The RC Groups forum and community that Jim created was, in my mind, one of the most amazingly simple and artful examples of web marketing -- done right. I had heard the story about Hobby Lobby as the first significant advertiser, the early adopter and long term creative partner.
Jim Bourke was at the center of the RC community: the right guy to bounce around ideas.
Hobby Lobby was and remains an active sponsor. Our consistent commitment to RC Groups made it feel right that I was on my way to Corvallis Oregon to meet the man. I grew up 90 miles away in Eugene Oregon. As a rabid Duck fan, my only worry was discovering he was an equally rabid Beaver fan and that things might get ugly...
As it turned out, he's the kind of guy who could keep a confidence. We devoured a full boat of Sushi and talked about the acquisition, the market and how our hobby was changing...
We talked about his prize Russian Thunder -- the only Yak-54 currently flying in the U.S. and his passion for aerobatic flight. We finished lunch and checked out the 1/4 scale model of his Yak-54 (he was rebuilding it after a crash) and we chatted with all the development guys at Knife Edge Software. I had a copy of their flight simulator back home and was finally getting comfortable with frequently crashing on my big screen.
Through Jim's eyes I could see Hobby Lobby as a company that has clearly established itself as an innovator in the hobby. When you're buying something, particularly when it's something REALLY BIG like Hobby Lobby (or even something simple like purchasing one of our cool new airplanes) it's nice to confirm the story that you heard is the real deal. Someone authoritative, someone like JIm, was in a great place to confirm the reputation of this business. He helped me see how the RC community values quality.
I appreciated his confirmation that modelers prefer to talk to and do business with modelers -- and Hobby Lobby employees are, nearly every single one of them, sick in the head, super scale detail, perfectionist modelers. Yep, almost every one - sick like genius. They ARE experts. The idea that we know what modelers want, came to life.
I came back to Tennessee more confident, thanks to Jim. And thanks to Jim, the legacy of innovation, focus on quality and our reputation for providing the best products rang true. I see it every day now, but I don't want to ever forget how great it felt to become a believer -- to better understand it -- through Jim Bourke's eyes.