This transcript has been modified from the original for readability.
I have a lot of different things I like to do, hobbies. One of them is restoring old trucks. Now you gotta understand. Most of the time people ask, “Why? Why do you do this?”
Restoring Milk Trucks
My dad was a milkman on the south side of Chicago for twenty years. I was his only son, so I delivered milk, all—most of my life, from six years old til college. So, I started collecting old milk trucks from the 1940s and the 1950s. I tried to restore them to look just like Dad’s milk truck. My goal was to make this truck look just like his and present it to him and say, “Dad, here’s your milk truck.” And I did.
I found a truck on eBay. It was in northern Illinois, and it was just a piece of junk. I mean, it was rust. So, I bid on the thing on eBay, and I brought it back here and worked on it. And at first, I was gonna hire somebody to do all the work, and then my neighbors started coming around saying, “Hey, I know something about bodywork, I know something about mechanical work.” And I knew a little bit myself, so between all of us, I worked like crazy. I got ideas from them, I borrowed tools from them and restored these trucks back to almost like new condition.
I had so much fun doing it. It brought back all these memories while I’m doing it. And then I presented it to my dad. And my dad came in, drove up, and we had the milk truck sitting in the driveway, and it was—it was really fun. So, I have enjoyed doing that.
Restoring Ice Cream Trucks
Now the second thing I’ve pursued besides milk trucks is ice cream trucks. Here I am, a little boy on the south side of Chicago growing up, and there’s this Good Humor ice cream truck coming up the road, ringing his bell. And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to restore an old ice cream truck?”
So, I did the same thing. I got a Good Humor truck, did some restoring on it. And now whenever I want to have some fun, I go sit in my ice cream truck, drive it around with some ice cream in it, and give ice cream away.
Learning at BJU
I grew up on the south side of Chicago and grew up in the suburbs outside of Chicago. My dad and mom started taking us to church when I was about 5, 6 years old and were very faithful. One thing I remember about my parents is they were in every service. I just like the loyalty that they instilled within me toward local church ministry. It was important to them, and as I grew up it became important to me.
My pastor was a graduate of Bob Jones University, and he promoted Bob Jones all the time. It was great. And so, my sophomore year of high school, my junior year of high school, my senior year of high school, we went on trips to tour Bob Jones University. By the time I came here as a freshman, I knew my way around and had some good exposure to the campus.
I started majoring in finance first because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. But I knew it was business.
One day, my accounting teacher—I was taking Accounting 101—stood by the door as I walked out toward the end of Accounting 101, and he says, “Mike, have you ever considered being an accounting major?”
Well, I thought accounting was just a bunch of debits and credits and green eyeshade-type stuff. And I said, “Oh, I don’t wanna be an accounting major.”
So, I walked away from that, but after I talked to my teacher about that, I got to thinking, “You know what? God’s given me certain gifts and skills in this area. Maybe I should pursue it.”
And I did. So, my sophomore year, I changed my major from finance to accounting, and it’s been great ever since.
Teaching at BJU
I was in my sophomore year taking an accounting class, really enjoying the class, and God used my teacher, Mr. Jim Martin—he almost became, not an idol but somebody I really respected, somebody I looked up to. And I said, “I wanna be like him.” I started thinking and started praying back when I was 19, 20 years old, “God, would You have me be a teacher at Bob Jones someday?” It’s just interesting how God used one man to have an influence in my life.
So, I majored in accounting, studied accounting, graduated from Bob Jones. I went to work at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a Big Eight CPA firm back then. It’s a Big Four CPA firm now. We moved to Dallas and we bought our first house. We moved into this brand-new house. I said to my wife Barbara, “Don’t hang any pictures on the walls because we don’t want nail holes in the walls when we sell our house and move back to Bob Jones University to teach.”
I’m 23 years old when I’m saying this, OK? And I’m just picturing, you know, two years of experience, I can be back to teach at Bob Jones University.
Well, God had His timing in mind and not my timing. Twenty years later, I’m 39, 40 years old, somewhere right in there. I’m on the phone with Dr. Bob Jones III. I had called him because I was being promoted and transferred from Dr. Pepper, where I eventually ended up working after Pricewaterhouse, and I was being transferred to London. I had called about a local church and a school for my kids. I was trying to locate these things before I made an acceptance of that promotion. So, we’re on the phone, we’re talking, and we finish our conversation.
He says, “Mike, have you ever considered coming to Bob Jones University and working with us here at Bob Jones?”
And I said, “Dr. Bob. I’ve been praying about this for 20 years.”
He laughed, and he was shocked because he wasn’t expecting that kind of an answer. So, we thank God for wonderfully speaking to my heart early in life and really showing me the path at that point in time.
Mike Buiter is now dean of BJU’s School of Business.