The End of an Era
After three decades portraying the iconic Dave Lennox, Bob Tibbetts is hanging up his overalls.
By Casey Kelly-Barton
For 30 years, St. Louis-based actor Bob Tibbetts has strapped on a pair of overalls and a warm, friendly smile and headed to Lennox events across the country to portray the one and only Dave Lennox. Bob’s inclusive, enthusiastic personality has become just as iconic as his attire—in his many years with Lennox, you’re bound to have crossed his path at a dealer meeting or heard his cheerful voice on a radio spot.
As he prepares to retire at the end of 2016, we honor the mustachioed, kerchief-clad icon with a look back at the powerful and positive impact he’s had on Lennox’ customers, employees and dealers for the past three decades.
From Rock ‘n’ Roll to Overalls
In a video tribute to Bob, retired Lennox Chairman and CEO John Norris Jr. recalled that he was unsure about the new actor auditioning for the role previously vacated by Bill Tracy.
“We were told that he was a rock-and-roll drummer and a disc jockey,” he says. “It was a little hard to understand how that was going to work.” When Bob came to his interview in full costume, “the hat, the mustache, the overalls, and the whole bit ... we took a flyer and hired him. He’s been a wonderful addition to the family.”
Making Dave Lennox a Household Name
Bob helped consumers put a face to the Lennox name during the 1980s and ’90s when the company’s brand message was “Innovation, Craftsmanship, and Quality.”
“Bob was representing Lennox on TV and radio and traveling to home shows and dealer events around the country to interact with homeowners and consumers,” Lennox Brand Management Director Tom Towe says. Bob portrayed Dave Lennox at the New York Stock Exchange in July 1998, when he and Norris rang the opening bell to mark Lennox’ first day of trading.
Building Strong Relationships
Besides on-the-job training and a chance to be part of a strong company culture, during these shoots, Towe saw Bob’s true strength as a brand ambassador in his “ability to greet every dealer all day long and treat them like they were the only customer he had to work with all day—giving them his undivided attention and positive energy and recording commercials, making the local dealers the stars of their own hometowns.”
That ability to connect with dealers was important as the Dave Lennox role transitioned from consumer icon to what Towe calls their internal spokesperson. “He’s [been] a great spokesperson and ambassador to our customers, their families, and employees,” Towe says.
Jay Gidick, retired vice president of marketing, recalls what Bob’s presence meant to dealers at dozens of dealer meetings over the years. During showcases, “Bob would sign autographs and take pictures for the entire two-hour duration,” Gidick says. “They weren’t going to leave until they had a picture or an autograph from Dave Lennox.”
Bob was always careful to guard Dave Lennox’ legacy, too. Marketing Manager Allen Evans worked with Bob for many years. When Bob would ask him if something was OK to do as Dave, he would tell him, “You’re the chief of police when it comes to Dave Lennox.”
Tibbetts also earned a great reputation as himself. Gary Bedard, vice president and GM of Lennox International Residential, says Bob, “knows the customers, knows about their families, and talks to them. He’s so personable and so caring. That’s what we love about Bob.”
“He’s [been] a great spokesperson and ambassador to our customers, their families, and employees.”
As Bob moves on to enjoy retirement with his wife, Cheryl, he has the goodwill of Lennox behind him. “We wish them many years of great health and lots of time to travel and enjoy their children and grandchildren,” Towe says. “There are thousands of Lennox dealers who would love to hear from them in their travels.”
A beloved brand ambassador, a consummate professional, and a caring man who built relationships with countless Lennox employees and dealers—that’s a career built on innovation, craftsmanship, and quality.