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|David Lesh, founder of FD Wear, posing as Secret Service.|
In late April, President Obama gave a speech at the University of Colorado at Boulder. While he was there, he met up with David Lesh, a skier and the founder of FD Wear, a ski outerwear company. Lesh, for reasons even he can barely explain, was allowed to drive along with the presidential motorcade and was able to talk one-on-one with the President about skiing and small businesses in America.
What strings did you have to pull to get a meeting with Obama?
It sort of just fell into my lap. A friend of a friend works for the White House and coordinates various aspects for presidential trips. Obama was scheduled to give a talk at CU and I was invited to meet him as well as drive a vehicle in the presidential motorcade. I had to subject myself to a Secret Service background check, which I miraculously passed. It ended up working out perfectly.
How exactly did this motorcade come together?
We spent the entire first day from sunrise until midnight helping Secret Service assemble and drive the presidential motorcade. We met at the hotel where the President was staying, got our briefing, and then carpooled to DIA to pick up 15 white vans. Each van has a different purpose -- the one I drove all day was a White House staff van. We then assembled the partial motorcade and drove to Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo. Secret Service then swept all the vans for explosives, installed radios and lights, and we began assembling the full motorcade. While we were waiting for Air Force One to land, we hung out with Secret Service and got a tour of "The Beast" (the armored limo Obama rode in on inauguration day). Then SWAT, Secret Service Police, a few ambulances, and a few dozen motorcycle police escorts arrived to complete the motorcade.
|Lesh with President Obama.|
And then the President actually showed up?
Air Force One landed and Obama was flown to Boulder in Marine One (his helicopter) with a four helicopter escort. Our motorcade then left and we drove to City Park in Denver to pick up the President after his speech. After picking up Obama along with members of the White House press, Secret Service, and others, we drove the President back to his hotel for the evening. The following morning, we woke up early and drove back to Denver to meet with Obama.
What did you and Obama discuss?
In theory, Obama is a supporter of small business and we mainly discussed my company, FD Wear. I believe small businesses play a huge role in helping the economy recover from a recession. He asked about our products and the business in general.
What do you think Obama's re-election campaign could learn from your experience running FD Wear?
I don't know the inner workings of presidential campaigns so honestly I have no idea. If I had to guess, I would say that I think Obama is more in touch with the younger generation than most previous U.S. presidents, and is interested in finding new ways to reach out to and connect with young voters. From what we've seen, guerrilla marketing like our "Last Friday" video seems to have a stronger effect on the current youth than traditional ads, commercials, and billboards.
If Obama goes skiing, what kind outerwear do you think he'd wear?
Funny you should ask. While we were talking, he asked why I hadn't brought any FD clothing for him to check out. Secret Service told me beforehand that I couldn't bring anything so I didn't have any gear on me, but we just sent an FD care package to the White House so hopefully the prez will be rocking our stuff soon.