Faces of JBC: Get to Know Bob Lesher
Welcome to the June 2021 edition of “Faces of JBC Technologies”-- our ongoing series featuring the fine folks behind the scenes at JBC. The hardworking people responsible for our customer's satisfaction and the reason they receive such stellar service and high-quality gaskets, seals, heat shields, acrylic foam tapes, and other custom die-cut products (keywords, right?).
Today it is with anxious anticipation and bated breath that we introduce to you a relative newcomer to Team JBC and what some (mostly Bob) may call a true renaissance man, Bob Lesher. Bob joined JBC as a machine operator in late 2019 and has since been recruited by the administrative side of the business to lend his skills to the sales, technical service, and marketing groups. Without further ado, please do enjoy this peek behind the curtain that is Bob Lesher.
What Were You Doing Professionally before joining JBC?
How far back do you want to go? If we’re talking right before, I was running my own beard care products company called The Beerded Beard and working as a freelance writer. Before that, well, I’ve got a pretty diverse background.
Waaaay back in the late ’90s, I started my career working as a research engineer for a chemicals company. It was while there that I obtained my MBA and transitioned into technical marketing and product management. Since that time I’ve had stints working for companies that make hand soaps, vinyl upholstery fabrics, log cabin sealants, roofing materials, even worked briefly as the beer manager at the Beerhead Bar in Avon.
What did you like most about your last job? The Least?
There’s no question. Working for myself was the best thing about my last job. Setting my own schedule, calling all the shots, no meetings, it was great. As for what I liked least, well, some days it was being my own boss. When you work for yourself there’s no one else to blame when something goes wrong and it can be a bit “feast or famine” when it comes to knowing when the next paycheck was coming in. Being an entrepreneur is tons of work and can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Still, I wouldn't mind giving it another go at some point.
What attracted you to JBC?
To be completely honest, I was simply looking for something to do. I had just decided to get out of the rough and tumble beard care/writing game and I was in a bit of a holding pattern career-wise. To avoid a midlife crisis I figured it would be best to keep busy and contribute to society somehow while I planned my next move. I saw an ad for machine operators at JBC, applied, and got a job in the PRECO department running a die-cutting press.
For about 6 months that’s what I did at JBC and I actually enjoyed it. I got to use my hands to make things, meet some good people and the routine of it was nice. It was while I was busy cutting parts that I was asked if I’d like to help grow the business by providing support to the estimating/technical service and marketing teams. Sounded like fun so I accepted.
IF you're not running a PRECO machine anymore, what is your role at JBC now?
After I left the shop floor I took a new position in the front of the house that’s sort of a hybrid technical service and marketing role. I’ve got a foot in both camps doing things like setting up new parts, working with sales to provide quotes to heat shielding and appliance customers, managing new part launches and helping the engineers troubleshoot issues with existing parts. I’m even writing for JBCs social media accounts and helping to develop content for our website. It’s a position that lets me flex my engineering and marketing muscles and I really like the group of people I get to work beside.
What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
My wife and I love to hike and mountain bike. There are so many great parks in Northeast Ohio and she’s made it our mission to see to it that we try to get to all of them. She has this thing about getting me out of the house more often. Says sunlight and fresh air are good for me. I also love to work on minor, relatively easy home improvement projects (we just bought a new/old house and it’s keeping my weekends pretty busy), dining out, partaking in the occasional adult beverage or two and I’m a big book nerd, so reading is always on the list.
Where are you from originally?
I’m a northeast Ohio native, but my career has allowed me to live in a few other states over the last 20+ years – Texas for about 18 months and Maryland for three years. I guess now it looks like life has brought me full circle again. We’ve been back in Ohio since 2012 and while I’m not sure if this is where we’ll stay, for now, we're content to be "back home".
Have you ever met a famous person?
I saw local news personality Wayne Dawson working out at a Bally Total Fitness back in the early 2000’s. Does that count?
What is one thing most people would be surprised to learn about you?
I'm almost completely deaf in my right ear. I've got a condition called Meniere's Disease that affects my inner ear and, as a result it's caused me to gradually lose my hearing over the last 20 years or so. Not only that, but I've got constant ringing in both ears. Real fun. All of this makes it pretty challenging for me to hear and understand people especially in environments with a great deal of ambient noise. If you don't know this, it can make me seem like I'm more of a jerk than I really am. Chances are I'm not ignoring you, just not hearing you.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE IF MONEY WERE NO OBJECT?
Nothing. (laughing) At least until I started to drive my wife crazy. I’d like to say that I’d do all this volunteering or become more involved in the politics of my city – and these things might happen – but chances are I’d probably just get more into my hobbies, read the hundreds of books I’ve been collecting over the years, maybe go back to school and try to get a degree in astrophysics or some other subject that I’m not smart enough to grasp. Maybe travel. I hate flying so maybe I could convince my wife to ride the rails with me or take a trans-Atlantic cruise so we can do a beer tour of Europe.
Would you share a little bit about your family with us?
I’ve been married to the love of my life and my best friend, Darcy, for nearly 21 years. We’ve chosen not to have children so we can instead focus on living our lives without children. Not that we haven't had our share of dependents. We’ve had our share of 4-legged moochers over the years. Late last year we adopted a pair of black kittens, Newton and Tilda Swinton, and our 17-year-old miniature pinscher Poppy is still hanging in there.
How do you approach solving a difficult problem?
I’m a very analytical person, so I prefer to do a great deal of research when I’m preparing to tackle a difficult problem. I like to see what I can learn from others that have faced the same situation and how they decided to overcome it. I also like to take a very methodical approach, try to break the problem up into smaller, more manageable pieces that are less intimidating. I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you think you can handle big problems all at once.
Do you volunteer or are there any special causes that are important to you?
I'm passionate about human rights, science, and doing what we can to take care of our planet. As a secular humanist, I’m active in several groups including Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Center for Inquiry, and the Skeptics Society. I'm also trying to do my part to help protect the freedoms of the marginalized groups of our society like people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. On the lighter side, I'm a huge supporter of local brewing and distilling and do what I can to promote the "drink local/eat local" movement. If you're looking for a local brewery/restaurant recommendation, let me know.
Quick Hits & Faves
Color: Soylent Green
Movie/TV Show: Anything Tarantino/Game of Thrones
Last book read: The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll
Sports team(s): No thanks
Superhuman power: Teleportation
TV game show: Jeopardy
Pizza toppings: Pepperoni, mushroom, jalapeno peppers
Do you speak any other languages? I know some conversational Russian and Spanish
Favorite ethnic food: Indian
Strangest place you’ve ever visited: The inside of a 50-ft diameter hydroelectric tunnel that was under construction in Madrid, Spain.