Interview by: Harry Wagner- 12/2002
Editor's Note: The following is the continuation of our new feature focusing on the talented people who run shops specializing in Toyota 4x4 components. 4x4Wire's Harry Wagner recently spoke with Bud Rosenberger, creator and owner of BudBuilt Frames and Accessories.
|Bud Rosenberger, owner of BudBuilt.
4x4Wire- How did you get involved in four wheeling?
Rosenberger- I grew up on the wrong side of the country [in the Catskills of New York]. I had big plans though, I took Spanish class for five years so I would be able to communicate with the locals when I ran the Baja 500. Years later I was hiking around an open mine and I heard this chugging noise behind me. I turned around to find six guys in an FJ-40 crawling up what I was hiking. It was hard enough to walk, so I was really intrigued by the Land Cruiser.
4x4Wire- So what was your first trail rig then?
|Bud chatting with potential customers on the M Extension at Paragon.
Rosenberger- I had a 76 Scout II that a friend and I messed around with early on. We sprung it over and tinkered with it. I later bought a Chevy Luv because I couldn't find a reasonably priced Toyota. I had a shop catering to imports at the time, and I was doing a lot of work on Nissans, but the Toyotas only came in for oil changes and routine service. That is when I knew that I wanted a Toyota.
In 1985 I came REALLY close to purchasing a brand new dark blue longbed. I had heard that Toyota was switching to independent front suspension the next year. The price kept me from buying the truck, it was $7500. Nine years later I bought the same truck for $4000 with 140,000 miles on it! I think that I would have been better off just buying the new truck. That is what we wheel now and it is still my daughter's daily driver.
4x4Wire- How long has your shop been in business?
Rosenberger- I've officially been in business for three years now, but even before that I was prototyping parts on my truck and making them for friends.
4x4Wire- So is that what prompted you to make the transition from enthusiast to businessman?
Rosenberger- Yes, business kind of spread by word of mouth after people saw parts on my truck that I had made. They wanted these parts for their own trucks and things just kind of went from there. I noticed that many guys can wrench well, but don't have the fabrication skills or equipment, so we try to make sure that our products work right out of the box.
|Kyla Rosenberger on the trail in Tellico.
|The bumper sticker proudly displayed on the side of Kyla's truck.
4x4Wire- How many people work for BudBuilt now?
Rosenberger- Two of my daughters and one of my sons work with me. This is a family run business. My shop facilities are on our property, we have ten acres. This way I can spend more time with my wife and nine children. Being able to spend more time with my family was one of the factors that attracted me to starting my own business. Helping them learn how to work, wheel, and treat customers is very important to me. We plan on BudBuilt being around for a long time.
4x4Wire- What do your kids do, answer phones?
Rosenberger- No, I answer the phones and they do work such as milling and sanding. Mainly the finishing work that is so time consuming.
4x4Wire- What sort of background do you have?
Rosenberger- I am a mechanical engineer. I worked for ten years doing machine design in the semi-conductor industry and for twelve years as a manufacturing engineer before creating BudBuilt. I definitely learned a lot of skills over the years that can be applied to my business and the four wheeling market.
|Bud and his daughter Kyla made the long haul to Tellico for the Great Smokey Mountain Trail Ride in 2001.|
4x4Wire- Any new products/ideas you would like to share with us?
Rosenberger- Well I am looking at our first laser cut traction bar right now, so those are available. BudBuilt recently started taking credit cards too, and this really makes small parts more feasible. We are offering banana type shackles to use rear springs up front and Chevy spring mounts now. We are working on a few products for Tacomas too.
4x4Wire- Do you do fabrication and installation, or just sell BudBuilt products?
Rosenberger- Like Jon Bundrant said in last month's Industry Insider, I am more interested in the manufacturing side of things. I'd like to develop products that I can offer to a wide array of people.4x4Wire- Where can people purchase BudBuilt products?
Rosenberger- Marlin Crawler and Inchworm both carry my skidplates, as well as RockLogic4x4 out in Utah. Customers can also purchase BudBuilt products directly from us over the phone. Contact information can be found on our website, which will be completely renovated in the near future.
|Getting out to wheel at the Coal Mine Cruiser Classic 2001.
4x4Wire- What organizations or clubs are you a part of?
Rosenberger- I am a member of the Yankee Toys and Toyota Land Cruiser Association and I just got involved with a local club called Team Mud Nuts.
4x4Wire- How often do you get out of the shop to wheel?
Rosenberger- [Sigh.] Not enough, only about eight times this year. The problem is that most of the good East Coast wheeling spots are six to eight hours away. In order to make the trip worthwhile I need at least two, if not three, days. It is just hard to find that much free time.
4x4Wire- It seems that a lot of East Coast wheeling is geared towards organized runs too.
Rosenberger- Yeah, the Coal Mine Cruiser Classic, Yankee Toy's Fall Gathering, and TLCA's Great Smokey Mountain Trail Ride are all events that I really enjoy. I get to wheel with my friends from all over the East Coast that way.
4x4Wire- Where do you see our hobby heading in the future?
Rosenberger- I am concerned that four wheeling will dead end if we keep losing land to wheel on. At least here on the East Coast I expect to see more pay-to-play places like Paragon Adventure Park. As a result of all the information available on the internet, and the advances that competition brings, I foresee more daily drivers that are capable and dependable enough to traverse difficult trails.
4x4Wire- How else do you think rockcrawling competitions have affected four wheeling?
|Flexing up the project truck on Rattler trail at Paragon.
Rosenberger- Competition always pushes technology forward. People are spending more on rigs now. I think that some of these guys use the competitions to justify the amount of money that they have spent! Competition can only make things better though, in terms of innovation and technology. The vehicles are going the way of sand rails and getting lighter and smaller. All good in my mind.
4x4Wire- Would you compete?
Rosenberger- I used to race motorcycles and sports cars. Competition still interests me, but at this point I just do not have the time. My family is the first priority in my life at this point. Running the business takes a lot of effort too, so there is not much time left to fit in competition.
4x4Wire- Tell us about your personal ride.
|Bud's double cab, all boxed up and on it's way from Australia.
Rosenberger- Well I am still in the process of building the frame for the 4Runner so right now my main truck is my daughter's daily driver. It has 35 A/Ts for the street and 36 Swampers for the trails, with dual 23 spline cases, a high pinion electric locker in front and a Detroit in the rear, Chevy springs in the back and stock rears up front, and a full cage, among other things. I have a double cab from Australia and once that is on the truck it is just going to be used as a shop truck, I don't want anything to happen to the body.
At that point I'll swap over the high pinion electric locker, R-151F turbo transmission and dual cases to the 4Runner. I'll probably still have dual cases and a fair amount of parts on my daughter's truck. Dual cases make it easier to plow snow!
4x4Wire- The frame is what started your business, correct?
Rosenberger- That was my original product idea, but the crossmembers became really popular. They dominate our time now and the frame has been taking way too much time to complete. We are considering relocating to a larger facility in order to get these into production.4x4Wire- Who do you admire in this hobby of ours?
Rosenberger- I've been on the ORC e-mail list since near the beginning and there are a few individuals that come to mind. People like Jay Kopycinski, Roger Brown, and Jack Alford. Those are the guys that go out and experiment. They learn things the hard way, through trial and error. Like Mazda springs, solid axle swaps, and crossover steering. Then when they are all done they document what they have found and share it for everyone else's benefit. Thanks guys!