Conversations with Big Rich

Peri Kalar, daughter of Mastercraft founder, Jack Miller talks about life in the safety lane with her family in Episode 206.

March 14, 2024 Guest Peri Kalar Season 4 Episode 206
Conversations with Big Rich
Peri Kalar, daughter of Mastercraft founder, Jack Miller talks about life in the safety lane with her family in Episode 206.
Show Notes Transcript

Mastercraft has had some powerful owners, from founder Jack Miller to daughter, Peri Kalar, to ORMHOF inductee Robbie Pierce. Hear about how it began all those years ago and the forces behind it. Peri shares some life-changing experiences with you. Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.

4:16 – he was in the army and became a parachute rigger, that’s where he learned to sew 

9:53 – I worked at Mastercraft as the janitor; but my brother fired me a lot.             

13:50 – we used to have soda cans taped to the rollbars, and they would have stuck stubs and tickets. 

17:43 – we made a PSSS kit – a Personal Sanitation System in a little brown bag

21:19 – that was the worst and best year of my life because I found out I could survive anything

29:57 – Robbie was my supplier forever, so when I wanted to sell the company, it was perfect

38:13 – when dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he said, I’d like to make a list of things that are important that I want to remember…

Special thanks to 4low Magazine and Maxxis Tires for support and sponsorship of this podcast.

Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.

Support the show


[00:00:01.060] 

Welcome to Conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview-style podcast. Those interviewed are all involved in the off-road 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 off-road. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes, and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and off-road. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world that we live and love and call off-road.

 


[00:00:45.280] 

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[00:01:13.020] 

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[00:01:40.180] - Big Rich Klein

On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, I have Perry Kalar, the daughter of John Perry Miller, otherwise known as Jack Miller, the founder of Mastercraft Safety, which Perry ran herself for 20 years, to talk about family, business, and off-road. Perry, it is so good to have you on the podcast this morning to talk about your history, your dad's history, your dad, John Perry Miller. He is known as Jack Miller and was the originator of Mastercraft Safety. We'll get into all of that. But let's first... I wanted to say thank you for being here.

 


[00:02:22.070] - Peri Kalar

Oh, it's my pleasure. I'm excited to share history of our family and our love of racing.

 


[00:02:28.260] - Big Rich Klein

Well, let's jump right in and And start at the very beginning. Where was your dad, born and raised?

 


[00:02:33.940] - Peri Kalar

He was born in Omaha, but raised in San Diego.

 


[00:02:38.770] - Big Rich Klein

How did he get from Omaha to San Diego?

 


[00:02:41.530] - Peri Kalar

He went into the army when he was real young, and he eloped with my mom in San Diego, and then got stationed all over the place.

 


[00:02:52.960] - Big Rich Klein

So he met her in San Diego while he was in the service?

 


[00:02:56.700] - Peri Kalar

Yes.

 


[00:02:57.340] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And those early years in Omaha, I guess he stayed there until he went into the service.

 


[00:03:06.840] - Peri Kalar

I think he was here most of his youth.

 


[00:03:10.060] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, okay. So he probably moved with his parents then?

 


[00:03:14.060] - Peri Kalar

Yeah, his mom. Okay.

 


[00:03:15.020] - Big Rich Klein

And then what do you know about those early years of your dad being in San Diego before, say, the military? What activities did they do?

 


[00:03:30.530] - Peri Kalar

Well, he did cowboying down in Mission Valley in San Diego before it was a freeway and shopping center. I think he and his buddies got into a little bit of trouble here and there.

 


[00:03:48.840] - Big Rich Klein

That's guys with a little too much time on their hands. I understand that.

 


[00:03:53.090] - Peri Kalar

Yes.

 


[00:03:54.660] - Big Rich Klein

And then he decided to go into the military. Do you know if he played in sports or anything like that while he was in school?

 


[00:04:03.090] - Peri Kalar

I think he used to wrestle, I believe. He used to wrestle.

 


[00:04:06.970] - Big Rich Klein

Then when he got into the military there in San Diego, that was the Air Force? No, no. That would be- Army.

 


[00:04:16.970] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. Army. He was in the army and became a parachute rigger, which is where he learned how to sew. He ended up retiring after, is it 20 years, the usual amount, in 1969. He was a soldier. He went to Korea, and he went to Vietnam twice once he was on crutches with a broken leg going back over. He was just a career soldier. Then when he came home, he, for some reason, got this idea to build a Dune Buggy race car. They did that in our garage.

 


[00:04:52.930] - Big Rich Klein

When he came home, that was 1969, and he retired as a major?

 


[00:04:57.660] - Peri Kalar

Lieutenant colonel.

 


[00:04:58.810] - Big Rich Klein

Lieutenant colonel, okay.

 


[00:05:00.350] - Peri Kalar

Yeah.

 


[00:05:02.160] - Big Rich Klein

He got into it. He decided to build a dune buggy, and that was right around that '69, '70 era?

 


[00:05:08.800] - Peri Kalar

Yes.

 


[00:05:11.410] - Big Rich Klein

How old were you? I don't want to bring up your age, but you were born before then?

 


[00:05:18.470] - Peri Kalar

Yes. I was in middle school, I believe.

 


[00:05:21.040] - Big Rich Klein

Okay.

 


[00:05:22.080] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. When he got out of the army, he started working for TaylorMade, which he designed with Al Taylor, the original suspension seat. Al Taylor was doing other types of work as well and was veering off from trying to make a race car seat. My dad, after a year or two, built one in his garage, and they started Miller Industries. My mom would sew purses in the garage, and that's what the first product was of Miller Industries. Then the MasterCraft seats came along a while later.

 


[00:06:06.280] - Big Rich Klein

Interesting. First came purses.

 


[00:06:08.710] - Peri Kalar

Yes.

 


[00:06:13.280] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome. I mean. Yeah. And then, so he was working for TaylorMade after retiring from the army, was making suspension seats with them, and then started Miller Industries because Taylor got away from? That's when he left Taylor at that point?

 


[00:06:33.740] - Peri Kalar

Yeah, he left Taylor at that point. When he got away from it? Yeah, he left Taylor at that point. Yeah.

 


[00:06:36.190] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. And what do you remember about those early years?

 


[00:06:42.000] - Peri Kalar

Oh, my God. It was so fun. Well, not only did we... We had a Corvair race car that never made it off the payment payment, so it never even finished a race. But they went to all the races. My dad set up a pit system, much like BFG today. In fact, at one point, we had a meeting with the spirit, the spirit cough group, and showed them how we would set up our pits and all that, and they started doing that. We went all over Baja as kids with our families. There were two or three families that all traveled together, and best of times.

 


[00:07:25.940] - Big Rich Klein

And doing the pit servicing?

 


[00:07:27.950] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. My job was the fire extinguisher.

 


[00:07:31.380] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent.

 


[00:07:31.960] - Peri Kalar

When they welded. Then I also kept times.

 


[00:07:37.270] - Big Rich Klein

Those were SCOR races or other organizations?

 


[00:07:41.920] - Peri Kalar

Yeah, they were SCOR. I don't even remember. I do know we went out to Borrego a lot for those races. My mom actually raced as well. My mom and my brother and my dad. My mom raced with another gal. Her name was Pat Yancey, and she raced in the Baja 500. They had a buggy shop, the Yancey's. Then she also raced with a friend of ours named Donna Gillespie, who was really successful at it for a while in Borrego. This is before they had window nets and they had half the safety equipment that they normally used. Right.

 


[00:08:23.360] - Big Rich Klein

Just a seat belt? Yeah. Nobody thought about harnesses.

 


[00:08:27.340] - Peri Kalar

I have a picture of my mom getting ready for the 500, wearing her wig and smoking a cigarette as she put her helmet on.

 


[00:08:34.120] - Big Rich Klein

She wore a wig with her helmet. Yeah. Wow.

 


[00:08:37.260] - Peri Kalar

They had a silk driving suits, too. Pale blue.

 


[00:08:44.430] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome. Did your dad raced at that time also?

 


[00:08:52.990] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. Okay. He raced his Corvair, and my brother raced with him. Then eventually, they stopped racing but continued pitting and making that his main thing to do. My brother went on and partnered with Tom Bryant for a little bit. They had a VW.

 


[00:09:12.080] - Big Rich Klein

And your brother's name?

 


[00:09:13.630] - Peri Kalar

Is Mike Miller. Mike Miller, okay.

 


[00:09:16.530] - Big Rich Klein

So the whole family was involved with racing? Yes. Are you the youngest?

 


[00:09:26.830] - Peri Kalar

No, I had a younger sister. Her name was Sharon, and she She was 18 when she was killed by a drunk driver. She participated in all the family stuff. At that point, I had moved out, and I was doing my own thing for a while, and I got away from the racing world.

 


[00:09:46.100] - Big Rich Klein

How was that getting away from the racing world? Did you need to get away from it or it just happened?

 


[00:09:53.160] - Peri Kalar

No, I just grew up, and all of a sudden, there were boys and cars and- Distractions? Things to do, yeah. Got a job. I worked in Mastercraft when I was in middle school, high school. I was the janitor, and I had to go in every night and sweep up and take the trash out to our trash bin that was in front of our house. It was this big field. We lived right next to a farm, and we had horses, but a stable. I would take the trash out and throw the trash in the dumpster, and chickens would roost in there, and they'd come screaming out, and I was always scared. I didn't do it very often. My brother fired me a lot. My mom would ask him to hire me back because it was too expensive. For her to just give me money when I needed it, then, versus me earning money and she says, Use your own money. I got hired a lot. In 1981, when I decided I wanted to come back to Mastercraft, I I told my mom, and we discussed it, and I was going to work in the office, and my brother goes, Perry, you're fired.

 


[00:11:08.550] - Peri Kalar

Perry, you're fired. My mom says, What are you doing, Mike? He says, I'm just practicing.

 


[00:11:17.610] - Big Rich Klein

That's pretty funny. There was a lot of joking going on in the family.

 


[00:11:23.540] - Peri Kalar

Oh, my gosh. We all had CB radios, and he was a stitchmaker, and I was broom pusher, and I can't remember some of the other names. But later on, when we started having internet, I became seat lady. Seat lady, okay. Because everyone would go, Oh, that's the seat lady. That's where that email address came from.

 


[00:11:48.840] - Big Rich Klein

Nice. When you came back to Mastercraft, what were your duties?

 


[00:11:55.260] - Peri Kalar

My mom and I shared office duties, and then When my sister died, my mom basically quit. Then my dad slowly drifted into setting up a Mothers Against Drunk drivers program down in San Diego and became really involved with that. My brother and I ran it for a while. Then I think about a year later, he went to LA and got married. I had it on my own. Then a couple of years later, I met my husband, Buzz, who owned a company called HPS Oil, and he also ended up working at Bilstein.

 


[00:12:30.940] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. How did he get into Bill Stein? How did that fall into place? He worked at Autofab, out in Santee.

 


[00:12:44.880] - Peri Kalar

He did shock work for them. He had customers all over the place. Then when we got married and decided to start a family, he realized he needed to have a real job. That's when he went to Bill Stein. He was the manager for the aftermarket stuff in the back.

 


[00:13:08.040] - Big Rich Klein

So in the racing, family in the racing.

 


[00:13:12.360] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. He continued He did a co-ride with a lot of people, and then he got real. We ended up being partners with his best friend, Mike Lund, and that's who he rode with for years.

 


[00:13:24.480] - Big Rich Klein

Did you race yourself?

 


[00:13:29.590] - Peri Kalar

No.

 


[00:13:30.900] - Big Rich Klein

Never raced?

 


[00:13:32.070] - Peri Kalar

No.

 


[00:13:33.030] - Big Rich Klein

Okay.

 


[00:13:34.470] - Peri Kalar

Wish I had.

 


[00:13:35.380] - Big Rich Klein

You wish you had. I pre-run. You pre-run. There you go. What were the times like for a family chasing races, say, in Baja?

 


[00:13:50.750] - Peri Kalar

Well, we didn't do any chasing because there was really no communications. I remember being out in the middle of the desert. One of my One of the funny stories is that James Garner, who used to be a movie star, he was racing, and we were out in the middle of nowhere and it was pitch black. His car pulls in and there must have been 30 to 50 women all standing around giggling with cameras, all excited. I don't know where they came from. He gets out of the car and he walks over and he says to my mom that he needed to go to the restroom. My mom pointed over to a dark area and he turns around to the group and says, Ladies, please, no photos. That was what I remembered of that. But we used to have soda cans, tape to the roll bars, and they would have stuck stubs and tickets. Every time we went to a checkpoint, you stopped and you got a ticket. When you finished the race, you had to have all the tickets for each checkpoint. Then if you got stuck, you gave this to the checkpoint, the stuck stop, and then they would radio it to someone, and then we would find out later on if our car broke down or not.

 


[00:15:04.060] - Peri Kalar

Because there wasn't a BFG relay or anything at that point.

 


[00:15:09.020] - Big Rich Klein

It was truly the Wild West.

 


[00:15:12.380] - Peri Kalar

Oh, yeah. My dad created this little outhouse that we used out of race car seat material and stuff. That was nice because you could go in there and have privacy as a girl. But we camped. We had friends with motorhomes and stuff like that, but usually we camped out in tents. He made these racks that went on top of our VW variant in on top of the Ford truck. They would lift up, and then it had a tent attached to it so you could sleep on top of the car.

 


[00:15:47.200] - Big Rich Klein

Basically, a rooftop tent like they have now.

 


[00:15:50.040] - Peri Kalar

Yeah.

 


[00:15:50.500] - Big Rich Klein

So your dad was quite the innovator.

 


[00:15:53.840] - Peri Kalar

Oh, yeah, very much so. He made a bumper for his Datsun or Dotsun. It was that corrugated steel, and it was so heavy. It was bigger and heavier than the actual track. We used to tease him about it. If it needed six nails, he put in 10.

 


[00:16:14.900] - Big Rich Klein

Overbuild, yes.

 


[00:16:16.420] - Peri Kalar

Yes.

 


[00:16:17.960] - Big Rich Klein

What were some of the other things that I know that it started with the seats and then ended up window nets and all the- Yeah.

 


[00:16:29.480] - Peri Kalar

I sent a package over to Kurt of a bunch of stuff, and there was a picture of a window net in there. And that was what my dad was going to these club meetings, like score meetings or whatever they were. And they discussed that they needed to have that safety issue or that safety item brought in. And so my dad designed them and started making them. And I used to do the nets, too. You'd have to get the nets prepped, and then you have to sew them and do all sorts of stuff. And it was always fun because we get the funniest patterns. This one couple that we knew, or we didn't know then, but they sent me this cardboard pattern, and they had drawn the net, they drew in the mastercraft, they drew in all the lines where the netting was. And little holes where it was like, I could have used that for the net. And since then, we've been lifelong friends. Ever since that net pattern. It was just so good that I had to complement them.

 


[00:17:29.810] - Big Rich Klein

It just wasn't a cardboard cut out, so this is the size of my window.

 


[00:17:34.120] - Peri Kalar

Yeah, exactly. It wasn't newspaper and all that.

 


[00:17:38.060] - Big Rich Klein

I would imagine that you had all sorts of materials sent in that were the patterns.

 


[00:17:43.230] - Peri Kalar

Yes. Another funny thing that happened later on when I was by myself, I would go up to the Spherikow's. They had a Halloween party, and I wore a race car seat. I cut a hole the headrest. It was an old cover, and I just was wearing it. As the evening went on, it started smelling awful. I realized that someone had just peed in the seat because they were racing and they didn't get out. I didn't realize that until I was wearing it, and then I took it off, of course. Some other friends, they came up with... His name was Bryant Kibbs, came up with the idea of doing the Piss Kit, which is the personal sanitation system kit. What I did was I bought They're like an open-ended condom with a rubber fitting in a tube, and the tube would run down the leg, and then the guys could wear that while they're racing, and it wouldn't mess up the seats. I had it in a little brown bag. A lot of people would just come up and say, I need 10 little brown bags. The guys were always embarrassed about buying them, but we sold tons of them.

 


[00:18:55.390] - Peri Kalar

Those were our piscets. Piscets. That's awesome.

 


[00:18:59.670] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, Lord. Then you guys got into harnesses as well?

 


[00:19:06.190] - Peri Kalar

No, we never did the harnesses. We were in development with the fast attack vehicles that went over for Desert Storm. I got an order for a bunch, and normally it would take me a month to make them, and I had almost a week. It It was the week before Parker in 1991. If I didn't get the seats done, I wasn't going to go to the race. Buzz and I always set up Continuity together so that he could pop over and help me out because I'd have a three-year-old and I had a nine-month-old. I always had a friend that would come help with the kids and help with sales. It was just everyone always came and hung out with us in Continuity because we had a nice place to sit.

 


[00:19:58.960] - Big Rich Klein

All the seats. Yeah, exactly.

 


[00:20:02.300] - Peri Kalar

If I didn't get the seats for the fast attack vehicles made in time, I would have to stay home. It was just a miracle that we got them done. I couldn't believe it. I was able to go to the Parker 400 in 1991, and that was the race that Bus died in a race car crash. I was there. Otherwise, I would have been home had someone tell me, versus hearing it on the radio and being at the hospital and all that. I was really grateful that the fast attack vehicle seats went through, got done quickly. I had an employee, it was like, Why don't you take a break Because I can't. I'm making these seats for my country. And we were so proud of that. It was exciting.

 


[00:20:50.410] - Big Rich Klein

And of course, we didn't know at that point that they were going into Desert Storm? Or was this- No, we did. Okay, post Desert Storm.

 


[00:20:57.780] - Peri Kalar

Yeah, we did know. Okay. Yeah.

 


[00:21:01.440] - Big Rich Klein

And that must have been pretty hard on you to lose your husband in a race like that while you're there and your kids. I can't imagine what that would have been like.

 


[00:21:19.390] - Peri Kalar

It was really horrible, but the entire off-road world supported me so much. There were times when at the races I might have some bad behavior. But no one ever... Everyone just kept an eye on me and made sure I didn't get in trouble. I go out drinking and dancing. But I didn't ever do that stuff at home because I was being a mom and a business owner. But at the races, I let loose a little bit. I had so many people that were just kind and gracious to me. That was the worst and best year of my life because I found out that I could survive anything. Because that was the worst thing that... Losing my sister was horrible, but losing my husband was worse. He's still a part of our life. I mean, I've remarried. We have pictures of him in the house, and we tell funny stories about Buzz. I'm really lucky and grateful that I've had the blessed life I've had because that tragedy ended up showing me that I could I could survive.

 


[00:22:31.130] - Big Rich Klein

It ended up being a growth moment, yes.

 


[00:22:35.920] - Peri Kalar

Oh, yeah. Most definitely.

 


[00:22:39.510] - Big Rich Klein

Let's talk a little bit about your dad and what he did outside of racing and development. He said he started or worked with the MAD Group in San Diego. Did he get that started in San Diego? Yes. Okay.

 


[00:23:00.210] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. He and my brother were... He was the President. My brother was the Co-President, and I was the Secretary. My mom just shut down a lot when that happened, and everyone pulled away from everyone. It was really a bizarre The family dynamics were just so changed. But he started the court monitoring system where he would go to every hearing for any... If someone contacted him and said, My person was hurt or killed, and then he would take that case and he would go to the courts and monitor what's happening. And I found lists of different dates and things that were going on and continuances and stuff like that. And then he also did the victim outreach program where we would have meetings and the victim's families would come and we would talk and that a thing. Eventually, it got to be so much that my dad left Mastercraft to pursue this full-time. And he also got involved in hypnotherapy. Eventually, this mad was too much for us to handle. We just didn't have the resources. And another family in Escondido experienced the same loss, and they ended up taking the MAD chapter over. This is in 1981 to maybe 1983.

 


[00:24:23.350] - Peri Kalar

My dad went on to get a second degree in hypnotherapy and counseling. Then he became the program, the nighttime program director for the Miramar Nameble Air Station, Air Force Station, Nameble Air Station. People would go into rehab. He was the program director for all that, and he loved helping people.

 


[00:24:53.420] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, it sounds that way. That's giving back to the community in a huge way.

 


[00:25:00.690] - Peri Kalar

Well, another thing I failed to mention is he was an alcoholic. I remember as a kid going to AA meetings with him. It was really a church for us in a way. But he was always bringing home people that he would try and help. We always had a real busy household. We always had people. I'd wake up in the morning and like, Ivan Stuart would be having a cup of coffee in the kitchen while he's waiting for my dad finish something up or that a thing. There were always people dropping. Back then, we upholstered the cars. There was door panels, and it was all pretty. My dad made these little metal plates that you glue to the door or something. It says made by Mastercraft, and then it has a place where you would engrave it, and he would do that for some of the cars. I still have some of those. Oh, wow. But, yeah, we always had an open door. He was a helper.

 


[00:26:05.730] - Big Rich Klein

That's pretty great. Then when your dad stepped away, you took over the reins of Mastercraft?

 


[00:26:14.470] - Peri Kalar

Yeah, my brother and I were there for a while. Then my brother went to LA to get married. By then, I had met Buzz, and I was really involved in the whole thing. I was back into doing contingency. That's how I met him. Then we would go to the races together. And yeah, that's when I took over. And then we moved it to the house in 19... Let me see here. In 1977, we moved the shop from the house down in Chula Vista into an actual industrial building. Oh, we also had another product that we did, and it was the I think, Medicants. I'm not sure what they're called now, but they were green, like roll out with slats in them and sticks in them. If there's an accident, you can put the person on it and move them so they were immobile. So we did those. And then we also contacted with another company that made the Shukra back support, which is used in Ricaros and stuff like that. So we did that early on, but It didn't really pan out too well for us. We just bit off more than we could chew.

 


[00:27:36.190] - Peri Kalar

But my brother was there for a couple of years, and then I took over.

 


[00:27:44.630] - Big Rich Klein

Did your brother race or anything after getting married and stepping away?

 


[00:27:50.990] - Peri Kalar

No, he stepped away long before that. I think that it just got to the point where into the '80s, it wasn't. In the end of the '70s is when they both stopped racing. Everyone stopped racing. Okay.

 


[00:28:06.020] - Big Rich Klein

Then you ran Mastercraft for quite a few years then on your own.

 


[00:28:13.670] - Peri Kalar

About 20.

 


[00:28:14.840] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, about 20 years on your own. Then at that point, say at that 20-year mark, what was it? How many employees did you have? Or what was the facility like?

 


[00:28:29.310] - Peri Kalar

Well, interesting enough, in 1987, after my oldest daughter was born, we moved it to our garage, and it's like an eight car garage. And so we had it there, and we had six employees. We had had up to 20 before in the other place. But we started farming out some of our work. We had another company do our tool bags and things for us. And that's how I met my current husband, is he managed that shop. And so He made all the tool bags, and then we made limit straps for Rancho suspension and for a lot of work for Race Ready off road. But we farmed stuff out. We didn't have a huge overhead of employees.

 


[00:29:17.640] - Big Rich Klein

But in that eight car garage, you were producing at least all the seats?

 


[00:29:23.790] - Peri Kalar

Yeah, we produced everything except the tool bags. Okay. Wow.

 


[00:29:30.270] - Big Rich Klein

That's pretty awesome. So you downsized in size from a shop in Shula Vista to the eight car garage? Right. And still was very productive?

 


[00:29:42.040] - Peri Kalar

Yes.

 


[00:29:43.320] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent.

 


[00:29:44.530] - Peri Kalar

And then- That's where we made the fast attack vehicle seats.

 


[00:29:48.500] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. Yeah. Is in the 8 car garage? Yeah. Okay. And that's doing the framework, the frames and everything?

 


[00:29:57.460] - Peri Kalar

Well, no. So that all started with Unique Metal Products, built the frame. Tommy Bryant built the frames originally back in the '70s. Then we switched over to Unique Metal Products, and they did it. Then from Unique, we went to Robbie. I had known Robbie through Autofab. That's how Buzz knew him, and we were friends. Robbie, I think he went over to Autofab and had John show him how to do a certain type of weld for the seat frame or bend it or something. And so, Robbie was my supplier forever. And then eventually, I had wanted to sell the company, and he just decided he wanted to buy it. So that was perfect.

 


[00:30:42.510] - Big Rich Klein

And the timing was right?

 


[00:30:44.520] - Peri Kalar

Yes. I had been trying to sell it. I was in talks, but it was taking a long time. And I felt better knowing because I knew Robbie real well, and I knew that he would do well with it. And he far exceeded my expectations as far as making something of the company. Right.

 


[00:31:05.660] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, I met Robbie standing in what they call potato salad Hill in Moab during Easter Jeep Safari.

 


[00:31:15.110] - Peri Kalar

Oh, really?

 


[00:31:15.990] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. And it was there in the late '90s.

 


[00:31:20.350] - Peri Kalar

Well, he always had a smile. I mean, he always had a smile and a friendly hug. And he always told me he wanted to do right by my dad, which was sweet.

 


[00:31:33.300] - Big Rich Klein

That's important.

 


[00:31:34.800] - Peri Kalar

Yeah.

 


[00:31:37.160] - Big Rich Klein

So then, how did your dad pass away?

 


[00:31:44.630] - Peri Kalar

Actually, he had Alzheimer's.

 


[00:31:46.570] - Big Rich Klein

That's right. I did read that. Yeah.

 


[00:31:49.000] - Peri Kalar

He got Alzheimer's, and he passed in 2007. I had sold the house in... Excuse me. I had sold the business in '99, November of '99. Then my parents built out half of the garage as a little apartment, and they were going to stay there and then travel in their motorhome. About a year after that, my dad got diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and so they didn't travel anymore. He ended up living in a facility. But the funny thing is, is he was such a soldier that the first time he was at a real low-risk place, and they had this three-foot inside the main living area that the memory patients were locked in so they couldn't get lost. He saw these two nurses going, and so he waited until they were going out, and he brushed through them and escape. Then they said, You couldn't stay there anymore. Then he went to the VA, and they kept him in the bike ward for a little bit, trying to find him a new place. He thought he worked there, so we'd go up and visit, and he'd show us around his office. Then we found a place out in the Lakeside, and the first day there, scaled that 5-foot fence.

 


[00:33:08.420] - Peri Kalar

Then they put him in the 12-foot fence, and he never was able to scale it. But when we would go visit, he didn't have words, but he'd look at you and he'd point to his eyes with two fingers and then point to another area like lingo, like he was planning recognizance or something. He He was always just ready to go. Always just ready to go.

 


[00:33:33.600] - Big Rich Klein

Trying to figure a way to get out.

 


[00:33:35.430] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. He was fun.

 


[00:33:40.200] - Big Rich Klein

And your mom?

 


[00:33:44.530] - Peri Kalar

She passed in February of '15, and she had severe rheumatoid arthritis. She went on to... She did some traveling after my dad was in nursing home, but she was at home with us.

 


[00:34:05.020] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. I can relate to that. My wife and I are taking care of my parents, which are '85 and '89.

 


[00:34:17.450] - Peri Kalar

Oh, man.

 


[00:34:18.400] - Big Rich Klein

We're living... A few years ago, I used to have my office here back in the early '90s, or early 2000s, when I first started putting on events. And we remodeled my office area so that caregivers, if they needed a caregiver, they would have a place to stay. Why? Well, we ended up becoming the caregivers about a year and a half ago.

 


[00:34:45.090] - Peri Kalar

It's a lot of work. It's a lot of work. I'm still doing it.

 


[00:34:49.190] - Big Rich Klein

It is.

 


[00:34:52.200] - Peri Kalar

My husband's father lived with us for 20 years, and he and my mom became and padres. She couldn't drive real well with her hands, but he could see stuff and he could help her. They would go on little errands, and it just terrified us. But they were best friends. He passed. Well, actually, This is the whole thing. My husband's mom passed in February of '22, and then pops passed in June of '22. His mother's husband still He lives up in Poway, which is about 20, 30 minutes away, and I take care of him. So I'm in charge of all of his... I go up there and take care of him and manage the people that go see him and stuff like that. So I'm still caregiving. I hope to not at some point. We joke that we've never been alone. I hope we like each other.

 


[00:35:55.710] - Big Rich Klein

That's important. Yeah. Yeah. Do you have kids?

 


[00:36:04.630] - Peri Kalar

Yes, I have two, and he has two, so we have four. Then we have four grandkids. One of the daughters is staying over in the apartment. She got a job transferred out here. And so her 15-year-old and her 12-year-old girls live here with us in the house. And we love it because we get to be around them. The other two grandkids we have live up in Sacramento, and it's a 12-year-old... No, Excuse me, 11-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy.

 


[00:36:34.680] - Big Rich Klein

So they're up here by me then. Where are you at? I'm in Placerville, California.

 


[00:36:40.790] - Peri Kalar

Oh, God. The Nets people that I was telling you about, they live there.

 


[00:36:45.170] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, really?

 


[00:36:46.110] - Peri Kalar

My best friend used to live there. Ironically, she passed 10 years to the day that my dad passed. But I used to go up there to see her all the time. And then when my daughter and her husband moved up there, I went up to see them. So now when I go up, I have to see about six different people, so I have to make long trips.

 


[00:37:06.930] - Big Rich Klein

Right.

 


[00:37:07.820] - Peri Kalar

So if I come up again, I'll reach out.

 


[00:37:09.790] - Big Rich Klein

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So what was the one thing that you would say that your dad instilled in you that helped you get through all these times?

 


[00:37:28.350] - Peri Kalar

Well, that's a tough one. Give me a second here to think about that. No worries. It's going to be what it is, and you have to make the best of it. My mom was a real strong woman. She basically held everything together because he was gone a lot up until I was in my teams.

 


[00:37:53.220] - Big Rich Klein

Being in the military?

 


[00:37:56.250] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. I don't know. Everything was One of his most common comments was, The description of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I've always remembered that.

 


[00:38:10.330] - Big Rich Klein

That is definitely the definition. Yes.

 


[00:38:13.810] - Peri Kalar

I participate in it quite often. When he passed or when he knew he was getting Alzheimer's, he sat down and said, I'd like to make a list of things that are important that I want to remember, and I'm going to put it in my wallet. I said, Okay. We We sat down and talked about it, and it may even have it. Let me see if I can pull it out real quick. Some of them are so simple. Unfortunately, because we didn't know about Alzheimer's, when that happens, you don't have words anymore. Let me see here if I have it. I think I do. Yes. It says, Think that good things will happen. Express gratitude to a loved one. Put your gripes away in a box. Be patient with an annoying person. Do something special for yourself. Reach out to someone who needs comfort. Focus deeply on each moment. Learn from a mistake. Look closely at a flower or tree that you haven't noticed before.

 


[00:39:14.230] - Big Rich Klein

Wow.

 


[00:39:15.400] - Peri Kalar

Then on the back of that, we put the 12 steps of recovery from AA. No, actually, it was a serenity prayer that's on the back of the card. We handed those little cards out at the funeral, and I still carry the original one that was in his wallet in mine.

 


[00:39:34.080] - Big Rich Klein

That's pretty profound.

 


[00:39:37.830] - Peri Kalar

Yeah.

 


[00:39:40.630] - Big Rich Klein

It gives you a thought.

 


[00:39:45.040] - Peri Kalar

It gives you a thought. It does. I mean, because you're just in such a hurry in your life to get through things that you don't stop and take those moments.

 


[00:39:59.540] - Big Rich Klein

What What about yourself that you try to instill in your kids?

 


[00:40:09.620] - Peri Kalar

Integrity.

 


[00:40:11.980] - Big Rich Klein

What's that? Integrity?

 


[00:40:14.170] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. Yeah, just doing the right... Another thing my dad always said was do the right thing when no one's watching, even if no one's watching. I've always tried to do that. When I end my phone calls with my daughters, I'll say, I love you. Be kind, because we forget to be kind. My one daughter always teases me because she's an educator now. She's a counselor. She goes, I always remember how you used to always say, go find a lonely kid by themselves and sit with them and share your lunch. I guess I have a social conscience. But yeah, I think the integrity is part of it, is a strong part for me. I'm very self-aware and friendly. I mean, I care about people.

 


[00:41:11.760] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent.

 


[00:41:13.760] - Peri Kalar

We all have a weekly It's a naked sense of humor, so that's detrimental sometimes.

 


[00:41:18.470] - Big Rich Klein

But you know what? Humor is very important. Yeah. That's one of the things that our household is full of.

 


[00:41:26.520] - Peri Kalar

We have a lot of sarcasm, too, which, you know I make jokes about buzz and stuff, and people that don't know me look at me like you're a horrid person. But the people that do know me know that how my comic relief is was that was how I dealt with it, was to make jokes and, Ha ha, it's only a flesh wound. I can carry on, that a thing. Humor is very important.

 


[00:41:58.090] - Big Rich Klein

What is the What do you think is the legacy from your family that will be left?

 


[00:42:13.880] - Peri Kalar

Well, that's hard to say Because someone asked me, How come you don't go to the races anymore? It's like, Because I don't know anybody. There's no one left to remember our legacy. Mastercrap fated out. So It's hard to say. I just think back then, racing was a family affair for everybody. We were all families. I don't know what legacy that I would want. Just that it was a good product. We were honest. We helped when we could.

 


[00:42:54.880] - Big Rich Klein

Absolutely quality product.

 


[00:42:59.170] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. Well, when I first came into the office, we had a thing that had a lifetime warranty on a race car seat. And so if the frame broke, we'd put a new frame under it. And then if the lining tore or it needed something, we'd fix the lining. And if there was a rip in the cover, we'd fix that. And finally, I said, Dad, we're only going to sell so many seats for the rest of our lives.

 


[00:43:22.150] - Big Rich Klein

Right, with a lifetime warranty.

 


[00:43:23.350] - Peri Kalar

You have a lifetime warranty.

 


[00:43:28.940] - Big Rich Klein

Every rate, you'd have to basically put a seating every race car.

 


[00:43:32.570] - Peri Kalar

Yeah, exactly. And then keep doing it over and over for free.

 


[00:43:37.540] - Big Rich Klein

Right. So once you stepped out of Mastercraft, did you continue working or doing something else? Are you active now in some employment?

 


[00:43:56.840] - Peri Kalar

Well, no. I took a year off, and I was with the lunch duty mom. That was a hit to my ego, having been person of the year once in school. But my kids liked it, and I really did enjoy it. I ended up working for Kaiser Permanente in the Membership Administration Department. They're a health care organization. I just retired from there this past October. It was 22 years.

 


[00:44:25.250] - Big Rich Klein

Wow. Yeah. So 20 years running MasterCraft.

 


[00:44:29.880] - Peri Kalar

Right.

 


[00:44:31.370] - Big Rich Klein

Then- Twenty-two years with- At Kaiser. At Kaiser, and a couple of years in between the stents where you didn't do... You were lunch mom.

 


[00:44:42.010] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. It was about a year or so. In between leaving Robbie and then coming into Kaiser. Okay.

 


[00:44:53.420] - Big Rich Klein

When you were young and you stepped out of the house, you said, and then you came back, what did you do in that meantime, in between?

 


[00:45:05.640] - Peri Kalar

I was like, I was 20, 21, 22, that a thing. I was working for a It was called Sunset Pools as an office person. Then I worked for a company called Sunshine Mining. Then when they laid me off, I decided I talked to my mom and said, Mom, I want to work part-time. She goes, Okay. I thought, Okay, cool. This is going to be great. I can sleep in all morning. I can come to work at noon, work till 5, take a nap, and then go party all night like I have been. When I showed up for work, she goes, No, you're going to work 8:00 to 12:00. I'm like, Oh, no. It ruined everything.

 


[00:45:55.890] - Big Rich Klein

I had a landscape company at one time, and I ended up having to make sure that everybody showed up on Monday after a long weekend. I had to make sure that pay days were on Mondays instead of Fridays.

 


[00:46:13.290] - Peri Kalar

That is clever. I should tell my husband that.

 


[00:46:17.040] - Big Rich Klein

I was able to eliminate the absences. I was able to eliminate having to go bail employees out over the weekend. Because by... And then What caused that is that I had more of the wives and girlfriends showing up on Fridays to collect the paycheck, than I was handing to the employees.

 


[00:46:41.480] - Peri Kalar

Oh, that's funny.

 


[00:46:42.710] - Big Rich Klein

And, I mean, we worked hard, we played hard. And, there was a landscape installation and digging trenches and doing all that stuff is not is not physically easy. And, especially in the Sacramento foothill area, where the temperatures are hot as well and dry. So it was hard work. But boy, on the weekends, the guys liked to party and had to move the paychecks to Mondays.

 


[00:47:14.620] - Peri Kalar

I love it. I'm going to tell my husband that. They do all sorts of sewn items as well. They make limit straps for a race ready. They make tool bags. They work on some of the race cars for different little special things they want. He's friends with some of the same people I'm friends with. I have to say that Facebook has been a godsend for me because when I left Robbie's, I was on vacation and I was going to come back. Then I just thought, You know what? I don't want to come back. This isn't fun. I lost contact with so many of my people that just supported me through such horrible times. I felt very lost, and I felt like I lost a big piece of myself. But then as Facebook grew, it was like, Oh, I'm friends with the people that I knew then that mattered. I'm friends with them now, and we talk all the time on Facebook. So it's really cool.

 


[00:48:12.170] - Big Rich Klein

Is that one of those, Kurt?

 


[00:48:15.640] - Peri Kalar

Sure, Bob? No, I never knew Kurt, but he and I have been friends on Facebook for years, and we'll chat back and forth. But there's Anne Chapman. She was a mechanic for PPI, Precision Prep. There's Melanie Connor, who's Jim Connor's wife. I'm sure I'm missing tons of people, but there's these people that were always my friends and always helped me that I was able to keep in touch with.

 


[00:48:43.020] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent.

 


[00:48:44.100] - Peri Kalar

Yeah.

 


[00:48:44.820] - Big Rich Klein

I use social media not only to advertise what we're doing, but also to keep an eye, not to keep an eye, but keep a finger on the pulse of our race teams, ex-racers that are no longer competing. I can't believe how many people I've I've refriended from high school. Yeah. And I graduated in 1976. So that was quite a while ago.

 


[00:49:13.630] - Peri Kalar

Me too.

 


[00:49:14.510] - Big Rich Klein

Okay.

 


[00:49:15.200] - Peri Kalar

Same year.

 


[00:49:16.880] - Big Rich Klein

There you go.

 


[00:49:18.050] - Peri Kalar

Yeah.

 


[00:49:19.140] - Big Rich Klein

So, yeah, it's been a while, but it's amazing what social media can do that way. There's a lot of pluses to it, but just as there are a lot of minuses to it.

 


[00:49:29.700] - Peri Kalar

Right. I had a customer's daughter reach out to me and she was, Do you remember us? We did this, we had this. I went, Yeah, I remember you guys. She goes, Well, I'm their daughter. I go, I remember you as well. And just the other day, she says, Are you one of the mint race? I said, No. I go, I don't have a purpose there. I don't have a team I'm pitting for. I don't have much to do, so I wouldn't go. All the people have too. Their kids don't know who I am. Walker took me for a pre-run, and that was one of the most exciting in Parker, actually. I don't remember what year, but He rode like a cowboy. He was driving with his left hand, and he had his right-hand shifting. It was almost like a cowboy with a lariat. He was so cool. Someone asked him, Do you ever hit Do you ever hit cars in front of you to get out of the way? He goes, Oh, I don't hit them. I just give him a little nudge to say hello.

 


[00:50:37.900] - Big Rich Klein

But I was like, so...

 


[00:50:41.510] - Peri Kalar

Because he came and got me and said, Yeah, you want to go for a ride? I was like, Oh, yeah. Someone, watch my boost, and went. But he was always really good to me. I was really treated well. Ivan treated me real well. Cal Wells was wonderful to me. They always I wasn't giving them thousands of dollars, but they'd run my decals for me when they used my products. I always felt very treasured by them.

 


[00:51:11.690] - Big Rich Klein

Right, exactly.

 


[00:51:13.640] - Peri Kalar

Is Judy Smith still around?

 


[00:51:15.580] - Big Rich Klein

Yes.

 


[00:51:16.680] - Peri Kalar

Oh, good. Yes. Good. She was always very kind as well.

 


[00:51:21.790] - Big Rich Klein

Very true. Well, Perry, I'd like to say thank you so much for spending time discussing your life and your family's life and everything that impacted your life in off-road.

 


[00:51:45.180] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. I enjoyed telling you my stories, and I love the off-road community, and it was probably one of the major best parts of my life.

 


[00:51:57.200] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome. I'd like to I'd like you to take a look at the nomination page on orimhoff. Org, and look at that and see if you'd like to put together an application for your your dad to be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame. I'd like to help you with that if you're willing.

 


[00:52:22.030] - Peri Kalar

That would just be such an honor to do that. Thank you. And I will. I'll be reaching out to you soon.

 


[00:52:27.750] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. Well, I appreciate it, and I want you to have a great rest of your day. Well, thank you. And the next time you get up here to the Placerville or Sacramento area, let me know.

 


[00:52:41.480] - Peri Kalar

I'm going to be up there in September babysitting, so hopefully I'll have some free time that I can do that. I'd love to meet you.

 


[00:52:48.030] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent. Excellent.

 


[00:52:49.320] - Peri Kalar

All right.

 


[00:52:50.470] - Big Rich Klein

Great.

 


[00:52:50.960] - Peri Kalar

Well, let me know. Are you going to have a sample to send me before you actually do it, or you're just going to do it?

 


[00:52:58.610] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, it's just going to posted. But you'll be very happy with it.

 


[00:53:05.530] - Peri Kalar

Okay. Edit carefully. Absolutely.

 


[00:53:08.700] - Big Rich Klein

Absolutely. This is all about the heritage and legacy of everybody. So, yes.

 


[00:53:15.220] - Peri Kalar

Yeah. Well, if you're ever bored, call me. I have tons of stories.

 


[00:53:18.920] - Big Rich Klein

Excellent.

 


[00:53:20.010] - Peri Kalar

Sounds great. All right.

 


[00:53:21.080] - Big Rich Klein

You take care, Rick. All right. Thank you very much. Thank you. Bye-bye.

 


[00:53:23.960] - Peri Kalar

Bye-bye.

 


[00:53:24.880] - Big Rich Klein

Well, that's another episode of Conversations with Big Rich. I'd like to thank you all for listening. If you could do us a favor and leave us a review on any podcast service that you happen to be listening on, or send us an email or a 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 the gusto you can. Thank you.