2012 Master Entrepreneur Award RecipientBob Burlingame
Burlingame Industries, Inc. - Rialto
Bob Burlingame believes that entrepreneurship is a mindset and the best entrepreneurs spot opportunities and take advantage of them. He should know – since launching his business, Burlingame Industries, in 1969, he has seen and taken advantage of many business opportunities.
Burlingame, 77, learned the fundamentals of business at a young age. Growing up on a farm, he saw firsthand the importance of initiative, hard work and responsibility. A friend’s mother encouraged him to seek a college education and while in school he joined the US Navy, becoming a fighter pilot flying the F-8 Crusader jet and serving as an advanced fighter and tactical-flying instructor. While serving as a pilot he came in contact with a number of successful business people and decided that business was where he wanted to make his mark.
While working for a roofing tile business, Burlingame built a machine to stack roof tiles and struck out on his own. After successfully building the business, he sold out in 1981 and retired to his Flying B Ranch in Idaho. A short eight years later he was lured back to the tile business by suppliers and customers that felt the industry needed his talent and integrity.
He hasn’t looked back since. True to his philosophy, he has stayed alert for new opportunities and has taken action to create new firms. Burlingame now has numerous businesses including Eagle Roofing Products, a manufacturer of roof tiles; Innovacyn, a manufacturer of healthcare products for equine and companion animals; Mountain Lakes Resort, a camping resort in Lytle Creek; Diamondback Express, a cargo and freight transportation firm; and the Flying B Ranch, a 4,200 acre hunting and fishing lodge.
With nearly 500 employees and operations in the United States and China, the company is a unique success story. But Burlingame notes that it is more than opportunity recognition that entrepreneurs must be mindful of. “One piece of advice I would give aspiring entrepreneurs is that you must build and maintain relationships. Both inside the organization and outside with your customers, suppliers and industry peers, it is important to develop and sustain your relationships,” said Burlingame. “You can’t do everything yourself. You need those solid relationships as well as a great team to build a successful business.”
Despite his company’s incredible success, Burlingame has a straightforward approach to keep the company from losing sight of what is important. “We always try to do better tomorrow than we did today, using continuous improvement,” he noted. “We have long term goals but not five-year plans. We try to plan for what is happening in the next 90 days.”
The lessons to be learned from Burlingame’s long career as a business owner are numerous, but aspiring entrepreneurs should also take note that success requires a great deal of work and sacrifice.
Despite the recent economic challenges, Burlingame Industries continues to thrive. Always seeking opportunities, the company is investing in its future and sees the potential for its innovative animal healthcare company, Innovacyn, to grow larger than its core roofing tile business. With multiple successful companies, a strong work ethic, solid values and a team-oriented approach, Bob Burlingame is truly a Master Entrepreneur.