For most ninth graders, a move from the Mid-Atlantic to the Southeast would prove challenging, but sports, says Bob Lipscomb, made his transition from Roanoke to DeLand pretty seamless.
“I played tennis competitively and Florida was a big tennis state,” the Williams Company CEO told GrowthSpotter. But if you didn’t catch him on the courts, you might have found him on the coast.
His dad busted him on the regular.
“I had a great father,” he prefaces. “I missed plenty of days in high school when the surf was up. Sometimes, the school would call and my dad would be home for lunch. Then I’d get back and he’d go, ‘How was school today?’ ‘Oh, it was great, Dad!’ And he’d smile and say, ‘Well, they called, so I’m going to assume you were surfing…’ He was cool with it. I was making good grades, so he didn’t care.”
Despite being the grandson and son of Virginia Tech-alum engineers, Lipscomb was not lured into the industry by legacy-driven elders. In fact, his life’s progression – from school and career, even the very home he lives in, seems a story steeped in synchronicity.
At 13, Lipscomb was a Boy Scout, hard at work on his architecture merit badge. His family was visiting his grandmother, who already lived in Florida. He was not yet aware they’d be relocating.
“In the back of the merit badge book, there were two categories: architecture schools and building construction schools.” UF was one of the latter.
He asked his father if they could stop by on the way to check it out and decided right then it was where he wanted to go to school.
“It was easier to get in back then,” he jokes. “I am a planner. I knew I wanted to get into the construction business, to own or run a company.”
He also knew he wanted to get married and have a couple of kids.
He met his wife, Chris, at his first job out of UF. Their daughters, now 30 and 29, were raised in the home where the couple still lives – a ‘60s-era home in Bel Air (once known as “Pill Hill” for its high concentration of doctors; the downtown-adjacent district lies in close proximity to what is now Orlando Regional). In fact, the Williams Company – largely residential back in the mid-century – built about a third of the homes in the neighborhood, a fact that tickles Lipscomb, though his is not among them.
Still active, he and Chris are avid travelers and cyclists, often combining the two pastimes with glorious results – most recently on a weeklong jaunt to Amsterdam, where a cruising barge allowed for two-wheeled exploration.
“In the morning, they cook you a nice, big breakfast and the bikes are sitting outside. You get out and ride most of the day and the barge goes down the canal to the next town, where the chef buys fresh, local food. You meet the barge after a day of riding, clean up, and enjoy this big, gourmet meal. Lunch is always in some little town along the way.”
The Lipscombs took their trip in May, at the height of tulip season, winding their way through fields in full bloom.
“It was spectacular,” he says.
Past journeys they’ve enjoyed include Italy’s Dolomites, a trek from Prague to Vienna and another from Stowe, VT, to Montreal.
Lipscomb’s next adventure will have him not riding, but crewing, on an eight-man team for the Race Across America.
“It’s the toughest cycling event out there – starting in San Diego and ending in Annapolis. It goes in shifts, 24 hours a day.”
For someone whose profession requires spot-on logistics, it’s an event he’s eager to be a part of, coordinating meals, sleep shifts and which riders will perform best in the varied sections of terrain they must navigate.
It becomes obvious, quickly, that crewing is also reconnaissance. A ride may be in his future.
“My wife knows it, too,” he laughs. “I want to see how tough it is first.”