Armando Verdugo shares his love for off-road and why he gets up in the morning to go to work! Founder of Herooffroad.org and BAM Strategic, Armando has been around the off-road block learning how to help the small business guy tie everything together. It’s a good conversation between two friends. Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app – subscribe so you don’t miss anything, a new episode drops every Thursday morning, early!
3:56 – I just kept moving progressively east until I got to just outside of Phoenix
11:02 – it was a good time to build myself into what I wanted to be in this industry
18:13 – the start of Herooffroad.org
35:33 – My thing with Hero is that I’m not going to save all of them, but I’d like to save one
43:29 – your website is your Nexus, your home, you want it to be open and inviting
52:02 – the PSA’s? that was a way for me to vent after dealing with customers
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.Support the show
[00:00:06.410] - Big Rich Klein
Welcome to conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviews 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.
[00:00:53.790] - Armando Verdugo
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.
[00:01:20.320] - Big Rich Klein
Have you seen 4Low Magazine yet? 4Low magazine is a high quality, well written, four wheel drive focused magazine for the enthusiast market. If you still love the idea of a printed magazine, something to save and read at any time, four Lo is the magazine for you. 4Low cannot be found in stores, but you can have it delivered to your home or place of business. Visit 4low magazine.com to order your subscription. Today
[00:01:47.320] - Big Rich Klein
on today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Armando Verdugo. Armando is a marketing and management specialist. He's been in the off road world, well, probably for at least 13 or 14 years, I believe. I first met him with Warriors for Wounded, came out to one of our events and set up. We'll talk about all that, but he's been with Rigid Lighting and Addictive Desert Designs and Artec, and now he's doing his own thing. And he also heads up Hero offroad. So we'll talk about all of those things. Armando, thank you so much for coming on board and sharing your life with us.
[00:02:28.340] - Armando Verdugo
Thanks, Big. Yes, definitely. It's been a long time that we've known each other and considered you and Shelley good friends and always excited to get some time to hang out with you guys.
[00:02:42.270] - Big Rich Klein
Absolutely. So let's start right off. Where were you born and raised?
[00:02:48.860] - Armando Verdugo
I was born in Southern California. Don't hold that against me.
[00:02:53.740] - Big Rich Klein
That's all right. I was born in Northern California.
[00:02:56.150] - Armando Verdugo
I just don't tell people that, yeah, born in Southern California, spent most of my life out there, and then in 2007 moved to Arizona and been in Arizona since.
[00:03:12.740] - Big Rich Klein
And Southern California has got a lot of metropolitan areas and a lot of cities and towns and whatnot all over the place. What part of Southern California were you in?
[00:03:24.920] - Armando Verdugo
So I was born in Los Angeles proper at General Hospital, of all places, to a very young mother and grew up in the Monterey Park Montebello area. And spent most of my childhood up to early 20s out in that area. Then moved out to the South Bay, Manhattan Beach, Rodondo Beach. Hermosa. Beach areas.
[00:03:55.100] - Big Rich Klein
[00:03:56.720] - Armando Verdugo
Then moved to Long Beach, out to Riverside and then just kept going progressively further east till I got to just outside of Phoenix and that's where I live now is outside of Phoenix.
[00:04:07.240] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. And what did you do as you were growing up that prepared you for what you're doing now?
[00:04:14.840] - Armando Verdugo
Probably nothing, but the dirt has always been in my soul. I had a mini bike, a little Honda Trail 50 with a 70 motor in it. I got that on my 9th birthday. We put it that around going up to Asusa Canyon out to the hills in Corona where my uncle and aunt live through the neighborhoods by the house going into ATC's ATVs kind of. And that whole dirt team was always something I enjoyed. But career wise I went to a technical high school and I was doing metallurgical technology. I was doing a figure analysis and that's what I did for almost 20 years I was in that field but I always had dirt in my soul. And 2009 when that industry kind of shrunk up a bit and I got laid off I went searching for something different and decided to jump into the off road side awesome.
[00:05:34.340] - Big Rich Klein
And with that technical stuff the kind of job that you had, what were you doing up until the recession there killed everybody's careers.
[00:05:45.980] - Armando Verdugo
So I was selling robots and microscope automation. So it was a lot into semiconductor fab. I would be bunny suited up and in a fab setting up a wait for handler robots doing automation for microscope stages so people can scan a full chip and look for defects. And I was doing sales and outside sales. I ran the US for a couple of different companies doing sales.
[00:06:22.080] - Big Rich Klein
Okay so sales have been kind of in your blood and did you ever take any college classes in marketing or anything or was it just jumping in the fire?
[00:06:34.100] - Armando Verdugo
Just jump in the fire. I tried to do some business classes. I graduated high school, barely tried to go to college and college just wasn't for me. I'm more of a jump in and learn and do and that's how I'm going to be the best at what I'm going to do and just push myself to learn more, do more. Luckily enough to have when I was doing on the scientific research side I had a boss that kind of really pushed me to understand the business aspects and how a business ran, how to properly perform things and keep yourself on top of the business and to work for the business. And that was a huge inspiration for me and it kept me and inspired me and it's just tools that I've used for the last probably 20 some years just building myself and building my career and where I'm at now.
[00:07:37.980] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, good. So you had a good mentor in those early years. That's awesome. I can't say that I had that. There were people I looked up to in the various jobs that I had, but I don't remember anybody ever taking me under their wing and saying, this is why you should do something like this. And I guess the only one that I can remember doing that was a high school teacher I had that ended up being he was a shop teacher and he taught photography. And that's what got me into Brooks Institute and graduating as a commercial photographer from college, but also being on the yearbook staff for the whole time in high school and doing that kind of stuff. But the college that I did didn't really prepare me for a world and off road except for maybe how things should look. It did tell me how to finish jobs and how to get things done, that's for sure.
[00:08:51.030] - Armando Verdugo
Yeah. Sometimes it's big to have just something to push you into that mindset and it can be very small and it can be a larger portion. It's just a matter of how your mind processes it and keep pushing on it.
[00:09:10.210] - Big Rich Klein
It amazes me how many people in Offroad came from other industries and were able to create jobs or a lifestyle from what they enjoy doing personally in Offroad. And that's one of the things that's always attracted me to Offroad, whether it's the racing side or the enthusiast side or the business side, is that it is passion driven.
[00:09:40.000] - Armando Verdugo
Yeah, definitely. It was something that I took into consideration. I got other job offers in the industry to come in and work with companies and I had enough. And being someone that really enjoyed the offroad in my late teens, I had a Toyota pickup on 36 at the time. It was ridiculous. I used to take it up and go play with it and bust to the desert and do all the stuff that I wanted to do and then I just didn't do it for the longest time because it wasn't part of what my life was at that point. And a little further out down the road, I picked up this international travel all from some friends for $350. And I was going to rebuild that to be my toy and kind of get back out and do some of the things I wanted to do. And in doing that, it really opened up my eyes on going back and looking through things that I've been doing for so long and decided that this is kind of what I want to be into. I just seen so many different products in the industry and innovations. At the time, the industry was changing a lot.
[00:11:02.650] - Armando Verdugo
Back in the 2000 hensish, the JK was coming into its own and a lot more products were coming out around that, but it also pushed out to other vehicles. So I was seeing that, and it was just exciting. And it was a good time for me to come in and kind of build myself into what I wanted to be on this industry.
[00:11:27.220] - Big Rich Klein
And how did that first step happen? Because that was after you got to Arizona, did you jump right into it or did you work other jobs and then find your way into it?
[00:11:43.860] - Armando Verdugo
No, I jumped right in. I got through the year working for the company I was with, and the year was terrible. I could do 4 million a year in sales, and I did about 500,000. So I knew I was in the chopping block. I knew there was no way they were going to be able to support me and keep me going. So I had already started kind of looking around, and like right before Christmas, they laid me off and I looked around and was like, okay, what am I going to do? And I found a job and I applied for it and got a response back from my resume being sent in. And I got in the car and I walked in there and walked into this warehouse. And that was A Sphere Four X Four, an Israeli based company that had a US location just outside of Scottsdale scottsdale and I walked in and asking questions, and the owner and I just started talking and he offered me a job.
[00:12:56.780] - Big Rich Klein
That doesn't surprise me that it works that way. Knowing so many people in the off road world, knowing that it's passion driven, that we're doing what we love to do, that a lot of business owners are not businessmen, but they're enthusiasts or fabricators or mechanics, whatever. And they don't have the business acronym, I guess you might say, to come through or follow through with a lot of small things. What they might consider small things like looking at resumes.
[00:13:33.660] - Armando Verdugo
Yes. And it was I didn't have any real automotive aftermarket experience. I had zero automotive aftermarket experience on my resume. I sold research instruments for years and worked for Failure Analysis Labs. My resume didn't show what I wanted to do or my enthusiasm for that side of it, but we went and talked, and I believe I even had my daughter with me. And we sat in the conference room for like an hour and a half, and my kid was just bouncing off the walls just like, are we ready to go? Can we go?
[00:14:07.160] - Big Rich Klein
Can we go?
[00:14:07.560] - Armando Verdugo
And we just kept talking, and that was my foot in from there. Just made contacts and left there. Went to work for Rigid Industries, made more contacts there. That didn't work out as well as I hoped it would and went to work for Add and again just built what I was doing. At the same time, when I worked for A Sphere, they asked me to come aboard and help with Wheelers for warriors, which is essentially a nonprofit organization that was doing builds and donations to veterans and active duty service members. And we had done a rebuild, a couple of Jeeps. We built a Jeep for a guy named Mike Brewer who was based out of New Mexico. He got blew up in Iraq, lost his nose, like blew off his face, his hands basically blown up to hamburger. They sewed him, brought them back together, but he could never really use his hands. He had a nice TJ that was about 50% complete. We transported in, we rebuilt it and gave it back to him and had an event out in Arizona and brought a bunch of people in, had a great day, great time, gave his feet back to him.
[00:15:38.910] - Armando Verdugo
He was able to take it off and use it for a couple of years. I don't know if they needed the money or whatever, but he ended up selling it. But he got it back and we gave that back and it wasn't a big life changer for me in doing stuff with that organization. And I learned a lot about the military and about what these guys give and how little we give back. And it was really important for me to get involved with that and to continue with that. But once I left this fear, it kind of pushed me out like, no, you're leaving. So this organization is going to do its own thing and from there it never really did anything. It kind of just fizzled away. But in the meantime, I had created my own. Started off, did all the paperwork, got the filings, kind of stuff, funded for the first year or so and starting as one hero off road, started coming about in 2012.
[00:16:46.120] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, yeah, I met you during that first time period there. You came out to one of the events and set up and helped us, I believe it was Tucson or Congress, I don't remember exactly which. You might know that better.
[00:17:03.260] - Armando Verdugo
Yeah, Tucson. We set up Wheelers for warriors and Mike Brewer's Jeep was out there and he got to meet a bunch of drivers and he had a great time out there. Him and his wife and the kids came out and saw the races, met some drivers. We replaced the hood on his Jeep and we had all the drivers come out and sign the hood. And it was a fun time, he really enjoyed it. But then he never got the hood. And the hood is still floating around here somewhere in Phoenix.
[00:17:31.860] - Big Rich Klein
Oh wow. Yeah, that's a shame. So anybody that's listening to this, have you seen that hood get in touch with Armando?
[00:17:40.520] - Armando Verdugo
I know where it's at.
[00:17:41.470] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, you know where it's at?
[00:17:42.360] - Armando Verdugo
Okay, forget I know where it's at. It's in Safekeeping, but it's here in Phoenix and there's never been an interest for them to have it or anything, but it's a showpiece. I can get a picture and send it to you.
[00:17:57.260] - Big Rich Klein
That'd be awesome. So then you move on from Wheeler for warriors. You started Hero off Road, and that's while you were still at Esfer or as you went on to Rigid?
[00:18:13.780] - Armando Verdugo
As I was at Rigid, yeah, it was something I started when I was at Rigid, and that's when I came up to Congress, when I first started to Offroad and we did the set up, we had some good time up there. I think that was like the big kick off. I sold a bunch of shirts, and that kind of pushes off to the next level, and it's kind of grown up from there. We're doing a few events a year. Our biggest fundraiser event has been Crawl America, which happens all over the country. But it's a small group of guys that come in and guys and girls, I say Guys Universal and get to Wheel for a week and just to get teams. And it's a big fundraiser, and that allows us to do a lot more stuff like the Patriot Crawl, which we do at Moab every year. Patriot Crawl, we had about 120 participants out there this year, and it's all free for veterans and active duty service members and their families. They come out, we feed them, they get a T shirt. This year we did commemorative badges for the trails that they went on, and then we have a raffle this year.
[00:19:35.440] - Armando Verdugo
We had the guy, Jeremy from Rockcrawler came out. Tony from Genre was out there. The Flat Road guys are out there. Apex steering, guys. The industry guys came out and drove this year, and it was one of our biggest events ever, and it was a really great time.
[00:19:55.000] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. And is that something you guys plan on doing again at Easter Jeep this year?
[00:20:01.300] - Armando Verdugo
Yes, every year at Easter Jeep, we plan for Patriot Crawl to happen. And it's usually like the Sunday as everyone's coming in, so before the show happens. So just we start off Sunday wheeling before it starts getting everyone gets out there and we go out there wheeling. We do that for the day.
[00:20:23.740] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. I'd like to attend it this year.
[00:20:28.240] - Armando Verdugo
Definitely. I'll make sure you get the invite.
[00:20:31.300] - Big Rich Klein
Cool. So then you're working Hero, at least these two crawls, you go to Rigid and then you end up at Addictive Desert Designs. And I remember one of the things that I've realized about people in Offroad is nobody ever quits off Road. Once they're in the business, all they do is change business cards.
[00:21:02.200] - Armando Verdugo
[00:21:03.240] - Big Rich Klein
So do you have, like, a stack of cards from all the companies you've been at?
[00:21:08.300] - Armando Verdugo
Well, I'd like to think it's not a stack, but yes, I have a few business cards that sit here from the company. After I left the ADD, I work for Artec Industries, and I worked Artec Industries a little over eight and a half years.
[00:21:31.540] - Big Rich Klein
That's right. That's a pretty good company. I remember when they first got started, it was very small Arizona company that nobody really seemed to know about. But you guys blew it all up.
[00:21:52.040] - Armando Verdugo
Yeah, it was one of the main reasons that I came aboard and I've been working with Nate and Artie even before I went to work for them. My Jeep was in their booth at Koh, my Jeep was in their booth at EJS and few other shows here and there. My JK was one of the development vehicles for rear trusses and some components that were coming out for the JK. So as that market started to grow, I was working with them behind the scenes as I was still working for another company. And then came time for hiring someone to come in and help with sales and do the sales management side of it. I came on board and we just started pushing and it was growing. Grow it, grow it and make it do what it needs to do. And I came in and did the marketing side of it, pushed on the social, really grew that out and continue to develop new products. The company just kind of pushed itself into where it needed to be as it grew through it. So the switch from Arizona to Utah, bringing in a laser in house and little more manufacturing capabilities kind of helped push that growth and really push us into making sure that we could sustain that.
[00:23:27.770] - Big Rich Klein
So when the company was down in Benson, that is where I can remember going to the open house when they got the new shop done. And I think that was on Artie's property down there in Benson, if I remember right. And were you working for them at that point?
[00:23:50.400] - Armando Verdugo
The first open house, I was not. The second open house, I was okay. I think that's how that works.
[00:24:02.580] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And then they made the decision to move base, the company in Utah, which I thought at that time I was like, oh, everybody's going to have to go to Utah. But you didn't. And you still were able to keep that relationship and work for years with them. And then we just make the trip up there occasionally. Is that how that worked?
[00:24:29.500] - Armando Verdugo
Yeah. Benson from my house is 126 miles, so I wasn't working in Benson. I would go down there once a week, once every other week to do, like, in face meetings, but most of the time we did everything remote. I was hired to work remote, and that continued even when they moved up there. So I was asked a number of times to go up there. But I love Arizona.
[00:25:03.120] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I get it.
[00:25:05.960] - Armando Verdugo
And my family is here. My kids had, let's see, at the time, my oldest was in junior high school. My youngest was still pretty young, and sadly enough, my wife was making more money than I was, so I really had to stay where that was.
[00:25:27.420] - Big Rich Klein
Right, I get that. And being able that you were doing the marketing and social media stuff. It's easier to do that remotely.
[00:25:40.180] - Armando Verdugo
Yeah, definitely. There's issues with it. Everyone wants to see you in the office more regularly. And it's like, okay, well, between traveling for shows and events that I was doing per year, I wasn't going to go spend a week, a month up there. I'd never be home. So when I sold research instruments, I was gone 200 plus nights a year. And I wanted to be done with that. And I would travel when I needed to travel, but I didn't want any extra travel. So we found a way to work around it. We had teams in video chats and texts and emails and whatnot to get us through it. And we did what we need to do with the tools.
[00:26:27.160] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And that's the nice. That's one of the great things about technology is being able to free you up to do something like that. When I was growing up before 2000, none of that was really possible. You had pagers, some people had computers. I certainly didn't. I can remember when the first cell phone that I got was one of those bricks. The Motorola brick.
[00:27:00.740] - Armando Verdugo
The Motorola brick right.
[00:27:02.370] - Big Rich Klein
And that was actually, I'm going to say it now, it was a hacked one. And I really didn't have an account, but I had an account if you wanted. So Motorola or whoever it was that I was using minutes from you never caught me. So anyway, what is it about the marketing and the social media side of that that's that has always interested you?
[00:27:39.080] - Armando Verdugo
It's a challenge, it's the win. It's all part of sales. It's a competition to go in there and be better, to do more things. For me, it's to learn more. Even though I'm not really a person that's going to go to college, I'm always learning, I'm always reading. I'm always reading something. Even if it's just magazines that show up at my door, it's brochures. I bring back books, anything that is based around the industry. I'll just sit and read it. And that's what I do. I follow trends, pay attention to what's out there, what my competition is doing, and that's all I can do. As long as I stay current on that, then I feel like I'm doing good. The shift going to my own business after leaving our tech creates its own set of problems that I'm continuing to work through and figuring out some things. But it's going well and it's only going to get better, right?
[00:28:54.070] - Big Rich Klein
And there's quite a few guys and gals that are doing that now that have all doing the same thing that you're doing, where you're in house your own marketing and media company for other companies. I think it's great that that's happening. Bringing in your expertise and then also the number of people you've met in the industry, especially on the business side of it being a lot of business to business and going to the shows and stuff, so you bring something really unique there.
[00:29:35.660] - Armando Verdugo
I'm hoping that's what I'm doing, trying to build the value in that. I've been very fortunate to have gone out and built a lot of relationships. I made a ton of friends, a lot of which are helping me and pushing me and bringing even business to me. I think Jeremy from Rock crawler is probably my biggest cheerleader right now, and he's kind of pushing for me to get myself up into where I want to be. And we've gone over and talked about things and done a lot of things together over the last year. We spent time we went to the keys with the SpiderGate group and we just spent like a week together after jeep beach and we shared a hotel room. We went out and shared the road and dinners and everything and really became better friends than we had been in the past and just really kind of hit on a different level. So like I said, I had a lot, a lot of push from some good people and continue to keep getting pushed by even more people every day. So that helps.
[00:31:04.210] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So before we get diving into your new business, let's talk some more about hero off road and where that's at and kind of where it came from and give some background on it and what's for the future of that.
[00:31:22.320] - Armando Verdugo
So as we kind of went over, I was working for working with Wheeler for warriors, and basically I fell in love with what we were doing to give back. And when I left and I couldn't be involved with it anymore, I was like, okay, what am I going to do? I'm looking around like, okay, who's got an organization? Who can I help? And there was really nothing out there that really fit what I wanted. So I just told my wife, here, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to do this and start this. And at the time, I didn't have a ton of money sitting around to do this. I was just going to just all sweat and hard work on it. So I put a little bit of money. I went and got the business license. I did a nonprofit organization in Arizona only because IRS takes time and money and whatever, and I just didn't have that to put into it. So I just started doing that and then here and there I'd make more money. I'd stash it away and I bought a small order of t shirts turn on and sold that and made more money and then bought another order of t shirts turn out and sold those and just kind of built that up.
[00:32:41.480] - Armando Verdugo
Spent a lot of time on the social side dealing with growing the channel, getting people out there. We did giveaways and stuff with some of our sponsors and really helped grow that to the point we could do the 501. Did that in 2013, I believe, was when we got that 5123 done and been going since then. We've done Patriot Crawl for the past, I believe it's six years that we've been doing Patriot Crawl. We do an annual toy drive here in Phoenix. We usually do that every year. The last couple of years after COVID, it's kind of changed it. So last year we just did a movie night at what theater was a fundraiser, and then this year we did a camp out in Florence. We had 40 people out there, campers and everything on site. We had a Kyle Hensley from Hensley off road. It's out here in Florence, Arizona. He came out, led trails and brought a bunch of people. We put a pig in the ground and had a Hawaiian pig roast out in the desert. Stuff like that is what we do. And a lot of veterans and some active duty to guys out there.
[00:34:06.180] - Armando Verdugo
And it's that the patriot crawl. Patriot Crawl, we've had the same participants come year after year. And the first couple of years, it was real funny when these guys didn't really know each other. And I sat back and I didn't watch them giving each other crap by just different branches, and they would just do it all day long. And I heard the army guys giving the marine guys crap, and then everyone's giving the air force guys crap, and then the navy guys are giving each other crap to the Marines. And it was fun. And I just saw this camaraderie that I didn't understand because I didn't serve. And I saw it and it was like, it's still this day. And those guys come every year and they give each other crap the whole time. I just sit there in love and just watch it. It's just fun. And what we're going to do at Hero and what we do at Hero is we're not making a million dollars a year. I mean, we're lucky if we can raise 15,000 thousand, $20 for a year. But then we put that into Patriot Crawl, and the breakfast and the raffles and the shirts, and whatever we do to make sure that they're having a great day to just get their mind off of anything else, right?
[00:35:33.120] - Armando Verdugo
My thing with Hero is that I'm not going to save all of them, but I'd like to save one. We have 22 a day that take their lives. I'd like to get to one and stop one. Start there, and then we can build from there. But we expect so much for them. They sign the check, they give it all, and some leave with nothing, and some leave with problems. And we don't ever teach them how to be back, to be humans, be part of the society that we're in. And that's the hard part. So the camaraderie that I see out there is like, okay, these guys. Get it. These guys are feeling it and they come out, they do stuff and enjoy.
[00:36:16.530] - Big Rich Klein
It, give them something else to look forward to.
[00:36:21.840] - Armando Verdugo
Yeah, we've done the races for a few years ago when Roland had his Ultra four car, we came out and we did the race out on a Tucson when we had the Co driver spots. And we did that for most of the year. We did ten races that year. We've sent a guy to go do the Baja 500. And you don't just go and watch the race. We give you a helmet, we give you a suit, we strap you in a car and we send you off and go play. At the end of the day, you take that helmet home and the helmet has your name on it, has our logo on it. It's a really cool momentum of the fact that there are people that care. So when you're feeling that down I said the guys that have the helmets. Yeah, I have it sitting on my desk or on a bookshelf or somewhere, and I can always look at that helmet and smile. And that's all I can ask for, is just making sure that I'm redirecting that and we're doing what we need to do to redirect that and change the way that they're feeling of loneliness and being lost.
[00:37:32.010] - Big Rich Klein
Right, excellent. Well, we have our Baghdad event coming up in February the 18th and 19th. Feel free if you'd like to let's talk about getting you guys involved in that. The weekend before that is we'll be doing the parade up in Wickenburg where we'll take off road vehicles and be in the parade and do some advertising for the Baghdad event. But if you guys want to join us somehow for the parade again, let me know and we can make all that happen.
[00:38:13.280] - Armando Verdugo
Definitely. I'll talk to the rest of the guys here and see what we can do to get some guys out there. I know I got a few out here that might be interested in heading up.
[00:38:24.600] - Big Rich Klein
Cool, excellent. So now let's talk about what you're doing now and, well, first of all, how do people get involved to help you help the veterans?
[00:38:38.380] - Armando Verdugo
So herooffroad.org is our website. You can drop an email over there. We have Facebook, Instagram, also send message. We kind of scaled back on some of the external fundraising that we're doing because we've got to a point where I have an excess and dispute with COVID We haven't been able to do all the stuff we want to do, but now this year we're going to do a lot more of the give back. So we're looking to do more race stuff, of course, Patriot Crawl, and then we're doing something we've never done before and we're going to do a tuna trip. We're going to take I think we get 28 or 30 seats on a boat and we're going to take them out and go do. I think it's a one and a half or two day tuna trip. So definitely not the typical off road, but there's definitely no roads on the ocean.
[00:39:44.640] - Big Rich Klein
[00:39:49.680] - Armando Verdugo
You can go in there. We'll have merchandise up and available probably here in the next few weeks. I got a bunch of hats and shirts coming in right now that we're getting prepped to start doing some more fundraising on that side again. So definitely herooffoad.org would be a good place to look at some of the swag and donations and stuff could happen there.
[00:40:12.570] - Big Rich Klein
Cool. One of the things I'm going to suggest, I just suggested it with another race organization or racing group that is doing something very similar with veterans and that is getting involved with as an organization, getting involved with the Offroad Motorsports Hall of Fame, oramoff there's a lot of business owners that are involved in offroad racing. The amount of give back that they can provide is incredible. And being part of that organization gets you the opportunity to be in front of some of those people. So that's something you might want to look for. And that's ormhoff.org I believe it is ormhof And Barbara Rainey is the general manager of Ormhof and she's out of the Reno area and a good friend. So that's somebody to look at as well in an organization to get involved with.
[00:41:17.500] - Armando Verdugo
Yes, I'm very familiar with Barbara.
[00:41:20.520] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, excellent. Cool. Then let's talk about your business and what we've talked a little bit on it, but let's expand and find out more about it so that if there's people out there that are looking for some marketing and social media help that they can get in touch with you.
[00:41:44.500] - Armando Verdugo
Yeah. This year I wanted to do something different. I've been feeling a little stagnant with where I was and nothing really about the company or what was happening there, but I just felt I needed a new challenge. And I just started looking around and kind of going over what I was doing, how I was doing it, and came up with this idea that why wouldn't I be able to give my time to smaller businesses that don't have the staffing or the budget to expand into the digital world and really help grow their business? It's a huge part of what really spurred the growth of our tech industries is that the digital social side and I've been doing it, I have experience in doing it. I've helped grow this business and do all this with our tech, and it was time for me to go out and try to do it on my own. And as you stated earlier, a lot of the businesses in this industry are people that are enthusiasts. They're not necessarily business people. They know they have an idea for a great product. They know that they have an idea to make this business grow, but they're not really sure on how to go about some of it.
[00:43:29.480] - Armando Verdugo
And that's where you start hiring in employees. But it's hard to hire an employee when you're really not making money yet, or it's a part time business. So I'm there to offer my time and services to the smaller businesses that don't have that capability and bring them into the digital side, help build a Facebook page if they don't have one. There's things that happen between Facebook and your website, your website and Google, your website and customers. All of this is your website, is your Nexus of your business. And a crappy website can really kill a business. So look at all aspects of your website, how it reacts to the outside world. So most people don't know Facebook advertising. You get a Facebook pixel. The Pixel is essentially a trigger that's on your website that then links between your Facebook advertising and your Facebook account and let you know who's coming back and how your advertisements working. Same with Google. Google Analytics, Google Ads, it all does that back and forth, and it's all linked to your website. So on the digital side, your website is your information. It's your window to the world. And you want to make that window pretty.
[00:44:59.430] - Armando Verdugo
You want to make that window be open and inviting, and that's how you're going to grow your business. In this day and age, there's so many people that look at all of these shopping malls and large scale stores because people just aren't going out and shopping anymore. They want to go out, and they want to go out to maybe the local shop that can install it, but they want to do all the research and see the parts online, see the pictures, and have the media. So part of what I'm doing is taking your website, looking at your content, telling you what content we need, changing the content, making sure that your product descriptions and your contact management is all up to speed. The end of the day, when you go to a website to go buy something, if you don't have all the information given to you on that product page and you have questions about it, now, you have to stop. Wait until they're possibly open. If it's at night, try to get time off work. If they have an eight to five business hours and you don't have flexibility to call. So there's a lot of factors that go on and then people just forget and don't call.
[00:46:15.890] - Armando Verdugo
But what we're trying to do is make your website and all of your channels all feeding together and provide all the information that is relevant to that product so someone can come in and buy that product without ever having to talk to somebody or forget about it or go to the next website and find another website that has better information, that has a similar product and buy it. It's a strategy of getting all of your digital properties and put them together and make them work and feed to each other.
[00:46:51.350] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, cool. And I can see where a lot of small companies, especially where they can't afford to have somebody on staff 8 hours a day, five days a week, and go through everything as a regular employee, where if they can contract somebody to do that in a smaller way. But you've got a number of businesses that you're working with, it keeps those smaller businesses, keeps their costs down.
[00:47:25.280] - Armando Verdugo
Yeah, it's not always just a small business. It can be a larger business that needs even more help. There's never enough time in the day. You run a business and there's so much you want to do and there's so much staff that you can even hire on a large scale size, and sometimes you just need to have a little more help. And that's what I'm here, I'll pick up on the digital marketing side and help facilitate you getting to the position where you need to be in. And my biggest goal here is that I have customers for a short period of time, and then they understand and they grow to the point where they can hire someone and I can go on to find new clients. And that will be the business strategy for me, is when they keep a client on for a certain amount of time and hope that they're growing and they're going to the next level and going off and doing it on their own and learning the skills and growing from there.
[00:48:29.670] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, and I noticed that on your social media, it said, Bam. Is that the name of the company that you've started or what is that?
[00:48:42.170] - Armando Verdugo
Yeah, it's Bam Strategic. And it started off as it was originally badass marketing, and then I was told I couldn't really use that. And I was like, Why not? I'm doing motorsports, I'm doing Jeep and offroad. And I was strongly urged not to use badass marketing. I was like, all right. So then one day I was sitting there, and I just had it written across the paper, and I went, Bam. And then all I had visions of was Batman, Bam, POW, that works on from there. I added this strategic for my licensing, for my LLC filing. So we had to come up with we had to come with a name. And I was like, all right, Bam Strategic is what it's going to be.
[00:49:36.700] - Big Rich Klein
[00:49:37.170] - Armando Verdugo
That's the sword.
[00:49:38.640] - Big Rich Klein
I get it. We were looking at a business opportunity, getting into Adventure Snacks, you might say nuts and beef jerky, things like that, that we could sell at our events and then get into four wheel drive shops, all that kind of thing. And we were looking at what kind of name to use, and we were going to come up with Biggs Adventure Snacks. And I said it should be Biggs Adventure. Snacks and supplies. So that it was bigg's ass. And then some of the marketing could grab a handful of big's nuts. I had all these different lines that could come off of it, and Shelley was like, no, we're going to have to rethink that. I thought it was a great way to market and stuff, but then COVID hit and we weren't doing as many events, and most of the big events that that we would go to to help market our events were all shut down and everything just kind of the wheels came screeching to a halt, thanks to COVID. So we didn't move forward with any of that. And don't know if I will or not, but if anybody out there wants some ideas on names, I can come up with some really good ones.
[00:51:10.360] - Big Rich Klein
And it sounds like Armando can do the same thing.
[00:51:15.480] - Armando Verdugo
Yeah, it was one of those things, was like, I don't even know what I want to name this. I don't even know if I want to name. And it was like, no, you have to have one. I'm like, damn it. Okay, so Bam was more of a joke than anything, and now it's just sticking. So now it is what it is. I thought about a DBA and now I'm just like, no, it's just Bam. It's just going to be Bam. That's all it is.
[00:51:38.040] - Big Rich Klein
Perfect. So let's talk about one of the things that I always got a kick out of on social media. Watching and reading what you were doing. You started doing these memes? Do you want to talk about those?
[00:51:56.940] - Armando Verdugo
[00:51:58.020] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. There you go.
[00:52:02.700] - Armando Verdugo
I don't know. It was a way for me to vent. I guess we all go through it. I mean, anyone who works at a job with customer service, you deal with customers, and if you deal with Jeep pages, you deal with people that don't really know, don't put the time out, whatever. So it just basically kind of fed off of that. Come on, not again. I mean, we can't keep doing this. That's what all that was. It was just me just kind of venting a little bit. There was some truth to some of them, and someone was just like, it was fun. And you know me, I always have a smile on my face. I always have a good time. I always like to be laughing, and life's too short for me to be so serious about stuff like that. It's social media, not death.
[00:52:57.970] - Big Rich Klein
[00:53:00.480] - Armando Verdugo
And it's fun. It should be fun. It's turned away from being so much fun and gotten super serious. And now you can't joke. Now you can't say anything. It goes to that brown guy. It was a brown Arctic guy for the longest time. It's a brown Bam guy now. You know what? Nobody cares that I'm brown. But the funny thing is someone goes, oh, yeah, the guy from Arctic. And they're like, which one? They're like, the Hispanic one. I'm like, I'm not Hispanic. The Mexican one. I'm not Mexican. I'm an american. I'm brown. Just call me brown. So I just stopped the whole idea of tiptoeing around and going, it's a brown architect guy. That's all it is.
[00:53:49.900] - Big Rich Klein
I remember one time I needed to communicate with somebody that was there that didn't speak English. And I walked up to you and I said, hey, Armando, do you speak Spanish? You go, no, I don't speak Spanish. And I'm like, Shit, what good of Mexican are you? You can't speak Spanish. And you looked at me like I was like an alien. Then I walked off because I was trying to find somebody so I could communicate with this guy.
[00:54:16.920] - Armando Verdugo
I believe my response was, I'm the wrong kind of Mexican.
[00:54:19.810] - Big Rich Klein
There you go.
[00:54:20.510] - Armando Verdugo
I think so.
[00:54:23.560] - Big Rich Klein
My Lord, we've had some fun. And that's one thing that the off road world, whether it's rock sports or the dirt sports, it's so much different than other industries out there. I've been in automotive repair and automotive parts, and I've been a landscaper, and I've done photography, and I've worked retail in various other stores for companies. None of it was as fun as it is day to day in offroad.
[00:55:05.240] - Armando Verdugo
No, there's nothing. And you might have glimpses of it in other industries that I've been in, but never just like every day I want to get up. Since I've left the other industry, I want to get up and I want to go to work. It's not like I'm going to not work. I'm going to get up and go to work and I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to go have the best time I can doing what I do. We did the elevated experience in October. Went out to Colorado. Corey Osborne Led, Gerald Lee was out there chamba Fuel and Will Perryman, who used to work with me at our tech, kind of put this event together. Tim from BFG was out there, jill and Brian. It was a small group, but it was so much fun. All we did was it was just radio chatter, just joking through the radio, around the campfire, around dinner. It was just a great time. There was so much laughing. My side hurt most days trying to drive around, but you don't get that in any other industry. You get that here. And these people that were casual acquaintances become more and more friends, and better friends will continue to do that.
[00:56:38.340] - Armando Verdugo
And this is all what it is. I've known Gerald for 13 years now, probably one of my idols before I even came to the industry. And first year I did EJS, he was there and I went up like, oh, Julie. And he just talked to me. That guy was a normal dude. And from then we've just been friends and talked and whatever, and he's been another big chiller to mine, and it's great. This is how it is. You don't have someone in this industry that is going to really be rude to you. Maybe one day on a bad day they got stressed out. They just, I don't know, lost. Whatever. You might have a bad day, but I've never been around anyone in this industry that's just always like that. Everyone just wants to have fun. Everyone's in this with a passion and that passion comes through in everything we do, from hard work to hard play and everything in between.
[00:57:41.880] - Big Rich Klein
Very true. So is there anything that we haven't touched base on that you would like to discuss?
[00:57:55.020] - Armando Verdugo
We're just going to gloss over the fact that my Scout isn't done still. Okay. How about that? I'll tell you, I'm going to out myself because I'm going to hear it later. So I might as well just say, yeah, my Scout is not done. Half of it sitting in my garage, half of it sitting in the backyard. At some point I'll have time to get away from building crap at my house and get in my garage and actually get it done.
[00:58:17.460] - Big Rich Klein
The nice thing about being in Arizona is it's not turning into a rust pile.
[00:58:24.020] - Armando Verdugo
Yeah, that's a funny thing. I had the whole body sandblasted so it could patina and the guy's like, here I'm going to spray with this stuff. Just let it sit out in the rain. Let's sit outside for about six months and you should get a perfect patina. It's been three and a half years sitting outside. It's finally getting a little patina on it.
[00:58:45.020] - Big Rich Klein
[00:58:47.100] - Armando Verdugo
So it was timing for me. I was just waiting for the patina. That's all it was.
[00:58:50.390] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. There you go. You got to do things in stages. It doesn't make sense to jump ahead.
[00:58:57.680] - Armando Verdugo
[00:58:58.530] - Big Rich Klein
So I'll let you in on something. When I first got into offroad back in the late ninety s, I was working and helping other promoters put on events and just fell in love with the idea of being in the offroad world and was going to be a spotter. Then thought, well, I'm going to build a Buggy. I got to get involved with the sport. I'll be coming a promoter because I'll get a Buggy built someday. Well, that was in like 99, 2000. It's now 2023. I still don't have a Buggy. My beat to death Cherokee is the most capable rig I've ever owned, which if anybody ever sees it out on the trail, it does not disappoint. It goes where a good driver in. It can go much farther than I can. I don't consider myself a good driver, but it still shows a lot of other vehicles up, things with full bodies at least. And I still don't have a Buggy after 23 years.
[01:00:13.880] - Armando Verdugo
Well, the sad thing is I have everything to have it done. So I have a garage that is basically racking on one side and I have every part that I purchased for it. So everything is there. It just needs to be moved off that shelf onto the vehicle and get it going. I believe there might be even spare parts of things because I bought more, not realizing I had already bought something just like it or it came to mind, I went from red to black. That happened, too, but for me, it's not really the vehicle. I took my Ram out to Colorado for the elevator experience, and my Ram went down Schofield path.
[01:01:01.980] - Big Rich Klein
[01:01:03.480] - Armando Verdugo
And I don't know how or why I thought that was a good idea, but I did. And it's just one of those things. It just doesn't matter what you're in. Are you out there doing it? Do you have a smile on your face? Are you happy? Keep doing it.
[01:01:21.940] - Big Rich Klein
Perfect. That's a great segue right there. Well, Armando, thank you so much for joining us and talking about what you've done, what you're doing, and what's happening. Everybody, I want to remind everybody hieroffroad.org. To help with the 501 C three, buy some swag, whatever. I want to make sure that you, Armando, understand that we'd love to see you guys out at Baghdad. So let's talk later on about that. I hope for continued success with you in the industry, and if there's ever anything that we can do, reach out.
[01:02:06.930] - Armando Verdugo
I appreciate it, and definitely we'll talk about Baghdad, and we'll see what we need to do. I definitely love to get some more guys in cars at some of the races this year. So definitely something that we're planning on and we should be pushing on this month to start getting the schedule together.
[01:02:25.700] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. Well, Armando, thank you so much.
[01:02:29.780] - Armando Verdugo
Thanks, Vic. I appreciate it. Say hi to Shadow for me, and hopefully we'll catch you guys soon.
[01:02:34.620] - Big Rich Klein
Sounds good. Thank you.
[01:02:36.440] - Armando Verdugo
All right, see you.
[01:02:37.400] - Big Rich Klein
All right, bye bye. Well, that's another episode of Conversations with Big Rich. I'd like to thank you all for listening. If you could do us a favor and leave us a review on any podcast service that you happen to be listening on or send us an email or text message or a Facebook message, and let me know any ideas that you have. If there's anybody that you have that you think would be a great guest, please forward the contact information to me so that we can try to get them on. And always remember, live life to the fullest. Enjoying life is a must. Follow your dreams and live life with all the gusto you can. Thank you.