Conversations with Big Rich

Brian Ellinger on Episode 149 features Toyotas, rockcrawling and Front Range Offroad

February 09, 2023 Guest Brian Ellinger Season 3 Episode 149
Conversations with Big Rich
Brian Ellinger on Episode 149 features Toyotas, rockcrawling and Front Range Offroad
Show Notes Transcript

Toyota expert, Brian Ellinger, joins us on Episode 149. Brian is the owner of Front Range Offroad and Diamond Axles, a former rockcrawling competitor, Brian aspires to a quiet life where it’s less people-y. Tune in to your favorite podcast app to listen in.

6:30 – wood does things metal doesn’t, like warp when it gets wet

10:55 – the backpacking mentality works with my brain

20:07 – “what’s a tombstone?” 

26:50 – what better time to take the plunge, there’s plenty of time to recover if you go broke

33:51 – we’ve only kept the things that people actually want

41:59 – I met Dave face-to-face in a dirt lot swapping an engine the day before the comp

52:15 – you guys do really well on the hard, technical, weird stuff

57:41 – I’m not trying to win, I’m just trying to finish

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 Brian Ellinger. Brian is a Toyota guy, a business owner, ex rock crawling competitor. He runs Front Range Off Road- Diamond Axle and is currently residing in Colorado. Brian, thank you very much for coming on board and talking with us.


[00:02:08.960] - Brian Ellinger

Thank you very much, Rich.


[00:02:10.740] - Big Rich Klein

So let's jump right in. Where were you born and raised?


[00:02:15.520] - Brian Ellinger

Bay Area of California, actually.


[00:02:17.840] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And you said, let everybody know that I screwed up and forgot to hit the recording button. So a little bit of this Brian and I have already talked about. So I'll lead him on to get the answers that I had the first time. And you grew up between in the San Francisco Bay area. Between San Jose and San Francisco, correct.


[00:02:38.520] - Brian Ellinger

Yes, sir. Yeah, a bit more south towards the San Jose area, but yeah, right in there.


[00:02:42.940] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And that area is urban? I wouldn't call it rural, but it's not a heavy city either. San Jose and San Francisco would be that and the schooling. What school did you go to high school?


[00:02:58.800] - Brian Ellinger

The high school was Gunn high school, actually.


[00:03:01.360] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, I remember swimming against Gunn. Very, very good pool facility.


[00:03:07.760] - Brian Ellinger

Oh, got you.


[00:03:08.960] - Big Rich Klein

And some really good swimmers came out of there anyway. So what kind of student were you? Did you do a lot of electives or sports or band or anything like that?


[00:03:23.560] - Brian Ellinger

No, not really. I was really a student that wanted to get out of school, wanted to do other things. The typical reading, writing, arithmetic, grind of high school was not my forte. I could do them, I do tests well or testing well. But the monotonous homework piece of the puzzle was certainly a tripping point.


[00:03:51.840] - Big Rich Klein

And as you were growing up, what kind of interest did you have?


[00:03:58.320] - Brian Ellinger

Really? I would say outdoor stuff, things with your hands. Took woodshop in school and then got into machining classes into the community college there. Aside from that, as far as school related stuff, a little bit across country, I think maybe the first semester of high school at most. Other than that, no team sports or anything like that.


[00:04:27.580] - Big Rich Klein

And you weren't a party or definitely not.


[00:04:32.140] - Brian Ellinger

I'm not the social butterfly in the family.


[00:04:35.280] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, so you weren't hanging out in like, our high school, we had an area called Marlborough Country. That's where all the smokers and stoners hung out. And then we had like senior rail, and just off of the senior rail around the rally court, you'd find more of the jocks hanging out there. Was there spots like that in your school at gun?


[00:05:01.710] - Brian Ellinger

There were gosh, it's been a minute, so I'd have to even think about it. I had not normal high school situation, so I only attended the actual high school for about a year and a half and then was able to get into a program that was just launching, I think it was the first year that they did it. And so I actually went to the local community college for the next year and a half and graduated early because I was taking college classes, which qualified for more credits, more high school credits. So if, for example, you'd take a semester of college, it would qualify for, say, a year of high school.


[00:05:49.650] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, cool. And that was more of like in the trades?


[00:05:54.660] - Brian Ellinger

That was a bit more in the trades. It was also just checking off your general stuff, your history, English kind of thing on the high school level as well, but being more concentrated classes, they're harder, they run faster. Of course, we all know that. But I was able to jump into stuff that I wanted to more be doing, which was the machining end of things at the college there.


[00:06:21.440] - Big Rich Klein

And what got you into that kind of interest.


[00:06:30.180] - Brian Ellinger

Really was shooting for an engineering degree at the time and really just wanting to understand and how to make things. My father did a bit of woodworking, so I had my head wrapped around how that worked and how to make a lot of stuff with wood. But of course wood does things. Metal doesn't, like warp when it gets wet and things like this gosh, I want to play with metal because it doesn't do these kind of things. You just have to worry about rusting. So, yeah, that's really what drove me towards the metal side of things.


[00:07:05.440] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And interests outside of school when you were growing up, what kind of things did you do to occupy your time?


[00:07:15.920] - Brian Ellinger

Lot of cycling, mountain biking, and road biking. I put a lot of miles on two wheels.


[00:07:22.720] - Big Rich Klein

That's cool. And as a family, did you guys do camping or go to the lake, fishing, anything like that?


[00:07:31.860] - Brian Ellinger

I did. I was in Boy Scouts and got my Eagle Scout, and the troop I was in did was mainly focused on backpacking. So the camping that we did even as a kid before then was fairly lean on what we'd bring. But doing that stuff was really much leaner. You got to carry everything, so you don't bring things like tables. It's just not a reality at all.


[00:08:08.480] - Big Rich Klein

Well, congratulations on the Eagle Scout. I'm one as well.


[00:08:12.480] - Brian Ellinger



[00:08:13.680] - Big Rich Klein

So then did you get to Camp La, Honda or any of those places in the coastal redwood area there, or was most of your time more in the Sierras?


[00:08:25.700] - Brian Ellinger

Definitely, I want to say Lahonda was in there. I'm trying to remember some of the names of stuff I know. I got up to Last National Park, which I'd like to get back there again. Spent some time in Desolation Wilderness, which is actually fairly close to the Rubicon, I think it actually borders it or crosses it, but you'd never know it. So that's kind of a good thing. So you definitely have been in the series. And then we did a lot of trips that were one and two nights. So they sometimes that would have been in the foothills, not necessarily up into the Sierras.


[00:09:04.540] - Big Rich Klein

Right, okay. And going through the trade classes, you said you did some wood shop and you did some metal fabrication. Was it like machine shop or was it a real fabrication type?


[00:09:23.880] - Brian Ellinger

The machining stuff was definitely well, the machine. So we started with your real basic manual stuff, down to sharpening drill bits, using a drill press, things like that, your real intro things, and a lot of speeds and feeds and how to use cutters and which direction you're spinning things and that kind of stuff. And that, of course, worked into your manual mills and Lathes and then pretty rapidly into the CNC world. So not initially right on. Not any in the welding world, but what I would consider fabrication, but definitely on the machining end of things.


[00:10:08.840] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And it's your brother Scott, correct?


[00:10:14.920] - Brian Ellinger

Yes, sir.


[00:10:15.750] - Big Rich Klein

And is he older or younger?


[00:10:17.880] - Brian Ellinger

He is two years older.


[00:10:19.760] - Big Rich Klein

And you guys had the same pretty much similar interests?


[00:10:24.620] - Brian Ellinger

Fairly similar, I would say. He didn't get into the machining end of things, went through high school as a normal high school thing. I don't think he's taken any machining classes. He may have, but yeah.


[00:10:42.340] - Big Rich Klein

And how did you go from California, especially the Bay Area, to the Front Range of Colorado?


[00:10:55.160] - Brian Ellinger

Really, quite honestly, to some extent, was fleeing California. While that area is not necessarily a concrete jungle, it's not La. It's not San Francisco. It's not New York City. Right. But it's a lot of people. There's a lot there. There's a lot going on. There's a certain speed of life to me, always felt like a decent amount of keeping up with the Joneses kind of thing and really didn't want that. I'm a much more simpler person. That the best I can explain it is the backpacking mentality works with my brain. So having a lot of things and the new thing and the new shiny thing and the new trinket, that kind of stuff doesn't interest me at all. And Colorado piqued my interest in terms of, hey, I think this kind of gets me away from a lot of that and that lifestyle that surrounding. So that was really the draw for Colorado and had the excuse of going to college in Colorado.


[00:12:15.600] - Big Rich Klein



[00:12:16.070] - Brian Ellinger

I was going to say check it out.


[00:12:18.560] - Big Rich Klein

What was the reason for the move? So which college did you go to in Colorado?


[00:12:23.780] - Brian Ellinger

Went to Colorado State in Fort Collins.


[00:12:25.950] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And you are close to that area still, aren't you?


[00:12:31.460] - Brian Ellinger

I am, I live. And the business is actually in Loveland, which is the town just south. So gosh maybe 20 minutes from that college.


[00:12:41.400] - Big Rich Klein

There's a lot of businesses on that Front Range, at least it appears to me, because of the people that I know. So that's interesting. And most of them are Toyota or Suzuki focused there's a bit.


[00:13:02.160] - Brian Ellinger

I see them come and go and some stick around longer than others, but this area certainly has grown and changed a lot over the last, well, 20 some years that I've been here now. So it certainly has added a lot of population to the area.


[00:13:26.330] - Big Rich Klein

Right, so you're looking elsewhere now?


[00:13:30.440] - Brian Ellinger

No, I'm too crowded for you. I'm still content where I am, but the possibility of at some point moving from here to somewhere else is on the radar. But I haven't found anywhere else that sounds better to me and certainly not somewhere else that you can really run businesses that need to be shipping parts out.


[00:13:52.960] - Big Rich Klein

Right, okay. That's a big consideration. True. Because if you're up at the end of some dirt road 10 miles out in the forest somewhere, it's going to be pretty hard shipping.


[00:14:06.500] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah. And I was thinking on the lines of things like Alaska, you can ship from there, but no one's going to want to pay. It.


[00:14:14.150] - Big Rich Klein



[00:14:15.720] - Brian Ellinger

That doesn't make that work.


[00:14:18.600] - Big Rich Klein

So let's talk about vehicles. You mentioned that you did a lot of bicycle riding, mountain bike and road bike. Was that obviously was probably your first motor transportation.


[00:14:37.680] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah, I'd say I got into cycling when I was probably maybe twelve.


[00:14:44.240] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, and then what was the first car that you got to drive?


[00:14:53.140] - Brian Ellinger

Oh, that I got to drive?


[00:14:55.160] - Big Rich Klein



[00:14:58.260] - Brian Ellinger

I'm not sure on that one. Probably a Ford Sable station wagon that would have been accompanying car for my father.


[00:15:06.280] - Big Rich Klein

That's classic. That really tell me it was that Ford gold. Ford or Mercury gold. Right.


[00:15:17.900] - Brian Ellinger

He had a couple because they'd give him another one every few years. Okay, but I think there was a gold one. I know there was a maroon one. Yeah.


[00:15:28.940] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome. When you got the chance to get your own vehicle, what was the first vehicle that you owned?


[00:15:40.740] - Brian Ellinger

Effectively, it was an 85 Toyota pickup, actually.


[00:15:44.020] - Big Rich Klein

And about how old were you?


[00:15:46.820] - Brian Ellinger

I would have been 18.


[00:15:49.020] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, that explains a lot, then.


[00:15:51.860] - Brian Ellinger



[00:15:54.420] - Big Rich Klein

So then at that point, did you have grand plans when you bought the Toyota to turn it into something else, or was it just convenience?


[00:16:06.600] - Brian Ellinger

Had a bit of plans. Scott had a Toyota truck at that point already, so he could kind of tell me, hey, here's something you'd be looking for. Get a straight axle and get fuel injection and here you go kind of thing. And at that point, it was great. I don't have a stupid station wagon like my parents. They have a truck. This is a real vehicle, not just a sedan with a back end. And then things just kind of progressed. Really. You get into learning about the truck, and of course you're reading the magazines and all that kind of stuff at the time and found that there was just a lack of availability, parts that you could do for other vehicles. Nobody was making for those trucks. There was nothing. There was no crossover steering for it that didn't exist when I bought that truck you had downey and Northwest offroad were, I think, the only two Toyota pickup companies. You had a land cruiser company and a couple here and there, but pick up stuff. Nothing.


[00:17:23.140] - Big Rich Klein

So then how long after you bought the truck did you start messing with it, taking it apart or changing things out, designing your?


[00:17:35.720] - Brian Ellinger

Sure, I would have rebuilt the motor probably within a couple of months because you ask the guy, hey, does it burn any oil? Oh, no, it drank oil. He didn't mention. But I was probably designing parts for the thing, I would say within a year. But at that point, I'd already been taking machining classes. I already had a degree in tool, and I'm making so you're forging dies, you're casting molds, that kind of thing. That's what I went to school for. So the understanding of how to make this stuff was already had. And I would have been working for a company, actually building microscopes at the time. So precision and all that was something we were well within. So it just kind of got to, hey, I kind of want a thing that would do this. I kind of want a shifter. I kind of want a transfer case mount. How do I design this? How do I make it? What do I do? Well, then things just sort of progressed, I guess.


[00:18:50.500] - Big Rich Klein

So if you're working, say, for a microscope company, all the machinery and everything for something like that is going to be probably pretty small. Where did you come across the stuff to build, to start building the stuff you were designing for vehicles?


[00:19:10.340] - Brian Ellinger

Sure. The stuff actually for the microscope company was actually pretty big stuff. They had a few small things, but they had a couple of big horizontal machines with multiple tombstones, if you're familiar with that kind of stuff. They weren't running it hard because they're doing a lot with aluminum and things like that, but definitely they were trying to keep the precision. So a big machine gets you the rigidity, that gets you the repeatability, basically.


[00:19:42.400] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, I do not know anything about machining. My dad was a model maker, tool and die maker. Left the government 38 years in the business. He worked in the prosthetics lab, was the last place he was at. He was San Francisco mid, all that. But I just kind of ignored that, except that he had a really great collection of tools.


[00:20:07.080] - Brian Ellinger



[00:20:07.740] - Big Rich Klein

So explain to me what a tombstone is.


[00:20:11.480] - Brian Ellinger

A tombstone is basically a tall, not cube, but rectangular. So it would be the ones that they had were probably around 2ft tall, and then they're a four sided unit, so it would be say, twelve inches on each side. So you've got a twelve X twelve square that's now 2ft tall. You'll have four of those. So four tombstones on one turret and you'd have two turrets is how a lot of the horizontal mills are set up. And what it means is if you think of a drill press and a vise, right. You're working vertically and you've got one vise. Well, now if you take and you mount a vise to each of the sides of this tombstone, you've now got 16 vises on each turret. And conceptually, you tip your drill press over on its side so your spindle is running horizontally like you would on a lathe. And the machine will actually run one part on one side of one of those tombstones, turn it and run the exact same program again on the next one. So what happens is each time this whole turret exchanges, you spit 16 parts into the mill, it closes its door, coolant, goes everywhere and off to the race as you go.


[00:21:43.910] - Brian Ellinger

While the machine is happening, you're sitting there outside of the machine and you can change all the parts out. So it's much more of a higher production kind of set up than your more traditional vertical mills, which are going to be more like a drill press with an x and Y table on them, if you will.


[00:22:06.190] - Big Rich Klein

Right, the old what my dad used to call Bridgeport stuff.


[00:22:10.320] - Brian Ellinger

Yes, exactly. Yeah. Bridgeports are of course built in Bridgeport, ironically, but yeah, probably the best known manual machine mills in the US. And you can get them most people have been around your father, I'm sure. We've used manual ones. I used manual ones and you can get everything up to three axis on those machines, right?


[00:22:36.270] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, he did. I could never understand why he stayed with the government, but I think he was the whole idea of going to the machines that you program programmable stuff was outside of his realm. He could make anything with the old manual equipment, but to do something like what you're talking about and you plug the program in, write the program, all that kind of stuff and then have it all done I think he just didn't want to have to deal with learning that aspect of it.


[00:23:14.420] - Brian Ellinger

Oh, sure, yeah. And manual machines certainly do have their place for a quick one off stuff, for prototypes, for facing something off. We use a manual lathe here all the time for even silly things like, hey, we broke a gear set. Well, is the carrier still good? I don't know. Chuck the ARB up in the lathe and run an indicator on the mounting face for your ring gear. Hey, cool. It's only 2000s out, we're good to go. But you put it in and you say, gosh, it's 15,000 out. There's not really a way to check that easily without that kind of equipment. It's certainly really handy.


[00:23:54.240] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, makes sense. So then let's get into that transition from building your own stuff for your own rig and working for somebody else to how did that process go into then becoming a business owner? How long did it take? What kind of steps did you make?


[00:24:17.480] - Brian Ellinger

Really happened fairly quickly within I guess probably two years, maybe three. I'm trying to even remember. It happened quick and it was a long time ago. Right, put it together, but yeah, it really came that was making some stuff. The shifter that we do, the transfer case mount, the full float kit that we do. Some of those were in fact, those three specifically were the first couple of products we started doing. And really, it just kind of evolved. And that was the people you meet, you'd run into people on the trail, you go to the four wheel drive club, that kind of thing. And people are obviously checking out. Hey, what do you have? What do you have? And the Toyota guys, oh yeah, I built this. It's like, you built that? Well, can I get one? I guess I could make more and started realizing, gosh, there's demand for this, there's interest for this. I never looked at this from a business standpoint. I just wanted to make myself a cool widget. So fairly quickly had demand on that and then had a friend that could whip up a real basic website and add some time in there and suddenly say, gosh, I'm working all the time because I'm either at my job or I'm working on my own stuff.


[00:25:54.330] - Brian Ellinger

I'm working on products and got to the point that anybody who starts a business I think hits as well. I can do one or the other. And the decision was really quite simple. It was either, I can shut this business thing down and have a normal life and do this neat thing called sleep and have vacations, maybe have a Sunday off here or there, or I can go for it and throw all the eggs in one basket and say, let's give this business thing a shot. And quite honestly, just looked at it and said, well, I don't want to come back and look at this in five years or two years or ten years and say, man, what would life be like if I had just given it a shot? I was in my early 20s. You're bulletproof when you're 22 or 23 years old.


[00:26:48.710] - Big Rich Klein



[00:26:50.600] - Brian Ellinger

And quite honestly, what better time to take a plunge like that, right. You've got plenty of time to recover. You go broke and you got no money in six months, well, okay, I guess it's time to go get a job again. That was really the let's go for it and see what happens. Can I actually make this into a full time gig? Because that was predating any kind of rock crawling competition stuff, at least as far as I know. You'd have to correct me if I'm wrong, but I do not believe we rock was around. I know. I went to an Arca event, which when it was Arca, and that was gosh, I'm trying to think when that would have been. 2001, maybe 2000 somewhere.


[00:27:51.440] - Big Rich Klein

2001 was the first Cal Rocks event that I put on. I started Cow Rocks, and then we changed the name to Weiroc in 2005. But Arca started in 98, 99.


[00:28:06.390] - Brian Ellinger

Okay. I guess they got in some trouble with the name. They had to change it to something. And honestly, I used to remember where the people that ran that one all ended up and what it changed into, but I don't know that anybody cares anymore.


[00:28:30.680] - Big Rich Klein

That would be Ranch Pratt that started Arca.


[00:28:33.310] - Brian Ellinger

Okay, that's what I was thinking, but.


[00:28:35.770] - Big Rich Klein

I didn't want to I still talk to him at least once a year. And so Ranch started Arca at the same time I started Cow Rocks. Craig Stump started uroc, and then Craig took on some partners, the paidies. Then Ranch got out of Arca and went with the supercrawl.


[00:29:04.240] - Brian Ellinger

Right. Yeah. It was kind of emerging there.


[00:29:06.490] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, he ended up at the end with that. Craig kind of retired from the rock crawling scene and then started the old school rock crawling Delta.


[00:29:18.840] - Brian Ellinger



[00:29:19.500] - Big Rich Klein

And then when he quit that, I took over that event, and we called it the Delta Classic.


[00:29:26.300] - Brian Ellinger

Oh, there you go.


[00:29:27.310] - Big Rich Klein

So that's kind of the timeline. And of course, then there was Pro Rock out there for a while, right?


[00:29:35.650] - Brian Ellinger



[00:29:38.480] - Big Rich Klein

And so you get a website built, you got some product on there. You're running around through the bulletin boards, doing your marketing. Is that correct?


[00:29:53.140] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah, a little bit. The stuff kind of marketed itself to some extent because for a lot of the stuff that we still do, there isn't anybody that fits competition for it. We've had some little fly by nights that have popped up here and there that have knocked off things over the years, but they tend to fizzle and die in about a year or two. You can't grow a business stealing stuff, so that tends to kill them off themselves.


[00:30:25.740] - Big Rich Klein

Right. Once people realize that they're copied and.


[00:30:30.960] - Brian Ellinger

Not the original yeah. Well, they come in with typical set up with that. They see something, they say, oh, I can make it for cheaper. They make them, and maybe they make ten or 20, something like that, and they're selling them. And then they get some demand because they're cheap. Right. Something that we do for $700, they do for $400. And then they start getting demand and then they start realizing, wait a minute, this doesn't pay me anything. I'm losing money doing this. And they fizzle out. I think I've seen it happen with about every single one of the products that we sell at this point.


[00:31:13.250] - Big Rich Klein



[00:31:14.160] - Brian Ellinger

Somebody has or has tried to knock them off over the years. And it's not like this is a huge markup kind of stuff that you're not rolling around in Lamborghinis because you're making rock crawler parts.


[00:31:32.820] - Big Rich Klein

So true.


[00:31:34.260] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah. It's just not how that works.


[00:31:37.190] - Big Rich Klein

But you needed to be rolling around and off road and building stuff for Lamborghinis.


[00:31:46.100] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah, now that you mention it, that would be the way to do it. Gosh. The entry point is going to be a little steep on that one.


[00:31:53.370] - Big Rich Klein

Yes, it is.


[00:31:56.220] - Brian Ellinger

Tiny market.


[00:31:57.900] - Big Rich Klein

Yes. But one that's well funded.


[00:32:00.780] - Brian Ellinger



[00:32:02.700] - Big Rich Klein

So what kind of your first three products you said was a shifter, and what were the others?


[00:32:09.200] - Brian Ellinger

We did, and still do, a full float kit for the Toyota trucks. And we've added different versions and year ranges that we cover on those from the 79 stuff all the way up through I guess we sort of stop it in four. But we do axle housing, of course, and then we can do the sky's the limit at that point. We've got more options than I've even tried to count with that.


[00:32:38.590] - Big Rich Klein

Those Toyota housings are like a nine inch housing where it's a drop in third member. Correct?


[00:32:44.440] - Brian Ellinger

It is, yeah. So I think it's ten different center sections that we do at this point. And there's, of course, a nine inch one in that mix, but the rest are Toyota centers.


[00:32:57.180] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. I didn't realize that you did a nine.


[00:33:00.300] - Brian Ellinger

We do, yeah, we've done. In fact, your son ended up with a couple of them.


[00:33:04.750] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, really? Okay.


[00:33:06.000] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah. Little had a couple at one point. We did a couple for Jim over at Je Reel trying to think who else had nine that you would know off hand. Well, so when I was competing in of course we rock. And it was Dave's car. When I was driving that car, it had Toyota axles. A year later, I think it was maybe it was two years, but I think it was one year later we did a set of nines with 60 outers for that car.


[00:33:39.820] - Big Rich Klein



[00:33:40.540] - Brian Ellinger

Okay. Yeah. So you've seen them around?


[00:33:42.800] - Big Rich Klein

Yes, absolutely. So then what other products are hot for you?


[00:33:51.900] - Brian Ellinger

Oh, gosh, about everything. We kind of did a little bit of house cleaning here. We seem to make business changes about the time that the world changes. So we stopped doing resale products about the time that the whole housing market collapsed in 809 era. And we decided to do a little of our own parts cleansing in about, gosh, it would have been roughly November or so of 2019, right before that little COVID thing happened. And so with that, we took an axe to the product line and we dropped things like they were going out of style if it was stuff that you sell three a year. So we had a full float kit, for instance, for like the FJ forty S and FJ sixty S and they just real slow movers. And we said, cool, what's on the shelf is on the shelf. And when they're sold, they're off the website. So we've only kept the things that people actually really want. And that was kind of a twofold decision. One, it let the business concentrate on being able to have products in stock and that kind of thing so that people can get it faster.


[00:35:10.660] - Brian Ellinger

And of course we're concentrating on the product that people want. So it's a win for us and it's a win for the customer.


[00:35:17.500] - Big Rich Klein

And how many SKUs would you say you have?


[00:35:20.400] - Brian Ellinger

Approximately a couple of hundred. Okay, that's good.


[00:35:27.420] - Big Rich Klein

And where all the manufacturing? You do all the manufacturing yourself?


[00:35:34.000] - Brian Ellinger

We don't we do a good amount of it. Most of the machining is done in house, laser cutting. We still outsource that. Most of the press break forming stuff we outsource. The welding is mostly handled in house.


[00:35:50.980] - Big Rich Klein

And how many employees do you have?


[00:35:54.660] - Brian Ellinger



[00:35:55.570] - Big Rich Klein

Because I heard him as you were, as we were starting all this.


[00:35:59.640] - Brian Ellinger

Sure. Yeah. He was setting some spindles that we've got to be extra silly careful with. So there's just a few of us. We've got on site and off site. So I would say we're about five people plus myself.


[00:36:17.290] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And what's an offsite employee?


[00:36:22.220] - Brian Ellinger

So we've got someone that works on the website at this point, but I never see them face to face.


[00:36:30.560] - Big Rich Klein

Right. Okay, I get it.


[00:36:32.530] - Brian Ellinger



[00:36:34.020] - Big Rich Klein

And what are your plans for the future? Are you sticking with your product line year wise? So up to that, 2004 or so you said, 2000 mid 2000s vehicles? Or are you going to step into the the independent suspension vehicles?


[00:36:59.640] - Brian Ellinger

Oh, got you. Yeah, no, we've actually got stuff at this point. We. Actually just released an axle two months ago. Maybe that is a drop in for upgrading the Tacoma rear axles. And that's all the way through current model stuff. So yeah, while the full float kit, we were talking kind of stops at that era and that's because of the wheel speed sensor stuff that shows up in your newer than four stuff. But post that, yeah, we definitely have stuff that fits a lot of the newer things. And we played with the independent, built a suspension actually for the 96 to four era trucks and forerunners. And while we were really happy with that, it kind of took us a little bit in a different direction. So we ended up pulling back from that and that product and the pieces that surrounded it basically kind of just got sheltered and set on the side and we said this might not be the direction we're looking to go. This is kind of spreading us out a little bit more than we want to, really. So we kind of let that one sit on the side, I guess you could say.


[00:38:20.180] - Brian Ellinger

But definitely going towards the products that we see that you've got strong demand for that people are knocking down the door and saying, hey, we really want this. How many people are looking for a long travel kit? And all this for 20 year old trucks? Even newer stuff that's still smaller niche stuff. So we are heading towards more of the more general, more larger customer base, larger demand stuff is what we're trying to hit.


[00:38:54.270] - Big Rich Klein

Well, that makes sense. If you let yourself get too niche, eventually that niche swallows you up. There's nothing left.


[00:39:06.260] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah, you can flood the market pretty quick, but it just becomes a smaller and smaller piece of the puzzle. Like the long travel stuff we were looking at. We had a bigger disc to go in there and everything else and by the time you're done, you're dropping ten grand into the truck. We figured you were a strong seven into that front end and that gets you the front end. So you still got the rear to do just to have a suspension that's going to kind of keep up and tends being conservative and said, gosh, people do that. And that's not an insane amount of money, but it's still a decent chunk of money and our customers are anywhere from a retired guy pulling a truck behind a motorhome to an 18 year old kid. And long travel stuff is becoming more common, but it's still a somewhat small market in there and said let's maybe just stick a bit more to what we really want to do, what we're known for, what we're really good at. And so that truck actually sold a little bit ago to a real good friend of mine.


[00:40:15.480] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, so let's talk about those days competing.


[00:40:20.680] - Brian Ellinger



[00:40:21.350] - Big Rich Klein

How did that all come about? Was it Dawson? You went to an event and said, okay, I got to go try this.


[00:40:27.580] - Brian Ellinger

No, that was actually kind of a weird one. I'd always wanted to I'd looked at doing competing since going to that first archive event. Then the whole concept was even presented to me as a possibility that it could happen and just isn't the rule. Books are written the way that they are and that's all fine, but didn't have anything that fell into that criteria. So it wasn't just, okay, cool, I'll just take this thing and start competing. So that back burners it a bit and time moves on. And we'd helped out a couple of different people that were doing some different things at the time. And then I get a call from Dave Cole, of course, and says, hey, I want to build this Toyota Buggy and I'm going to need some axles. What do you recommend? What would work? What's good? And we get to chat and that kind of thing. And pieces of the puzzle happen to fall into place where it's like, I need a driver and I feel like I'm a better spotter than a driver. You want to drive this car? Sure. I'll go break your trunk. This will be great.


[00:41:59.960] - Brian Ellinger

I'm trying to think I think I would have met Dave face to face prior to Globe, but I'm not 100% sure on that. I think I met Dave face to face when we were swapping an engine in the dirt parking lot the day before the comp. And that was the first event that I drove. It was the first time I'd ever seen the car.


[00:42:29.860] - Big Rich Klein

So you're testing the vehicle and learning what the vehicle can do while you're on course.


[00:42:37.560] - Brian Ellinger

Yes. We literally got the engine dropped in. I don't remember what the issue is, but I think the old one had thrown a rod. He got it trailer out there, last minute, everything and show up and it's like, cool, we're putting an engine in the car. And I knew that going in. You fly on a plane to go work on an engine. All right. And there was a little area, there was a little valley right next to the course that we had the okay to screw around in a little bit and drove over a couple of rocks and did some front digs in the parking lot there. And that was, I don't know, 30 minutes tops in the seat before you just start on a three kind of thing. So, yeah, it was learning the car. It was learning communication with Dave, dodge and Tones, everything communication with Dave. It's interesting, everybody that's listening to this.


[00:43:47.180] - Big Rich Klein

That knows Dave is going to be laughing right now.


[00:43:50.570] - Brian Ellinger



[00:43:54.240] - Big Rich Klein

The first time I can remember talking to Dave or my first interaction with Dave was in Cedar City. I hear this yelling and so I walk around the corner and here's this pretty good sized dude just in my kid's face.


[00:44:18.100] - Brian Ellinger

Oh, got you.


[00:44:19.330] - Big Rich Klein

And I'm like, okay, what is going on here? So I walk up, and I stand between him, and I look at at my son, and I said, what is going on? And he explains to me I turned around, I looked at Dave, and I just started laughing. And he'll even tell you I totally vapor locked him and that I was the first and maybe the only person that ever vapor locked him, and he vapor locked as I walked away. And he just went back to competing.


[00:44:49.680] - Brian Ellinger



[00:44:51.540] - Big Rich Klein

I don't think I said anything except just pointed at him and laughed. I don't think he was used to that.


[00:45:01.460] - Brian Ellinger

Probably not. He's a big guy, and he I wouldn't say gets a bad rap, but the bark is much worse than the bite, is probably really what it is. He gets pissed off on course because something was going wrong, and he's yelling in my ear about something, and it was just kind of like, dave, what are we doing? And he's probably the only person that I know of that I've ever seen visibly get physically red in the face, furious, pissed off, and to cool the cucumber 20 seconds later. I don't think a lot of people see that. And he doesn't seem like he cools off that quick and that well, but I really didn't have a whole lot of issue with him on that level. It was more understanding when he says, turn, how much are we turning? What are we trying to do? I need a little bump here. And it's like, what's a little bump? A lot of the little nuances that he and I had to figure out my driving style and his communication style had to merge, and I had to do it when I was competing in F toy, obviously, Dave wasn't the spotter and had a different guy spotting in, and that was Shane.


[00:46:30.830] - Brian Ellinger

And Shane and I had to figure out, how are we doing this stuff? And we literally set up cones in a flat area and just a clearing, and let's just drive through the cones. What do you mean when you say this? What do you hear when I say this kind of thing? And it's like communicating with anybody. You just got to come up with what everybody needs and wants and get everyone on the same page.


[00:47:00.780] - Big Rich Klein

Right. Because one person's just give me a smidge is another person's give me a whole lot. Yeah, right.


[00:47:12.320] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah. I need two inches. Okay. Is that two inches? No, that was six. No, that was a half an inch. And it's you know, you well know, it's kind of hard to judge inches when you're sitting inside a car.


[00:47:24.500] - Big Rich Klein

Yes. So when we did the event in Henderson, Nevada, at the casino, the world championships, we had seven different countries involved in that event. You were driving Dave's car at that event, correct?


[00:47:41.580] - Brian Ellinger

Yes, sir.


[00:47:42.780] - Big Rich Klein

And if I recall, right at that point, you guys had never been on the top of the podium, but at that event, you guys ended up in first place.


[00:47:57.820] - Brian Ellinger

We did, yeah. I don't remember how we placed at previous events. I know we needed a third minimum to get into the Worlds in Boyd at Nationals, and we pulled off a third there, and that was obviously pretty big for us. That was it. Dave and I both talked about it's like, we need third place here. That's what we have to get. But, yeah, then we ended up winning Worlds in promod, which was pretty awesome, for sure. That was definitely a highlight.


[00:48:35.260] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, that was kind of a cool event. It wasn't during SEMA, but it was right after. If anybody's not familiar with that event. And we used cargo containers, we covered them with carpet and then sprayed the Shot creek over the top of that. And we had some tractor tires out there. And one thing I learned about tractor tires there is I don't care how powerful the vehicle is, how good the traction is, if you have just a smidgen of a little bit of a bolt head sticking out or a screw head, and the whole rest of your vehicle, the pan is just smooth. If that catches on one of those tractor tires, it ain't going nowhere.


[00:49:37.660] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah, I think I remember seeing a few cars getting bellied out on stuff, because I think that was one of the issues we had to contend with, was just, hey, we can't sit on this. We will stop.


[00:49:48.560] - Big Rich Klein

Correct. Because those things were just I couldn't believe that they were just like huge magnets or something. People were having such a trouble trouble climbing over those things.


[00:49:58.820] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah, and we had that car only had it was 16 or 18 inches of belly. It was it was a really low belly on that car. It was a it was a pretty skinny belly, but it was very low. So constantly getting high centered was an issue. And the rear end, we had decent articulation, but a straight down droop out of the rear suspension was absolute tops four inches, and it was probably more like three.


[00:50:27.730] - Big Rich Klein



[00:50:28.960] - Brian Ellinger

So you couldn't get that belly on stuff we couldn't get off of it.


[00:50:35.040] - Big Rich Klein

And that was before the hydraulic shocks.


[00:50:39.920] - Brian Ellinger

Yes, we were on all air shocks at that time.


[00:50:43.380] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, and what do you remember most about those times? Competing. Let's style that in. What was your favorite place to compete at?


[00:50:58.360] - Brian Ellinger

OOH, that's tough. I don't think I've ever thought about that cedar we hit, which is just a great natural venue. There's so much there. Floyd was a kick just because you guys built it so you could make this giant fish bowl thing and you can see everything. And then Vegas was just weird, which was fun itself, and probably your favorite.


[00:51:37.070] - Big Rich Klein

Because you guys won that one. Became world champions.


[00:51:39.960] - Brian Ellinger

I would have to go with that. Quite honestly.


[00:51:44.020] - Big Rich Klein

I've always said that when somebody tells me, man, that was the best event ever, I said, did you win? And they would go, yeah. And it's like, that's why it was.


[00:51:53.420] - Brian Ellinger

The best event, honestly. I think Vegas would be not only just for winning, obviously, but the courses that Dave and I did well on, and we had I can't even think of his real name. It's survey boy. And he's another real small individual like Dave, right?


[00:52:13.790] - Big Rich Klein

Shaun Bootsman.


[00:52:15.080] - Brian Ellinger

There we go. He pointed out something that I hadn't paid attention to, and I don't remember where he pointed it out. And he said, you guys do really well on the really hard, technical, weird stuff. But he's like, you give you guys something that doesn't seem that bad, and that's where you guys have all kinds of problems. Weird things happen. And I think that's part of why we did well in Vegas, is because Vegas was just everything was weird. It was nothing obviously was natural with it. The final course was just like a lumpy, moon looking landscape, which was just a technical tire place and thing. I think we tiptoed that thing in, like, two minutes, maybe. We had tons of time getting through there, but you just happened to hit it just right, and as soon as you got off that line, you were screwed. You were done. But that's where we did well with that technical tiptoeing through things or okay, we're going to belly out on this. Cool. Okay, well, the front tires are on it now grab a gear and launch the car. Smash the belly and boom. Now the rear tires are on it.


[00:53:31.660] - Brian Ellinger

Cool. We're over that, and now we can get back to it. But it's just kind of that tiptoeing, technical stuff that we seem to do well at.


[00:53:41.820] - Big Rich Klein

Interesting. And that was a bizarre course. We were supposed to be able to go back, and we were supposed to be able to use that a number of times and add to it. And our plan was like a five year plan there. And after we did that event, and then we did a women's event, and then we did the season opener, I think we did three events there, and then it was taken away from us.


[00:54:15.480] - Brian Ellinger

Didn't they end up putting another hotel there or something?


[00:54:18.070] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, I think they built a bowling alley or something. I don't know. But they had this big old plan for development, and it was like, okay, we can't use it. And then it sat for, like, four or five years, and I guess some homeless people moved into the cargo containers because we had those so that we could store stuff in them.


[00:54:41.860] - Brian Ellinger

Oh, that's right.


[00:54:43.150] - Big Rich Klein

On each one of those, there was one end that was open, and people almost found their way into those.


[00:54:52.900] - Brian Ellinger

They didn't even know it.


[00:54:56.340] - Big Rich Klein

They're the homeless people living on the casino property. It's classic.


[00:55:00.820] - Brian Ellinger

Wow. Yeah.


[00:55:03.960] - Big Rich Klein

It was interesting staging out of a casino like that with the restaurants, and you couldn't find staff. I couldn't find where my staff was at. Well, they'd be in the bar because there's like ten bars or they'd be gambling someplace or something. It was an interesting event there, that's for sure.


[00:55:28.590] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah, you get some convenience and some headache altogether in one.


[00:55:32.400] - Big Rich Klein

Exactly. So did you ever race Koh?


[00:55:36.560] - Brian Ellinger

I did basically the last year that I figured I could. The race was getting bigger, obviously. Competing with Dave, I talked to him quite a bit, and he called me up, and it's like, hey, I got this idea for this race. And he kind of lays it out, and it's like, oh, man, yeah, this is going to be big. And he's like, you really think he's going to be something? Oh, yeah. And I forget the timeline, and he may remember it, but I threw it at him. I think you're going to have people building cars specifically for this race within three years. And I think I told him, building an Ifs car specifically for the race within five. And the only thing I was wrong on was the time frame. It happened faster.


[00:56:25.480] - Big Rich Klein



[00:56:26.640] - Brian Ellinger

And I ran in seven, eight, nine somewhere in there, I honestly don't remember. And that I would have just ran our, you know, the honestly, the still old F toy buggy. I've still got, you know, Leaf Springs, four cylinder, that kind of thing. And it was it was the last year I think it was the last year before he did classes. There was no 44 on it. It was just everything and finished the race and was really happy with that. And it really came down to one of those, if I'm going to do this, I need to do it sooner than later, because it's going to reach a point that I simply can't. There just won't be an attainable kind of thing in my mind. The cost to get in the door is going to have expanded so much. And I went out at the time, you still had some people that were going out with the mentality of just, hey, I just want to finish the race. So my thought at the time was just, someone comes up behind you, you just get out of the way. It doesn't matter what I mean, they've already passed you anyway.


[00:57:41.950] - Brian Ellinger

I know I'm not winning. Just get the hell out of the way. My spotter, which was Shane So co driver at that time, but he was pretty much just the guy in the passenger seat that got pummeled along with me. But he's got the rear view mirror that he's looking at. It's like, all right, hey, someone's coming up. Cool. We're just moving over. Just get out of the way. We're Leaf Springs. We're not anybody interesting. And I remember some of the sweetest moments from that were the pre running before, like, two days before and literally had a couple of guys, you know, like, you're racing that and laughing at you, and it's like, look, I'm not trying to win. I'm just trying to finish. It's always fun passing their broken down junk on the side of the trail and cruising blast some other guys with broken junk, and it's like, here I am bouncing along in my leaf springs, and some of them are great guys. Ran into Jeff Noel that I competed with, of course, with We Rock and ran into him, and he gave me a little spotting tip as we were coming down wrecking ball, I think.


[00:58:57.760] - Brian Ellinger

And he's like, Man, I'm out. I'm done. He flipped it, I think, and flooded the engine or something, and he was he was out. But, you know, you still beat 60% of the cars because you crossed the finish line. All the money in the world doesn't keep your car together. And we didn't have we'd broken a front hard line for the brakes in the first, I don't know, 20 miles. So we had rear brakes for most of the race only, but we finished. So that was really all that mattered to me.


[00:59:32.060] - Big Rich Klein

That race has always had a really high attrition rate.


[00:59:36.140] - Brian Ellinger

It has. And I know Dave likes it that way, and I know a lot of people get upset about that kind of stuff, but it really comes down to if too many people are finishing, the race is too easy, the cars keep getting better. It's the same kind of thing, I guess I see with guys, quote, moving up in classes, right, oh, I'm going to get rid of my 4600 car. I'm going to get into this or that, or it's going to be better and cooler and faster. And it's like, yeah. You do realize the ride inside the car is the same. You're just going faster. Right, right. You still can only drive so fast. And it's not smooth. It's smooth at slower speeds. So that Toyota pickup at 20 miles an hour, 40 miles an hour. Yeah. That's all it can do. You jump into like, Shannon's car and you're doing 100 and something. The ride inside the car is about the same. You're just going a lot faster to get there.


[01:00:39.040] - Big Rich Klein

Drinking a beer before everybody else.


[01:00:41.330] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. Just for me, I get concerned, and it's kind of why I pulled out of We Rock was the road trips to and from events. We were running ragged. You'd be coming back from events, and we're not necessarily falling asleep at the wheel, but we're beat, we're tired, we're exhausted. And you've got when it's like sweet cedar, it's only 600 miles away. It's great. This is a quick, easy one. And then you've got ones in wherever that what was that place that's just hotter than hell north of Sacramento orville yeah, see, you straight shot. That from Colorado there. And back. That's a rough drive, that's a lot of wheel time. And quite honestly, I just figured we're going to end up having a problem on the road at some point. We just can't keep running at this pace and doing this. And the courses naturally have to get harder. And one of the ways that you make them harder is some of the exposure and some of the penalties for screwing up. And I kind of looked at that and said, at some point you play with fire enough, you're going to get burned.


[01:02:09.650] - Brian Ellinger

And it's, how bad do you get burned? And I said, you know, we've done this, we've done well, really well in a very short amount of time, which was pretty awesome. Really happy with that. I said, Why don't we just bow out now? So it was a pretty quick short instance in the racing world for us, but I'm happy that I did it. I'm happy I stopped doing it.


[01:02:41.020] - Big Rich Klein



[01:02:42.280] - Brian Ellinger

I miss it. But yeah, not enough to jump back in, I guess.


[01:02:47.420] - Big Rich Klein

So what is in the future for Front Range Diamond, Axel and Brian?


[01:02:57.260] - Brian Ellinger

That's a big question.


[01:02:58.390] - Big Rich Klein

Rich, what are your aspirations?


[01:03:03.280] - Brian Ellinger

Sure, yeah. Really we're just working to get business running smoother, and I think that's a constant goal, I guess, of any business. But we've got a few bumps of getting some new products that we're working on and getting out there and working on building up inventory. So we've got the stuff that we do do, we're keeping on the shelf, which has been certainly a trick the last couple of years, simply with demand and supply chain weirdness. That's probably the business's general goal and my own personal stuff. Yeah. Looking to get out a bit more and travel a bit more. So the wife and the kid and I have been able to jump out on a couple of international trips in the last couple of years and those have been really nice, really fun, totally unrelated to anything in the world that we normally deal with.


[01:04:09.380] - Big Rich Klein

So where have you gone?


[01:04:12.100] - Brian Ellinger

We got out to the Caribbean, I guess it was 2019. And then of course we were shut down with COVID stuff for a couple of years and then we just got out to Costa Rica.


[01:04:24.760] - Big Rich Klein

What part of Costa Rica did you go to?


[01:04:29.240] - Brian Ellinger

Guana cost? I want to say it's the kind of the northwestern part of the country.


[01:04:34.240] - Big Rich Klein



[01:04:37.180] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah. Everything from rainforest, cloud, forest, which I didn't know existed, and of course ocean and some drier climate in there as well. But the more desert areas, more south from where we were.


[01:04:55.860] - Big Rich Klein

Right. We've been to Costa Rica a couple of times. We always end up in Capos, which is the southwest corner. We went there twice in one year. We met some friends, some people that became friends on the rebel rally. And Samantha said, you guys need to come on out and visit. And Shelley's like, yeah, okay. Thinking get invited. And she goes, no, I'm on. I'm serious. Like, fly out next week. And Shelley looks in and goes, Well, I can't come next week, but probably the week after that. So we ended up it was I think we went after SEMA, and we went out for, oh, I think it was like 1618 days. And then we were there. We were offered, do you guys want to come back and be here through, you know, Christmas through New Year? Because we're, you know, we need somebody to house it, and if you're available, you can come back. Right. And that was the rainy season when we were there for those 18 days, and we went wheeling, and it rained a lot for, like, every morning, every afternoon, with periods of sunshine in between. And, I mean, it rained a lot.


[01:06:24.640] - Big Rich Klein

It wasn't like what I'm used to. Although Northern California right now, the last couple of weeks, the rains that we've had have been like that deluge, just pouring and non stop.


[01:06:36.400] - Brian Ellinger



[01:06:37.050] - Big Rich Klein

Well, that's what Capo's was like when we were there. And so we said, yeah, we'll come back this time. We get the house. They're off doing their thing, up and visiting family up in the States. And so we're down there, friends come down with us, and we spend another, like, 16 days, and there's three weeks in between our two visits. Right. And now we're in the dry season.


[01:07:04.870] - Brian Ellinger



[01:07:05.580] - Big Rich Klein

And, I mean, it was like flip a switch. And even though it wasn't to me, I wouldn't have called it the dry season because it still rained. The rain wasn't, like, as heavy, so the rivers were flooding, they were just running, that kind of thing. But I really liked the people in Costa Rica. It was just the attitude of everybody there, the whole pure life mentality, and it's kind of a cool place.


[01:07:43.320] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah, we definitely had a good time. We tend to pack light. We don't do the resort kind of thing at all. My wife will dig up and find airbnb's here in different places. So we were there for ten days and stayed in three different places.


[01:08:02.070] - Big Rich Klein



[01:08:03.340] - Brian Ellinger

When you rent a car, which I'm sure you were doing while you were down there, for a very friendly group of people, they're not so friendly drivers, it seems.


[01:08:14.580] - Big Rich Klein

I don't think they have driving laws.


[01:08:20.500] - Brian Ellinger

Yeah. I don't know how many times I watched people just not even slow down, zinging through stop signs, and it's like there's an officer in a vehicle sitting right there just watched you do it. He doesn't care. Okay.


[01:08:38.250] - Big Rich Klein

And everybody with a motorcycle, I mean, they're all like Honda, 70s, that kind of thing, little trail bosses or whatever they call them, and they're just zipping in and out of traffic, like, barefooted.


[01:08:54.400] - Brian Ellinger

You're on a road that's a lane and a half wide with cars going either direction, and they're just weaving their way through. Exactly. That definitely took a day or two of trying to adjust my nerves just to be able to deal with that. But, yeah, it's definitely a different pace of life, different attitude. At both of these trips, we try to involve ourselves in the culture. I'm an American visiting, yes, but I'm going to be the most polite American you've ever met, because I'm effectively representing a country when I'm coming to visit. So we're doing a terrible job, but we're trying to learn some Spanish, and so we're trying to order in Spanish. If we went to a restaurant and thank you in Spanish and things like this, and a lot of people spoke English as well, but you definitely had just a vibrant culture, just wonderful people to be around and that kind of thing. And that's what we found in the Caribbean as well. Similar kind of thing.


[01:10:13.800] - Big Rich Klein

What other places are on your hit.


[01:10:16.000] - Brian Ellinger

List to go right now? What's kind of been poking my interest is going and hiking kilimanjaro and the wife's out on that one. She's like, yeah, you go have fun.


[01:10:32.620] - Big Rich Klein

I'm not able to say the same thing.


[01:10:36.640] - Brian Ellinger

I started looking into that here a couple of weeks ago, but other than that, I've got a friend of mine back from the Boy Scout era that poked him a little bit on doing a backpacking trip. That would be another one of those that the wife's like, yeah, you go have fun. I'm not having anything to do with that. Even he looked at it, and I'm looking at it, but it's, like, 70 miles in about seven days, so you go into Sierra, so you're definitely covering some ground. So he's like, I don't know if I'm in shape to do that. I said, I don't know that I am, either, but if we schedule this and we make a deadline, then you got to do it, and for that, it's a through. So you can't go back. There's nothing to go there's. Not just turn around and, oh, well, oops, no, you're going through. I've been looking at a bit of that. I've always been very interested in the climbing and that kind of thing, and when I was younger, I was more interested in Everest, and that's just become less of a priority for me by a long shot.


[01:11:53.720] - Brian Ellinger

It's certainly not easy, but I feel like it's gotten too popular, and I'd rather go to somewhere that's much less popular. So my daughter and I and the wife a little bit, we've hit a number of the 14,000 foot peaks in Colorado here and still chewing away on those.


[01:12:18.080] - Big Rich Klein

What we want to do is we want to visit all the lands.


[01:12:23.300] - Brian Ellinger



[01:12:24.280] - Big Rich Klein

Think of anything that ends in land like Iceland, Greenland, England, Scotland, ireland.


[01:12:33.220] - Brian Ellinger



[01:12:35.400] - Big Rich Klein

That's a bit Thailand. Yeah, there's quite a few. And so that's kind of going to be, I think, our goal once we start being able to travel. Again.


[01:12:48.140] - Brian Ellinger

Sure. Yeah. Things have opened up pretty good. More recently, for sure. I know when we were in Costa Rica, we went in November, which was the transition time. So we got the rain as well as the dry. So we went tubing down a river, which was like class three rapids and nothing you'd be able to do in the US. Because it's like, okay, here's your tube. And you sit in it. It's a little four foot diameter tube. You sit in it and now we're going to just huck you down a river.


[01:13:17.060] - Big Rich Klein

So that was they lose you in Costa Rica. They're not worried about it.


[01:13:22.900] - Brian Ellinger

Well, yeah, the lawyers that have a field day with something like that here and the water was ripping, but I don't know, it's a different kind of thing, I guess. But I know we've got a couple of axles actually cruising around Iceland, so I've been looking at heading up there for a little bit. I've always liked that. It's gotten allure to it, I guess that country does.


[01:13:49.920] - Big Rich Klein



[01:13:50.290] - Brian Ellinger

I wanted to get up there and I've had a couple of very friendly customers. Oh, definitely. Please come up here. We'll show you around and all this kind of thing. And now that things are opening up again, I think we might need to start reaching out a little bit and figure out when is a good time to go and where do you go. We want to know some of the history and that kind of thing. But get me the heck out of the cities as quick as you can. Let's get out of here. Hang out for a day or two or something and get out.


[01:14:24.360] - Big Rich Klein

That's what we did when we went to Australia. We went and flew into Sydney, spent some time there because there was an offroad big off road show, and it was also the We Rock Australia Finals there. We went to the Fairgrounds or Raceway, where they had a man made course set up and this big off road show. And then after that, we spent one more day in the city on the way back in, but after the rest of it, we were in an old 110 Land Rover and with a rooftop tent and everything we needed. And we just spent went up through the bush and then down the coastline and just had a great time. It was too short. I think we did 20 days or something like that. And I told Shelley, next time we go back, it's got to be six months.


[01:15:23.820] - Brian Ellinger

Oh, wow.


[01:15:26.620] - Big Rich Klein

But we don't have the six months right now, so that will be in the future, but it's still on the agenda.


[01:15:34.800] - Brian Ellinger

Sure, yeah. I've definitely got a few places that I've wanted to get up to Alaska for a minute, and everyone I've talked to that's been up there, everyone says, yeah, you need two weeks at a minimum. You're not going to see much of anything. If you try to come up for a week, you're just going to be going, man, I saw this and I saw that, but I missed all of this because the state's enormous, obviously, and access isn't necessarily the easiest. So there's definitely a bit of that, but yeah.


[01:16:13.020] - Big Rich Klein

Well, cool.


[01:16:13.770] - Brian Ellinger

Definitely the traveling is on the list.


[01:16:17.100] - Big Rich Klein

Yes. All right, cool. Well, Brian, I want to say thank you so much for coming on and sharing your life with us and how you built the business and how everything got to where they're at and what's in the future for you and the family. So thank you so much.


[01:16:34.880] - Brian Ellinger

Yes. Thank you, Rich. It was a pleasure and glad to catch up with you a little bit. Senior face to face in a minute.


[01:16:42.500] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. We're going to be doing some traveling here in the next year or so to get that started again. And when we do, we'll have to make a trip by and say hello.


[01:16:54.280] - Brian Ellinger

Absolutely. Please do.


[01:16:55.750] - Big Rich Klein

All right, well, you take care. And again, thank you.


[01:16:59.280] - Brian Ellinger

All right. Thank you, Rich.


[01:17:00.500] - Big Rich Klein

Okay, 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 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.