His name was E.L. Warren, but everyone in the small southern Illinois town of Fairfield outside his own household knew him as ‘Ike’ — the local business owner who, with no formal education to speak of, went on to run Warren Motor Sales for 40 years, serve his country and help raise three boys who became the first generation in the family to graduate from college.
It’s a story that one of those sons never gets tired of telling. Or being inspired by.
“Whatever I accomplish,” BRUCE WARREN says, “I’ll never be able to match that record.”
Bruce has done OK for himself despite getting a late start to his law career. He joined the downtown Champaign firm of Thomas Mamer LLP in 1991, was made a partner in 1994 and became managing partner in 2015.
The Pennsylvania-born, Wayne County-raised attorney, who earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the UI, took time out to answer a few questions from Editor Jeff D’Alessio in the 24th installment of our weekly speed read spotlighting local leaders of organizations big and small.
My one unbreakable rule of the workplace is ... show up on time and be loyal to the firm.
I’m frugal in that ... I drive a hard bargain on everything I buy. I’m not happy paying retail. I only buy used vehicles and have never owned a new car. I mow my own lawn and do all home repairs to the extent possible.
The biggest business risk I ever took was ... quitting my teaching job to go to law school at age 29. It has paid off.
The last luxury in which I indulged was ... buying a second Harley-Davidson Road King motorcycle. True to my frugality, it’s a used ’08 model, blue with black accents. I already had a ’98 Road King, all in black. Dad first put me on a motor scooter when I was less than 10 years old, but I still hear ‘Born to be Wild’ playing in my head whenever I start one of them.
My philosophy on meetings is ... keep them short and rare. The partners get together once a month to meet over lunch and discuss any major issues which have come up. A large part of my job is to deal with minor issues in the interim.
My single favorite moment in this job was ... Thomas Mamer LLP being named the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year in 2018.
I can’t live without ... my family, coffee and our vacation home in Door County, Wisconsin.
I’m up and at ’em every day by ... 7 a.m., although I’m not sure ‘at ’em’ is accurate. I am up.
My exercise routine consists of ... CrossFit, which, under normal circumstances, I attend four or five times each week at CrossfitKMC in Monticello, where we have lived since ’91. I started CrossFit in 2018 after 30-plus years of sloth. Currently, I’m working out in the garage two or three times per week due to lack of discipline.
The worst job I ever had was ... baling hay, which I did for one whole day when I was about 14 years old. Although both my younger and older brothers practically made a career of it, it was too hard for me — or as my little brother explained to me when he was about 12: ‘You’re not tough enough.’
The next big thing in my line of work is ... retiring from it in 2024 at age 70.