Will Ricky Beggs Follow Travis McGee’s Example in Semi-Retirement?

by Jon LeSage, edi­tor, Used Car Mar­ket Reports

EDITOR’s NOTE: This an opin­ion piece with spec­u­la­tion on future plans for Beg­gs and oth­ers in the auto indus­try.

Travis McGee bookTravis McGee may have set the tone for baby boomers enter¬≠ing the retire¬≠ment phase of their lives. McGee, the lead char¬≠ac¬≠ter in a series of John D. Mac¬≠Don¬≠ald mys¬≠tery nov¬≠els pub¬≠lished in the 1960s-to-1980s, lived on his boat The Bust¬≠ed Flush in Fort Laud¬≠erdale. McGee would get hired to do pri¬≠vate detec¬≠tive work ‚Äď or what his busi¬≠ness card described as a ‚ÄúSal¬≠vage Con¬≠sul¬≠tant‚ÄĚ ‚Äď to retrieve stolen mon¬≠ey and goods. Between those gigs, he lived as a ‚Äúbeach bum‚ÄĚ on his boat, and would take his retire¬≠ment ‚Äúin install¬≠ments.‚ÄĚ When he need¬≠ed the mon¬≠ey, or some¬≠thing live¬≠ly to do, he would take the job. Today, that might mean a boomer takes an ear¬≠ly retire¬≠ment but con¬≠tin¬≠ues on with what they‚Äôve always want¬≠ed to do ‚Äď tak¬≠ing their retire¬≠ment ‚Äúin install¬≠ments.‚ÄĚ

I was a bit sur­prised to hear that Ricky Beg­gs, Senior Vice Pres­i­dent and Edi­to­r­i­al Direc­tor at Black Book, will be retir­ing at the begin­ning of April. Dur­ing NADA 2015 in San Fran­cis­co, I inter­viewed Beg­gs and his col­league, Anil Goy­al (Vice Pres­i­dent of Auto­mo­tive Val­u­a­tion and Ana­lyt­ics, who will take on the new lead­er­ship at Black Book). For many of us work­ing in the auto indus­try, Beg­gs has become a remar­ket­ing icon speak­ing at con­fer­ences and week­ly on his Web­cast videos. He and the Black Book research team have been track­ing activ­i­ty in the auc­tion lanes for years; Beg­gs has been the voice of Black Book since start­ing his auto­mo­tive career with them in 1981.

‚ÄúThe excite¬≠ment of the dai¬≠ly ever chang¬≠ing mar¬≠ket and espe¬≠cial¬≠ly the peo¬≠ple will be missed,‚ÄĚ Beg¬≠gs said in a Q&A with Black Book. Beg¬≠gs said that he won‚Äôt miss being jammed in the mid¬≠dle seat on flights or tak¬≠ing a ‚Äúred eye‚ÄĚ back from the west coast. It was worth it, though; he does feel blessed to have been part of it.

I would have thought Beg­gs would be work­ing for sev­er­al more years. I’ve known a few col­leagues who’ve con­tin­ued work­ing full-time well into their 70s. While I didn’t con­tact him for com­ments on this arti­cle, I’m spec­u­lat­ing that Ricky Beg­gs will miss being part of Black Book and remar­ket­ing, and will con­tin­ue to have some­thing to do with the busi­ness. Don’t be sur­prised to see him attend­ing con­fer­ences and meet­ings like those put on by the Nation­al Auto Auc­tion Asso­ci­a­tion.

When I’ve talked to col­leagues, friends, and fam­i­ly mem­bers about their retire­ment plans, I’m usu­al­ly told about the next phase of their work­ing lives (espe­cial­ly by males). That could be as a con­sul­tant work­ing on projects in between trav­els; or a con­tract work­er for their pre­vi­ous employ­er con­tribut­ing their exper­tise; or a sub­sti­tute school teacher; or a writer fin­ish­ing that book they’ve put off all these years; or a stu­dent fin­ish­ing up that degree or cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to go in a career direc­tion they’ve always want­ed to pur­sue.

Hav­ing retire­ment income in place, with med­ical cov­er­age, helps quite a bit; but these days, you can typ­i­cal­ly talk to a boomer about how their retire­ment funds have been tapped into deep­er than expect­ed, and they need to go out and bring in more income for now. Besides, they were get­ting bored watch­ing that TV series off of Net­flix.

One of my col­leagues will be retir­ing from an elec­tric util­i­ty this spring, and will be start­ing up as a con­sul­tant sup­port­ing growth in elec­tric vehi­cle (EV) charg­ing. Mul­ti-fam­i­ly dwellings, such as apart­ments and con­dos, is where he’s most con­cerned that EV charg­ing faces its biggest obsta­cles and oppor­tu­ni­ties; that’s where he’ll bring his skillset and peer net­work to make a dif­fer­ence.

Many of the same peo¬≠ple famil¬≠iar with Beg¬≠gs also know about Auto¬≠mo¬≠tive Digest Pub¬≠lish¬≠er Chuck Park¬≠er. The oth¬≠er day, I asked Chuck to share his thoughts on what it‚Äôs like to be a sea¬≠soned indus¬≠try vet¬≠er¬≠an who won‚Äôt be retir¬≠ing any¬≠time soon. That lead to him writ¬≠ing a com¬≠men¬≠tary in his usu¬≠al col¬≠or¬≠ful style, called ‚ÄúTop Twen¬≠ty Anti Retire¬≠ment Action¬≠ables to Be ‚ÄėLive‚Äô & Remain Alive.‚ÄĚ That will be pub¬≠lished soon in Auto¬≠mo¬≠tive Digest, but here are two of them‚Ķ‚Ķ‚Ķ

  • ‚ÄúReal¬≠ize that you will be missed at the office for no more than a week and they will blame every¬≠thing on you for at least a year after you are gone.
  • Know that you are now an entre¬≠pre¬≠neur and that every¬≠thing you do is tax deductible.‚ÄĚ

Rick Sikes, Fleet Super­in­ten­dent for the City of San­ta Mon­i­ca, and Kei­th Leech, Fleet Man­ag­er for the City of Sacra­men­to, announced their retire­ments in Jan­u­ary. They’ve been well known at NAFA Fleet Man­age­ment Asso­ci­a­tion and for mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to clean trans­porta­tion. Sikes has played a lead­ing role orga­niz­ing Alt­Car Expo in San­ta Mon­i­ca since its incep­tion in 2005. Leech served as Pres­i­dent of the Sacra­men­to Region­al Clean Cities Coali­tion. I saw Sikes at the Long Beach Clean Cities meet­ing last week, where he con­firmed that he’ll be stay­ing active in the com­mu­ni­ty. I also get the impres­sion Leech will do the same in Sacra­men­to.

Now that the tail end of the baby boomer gen¬≠er¬≠a¬≠tion has turned 50 as of last year, researchers have been track¬≠ing how this gen¬≠er¬≠a¬≠tion has been rein¬≠vent¬≠ing their careers in phase two ‚Äď or phase three. AARP (for¬≠mer¬≠ly the Amer¬≠i¬≠can Asso¬≠ci¬≠a¬≠tion of Retired Per¬≠sons) fills its month¬≠ly mag¬≠a¬≠zine with celebri¬≠ty pro¬≠files where Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Bob Dylan, and Har¬≠ri¬≠son Ford con¬≠tin¬≠ue lov¬≠ing their work and tak¬≠ing on projects. Clint East¬≠wood, 84, didn‚Äôt win an Oscar for ‚ÄúAmer¬≠i¬≠can Sniper,‚ÄĚ but we do expect him to make anoth¬≠er movie ‚Äď he loves doing it. AARP tracks demo¬≠graph¬≠ic research and finds that the fastest-grow¬≠ing seg¬≠ment in the work¬≠force will be 65-to-74 year olds; with some Amer¬≠i¬≠cans work¬≠ing well into their 90s.

I start¬≠ed my prac¬≠tice, LeSage Con¬≠sult¬≠ing, last year in Jan¬≠u¬≠ary at age 50. I was waf¬≠fling over it when my sig¬≠nif¬≠i¬≠cant oth¬≠er, who at age 51 had start¬≠ed a two-year master‚Äôs degree pro¬≠gram in project man¬≠age¬≠ment, gave me a reminder. I had com¬≠mit¬≠ted to keep¬≠ing my word, she said. (‚ÄúActions speak loud¬≠er than words,‚ÄĚ as my father used to say). So I took that plunge and haven‚Äôt regret¬≠ted it. I won‚Äôt be get¬≠ting any younger.

Nobel Prize win¬≠ning chemist (and cham¬≠pi¬≠on of vit¬≠a¬≠min C as a heal¬≠ing agent) Linus Paul¬≠ing offers a telling sto¬≠ry ‚Äď right up there with Travis McGee. In 1973 he co-found¬≠ed a Cal¬≠i¬≠for¬≠nia research insti¬≠tute devot¬≠ed to the study of the health effects of vit¬≠a¬≠min C and oth¬≠er nutri¬≠ents. He con¬≠duct¬≠ed research there until his death from can¬≠cer in 1994, at age 93. I‚Äôve always had a hunch I‚Äôll end up trav¬≠el¬≠ing down the same path as Linus Paul¬≠ing, Chuck Park¬≠er, and Travis McGee.

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