In my 36 years, I have been involved in many different things. This bio will be long so bear with me.
I grew up in the NC mountains near Boone, in the Northwest corner of the state. I spent a lot of time roaming through the mountains, hiking, swimming, fishing, building dams, and getting into trouble in general. My dad collected and restored antique gasoline and steam engines, so I developed a love for machinery from a young age. Dad turned his hobby into a business when they shut the factory down where he was employed.
Feel free to check out dad’s website: schollengineshop.com
I spent nearly every weekend during summer vacation at different engine and tractor shows. I have restored many engines, and play at the East Tennessee Crank-Up every June running the large engines that are on permanent display there.
In high school, I took a carpentry and construction class which introduced me to woodworking. There we built a house from scratch, where I learned everything from digging a foundation to installing shingles. This introduction to construction proved to be very instrumental later on when a college was chosen.
The other major course of study in high school was Health Occupations. There, I became a CNA and completed many hours of study in both hospital and nursing home settings. My mom was a nurse as well as my older sister, and early on in high school I wanted to pursue a medical career. After working for a construction company during the summer between my junior and senior year, I decided to look more toward a technology based college path. I applied to 5 schools, all of which accepted me. Berea College, in Berea, Kentucky, became the school of choice after reviewing technology programs.
During my time at Berea, I was exposed to many other things that became important to me. The most important of which is my lovely wife, Chasity. She and I met my junior year, she was an agriculture major, I still remember the day we first met. I had been sitting at the AG table in food service since my freshman year. Chas had come in as a freshman, I had already sat down to eat when she came up. She was wearing Carhart bibs and smelled like pig crap from working in the farrowing house. Love at first whiff… Maybe, but we didn’t start dating until a few months later.
I became the manager of the woodworking lab in the Berea College Technology Department. I began turning bowls on a wood lathe, and teaching woodworking classes in the evenings to local members of the Berea community. I also gained interest in CNC machining due to the CNC router in the woodworking lab, and a Mazak milling machine in the metals lab. I became proficient with both machines in a short time, so I decided to work at the Mazak factory in Florence, KY, as a co-op student for 2 summers. During my time at Berea College, I also studied robotics, photography and photo editing, drafting, design, metal working, and plastics.
After graduation, I began working as an OMS (Operational Method Sheet, otherwise known as assembly instructions with pictures) Coordinator at NACCO Materials Handling Group in Berea, KY. I quickly became a Special Products Design Engineer designing special options for both Yale and Hyster forklifts. I worked as a design engineer for NMHG for almost 7 years, using AutoCAD, Pro Engineer, and a variety of other software and design tools. I designed hydraulic, pneumatic, exhaust, fuel, and electrical systems for the forklifts. These design processes helped me to develop my problem solving skills, and to learn how to work within budget and material constraints. I purchased my second diesel vehicle from a coworker, it was a 1984 Toyota Corolla with a 1.8 liter 4 cylinder. I bought the car and got it running, this was the first vehicle I converted to run on WVO (Waste Vegetable Oil) with a 2 tank heated system. This is one of the few vehicles I have ever owned that I truly wish I had never sold it.
While working at NACCO, my wife and I owned an 8 acre farm beside the factory where we raised sheep and horses. I completely remodeled the 2900 square foot farm house and turned the 2nd floor into an apartment with a full kitchen. I made an office and used my video editing software to convert old home movies and slides to DVD. This started as a personal project that turned into a small business.
A friend and I started a real estate investment business during that time in which we purchased and remodeled several investment properties. I left NACCO to pursue my own business ventures, both with the real estate business and working as a District Manager for Primerica Financial Services. With Primerica, I obtained my insurance licenses as well as securities licenses so I could assist families with financial education and planning. You could very easily say that I had too many irons in the fire at this time, so the collapse of the housing market fixed that problem for me. Our properties were not completed and could not be rented or sold so we lost everything and had to regroup. We rented a house in Kentucky for a few months, but North Carolina seemed to be calling my name. Our decision to move to NC was a tough one, but it has all lead us to the realization that we didn’t know where we really wanted to settle down.
After moving to NC, we sold every gasoline vehicle we owned and began purchasing diesels. The diesel 1984 Chevrolet Suburban was the vehicle we used to move from KY to NC. The next vehicle we purchased was “Blondie”, our 1984 Mercedes 300TD station wagon. We purchased Blondie on Ebay and flew to San Diego, CA so we could drive it back across the country. We stopped at the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas on our way back. The traveling bug was planted, and our conversations began to shift to “how can we do this.” Chas had been following a family that had already hit the road full time. We met up with them in New Mexico on our way through and talked to them about their decision to travel. We made it back with Blondie without a hitch, and immediately began to look for a bus to convert. The idea for converting a bus grew from lack of funds to buy an existing RV, and my desire to customize everything I touch. We purchased the bus the following month and started using it as a mobile tent and yard sale for the first summer.
The move to NC led me to working with some friends building high performance sports cars.
The Cobra project was a blast and led me into automotive work. I started working for Sport 4 Automotive in Boone after the Cobra project was completed. There, I worked on mostly European vehicles (Land Rover, Audi, VW, Porsche, Bentley, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Volvo) doing everything from oil changes and brake jobs, to head gasket repairs and a complete mechanical restoration on a 1971 Porsche 914. There I honed my mechanical skills, as well as my business knowledge. I created custom estimate templates, as well as working with the financial aspects of the business on Quickbooks. The other mechanic at Sport 4 is the source of the pop-up on the bus roof idea….
After working as a mechanic for over 8 months, Chas and I decided it was time for the bus to be completed and for us to be on the road. So, here we are. We have been traveling full time in the bus since March 2012 and loving every minute of it. We are looking for new adventures at every turn, feel free to let us know if you have any suggestions for things we should do on this journey we call life.
UPDATE – November 2012
We began our migration West with a trip to North Dakota. Working as a Piler Operator in the 2012 Sugar Beet Harvest turned out to be an interesting short term job. We moved from North Dakota to Kansas to work for Amazon.com during the holiday rush. Once we leave here, we will be heading for Arizona to play in the desert for a few months…
UPDATE – November 2013
After working for the summer in Oregon in the shadow of Mt Hood, we made it back for the 2013 Sugar Beet Harvest in North Dakota. This year, I was asked to be the night shift Deep Freeze Foreman at the Hillsboro Yard. Over 600,000 tons of beets were piled in the yard this year, and I made it through my first year as Foreman. I have been asked to do it again next year, so that sounds like a plan to me. We are currently at Amazon for the holiday season again, but this time we are in Campbellsville, Kentucky. Being closer to our roots is nice after nearly 14 months away. The girls are enjoying spending time with their Grammy in Lexington, and I plan to go see my family in North Carolina this week on our days off. Who knows what is in the cards for 2014, we haven’t got anything planned past our last day at Amazon, December 23rd…
UPDATE – May 2014
After finishing up our work at Amazon, we relaxed the rest of December before heading to our first WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) experience in South Carolina. We arrived at the farm in January, and everything worked out so well, we plan to use the farm as a “Home Base” for the foreseeable future. I am getting ready to go to the East Tennessee Crank-Up again and operate some antique engines, as well as turn bowls on my antique wood lathe. Aside from a few music festivals, and some regular trips to the beach, we don’t have any plans this summer. I will be returning to ND for the 2014 Sugar Beet Harvest as the Night Shift Foreman in Hillsboro, ND.
UPDATE – February 2015
The 2014 Sugar Beet Harvest went off without a hitch, the bus and I made it to North Dakota after blowing a tire shortly after leaving the SC farm. The harvest was the shortest I have worked in my now 3 year beet career. Before working the harvest I had time to enjoy the steam show in Rollag, MN as an operator on a steam shovel this time. After making it back to the farm, I began turning bowls again, this time in large quantities. I started a new website focused on my wood turning, Wholly Bowlly has been in the back of my mind for several years. I thought of the name while on the long lonely trip back from ND. Back at the farm in SC, we are looking at different options trying to decide what we will be doing next.
UPDATE – December 2015
This year brought about a wide array of changes for our crew. The most unexpected change for us was the decision to put down roots in South Carolina. After some lengthy family discussion and a lot of thought, I began the process of trying to find a new career that would fit our family goals. I was amazed when offered a position with the DuPont Kevlar facility in Moncks Corner, SC. The hiring process is pretty intense, but I survived and will soon have my first full year with them under my belt. I am enjoying work, and learning a lot of new skills on a daily basis. We have been in the process of purchasing a house we can call our own, but 2016 should allow us to get The Scholl Bus back out on the road for some vacation time.