoeing classes and some sport classes and I had bowling for a class and it got me that canoeing for a class. Yeah. It was a pretty awesome class. I lost my glasses one time, but yeah, it's College. You got to learn. You got to figure out. You got to figure out where the fresh air is. And I definitely did that on picking classes.
[00:22:28.750] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I guess so. I did my canoeing. I actually taught rowing and canoeing and sailing through a Red Cross program and scouting program in San Francisco at Lake Merced.
[00:22:40.650] - Tom Yash
That would be awesome.
[00:22:41.620] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it was. Except the winds.
[00:22:44.430] - Tom Yash
[00:22:44.880] - Big Rich Klein
You get across the Lake with the rowboat and then you have to row back against the wind, take you like 20 minutes to get there and like 3 hours to get back.
[00:22:56.310] - Tom Yash
I'm familiar. I live on a Lake now and with pontoon boats pushing in the wind, I can only imagine what that would try to be like, especially on a windy day.
[00:23:03.780] - Big Rich Klein
[00:23:06.450] - Tom Yash
[00:23:07.380] - Big Rich Klein
So then with that background, how did you end up in the four wheel drive industry? You're applying for a job? I guess it's business management. You were looking at that as a possibility.
[00:23:25.210] - Tom Yash
I was getting out of College. I was terrified because I didn't have any sort of job lined up. And I think it was basically a month before I was graduating and I just got to find something for the meantime. And I saw that four wheel drive had sales positions opened up, just regular retail phone sales. And I knew enough about Jeeps just from working on my own. I was already replacing the frame on my CJ five at that point and rebuilding the motor. The motor was literally in my bedroom when I left for College, and I had to hide it from my parents just so that they wouldn't find it and freak out. So I had the knowledge. I knew that wasn't going to be a problem. And I figured having some College experience, I might be able to parlay that into a bigger role pretty quickly. But I wasn't expecting to stay there, to be honest with you. I had a few other things in the works and I thought those would come and come into play, but went down interviewed. Like I said, I think I left College on a Friday, got there midday, did my interview, turned around, drove back, and was accepted immediately.
[00:24:34.180] - Tom Yash
A lot of it, you basically starting at the ground level. So I won't say it's not hard to get in, but if you have that immediate knowledge of the vehicles, it was a good place to start. And if you're willing to work your way up, which at that point I was a poor graduate College student. At that point, I was willing to do anything to kind of cover a little bit of the debt and maybe a six pack or two here on the weekend or two or three. Yeah. Take it a nice dual gun fight sometimes.
[00:25:10.270] - Big Rich Klein
So how long were you in that business for that car drive hardware?
[00:25:17.870] - Tom Yash
I was at full drive for five years, but I wasn't in sales that long. So I think it was the second month that I was there. I was like number one in sales. So I think I kind of cut a foothold pretty quick. And Thankfully, I started bouncing around positions there. So after doing that, I started training the entire call Center, I want to say, within a year. So I started training all sales, all technical staff and customer service. Once I started doing that, I transitioned into doing more quality control. If we had Perks, that would come in, and there were problems, like if a broaching was off on a gear set or something like that, I would go in and do an evaluation on it, quarantine the product, check it, make sure if not, send it back and get resolution via that. And they just kept lumping jobs on you when they realized this guy could carry a few jobs or have them run the showroom as well. So I started running the showroom on top of doing those two things. And yes, eventually I went and worked for a mutual friend of ours in the Internet Department, Kelly Young.
[00:26:31.120] - Tom Yash
So I was doing Internet data management, helping build a website, which eventually transformed into a merchandising rule, which was pretty neat because you're just managing the vendors at that point, which in sales and all that. That's the place where you kind of want to be. You kind of want to have those relationships if you have something they have a question about or you want to have that immediate contact. So you know what's coming out and what you should be offering. That's the first line is the merchandiser, the person that controls the line, if you will. And it was after, I think, my second Koh trip that I ran into Dave and Greg out there. They were working the event, and they're like, what is this kid from Ohio doing here? And I think the line I used on them was like, yeah, this is your guys'job, but this is what I do. And it's set. And I think that line, when I joked with them about it, I was basically brought in to do new brand management at that point. So any new brand that was going into four wheel parts or four wheel drive hardware for the truck and Jeep side I was in charge of, which was pretty neat.
[00:27:42.450] - Big Rich Klein
So did Trans own four wheel drive? Yeah, at that point.
[00:27:47.720] - Tom Yash
Okay, yeah, they acquired them right when I was starting, I want to say, 2006. They had basically a couple of gentlemen that were working there full time, working with the sales staff, and kind of angling them in the direction they wanted us to take. And of course, it was a crazy time because the housing market was basically collapsing. Everything was going nuts. But Jeep owners, same as hardly guys and everything else. They were still buying parts. Our business was still strong. My Commission checks were pretty solid, so I had no complaints there.
[00:28:26.930] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, so that was 2008 910 somewhere in there. Yeah.
[00:28:30.910] - Tom Yash
[00:28:32.810] - Big Rich Klein
And here I thought I knew you earlier than that. I guess not.
[00:28:37.020] - Tom Yash
No. So I think the first time we met was probably in meeting. It was in passing almost. But it was Dayton, Tennessee, at a rock crawl. I was helping Kelly out with her we rock team for stock class. And that's the first time I met you guys.
[00:28:55.390] - Big Rich Klein
[00:28:56.290] - Tom Yash
But I was the guy sitting on the sidelines filming stuff and taking it all in and trying to understand what the heck is going down here on the hilltop in Tennessee. That was an awesome event. I say it every year. I'm like, I want to go back and see that again after hours.
[00:29:15.410] - Big Rich Klein
We don't do those after hours anymore.
[00:29:17.890] - Tom Yash
Yeah. The after hours were fun and all of that, but legitimately, the competition and everything was in front of you. It was like surround sound off road or surround off road, if you will, because you just look to the right and there's a guy flopping over and there's another guy running this line. And all the courses were filled, and Wes Keen is jumping his rig at the top and blowing up the drive shaft. And you're just like, what the heck am I experiencing here? I think you had two DJ's at that point calling different sides of the course, whichever was drawing the most flavor at the moment.
[00:29:52.810] - Big Rich Klein
We still try to give a sensory overload, but it was a lot easier. It was a lot easier back then when you had thousands of people watching and you had 40, 45 cars competing. We do on the West Coast. We used to have on east. Yeah. It's pretty wild.
[00:30:20.170] - Tom Yash
That was a really good time. It was a really good time. That was at night lights, everything. So it was a pretty special time right now.
[00:30:27.650] - Big Rich Klein
We have lights there and we don't have to run generators. We have big Led light poles that the Kizzars put in.
[00:30:36.920] - Tom Yash
That is cool.
[00:30:37.880] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. So then you're at Four Wheel Hardware, correct? Yeah. That's the name of the company. Okay.
[00:30:47.940] - Tom Yash
But I was working out twice a month, Compton to help with Merchandising, so I would be going in to do brand evaluations and going to all the truck Fest. So I was flying to Hawaii in 2011 when there was a tsunami hitting from Japan. It was the start of the world rent of traveling chaos.
[00:31:12.490] - Big Rich Klein
And what was that like? I mean, you were relatively young then, so you were still mid 20s.
[00:31:19.230] - Tom Yash
Yeah. And it's not like today where you could just plug in an address on your phone. My first trip to Compton, I'm lost 100%, and I'm using MapQuest directions to get me there. And I got off the 405, and I'm going to Compton. I know where I'm going. I'm trying to find the 91, and I start passing these road signs. And all these signs I'm looking at, I'm like, oh, no, I heard this in a rap song. That's Crenshaw. I don't want to be on Crenshaw. I don't know. That's bad. Let's turn around. I had to regroup, try to get up back on the 405 and find my way there. But, yeah, it was interesting because it's not like today, and somebody else was making my travel plans for me, so I would be taking crazy flights. Like, I took a flight from Hawaii to Atlanta, and it was a red eye. And I'm on a plane with a bunch of kids that are going off the basic training in Fort Bennington, and they're all crying and looking at them, like, by you guys alcohol. I'm sorry. It was a heck of a learning experience.
[00:32:28.360] - Tom Yash
And that's, like, the sales side of it was so much fun because Dave, the guy that runs Merchandising, I think he still does for full parts, but his knowledge in hard parts, Dana Spicer was tremendous. But, yeah, the sales side of it was very interesting because you're talking to people that breathe it and that their entire life, the financial livelihood, was based around their knowledge of the products. So Dave, the one guy that I knew from it was running Merchandising at that point. I was listening to talk to these Hawaiians and telling them he's like, oh, you know, this. And he's basically a Dana Spicer book in his head. And he was just rattling off numbers, and I was so impressed. And the more you run into those people in this industry, the more that you find like, okay, this guy gets it. This guy breathes it, this guy eats it. And I want to say emulate, but you understand the lifeblood of it and the people that you want to be around, you know, it's not just the guy that calls the shots or anything like that. It's the guy that actually knows what he's doing.
[00:33:39.960] - Tom Yash
There's a reason why he's where he's at, right?
[00:33:42.650] - Big Rich Klein
That makes sense. So then how long you said you were there for five years.
[00:33:47.580] - Tom Yash
I was there for five years. It was a crazy time, but it was a good one at the same time.
[00:33:53.110] - Big Rich Klein
And what was your next step after that?
[00:33:56.800] - Tom Yash
Where we, I think, officially met was JKS Manufacturing in Alliance, Nebraska, back when Jim Knowlett, the inventor of the Quick disconnect, when we stole the company before we sold it.
[00:34:09.440] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, say that. I don't know if we talked first on the phone or we met at Moab.
[00:34:18.730] - Tom Yash
I want to say we might have. It was either on the phone or it was at the Hammers.
[00:34:24.400] - Big Rich Klein
[00:34:25.990] - Tom Yash
It might have been like one after the other where maybe we talked a little bit when we were at the Hammers, and I gave you a business card and you called me, but I was set up there at the Hammers. I want to say it was the same year that I was racing, which is even funnier.
[00:34:40.750] - Big Rich Klein
And you were racing at Koh?
[00:34:43.450] - Tom Yash
Yeah, I was racing stock class, so that was my first year racing stock class.
[00:34:46.840] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And then after that, you came and raised Dirt Riot.
[00:34:51.010] - Tom Yash
[00:34:51.600] - Big Rich Klein
[00:34:51.840] - Tom Yash
Yeah. I had two girls at Koh before I realized that you should stop hemorraging money and figure this out first. I think that was like a lot of the first year to the second year, to the third year. You see, they always talk about people who finish the race, and it's like people that come the next year and, like, the financial side and the heartache of breaking a couple of miles in. They had a cripple, a lot of people's spirits that were out there trying to do the true every man things.
[00:35:25.490] - Big Rich Klein
True. And that's one of the reasons that we built Dirt Riot. I actually looked at it. It was the same year that XRA stopped doing events. And I was like, okay, we're going on the road full time. We need something to do Besides just the nine rock crawls, because nine rock crawls is not enough. And so we looked at it and said, well, let's start. I'd already done off road racing with Vora. I owned Vora for four years racing association. So we said, let's try to pick up where the rock racers are at and go around the country putting on. I didn't want to do the same styles Xray, because I just heard everybody saying it was fun, but I only got to race for two and a half minutes and drove to a good show.
[00:36:22.750] - Tom Yash
I used to love watching the XRRA stuff, but it was more like a monster truck shows.
[00:36:30.870] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. So I wanted to do consecutive lap type things, and I thought that that would help the guys that were racing or wanted to get into racing to learn how to race.
[00:36:45.330] - Tom Yash
[00:36:46.020] - Big Rich Klein
Because everybody thinks they're fast. You go as fast as you can and you're fast in your own mind. And then somebody goes blown by a lot of money, 30 or 40 miles an hour faster, and you go, wow, that guy is really fast.
[00:36:59.910] - Tom Yash
Oh, yeah. That's the first thing you realize is, like, I know how to drive off road. I've wheeled a lot of places. I spanked that trail. And then you spend a lot of money and you realize, like, how much better the car is. And you're like, I'm invisible. This is going to be easy. And then you see John Curry side fly past you and you feel like you're standing still. Yeah, that was a fun awakening. But the same thing where you're watching them pile back up, and you're in low range because you have no power, your four liters clapped out, and you're just happy to be out there and you're just watching all these big, expensive cars on the side of the road, and you count them up with your brother in the car with you. It was a heck of a first showing, but I still have the pride of saying that I made it further in the Hammers than Robbie Gordon did that year.
[00:37:49.310] - Big Rich Klein
Is that the year he left? He left Lance out on the Lake.
[00:37:52.930] - Tom Yash
Yeah. That was the year he got choppered out. Yeah.
[00:37:55.300] - Big Rich Klein
[00:37:56.970] - Tom Yash
[00:37:57.610] - Big Rich Klein
So in your two attempts, did you ever finish KOH?
[00:38:00.710] - Tom Yash
Of course not. No. I blew up the rear end the second year a couple of miles in. So I had the opposite problem. I think Mel Wade had that my first year where the regulator for the battery was screwed up and it wouldn't keep the battery charged, and we kept running out of battery.
[00:38:20.760] - Big Rich Klein
[00:38:21.810] - Tom Yash
So we limped it past Martel and basically had just enough radio to get somebody out there to tell us back.
[00:38:30.200] - Big Rich Klein
[00:38:31.130] - Tom Yash
I couldn't figure it out and then ended up scratching our heads on it and was not till Matt from Solid Axle flew out and was looking at it. He's like, yeah, your regulator is right wrong. And I'm like, you gotta be kidding me. Yeah. So, yeah, that was expensive learning experience both times. And that's like, I was pretty close to being like, you know what? Maybe this isn't for us. And then we found Dirt Riot, and for what it costs just to enter an ultra four race, we were able to do the entire weekend and have just as much fun, if not more. Actually, we had way more fun. And the amount of learning just from sitting around your truck and taking in what people are saying and learning what you're doing wrong, it paid off big time. Paid off really big.
[00:39:20.220] - Big Rich Klein
Do you think that at the Dirt Riot races that it helped where we were all bunched? I mean, there wasn't as many as, like, at a Koh.
[00:39:32.090] - Tom Yash
It was like the early Koh. The first time I went to Koh was the first time Loren won. Okay. And we pulled in the middle of the night, and we're parking next to these guys, and we had no idea who they were. Shannon Campbell starts his car up the next morning. We're like, hey, that's the Campbell. That's cool. And we'd have conversations with them when they'd get back from pre running. And then Matt, who I just mentioned from Solid, he was staying in our camper. So we had, like, a four person camper with eight people in it and Role number one. No, number two. And he introduced us to the guy next to us, and it was Loren Healy. And we're all like, yeah, whoever this guy is, I'm going to go over and talk to the Campbells. They're obviously going to win this thing. He's got an info. Come on. And Loren ends up winning that year with Brad coming in second, I believe. And that was just crazy that you could be that close to those people. And Loren Healy was an awesome rock crawler back then, but he wasn't the Loren Healey that he was today.
[00:40:30.670] - Tom Yash
Right. And I think the next year, I was hauling parts out for him in my backpack, and they're getting lost on the airplane Because I checked them, unfortunately, and I'm running him out to the Lake bed Because he had some broken parts. So it's one of those weird things where scenarios and you being at this random moment in time that seems pretty insignificant at the moment, Turns out to be pretty big. Like, I was at Danny's garage when Dave came out with EMC, right? I think you were there that night, too. Yes, I remember. I was talking with Creighton King and one of my friends, like, who's that guy you're yelling at? And I was like, what do you mean? I'm like, I wasn't yelling at anybody. He's like, that guy over there. I'm like, oh, that was Creighton. We were just talking. We're loud.
[00:41:17.570] - Big Rich Klein
You have to be loud at Danny's.
[00:41:20.090] - Tom Yash
Oh, yeah, exactly.
[00:41:21.440] - Big Rich Klein
Because the volume in that place just gets louder and louder and louder as more barley pops are consumed.
[00:41:28.430] - Tom Yash
Exactly. People were drowning on that two, three beer or whatever.
[00:41:34.230] - Big Rich Klein
True enough. So then with coming and starting racing dirt riot, I need to ask, what was your funnest race on the races that you did?
[00:41:48.730] - Tom Yash
It's hard to say Because Crandon is an experience like no other. Like the Landrush start there. We were finishing up. And I remember the first time we were there, Brad Lovell shows up late. We were finishing up our practice lapse, and we were getting off the course. And I think you are radioing to me, like, get Brad off the course. We don't have course anymore. And I go over to the official, and he's like, oh, that's Brad. Nobody cares. He can do whatever he wants here. And I'm like, I can't argue with that.
[00:42:16.480] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, because he was racing two lights or something.
[00:42:20.610] - Tom Yash
Yeah, exactly. And I was like, okay, I'll just talk rich. No big deal. But that and then Sturges. I don't know how to say this. The ones that sucks the most, honestly, Are also the ones that I enjoyed the most. So the Capon Bridge race, where we were up to, like, three or four in the morning, Putting the car back together and just barely making the race, didn't have lockers. I think we broke a throttle cable, blew out a tire. It was an awful showing for us. Was probably one of my favorite races. The alternator went out on our box truck on the way home, So I had to stop. And thankfully, my coworker with me at the time was still level headed enough and had enough sleep to replace it on the side of the road to get us home. But there was always races and there's always things that popped up like that. The fan going out on us at Sturgis, pulling the pits and having Shawn Rants Senior come over and hop on it and help us fix the trans cooler fan to make sure that it turned back on so we could finish the race.
[00:43:29.810] - Tom Yash
A lot of those things like the moments where you're sitting there like this sucks so bad. I look back now and I'm like, that was pretty cool.
[00:43:38.450] - Big Rich Klein
It is amazing how everybody comes together.
[00:43:42.290] - Tom Yash
Yeah. When we had the flat tire at Rausch, no, it wasn't rough, it was AOAA. Before we learned that tire pressure is a big deal when it comes to sliding in the rocks. We had a flat tire. We get into the pits and before I could even get my seatbelts off I felt a Jack and the vehicle going up and they're like stay in the car. And it's like this is great. Yeah. They're pulling off my spare, slapping it on and slapping the hood and telling us to get out of there.
[00:44:10.820] - Big Rich Klein
[00:44:12.770] - Tom Yash
That's really like the camaraderie. The people, Tim, Deakman, Matt and Kim, some of the east coasters on those races were so like I said, just sitting around talking to you, shooting the crap with them. And I think that's how I learned round about that. I was running too low of an air pressure was talking after that race saying I don't understand what's wrong with these tires. I've never had issues with them and they're like, what's your tire pressure at? They look like they barely got tire pressure on them. And I was like, I'm like £15. Like, oh you should have tire pressure. You're going to slice the sidewalls all day long out here with those. I'm like, good to know now, right?
[00:44:53.730] - Big Rich Klein
That's one of the things that a lot of guys we didn't know. I mean when you were trail wheeling, you always aired down.
[00:45:02.040] - Tom Yash
So you go out and watch the desert rating PSI was aired up. I'm like too much air.
[00:45:08.450] - Big Rich Klein
[00:45:09.950] - Tom Yash
And I heard people say that like you don't want to mess your sidewalls up. But I figured 15 was enough. And sure enough, if anything, you go up more than you think and then add some more and then you start floating those corners and it slides a lot better and you're like, okay, there's a method to this. Like I said, it was one of the things that just sitting around talking to people you take in and how to keep water out of the motor and wear a trash bag and do these things and rainy on your helmet, the little silly things, extra parts that you should have and what you should be carrying in the car and yeah, you got too much in there, and this is all you need. Don't worry about changing a flat. Drive it out. It's not that far, and you could limp on it. It's surprising what you pick up and you learn.
[00:45:58.550] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk some of the stories. You talked about being parked next to Lauren and the Campbells. What other kind of stories do you have? Any stories from the race day or things that happen that just were, like, surreal?
[00:46:17.990] - Tom Yash
I think that the biggest surreal moment was the night in Moab when Dave came out, and I thought he was on drugs or something because I've never seen the guy so excited in his life. I'm like, what is going on? He's like, we're going to do an Everyman challenge. We're going to have stock, class rigs. We're going to have modern class rigs. We're going to do this, do that. And immediately my reaction to it was, Holy cow, which vehicle am I going to build and how am I going to pull this off? And I almost tore apart, like, a brand new TJ that I had to make it happen, but I ended up dying. Kelly's old we rock rig, having it painted black and thrown her old axles underneath it and just getting it done in time to change the transmission out three times before the race. But that was probably when it comes to good race stories. That was the big one. I went through, I think, three transmissions. My first Koh before we even hit the Lake bed.
[00:47:21.570] - Tom Yash
And that wasn't from testing. One fell out. There was a pump issue on another. I overnighted one the week before the race just to get it installed. It we get out there, and every time we turned it on, it was just pumping fluid out through the pump housing. So I'm in my Buddy's garage in Bakersfield. Chris Bader. I can't thank that kid enough to this day for letting us take over his garage and basically run amok. And once again, we're on fumes. So I drove from Nebraska to Bakersfield basically nonstop, no sleep. Picked up my brother in Denver so he could help drive a little bit. We take the transmission out twice before the race, put it back in, and both times, every time we turned it on, it would just pump, pump oil, pump oil, pump oil. And eventually we finally got it figured out, sealed it up good enough that the pump housing wasn't leaking as much, get to the cameras, get it all unloaded, and start to do the little things. Dave campaign good friend of ours shows up, starts helping Bert gets out there, and they're running off the pit one.
[00:48:33.590] - Tom Yash
These guys, I don't know, hopefully we get to see them, but, yeah, getting to the finish line and looking at my brother and just feeling like this immense accomplishment that we actually made it to this. We actually made it to the start line.
[00:48:48.040] - Big Rich Klein
So that was the adversity.
[00:48:50.090] - Tom Yash
Oh, 100%. And then I remember immediately going into freaking shell shock and saying, I think the rear lug nuts are loose. And he looks at me, he's like, I know the driveshaft walls are. And that was our plan, was to get over kingshock Hill and the other side. So stuff up, hide behind the rocks out of the camera view. Yeah. And that was as much fun as fun as to talk about that. The counting the cars on your way through the desert at a snail's pace. I think we might have done 55 mph in the flattest of sections. That's all that motor really had to give us until we got the golden engine in it that it's got now where we could actually turn some RPMs. But it was so much fun just being out there and we're in the middle of nowhere. There's plenty of room around us. And this little blue Toyota comes in back and smacks the crap out of us. And I'm like, why? And then you look behind you in the rearview mirror and he's waving at you and it's like, yeah, he's having a good time, too.
[00:49:52.470] - Big Rich Klein
He just wanted to know you that got a job.
[00:49:56.130] - Tom Yash
Exactly. He's like, oh, we're racing. Okay.
[00:49:59.190] - Big Rich Klein
Rubbing his racing.
[00:50:01.110] - Tom Yash
Yes. The funnier part. I don't know how many EMC guys you talk to getting into the rock sections and seeing the chaos unfold in front of you. Granted, like, most of these guys and myself included, like, you know, we know rock crawling. You know, most of us wield in a lot of places. But you put that helmet on and you look at in front of you and there are just cars flipped over in places. Like, there was a car flipped over in Martel. And I'm like, I don't understand how you do that. How do you do that? Here it was as soon as you get into the rock sections, it was just chaos. And then you get out into the flats and everybody would drive past us. We get into the rock sections and we pass them up, and then we get out to the flats and everybody passes up. I think the only thing we had going for us is we didn't have enough power to really screw up.
[00:50:51.370] - Big Rich Klein
But not enough power to finish either.
[00:50:55.810] - Tom Yash
Not enough electrical power, unfortunately. Yeah. That was that year. The second year. I've never prepped the car better. I don't feel like I was more prepared for a race. I had a spare air transmission, spare transfer case. I had everything except for spare ring gear. And what do we do? We blow up the ring gear.
[00:51:18.570] - Tom Yash
It was the biggest heartbreak ever. Like I said, I forget what racer I was talking to. But he's like, yeah, the car is fully prepped. And he was sitting in his pre running the course and something else. And he's like, this car is ready for this race. I'm not going to go out there and pre run with it. It's turnkey is ready to go. I think it was big ugly racing and that was my goal that year when we were going out there is to have something that was that ready. So Jim at JKS at the time kind of gave me free rein over the R and D sections. Bless his heart for letting me do that because I was back there every night and just slaving away. I had spare shaft, spare, this, that. And it was all stacked up organized in my little tubs. And I felt like, you know what? We got a real chance at it this year and we're going to do our best to finish it. And the bottle pressure got turned up too high in the rear locker. And when we came out of the wash right before back door, we heard something pop.
[00:52:20.620] - Tom Yash
And what I didn't realize is the ARB line popped off. The low copper line kind of came undone, right. Pumped a bunch of CO2 in there, pressurized the entire axle enough that the bellows blew off the axle. And then it just started pushing oil out. So by the time we got through the desert section, I got off the throttle. You just hear the ring gear diving into the differential. Wow. And so did my heart.
[00:52:47.770] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, I can imagine.
[00:52:50.710] - Tom Yash
That was one of the coolest races, too, because we found some fresh air on the outside. Everybody was riding basically on the hard pack. There's a center channel and there were nose to tail and was terrifying because you kept seeing the Amber lights in front of you and you had to Dodge them. I dodged out the one time and I just saw like, oh, it's wide open air. There was just enough of a breeze that was pushing it west. So I dumped it down into second gear, I think, and just held it to the floor. I just started passing people like crazy. It was a rougher section, but I wasn't in the heavy dust. Just didn't know at the time I was dumping oil all over the back of my Jeep.
[00:53:30.730] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. Getting smoke in the rear end.
[00:53:33.610] - Tom Yash
Yes. Sad day.
[00:53:35.770] - Big Rich Klein
So then after JKS, where did you land then?
[00:53:43.090] - Tom Yash
So, yeah, Jim ended up selling JKS. I had an opportunity to move to Michigan to work for BDS. Jks. Up at that facility. But I grew up in the Northeast. I kind of knew what was going on there and had an opportunity to go work for Crown Automotive in Boston. And I never lived in a big city. Alliance was a town of, I believe, 9000 and some change in Nebraska. And the town that I grew up here in Ohio was probably not too much bigger. So I was like, yeah, heck with it. I'm going to go up here. I'll do marketing for them. It was a marketing sales. So they were just a big enough company that you got to wear two hats. So I went up there and helped them with their digital program and got them on track for a lot of things and learned a lot about stock aftermarket replacement parts.
[00:54:35.070] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And then you were there a little over a year.
[00:54:40.390] - Tom Yash
It was two years. Two years.
[00:54:42.210] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. Then you went to work for Jeremy after that, correct?
[00:54:47.780] - Tom Yash
Yeah. Jeremy at Rock Crawler.
[00:54:49.870] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And then from there it was Line-X. Line-X. And you were with Line-X for quite a while, weren't you?
[00:55:00.020] - Tom Yash
[00:55:00.820] - Big Rich Klein
Five years. Okay.
[00:55:01.470] - Tom Yash
Yeah. It was Austin Time 500 franchises and basically manage their accessory sales for the whole country as well as the and then eventually just the West Coast. So I was teaching a bunch of guys that did a lot in Chemical how to sling truck parts.
[00:55:20.280] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Because they had a line of hard parts.
[00:55:25.370] - Tom Yash
Yes. But they had some Dynamite accessory guys. I can't take any credit away from them. I shouldn't say joked. I always told most of the franchises, all I did was pass the knowledge I learned from the store before them onto them. Because there's guys that I look to to this day that if you're going to make a business decision. Jim at JKS, I don't think I've met a better businessman in my life, but some of these guys at their Linex stores, their local franchises, they really had a lot to offer and they were just really good people. And it was a community thing where it was the local guy.
[00:56:03.510] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Not too many people know, but you're one of them that do that. We looked at buying a franchise at Linux, correct.
[00:56:13.130] - Tom Yash
I was so excited for that, too.
[00:56:14.720] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, me too. I really was a big corpus because I thought we were going to partner with Josh Jackson. And I thought, okay, once we get done with the rock crawling, this will be a nice business to step into. Don't have to travel as much and everything. And then that was one of the franchise owners that didn't know shit.
[00:56:40.350] - Tom Yash
That's unfortunate thing. You're plagued with that every once in a while for transfers and other things. But it definitely was a good opportunity that unfortunately didn't work out right.
[00:56:51.210] - Big Rich Klein
The reason we didn't get into it was they had told the building owner that they were leasing from they canceled their lease, thinking that once they sold the business that whoever they sold the business to could step in and redo the lease. And that was incorrect. The guy wanted at that point for us to buy the building at an astronomically high price for a beat up piece of property. I remember going through the building. That was too bad.
[00:57:28.870] - Tom Yash
He was the one guy in Texas selling a lot of undercoat, though, just because of how much salt down there. And the golf carts, I think on the local golf courses were using a lot of it. It was an interesting setup.
[00:57:41.470] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. They did do a lot of undercoat. Yeah. There was a lot of problems with that franchise, but we were going to get it for a steal anyway. But not without a building. It didn't make any sense.
[00:57:54.850] - Tom Yash
[00:57:56.570] - Big Rich Klein
And then we decided we didn't want to trade time for a paycheck again.
[00:58:04.070] - Tom Yash
Yes. Well, you got a boat. You got to take advantage of that.
[00:58:07.540] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. The boat has changed our life.
[00:58:12.410] - Tom Yash
It does. I think it's the old Toronto line that's. Well, to have water in your neighborhood.
[00:58:17.150] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, that's true. So you're now at Summit, correct?
[00:58:27.630] - Tom Yash
Summit Racing. Yes.
[00:58:31.890] - Big Rich Klein
Is that something that you can work from home or do you go into an office?
[00:58:36.510] - Tom Yash
Primarily, I do work from home. So with COVID, it's still a privately owned company. So once again, you're in that heavy enthusiast base of people. I'm and they wanted to make sure that the staff felt safe, felt like their health wasn't being subjected to anything that they weren't comfortable with. So they allowed the majority of the staff that worked phones or in the office to work from home.
[00:59:03.630] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, that must be nice.
[00:59:05.610] - Tom Yash
It's very nice. It's a change of pace from Linux, where three quarters of the time I'm trying to get 70,000 miles on my corporate truck a year, plus rental cars and flights and everything else.
[00:59:21.490] - Big Rich Klein
That must have made it rough on a personal level, always being gone from your base.
[00:59:31.630] - Tom Yash
Yes and no. So I think there's a want and a willingness to travel and everybody. And for me, I look so much forward to seeing other people out on the road like yourself. Like all of my friends from the water ski team in College, they would get regular visits for me. I wouldn't fly home on the weekends like a lot of other folks. It's going to cost as much for me to get two tickets to fly there. Fly back then it would be for me to get a hotel for two more nights. So I would just stay wherever I was at, meet up with some friends, or drive over to Baghdad, Arizona, and see one of the coolest races I've ever seen. When you guys had that rainy event there with Dirt Riot or even the Congress event where there was wet and people were getting stuck in mud, I think Jeremy had to get craned out because he hit the deep end back there that year. But, yeah, I took advantage of keeping up with a lot of folks that I knew from the industry, that I knew from College and just friends.
[01:00:37.250] - Big Rich Klein
So you've always had that kind of wonder lust for travel as well, to keep moving.
[01:00:43.290] - Tom Yash
Even now I'm building an expedition rig that is going to double as my daily driver and might even tow the Jeep around a little bit if I feel like you can do it. Nice to say Jeeps, because once you have one. You got to have all of them. True.
[01:01:01.990] - Big Rich Klein
Or the UTV or the UTV. Yeah. I've always been I don't know if you call it restless, but I love to keep moving.
[01:01:18.170] - Tom Yash
Oh, yeah. There's something that chasing that white line and like making another mile and get to where you want to go and exploring some of the trips. Nobody else would do them just because of time. And I was like, that's the one thing that I'm going to take the most advantage for, just so I could actually experience it. And I'm not going to drive. What is it, the 91 down through California or whatever. I'm going to take the Pacific Coast Highway or if I want to be in Oregon, I'm definitely going to drive the coast. I'm going to go from Coos Bay all the way up to Astoria. Right. And a lot of other folks would just stay on the five.
[01:01:56.930] - Big Rich Klein
True. That's what we try to do when we travel in the semi truck. We can't do that as much.
[01:02:05.090] - Tom Yash
No. What is the craziest road you've driven in that thing? Have you taken across the Million Dollar Highway yet?
[01:02:10.850] - Big Rich Klein
Which is the Million Dollar Highway?
[01:02:13.370] - Tom Yash
It's from Silverton, Colorado, through Yuri. It's gnarly if you did.
[01:02:25.590] - Big Rich Klein
I believe I've been on that in the semi truck, but I think that there's one that we going north to Goldendale, Washington. We were in the semi truck and I said, you know, there's a road across here that's going to save us a lot of time. And I start cutting across from interstate to interstate. We're just going to cut across through this mountain range. And we drove like 50, 60 miles. And then there's a sign that says 28 foot King pin to rear axle words. No, something like that. And I'm like, oh, shit. I'm like, well, we're not too much longer than that. Yeah. So luckily, we didn't have any traffic coming the other way on any of the terms, but we made it. And then I decided to drive it going the other direction, too, because it did save a lot of time.
[01:03:30.370] - Tom Yash
Yeah. That's the champion right there. Think about all the times driving the towers and things like that. And to flash to think of what you've done with yours, like getting lost at XCAL Expo, doing an event there and having the backup or you're driving into La to do this and you have to park here and all that. This is just normal life for Big Rich. And I have no idea how he actually pulled it off.
[01:03:56.300] - Big Rich Klein
We'll we were coming through Tucson or going to the Tucson event site or something, and it was late at night and we were trying to find a restaurant. And I turned the restaurant was actually on the frontage road. And I went past the frontage road and Shelley's like, oh, you got this. Just keep going. And then I see this, like 15% grade sign and I'm like, where in Held in Tucson? Is there a downhill 15% grade?
[01:04:29.990] - Tom Yash
[01:04:30.780] - Big Rich Klein
So I stopped just before the Hill and there's like a school. This is in the dark, right? There's a school and there's something else on the other side. And there's a bunch of poles and road markers and signs and everything. And somehow I pulled a UI getting through, going off the road, back across the road, off the road, through all these signs, and then headed back out to the highway without hitting a damn thing.
[01:05:04.070] - Tom Yash
That's impressive. Were you down by the College then?
[01:05:07.700] - Big Rich Klein
No, we were south of Tucson, and I don't remember which exit it is. There was a steak restaurant there that we missed. Like I said, the frontage road and it was taking us down. I mean, I drove it later on in the daylight, and I was like, oh, man, I could have easily done this because it was only a quarter of a mile long. I mean, I could have coasted it not hit.
[01:05:34.010] - Tom Yash
Yeah, that's a lot of industry guys stories. We even offered guys stories where you get lost and you're pivoting your trailer around a telephone pole or why is the scratch here? It's like, oh, I got a story for you. And I had one of those. I took a Jeep down to Quadratech, and they have those rounded old school overpasses. And if you're in a box truck or a big truck like yours, you can't fit two vehicles through there without scraping something. Of course, I hit the front edge and the leading edge of the box truck, and it felt like I ripped the whole box off of it.
[01:06:08.880] - Big Rich Klein
[01:06:09.600] - Tom Yash
But it was only like a foot of damage, but still, it was enough to scare the crap out of you.
[01:06:22.770] - Big Rich Klein
There was a time I was in Cortez and I was going to Randy Rods, the transmission shop, before they had the new shops. And I was on the main road going through Cortez and had to make a right hand turn to get down to where Randy shop was. That I'm trying to take the Lane next to me as well. And I make the turn and somebody is in the turn Lane coming out of that street, and I look in the review mirror thinking, okay, I'm going to make this. And I realized that my trailer is up against the aluminum light pole or it's not close enough to where I it's think up against it. So I stopped. I just sat there while the lights changed. I backed up because people went around me, backed up. I took all the traffic lanes, and then people did not go into that left hand turn Lane on the street that I was going into. And I could make the turn. But at times like that, when you're in a semi truck, it's just like, I don't care who I'm even making.
[01:07:37.470] - Tom Yash
It doesn't affect anything. I've accidentally backed into my ZJ with my box trucks. And I was like, well, that's weird. Why is it chugging out? Usually it doesn't have a problem backing up just on the you know, I wasn't hitting the throttle. I was just letting it idle backwards. And it was at night. And then I look in my mirror and I see my ZJ going sideways. I'm like, oh, that's my Jeep. And I'm pushing it. That's why thankfully, it wasn't that expensive. And I fixed it pretty easy. But, yeah, when you're in a big truck, you know what? You've got to work around me at this point.
[01:08:08.080] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. You just never know. And, I mean, there's been so many instances like that going into in West Virginia, going into that race in Capon Bridge.
[01:08:21.500] - Tom Yash
Yeah, that was a fun one.
[01:08:23.730] - Big Rich Klein
Chaos Park, I think they called it.
[01:08:26.010] - Tom Yash
[01:08:27.050] - Big Rich Klein
I was parked in around behind the guy's house in the shop area. And while it only took me, like, five minutes to drive into it to get out of that spot, it took me like an hour and a half.
[01:08:41.590] - Tom Yash
It's no wonder how you and Shelley are still married with some of us. She just sit in the back and she's like, just do what you got to do, Rich.
[01:08:48.700] - Big Rich Klein
She'll go, how can I help? And I said, don't say anything.
[01:08:53.350] - Tom Yash
Don't make any gassing sounds. Just close your eyes and put on your ear pods.
[01:08:57.110] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, we were going through I want to say it was Arkansas. Of course, I could be wrong with that. And I wanted to pull off because there was a restaurant and there was a donut shop that was closed. And I thought, okay, I'll just pull in here, and then I'll swing around the building to get out. Well, there was no swinging around the building because there was no around the building yet. Oh, no, there was. But what they had done is they had put the garbage dumpsters back there to keep people from doing what you're doing.
[01:09:31.650] - Tom Yash
[01:09:32.040] - Big Rich Klein
And so I got out to try to even move those, but they were sitting on the dirt and they were too full. And so they were, like, kind of sucked down into the dirt. And I could not get that thing negotiated forward or backwards at the point that I was at. And people came out from their house next door and were sitting on lawn chairs watching me for like 45 minutes.
[01:09:58.730] - Tom Yash
We do that at the boat ramp down by my house. We have a boat launch, like a driver four hour away from my house. And you could hear it some days where people like, there's marriages ending right after they bought that boat.
[01:10:13.190] - Big Rich Klein
And I remember just going, okay, the hell with this. And I just backed it up off the curb, over the curb, stops out into the street. I just like to help with it. I don't care if anybody's coming. I can't see I'm just backing up and getting out of here and then went on down the road and found a better place to park. Yeah, it's amazing. It really is. So what's in the future?
[01:10:45.450] - Tom Yash
Well, hopefully we'll get back racing now that this coveted Craziness is subsiding and you're starting to travel a little bit more without masks. Thankfully, I have a good friend that has a cabin up in Alaska, so I've been helping him with that. So I'm going back up in a few weeks to spend ten more days up there, work on the cabin, explore around up there, hopefully do some over landing in the future and get the boat on the Denali River and kind of see what we can find that route as well. So I'm starting to appreciate and understand more about I don't know, I'm starting to heed my own wisdom, I guess you would say. But every time that somebody asked me about getting into off road racing and things like that, the things that I tell people are more of the things that I'm doing now. So do what still makes you happy. And if it makes if you're starting to get frustrated or you feel like this is not working your way, you got to evaluate and figure out is the juice worth the squeeze? So we'll probably do more local events. I'm going to keep a couple of bucket list races on my schedule and hopefully do them one day.
[01:12:01.550] - Tom Yash
I want to do the men. I would love to race Mexico one day. If I could race Mexico before I die, then I'll be a happy boy and then do some more, go back up to Crandon, race up there again. And now that I'm working for summit, I'm surrounded by guys that just dwarf me in motor knowledge. So I'm going to build some pretty stupid rigs here in the future.
[01:12:26.620] - Big Rich Klein
Sweet. Sounds awesome. And where is he at in Alaska?
[01:12:34.410] - Tom Yash
He's north of Fairbanks. We're central Alaska. It's real close to the Circle Hot Springs Resort.
[01:12:41.020] - Big Rich Klein
[01:12:42.390] - Tom Yash
Yeah. You're basically 30 miles away from the Arctic Circle.
[01:12:46.430] - Big Rich Klein
[01:12:47.910] - Tom Yash
It's amazing. And for anybody listening, don't go to Alaska. It's awful what everybody says and just leave it to us because I'm just kidding. It's beautiful. Everybody should experience it outside of Sanchridge, as they call it. You should experience the less seen parts. It's completely opposite of what you think. And it's a beautiful opposite.
[01:13:13.610] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. I've only been on the Peninsula. Well, Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage. We flew in when my son lived there in Kenai, and we flew to Anchorage and then did the road down to there and all of the things to do between Homer and Anchorage. But I do want to do the rest.
[01:13:40.710] - Tom Yash
They have a new portion of there's two roads that go north. They're both evading my memory right now, but I want to do the one that's going all the way up. So they extended it a couple of years back, so we're planning on driving up, I think maybe later this summer with one of the vehicles with a bunch of materials. We're dropping off a diesel truck up there, and I'm excited to do that. And who knows, I might be able to talk him into going up a little bit further.
[01:14:09.990] - Big Rich Klein
Cool. So you said you might get into some overlanding or exploring what kind of vehicle?
[01:14:17.310] - Tom Yash
I actually did a little bit when I was in Nebraska. I was building out a Jeep Liberty of all vehicles. But no, I got a little 2000 Chevrolet or not Chevrolet, GMC 1500 Sierra.
[01:14:31.110] - Big Rich Klein
[01:14:31.390] - Tom Yash
So I'm just going to do a simple rack assembly, soft rolling cover on it airbags. I work for the best place to get parts, so I'll be tuning up and making sure that it's ready for another 140,000 miles or whatever it's got on it now.
[01:14:48.340] - Big Rich Klein
So do you go through the catalog and then put post to notes on it on the pages with all the stuff?
[01:14:55.470] - Tom Yash
I'm new age these days. I got a spreadsheet.
[01:15:02.010] - Big Rich Klein
I hate spreadsheets. That's Shelley's thing.
[01:15:05.250] - Tom Yash
After racing, you realize that spreadsheets are your friend. And like I said, that's the one thing I get to telling everybody. I'm like. You start a budget and then you multiply that by four and then you double it, and then maybe that's how much you're going to spend. Don't skimp on the safety stuff. That was the one big thing. And the one thing I used Summit most for was a lot of the safety and a lot of the plumbing stuff because we're doing it all last minute. And thankfully, we got our parts within like two days, no matter what we were ordering. And I was like, you know what? These guys are all right.
[01:15:38.130] - Big Rich Klein
And so when the opportunity came to go to work there.
[01:15:41.380] - Tom Yash
Yeah, it only took three tries. I think I was trying to get a job there straight out of College, just like I was at Four Wheel Drive. And a few years back, I had an opportunity to potentially work there, and somehow it didn't work out, unfortunately. But this last time, I guess my resume was up to snuff enough.
[01:16:00.510] - Big Rich Klein
It was my reference.
[01:16:02.610] - Tom Yash
[01:16:03.440] - Big Rich Klein
It's when they called me and asked me for a reference on you. Yeah. I told them straight up, if I had a position for you and could afford you, you'd be working for me.
[01:16:16.350] - Tom Yash
Yeah. Well, I appreciate that. You don't have to lie for me. It's all right, Rich.
[01:16:23.450] - Big Rich Klein
[01:16:25.430] - Tom Yash
No, like I said, it's one of those things that I grew up 20 minutes away from this place, and you never realize how big of a. I don't want to say big, but how awesome of an organization is sitting in your backyard the whole time. Like, you go into the showroom and you're dismissed by you got race cars on the ceiling and every single piece of candy that the motor head wants sitting out in front of you. And yeah, it took me 16/17 years in this industry to make a full circle, come back and work at the one place that I wanted to start working at initially.
[01:17:02.870] - Big Rich Klein
Nice. And you see that is hopefully your final resting place or what?
[01:17:11.960] - Tom Yash
Oh, absolutely. It's very similar to the job that I was doing when I left Transamerican, where you're really in control of the truck in the HD market and diesel market. So I get to do a lot of things that directly reflect the sales and the future of the products and the offerings and all the things that I circled in that catalog growing up are now the things that I'll be bringing into the company and hopefully creating a lot more success with excellent.
[01:17:47.090] - Big Rich Klein
Well, Tom, is there any other stories that you can think of that you want to share with us?
[01:17:52.910] - Tom Yash
I just feel like we should be on bar stools when we have this conversation.
[01:17:56.390] - Big Rich Klein
I always say around the camp fire.
[01:17:59.030] - Tom Yash
Yeah. But I can't imagine how many people when they get off the phone with you, are like, man, I wish we were drinking beers right now because it was a fun memory Lane and the things that we left out. I feel like I talked to you for a week about some of these stories being Roused Creek. My friend got to drive around training Campbell to pre run the course with because it was raining and he didn't want to get his car dirty. There's, like all these other things, they're just popping into my brain right now and was like, no, maybe another time, but maybe that time will be around a campfire, like you say. But I'll keep doing the photography side and showing up to events and seeing you and Shelley out there and keeping track of it that way. And hopefully we'll drag around the truck and trailer at the same time and do a couple of them. I still want to do an East Coast rock crawl. I still haven't done one. I always say that I want to, but who knows? Maybe this year is my year.
[01:18:54.270] - Big Rich Klein
Well, look at the schedule and come on down to Tennessee.
[01:18:57.890] - Tom Yash
I want to. That's the one.
[01:19:00.120] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, that would be the one.
[01:19:02.010] - Tom Yash
I got to talk to some of my friends and we rock rolls and figure out how I can make my Jeep a little bit better for that. I think we're a little too big for it. We'll have to lower down and get that center of gravity a little bit lower.
[01:19:14.020] - Big Rich Klein
Tuck them in a little bit.
[01:19:17.310] - Tom Yash
Now, I appreciate it. I enjoyed these podcasts driving the last couple of years and traveling and listening to them and never thought that I would be invited on here to share the experience.
[01:19:31.290] - Big Rich Klein
Well, we all have one thing in common and that's the love of the offroad industry.
[01:19:39.810] - Tom Yash
We all like, Shelley, she's pretty awesome.
[01:19:41.710] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, that's true. She is very awesome. I should have listened to her years ago when she said, you need to do a podcast.
[01:19:53.430] - Tom Yash
I was going through the list of people, and every time I was like, wow, Rodhall's granddaughter. I'm like, that'd be pretty awesome to have that conversation or this person or this person, every single one you're going through. And you're like, yes, I get it.
[01:20:09.280] - Big Rich Klein
And it's interesting because I've got so many names on my list. And every week somebody sends me I'll get three or four recommendations to add to the list. And then I try to call people and everybody wants to do it. But it's having finding that time or well, I got something in the works I'd really love to talk about, but I'm going to need a month, that kind of thing. And so it keeps going. And I always look for not just the big power names that everybody knows. And some of those guys that had the big power names don't really want to be on. I mean, I've always had a couple that, you know, had a couple that said I had one guy say, no, I don't want to be on it. Another one said, no, Rich, I'm out of the industry now. I don't want to share that part of my life. And I'm like, okay, fair enough. And another guy, oh, no, let my friend do it because he talks better than I do. And I don't know what to say and all that kind of stuff. And I think we make it pretty easy.
[01:21:28.910] - Big Rich Klein
Maybe I'd want to tell my truth too much and I'd hurt too many people's feelings, so I can understand that. I can see that there's some that people are going to go and say, why haven't you had him on yet? Well, there's four possibilities there where one of those guys that you're wondering about, somebody might be wondering about is under that chances are they just haven't made it on yet, right? Chances are. But I have a lot.
[01:21:59.360] - Tom Yash
There's so many great people I've got to interact with so many. And the randoms that you run into at events or competitions or just even SEMA never would. I thought like, oh, I get to meet Dan Henderson, the ultimate fighter guy on the trails of Moab. There's random occurrences of people that also enjoy something I get to do for a career. I always said that there's two really important things when you do a career that you love. There's two important phrases. One is if you enjoy what you do, you never have to work a day in your life, which is true. But the other one is you got to separate work and play.
[01:22:46.130] - Big Rich Klein
[01:22:47.330] - Tom Yash
So even if work does seem like play at times, a dream sometimes could turn out to be a nightmare. And Thankfully, I've been able to do that well enough that the business is still the business side and the fun side is still fun.
[01:23:06.050] - Big Rich Klein
Perfect. That's a great place to end this.
[01:23:09.170] - Tom Yash
[01:23:10.050] - Big Rich Klein
I like that. It's a nice segue.
[01:23:12.410] - Tom Yash
[01:23:13.330] - Big Rich Klein
Well, Tom, thank you so much for coming on and spending the afternoon with us. After work there and discussing your life and off road I know that we'll run into each other more in the future. Absolutely.
[01:23:27.100] - Tom Yash
You got stuck with me I'm going to keep popping into your lots.
[01:23:30.050] - Big Rich Klein
Perfect. All right. Thank you, buddy.
[01:23:33.670] - Tom Yash
[01:23:34.420] - Big Rich Klein
All right. Take care.
[01:23:37.010] - Speaker 1
Thank you for listening to Conversations with big rich. Please let your friends know about this podcast let us know what you think of conversations with big rich please forward ideas to me contacts of those that I should attempt to interview leave a rating on any of the services you found us on. We look forward to your comments and ideas. Enjoying life is a must follow your dreams and grab all the gusto you can.