Pat Bayers likes to tell people he's earned his stripes ... literally. The Midwest and Western regional manager for Applied Energy Solutions, a manufacturer of lift truck battery chargers, has been in the material handling industry for some 30 years. He's also a longtime motivational speaker and sales trainer. But what really qualifies him to make that statement is what he does in his off hours: officiate at Big Ten Conference football games.
Bayers was a two-time All-American linebacker at Western Illinois University. After college, he was recruited to play pro football in Italy, where he also coached. Upon his return to the U.S., he went to work as a material handling equipment sales rep while coaching at his local high school and a Division III college. His father's chance meeting with a Big Ten Conference official at a wedding in 1990 led him to give officiating a try. He "fell in love with it immediately," he says. He started out as a referee at the high school and Division III level and for the past 15 years has been a Division I ref, including the last 10 years in the Big Ten Conference—an experience he calls "an absolute honor."
Bayers was kind enough to send us a television screenshot of himself flat on the ground at a Notre Dame game last year. "It shows how important it is when you are knocked to the ground in a game that you get up and continue on," he told us. "It is the same in material handling. I have been knocked down many times in material handling. Some knocks have been harder than others. But I always remember how important it is to get up and continue on."