Random Rochesterite: Zach Lambert
One resident, numerous anecdotes
Name: Zach Lambert
Occupation: Sales professional
Where we found him: Tom Kadlec Honda
Are you originally from Rochester?
No, I grew up on a large beef cattle/corn/soybean farm in rural Arcadia, Wis. We lived 20 minutes outside the town.
Did you grow up thinking you’d be a farmer?
Not really. I didn’t mind the work, but a lot of your time is spent in the field. For 10, 12 hours a day, you have no face-to-face or human interaction. It’s part of farming you may not know, and it’s kind of lonely. I need to talk to people. So it worked out great that I ended up in a job where I get to be face to face.
How long have you been selling cars?
Coming up on 3-1/2 years, always at Tom Kadlec. When I first moved to Rochester, I worked as a cook at Terza, and before that at Crooked Pint. I’ve always liked cooking. Even when I was a kid, I was requesting cookbooks for Christmas gifts. But it’s hard to make a living in a kitchen. My brother, who has been in the automotive industry for years, said he thought car sales might be a good fit for me.
I just bought a car from you, so it seems he was right.
I spent 12 years in school getting yelled at for talking in class and now it’s 80% of my job—talking to people and making friends. Every single day I get to meet multiple people and have pretty in-depth conversations. It’s a good fit. For the first six months here, I was in training and just kind of figuring it out. And then COVID hit. I had to take a couple months off, and after that something just clicked. Instead of selling 10 to 12 cars a month, I was able to average 25 to 30 cars a month. I once had a 47-car month.
What do you drive?
A 2020 Honda CR-V. It’s a good, reliable, nice car.
First car you drove?
My dad used to buy $100 cars and just give them to us. We’d take the doors and windows off and drive them all over the farm. That’s when you could buy a car for $100, $200. That doesn’t exist anymore. We’d drive them for a summer or a year until the engine blew up.
Four things you love?
I love Diet Mountain Dew—there isn’t a day that I don’t drink it. I really love going out to eat and trying new restaurants. I like talking to strangers, whether at work or in line at Hy-Vee or Target. And I like trivia/random information. On any given day, I probably have five to 10 Wikipedia pages open because I’m reading about something random. Last week, it was walruses, and I did a pretty in-depth dive on them. A male walrus can be up to 4,000 pounds. A male bull is approximately 1,500 to 2,000 pounds. I had no idea a male walrus could be double the size of a bull. It blew my mind.
Do you have kids?
I have 17-year-old twins, Cowan and Layla, and an 8-year-old daughter, Mina. They’re in Wisconsin. And I have a 6-month-old infant, Jack, with my girlfriend, Maureen.
What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?
It was really hard at 21, having two kids at home. And now, it’s tough not being by them. My twins have jobs and they have friends, and I chose to move up here—and it’s hard not seeing them as much. When they’re two to seven/eight years old, they think you’re Superman. That changes when they get older. Even with my eight-year-old, I can feel pre-teen on the horizon.
How did you meet Maureen?
That would’ve been at Grand Rounds. They used to have trivia there, so we did trivia and got third place and got two free growlers of beer. That worked out because I was broke. I had like $15 to my name.
How did you know Maureen was “the one”?
She’s super kind, she shows affection and love, and I have such a massive amount of respect for her dating me. I was scraping by, just above poverty level, after my divorce—making $400 a week and trying to live on my friend’s couch. And she gave me a chance and we hit it off.
Going to Nairobi and Limuru. Maureen is Kenyan. She lived in Nairobi the first 13 years of her life, but she hasn’t been there in three years and I’ve never been there. Her mom now lives in Limuru, a city just north of Nairobi. They moved here when Maureen was in high school. Maureen and her sister put down roots and stayed, but her mom moved back when she was an empty nester.
What’s your typical day like?
I’m pretty straightforward in how I go about my day. I listen to hip-hop music in the morning; it gets me pumped up and motivated for work. And then I’m at my desk by 7:55 in the morning and I’m ready to work. I try to be productive. I’m not going to sit and talk about the football game for an hour. I’m pretty darn serious at work, and then I come home and the switch turns off and I relax with my family and do it all the next day.
Does your work ethic come from being raised on a farm?
It’s a combination of farm work and wrestling. I wrestled from kindergarten until I was a senior. And that’s part of my competitiveness. It’s one versus one, no gray area. It’s on you. And it’s pretty direct input/output. You work when you’re at work. You practice when you’re at practice. And with more practice, you do better. And it doesn’t hurt that I enjoy my job and get to talk to strangers.