One of the co-founders of Rigid Lighting, Taylor Anderson, shares life in the off-road lighting industry and what has come after. Company culture, offroad racing, and lights are part of Episode 148. Tune in on your favorite podcast app.
5:53 – the cool pines of Arizona
12:21 – who rolled one first?
17:16 – Christensen invited us in so the Anderson brothers joined up and became partners
24:07 – the three-inch pod, little Rubik’s Cube, you could fit it anywhere
27:26 – I was the gatekeeper for culture, how we treated our employees
30:29 – I had the most fun I’ve ever had in my life
39:41 – “you sold your right to complain.”
51:07 – my latest obsession is vintage axes
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
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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.
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[00:01:47.640] - Big Rich Klein
on today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Taylor Anderson. Taylor is an offroad racer, offroad business owner. He was, I believe, one of the startup guys with Rigid Industries, the lighting company. I know he was VP and he is a designer and won some awards for some of the stuff that they designed. Taylor, it's really good to have you on board and haven't talked to you in a while, so it's good to do this.
[00:02:20.720] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, thanks for calling, Rich. It's exciting to do and it's good to rehash the past a little bit. I've been out of it for a little bit here on the business side, so it'll be fun.
[00:02:31.970] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So let's start off right away. And where were you born and raised?
[00:02:37.080] - Taylor Anderson
I was born in Mesa, Arizona. Raised in Arizona. I never left, so I am literally about 5 miles from the hospital I was born at.
[00:02:46.920] - Big Rich Klein
[00:02:47.500] - Taylor Anderson
And a mile away from my high school. And I'm still here. I just I like Arizona enough to where we never felt the need to leave.
[00:02:55.950] - Big Rich Klein
Right, I get it. I love Arizona, but I love Arizona more in the wintertime yes.
[00:03:04.500] - Taylor Anderson
Than I do in the desirable everybody does, by the way. So we just got back from running some errands and I think everybody is here in Arizona right now on the roads.
[00:03:16.280] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, that's true. Every car, you can imagine it'll be that way until the beginning of March and then the snowbirds leave.
[00:03:25.940] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, exactly. And then we leave once it starts to get hot. We actually do head up north to a cabin that we have up there.
[00:03:32.950] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, very good. Still in Arizona?
[00:03:35.260] - Taylor Anderson
Yes, about 2 hours from our home.
[00:03:38.490] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, cool or cooler?
[00:03:42.040] - Taylor Anderson
Yes, much cooler and much less in the population. And it's a nice little escape for us and we really enjoy it.
[00:03:55.250] - Big Rich Klein
So growing up in Mesa at that point when you first started, when you were just a little kid, it was a lot more rural than it is now, correct?
[00:04:07.300] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah. We had dirt roads everywhere and the edge of town dropped off about 500ft from my house and it just turned into orange groves. And that was our playground. That's where we were with our first I think we had a Honda 110. ATC was the first one. And then after we wore that thing out, I ended up somehow with a 250 R. And of course I tried to kill myself many times on that, but that's was my mode of transportation.
[00:04:40.640] - Big Rich Klein
And growing up in that area, was your family involved in like hunting or fishing or offroading at that time?
[00:04:49.280] - Taylor Anderson
Not so much offroading. I grew up in a camping family. So we go camping every few weeks and then I think I joined Scouts at probably aged eleven or twelve and I was in a Scout troop that camped once a month okay. All over Arizona. So I got to see the parts of Arizona that I didn't when I was younger and learned just a lot about the state, the history and had a really good time doing it.
[00:05:18.170] - Big Rich Klein
[00:05:19.090] - Taylor Anderson
More importantly, got out of the heat of the summer. We used to go up north. You always go up north. We rarely went south.
[00:05:26.230] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. I can understand that. The more trees up north, pine trees, baby.
[00:05:33.920] - Taylor Anderson
The cool pines of Arizona. A lot of people think it's just a big desert here, but it's actually about half desert and about half pine.
[00:05:41.940] - Big Rich Klein
Right. But it's really desert and then it's really piny that transitionary, like happens instantly.
[00:05:52.200] - Taylor Anderson
It does. Our cabin is almost 8000ft and I think our home down in Mesa is 2000ft. So there's quite a swing when you get going, head up the highway.
[00:06:05.490] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So you're in Mesa. A mutual friend of ours wanted me to ask you first three reasons why Dobson High will always be better than Mountain View.
[00:06:25.360] - Taylor Anderson
Well, Dobson High. And I know who this person is. Dobson High, it was a cute school back in the day. They have a little horse as their mascot and I think it's a pony. The Dobson Ponies and Mountain View. We have Toros. So we're just a big badass bull. And I think they won a game, one football game back in the day. But we won the rest of them, so it's cool. And I appreciate his interest in where I went to high school. I don't think he could go there. Probably he was too far. But yes.
[00:07:05.730] - Big Rich Klein
Jeremy Hammer, of course.
[00:07:08.060] - Taylor Anderson
[00:07:09.320] - Big Rich Klein
[00:07:10.460] - Taylor Anderson
Good friends. Good friend.
[00:07:12.380] - Big Rich Klein
So growing up out there riding ATC and the motorcycle, what was the first car you got to drive?
[00:07:22.340] - Taylor Anderson
First car would have been my grandfather's Ford. And he had, I believe it was a bump side, long bed. I think it was green or white. You know what? I can't remember. But I remember driving that at a very young age, sitting on his lap out in Phoenix. He had a place he lived on the West Side, and we'd go out and cruise around. So my love affair with Ford must have started back then.
[00:07:51.660] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. In school, were you a good student or did you just get by or what was for you?
[00:08:03.030] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, I had to work my ass off to get by.
[00:08:05.810] - Big Rich Klein
[00:08:07.600] - Taylor Anderson
Back before ADHD came out, I think I definitely had it. And we just called it inability to focus on school because it just wasn't interesting to me. So anything I could do to not work on school, work was what I was trying to do. I'd even clean my room if I had homework. That's how bad it was.
[00:08:29.880] - Big Rich Klein
Do you have brothers and sisters?
[00:08:32.050] - Taylor Anderson
I do, yeah. I got a brother who was actually one of my partners in Rigid when we started, and then another brother who works with my dad still. And they do house maintenance and association, neighborhood maintenance.
[00:08:49.920] - Big Rich Klein
[00:08:50.540] - Taylor Anderson
So a little bit of a construction background, and I spent some time doing that as well. I set tile for a few years before I got into the off road stuff.
[00:09:03.620] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And what was that transition for you? Like, going grade school and then high school and then going whatever happened after high school?
[00:09:19.000] - Taylor Anderson
Transition? You mean like into off road or.
[00:09:21.560] - Big Rich Klein
Just in life in general?
[00:09:24.680] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah. After high school, I spent about six years trying to finish a college degree. Never worked out.
[00:09:33.730] - Big Rich Klein
Is that ADHD?
[00:09:36.300] - Taylor Anderson
That's what that was, probably. Or beer. I went to ASU. It was full of distractions.
[00:09:44.150] - Big Rich Klein
[00:09:44.800] - Taylor Anderson
And then I did some community schools after that and never ended up getting my degree. I was a student for a while and then decided that working with my hands was something that I think I enjoyed more, I could focus on, and it made me money, so it was my path.
[00:10:04.280] - Big Rich Klein
And what kind of employment were you doing at that time?
[00:10:09.960] - Taylor Anderson
Well, I started I was working at a camping store out in Tempe, which was by ASU. So I was selling camping gear and still going camping quite a bit, going skiing. And then it just led into a work environment where I just started working inside and got into doing some sales, was working for a nut bolt and screw company for a long time and then ended up from there actually getting involved with a guy who started an off road company. And that's how I got started in Offroad was with the Yamaha Rhino of all things. That's when that thing took ash in the early two thousand s. My brother and I both were part of a company there, Dragon Fire, that actually started and I guess that's where we cut our teeth and off road and we discovered it. Went to my first race, went to my first fan show, went to my first off road expo and just discovered something that I was aware of but I was never a part of.
[00:11:21.760] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I remember meeting the Dragon Fire guy, I can't even remember his name now.
[00:11:27.440] - Taylor Anderson
[00:11:28.620] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. Todd Romano. That's right. And it was down at the sand show and I was putting on We Rock events, or might have even been Cal Rocks at the time before we went national, but we were trying to get the UTVs involved with the events.
[00:11:47.000] - Taylor Anderson
Right. Yeah, they made a big splash and I think they were really kind of a bridge to off road for a lot of people who could afford something to get them in the dirt versus a Buggy or a Class One car or anything else.
[00:12:02.430] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And I think that even now it's still a segue for people to get involved with motorized sports.
[00:12:12.720] - Taylor Anderson
[00:12:15.440] - Big Rich Klein
It'S still what would be considered entry level into motorsports.
[00:12:21.620] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, it's funny, I was just talking about this the other day with a cat named Joey Djivan. If you know Joey, I'm sure you do. And we were laughing about the first time. So I think Craig Scanlon was involved in bringing out the first Razor trailers to Arizona so we could test these machines that Polaris had come out with. And it was the Razor 700. And we were invited obviously, because we were making aftermarket parts and we showed up out in Phoenix somewhere and there's ten of these things sitting there and we're like, oh look at that thing. They were sportier than the Yamaha Rhino was and way faster. And we ended up gearing up and we did a whole test day out there at this track they set up. And we were arguing the other day, actually Joey and I, over who rolled one first. And it was me and Bill Schuler from Jagged X and we rolled them on the same day. And it's still an ongoing argument as to who rolled, I think the very first Razor ever, and I think it was me.
[00:13:27.800] - Big Rich Klein
If you are another tree in 2008 I was trying to get Polaris involved with rock crawling and they were like, we don't even know if we can rock crawl these things. And I said, yeah, you can. And so I threw a challenge out to them and I said, let's get together and let's prove it. So they shipped four or five of them in the dead of night. We had to transfer them in a residential area from a semi truck that they were enclosed semi truck into our enclosed race trailer. And then the next day, two engineers, the engineer that designed the S, and his assistant, and then the marketing lady who at the time was pregnant as well. And then we went out to this little test area in the rocks up in here in the Sierra Nevadas, and we took a couple of renowned rock crawlers, dustin Webster, which was with Team Red Bull Jesse Haynes, who's like the reigning national champion rock crawler for quite a while now. And then a guy named Bob Rogue, who was one of the guys that helped me get cow rock started, and rock crawler and a pirate from Pirate four x four, all that kind of stuff.
[00:14:50.160] - Big Rich Klein
And then my kid and then one of his friends, and we went out there and wine and dined them, showed them what they could do, realized that it was something when you're rock crawling, you had to stay in the throttle. If you're doing a big rocky climb, you don't want to stop and then restart. Yeah, that's when you go ask over tea kettle. But yeah, they really handled well. And then the lady in marketing was all excited, thought, okay, this is going to be great. I like your idea. I like what you want to do. And she took her leave of absence for having the baby. And when she came back, there was somebody else in her spot, and they moved her back over to Sleds snow sleds. And then that guy, of course, was like, oh, no, we're not going to do that because it wasn't his idea. And so we never got involved with the UTV side of it. We get guys coming out once in a while, but not like they should be. Right, because it is a shame. They're very, very capable vehicles, as people are proving. It like King of the Hammers.
[00:16:04.840] - Taylor Anderson
Oh, yeah, there's a lot of them out there. And spec built machines that are just better for it. They cut them up a little bit more and make them a little bit more clearance. Right. Plenty of room to get in trouble out there.
[00:16:20.500] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. So then Dragonfire, how long were you with Dragonfire?
[00:16:27.760] - Taylor Anderson
I think it was about a year and a half, maybe closer to two years.
[00:16:31.220] - Big Rich Klein
[00:16:31.800] - Taylor Anderson
But Dragonfire sold to conglomerate called Mag Group, I think it was. So we went our separate ways, and one of our customers was Jason Christensen, who had a rhino aftermarket company called Rigid Industries. And when we left Dragonfire, jason asked my brother and I to team up. So we became two thirds of Rigid at that time and then started really getting heavy into the aftermarket for the rhinos.
[00:17:06.150] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, so then Rigid was already involved. Christensen already had industries.
[00:17:16.540] - Taylor Anderson
He did. He had the name, he had the shirts, he had the logo. And it was really convenient, honestly, at the time, to not have to start up a new thing altogether. And he invited us in so the Anderson brothers joined up and that's when we became with partners there.
[00:17:37.960] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. And how was the transition from building all these off road products for side by side into lighting? Because eventually it became just a lighting company, correct?
[00:17:51.980] - Taylor Anderson
It did. It did, yes. We discovered that once, this light so we got this light out of California and it was being used for something else, kind of for I believe it was building and wall wash applications where it was lighting up the size of buildings. And we said if we could get into this automotive pattern, this system that would be mobile, then we could actually do something with it, because it was really amazing when we looked at it the first time. And we all had our Hid lights and our eagles, and whatever we could find back then is lighting, KC lights, Baja Designs, we had them all, we sold them all. And then we got this other light and we were just so impressed with it that we really, really started pushing it. And it got to the point to where we could build rhinos all day, every day. But the real money was coming from the lighting. It was something that it was easier. We made it, we packaged it and we sold it. Instead of building rock crawlers and race cars all day, which anybody in the industry or carrier, there's not a lot of money in it.
[00:19:02.100] - Big Rich Klein
Right. You can't charge for every hour you have into them.
[00:19:05.890] - Taylor Anderson
No, you can't. Some people do very well, and God bless them, but it wasn't our forte. So we discovered that the light was going to be our pathway and we went in and purchased the patents for the technology from the parent company and said, we're going to take this thing and we're going to put it into offroad. And that's how it started. That's how it started. We were buying lights already boxed that were being made in Southern California. And then we took over the manufacturing process in our little building in Mesa, Arizona, and literally used to invite our friends over on the weekends like we were moving it's. Like, hey, if you show up, we'll buy the pizza and the deer and you guys can help us put together these lights. And that's how that started all the way to the trade shows. Those same guys would come and hang out at the trade show with us, and we'd buy them a hotel room and they can sit in the booth and talk about the product. That's how it got started. That's how it took off.
[00:20:09.420] - Big Rich Klein
And I guess it became a really popular product, not only because of the light pattern and how you can set them up and the variations and stuff, but the amp draw was HIDs. You throw those things on and you'd lose 300 rpm, and you didn't lose the horsepower when you turned on the LEDs.
[00:20:38.180] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, there were a lot of advantages back then, and if I reached down deep, I could probably think of all of them. But they didn't have to warm up. They didn't take as much power. They were very competitive as far as output went. And what we discovered and actually tested, if you remember our old videos, they were basically bulletproof. I mean, we could do anything. And we made those first couple of videos ourselves back in the day and just had a hell of a time beating the crap out of these lights and videoing and making these little films. I really think what really helped us.
[00:21:12.800] - Big Rich Klein
Launch and they were used in construction for, like you said, wall wash and that kind of stuff. Did they have an automotive application at that time, or did you guys just look at it and say, we got to adapt this.
[00:21:27.840] - Taylor Anderson
We had to adapt it.
[00:21:29.250] - Big Rich Klein
[00:21:29.650] - Taylor Anderson
To make it work? It did.
[00:21:34.960] - Big Rich Klein
So Rigid was pretty much the innovator of Led lighting then, for automotive use.
[00:21:42.180] - Taylor Anderson
I believe so. I think at the time, Vision X had also come out with one, but I don't know. I really believe we were first to the punch, and everything after that was kind of a copy of some sort, but they had started slow and then we were the ones that really brought it to market. We brought it out and showed what it could do. And I think that lifestyle I would call it now is kind of this lifestyle campaign of using these products and showing people and testing against other products and just trying to prove their worth, which took a while. People didn't believe it. Hid was king, and how can you be brighter than an Hid? So it took that groundwork and those trade shows and those conversations and that testing everything that we could do to make it work. And it took a few years.
[00:22:37.130] - Big Rich Klein
Right? And what was the first product that you guys I mean, obviously it's LDD Light. But I mean, was it a big light bar? Was it a pod? What was the first thing you guys came out with?
[00:22:52.620] - Taylor Anderson
Well, when we started, we had those are the linear light bars, right? So we had a ten, a 20, a 30, and a 40. And we immediately added a 50 because we put a tape measure across the front of my JK. I had an eight JK, four door back then, wrangler and I had a buddy of mine mock up some brackets and we mounted it above the windshield and really felt like made it look like a spaceship. But it was just so cool to do that. So we came out with that 50 inch bar, and I still have a picture of that Jeep in my home office, if I could find it. It's in here somewhere, but of the very 1st 50 inch light bar that was across the roof of a Jeep, as you all know, that it was greatly abused over the next 15 years. Everything, and it's brother from double stacks to triple stacks to everything. But initially it just fit there. So we expanded it to a 50 inch extrusion and did that, and then we went the other direction on a cocktail napkin, drew out what would become the jewelry, which was, I think, our most popular product of all time.
[00:24:07.860] - Taylor Anderson
It was a three inch pod, little Rubik's Cube, we called it, and you could fit it anywhere. We made a tremendous amount of bracketry for different vehicles and different landing applications and just made it kind of our entry level. I think for $199 you could get a pair of those things versus $500 for a ten inch light bar, which was a hard stretch for a lot of people and hard to understand back then.
[00:24:33.600] - Big Rich Klein
[00:24:33.970] - Taylor Anderson
So I credit the Duly to really being kind of our segue.
[00:24:40.100] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I've got a set on my Raptor in the bumper.
[00:24:43.600] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, well, that was another story. So the Raptor came out in eleven or ten, the small motor, and then eleven the 16 came out.
[00:24:54.070] - Big Rich Klein
[00:24:54.450] - Taylor Anderson
So we had a customer who had had one of the very first Raptors here in town, and that was ours to use. We built brackets for the windshield on that as well. And then that same friend of mine built brackets for the fog holes in the stock bumper. So we had two on each side. And I remember, I think it was 1030 at night, he finally showed up and we mounted those things and they fit in the hole. That was our first Raptor mount. Actually, the first vehicular mount ever for the Dulies was in that Ford Raptor.
[00:25:27.190] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And then you guys produced a replacement grille as well, didn't you?
[00:25:34.080] - Taylor Anderson
Yes, grills were they were a few years down the line, but that was a stretch for us to get automotive lighting into vehicles that weren't necessarily off road. It could be a fog light, it could be mounted into a stock vehicle. People were putting grills on everything back then. It was a huge craze back before the big three or the big four came out and started really making trucks look good with nice grills and all that. That was an easy way to get stuff mounted.
[00:26:09.340] - Big Rich Klein
So what was probably the most popular product that you guys produced? I liked your flashlight.
[00:26:20.460] - Taylor Anderson
Oh, yeah. The halo. The original halo. That was pretty cool. That was another one of those little wow factor deals that just impress people because it was so bright. So that was good. That was another thing that was more affordable than a 30 or 40 inch light bar. But I'd say overall, the granddaddy of them all, really, is that Duly, the original Duly, which was the little four bulb. And then, of course, we went into the Duly pro and we upsized it into a larger version and then an even larger version in the Q series. But if you were to do a count on a number of units sold, the duly is the winner, hands down.
[00:27:05.390] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And I want to get into the transition of the business. And then you running it after the sale, if that's cool. But before we jump that far ahead, let's talk about your racing and how that came about.
[00:27:26.740] - Taylor Anderson
Oh, my racing came right after the sale of Rigid, which, before I forget, there were four of us partners in there. So that was my brother Seth and I and Jason. And then we brought Steve in, I think about a year after the three of us teamed up. So there was Steve Adams, Jason Christensen, me and my brother Seth. But right after we sold the company, I think we all thought we were going to stay on and help, but it didn't work out that way. Big business changes things and methodology changes and programs change. And for some reason, I ended up being the only one that stayed on long term, and it was in my marketing capacity, so I did have some good relationships at the time, and I think I had some value there. I was also the gatekeeper for culture. I really was big on how we were internally, not just externally, how we treated our employees, how we ran our business from the inside. And I think it was important for a while for me to keep my hands on that and help guide them a little bit. And I did it for five years, and then I decided to step away and do my personal stuff.
[00:28:51.450] - Taylor Anderson
But the racing the answer to your question is the racing started right after that. I had always wanted a race. Trophy trucks were really cool, and I don't know if I was ready to make that financial commitment. I think everybody thinks they are. They think they can. If I could just get in a trophy truck, I can go on drive and win races. And I did, I think, as well, until I got into a trophy truck with a driver, and that actually was BJ Baldwin. And we went out and did I think I did a half a day with him after his track out in Vegas, on the outskirts of Vegas out there, and realized rather quickly that I was not going to win any races.
[00:29:37.980] - Big Rich Klein
[00:29:38.510] - Taylor Anderson
Because the talent level and the practice and the training and everything that goes into what these guys accomplish, it's real. It's the real deal. So I need a lesser version of that, which turned out to be vintage truck racing with Nora and the Nora platform. And I had watched a truck get built up on race desert for a couple of years by a guy by the name of Matt Parks. He built a 74 dent side. It was old pre renter truck that was built by Randy La Fortune, I believe, who was in the walker Evans group for a while. So, as far as I was concerned, it was a formidable vehicle and it had been completely restored. You might recognize it as the Pabst Blue Ribbon truck.
[00:30:28.980] - Big Rich Klein
[00:30:29.540] - Taylor Anderson
It was called the Hay Hauler. No, not the hay hauler. That was Gordon's. It was called the beer hauler. Sorry. So it took me six months to talk Matt out of that truck. And I finally got my hands on it and immediately took it out to the desert. It scared the shit out of me. I had a 427 Cobra in it. Great transmission. About eleven inches of travel, which I treated like it was 20, but ended up sitting at the start line on my first Nor race, I think it was probably 17 or 18, I can't remember exactly. And then did that first Nora race, which, for those of you who aren't familiar, it's from Ensenada to Cabo, takes five days. And to me, it was honestly, it was like the Cannonball Run in the dirt. And I had the most fun I'd ever had in my life. And that just got me hooked. I actually happened to win my class, had a great crew down there helping me keep the truck together that I just pounded to death every day and would wake up after little to no sleep and get it back in the truck and just do it again.
[00:31:52.350] - Taylor Anderson
And you know the feeling. It's amazing, right? It's amazing. And getting to do it in an old vintage truck is something that I thought about for a long time. And I'm racing next to these trucks that I knew, scoop Vessels truck was behind me at the starting line, and Walker Evans was racing in the same race. And it was an amazing process to see it all come together down there and to be a part of it. I did three years before I broke my truck. So much that it's been under the knife now for about two years. So cold. And knocked the race out for the first year. So it just seemed like a good year to rebuild everything. And it's supposed to be done here in about a month and a half.
[00:32:42.840] - Big Rich Klein
[00:32:44.120] - Taylor Anderson
[00:32:44.840] - Big Rich Klein
So then I thought your racing started a little earlier than that, but that makes total sense. No, the nice thing about Nora is that I like the idea of the stage racing. I think it's easier on the crews and on the teams.
[00:33:08.960] - Taylor Anderson
Yes, it is. And the drivers. Right. It goes into that. Anything in Baja, it's a wild trip, and I still haven't mastered the art of keeping my truck together long enough to race it more than a day. So I think there's a lot to be said for that and just saving your equipment. I'm getting better, but it's a challenge for a guy like me because I just see somebody and they just need to be passed. So you do whatever you. Can to pass them.
[00:33:42.880] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I have that problem. I haven't actually officially ever entered a race. There was a competition that we did, and there's an Arizona guy named Ryan Miller that runs with Campbells and stuff. He was in this thing that I was in, in fact. And Charlene Bauer was the one that I think that ended up winning it. But it was part of this Trail Hero my son's event, and it was something that Val Douglas put together. And you did a lap, which was quite a long lap. And then the second lap, you went in, and there was things that you had to accomplish, like driving blindfold, and you're getting spotted through the rocks by the spotter, and you're driving blindfolded. And then there was like a tire change, and there was these different elements to it. On the second lap. Well, luck of the draw. I get, like, third to last start, and there's a girl behind me, and I'm in my Cherokee, which is just I mean, there is no up travel. I have, like an inch and a half, two inches of up travel. It's all down travel because it's built.
[00:35:07.580] - Taylor Anderson
For rock crawling, right?
[00:35:10.680] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. So we're going across the sand out there at Sand Hollow, and this girl in this Toyota pickup truck that's total pre runnered out. I mean, multiple shocks and bypasses and all this kind of stuff, she just goes blown right by me in this pre runner. And I'm like, okay, well, I'm not going to catch her in this stuff. And then Ryan Miller, in this little TJ that he has that they called the Rally Jeep, goes screaming past me. And my wife had told me, said, okay, we're going to do this, but it's not a race. And I said, I don't play board games. I'm not a very good competitor. I'm not a good winner, and I'm not a good loser. I'm probably a worse winner because if I beat somebody at something, I'm going to let them know about it forever. And so I get this Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde thing going, and Ryan Miller goes past me, and all of a sudden I'm just on the throttle. And Shelley's not enjoying it at this point because I've turned it into a race. But now I know I'm the last car on course, right?
[00:36:30.470] - Big Rich Klein
And I could see the two people that just passed me just smoking me. So I tried not to go. Finally, she goes about halfway around the track, she goes, all right, just stop. We're having lunch. And I'm like, we're what? So I'm kind of freaking out, right? Okay, I get out of the truck. We have a soda, we have some water, we eat a sandwich, piece of fruit or something like that. And the whole time I'm trying to get back in the Jeep, and she's like, no, we're going to enjoy this. And I'm just thinking, it's just driving me nuts.
[00:37:05.270] - Taylor Anderson
[00:37:05.850] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. Well, finally she lets us get back in the truck or the Jeep. We get going again. And before we get to the first part of the first of the challenges, I smack an undercut, blow a rim up. I have no spare with me because I didn't want to carry the extra weight. Totally blew this spare up. Tire is still good, but here I am, stuck in the middle of the course in a real narrow spot. Now, they had a recovery right around the corner, so they finally got me out of there, having to drag me out, and that's when Shelley says, okay, we never have to compete again.
[00:37:48.380] - Taylor Anderson
Well, you might be the bravest guy I know if you're going to put your wife next to you in a race truck. So that's something I would never even consider that.
[00:37:57.020] - Big Rich Klein
Well, I wasn't the one considering it. She wanted to do it. And I'm the driver. She can drive, but I'm the driver. I'm too hyper competitive at anything, so I don't even play board games. I'd learn that with my kids because there was no way I was going to let a six year old beat me in any board game.
[00:38:25.560] - Taylor Anderson
Right. Of course.
[00:38:27.480] - Big Rich Klein
That's probably why my kids are the way they are. So anyway.
[00:38:33.800] - Taylor Anderson
It takes a special kind. Yeah.
[00:38:36.150] - Big Rich Klein
So then one of the things that I noticed, we came by and did a shop visit with you guys. Oh, my God. It was probably, I want to say, 16. Michelle and I stopped by, and one of the things that I did that's when all your manufacturing was done in your warehouse, everything was put together there. Your employees just seemed happy.
[00:39:08.900] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, they were.
[00:39:10.900] - Big Rich Klein
It was refreshing to see.
[00:39:13.700] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah. We had a great group of people and they took care of us. And likewise, we took care of them. We had a fun time. It was a really fun time. I miss it.
[00:39:27.070] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And with the change, with the sale of the company, they took it out of house, didn't they?
[00:39:41.680] - Taylor Anderson
They did, yeah. Anytime I think something like that happens and you get a real big outfit that comes in and buys a family business, basically, which is what we were. We can be disappointed about how it changed, but it's just inevitable. That's why they bought you. And I think it was my wife that reminded me of the time she says, you sold your right to complain when you sold it. And that was true. I could do whatever I could do while I was still there to try to keep everything the way that I wanted it to be. But it's probably not the most cost efficient way to run things. We would bring food trucks in once a month. You get free lunch on your birthday. We did all kinds of fun parties and chili cook offs, and it's just hard to do that if you're a big outfit. They don't care as much as we did, quite honestly. It's more about the dollars.
[00:40:38.500] - Big Rich Klein
Right? And that's happened to one of the things that I've noticed in Offroad recently is that these investment firms have stepped in and purchased everything, like Polaris with Transamerica, and then Wheel Pros with Transamerica, and it's just everything that is coming, these conglomerates are just swallowing people up. And the guys that had the businesses and sold them, I think it's a good thing, because a lot of those guys were like, I'm overworked. I want to spend more time with my family or my wife or whatever.
[00:41:24.690] - Taylor Anderson
Oh, yeah, for sure.
[00:41:26.070] - Big Rich Klein
But I don't know if it really does the industry any good. But I can't blame any of anybody for bailing.
[00:41:32.160] - Taylor Anderson
No, it's a wicked circle, and you can look at it in a lot of different ways, but for us to finally get out of that 50 to 80 hours week that we had been doing for ten years, twelve years. All of us had young kids, and it was a challenge all the time. We were flying back from trade show. I remember SEMA every year. We would all fly home for Halloween and literally do the trick or treating, and then at midnight, hop back on the plane to get back so we could be at the show in the morning. That's the kind of stuff we were able to do. But a lot of people weren't, and you missed so much. And by the time I had been able to step back a little bit, my boys were, I think, 13 and 14, so I still had a lot of time with them, and I didn't miss as much as some people did. But having your own business, we'll suck the life out of you ask any business owner, any one of them, and they'll tell you if they're doing it right. It's stuck on the life out of them.
[00:42:38.890] - Taylor Anderson
And to be able to have an opportunity like we did, and I think we weren't the first, but we were kind of in that earlier wave of conglomerates buying people up. And I've seen it happen so much since ours, since our rigid sold. It's pretty amazing the number of companies now that are under different wings. And it's a wild thing, and I think you're right. I think a majority of the time it's not better for the customer. Unfortunately, everybody's trying to keep their prices low with competition from overseas, and with we dealt personally with knock off, and you're dealing with so many expenses that the general consumer doesn't know, doesn't get to see. It was a fight every day to accomplish what we did right.
[00:43:33.550] - Big Rich Klein
I know that when you talk about the competition and knock offs, I remember we were at a Dirt Riot race that we were putting on, and we had some raffle items we were trying to raise money for. I don't remember what charity it was that year, but we did it every year with our Backdrop Awards banner. We'd auction it off and we had product from different companies and stuff, and somebody had come up and said, hey, I got these lights, auction them off. And I couldn't tell you what brand they were. I know that they said Made in China on the box and everything, but it was, hey, somebody would buy a raffle ticket. So the guy who won it had a friend helping hand the stuff out as we were doing this, calling numbers and stuff. And the guy that was helping me goes, hey, by the way, there's a switch on the side of this, and when you flip it, flip the switch, goldfish come out. And I looked at him and I was like, what the hell did you just say? And he goes, well, yeah, these things, I had a pair of these and I got rid of them because the first time it rained, they got full of water.
[00:44:47.760] - Big Rich Klein
It was like fish were living in them. And it was just like the funniest thing that he said, but I realized that that is the case. You can walk around and see all these guys with light bars on their Jeeps, on their Honda Civics. Anybody who puts a light bar on the top of a Honda Civic, I'm wondering anyway. But most of them are all fogged out. There's water in them. The lens is all crackled or whatever from the sunlight, right? And the guy will go, but it only cost me $10.
[00:45:30.800] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, that was the argument we always got. Well, I could buy five of these for year one. And I said, well, if you want to install it five times and have it not very much light, I think hammer, of all people, jeremy calls them glow lights. They just glow a little bit. Exactly. Yeah. That was a big part of the challenge, too. We spent a lot of time chasing down that stuff and just takes a fun out of it. It really does. But anytime you have something good, somebody wants a piece of it, it doesn't matter what you're doing, right?
[00:46:07.820] - Big Rich Klein
So how about your kids? What are your boys into? What are you doing with them?
[00:46:13.920] - Taylor Anderson
I've got two boys. One is 21, is 18, and they're just amazing. They're both busy. One boy, Mass, is my older one. He is a firefighter at Vernon Fire Department up in northern Arizona.
[00:46:31.280] - Big Rich Klein
[00:46:32.340] - Taylor Anderson
Part time. And he's looking for a full time position, but he's got everything he needs. And in the fire world, it just takes time. But real responsible kid and great kid. My other one is Zach. He is up in Laramie, Wyoming, going to a school called WyoTech and learning the automotive trade. So he's in his fourth month right now. So he just started his fabrication class, and actually in three weeks he's got a 95 project. Bronco OBS. I'm going to be taking it up to him, and they're going to be putting a roll cage in that at school, and he'll be building the suspension and all that there as well.
[00:47:21.490] - Big Rich Klein
[00:47:22.990] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, they're good kids. A little weird. We're kind of empty nesters here. My wife and I. We're trying to find ways to keep busy that keep us out of trouble.
[00:47:36.200] - Big Rich Klein
Hey, buy a boat.
[00:47:37.100] - Taylor Anderson
Boat? No, I have a Pre Runner, and that's even worse than a boat.
[00:47:47.400] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, we bought a boat a couple of years ago to live on in the wintertime, and it's down in the Corpus Christi Bay area, and I love wintering down there. I love chasing 70 degrees, but I missed the boat. We haven't been on it since last March because of the health issues here in Northern California with my parents, so but we're you know, it's still sitting there. We still have somebody go out and clean it and run it and do the things that needs to be done on a boat that you can't use yet. But we still have it.
[00:48:25.700] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, that's kind of what we did with our cabin. We bought a cabin, and it took us two years to get it back to what it was in its heyday. And we just enjoy it now. But the work never stops. The projects never stop. It mentioned my pre runner. We took that out to test after actually, Hammer had done the suspension upgrades to it, made some changes, and put our new glass on it. And then I took it out to Sycamore, which is kind of our little run around area out here, and promptly blew the motor. So that's just the way these things go sometimes. So now I'm in the market for a motor, and then I can test again and maybe even get it painted. Who knows? Who knows?
[00:49:13.710] - Big Rich Klein
And how big a motor are you going to put into it?
[00:49:17.480] - Taylor Anderson
Well, I've learned the motor that you think you need is probably smaller than the motor that you want, so we're still working on it. It's a Ford. So it's a Ford f 150. And I might go 427 again because I like that Cobra motor in my race truck. It sits at about 555 25 with the horsepower and torque, and it's enough for me to I could get into trouble in my race truck because it's just a little less 100. The Pre Runner, which is a four door, I think I can get in less trouble and still have the power, but we'll see. There's a lot of options these days.
[00:50:03.220] - Big Rich Klein
And when is Nora this year? Is it earlier?
[00:50:07.180] - Taylor Anderson
Nora. There's a 501,000.
[00:50:11.400] - Big Rich Klein
[00:50:12.360] - Taylor Anderson
And the exact dates. I'd be lying if I told you I knew what they were. September is, I think, the 500. And then if I recall I'm not even going to say it because I don't remember anymore. That's part of turning 50.
[00:50:29.500] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, just wait till you get my age then.
[00:50:31.980] - Taylor Anderson
Oh man, I understand.
[00:50:35.280] - Big Rich Klein
Write things down and leave them and don't put them on floppy disks.
[00:50:42.640] - Taylor Anderson
No, I don't think I have any. Well I might still have some of those somewhere around here because then all.
[00:50:48.770] - Big Rich Klein
Of a sudden they become obsolete and you go, now what do I do?
[00:50:51.560] - Taylor Anderson
[00:50:59.000] - Big Rich Klein
Besides the race truck, what do you think is on the horizon for you and your wife? Any travel plans?
[00:51:07.260] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, we love to travel. We're actually heading to Pine Key in the Keys in Florida in March. We're going to do a couple of weeks there. I love that area. And then we spend a lot of time up here at the cabin and I take her around quite a bit with wood projects and my latest obsession is vintage axes, believe it or not. So I'm on the search for any and all old hand forged axes that I can make new handles for and collect. I guess some people say that I should sell some but I don't like selling things that I like so I hoard them. So if you ever need to chop wood, let me know.
[00:51:52.600] - Big Rich Klein
That's interesting. I may have some around here somewhere, I'll take a look.
[00:51:58.200] - Taylor Anderson
You go ahead and take a look for me because I've got some from.
[00:52:01.120] - Big Rich Klein
The grandparents I think.
[00:52:02.860] - Taylor Anderson
Oh wow. Well yeah, keep me in mind on that please. And any vintage chainsaws as well.
[00:52:08.080] - Big Rich Klein
It's my other tiny chainsaws are faster than axes.
[00:52:15.760] - Taylor Anderson
They are. They're a lot more fun, right?
[00:52:18.320] - Big Rich Klein
Axes take a lot more physical labor.
[00:52:21.920] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, well the axes help keep me in shape, that's for sure.
[00:52:24.810] - Big Rich Klein
There you go. Maybe I need to start using an axe.
[00:52:29.940] - Taylor Anderson
You come on up anytime, come on. It's more fun to watch my kids drop wood to be honest.
[00:52:36.650] - Big Rich Klein
Yes it is. And then that way you say, you know what, I think your technique is a little off. Try this. Yeah, coaching.
[00:52:44.880] - Taylor Anderson
Exactly. So I can manage.
[00:52:46.600] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I'm a much better coach than I am a doer.
[00:52:50.060] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, it's a little harder these days to get the stuff done that we used to for sure.
[00:52:55.820] - Big Rich Klein
Exactly. Well are you doing anything business wise besides just racing or do you have any projects you're working on?
[00:53:08.320] - Taylor Anderson
Not exactly. I thought for a few years that I would get involved with something and to be honest, I think I must have had lunch twice a week with people for a few years just throwing ideas around and people think of something and I listened to it. No, I think I just decided that I've done that part of my life and unless something really special comes up and invites me, I'm probably going to stay at the pace I'm at. I really enjoy it.
[00:53:38.510] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. Well congratulations on being able to do that.
[00:53:43.100] - Taylor Anderson
Well thank you, thank you very much. It's a blessing for sure.
[00:53:46.750] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, absolutely. And with that I'm going to say thank you so much for spending some time with us and talking about your history and growing up and racing and rigid industries and dragon fire and everything else.
[00:54:01.120] - Taylor Anderson
Not a problem. I appreciate it, Rich, very much.
[00:54:03.480] - Big Rich Klein
And next time I come down to Arizona, which is going to be about a month, not to see about getting the three of us together, you and Hammer and myself, and grab a lunch and a cold one somewhere, for sure.
[00:54:18.190] - Taylor Anderson
We all like food.
[00:54:19.180] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. And then comes the axes.
[00:54:23.480] - Taylor Anderson
Yeah, and bring those axes with you, too, buddy.
[00:54:25.500] - Big Rich Klein
There you go. All right. I want to say thank you so much.
[00:54:29.180] - Taylor Anderson
You bet. Thanks, Rich. You have a good one.
[00:54:30.780] - Big Rich Klein
You take care.
[00:54:31.340] - Taylor Anderson
Bye bye. Bye.
[00:54:33.500] - Big Rich Klein
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 or 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.