Jake Burlile has often thought about shaving off his mustache.
But it’s also an award winner.
“It looks ridiculous, it’s in the way,” Burlile said. “I was going to shave it off after a couple of competitions, but they’re all for charity and I’ve seen how much money they’ve brought in. So, that’s kind of why I decided to keep it.”
Burlile and his mustache have traveled from state to state, competing in competitions and raising money for charity.
“I think one time in Austin, Texas, we raised $30,000 for pit bulls,” said Burlile, a St. Luke’s heating and cooling mechanic. “I was like, ‘All I had to do was wear my mustache and drink beer and hang out with friends?’”
And so, the mustache has stayed, and the competitions have continued for the past several years.
His biggest claim to mustache fame? Likely the pair of silver belt buckles he has earned for finishing in second place at the World Beard & Moustache Championships.
“During competitions it’s all about your outfit, your personality and your facial hair,” said Burlile, who competes in the event’s Hungarian Moustache category. “You do have to go up on stage and present yourself. You can be wacky and wild, or you can be romantic or whatever. I always mix it up. … I’ll wear a really nice white button-up shirt with suspenders and some nice jeans. … I inherited a bunch of my dad’s clothes from the 70s and he had some pretty wild wardrobes. People seem to like those.”Burlile said it takes him about an hour to get his mustache ready for competition. The formula for success: some hair spray, a little hair straightener and a hair dryer. The last time he measured the mustache from side to side it spanned 18 inches.
But you won’t see the mustache in all of its glory if you happen across Burlile while he’s on the job. He was a St. Luke’s contractor for years before becoming an employee about three years ago.
“I only wear it up at competitions,” said Burlile, whose facial hair is more of a Western, bushy look on a daily basis. “If I wore my mustache up at work I would never get anything done. Everybody wants to stop and talk to me and take pictures.”
Burlile’s supervisor, Mark Bennett, has known Burlile since he was a contractor and said Burlile has a personality that people are drawn to, mustache or no mustache.
“Whenever you’re around Jake people just kind of gravitate toward him,” Bennett said. “He’s a really nice guy and he’s got a great sense of humor. He’s just personable and fun to be around.”
Bennett said Burlile has also become an important part of the staff he supervises.
“He’s got a different skill set than most of our mechanics, and if I give him a special project, he’s happy to help out wherever he can,” Bennett said.
Bennett said he’s not surprised Burlile chooses to keep the mustache because it’s become a source of goodwill. He’s seen Burlile selflessly help others, on and off the job – and of course, in competitions.“He is a total team player,” Bennett said.
Chris Langrill is a writer and copy editor for the St. Luke’s Communications and Marketing department.