Growing up, I always wanted to be a car designer, but was trying to figure out how to do that without moving to Detroit. I ended up in the advanced design industry and then moved into accessory design and development for OEMs. Once I got into aftermarket and specialty work, I ended up designing and being the president of Hurst Performance Vehicles for several years.
While I was at Hurst, I got my first taste of doing charity cars. When we rolled out the 50th Anniversary edition of the Viper, we ended up selling one of the cars at a Barrett-Jackson to benefit Victory Junction, a summer camp run by the Petty family for children with medical needs. That car went for $220,000, which blew me away.
Needless to say, that got my attention. From there, I started working on different ways that it would be good for businesses to be involved with charity cars. Since I came on board with Tuttle-Click, we’ve started building HERO Jeeps to benefit the first responders, servicemen and real heroes in our communities. One is down in Guatemala rescuing children that are dying in the jungles. This is our newest one and the one I’ve personally been the most excited about. We partnered with the Semper Fi Fund, which provides financial assistance and support to combat wounded, critically ill and catastrophically injured veterans.
My Dad was in the army. He went to Germany at 17 as a sharpshooter. I actually have pictures of him from the war in a Jeep! Our general manager also has a picture of his dad in Korea standing next to a Jeep in his office. Next to it he also has a picture of that same Jeep upside down in the field! He survived it. We stand by that Jeep heritage, but also want to keep pushing the limits of what a Jeep can do and whom they can benefit. That’s why we make HERO Jeeps.