By Ray Balogh
SYRACUSE — The Good Book says, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Bob Tiedge has spent his life meeting — and exceeding — that requirement.
Tiedge was recognized for his visionary and innovative industry-changing contributions at Lippert Components during an RV/MH Hall of Fame induction ceremony Monday, Aug. 16, in Elkhart.
The 80-year-old holds 27 U.S. patents — he earned his first in 1978 — and has five more pending, one for a combustion generator that produces electricity from a campfire.
His inventions, assisted by “two great engineers, Mark and Anton,” mostly involve developments in the field of hydraulics.
Despite accomplishments and accolades most folks can scarcely dream of — his list of employment, military, educational, camping and volunteer experiences runs five full pages — Tiedge, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, cited “the
proudest of life’s accomplishments” as “being able to work with the Holy Cross Sisters, building and maintaining an orphanage for about 50 kids” while deployed in Japan.
The man loves children, and wakes up thinking “how I can help give back to the children I have been fortunate to have received?”
Teidge has no kids of his own — not the flesh-and-blood type, anyway. “What you see here,” he said, harkening to the prototypes and designs dotting his personal workshop near Syracuse, “is my children. What other people put into living beings, I put into my products. With every single product I develop, I live it 24/7.”
His dedication is tireless. He typically works 18 hours a day and hasn’t taken a vacation since “the 1960s.” Nor is he a clock watcher. “Sometimes I’ll come in here at 2 a.m. to work and the next thing I know, the sun is coming up.”
Tiedge has worked for Lippert since 2000 and was appointed ambassador for the company last October to spearhead the Lippert Campground Project, where he visits campsites around the country to engage in nightly campfire chats with RV vacationers, learning from consumers and educating them about Lippert’s products and services.
Tiedge encapsulated the key to his successes. “I have a passion for perfection and an immense curiosity. I don’t envision the world as most people do, and when I am told, ‘That is impossible,’ that is when my vision gets sharper.
“I tend to see full functionality from cradle to grave as numbers, not as personal perceptions from others.”
A decidedly confident man, Tiedge does not “revel in the victory, because I don’t expect to lose. The victory for me is in the challenge.”
But he is also remarkably humble, a character quality of which RVBusiness magazine took note in its wrap-up of the induction ceremony:
“Tiedge had the distinction of being the last inductee to take the stage. After a long evening, he managed to capture the hearts of everyone with a humbling acceptance speech that touched on Lippert’s culture of giving back to the community, and culminated with him bringing out his phone and playing ‘How Great Thou Art’ by Anne Murray into the microphone.”
Accompanying the song, Tiedge, a devout Christian, gave his final and most important thank you of the evening by citing Psalm 86:12, “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”
His advice to others: “The first step is to believe and live what you want to accomplish. You can’t just say, ‘I have a passion for that.’ So do a lot of other people. Set yourself apart relentlessly and don’t listen to the doubters.”