Photos courtesy of Tony Bass.
The Toledo North Assembly Complex, which began operations in 2001, sprawls across 200 acres just west of busy I-75 about 5 miles south of the Michigan state line. This is where approximately 3,400 workers put together the Jeep Liberty and the Jeep Wrangler. While you can trace Jeep's iconic heritage back more than 70 years, today's Jeep, in terms of technology, is obviously a universe removed from the vehicle that Tony Bass rebuilt as a teenager at his boyhood home in Bonaire, Ga.
"My dad gave me an old 1947 Jeep when I was 7 years old. It sat in the barn for many years. We rebuilt the 1947 Willys Jeep from the ground up when I was 14 or 15 years old," says Bass, who fondly recalls hunting, fishing and mud bogging in that rugged bone shaker.
In a real sense, getting that ancient vehicle back into service nurtured two of his greatest passions: his love of the outdoors and his fascination with all things mechanical. That combination (aided by formal education, much of it provided by Dr. Keith Karnok at the University of Georgia) eventually spurred him:
1. to build and sell a successful landscape business;
2. to found and invent Super Lawn Trucks; and
3. to build a busy industry consultancy by speaking, producing videos and co-authoring books that have become "must reads" for the owners of independent landscape and lawn service companies.
Rather than revisit his entrepreneurial success as a former landscape company owner or as an equipment manufacturer, let's discuss the educational material that he's produced. That will certainly be the greatest legacy he leaves to the industry. It's no exaggeration to say that hundreds of landscape and lawn service company owners are using his material to improve their companies.
To date (and arguably) his most important contribution to the industry is the book he co-authored with best-selling business expert Michael E. Gerber of the "The E-Myth" book series fame. The Gerber/Bass collaboration resulted in "The E-Myth Landscape Contractor."
Bass' acquaintance with Gerber began years before the two of them co-wrote that book. It began in the late 1990s as Bass mulled writing the policies, plans and procedures he "had to write in order to build a landscape company that would work for me, not just because of me."
The urging from Gerber provided the nudge Bass needed to set him to the task of producing "The Money Making Secrets of a Multi-Million $ Landscape Contractor," a three-book series with videos.
"Michael explained that if information is not captured on paper, it could not be shared," recalls Bass. "When I wrote down everything I needed to run my own business, it turns out it was almost 400 pages long."
That effort greatly helped to launch his business consulting career. But it wasn't until 10 years after the "Secrets" series that Bass signed an agreement with Gerber to co-write the "E-Myth for Landscape Contractor" book.
That was a huge commitment, says Bass.
The term "E-Myth" signifies the myth of the entrepreneur as the strong, lone individual that follows his or her vision to build success upon success. While there are individuals like this, they are rare. More common, much more common, are individuals who start businesses because they're skilled or knowledgeable at their craft. Sadly, the great majority of these owners never develop the plans, policies and systems to progress to the next level.
"I made a promise to have my half of the manuscript done by December 31, 2010," says Bass, referring to "E-Myth Landscape Contractor". To meet that deadline he set his clock for 5 a.m. and each day devoted the next two to four hours to writing. It took him five months to complete the first draft so he could send it away and have it reviewed.
"I was amazed by the editing process," he says. "Merging our books together took another 10 months. I had no idea how detailed the professional editor would scrutinize every word, punctuation mark and illustration."
Nothing Quite Like a Jeep
For those of you who, like me, are interested in such things, the 1947 Willys Universal Jeep CJ-2A that Tony Bass cut his mechanical teeth on was a two-door, open off-road body vehicle. It came equipped with a manual three-speed gearbox and was powered by the so-called "Go-Devil", a 134-cubic-inch, 60 hp engine.
The CJ-2A was in almost all respects similar to the vehicle that helped the Allies win WWII. During the War, Willys produced 363,000 Jeeps and Ford some 280,000 GPWs (also considered Jeeps), according to World War II Database. The company's first civilian models were primarily intended for farming, ranching and industrial applications.
The origin of the name Jeep is disputed. Some sources claim it was derived from Eugene the Jeep, a popular cartoon character of the era who could go anywhere. Other sources say the name derives from "General Purpose," a term commonly used in the military during WWII. Regardless, GI's quickly adopted the name Jeep and praised its ruggedness and its versatility.
The finished book lists the authors as Michael E. Gerber and Anthony C. Bass. Anthony C. Bass?
"Michael insisted on this. It's just like Tony Robbins Anthony Robbins. Most people get it," he says.
Bass says the goal of his efforts is "to teach 10,000 business owners the step-by-step process to double their profit or double their sales within 24 months. He says far too many owners of small businesses "work way too hard" for the amount of money they receive in pay.
The book, like the majority of his writing, consulting and speaking endeavors, obviously comes at a price. And, well, it should. While Bass does have his philanthropic side, he realizes that by helping others get what they want in terms of success and wellbeing, he should be rewarded as well. After all, isn't that what business is all about?
While business is all about business in one half of Tony's life, family is all about family in the other half. That's the more important side. It includes being together with and appreciating and nurturing his wife Lynn, daughter Holly and son Maxx, and providing his children with a strong financial education.
It means remaining humble, hard working and thankful to God for the blessings that he and his family have received, he says.
Ron Hall is editor in chief of Turf magazine. This coming June he will celebrate 30 years as an editor in the green industry. To comment on this article, contact Ron at firstname.lastname@example.org