Talk about a glowing endorsement.
Kirk Bowren, President/CEO of NBC Universal Employees FCU, creates classic-auto themed lamps, which he sells on his website, www.bomalalamps.com. Among his most ardent fans is NBC superstar Jay Leno, a well-known antique automobile enthusiast. Leno owns four BoMALA lamps, including one that's a permanent fixture in his Tonight Show dressing room. Leno had even selected one of Bowren's lamps to be featured on his Tonight Show set desk, until a last minute design change nixed the artwork.
"They change the set from time to time, so we might just see it yet," Bowren said of his most visible SEG employee. The single-sponsor credit union is located in Burbank, Calif., on the NBC Studios lot.
The leader of the $64 million credit union used to tinker with antique cars in his spare time, until he and his wife downsized. When they sold their home, Bowren's four-car garage and two antique cars went with it.
However, his urge to tinker remained. One day, Bowren found an old carburetor lying around, so he cleaned and polished it.
Then he had a bright idea.
"I made it into a lamp, and then I made a second one," he said. Bowren took the lamps to a local bookstore that displayed work for sale by local artists. It sold right away.
That was in 2008. To date, he's created a total of 73 automobile-themed lamps, including 17 on display at Barney's Beanery, the iconic final destination for travelers on Route 66, and one at the world famous Petersen Automotive Museum. The lamps are in high demand as trophies used for classic auto show competitions and antique car clubs.
Most lamps feature the primary bulb housed in an air filter, which serves as a shade.
Bowren takes a casual approach to his art, saying he has no long-term plans to turn the hobby into a full-time job. The BoMALA slogan even features Bowren's trademark humor: "Every one is an original because we forgot how we made the last one."