Self-taught, all-in kinda guy Adam Scherer, founder of Tribe 16 near Fort Worth, Texas, is a helluva nice guy. Talented and likable, Adam brings the best to the build; whether it’s a racecar or a trail car, Adam and his guys have the talent to deliver. Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.
5:14 – I would say the people you run with really influence you on stuff like that
8:32 – the car stereo scene was what led me into wanting to build stuff
11:24 – anything and everything I’m involved in, I usually take it to the max
15:03 – “Hey, we’re looking for someone to start outfitting some of these Jeeps.”
21:43 – Pirate 4x4 was my mentor
27:50 – my first project at Tribe was fixing a racecar for Barry Beadle
34:06 – I remember watching Casey walk up, and I was like, are we related? Is this my brother?
42:42 – our favorite car to build was Alex Wacker’s IFS car
Special thanks to 4low Magazine and Maxxis Tires for support and sponsorship of this podcast.
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Welcome to Conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviewed are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle, not just a job. I talk to past, present, and future legends, as well as business owners, employees, media, and land use warriors. Men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle we call offroad. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes, and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active in offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world that we live and love and call offroad.
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[00:01:39.420] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Adam Scherer. Adam is out of Texas. He's a designer, builder, owner of Tribe 4x4. We will talk to him about his life in automotive, then into offroad, and see where things are going with him in the future. Adam, thank you very much for coming on board and spending some time with us.
[00:02:07.940] - Adam Scherer
Hey, oh, yeah. Thank you, Rich. I appreciate the opportunity. Let's get it. Let's get to it.
[00:02:14.300] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. Let's start off. I'm pretty sure you're a Texas boy, born and bred. Where was that?
[00:02:22.200] - Adam Scherer
Absolutely, yes. Lived in Texas my whole life. I was born in South Lake Texas, which is a little suburb of the Dallas Fort Worth area here. I giggle a little bit when I tell people I'm from South Lake. Right now, South Lake is like this huge, super rich populated area that's totally crazy. It's just the wealth up in there. There's some towns in Texas that are like that. But when I grew up in South Lake, it was nothing but farm pastures and it was the rural area. You could shoot guns out there and stuff, and it's crazy how much it's changed today. That's where I was born and raised in South Lake.
[00:03:09.720] - Big Rich Klein
Right there. Okay. Being in that area, rural, like you said, did you was school close by or did you have to bus?
[00:03:18.090] - Adam Scherer
Yeah, we rode the school bus every morning, my sisters and I, and that was part of it. And after school, we played out in the pastures and the fields with the neighbor's horses and goats and whatnot. So it was not super country, but we grew up a little bit on the countryside.
[00:03:39.980] - Big Rich Klein
So not necessarily on a farm, but in the country.
[00:03:44.370] - Adam Scherer
Yeah. I would call it rural suburbs of the Dallas Fort Worth area.
[00:03:49.560] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, cool. And when you were in school, were you studious?
[00:03:54.840] - Adam Scherer
Not really. I barely made it out. I was more interested in motorcycles and cars and doing everything other than studying and stuff like that. I barely made it graduated high school just by one credit.
[00:04:17.560] - Big Rich Klein
Just enough to get out the door.
[00:04:21.010] - Adam Scherer
That was it. I got lucky.
[00:04:23.460] - Big Rich Klein
Did you participate in any extra curricular activities like sports or band or anything like that?
[00:04:31.550] - Adam Scherer
No, I was really never real big into anything. When I was in middle school, we get you in the band and get you hooked for that. But once high school came around, I wanted to get out practicing and doing all this and that. I didn't want no part of that. I wanted to work on my motorcycle and build cool stuff in the garage. I just didn't want to be tied down to that. I never did any sports, never did any band or any extra curricular activities or anything like that.
[00:05:01.670] - Big Rich Klein
What drove your interest in motorcycles and all that stuff? Was it just something that happened or was there an outside influence, parents or friends or what?
[00:05:14.530] - Adam Scherer
Absolutely friends. The people you hang with and they influence you. The guys that I hung with at school, they weren't the studious type and they weren't the jocks. They were the motor heads. Our friends had motorcycles and that influenced me to get into that and sport bikes and cruising around and car stereo. That was a big one there. That was one of my big hobbies with building car stereo systems. That got me involved in the automotive side of learning the electrics and all that good stuff. I would say definitely the people you run with really influence you on stuff like that.
[00:05:54.700] - Big Rich Klein
With that being said, classes, was there an automotive technology? Did you get into that at all?
[00:06:02.720] - Adam Scherer
No. At the time, our school didn't have anything like that. About the only thing technical we had was a drafting program, and it wasn't even computer drafting. Back then, it was old school drafting on paper. I love that class. I love the math classes, geometry and stuff like that. That really was some interest to me. But not so much any type of auto body or welding or mechanics or anything like that.
[00:06:31.790] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. So then the influence you said was friends that were doing the same thing and probably around the neighborhood and stuff. How did that go over with your parents?
[00:06:42.820] - Adam Scherer
Oh, shoot. I tore it. It tore my mom up. Every time I'd wreck the motorcycle and everything, oh, yeah, that was always a big one. And eventually I wrecked it bad enough it couldn't be fixed. And I had to hang up the motorcycles for a little bit.
[00:06:59.670] - Big Rich Klein
I was basically banned from motorcycles. Too many of my mom's friends had died on motorcycles, and I was banned from them. But I found a way to ride anyway.
[00:07:12.460] - Adam Scherer
Yeah. Well, I hear you there. Luckily, I'm still alive.
[00:07:17.710] - Big Rich Klein
Yes. What was the first car you got to drive? Was it a parent's car or a friend's or what?
[00:07:27.660] - Adam Scherer
Definitely a parent's car. My dad had an old car. old suburban. We used to take that out and enjoy riding it. Eventually, I would save up a little bit of money. I bought my own truck. I had an old Dodge 318 truck, was my first one. I don't believe it was four wheel drive. I think it was a two wheel drive truck. It was just the beater. That was one of my first trucks.
[00:07:51.900] - Big Rich Klein
Was that where you started with your stereo stuff, fixing it up?
[00:07:59.370] - Adam Scherer
Definitely, yes. You're in high school. And at that time, back in the early 90s, car stereo was pretty big and everybody wanted a bumping system. So I was really always intrigued with that and building speaker boxes and putting your big amplifiers and all that good stuff in there and terrorizing the neighborhood with a big bass. And you don't really hear that much anymore these days. It was pretty popular back then, though.
[00:08:25.470] - Big Rich Klein
Right. It was very annoying back then. I'm a little older generation.
[00:08:32.960] - Adam Scherer
I think that's what really led me into wanting to build stuff was, and being creative was the car stereo scene, designing speaker boxes. My dad had the table saw, so I was always out there cutting up plywood and screwing stuff together for the neighborhood, for all our buddies and stuff and building them speaker boxes. That really got me in building stuff and getting to explore my creativity.
[00:09:04.330] - Big Rich Klein
So did you have a job besides that? Did you work at the local hamburger place or something, or were you just jumped right into it?
[00:09:15.960] - Adam Scherer
In and out jobs when you're a kid, just working at the grocery store, delivering pizza, just small stuff like that. But my first job, I actually took a job working for Circuit City and got back in their 12 volt area, the car stereo shop. I was pretty focused and went straight to it and started really learning my hobby and got me involved in actually working on cars and doing it for a living.
[00:09:45.580] - Big Rich Klein
Nice. How long were you at Circuit City?
[00:09:49.670] - Adam Scherer
Probably, I would say, about four years. In four years, you can learn a lot of cars and learn electrical systems in 12V and all that good stuff, which really helps out today building off road rigs.
[00:10:07.450] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Was this something that was... Did they have a training program or something to educate you? Or did this something you just picked up through osmosis or just by doing the research?
[00:10:23.550] - Adam Scherer
Yeah. No training program. Usually kids that get into that have a passion for something like that, and they're really willing to learn. And that's where I was. They showed you the ropes a little bit and just learn as you worked on different vehicles. You just got to have some aptitude to be able to have some mechanics, a mechanical mindset to know how things work and how to take stuff apart and how to put it back together. And that's like, growing up, anything that was broken around the house, I took it apart, checked it out, put it back together, we'll see if it'd work.
[00:11:04.790] - Big Rich Klein
When you were in that music scene early, at what point did you... I'm sure that you guys would hang out and see who bumped the loudest, all that stuff, wherever the hangout was on a Friday or Saturday night. Did you ever get into any competitions or anything?
[00:11:24.000] - Adam Scherer
Yeah, it progressed. I went from working for Circuit City to transitioning to a more in depth custom shop to where we weren't just doing a radio and speakers. We were building big custom systems. And that evolved. I had a vehicle, I think I had a old Camaro that had a kick ass system in it. And we eventually started going to competitions and taking home trophies and stuff like that. But I think anything and everything I'm involved, I usually take it to the max. So with all my little hobbies, it just just the way I am.
[00:12:02.500] - Big Rich Klein
Was that all consuming back then, or did you have other outlets as well of interest?
[00:12:09.050] - Adam Scherer
No. Whatever's in my sight straight ahead, it's consuming. Doing the car stereo things, that was it. That's all I did day and night. I always took it to the next level with custom work, learning how to work with fiberglass and Bando and all types of materials, vinyl and leather. We did neon and polished plexiglass and really high end car stereo stuff we did. Basically, we actually built a lot of magazine work for the vehicles that completed and were showcased in some magazines.
[00:12:49.630] - Big Rich Klein
Nice. How did that transition into more automotive expansion, you might say?
[00:13:00.320] - Adam Scherer
Doing it for many years, there's a burnout point, and I got burned out on it. My wife and I, we moved to San Antonio for a handful of years, and I did a lot of high end stuff down there. And when we moved back here to the Dallas Fort Worth area, I was at my end. I was like, I really don't want to do this anymore. I got burned out on it. I took a little bit of time off. And one day I was like, shit, I got to get back to work. I got to do something. And went across the street to the automotive dealership and just said, Hey, looking for a mechanics position, the entry level of some sort. T hat's how I transferred from doing car stereo s into automotive, full time, was just getting that burnout stage and needing something different.
[00:13:57.950] - Big Rich Klein
How old were you when you met your wife and when did you get married?
[00:14:04.390] - Adam Scherer
I met my wife, Clarissa. We were just out of high school. I must have been 20 years old, yes, because my 21st birthday we shared together. So we've been together for quite some time.
[00:14:18.240] - Big Rich Klein
And did you meet in school or did you...
[00:14:21.750] - Adam Scherer
No, through an actual mutual friend right outside of high school, just right after we graduated.
[00:14:29.770] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. You guys have been together quite a while then. Congratulations. Absolutely. Thank you. Excellent. What dealership was it that you jumped into?
[00:14:38.660] - Adam Scherer
It was an actual, a Jeep Chrysler, and it was also a Nissan dealership. It was a split. It had two dealerships side by side that was under one ownership. When I went to the dealership, I was just a multi line technician.
[00:14:58.690] - Big Rich Klein
You had no real interest in off road at that time?
[00:15:03.730] - Adam Scherer
Not in it at all. Every once in a while somebody might, Hey, let's go out to the pasture and go mudden or whatever. That was really never for me. It was fun and all, but I just never had an interest in it. I was doing other things. I got back in the motorcycles and then still do the car stereo stuff. But yeah, it never caught my interest until one day the general manager of the dealership said, Hey, we're looking for somebody to start outfitting some of these Jeeps, these brand new Jeeps that are coming off transport, and we're just going to start selling them on the front line with accessories already on them. And they went with me doing multi line and working on all kinds of different stuff. And they saw that I had some aptitude to it. I started working on brand new Jeeps and started putting lift kits on them. That's what got me the very first start of actually working on offroad rigs.
[00:16:09.990] - Big Rich Klein
Besides work, what activities were you and Clarissa doing?
[00:16:18.370] - Adam Scherer
Besides work, like I said, we got back into the motorcycle scene, the sport bikes, and that was fun. We both rode. She had a motorcycle and I had a motorcycle. We had both had some Honda sport bikes. With that scene, we would go ride every week and we'd meet up with the other motorcycle gang and hang out and go to the street races at night and stunt ride a little bit here and there and crash our bikes. We were young at the time and just being free and acting stupid.
[00:16:53.930] - Big Rich Klein
All right. With being the multi line mechanic and your aptitude, they put you on with the aftermarket accessories. Was that mainly Jeep stuff or did they purchase things outside?
[00:17:12.150] - Adam Scherer
We actually at the dealership, we mostly Jeeps. But also being that it was tied to the Nissan dealership, we also did some Nissan products. We did the trucks when the Titans first came out. We were doing 6 inch lift kits and 35 inch tires on those and putting them right up on the front line and selling them. We'd get some of the other Nissan product. We would get the 350 Zs and we would outfit those with some aftermarket accessories, cold air intakes and some ground effects and anything to spice them up just a little bit and turn around and sell them. But I think the majority of it was the G products seem to be more popular. Okay.
[00:17:59.540] - Big Rich Klein
And how did you go from basically being an R&R and bolt on to doing a lot of FAB work?
[00:18:14.720] - Adam Scherer
There was a transition time at the dealership where I'd be working on multiple stuff, doing all the pages and fixing up vehicles to get them for resale and reconditioning. And then they would slide in a lift kit or some bumpers or something like that. And then eventually it got to the point where they were doing so much of the aftermarket accessories, they had an idea of actually starting a subsidiary business within the dealership and doing nothing but off road accessories. And I guess it really sparked their interest. And they saw more and more of it. And they came to me and they said, Hey, we're going to start this a side business in the back and want to know if you want to head it up or be part of it and quit working on multi line stuff. And I was like, shit, yeah, that sounds awesome. Instead of working on crazy used cars all day long, get to put accessories on brand new vehicles. And I was like, yeah, that sounds like a pretty good deal. And so I transitioned from that and it just grew. It just grew and grew.
[00:19:28.900] - Big Rich Klein
Besides working at the dealership and then the side business through the dealership, was there another transition before your own shop or was it always dealer and then straight to your own shop?
[00:19:45.290] - Adam Scherer
At the dealership, I see something and I take it to the extreme. We were just doing accessories. And at the time, we started actually going offroading and taking some trips and hitting the trails and learning more and more, which got me more and more involved and laser focused on that. And with anything, I want to take it to the max. So I started studying and learning and this and that. I wanted to do more. I wanted to go from just regular Jeeps to hardcore. And the transition from just doing the bolt on accessories at the dealership to a little heavier fabrication was, once again, my interest and want to learn more and go to the max with stuff that I'm interested in. So I started studying and reading forums and stuff like Pirate 4x4. Once you get on there, you're hooked with all the cool projects that everybody's building and learning and everything that's involved with that. That really sparked my interest to go further with just the accessories and want to build cooler vehicles. Just like the car stereo, you start off small and then you're building huge systems. So that's how I roll like that.
[00:21:20.600] - Adam Scherer
And next thing you know, I'm buying my own tools and fabrication tools and I'm bringing them into dealership and welders and tube notchers and the vendors. And I'm building small projects in the back of the shop on the side for myself and trying to learn while we're still getting this thing kicked off.
[00:21:40.680] - Big Rich Klein
And it was all self taught?
[00:21:43.440] - Adam Scherer
Pretty much self taught, yes. I really didn't have a mentor at the time. Pirate 4x4 was my mentor. Eventually, I ran across the right people in the industry. That's, I think, the key that helps a lot of people out from... People that are building stuff in their garage and that are really good at it or coming up, you meet the right people in the industry and they help you out. And that's what happened with me to go to the next level.
[00:22:17.050] - Big Rich Klein
Who were some of those right people?
[00:22:20.280] - Adam Scherer
So one time we were offroading and we're early in it and we're learning. And we learned real quick that, hey, if you put some big tires on your Jeep and you go do some rock crawling, your steering is not so good. You get it bound up and you can't turn them tires. And so quickly we found PSC, the company, steering company, PSC, that was local to us. And we took a trip out to them and said, hey, we're getting into this and we're learning how to go rock crawling and jeep in and stuff. And our steering sucks. So we need some better steering. And that's how I met the guys over there at PSC. And we started working together. I started building them some offroad rigs, and we started doing more of their product, selling steering systems. And we developed a relationship there, the owner, Tom Allen, and I. And he saw that I was somebody that could help him out and we could help each other out. And he was like, one day he says, Hey, if you ever want to get out of this dealership stuff and start your own shop, I'll help you out.
[00:23:40.030] - Adam Scherer
We can work together a little bit and build some cool stuff. And I instantly was like, Okay, that sounds pretty awesome. Let's do that. I want to go to the next level.
[00:23:51.200] - Big Rich Klein
Was it the same conversation or was it a week? How long did that transition take from him offering to you going, Yeah, let's jump in.
[00:24:05.460] - Adam Scherer
I probably would say it was about 10 minutes.
[00:24:10.480] - Big Rich Klein
So you were ready.
[00:24:13.340] - Adam Scherer
Working at the dealership is tough. There's a lot of red tape, a lot of rules and this and that, and they're always budget minded. And if you're not making them money, it's one of those things they're always on top of you about stuff. I wanted to go to the next level and start building some even bigger stuff that they were in than what they were interested in. And knowing Tom, and that's all they dealt with. They dealt with the competition rockcrawlers and getting into a lot more geek business and building bigger stuff like that. I was like, Yeah, I'm going this direction. Peace out, dealership.
[00:24:57.880] - Big Rich Klein
Then that created your first shop. Is that when the name Tribe came in?
[00:25:05.640] - Adam Scherer
Yes. When I left the dealership, it's silly. The whole Tribe was, I needed Of course, going out, we were going to call the shop PSC, Off Road. I wanted my own name. He was just going to help me out with it. At the time, I was looking for a name and I played a lot of video games at the time. This was one of the video games I played was called Tribs. It was a futuristic first person shooter game that was on PC. I said, shit, I'm just going to call tribe and just lose S.
[00:25:50.700] - Big Rich Klein
[00:25:52.950] - Adam Scherer
It fits. At the time, we had a close group of friends that we all wheeled together and hung out. And it was our tribe. And so it also crossed over to that a little bit. I thought, that's a niche deal. It worked.
[00:26:15.340] - Big Rich Klein
Right. No, it does work. It works really well. So then how big was that first shop, say, square footage wise?
[00:26:22.660] - Adam Scherer
Our first shop that PFC helped us get into was about 2,800 square feet. It was a little bitty warehouse almost close to downtown Fort Worth and in a not so nice area. It was a run down light commercial area, but it worked. It was a start.
[00:26:44.700] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And is the building you're in now the second or third building?
[00:26:50.410] - Adam Scherer
So this is our second building. Okay.
[00:26:52.700] - Big Rich Klein
So then I was in the original. I met you there at your original building. Okay.
[00:26:56.680] - Adam Scherer
It was. That original, the start building, that little thing, it lasted for 10 years. We were jamming that thing. We eventually took over the spot next to us, so we doubled our size, which was still really small. We were on top of each other. Every day you had to move projects in and out, and it just was a pain in the butt. But we lasted there for quite a while. But you.
[00:27:23.230] - Big Rich Klein
Had a good restaurant next door.
[00:27:25.970] - Adam Scherer
Being close to downtown Fort Worth, there was no shortage of good restaurants. That was one of the things that we always did was we usually left as the entire shop and we'd go have lunch together. At the time, we didn't have a lot of employees, but that was a nice thing. We'd eat lunch together every day.
[00:27:46.020] - Big Rich Klein
What was your first project at Tribe?
[00:27:50.680] - Adam Scherer
My first project was fixing a race car for one of our friends here, a local Barry Beetle, he had an old school... Back in the day, this was the true definition of rock donkey race car. It was like a rock crawling switch to a race car. I believe he was racing the Mo Rock races at the time, or it might have been Hammers. I think it might have been early Hammers. And he came back and this thing was all bent up and he brought it to us and we fixed a bunch of tubes in the car and reinforced a bunch of pieces. And that was the very first rig. I remember I don't even think we had air in the shop at the moment. At the time, we were still putting electrical on the walls and 220 plugs and getting the shop set up. And his was the very first rig we ever worked on.
[00:28:45.100] - Big Rich Klein
That's a pretty good first client.
[00:28:48.020] - Adam Scherer
Yeah. Barry Beatles is a good dude.
[00:28:50.530] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. So do you got any good stories on Barry? I've known Barry for quite a long time.
[00:28:55.230] - Adam Scherer
Yeah. He actually invited me to run one race. It was a Mo Rocker race, though. Those were really short little strength races, not like a big race. But he said, Hey, come sit in the passenger seat. We were at Bridgeport Off Road, which is a little part just outside of town here. I was like, Sure, I'll run in the car with you. So we're at the starting line and the green flag drops and we take off, we get about 100 feet, the steering wheel comes off and he's holding the steering wheel, his hand, yelling. I'm like, Oh, I don't even know what the hell is going on. I was still like, Holy cow. We took off so fast. That was a good one there. I think we ended up flopping the car on the side. I had to climb out of it. That was probably my first race car offroad experience was with him.
[00:29:44.240] - Big Rich Klein
Did that help get you hooked, or were you more like, I'm not sure if I need to get back in another car?
[00:29:52.940] - Adam Scherer
I don't know if that got me hooked. It was just such a short little race. That was right along the same time that we were getting on the scene of racing, it was still really early racing stuff. I was still trying to get my feet landed on the starting the new shop and working on it. I could get my hands on. But it all came together at once when the early racing of Mo Rock and then we had the dirt riot and then also the King and the Hammers stuff was a good transition when we went into the new shop. We went from working on whatever we get a hold of to it was more working on race car stuff. The more different races they had locally, the handful of customers that had cars, the more work we had on repairing them or fixing them and keeping them going, prep work and this and that. We weren't really building full cars at the time. We were just still learning it and getting the shop set up. So that was a good transition time.
[00:31:07.540] - Big Rich Klein
And do you still have employees from back in those early days?
[00:31:13.870] - Adam Scherer
No, unfortunately I don't. I had one guy, Ryan, it was Ryan Donelson, he was with me for the longest time, almost from the very beginning. And he's a great guy and super talented. And he was with us for the longest time. And then he finally just moved on.
[00:31:29.480] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. that happens.
[00:31:31.900] - Adam Scherer
Yeah. Just like the car stereo business. I can't imagine this is a pretty tough circuit and I could see people getting burned out on it when you do it nonstop.
[00:31:43.220] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Absolutely. Then you're in the small shop, the business is flowing, you're doing a lot of race cars now, and the first full blown car that you got to do, talk about that. I think I know which one it is.
[00:32:03.220] - Adam Scherer
With the racing taking off, and I think a lot of it really helped was being with PSC and then helping out. The very first car that we built, offroad race car we built, we called it Old Whitey. The whole car was white. We painted the chassis white and the body panels were white and everything. The way it came to be is Tom Allen from PSC, he hit up Jason Shearer and said, Hey, he had just recently sold his car and he didn't have a race car. So it was probably a prime opportunity for him, too, to take a free ride. So Tom hit him up, said, Hey, if we build a car, would you be interested in coming to the races and running it and racing it for us? And Jason said, Yes. So Tom came down and said, Hey, let's build an old car. culture 4 car and let's start racing it. And we've got Jason Sheeran on board. He'll be the driver. I was asked if I wanted to co drive. And I said, Hell, yeah. That sounds like a cool dig. Pretty cool gig. We started putting together a chassis and Jason flew in a couple of times and helped us with design and more or less fitting it, I should say, and the layout to where he'd make sure he fit in the car and everything.
[00:33:29.020] - Adam Scherer
And that was it. We started racing.
[00:33:32.300] - Big Rich Klein
And no relationship?
[00:33:35.400] - Adam Scherer
Oh, Jason? No. We joke. Jason Shear and his brother Casey, we joke. We say we're brothers from another mother. But yeah, we're pretty tight. We still stay in touch and everything here and there. But no relations.
[00:33:52.780] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. I didn't think so because I'd known Jason for a long time and Casey, and then all of a sudden I heard the name Adam, and I'm like, What? There was a third brother? And then realized soon that, no, you were in Texas. So what's.
[00:34:06.930] - Adam Scherer
Funny is we were at a KOH. I think it was maybe 2010, and I was out there with PSC helping them work on steering on race cars. And we're hanging out and somebody comes up and said, Hey, we've got a car to work on. And his name's Jason Shearer. And that was the very first time I ever heard of him. I was like, Shearer? The same as my last name? And I was like, Wow, that's crazy. And literally, I remember watching Casey brought the car down. I remember watching Casey walk up and I was in that I could still see it in my head today. I was like, Holy shit. Are we related? Is this my brother? Because I don't have any brothers and no blood brothers. I was like, This is really weird. That's awesome.
[00:34:57.770] - Big Rich Klein
What was that first car? What was it like putting together that first car, some of the trials and tribulations?
[00:35:05.160] - Adam Scherer
The first car that we put together was interesting. We took a lot of ideas off some cars that Dean Bullock and Tom put together. They had already been racing together. So we took some ideas, some chassis stuff that they built. So it looks similar to some other stuff. Starting out, you learn from a lot of other people and you see their ideas and what works and what doesn't. I had some inspiration from some of their cars. And this is still early times where you still were rock donkeys and you're transitioning from rock crawling into racing early 2009, 2010. So it had some resembes there. It had a swoop top that I always wanted to do. I bought a tubing roller and it had a a rolled top to the cage. So it changed the shape of it just a little bit. Right.
[00:36:08.430] - Big Rich Klein
And that caught on for a little bit.
[00:36:12.680] - Adam Scherer
Yeah. I don't even know where my tubing roller is now. Hopefully it's in the trash because I don't want to roll it. I don't want to roll another tube ever. It's so laborsome doing that. And then you get the tube and all messed up and but at the time it was the same thing with dimple dyes. You don't really see too many dimple dyes in Fab work anymore. It's like a fad, I guess.
[00:36:39.120] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And what are some of the other things that you consider fads that have come and gone that you've seen?
[00:36:48.860] - Adam Scherer
In fabrication and offroad? That's a good one there.
[00:36:51.610] - Big Rich Klein
Especially in, say, Ultra 4.
[00:36:54.340] - Adam Scherer
Ultra 4. I don't know. The evolution of the cars have changed so much. Back in the day, you'd see a truss on an axel that's real thin sheet metal, and it's got all the super dimple dyes all over it. It looks cool and everything. Now it's fully boxed and all tig welded out and stuff like that's changed. Not so much flashy, not so many flashy things, more direct and functional building them that way. I don't know. Obviously, the cars have evolved with materials and function and just to make them last and go faster. I don't know.
[00:37:43.990] - Big Rich Klein
The evolution of the old whitey, that car went through a couple of evolutions, didn't it?
[00:37:51.720] - Adam Scherer
It did. When we built it, it was a new process for us. We were learning also, always learning. And it was built with solid axel, which is still a solid axel car today. But the axel underneath it was just your run of the mill Dana 60. It was an aftermarket company. I believe it was Curry axels underneath it. Actually, no, it was not. I think it might have been a combination of Curry and some Teraflex. The whole thing was hodgepodge together. Once we raced it and we had some issues with it and we had to upgrade it. And like any car, you find weak links and bugs and you constantly have to change stuff and change shock companies, change actual companies, and motors and all that good stuff. It just you just constantly trying to fine tune the car.
[00:38:47.180] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And I think that in those early days, there was so much experimentation because nobody... There was nothing out there that was simulated or similar to what was being done. You had the rock crawlers, which the concept of adhesion and traction for a rock crawling as compared to racing are almost opposite. And then you have the only other thing you have to compare to is desert racing. And everything there, except for a few truck classes, is all two wheel drive or one.
[00:39:27.980] - Adam Scherer
Yes, absolutely. So there.
[00:39:30.700] - Big Rich Klein
Was a big innovation area there for our four wheel drive industry to go from going slow and controlled to fast and barely on the edge of control.
[00:39:47.100] - Adam Scherer
Absolutely. It was definitely a good time to start blending cars together. The stuff you see today, it's a perfect vision of what you can imagine of how they're being planned together. And even now, other classes like the big T1 trucks and whatnot are starting to catch on to the 4WD stuff and learning from us. And they're evolving also.
[00:40:14.150] - Big Rich Klein
I agree. I think that they had tried... Desert Racing had tried the 4WD, but nobody wanted to take the time to experiment and possibly lose races pushing the envelope.
[00:40:35.390] - Adam Scherer
Just like the first IFS car in Ultra Ford, same thing. Somebody had to take the leap and check it out and challenge it and see how it came out.
[00:40:51.270] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And do you remember what that first IFS car was? Was that Rick Durmo's single seater that raced an XRA too?
[00:41:01.210] - Adam Scherer
I believe so, yes.
[00:41:04.440] - Big Rich Klein
[00:41:07.630] - Adam Scherer
Yes. Of course, most of the notor goes to the Campbells with winning a KOW in the IFS car. That really put it on the map. I think.
[00:41:20.900] - Big Rich Klein
They definitely took it to the next level after that Durmo car, that's for sure.
[00:41:26.830] - Adam Scherer
[00:41:28.490] - Big Rich Klein
You work with other fabricators in the process of getting to the point where the cars are like they are nowadays, or was it just everybody was like super skunkworks type thing?
[00:41:46.090] - Adam Scherer
I did not work first hand with any other fabricators in the industry as far as outside design work. We had the guys that worked in the shop that fabricated with us, and we all clicked together and stuff like that. But not really. Everything we built pretty much, I hate, I don't really like saying this, but came out of my own head. Obviously, we'd have a lot of help and some direction and advice and stuff like that from other guys in the industry. But I've never really had a mentor that really showed me the ropes.
[00:42:36.440] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And what was your favorite car that you built?
[00:42:42.410] - Adam Scherer
I would say our favorite car that we built would be probably, I would have to say, Alex Wacker's IFS car that we had built, which is now currently owned by the Rufus Racing. That was probably one of our top shelves car that we built. It was a full chromoly car, all tig welded IFS car. It had really nice everything in it. The electrics in it were really nice. All the plumbing was super nice. It was the highest billed car budget and quality that we had to date. Is it.
[00:43:21.230] - Big Rich Klein
Nice working with a budget that's... I wouldn't say no budget, but I would say that there were very few limitations. Absolutely.
[00:43:33.440] - Adam Scherer
And it spoils you, too, once you build a car like that and you have a customer that wants to build a car that is on budget and you're like, Oh, I wouldn't do this because we could do so much better product in it or whatnot. But they can't afford it. So we're going back to just rubber hoses for gas lines and stuff like that. So you get a little spoiled having to have an opportunity to build a really nice car where you have all the... Everything is top shelf and it's really nice.
[00:44:10.720] - Big Rich Klein
What about Howell's car? Matt Howell. Was that the 4500 or 4800?
[00:44:19.600] - Adam Scherer
Matt Howell's car was a 4500 car. It was the stock mod class for Ultra 4 at the time. That one was a nice one. That was a neat project. That actually was started by PSC. It was a YJ frame on an Aquilu aluminum tub, and it was built just as a trail rock crawling. They had it for a little while, and Matt Howell purchased it, and he trailwheeled it for a little while. And then he finally went out to the Hammers and got to spectate some races. And he got the hook. And eventually, actually pretty quickly that buggy ended up at our shop and we started chopping it up and turn it into a race car. And that was.
[00:45:08.700] - Big Rich Klein
A pretty successful car.
[00:45:10.820] - Adam Scherer
It was. At the time, it went through many evolutions, too. We were racing the dirt riot races, and that's really where it's cut its teeth on was doing that because there was a lot more local races for us to participate in for that car to race and to evolve in. That's how that car took its start.
[00:45:39.220] - Big Rich Klein
You did very well off of the dirt riot races, not just with that car, but with all the cars. At one time, it seemed like that half the field would be tribe cars out there.
[00:45:54.110] - Adam Scherer
I will tell you straight up, I owe a lot of our success to Dirt R ight, to you all for putting that series on.
[00:46:00.960] - Big Rich Klein
That's not what I meant.
[00:46:02.640] - Adam Scherer
No, absolutely. But it is true. That got us a lot of businesses was having more local races more often. It sparked more interest to our local people around here, off roaders and them. And they would go spectate the races and see how many cars that we had. And next thing you know, they're like, Hey, we want to get into this. Let's build a car and be in the tribe and part of our team and our friends. And so that really helped the tribe grow was your races. And to be able to do that, us building cars, prepping cars for every race, it was a full time job.
[00:46:46.700] - Big Rich Klein
I don't know if I ever told you where dirt riot, where it spawned from, but having been at all the KOWs to begin with, I wasn't at the OG 13 race. But after that, I was working with Dave and Jeff and helping them in a small way. But what I saw at KAH was teams not being real successful. Just a lot of guys going out there and trying to race, but maybe not knowing what they needed to do to race and to finish races. Once XRA folded and decided or closed their doors, the weavers, we decided, Okay, now is the time. Let's put something together that's more regionally based around the same design as KOW, but add classes like what we had done with our rock crawling series. Just to provide more places for people to get involved and take what they might have existing, whether it's a trail car or whatever, and then being able to jump in and start doing something go fast instead of just crawling. I think it worked really well for quite a few years until there just seemed to be a burnout of either people's wallets and checkbooks or the whole idea of spending all that money to race.
[00:48:31.170] - Big Rich Klein
The lifestyle, the family style racing was absolutely phenomenal. I miss it. And I miss you. I miss all of you guys.
[00:48:41.640] - Adam Scherer
Absolutely. Once again, I thank you and I commend you for doing that because you pretty much helped put me on the map by giving us an opportunity to do all that racing and to build up the cars that we had built was the majority of them were racing the dirt bike. But yes, racing is expensive. And if you just do it once here and there on the side for fun, that's probably a way to do it. But when you start hitting them all up and it turns into some serious work, keeping the cars going and prepping them and all the money that involves, especially when you tear them up and break them. But yeah, it can take its toll. And I'm sure everybody still sees it with the ultra four racing, too. They come and they go and it's a cycle. It's fun and exciting when you get into it and you're racing. But if you do it for a length of time, it does take its toll.
[00:49:41.900] - Big Rich Klein
Especially when you take out that third mortgage.
[00:49:47.750] - Adam Scherer
Luckily, I've never had to do that. Usually, I'm on the other end of it.
[00:49:52.520] - Big Rich Klein
Well, I always tell people the reason I became a promot was I couldn't afford to be a racer. There you go.
[00:49:59.230] - Adam Scherer
So you're still involved, but you don't have to spend the big bucks.
[00:50:03.130] - Big Rich Klein
Exactly. You just risk it all.
[00:50:06.410] - Adam Scherer
[00:50:07.660] - Big Rich Klein
Now, I don't see builds coming out of tribe for KOH Ultra 4. Are you guys concentrating more on... I know your guys' business is just booming. What's your business focus now?
[00:50:27.840] - Adam Scherer
Our business is changing a little bit. Our focus is still on building the high quality rigs. We're still doing some race stuff, not as heavy as we've been, but still that pedigree of the quality that we've done in the past, we're still doing now. I'm just regular stuff, regular Jeep stuff and offroad, and we're still building cars here and there for some customers. But I think a lot of it changed I think I saw most of the change probably when the dirt riot gave up. Not I wouldn't say gave up. When we quit racing dirt riot and we went straight to Ultra 4, everybody had to do that. That's when some people got burned out, sold cars. Just like I said, it's a lot of work. So we saw the change of hands and cars, and that was a little less business for us, prepping the cars and repairing them. So it's shifted a little bit. Our focus shift currently is building more offroad recreational vehicles, rec wheeling. So we actually started a new tube chasset today for a full tube car solid axel rockcrawler for a good friend customer of ours. Is that.
[00:51:55.450] - Big Rich Klein
Something that's going to be available? Is it just the one for him, or are you going to make that a package where people can purchase that chasset?
[00:52:07.120] - Adam Scherer
We're actually excited. We have some new equipment in the shop. We purchased a tube dragon, the bentec tube dragon. It's a plasma automated tube cutter. And we've got some new talent in the shop that we're working with doing some solid work drawings. And I think each day we're actually, I think we're... Say we're thinking, we are working towards on having a more production stylechacy that is a lot easier to build in the shop. So, yeah, we're going to have something in the works here in the near future that's going to be available for purchase. That's cool.
[00:52:49.260] - Big Rich Klein
And is it going to resemble a Jeep product or is it just going to be a buggy?
[00:52:56.830] - Adam Scherer
From building race cars for so long, we've taken a lot of the design from building, say, not so much an IFS car, but being that these are recreational rock haulers, solid action cars. The design from the race cars shows through to this recreational car. It's more or less built like a race car, except instead of having the radiator in the rear window, we're packaging it up front with fiberglass hood and grill to resemble more of a vehicle, either be a Jeep or FJ or whatever fiberglass that the customer would like to put on there to resemble whatever they'd like. But a lot of it, the design is spawned from the racing.
[00:53:47.000] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. And that means that a lot more safety goes into it? Definitely.
[00:53:53.090] - Adam Scherer
These trail cars are going to be a two inch DOM Chasis, the main, with everything else, inch and three quarter to shape a little bit of weight. But a big, strong belly section with both sides and aluminum skid plates with aluminum and the plastic on the bottom. Right.
[00:54:16.300] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. So do you feel that your early days with doing the sound systems carries over into the detail work? Because that's one of the things I've noticed with your vehicles is that the attention to detail is outstanding.
[00:54:35.960] - Adam Scherer
Yes. Learning car stereo and the fundamentals of 12 volt systems, that really helps on the wiring aspectsof finishing out either race cars or rock crawlers or even working on putting a set of lights in a Jeep for some accessories or whatnot. That absolutely is. Knowing all that knowledge that I've learned in the past on that really helps out. And everything's changed today. We're still learning. Now there's systems that are going into solid state control boxes that are all programmable and just state of the art stuff that's computer driven. Although I still prefer an old school switch and a relay sometimes rather than having all the crazy computer stuff. If something goes wrong and it's a little harder to repair it on the fly.
[00:55:29.840] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, that's for sure. It's easier to drop in a functioning relay than it is to try to tear apart something that's all solid state.
[00:55:40.810] - Adam Scherer
Absolutely. And to.
[00:55:42.380] - Big Rich Klein
Separate the systems, to me, makes... I mean, there's good and bad on both. I guess packaging, the solid state is nice because everything's tied up into one. But man, like you said, it's having the system separate sure does make it. It doesn't dumb it down. Well, I guess for somebody like me, it dumbs it down because it's easier to find a problem.
[00:56:04.860] - Adam Scherer
I learned a long time ago and it's still today building these cars and working on them and being in the field, racing them and having to overcome a lot of obstacles, it's all about serviceability. And if it's not just electrical, anything, plumbing or having to pull the transmission out or anything you work on. The design and building these systems and these cars, that's one thing that's always in my mind is when we're doing something and we're building something, how can... Let's do it easy to where it's easy to work on. At the time, we were working on all of them. Everything we built, we were prepping them. We didn't have to build a car and say, Here you go. Good luck with that. It was all on us. That really helped us learn on how to build something and make it serviceable and ergonomical and easy to function well and to be a good, rounded car. A lot of that's in the details, too, and having good stuff and laid out correctly.
[00:57:13.370] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. so with more the custom trail rigs as opposed to the racers, I know racers, there's a lot of redundant systems. In case one goes down, you don't have to have to repair it. You can just disable it and then go to the redundant side. Do you do any of that in the trail cars as well? I would think not, but... No, not really.
[00:57:44.720] - Adam Scherer
But we've learned a lot from the racing on things, what to do and what not to do that we do in the trail cars, so they'll be less problematic on the trail and you have to work on it as much. Simple things as far as the fuel system. A hundred % of the time, we're going to try to put the fuel pump in the tank to where it runs cooler. It doesn't have to draw fluid up out of the tank and work harder, so it lasts longer. Just very simple stuff like that that we've learned in the racing. That's what we put into building the trail cars. Once again, it's all in the details there.
[00:58:24.040] - Big Rich Klein
What do you see as the future of future? Is there any special projects you want to do? Have you done any two wheel drive desert trucks or any four wheel drive desert trucks yet?
[00:58:39.120] - Adam Scherer
We had the opportunity to build a... It was in the past, not in the future, but we did do a pre runner for one of our teams that we're racing with, and it was a really cool build. It was an F 100 and it was a two wheel drive pre runner IFS, big travel, big engine. It was a nice. That was a neat one. At the moment in the future, we don't really have any projected want to go towards just desert racing or build desert stuff or anything like that. Obviously, if the opportunity presents, we're going to jump on it for a customer. We've done some stuff here and there. We've repaired and prepped some desert vehicles local. But full builds, it's not a direction we're looking towards going at the moment. Okay.
[00:59:31.390] - Big Rich Klein
So the new direction is basically a Wheeler in a box? I think so.
[00:59:37.900] - Adam Scherer
I say that because a Wheeler in a box is good for many reasons. It can be economical for somebody to get into. It's easier to build if you're not reinventing the wheel every time. You can work through the project a lot quicker. There's a part of me that says I don't like building cookie cutter stuff, one of those things I've always taken pride in building a car around or for a customer, so to make sure they fit in it correctly and everything they want is in it correctly and this and that. But I understand that there is a market for a reproduced chassis or car that's a little bit more economical for somebody to get into. And there's a lot more people, recreational wheeling and racing. So that's what we're going to start focusing on. Yeah, there's a.
[01:00:35.310] - Big Rich Klein
Lot bigger market share with the recreational Wheeler than there is with the racer. Absolutely.
[01:00:41.480] - Adam Scherer
And at the same time for offroad racing, we're going on 14 years now. I would say there's a more fun going out and doing some recreational wheeling once you get done with the racing aspect of that.
[01:01:01.820] - Big Rich Klein
I think so. One of my favorite rigs that you guys built was, I believe it was for Brian Shirley, the Commander? Yes, the.
[01:01:14.860] - Adam Scherer
Sleepster Commander. Yes. The sleepster Commando. Absolutely. The Sleepster Commando was a really cool project. At the time when he dropped it off, I couldn't even imagine it turning out that way. It was just like he dropped this. And it was a bone stock, original Commando of running and everything, all the original running gear in it. And he's like, here. And it just started showing up with parts. I was like, okay, what are we doing here? What are we building? And next thing you know, the parts that he supplied set the tone and the finish of that product and how it turned out to be. He never really said, This is what I want. He just gave us a bunch of parts and I started take off building. So a.
[01:02:05.380] - Big Rich Klein
Blank canvas. Love it.
[01:02:08.550] - Adam Scherer
I love builds like that where they give us the opportunity to, with a few parameters, things they want. And then it's on, off you go, and you just get to be creative. That's how it was when I was doing Car Stereo. We had customers the same way. They'd want a certain amount of whatever, and if they wanted it super flashy and show vehicle, we got to get real creative and do our own thing. And how many guys do.
[01:02:36.820] - Big Rich Klein
You have working now at Tribe?
[01:02:39.690] - Adam Scherer
Today, we have a total of 10 bodies in the shop, 10 guys working. And that's.
[01:02:47.820] - Big Rich Klein
Specialty guys? We do.
[01:02:52.450] - Adam Scherer
That's including Lance and myself, business owners. Lance Gilbert is our other business partner here. He came from PSC Motorsports, the two of us. And actually, we have a third. Matt Howell is our other business partner.
[01:03:14.150] - Big Rich Klein
[01:03:14.680] - Adam Scherer
Have specialty guys, some sales guys. We have some new employees that have just came from the FAB school, and they're bringing some new stuff to the shop with working with the CAD and what they learn there. That's really going to take us to the next level and get back into the 21st century is going from drawing on paper to drawing in the computer and be able to kick some of this stuff out. We have some very talented guys out there in the shop that are great mechanics that have background and work with Mercedes and have ton of talent that do a lot of the diagnostics and repairs and stuff like that. And welders, we have pretty much everybody here in the shop can weld. They can tig weld, they can make a weld, they can run all the plasma table and do fabrication. But there's a lot of them. A lot of our guys shine in other areas. That just all in a big hole melting pot, it makes everything run really smooth here in the shop. And no matter what project comes in that we get faced with, I'm pretty proud to say that the guys that we have in the shop, we can pretty much handle anything.
[01:04:32.420] - Adam Scherer
Excellent. Is there anything.
[01:04:35.100] - Big Rich Klein
That we haven't discussed that you want to add in there? Any special projects or stories or race situations that always bring back a smile to your face or maybe even a frown?
[01:04:52.840] - Adam Scherer
I don't know. There's so many good memories in the racing from dirt riot to ultra 4 and regular offroading, recreation, wheeling. Man, it's just... I don't know. That's a tough one because we're pretty damn blessed to be able to do so much. It's hard to pick one instance because there's so much of it. Just every opportunity we've ever had to go wheeling or to even... I'm mean, even if it's down to you're at an event, you got to go recover someone. You could turn into a good time. If somebody broke down the backside of outer limits or something, and we got it two in the morning, we got to go get them. We turned it into a good time. We're going to make the best of it. That's a tough one. I know that...
[01:05:51.930] - Big Rich Klein
It's all good.
[01:05:53.700] - Adam Scherer
[01:05:54.910] - Big Rich Klein
Some of the best times were the post race tribe parties that were themed, like the wig party and some of the others that I remember there, especially Bridgeport. The parties always seem to be pretty good at Bridgeport.
[01:06:14.420] - Adam Scherer
Rich, I work hard and our guys work hard and I want to play hard. There's nothing wrong.
[01:06:21.890] - Big Rich Klein
With that. I want to have a.
[01:06:23.690] - Adam Scherer
Good time. The pursuit of happiness is what I'm about. I love having a good time. That's one of the reasons we went to the damn races was to have a good time with all our race buddies. Yes, the tribe, big parties, that's always a blast. I'm sure there'll be more to come in the future. But if you're going to wrap it up for me, I would say you could say that Adam would be... The most important probably thing in his life is having a good time, is being happy with his friends. That's what I'm about. Excellent.
[01:07:05.830] - Big Rich Klein
Great segue. Yeah. Adam, thank you so much for sharing your life and your history with us. I really hope for the best for you and Clarissa and your partners at the shop and the whole tribe family. Absolutely.
[01:07:25.180] - Adam Scherer
Thank you, Rich, for the opportunity to be on your show. Hopefully, we come across paths somewhere out, Wheeling, or at an offroad event, and you'll see me with a smile on my face. Thank you so much, Rich. All right. You take.
[01:07:38.000] - Big Rich Klein
Care, Adam. Thank you. 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 Facebook message, and let me know any ideas that you have, or if there's anybody that you have that you would 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.