Based in the hub between Chicago and Milwaukee, Drew Burroughs is making a name for Goatbuilt, not just in off-road, but in the Midwest manufacturing hub. Drew found his way into off-road through the Polygoats at San Luis Obisbo and hasn’t turned back. Listen in on Episode 112 on any of your favorite podcast channels or even on YouTube. Don’t forget to subscribe!
4:22 – I’ve been working on helicopters for as long as I can remember
17:35 – I bought a Jeep, and then I bought a magazine, that was the start…
24:52 – introduced to the Polygoats
34:25 – I got keys to the shop
43:12 – they were spraying garlic and fish oil
53:28 – that’s my introduction to the industry
1:08:18 – let’s make this thing in a machine shop
1:18:19 – you can just buy it and weld it together
1:28:27 – there’s so much stuff built here
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
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[00:00:06.310] - Big Rich Klein
Welcome to Conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviews are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle, not just a job. I talk to competitive teams, racers, rock crawlers, business owners, employees, media and private park owners, men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world we live and love and call off road.
[00:00:53.730] - Speaker 3
Whether you're crawling the red rocks of Moab or hauling your toys to the trail, Maxxis has the tires you can trust for performance and durability, four wheels or two, Maxxis tires are the choice of Champions because they know that whether for work or play, for fun or competition, Maxxis tires deliver. Choose Maxxis tread victoriously.
[00:01:20.350] - Big Rich Klein
If you still love the idea of a printed magazine, something to save and read at any time. 4Low magazine is a magazine for you. 4Low cannot be found in a storefront or on a bookshelf, but you can have it delivered to your home or place of business. Visit 4lowmagazine.com to order your subscription.
[00:01:40.720] - Big Rich Klein
Today on today's episode of Conversations With Big Rich, we are talking to Drew Burroughs. Drew is the owner of Goatbilt. He went to Cal Poly, Pomona and was in the Polygotes Club, I imagine, and has been around the four wheel drive industry most of his adult life. So, Drew, thank you for coming on board and spending some time talking with us.
[00:02:10.510] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. Good to talk to you, Rich. I've been a fan of the show and glad to be on it and kind of tell my story, I guess. First off, I was at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
[00:02:22.930] - Big Rich Klein
Did I say Pomona?
[00:02:24.400] - Drew Burroughs
You said Pomona, which is like, I don't care, but it's like that kind of like rival. I went to Cal Poly St. Luis. I went to the real Cal Poly.
[00:02:34.870] - Big Rich Klein
I had a friend that went to Pomona.
[00:02:36.920] - Drew Burroughs
[00:02:37.820] - Big Rich Klein
As an architect. And for some reason I always say that, but the girl that I went through high school as being, like, boyfriend-girlfriend went to San Luis Obispo.
[00:02:49.780] - Drew Burroughs
[00:02:50.200] - Big Rich Klein
So I should know. But I always say Pomona.
[00:02:52.790] - Drew Burroughs
So I apologize for that. No, that's fine. I don't know if you want to start over, edit it.
[00:02:57.560] - Big Rich Klein
No, we didn't leave that part in. I don't mind making mistakes. I don't make them very often. So let's jump right in. And were you born and raised in that area?
[00:03:12.230] - Drew Burroughs
No, I was actually born in North Carolina. I grew up in Central Valley, California because my parents were from there. But my parents were living out in North Carolina at the time and had me there when I was nine. My family moved back to California. I grew up there like kind of out in the woods playing in the woods all day, all night, and had a blast living there. Then we moved to Central Valley. So it's a little town kind of Wasco McFarland just off 99 north of Bakersfield?
[00:03:49.050] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. That's kind of like at one time that was nothing more than really a gas station stop.
[00:03:55.070] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. Right now with all prisons, you know. Yeah, exactly. Prison town.
[00:04:00.910] - Big Rich Klein
Well, they got to put them somewhere.
[00:04:02.760] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. Like I said, when I was nine, so my family had a 320 acres that my dad grew up on when he was a kid. So we moved back to that. My parents are the house my dad grew up in.
[00:04:21.030] - Big Rich Klein
How old were you when that happened?
[00:04:22.900] - Drew Burroughs
So I was nine. Okay. So I went to a little school there. Little tiny school. I mean, there were twelve kids in my class, so I grew up around there. I went to McFarland High School, which is some people there's a movie called McFarland USA with Kevin Costner. That was like my high school and like when I was there. So it's a funny Hollywood picture made about my high school and I had nothing to do. Sorry about all the cross country. A lot of the Hispanic migrant farm workers running cross country. And so it was a pretty good Disney movie, but it's pretty good. So that's kind of I was not involved in the sport or anything, but it's just kind of a funny story about where I grew up. So my dad's, a helicopter mechanic, went to Vietnam, learned that when he went to Vietnam, he was a crew chief on a Huey. And after that he just learned the skill. And after he got out, he just kind of did that the rest of his life. So he was in North Carolina working doing that there. He works with his missionary group called Jars.
[00:05:38.560] - Drew Burroughs
And they basically did like it was missionaries and they supported them. Like they had aviation and radio and Bible translators. So they would like fly that. They had this whole little aviation Department where they get all the missionaries out. I mean, this is like Papa, New Guinea and the Philippines and just pretty remote jungle areas. So they get all the missionaries out there and out the little small planes and helicopters and then they had radios for them to communicate. This is the 70s, right. And they also had part of their organization. They translated the Bible and all whatever the native languages are. So the government gave them some surplus helicopters, but they had to be completely overhauled. So my dad, he went back there and basically overhauled and rebuilt these helicopters. And then when they got done, he moved back. Yeah. So back to California, moved back. And my dad had a shop at our house and he just worked on helicopters there basically all the kind of crop dusters around there had the old Bell and Hiller still piston engine, old helicopters and spraying. So he just worked on them locally around there. He had customers all up around the Valley.
[00:07:02.530] - Drew Burroughs
So I kind of grew up in the shop and literally working on helicopters ever since I can remember.
[00:07:09.730] - Big Rich Klein
That's interesting. Most of us in this industry worked on cars, not helicopters.
[00:07:16.390] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. And I did once I started driving, I got in the cars, but that's kind of my background. My dad, he had a CJ, two A when he was in high school driving around that farm and would have been the early 60s, late 50s. That was his car. Was his old flat Fender Jeep back then.
[00:07:39.000] - Big Rich Klein
[00:07:39.970] - Drew Burroughs
Basically, yeah. I just grew up around mechanical stuff and I was your typical kind of engineer kid that took all his toys apart and took everything apart in the house and figured out how to work and try to put it back together. And it was always building stuff and doing your typical kids running around outside all day type stuff.
[00:08:02.330] - Big Rich Klein
So did you grow up riding bicycles or motorcycles, ATVs?
[00:08:08.290] - Drew Burroughs
A little bit. I had a little ATV. We just drove around the farm kind of, but not really like riding on trails or nothing. But yeah, I had a little Yamaha ATV as a ten to ten to 13 year old or whatever. Then I kind of got into skateboarding for a while and I was kind of into that. And then I was like in my yard building half pipes and building ramps. My dad's like, oh, here's a saw. I have my own hammer and saw and go lumberyard, buy some wood and start building stuff.
[00:08:45.850] - Big Rich Klein
Did you draw them all out first?
[00:08:49.030] - Drew Burroughs
Probably. I guess I don't really worry about stressors. No, I wasn't that up on that stuff at the time, but I'm sure I did a lot of like I wasn't really like an artist, but in school I would be drawing airplanes. I couldn't draw a person or an animal, but I could draw a helicopter or an airplane and I could make a pretty damn good to scale drawing of whatever kind of machine I was into. It must have been the pre CAD days, right. When you're drawing cars or planes or probably mostly airplanes and helicopters, because that's kind of what we're into at the time.
[00:09:36.700] - Big Rich Klein
So living down in the Valley, out there in that Wasco area.
[00:09:41.310] - Drew Burroughs
[00:09:42.030] - Big Rich Klein
Going to a school that had twelve in your class.
[00:09:46.390] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, that was up to 8th grade.
[00:09:48.170] - Big Rich Klein
That was up to 8th grade.
[00:09:49.560] - Drew Burroughs
[00:09:50.090] - Big Rich Klein
And what was it like having such a small class and you did that for what, probably four or five years then?
[00:09:58.220] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. I don't know. I didn't like it because growing up in North Carolina, it was green and it was green. And I had kids in the neighborhood. You just go across the street, just run around. And then we moved out to the farm so there was like nobody around.
[00:10:16.990] - Big Rich Klein
[00:10:17.630] - Drew Burroughs
And then it was hot. It's hot and it's dry. So it's definitely a different culture shock and the white kids are the minority there. So definitely like everyone speaks another language and whatnot. So it's definitely a different place to grow up there's pros and cons there, too. I mean, you have the mountains there. So we went up to the mountains a lot, the Sierra's East of Visalia. You have all the Sequoia forest and all kinds of stuff up in the mountains up there. So I went up there a lot with my dad and then the desert beyond that.
[00:11:06.410] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. Did you have the aqueducts nearby?
[00:11:12.230] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, we would water ski behind the Jeep and high school in those.
[00:11:18.300] - Big Rich Klein
I was wondering.
[00:11:19.820] - Drew Burroughs
[00:11:21.230] - Big Rich Klein
So you're not supposed to swim in those, are you?
[00:11:24.960] - Drew Burroughs
I don't know. There's some that are like the I guess the little ones are like the drainage from the fields. You don't want to swim in those, but some of them are the water coming down from basically coming down from the Sierra. So those probably aren't too bad, right.
[00:11:42.410] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And when you were of school age, say, before high school, were you studious, were you good?
[00:11:54.150] - Drew Burroughs
I was okay. I mean, I think I was pretty smart, so I was bored. I got decent grades, but I didn't try.
[00:12:11.370] - Big Rich Klein
Were you one of those that tested well? Oh, yeah, tested well, but not necessarily. Did all the work.
[00:12:18.100] - Drew Burroughs
Right. How much work do you do in fifth grade? 6th grade. Fifth grade.
[00:12:24.690] - Big Rich Klein
I sat behind the piano almost the whole year.
[00:12:28.290] - Drew Burroughs
Right. But I think I had behavior issues because I was bored, because I knew the stuff. And I wouldn't say I was ahead of everybody, but everybody was kind of behind the grade level. So I was kind of cruising through and board and whatnot. But yeah, I was good in elementary or up to 8th grade and then kind of got into baseball for a while all through high school and 13 year old, I kind of got big into base playing baseball, so that kind of kept me busy.
[00:13:07.170] - Big Rich Klein
What was your preferred position?
[00:13:09.930] - Drew Burroughs
I was catching and pitching.
[00:13:11.830] - Big Rich Klein
[00:13:12.370] - Drew Burroughs
So baseball, if you're in the outfield, you're kind of not doing much a lot. So I kind of wanted to be in the action all the time.
[00:13:21.330] - Big Rich Klein
You can't get in the action any more than the catcher.
[00:13:25.000] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. So I don't be a catcher. I enjoyed it and had fun at it. So I kind of did that all through high school. Our team wasn't anything special, but I did okay.
[00:13:44.890] - Big Rich Klein
How are your knees now?
[00:13:48.190] - Drew Burroughs
I don't think they're bad. Yeah. Catching isn't bad because you're just squatting, but I think the kids have played football and stuff where you're running and get twisted knees and that's probably going to have any problems.
[00:14:05.590] - Big Rich Klein
Do you have a lot of collisions at the plate?
[00:14:08.530] - Drew Burroughs
I don't think so. I'm sure at that level, even back then, they probably didn't allow it. So it was kind of not a thing you did? I think so.
[00:14:22.470] - Big Rich Klein
Like when I went to College down in Santa Barbara, I didn't go to Santa Barbara, but I went to a private College down there for photography, actually. And a bunch of us got together and created a softball team and played open League down in Santa Barbara. And down there you play pretty much all year long. I played catcher down there and I had a lot of collisions. But that was an open League. Pretty much an adult League.
[00:14:53.590] - Drew Burroughs
[00:14:55.150] - Big Rich Klein
And sometimes it was more I think we started playing softball and ended up playing hockey is what it was more like. So then when did you decide that you wanted to go into engineering?
[00:15:16.190] - Drew Burroughs
In high school. I had straight A's in Valley Victorian High School. So I did pretty well. Again, I guess I'm not bragging, but our high school wasn't that like it wasn't that hard, I guess. But yeah, I did really good at math and I did really good at science. So you turn 16 and you kind of start driving or getting more into cars. I wanted to get a Jeep. I don't know why, but my dad had a Jeep when he was a kid, maybe, I don't know. So I wanted to get a Jeep. And my dad's like, okay, he's all going home at it because he's in the Jeeps or wasn't the Jeep. So we had this 70, I think it was a 72 Jeep Wagoner. My parents had had it since I was probably riding around in it. My mom was pregnant and they had it that old. So that was our family car in the 70s. So my dad had like put this old Snobbill diesel in it. Wow.
[00:16:37.970] - Big Rich Klein
His dad was pretty handy then. That probably comes from wrenching on stuff, on helicopters.
[00:16:48.950] - Drew Burroughs
Oh, yeah. Those are like the worst engine. So it blew up. So the deep chat forever. So then I'm like, hey, I want to drive. I'm like, well, drive this thing. So then we pulled out the diesel engine and put just a small block, built a small block 350. Somebody gave us some small block and totally budget back then. So we put a small block Chevy in it and pretty simple. So I drove that for a little bit. And then I ended up getting at the time I was probably 16 still. I got an 83 CJ seven.
[00:17:34.440] - Big Rich Klein
[00:17:35.410] - Drew Burroughs
So I wasn't in a hole at the time. I just wanted to get a Jeep. And God, this was 92 or something. So you get ten year old Jeep isn't too terribly expensive. So I got a CJ. And then I kind of started getting the four drive magazines and you're like, oh, let's lift it. And you kind of start seeing all the stuff you can do because back then it was just magazines and no Internet.
[00:18:02.280] - Big Rich Klein
So you fell down the rabbit hole.
[00:18:04.290] - Drew Burroughs
Oh, yeah. It's funny. I listen to a lot of podcasts and everybody like half the people are that way. Oh, I got this Jeep and then I bought a magazine and it's funny. Everybody reads the four Wheeler and off road back then off road was just a big mud trucks with the light bars and four Wheeler. They all had their little niches I guess, right. My sister lived in Berea, Orange County.
[00:18:30.220] - Big Rich Klein
[00:18:30.540] - Drew Burroughs
And I'd go down there and then down there they had Forgive sport utility on the rack, which is totally, totally like hardcore forwarding as they did back then. This was like the early days. I probably started buying some of the first issues with Phil Howell. So that was like totally that's my thing. So then I just started kind of doing modifications to the Jeep and I'm 16/17 didn't know what I was doing, but my dad would, dad would help me out and stuff, do little stuff here there and fix it up. So yeah, we drove that in high school as my daily driver. We just drove it everywhere, you know, no top indoors in the summer because it's 100 deg and soft top in the winter.
[00:19:25.390] - Big Rich Klein
So what was Valedictorian played baseball. Any other sports?
[00:19:32.110] - Drew Burroughs
No, that was it. Yeah. Once you start driving and driving and doing stuff and people just kind of lose interest in sports. But I still played a lot of baseball and did that.
[00:19:47.890] - Big Rich Klein
And then I would imagine you started off with like mechanical drawing or something like that.
[00:19:54.970] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, we had some CAD, we had some kind of basic that's right.
[00:19:59.040] - Big Rich Klein
You were like in the 90s.
[00:20:00.890] - Drew Burroughs
Not CAD, but we had basic drafting in high school.
[00:20:03.950] - Big Rich Klein
[00:20:04.730] - Drew Burroughs
And that was kind of cool to me. Like, oh, this is kind of more than the old technical, the big board with the big like, I forget what it's called, the big arm with the ruler.
[00:20:15.140] - Big Rich Klein
[00:20:15.900] - Drew Burroughs
So I did a little bit of that and that was interesting to me. And then back then everybody's like College, where are you going to go to College? They should have done more trade school stuff, but that's what it was. I'm like, well, where am I going to go to College and what I want to do? So I just kind of based on kind of what I was interested in and thought I was good at. I'm like, I want to be a mechanical engineer and I want to design cars or trucks or off road stuff. I don't really know what you want to do. You probably wanted to be like, I'm going to go work for GM or something or who knows? But that's kind of like I want to do that. You want to do that? Basically, I just kind of applied to some of the state schools and got into Cal Poly there, which is a top really good undergrad engineering school. It's huge and AG, but it's definitely like really one of the top undergrad engineering schools, and it was local. I mean, it's 2 hours from everybody in the Valley. Fresno, Bakersfield goes over to San Luis Obisbo, Pismo.
[00:21:34.170] - Drew Burroughs
That's where everybody goes for vacation or weekends or whatever. So it was fairly close and cheap at the time. It was a state school.
[00:21:43.460] - Big Rich Klein
Right. What did on the acreage that you guys family acreage?
[00:21:48.880] - Drew Burroughs
[00:21:50.610] - Big Rich Klein
What was being grown?
[00:21:54.510] - Drew Burroughs
We never farmed it. My grandfather did way back, but then they just leased the land out for years.
[00:22:01.550] - Drew Burroughs
So when I first moved out there, it was cotton, cotton and alfalfa. And I think the cotton cotton kind of started going away around there later. But it was mostly cotton and alfalfa on our property. Just the guys, at least that's kind of what they grew. But there was a lot of around us was a lot of vineyards and then a lot of almonds. Right. But those things are those are in there for years or decades. The cotton is a seasonal annual thing or whatever. But I think more and more, a lot of it's going more towards almonds and pistachios and grapes. I didn't do much farming, but just kind of just grew up out there, and I was around a lot of stuff.
[00:22:57.470] - Big Rich Klein
[00:22:59.270] - Drew Burroughs
The guy that leased our land, he did a lot of grape harvesting, so he did harvesting for a lot of people around there. So he had this whole fleet of these. Have you ever seen a grape picker? It's this big machine that's all hydraulic driven. It's this big machine that drives over the rows of grapes, and it has these fingers and it just vibrates the whole vine and knocks the grapes off into a conveyor. And then there's a tractor with a big bucket driving beside it. So they did a lot of the grape harvesting.
[00:23:35.210] - Big Rich Klein
That's interesting. I'd never seen grapes harvested. I know. Shelley wants to go and do a harvest picking, go out and volunteer and pick grapes.
[00:23:48.710] - Drew Burroughs
Well, they do like the wine and juice grapes. They do it with the machine because it's messy, but the table grapes are all hand picked. It was messy, and they did it at night when it's cooler, and it's just never seen so many bugs.
[00:24:11.050] - Big Rich Klein
I'm not a big fan of spiders. Oh, right. And it's more of the webs, but I never could imagine picking bananas or shipping them or anything because I've seen photographs of what some of the spiders are that live in those banana bunches. And it's like there's no freaking way anybody's getting me to do that. Anyway, so then from high school to Cal Poly, what was that transition? Like you said, you went to a pretty good sized high school, though.
[00:24:52.500] - Drew Burroughs
No, McFarland wasn't big. I mean, there was 100 kids in our graduating class, I believe. Maybe so at the time it wasn't that big, but yeah. So I basically went to Cal Poly just next year after high school. So as mechanical engineering major. And then you go. You start in the fall. So the spring before they have their open house. So I went to the open house and they have all the clubs. They're doing their little kind of displays and stuff. So that's when I saw like the Polygotes. So that was like the College Forward Club Polygoats, and they got a bunch of big rocks somebody stacked in the parking lot and they had some of their trucks and stuff. So met some of those guys. So then fall came around, started school. So I started like kind of going to the meetings and hanging out with those guys.
[00:25:51.240] - Big Rich Klein
Were you commuting? Did you take your CJ Seven with you?
[00:25:55.240] - Drew Burroughs
Oh, yeah. No, we moved over there. Yeah, that was my car, for God, from 16 to 24, 25. Wow. Okay. Pretty much drove it every day. We drove to the Jeep and moved over there. So right around there there's like the Pismo sand dunes, which is big. So we were out there all the time because that's just kind of the place you could go, I guess, at the time. So we go out there all the big weekends because everybody from the Valley comes out there and they're toy haulers and trucks and everything else. So we just like run around all weekend in the dunes. And it's amazing how capable almost any four wheel drive is if you air it down pretty low and most of those people even know it. So you're just out there pulling people out and you're like, you could air down and go anywhere you want. And all the people, the Toy Hollows crossing the Creek, you get stuck. So we just go out there and pull people out and make $20 or something. But yeah, totally pre beer money. I started getting pretty involved with the Four Drive Club and met a couple good.
[00:27:15.910] - Drew Burroughs
Honestly, like all my best lifelong friends are from the club because we all four drive guys are all kind of like a. Kind of similar kind of, you know what I mean? I don't know the words, but just kind of like the same type of guy kind of. So you go to all the events, you go to like 99% of all the people there are like all super cool. Absolutely. So anyway, all my best friends were in the club and ended up being like roommates with them all and kind of hanging out with them all through high school. A few of them were mechanical engineering guys. A lot of them. A couple of them were civil engineering or construction management or whatever. So, yeah, we just kind of started going on. We do a couple of trips a year. Nothing too crazy, nothing too far. And we'd always go. We had like, Duc. I can't think of the name there's all the trails up out of Fresno Shaver Lake area. I can't think of it right now. But there's Ducey Irshim and Rubicon. Yeah. Then there's Rubicon. And we just basically did all that stuff in the summertime and in the wintertime we just did some of the other we kind of California Drive had some of their kind of big events that we go to, some of those just around our own.
[00:28:54.690] - Big Rich Klein
Did you have roommates? Were you dorm or did you have like apartments or houses?
[00:29:02.550] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. First year, actually. My aunt cousin and uncle lived over there. So I lived with them my first year and got an apartment with a high school friend the next year. But then the third year, some of my Polygote buddies, his parents bought a house there. Basically it was like, here, you're going to be here for four or six years. We'll just buy a house and you guys rent it out.
[00:29:31.510] - Big Rich Klein
That's a good investment if you could do it. I know that a couple of people I went to College with did the same thing.
[00:29:37.590] - Drew Burroughs
Oh, yes. At the time they probably bought this house for 120 grand. And eight years later they sold it for 350. But it was nice because it was kind of our house and rent was cheap. And two of my Polygote buddies, they live there. So we were just kind of building stuff in the garage all the time. And then my other friend Marvin and Dylan, they live not far and similar deal. They had a couple of offroad guys in their house and we set up a shop in their garage just doing all our stuff. One thing I forgot to say earlier, but the Cal Poly was cool with the Polygotes is they had all these old photo albums. I can't remember. The club went back a long time. The club went back to the can't remember.
[00:30:36.590] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, you're making me feel old now because I started driving in the 70s.
[00:30:40.640] - Drew Burroughs
Okay. But it's funny how at the time a couple of guys had early Broncos which were seventy s, and everybody had CJ's, which were mostly a lot of time. So it was cool. We had all these old photo albums from Polygotes from back in the they're willing brand new early Broncos and brand new CJ. So it was kind of funny to see the kind of old drunk we were driving. And back then some of them had brand new ones, right. In all stock.
[00:31:21.190] - Big Rich Klein
But you could get like when the Broncos first came out, I'll bet they were less than $2,000.
[00:31:27.190] - Drew Burroughs
[00:31:30.370] - Big Rich Klein
And nowadays, my God, those things are weird.
[00:31:36.290] - Drew Burroughs
Oh, yeah, totally. Yeah. It's funny how one of my good friends going, Jordan, he had an early Bronco and he did everything to it. I mean, he actually cut the body and narrowed it. And you're like things like a piece of junk now, but, God, I think it would have been worth a lot of money if you left the stock. So anyway, yeah, I forgot what path I was on talking about the photo albums.
[00:32:10.690] - Big Rich Klein
And you guys live in a couple of different houses.
[00:32:14.480] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. So anyway, we had a good group, just a core group of kind of club guys that were just all good friends. And some of them, we had a lot of classes together and just kind of helped the other build things and went on trips and then just hung out all the time. So it was a good time.
[00:32:35.530] - Big Rich Klein
So did you work at all through high school or College?
[00:32:40.520] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. So in College I got a job at Jiffylube, which was a good experience. It's funny, not that I was very shy, but some kids just aren't experienced talking to people. But JiffyLube was kind of a good job because when somebody bought the car and you had to go kind of like try to sell them an air filter or you had to upsell them some service. So you first start, you're just, like, scared, like super nervous. And over a period of time, you just kind of like learn to talk to people and just learn a skill and you do everything there. But it's just a normal job that you just learn how to any job, you learn some basic skills and showing up on time and talking to customers and having coworkers and common stuff. So I did that for a few years, and then I got a job. So at Cal Poly, they had a place called the Aero Hanger. It was a legit, like there used to be an airstrip there with a big hangar. And so the hanger was like a machine shop that all the students could use to build their projects because students either had most of the students had like a senior project where they had to design and build something.
[00:34:09.690] - Drew Burroughs
And then throughout the courses, sometimes you'd have class projects where you'd have to build something. And then you had the SAE Club. I think I probably talked to some guys. So there's the Formula Se, which is like a little kind of race car.
[00:34:25.870] - Drew Burroughs
And then there's the Baja Mini Baja. So I was actually never involved with the clubs. So we had this shop there that all the students used. So they had basically students working at the shop to open doors and check out tools and just kind of run the shop, basically. Right. You were just kind of helping the students and whatnot. So I got a job doing that, which was awesome because it's like you had pretty easy hours, but you got keys as a shop. So we got keys as a shop, and we could go in there literally anytime we wanted. And we had Mills and lays and welders and danceaws. They have really nice stuff now. But back then it was like we must have got, like, military surplus stuff so we had some big old stuff that used to be on a battleship or something in a machine shop. But anyway, it was cool because you hang out with all the club guys and get to know all those guys, and then you help students. So it was a good experience. Like I said, we had keys at the shop, and we could literally go in there anytime we wanted.
[00:35:38.040] - Drew Burroughs
So, I mean, there are times all our buddies were going to go in there all night. We just be in there literally all night, order some pizzas and sodas and work on something all night. Just cranking some stupid part out of manual mill and late. But yeah, so you kind of learn all that stuff, and then you learn how to kind of deal with the students would be kind of like employees almost, or customers, where you kind of learn to kind of, like manage or wrangle these kids that you get guys like me that grew up wrenching on stuff, and it's not a big deal. But then half those engineering students, they've never turned a screwdriver.
[00:36:27.920] - Big Rich Klein
They didn't know the difference between a flat and a Phillips.
[00:36:31.090] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. So you get all types. You get those kids and you kind of have to guide them or teach them and stuff. So it's a good experience. So I basically did that all through College. And in the summers, I usually go home and work for my dad or work for one of us customers had a helicopter in a spray truck. So I'd go work for him this summer. It's funny. I think back about, like, right after high school, one of my dad's customers, he got this helicopter and a big spray truck. They have these big trucks. It's like an old F 700 or whatever with a 1000 gallon water tank. Right. And then a couple of hundred gallons of fuel for the helicopter. And the helicopters would land on top of it, and you'd be underneath and you would, like, mix all the chemicals, and then you pump it. You'd fill the chemicals all like liquid. So you'd mix it with water and chemicals.
[00:37:28.690] - Big Rich Klein
They'd land on it. Did they have a platform to land on?
[00:37:32.090] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, they have some big water tanks on the back, and then they have a big platform on top.
[00:37:38.700] - Drew Burroughs
So they literally it was like a truck. The helicopter would land on top of the cab, and then you'd be kind of in a bed working. So they'd have tanks on the side. So they'd land and we'd fill it up with whatever they're spraying and fill it with fuel. But it's funny how you think back and you're like, I mean, I was like just 18, and I'm like, you know, he's like, I got this 26,000 pound truck. It's an old Ford with a manual transmission, non sync row with a two speed rear end. And this is before cell phone to GPS. We start early, too. And we'd be like, five in the morning. We'd show up at this place and he's like, okay, here's the map. Go here and go to the airport, fill up with fuel and meet me here at this time. And then we'd be there. Truck would break down and have to figure out how to fix it or whatever. And it's just funny how you think back. You're like, God.
[00:38:54.150] - Big Rich Klein
So there's one question I wanted to ask you. It's going to be a jump back for a little bit. But the Jiffy Lube, was that a standalone store or was it part of Sears at that time?
[00:39:11.310] - Drew Burroughs
So it was a franchise. So basically there was, like, a local guy that would basically just like, he owned six or seven stores. So it was basically from Paso, Atascadero, San Luis, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, whatever. He owned, like six or so stores. Did they later get bought out by Sears or something?
[00:39:38.370] - Big Rich Klein
I worked at Sears a number of different times, but there was one point where Sears and Chiffy Lube combined. And in some of our Sears stores, we would provide a Bay or two for the oil changes. I don't remember if those employees were ours or Jiffy Lubes, and they just kind of like were a lease. I think they were leasing or something. They weren't part of the auto centers because at that point, I was an auto center manager, and I don't remember having to deal with those guys except when our customers would come back and say, My engine blew because the guy didn't tighten the oil.
[00:40:25.010] - Drew Burroughs
[00:40:26.750] - Big Rich Klein
I think the first month that we had an oil change place in the store in San Rafael that I had, I think we had, like four or five engines that had to be replaced.
[00:40:38.120] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. Basically, like the JiffyLube franchise, they have all these sales goals, right, right. We want to have, like, an average of $86 a car, the average ticket. So they push everybody to be upselling on all the services. And then there was also basically it was like their damage. I forgot what they called. It was like their damage total. So, like, okay, we're up to, like, two point car and total damages. They just took their total damage dollar amount divided by their total car. So you had the statistic and you get some kind of bonus if they met their sales goals and then if their sales goals were above whatever value and the kind of, like, damage amount was below whatever value. But it's funny how, like, it's funny when you put it that way. Like, okay, there's $3 per car that we're paying out for. Like you said, just blowing up engines and whatever. God, I think one time I was there, I'm sure one of the girls that worked there, like, took off somebody's duly fingers.
[00:42:02.830] - Big Rich Klein
I tried to pull into too narrow of a Bay door.
[00:42:06.070] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. Because they had these little like in between there's two bays and in between had a little like a little kind of an island for the computers. You know, I always like to work underneath just because he kind of didn't have to talk to anybody and stuff. But then he had two bays to do, two or three sometimes. And so sometimes if you're busy, you were busy. And I remember because you drain the oil and then you'd say, like, all clear oil plugs in or whatever. Then they'd fill it. And I remember one time they basically like, I drained the oil and they filled it and it went back out and they started the car. You're like, oh, wait a minute. I don't know anything exactly.
[00:42:55.830] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, let's jump back to Cal Poly and the helicopter working in the fields. So what kind of stuff were they spraying? Was it more like fertilizers and stuff?
[00:43:12.420] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, the nasty stuff one time. Not kidding. It was garlic and fish oil we were spraying on something. It was all kinds of. It was almonds and it was grapes. I mean, it was kind of everything, but who knows?
[00:43:32.350] - Big Rich Klein
You haven't developed any, like a third ear, some kind of an odd Twitch or something.
[00:43:38.770] - Drew Burroughs
Not yet. Not yet.
[00:43:40.650] - Big Rich Klein
That's good. You're not growing a pen digits that you're not supposed to.
[00:43:45.780] - Drew Burroughs
No, not yet. I'm sure we weren't wearing the proper PPE because we were probably so hot. We're probably out there with our shirts off in the summer. One of my best friends at the time, he kind of worked with me, I guess. So he was just two dudes hanging out. So anyway, yeah, basically, Cal Poly did the whole thing, trying to think of anything else about Cal Poly. This is like the mid late 90s because I graduated, like, in 2000. But to back up at the time, wheeling started progressing. Progressing. I had my CJ Seven. It was a stock. It was basically a stock when I got it with inline six and five speed and Dan 300 and all that. So then you start reading the magazines and you're like, oh, they're swapping. I can get this wagon earfront axle and I can shorten one side of it and Bolt in. So we started doing that stuff at the shop at school. And Curry was always in the magazine. So we'd send nobody made chromoly axle shafts at the time. So we'd just take our shafts and we'd ship them to Curry and they would, like, cut and spline them and we'd go all the pick your parts and wrecking yards and get all the wagon in your axles and all that stuff.
[00:45:23.870] - Drew Burroughs
I mean, at the time, 35 were big at the time because that's all they made. Like a BHG. All they made is like 35 and there was like the Swampers and stuff.
[00:45:38.050] - Big Rich Klein
You could get some of the tires, especially the bias ply stuff that was bigger.
[00:45:45.380] - Drew Burroughs
Right? But again, this is my daily driver. So I need just kind of a decent mud tire. So it was always like a 35 mud terrain or something. So yeah, the Jeep basically we ended up trying to think of all the stuff I did to it. So then I ended up getting like an early 80s CJS. They had this computer controlled carburetor that was terrible and all this smog stuff on it which had constant problems. So the problem was, I mean California. So everything had to be like carb approved and all that stuff, all the stuff you Bolt on. But I put a header on it and AEM had come out with this basically like a little throttle body fuel injection system that swapped. That was probably one of the first ones that was like car approved. So I put that on there and I always had problems with it. But it was crazy how AEM at the time they were like this little shop and like Gardena or somewhere that just did import tuning stuff. It was this little shop. I went down there and just because I had so many problems and they put it on the Dino and tried to get it fixed or tried to get it right.
[00:47:10.160] - Drew Burroughs
But this is funny how kind of a big company now. But it was like kind of nothing back then. I always drive in the magazine. My sister lived in La or Orange County. So I always go down there and magazine because the magazines were in La. So it was like the hub of Offroad was like Southern California. All the shops and the big seatbeck and floral parts. I always go down there like try county gear and buy stuff down there. One time do you remember Brian Chuchuad Jeep?
[00:47:51.290] - Drew Burroughs
I guess they had got bought out by Donate or something. But they'd been a Jeep dealer down there forever, right? So they had this big garage sale. It was really cool. So we went down there and bought all kinds of stuff with this kind of Jeep dealer garage sale. They just had all kinds of cool old stuff. So yeah, just kind of doing mods of the Jeep. Eventually we did a spring over. I kind of built a Dana 60 rear end with disc brakes, Mosure axles and then the front built a 44 went spring over later on. At the time it was like throttle body Chevy V eight. So we swapped. I got a 91 Chevy throttle body 350 swapped out in there with the Envy 4500. That was kind of the hot deal all the time. We're great. It's amazing how much get a jump to all these Hoops to get smog legal. And it was like so much simpler, so much more power, so much cleaner. And I mean it got better mileage. You had that power and torque with the right gearing. So build a cage. Just kind of do all the Jeep bods all through College and so we read all the magazines.
[00:49:18.270] - Drew Burroughs
The Hammers just opened up. So I remember there was an article in Ford Ice for Utility about like Sledgehammer and Jackhammer. And that was like the trails that Victor Valley four wheelers opened up. So they kind of had a little article about it. So one day, like, me and my friend Scott, we just literally drove. We're going to go for the weekend. And by the time we got there, we were the only ones actually going. So we literally drove out there. It's a good what is it? It's got to be a good 5 hours from slow there. So drove up there, ran sledge, ran Jack and messed around for a couple of days and drove home. We had CJ's with 35 and it was hard, but it wasn't. I mean, nothing like it is now. So we end up going out there like a couple of times through College and spring break or in the fall. And then we'd always do. Like we had a couple of years. It was super fun. Like one of my good friends lived in he was in Fresno in the summer and I was in Bakersfield and we'd all like meet up and just go up to Shaver Lake or Rubicon.
[00:50:26.210] - Drew Burroughs
And we had like a good 4 July Rubicon trip every summer. So that was always really fun. So we always had some fun trips back then.
[00:50:34.040] - Big Rich Klein
So 4 July, that means you came across those evil trail guys, the Pirates.
[00:50:42.000] - Drew Burroughs
Oh, yeah. That was like the early days of the Pirates where they were kind of like, those are the Pirates.
[00:50:48.130] - Big Rich Klein
The 4 July was always their initiation weekend.
[00:50:51.720] - Drew Burroughs
Oh, yeah. I didn't know them at the time, but I'm sure Lance was up there and Kevin Kerry and all that stuff later on when you kind of put two and two together, you kind of like realize who was up there and whatnot. And that was back when you could camp at Spider Lake. That was crazy there.
[00:51:14.350] - Big Rich Klein
[00:51:16.330] - Drew Burroughs
Little fluce was like insane. Everybody would just camp there and camp there and a little fluce and party there. I mean, most people went to Little Foos and Bat went there and out. Yeah, right.
[00:51:29.860] - Big Rich Klein
Most people didn't go beyond that.
[00:51:31.740] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. But we'd always either like go, it depends on when 4 July was. We somehow tried to get to Tahoe for the 4 July because it was like this big party, just College kids or whatever. So we try to be a Tahoe for the Fourth and we either like end up in Tahoe or we like start at Tahoe and go back to the trail. So that was always pretty fun.
[00:51:56.530] - Big Rich Klein
So when you're doing all these modifications to your rig and your fellow club members, were you designing and building parts yourself or were you store buying them?
[00:52:18.170] - Drew Burroughs
We store by what we have to, but we would try to make stuff. Obviously you're not going to buy make gears and axle shafts and all that stuff. But obviously if somebody made some like this break bracket we would just try to make it or things like that. I remember so many times I would just drive home for the weekend, tear my Jeep apart, my dad's shop and thrash on it all weekend and then get it back together to drive back Sunday night to be at school. I don't know how many times I did that. Basically in the summer. Basically all summer like my Jeep was apart in my dad's shop and I just drive one of their cars around and you kind of get out of school and you have like a month to do some huge project and then try to get it together for the 4 July Rubicon trip.
[00:53:20.430] - Big Rich Klein
When did four wheel drives as a business happen for you?
[00:53:28.170] - Drew Burroughs
So my last year in school at Poly there. So this would be like the late ninety s. One of my classmates is a guy I did have some labs with. He was from Southern California and he had worked at Swayaway for the summer and Sway Away had just bought Custard shocks. So we were kind of starting to get into desert racing and coilovers were kind of starting to be a thing for the Rock Haw Jeep guys. Right, right. So a friend of mine, he's like, oh yeah, I worked at this place and they're making shocks and stuff. So I kind of had a little connection. I was like, oh hey, be cool to work there. He's like, oh yeah, call the Brian Skipper. I'll call him. I don't remember how it worked out but yeah, basically I just kind of went down there for like a summer internship just to kind of do whatever for the summer. So I ended up staying there for like six months. I had another kind of one of my Polygo buddies, he was from there. So I lived in his house for the six months. That's basically my introduction into the industry.
[00:54:47.380] - Drew Burroughs
So I worked at Sway Away. So at the time they had bought Custard shocks. So Walker Evans started making I don't know if you know the story but basically Custard was some I don't know what they did but they basically somehow they knew Walker Evans. So Walker Evans wanted to make these big shocks. So they started making the shocks for Walker Evans which became Custer shocks which were badass. And to this day nobody makes the shock like Custard did. So Lance King was the engineer CAD guy there.
[00:55:27.970] - Big Rich Klein
[00:55:28.560] - Drew Burroughs
Okay. Somehow Custard, I don't know what happened. They just kind of were done with this gig. So basically Sway Away bought the Custard shock line and then Lance King left and started King shocks way makes. They kind of started out doing a lot of the Southern California, as everybody knows. It's like the off road racing hub. So it all started with Volkswagens so Swayway made a lot of the Volkswagen suspension parts. Volkswagen have torsion bars for the rear Springs and actually front Springs and they have this independent rear suspension. So they have those axle shafts. The Swayway made all these spring plates and adjusters and torsion bars and all this stuff for Volkswagens. And then they also made we call them sway bars, but they're actually anti sway bars, right. Anti roll bars. We just call them sway bars. They had a CNC tubing vendor and they would make all these aftermarket anti sway bars for cars because like a car sway bar is just a bent piece. Usually it's a solid bar that they bend and make it into shape and Bolt a link on the end. Right. So they had a tubing or you could bend solid on it, but they had a CNC Bender and they made a lot of the aftermarket sway bars.
[00:57:08.010] - Drew Burroughs
It was all private label stuff. So some company like Hotchkiss was a big customer. Like they made all these Chevy Camaro suspension kits and they'd have a bigger sway bar. So they would make all these different private label sway bars on the vendor. Yeah. And then they took over Custard and they basically were just doing the Custard. They ended up changing a lot of stuff from Custard, but basically so I started working there just doing kind of shock design or just doing I didn't really know anything at this time, but just doing CAD drawings of just doing revisions and new parts and getting into shocks and getting into the desert racing scene. And we actually did a lot of axle shafts too, because all that Volkswagen stuff is just a spline shaft that they heat treated all out of 43, 4300 dam or whatever. So we actually did a lot of axle shafts. Now it's common. All the stuff Spidertracks makes and brand, I call the double spline photoshafts, but we made a lot of those at the time. So I kind of learned a bit about Persian bars and axle splines and learned a lot about just kind of I guess there's a whole little thing about just torsion bars and axle shafts as far as stress and strain and strengths and spring rates and spine fitness and all this stuff and heat treating and all that stuff.
[00:58:47.750] - Drew Burroughs
So pretty cool. Kind of pretty cool stuff that I really enjoy doing and it was a job. There's also stuff that I like to do and that was why you were still a student. But like basically I was going to do it for the summer, ended up staying through the fall. So I was kind of there for six months and then so I went there for six months and then I kind of went back and finished school. So I kind of got done with school in June. So then June I went back and just worked this way away full time.
[00:59:24.670] - Drew Burroughs
So, yeah, basically after school. We moved down there. One of my good friends from school, Dylan, I ended up getting him a job Sway Away. He's a mechanical engineer. So him and I both worked there, and we got a house together, and he had a Toyota rock crawler. So we just kind of had our vehicles we were working on and wheeling and working there. And it was pretty fun because we got to go to a lot of the desert races and just spectate but do the whole contingency vendor thing and then work with races, tuning shocks, and tech stuff. So kind of got my feet a little bit into the whole desert racing scene. We had one of our guys there, Mike. He raced a ten car with a guy. So we went to the races and helped out with him and went to Baja and kind of all the races around this time at the time. That was the time that was like 2000 ish, I guess, the Jeep rock crawler scene. The competitions were just starting. We went to like an early one at Cedar City. I know you talked about that a little bit, being involved with that.
[01:00:41.340] - Drew Burroughs
I don't remember what year that was, but it was definitely.
[01:00:43.890] - Big Rich Klein
I want to say 98.
[01:00:45.680] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. Well, yeah, it had to be like 2001. Okay. I don't forget what it was, Arca or what, but we went to the Cedar City thing. So that whole industry was kind of, you know, that everybody started building TJ's, which were coils and links, and then everything moved from leaf Springs to leaf Springs to they were trying to scab on a coil spring and a shock on whatever they had leaf Springs. So the coilover started to become popular at Sway Away. We kind of got hooked up with John Curry there. He built a couple his red fire ants or all the TJS they built at the time. And he all have Sway Away. So we kind of work with him a bit and kind of got to know those guys. Avalanche engineering is building everything. I mean, I think they had a lot of Sway Away, but for some reason, all those guys were running Sway Away. So I got to kind of meet and talk with a lot of those guys. I remember helping Pat Gramillion on that. He built that like independent buggy with the Hummer suspension, the head coiler. So I helped him.
[01:02:02.080] - Drew Burroughs
I think I traded Pat Grimly and a set of shocks for a welder. So, yeah, that whole industry was kind of taken off with the rock crawling guys with the coilovers. Like I said, we just worked with that whole scene and did that. So, yeah, 2000. I kind of officially got done with school then just worked its way away full time.
[01:02:29.170] - Big Rich Klein
And how long were you at Sway Away?
[01:02:31.690] - Drew Burroughs
I guess three years there. So I had my Jeep sprung over CJ with a V eight swap, and it was my daily driver. So then I bought like I bought a DJ. At the time it was just my daily driver. So basically I cut the Jeep apart. Now that I'm working at a cool place to make cool shocks, I'm going to build this like super cool like desert rock crawler Jeep. So I built that in my garage for over got. I don't know. It probably had been two or three years. So yeah, I think when I worked this way, I don't think I ever had my Jeep running. It was literally cut. I mean, I literally cut it in half and built a whole I kept like the front half and the front two thirds of the frame, which was a mistake because it's a piece of junk. But I built this Jeep at the coilovers and somebody had made like a fiberglass kind of a basically side basically bolted on fiber sides and got a Shannon Campbell hood on it. So I built that Jeep.
[01:03:52.490] - Big Rich Klein
Is that the one that made the cover of the magazine?
[01:03:56.550] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, I think I had just gotten the Jeep done and Dylan and I actually ended up leaving sway away. About the same time we moved down to Orange. I had got the Jeep done, so we moved down to Orange. He worked at Donho and I was kind of doing I remember what I was doing, but I was actually going to work. So Bob Gordon was going to start making shocks. Him and Robbie had been making the internal bypass shock, which is basically what Fox is making now. It's like what the Raptors have, right?
[01:04:46.300] - Drew Burroughs
It's got the internal can. So they claim they invented it all. I don't know who's right. But whatever happened, Fox basically patented it so that Bob was going to make shocks. I was going to work for Bob or Robbie making shocks, but then Fox patented it and then he's like, okay, well, this isn't going to fly. So that just never panned out. So I ended up just some kind of word of mouth got hooked up with it was full traction. Kalmini. They're up in Bakersfield, right. Which is kind of where I'm from. So I ended up going up there, moving back up there and working for them for a few years because I'm living in Southern California and you're like, oh, you got a bigger field and buy a house. And I did, which was cool. And so I started going to a lot of the events with those guys at full traction. And so we went to probably the first year I was there, we'd go to TDs and go to Easter Jeep Safari. So I had that Jeep and at the time it was pretty ahead of its time, I guess you'd call it.
[01:05:59.770] - Drew Burroughs
I don't know what you want to call it, but it was definitely like a way out of the box. It was cheaper. Yeah. So, yeah, we were in Moab one year, and we were like one of the writers, Christian Hazel, I guess. I don't remember who. I kind of got to meet a lot of those guys through the years, through working its way away in full traction. So those guys like, hey, this is a cool Jeep. Whatever you want to do. Let's shoot it for a magazine feature. And you're like, yeah, sure. Because at the time, we're, like, always jump on that Jeep. It was just like the fly. Yeah, it was fine. Yeah. We went out and did some photo shoot. It was out the dunes. It was out in the sand dunes, like on the way to behind the rocks, I guess. So we went out there and we're just hitting some jumps, and they got that cool shot jumping the sand Dune and that it came out the magazine. It was on the cover, which is super cool. And then they had the whole little article on it. So that was really cool.
[01:07:13.310] - Drew Burroughs
So then that's kind of right after I moved to Bakersfield. So then I got Bakersfield. So I had my own house with my own garage. So I wanted to make the Jeep was only like a 95 inch wheel base. So, like, I need to make this thing longer. I'm going to change all this stuff. So I ended up cutting it apart and working on it for a couple of years and getting it redone, I guess so, yeah, I kind of did that for a couple of years, kind of stretched it and changed the suspension around and kind of basically redid a lot of it.
[01:07:46.290] - Big Rich Klein
You don't, by chance still have that Jeep, do you?
[01:07:49.280] - Drew Burroughs
No, I sold it. Yeah. It was funny how it changed hands a few times, but, man, every year I got a King of Hammers. I always run into the guy like, oh, yeah, I got your old Jeep.
[01:08:05.350] - Big Rich Klein
But he doesn't have a cover with the launching it off that stand in with your goggles on.
[01:08:12.390] - Drew Burroughs
[01:08:16.850] - Big Rich Klein
That'S what I remember.
[01:08:18.830] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, totally. So, yeah, we went to all the offered expos and all the MOABs and the TDs, and we go out to the Hammers a lot. At the time, I ended up meeting Frank Elioto. He's one of my good friends. So I ended up built a couple of cages for him in my garage there. So I got to know him real well. So that was early 2000s. That was like 20 03. 20 05 ish, I guess so at the time, one of my friends from Cal Poly, Dave Sloshberg, there, he was just starting Poly Performance. He told the story. So I hooked him up with Sway Away, and a lot of the kind of industry or connections he started selling, and I helped him out designing parts, and he was just a friend of mine, like, oh, here, call this guy or whatever or start selling this. And I kind of did a lot of help him a lot with just tech info and connections. And he started making highmas limous spacers. So I just do some CAD drawings for him. So he started Poly Performance, and it's a whole other story. But he got into again, he told the story.
[01:09:46.300] - Drew Burroughs
He got into a niche where desert racers have carte and McKenzie's and whatever. But he was the guy selling to all the rock collar guys. And he got started early on with the Internet. So he did well with that. So he grew the business. He grew the business, obviously, is what it is today. And then he kind of got to the point where we wanted to start making stuff. It's either stuff nobody made or somebody was buying from somebody. Hey, let's just make this thing in a machine shop.
[01:10:26.800] - Big Rich Klein
Bring it in.
[01:10:28.410] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. So basically I moved over to St. Louis, and then we started performance manufacturing. Him and I his partnership. So basically, I kind of design and build a lot of the parts, and Polly would sell it. One of the first things we made a nice TJ coilover kit, because everything at the time there was like the Fab tech or the skyjacker thing where it's all kind of Bolt on. But we're like, let's just make, like, a nice cut all the brackets off and the coil buckets and make some shot Hoops and Weld them on. So we started making those. We kind of started making at the time, you couldn't buy all these nice brackets and tabs to build your four links. You were just buying some kind of generic tabs from some Circle track catalog. So I was like, well, with my experience at Full Traction, it was all designing sheet metal brackets, and sheet metal is in like 316th and quarter. But we designed all this. I kind of learned how to design all these brackets and CAD and get them all laser cut and formed and make fixtures. And Weld together. So making list kits and the things that they did.
[01:11:46.570] - Drew Burroughs
So we started making a lot of just the universal brackets, just like, hey, I need some axle bracket to Weld onto my axle with the right ball size and the right spacing or some shock brackets. We kind of made some, like, specific brackets for that type of stuff because everybody's building link suspensions and coilovers at the time. So we just started making a lot of those kind of universal brackets. And nowadays, basically, it's all the stuff archeck, and there's a dozen different companies kind of just knocking each other off, making all the same stuff. Right. We were kind of like the first ones to kind of make a lot of that stuff. And we made, like, the Dana 60, the hub gear drive gear. We had those made. So, yeah, we just started kind of making a bunch of cool rock crawler builder parts under Poly Manufacturing. And then JKS came out in seven so we bought a four door JK and a two door. We bought a four door. So we're going to make some suspension parts and bumpers and rockers and all that JK stuff. So we kind of started out early doing that.
[01:13:03.330] - Drew Burroughs
And then they had this one of the early I think it was Off Road magazine. Somebody had like a JK suspension shoot out where everybody had to bring a two door JK and put your suspension kit on it. And we're going to have all the companies meet up in Park, Arizona and drive them and test them and evaluate it. So we did that. We got a two door JK and had a three four inch suspension kit. So we did fairly well with that kit. And then so we just started making all the JK suspension kits. We made a long arm kit and some good short arm kits and made some bumpers and rockers and cage kits and all that stuff. So kind of started selling that more through Quadrantitech and other distributors. And the business was growing and Polly was growing and it kind of got to the point where I was kind of done in a partnership. So I decided to sell my half the business today. So I did that and I guess I skipped the part. We did a lot of stuff with Fred Williams. He kind of came to us or to me with a lot of the tech information.
[01:14:15.340] - Drew Burroughs
And we helped him do that. Kind of infamous. He had a big suspension geometry article in Peterson's foreword Off Road that we helped him with that was pretty popular. So he wanted to build a buggy. And I had wanted to build like at the time it was like guys are building two chassis, but they were all custom. And I was just like, hey, let's just build I want to build a standard chassis that we can just like, here Weld this chassis and ship it to you and you put it together type of thing where guys were doing that at the time, but they were pretty much all like one often some guys garage, right, right. And I didn't want to build complete buggies twisted bill out of that stuff. I just like, let's just kind of figure out like, because I did everything in Cats. So let's just design a buggy and let's just make it and this is our buggy. Buy it the way it is or not. And then Polly could sell them all the shocks and the Rottens and all the parts to go with it. Fred Williams wanted to build the fun buggy, so we ended up building that for him, which kind of took a big detour from what I wanted and what Fred wanted.
[01:15:34.150] - Drew Burroughs
So it just ended up being just a custom buggy. But it was really cool. And like, we made some super cool stuff on the build and he got this portal on it. And so we end up doing the fun Buggy, which was a lot of good press, because, I mean, God, that was, I don't know, over a couple of years. It was a dozen different articles, right. So at the time, we never followed through there building the Buggy, the chassis, but we had a lot of requests about, hey, I don't want to buy the whole thing, but can I just buy, like, the chassis plans from you, you know, and you're like, yeah, no, it's like it's so much work. It's like a ton of work to produce something that you could use, and then what are you going to do? Just go give it to your buddies and put it online so everybody can copy, who knows? So that never happened, but it kind of gave me the idea of making, like, plans or whatnot. And at the time, the tube laser cutting kind of started becoming, like, available and affordable. Available, whatever you want to call it, because we were getting some parts laser tube, laser cut or to back up.
[01:16:54.130] - Drew Burroughs
So Polly got into some legal problems with the name Synergy Suspension. Well, no, to back up, I guess, Poly Manufacturing, because there was Poly performance and Poly Manufacturing. We wanted to kind of separate the two name wise, because now we're trying to sell our products to other resellers. So we didn't want to be competing with Polly, so we wanted to branch off and give it a different name. So we came up with Synergy Suspension. Later, they had to change it to Synergy Manufacturing or something. But basically it turned in Poly manufacturing, turned into Synergy, and now they're kind of going more towards the Bolt on parts. I don't think they really make much of the kind of welding builder parts. Right. So anyway, so with Fred Buggy, we got that done and kind of back up, but basically got out of the business. And then I had the idea to make a Buggy kit and get it all laser cut. I'm like, with the laser cutting and the CAD design, I mean, the stuff fits really well. So my guys should just make a kit where I could people could buy a chassis kit. Yeah.
[01:18:19.990] - Drew Burroughs
Here's our standard thing. I'm going to get ten of them cut at a time and buy the kit. And it was nice because shipping a whole chassis across the country is really expensive. But shipping the kit, you can pack that all on a pallet at the time. Nowadays, with diesel prices, it's more of it, but you could ship that almost anywhere for $300. So basically, I started Goatbilt, just my own company. So I started my own company, Goatbilt. And my plan was just to make these chassis kits and then maybe make some cages and making whatever stuff, because I kind of got the whole CAD design and tube cutting figured out. And then with the chassis, I wanted to make a kit, but then you can buy the tube chassis, but we can design all the shock mounts, all the engine mounts, all the panels, all the motor mounts, the winch Mount. I mean, pretty much we can design all that stuff and have it laser cut. So you can just buy it and welded together.
[01:19:33.910] - Big Rich Klein
That's what you started to do?
[01:19:35.910] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. I started go build and then designed the chassis, kind of put on pirate. At the time, pirate was the thing still, and then it was a big hit there and went out to King of Hammers. Kind of a pretty big hit there just because it was different. At the time. Nobody was really at least rock crawling guys. Nobody was really getting the chassis laser cut. The problem is all the CAD design, because most guys are just kind of building the garage cut and notching, too. But the CAD design is just the whole big step between building the chassis and getting a laser cut. Somebody's got to design this thing in CAD and do all that work, which is what I kind of did.
[01:20:39.300] - Big Rich Klein
And that was one of those was like, what Jason Reeves bought. Is that correct?
[01:20:45.320] - Drew Burroughs
[01:20:48.290] - Big Rich Klein
Because he raced with us in Dirt Riot and had one of your chassis.
[01:20:53.180] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, he bought one of the early ones. Yeah.
[01:20:58.520] - Big Rich Klein
How many chassis do you offer now?
[01:21:02.250] - Drew Burroughs
Well, we have our main chassis. I called it the IBEX. The IBEX is like a species of goat of a goat. So to tie the whole goat built thing. So basically the IBEX is the bounty goat with the big horns. It's on the side of a cliff stereotypical mountain goat. So that's our IBEX. We make our IBEX, and we make a two seater and a four seater. They're kind of like LS engine, Atlas transfer case, 14 voltage, 60s, whatever, 40 inch tire. More of a recreation buggy. Some guys have raised them, or a lot of guys wanted to raise them. I'm like, I'm going to make a recreation Wheeler buggy because there's going to be 100 of those to one racer guy. Exactly. So I'm like, some guys have bought them in racing, but this is not what I kind of planned or designed it to be. So at the time, I wanted to make a TJ chassis. So like, hey, I wanted to like, let's make a two chassis that you can drop a TJ tub on and have kind of a badass Jeep, but like part buggy, part Jeep. They can run the top and doors on and kind of run it on the street if you wanted.
[01:22:26.690] - Drew Burroughs
So we do make a chassis like that. Once we started designing it, it kind of went crazy where we don't use much of the tub. We basically cut off the sides and the cow and stick sides and cow on, and we make a whole new four panel. But it's basically a buggy that looks like a Jeep. So we're selling a few of those, too. Awesome.
[01:22:54.850] - Big Rich Klein
And is it just pretty much chassis is what you're doing?
[01:22:59.170] - Drew Burroughs
No. With the chassis I started making, you're just like, hey, I need a gas tank. Well, what do we buy? So I ended up designing a gas tank and had a local place rota mold it. And a lot of the parts I made, it's made for a chassis, but all these other guys will buy it too, that are putting it into whatever Buggy or truck or Jeep or whatever they're building. Like the gas tanks are one. So we sell a few of those gas tanks. It's like a nice Poly tank. So it's not going to all these aluminum tanks crack or split, right? So it's not going to crack them.
[01:23:40.800] - Big Rich Klein
And I see so many things, Tabbed.
[01:23:43.220] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, they're tricky, but it takes just a drop, like an off the shelf Chevy truck fuel pump that drops in there and it just works really well. The fuel pump does. I'm sure you've seen tons of guys with fuel problems or fuel pump problems or whatever on the trail, but you have zero problems because there's a nice pump. So part of the problem, I designed the chassis around an LS engine because that's what everybody's doing. It's cheap and it's easy and super calm. Everybody buys a truck engine or there's basically a truck truck Tahoe Suburban type engine. They drop in there five, three, six liter. The problem is the power steering pumps down low. So on these rock crawler Buggies, everybody's building with a triangulated upper link, the upper links come up and they hit the power steering pump. And also we're all buying like a high performance pump from PSE or how or something. So a lot of times we want to convert it to a different pump. So on the LS engines I started making, I had got the CAD solid model from GM through SEMA, and I basically designed some power steering brackets to move the pump up, but also adapt to different pumps.
[01:25:10.740] - Drew Burroughs
So that kind of started a whole other kind of part of our business where we make all these different kind of power steering pump relocation conversion brackets. They're specifically for LS engines, but basically allows you to because a lot of guys are running dual pumps if they got a rear steer or we have things to move the alternator to the other side. And we have mounts for like four different pumps. So we do a lot of those for guys. I mean, it's funny. We get like Rock Crawley guys, we got Jeep guys. We get a lot of the pre runner guys and building some kind of mini trophy truck, and they need to put a big howl pump on it or something. And then we get like all kinds of random hot Rod guys. And there's all these guys, they get Mustangs and they put five, three Chevy engines with twin turbos on that sacrilege. We get those guys buying brackets and whatnot. And we just kind of started making a bunch of little. A lot of the stuff was made for our buggy, but it kind of crosses over to, like, any other kind of offer vehicle, and so we just do a lot of that stuff.
[01:26:24.140] - Big Rich Klein
So question for you. The LS, like, bracketry that you've got to lift the pump. Is the LQ Motors close enough to the LS? Because I know it's an LS design, but it's the cast iron. Are the mountings the same?
[01:26:44.790] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, all the Bolt patterns the same.
[01:26:47.100] - Big Rich Klein
[01:26:47.390] - Drew Burroughs
On the LS stuff, there's different belt spacing. So it's basically how far front or back the belt is from the engine.
[01:26:55.710] - Big Rich Klein
[01:26:56.030] - Drew Burroughs
So, like, the Corvettes, the belts are really close to the engine, and the Camaro are a little further and the truck are a little further out. So they all physically Bolt up the same. Most of the stuff kind of bolts to the heads, all that stuff. There's different water pumps, too, but all that stuff kind of. It's all Bolt on, and we have, like, different link spacers for the different belt spacing. Okay. So it's cool because it fits. I mean, guys, it's 1215 years of engines. That all that stuff kind of works on.
[01:27:26.110] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I'm in the process of building another Cherokee, an XJ, but it's got an LQ four in it with a 700 R four behind it in Annatlas. Okay. I don't know what Novak used bracketry wise. It's something. I've got a list of everything. I just haven't really paid attention to it. But it's good to know there's so much of the stuff that I don't have any clue on because I'm an event promoter. I'm not a builder.
[01:28:02.350] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, well, it's a whole little thing you got to figure out. Every little part of that thing is like, oh, with transmissions and shocks and just so many different systems and components, you got to kind of, like, learn and figure it all out how it fits. Yeah.
[01:28:23.310] - Big Rich Klein
So what's coming in the future for Goatbilt?
[01:28:27.390] - Drew Burroughs
I think it's more of the same, I guess, to back up. I started the business in San Luis Fisco, because that's where Polly was. And then my wife, she's from Wisconsin here in the Midwest. So once I was kind of done with Polly, I was kind of like, well, we don't have to be here for any reason. It's nice living here, but it's expensive. So we decided to move back here where she's from. And we're kind of like Southeast Wisconsin because we're in San Luisville. We can buy our condo we live in for. We can buy our condo, we rent for $350, or we can buy, like, a nice big house and property or shop in Wisconsin. So we end up moving back here. And it's nice because it's like I'm right in the middle of Chicago and Milwaukee and kind of in the hub of manufacturing in the US. There's so much stuff made here. So it's been a good move in that regard because I have lots of steel suppliers and laser cutters, and you name it, it's less than an hour away. And then I always tell people, it's funny. Like, whatever I paid in California, you knock off 20% whatever laser cutting you had done or whatever you're doing.
[01:29:48.670] - Drew Burroughs
So with my chassis, we used to outsource all the tube laser cutting, and it's a pain because these chassis, there's literally 100 different tubes. It's fine if you're getting like, hey, laser company 500 of this one part, it's easy, but you're like, hey, I need six of this and five of that. And literally there's 100 different tubes and we're getting like ten of them cut at a time. So it's a big order and a big chunk of change. And we would laser cut them, and then I have a mandrel two Bender. So we would bend them and get the chassis. So we kind of got to a point where it was just a big back up and it was just a pain. So I ended up buying our own CNC tube and cutter. So we started cutting our own chassis in the house, which is just a huge, really nice deal. So we started actually cutting. We're actually doing a lot of other I guess we're doing a lot of job shop type tube cutting and bending. I mean, we've been cutting and bending a lot of other people's chassis. There's a lot of guys like, hey, I designed this chassis in Bentech, and I need to get it cut, and they'll get one of them or get five of them.
[01:31:09.250] - Big Rich Klein
So that's awesome.
[01:31:10.640] - Drew Burroughs
And they're kind of our competitors, but I mean, they're all so different. It's like every chassis builder has got their own style and their own different. They're all different, right? So whatever. I'm like, hey, somebody's going to cut them. So might as well do it and make money doing that. And I think it's helpful for a lot of the guys because we kind of speak the same language. It's like when I was trying to get stuff tube cutting, when I was trying to outsource it, you talk to five different places and only one of them, they kind of get what you're doing and they can do it and want to do it and can do it at a decent price or now like, hey, we cut two chassis and the guy is like, hey, I need a chassis. Yeah, no problem. That's what we do. And it's easy with the CAD stuff. I can help him out with that. So we've been doing a lot of that, but yeah, future wise, we're just doing more of the same. God, Cobbt has been just crazy busy. I think everybody else I've heard in your show has been saying the same thing.
[01:32:18.660] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, for sure. Comedy has been moving the industry has been moving, so we're just busy. I just need to focus on kind of hiring some more people and just growing the business, doing what we're doing.
[01:32:30.590] - Big Rich Klein
So how many employees do you have now?
[01:32:32.840] - Drew Burroughs
We have two full time guys and a part time guys.
[01:32:37.390] - Drew Burroughs
So I just kind of got lucky and stumbled on stumbled across a couple of really good guys. They're smart and show up every day and do a good job. That's all anybody asks for, literally. There's no BS. They're just solid dudes that never get any BS. So it's been nice. So got lucky with those guys. So I may have to sit now because it's like nobody wants to work now. And you're like, can you even hire anybody now? I don't even know, but I just got to kind of hire some more people. I have three small kids now, so I've been busy. My wife works full time and has been going to school. So I've been almost working part time lately running the kids around. So I got to hire some more people to kind of do what I can't do.
[01:33:35.110] - Big Rich Klein
Let's talk about how you met your wife. She's from Wisconsin, from California. How did that happen?
[01:33:43.270] - Drew Burroughs
She basically moved to St. Louis.
[01:33:46.000] - Big Rich Klein
[01:33:46.360] - Drew Burroughs
She's a nurse. She's a nurse. Her name is Tilly. So she's a nurse and she kind of got a traveling gig out. A lot of the Midwest nurses, they're young and I want to go do fun stuff. So they all get a traveling gig in California, right? It's pretty common because after I met her, a lot of her, like nurse coworkers were all it's funny how many of them are from the Midwest. And so she moved out there and met her and we got married out there in California. And then we wanted to have kids, and she's like, oh, let's move by my family. They can watch the kids and stuff. So we did.
[01:34:28.380] - Big Rich Klein
That awesome. And how old is your oldest?
[01:34:33.790] - Drew Burroughs
We have seven year old twins and then a six year old. Okay, all girls. Well, one of them is the kind of crazy one who jumps on anything and rides it or drives it or whatever. So we started going to you know, I grew up, but like, Crandon is Crandon here in desert racing. It's the Baja 1000 of desert racing. It's the short course race. It's in Northern Wisconsin, but it's 4 hours away. So we started going to those races, just me and my wife, and we just go have fun for the weekend. And then we had the kids and bring the kids. And one of them was like, I want to race. So it's champ off road now that does the series. So they have a little razor. So Razor 170 made razors. So they have a class where they're like air, quote, stock with the cage and all the required the necessary safety stuff. So it's a total beginner class. She wanted to do that. So we did that. I got a raiser and built a cage and built it. She raised it all last season. So we're doing that all summer. There are six races in three months.
[01:36:05.490] - Drew Burroughs
So basically that's kind of what we're doing.
[01:36:10.090] - Drew Burroughs
Which is fun. I like doing it. It's a lot of work, but you're kind of doing wrenching on stuff and doing all that. I don't get the wheel too much anymore with the kids. I just haven't I had a buggy that I wheeled and then somebody wanted to buy it. So I'm like, oh, no. Yeah, problem. I'll build another one and then six years later, so I haven't built one.
[01:36:35.650] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I get it. It's like when I was a landscape contractor, my house was the shittiest one in the neighborhood.
[01:36:41.190] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. Even if I had time to build one, it's like I'd hardly have time to go wheel. It's tough being here because it's not really much wheeling here. I mean, the closest thing we have is the Badlands and that's 4 hours away or you're making a big trip out to Moab or somewhere. So it's just been tough lately with the business and the kids to find the time to do all that stuff.
[01:37:15.040] - Big Rich Klein
Well, you know, you're still young enough and your kids are young. Enjoy them, run your business, do what you can. And then as they get older, you're going to find more time.
[01:37:28.970] - Drew Burroughs
Oh, yeah, for sure.
[01:37:31.250] - Big Rich Klein
So it's good to do it.
[01:37:33.950] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah. No, I ended up buying a razor because up here, up north, there's a bunch of snowmobile trails, and in the summer, they're ATV trails. So now the UTVs are huge. So you can just drive UTVs up there. I mean, most of the stuff dirt roads or even like street roads, but there is some decent there's nothing technical, but there's some decent fun trails.
[01:37:57.950] - Big Rich Klein
You know, and some of that stuff is like old railroad line where they may have been logging or something at one point. And now they're not using those spurs, so they just turned them into trails. I've seen a lot of that, at least in the Northeast, in like Vermont, New Hampshire.
[01:38:17.940] - Drew Burroughs
Yes, we have this pipeline. I've never been on it, but they had this pipeline trail where there's a big cleared path of the trees. They put some power lines or pipeline or something that they had some trails. But people, you take it for granted living out west because there's no public land here. You get east to Colorado, there's like no public land to off road. I mean, people won't realize that, but there's none. It's all private parks, probably east of Colorado, but it still amazes me how many guys all over the country wheel. It's funny with our buggy kits how everybody kind of thinks we ship them all to California and Arizona, but man, we ship them all over. I mean, a fair amount would go out west, but a lot of them don't, you know? Right.
[01:39:15.190] - Big Rich Klein
Pennsylvania, Virginia, and then down into the south. Tennessee, Alabama. Those are pretty big areas, aren't they?
[01:39:28.330] - Drew Burroughs
Oh, yeah. There's a lot of good parks, especially in the south. There's a lot of parks parks there's, Jeffries everywhere and the rock bouncers are big down there, so there's a lot more of that. But yeah, we sell a lot of parts or chassis all over, but there's been a few down there.
[01:39:51.230] - Big Rich Klein
Cool. Well, excellent. I know we got started at 09:00 your time. That's the evening, people and I'm on the West Coast, so it only was seven for me, so it was pretty easy. Yeah, but, drew, I want to say thank you so much for coming on board and sharing your story with us. Yeah, if anybody's looking for a chassis, I mean, goat built. You heard him. He's got the possibilities for you.
[01:40:24.370] - Drew Burroughs
Yeah, for sure. Well, thanks for having me. It's been good to talk to you. I haven't even seen you in a few years, I'm sure, but, yeah, I've been enjoying the show, so I'm glad to be on it and kind of share my story.
[01:40:38.830] - Big Rich Klein
Awesome. Well, I appreciate it.
[01:40:41.570] - Drew Burroughs
Okay. All right.
[01:40:42.700] - Big Rich Klein
Well, thank you.
[01:40:43.300] - Drew Burroughs
Have a good night.
[01:40:44.040] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. You, too.
[01:40:45.200] - Drew Burroughs
[01:40:47.110] - Big Rich Klein
Thank you for listening to Conversations with big rich. Please let your friends know about this podcast. Let us know what you think of conversations with big rich. Please forward ideas to me contacts of those that I should attempt to interview leave a rating on any of the services you found us on. We look forward to your comments and ideas. Enjoying life is a must follow your dreams and grab all the Gusta you can.