Going Offroad With Lifestyle and Attitude

Dec 3, 2009

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Let’s rock and roll.” It usually means let’s get started or let’s ramp up this project a notch or two. For Jared Pugh and his Rock & Roll Offroad (R&RO), it means both.

Starting in 2003, Pugh kicked his hobby into formal business, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at it. That’s because R&RO looks more like an event than a business. And that’s just the image Jared Pugh wants.

Much like the showroom, when customers go to the R&RO website it’s all about high energy.

The R&RO website is state of the art. It loads quickly, kicks in with amped-up, fast-paced music to get viewers’ adrenaline going while displaying plenty of crisp, clean product shots with some changing every few seconds. There’s a forum where members and non-members can post in the categories of general discussion, tech, off topic (they say, “Almost anything goes here. There is more to life than just wheelin’.”) and For Sale/Want to Buy posts. Another set of photo galleries is there, too, for readers’ rides and project photos. It’s a celebration of the offroad lifestyle as seen by R&RO. The Media window of the site shows videos of events at the R&RO store -”  the happening place previously noted.

From driveway to shop bay

R&RO didn’t spring up in Wichita Falls, Texas, all by itself. It actually started when Pugh was in high school. Like most gearheads, he spent some of his school time reading other than school books.

Pugh says, “I started reading offroad magazines in high school.”

Then, he says, he “got into Jeeps and rock crawling in the late 1990s.”

Originally working on his first installations in his driveway, he got his first shop, a one-bay facility in downtown Wichita Falls in 2003. And he did it the hard way, with no loans and, more importantly, limited business experience. What he had learned business-wise, he got while working security at the local Best Buy.

He says he started by, “Watching the sales guys sell computers,” and found out he loved being a salesman.

But, he says, “It definitely takes some practice.”

Armed with his newfound sales knowledge and a burning love for all that is offroad, it was enough for him to hit the ground running with a number of firsts.

“We were the first in north Texas to do suspension lifts and offroad-related parts and products,” he says, and “the first to offer professional installation and in-stock parts (and) started our themed website.”

R&RO now serves the northern Texas and southern Oklahoma regions.

Offroad and online

But the offroad and 4×4 market is a tough one to crack and image is king. So Pugh decided to build a truck to gain some attention and showcase R&RO’s building talents. The R&RO 2004 Dodge Ram, complete with 40″ tires and 22″ wheels was the first on the scene with a themed black-and chrome appearance and all the major upgrades. It must have worked, as the shop moved to a new location that offered more shop and showroom floor space for the increased customer flow. The site also offered higher traffic as it was in an area of town close to the mall and major retail space.

The next year, Pugh went national by starting his online retail store, www.shoprockandrolloffroad.com, and advertising in magazines. R&RO also became active in sponsoring offroad events and desert racing with Adam Lunn in Best In The Desert (BITD) series truck #7238. The company also not only put its name on the truck as the sponsor but provided valuable race preparation to further build its credibility in the sport. Desert racing is big for this shop. Many clients want the real offroad experience; others just want their vehicles to look the part. R&RO accommodates both.

In a seemingly yearly schedule of major projects, Pugh purchased a new 2007 Dodge for an R&RO custom build that he says, “put us on the map.” The team at R&RO made offroad more of a lifestyle and applied more of a look and feel to its operation in late 2006.

It was part of a plan, says Pugh. “We started to do things with more of an edge and stepping up our game to take the industry by storm in 2007.”

Pugh kept Rock & Rolling and at the beginning of 2008 decided to completely revamp all his sites: www.rockandrolloffroad.com, www.shoprockandrolloffroad.com and www.forumrockandrolloffroad.com. Web sales started to grow out of control with the new look and feel. R&RO’s current plans are to expand and franchise into other areas.

Family ties

The roots of R&RO are family. Jared Pugh is the owner, cousin Ryan Landiak is vice president. Pugh’s parents, James and Maurine Grant are involved, as are a staff of four full-time employees and two part-time designers to keep that website rocking.

These days, the R&RO site says, “Welcome to Shop Rock & Roll Offroad.com! Whether you’re looking for pre-runner parts, diesel upgrades, rock crawler parts, super truck parts, or custom parts; we’ve got them!”

The site offers monthly featured products, info about a full-service installation center and the following services: Mig/Tig Welding; General Fabrication; Plasma Cutting; Shock Valving and Tuning; Nitrogen Shocks Filled; Custom Suspensions; Pre-runners and Long-Travel Suspensions; Custom-Made Brackets and Tabs; Accessories of all types for trucks, Jeeps and SUVs; Bumpers and Winches; Wheel and Tire Specialization; Precision mounting and balancing up to 26″ wheels; Diesel Performance Upgrades; In-store Financing; Performance Lighting; Nitrogen filling for tires; Professional Installation; Race Prep; and World Class Customer Service.

The bottom line for R&RO’s services list is being able to create what customers want even if it isn’t yet on the market.

Pugh’s favorite thing about work is when he gets free reign on a project from a customer. That means the customer has come to him for his knowledge and service, not just prices. It also means the customer is relying on R&RO for the very latest in equipment, trends and performance.

Pugh says industry pricing is an area that needs improvement. “Guys like Edge have the MVP program for [dealers] like me,” he says referring to the right way of pricing.

On pricing in the industry overall, however, Pugh says “it needs structure. A lot of people don’t play by the rules. The competition is definitely out there.”

He points out that business has evolved from customers just picking out the parts they want. Now, customers need to be educated as to what works and what is available.

Pugh says it’s important for dealers to, “take the time to go to every industry show and learn the products.”

The right thing’s always right

The serious racing aspect of R&RO also started back in high school with his cousin and best friend, Adam Lunn. Pugh described the two of them back then as, “addicted to anything offroad.”

He tells the story of how Lunn wanted to build a race truck and asked Pugh, “Can I build it at your shop?” without ever having built one before. Lunn started by drawing lines on floor with a Sharpie marker, finished the truck in a year and went on to become a very talented fabricator.

Pugh now says of it, “We learned racing is very, very expensive.” Nonetheless, the R&RO team will continue racing in California this year. Lunn, who helped Pugh get the business going, also is a professional rock crawler.

Pugh has a simple business mantra, and says, “Rock and Roll Offroad incorporates style and theme into its builds, and prides itself in its parts and products. If we sell the product, customers can rest assured it’s the best product the industry has to offer. We only sell products that work. We believe in taking care of the customer no matter the issue at hand. We want them to feel good about purchases made so they will come back for more.”

He goes on to hit the core of it all: “We’re really, really big on doing things right the first time. If it’s junk, we’re not going to sell it. We’re real big on making sure the customer knows. We stay on top of all the trends. We are sort of the pioneers in this area -” big on theme stuff; and get people excited.”

So why the Rock & Roll name? Pugh laughs, and says that when he started thinking of a name for his business he wanted it to be catchy. He quickly rejected “Jared’s Off Road.” He had bigger plans. He wanted to make it on a national or worldwide level, and while being addicted to offroad, he and his people are big fans of rock ‘n’ roll music. It was a natural progression.

We guess that kinda makes them “rock stars.

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Future of hydrogen conversion

Pugh is proud that as one of the top 100 customers invited on a Premier Performance Bahamas cruise, he got to meet 20-30 of what he calls, “the Biggies” in the industry. They, in turn, got him amped up on the future of hydrogen conversion and he’s stoked on the possibilities.

He says, “It looks like you can save more than four or five miles per gallon.” And Pugh’s talking gas and diesel.

Still stoked, he goes on say, “You can still get great fuel mileage and not have to drive a Honda. If we stay the same, this industry will go under. It’s something that can save the environment and help the consumer.”

We’re thinking he likes the sound of that tune.

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Restyler Snapshot

Company Name:
Rock & Roll Offroad

Location:
Wichita Falls, Texas

Owner:
Jared Pugh

Years In Business:
Since 2003

No. of employees:
6 full-time (including Pugh and VP Ryan Landiak);2 part-time Web designers

Business philosophy:
“We’re really, really big on doing things right the first time. If it’s junk, we’re not going to sell it. We’re real big on making sure the customer knows.”