Work seems to be the only word in Rusty Megois’ vocabulary. Owner of Rusty’s Off-Road in Rainbow City, Alabama, Rusty shares the friendships that have helped him through the changes in the industry.
3:12– a neighbor started fueling the fire for being outdoorsl
8:34 – I try to push my guys to do more and do better
14:50 – I just brought more knowledge that I was acquiring on the west coast back home
26:37 – and thank God, along came the XJ Jeep Cherokee
36:52 – I understand you have a building where projects go to die…
41:40 – if I can’t have too many Jeeps, then she can’t have too many diamonds
1:04:25 – right now the biggest thing we’re adding is more robots for welding
1:25:28 – we all work way too damn much
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
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[00:00:01.150] - Speaker 1
Welcome to The Big Rich Show. This podcast will focus on conversations with friends and acquaintances within the fourwheel drive industry. Many of the people that I will be interviewing, you may know the name, you may know some of the history, but let's get in depth with these people and find out what truly makes them a four wheel drive enthusiast. So now is the time to sit back, grab a cold one and enjoy our conversation.
[00:00:29.430] - Speaker 2
Whether you're crawling the red rock 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.
[00:00:55.990] - Speaker 3
Why should you read 4low Magazine? Because 4low Magazine is about your lifestyle, the four wheel drive adventure lifestyle that we all enjoy. Rock crawling, trail riding, event coverage, vehicle builds, and do it yourself tech, all in a beautifully presented package. You won't find 4low on the newsstand rack. So subscribe today and have it delivered to you.
[00:01:20.050] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Rusty Megois. Rusty is Rusty's offroad. Rusty's off road has been around for quite a few years. We'll talk about that with Rusty and where his business has come from and where it's going to in the future. So, Rusty, I want to say thank you very much for coming on board and spending some time. And I know that time is of the essence nowadays, trying to keep everything going because it's the off road world and things are busy.
[00:01:53.890] - Rusty Megois
It is quite busy. Rich. Yeah. I appreciate you and invite me to have a talk with you. And it just takes a couple of times to get this to work out, but glad to be doing it.
[00:02:07.560] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. So let's start right off. Where were you born and raised?
[00:02:13.150] - Rusty Megois
I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and pretty much raised in probably in the suburbs of Birmingham within a 50 miles loop at times and pretty much stay there just about my whole life did one little outspurt towards Tennessee, but most everything's been right here, right here, close to home.
[00:02:40.480] - Big Rich Klein
All right. So at that point was pretty rural. If you're outside of the Birmingham city area.
[00:02:49.870] - Rusty Megois
It can once you go outside the city limits and start going out more than probably 10 miles, yet it starts kind of turning rural after that pretty quick.
[00:03:00.990] - Big Rich Klein
So you got to spend a lot of time outdoors in the woods.
[00:03:05.080] - Rusty Megois
[00:03:06.910] - Big Rich Klein
And what was your primary interest as you were growing up?
[00:03:12.910] - Rusty Megois
Well, as a kid, I would say a real young kid, I guess every young kid you want to play football and do all that. I did that a good little bit growing up. And I got hurt arm hurt really bad and decided that maybe this wasn't what I wanted to do. And I had a neighbor that I showed some interest in going hunting with him. And so he invited me to go with him. And that kind of started fueling a fire of, you know, going out and even being an outdoors more. And it seemed like if it was wintertime, I wanted to go out and tromp through the woods with my gun. And then if it was summertime, I still wasn't driving then. And I was going backpacking and just the surrounding woods that was around where I lived.
[00:04:11.450] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And through school were you played football? I would imagine in school. Then high school.
[00:04:23.910] - Rusty Megois
I went to junior hight That's when I got hurt. And then after that, I kind of dislike the sports alone or the in school sports. I'm still a big football fan and everything, but I said I hurt my right arm really bad. And after that, I said it was just enough.
[00:04:41.510] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Makes sense.
[00:04:42.910] - Rusty Megois
And I wasn't a very tall person. I was five nine. I would probably five nine in junior high and real scrawny kid. So I had a lot more against me anyhow.
[00:04:55.250] - Big Rich Klein
Especially with those Alabama boys.
[00:04:58.670] - Rusty Megois
Yeah. They grown bigger today, I guess. I don't know what it is, but yeah, I just wasn't one of that bunch that got the size and the thickness and everything. Like they need to play football down here in Alabama.
[00:05:13.220] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So your shop right now is in Rainbow, right outside of Gadston, is that correct?
[00:05:23.030] - Rusty Megois
That is correct, yeah. Rainbow City and Gadstone are basically two towns, but you can drive from one and don't even realize you're driving from one to the other. And then you even have a little community called Italy that is all right here together. But we're 40 miles from the Birmingham airport.
[00:05:47.910] - Big Rich Klein
How did your interest in hiking and hunting and being in the outdoors? How did that turn into off road?
[00:05:57.270] - Rusty Megois
Well, as wanting to go hunting and everything. Of course, every kid wants to get his driver's license. And once you got your driver's license, I wanted a truck, a Jeep, something where I could still get in the woods, whether it was just going up to the local highest point in Alabama, just to go up there and go wheeling or to go up there to go hiking or to go up there and go hunting or whatever the situation. And so I started off with a 71 Chevy pickup is what I started off with. And I learned a lot with that truck. But that's how it all started right there. And that was just to get out and to go just get out and go more into the outdoors.
[00:06:47.730] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And so that 71 72 is when they started the square box, wasn't it? Or was it 70 73?
[00:06:57.030] - Rusty Megois
Yes. This was the old smooth, round Fender. I love the body style. I liked it when at the end. And I still like it.
[00:07:08.840] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So as you were growing up and you're hunting? What were you hunting? What were you hunting for? Was it deer or squirrels?
[00:07:23.130] - Rusty Megois
Yeah, it was whitetailed deer. Of course, as seasons changed, it was rabbit hunting involved squirrel hunting. Turkey hunting came in the spring, and I just enjoyed it all. I just wanted to be out in the woods, and I enjoyed as much as I could. I wasn't the best student in school, so I found myself out in the woods more than I did anything else. Where I probably should have been studying, it would have probably made things a lot easier through my business life. But I just had at that time, I wanted to be out just walking through the woods or riding down the dirt road or whatever the situation may be.
[00:08:12.450] - Big Rich Klein
You said you weren't that great of a student because you spent more time doing non student things. I think a lot of us did that were distracted, you might say.
[00:08:25.110] - Rusty Megois
[00:08:28.330] - Big Rich Klein
What did you like about school?
[00:08:34.610] - Rusty Megois
That's a tough question. What a lot I like about school now that I look back at it now, I have a couple of teachers that were just real pains that they pushed me. I didn't know what they were doing back then. I just thought they were mean, but they pushed me and they pushed me hard. And now that I go back and see that what they were doing, actually to me, they were trying to just keep me from just losing all interest. And I see that part, which I think still helps me today. I mean, I try to push my guys here to do more and do better, and I still do that myself every day. And I think that's what they were doing was picking me up all the way from my senior year. I had a real good relationship with my coach, and I had three classes. You'd think, okay, you can at least go to school for three classes. And I had senior English and democracy, and D. B. Was the last class. And at that time, I had already started putting the shop together. And I went down there and told him, I said, this is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life.
[00:09:54.010] - Rusty Megois
And I said, I don't need to be at PE. I need to be at work. And he says, I'll take care of it. And so I only went to two classes, a PE that whole year. Today's world, that's totally different. You couldn't do that. But he knew exactly what I was wanting to do. My senior English teacher, she knew what I wanted to do. She had to push me enough to where I would still get some grades. And fortunately, my little sister was a very good student, and so she made a lot of my grades for me.
[00:10:28.650] - Big Rich Klein
Well, you had to pick something up. You've been pretty successful.
[00:10:34.270] - Rusty Megois
Like I said, a lot of it was just little things that might not have been about numbers and stuff like that, but it was just like that one thing. I would have never thought that. I mean, I just thought she was just a mean old lady. And I've seen her since maybe two times. I'm probably the first one to go up and hug her neck.
[00:10:54.940] - Big Rich Klein
Now that's awesome. So you said you're in high school senior and you decided to start a shop that's pretty early?
[00:11:06.550] - Rusty Megois
Yes, it was very early. But even through the high school years, going off road, I started off my truck with that 71, started going off road. Of course I knew how to drive. I had a little bit of off road knowledge. I have an uncle that he was passing out, but he was in Florida and they used to call it boondocking down there in Florida because it was all just swamps and going out on the beach and stuff like that. And he had Scouts and he had Suburbans and stuff like that. So if we went and visited them, we always went out and went wheeling and doing what they like to do. And so I learned some stuff from him actually. Probably one of my best teachers of going four wheel was an old man that was a logger that actually didn't even have a full drive. And I don't even know what your truck? It was an old black truck. I think he had 900 and sixteens all the way around it and some kind of grip spur tire and just watching him, talking to him and learning how to go off road with him because it was his way of living and probably learned a lot from him.
[00:12:34.590] - Rusty Megois
But I had a bad habit of going a lot by myself and I would tear stuff up and I had to figure out how to first get it out of the woods and then get back home. And then I had to fix it and I went through a lot of transmissions and I think a couple of ring your opinions and just different stuff like that. I just built a lot of experience.
[00:13:03.730] - Big Rich Klein
And what was the name of your first business?
[00:13:08.530] - Rusty Megois
We started out we had off road Birmingham.
[00:13:11.870] - Big Rich Klein
Off road Birmingham. Okay. And you primarily worked on off road vehicles then what kind of work?
[00:13:19.490] - Rusty Megois
We did everything then? Yeah, we did everything from if it was a Chevrolet Ford drive and they need the wheelbarance pack. We did everything from that to suspension kits to wheels and tires roll bars, if you can believe that. Yes. Back in the day there was row bars and everything had to have KC daylights on it and worn winches and everything for a full drive period. It didn't matter what it was. We did that and it grew from that.
[00:14:02.190] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. So you're working on all sorts of cars and trucks and doing general maintenance and four wheel drive work and you started this on your own or.
[00:14:15.690] - Rusty Megois
How did it come about as far as coming about was being a really good friend of mine. He's still a good friend of mine. And we were basically come together and went in a two Bay service station and started working our butts off.
[00:14:36.100] - Big Rich Klein
Hung your shingle and went for it. Cool.
[00:14:38.610] - Rusty Megois
[00:14:40.170] - Big Rich Klein
So how did you go from Chevy truck? What was the progress? What was the progression?
[00:14:50.300] - Rusty Megois
$8, probably. There's been several steps. One of the first things was in the 70s, of course, the fuel deal hit and gas jumped drastically. And if you had a Chevy truck or four truck or a Dodge truck, they got 6 miles a gallon. You didn't drive it very much. And so I ended up actually buying a little Datson truck because I had about a 45 miles drive and I ended up buying one of those. And I actually had called Spencer Low that had low manufacturing out on the West Coast and he was selling four drive conversions for these little trucks and still getting 25 miles a gallon. I said this is a perfect deal. So we ended up getting set up with him. We started doing those. Spencer ended up becoming a real good friend of mine. And I used to go out there and go racing with him or go to the races with him and eventually got in the truck some. And I just brought more knowledge that I was acquiring out on the West Coast and from him and people that I would meet bump into and bringing it back and doing things here.
[00:16:11.370] - Big Rich Klein
[00:16:14.990] - Rusty Megois
Somewhere down the line, probably a little bit of the fabrication. I'd always been building things because so much stuff back in the getting up to the first age, you know, there wasn't a lot. Right. The lifts were limited and you had skyjacker and you had super lift if you wanted to buy lift gets for just about anything. And as far as for the Jeep industry, it was even more limited. And the only thing that was there was the whole square chopped leaf Springs. It lifted, but it beat you to death. At the same time, you didn't know which was worse, the suspension kit or the swamp or tires. Right. So that started that. And it also gave me a little bit of wanting to start kind of making different parts and stuff and actually just doing that. I got a pretty good reputation of building and fabricating and stuff, doing that type of stuff. And then through a lot of the other suspension companies and even bumper companies and everything, had one company that broke a friend of mine that broke off and started doing a bumper company for trucks and Jeeps, and I used to help him design different ones.
[00:17:48.750] - Rusty Megois
And then this will go back a while back too, back when Bo Bo Bonds just started Super Lyft and then Fred ended up getting it. As things went through Super Lyft change of events, I always helped them do a lot of the different bracketry and stuff like that. I enjoy doing it. I like the challenge. I like building the parts and that type of stuff. So that kind of got me in the back of my mind. Wheels were already turned and what I wanted to do down the road, and I'm thinking probably 84. I actually really jumped in with both feet, and I actually had a place in Birmingham, and I actually opened a store in Chattanooga.
[00:18:44.550] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, wow. Okay.
[00:18:45.400] - Rusty Megois
And I didn't know how big a challenge that was going to be. It was a tough one. And people talk about there needs to be two of you. I needed ten of me, but it was very good. I learned a lot. It helped us grow a lot, and it also got us at that point of we started putting some different parts together that were going to be our own parts. And we ended up leaving Chattanoog, coming back to Alabama and just shutting the place down. It was too hard on me. I couldn't get the management people I needed at that time. And so we just decided that I wanted to stay married and everything. I better get everything and just keep with one business spot and keep that going.
[00:19:51.120] - Big Rich Klein
Right. That makes sense.
[00:19:53.290] - Rusty Megois
Yeah. It was tough. I still work long days and too many days, but it's got to the point where there was weeks I didn't hardly see my family, and I had my wife, and then I had a two year old at that time. So she informed me that something needed to change, and at least I was smart enough to realize I had to make some changes.
[00:20:19.450] - Big Rich Klein
So one of the questions that I was asked to ask you was, how did you get let's see, what's the way to ask this Datson pickups back then, they weren't Nissan. It was Datson. You were taking two wheel drive trucks and converting them into four. Is that correct?
[00:20:40.940] - Rusty Megois
That is correct, yes, that is correct.
[00:20:43.280] - Big Rich Klein
What was the process you used on that?
[00:20:46.390] - Rusty Megois
Well, at that time, we started off with a kit that we got from Low Manufacturing, and we would actually go into car dealerships and getting brand new two wheel drive trucks and bringing them back. And we were doing multiple ones. We do three or four of them at a time. And we would take the Low manufacturing kits, which he had a bracket kit which had hangers and Springs. He had worked out all the details of what it took. Well, I got a call from him one day, and he decided to go full time racing. So I actually took that same I took all the a moving parts of his stuff, and then that's where a lot of the fabrication and the design work started coming out. I end up having to make all these parts and market them and do everything my own self. And that was something new. Okay. And I like the challenge part of it because that's what I wanted to do.
[00:21:50.530] - Big Rich Klein
And with the racing going back, going to the West Coast to race, were you racing just like California, Arizona and Nevada, or were you going down to Baja as well?
[00:22:04.030] - Rusty Megois
We did go down into Baja. Spencer ended up getting eventually getting a major sponsor deal through Nissan. And once that hit. Yes, we started going basically doing all the score, the high desert, all those, and we even started doing some SCCA racing, and most of that was on the East Coast. So we kind of actually use my shop as a headquarters of a little bit of that.
[00:22:39.790] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. So going from Alabama to the West Coast at that time, and we're talking the 80s, that the roads were not like they are now. So knowing I travel back and forth across the country a lot with putting on events, but I can't imagine what that was like to take a race team to the West Coast and back and forth so often. That must have taken some travel time.
[00:23:18.270] - Rusty Megois
It's definitely lot different than the way things are done now. The part of getting ready was always action packed and never enough time getting everything done, and then you load it up and then it's just go until you got there. We did have places that a lot of times we finished a race, we would leave the rig in certain areas and then at times, which still made it even it was a lot more difficult back then to fly back and forth, and then we would do that. And I'm still trying to keep things going at the shop as well. But I don't know. We just made it work back then. You did it and it's just the way it was going to be. And you made it happen.
[00:24:16.040] - Big Rich Klein
Just put your nose to the grindstone, basically, yes. So then what were you using for, like transfer cases to go from two to four wheel drive?
[00:24:29.370] - Rusty Megois
We use brand new model 30 front ends that we're getting from Dana. Model 20 transfer cases brand new from Dana.
[00:24:36.950] - Big Rich Klein
[00:24:38.610] - Rusty Megois
So it was basically these were little trucks. It was a Jeep, as far as I was concerned. It was just the Jeep on it. We knew that the parts were all proven and it was just like a Jeep. It just had a pickup bed. Maybe we had a Gladiator before we knew it.
[00:24:57.090] - Big Rich Klein
There you go. So then you took over basically the Fab work and the building of parts from low and you.
[00:25:12.820] - Rusty Megois
[00:25:13.540] - Big Rich Klein
And then is that when you started Rusty's and got away from.
[00:25:18.750] - Rusty Megois
Yes, that is when that all kind of started coming together and we started building, of course, all those parts. And I've always admired Jeeps had Jeeps. And even when I had my trucks I had pieces of Jeeps that some of them would always work my primary driver, but just something that everybody had to have a Jeep. It'd be always one sitting in your yard and it was just cool. So that's what made me want one at first and then just getting out and we went with it. When some of these old CJS I used to have, it was so much more easier to wheel than that big old Chevy truck that I had back then that I was trying to tear up every time I took it in the woods. We built shackles because we had a lot of that stuff for the conversion companies that we built. So we started building parts for the Jeeps as well. At that time, the Jeeps weren't as popular as I will say they are down by any means.
[00:26:35.500] - Big Rich Klein
[00:26:37.470] - Rusty Megois
Yeah. I mean, your bread and butter lift kits. Back when we first started back in the 70s, we were selling the lift kits and Springs and the roll bars and all that. So that was all our bread and butter. And you might get one Jeep in every 200 Chevy. So that walked in the door, you know, wanting something done. But we figured we could start building some of the parts that needed to be built for Jeeps because it was a small market and we could just blend it in and add it and thank God along came the XJ Cherokee.
[00:27:22.230] - Big Rich Klein
I agree with that one.
[00:27:26.530] - Rusty Megois
And some people laughed at me at first. And you're driving your Grandpa's car and stuff like that, but I wish they still made it. Now, the Jeep doesn't know what they're missing, but it came along and there was a couple of people they jumped on the bandwagon and built suspension kits or lift kits, whatever you want. At that time, what they were called. And there was nothing really built right or anything. And at that time, our closest tip that we thought was one of the best ones out on the market was a black diamond. He got involved, too, or worn back then, and they came out with that black diamond suspension. We buy a lot of their parts, but the problem was they weren't complete and we needed track bars. We needed different things like this. And that's kind of where we all got started.
[00:28:32.450] - Big Rich Klein
That black diamond that was more of just like a big plate and the links, correct?
[00:28:41.390] - Rusty Megois
Yes. Even their complete line was just enough to kind of get you started. But it was good quality stuff. It just wasn't they weren't none of the kits were complete kits as what we thought right.
[00:29:06.930] - Big Rich Klein
When you got your first XJ, we call them the grocery getters. I'm a fan of XJS. Everybody always talks about them being like a soda can. You just crumple it and then throw it away and start over again. But they're becoming harder and harder to find. They are the things I found with them is if you stiffen them up and stiffen that unibody up so it doesn't crack quite as easy, they last a lot longer. But I think that was part of their and I don't know if it was the design element or not, but that rolling flex of the unibody was almost like the old CJ Two A or the original Jeeps, where your frame was part of the suspension.
[00:30:03.630] - Rusty Megois
And you're exactly right back then, the CJ Two A's, CJ Sixes, all those had the little small frames were puny. And some people may get mad at me for saying that, but there was not a lot to that frame. And then the way it was even put together, your crossmembers were put across and they were actually riveted mostly there was nothing really bolted. So by the time you took that thing out and wielded a couple of times, those rivets had stretched out and you could ramp it and you could just see that those rivets come in loose. But it helped the suspension as far as flexing and riding and stuff like that. As you said, the frame and the suspension all went along with the road, right.
[00:31:00.060] - Big Rich Klein
It all worked together.
[00:31:01.300] - Rusty Megois
Yeah, it did. And then as the unibody and it got a bad route from the time it came out and everything, but it did much the same way. I mean, it's one of the only vehicles that I've ever seen. You'd be able to go up on a really washed out road. And not only you can't open the doors because the body is flexing so much. I've actually had wheeled some and had the windows pop out of the rubber on the very back.
[00:31:41.490] - Big Rich Klein
I've done that. But it's normally with the help of a branch or a tree or a rock.
[00:31:47.370] - Rusty Megois
I totally understand that. But when that thing come along and I mean, it was perfect at the time as it hit me in my personal life, too, because I had two young boys and I wanted to still, it all goes back to being outdoors. We were wanting to go outdoors. It was perfect size. There was plenty of room. I could put the whole family in there. We could go do what we wanted to do. And it was actually I could throw a set of Swampers on it back then, I think the first one I got, I put a set of 30 by 950 Swampers on it. And I realized real quick I had to have a bigger tire. Right. So we would buy what was available and use that as a building platform. And then we built as far as Jeep parts, that was for I would say anything that we build parts for now mainly was an adjustable track bar, because back then there was nothing. Some of the first companies that built something that would have cured the problem of the track bar would build brackets. And we went ahead right off the bat, we built an adjustable track bar, and that's probably pretty much where it started.
[00:33:16.510] - Rusty Megois
And we built other little pieces and parts for it. I started off in I've never built coal Springs. I've never built Springs. And now I have leaf Springs in about 10,000 sq. Ft. Buildings.
[00:33:33.030] - Big Rich Klein
[00:33:33.430] - Rusty Megois
That covered the floor. Yeah. It's amazing how many leaf Springs that we have for just the Cherokee still that they had dealt with them since 2001. And it's pretty amazing how many parts still go out for.
[00:33:49.770] - Big Rich Klein
Right. I know that they're still a real popular they're becoming hard to find that the prices are going up on them so high they are getting you can still find a lot of these $250.
[00:34:03.190] - Rusty Megois
$800 ones that have been used and abused. But the typical grocery getter that you still see one in the road. I'm still amazed at all the events I go to and Jeep Jamborees and stuff like that. And I get out on the road and I'm driving and I look and I see a stone stock Cherokee come by and I said clean. Next thing you know, there comes another one and you think hadn't made them since 2001. And they're still out there still that can be out there that can be built right.
[00:34:43.770] - Big Rich Klein
A couple of years ago in 2018, I found one that was super clean. Interior exterior. There was one dent in the small dent that can be popped out really easy in the driver side front Fender. And we took that to Novak for a V eight swap. And now we're going to finish building it out the rest of the way. But it was great finding one, especially one with a sunroof.
[00:35:17.430] - Rusty Megois
Actually, I don't remember the last time I saw you, but one of the last times I saw you Expo, we were on the West Coast, I guess one of the expos, and you were sitting down there where you walk in. We were all right there with the motel. We were getting ready to leave. I was actually me and Trent McGee were together and you and Jackson Jesse was with you and your wife. And I actually left that event and went with Trip and picked up a super driving driver. That was just unbelievable that I was going to have to ship back to here. I got there and saw how nice it was. I ended up calling my wife and saying, I'm driving this thing back. And I ended up driving it from almost Phoenix all the way back home. And it drove as good as anything that you can buy now. And since then we've built it and actually sold it to a real good friend of mine. We put long arm kit and 35 or 37 something I can't even remember now. And he had a 16 year old boy, wanted just a nice vehicle, and he still drives it to school every day now.
[00:36:44.770] - Rusty Megois
But it was just amazing how all that worked out. But yeah, they're out there. You just got to find them.
[00:36:52.950] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So let's talk about let's spur off here a little bit. You talked about picking up Jeeps and trucks and that kind of stuff. Kind of projects. I understand that you have a building where projects go to die. You know who I've been talking to.
[00:37:21.840] - Rusty Megois
I know exactly who you've been talking to. I sure hope they don't die there. I've got a lot of them that are finished products that are still there. I got so many of them. I got future products. I got one building that's about 15,000 sqft. I guess it's got projects and toys in it. And I guess I've got most every full build that we ever did within on Extreme four by four. I have a lot of those. I actually have one of Spencer Lowe's old one of his first Desert base vehicles. It is actually put together and feed. And actually, I took it last two years ago, we lost Spencer. He was actually a King of Hammers and actually had an aneurysm there and passed away.
[00:38:31.520] - Big Rich Klein
[00:38:36.530] - Rusty Megois
With the help of a lot of people, we actually took that vehicle and put it back together. This year. He was inducted in the hall of Fame, and I had that vehicle there, which was really cool.
[00:38:46.280] - Big Rich Klein
Right? I saw that.
[00:38:47.100] - Rusty Megois
And I have my son's first Cherokee that we built for him. I still have it. He's 40 now, right. At 40 years old. And I still have it. I have a couple of other race vehicles, pieces and parts. I have a lot of pieces and parts of vehicles, too. Like I said, a lot of them are future projects. I got a couple of Willis's and like I said, there's a handful of Cherokees in there and it's a lot of Jeeps.
[00:39:28.330] - Big Rich Klein
[00:39:29.030] - Rusty Megois
And I'm a big fan of LJ's and actually have I keep always forget about my LJ's because they're just down one little section. But I actually have four of those. I have one that is an five model that still only has 519 miles on it. What?
[00:39:50.560] - Big Rich Klein
You're kidding me.
[00:39:51.780] - Rusty Megois
[00:39:52.280] - Big Rich Klein
You better put that on.
[00:39:53.290] - Rusty Megois
I sure do. I know I don't tell a lot of people that, but I guess I told the world now.
[00:39:59.490] - Big Rich Klein
Well, a few people.
[00:40:02.850] - Rusty Megois
But I bought this thing brand new and we brought it back. We did a bunch of suspension stuff that was kind of a little bit odd than the norm. And we actually loaded it up in the back of one of the trailers and we took it to Jeep Beach, showed it. No, I apologize. We actually took it to Boeb first to Jeep Easter Safari, showed it and wheeled it and did everything. We brought it back. We took it to Jeep Beach, did the same. And I actually parked it, removed all the suspension stuff. And it has not moved since that was what, no, five or six?
[00:40:43.830] - Big Rich Klein
[00:40:45.690] - Rusty Megois
Yeah. I still haven't of that one. You look inside, it's brand new.
[00:40:51.990] - Big Rich Klein
You don't have that Chevy pickup anymore, do you?
[00:40:56.430] - Rusty Megois
I do not have it. There's a couple of things I don't have that I'd love to have it. And actually I got into running little single seat buggies down. They had like a little course or association out of Georgia, Florida. I mean, I did this when I was in high school and just pedaling a little bit, but I don't have the car that I built for that. I wish I had that. I've looked and looked and I've gone through pastures and junkyards and everything, but I can't find it.
[00:41:32.850] - Big Rich Klein
So the project vehicles, do you use those for product development?
[00:41:40.470] - Rusty Megois
Some of them we do now. And me and my wife got a little deal. If you can't have too many Jeeps, she can't have too many diamonds and she's got her condo at the beach, so she's happy. And so usually when we start well, I won't say like the JK, even we'll go back that far just with the JK. I mean, we have to have vehicles for product development. If we don't have those vehicles that we can bring one in and pull it all apart and do everything we want to do with it, we have nothing to start off with. We've got to do that. Unfortunately, Jeep doesn't help like some of the manufacturers do as far as giving you wide open range what info you can get. They want to sell. Of course they want to sell more part brand stuff. But there's other like I said, we figured out a way that we can do this and get these vehicles. And it takes several plus to do this. We can't put them together for the next weekend to go to a show or a Jeep jam burrito wheel or something like that. So I end up with almost sometimes it looks like a car dealership here, but we feel that it's the right way to do it.
[00:43:14.700] - Rusty Megois
That way we got one group that usually works on the body armor and skid plates and protection, and then one that we're working on developmental suspension stuff. So that's kind of where our lot of vehicle starts. And then my other problem is I don't like to sell stuff, so I usually accumulate a lot of vehicles.
[00:43:44.400] - Big Rich Klein
Are you saying you're a hoarder?
[00:43:47.410] - Rusty Megois
I am a hoarder of vehicles. Okay. I do like vehicles, and I don't think you can have too many. And the only thing bad is when it comes tag buying time.
[00:43:59.770] - Big Rich Klein
[00:44:06.050] - Rusty Megois
We did that with the JL as soon as we could get our hands on the JL. I mean, it had 43 miles. My wife drove it from Birmingham to here. We pulled it in, we put it on the rack, and it was totally disassembled.
[00:44:20.390] - Big Rich Klein
Wow. And then kind of reverse engineered for the stuff that you build.
[00:44:25.560] - Rusty Megois
[00:44:27.670] - Big Rich Klein
And so somebody could go to the Rusty's website and with a JL or JK or TJ. Xjs CJS and say, okay, I'm going to build my whole vehicle from the Rusties catalog. Is that correct?
[00:44:47.270] - Rusty Megois
You could. Yes, sir. You could. You could go away from bumpers to armor, to skids to suspension and even a set of lights and tires and wheels and we can put it on a pallet and ship it to you.
[00:45:06.110] - Big Rich Klein
Wow. So I would typically at this point ask, how many SKUs do you think you have? But I can't even imagine how many SKUs you have for all the different models that are out there.
[00:45:21.470] - Rusty Megois
I can tell you pretty close because we were actually hoping for January 1 on a new website to be launched. But as Covage kind of drug everything out. It's even drug it out a little bit. We've been more worried about getting parts out on time, but I think 17,000 and some odd numbers.
[00:45:47.630] - Big Rich Klein
Wow. That's incredible. Yeah, that's incredible.
[00:45:51.130] - Rusty Megois
It's huge. It's scary to think about.
[00:45:55.730] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, it is. And most of those SKUs are still active, correct?
[00:46:01.130] - Rusty Megois
[00:46:01.760] - Big Rich Klein
Still selling parts on them.
[00:46:04.370] - Rusty Megois
Yes, sir. There are some parts that are not the Rusties we have stuck with. We've been a long time fan and user warm Winches. And so, of course, we got all theirs. I've had relationship with Casey Lights. Of course, they're all on there. And we sell a lot of the OEM parts through like Crown Automotive. That makes OEM. Just where if you needed a bowler motor for a Cherokee, we would have that. Or a CJ, we would have that.
[00:46:41.690] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So they're not all product that you've developed. When you said tires of rooms, I figured that was the case.
[00:46:47.650] - Rusty Megois
Yeah. Okay, exactly. Not all of them are the Rusty brand part. As far as the Rusties brands parts, I think there is 5200, but approximately somewhere in there. And that number.
[00:46:59.800] - Big Rich Klein
Well, that's pretty good. That's a third. A little less than a third. That's awesome.
[00:47:04.970] - Rusty Megois
Yes. It's still an awful lot of parts.
[00:47:08.690] - Big Rich Klein
So the next question I have is did you ever consider going someplace Besides Alabama?
[00:47:17.450] - Rusty Megois
Yes, I have. Numerous times.
[00:47:20.830] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And what was the reason behind the possible relocation?
[00:47:27.890] - Rusty Megois
It goes back to the love of the outdoors. I know you travel the country a lot as well. And another racer brought me to the Arca. Don Adams used to run all the Jeep CJS and he lived in North Rock, Colorado. I went to Salada. I didn't want to leave. And I tried my best to figure out a way to actually do manufacturing there. And finally one day my dad went with me out there and he says, take a big look at everything. You see how it's growing as much as it is now. It's going to grow more. Can you do it here? And I told him no, I couldn't, and I don't think anybody could. And so that's when I realized after we stayed there a couple more days, we looked around, we got back. I did more homework as far as getting out and trying to find the amount of steel that I would need. At that time, we didn't have the amount of laser. I don't even know if we had a laser then. So we were working on having to keep we would have to have a supplier to do some of the laser work.
[00:49:03.510] - Rusty Megois
We had press brakes and welders and robots and all that. Then that was just one of the times. But that was probably the most impact. That's when we really made a step here and built the facility. What it's grown into now.
[00:49:22.710] - Big Rich Klein
Right when my wife and I stopped and visited you, and this was like six years ago or so. It was right around the time we were doing one of our events in Dayton, Tennessee, I believe. And I was absolutely amazed at the facility that you have. And you were showing me lots or areas and going, okay, yeah, we're going to put another building over here and over here. And I was absolutely amazed. And you had the property, you had the space. It must be difficult for sourcing employees just because you're kind of out from the city center area, obviously, right.
[00:50:12.490] - Rusty Megois
When I grew up in a rural area, it seemed like a lot of it is people have changed and environments have changed and everything. And at that time, when I was young, it seemed like everybody that was in school, you got a job and you learned something about what you like to do. And I thought maybe I've been in the big city too long, and I thought it would still be that way. We never really had a problem of with getting the amount of help that we needed from racing to anything. Of course, racing most people will work for free if they can go to the races with you. And then we came here and we didn't have problems at first. As things grew that's kind of where, unfortunately, we've kind of maybe hit that growth area that we don't have the pool from now. The hard part has been you find people that in Birmingham, if you just got to go 10 miles into Birmingham, if you're going into the city, it takes you 40 minutes to get there. Just going into a big city. Every big city is this way, right. And we try to tell them now, okay, come this way, 30 miles in less time, you can still be here and you don't have all that traffic to fight.
[00:51:44.460] - Rusty Megois
And we've added a few that way. But it's been tough. I mean, right now, before COVID, we're half of what we had been.
[00:51:56.930] - Big Rich Klein
[00:51:57.570] - Rusty Megois
And it's been hard on everybody here. And then even it's even worse as far as everybody needs to hire people now they're either not working or they're just finding people's tough.
[00:52:19.720] - Big Rich Klein
It's almost like people don't want to work.
[00:52:22.450] - Rusty Megois
Yes. It's very frustrating because basically, you know something that could be doing what you need them to do and they don't want to work. I guess I've worked seven days a week my whole life and don't know any different. And it's hard. That slowing down thing is kind of hard to figure out. And now I'm 62 now, and everybody says we supposed to retire at 62. I mean, retire is a dirty word.
[00:53:01.430] - Big Rich Klein
I'm turning 64 in March, and we have finally figured out an exit strategy, at least from the competitions. We have a guy named Jake Good that's partnering with us this year, and he's going to phase in as we phase out over the next couple of years, and he'll end up taking over, which is really good because the last thing I wanted to do is have the sport or rock crawling basically disappear. And so that was good for us. What's your exit strategy that you're 62 and talking about that?
[00:53:41.990] - Rusty Megois
I mean, I'm not talking about retire or anything. I'm healthy. I work more hours probably than anybody else here. Of course, Tony is my oldest son. He's my right hand man. We've had a couple of talks about it, and he says it probably wouldn't be the same if you weren't here. I don't know. So I get those little things like I don't know if he wants me to not to leave or what, but I don't know. I couldn't turn it off. I don't see me turning it off anytime soon.
[00:54:25.640] - Big Rich Klein
[00:54:27.370] - Rusty Megois
Yeah. I enjoy it too much. Still, I try to do more. We've always done a lot of events, shows and that kind of stuff. I have probably left some of the shows and I'll leave them to some other people, but I've got very involved in the last ten years with Jeep Jambury and traveling the country and going to doing the different trail rides and stuff. And me and my wife, we really enjoy that. We enjoy meeting the people. That's probably the biggest thing that we get to go out and meet the people as they're riding out on the trail. And plus I'm getting to ride some of the trails. I've wanted to always ride, but never got to, just never had the time or it was too much work all the time. And now we're getting to do those. And I'm enjoying that a lot.
[00:55:24.550] - Big Rich Klein
That's awesome. I think that the new Jeep enthusiast is somebody that's been looking for their own thing to do.
[00:55:39.350] - Rusty Megois
[00:55:40.140] - Big Rich Klein
They've maybe worked most of their life where they're living in that same area, same town, going back and forth to work. Weekends are spent with the kids, and they're not really getting out and enjoying themselves as a couple. And I think that the Jeep Jamborees have allowed those people to explore along with the purchase of buying a Jeep. And I think that really started to flourish with the JKS.
[00:56:16.250] - Rusty Megois
Oh, I totally agree. It has. And of course, our industry in 40 something years, I've seen it change so much. And as well as I know you have, and we're going through another seems like another period of change as we come into the JL and the Gladiator, the JK before started, a lot of new people that would have never bought a CJ or even a TJ and maybe they owned a Grand Cherokee just for a driver. But now they're buying these vehicles and you've got a lot of people that are Gray headed, are with no hair, and then we go to some of these jammers and then you've got kids I won't say you got kids, but you got very young adults that have kids that are trying to be out. They want to be out in the outdoors.
[00:57:17.270] - Big Rich Klein
[00:57:19.250] - Rusty Megois
And then as far as our business, it's weird because we have those guys that are from all different ages now. We have kids that are buying their first vehicle and they want to fix it up best they can. And then you got a guy that he just retired, he's ready to go out and have good time and do the things he's never been able to do.
[00:57:42.350] - Big Rich Klein
Right. What I found is the younger generation, they want experiences.
[00:57:55.770] - Rusty Megois
[00:57:59.530] - Big Rich Klein
As I put myself in this classification as a baby Boomer, that we were brought up by our parents to have a job, keep that job, and then work really hard so that when you do retire, you have time. The kids that we've raised are more and I'm saying as a whole, not individually, but as a whole are more experience driven for there. And I don't know if it's because as a general age group didn't provide enough experience for them. I know I tried to, but my kids are quite a bit like me, but as a whole, they want to experience things, not so much, maybe buy a bunch of stuff, but they want to experience they want to grow really fast.
[00:59:07.950] - Rusty Megois
Yes, I agree. They do want to experience more. And I think right now with way when covet hit anything that was outdoors, outdoorsy, whether it was boating, fishing, camping, hunting, four wheel and whatever. And most time all those usually involved can involve a Jeep or whatever if they're wanting to do one of those things. And Jeeps are cool, like I said, they go down there, they just want one because it's cool. And then they can go do all these different things that are outdoors. And like I said, I do, too. As far as the younger I mean, I'm not saying younger my son, I don't want him and he probably don't work as many hours as I do, but he works too many. And I probably wish I'd work with less and done a few more things with him. And so he's doing those things with my grandson. And of course, I promote that. I want him to do that. But it's the same way. You're exactly right there. I think they want to go out. Okay. They've seen Moab. I got to go experience. If they don't do nothing, fly out there, rent a Jeep, and they're wide eyed the whole time.
[01:00:44.410] - Rusty Megois
We see them out there when we're out there riding, you can tell the ones that are green that this is their first trip. They're so excited, they can't see straight.
[01:00:53.420] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, true enough. So where do you see Rusties in the future?
[01:01:05.230] - Rusty Megois
Well, when the jail, the noise of all that, of course, they kept it very tight lip what we were going to get and all that. But we got one. We jumped on it. We got a little lazy maybe with the JK. I think we were just so busy with the TJ and the XJ that we just didn't jump on the JK as quick as we probably should have as far as everything for it at first. But with the JL, we were ready. We jumped on it. We had all our suppliers that we were going to get our products from. We had them on go, and we had bark rails, we had bumpers, we had skid plates. We had everything ready to go. And we've never had anything that's come close to selling anywhere close to the amount of parts that we sell for Cherokees. And this jail and this new Gladiator is probably bumping a little bit more right now. Wow. Yeah. We haven't been known for that Wrangler part supplier. But now if we can just get those people to look at our website, they see what we offer for it. And everything's built here, that's the best thing about it.
[01:02:28.750] - Rusty Megois
We're building everything in house, all the skid plates, all the suspension components. Now, of course, shocks coal Springs. I don't have a Foundry back here where I'm doing elite Springs and stuff for coal Springs. But that's one thing that I think my 40 plus years in the industry, we've gone to some very big reputable companies that most people don't realize. They build parts for other people. And when the JL came in, we went to Ibock and Ibocks building our coal Springs, and they're building our shock absorbers right now. Okay. And it's something that we've they don't keep it quiet. We don't keep it quite. And actually, it's done so well that the President of Ibox decided to they're not going to sell a Jeep blind. They develop their own Jeep line, and they're actually going to drop it and just supply us.
[01:03:31.390] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, very good.
[01:03:33.250] - Rusty Megois
And yes. So we're happy with what they're doing around the racing industry. It ensures that it's one of the highest quality parts you can get.
[01:03:50.560] - Big Rich Klein
[01:03:53.310] - Rusty Megois
And then, like I said, all of our stuff being built here not imported from who knows where and that means a lot. And I don't remember. You said six. You were here.
[01:04:09.890] - Big Rich Klein
No, it's been six years or so. So it was probably six years ago.
[01:04:13.340] - Rusty Megois
[01:04:13.590] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it was probably right around 14 or 15.
[01:04:16.970] - Rusty Megois
Okay. Yeah, we probably had it a couple of buildings since then.
[01:04:23.310] - Big Rich Klein
I remember that.
[01:04:25.290] - Rusty Megois
Yeah, I know. We're up to two lasers and a two laser now. Right now the biggest thing now we're adding is bin robots. And that's just goes to bless people. We're putting more robots in place for welding. Most of it is all welding.
[01:04:48.230] - Big Rich Klein
[01:04:48.680] - Rusty Megois
And we will soon have one on a Press break that will actually be able to pick up piece of metal, bend the metal and put it in a stack.
[01:04:58.450] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, that makes sense. I talked to somebody else one time and they said the nice thing about the robot welding is that it doesn't matter if it's Monday morning or Friday night. They're always going to Weld the same.
[01:05:12.810] - Rusty Megois
That's right. They do.
[01:05:14.910] - Big Rich Klein
It's not that whole thing of like, oh, that car must have been built on a Monday morning or a Friday night. Guy was hungover from the weekend or looking forward to getting off. So, yeah, the robots will take care of that and give you consistent Weld each time.
[01:05:32.610] - Rusty Megois
Yeah, you do. There is some human input into it, but it even lets you know if that's wrong. It's been something we've been pretty proud to add to our line of equipment. And they always said it's making the difference and us keeping caught up with the needs that we have.
[01:06:00.280] - Big Rich Klein
So how has your supply of steel been through this covet?
[01:06:04.530] - Rusty Megois
It's been tough.
[01:06:05.560] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, it's been tough.
[01:06:06.610] - Rusty Megois
Yeah, it's been tough. Flat sheets. We would order basically two tractor trailers, which ends up being about £80,000 or £40,000 per truck is when they bring a full load of sheets to you. And we would order £80,000, which you expect in two trucks to roll in and one truck would roll in and it have ten or £12,000 on it. And we can cut £10,000 in a couple of days. And tubing wasn't as bad at first, but then we seem to have been having an up and down time with some tubing. Right now, we bumped all our orders, but we all seem to get less than what we order. Our last big challenge and it's craziest thing in the world was nuts and bolts.
[01:07:08.330] - Big Rich Klein
[01:07:09.950] - Rusty Megois
I mean, we can build all these parts, but if you don't have anything to put them together with, even the last I would say the last three months, I mean, still still a problem, but it's not been as bad. But nuts and bolts has been just horrible. And I don't know if you get all these USA bolts. Of course, we try to supply or to source everything as far as quality, main, us Bolt and washers and all that. Unfortunately, it gets to a point where if they can't get them, they go elsewhere. And I don't know if they're all sitting out on these boats, out in the water or where all our boats are.
[01:08:02.970] - Big Rich Klein
Right. Yeah. The supply chain issues have been crazy. I was looking at trying to analyze personally what was going to happen in the future. And I know that there were some people that really stocked up and had a lot of raw product, the steel, the bolts, the tube. So when that supply issue hit its peak, they were still fine in building. And then there was others that were ordering from week to week instead of having a lot of inventory. I think one of the trends that we'll see and correct me if I'm wrong, but that companies is because of the supply chain issues, as soon as it's available, people are going to start carrying more inventory of their different SKUs. So instead of somebody orders a bumper today, I can build it this week and send it out at the end of the week, they're going to actually have bumpers on the shelf. So in case they get caught with their pants down again, that won't be an issue. Do you see that right?
[01:09:30.090] - Rusty Megois
Oh, yeah, I definitely see that. And we've always tried to do that or always have a little bit more. And I learned that from back in the 80s through the card era, when the interest rate on credit card people don't realize that interest rate on credit cards back then were 20% and stuff like that was that probably the worst times I've ever seen it, period. And then we had the 708 and I say a supply problem, but it was a problem that people didn't have parts or they ran out very quick. Luckily, spring shocks steel, it doesn't go bad. So we've always kept a good supply and we did very good through the first six to nine months of the Covet mess. But then, you know, as other companies were out of things and they would check with us or they would refer them to or whatever, our sales skyrocketed, of course. But all that supply got eat up real quick. Right. So it was definitely a Boomer for business, and it still is. I mean, we're still selling. If you look back before precove and our sales are double what they were then and we're doing it with half the amount of people.
[01:11:11.520] - Rusty Megois
But that's been the struggle part right there. It's not fun when you work seven days a week, all day long, but, you know, it's got to be done. It's no different. Back when we were doing all the racing and you had to be at a race in 48 hours, and it takes 49 hours to get there and you just make it happen.
[01:11:41.350] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So let's talk about some of the people in the industry that you've become really tight friends with. I know that one of the guys, and I'd like to find out where you became close with him. Impact Racing.
[01:12:05.110] - Rusty Megois
[01:12:06.170] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, I met Robbie the first time standing at the top of Potato Salad Hill.
[01:12:13.110] - Rusty Megois
[01:12:14.150] - Big Rich Klein
In Moab. At Potato Salad Hill.
[01:12:18.070] - Rusty Megois
[01:12:18.860] - Big Rich Klein
Way back and early 2000s, I believe, very early, and we didn't know anybody else that was standing there and just started talking to this guy and found out what he did, and we became friends then. How long have you known Robbie?
[01:12:40.150] - Rusty Megois
Probably somewhere right around I knew of him, but as far as probably in that period of time, it's probably somewhere right in there is where I did see him more often and talk to him more often. And basically that was probably Jeep. Easter Safari was there every year. He tried to be there every year. He's a very busy man. And we were selling their products. At that time, he owned Mastercraft Seats. And if you needed a race seat or if you needed a Jeep seat, that's where you went. And I believed that very first car that I was talking about that I couldn't find it had a Master craft seat in it. And that was one of the reasons I wanted to find it. And I have a problem. A lot of times if I need to place an order, I'd like to keep up. I'm going to call instead of emailing it in to somebody, I'm going to pick up the phone and I'm going to call him and say, I need this, but then sit there and shoot the breeze with him for a while. And more and more we did that. Our relationship getting closer and closer.
[01:14:11.480] - Rusty Megois
And so one year he was not going to be able to go to Moab and do a couple of other shows. So he says, will you go and help represent us? And Rusty. So we did that. And I think we sold more than they ever sold. And eventually he got involved with Impact. And as a manufacturer, we started doing he asked, he said, can you do these little pieces here? Can you do these little pieces? And so next thing I knew, we were doing little pieces for the helmets on the different latches and different things like that that we were doing. And they say, no, she's sending me drawings for the seats and stuff like this. A lot of people don't know this about us, but we do. So of course, we started building a lot of the steel products for Mastercraft and Impact. So our relationship became very strong and he started coming down here to oversee check parts and stuff like that. And when he would do that, we started going we go to an event and we went to a couple of we went to one of Males event in Texas and just started wheeling and just having a good time.
[01:15:43.460] - Rusty Megois
Well, then he started to invite me, even to we'd go to PRI he would say, don't get your room. You can just come stay at the house. Because he had a house in India and he also had a house in Southern California, San Diego. We would go up there and stay with him. And then I started going to some of the race events with him. Of course, they going from NASCAR races to the desert races, King Hammer, anything. I mean, the Impact was for anything that was racing. And much like Mastercraft was. Then, like I said, we got to even growing more with what our needs or his needs were for parts. And he sold that company, sold Impact, he sold Mastercraft. And we still get to build parts for them now. And so I thought, okay, now me and Robbie is going to be able to go racing. He's got time. He's going to retire. He'll come back here, we'll go wheeling, we'll go do things together. He's like me. The word retire was not a very good word for him.
[01:17:05.070] - Rusty Megois
He's bought Jim Co. Now, that came in for another great place for us is we pretty much if there's a metal need, we do a lot of the work for him. And we've learned a lot together. As far as a lot of the suspension needs, especially with these newer vehicles, we've been able to do a lot of things. And then we use also he don't mind taking one of our parts and figuring out a way to put it on his truck. And we'll see if we can beat the crap out of it and see how it works out before anything goes public to sell. And now I don't get to talk to you. I don't talk to him every couple of days, but we have a thing now. Every Saturday morning, we usually talk, and my wife says an hour and a half conversation. And it just depends on where I'm at. I still Hunt. And this winter's been a little because of the time difference. Sometimes he catches me as I'm out of the woods. Sometimes I'll be still sitting in the tree stand, and I look down there and I feel the phone vibrating.
[01:18:29.690] - Rusty Megois
It's Robbie. So usually that's when my Hunt stops, I just sit there and talk to him from the tree and he gets a good kick out of that.
[01:18:39.410] - Big Rich Klein
And another friend of yours is Mark with Crown, correct?
[01:18:48.450] - Rusty Megois
Yeah, super good guy. Mark something else. We just do a business with him. Got to be friends. Then, of course, as we were going to so many shows, he would be on one booth, his booth would be way down. And ours I said, why don't we put these booths together? It starts showing together. And they just increased our friendship hugely because we just saw everybody and we've ate breakfast together or Donuts at the show and then saw each other all day. And then we started going. I haven't been to his place in Boston. I haven't been up there, but my son Tony's actually gone to his place in New Hampshire and they went up there snowmobiling and I still have yet to do that, which I got to go do that. But we go south. He's got a place down close to Fort Lauderdale. And so we haven't seen him lately, but just because of all the code crap. But before then we spent a lot of time together and fortunately he was one that unfortunately he got sick with the big cancer deal and he pulled through that and we did a lot of praying and he's healthy down.
[01:20:15.340] - Rusty Megois
He's doing good stuff. Scare you to death because you don't want your friends to go nowhere.
[01:20:22.660] - Big Rich Klein
No, true. I saw market at SEMA and he looked in pretty good shape and was doing business.
[01:20:35.350] - Rusty Megois
Oh yeah, like I said, he goes to the doctor, gets checked, but he's 100% healthy now and doing good. And like I said, just working on the national sales manager Crown. That's a big job. And like I said, he's just trying to make sure everything goes good while we're going through all this supply chain problems. And without pulling his hair out, he's got some hair to pull on. But yeah, I've actually talked to him more in the last couple of weeks than I have pretty much the last year and it's been good to talk to him.
[01:21:17.890] - Big Rich Klein
And then of course, the other friend is Jim Horn.
[01:21:25.070] - Rusty Megois
Jim just text me 2 seconds ago.
[01:21:27.540] - Big Rich Klein
[01:21:29.930] - Rusty Megois
I just saw his name pop up and oh man. I tell you, if anything else, the Jeep generate has been great as far as for us to be able to go out and talk to customers and everything and wouldn't take nothing for what we've done with them and together and everything. I mean, Pierce is a great guy, but meeting him and his wife is one of the high things out of that place. We went to one of them. They were there as far as friends. We hit it off good and saw them as much as we could. And they hauled my Jeep around for a couple of years and he knew I told him, I said, you treat it like it was your own. I mean, it's CEOs. I know it's very dangerous. And I knew it was because I knew his passion for offroading and racing and stuff like that. But he took it out. I just asked him I need pictures for the Facebook, Instagram and videos and he did just that. I did have one little breakage, but I'm not blaming it on him. I think it was actually from a weekend where I'd taken the Jeep.
[01:23:04.360] - Rusty Megois
We went to a place, a Ranch in Atlanto, Texas, and this rock there, I believe has more traction ability than Moab. And we actually twisted the Luggots.
[01:23:21.260] - Rusty Megois
But I've seen it happen on a drag car, but never on an off road vehicle, but this thing literally twisted the low nuts. But I'm not going to blame that on him. Not totally.
[01:23:38.730] - Rusty Megois
And then I think he just decided to make a change in his career. And he wanted to get away from Jeep Jamboree and the traveling. And unfortunately, his wife had gotten breast cancer and she's 100% healthy now and doing great. And I miss her every day that I don't see her. And he called me one day and he said, I need something. I need to get a job. And I said, Come on. Well, I take that back. I got a text. And he said, Are you going to be there this weekend? And I said, yeah. And he says, can you pick me up at the airport at 09:00 tonight? And then I called him, I said, Tonight? And he says, yeah. He said, I'm standing in the airport coming to Birmingham right now. He said, I need a job.
[01:24:26.680] - Big Rich Klein
There you go.
[01:24:27.300] - Rusty Megois
And I said, okay, come on. And so last year or so, he recently kind of thought he was going to end up staying here for a while. He was going to probably do his own thing here and work with us. But he decided to go back to Moab. He had his Jeep rental business in Moab, decided to go back there and build project vehicles for people. From what I understood a couple of weeks ago, they were in a new house and it wouldn't be long. They were going to be working on a new building. And so I said, I don't know what the phone call was for just a few minutes ago.
[01:25:17.840] - Big Rich Klein
But probably asking how we're doing because I gleaned him for a lot of the information.
[01:25:28.630] - Rusty Megois
Great guy, I tell you. And I will say something about all four of us that we've made Bobby Pierce, especially Robbie Pierce, especially Jim Horn. Mark had something to get his eyes open when he found out he was sick. He realized he had to enjoy away from business a little bit more than we have. But we all work way too damn much, but we enjoy it. And we sit out here and I get here about 430 every morning, Jim. We get here about seven, but we may work till midnight. It may be one next thing you know, we look over there and the Sun's coming up.
[01:26:27.830] - Rusty Megois
Like I said, it just goes back to whatever it took to get it done right. He couldn't have come at a better time.
[01:26:41.350] - Rusty Megois
He thinks me all the time. And, you know, I tell him thanks. And he said, you don't know anything. I do. He's helped me tremendously. And if you don't know Jim Horn and I know you do, I mean, the guy is blessed to be around. I don't care where you're at. It doesn't matter if you're in a concert, if you're sitting out there working on a vehicle or out wheeling. The guy is a trip. And, you know, he is a super good guy.
[01:27:16.010] - Big Rich Klein
Well, the only other thing that he wanted me to remind you is that you need to order some battery tenders for those project vehicles instead of buying batteries all the time.
[01:27:31.410] - Rusty Megois
Yeah, my interstate battery guy loves me. He is my neighbor. He's my neighbor as well. But he does love me. And Jim was just about right. It seems like every time we would want to get one of the older vehicles, of course, the batteries would be dead. And then I was in an event somewhere, and he walks in the building, he smells battery acid. Thank goodness he's smart enough to think, okay, something shorted out. So he starts looking around one of our smaller motor homes. The battery was just sitting over boiling. I don't know if a plate stuck or whatever. And he calls me up, what do you do? I said, I'm undoing it. And I said, okay, that's the only thing I know to do. Just undo it, and we'll figure it out when I get back. Like I said, I could go on an event somewhere and he would be here working. He'd work side by side with my son Tony. And I mean, everybody around here got along with him. Same way as the Jeep. Jim Reese, the guy. Everybody gets along with him. He's funny. I mean, he's hilarious, and the guy is super talented as far as what he can do and even what he can do off road.
[01:29:02.590] - Rusty Megois
I had somebody asked me in something similar to this one time, who would I want to take with me as far as we would if I had somebody and not said, I got three guys. Jim Horn was one, my son was the other one. And I have a very good friend that I met at a Jeep Jeimery Jorge. He's a retired school teacher, and he actually lives in Puerto Rico and does a Jeep tour company now. Oh, really? And yeah, I would go anywhere in the world with those guys and let them tell me where. If they said that we could make it, there wouldn't be no hesitation.
[01:29:42.730] - Big Rich Klein
I'd guess it that's awesome. That's awesome.
[01:29:46.060] - Rusty Megois
Yeah. But he's a special person, that's for sure.
[01:29:52.510] - Big Rich Klein
So is there anything that we haven't talked about that you think you would like to share?
[01:30:01.090] - Rusty Megois
Probably. The only other thing I'd mentioned is I've been doing this, I think, 45 years, and then in just a few days, I'll be married 42 years.
[01:30:13.620] - Big Rich Klein
[01:30:16.250] - Rusty Megois
I would probably never have this if it wasn't for her. I'd be a broke down racer on the West Coast somewhere if it wasn't for her. But no, we've worked a lot and we built it in. I think that's square footage. The insurance guy came out and busted me because he said, you told me you didn't have this, but you got this much. I think we're right at 70,000 sqft now. Wow. We could use more. I mean, it's full and we could use more. And we're looking at that in the process now. But I don't know, we've even looked at a building away from here that we can actually display some vehicles that will be for sale. That's kind of something that we're looking at right now, building the vehicles where a guy can just walk in it's ready to go and he can drive it out and go straight to a Jeep Jamry or go out and go to Idaho and go camping with his family or whatever. So that's something we're kind of looking at now.
[01:31:32.910] - Big Rich Klein
That's cool. Turnkey vehicles. That's awesome.
[01:31:36.670] - Rusty Megois
Yeah. Like I said, it's a one stop shop anyhow. And then you'll be able to come out here. There's people now that I don't know where to start. Well, they can come here and kind of pick what vehicle they want. And if we don't have what they want, we can build it for them. And this is kind of something my son has done and worked on. And so we just got to put a few more pieces of the puzzle.
[01:32:05.690] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. Well, Rusty, I want to say thank you very much for joining us here on Conversations with Big Rich and sharing your life of not giving up and putting everything you have into what you do. That's one thing that I've heard from a number of people about you is that you're like the Energizer Bunny.
[01:32:32.390] - Rusty Megois
I do definitely work a lot hours. I don't sleep much. But like I said, if I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't do it. There's been plenty of people come in here and say, let us write you a check. And I usually just run them off and tell them I'm not interested without even listening to see what they have to say. And like I said, the Jeep deal, people talk about the lifestyle, and it is a lifestyle. And we've definitely lived it. We've lived it for 40 something years, still living it and still enjoying it.
[01:33:07.710] - Big Rich Klein
And I think that the greatest thing about that Jeep lifestyle is the people you get to meet along the way.
[01:33:15.330] - Rusty Megois
Oh, it is. And now I'm appreciating that more. And I think you mentioned those three people. And those three people mean a lot to me. And we've met so many other ones, and then we've got other friends. Well, like I said, I mentioned Jorge that we met him at a Jeep Jebury in Texas three or four years ago. And I love him to death. We see him once a year. He'll actually fly in from Puerto Rico to do one of the Texas Jammer ease, but keep up with him on Facebook and everything. And I wish I could see him every week. I've even tried to hire him, but he's got a good deal going now. And he's got a pretty woman down there. He lives with and I keep match that. So meeting those people and building those relationships, that's what it's all about.
[01:34:12.230] - Big Rich Klein
Absolutely. Well, Rusty, thank you very much.
[01:34:16.610] - Rusty Megois
Thank you. And thanks for your patience when we're getting this thing scheduled.
[01:34:21.710] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, no worries. That's how our lifestyle is. Everybody that I try to get in this conversation is busy.
[01:34:34.830] - Rusty Megois
[01:34:35.460] - Big Rich Klein
It's all part of the love of offroad that keeps us busy.
[01:34:38.380] - Rusty Megois
[01:34:39.930] - Big Rich Klein
Anyway, thank you very much.
[01:34:43.410] - Rusty Megois
Thank you. And you need to come back by don't make it six years.
[01:34:47.770] - Big Rich Klein
No. In fact, you know what I've decided through this conversation that when we come back to do our event there I think it's in July. I'm going to give you a call ahead of time and we'll swing through and say hello.
[01:35:03.150] - Rusty Megois
That'd be great. I look forward to it.
[01:35:05.200] - Big Rich Klein
All right, rusty, thank you very much. And take care.
[01:35:08.550] - Rusty Megois
[01:35:09.340] - Speaker 3
[01:35:09.760] - Big Rich Klein
[01:35:10.200] - Rusty Megois
[01:35:11.490] - Speaker 3
If you enjoy these podcasts please give us a rating, share some feedback with us via Facebook or Instagram and share our link among your friends who might be like minded. Well, that brings this episode to an end. Hope you enjoyed it. We'll catch you next week with conversations with big rich. Thank you very much.