Tom Bedell is not your average CEO. In fact, there are a lot of things you might not know about this half of the Two Old Hippies. We had Tom in the store to talk a little bit about Breedlove’s Sound Optimization Process, as well as what makes Breedlove guitars particularly great; lucky for us he was able to break away from the event long enough to sit down with us and have a chat. So, without further ado, here are 5 things you might not know about Tom Bedell.
Even though Breedlove is based just a little ways away from us in Bend, OR, Tom is actually from a small town in Iowa. The town is located on the shores of East Okoboji Lake in the Iowa Great Lakes Region. Tom described himself as growing up as a “leave it to Beaver child” and that growing up in Spirit Lake was “ideal.” In fact, he liked it so much he had a house right on the shores of Lake Okoboji called Peace Harbor.
This old hippy has been known to tickle the ivories for quite some time. He even played keys in a band called Billy Rat and the Finks! Tom’s no slouch on guitar either, he taught guitar at a local music store in Spirit Lake in his teens. From teaching, he ventured into importing guitars from Japan and eventually opened up a retail shop in town. If that wasn’t enough, Tom would also book gigs around the Midwest for young bands, and produce 45s for them as well, all while he was still in high school. He was even inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004!
Although he originally went to school in Colorado, Tom eventually transferred to Stanford University in California. He went to Stanford because he wanted to go to law school. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Stanford, he went to law school at the University of Iowa. There is even a building named after him there, the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory.
After college, Tom moved to Washington DC to work for political campaigns, including his Father Berkley’s! He eventually opened up his own political consulting firm in DC and ran his Father’s office while he served in Congress “you know, I thought politics was going to be my path” he told us. Then on a trip to China, his Father asked him to take over his fishing Tackle business. Tom accepted and over the next 30 years, he transformed his Father’s company into Pure Fishing. We would say he never lost his knack for politics, he was just in DC with Geoff lobbying Congress for music education on behalf of NAMM.
Tom Bedell is a man who cares about the impact his business ventures have on this planet we all call home. It was instilled in him from the time he was a little kid. He says the counterculture movement of the 1960s became part of his being and is deeply intertwined in his moral fiber. When Tom was in the Fishing Industry, he served on multiple environmental boards and made sure his impact on the environment was minimal. Now that he is in the guitar industry, he is doing all he can to keep the old growth forests that produce such amazing tonewoods happy and healthy. And he backs it up too, Breedlove never uses clear-cut Sitka Spruce for their guitars. He is also leading the way in finding tonewoods that flew under the radar for years like Cocobolo and Myrtlewood. Tom even says he thinks Cocobolo gives Brazilian Rosewood a run for its money (we’d have to agree with you there Tom).
Tom Bedell isn’t your average CEO indeed. If you ask us, we think he pretty darn extraordinary. If you’d like to listen to our full exclusive interview with him click the link to learn even more about him. We cover all sorts of topics even some not discussed in this article.
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