Bad Boy News

The Good Girls behind the Bad Boys

By Joseph Thomas - Eye On Independence Magazine
Courtesy of Eye On Independence Magazine (

Photo by Robert O. Seat

Kimberlee and I have enjoyed immensely meeting the people in and around Independence County; collecting local life stories and finding the poetry in them. We've made more friends than merely business acquaintances and cherish them all. We enjoy sharing the great things happening in this county by its citizens that care and do so much for each other. There are sweet stories and tragic ones, nice stories and remembrances; this is a story of success and the strong, humble leadership that has made it so. The ever expanding local industry, Bad Boy Mowers, is really the story of Robert Foster and Phil Pulley. They began honing their business skills by selling fireworks from the trunk of a car as teenagers. Robert Foster commented with a laugh, "No, a friends car, we didn't even have a car." The fireworks business expanded to fill a building. The next venture was Whole Sale Tire, a successful tire company south of the river in Batesville, and then there was Bad Boy Mowers. This sounds impressive enough, but when you realize that Bad Boy Mowers manufactured 265 mowers in their first year in 2002 and now make that many a day, you begin to get a sense of how impressive and adaptable this company really is.

Kimberlee and I stumbled upon their secret in a conversation with Scott Lancaster late in 2012. Lancaster, Bad Boy Mowers General Counsel, expressed just how indispensable the ladies in the office are and was looking for the best way to recognize them. Lancaster and Lennie Foree joined us as we talked to each of these ladies about their time at Bad Boy Mowers. Lancaster says, "It is truly an understatement to say that these ladies are the force of sustaining momentum at Bad Boy Mowers. The lineman on a football team don't often get the credit for a victory, but they are a key part of the responsibility for that success. So much of what we do, we are able to do because of the support that they provide us. They are extremely conscientious, dedicated and trustworthy." Lancaster goes on to say that these characteristics are so very important for a closely held business that has grown to this degree. "Simply put," he says, "we are able to do more with fewer people because they are so trustworthy and dedicated to what they do."

Valatie Martin is noted as the "Queen Bee" for her seniority at the company, but also because she knows the ins and outs, having been with the Foster-Pulley partnership since 1992 with Whole Sale Tire. Most of these ladies would hesitate when asked their job title. Foree, who is Marketing Director for Bad Boy, and joined the team around the same time as Martin to help grow the fireworks business, was quick to explain, "We actually took a long time assigning specific job titles because we all fill in where ever the work is. Martin's title is, loosely, accounts payable, but she has done it all. She says it is a tight knit family that she works with and they all work together as if it is their company. "I am amazed and proud at the growth of this company and wouldn't have believed, if you told me in 2002, that we would be manufacturing and selling this many mowers in 2013."

Lacey Thornton has been with the company for eight years. She mostly handles accounts receivable, but wears whatever hat they hand her. "I know all of these crazy people now," she laughs, "It is never boring around here. If we're not meeting celebrities, we are all making a mad dash to get something done so one person doesn't get stuck working late. We are a big family that takes care of each other."

Jan Webb has worked in accounts receivable for five years. She knows most of the employees from attending high school in Batesville. She takes the sales orders, secures the financing and sends the orders through for build. She says she stays busy, but there is always time for fun. "They are all great people. Bad Boy cares about their employees and we care about our dealers and customers." Lancaster says that he typically comes in early to hit the gym before work and Webb is often there to get an early jump on her work. He adds that she is one of the best cooks and often has many coveted homemade goodies at her desk for the entire office to enjoy. Webb was sick and unable to work for two and a half months at one point. She describes how remarkable it is to work for a company that tells you, 'Your position is safe, you just get to feeling better and let us know if you need anything.'

Mary Abbott will celebrate her third year at the company in March. She manages Bad Boy's incentive program; Bad Boy Bucks offers dealers money back after so many mowers are sold. Abbott recently graduated from ASU with a degree in Human Resources. She says she very much enjoys the Bad Boy dealer meetings and that she spends time with her coworkers all of the time outside of work, "I love it." Lancaster and Foree both express their pride and respect for her commitment to finishing school while working so hard for them.

Erin Jennings wasn't sure if she even had a job title, stating that 'Jack of All Trades' was apropos to defining her capacity with the company since January of 2011, as is the case with all of the office staff. Jennings worked for the sheriff's department for ten years and began to need a position more flexible for her schedule once her children began school. "If they don't kick me out, I am here to stay! It's a great place to work; everyone pulls together," explains Jennings. "When I started working here, I was skilled at police dispatch. Now I can enter invoices, scan documents and make cold calls. I have learned something from each of these women. I now have the skills to work any position in any office. Bad Boy takes care of us and when I have a sick child, I am able to handle it however I need to and that makes me want to do whatever they need me to do."

"This is our number two Razorback Fan," Lancaster comments as Mami Cooper strolls into the room. She says she is the number one fan, but either way she began this journey in January 2nd of 2012. Cooper works in accounting and does what is needed within this family unit. "I am happy to be a part of this company, once the work is done, we may hide under Brad Foree's desk just to scare him." says Cooper. Lancaster recounts a morning three weeks earlier when one of the ladies hid in a box in the office and scared whoever decided to open it. Cooper adds laughing, "We have a lot of fun. It's nice to watch Bad Boy grow everyday." Foree talks about Cooper's amazing work ethic and Lancaster brags on her football knowledge.

Adoree Johnson is Lancaster's assistant and has been on board for the last three months. She says working at Bad Boy is an adventure. "This is a wonderful place to work. The women are wonderful and it is a great environment." She says there is no snobbery or cattiness among the staff here, also describing it as a family looking out for one another. Lancaster adds, "Adoree came here from California as a vegetarian and struggled in her first trip to Hawg's Exxon to find anything to eat. She said there were five different animals on the buffet and even the corn on the cob was fried." Lancaster recognizes the importance of chemistry among the ladies stating that Valarie Martin stopped by his office to ask how well Johnson was doing for him. He said she was doing great to which Martin replied, "That is wonderful, because we love her so much."

All of these ladies are an invaluable part of this company and add an inestimable amount of efficiency to Bad Boy and that is only aided by the fact that the atmosphere of Bad Boy Mowers is a rare one indeed. Foree says, "Phil Pulley once worked as a janitor and there is not a job here that is beneath him. He expects that kind of commitment from all of us. We see that everyday here; it's a tremendous group of people that make up Bad Boy." Phil Pulley reiterated what the ladies mean to the company by stating, "they make our jobs much easier because of how well they do their jobs. We're fortunate to have each of them as a member of our team." Lancaster finished up our conversation with an anecdote about the employee's children being allowed in the office when necessary. "I was working in my office one day and there were kids just outside my door making a lot of noise playing whiffle ball. I opened the door to quite them down, and there was Phil Pulley playing ball with them and pitching. I quickly changed my plans and simply said, 'Carry on.....I just wanted to see if anybody needed anything. Anybody need any water?"'

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