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Celebrating Women in Insulation with Rachel Perry, Jessica the Attic Queen, Daja Oliver and Chelsea Whitley

May 2021  | 31:30

This one goes out to all the women out there breaking down glass ceilings and insulating buildings. We’re discussing women in the insulation industry with four of the brightest minds at IDI distributors and the entire industry; Rachel Perry, Commercial Sales Specialist, Daja Oliver, a Branch Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jessica the Attic Queen out of Tampa, Florida and Chelsea Whitley, SPFE Product and Solutions Manager in Atlanta, Georgia. Each of these industry experts share their unique experiences entering a traditionally male-dominated industry and how they feel like women have changed it for the better.

2:49 – “I feel like a mama bear to some of these guys.”

4:10 – How the Attic Queen claimed her throne

10:58 – “They knew I was organizing, knew I was going to be truthful and honest. And I care. That was the biggest thing when they knew I cared.”

13:38 – Managing the organized chaos for your customers

17:38 – Is this a viable career path for college-educated women?

20:00 – Fighting imposter syndrome

22:48 – The social media advantage

27:44 – “If a woman truly understands the building science behind things, and…loves challenges and loves working out…you can do this job.”

Celebrating Women in Insulation with Rachel Perry, Jessica the Attic Queen, Daja Oliver and Chelsea Whitley

RVAL019.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

RVAL019.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

We’re not golfing, skiing Friday through Monday, we are answering the phone Friday night, we’re answering the phone on Saturday, we’re sending e-mails on Sunday. We don’t spend a day drinking beer on a golf course. That’s not what we do. We’re pushing. We’re working. That’s where we get our joy from. So we’re just different animals.

And this is the one and only the original podcast where you can find yours and your business’s true value. You’re listening to our values brought to you by America’s insulation source, Idei distributers. You want to hear from the best contractor suppliers and consultants that dedicate themselves to more than just survival in the business world. Industry professionals that are dedicated to excellence in every aspect of their business. Our value has them all here to share that same motivation and knowledge with you. Tune in and grow more successful, profitable, educated and recognize business. Listen to the R Value podcast to become the industry leader in your market. Find your value with our value.

Ken Allison with the R Value podcast, and we are here today for a very unique mission, we are looking at women in insulation, actually, we’re not looking at them. You’re on a radio or some sort of device. But either way, there are quite a few women in insulation. There’s a lot of women in construction. That’s a group that was founded back in the 80s. But when I look at there’s the women construction owners and executives group that’s been around for quite a while. There’s women in building performance, which is a smaller group. But I think we needed to talk about women in insulation, especially since the building envelope has become so important. And at this point, women are 10 percent of the construction workforce. They are 13 percent of the ownership. So when you look at a lot of the women that are in our industry are actually owners, four percent of all new construction companies right now are owned by women, but yet only one percent are in the front line. And I’m going to start with I’ve got four different ladies here that all do very widely different things in the industry. But I’m going to start with someone known as Dasia all over in the frozen north. Dasia, I’m going to just go right for the throat right out of the gate. You were telling me just a minute ago what the wage was going for, for Sprey farmers in Minnesota. And you’ve got to be joking. You said north of forty dollars. Is that true?

Yeah, in some cases, absolutely. They’re hard to come by.

Good night. So so outside because I know that wasn’t the wage when you got in. What, what got you into insulation. What, why this.

Well I started in two thousand seven selling insulation accessories and about three years later I moved into the whole gamut of fibreglass spray foam, everything insulation. So I don’t know. It’s just I love it. I love building the relationships with the customers. And that’s what keeps me here. I feel like a mama bear to some

Of these guys, and they are my children and it’s just grown from there. And I love everything about it. I love being on job sites.

I love being in their offices, everything.

So you said something different there. And so the momma bear, because one of my questions, honestly, for every one of you is how have men treated you while you’re in the industry? Are they literally becoming your children? Because I know men really aren’t end up being responsible, but.

Well, some some of them, yes.

We’ve got someone on here that’s a contractor that I’ve just watched this lady smoke, other guys in an attic and outwork every one of them. Jessica, you’re known as the attic queen. Why on God’s earth did you get into construction in the first place? What what happened?

I was recruited by the top installation company in Tampa, Florida. And when they first met me, it was at an event that they were soliciting their services. And I was doing something else. I was in real estate for 16 years, vice president of lending. And I had a life coach that didn’t realize nothing was more important than health and happiness. So I quit my job, had nothing going on, but I would do a side project. So I meet the owner. And how are you? I said I’m better than good and I’m better than most. What? So right away you left my energy, including me. I’m like, listen, I just took the handcuffs off after being in the corporate world for 16 years. I’m not interested. So I ended up with some consulting and he kept in touch. And it was November I was doing consulting out in Texas and he called me up because, like, my business is exploding. I really miss Florida. So I come back, we’ll talk about working. So I’m like, all right. So I come back to Florida and I’m watching what’s going on. And I’m like, yeah, this is great. I could. You wanted me to do sales. So we started talking to terms. He’s like, well, you are going to be straight commission and if you go through a ceiling, I’ll pay for the first one. But everyone after that, you’re going to have to pay for it. I’m like, oh my God, I can’t afford to do this. So I kind of like stepped back and work the office, listen to him learned, would help out on, like, big removals. And that’s when I started getting interested.

covid hit and then we exploded and I turned into a team lead because I always took on like the toughest things. And it was a really good workout. The gyms were shut. There was no soreness, no gyms. So I remember my very first day was a removal of six forty five. Am I not going to buy yellow t shirts, my bright red lips? I said I’m just going to do your removal. They said you. I’m like, yes, I’m like, let me tell you, my favorite at home is the vacuum and nobody can vacuum up that better than me. The like. Come on in. At that point it was like to me a challenge and then I never really so I learned on the job and I just love going through hard things in life. I just thought to myself, where things really became real for me was when I took my first formalized training. Why do you want to you get out? And it was to learn about spray foam and literally what it does. It scared the hell out of me and made me realize to build a strategic partnership, find a good, capable company. But that’s when I started learning the building science behind things and how it really affects the health of people. And that’s really what makes me go to work every day. And extreme temperatures, because these people need us like people are in their house getting sick and we don’t even know it’s because there’s like, literally. Boxes in their attic or there is like mold everywhere, and there’s so much leakage, so thanks to you for opening up my eyes, I could save the world.

Wow. That’s you are always a handful. I mean, we’ve got to get a governor on something we’re going to have to give.

You know, it amazes me.

I have to tell people, you at three hundred to three hundred and fifty square feet an hour, backing out an attic is at the top of the industry. We have so many people that don’t have the dexterity or the health to be able to do that and then to see some of your posts online. It’s just it’s crazy how you’ve taken to this industry. So I’m not going to ask you if you think you made a mistake, you’re you’re making everybody else look like we’re unenthusiastic about it. It’s amazing. So so let me ask you something, though. How how would you see or what do you think would be our best tool for recruiting women? How how could we get more of you into the industry? Because when I when I laid out the facts just to cover it again, so 13 percent or owners, but eighty five percent, I think, is what women in construction said are in the office. How do we get them to understand? It’s a great workout. It’s a good day. You feel good and the money’s excellent. What would you think would gather more to the industry with me?

And also you

Said everybody needs to go to Florida and getting an adequate

I literally drove nine hours to be on this podcast. So I do travel. I also I wholesale a couple of products as well, like the Atkins later and then added. So I do work with companies nationwide and help them with business growth and business development. And being that I use those products on my own and we all know that the rising price of inflation is ridiculous. I don’t understand how companies can stay in business and have other products. Now I do travel and it’s like I got somebody offered to fly me to Pennsylvania. They remove all their insulation. I’m like, yeah, I will travel back, will travel. I mean, let’s go.

There’s a testimony. So Chelsea, with you, I know you kind of came in with some people that you knew from the equipment side of things. But what really what drove you from college to insulation? What.

Where was the connection to, you know, it was it was the luck of the draw, I was just sitting at home bored after not working for a little bit, and I had some friends who were like, hey, wait a minute, fraction manufacturing companies, rifle rigs, anything, anything, fluid applied. And so they’re like, come into the phone for us. I was like, OK, give me something to do to get out of the house. And it just evolved into I have a marketing background, so just involved. After a few months of answer the phone, they’re like it’s equipment. You have cell phone, so you want to sell it yourself. I guess I just learned all the material had really good like a support system. People that trained me and educated me at the industry, started traveling, started going to trade shows and just really enjoyed. I enjoyed being one of the only women in the industry. It was it was odd at that time. I was 12 years ago, it was a handful of us. So when we walked in and we were like, oh, we automatically know them. And I’ve always, always enjoyed that. So that’s really what I was like, wow, I can be somebody here. And then it just grew from there and, you know, take care of these customers. And I have so much trust in me because I guess being a female, they I knew I was organized. I knew I was going to be truthful and honest and like, I care now is the biggest thing I knew. I cared about them and their business, the relationship. Did you find it?

Did you find it easier to get trust then?

Absolutely. I did. When I came into it. Also, being just a Southerner, I think they were automatically like, oh, she’s super sweet and I know she cares about us. That momma bear mentality that Dasia was talking about us. I mean, it was just like, OK, here’s everything, help me figure it out. And problem solvers, that’s that’s our job. So I think that I found comfort in that. And it just kind of the relationship just grew and grew and grew after that, and everybody like Dasia being in the industry and being asked specifically, you know, I knew where I worked and they’re like, I want to talk to Chelsea. So that’s just kind of where it went. And it just grew from there. And now a lot of them are some of my best friends. And so my mentors are people I’ve mentored. And it’s just it’s just a family circle.

I’m going to go to Rachel Carey up in Boston now. Rachel, with you, you had a background somewhat similar to something I used to do to tell people how you wound up in the industry.

I like to start a long time ago, back in nineteen ninety seven. I worked for I spent a summer in Katy, Texas, and I worked for a man named Don Savage Soula who opened fire safe in Houston. And I worked for him for a summer just fireproofing buildings like the rice building when they renovated it. So I’m 19 years old with a hard hat and two belt and going into these buildings. From there, I came back to Boston. I got into the restaurant business and I spent almost 20 years in restaurants working in high end steak houses like Capital Grill, Fleming Steak House in Scottsdale, Arizona, Boston, Providence. And I went to Strega Waterfront, which was a very high profile fine dining restaurant and probably one of the busiest restaurants in the city at the time where I met a gentleman named Frank Sinatra, who’s the owner of General Installation Company, which says,

Wait a minute, you were the general manager of that restaurant where, you know,

I was the assistant general manager and I was the first female manager that this gentleman ever employed.

There you go. So you were not at the bottom of the restaurant. It’s not like you were a waitress. And some guys like, hey, you want to put in insulation, it’s got to be big.

No, no.

So go ahead

Now. So I shot everybody here, knows general inflation and knows Frank. And I was thirty seven years old at the time and I was just tired of working every weekend, every holiday. It was great in my twenties. But you get to an age where it just it’s not a good lifestyle. So I took the leap and my mother thought I was crazy to change careers and I was just really getting somewhere working in the best restaurants in the city and in the road to do sell insulation, which she didn’t really understand. But I love it. It feeds so much of what the restaurant gives me with what my personality loves, the time management, the competitiveness, the teamwork, the problem solving. Like Chelsea said, it’s all this pressure. But but keep the keep the veneer. Keep the facade of we’re in control and I’ve got it and I’ve got your back and I’m going to fix your problems. It’s an organized chaos that I think we all manage for all of our customers. So it’s awesome. I love that side of it. It’s afforded me a much better quality of life. I just I was able to buy my own home on five acres in New Hampshire. I drive an F one fifty supercute. It’s just a life that I never thought I would I wouldn’t have if I stayed where I was.

So I love that. No, no. Talk a little bit about your challenge, because you’re you’re really even for our industry, your towards the top end of our industry in that you’re taking on probably the tiniest fraction of sales in our industry by chasing large specifications hospitals, schools, libraries, doctors offices. You’re doing commercial construction sales. How how does that work for you in going out and really opening doors and getting in in the career path? How’s that working for you? And what do you see as the best part?

I think it’s all comes back to the customer service aspect and it’s building the relationships, and I’ve been working with some of these project managers from, you know, for five, six years. And they followed me from General to New England Gypsum, where I was before I die. And now they’re with Idei because it’s all about understanding their needs. Answer your phone. Get back to them right away. Make everybody feel like they are the most important thing in your world. And I lean on them for help. If I don’t know, I’ll ask them. A lot of these project managers. I help them out. They help me out. I learn every day something new. As you know, with building I up. It’s always changing and the tests are always so.

Yeah, it is. But something something you said I really keyed on and that’s that’s loyalty. You know, women are known as loyal and and I don’t know that that’s really a knock on men. But, you know, Daja, you mentioned Mama Bear. Chelsie talked about her friends, brought her in. It seems to me that if I were to have someone long term, their customers really are going to follow them. They really are going to be more of a family than golf buddies, you know, and I mean that in hopefully the nicest of ways. But it seems like many men are golf buddies or fishing buddies.

But can I you I mean, I will say actually to a former co-worker of mine who’s also a female, I’m like, we’re not golfing and skiing Friday through Monday. We are answering the phone Friday night. We’re answering the phone on Saturday. We’re sending emails on Sunday. We don’t spend a day drinking beer on a golf course. That’s not what we do. We’re pushing. We’re working. That’s where we get our joy from. So we’re just different animals.

If you had a 19 year old daughter who was going to college, is this a career path you would want her to take, knowing the way the industry is?

I think there’s so much

Opportunity that

Women have. You are nodding

In empowering this this industry. And just how much I have grown as a person and as a professional has taken me to traveling everywhere in the United States, have ever wanted to go to financially living on my own. Like being able to support myself. I mean, that the sky’s the limit. It’s it’s it’s awesome. And it’s it’s so empowering.

Well, that is great to hear. So, Dasia, you know, I went to you first, but what are your thoughts on if if we wanted to target more women? When I look at this, I see career paths from installer to building scientist or to architect. But but where, where would you start in trying to bring more women to the industry

And really how to bring

Them to I mean, just explain to them what we do and all the wonderful things that come along with it, like the relationships you build out there, the the the people you meet, everything. It’s just it’s in all in a whole it’s wonderful. I mean, I know a bunch of women and we have quite a few here. And I love seeing them out there. And I just I think it’s so awesome. And they work just as hard as those guys. And I just I have five of them. Every time I see them, I love it.

So then what’s been your biggest challenge?

I mean, how we get as women, sometimes we’ll look at you and don’t think you will know what you’re talking about because we are women. I mean, that’s probably the toughest when you girls say the same thing. Oh, yeah, for sure.

That was my first hang up because I was basically I’m like I’m a woman. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m going to fall through every ceiling. I’m like a wrecking ball, like nobody’s going to trust me. And then she trusted me more when I showed up. And now that I know what I’m talking about and I know who Khalistan is and I called him from Addicks, when things go on and I get answers, I’m like, I’m unstoppable now. I’m like, I literally know what I’m talking about. And it’s like when you tell that to people and they get freaked out at first, but they’re like, fix it. Yes, I’ll fix it. Yeah.

So you have to begin with. But once you forgive yourself like the women, I mean they talk to you in a matter of minutes, they’re like, whoa, who really knows what she’s talking about? And then it’s like, OK, let me let you man training sites you pull up in your training clothes and you know, I’m doing a blown in while training and then look at you like, oh, you do know what you’re doing. Yeah, that is so satisfying. Isn’t the planet just out there. That’s all you got to do. If you can put yourself out there, just do it.

Rachel with you has because you’re on commercial jobs, have you had the same thing where it’s really just a matter of proving your knowledge and then the doors open or do the doors just open?

That’s that’s an interesting question. I do. I’ll answer the second part. I in my experience, I do feel for cold calls. I think men are more apt to sit down and talk to me than they are if a guy walks in. And I know that’s a sexist, but I know that being a woman does open more doors. It lets me in. You know, what I do with that is that’s on me. Can I landed or not? But I think, as in general, men are more apt to talk to women throughout the day. I don’t think they’re as upset at bustin their office.

I think that’s a great point, though, because if I’m considering what industry should I go into? If I walk into a doctor’s office as a pharmaceutical rep every day, I know for a fact that receptionist will shut down any skirt, any suit, any shoe, any whatever that walks through the door. They’re used to it. But in this industry, if it is a more open lane for you to be heard, then why not jump in? It makes total sense to me. But, Jessica, I want to come back to something because you really are unique. Yes. You you’ve done some selling and you do some training. But, girl, what is it that makes you want to get in an attic when it’s one hundred and fifty degrees and just go rip the place apart like a tornado? I mean, you’re just when you’re in an attic,

It’s like a mindset thing and it’s like you can’t get a better workout. Like I didn’t know what I was going to do. What would I have done? Like all the gyms were set during covid. Like, I can’t not work out. That’s I like my mental. So it’s like addicts are hotter than Sonus. And when you’re like, literally in. And you got to like and you can’t get that lifting weights, so that’s part of it, but

I don’t know. Well, and I have to throw out a shout out. Jessica is the attic queen. She’s wearing a shirt that says The Attic, and she Instagram’s is the attic queen. You’ve got to see her stuff. The other day when you held up the dead rat carcass or dead squirrel carcass in the attic and you looked at the camera and go, what’s in your attic? I was like, wow, that is so close to infringement and yet perfect. I just I love your attitude towards this.

Can you just head on social media? I think it’s also a big part. Majority of women I know are more active on social media, and they are they put themselves in the spotlight more. They’re on their own Instagram. They’re on every platform. So they’re saying they’re heard. And I think that’s a big that’s a big thing, too. That’s being thing, being active on social media and putting yourself out there.

It’s like you get business from it. If you’re sitting there telling people like, you know, if you’ve got the species in there and your house has air leakage and you’re breathing it in like you are going to get sick, and then people are like, oh, my God, I never thought about this. And they lay up at night and they hear, like scuffling. I got rats and I get a call, you know, and it’s like

Magic all the time. Exactly.

So the lesson that I get out of this is if I had a contracting company, I need a woman with that kind of understanding about doing my selling. Because the way you describe that, about laying in bed and hearing it, you know, we’ve all been there, but I just kind of dismiss it. And, of course, it goes through someone else’s head like a hundred times at night. Now, that is perfect. And Chelsea, you’re right, social media, you guys dominated from Pinterest on down. You know, it kind of started long ago in Facebook and Pinterest and now it’s haoles and next door and all of those. But you’re right, you guys are far more active. So any last thoughts, Rachel? Any thoughts you’ve got towards anyone out there and listening? Obviously, most of them at this point in the industry are men. What would you want them to understand about how they should be looking toward the future of their company?

I mean, I would never it’s you’re never too old to learn something new. You’re never too old to reinvent yourself. I think, as Jessica stated as well, take the leap. You know, if you’re not happy, find something that you love and and do it. Don’t be afraid.

I like it. What are your thoughts if you were to speak to contractors that might even be thinking about what their kids should be doing and who they should give their business to, any advice for them?

Find something that fits you. Find something that you’re comfortable with. Find find your niche. That’s the biggest thing. Find your niche and find your comfort zone and go from there.

I would think they need to get their daughters involved. And I’m telling you, just with the four of you, I mean, you all found this almost by accident, but yet it really you can tell just by the life that you guys have when you talk about it. Chelsea, what are your thoughts? You were very active in college, would you ever go speak at colleges?

Oh, for sure. I would love that. And that’s that that is one of the things that I love about this industry. Is it? There’s open doors for opportunities that I’ve always wanted to do, public speaking. Being on video, I want to trade shows and incorporate in training classes all the things that I have a background of. I just didn’t know that that’s where that’s I didn’t know at the time. That’s what I wanted. But now that I start doing these, it’s like, oh, I have a love and I want more and I want more. So I mean, just the springform industry, the insulation industry in general has opened up so many other opportunities because there’s so many people that we need. There’s we need people in this industry to know what they’re doing that are educated. And I don’t know, you kind of see a pattern like everybody that I’ve ever known that’s come into this industry. They don’t leave like we’re here forever. So it’s it’s a very passionate, passionate industry to get into. And I just just want to do what you do, what you love. And I think the opportunities are endless.

Jessica, I’m going to steal what Chelsea said. Are you truly in this industry forever? I know it’s a dumb question before I ask, but I want you to give your your pitch.

Well, basically, my goal is to retire in two years and yeah, I’ll be in it for the long run. But not all heroes wear capes. Some of them wear respirators. And what I know, one thing that they just said is do what makes you comfortable. I’m going to step out of your comfort zone, do what makes you uncomfortable. And if I could give anybody the reason why, I think women would be amazing in this industry where meticulous. I know a lot of women love vacuuming, like there’s so much therapy in it. And when you know how it could affect somebody’s life, I walk into a house a couple of weeks ago where there was massive rodent infestation and there was 18 inches clearance and there was that insulation. And it’s a big metal ducking down the center. And there’s a five year old five year old grandson has severe asthma and her husband has very bad allergies and sinus problems. And literally, the only way to do this is to either cut the sheetrock out or to raise the roof line. And it’s like there are people that literally are so sick and it’s like women care. You know, you talked about us being mama bears. I’m that person that, like, you can’t do this job if you drink alcohol, if you do drugs, you don’t sleep. So I’m that mama that shows up to the job site, making sure that these guys have electrolytes and they have real food, not processed food getting through this. So it’s like, look out for my crew. But the people don’t understand, like, OK, somebody told me I had thrown feces in my attic. I’ll just blow on top of it. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. It’s still going to come through like. No. So it’s like if if a woman truly understands the building science behind things and if it’s a woman that loves challenges and loves working out, I’ll tell you, like especially women, women have children. So if you can have a child, you can do this job.

So that’s that it sounds to me like we should be recruiting at the gym, let’s go. Yeah, I’m not going to be the one to walk up to them. I’ll take you to all our restaurants.

Restaurant workers are very good. You can work in a restaurant. You can survive anything.

Yeah, that’s true. It takes a lot to serve food. It takes a tremendous amount of dexterity and health and. Yeah, and memory. You’re it’s it’s very fitting for every bit of our career. I agree with that. Well, I look forward to this. I hope you ladies do more podcast together. I’ve got some guests coming from Building Performance Institute and there’s quite a few owners out there. I wish you all the best and I hope that you guys get together regularly and do these and start getting more women into the industry. I think every one of you were a joy, and I am so glad you’re here and your careers are living proof that we need more of you guys doing this

And we need more canals. And I need a show on HDTV sponsored by Idei with 10 hours,

You are going to retire in two years. You never stop plugging away.

That’s that’s that’s that’s how we are. That’s amazing.

I love it. Thank you all so much for doing this today.

Thank you, panel. And I feed forward to many, many more of these together and having some exciting people and women in other industries in this industry, just this women that kick butt and. Yeah, let’s go after each other.

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Managing Multiple Crews with Bryon Adamczyk

April 2021  | 13:15

Bryon Adamczyk, President of AI Building Products, knows what it takes to hire, train and manage multiple teams of contractors. In this episode, he shares his no-nonsense insights into obtaining, retaining and training talent that will save your business money and reputation. 

AI Building Products was founded in 2018 in Fort Myers, Florida and has been providing service excellence in Fort Myers and South West Florida ever since.

In this episode…

2:00 – Hiring multiple crews and avoiding the “Gypsy Effect”
3:45 – Retaining top contracting talent
5:26 – Providing crews work without the burnout
7:00 – Bridging cross-cultural barriers in your crews
9:35 – Use it or lose it: preventing product waist

Managing Multiple Crews with Bryon Adamczyk

RVAL018.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

RVAL018.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

10 percent of what you said you should be able to save or if you save all that material and all your scrap and you can use that 10 percent every 10 houses, free material that's free realizing your profitability.

This is the one and only the original podcast where you can find yours and your business's true value. You're listening to our values brought to you by America's insulation source Idei distributers. You want to hear from the best contractor suppliers and consultants that dedicate themselves to more than just survival in the business world, industry professionals that are dedicated to excellence in every aspect of their business. Our value has them all here to share that same motivation and knowledge with you. Tune in and grow more successful, profitable, educated and recognized business. Listen to the hour value podcast. To become the industry leader in your market. Find your value with our value.

Ken Allison with Ideas, our Value podcast this week we are talking with Brian Adam, check a I Industries or A.I. building products out of Fort Myers, Florida. Brian, how's it going today?

It's going great. Oh, fantastic. Can't complain.

Nice. Yeah, it's great to live in paradise.

It's why I'm here. I love it tirman every day.

So let me ask you something. We were talking on the phone the other day and you brought up just some different things about hiring. And I wanted to ask you, you know, I know you've been at this since twenty eighteen, but in that time, obviously you worked with some of these guys before then. How many crews do you have right now?

Right now we're running eight. Crews will run basically up to 12 when we're really rocking and rolling. But pretty much aides are going to be OK.

And then how long have you had, like your longest running crew? How long I know you purchased the business. So how long had the longest running crew really been involved?

A and his sister have been with us since the start. But I've been who I worked with when I was with the TCI before I brought them out. I even was there. A couple of these guys worked with Ivan there back in 2012 and even a little bit before that. So we've had some guys have been with us almost ten years now. Beautiful. Count it that

Way. That's some nice longevity. Now, how many trades do you guys do

For five roughly? We do soffit fascia. That's one gutters, insulation, screen enclosures, Underland eyes and hurricane shutters. So we prepare for hurricanes and all that. Put those up and you do spray foam, but we subcontract that out.

Ok, but yourself installing all of your batts blow, stuff like that. That's correct. OK, now what about turnover? How often do you really have turnover?

That depends right now. It's called the gypsy effect, these guys come and go, we've got our core installers that have been with us since the beginning, which is probably six of the eight. And we just got a couple of guys that came back. They left for two, three months. They came back. They're back sort of a revolving door. And that's what we call it, the gypsy effect. Someone'll offer them more money. They'll go over there and they'll realize that it's pretty nice here.

So you get poacher's. It's just a better place to be. OK, now why what's the main reason for coming back? Is what what's the difference, you think, in terms of keeping them and getting them to come back?

Well, I think it's the work we got that we do have the work. We know that. We put a lot of pride when we answer our phones, we show up on the jobs, we don't show up, we let them know they call us for the bid. We do it most of the time. We can be there within two to three days for the competition. Sometimes they'll say they're six weeks out. We talking to a gentleman today. Steve, one of our builders told them we were there, stucco guys were there and they wanted us to leave. And he said, no, I've been waiting eight weeks. I talked to you. You showed up four days later. And it's just simple logic. They call you, you answer, they leave you a message, you call back, they tell you they're ready to get to it as soon as possible.

But I mean, the crews. Why do you think the crews come back in terms of, oh,

We got we got the work and they're pretty much they're pretty much their own boss. You know, they come in, they fill out their paperwork, they get their paperwork for the day. We give them more than enough work, more work than they can do in a day. So they know if they want to have a real good day, they're out installing. We do pay. We do pay piecework so they know what they need to do in a day. So the average installer we have is going to do anywhere from two hundred to two hundred and fifty dollars a labor per guy a day. We'll put out to guy a two man crew. We'll give them six hundred dollars worth of labor. So if they want to make three hundred bucks today and the days right. And they're feeling good, they can have that opportunity. So we have plenty of work

Now as far as overtime then and burnout. I know, you know, you've got a lot of guys that like to bite off everything they can and then next thing you know, they're not showing up. How do you balance the whole amount of workload you give them and try and prevent them from burning out experience?

I mean, you'll see it. And like I said, what I mean, experience. I've been doing this since ninety two and you'll know what a guy talking insulation, the guy saying in six hundred square feet an hour continuously. All of a sudden you're looking at him and he's taken and you're only doing three hundred feet an hour for that day. You went from thirty two hundred square foot in a day to twenty four. You know something's up, you look at the job, see what it is, and we find out it's burnout. What I do and Ivan does is will back will back up on what we're giving him, give them some easier stuff, help them out. Don't let them work Saturdays. Why do these guys love to work Saturdays?

So you try and put the governor on as soon as you see a slowdown in the production rate itself.

The other thing we'll do is we'll follow the money their way. I mean, they want to make money and doing good. But, you know, a couple of the guys we said, here, take your wife out to dinner on Saturday, enjoy it. Just take some time off.

You'd also mentioned something that I didn't really think about. You know, there's obviously times that you're going to find things are missing. You get shrinkage, you get side work. You mentioned cultural differences. Talk about that, about how you address things to prevent people from leaving, but yet stop. What's creating a problem for you?

The good thing is, is I got Ivan. Ivan, I've known Ivan since two thousand seven. We've worked together in prior lives and other companies and. He's got a good network of guys, if we need guys, you can find guys, you can get guys. And I've learned over the years to listen to them, we work really well together, as I said, but he's. Taught me how to treat these guys, I mean. You and I grew up in our culture where yellers and screamers, you don't do that. You sit there, you talk to people, if you need to reprimand them, you need to talk to them about something. You do it behind closed doors. You don't do it in front of other people. You do that. It's sort of the bottom of the totem pole. They go to the bottom and people sort of shun them and then they're gone.

Yeah, you mentioned the doing that to guys say that come in from Mexico or Latin America, that that's literally seen in their culture as something very wrong. It's a just an absolute total disrespect. Even if they have done something very wrong to you, you cannot confront them in front of people.

Exactly. You've got to do it behind closed doors because they'll take that as disrespect. And when you lose, everyone wants respect and they look for that. They look for that respect. And when you get disrespected, again, as I said, you're at the bottom and people sort of back off and they don't like that makes sense.

So who's your best recruiter then, Ivan?

Really? Oh, yeah, he's like I said, when I first came down here in 2012, Ivan was here, we pretty much all in the market. We were like one of the only installers that was doing everything that we're doing. So we trained a lot of these guys still today, gutters, there's no inspection for gutters. People put gutters on the houses, soffit and thate, aluminum soffit. And fascial is just coming around. And we were we brought it into the market. We showed people how to install it. We trained these installers. So there was a good group. We ran at IVP. We had twenty six crews so that those twenty six crews, you know, they kept on multiplying come in. And Galán, we put guys in other places so we got a good network of guys and we still talk to those guys today and they'll find out, OK, hey, we need guys. Well we'll put the word out and we will find some more installers. Guys that just moved here just came to this country and we're willing to train them.

I know a lot of guys really respect him. He's he's been on a foam rig in a fiberglass rig in Mississippi, Arizona, Florida. He's he's been around and obviously been in the business a long time. You also mentioned something about because your waste factor is very low. You don't have a lot of money that you lose there. How do you keep that down and how are you encouraging them to use it?

Well, that's my sticking point. I've you know, I grew up my dad told me how to pick up nails. We put them in a can. We saved them. We used the same splashier I got here. I see a bad I see a Raima Staple's. I see a proper vet on a job site that goes back in my truck and it's going on the next truck that's going out and all that adds up when you're talking about the aluminum. We don't let them we don't let them leave any trash on site. All the trash comes back here. We see what's coming off the trucks. And if it's usable, it's going back out. If it's scrap, it goes into our scrap pile. We recycle all the aluminum, the bats, the blow, the proper vents, all that stays in that area and that goes out on the next truck for the next day. And that's where you make your money if you can. From the insulation standpoint. 10 percent of what you said you should be able to save or if you save all that material and all your scrap and you can use that 10 percent, every tenth house is free material, that's where you realize it and your profitability.

I knew a guy that actually took one of the 55 gallon bags and tucked it into his belt on his pants. Every time he cut about, he put the extra piece in the bag and he just keep carrying that forward and the bag never got full. Yeah. So he was always using his waist

And we did that. We put that on the studs and all that. But again, you can use it for your Jois and you can use it for pack around your windows and doors. So every piece you save, if it's 30 cents, that's three dollars for every bat you save, if it's three cents a square foot, 30 cents a square foot.

So you mentioned before that currently you're subbing out all of your spray foam work. Correct. So with subs, what are your best practices on subs?

It's tough, I mean, they they get the cash jobs, they get the money jobs they want to put you second, you got to what we do is we make sure we're in constant communication with them. We pay them as soon as they're done. So they're not I mean, not immediately, but they turn in the invoice. They got a check within a couple of days. So they're not waiting for their money where they might have to fill another building, that they might wait 15 days, 30 days. They're just waiting a few days for us. So we tend to get some better subs that way. They tend to do better work for us. But right now, with the current situation in the marketplace where people are just looking for material, if you have material, a lot of these homeowners are paying cash. It's like I said, it's tough right now. But we we're doing OK.

So you find them paying them right away really is the biggest key of money, still making money is king perfect? Well, obviously money is king in your recruiting. Money is king with your cruise. Yeah, it seems to me like your guys really like you and they they definitely want to stay around. So good for you and thank you for sharing that stuff with us.

And we appreciate everything you guys do for us, too.

Well, thanks so much. You have a great day. And may twenty twenty one be a much better year?

I hope so.

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Sound Insulation Strategies with Brendan Van Gool and Jason Howell of The Rockwool Group

March 2021  | 27:00

To keep the outside, outside and the inside dry and quiet takes a lot of science. No one knows that better than The ROCKWOOL Group who has been protecting residential and commercial properties from moisture and sound pollution since 1909. Host Ken Allison welcomes Brendan Van Gool and Jason Howell from the ROCKWOOL Group to discuss the world of exterior insulation and the unique challenges that different environments bring to a building project.

The ROCKWOOL Group is the world’s leading manufacturer of stone wool insulation. They offer a full range of high-performing and sustainable insulation products for the construction industry.

On this episode…

1:03 – What’s special and innovative about Rockwool?
5:02 – Getting product to contractors faster
8:04 – The fastest growing market for Rockwool
15:25 – Top picks for fastenings systems
21:25 – Is Rockwool really better for sound?

"Sound" Insulation Strategies with Brendan Van Gool and Jason Howell of The Rockwool Group

RVAL017.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

RVAL017.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

And this is the one and only the original podcast where you can find yours and your business’s true value.

You’re listening to our values brought to you by America’s insulation source, Idei distributers. You want to hear from the best contractor suppliers and consultants that dedicate themselves to more than just survival in the business world, industry professionals that are dedicated to excellence in every aspect of their business. Our value has them all here to share that same motivation and knowledge with you. Tune in and grow more successful, profitable, educated and recognize business. Listen to the R Value podcast to become the industry leader in your market. Find your value with our value.

Ken Alison on the R Value podcast, and today we are talking with Rockwool, that is not a sweater you wear to a concert. It’s an insulation product. Actually, it’s a lot more than an insulation product. And I have Brandon and Jason from Rockwool this morning. Guys, how are you doing today? Have a great weekend. Thank you. Very, very good. Brendan, let me start with you. What what got you in, why Rockwool?

Well, I think, you know, Rockwell from the start was very sustainable in my eyes, I mean, they’re very energy conscious. They’re they’re really into it with the planet and trying to be very energy efficient. So I think that’s what spoke most to me when starting with the company four years ago now. Beautiful.

Jason, how about you? Didn’t you aren’t you, like, archaic with the company? Didn’t you founded or something?

Yeah, well, I’ve been here for about 12 years now, and what got me was the multitude of products that we offer for different applications in residential and commercial buildings. I feel like we can offer something for for everything and really target a lot of customers.

Beautiful. Now, what’s the most innovative use you’ve seen? You said there’s a lot of uses. What do you think’s the most innovative use you’ve ever seen?

Well, from my point of view, like I said, I’ve been here for 12 years and I’ve seen all the building products that we that we make and sell for residential and commercial buildings. But I didn’t know anything about agricultural use with Rockwool or Groden Line and and our line of ceiling tile products. I didn’t know anything about that before coming over to this side of our business and some of the stuff that we’re doing within Rockwool in different segments around the world, it’s just so interesting and fascinating. And it goes back to that sustainability conversation as well.

Well, I know I’ve seen you guys used on kilns. I’ve seen you used in power plants. What’s what’s an egg use that that caught your your attention.

Sure. So it’s a product called Groden and I don’t know the ins and outs of it, but but maybe Brendan can offer a little bit more detail on it. But it’s basically a block of stone wall insulation, I think without the binder that holds water and creates a more favorable or effective way of growing tomato plants. You know, now it’s medical cannabis is really getting going to be a big thing for them. A multitude of products for a multitude of plants and fruits that that they want to grow in greenhouses. And Brendan, maybe you know a little bit more about it.

Yeah, I mean, the main thing that is different between our product and Groden is our product. We put a an oil into the product that repels water so nothing can get into the product.

I am glad you said that. I am so glad you said that because, yeah, when I first with what Jason said, it was like, oh boy. Well, but when you look at your product on the outside of a building, explain why it repels that water, because a lot of people get worried when we look at building eight percent of the cost of a building is damp proofing or moisture proofing. And yet eighty percent of the lawsuits are moisture related. So explain that process of the oil and how the product actually repels that. That’s that’s a big point.

Yeah. I mean, I won’t get into too much of the detail of the production, but basically when the product is being produced, it’s spun into these fibers. And right at the beginning, when these fibers are created, there is an oil basically sprayed into the product so that it’s throughout the entire product. It’s not just sprayed onto the face at the end, it’s throughout the entire product. And it really just repels any moisture that may come in contact with it. So if something is splashed onto it, it heats up and rolls off the face of the product that’s outstanding.

So any time I’ve got this in a wall, it is not going to retain moisture?

No, no, not at all.

Ok, so that also leads to I don’t want to obviously set it into a trough or something like that, that would catch the moisture. So we’ll get into that in a minute.

But one of the big things that people have talked about lately is the deal with the lead times.

Obviously, there there are ways out any relief on lead times in the future and being able to get product into people’s hands a little quicker. What are you guys his thoughts on that?

Yeah, you can. We do have a factory being built in in West Virginia. It’s it’s been a long, long time coming for that factory to be completed, but it’ll be complete in the middle of the year this year, we’re going to say June of this year. So that’ll bring some relief to the lead times. Outstanding. Yeah, but the lead times are really because of the demand in the industry. And I think you guys have seen that there’s demand for every type of installation out there right now and everything from fiberglass to stonewall to to granule it to to fome. People are just taking whatever they can get. And it’s it’s it’s a matter of demand, supply and demand for us. We just can’t we can’t keep up right now. And we’re trying and we will be able to once the factory comes along.

Beautiful. Now that Brant’s factory. So what does that do in terms of your capacity? Does it add 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent?

Sure. So the Rantzen factory will be our fourth Stonewall factory in North America. So I guess you could say a word. Brandon, what do you think we’re adding? Twenty five percent if we’re.

Yeah. Have twenty five to thirty percent. Probably based off of the size of the factory.

Yeah. I’m sure it’s probably the most innovative, most kick butt factory that could be made. So it’s certainly probably going to add quite a bit of breadth to what you guys can do.

Yeah. And you know what it’s going to be it’s going to be fired by natural gas. We use natural gas to to. Manufacture the product, whereas most of our other factories around the world use a coal based product called Coke, there are some others around the world that do use natural gas. But this is the first one in North America, really.

So is that going to take quite a bit less energy than to do it?

I would say so. I would say yes. And it’s more favorable to the community out there. And it’s going to take less trucks coming in with the Coke that it’s needed to fire a normal factory of ours or a different factory of ours. I just think it’s a better solution. It goes along with that sustainability conversation as well.

That’s good, because architects right now embodied energy and what it takes to actually make a product is a pretty big deal. It’s something that architects are focusing on. And, you know, when you think of that, obviously you guys have really been growing exponentially over the years. Mineral wool has kind of caught fire. What would you say is in terms of your products, what is your fastest growing market?

For us, I want to say that the exterior wall products are our fastest growing market right now, our fastest growing opportunity.

When you say exterior, are you talking commercial like cavity rock or are you talking. That’s in residential.

I’m talking exterior wall of the envelope of a building. So cavity rock cover board, Curt Rock, those products on residential and commercial buildings. We’ve got to specifications team out there working with architects to make sure that we’re included in those specifications because of things like NFPA eighty five and fire concerns, also moisture concerns and sustainable R value concerns on buildings, again, whether it’s residential or commercial. So I think that’s a huge opportunity for us moving forward in the US and North America, frankly.

Well, certainly with the code moving insulation to the outside of the building, you guys are going to play a big part in that because that goes right back to moisture.

If we want the building to dry out, then, you know, having the outside of the building have a very low or a very high amount of Perm’s available is a good thing.

Yeah. Yeah, right.

We want we know that moisture is going to get behind that facade on a building and we want it to be able to drive outward. We don’t want it to dry in. And that’s a big part of the conversation.

That’s perfect now on the I think we talked about this before, but the blown in insulation, we have so many insulators and you know, there was obviously the company in Texas at one point that made a lot of loose film mineral fiber type insulation.

Are you guys doing any kind of blowing wool or anything like that?

Right now? We don’t offer anything in the IT. Part of the business years back, I want to say, almost when I started, we we tried to get into something like that, but the machines we felt weren’t the right fit for our product, the machines that are out there right now. So we stopped that. And we don’t have anything to offer right now, but we’re always looking to expand. And I think we’re doing some research on that on that end as well. And if you have anything.

Yeah, I mean, we we are looking into it.

And it’s one of the, I think, many different applications that we’re looking at entering or entering again with some of this updated technology that are coming into the new factories. Now, it is certainly a possibility down the road.

Now, are there any other new products you guys are working on or anything you can divulge any anything coming out?

Well, we we just launched our our cavity rock black line, so that’s a great new product for exterior wall insulation. So I’m sure everybody has heard of cavity rock and it comes on faced at the moment. But Cavity Rock Black is used behind an open jointed facade. So where you have metal wall panels on the exterior of a building where you can see through the joints or the seams of the panels. A lot of architects like it to be dark and or a different color than green or unphased for. So we put a black face on it. So it’s aesthetically pleasing and architects just love it.

Oh, they love open joint cladding and being able to get that three dimensional look back in behind the panel.

Yeah, yeah. The other product is we introduced a few new comfort that our values last year are thirteen, are twenty one and are thirty eight. So typically what you would see in the market is this comfort that AR 15 are twenty three and our thirty to give you that added value added our value. So subcontractor’s get put in a product with, with a little bit more value to give to give the homeowner or the building owner peace of mind that they’re getting, they’re getting more for their money. So we introduce something to to do go along with code for that contractor that maybe they don’t really they’re not offering an added value like that. They just want to go ahead and go along with the code of our thirteen or twenty one or thirty eight. So we just introduced those last year as well for wouldst cavities.

And what about install features? I mean, obviously the mineral wool from years past was kind of crunchy and not so fun to put in. But are there enhancements that have been made in the last few years and things like that to make the install easier, better, faster, things like that suggestion’s?

You know, I’ll start with that. And I think our product is is very well put together. I would say from recycled material standpoint, we’re up to 40 percent recycled material. And a lot of people have found that the more natural material that we use, the more basalt rock that we use, the better the quality. So it’s not necessarily falling apart in your hands. It’s not really brittle, stays together when it comes out of the bag and you install it. Our products are also friction fit the back products are friction fit products. So you stand them up in the wall cavity press and into the wall cavity and they stay there. They don’t slump over time. They don’t sag over time. Cavity rock products are really great to use on facades that have different radiuses. They conform to those. And and I think I think they’re really easy to use. I thought in my basement of installed them in friends houses and I think they’re really easy to use. Brendin, what do you what do you think?

Yeah, the only thing I would add to the install ability of our products and specifically about the bats is that we kind of market our flexible edge that we have on our comfort that products which really add to that compression fit, that friction fit that Jason talked about and really is just you’re answering the bat into the studs. You compress it slightly and that flexible fit really lets you compress it to be able to fit it into the stutt. And then when you release it, it kind of expands back out and fills that space and leaves no gaps in between the insulation studs that that kind of install ability with with our back products is really something that we try to push and get out there to to let people know how to actually install it.

I like that.

That’s got to be a much easier way to achieve grade one because you don’t want any of those gaps going down the edges when you install those. So that’s that’s a great point.

Now, Brenin, the next thing I wanted to ask is still on the install ability piece.

Are there any fastening systems you guys really like that are newer out there into the market? Because we start looking at cavity rock in the growth of cavity, rock and exterior installations, even in terms of residential, what really are what would be your top picks for fastening systems for those?

I mean, Jason might have a little bit more on on actual systems as he’s out in the field a little bit more than him. But just on I guess on the residential side, I would say our basic recommendation is to use really just ferring strips and and nails to to fast and try to make it as easy as possible in that residential side on an more commercial construction for our capital products. Some of the more energy efficient fiberglass clip and rail systems, I think is is something we more geared towards more because of that energy efficiency. You’re not losing so much because of that steel that you might have on some of the other systems.

So some of those newer systems, I think, is something that we would want to do to drive a little bit more towards.

Yeah, I’d agree, bring it in and really can it’s all about the system, it’s all about the facade. If the facade is brick, then obviously there’s going to be brick ties and stick pins and washers included in there. If it’s a great system, obviously, you’re going to have Gert’s along with stick pins and washers. Of course, you’ve got these more advanced systems like Brendan touched on the clip and rail like Smart S.I, Cascadia clip, even Nightwatch clips. Those are all those are all being thought of more often now because of the sustainability of buildings. We don’t want our value to be lost on exterior wall. So how are we how are we how we’re keeping the value in rather than letting it escape the one that really in my mind that I see its architects drive specifications.

And when you look at why architects are switching to your product, what do you think is the main drivers for architects to switch to your product?

You know, can I think the big one right now is fire nine combustibility that really comes into play as far as commercial buildings go. Usually it’s because of to eighty five being triggered, being included in the new building code. We soon will, it means that achieving NFPA to eighty five assemblies that pass are pretty simple. So that’s that’s the big thing. The other part of it is durability of our material. Obviously, we talked about it being exposed to to moisture and water, but also maintaining a consistent performance across all aspects of a project or a build. It can be left exposed for another construction period or a construction timeline. It can it’s going to stand up over the life of the building after it’s installed and of course, sustainability. We talked about our factory being more sustainable. We talked about how using Rockwool products can help buildings become more sustainable. And Rockwool is really getting to be a net carbon negative company with our Stoneville installation saving one hundred times the energy consumed and CO2 emitted in its production. So we’re saving more or or saving more energy versus what it takes to actually produce it. So that’s also a big thing with architects, because, like you said, they’re all about sustainability nowadays.

So what is this red list?

The last of the list is, yeah, it’s basically a list of of ingredients that products may have that can be deemed to be potentially harmful for for humans.

And the yeah, I think that’s that’s kind of the main the gist of what the relist is. And there’s there’s a quite a number of ingredients that are included on that list.

And do you guys use anything from the red list?

So we have the the one ingredient that we do have is formaldehyde in our products, a very low amount. I would say of formaldehyde, but it is on the red list. And we do say that we do have that ingredient into our products. But the one thing I would point out with the red list is something called the declare label, which we also do have, which which means that we declare a certain amount of ingredients in our products. We declare what is in our products. We try to be as open and transparent about what is actually included into our products. And because of the low levels that we have of formaldehyde in our products, we can actually get red list approved, declare labels on.

A majority of our products, if not all of them, and just based off of, again, how much of the ingredient we have in our product and how much we actually are transparent with the different ingredients that we include.

Beautiful. Well, my last question is actually probably my biggest one, and that is this age old argument. So obviously you guys are used a lot for sound and we always talk about mineral.

Well, when we talk about sound, are you guys actually better for sound than most of the other products? And can you prove it?

I just because I get asked all the time what’s best for sound, what has the best sound attenuation, where does marketing stop and where does the the actual numbers come in? Are you guys really the best for sound or what’s the deal on that one.

Yeah, I’ll, I’ll start here and I’ll say we are very good for sound and acoustic control. We have a number of examples of things like our sound tunnel where you can actually feel the difference walking through that just with our three inches of safe and sound in that. I think one of the big differences there is I’ll talk about the fit of the product. So really having that that really tight fit in in the studs, I think makes a big impact on the acoustic control.

And not having those gaps, I think make a big difference between our product and maybe some other products in terms of acoustics.

So when we consider sound, if we’re looking at that, don’t you guys have a lot of resources also for contractors on dealing with sound and sound control assemblies and things like that?

Yeah, we have a number of of different guides and assemblies, both on the interior and exterior of the walls that give STC an ITC rated assemblies for four different construction types, different materials and different products.

So most people understand STC being sound transmission. What’s a ITC?

Oh, ITC is a little bit of a newer rating, so it stands for outdoor indoor transmission class, I believe. And it’s kind of a newer way of looking at sound transmission, and I believe it takes into account a lot more of the sound moving around the wall and through different surfaces and things like that.

And it’s a little bit more of a robust look at sound transmission when comparing to an STC class.

So I have to say, I was in Arizona and there’s a city out there by the airport where they actually want you to take readings inside and outside because rather than to your point, rather than just considering the wall, they want the ceiling included with that and what happens between the roof and everything, because you’ve got airplanes going overhead and obviously a lot of street noise and other noise coming through. So it makes sense to go to an all encompassing number instead of testing a wall and hoping the wall performs in situ as opposed to the actual building.

So it makes total sense. Do you guys have resources on your website for things like this?

Yeah, yeah, we have a few different catalogs and brochures that have a different ball, ratings, full assemblies with with these ratings, we’re developing more as we speak actually now with with full catalogues of both interior and exterior assemblies that will be available rather soon.

That can be used for for any type of building assembly, basically.

And it’s also probably worth mentioning that our technical services department up in Milton, Ontario, is great at looking at different assemblies and given giving a little bit of a judgment on how they think it will perform with all the pieces of the assembly.

Oh, beautiful, so they can obviously, if an architect’s asking a lot of questions, they can be diverted up to your technical assistance team.

Yes, technical technical services and are are building science team. Got a team of building science folks on staff that does a lot of work with RDA in Vancouver, people like John Straube, where we can look at a bunch of different assemblies for architects that they want on their buildings and really dive into what’s your actual value going to be? Where are you going to have your do points? What’s what’s all that analysis come down to?

Yeah, beautiful. Well, I would say by the time you give an architect something from Dr. Straube, you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head.

Probably won’t be much more debate or a wonderful guys will.

Thank you so much for taking your time today and being part of the podcast.

Hopefully this really gives people a much better idea around Rockwool and Mineral Wuhl and using these types of products in assemblies and why they should move to this type of product as well. So thank you so much for being part of this. Yeah. Thank you. Can appreciate you having us on.

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Contracting Gold Stars with Larry Zarker and John Jones of BPI

March 2021  | 41:00

No matter what line of work you’re in you’d like to be given a gold star, by your industry and certainly by your customer. Who is setting the standards for what qualifies as world-class building and contracting? Host Ken Allison welcomes Larry Zarker and John Jones of BPI, the Building Performance Institute to discuss how BPI formulated the training and qualifications that make up its GoldStar Contractor status and how that status can lead to better building and more customers.

BPI Certified Professionals solve home and building owners’ trickiest problems. BPI offers certifications, standards, and programs (BPI GoldStar Contractor, Rater, and Product Listing). For business owners, BPI enhances your offerings to meet the real needs of homeowners. BPI is the source for certified contractors working on home energy efficiency, comfort, durability, health, and safety.

On today’s episode…

1:02 – The history of BPI
5:14 – The benefits of learning from BPI
8:05 – So…what IS a building analyst?
13:41 – How long do certifications take?
15:59 – The greatest opportunity in home performance
21:03 – The future of building performance
26:06 – Workforce development: finding the great builders of tomorrow

Contracting Gold Stars with Larry Zarker and John Jones of BPI

RVAL016.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

RVAL016.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Bp goes into BP curriculum’s that are offered by both the training centers and customers is it educates you on what those different problems are that could be caused.

It’s important is it reduces callbacks, right. Because the last thing you want to do is winner. Winner. Yes. You do not want to have an unhappy customer.

And this is the one and only the original podcast where you can find yours and your business’s true value. You’re listening to our value brought to you by America’s insulation source, Idei distributers. You want to hear from the best contractor suppliers and consultants that dedicate themselves to more than just survival in the business world. Industry professionals that are dedicated to excellence in every aspect of their business. Our value has them all here to share that same motivation and knowledge with you. Tune in and grow more successful, profitable, educated and recognized business. Listen to the R Value podcast to become the industry leader in your market. Find your value with our value.

Welcome to the R Value podcast, Ken Alisson here, and today we are going to dive into BPI that does not stand for the bigger pizza initiative. In fact, I have with me Larry Zakhar and Jon Jones. And Larry, what what is VPI what’s the history?

Well, BPI is the building performances to we were founded in New York State back twenty eight years ago as a non-profit, really focusing on the low income weatherization program, trying to make sure that there were standards in place and qualifications for the workers so that they were delivering high quality work that evolved into a set of certifications that we have over one hundred test centers around the country who provide training around those standards and then they certify the workforce to do the work of upgrading our existing home.

So why did you get involved?

Larry, I grew up in the Midwest in a homebuilding family, so I used to spend summers building houses with my dad. And then after college and graduate school, I got my first job in the Homebuilders Research Foundation, the NHP Research Foundation, and became later the research center. And I spent 20 years on research and innovations for new homes and for the remodeling industry, working with manufacturers on new products and getting them tried out in real homes. And it was just a natural for me to move over to BPI. So really, my entire career has been built around our homes, our existing homes and our new homes and trying to make them better.

So, John, what about you? What and why?

Bpi So I was a contractor in New York in the late 90s and I also had an education or a degree in education specializing around the trades. And so I was doing business and industry training for one of the vocational technical schools in Syracuse, New York, and they were going to start doing some training and certification around VPI. And we’re talking this is like nineteen ninety eight, ninety nine. And they asked if I would attend a couple of the classes to obtain one of the certifications and and then see if we could start training that through the Business and Industry Network. And by first class I was blown right away because it was something new as an excuse to kind of try to you think you know at all or is any contractor, you’re thinking, well, until you have your eyes opened up and you’re like, oh, my goodness, what is what is this stuff? And and I got really, really interested in it.

And I started doing more and more training at it. And then I became certified for most of the BPO disciplines on the single family homes. So I didn’t venture into the multifamily home. So I stayed in the single family home side of it.

And I became one of the main trainers throughout New York State and throughout the Northeast. And at that time there and I started in New York, Energy Research and Development Authority was. Implementing a program for a single family homes, and they were requiring VPI certification and being accredited contractors participate in the program. So I was doing a lot of that training for those contractors that were participating in the New York program. And after about four or five years, I was asked to join the sort of program and I stayed with it until 2010. And then the rest of I had an interest in joining VPI. I said, sure, why not? And so I did. I moved over to BP and stayed with it. So BP has been part of my blood since ninety eight. Ninety nine. Matter of fact, I did get my first certification in nineteen ninety nine. It was a analyst certification and it was really something that opened up my eyes to all of the world of building science at that time, even though I was an agency contractor, which are typically technology specific. It opened up my eyes to what was actually happening in the house.

So, John, since you said you came at this from a contractor, I love that. So what benefits what does this do for contractors? What do you think the top three benefits really are?

So the first benefit is it makes them smarter, right? So it makes what you’re doing as a contractor more inclusive of what you’re working. And so when you’re working at a house as an insulator or working on a house is another type of contractor, it increases your knowledge of that product that you’re working with, whether it be insulation or whether it be whatever. So now what that does is it allows you to be more intelligent of the product that you’re working with and the product that you’re working on, that being the insulation and the house or whatever product it is you’re installing in the house.

So well, and I want to ask you on that, doesn’t it also increase your knowledge of because obviously our guys don’t work on mechanical systems, but. Well, actually, we have some HVAC contractors. But but doesn’t it also if I go in to VPI as an insulator, isn’t it going to increase my knowledge of all of the systems in the house and what the HVAC is supposed to really be doing?

Yes. So, yes. So basically what you’re getting at is the fact is that everything that you do as insulation contractor will have an effect on how that house operates. You may or may not know what that is, what this does, this what BPA does, and the BPA curriculums that are offered by our by the training centers and test centers is it educates you on what those different problems are that could be caused and how to mitigate those problems and how to avoid those problems. Which is another the third reason why I think it’s important is it reduces callbacks. Right. Because the last thing you want to do is winter winner.


You do not want to have an unhappy customer, right? You don’t want to have callbacks. You don’t want to have all sun. Got mold in my house. All of a sudden I got an odor in my house. All of a sudden something’s not right. So this makes you a much smarter contractor. It educates you at both the house and the product that you’re putting in and it reduces callbacks. Those are probably the three top things.

As a business owner, you want to make sure that your crews have the ability to deliver on what they’re promising. You don’t. And as John said, you don’t want callbacks, but you also want to ensure that they’re delivering comfort, health, safety, durability and energy efficiency and the technicians who learn how to seal properly. We have an air leakage control certification. They learn how to air seal. They learned how to insulate properly. And that makes a big difference in the comfort that customers actually experience.

I totally agree with that. In fact, I prefer to try and get most of our guys to see themselves as building performance specialists. You know, you can’t really control an environment until you seal it up. And they’re certainly doing the air sealing and in some cases now they’re getting into ventilation. So now back at the core, I remember doing this in twenty eleven, but the the VA certification can can you kind of lay out what the idea is and what exactly is a building analyst.

Building analyst is a person who has learned about the house as a system. They understand that there are thermal boundaries in the House and pressure boundaries in the House that that can affect comfort.

So with that training and that experience, they can go into the home and assess where the issues are and create a prioritized plan of action to improve the comfort and energy efficiency of the home that’s at its core. What it is, it gets a lot more complicated than that, but it need not be very complicated. We were talking earlier about the sealing up of home and insulating properly. When you get to that point, you may need to do some combustion safety testing as part of that because you don’t want to leave the house in a condition that might be harmful to the occupants. We’d like to say first, do no harm, but also last, do no harm. Make sure that your you’re leaving the home. And it’s a pretty simple, straightforward set of tests. And so the building analyst has that capability and it works really well in an insulating contractor environment.

So what does it take to become a VA?

Sort of become a building analyst? Some people may have already had the knowledge and may have all the facets to be able to go in and change the exam. However, there’s a lot more to it. And as Larry was explaining, it not only tells you, it shows you throughout the house and teaches you building science and health as a system. It also teaches you, and especially for the insulators, why you excel and what are the adverse effects. When is that done correctly? Right. And so you may have insulators in other contractors and workers who have been in the field for twenty, twenty five years and they still learn something new when they go through a building analyst training and are taken into a house. A lot of the times most of these trains are done in a house and a lot of times the contractors themselves will offer up a house and then they are actually shown what what is working and what is not working in the house that they may or may not have done insulating and sealing in. And so to become a building analyst, there is there’s an exam which includes both an online exam and a field practical. And what they’re what you’re doing with the online exam is testing the knowledge based on whether or not you have the knowledge of a building analyst and what it takes to go in and actually assess a house. And then the practical test, the field exam actually tests whether or not you have the ability to use the equipment and actually go in and look at a building and assess it.

So you’ve obviously got a class for this where people can go in and gain all of the knowledge and pass the test. But when you look at so you’ve got the VA, there’s lots of other certifications. What do you guys feel is the best path for insulators or building performance contractors?

And if you think back to the Great Recession, where there was a lot of money put into the industry and a lot of people came into the industry and found the training and got their certifications, but they didn’t have any real experience in doing the work in homes. And in a lot of cases, they didn’t stay with the industry. And that’s not something we want. And we may see that kind of incentives again in in this new administration.

But we want to do is find people who are have some experience with homes and who can start by learning things like how to insulate properly, how to act properly. How do you ensure that you’re doing that? You may learn how we have a certification called infiltration and Décolletage that simply learning how to use a blower door and décolletage equipment. It sounds complicated. It’s not that complicated. And if you go out and used that one hundred times or two hundred times when you get into building analysts, then that equipment is no longer mysterious. It’s something that you know how to use. And you can you can start thinking more about the the issues that the House is presenting to you as a problem.

And no house is like even Interac houses, but there are a lot of similarities. And you can you can know where to look for the air leakage, but it’s a lot better to use the blood or equipment so that you can that guide you to find where the leaks are so that you can properly seal them.

So if I’m trying to get an idol or an infiltration linking certification, about how long does that take?

We have trainers who use the distributor network like ID excuse me, like Idei and and contractors. Technicians come in and you can spend a day. Learning how to use that equipment, you may not be proficient at it, but you understand how to use it and you can take the practicum exam after that. So it’s not an enormous commitment of time to get to the IDL infiltration and décolletage.

Air leakage control is a little bit more complicated because there are different types of. Penetrations that you find in a home and you want to be able to seal those properly and make sure that you have done that properly, but again, you learn it, you test to it, and now you’re back out in the field using that knowledge.

So what would you say is you guys as fastest growing certification right now?

Vidal has been our fastest growing certification for several years. And and couple that with we introduced a building science principles, certificate of Knowledge and a reference guide seven years ago, and what we wanted was that people didn’t fully understand. How a house works, what are it’s I mean, I use the word physics and it might scare people away, but, you know, how does a house work? What are the things that you need to know about a house? And and this is written in plain English with great graphics. And that has been growing enormously. And it helps people in the high school environment, in the community college environment, decide whether or not this is a career path for them.

And they can move on and to IDL or relinquish control and then move up to bay, it’s kind of like a career path.

Well, and I think just understanding building science and building science principles is the greatest thing you can know in our industry. What do you Larry, you see a lot more than just BP. What what do you think is the greatest opportunity in home performance right now?

Well, I look at one hundred and thirty four million homes, and I grew up in the trades, much like John. I’ve seen a lot of silos. I’ve seen contractors. And I bring them into my own home. They know their skill and they don’t appreciate other skills. And so sometimes one trade tramples on the other. And what we’re trying to do is integrate those trades so that communicating with one another and not affecting the other in a negative way. We’re trying to think of the house as a system. And ultimately this is all about the customer experience. Their home is their castle. You want them to experience it in a way that is comfortable, healthy, safe and. Yeah, energy efficient to.

So you guys have something called the Gold Star program. What would explain the Gold Star program to me? Because I know that, you know, some of our guys across the nation are part of the program and they’ve become Gold Star contractors. But most people out there don’t really know what the program is or what it can do for them.

I’m going to let John talk about this, but I’ll start. Look, this the companies that become Goldstar do join us because they have a commitment to delivering quality for their customers and they want their staff to be trained up and certified to deliver high quality work. What we offer to them is regular webinars with industry professionals, with consultants who really help them improve the delivery of quality at the job site for the customers.

And so it is a commitment on their part financially. But what we provide them is discounts for certifications and other value ads that I’m going to let John talk about. But ultimately, we’re looking for.

A better customer experience through high quality contractors, so the program is really since we’re not a membership organization, it’s really an accreditation program for the contractors.

And early on, BPI had what was just called BVI accreditation. And what that was was a contractor to sign on the dotted line to a commitment of quality, commitment of getting. They have trained and certified, and then we would implement quality assurance and a portion of the work that they were doing, if we found problems, we would be the cops and the jury and would take action on the contractors in the way that we needed to, depending on what what was found during the quality assurance inspections. What we found out was that was not necessarily the best way to implement an accreditation program that we needed to get these contractors trained up. We needed to get them moving in the right direction, especially with quality management systems within their businesses so that we didn’t continuously find bad work and quality assurance inspections. So in twenty fifteen, what we did was we lost the gold, our contractor program, which was now moving the quality assurance of the back and to quality management on the front end. And there he was saying providing them the training in the webinars that they could attend by individuals that were providing unbelievable training regarding quality management systems, culture within the company, changing the culture and the dynamics of a company, and getting rid of fear and instilling trust within the workers in the upper management, in the owners.

And for doing that, contractors were still signing on the dotted line that they would commit to quality, that they would commit to certification, they would still commit to a training. And for that we would offer them specific discounts that Gloria was saying, including peer to peer mentoring. So if you had a contractor that wanted to get into home performance, they have the ability at no charge to talk to a successful home performance contractor and some of these contractors or other multimillion dollar companies. Twenty million to 30 million dollar companies. And so they have direct access to the owners of those companies to find out how they did it, what what pitfalls they’re going to run into launching a whole performance business. And so that’s what the Gold Star contractor program is really about. It’s about building up the contractors business and making them sustainable, making them a very strong company that will sustain business, but certainly access to a tremendous brain.

Trust my word. That’s right. What other benefit that is.

So playing off of that, if you think of what I see happening in the industry, obviously is health driven. We’ve moved into our houses. We’ve seen obviously the virus come and things like that. Most people didn’t realize how bad their house was till they were forced to work at home from it. And they were there all the time. But where do you guys see the future of building performance in our industry? What if you look down the telescope or through the crystal ball or whatever you want to call it? What do you guys see?

I think I’m the poster child for the person who should have known more about their home and and learned about it through experiences like moisture damage that got into the ventilation system of the house. And I had kids who were very competitive, soccer players who were getting sinusitis from issues in the home. And so one of the trainers came into my home one day and said, this is your home.

Does the basement always have moisture issues? And I said, only when it rains. And I lived at the bottom of two hills. And so the moisture table was high. Boy, you know, we’ve always had health and safety is part of our motto.

But we decided that what we primarily were doing was looking at gas leaks and combustion issues. And in reality, our homes affect us in many more different ways that our contractors, the contractors in this industry, actually can do something about. And it takes some knowledge. And so we created the healthy home evaluator certification. That’s where we started. And it is a higher tier certification. It requires one of four other diagnostic certifications like building analyst, and it enables the individual to go in the home and be able to understand conditions that they see or measure that could be having an impact on the health of occupants. And through an interaction with those occupants, you may discover that there are asthma issues. You don’t know that the house is actually doing that, but why not optimize the house so that there aren’t triggers for asthma symptoms? And so you can try to as a kind of an indoor environmental specialist, you’re just looking for those things that can negatively impact health and that has taken off. We have about four hundred twenty five healthy home evaluators across the country, and we think it’s a perfect addition, especially in this pandemic, to add to our offerings to the industry. But we realized that. It is a pretty high level and a lot of people aren’t going to go through building analysts to get there. So we introduced last summer the Healthy Housing Principles Certificate of no. It’s just that a certificate level like Building Science Principles with an excellent reference guide written by primarily Kevin Kennedy from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. Now we have the ability to work with community health workers, in-home nurses, those people who go into a home. They may not be contractors like an insulation professional who does their ceiling, but if they see something, they can say something and bring those people in as a trusted.

I like that. I think that this hits on a bigger thing, you know, and I plan on doing something with Peter at some point. But Peter trusts you and pointed out there’s four hundred and seventeen million searches last year on Google is my home making me sick. And I see this as just an exploding part of our trade. So that brings us back to, you know, construction’s busy, everybody’s busy. It’s hard to add people to anybody’s team. So we have to look at the other side. And that’s obviously workforce development. And I know you’ve been really involved in that.

Can you talk a little bit about workforce development, Larry? Even down to high school and some of the things you guys have been doing as far as getting idols and stuff like that into that.

And just, you know, what what you guys have been doing in terms of that?

Yes, so so we want to reach people when they’re in their formative years and trying to decide where they’re going to go in their lives. And I was mentioning earlier to you that we had a conversation yesterday on workforce development and we realized our messaging really is pretty, pretty bad.

That’s probably the diplomatic way of saying it. But there are a lot of people out there who are on screens, young kids who are thinking about where they want to go in life.

And we haven’t told them that there’s some really cool equipment out there that you can use. And you don’t have to sit behind a desk. You can be out and outside and and you can be going to places and homes and being the problem solver uses equipment and you can have a good paying job. And this can start at the high school in Connecticut. We have technical high school system that has developed, starting with building science principles.

The idea the goal here is to get them to a certification either on the solar side or on our side. Energy efficiency. By the time they’re a senior with internships, with contractors, they can come out being job ready. That doesn’t mean they’re professional, but they’re ready to get into the trade. And we have a need. We obviously have a need in this industry of bringing people in. And we haven’t done a good job, as we all know, that the workforce is aging and and heading toward retirement. So we need to bring in a next generation of people who get this and can see a career in the trades where whether it’s installation and making the home comfortable or the comfort systems. My sense is some of that may come together, insulation companies may add and the Vasey to offer a comprehensive package. And once people get that idea, they like selling it. They know that they’re making an impact on the lives of their customers. So we’ve got a workforce challenge. And I know that Idei is in a place where. If the trainers can deliver good people ready to go to work, you have a system to place them with your top contractors, we should really explore that.

Well, we do. I want to go back to one thing, though, before we leave the the the high school realm will say or we’ll just call it the searcher. I think you said a couple of things that I really like. And one is, you know, some people are altruist, that they’re very concerned about sustainability in the earth and things like that. And honestly, there’s nothing greener than what we do.

But you said you could get this equipment, you could play with it, you wouldn’t be stuck behind a desk and you would make good money. I think a lot of people don’t realize the wage scale for construction. If they did, I think we would have a lot more people in it. But also, it’s intimidating when you don’t know it. And I love that you guys are showing that, you know, it’s you could say it’s not rocket science, but it’s certainly building science. You don’t want to take for granted what we do anymore. We’ve learned that due to, you know, take your house as an example due to moisture. So I agree that our message really needs to go into different buckets to attract different people. And you’re right, with placement. You know, I think we all need to connect a whole bunch of places where people can find construction work. The last thing I want to do is have somebody graduate, be excited and then not be able to find a job where they are. So certainly I know we could do a better job. We’ve got about 6000 insulators and we could certainly put up a site.

But there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t talk to one of them. And they’re looking for two, three, four people. Well, good heavens, does that mean I could place 5000 people next week? Maybe so. I agree with what you’re saying. I think that all of us need to work together on this because it’s such a gap in our industry. The CFA, the spray foam, polyurethane foam lines, those guys. And there’s, you know, places on Facebook like spray foam worldwide. There’s so many places that people are trying to post jobs. And if we could get something more central, that would be easy for them to find. I think that would be outstanding. And, you know, I would even come back to you guys if if you had just even links to all of the places that do this. And certainly, you know, I wouldn’t be opposed to doing the same. I think it’s a tremendous thought. And we want them. We want them all and we want them when they’re excited. I can’t fit in certain places in attics anymore.

We need little people. We were talking yesterday on workforce development. And and, you know, if the person is too tall, they may not fit in this industry. It’s true. And there are certain openings that I probably wouldn’t fit through anymore.

But, you know, it is a certain kind of person in a crawl space where I.

Crawlspaces, absolutely critical to get that right and get the moisture out of there and er seal it properly and a lot of the old thinking on ventilation in crawlspaces has been debunked.

You can go to crawlspaces, dog. It was built by advanced energy in North Carolina. A lot of great information on how to do it right.

But somebody’s little and they’ve got to be willing to work in a dark, dank spaces, no windows. You know, it’s it’s a unique career that back to your other point, it does pay well and it needs to be done.

And this brings me to another point. We’re in part of a training network proposal to the army in their cool program where they are going to be paying four thousand dollars in the last year of service for the. One hundred and seventy five thousand people who come out of the army each year to get trained and certified. Now, these are people who have discipline. They have mechanical aptitude. They’ve had a lot of training while they are in the army. And they do want to go home to their community. And what better than to give them a skill set? They’re going to show up. You don’t have to worry about them showing up on time and being disciplined. And for that matter, you live in Texas. A crawlspace or an attic in the middle of summer is not pleasant to a lot of people. But for someone who has served abroad in the Army, this may not be all that bad. So it’s a lot better than a foxhole. Yeah. So we see a huge opportunity to provide training into that network of people as they prepare to come out. And they have the GI Bill where they can get additional training later when they’re engaged in and working. So we would love to work with the ideas of this world to say if we get them trained up, help get us, get them placed so that we meet this demand problem.

Well, I can’t think of a better person to place, that’s for sure. You know, people that can take a directive, go and get it done.

And, you know, and this isn’t, you know, so to speak, one sex or the other. We’re starting to see so many women come from the armed services really come from everywhere. You know, you’ve got the army, but then women. I think it’s a whole nother category. We’ve got so many women coming into construction owners, sprayers, you know, people doing fiberglass. I’m amazed by the amount of women coming into the trades. And I love their attitude, the the way that they look at projects, the sincerity they have on trying to get the building envelope. Correct. What do you see as far as women in VPI?

Yeah, I mean, I would say that women in general communicate differently. And I think it’s a little easier to establish connections and they listen really incredibly well. So in the aside from running the company, they have an ability to connect. And that connection is always important in a sales process. And I welcome it. I just think that we need greater diversity in the entire industry. And so this sea change is something that is happening, whether we like it or not. It’s happening and we should embrace it.

What about you, John? I can follow up on that, there’s going to be a follow up on that. We have one of our goals. Our contractors started in two thousand five. She started with her father. Her father had an installation business, so she joined him in two thousand five. And their business at that time was a two point two million dollar annual business. She starred in the whole performance two years ago. She started actually about 10 years ago. She started bringing in PVC into her insulation business so she could build larger scopes and and take care of the house as a whole. Two and a half, two years ago. She brought in by herself into the company, hired in a bunch of techs to go with the insulation crews. And her business this year will be doing over 12 million outstanding. And she is upstate New York, upstate New York, and that in that in the very rich part of New York either, let’s put it that way, she does her work sculpts in large or scope of services and large, and she’s just knocking it out of the park like that two point two million and two thousand five. She’ll be over 12 million this year.

You know, builder’s job is to leave very little meat on the bone. They have to profit in order to get more land, build more houses, do all that. But their job is to get the price down as low as possible. When you look at fixing existing buildings and going in as a building analyst or a building performance person, the wage scale changes. I know people that are in this industry that are above 25 percent net at the end of the year, and that is a beautiful business. But that brings me to my last point. And I’d mentioned it before when we were talking about building the workforce. How do you see the comparative wage scale for building analysts and home performance workers versus just a run of the mill job out in the world or a run of the mill installer out in the world? Do you really see that the wage scale goes up? I’ve obviously got my opinion and I stated all the time, but what do you guys see in reality from your side?

Well, again, going back to the conversation we had yesterday on workforce development with contractors, they are saying that the sky is really the limit. And that’s a message that they’re trying to take to young recruits or recruits in general, is that you can chart your own career path.

And when we own that customer relationship and build out the the trust with them and you engage, you invest in your own advancement, there is a career path here and the sky is not exactly the limit your but you can earn a much better income on the existing home side through home performance than you can on the new home side where you’re being chiseled down to piece rates.


Well, I thank you guys so much for your time today and for talking about the organization.

I just I really hope that this demystifies things. Any parting thoughts that you guys have to say about the organization or things to come?

I’ll start. We built over the last three years a new industry association called the Building Performance Association. It’s really working with the industry to advance it. It’s not trying to to displace ICRA and SCCA and other industry associations, but really to try and communicate that all of these trades need to be able to work together and that we need to make a difference. We need to address these workforce issues. And if we can do that, we have a really bright future.

So I’m I’m pretty keen on the success of this association and where we’re going to be going in decades ahead. How about you, John?

I just wanted to say that regardless of what level the construction industry you’re in, whether you’re just if you’re starting as an installer or wherever you are as your manager for business owner or somewhere in between crew supervisor or whatever, it may be a knowledge invaluable in having intimate familiarity with the product that you’re working with just makes you and your company more valuable and getting the building science whole health system knowledge is just key at this time.

I love it. Well, as a company that we offer free building science courses and all of that to every one of our contractors, I wholeheartedly support this. I think that coupled with what we do, having the certifications, I really do believe that customers pay attention to that.

I think women pay attention to that. And that’s honestly my main customer. I think everybody pays attention to that. It just shows a commitment to the industry, a commitment to the things that you’ve learned and a commitment to becoming better all the time and paying attention to what changes. So for that, guys, thank you so much for your time today and for being part of our podcast. Thank you for having us.

Thank you.

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Blow Up Your Profit Margins with Chris Fuerst Materials

December 2020  | 1:01:02

On today’s show the focus shifts from spray foam to blown fiberglass insulation. And no one knows it better than Chris Fuerst, IDI’s Fiberglass Equipment and Sales Rep. Chris has a decade of experience in the industry but just recently joined IDI in 2020. 

Don and Travis discuss every facet of blown insulation operations with Chris, and his knowledge and experience are clear. He explains about making the decision of what type of machine you need for your specific purpose and just how many different aspects of the job you have to take into consideration. He also goes into detail on proper application, machine setup, getting the longest life out of your equipment, troubleshooting, maintenance, training and how to get achieve the best coverage and highest profit. 

And don’t miss Don’s Hannibal Lecter impression!

6:45 – All blowing machines are not equal
9:40 – Have a plan
13:11 – Common problems
18:36 – Factors that affect performance
21:37 – Don’t be shocked
23:57 – Seal the deal
29:19 – Sucking up
33:55 – When to go electric

Blow Up Your Profit Margins with Chris Fuerst Materials

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I guess the most effective way there is just to let the holes in the machine get the coating to knock down that static, but like you said, if you don’t need that, you can get shocked.

And I’ve seen Arek shooting across the hose, you guys.

And it’s it can be painful in places, a fabric softener in the hopper or gets the hose again.

And this is the one and only the original podcast where you can find yours in your business’s true value. You’re listening to our values brought to you by America’s insulation source, idi distributers.

You want to hear from the best contractor suppliers and consultants that dedicate themselves to more than just survival in the business world, industry professionals that are dedicated to excellence in every aspect of their business. Our value has them all here to share that same motivation and knowledge with you. Tune in and grow more successful, profitable, educated and recognize business. Listen to the R Value podcast to become the industry leader in your market. Find your value with our value.

Hello and welcome back to our value brought to you by Idei Distributors, America’s inflation source. You’re listening to the Insulators podcast, Our Value Hadon. What’s up, Pancake, it’s Friday again, hard to put a time stamp on a podcast, it’s going to get released later. But I can tell you it’s Friday and it’s probably one of the last nice days here in Minnesota. So we’re going to hopefully get out of here and enjoy it. You know what else it is? Travis Archery Deer Opener tomorrow here in.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Yes, it is. Archery season. And how many times have we done and you still don’t turn off your ringer on your phone. I did. It’s my damn watch that does it every single time. You know, you can turn the sound off of that, too. No, I didn’t.

But I got three days, 15 hours, two minutes and 51 seconds until I go on my South Dakota archery trip. Woot, woot. So looking forward, Donnie, we have a fantastic guest today. Way to cut me off on deer hunting. That’s all right. I just want to get to what we get to so that I can get going out of here. So now I got the office.

That’s OK. It goes to show that you do go to work.

I am in the office. All that aside, Donahoo, are we talking to today? Well, here is a guy that’s kind of rare these days. Pancake at the age of 38. He is only on his second job. And that being his second job is being iodized fibreglass and equipment and sales rep. Previously, he spent twenty one plus years at Krondl Machine Company. And if you can do the math as good as I can, that’s what he started about 17. You started as a general laborer, then moved to team leader, followed by a sales position and then on to distribution sales manager. And he ended his career there as fabrication and distribution business sales manager. He joined Idei early in twenty twenty, and as his job description states, he handles our fiberglass fiberglass equipment sales as well as assisting in our training customers in the field. And during one of our numerous trainings that we hold nationally throughout the year. So with that, I would welcome Chris first to the show. Twenty one years at Crandall, yes, sir.

Did I do my math right? Yup, I started 17, so I was working, actually, that was my second job. My first job was I was a cook in high school, but I didn’t think that needed to be on my resume anymore. I started there and just wanted to get in a job that I could go to work in the evenings every night because I was a kid that just wanted to work. So that fit the bill and just stayed there.

Well, I guess if there’s anything good to come out of covid, we think covid for happening because that’s how you fell into our laps. And I know that I knew you through the years when you were at Crandall assisting us with trainings and stuff. So I can’t tell you how excited I am to have you aboard and you’ve been been damn good at what you’ve been doing the last six months. So now we get to do a podcast with you.

It’s been a good transition. I’ve been having fun. It’s good.

Welcome aboard, Josh. I mean, you’re going to have to explain that one to the listeners. Oh, it’s just one of those things where, you know, when you call somebody the wrong name and they don’t correct you right away. And so you think, oh, that’s his name. It’s Josh. Well, one of our employees who I won’t mention her name, but the initials are Chelsea Whitley, kept calling him Josh and Chris just let it roll. And she was so floored to find out that his name actually wasn’t Josh. But now it just sticks. And that’s what most of us call him now.

That’s amazing. We should get a separate business card made up of Josh, and he’s too nice to correct her.

Probably so honestly, I didn’t know until that day on the airplane when she was yelling, Hey, Josh, Josh did not know she was talking to me.

And so we got off the plane when we got off. So she was referring to you even better because she she was a customer.

Comes in handy when you turn back and yelled, hey, Josh. And I just assumed there was another tech behind me on the plane.

She so you’re like, hey, I know that girl, but I don’t know who Josh is. Yes, Josh. And then when we got there and said, hey, Josh and I realized at that time, two years after I first met her, that she thought it was Josh.

That is amazing. Yes, it is. What a great what a great podcast story. Great. Great podcast story.

So, Chris, you’re with Idei now and you’re the Fiberglas and equipment sales person. What does that really entail?

So work with the work with the guys. We’ve got a lot of sales guys and there’s a lot of new guys looking to get into the business and and gals. Guys and gals. Correct. There’s a lot of different people looking or a lot of new people looking to get into the business. And it can be pretty confusing picking out a machine. There’s a lot of different machines. So I kind of help answer questions on on equipment. What’s going to work best for them, how to how to size up the right machine for what they’re looking to do. And then after they get the machine, make sure that they’re running it properly, getting coverage out of their material, being able to to do anything they need to do with it. Aren’t all blow machines the same way or not? There’s a lot of different companies and a lot of different places. They all do the same thing. Basically, you take a dense bag of material, you throw it in there and you want it to blow out and get your coverage. But there are they all have their differences and different speeds and everything. So there’s a lot of different things that go into it.

So if we have customers listening to this and thinking about that, could be a spray foam contractor thinking about getting into fiberglass or just somebody listening who wants to get into the business in general.

What are some of the considerations they should take into account when looking for a machine?

First thing I tell them is find out what you want to do. Do you want to do attic’s do you want to do walls? Is going to be new construction, retro. Any type of spray on applications. There’s sailors’ wall spray. Some people do fireproofing. There’s a lot of different things you can do with it. So you need to find out what you want to be able to do. Next thing is, are you going to be using fiberglass cellulose, mineral fiber, realize what type of material you’re going to be doing and then how fast you want to go. And that could be some guys. We’re talking bags per hour. So if you’re if you’re doing fiberglass, you may want a machine that’s doing 20 bags per hour or 50 bags per hour or whatever it is some guys will based off of how many square footage they want to do. So if you’re saying you want to do our forty nine, figure out how many bags it takes for how many square feet you’re going to blow in a day, then you want to figure out what else are you going to be doing if you’re doing retro work, are you going to show up and, and do a removal that same day. Are you going to do air sealing and then blow material in there? Basically need to find out what your day is going to look like.

And and once you know all of that, then you figure out how fast you want that machine to go. And when I talk with them, I was. To make sure they understand when I say you can do this many square feet or this many bags per hour, that’s you also have the set up, you have to clean up. There’s a lot of different things that that come into play. Then after that, they need to figure out, do they want gas, diesel, electric, pito? There’s a lot of different different power options. They all have their own benefits. Electrics, nice, because if you need to get into a building and go into like a freight elevator and go up multiple stories to to do a job, it’s great for that. Problem is, you need to worry about power on site, which isn’t always reliable, or a generator, which can be its own problem. We see a lot of people getting into gas and diesel powered machines now. They’re their own power source. As long as they take care of them, they’re good. And then there’s also a budget. But I wouldn’t get too hung up on the budget just because if if you think your business can can do what it can do and you need to be that productive, you need to get into the right machine.

Yeah, so, I mean, that’s the biggest thing, too, is what’s your business plan, right? I mean, it’s no different than getting into spray foam, which is considerably more expensive. But I know when I was talking to customers back in the day, it was, well, yeah, you’re going to be successful if you have a plan. Same things, you know, regarding blowing machines. Right? It’s not just a weekend warrior type thing. I mean, it can be. But, you know, if you’re if you’re making an investment, even if it’s eight thousand versus, you know, forty thousand, you should still have a business plan.

So and that’s why there’s so many different machines. There’s not it’s not a one size fits all. And I’ve seen a lot of guys that I talk to and say, if you want to be in this business, you have to have this. You have to have that. You it doesn’t work for everybody. You know, everybody’s business model is different. Come up with your plan. And and once you know what you’re looking to do, we can we can get you set into the right thing to make sure you’re successful.

And based on what I’m hearing you say, the electric is kind of the the entry level usually.

Yes. But there are some some pretty large contractors that still use electric. For example, like I said, if they get some bigger jobs where they’re going on to a freight freight elevator and going up, they’re still going to have them. So even though they’re entry level, that’s not there. They’re only use. Sure makes sense.

Talk a little bit about PTO. I used to see that a lot, you know, 10, 10, 11 years ago that everybody wanted a PTO machine. Now, very rarely do I ever see anybody asking for him.

That’s funny you say that. I just had somebody asked for it yesterday, but it’s less and less common. PTO, what was the pancake? PTA was very, very popular years ago and it seems to be coming. Really don’t know why that is. Me personally. I like the gas or diesel models. If you’re going to go to a bigger machine just because if a truck breaks down and it’s, you know, a month, month and a half to get parts or get it repaired, you can still move that machine to another truck and still keep going. If it’s a PTO and that truck’s down, you’re down. But it you can get the PTO. If it works, it’s everybody’s everybody has their own preference. So if that’s what you’re comfortable with. Yeah.

And I think part of that is I’m seeing a lot of guys with with spray foam box trucks. If they’re going a little bit further away, you know, they’re loading up a trailer that they put their blow machine in. So, you know, it’s a lot easier to put obviously can’t put a machine in a trailer. But sure, they’re just kind of, you know, the one stop shop coming in with their spray foam rig, you know, towing a trailer with, you know, and it doesn’t see you don’t see it a lot because, you know, it’s usually in rural areas where you kind of get away from your your warehouse or wherever. But that’s where I see kind of maybe the draw to not having a PTO other than, you know, if the truck breaks down, you’re kind of broke down.

Well, and also the PTO, if you’re running, you’re running a two hundred two hundred fifty horsepower engine all day as opposed to a twenty twenty five horsepower engine on the machine.

Don, did you have something to add?

No, we did, but he kind of already answered it. There you go. Sometimes I just have to sit back and wait for the question to be answered. You know, that’s what happens when we get a guy on a way smarter than either one of us, which is not difficult to do, by the way. So it’s down to three days, 14 hours. Fifty one minutes. Somebody’s excited to go hunting. I’m jealous, by the way. Just get super jealous. So a lot of things seem to kind of come up. You get that savvy vet that been around, has experienced, knows his machine in and out, but still kind of has problems. And, you know, that’s your main function is to kind of go out and identify, troubleshoot and things like that, other than getting into the basic questions like what are the biggest problems with machines? When you get into a guy that knows what he’s doing and he’s still having problems, what do you find are the most common things with.

There’s two different ways to answer that. It could be with the machine or with the applications.

And it’s pretty common to get questions for both for for the machines. I hate to say it most of the time it comes down to lack of maintenance on the machines if you’re going to have problems. When I started at Crandall in my early twenties, I was doing tech support and I’d get calls on machines that were older than me. These machines will last if you take care of them, but a lot of guys won’t take care of guys or gals won’t take care of them. And I one of the easiest things to do is keep them clean. The guys that keep their equipment clean goes a long way. When you think about insulation, insulation is designed to to slow heat transfer and it insulates. So anytime you get insulation built up on your equipment, it’s going to make your equipment run hot, hotter, which is going to cause more problems.

So take an air compressor every once in a while, blown blown off underneath the machine, blown out air filters. If you’ve got an engine on there, blow out the cooling fins. If it’s a diesel engine, blow out the radiator, you know, take care of of cleaning it up again. The insulation is going to hold in the heat. It’s going to make a run warmer and that’s going to cause more problem. Something else I see a lot of is, is bags getting onto the the agitators.

So if somebody is using fiberglass as part of a bag gets in there, it’ll repair heaters on there or cellulose. It’s really common to have some plastic in there which will build up around the agitators and guys will look in the bottom of the of the machine and wonder, hey, why isn’t why isn’t my machine produce in the way it should or why am I not getting getting coverage? Well, used to have these long agitator type things that are breaking up the material and now the bag is covering up those tines so it can’t break it up. So you won’t get you won’t get coverage, you won’t get the production real quick.

If a manufacturer states X amount of bags per hour, or is that through the machine or through the machine states X amount of bags per hour? Is that kind of like spray foam where it’s like, hey, you should get fifteen thousand board feet per set of foam, but there’s a lot of factors that go into it.

There are a lot of factors that go into it. When you look at the production rates, if they say they can do fifty bags per hour, most manufacturers that I’m aware of, when they do their production rates, they’re running as fast as possible. So they throw a bag of material in there and they push it through the machine as fast as they can and they don’t care about coverage. So they blow it out, they weigh it and they do. They see what what type of weight they get and then they transfer that over to a bag. So you’ve got thirty pounds.

I’ll say that’s roughly one bag. And then they can say we do a bag a minute or whatever it is, whatever that time frame is talking with some people to say, you know, that’s pretty misleading and I can see where it is misleading. But on the on the other side is what’s a better way? There’s there’s so many different materials out there. You’d have to do a production test for every single one trying to get coverage in order to get an accurate an accurate gauge.

So the production numbers, you can get there, but you’re not getting there with well hidden coverage. So if you’re trying to get coverage with your material, you’re going to be going good indicators. Is 70 to 80 percent of what what what the manufacturer states is usually what you’ll be able to get. Not in every case, but it’s a pretty good rule of thumb.

Ok, and do you find that there’s obviously a little bias because of where you work, but is there a particular manufacturer that seems to get a better consistency on their on their coverages words? That kind of not a great question to ask, because it depends on their variables. The machine. I know there’s a lot of other things to get into as far as coverage, you know, technique, how you blow it, you put. Hand over the hose, do you change your you know, all the stuff that I want you to talk about here so I don’t want to steal your thunder, but sure.

So the thing that I like about how Krenzel does their their production numbers is they try to do it as real life as possible. I mean, let’s be honest. All these guys are doing them in their in their facilities. So it’s not really real life situations, but they’ll put on one hundred and fifty for hose. They’ll run it up 16 for the elevation, like you’re actually blowing it up into an attic and at least try to simulate that. I can’t speak to how the other manufacturers do it. Everyone, I’m sure, has their own way to do it. But I would say they’re all probably pretty close to the same in that 70 to 80 percent range to get it to get your coverage. Again, that’s not on everything. Each machine is going to be different.

But but I would say there are probably probably doing the best that they can with it.

So you said there’s a lot of things that, like Travis said, a lot of things that are affected. Let’s talk about some of them. We talked about lack of maintenance and clearing it or cleaning it. What are some of the other things? Just simple things that they should be doing on a regular basis?

Well, the one thing Travis said was putting your hand over the end of the hose. That’s something I see a lot of guys do. And they’ve been doing that for years.

And I see every, you know, advertisement for for the manufacturers, you know, every guy that they have there in their video or even their, you know, their brochure. That guy’s got his hand draped over the front.

So, you know, when you when you’ve always told me that I’ve always been like, well, they’re doing it wrong because Cryosphere said so.

Well, how I always explain it is you take all this, you cut open the bag, you you put it in the machine. The machine takes all the time to break it up. And then when it goes down the hose, the hose does condition it. So we talked about you mentioned the replacing hose. If your hose becomes warm when you’re not going to get proper coverage. But we take all this time breaking open the machine and tumbling it down the hose. And the first thing we do when it comes out as we smash it into our hand, and that’s naturally going to compress the fibers as right as it comes out. I always tell guys you want it to blow out into an arc and let it fall into place, make it look like it’s snowing up in the attic. And each manufacturer has their own set, you know, 10 to 12 feet, 12 to 14 feet out the end of those. You can usually find that on the bag, but you don’t want to put your hand over the end or point the hose down because it does the same thing. If you put it down and it hits that attic floor or the first thing we’re doing once it comes out that hoses compacting it and it’s not going to be a big difference. But I mean, it could be five to five to seven percent, I would say, of coverage. Lawson and that’s just leaving profits in the attic. So then why do they do it and why do they recommend it?

Because I’ve even seen it written, you know, that you should slow it down with your hand, you know, so I can’t answer that way.

It’s cool when you’re around like an attic hatch and just don’t make a habit of doing it everywhere in the attic.

And you said five to seven percent difference. That’s that’s pretty big. You know, if you’re doing two or three jobs a day, I could make a big difference.

It can add up pretty quick.

Hey, speaking of the hoses and the condition of the hose and all that conditions, the the material, is there a ratio of duct tape to when when you should replace that? Is it 50 percent duct tape? The hose is a 20 percent.

I would say less than less than 50, I would say once you hit 20 percent is probably time to do it. But the many factors, you usually say about six to nine months blown one way down, the hose had six to nine years. Was that is that, what, a six to nine years? Six to nine months. Months. No kidding. And then flip it and then you can get about another three to six months out of it, going in the opposite direction. Basically what happens is there’s there’s ridges or ribs in that hose. And as the material continually goes down there, it’s going to wear those out and those ridges as the material bounces off of them. That’s what helps it break up more and get more coverage.

All right. It’s getting colder in Minnesota. Drier air static. What’s your after? You know, you’ve got the experience with the machines not necessarily installing, but I’ve heard you talk about this before. What what’s the solution there? I mean, this if you’ve ever I’ve been in an attic training or whatever doing it and been shocked, it hurts.

Yes, it does. So the main thing I’ve heard a lot of different things. Guys will put guys will try to ground the machine on the hose, put graphite in there, all these different things. The thing that I’ve heard that works the best is take a 50 50 mixture of water and fabric softener and just either put it in a wheat sprayer or or a little squirt bottle. And every few bags that you put in just squirt a couple squirts onto the bag and that’ll help coat the inside of the machine in the hose. If it’s really dry out in the static is getting really bad. Let the material get low and then do some more squirts in the material at the bottom of the machine and then start feeding in and adding usually every couple of bags, a few squirts will take care of it. If it gets pretty dry, then you can you can have that.

So it’s kind of based upon, you know, usage. And I guess the most the most effective way there is is to let the let the hose and the machine get the coating, you know, to knock down that static.

So, yeah, but like you said, if you don’t do that, you can get shocked. And I’ve seen Arek shooting across the hose guy’s hands and it’s it can be painful. Yeah.

It places the fabric softener in the hopper or gets the hose again I think. Yes. I went there. Yeah. OK, I’ll leave that one alone. Going to leave that one alone.

So getting up into just so quick. Any big difference on gas and diesel. I mean why would you pick one over the other.

Diesel will last longer. There’s some guys prefer diesel, some guys prefer gas. It just depends. The diesel engines, the ones that I deal with most of the time, they’ll plumb the engine into the fuel tank on the truck. So the good thing there is you only have to fuel one tank on your on your truck. If it’s a gas machine, usually it has its own fuel fuel tank. The problem there is I just had a call from a guy down in Houston the other week where their their machine was running properly and we found out that diesel tank. So they had problems with that machine. So there’s a check to make sure you put the proper fuel in the tank and make sure to make sure that it runs properly. That might affect the way your truck drivers do.

Right. I’m sorry. I might affect the way your truck actually drives to. Correct. Correct. What else is there about the machines?

One thing we missed on the on the machines, the big problem is airlock seals, though. That’s that’s a big one.

And that’s across the board. Right.

That doesn’t matter if it’s electric, gas, diesel, PITU, pretty much every machine nowadays has an I can’t think of any that are being manufactured now that don’t have air locks before the airlock machines or other obviously machines that didn’t have airlocks. But the machines now the seals, if the guy up in the attic or in the wall doesn’t seem to have the blowing pressure, I always saw him run the machine low till you can see the agitators moving. And if you get a lot of material blown back up in the hopper, that tells you your seals are warm, they can be worn by usage over time, just wearing out or somebody drop a knife or something into the airlock. They’re just rubber seals in there. So something falls in there. It can take it pretty easy and that’ll slow you down.

The good thing is if if you have water and seals, you can continue to run your machine until you get the get the parts and put them in, it’s not going to I’m going to put you down, but you’re going to lose production and coverage. So it would be in your best interest to get that replace as soon as possible.

Yeah, I guess the most common thing I see is the bad seals and the just guys just flat out not changing their hoses and not getting the coverage. And I know we just did a recent kind of study our own in our study. And I think Owens Corning is doing one as well, where it could be up to a twenty percent coverage loss with bad hoses. So, you know, if you put that again on a, you know, a house that’s one hundred bags, you know, you’re going to need 20 percent overage on that. That’s that’s a pretty big number. You know, some of these guys I’ve seen hoses that are two, three years old and they blow a lot of addicts. So it. Only imagine how many how many bags of fiberglass were gone through those those hoses without them being switched over and those typically that’s when you start getting the planes on the on the back on the bag coverage from them, too. And that’s why we call guys like you to go to the job site, because then we try to figure out, is it technique? Is it machines? You know, what else is it? Is it maintenance? So those are kind of the three things that we’ve hit on is, you know, it is a machine. You’ve got to change the oil, got to change the filters. You got to keep it clean. Next thing is, you know, the hoses and the maintenance portion of it.

So and you need to set it properly. A lot a lot of people that I go out and work with, I see that they have their, like, gate open all the way. That’s, you know, that that’s pushing as much material through the machine as you can. And you think you’d be going faster. But that’s not really the case. Basically, you’re putting more material in the same same space. So if you slow it down, you’ll get more coverage and and make more money.

So a lot of guys kind of I kind of feel like that, too. They have got their slide gate way too far open and you’re basically just putting too much air in it. Right. Is that kind of thing too much material, too much material. So when so when you get too much air in it and you say you fluffing it, what does that that affects coverage too, doesn’t it?

Yes. And that goes back to when we talked about on the bag on the back of the bag, like if you look at seventy seven on the back of the bag, I think it says it should shoot out at Anaka 10 to 12 feet. If you’re shooting out with that arc that tells you you’ve got a good you’ve got the right amount of air pressure to basically tumble down that hose and help break it up to the to the final conditioning step.

If if you’ve got too much air.

A lot of times what will happen is you just have too much dust up in the attic. So just slow down. Slow down till you get that. You get that arc and and get the dust out of the air, the dust. And that should be good.

So you’re basically you’re saying is go up there and kind of play around with it until you get that 10 to 12 foot arc. That’s your sweet spot as far as air pressure and then your slide gate and everything. So that’s a good kind of visual test. Right, because a lot of guys, especially newer guys that get machines are like, well, where do I get my air? And, you know, other than what we tell them, you know, three quarters closed or three quarters open, you know, I actually don’t know right now that I just said that which one is the better one. But once you find that sweet spot.

Yeah. On the gate, you are a rough estimates. About three quarters open in the blower.

Just depends on where you need to be to get to that, OK, because once you find that market on the machine, right on the right on the side, here’s where we are with all seventy seven fanatics. And here’s where we are, where we are on the blower. That way of tomorrow, you have a new crew that that’s using the machine. They know right where to go.

And my question was, unless you switch products, you shouldn’t have to adjust that. Right? They shouldn’t. They have to like spray foam where you have to adjust the temperature and pressure just depending on ambient conditions. Correct. It should be pretty set going forward unless you switch material pretty much if you have to change it.

Something changed. And that doesn’t mean that you may not have to change half an inch. You’re there on the eight just to just to get it out in a little bit better to get coverage. But once you find that you should stay in that same area, if you have to change, if you have to increase blower pressure or change something else, something is probably wrong. Either either the SEALs are out on the machine or your blower filter’s clogged. That’s just an indicator that you need to check them.

The other thing you probably have change would be for blown in walls. You’re going to have different settings, correct?

Any time you do a different application, you’re usually going to change it. If you change material or change set or change your application, you’re going to be changing settings.

I want to switch gears a little bit. Instead of talking about blowing out material, what about sucking up material? What about vacuums?

Vacuums have been growing a lot lately, last last five years. They seem to keep getting better and better. I think it’s a lot of people are just talking more about the indoor air quality of homes. I talk with a lot of guys that do it, and I think it’s probably one of the highest margins, margin applications that you can do in this business. Basically, you go in there, you’re taking out the material and and you don’t have that much material cost as opposed to a little bit of fuel. And in some vacuum bags, maybe you’re only paying labor.

You know, a lot of my customers or even customers I’ve spoken to in other areas just hate blackouts. They despise them.

It is a dirty job. But then again, that’s why you want to charge a premium for it’s a dirty job. And a lot of a lot of the complaints come from the vacuums. They don’t they don’t hold up. A lot of the reason is back to the maintenance. A lot of it is is set up of how the equipment needs to be set up and also damaging, you know, with the damaging debris up in the attic, nails, chunks of wood and things like that. And that’s where if you have a. We strongly recommend that you use a defender on everything it takes that that debris and all that junk out before it hits your fan the chamber and and damage the engine or shoots out the bag and flies down the street and hits a car or something as far as the set up. Most people that I worked with when when I go out there usually put the vacuum bag right on the output of the vacuum. And the problem with that is when the when you suck up the material and it blows into the bag, all the excess air as it comes out of the bag, it brings some dust with it and the air intake on that engine is right next to it. And we talked about insulation is going to hold in the heat that’ll make that engine run warmer. And and you’ll burn up some engines pretty quick.

And when you talk about any fender, is that that’s kind of a relatively new concept or is that been around for a while? Because I know idea has a special vacuum that it’s actually attached to the actual vacuum itself. In fact, I don’t think we sell any in recent memory that doesn’t have a defender on it. Can you kind of talk a little bit more about what the defender is?

So the defender will take out all that debris? That’s not all of it, but it’ll take out most of the harmful debris that comes into that. You’re sucking up from from up in the attic. And as it comes through, as the material passes through the defender, the nails, the chunks of wood and things like that will fall out of the air stream and the insulation will pass through.

Most manufacturers have a vacuum and then they have a defender. So you’ve got the vacuum. You hook up the hose, hook up the defender, and then you hook up the rest of your hose up into the attic. The problem with that is we found there’s a lot of guys that get pretty lazy when they get out to the job site and they’ll just hook up the hose straight to the vacuum and go because they don’t want to lift the defender off of the truck. They don’t want to take the time to to hook up all the extra hoses, the benefit of the vacuum that idea has the defenders built right into it. So if they’re lazy, it doesn’t matter. It’s still on. They’re the only problem is we need to remember to empty out the tray at the bottom, because once that material fills up, if there’s no place for the debris to fall, it’s going to fall. It’s going to fly through. So I always tell guys to empty the defender. Every time you’re you’re switching bags.

Another another maintenance tip. Right. Lot of overlooked maintenance stuff.

Yep, and back to the bags for first set up, we talked about all the insulation that comes out of the bag and gets sucked into into the engine. I always have guys put a 10 to 10 to 12 foot section on that on that side of the vacuum to pull the bag away from it. That way that dust is as far away and not around the engine.

It’s kind of a 10 to 12 foot tail just between back in the back.

And we set up our packages so that you get all that stuff. So if you if you get a package, you get the vacuum, your suction hose, all the connectors, clamps, some bags in the hose to pull it away.

And of course, something we can always call on you to go help train. Correct. Because I think that’s one thing we didn’t mention the beginning is you are traveling kind of like a tech. You’ve been on to pretty much the entire Midwest since you’ve been here, from what I understand, because it’s kind of relegated because of covid being able to travel. But I want to back up a little bit and talk a little bit about electric machines. Going back to one of the things I don’t think we really covered is here a lot about guys having problems with their electric machines, you know, just kind of touch on a few of the most common issues that are kind of obvious to you, because you know what you’re looking for. But again, might be just overlooked because they’re not thinking about it or they’re in a hurry to try to get the job done.

Well, the electrical machines will be similar to the same problems that we talked about before. They’re going to have the seal problems, the filters. You want to make sure you clean that, keep the machine clean.

But the thing that’s different about electric machines is you’re plugging into electric power. We see guys, a lot of people doing retro work. If they’re plug it into two line power, a lot of times they’ll have problems just because all the different homes provide different power. You know, a lot of them are going to have good power. But when you get to a home that has power that’s less than ideal, the machine will typically still run. But what happens is you damage a lot of those components inside of there. And then you’ll you’ll notice that over the next months or years later, basically, I always, always reference it as it shortens the life of the components on the machine.

So when you if you’re looking if you have an electric machine, you want to look at the volt meter on there and run anywhere between about one hundred and ten to one hundred and thirty volts would good would be good running power, anything less than that.

The machine, like I said, will probably still run, but you’re causing a lot of problems to it in most electric machines have to give given to power cords for it for a reason. Right. Because they want you to hook up to two different power sources to help mitigate the problem that you’re talking about.

Correct. So make sure you’re on two separate circuits. If you have two power sources and some of the larger electric machines would have would have a single cord for like a dryer range outlet. That will be the same thing where we want to be, you know, 240 volts of plus or minus 10 percent. So down to 220, up to 60, but to 40 would be would be the best spot to be in a lot of the electric machines. Guys try to get away from using all the different line power so they’ll get a generator, which can be good. But you need to make sure that you maintain that, make sure that it’s still putting out good power. One of the problems with those, a lot of the generators will have an idle control or like a throttle control or something. If you have that on there, make sure you have that turned off. What happens is if you have that on as it’s trying to conserve fuel when it doesn’t sense a draw on the generator. So it’s running slower and it’s putting out lower power. So when the machine starts up, then the generator will kick up. But by the time the machine starts up, it’s already gotten kind of a dose of of low voltage. Next thing will be power cords. There’s a lot of a lot of people that will use too small cords, 14 gauge, 16 gauge cords. You want to use a good heavy-duty cord to make sure you don’t have a voltage drop from from your power source to the machine.

So just for troubleshooting, troubleshooting recap, you know, basically a lot of this is, you know, power sources are correct for electric machine, you know, maintain your gas and diesel like it would any other working engine. You got to have the oil, keep the filters, keep the dirt in the insulation itself away from it. And then, of course, the air seals. And then lastly, the hoses make sure your hoses are in good condition. Is there anything that we’ve been talking about that you wanted to add or something we didn’t cover?

So a lot of that stuff, the maintenance and things that can be you can set up a schedule with your guys and that’s something we can help you with.

You know, it can work with their local rep or reach out to us and we can walk them through, help them set up a maintenance plan. And if they install the machines properly, that goes a long way. And in making sure that it’s going to last a long time, if you put it to where you’re going to be getting fresh air for everything, that really helps reduce how much maintenance you’re going to have to do the machine. As far as power, just make sure you’re looking at those. The Volt meters to make sure you’re getting the proper power to train your guys, if you see that it’s low power. Let’s stop and let’s figure out what we need to do to get the right power.

All right. Well, Chris, I learned a thing or two today. Donna, you got anything you want to add?

I learned a ton. I’m a spray foam guy. Can eat a ton.

Can you tell that I did the majority of the talking today because the spray foam guy was, you know, over not over my head, not enough.

I thought Don was pretty quiet.

Normally, this podcast is pretty dominated by Don because he’s just such an excellent speaker. But, well, it’s nice to know you can pick up the pieces and make a good team, I guess. Yeah. Yeah. Well, Chris, Josh and Chris. Yeah. Chris Faris with Idei, the maintenance guy been on board since May finally get you on a podcast, Chris. Thank you for your time. Thank you. I appreciate it. Thanks, buddy.

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