Last August I began the daunting task of interviewing all of the wonderful people that make up what we know as Lebanon Ford. Little did I realize that it would take a lot more time and effort than I initially thought.
But fear not, for I have started the series once again!
Now, I’m not quite the new guy that I was back in August, and in this situation, it’s actually the exact opposite. This week I had a chance to interview one of the newest additions to Lebanon Ford, Ricky Bumgardner Jr. Ricky had many interesting stories of his days working for the St. Louis Cardinals (even though he is a die hard Cincinnati Reds fan), his fear of heights, and his love and passion for Mountain Dew and Peppermint Patties. Read on for the full interview…
Zach Bello: Ok, here we are again. For the sixth time now (we were interrupted every single time we tried to do the interview, we were hoping this was the last). So, tell me a little bit about yourself. And pretend I didn’t already ask you this question 5 times already…
Ricky Bumgardner Jr.: Born and raised in Lebanon, Ohio. 28 long years in this fine town. Big sports guy, I played varsity baseball and varsity soccer for 4 years. Growing up sports was my life, it was my big thing, I took it very serious. A little bit more about me… I’m the father of one, her name is Mahaley, she’s about 18 months old now, definitely my life. It’s open perspective about life up for sure. Having someone else to look up to you and depend on you, can change a lot about you. I like to have fun, if people aren’t laughing, I feel like it’s a weird situation. I like to have a loose personality so if someone says hey you need to go talk to him, it’s going to be easy and no pressure. I don’t like to be that high pressure guy. And that’s about all I got…
ZB: Well that’s pretty good.. It’s a start.. So you haven’t always been in the automotive industry, right?
RB: Nope, no I have not..
RB: This is my first round, greener than the grass in your front yard when it comes to selling cars.
ZB: And how long have you been here at Lebanon Ford now?
RB: I’ve been here close to 2 months now, so I’m brand new to it.
ZB: So what do you think about it so far?
RB: I think it’s definitely something that once I get rolling, it’ll be that perfect career move for me, it’s a rush. I mean, selling something like cars, it’s a big decision for someone to make, and I feel comfortable with people sitting in front of me and knowing that I am helping them make the right decision for them and whatever situation. The first car I ever sold I remember it being such an adrenaline rush, and I’ve been in sales before and nothing has felt like that.
ZB: I know you had a pretty interesting career doing some sports stuff before starting up in the car business, tell me a little bit about that.
RB: I did a small little internship with Wilmington College with the Sports Information Department and that got me to keep rolling with sports. After that I had an internship with the St. Louis Cardinals and then with the Florida Marlins. I was down at their spring training facilities and helping to make their media guides for spring training. My office was in the Cardinals clubhouse, so the memories that I got to make with them was really awesome. Being a lifelong baseball fan, it was really cool to be around a lot of the guys that I grew up idolizing every day, it was something you could never forget.
ZB: Reds fan?
RB: Die hard Reds fan. That was the hardest part about going down there working for the Cardinals was the fact I was a Reds fan. They asked before I started what the hardest part about moving away from home and working would be and my response was “The only thing hard about having this job is that it’s not for the Reds.” But I grew accustomed to it and they took good care of me. But definitely Reds all day, 24/7/365.
ZB: I love it. I can’t wait for Reds games to start again. I’d love to go see an Opening Day game once, I’ve never had the change.
RB: Oh, it’s great. The atmosphere is unbelievable. I mean you pay $150 to go to and see a game, then the next day you can pay $6 and see the same team play again. But you get to see the parade and it’s just a great time.
ZB: So, something not necessarily along the lines of the automotive industry, but, more personal. Where is the coolest place you’ve ever traveled?
RB: You know, I’m not a big traveler, because I’m afraid of heights. I’ve never been on a plane before.. a little fun fact about me. I think I’ve been on one roller coaster in my entire life. Heights terrify me. But, something that I remember the most has to be going to Florida for spring training. I literally had to pack all my stuff and leave and realize that I wasn’t coming back home for awhile. There was definitely some cool places that I visited there. I love Chicago, going to Wrigley Field. If you’re a sports guy, that’s the place to go. I’ve been to Yankee Stadium, so when I travel, it’s usually for sports.
ZB: What’s your favorite part about your job now?
RB: My favorite part is that at the end of the day, you are in business for yourself. If I’m not doing anything, then that really affects me. I’ve been in management for so long and climbed the ladder and quickly forgot what it was like to be a salesperson. Coming back and knowing that I’ve got millions of dollars worth of inventory sitting at the palm of my hand is a really cool feeling, and at the end of the day, I have to manage myself and know that I’m getting everything done that I want to accomplish.
ZB: This one might be a little bit difficult to answer but I’m going to ask anyway…
ZB: We all know from the inside of the automotive industry that there are a lot of misconceptions about who we are… If there was one thing that you could tell to everyone out there who may not completely understand us or the automotive world and you wish they would understand, what would it be.
RB: I think the biggest thing they need to know is to get the “oh he’s a car salesman” stereotype out of their heads. I know we hear that term a lot, but I think that stuff is out the window now. I know that if you come to me, I want you to know I’m not coming to harass you or make you think i’m going to try and make you buy something you don’t want. No, what I do is I want to come out and just talk, I love just talking to people. I love helping people out and I just want to have a conversation. I think it’s a disservice to come out and not welcome you. A lot of places won’t come out and just welcome you when you arrive and that is something I like doing every time. Maybe I’m more of a new school person anyway who doesn’t really understand how this all had been done in the past, but I think that’s my biggest attribute, is i’m being taught the new way. I want people to know that when they come here, it’s going to be an experience and doing business here doesn’t end after the delivery, it’s more of a long term relationship that we want to build. If you come and look at everything we’re doing here, you’ve got to come here and check it out. It’s a no brainer to not come and check us out…
ZB: I’ve got two more questions for you. If you were dropped on a desert island and could only bring 3 things with you, what would they be?
RB: (Silence…) Jenna (wife), Mahaylee (daughter), and… um… Is it hot there?
ZB: Um, sometimes?
RB: Ah, never mind, I’ll take getting sun burnt. Ok so, Jenna, Mahaylee, and an unlimited supply of a combo I’d have to make so I could get 4 things, Mountain Dew and a Peppermint Patty combo value pack type deal.
ZB: Well that’s kind of cheating, you’re asking for an unlimited supply and a combo pack of two things… But I’m assuming that Mountain Dew and peppermint patties are your favorite things?
RB: I don’t think there’s anything better in the planet than a Mountain Dew and a peppermint patty. I’ll eat that all day.
ZB: Last question. So what do you think separates Lebanon Ford from the rest of the car dealerships out there?
RB: I mean, I’ve yet to walk in to a dealership that understands where the car industry is going. I think the coolest thing that we have that nobody else has is the myTech Team and how serious we take it. It’s awesome knowing that we have someone that is coming here to work with the vehicle technology and it’s the only thing he works on. I feel like customers are sometimes afraid with all this new technology and the fact that we have someone here who was brought on to help with just that is awesome. And how modern we are. You look at websites out there and look at ours, I think it really helps to separate ourselves. It’s not 1970 anymore, it’s 2012. I think we’re on the right track.
ZB: Any final words?
RB: You know, this whole peppermint patty and Mountain Dew talk, I think it’s time I go get one.