Todd Rome of MOKE America: “Drive”

Drive: You always want to be committed to improving, expanding and growing. We are always looking to include more resorts and dealerships in our portfolio that will grow the brand in markets all over the country. As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure […]

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Drive: You always want to be committed to improving, expanding and growing. We are always looking to include more resorts and dealerships in our portfolio that will grow the brand in markets all over the country.

As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Todd Rome, Founder and CEO of Moke America.

After being in multiple businesses from Wall Street to private jets, Todd Rome knew he wanted to shift to the luxury car industry, and founded Moke America in 2016. The reinvented throwback classic cruisers beloved by stars, surfers and Caribbean jet-setters have been making waves with 21st-century green-friendly electric power and good vibes ever since.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I had been working in the aviation industry for many years as the owner and founder of Blue Star Jets, which I started in 2001 and moved on in 2016, before founding Moke America. I first fell in love with the Moke car from my vacations to St. Barts, so after selling my first business, it seemed like the right time to start another adventure — and the Moke was the perfect vehicle to embark upon a new journey with.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I founded Moke America with the idea of, literally, reinventing the wheel. The classic Moke, which was originally from Great Britain, had numerous problems but had an unbelievable look and feel and defined the word cool. The Moke touched cultural points from surf culture to Brigitte Bardot and many other celebrities like The Beach Boys and James Bond.

The old classic Mokes used to rust like crazy. After six months, they would be completely rusted, and the floorboards would fall out. The second problem was the name Mini Moke. The Mini was very small. It wasn’t really suitable for somebody 5’11 or bigger; they could not fit in the car. Another problem with the car was that it was too low to the ground. That’s why it didn’t work for the British military. They were getting stuck every time they were fighting in combat.

So, we raised the wheel. We went from a 13-inch wheel to a 14-inch wheel, so it beefs it up a bit. We re-engineered and redesigned the glass so the glass is larger, stands across farther and is higher. We also decided that we needed to do something about the paint. We implemented a five-step E-Dip process to control the quality of the paint. We also do an undercarriage rust proofing to give it some more life. Like anything else, if you leave it out and treat it poorly it’s still not going to be perfect, but this gives it more life. It took a lot of manpower and strategizing, trial and error, to get it to where it is today.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Nobody else does the Moke quite like we do. We took a 20th-century collectible car and reinvented it with 21st-century green-friendly electric power. Even better, all the cars are American made in Sarasota, FL. We also have a lot of celebrity fans of the brand, including the Jenner family, Martha Stewart, Katherine McPhee and Jay Leno, among others. Influencers are always tagging us on Instagram showing off their Moke America.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

It’s so important to do everything with passion, or else you will never get off the ground. When you truly care about the end goal, and all you see is reaching that goal, it propels you forward, and you end up not sweating the small stuff as much.

How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?

A good company is one that is profitable, but a great company is so much more than that. A great company has loyal customers who truly care about the brand and live and breathe it. In our case, as I mentioned above, we see our customers posting online with their Moke America and literally bringing it to life in cool, fun settings.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.

Drive: You always want to be committed to improving, expanding and growing. We are always looking to include more resorts and dealerships in our portfolio that will grow the brand in markets all over the country.

Visualization: Visualize people using your products daily. Who do you want your target customer to be? Craft the product for them.

People: Surround yourself with a strong team and you will constantly be lifting the brand higher and go further.

Integrity: We took the Moke and made it more environmentally friendly with our electric version. Implementing sustainability into our product got a lot of consumers excited and made everyone feel good.

Elbow Grease: There’s going to be some late nights where you’re going to have to put in the work to solve problems. I mentioned changing the wheelbase from 13 to 14 inches. It wasn’t as simple of a process as it may sound.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?

As I mentioned above, having integrity and being socially conscious is always important, especially when marketing to young people, like we do. I’ve always been passionate about transportation and if I can turn that into a positive, people will see that and praise that.

What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill? From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?

There’s always going to be ways to reinvent your brand if you sit down and put in the effort. Whether that’s through strategic partnerships, updating brand messaging, improving the product itself, creating more customization options or just fitting into the news trends, you can literally (especially applicable regarding the Moke America), restart your engine.

Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

We are lucky we have been able to adapt so well in the new COVID economy- with Americans opting for staycations, it makes the Moke America perfect for giving Americans those “vacation vibes” they so desperately need. Finding new angles and listening to customers directly can help you pivot to what you need.

In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?

Staying relevant and cool, while also providing a product of the highest quality. Listen to your customers and offer solutions.

Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?

When people see A-list celebrities using our brand, it makes our target market trust that the product is really noteworthy and builds a lot of credibility. That actually happened organically- celebrities just became fans of the Moke America on their own and we capitalized as a result of it.

In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?

We offer customization on all our Mokes down to the bumper, grill, rollbar and rims. Each client is getting their very own personalized vehicle, and that makes them feel even more special.

What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

Social media has been a very advantageous part of our marketing and contributes significantly to the growth of the brand. The vehicle is photographed so beautifully and when it’s posted on Instagram people can’t help but want to check the cars out. So no, I don’t see social media as a negative in our case.

How can our readers further follow you online?

You can check out the Moke America website at and on Instagram @mokeamerica.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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