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EPISODE 18

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

RVAL013 Chris Fuerst.mp3 transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

RVAL013 Chris Fuerst.mp3 was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best audio automated transcription service in 2020. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular audio file formats.

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.

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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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EPISODE 17

Innovation and Ethics with Carlisle Construction Materials

November 2020  | 1:01:02

Carlisle Construction Materials is a diversified manufacturer and supplier of premium building products and related technologies for the commercial and residential construction markets, and they are IDI’s longest spray foam partner. Today, Travis and Don welcome not just one, but FOUR guests from Carlisle to talk about a wide range of topics.

The group discusses the aftermath of Covid on the overall industry and what bright spots have remained. They also delve into building code, enforcement, new product lines, training, marketing, the future of HFO’s, and how playing by the rules pays off. They also look into the crystal ball for 2021 and what they see for the road ahead.

6:42 – Effects of Covid on the industry
11:16 – Focusing in on code
13:53 – The politics of spray foam
20:10 – The beginnings
24:45 – Training and resources available
30:33 – Should you buy direct?
38:54 – Changes, challenges, and opportunity of 2021
53:05 – Look into the crystal ball

Innovation and Ethics with Carlisle Construction Materials

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Carlisle:
Can we get around this stuff? Probably. Are you going to have a SWAT team on your job site anytime soon? No way. Here's the way we approach it. You're going to agree with this, right? We don't really care. Probably not. We don't care about enforcement. We're going to do the right thing.

Various:
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.

Travis:
Welcome back, podcast listeners, you're listening to our Value America's Insulators podcast. And I'm joined by a man that has survived three hurricanes, a volcano, an earthquake, and whatever else it is, an ex-wife, the man, the myth, the legend, my sidekick or I'm his sidekick. We haven't figured that out. Don climber. Don, welcome to the show.

Don:
And that's all just in the last three months, right?

Travis:
That's that's impressive. And it is 20, 20. So that's not that weird, I guess.

Don:
No, no. That's just a standard standard quarter, 20, 20 standard quarter.

Travis:
They have any deer down where you're at. Yeah, yeah. Little ones. Little ones. Not big ones. When you go up north, the Mississippi. How far away that. So it's it's an easy Friday afternoon run, just like going from Chanhassen to Hudson. It's not bad. It's not bad, no.

Don:
So are you getting more snow?

Travis:
Yeah, we got eight inches earlier this week. It's only October. It's kind of sucks. So instead of winter being seven months up here, it's now eight months.

Don:
So you want to hear a funny story about getting snow in October?

Travis:
Yeah. Just back from your youth. Is this before the earthquakes and hurricanes?

Don:
Yeah. So remember the blizzard of ninety the Halloween blizzard you're referring to the nineteen eighty nine Halloween snow blizzard. Eighty nine. OK, tomatoes, tomatoes. I thought it was 90, but so we had a football game. I was in ninth grade, tenth grade and we had a football game Thursday because it was I think it was maybe that time probably and blew my knee out. So I was in a stabilizer from my hip to my ankle and then the snowstorm comes. And that's not going to keep us out from having fun on Halloween. And I don't know what we were doing, throwing wet cars, snowball at cars or something like that. And I'll send the cherries pop up behind us and we everybody takes off while my friends have two good legs, I'm hamstrung and I'm hobbling down the road. That's why they brought me with. Right. And I'm hobbling down the road in the tire tracks because that's the only place I could try to somewhat run. And I hear behind me, the cop gets on his loudspeaker, climber. I was at the game last night. I know that's you know, so, yeah, that's my that's my Halloween blizzard story. Yeah. I did not get in trouble. He did not tell the coach. Yeah. But he knew exactly who was running down the street.

Travis:
Well, now we could say you survived a snowstorm and a knee surgery. So we'll just keep adding to your legend as it is. There you go. There you go. Well, you want to know who we got with us today, Travis? Yeah, I've been curious all morning, as we sure.

Don:
You have read. Today, we have three guys, surprisingly, I was counting on two, so I'm going to wing the third one here. But guys from our largest and longest lasting spray foam partner, Carlisle, first we have Bill Baringo. He's a man who's so important he carries two titles, VP and GM of Carlisle Construction Materials, according to his LinkedIn page. And it's funny the things you learn about people who you've known for years and you start researching them so you can do a somewhat half assed bio on them like you're doing right now. But yeah, pretty much I wasn't aware of this. But Bill, is some sort of jujitsu or Tikhon expert because he is a lean Six Sigma black belt. So everybody was kung fu fighting and that's where everybody is supposed to go. I'm not sure how that would translate in the world of 20 20, though, you know, just saying cancel culture, all that. Oh, come on in. In all honesty, he is an accomplished business executive known for developing rapid transformations and breakthrough results in all areas of manufacturing operations. He's a great guy, a great business partner and a horrible deep sea fisherman. More to come on that part. We also have Jeremy Parker with us. Jeremy is the South Central regional manager for Carlisle Construction Materials and is the eyes and my main point of contact for Carlisle. Jeremy is an avid hunter, fisherman, a dedicated father and husband, and a former home builder and a graduate of Texas A&M. So he was also Johnny Manziel, former tallboy.

Carlisle:
Ouch.

Travis:
That's why we don't trust Don Alex. So I don't trust him. I had to throw it in. I just had to we can we can edit it out that way. We just that or not, Alex Lowe, that we can leave that. And we also have Alex Dresher with us, the marketing brand manager for Carlyle Construction Materials. And Kevin just joined us.

Don:
And I have not had the pleasure or opportunity of meeting or speaking with Kevin yet, but I'm sure he will be full of great insight, maybe discussing some AFO and product lines, I think, down the road. But welcome, guys. Thanks. Thanks for having us. So what is going on in the spray foam world? Do you want to just jump right into it and talk about price increases?

Carlisle:
I'm just force majeure. Yeah, it's going to flow, right.

Don:
It's been a fun time. What? Well, let's just talk about it. Let's talk about the first half of the year. And you know what what the projections were for you guys and for the well, maybe for the overall market, because I know you guys are part of some of the the industry groups that kind of track the growth and everything. Was there a how far did we fall off base for the first half of the year, I guess is a good place to start with everything going on. I'll throw that over to Bill.

Carlisle:
Yeah, let me jump in. First of all, I just wanted to say how impressed that you were. You've been able to get into Lincoln after that. And not a lot of people know about, you know, having been shut out for all those months. Good for you.

Don:
The statute of limitations is up there.

Travis:
Yeah, we could speak freely about it now, Bill. It's OK.

Carlisle:
That's good. Yeah, we've seen a wild ride, right? It's one of these years in our lives that. And we'll always look back and want to forget. I would say the blessing and thank God we're in the residential construction business, right? Because almost every other sector of the economy has been blown out this year. And residential construction, thanks to low interest rates and a little bit of fear in kind of the higher density areas of our country. And people that want to get out and escape and get into some air they can breathe on their own has boosted that market. And so we are experiencing an off year, but it could certainly be way worse than it is right now. And there are some folks who are smarter than me who are thinking about twenty, twenty one and whether the election goes one way or the other. The predominant view right now from the the big brain economists in D.C. is, is that the Fed policy keeping interest rates low will keep mortgage rates low for years. And so fundamentally, there are some reasons why homeownership will make a lot of sense for the millennials and other folks who are on the fence. So that could be good news for us for a while.

Don:
Yeah, absolutely. So would you say overall as as an industry, spray foam is flat up down last year

Carlisle:
you know, I'd say Q1 rocking Q2, we fell off the cliff, Q3 is kind of in between. So I would I mean, I would say. Flat to a little up, kind of depending on the region, it's it's nothing to write home about. But like I said, we held our head up pretty high.

Don:
Yeah, absolutely. Know, that kind of follows where I went. One was was great. And then April and May not so great. But we we've come up we've surpassed where we were last year at this time. So we are up. And that's thanks to our good listeners and customers. And thanks to you guys, too, for supporting us during during some of these times and getting creative on how to keep the growth and try to keep the customers busy.

Carlisle:
Yeah, agreed, and more to come on the innovations and next phases of the product as we build it out and try to establish ourselves as an even larger part of the total insulation business. Spray foam is probably only 10, 12, 14 percent of the total pie. And we're certainly thinking about ways to grow that even further.

Travis:
Can you touch on a couple of those ways just briefly and kind of give us some insight?

Carlisle:
Sure. I think one of the one of the coolest aspects of what we have as a technology, as a product is its air barrier performance and our value aside, which is obviously better, the air sealing properties of spray foam allow it to. Fulfilled the ever tightening business codes or sorry, building codes regarding air barriers, and that ceiling is good for keeping allergens out and fresh air in and and just insulation values and energy conservation is all covered extremely well. And frankly, the Best Buy this particular product. So, you know, we're working legislative angles like tax codes and other things. We're working through local building code adoption in states that are holding back and are way behind on adopting twenty, fifteen, twenty, eighteen building codes.

Don:
So let's dig into that a little bit. How are you guys helping that out. What are you guys driving to get them back or get them up to the current codes.

Carlisle:
Well what Carlisle, along with most of the other major Skripal manufacturers, are part in a spray foam coalition that's supported by the American Chemistry Council and the Center for the Polyurethanes industry. And as a industry association, we fund and drive projects and programs that prioritize spray from in a whole lot of areas. And one of them is a project that we just launched that allows us to get industry experts, technical experts on a plane and to the states as they go through a building code adoption. So we're actually present for hearings and for legislative discussions as they debate whether to adopt these codes and in full or partial. And we're we're working that angle right now.

Travis:
Do you see a lot of push when when you're trying to speak to those that are obviously more beneficial to have spray foam, to be able to, you know, use that as your reasoning?

Carlisle:
Yeah, I think I think it's an education process, to be honest with you. We've certainly come through the the decades of maybe some fear and some not perfect application of this technology. So we've come a long way. Obviously, training and accreditation still make a huge difference in our ability to deliver a quality product for a homeowner and a building owner. But once you get past that fear and you talk about the science and the technology and you put it in terms people can understand that you get you get the eyebrows raised and you realize you've hit a nerve and, you know, there's a long way to go. We're just beginning this kind of I'd call next phase of the industry getting itself together and really driving a collective wisdom around this.

Travis:
Yeah, I kind of see that to bring up politics. But it seems like the spray foam industry and the traditional white collar traditional insulation, because we saw that too. So I won't name it by name. I'll let people draw their own conclusions. It seems like there's always a battle, you know, of trying to drag some dirt, throw some mud on it. But what I've seen I don't know if it's the homeowner educating themselves on spray foam through the Internet, but I've seen less battling between spray foam and the other types of insulation, and I've seen a little bit more collaboration happening. Is that kind of something that was kind of if you can't beat them, join them kind of thing, or is that just kind of a saying, hey, let's all make the world better together?

Carlisle:
I think that's a really great point. We were just debating this at the FTC this week as a leadership committee. And it's it's a tough call because you can join together and try to advance energy conservation legislation and tax credits and those kinds of things. Or you can say, timeout, we have the better technology. We're not embarrassed to say it. It's lagging in its adoption over the last 10 years. We have to push harder for our own agenda. So that's a great point. I don't have the answer, but I can tell you we're having those conversations regularly.

Don:
So, Bill, you mentioned the coalition a couple of times and the manufacturers coming together to kind of unite and drive some of this change. There are. How do I want to put this? Well, you guys seem to be or may be together behind the scenes driving this, there is some maybe Jeremy can talk to us, too. There is some dissention out there in the marketplace with some of the some of the manufacturers who may not be part of the coalition because not every manufacturer is part of the coalition. Correct?

Carlisle:
Correct.

Don:
OK, so is there a benefit for a contractor to partner with a manufacturer and a distributor who support the coalition versus some of these other ones that are just out there selling foam and not really trying to better the industry versus bettering their business?

Carlisle:
Well, yeah, I'll take a stab at that, Jeremy. Look, as consumers, we have choices, right? We can eat in a fine restaurant or go grab a McDonald's. Right. We can think about, hey, I'd rather wear a little bit nicer pair of shoes or I just go down to pay less. And when I think about. Our industry, there are options that are way cheaper, but potentially not the best choice for someone who's serious about creating a business, growing a business and in the in the game for the long haul. When I think about Carlyle not to put a Post-it note up for my company, but Carlyle came in to spray foam at a moment where they said this thing's ready to take off. We're ready to invest large money in bringing our expertise in building and construction, in contractor, in education and that kind of thing. We're ready to jump. And they did in a big, big way. And I think you're seeing some of the value of that now in the way we're bringing products and services to market and we're positioning our company as a leader long term. So not everybody either decides to do that or has the money or energy or talent to do that. We certainly do. And there are others that do that. And aligning with a major, I think, brings way more confidence in products and services that a contractor can bring to their customers for the long haul.

Travis:
I agree, I agree with that as well, Bill, one of the things that I wanted to ask is, you know, some of these I guess we'll call them the low price, low cost. Is it sustainable for them to kind of keep going at that at that pace? You know, in sales, they always say, well, you know, don't don't chase the low price leader because eventually they'll they'll run out of business and run out of money. Sometimes you don't see that with spray foam because they get such an early following. And then it's not until a full heating and cooling season comes through and then you see their foam failing. So that's when you kind of start seeing some of the smaller, cheaper foams kind of drop off. So, you know, I just you know, I just it it's one of those things we're kind of in the same boat. You know, Carlile's a big name. It's a big company. I we have, you know, many locations where usually the you know, the gorilla in the room, the big you know, the the big bully on the block as they like to call us sometimes depending on which area. And but, you know, we can sustain most of the low price, you know, new competition coming in. But it was very and they seem to stick around longer.

Travis:
And I just didn't know if you had anything to add.

Don:
Well, I want to piggyback on that. How many manufacturers are there right now in the film industry? 20.

Carlisle:
Give or take, 15, 12, 15, 12 to 15. Yeah, it's like the amount of countries in the world, it changes on a quarterly basis.

Don:
Good point. Yeah, well, let's talk a little bit about Carlyle, about the market and where we see that head and kind of some of the stuff you guys are doing in there. But Carlyle is Travis. This is our third hundred plus year old company that we've had on. We've had Camorra's, which was part of the Dow right now, Dupont, sorry, and then Bullard and Carlyle. Pretty interesting, we know how to pick them.

Travis:
Yeah, we know who to talk, but it kind of goes back to last to Bill's point, you know, aligning ourselves with people that can sustain and know what they're doing and trust and put the money in the research and the development of their products.

Don:
So so if you go back and look at Idei getting into Sprey phone, we sold our first drome spray foam in May of two thousand six. And that was what the little company out of Phoenix, Arizona, UCSC and through acquisitions and mergers and buyouts and everything, some of the same people that were with UCSC when we bought our first drum are still with Carlyle today. So essentially, if you look at it through that history, kind of the backbone of the product and of the people and the relationship goes back to two thousand six. So it's in a roundabout way, you guys are very first and longest supplier, and there's reasons to do that when Yuxi was bought out by bear at the time and then to change the Questro and then a seller and then now Carlyle, still a lot of the same faces, the same same backbone to the product. So Carlyle saw the opportunity and spray foam there. What other segments of the building industry are they in to where they thought this would be complementary and something they wanted to jump into?

Carlisle:
Well, Carlyle is, like you said, one hundred year old company Rubber as the foundation, so SPDM Low Sloat roofing membrane roofing solution is for commercial construction SPDM PVC. That's the bread and butter Khalife construction materials. So you think about hospitals, airports, schools, right. Monster building in metro areas. Mostly that's Carlile's. They are the best, biggest, strongest in that space. And so they were looking at spray foam for 10 years and. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. We were looking for 10 years and just didn't see the timing. Right. And a combination of having some cash for acquisition and seeing what they think is an inflection point in this technology. What I mean by that is it's kind of been in the eight to 10 percent of the total insulation space for years. What Carlyle sees now, if they can bring to bear some of the manufacturing expertise, the supply chain expertise, the technology and product development processes that have helped them be successful in commercial roofing, they can blow the doors off the spray foam industry as the leader bring in the best and most solid products, as Pancake said, with the insurance policy then bringing Carlyle to the game. If you're a customer of ours, you have insurance that we've done it right. We've exhausted ourselves in testing and credentialing and all through the seasons and the shelf life issues and the things that, frankly, some of these little guys just can't or won't do, you can rest assured.

Don:
I think that's a great point. I think that's a great point, Bill, because it it's not all about the price percent or the price per pound. It's what happens when you need support, when you need documentation, when something goes wrong, who's going to have your back? And Idei partnered with with Carlyle know because it's like any relationship, there's ups and downs to it. And, you know, it hasn't all been perfect. But over the last 14 years and I can't remember how long we've known each other, Bill and Jeremy, but it's been a long time. We've we've gone through some issues and you guys have lost market share with us. You've gained market share with us, but you've always been a preferred supplier or because of those reasons right there. And I think we should dig into it a little bit for our listener. Maybe we have to on this one, but we should dig into some of the stuff that you guys do offer. We we pride ourselves on training, right? I think we there's no way to quantify this, but between our two trainings with hands on, I think we do a good job and you guys support us with that. But there's also stuff that Idei leans on you guys for you. You have in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, you have the techs out there. Let's I don't know. I don't know. Jeremy wants to talk to it about some of the resources that are available to our listener through the and Carlisle.

Carlisle:
Yeah, I can say one of the things that we can offer that you probably don't get other places, a lot of our sales guys, certainly our sales managers, are more or less building science experts. Right. They've had the Hirsch training. They've gone through. They know about energy modeling, grading. And what that does is it brings credibility. Say a contractor takes us to a builder. We can certainly get a building science expert in to speak with that builder and then help them understand the benefits of figure out what their performance targets are when they're talking about the whole house. So we've seen a lot of times I think folks get caught up on the idea of Spreckels not a magic wand to fix every problem. It is a key component to building a better house. It can be, but there's a lot of other things that need to be considered when a builder is looking to go from, you know, conventional insulation, the foam some builders may want to do hybrid assemblies. We've got some of the top 20 builders now doing unboarded attics with spray foam and our conventional insulation in the walls. So there's different solutions out there. And, you know, sometimes we sit down with the builder and you look at what they're doing. You know, years ago, gosh, I've been doing this for 10 years now, full of huge delta between conventional insulation. And one of the reasons was not the insulation itself, but the other things you had to change in order to utilize spray foam properly. So there's still combustion appliances, you know, water heaters that are high efficiency, that bring in air and on purpose. They're expanding that through the building envelope. There were other things that you had to change and now one of those high efficiency components to become more mainstream. So it helped reduce the delta. The builder sees in terms of total cost increase to go from a conventional insulation to spray foam. And we're seeing, you know, a lot of interest from some of the top builders. Now, I can say in key markets where we're working with about seven of the top 20 builders in some key markets right now, we'll expand on that.

Don:
Jeremy, a little bit of why why some of these national builders, because that's where I don't know if our listeners know you guys spent a lot of time kind of trying to drive that pull through sale. Right. Get the builders convinced you have the products Idei sells that our customers go and install it. Right. What are some of the what's been a change in the last 12, 18, 24 months with these national builders of why they're taking a harder look and installing more spray foam?

Carlisle:
Well, there's a couple of things going on there. I think, you know, I first got into this 10 years ago. It was about energy efficiency. We had Meritage went to full foam all below, you know, 10 years ago. And it was about build a better, kinder house. And these are also been doing for foam in some markets for that same amount of time. And then we kind of had a law where all the builders knew about it. We'd all told them about it, and they forecast it for whatever reason. They elected not to move to it. I would say. And there's a couple of things driving in the last probably 12 months, 18 months, codes have kind of caught up. So we've got, you know, the twenty twelve, which seems like forever ago, we talk about, you know, years. But when you look at code adoption and, you know, usually runs two to three cycles behind, well, it's cycles every three years. So that's six to nine years sometimes the behind current time. So 2012 was the first time we had ACA is in in code. Right. So climate zones three and above, which is basically anything north of Dallas in the US had to hit three A.H. And then we actually saw with, you know, builders were struggling to try to get there. A lot of municipalities, Bill spoke earlier about the adoption, complete adoption of model building codes. One of the things that a lot of municipalities were leaving out was actually the er change rate and the blower door testing. So that's one of the things the FSA pulled to get to make sure it gets adopted as a whole, because that's one of the key components to the energy efficiency. So I think meeting codes is is a big key component of that. And we're just now starting to get the actual testing done. Code adoption done for the builders are trying to meet that. And you can't do it with conventional insulation, but it's not a slam dunk. You really got to pay attention to what you're doing. You know, I've talked to some of the top 20 builders and they said, hey, they told us it would be easy. It's not that easy. It can be done, but with spray foam and applied properly. It's a little bit more dummy proof and knowing that you're going to pass that final the door. We've got some data from one of the large builders has done thousands of homes and multiple contractors. You basically hit to your last without trying real hard. And that's across multiple areas. So we know it is that we can get there with.

Don:
So there's a perception out there in the marketplace that I see, I think excuse me, where, you know, it's kind of like a contractor like, hey, I want to go buy direct know I'm big enough, I want to go buy direct. And that's not always the best case for for any sized contractor, because there's certain benefits that come with dealing with distribution, which we don't have to get into now. But there's also some of our contractors out there think that that's the tip of the sword. If they can land a national builder like, hey, I want to get in that that way. I know I've made it. What are some of the things that the contractors should expect? And because it's let's be honest, it's not for every contractor out there to try and go and get a contract with a national builder.

Carlisle:
Right. These are this is high volume operations. You know, I've talked to some of the contractors that say, gosh, I wish I would have stopped it for X, that was that was when my business was ideal for. And now I have 15 rigs and they're trying to service some of these national guys. And it becomes like you got to kind of feed the beast, right, with that type of volume. And it's going to be low margin. And these boulders are basically their accountants that happen to have hammers. Right. So it's all about the money. And they just happened to build houses for on finance rebates, driving down costs. That's what they do very, very efficiently and well. And they get a lot of practice. Right. And that's not saying that. I would say be careful what you wish for. I guess if you're that type of volume work, it's not for everybody.

Don:
Yeah, I was just going to say I'm not saying that our contractors shouldn't go out there and attempted, but they should be prepared because it's not going to be like dealing with your typical home builder who builds 10, 15, 20 homes a year. And you can kind of spread it out, right? Travis,

Travis:
I'd look at it if I'm a small to medium sized contractor and I'm in a market where I do have a spray foam guy that's doing the the, you know, national builders, that's opportunity for him because that guy is going to be busy doing his thing with the with the builder. So to Jeremy's point, it's not for everybody. I've had a couple of them. My guys try it and decided, yeah, this is this isn't my business moving forward. This is just all out chaos. Right, because there is so much volume there. So to your point, Jeremy, you got to be careful what you ask for.

Carlisle:
Yeah. And the ones I've seen be really successful with it is they do not let it be more than about 30 to 40 percent of their overall business. I've seen guys that get caught up where it's, you know, 80 percent of the time they're out on these production jobs. And then you can have the carpet yanked out from under you overnight. Then you're laying guys off. You're trying to sell rigs. Right. Your whole business was based off of that guy. If you're in that 30 percent zone, you can kind of take the hit, you know, and have that diversification work for you.

Don:
Nice. You know, we we did we kind of jumped ahead. And I was going to ask Alex if he wanted to talk about some of the resources available at Carlyle, some online tools. I don't know if we can we can we can take this part out if you want. But if you want to hit on the loyalty program at all, just kind of kind of some of the benefits of partnering with Idei and Carlyle, what our contractors could expect.

Carlisle:
Yeah, absolutely, so I'll back up even at a higher level to answer your question, a couple of questions ago that Jamie was asking or answering for you, I think from a Carlaw perspective, what we pride ourselves on are a couple of different pillars. So one is obviously our products. We obviously want quality product and we want to spit out innovative products as well. Year after year so that we're meeting, whether that be codes or our customers needs to is training. We really pride ourselves on training and education, and that's for all levels of our customers. So that's from distribution like you guys and partnering with you guys. Help us with training to our end user customers, homeowners, contractors, builders, you name it. We want to make sure that we are training and educating them as well as having the technical resources. So some of the things that we try to tie back to from all these things is really our education, from all of our documentation, sell sheets, everything available via our website. And then something that we do that you mentioned is our Karlo Pro program, which is our loyalty program, where we want to make sure that we're retaining our contractors at a level that they want to come back to us for all those pillars that I just talked about. They want to come back to us for training. They want to come back to us for education, technical resources and for our quality products and our innovative products.

Don:
So throw a plug out there. Alex, where can they find this? What's the website?

Carlisle:
So our overall website is wherever they can find these resources. Yeah. So our website is Carlaw SFI dot com and you'll find the resources ranging from application guides, addresses to technical data sheets to sell sheets on why the benefits of spray foam and walks through all the benefits of our products and the resources that we have, something that we recently launched as well as our specifications and details for commercial applications. And those are also available on our website, as well as third party resources to access our specification of details, as well as a lot of hard work was put into that throughout the past year. Being an industry leader in commercial roofing products, we found that specifiers are really looking for these specifications and details for their projects. And so the development of this for our applications of spray foam was really crucial to growing that side of our business as well.

Don:
Yeah, you made a good point there that we haven't hit on yet. Is Karlo, like I said, has been around for one hundred years. They've you guys have worked out the kinks in your other building or your other silos of business. Right. And spray foam is just coming right in. And I was always told about when the transition was happening, the Carlisle experience. Where do you get the Carlisle experience? And it took a while. I'm not going to lie. There were some road bumps there, but we got it. And we're starting to see the Carlisle experience where it's not just, you know, I don't want to hopefully not offend anybody, but it's not just an equity firm or a business, a startup business that is new and doesn't understand all the stuff. You guys have had one hundred years of working out these kinks. And while it's taken a little bit of time to implement that through all the changes with Carlyle buying and selling stuff, now we're I think we're starting to hit full stride and to see that in our contractors are starting to benefit from that as well. So it has been a good experience with that.

Carlisle:
Now, I'm glad you brought that up on the carlot experience something. It's really important to us. So I actually before jumping on the spray foam team, I worked in the commercial roofing side of our business under our commercial roofing brands. And the carlot experience is extremely important to us from anything from customer service to having all the resources that our customers need. And that's exactly what we're trying to implement on the spray foam side of our business as well, making sure that every aspect of our customer that's touching anyone from spray foam, whether it be our website or sales reps or executive team, our marketing team, you're getting that Carlyle experience. That's a little intangible, but you realize that it's a very good experience to work with L'Isle, where you see that value in working and partnering with us. So that's exactly what we're looking to achieve here.

Don:
Yeah, absolutely. Let's talk let's talk a little bit about the experience. We we had Chemours on, like I said, was it was last year. It wasn't a pancake.

Travis:
Yeah, it was last like last spring. I believe it was. Yeah.

Don:
Yeah. And we're talking about the changes that were coming in twenty. With snap roll twenty one and the adoption of AFO and all that stuff, now we're we're three quarters of the way through the year and I don't know if who would want to speak to it. If it's Kevin and Jeremy, Bill, whoever where we're at with who owes what twenty twenty one is looking at and just kind of give us an update on that. It's been a while since we hit on that subject.

Carlisle:
Oh, it's changing daily really. There is a whole bunch of states are actively looking at new legislation, so it's really hard to keep track of what's where each state really is. So the American Chemistry Council has a good website where they kind of track day to day movements in state adoption of new blowing agent regulations in place and other agency. So it's a moving target. We we track websites that cover the Center for Polyurethanes Industry under break, I guess, Google S.P.I Inc, and you'll find me a big map, interactive map of where each state is. So, yeah, it's a moving target, but we have a product line and we are continuing to find new and improved products based on the age of old technology that's to be released early next year.

Travis:
Circling back to the codes that Bill was talking about earlier, do you see codes driving the H.F. a little bit more or are you trying to push for that? I mean, are you using the coalition or you independently as a company trying to, you know, again, going back to the environment? Right. That's kind of what this is all driven by.

Carlisle:
Yeah, I think this is a great example of where it's not just for environmental regulations, I think all of our research should be available. Products based on the age of technology just are outperforming, you know, two point five that they need gypsys, higher blobbing agent, lower exothermic reactions and when you're actually spraying, so reduce risk of scorching and bad installs. So, yeah, it's primarily driven for environmental reasons and global warming potential. But you're getting a better performing product, typically higher volumes, a little extra cost here and there.

Travis:
Yeah, it's it's kind of interesting to see just over the last 12 to 14 months or whatever it's been since we really started pushing this, you know, obviously before 20, 20, getting ready for the, you know, the push that we thought we were going to have of it. I'm still seeing a lot of customers adopted because of what you just said, because it is a more stable, better performing product. And obviously the benefit for them is, you know, more yield, which if you're if you're running a business, why not have a product that's going to give you the most bang for its buck, even though it's more expensive? You know, you do the math on it and you're really it's really not any more expensive. But, you know, like everybody trying to analyze their business when something has a price tag on it, that's a little bit more they're a little bit more cautious on on trying it or using it. So I again, we got guys, I'm in Minnesota and there's no, you know, real demand for AFO as far as a code. But you see, you're starting to see a lot of guys using it.

Don:
Well, here's here's a question I have with AFO, and I don't know if you guys can answer it or not or want to speak to it, but, you know, it was this big thing coming out into this year. And, you know, everybody's played by the rules so far about not shipping into the the states that can't have it and all that. But my question at the beginning and my question now, because I have not heard of one instance, is who's enforcing this outside of you, outside of the manufacturers not shipping into the states that can't can't take it or shipping two forty five into AFO states, who's truly enforcing it? Because we have you know, we have customers or we have branches that service multiple states take Washington. Right. They ship into Montana, you know, so we can only take AFO into Washington. But we have customers in Montana that don't want to spray it. They still want to spray two forty five. And I haven't I haven't gotten a great answer other than it's going to be basically a paper trail audit of saying, hey, Carla, let me look at your shipments. Did you ship two forty five into Washington State. OK, you did. Who did this go to? You know where I'm going with this? Is it is it truly being enforced out there, I guess is my question.

Travis:
They're going to use a covid tracker done.

Carlisle:
Yes, it's a great question because it's just the reality in the street. Right. Can we get around this stuff? Probably. Are you going to have a SWAT team on your job site any time soon? No way. Right. So but here's the way we approach it. And I know you're going to you're going to agree with this, right? We don't really care. Probably not. We don't care about enforcement. Right. We're going to do the right thing. And I know. Right. A company as strong as I do, I like us. We're going to play by the rules. And we would strongly encourage every single contractor. Right. To do the right thing and forget about whether or not you could possibly get caught. Right.

Don:
I get what you're saying, because somebody might come and knock on your door and say, let me see the drums in your trailer. That's not the reason to do it. There's a lot of other reasons to do it. you're right, Bill, by no way am I saying even though your state has adopted it and you're supposed to follow, you should you can still do two forty five. No way am I saying that. I'm just trying to figure out, like our contractors ask me, well, what would happen if I did this? And to that point, I don't know if we're there on the enforcement, but that doesn't mean you should do it, because it's it's better for the environment. It's what the codes and regulations and all that say. I was just wondering if there was you know, I get questions. Is that also going to be checking on this? Is it going to be the building official who's going to who's going to come out and check? And my answer to them is, you know, we're taking that at the top level where we're going with Carlisle. You know, they're not shipping into those states, that type of stuff. You know, but here's a question that I have watched. What should our contractors do? Because we all know there's contractors out there in those states still spraying to forty five. If our contractor is playing by the rules and spraying that AFO product and he's competing against a guy who's breaking the rules, who should he raise a flag to? You know, does he raise it to us? He can always, obviously always call us. He could call a Carlyle rep. But, you know, is that the right way or is there a different way to do it?

Carlisle:
My quick answer would be education and training is our number one bullet. And when you're in the job, you got to know what the rules are. Right. And if somebody coming in with an HFC option. And undercutting the right answer for that application. That building owners got to know, and I guess I'd be in the street making sure every single job I'm looking at, I understand what the rules are and making sure my potential customer to not be my number one.

Travis:
So essentially, if I'm a contractor in a building it and I'm starting to see a trend of, wow, I'm getting beat out on some of these jobs, that might be some of the things you start looking for is what kind of foam did this other guy, you know, bid and start asking that question and then start pushing the envelope of, hey, this is code that has to be this H.F.. Oh, versus what you know. And that's again, you've got to find that trend and look for, you know, why you're getting beat other than maybe you just suck at bidding. I don't know. But that never happens. All right. Well, we have a program and training for then, by the way.

Carlisle:
So I think it goes back to I think you guys made a great point before about, hey, why would you align with a major kind of a, you know, maybe a little bit more expensive, but worth it company. And it's I think at the contractor level, it's the same exact question. It's look, I do it right. I you know, when the job's done, it's done right and it's done to code and it's done with the same exact materials and schedule that I bid it at. And so, I mean, if we could kind of trickle that down all the way through the chain. Right. To the building owner, I think that says a lot about us collectively as a partnership.

Travis:
It's finding the right customers, right? We want to partner with the good ones, so do you see a push? I mean, Kevin, I know you kind of talked about this a little bit, but I mean, are we going to see a stronger push in 2021 for an HFA? You say it's changing every day, but is there you know, what was your guy's stance on it? Is it more of a commitment from you guys, from the other people talked about coalition members, you know, or other entities pushing for this? Or is it just kind of. Well, we'll wait and see what happens.

Carlisle:
So from our perspective as a Carlisle company, we our point of view is to push heavily and endorse faster adoption of technology, not just for our foam insulation business, but our roofing foam adhesives are all based on an HMO option. So not just for wall insulation, residential, but for adhesives or sealants on our roof. It's a big question, HMO only because of the performance benefits. And we would have probably another marketing campaign from the Carlisle level in next year for promoting the adoption of HBO for performance reasons, that's I was going to say that's kind of I think how we had started to see some wins was just explaining, hey, listen, you're your breakdown, your board foot breakdown on your cost. It's it's either better or the same, you know, if you go from a regular.

Travis:
Phoned to an AFO, and it wasn't until you really started talking about it that way, where people started having that aha moment of oh yeah, why am I not spraying this? So in its small wins, you know, we didn't change. There wasn't a big wave of change, especially where you didn't have to use an all. But I think that's, you know, to me, you're on the right track with saying, oh, let's just talk about performance improvement, you know, not about code, not about, you know, environmental impacts, but performance wise.

Carlisle:
Well, it is global pressure on HFC. So we're going to continue to see everything move more towards HFS. So I think what is 12 states or something now that have either implemented something or are talking about implementing something for each of an interactive map is a pretty cool feature that we mentioned earlier.

Travis:
I just think it's interesting because, you know, I can recall in November, December of last year, we were I mean, we were literally pushing out. Products have out of our warehouse and we're going to be all AFO and then the thing just kind of died on the vine. So I just it we're done I think was going is is it you know, who's going to police it? You know, we've got to tell police that we've got to be, you know, make the right choices, do the right things. But I think the angle that Kevin's talking about is going to be, you know, it's like that new product, right? The new and improved. It's the next, you know, the iPhone 12 Permax. You know, it's the latest and greatest. And that's that's what you have with an iPhone. Essentially, as you get better yield, it's more stable. You know, certain things that I don't have all the details. I'm just going off my own experiences with guys that have switched over to it. But, you know, the benefits of bringing maybe four sets of foam to the job instead of six and things like that because you're your improved yields. So I think we could beat this AFO to, you know, to death here, but.

Carlisle:
Well, in the fourth generation, this is the first time in a long time it's actually had performance benefit. So guys that have been in the industry a long time, when they were forced to switch the last time, it was much more rigid. Right. You got fined so much for having 140 won't be in your possession. Going to 245 FAA to forty five wasn't as friendly to spray with as the 141 be. So from that mindset that some of the contractors may have, I can see kind of why they're like, who's going to make me do this this time around? But if they live through that, it wasn't a pleasant experience last time. But, you know, talking to the chemist, they're like, you know, every time we've had to do it, we need to change. We've had to give up something. We've lost some performance. It was hard to work with. You know, group of them used to never get blisters and to fortify that saying now we have blister issues. They said this is the first time that is actually we're getting a bump the other direction and performance something just the education, you know, kind of like why would you not want to do this? It makes a lot of sense. But yeah, because it's on a state by state basis, the guys are going to live through the the federal government's going to find you, you know, a thousand dollars for every quart of 144. Did you have in your possession. This is a much looser deal. So the answer, which is never again when it depends. Right. What state you're in. So we're going to drive stuff a lot harder than others.

Various:
Make sense. No more more to come on that.

Don:
So my next question for you guys, we've kind of led the conversation to where we wanted it to go, but we want to look into their crystal ball, talk about twenty, twenty one, because we're seeing stuff now that we haven't seen and, you know, two, three years, which are price increases and shorter available or tighter availability on some of the raw materials. You know, what are we what do you guys see for twenty, twenty one if you want to just kind of briefly hit on that.

Carlisle:
Well, it's briefly hits probably a good way to think about it, because we're feeling a lot of pressure right now. We have a supply chain upstream of us in major chemical feedstocks that become MDI and Palios and and some of the other raw materials that we use to make our product. It's really tight and constrained. And there are difficult times, I would say, in the next. Three to four months. Just getting everything we need to supply the demand that we see right now in our industry, so that certainly puts upward pressure on prices coming into companies like Carlyle, and it's certainly something we have to consider in terms of how we price our products. Now, the good news is that should not at least some of the forecasts that I look at, it looks like that's going to be a. Several months, but not several year dynamic in supply demand, sure. So I would say hold on tight over the next few months and then maybe things would moderate off off come mid next year.

Travis:
Do you think the fact that we're rolling into I mean, we're busy right now, but as you roll further into winter, especially in the colder states, you think that that slowdown will help that a little bit, or does that really not affect it?

Carlisle:
Yeah, that's what I've been kind of hoping. But then I'm looking at the order book. I'm looking at projections on inventory being so low relative to demand for homebuilding. And I know lumber and some other key materials are also bottlenecking construction. But there's just so much demand that I think the typical winter slowdown, yes, it's going to happen, but I don't think it's going to be enough to offset that the supply side of this thing.

Travis:
Well, it really who knows? I mean, we're in a pandemic era and all of a sudden the housing market went nuts. I mean, who could have predicted that we thought everything was going to slow down? And, you know, it's kind of been the I guess the one thing and all the stuff that I read, you know, the housing market has really kept us from falling deeper into that recession, thank God. So I just wonder if the I know you have some people thinking, hey, this this is too good to be true. I've been so busy for, you know, since July, for so long now we're into the thick of it. Is the bottom going to fall out or is this just going to slow down to a trickle or is it just going to continue on? Because we're so backed up from, you know, March, April, May, where there really wasn't anything going on because I think it was more fear than it was lack of things to do. It was just a halt in production. And now they've got back up. And I think it slowed down enough to, you know, the mindset of people wanting to build houses. I'm one of them. You know, I was one that decided to go out and and change where I lived based upon, you know, we were at home all the time and maybe we really don't like our house as much as we thought we did. And let's see what's out there, you know, so I'm part of that that movement or that that I don't know if it was boredom or realization or whatever it was. But, you know, I've got guys asking me, where did this come from? You know, what do you think? Why do you think the housing market went so crazy? Is not is it directly related to covid and everybody staying home? What is it? I mean, people are out of jobs. People are losing money. And yet we had this housing boom. It really just doesn't make any sense. So I don't think you predict anything at this point.

Carlisle:
Yeah, it's a good point. Good point. I think there are some fundamentals that are still in place, as I mentioned before, the very low interest rates and the Fed policy. If if the folks that I listened to are right, that's going to be attractive in terms of mortgage rates and money availability for a long time. There's lack of inventory and pent up demand. And you guys have seen that in home prices all over the country going up five, 10, 15 percent the last three to six months. Folks are still wanting to escape into fresh air a little further away from the city. That's real. And unless the country goes into a lockdown or a shutdown again, which is my God, I hope not. I think, you know, employment is pretty decent. Companies are finding a way cutting costs where they need to still providing service to their customers. If the economy just doesn't go completely backwards, I think we're going to see strength in housing for many, many months. So, you know, we'll see. You're right. Who knows? But we're pretty bullish on on next year.

Travis:
I think if anything, if this year's taught us anything, I think you just have to keep pushing forward just such an interesting year and trying to watch people like yourselves and some of the other companies that we work with trying to predict what Don is asking is what do you guys think is going to happen in twenty, twenty one? Who the hell knows? But we're going to keep pushing forward. We're not going to stop what we're, you know, guys doing the same thing. We're going to keep making bold moves and taking some risks. And they're calculated, but it served us well. Instead of just sitting back on our haunches and waiting, we're going to push forward.

Carlisle:
That's a great point. I'm just gonna back you up by saying, I think a two things in tough times. You know, I think about controlling the control levels. So you have control of certain things in your business, right? You make sure you're doing everything you can to control what you can and then don't worry about the rest, right. Worry doesn't help anybody achieve anything. Just stay true to your vision for your business and what you do well, execute well on that and ride it out the way I look at it.

Travis:
Well, we've got a good partner to do it with.

Don:
So what else did we miss or anything else you guys want to cover or should we wait on that four episode to get into? So we're getting invited back? Yeah, we can talk about some of the equipment, maybe that there's rumors out there. People are starting to see, you know, dig into that a little bit deeper, maybe on the next one. What do you think?

Travis:
You know, head nods don't correlate on a podcast very well. Good, there we go. That's what we're looking for.

Don:
Well, guys, thank you very much. Very informative. It's been a long time coming. And I think we had this scheduled probably two or three times. And then the pandemic hit and travel came to a screeching halt and schedules just didn't line up. But I'm glad it finally lined up now. Again, thanks. Thanks for being a good partner over the years. You know, good friends, both personally and professionally. I appreciate everything you guys do for for Idei and for our contractors. And if the the website that Alex mentioned, Carlyle, SFI, dot com, you can go on there and find some more information and learn about more of their products. You can contact your local idei rep and go from there. So, guys, thank you very much. Yes, thank you. Thank you for having us. Any time round to come soon. Oh.

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EPISODE 16

Mils Don’t Measure Performance with Dane Malmberg

November 2020  | 34:55

Travis and Don are used to talking about insulating areas above ground, but on today’s episode they talk with an expert about the fast growing segment of crawlspace encapsulation. Dane Malmberg, National Sales Rep for Viper CS Crawlspace Vapor Barrier joins the show. He’s been in the business for over a decade and is here to explain the important differences and advantages of a high quality product like Viper CS as compared to the standard 6 mil poly used in most projects currently.

The industry has been around a long time, but Dane discusses the reason why Viper CS makes it possible for huge growth opportunities if companies add this to their existing services. Standard 6 mil poly is made from recycled materials and is prone to tears, punctures and degradation. Viper CS is made from one hundred percent virgin resin and is a reinforced, high performance barrier. These differences ensure better air quality, prevention of structural issues, longevity and even creating more usable space for clients in their homes or buildings.

  • 7:25 – An untapped market
  • 9:19 – You get what you pay for
  • 10:20 – What sets Viper CS apart
  • 18:47 – Where is the opportunity?
  • 27:45 – It’s about the details
  • 30:00 – Is thicker really better?

Mils Don't Measure Performance with Dane Malmberg

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Travis:
Lori, what else do you think of or Don you're going to go down and I've been texting back and forth, he's got about, I don't know, five second legs, so he kind of gets really bad.

Don:
That's why I've been trying to keep quiet during this, which is kind of rare for me.

Various:
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.

Travis:
Hello and welcome back to our value brought to you by Idei distributers, you're listening to the Insulators podcast HADON.

Don:
What's up, Travis? How are you doing? I'm good. It's going to be a little rusty, but it's nice to be back. So the last time we talked to you, you were in Colorado. But that's not the case anymore. No, no. We we found out that mama doesn't like the the winters. And so we're back in Louisiana, back in the boot because she likes hurricanes better. Yeah. So we've been back two months and two hurricanes have come in. We've missed the first one. And it's looking like we're going to miss this one too, hopefully. I mean, I never wish it to go on to somebody else, but. Right. I don't really need that.

Various:
Within the first two months, snow or hurricanes, I think I would pick snow.

Don:
Authorities broke the pie first podcast real if you don't open your first beer until you have to cop who just opened that sit next to you.

Travis:
That's Laurie Gilbertson.

Lori:
Not guilty. Not Guilty.

Travis:
So what are we doing today? Who are we talking to?

Don:
Well, Travis, I'm glad you asked. Today, we are talking to Dave Mahlberg, the national sales representative for VIPR Crawlspace Vapor Barriers.

Don:
Deyn spent about the last 12 years working with manufacturers like ISI Building Products, ICP Group, Brentwood Industries in the thermal and moisture control industry, bringing innovative products to market and driving the industry forward. His background as a BPCI certified building analyst in the envelope professional has helped him understand the needs and challenges contractors face dealing with the building performance. Dane's focus has been bringing high performance vapor barriers to residential applications like crawl space and capitulations and educating contractors on the science behind these products. Dan was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois, or the center of the state center of the country's center of the world. So basically, he says, the world revolves around him. As he likes to say, he has a degree in marketing from western Illinois, which is where he met his wife. Together, they have a three year old daughter and spend as much time as possible outdoors. If he's not on the road somewhere, which is kind of like us, about 70 percent of the year, you'll find them on the lake surfing in the summer and likely hunting in the fall. He also has about 30 beehives on his farm and processes his own honey, which he will put up against any honey in the world as the best.

Dane:
And I will help you test that theory. And you should send some to Minnesota. Absolutely. I will bring some up. And I will I will definitely go on record as saying that it's the best thing that you're going to find.

Various:
I wanted to do this while I was reading it, but come on, I thought he had it all cued up, Donnie. I did.

Dane:
Oh, I love that. Yes, that's right.

Travis:
We digress for Peoria, Illinois, Daymo, where you should have kept going. I had it already.

Travis:
Well, enough about all that. Dame, welcome.

Dane:
Yeah, yeah, thank you very much for having me. I feel very privileged to be on here with you guys and I'm excited to be here.

Don:
So let's talk a little bit about how you get on here, because, you know, for the first few episodes, we've been kind of spray foam heavy because that's my background. That's where my contacts come from. Right. And so I reached out to a lot of people I knew in the industry. I don't know anyone. So and as we kind of took a break, we hammered out a bunch of podcasts during quarantine because there wasn't a whole lot to do. And then we took a break when things started to open back up a little bit. And we're all trying to get back the business that we lost. And Travis and I were talking like, hey, we've got to start season three of this and we still want to keep the same format.

Don:
But I started to reach out to people like Laurie, who's our accessory manager at Idei, and said, hey, you've got to have some vendors that we could bring on the show. That's not spray foam related, because surprisingly to me, not all of our listeners installs rafel.

Dane:
They should, but they don't.

Don:
Yeah. So she right away I mean, I think she she responded back you for sure. We've got to do it. And I'm excited because I'm embarrassed to say I don't know a whole lot about the Viper system and crawlspaces and what we should all be doing in that. And I know there's probably a lot of listeners out there who it could be an untapped market for. Am I wrong?

Dane:
No, no. You're you're absolutely right. In and I first I got to say thank you to Laurie for for recommending me for this. I don't know I don't know if you are held up by somebody else to say my name, but I definitely thank you for suggesting me to be on here. But no, you're absolutely right, Don. I mean, the crawl space industry, even though it's been around for a while, still kind of in the figuring out I call it the teenage years. Right. It's been around for a little bit, but it's still trying to figure out who it is, where it's at, who the players are in it. So that's where there was a tremendous opportunity and still is and really where I got connected to Idei and bringing the crawl space encapsulation as another opportunity into into the portfolio. So, I mean, I guess it probably makes sense to start back a little bit like what is VIPR, who is VIPR, so to speak, and go down that road. VIPR VIPR has been around for probably the better part of twenty five years. It's manufactured by ISI building products here in central Illinois. And what it is, is it's a it's a premium high performance vapor barrier.

Dane:
And so really our focus has been kind of displacing all those old traditional building practices and things like that and really promoting the use of high performance materials in this space, in this market, and really trying to drive the industry forward and progress a little bit from maybe where it got its start, even only ten, fifteen years ago.

Don:
So you can't just put six mill poly down in a crawl space and say, no, unfortunately, no.

Dane:
Six, no poly. That's that's what I tell a lot of these guys and people that I'm that I meet out on the road is that even though today the code still says six mill poly, what we found just by just by being out in the field and and these guys starting to weatherize and retrofit homes, is that six mill poly. While it's inexpensive and has a lot of great features and benefits, it doesn't work for this application. And so what we're trying to do is get out there and educate people on the differences between standard six mill poly High-Performance vapor barriers and then why you should use those in crawl space and capitulations.

Travis:
So when you say that it's not the best application and it doesn't work, what do you mean by that?

Dane:
Yeah, so so what six mill polyethylene is essentially is it's traditionally made with with polyethylene resin that's been reground or recycled from it could be post consumer materials, it could be just scraps in the factory. And the reason that's done is to drive that cost down and keep it as is competitive and inexpensive as possible. But with polyethylene, when you do that, what you do is you start to break down those inherent performance characteristics of that resin. So you already start that degradation process of that resin. So when you when you go then to extrude and create a film, you have something that just doesn't have the strength characteristics that you would need in that application. So like in crawlspace encapsulation, big things are puncture is. Distance and tensile strength or terror resistance, and so when you have a regrind material or recycled material, that sounds good on the surface, but really it's not giving you the performance that you need in the crawl space.

Travis:
So basically, in the process of making it cheaper price wise, it made the product cheaper, too. So you get what you pay for, but you're losing the longevity and the performance of the product is what you're saying. Right.

Dane:
And so and so ultimately, six nail polish wasn't invented for crawlspace encapsulation. It's had a long list that uses as a vapor tartar in insulation industry and tons of different industries. And so what's unique about the crawl space encapsulation world is that it's it's obviously mostly residential. And the impacts of having a poor vapor barrier vapor retardant in the home is that it's felt in comfort issues and indoor air quality issues. A lot of structural issues can can stem from having a poor vapor barrier in the crawl space. So the the importance of having a quality product quality material in that application is so much more relevant and important.

Don:
So let's talk about what sets the product apart.

Dane:
Yeah, absolutely. So so what unique about VIPR seats is so when I say that six mill polyethylene is traditionally a regrind recycled material. Conversely, Viper is one hundred percent virgin resin. So it's it's never been used before. It's never been regrind. It's not a plastic bottle or a plastic bag. It's a it's a virgin resin. So we're getting the maximum strength characteristics. The water vapor permeates all the important features of that resin. We are able to to get that out of it. The second thing that really separates viruses from from a standard poly is that it's a reinforced vapor barrier. So with with reinforcement, you really have you have two options for for polyethylene sheeting. You have probably the most notably or recognized one, which is string reinforcement. So you see a nylon diamond pattern and string laminated in between two layers of polyethylene to to increase that tensile strength of the material. The other, which VIPR says is is a woven, reinforced polyethylene sheeting. So as opposed to having two separate films around a string reinforcement, it's actually individual strands of this polyethylene that are woven together, kind of like what you see with with a tarp. A lot of times we have that woven, that woven grid pattern, but it's very tightly woven together. And so what that does is it creates a built-In rip stop throughout. So if that product ever were to get cut, torn, punctured, it's not going to continue to tear like like a traditional blown film would. It's going to actually have something those those interlaced strands of polyethylene to keep it from continually tearing. Sure. Secondly, it's it's actually extrusion coated on both sides of that that woven scream, if you will. So that's where we're really able to beef up our things like water vapor per and make sure that we're blocking out as much water vapor and moisture travel as possible. And also it creates a very strong, highly puncture resistant vapor barrier, unlike traditional six mil poly.

Lori:
So as a homeowner, if I had a crawlspace other than the Bay Area and and climate control, what benefits so I could use that space as storage where I otherwise wouldn't be able to. Can you elaborate on that? Absolutely.

Dane:
So that's again, along with the indoor air quality issues and the overall comfort of the home and home performance, just creating a usable space is one of the benefits of encapsulating your crawl space. More often than not, if you've ever seen a picture of a crawl space, it's it's a dark, dirty, dingy, nasty place. And so people don't want to go down there. A lot of times homeowners have never even been in their crawl space. And so what's nice about encapsulating with a product like viruses is it allows you to turn that into a usable space. If that were just done with a traditional six mil poly or an inferior vapor barrier, having a homeowner go down there for to use it as storage or walking around down there, even if you have other trades like pest control contractors or contractors down there, you run that risk of puncturing and tearing the vapor barrier. So in to be honest with you, if you're vapor barrier has punctures and tears, it really defeats the purpose of having it down there. So, yeah, viruses is great for turning that that crawl space into a bright, clean, usable space for the homeowner.

Travis:
So we talked a little bit in prep for this podcast, and it was kind of came to my surprise that traditionally crawlspaces wasn't owned by an insulation contractor. Tell me kind of how that kind of came about and why they should focus on this.

Dane:
Yeah, absolutely. It's one of those things where when the crawl space, I guess, industry kind of really took its boom or when when home started to get a little bit tighter, a little bit higher performance, we started to see the effects of what we call vintage crawlspaces. Had that construction method was something that was was out there for a really long time. But as other areas of building improve, the crawl space really never did. So as we started to see those effects, predominantly who we saw fixing those problems were waterproofing contractors, people who focused on exterior foundations, basement basement remodelers and things like that. But it really never had that specific set of contractors focused on on creating it. And so what we noticed immediately is, is the opportunity with the trades who are already down there, who are already doing work from for for other reasons or or something else that gets them down in that crawlspace in the insulation contractor was number one on the list. We found a lot of insulation contractors right when sealing and insulating the home need to address those. Those high air leakage areas in the crawl space is often very, very high on that list. The Joyce specifically can be a huge area for for air infiltration. So they were going down there, spray foam in those those critical areas and insulating essentially the thermal envelope. And what they were noticing is that there was a moisture problem or that, hey, there's there's so much more going on beyond just your your insulation. Here you have Bulc water. There's a lot of mold, mildew leaks down there. So what we said is let's take an opportunity to educate the insulation contractor as opposed to just handing that off to someone else. Let's educate them on how they can properly encapsulate that crawlspace and add that service to to their offering at a high margin as well, at a very high margin. And so what I always tell people when we're out in the field talking about crawlspaces, encapsulation, is that it doesn't take a lot of expensive equipment to get involved to it. I mean, I love tools just like anybody. But unfortunately, with with crawlspaces, encapsulation, you really don't need a lot of tools to do it properly. So it's a very low barrier of entry and very easy for contractors, proficient contractors to add this service. But you're solving such an important problem and you have to do it correctly that there's really good opportunity to increase your bottom line and profitability as a company doing this. And it's not requiring you to go out and and like I said, take on a whole lot of new expenses. You're able to do this, I guess, complementary to what you're already offering your customers today.

Travis:
And, you know, I would I would assume that there's some technique, right. Folding it correctly in the corners and stuff like that. And in fact, I think you were well, I guess it feels like yesterday, but back in. Is it the march or something? We had a class that it was at Nashville is actually down and down in Alabama. Alabama, I was close on it.

Dane:
So, Ken, allicin on your team and I have been have been working over the past. I would see probably the last year or so really trying to craft a quality training that encompasses the building science behind crawlspace encapsulation, the kind of the why you need to do it, but also the how. So where you guys are able to offer your comprehensive insulation trainings, you're now able to offer an additional service where your customers can come in and get educated and learn why encapsulate encapsulated crawlspace and how to do it effectively, how to how to roll out that line or how to install it to the walls, how to ensure all your overlaps are done correctly and terminated to the wall correctly, but also how it works with everything else. You're able to tie everything in completely. That that BPI model or or that house is a system model really works well for this type of training.

Travis:
Yeah, I hope we can get another one. I mean, obviously up here in the Midwest, we don't we don't build traditionally with a lot of crawlspace. So this is pretty specific niche to to the southeast and east coast of the country. But there's plenty of plenty of opportunities, I'm sure.

Dane:
Yeah. So with, interestingly enough, some of the research that we've done, the last, I guess, true number that we've been able to find is that there was like twenty six million homes out there that are on crawlspaces and they're still being built pretty regularly today. It's one of those inexpensive options to for builders to get that that living space up off the ground. Or if you're in a in an uneven area where you're not going to sit on the side of a mountain or something, you're not going to be digging out a full basement. A crawl space is still a great way to do that. But we've got to make sure we're addressing the moisture issues and the indoor air quality issues and things like that if we're going to do it. So you're right, there are areas of the country where more crawlspaces are prevalent. The southeast is huge. But in through the Midwest, we see a lot of I'm in Illinois and we see a lot of crawlspaces around this area on up into Michigan. And then the Pacific Northwest is also a really, really hotbed for crawlspaces or at least ones that have moisture problems. And that is largely due to the amount of moisture that they see every year.

Don:
I wouldn't assume that the Pacific Northwest was heavily with crawlspaces as Earth. So the reason is that the the earth, the soil there,

Dane:
I yeah, I think I think there's a number of reasons of why that is. But, you know, up there, you tend to see, you tend to see or at least a lot more crawlspaces that have problems. Not every crawlspaces going to have a moisture issue or bulk water issue or just any issues in general. And so a lot of times it's it's where we see a lot of that point of emphasis is where the moisture levels are really, really high. So it creates more and more problems. And the Pacific Northwest, for whatever reason, is we just we just see that we see that as a heavy area for need for crawlspaces, encapsulation and remediation.

Don:
So with the insulation contractor kind of starting to own this space, would you say a little bit more? We talked a little bit about training and I want to get back to that. But would you say every time they go out there to do to look at the attic and everything they should be if there's a crawlspace, say, hey, when's the last time you've been down there? Should I go down there and take a look? Are you experiencing anything down there? And what should they be looking for if they're not typically going down into the crawl space?

Dane:
Absolutely. That is that is the one thing that if we can get out to those those insulation contractors is to is to look for these opportunities, is to go out and proactively find these, because more often than not, people don't know they have a crawlspace issue until they hear until they smell an odor, until the harmful effects start to take place. So as insulation contractors are going out and doing know estimates on insulating the house, they need to start at the outside of the house and see see how it's built. Is it on a basement or is it on a crawl space? And obviously poke their head down in there and see what's going on and ask those homeowners, have you ever experienced any musty odors? Do you get any poor indoor air quality with it? Have you had any moisture issues before in literally just go down in that crawl space and do a quick inspection? Because just like they would go into an attic and see inadequate insulation, they're going to poke their head down in there and see that that homeowner has bulk water or. They have the insulation in the floor above, the crawl space is sagging down, is saturated with moisture, is black mold, they're going to be able to quickly identify those those issues that are present in a crawl space and can and can easily fix those while they're doing their insulating job as well, for sure.

Don:
So you keep saying, you know, one of the big things is, is the moisture and water and everything. How do you incorporate the dehumidifiers into that? Is that part of your expertise?

Dane:
And so it's not something that we do specifically, but obviously being entrenched in this in this industry and market is dehumidifiers are a huge part of that. I always look at crawlspace encapsulation a couple in a couple of different ways. It's almost like a stool, if you will, is like the the High-Performance liners is is there to really block that that moisture migrate from the soil and from the water table below coming into that crawl space and condensing on the surfaces above when that when that humidity is just right and the dew point is wrong. But that's where you need the dehumidifier as well as that vapor barrier isn't going to be the only only thing you need to really stop and correct that that crawlspace. So putting and installing a dehumidifier to really control any potential excess moisture, humidity that gets in there, that that goes hand in hand with the with the liners. And that third thing that we really see often used with crawlspaces, encapsulation is a sump pump, for example, if there's any bulk water issue, you certainly want to address that. We get a lot of questions from contractors around the country. Can I just put in a liner on top of top of what's there? If there's a if there's water issues, do I need to address that? And you really do, just because if you don't, you're going to essentially create a water bed down there that could potentially cause a lot of problems. If someone's walking around down in there, you have any sort of mechanical equipment?

Travis:
Good question, Don. I was going to kind of turn that into what other accessories, you know, kind of steer steer this towards like some accessory things for, you know, additional services that a contractor could use in a crawl space. Dehousse being one. You talk about some pumps, but obviously insulation is a huge factor down there, too, to kind of help mitigate some of the condensation and all that kind of stuff.

Dane:
Absolutely. So once you once you really control that moisture infiltration, then you're looking at it just like you guys do on an everyday basis. From an insulation standpoint is is where are we going to put that thermal envelope? Is that going to go down down the foundation walls or are we going to stop that at the floor above? How do we want to address that? Is that a condition space? You know, all those normal questions that you guys are dealing with every day come into play there. Another aspect that a lot of people aren't aware of that that's really taken over is the prevalence of radon in basements. And crawl space is so going hand in hand with moisture migration. You also have soil gases that could potentially be coming into the home and causing problems. So what's unique about viruses as well is it's one of about only four liner's out there that have really been tested for radon diffusion coefficient. And all that really means it's not it's not designed to to stop radon from coming in, but it's just like water vapor. It's going to help slow that transmission of any soil gases coming in and in really radon mitigation systems utilize a vapor barrier, some sort of a ceiling aspect on top of their active depressurisation systems to get that that soil gas out. So they go hand in hand. You're able to also look at radon issues and moisture issues and insulation issues, all in one area of the home that you can that you can solve for homeowner.

Travis:
Excellent. Well, I now got educated. I've always heard of VIPR, we obviously sell it, but we even had tons of uses up here in the Midwest. But, you know, we do have radon. So that could be a factor for the Midwest contractor's usage, not in a crawl space, but even in basements, is what you're saying.

Dane:
Yeah, absolutely. If you're looking for a passive barrier, if you're going to be doing any sort of ceiling, overexposed earth of, you know, for radon mitigation system, VIPR and viruses would be a phenomenal product to use there just for the same reason as it is in the encapsulation. It's going to do a great job and it's going to withstand any sort of traffic and prevent any any holes from being punctured or or anything like that.

Travis:
Excellent. Lori, what else do you think of adon? You're going to go down and I've been texting back and forth. He's got about, I don't know, five second lag.

Don:
So he kind of gets really bad. That's why I've been trying to keep quiet during this, which is kind of rare for me.

Don:
You know, it sounds easy like, hey, just go down in the crawlspace, put the Viper down there and you're good to go, but there's a lot of stuff that you have to look at because what happens down there will affect the rest of our house or has a potential to affect the rest of the house. And we talk a little bit about training and the training that we have, but we, with the pandemic and everything, kind of backed off on some of the trainings that we've done. So if we do have a customer that that is interested in this and ask questions and thinks thinks this is something he could add to his business portfolio, what's the best way for him to get more information and and to get kind of trained up on that so he knows what he's looking at when he goes in there?

Dane:
Yeah, absolutely. You know, I would always tell everybody to start at their local local branch. You know, we're working with a lot of the branches across the country, but I am always available to to reach out to and answer any sort of questions.

Dane:
But the time they reach out so they can absolutely reach me at at my email, which is Deyn job site marketing group, dot com or happy to provide my my cell phone to anybody out there to call text any time three zero nine two zero eight zero zero three three oh oh.

Don:
Now you're just going to be getting a lot of Brankov.

Dane:
I'm all for it. I'm open for it. I'm always up for a good conversation. But no, I mean, a great place to start would be at the at the ISI Building Products website, the ISI BPE dot com. You'll find tons of great resources and information on the website there for VIPR and and all the crawl space products that ISI building products offers. But I would say built into into the Idei networking platform as we've outfitted all the branches with tons of marketing collateral things that really help the contractors make their job easier when they're going into the homeowners and trying to educate them on why they use VIPR, why they should go with VIPR. One thing I guess I would want everyone to take away just from a vapor barrier standpoint, is that Mills so often just like insulation, everything is measured in our value. Right. But with vapor barriers, it's all about mill thickness. For for whatever reason, the industry has established that mill thickness is that is that standard that we go by because the better. Right. So, I mean, it's one of those things where we just we try to let people know that mill thickness is is not a performance. Measurement is only a thickness measurement. So the tagline is mills don't measure performance. So we always we always request that people look beyond that mill thickness and look at the performance behind the vapor barrier, because that's what really matters when someone says that they want they need a six mill poly or a 10 mill poly or a 20 mill poorly. What they're really asking for is a certain set of performance characteristics.

Dane:
The thickness really doesn't have any permanence to that application. And and what's what's unique is that you can use better raw materials, better manufacturing methods to create a product that's thinner and wool will actually outperform those thicker products, just like you don't spray foam performs at a much higher level at the same thickness of a lot of other different insulation's. So you've got to you really got to look at the performance beyond just that, that no, the industry standard out there is co dictating the metal thickness in these crawlspaces. So to code. Yeah, I mean, a new construction code still, unfortunately only calls out for six mill poly. But what the reason that is and what we've kind of uncovered is that in new construction, you're really, really not going to know if you're going to experience any sort of crawlspace issues and moisture problems. And so and even if it's done correctly, they don't know if someone's going to walk on that and tear it. But what we found and what the industry has found over these last 10, 15 years is that it probably just doesn't withstand the lifetime of the structure. It's going to start breaking down. People are going to walk on it. They're going to you know, they're going to rip it. It's going to get torn. And then you don't have an effective and effective solution down there. So, yeah, it's really one of those things that even though the code calls out six mill poly, the industry has found out that that it's just not an effective solution. So they're steering away from it completely on their own.

Don:
So I think this is kind of a lot like ignition and thermal barrier. They have to be edger. The contractor has to be educated on the product. And what it's going to do because you're going to have portions of the country where the your guy, the guy they're competing against down the street, he's not going to put that into the bid, even though it's required by code and they're going to come in a lot cheaper. And our guy who's been trained, gone through our classes, knows what the right thing to do is has to up sell now because the other guy's not playing by the same rules. And now with code being just six mil poly, they're going to have to have the resources to go to. And I guess they would go back to those websites and your phone number that you listed to to train on or to get up to speed on that.

Dane:
Yeah. And one thing that we've tried to do to make it as easy as possible. Right. For for not only our or our contractor customers that are using VIPR, but to then show the homeowners as well is to really create a comparison chart, if you will, that show just how these things perform in every category. I always say crawl space paper barriers are measured by the big three, if you will, puncture resistance, tensile strength and water vapour permissions. And so what we've done is, is highlighted those those performance characteristics against leading products, whether they be strong, reinforced or standard polyethylene sheeting. And those are resources that you guys have that everybody has access to, to be able to show that, hey, if you look at if you look at the third party independent testing, we know that this product is going to outperform. So that's something that's been hugely beneficial to take it out there and educate people in the country with.

Travis:
Excellent. Dana, thanks. I know I learned a lot. I had no idea. But in the end, six mill poly sucks and use viruses.

Dane:
Yeah, that's absolutely right. And if you take anything away from it, mills don't measure performance. Mills don't measure performance. Lori just gave us the title for the podcast. Yeah, there we go. That's the title for the podcast. Thanks, man. I appreciate you coming on. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you guys so much for having me. I appreciate all the support that you guys have shown over the years and wish you the best of luck with this thing. It's awesome. Thank you. Thanks, guys. This time you've been listening to our Value podcast.

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EPISODE 15

Molded Into a Leader with Geoff Costa

November 2020  | 68:00

For a while now, the R-Value team has wanted to bring in guests that were not just vendors or product specialists. Focusing more on individuals who have great experience and life stories to share that can inspire listeners in their professional and personal lives.

Today’s amazing guest is Geoff Costa, Atlantic District Manager at IDI, West Point grad, and veteran of the Iraq War. Travis and Don talk with him about his time at West Point, in active duty and how it lead him on the path to where he is now. They also get down to business, discussing lack of quality labor, recruitment, how to retain good people, the importance of training, and career over. job. They finish with Geoff expressing what he believes are the most important qualities of a good leader.

  • 11:20 – Deciding on West Point
  • 18:30 – Forced to Fail
  • 22:18 – How to proceed
  • 25:45 – Stuff got real
  • 30:44 – The mind quits before the body
  • 36:44 – The lack of labor problem
  • 39:11 – 4 key tasks to success
  • 56:26 – Leadership = Selfless Service

Molded Into a Leader with Geoff Costa

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Geoff Costa:
You’ll start to see the youth development programs and veterans that are looking for a trade now. Those are always untapped potential there, but that’s.

Travis Pankake:
Not Taco Bell.

Geoff Costa:
You know…

Travis Pankake:
inside joke. Inside joke.

Various:
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. Hello and welcome back to our site.

Travis Pankake:
Listening to the Insulators podcast sitting here across the table via Zoome with my partner in crime, Don Clymer, bam, bam.

Don Clymer:
What’s going on, Travis?

Travis Pankake:
Not a whole lot. No Hurricane Salleh today.

Don Clymer:
No. Dodged another bullet with that one. Thankfully, it looks like I always feel bad saying that because I wish you wish bad things to happen to other people. I feel like when I say that, but truthfully, I’m like, I am happy it didn’t hit us. It sucks for those people I’m willing to help out, but that’s another one. So we dodged Laura first and now Sally.

Travis Pankake:
And there’s more coming. If you look at the the radar, there’s like five of them. Yeah. I saw in there all like coming in hard, like there’s two of them that supposed to hit like within twenty, twenty two hours of each other or something like that. Coming in hot. Coming in hot. So we’re back doing this podcast thing. And I understand we’ve got a little bit of a special guest today.

Don Clymer:
We do, Travis, we do. Why don’t you go ahead and introduce him?

Don Clymer:
Yeah, we’re going to change things up a little bit today. Know, we always have outside guests, whether it’s David Avrin or Brian Bollo people in the industry. And then we also have vendors and product, product, knowledge, people stuff on there. But, you know, I’ve been since we’ve started this podcast, I’ve started listening to more podcasts, and I always find myself going towards the podcasts that have to do with leadership and accountability and mentoring and just how to be a overall better person and better at my job and better with my family. And, you know, so I sat back and I’m like, man, who who would be really good on that? And everybody listens to Rogen and everybody listens to JoCo. And I was like, who could we get? Like JoCo? Like, should I sent him an email. I’m like, now, like for listeners probably won’t impress them that much. But I thought sometimes the easiest answer is the one that’s right in front of your face. Right. I mean, it’s just it stares at you and there it was right in front of my face. So today on the show, we have our very own Jeff Costa and why he’s a fit is well, let me back up. So Jeff just been with us just under four years and started at sales at the New York branch, moved into a branch manager and is now a regional manager for the New York and Pennsylvania markets. I haven’t looked at the recent numbers. I’m not privy to all of them, but I think since he’s taken over that region, he probably has doubled or tripled or quadrupled those sales numbers in there. And that’s a true testament to his leadership skills. Right. And I’m sure we’ll talk about that. But why I thought Jeff was he comes from probably one of the best, if not the best place in the country or the planet to produce leaders. And that’s West Point. Jeff graduated West Point, did two tours in Iraq through from six to 09, I believe, Jeff, and correct me if I’m wrong on that later on. And he truly is one of the most positive people I have ever met in my entire life. And I’ve been at 16 years. Jeff’s been here a little under four, like I said, and I find myself going to him for advice as much as he used to come to me. And I thought, let’s get him on. Let’s get one of his own on so people can hear who I employs and the type of people that that we have to offer to the industry. Right. And maybe they can grab some of Jeff’s motivation. I mean, if you follow his LinkedIn page, the guy is crazy, nuts, customer service and leadership and just positivity. So with that. Welcome, Jeff.

Geoff Costa:
And what’s up, guys? Thank you very much.

Travis Pankake:
Well, first of all, thank you for your service, young man. And I can say, young man, because I think you’re considerably younger than me, but I don’t know, I still got more of my hair than you do. But you’re still looking good, brother.

Geoff Costa:
I appreciate that. I keep it tight to keep the grays out the great and come in. As I say, they’re premature, but they you know, they came for a reason. So I look, Don, I greatly appreciate that introduction. I humbly wear about a size 10 shoe, so I’m trying to fit the size 13. You just introduced me. Has no doubt that I’m very humbled and honored by that introduction. So thank you.

Don Clymer:
Oh, well deserved and well deserved. Jeff, let’s talk a little bit about I mean, let’s just get into it. Let’s talk about the decision process of going to West Point, where you, the class clown, where you the the jokester or were you just dialed in, straight laced from day one coming out of mama?

Geoff Costa:
You know, it’s funny. So it’s it’s an interesting story. Right. So, you know, it’s it’s very, very real. There was my freshman group of this is high school now. Right. So we’re in high school. My freshman, sophomore, junior going to senior year. There were 11 of us on my high school lacrosse team. So we had a pretty large group of guys in our senior class, our junior year. You know, all of us were starting to talk about colleges and if we could play college ball and this and that, ten out of eleven of those guys went to the University of Albany together, upstate New York, and they made like one big brotherhood that is pretty much just going to be high powered high school grade 13 in my eyes now where they were going to continue and they had this bonding pact and true story, 10 of the 11 of us went to Albany. And during that time, it was really those were one of those moments that I just knew there was something different. There was something more I was looking for. I wasn’t prepared to just kind of follow the pack that way. And so I started doing some research on, you know, different opportunities. And then a lot of those, you know, with my success in academics and sports, led me looking at some military academies and eventually blessed with the opportunity to go to West Point.

Travis Pankake:
Kind of quick. Yeah, sorry. Sorry, Pancake. Oh, it’s nothing new. We’re pretty sad.

Don Clymer:
I know. I’m sorry. I did have my hand up. I did not see it. It was late. OK, whatever happened is that not the town or close to the town where Medal of Honor winner Michael Murphy was, isn’t that right in that area?

Geoff Costa:
And that’s spot on. Good, good information. That’s about 15 miles. Mike Murphy was from Patchogue, which is about 15 miles west of where I grew up. So Mike Murphy was in that in my backyard

Don Clymer:
So you knew something bigger was out there. You knew you need to do something a little bit more.

Don Clymer:
Yeah. You know, I just, I knew I was always. I always was very patriotic. I was always very much for the country. Always I always believed in service, whether I kind of grew up, I was that kid that would have the lawnmower out mowing my parents grass and I would mow my neighbor’s yard just because I had it out and I figured I’d help him out and save them the trouble of doing it. So. Or my favorite things were taking in my neighbor’s garbage bills. I loved it.

Geoff Costa:
I mean, to me, it was just a small, simple task. And, you know, people with just like what happened. But garbage pails make it up to my my garage door and stuff. And it’s just one of those things I always love doing things, mowing the grass or taking in pails at 7:00 in the morning before anyone was there, that you’re not looking for the recognition. You weren’t doing it for any other purpose, but just to serve, just to help.

Don Clymer:
People thought I was a nice kid growing up because when it would snow in Minnesota, I got my first ATV when I was like 12 and my dad got a plow on it and we kind of lived in a country and the houses were pretty far spread apart. But I’d go out, I would pray for snow just so I could plow our driveway and I’d go and hit the neighbor’s house just because it gave me more time on their own, like, oh, I had such a nice kid and I’m really not.

Don Clymer:
I just like to ride four wheelers.

Travis Pankake:
So one’s self serving. The other one just wants to help out true leadership down to leadership. You know, you and I have talked a little bit about the whole West Point. Why don’t you kind of just give it some reality there and just it’s not an easy place to get into. You’ve got to have a lot going on for you, which you obviously had.

Geoff Costa:
Yeah. So, I mean, West Point was just one of those places, right. So West Point, you know, you average thousands through tens of thousands of applicants trying to get into West Point.

Don Clymer:
And I want to back up. We kind of skipped over the part where you decided, hey, West Point is for me. Yeah, that’s where I want to go. I want to leave my core group of guys who we made this pact. We’re going to kill it at Albany. Right. And you realized, hey, I got to do something bigger and better. And I decided on West Point. How did how did you get to that conclusion?

Geoff Costa:
So what happened was the lacrosse coach came down to watch me play. Right. So at that point, it was an athletic thing. And the lacrosse coach came to watch me play. And my high school guidance counselor actually went to West Point, but he quit after three weeks. He didn’t make it past the first couple of weeks of what they call the cadet basic training. So when my high school guidance counselor, who was also my wrestling coach, who was also my lacrosse coach, found that I was looking into West Point and believe that I was good enough, possibly besides the service in the military and all that stuff to actually play lacrosse there. Also, the lacrosse coach came down for a visit and he sat with me and my guidance counselor. He was serving as guidance counselor role for this. And he started explaining to me what West Point entailed as a freshman, that you had to start your day by memorizing the front page of the newspaper so that any upperclassmen can ask you what’s going on in the news. And you had to not only know, but you had to be able to verbatim quote paragraphs from the newspaper that you had. What’s that? Which newspaper? Anyone know it was the Times that OK? Yeah.

Geoff Costa:
You know, you had to memorize breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu for the day, because at West Point all the cadets sit family style, all four thousand cadets or in one dining facility, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you had to memorize the meals for the day. So at any point in the given day, you know, you’re walking to class and upper class men can stop you and say, hey, what am I having for dinner tonight? And you would have to stop what you’re doing and get in the position of attention and say, serve for dinner. We are having a pot roast with a side of mashed potatoes. You will have a side of salad with your choice of salad dressings of balsamic vinegar or Italian for dessert. We are having ice cream. We will be serving each year, whatever. And you’d have to give you you’d have this you wake up every morning with this list of information that you had to memorize. And so this the the lacrosse coach was explaining all of this to me and just telling me, you know, the success rate versus the failure rate and I was locked in. You it just coming from a conversation with 10, 17 year olds that we’re going to go join a fraternity and party it up.

Geoff Costa:
Not that I thought anything against that. I just knew it wasn’t for me. And so then when you had the conversation about probably an exact one 80 where there’s no drinking, no civilian clothes, you’re in a uniform every day you march to class. You know, there’s this thing at West Point called pinging. If you look it up, you actually have to ping around the hallways, which means you have to keep your right shoulder to the wall and you have to make 90 degree turns and everything you do. So you don’t slip in like you just walk to class, like you have to ping and march everywhere you go for your freshman year and you can’t speak until you’re spoken. So when all this was presented to me, I was like, man, I’m in like challenge accepted. I want to thrive. Especially I wasn’t for anybody else, but also motivated me that my high school guidance counselor slash wrestling coach, slash lacrosse coach who I looked up to quit after three weeks and I was going to go do that and finish that journey for him.

Travis Pankake:
So, you know, part of that challenge is probably to do better than him, right. A little bit and saying, well, I’m going to last longer than you. Right. And a little competition there. You come from a military family at all. I mean, is that did that have any driving force to this at all?

Geoff Costa:
You know, so there was there’s an option for the prep school. There’s a preparatory school, which is a fifth year. And it’s you know, it’s it was in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, as opposed to West Point, New York. So Fort Mom’s New Jersey was a prep school. And because I had no military experience, because I wasn’t, you know, from some of the parts of the country like you guys, that I didn’t grow up hunting and fishing and shooting. So they presented me the option to go to the prep school for a year. And they said, look, it’s going to add a fifth year to your life. You’re going to go to school for five years instead of four. You know, you could choose to go directly in, but because you don’t have any family military background, because you don’t really think you do, but you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, we highly recommend it. And so I took that path as well and added another year to the whole requirement for me.

Don Clymer:
How did you ever run into an instance where you were not able to recite the menu? I was going to ask that.

Geoff Costa:
Yeah, I mean, I also pride myself on the fact that if you if you mess up at West Point, you get marching hours. So on a Saturday and Sunday, you have to report in your full dress uniform and they make a 10 by 10 box and you just march in a box for as many hours as you were punished so you could get five hours, 10 hours or two hours for just messing up or you’re messing up a room inspection, messing up the meals. So an upperclassman. You know, there were four responses. Your freshman year. You were allowed to say four things.

Geoff Costa:
Yes, sir. Or ma’am. No, sir or ma’am. Sir or ma’am. I do not understand. No excuse or ma’am. OK, and of those four responses, the two that led the way was yes, sir or ma’am, because you did what you were told and that no excuse sir or ma’am, because you were set up to fail. Nobody could you know, nobody can memorize the front page of a newspaper. All three meals, you know, worst battalion orders, Schofields definition of discipline. There was all these things you were set up to fail. And so, you know, and they’re going to prove to you that no matter how hard you work, you’re going to get broken down and fail. And so you you learn all those things. But your only response when you fail is no excuse or. Ma’am, that’s all you can say. So they you know, years later, you know, that you were set up to fail. You were put in positions to fail on purpose. You had to learn to fail. Why? Because thirty to forty thousand applicants a year, we’re going to West Point and they take on average twelve to fifteen hundred, which end up probably between nine fifty and one thousand fifty graduate. Those guys and women that get accepted, they’re the cream of the crop. They’re already in regards to their lives by seventeen, eighteen years old, high school. You know, they’re the valedictorians, they’re the captains of all their teams. They’re the academic all stars. They’re cream at the top. They’re already number one. So now you provide an institution where you have one thousand no ones of egos in an organization. You’re going to break them back down and you’re going to break them down so that you can mold them into what you want.

Geoff Costa:
You’re going to force them to fail because up into that part of their life, they didn’t know a lot of the failures. They might have failed, but they always succeed. They were the successors. They were the cream of the crop. So that’s what it was. So now back to the original question. I did my plenty of hours marching around because I messed up things I was supposed to memorize. And you literally just march around in a ten by ten box that’s taped on the floor for God.

Don Clymer:
I don’t know what would be worse. The person having to march or I’m assuming somebody was there watching. Right. I mean, what’s what’s the worst punishment?

Geoff Costa:
Right. And the first thing is to provide them. You start that whole process when you show up for your hours, your information in your best dressed uniform and inspect your uniform. And if they find a smudge on your brass buckle, if your jig line is off, they add hours, Mike. So, you know. Oh, yeah.

Don Clymer:
So at what point was there a point at at West Point where you were like, screw this, this isn’t for me all the time, right?

Geoff Costa:
Oh, plenty of times where, you know, you just I mean, it was you know, you have the three pillars at West Point are academic, military and athletics. Those are the three pillars that you get graded on. And you kind of get the same way. We get sales report cards here for the sales reps and stuff. You get a report card and your grades in your class, your class ranking was based on your academic performance, your military performance and your athletic performance. And so, you know, trying to maintain those three pillars, doing physical training in the morning, doing academics all day, and then being at Division one college athlete, lacrosse player, you know, at the end of the day, trying to do all of that and juggle it. There were plenty of times where I just work was broken. And I thought, yeah, we me, but we kind of glanced over that. So not only were you going to West Point, you were a D1 lacrosse lacrosse player at the same time for them playing going on a Friday night or Saturday to go play Syracuse or John Hopkins or North Carolina. You will see Tar Heels going to play Virginia, going to play at some of these amazing places and seeing these college kids and the way they live and then getting back on a bus in your uniform and going back to the Great Wall at West Point. So, yeah, and trying to succeed as a Division One athlete and come home at nine, ten o’clock at night and know you got from a Tuesday night game and know that you got physical training at six a.m. the next day and your first class at 9:00 a.m. You know, when your first test at 10:00 a.m., you know, in geography or calculus or physics, it was a lot it was a lot to.

Travis Pankake:
And sign me up. Oh, thanks. No, thanks. While you’re there, you obviously have to, I’m assuming, have to pick what you want to do after your five years, including the prep school, what you want to do in the military. After you graduate, correct? Exactly. So how to talk a little bit about what influenced what you chose, what influenced you to go that way and how that all transpired?

Geoff Costa:
So what I do in that regard, I chose Field Artillery. OK, now, in light of this whole podcast, why I chose Field Artillery, because you got a couple of days to spend time with a lot of different branches. So those branches of that choice that you’re talking about, Don, be infantry, field artillery, aviation, medicore JAG for the legal side of things. You know, all those different branches, you’ve got to spend a couple of days with generals, brigade commanders who are full bird colonels of those branches. And the artillery leadership at that time just spoke volumes to me. The guys that presented that branch, the way they presented it, their level of passion, their level of buying into what they do every day. That’s what drew me to that branch and that’s why I chose that branch.

Travis Pankake:
So it kind of seems like he had a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. What what what drove that, you know, to want to put yourself through all this? You know, you seem to get more excited about it, the more difficult it sounded.

Geoff Costa:
Well, yeah, look, I mean, we know there was a lot of driving factors, you know, I mean, it was. But a lot of it was just my upbringing, you know, and a lot of it was dealing with it without going too much into detail, you know? I mean, I lost my father to suicide when I was two years old. My mom I had an older brother at the time who never really recovered well from that. And there was a lot of issues and a lot of fallout from the family. And there was just a lot of pieces of my upbringing that drove me to, you know, a get away from it, but also rise above it and prove to my family that we could have somebody successful outside of it all.

Don Clymer:
Was a prove to your family or was a more proving to yourself, oh, is one hundred percent proving to myself, you know, I mean, you know, if the family peace was but again. Right, we talk leadership. So a great leader once told me if you’re going to go to West Point. To prove to anybody else that you can do this, you will fail out all right, but you’re going to go to West Point to prove to yourself that you can do this and succeed, then you will succeed.

Travis Pankake:
So if we get out of West Point, figure out what we want to do in the military and he did two tours, I know we don’t want to go too deep on that, but just kind of just give us a taste of what that was.

Geoff Costa:
Yeah, I mean, the I mean, that’s the most honor time of my life, the ability to be an officer on the officer side of things and take command of soldiers.

Don Clymer:
Hold on one sec, Jeff. Yeah, let’s let’s put this in a time frame perspective. When did you go to West Point? Went what year did you graduate? Twenty five. So you went in in two thousand before 9/11 to the prep school for 9/11?

Geoff Costa:
Yeah, it was my freshman year and we lost about 20 percent of my class quit after 9/11 because stuff got real. Yeah. You’re kidding. Yeah. Which was a little concerning at first. But, you know, once that kind of, you know, cliche dust settled from 9/11 and we lost a lot of our classmates who quit because it got real. I mean, before 9/11, we hadn’t been to war since what time? What was the real last war? Right.

Geoff Costa:
So everyone kind of went to West Point understanding that your obligation was to go into the military afterwards for a minimum of five years, but it was still peacetime. So that’s going to peacetime. 9/11 happened and stuff got real. I mean, I literally was a part of West Point watching generals come together and change. Up until 9/11, we were still digging foxholes in the sides of the mountains like like it was Vietnam.

Don Clymer:
It was like I was going to ask, is jungle warfare. It had to be it had to be a very visible change from 9/11 on.

Geoff Costa:
Unbelievable. I mean, literally from jungle warfare training tactics. Right. Communication level of security, you know, digging foxholes in the side of a mountain, like I was saying, to literally urban warfare, you know, of clearing rooms, kicking in doors, you know, translating, you know, dealing with women. I mean, just the training doctrine. I literally was a part of real life watching the entire training doctrine of our country change. It was fascinating.

Don Clymer:
That had to be so. So everybody who stayed knew that they were they were staying at war time.

Geoff Costa:
And and so it was concerning to see how many people left. But when the dust settled, it was the best thing and most amazing thing because everybody knew those were the people that were there for the right reasons. And of course, what else? There was no longer if you know, we were always training, like if you went to war, you’d have to do this. If you went to war, you’d have to do that. 9/11 happened. And it’s like, hey, when you go to war anymore, you gradually, right. As soon as you graduate, you are going to war. This is what you’ve got to be prepared for. And so everyone in my class, that was last we were actually on the cover of Time magazine. You can look at my graduating class of twenty five graduating class. We were called the class of 9/11.

Don Clymer:
Really. So you knowing all this, you pick a job in the military artillery where, you know, you’re probably going to not be sitting back on your haunches. Right. Right. So it speaks a lot to to your character on that one. I guess, like Travis said, without going too deep into that, I know just from listening and reading out of things, 06, 07, 08, those were some pretty intense times over there. Right. And I guess my question to you is, during those times, I know I know it was you experience some some things over there. Right. I guess what is there? Can you pinpoint one leadership trait or one one thing that you just dug down deep and pulled from your experience at West Point to to help you? Or is there was there a go to thing that you looked at or what was how did that experience help you set apart from just a regular enlisted guy?

Geoff Costa:
I mean, that’s a phenomenal question and the biggest part of it, you know, not only the physical, because there’s the physical side of it, but the much, much bigger part of it is the mental psychological part of it. Right. So, you know, one thing I still to this day, do you know, we used to you know, we used to do it lacrosse. We used to do it in training all the time. You know, we would set a goal. Right, that we would get told like, all right, we’re going to do a hundred yards sprints for four quarters because the game is four quarters. Right. And we got to make sure we could do these for all four quarters in a real, real game situation where we’re going to do this for, you know, you’ve got to get up this side of the mountain and down that side of the mountain because that’s what’s going to be your task when you’re in combat. And as soon as you completed it and you’re like mentally you were thought you were done.

Geoff Costa:
If it was lacrosse, then they hit you with overtime. Oh, guess what? It ended. It’s tied ten, ten. Now we’re going to overtime. And you just thought you were you just right. You’re like, man, no, man. You said four quarters. We were done right. We just had experience. Right. Or you went down you went up to one side of the mountain, you came back down the other. You got blisters on your feet, you smoked, you got one hundred pounds of gear on your back. And they were like, oh, by the way, you your piece of sensitive information got left back on the other side. Now go back up and down the other side. Good for it. It was just constant, you know, the mind manipulation of, you know, and that’s when I really, really learned that the mind quit long before the body does. You know, people I go, I physically can’t do this anymore. One hundred percent wrong. That’s your mind telling your body that it can your your mind quit before your body, your body is so physically capable of anything.

Geoff Costa:
So to go back to that question, Don, it was it was the physical side of it, but it was more the mental side of it, you know, I mean, physically, you want to be in a superior situation at all times, you know that. So that you could perform it at any given time or when needed. But the mental aspect of it is, you know, when the other guys were breathing hard and they were trying to just focus on breathing as opposed to what the real mission was, you could take the deep breath and give them clear, concise guidance of what the next task at hand and lead them in that manner.

Geoff Costa:
Well, they were just worried about how to get their canteen out and take a drink the water, because they thought they were going to die.

Don Clymer:
But you know, you said there is multiple times at West Point where you’re like f this, I’m out, you know, but being over there in war, would you when you went to West Point, you weren’t prepared for you know, there’s multiple times you wanted to quit. What did you see now? When was there ever that. Aha. Moment when you were over there, like, OK, now I get what they were doing to us, but I was there. Does that make sense?

Geoff Costa:
Of course it does. And and that kind of goes back to the whole you know, why you were set up to fail your freshman year. You know, y y y you’re two most excuse your two most lines of your four given allowable lines were Yes sir or ma’am or no excuse or ma’am because you were set up to fail and failing, being kind of molded back to what they wanted you to be. Everything that those those moments of I’m going to quit West Point, I can’t do this, I can’t handle it, and then you graduate and you have that moment of of, you know, that confidence that you did do it. And then when you’re you’re you’re there, that’s when it kind of all all clicks, you know, that. Aha. Moment. Exactly. Just like you said of, you know, almost like what I was saying before. When you see a bunch of guys you kind of lost in a moment and they all eyes turn on you. Because they know that you’re going to watch what’s the right thing to do, you know, that’s when you’re like, man, I was trained for this. This is why they did that. And now I could lead these guys to success.

Travis Pankake:
Well, it has to be a sense of real accomplishment, too, because, you know, if I did my math right, you know, four thousand applicants. And by the time that you graduate nine hundred and fifty, I think you said, you know, that’s that’s less than twenty five percent of people that make it through. That’s incredible. So there’s got to be a huge sense of personal victory and accomplishment in that. So. Right. Man, I didn’t realize. The magnitude of that of what all it takes mentally and physically, I mean, you know, you see it in the movies, you watch you read books, you all that. But just hearing it firsthand account because I know it pretty well and we’ve talked about some of these things. But I just I, I, I am. I’ve always had this sense of I wish I would have put myself through something like that and I have no regrets, but I think it would have served me well. I always kind of lived second hand through, you know, some family members that were in the military and then just wanting to serve my country in different ways. Just life happened and never went that route.

Geoff Costa:
Yeah, we talked about that, Travis. You know, it’s just everyone has their path. You know, your path doesn’t make you better or worse than mine. And just because I chose this path that had a failure versus success rate and I succeed doesn’t make me better than anybody, you know, doesn’t I put my pants on the same way you do. You know, you’re as good three legs at a time.

Geoff Costa:
Yeah. You know, and that’s, you know, that’s it.

Travis Pankake:
Going back into that. Jeff, that’s that’s that’s the you’re so humbled, you know, for somebody that’s achieved quite a bit in their life and seen some things that most people have never seen good and bad. As Don said in the beginning, you’re one of the most upbeat, positive and funny. By the way, guys that I know and there’s a lot of, you know, small, inspiring moments, just, you know, kind of what would Jeff say about this? You know, the advice, the conversations we’ve had over the years. So I was excited about this is is Don was when we said, hey, we need to get Jeff on this. And it’s one of those things are like, why don’t we do this before? Because I think there’s a lot you can offer to this. And it’s been been a fantastic thirty eight minutes already and we haven’t even, I don’t think broke the surface, so. Right. That’s kind of go ahead, Don.

Don Clymer:
I think part of this is, you know, we’ve done what, Travis, 15 episodes, maybe something like that take and you’re always looking for new guests. And just like I said in the beginning, you know, one of them was sitting right in front of our face the whole time. Right. And that can be translated to the workforce. Right. One of the biggest things that we hear out there now is the lack of lack of labor, lack of I can’t find a good worker, I can’t do this. But, you know, maybe that guy is sitting right in front of one of our customers. And and I think, Jeff, you do an amazing job on social media, on LinkedIn, promoting, you know, promoting yourself. And I and I don’t know, maybe not all of all of the customers in that area or. Well, I’m sure all the customers that you deal with. No. The type of service and support they’re going to get from you with with the products and everything, but maybe, maybe for our listeners out there who are Idei customers who are in this market not buying from us, you know, there could be this untapped resource sitting right in front of them that that they haven’t reached out to yet.

Don Clymer:
And so, Jeff, with what you have in that that career and that history, you’re getting out of the service. You come out and you’re like, oh, shit, now I got to do something. And you’ve been you’ve had a great early career at Idei. What what are some of those? It’s I keep going back to the attributes and the things you took away from West Point. But I mean, you are you are extremely positive. You are a leader. And you were you were broken down from West Point. I’m assuming that build back you had a good career in the military and only imagine, like you say, set up to fail. And not that I or any company sets people up to fail. Let’s take our one of our customers. They bring a guy on and they expect him to be able to go out into the job and do this. And maybe some of them are setting people up to fail unknowingly. I mean, do you ever see that? Do you ever think that and be like, man, if I could just get into this contractor and help him with a training program or an onboarding program, like we call it? Do you ever think that.

Geoff Costa:
Yeah, so, you know, one of the things I try to talk to this a lot and it doesn’t matter the industry, it doesn’t matter the trade that we’re talking about, which doesn’t matter how small your organization is or how big it is. You know, if you’re Don Clymer’s installation services or if you’re a Fortune 500 company, you still got to do things the right way. And to me, the four biggest things I took away from a lot of that regards to not setting your individual up and also not setting your own organization up or four key tasks. The first task, and that is to recruit. You have to recruit well and again, which means you have to find the right fit. OK, so whether it’s Don Clymer’s installation services, Variety I distributors, you still have to find the right fit for your group, right? So you got to recruit. Well, then once you’re finished the recruiting side of it and you make the decision on both parties that it’s a good fit, you have to train.

Geoff Costa:
The second key phase is training. OK, no employee gets brought on and thinks that they’re just gonna get thrown into the fire. So you have to recruit. Well, then you have to train. Well, after that, the third key bullet, which I think is where most people fail, organizations, companies, anything is develop. You have to develop your people. You could train them all day long and make them good at their job. But people want to be developed. They want to know what’s next. They want to feel like they like Travis was saying to me before, like a chip on your shoulder seems like you have a sense of accomplishment. People get that by being developed. They want to they want to complete the task and they want to know there’s more for them. So first you got to recruit. Well, then you’ve got to train, then you got to develop. And what does that lead to? The fourth biggest bullet, which is maintain. Then you maintain your people. So you have to recruit, train, develop, and then you get to maintain your team. And once you have a maintained team, that’s when you really grow synergy. You’ll grow the ability for growth and all those things.

Geoff Costa:
So that’s what I see.

Geoff Costa:
And in regards to our customers in on the the our part of the world, a lot of what I hear, our guys are scared. Owners are scared to train and develop their guys because of this fear that they’re going to go out and start their own installation company here to be able to spray foam side. And it’s a lot. So guys like you, like me and your guys are store. I’m on your jobsite. You got some really good guys. You’re not showering them enough. You know, you’re not you’re making them you don’t delegate to them. You know, instead of teaching your guy or developing your guy, you’re you’re enabling you or your you’re handicapping him by making you the point of contact. You know, you’re making yourself your own worst enemy because you can’t grow your company if your guys are blowing up your phone every time they need something.

Don Clymer:
And let’s go through this, Jeff. Those were those are great. Four bullet points. And I think a lot of our customers and listeners could really get some value added learning from that. Right. And I just say let’s let’s hammer them out. Bullet point by bullet point and recruitment. That’s the biggest thing. And I haven’t had a sales target sales territory in a long time. But one of my memories is, is the guys would see their competition doing a job in the same subdivision and they go over and say, hey, what do you guys make an OK, I’ll pay a dollar more if you come work for me, boom. Those guys would jump ship and go over there. Where where are some other avenues that our guys could maybe tap into, do you think? Or ways, different ways to recruit? Because I guess obviously some of the standard ways aren’t working anymore with the lack of labor force out there, right?

Geoff Costa:
Yeah. Look, I mean, that’s know I don’t know if I have great answers for that, you know? I mean, you know, there’s because I see the same thing and I hear the same thing. I don’t have a solution for my customers. I mean, I tell my guys to go to, like, buy buy me. I have a united way. There’s a united way with the training program for the youth and the veterans. And I tell my customers they need to go hang out over there and start to have some type of presence with the United Way and start to see the youth development programs that are coming and what could be their future. As long as veterans that are looking for work or looking for a trade now to.

Geoff Costa:
To apply in the civilian world so they could go to work and have a purpose and a function. I think those are always untapped potentials there. But, you know, that’s not Taco Bell.

Various:
You know, you son of the inside joke, inside joke, it just it kind of kind of piggyback on what you just said.

Travis Pankake:
That’s a fantastic idea. I mean, we’ve had some people on here specifically talking about, you know, personnel and stuff. And that’s that’s one of the better ideas I’ve heard is, you know, get into a perspective of a young person through something like that. You know, you’re kind of killing two birds with one stone. You’re creating an opportunity for somebody that’s young and you’re also able to kind of influence them and mold them from from their youth. So.

Geoff Costa:
And that’s the thing like, you know, what’s missing in what Don was saying, yo, like, yo guy goes across the street and says, hey, what’s he paying you to pay it out more?

Geoff Costa:
You come, you know, that guy doesn’t go if he’s got loyalty and he’s got Byan, right. So, you know, you if you your mentor, that kid, you recruited him well, you trained him well and you developed him well, you maintain him. He’s not going to leave you for the book. You say. I mean, you know what? I appreciate that. But, you know, I got this guy, you know, he kind of developed me and molded me here with him. And I’ve grown up with them. He gives us and smaller ways for the buying. I mean, there are times where I go to a job site and he’s got the install crews all wearing like white t shirts or tank tops. And I’m like, man, you should get I’m like, well, you see what I got to my idei company, my company shirt. Why don’t you get your your spend one hundred bucks and get your guys all company shirts, put a logo on a t shirt to you guys feel like they’re going to work for somebody every day, that they have a uniform and they’re part of something. It doesn’t matter that you’re, you know, a hundred thousand dollars a year, you know, small construction company or insulation company, you know, build a team. And if you’ve got a two man install team, get them company shirts and make them tell them you wear that shirt every day because you represent my company. You know, we’re a team.

Travis Pankake:
Not only that, from a customer’s perspective, you look more professional. You know, it’s so it’s again, double killing two birds with one stone there. You guys are feeling better and you look better to the perspective of the customer. So exactly. Yeah.

Don Clymer:
I mean, the number two. Yeah. Sorry, Jeff. No, go ahead.

Geoff Costa:
I didn’t have a hand up and you’re drinking the Rockstar Energy drink. I’m so excited. I’m on a podcast.

Don Clymer:
I joke, I kind of bullet point number to training you. I think, I think when, when our customers hear training they think grade one install how to rebuild a gun, how to do that. But there’s more to training than just that. Right. Right. And I think, you know, if they if they I think a big thing is and I can’t remember which guest we had on Travis that talked about it might have been David Avron. When you talk about a career path. Right. And guys, you millennials and that that force, they want to see a path. And that path, I think, is more than just teaching somebody how to rebuild a stick pump or how to install a back properly or whatever. So training is is a big part outside of just the physical application of it. You know, I don’t necessarily know if it has to be like West Point where you break a guy down. We’re talking insulation here.

Geoff Costa:
Kinds of training and development start to blend together right face to face, start to blend. Right. And be as small as what Travis was talking about. You know, I mean, you know, these to me, our customers, you know, if you’re a big company like us, it’s really hard to have that individual impact on somebody’s lives. You know, to me, our customers have the greatest opportunity to really impact, you know, their team. Right. They can really, really make a positive impact on somebody’s life. So that training and development phase, if it’s just about how to rebuild a gun or, you know, how to read in our code or how to install fiberglass, that training and development comes, you know, apply that to their lives. You know, do make your bed every day, OK? Get out of bed. Make your bed. Come to work in my company t shirt. Look professional. Tuck your shirt in your place. You booch stop walking around with your boots unlaced. OK, put your belt on tighter jacked up your pants. I mean these guys can really make a team right. And have an impact. So when this guy walks off a job site over time it changes who he is. You know, he’s like, man, this is, you know, I feel better. I have a better appearance. My job sites are cleaner more and the owner and the installers will see that they got more opportunities, more recommendations, more referrals, because, man, this clean this crew looks professional. They’re clean on the job site. They do what they’re going to do. They’re on time because the guys wake up, they make their bed, they’re put their clothes on, they come to work. I mean, it’s a whole thing, you know, and it’s.

Geoff Costa:
Yeah, no, I’m I’m I’m not cutting you off, but I guess I will since you stop. But you can’t. You have to walk the walk. And there has to be a point in time, whether it was West Point, whether it was while you were in the service where you just didn’t have a leader, somebody above you that you didn’t respect. Maybe I’m wrong, but there had to be that guy. I’m assuming there was like this guy can eat a bag or whatever. And so when you say a lace up your boots, pull up your pants, wear the shirt, that doesn’t you can’t just pull up to the job site as an owner, roll down your window, bark orders at the guy and pull out of there. When you’re wearing a Cheeto stained t shirt, you got a sixty five pounds big and in the cup holder.

Don Clymer:
Right. So it’s two it’s a two question part, Jeff. One is, if you had somebody in a leadership role above you that you didn’t respect or didn’t think they they earned your respect or leadership role, how did you deal with that?

Don Clymer:
And two, I forgot the second part already, but I’ll remember while you talk and I’ll cut you off again.

Geoff Costa:
I mean, it’s you know, the hundred percent had that. I mean, I’m not going to say his name, but, you know, it’s what it really did was forced me and really wanted me to unite my team even more. And I was so much more protective of my team and I was willing to take the hits so much more and act as a shield or deflection point for my team. Because no matter what this guy could say or do, you know, whatever the reason is, sometimes, like you just said, there’s just a guy in a leadership position where you all scratching your head, how the heck did he get here? Right. And so you you can either just let that. Become a divide and you’ll because you don’t have an answer for it and you can’t answer your team, you can let them all just be disgruntled and say, man, this this is stupid. I don’t even know why I’m here anymore. You know, like this guy. I don’t understand this guy’s direction. I understand his vision. And you could become disgruntled and you can start to have a team that the fabric that binds you together is starting to tear. And you and you lose them. And once you lose them mentally and it gets bad or you can find you know, you could just take the fact of, you know, look, I’m going to be your shield. I’ll deflect, I’ll work all the hours. But you guys are going to stand behind me United, because I’ll I’ll do all that for you and all I want return. You continue to show up in the shirt. Right. And be united. That’s all I ask for.

Don Clymer:
In return, I wonder how many of our customers share, like with their employees, like their vision and their dream for the for the company. I just I would I would love to know the percentage of like, hey, you’re part of the family and we’re going to share in this growth and you are an integral part of the team versus you. Here’s today’s work order at four o’clock.

Geoff Costa:
So it’s not a knock on our customers. Right.

Don Clymer:
But these guys, it’s an honest question.

Geoff Costa:
Right. And what I’m about to say, though, is not a knock on our customers. You know, I mean, we probably have some customers with amazing backgrounds that coach the team came from.

Geoff Costa:
So, you know, there’s I’m sure there are, but I’m sure that there’s a lot others who created their company because they just didn’t want to work for anybody else, you know, and we had an entrepreneurial spirit and started their company. So how many of them are taking it upon themselves to reach leadership? Look, right. Right. How many of them were listening to a JoCo podcast or Rogan podcast about leadership or some of these other things so that they can be or do they just think of it as they could just show up on a job site in a T-shirt and bark orders at our guys because they’re the owners?

Geoff Costa:
Right. And that’s OK.

Geoff Costa:
So, you know, it comes down to just that, you know, and that is another part of that training development and maintaining peace is what I was talking about before with company t shirts are buying, you know, do your guys just show up every day and, you know, all you do is tell them, you know, be at this job site at seven a.m. and I expect you to have the first second floor done by noon and then by two o’clock, be here and get half the first four done and then we’ll do it again tomorrow, like, you know, in the buy in of of what they’re doing. The greater purpose. Do they feel like they’re just hourly installers?

Geoff Costa:
They feel like they’re, you know, an intricate part of a building system that’s going to meet code compliance, that’s going to get some a family at some point is going to move into that house. Right. Like, do they feel all like, yo, is that a vision that like guys like we’re not I’m not letting you cut that corner because there’s going to be an infant in that room. Maybe someday if you do care, you know, like I’m not paying you by the hour. So you could cut a corner over there. I’m paying you. We’re going to put a family in here someday, OK? And if you live in a house that has a draft, are you OK with that? You know, like like what do you really get into your guys? And so, you know, walking the walk, you know you know, the other thing is these customers. Right. Like, I see a lot of know I’m going to share with you guys. You know, you two guys are the only two that know this right now besides my family. So share it with you guys. But, you know, everybody else is going to hear this.

Travis Pankake:
I’m fine with we have a do we have a breaking news sound on our other three listeners. But go, Jeff, I can’t wait to hear this.

Geoff Costa:
So Saturday night I have my kids. Every weekend I’m divorced. I have my three children. I have them every weekend. Saturday night. I’m talking my kids into bed. And typically my nine year old daughter, I still sing the same three lullabies every time I put her to bed and at some point on the falling asleep in her bed with her. Right. And I’ll wake up a half hour or an hour later and stuff like that, and you’ll get up and I’ll go upstairs and my fiancee lives with me, obviously. And so Saturday night. I go up to the bedroom and there’s garbage bags all over the bedroom and my fiance’s stuff was packed and she was gone. I knew something was up because I couldn’t find the dogs and weren’t in their crate. But so long story short, my fiancee packed up all her stuff and left me over the weekend in the middle of the night. But I fell asleep in my daughter’s bed. And so I’m still trying to figure out some stuff there. Right. So in what we’re talking about, like walking the walk and through leadership and stuff like that, I was you know, this has been a real rough week. Right. And so I was I was like, you know what I was going to teach you guys earlier and big man, like, I just I can’t not I’m not up for this, you know, like, I don’t it’s not. But leadership is selfless service, OK? And selfless service and leadership.

Geoff Costa:
And and why you’re a leader, right? You’re not. You don’t just you’re not a leader because you own a company, OK? You’re a leader because you exhibit certain traits in a leader, leaves stuff at home, OK? And he doesn’t let it impact anything else around him.

Geoff Costa:
Ok, right. And so now you go back to what we were talking about before with some combat stuff and things and without getting into details. Right. And what you’re saying like that. Aha. Moment when you’re like, man, all this was small right now.

Geoff Costa:
So people die in a moment. People die, right? You can’t stop and think about it in that moment. You can’t feel, you can’t show emotion. You can’t think you have to react and read. OK, you have to bury that and you have to react and lead. Why? Because if you don’t and you stop and think about it and try to process what just happened, let yourself feel emotion is next, right. So you have to just bury it. You have to lead because they’re probably not trained like you or they’re not trained like you. They’re going to be looking, feeling. Processing motions, and you have to snap them out of the. Because there’s a mission in front of you to accomplish OK, and the immediate mission is just to get your guys out of there, right. And so there’s one person that’s going to look to to get that done. Right.

Geoff Costa:
So what I see all the time, you know, a guy will show up 30 minutes after he told me to be there. I’m going to be on the job site at 7:00 a.m. and my guys are starting at 7:00. I’ll be there with them there. Guys are there at 7:00 and the guy shows up at seven thirty. And he’s talking to people, you know, loud down to a fight with my wife. Or I could get my frickin kid out of bed to go to school.

Geoff Costa:
I couldn’t do this. I was mad about this. I was arguing with lumber yard. They didn’t ship by two by fours. I blame. I’m blaming. I’m blaming. I’m reacting. I’m showing emotion.

Geoff Costa:
I’m you can’t do that. Right. You just have to show up. In a not stained t shirt, you have to look professional, you have to care genuinely about the guy to your left and to your right, and you have to lead them. You can’t process any of those things. You can’t process there’s you got to just walk the walk, right? You got to be in the moment. You know, if the material doesn’t come or you’re deliveries late and your guys are right next to you when they see you on the phone screaming like a lunatic.

Geoff Costa:
Oh, mother, I want a free delivery. I want 10 percent off the rest of my life. Or if they hear you on the phone like, hey, man, where’s my delivery?

Geoff Costa:
Supposed to be here at seven. Oh, OK. All right.

Geoff Costa:
Well, I understand there was a problem. What’s the solution? Can you help me with the solution? OK, so that’s the solution. OK, that’s the best outcome for this. All right, look, stuff happens. I’m not happy, I’ll tell you that. But that’s the solution. I understand. But try not to let this happen again. Let’s identify how that happened so that it doesn’t happen again. But I understand what the solution they turn to their guys and guys. This is this is our course of action now. This is how we’re going to deviate from, you know, we’re going to do this. But now I’m going to give you a new course of action. We’re going to do this and you just leave.

Don Clymer:
You know, and I think to Jeff, if if the employees see the owner always overreacting, always being a hothead, always going to mock five, you know, how do you think they’re going to react to you when they have an issue with you? Same way, right?

Geoff Costa:
Right. It’s how you’re training them. Yeah. So like you were saying before, you know, you guys come up to Minnesota for training or we talk about training and we’re like, oh, like, you know, level one and this or how to fix a gun. Like there’s so much more to the training aspect you’re training. They’re like your children. I was just sitting there watching you there, watching everything you do and how you say because, you know, at their level of the industry and their trade, just by the fact that you’re the owner of the company, it’s your name on their t shirt. They think your leader. Exactly. Yeah. The perception is that you’re the leader, whether you are or acting in that manner or not. So no matter how you’re reacting or how you’re acting, they’re your children watching everything you did so that you’re training them all the time.

Geoff Costa:
So that training bullet is so much more than just how to instill or how to fix something.

Travis Pankake:
Yeah, I think, you know, just listening to this from a perspective of, you know, from a mindset of our customers, just if some of them would take even your four key points. Right. You know, recruit, train, develop, maintain. If they just even started practicing that, I think you’d see a change with some of these small to medium sized guys and being able to keep guys on, because that’s the story of I hear from, you know, from traveling to the West Coast to the East Coast. It’s the same story, right? Can’t you guys can’t find guys. So, you know, it gave a little bit of insight on I still think that United Way thing could be, you know, something that if you’re not trying it, it’s worth trying. And then and then trying to implement some sort of.

Travis Pankake:
Leadership training, you know, maybe, maybe, maybe that maybe that business owner needs to take a step back and be a little more self aware of how they’re, you know, what is their goals and how are they going to achieve them by did they have a plan?

Travis Pankake:
Are they a leader? Do they have any like you said, did they read a book? Did they mean it’s as simple as that of self education and really taking a step back and walking that walk as we’ve been talking about, what are you doing each day to better yourself?

Don Clymer:
Right. Yeah. And I think I think, you know, a good kind of way to start ending this is those four bullet points. Recruit, train, develop, maintain. Right. And you don’t have to do that all on your own as a business owner. That’s that doesn’t have to be all on you. You should have a network and you should have a vendor partner like Idei where you can say, hey, I need help training these guys, not just on the install, but let’s let’s sit down and talk about leadership and who does what on each job and what accountability and massive. I mean, our Idei guys are capable of doing that. We have we have specialists in place. We have guys like Travis Can Allison, Aaron Meisner, Aaron Francene, Jeff Costa. You know, that’s the type of people that make Idei who we are. And and I think the message is, as you know, the owners need to be able to, one, identify and say, OK, this is where I’m lacking and this is where I need help with and not be afraid to ask for help. Know that’s the biggest thing is ask for help. I mean, nobody’s going to judge you. And if the person does judge you, that’s not the person you want the help from. Right. Right.

Geoff Costa:
Well, and that’s the thing. Now, we’re going back to the going back to the ego thing, going back to the ego thing. You know, check your ego at the door. Right. I mean, you know, everybody wants to, you know, claim, you know, I buy fifty seven thousand tractor trailers direct a year.

Don Clymer:
You know, I do want to hear something funny and we might edit this out. I don’t know. But when when when I when we first got in a spray foam and I was traveling all over the country with our branches and the sales guys and everything in every single market, every visit that I did, you know who I met, the second largest Iceni dealer in the country.

Don Clymer:
I never met the first one, but I always met the second largest. Oh, so you’re bigger than the guy over here and just heard that come out of their mouth? I just laugh. That’s funny, Don. I’ve met all those same guys, and I think Jeff has to be well, I think, look, let’s call it as it is, right?

Geoff Costa:
It’s we’re in a male dominated industry. Right. And and men are macho and competitive by nature. So in a male dominated industry, everybody wants to try in that macho ego type of manner. They want to prove that they’re better than the guy next to them. You’re one of those like you were saying, check the ego at the door, you know, learn how to lead your team and learn how to ask for help. You know, that’s what I did. I pride themselves on. Like you were saying, we’re not order takers, right? We’re not sales reps. We are partners. Look, we are here to partner with you and help you with any of those things. And your individual sales rep might not be the guy that can do that for you, but he knows that Travis bank or he knows they can listen and he knows the resources at his fingertips provided by Idei that he can go and do that for them. Right. So that’s what the end state is, of course.

Don Clymer:
Well, I think that’s a good place to kind of end it on. And I could see this kind of maybe morphing into a couple of part series and we could dig into maybe each one of these bullet points and talk about that a little bit deeper. I thought it was a phenomenal episode, exactly what I wanted to get out of it and recruit, train, develop, maintain. You know, let’s let’s leave it at that and leave them wanting more. And maybe we’ll be good enough to come up with a couple more episodes on that stuff.

Travis Pankake:
Yeah, I think we did. We only got really dug deep into the two of those four, so I definitely could see a part of this. And as my friends from the east might say, one hundred percent. I agree. 100 percent. Hundred percent. I agree that this was turned into a great, great dialogue. Just what a podcast should be is just, you know, spitball and ideas. And Jeff, your reputation precedes yourself. I know your customers love you. There’s plenty of people. Around that have met you, that walk away, feeling your spirit and seeing that light in you, so, you know, I’m sorry about your situation, but I know if I know you like, I drop just. Yeah, I was I wasn’t sure how to react to that follow up call after this.

Travis Pankake:
But anyways, Jeff, I appreciate your time, your knowledge. Thanks for your service of service with us. And we’re going to do part two, I promise you that.

Geoff Costa:
Now, like I said, I can’t thank you guys enough for scheduling me. You know, I mean, like I said at the very beginning, I’m very honored and humbled to be invited on the podcast and talk about the stuff. Yes. Obviously, as you can see, I’m very passionate about the topic. I’m passionate about because of my past, my present and my future. Right. So, you know, all these things, you know, are important for all of us. So, you know, I appreciate your guys this time as well.

Various:
Thanks, buddy. Always listening to our value podcast to meet again until next time.

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EPISODE 14

Financing The Smart Way with Josh Penman of American Financial Partners

June 2020  | 27:00

Go into your local or national bank and ask them about financing a new spray foam rig and be prepared to get a blank stare. That’s why each week the R-Value podcast brings in experts in the industry to give you the most specialized information around.

This week is no different. Travis, Don and Aaron welcome Josh Penman, National Business Development Manager for American Financial Partners (AFP). Josh works with new and existing businesses to meet their financial needs, and the most importantly, he knows the industry. AFP offers up to 100% financing on terms up to seven years.

Josh shares his experience and guidance on what type of equipment can be financed, the best time to finance, how to get the best rates, how quickly you can get approved, and what financing looks like right now as we look forward to the recovery post-COVID-19. Trade in blank stares for someone who cares.

3:14 – Why you should choose AFP

9:17 – Dealing with COVID-19

11:56 – How to prepare for the recovery? Should I finance?

14:00 – Appreciating the value of family time

17:22 – How to set yourself up for the best financing

18:55 – Don’s not-so-dumb question

20:40 – How quickly can I be approved for financing

22:06 – Remember lead time for the rig

Season 1, Episode 14 Transcript

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VARIOUS:
Haven’t you seen that name yet? Pancake once. How to figure out your quarantine? Oh, yeah. That or your quarantine alcoholic name. You take your first name and your last name. Yes.

VARIOUS:
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 insulations source idea distributors. 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 Amala here to share that same motivation and knowledge with you. Tune in and grow more successful, profitable, educated and recognized business. Listen to the Value podcast to become the industry leader in your market. Find your value with our value.

Travis Pankake:
Welcome back to our value. I’m Travis Pancake, sitting across a computer screen from my co-host, Don Clymer.

Don Clymer:
Pow!

Travis Pankake:
And Aaron Francine,

Aaron Franzen:
Pow!

Travis Pankake:
You’re supposed to say say hi. Not me saying pow pow thing.

Don Clymer:
That’s gonna be mine. That’s gonna be my new intro to the podcast. Best podcast yet. Yep. I love it. So, Aaron, who we talked to today.

Aaron Franzen:
Today we’re talking to my old friend, a friend of Idei for a long time, Mr. Josh Penman. Josh is the national business development manager for American Financial Partners. He has been in the equipment financing and leasing business for 20 years, eight of which with RFP. If he works with new and existing businesses and a wide range of credit profiles. Josh specializes in helping businesses acquire their capital equipment to enable them to grow. RFP provides up to 100 percent financing and terms of up to seven years. Application only approvals offered up to five hundred thousand dollars on new equipment during his 10 years with U.S. bank. Josh was the recipient of numerous awards for outstanding sales and leadership contributions while working within the Business Equipment Finance Division. During his tenure with flagship credit services, Josh successfully increased volume and fostered new relationships while serving as vice president of business development. Josh, his innovation, charisma and knowledge of the financial industry continue to result in the establishment of trusting and fruitful professional relationships.

Don Clymer:
Hold on. Hold on. You said AFV, I thought we had America’s Funniest Videos on here. A different Josh.

Josh Penman:
I’ll try to be as funny as possible, but it’s a lot to live up to. I think I owe someone a lot of money for writing that. That’s. That sounded really professional.

Aaron Franzen:
Yeah. I was getting dry mouth by the end of that. I fell asleep. But don’t talk to me for 30 seconds. I can catch my breath through here.

Travis Pankake:
It’s not because Josh is an interesting. So I guess I’ll kick off the questions here and then obviously we’ll go round robin like we normally do. But Josh, why you. Why not a traditional bank for equipment loan? What makes you so special? Good, sir.

Josh Penman:
Yeah, that’s obviously the million dollar question. I would say that the biggest difference between what we do and more normal bank financing is, is the specialization and specialization and construction specifically in this case and installation equipment. So banks, as we all know, are can be great to work with, but they also can be very difficult to work with. You know, we specialize in the collateral that we’re talking about here. We specialize in the industries that we’re talking about. So we know it much more than, you know, a bank will look at a vehicle much different than they will spray foam. Right. So we understand the collateral and know it, and we’re able to do a lot more of that. So some of the biggest differences are we offer 100 percent financing. Typically, this always pretty much anything I’m talking about always depends on credit and things like that. So I’ll preface with that. But in general, what we what we’re doing is 100 percent financing. So banks in general usually require anywhere from and thirty percent down on specific, you know, specialized type construction. So that no one is the biggest difference. Our flexibility in our terms, I think Erin mentioned there in that file, we can do anywhere from 12 to 18, four months. Usually a traditional bank is. And if they are able to get it approved, they’re generally not going to be able to go out seven years. We we can also offer deferred payments. The first payment deferred maybe three months. We can offer six months of step up payments where the first six months are lower. So the basically what we can do is is a six months set at five hundred bucks a month instead of what the normal payment would be. What gets people into their rigs gets them out working, doing jobs, sending all their invoices and collecting on their invoices before they really have a payment. And the other option I mentioned was a 90 day deferred first payment. That’s basically three payments. No. For three months with no payments. So that that’s that’s a really good option. Again, something that’s a big difference between what we do and more of a traditional bank does. From a pricing perspective, we’re gonna be similar on the on the bankable type credits. Our pricing, our equivalent EPR, is going to be very similar to what a bank could do. The other biggest difference is credit quality. I mean, again, we’re looking at the industry, the collateral, as opposed to more of the traditional. If you don’t fit our credit box as a bank, then you’re not going to qualify. And it’s kicked out immediately. As Aaron said, I did spend 10 years with U.S. bank. So I’m familiar with the bank model and how banks underwrite credit card especially. And I also lived through 2009 to 2011. So it’s a painful time for a lot of us in this industry. And, you know, the people that made it through understand that, you know, it is it’s valuable to have a bank relationship. But at the same time, it’s also valuable to have finance companies that can, you know, that can look at your capital equipment and, you know, potentially leave your bank availability open for real estate, working capital, things that are more traditional bank products, primary differences. I did just kind of in a roundabout way you mentioned the other thing I jotted down was preserved, proved preserving the bank availability. Yeah, those are the biggest differences between what we do and more of a traditional bank. Yeah. And that’s that’s a question that comes up all the time. And I encourage people if if you want to compare what we do to know the normal, a normal bank loan, by all means, do it. The other big thing I forgot to mention is we’re application only here. I mentioned this on many of these transactions where a bank is going to ask you to pull out a lot of financial statements, tax returns, things like that. And they also might tie up other assets to where we only take a position and that piece of equipment works. The other thing is turnaround time. It’s no banks generally don’t work real fast. And for, you know, especially good credits in existing businesses, we can turn out seventy five thousand other transaction in a matter of a day or two.

Aaron Franzen:
All right. Josh Penman, everyone, thanks for joining us.

Josh Penman:
When does the might drop.

Aaron Franzen:
So you’ve been. We’ve all. Known each other for a long time, me at my previous employer. You and Don and West and Travis. How long have you been working with Idei?

Josh Penman:
I believe I’ve been working directly with Idei for almost nine years now.

Don Clymer:
I was gonna stand close to spend a while.

Josh Penman:
Yeah. Yeah. And it may even be past nine now. So nine to ten years right there. I’ve been working in construction equipment financing for 20 years. I’m in my 20th year of doing equipment financing. I started right out of college, so I just aged myself right there. But we’re all kind of in the same camp. So I hope I feel like I’m in mutual company there. Right? Yeah. So. So I’ve always had a niche in construction equipment and specifically an insulation for probably 10 to 11 years.

Aaron Franzen:
So 10, 11 years. I mean, that’s kind of when you stumbled on the spray foam were older.

Josh Penman:
Correct. And if you if you do the math on that, what was ten or eleven years ago was 2009 and 2010. So great to do it when it was probably one of the most difficult things to do.

Travis Pankake:
We’re on the same timeline. That’s when I jumped into this insulation game.

Josh Penman:
Yes. Absolutely. I mean, when I first started, it wasn’t easy, but that was one of the reasons I got into it, because I realized that there’s an opportunity here. And I think I do believe that a lot of people respect that. The fact that I got into really heavily into construction insulation and stone fabrication, specifically into those two segments when everyone else was getting out, including U.S. bank, when I was with them at that time.

Don Clymer:
So, Josh, you got in, you know, during the downturn 10 years ago, that was a weird and interesting time. And now now we’re sitting here. I’m not sure when this is going to air, but we’re talking in mid-April right now, and we’re smack dab in the middle of Cauvin, 19. What’s your guy’s outlook on that? And how can you help customers now who who are kind of struggling?

Josh Penman:
That’s the million dollar question of this month. It would. What I see right now and I’ve I listened to a lot of economists. I read a lot of publications about what’s going on right now. And the majority of what I try to educate myself on is specific to construction. So you’ve got what I’ve found is you’ve got a number of states that construction is not an essential business right now. That’s primarily in the northeast and Washington state and parts of California. So what we’ve tried to do in those areas is just try to help our existing customers with giving them deferred payments now. So obviously, they’re not working. So a lot of those existing customers, we’re offering 90 days of no payments. So much like a new customer we can offer that to. You know, we’ve got customers that have been on our books for two, three, four, five plus years. And they’re calling us and we’re offering them that repreve right now, if you will. You don’t have to make a payment for four, three AM up to three months.

Don Clymer:
So that pretty much no questions asked. Like we’re your partner.

Josh Penman:
Yeah. It virtually is almost no questions asked. It’s it’s the right thing to do. And so with that being said, my vision on this is I think it’s going to and it’s going to depend on certain certain pockets of the country and certain states are going to be different. I think we might. My gut feeling and my educated feeling is that probably within the next couple of weeks, I think we’ll start to see things slowly open back up. I think, you know, you’re probably looking at a two to four, five month period before things start to get sort of get back to a quote unquote, normal. I don’t know if there ever will be an exact normal as what we as what we used to be used to have. But, you know, I think a lot of the a lot of the insulation and other construction segments I work in right now are still working. And a lot of them are still doing fine and actually pretty busy. The majority of what I see there is new construction and more of the commercial construction. So it’s it’s not already owner occupied projects. So a lot of a lot of our good customers are still staying busy with that stuff, you know, more often than new construction.

Travis Pankake:
Yeah, we had an economist done a couple couple of days ago and he basically said you’ll start seeing some promise here by end of May and June, but you won’t start feeling the benefits of it until August. So you’re kind of hitting that right on the head there.

Josh Penman:
Yeah, it’s it’s it’ll be a it’ll be a slow. I’ve heard a lot of analogies that it’s not going to be flipping on a light switch. It’s going to be turning the dial. I don’t. I’ve heard a lot of politicians say that. I’ve heard a lot a lot of economists say that. So I do believe that’s true.

Aaron Franzen:
So what are some things people should be doing right now to prepare when things come back? I mean, is now a good time to finance it?

Josh Penman:
It is. I think it’s especially a good time to get financing in place. Our approvals are usually good for up to 90 days. So a lot of people, especially customers that maybe don’t qualify for application only and they don’t. They do. To get financial statements or tax returns out. This is a good time if they are slower to work on getting that package put together. We’ll get the application in. If we do need additional information, then they can have that time to put it together before while they’re considering making the purchase. You know, it’s it’s also a good time, even if it isn’t application only approval. Get it in place. And when you’re ready to go, then it can move quickly. So it’s a good time for a lot of our manufacturers and all equipment providers. They’re getting caught up from being behind. We were in a very good economy and still will be when we come out of it. So I encourage everyone, whether it’s an end user or manufacturer or vendor who just get caught up. I mean, get to the point where you feel comfortable. When things do, things will come back. I mean, that’s that’s that’s the absolute right there. Agreed. But the difference between this and two thousand eight to eleven is. It’s going to be a much quicker comeback. It’s not going to be a light switch flip on. It’s going to be a little bit gradual, but it’s not going to be three years. It’s going to be three months. Six months at worst, maybe nine months. I mean, it’s it’s one of those things where it’s going to come back a lot faster. This wasn’t an economic issue. This was a disaster issue.

Aaron Franzen:
Kind of just softening right now. It is. It is. No, and I know it’s it’s it you hear people say this all the time. And I, you know, I’ve tried to embrace it.

Josh Penman:
It’s, you know, our our my wife and kids, we’re all at each other’s throats a little bit right now. But it is a good time to catch up with your family. I mean, I am a salesperson by nature, and I travel a lot. Not doing that right now. So I’m trying to catch up on time when I’m not with my family.

Don Clymer:
So when you go through the, like you said, going at each other’s throats, there’s actually a lot of fun moments that, you know, are happening that normally wouldn’t happen. And I just sit back and I, I try to take it in and then I try to look at it through my kid’s eyes, like, what what’s my eight year old going to remember about this time? And it’s going to be us, the pinafore, it’s dragging them around, you know, by rope. You know, they’re holding on and we’re going through the wood floors and, you know, it’s just that stuff. But we that’s a little off topic.

Josh Penman:
But no, but you’re right, though. You’re absolutely right, Don. It’s it’s simple things like that, you know, and that is a good. That’s a great point. If you look at it through your kid’s eyes, you’re not going to look back at this as an act economic disaster or any type of negative thing they’re going to look back at is, gosh, I got to spend some real quality time with my siblings and my parents and, you know, didn’t have to go to school life building. Got you.

Aaron Franzen:
Can you imagine when we were in school and it was March and they said, all right, school year is over. Everybody basically I mean, that would have been like just a snow day was.

Josh Penman:
It is. Yes. Yeah. There’s no online school at that point. It’s. No, you’re not. It’s every kid’s dream every day. Yeah.

Aaron Franzen:
I think a lot of parents will look back at this, too. I mean, when it’s all said and done and everything goes back to, you know, the new normal, we’re gonna look back and say, man, I kind of miss that. Like, there was a lot of good memories. And, you know, I feel like, well. As difficult as that is for everybody, you know, I think we’ll kind of miss it.

Travis Pankake:
So, yeah, I was just going to piggyback on to adjust. You know, I travel a lot to this as long as I’ve been home for this extended period of time and over ten years. I mean, it’s just it’s crazy.

Aaron Franzen:
I think the message is to take advantage of it. Right? I mean, don’t that when this is over with. I would not want to look back and say, boy, I had all that time at home. I really could have done a better job with my kids and my family. Just take advantage of a bad situation. And, you know, it’s a good lesson for kids.

Don Clymer:
I think the best thing I’ve found is the dollar store. And remember those plastic dart guns? They shoot the suction cups, darts. We have had so much fun with those over the house. I mean, just zombie hunting every night. And I mean, it is so much fun and it is four dollars.

Aaron Franzen:
Yeah. Those little plunger darts to the window. Oh, those are great.

Josh Penman:
I’m fortunate. My my son my six year old has he has a Nerf gun collection that. Oh yeah. I mean we it is early as last night. We were as recent as last night we were and we were having an all out war. The only problem the thing is I love is I’m like, OK, we’re a lot of guards, you know, you guys, I’ll go pick him up.

VARIOUS:
Yeah, well, and you never find them all. That’s why they sell a hundred packs at Target. They make their their their the razor blades. Yes. Yes.

Travis Pankake:
After all the snow melted. I realized how many were left laying in my front yard shooting them over the house this winter.

Aaron Franzen:
Yeah, man. Well, let’s. I got a couple questions, you know, kind of segue weighing into now might be a really good time to finance. Can you get into some of the differences and what what can people do to prepare and and set themselves up for, you know, the best terms that they can get and maybe some of the differences between kind of a lease or an EFA and what some of those differences are?

Josh Penman:
Sure. I would say, you know, the first part of your question and the you know, to prepare a lot of things that we look at, you know, personal credit, business, credit time and business, you know, those are the primary things that we can look at and make a determination on. It’s not something that you can really especially, you know, the personal credit, those kinds of things can really change those things overnight. Now, what we try to do it on again, this is another difference between us and a bank. We don’t have a little credit window that we need to abide by. That’s why we’re able to do financing for newer businesses for for less than perfect credits and sometimes a combination of both. Oh, what we’re doing is when we go through and we get an application where usually having a conversation within an hour or two with that customer trying to figure out, okay, you know, what happened here or what’s going on here, if there are issues. So we’re always working through that with with, you know, our customers. So anything that they need to do, I would say, you know, probably the best thing is just get an application in as soon as you can. And then if there are issues we need to work through, then we can work through those over the next day or week or two weeks or a month. So, you know, have we done.

Don Clymer:
Yeah. And this might be really dumb, but that’s who I am. If a customer has existing equipment, can they refinance it through?

Josh Penman:
Huh? Yeah, that’s. That’s coming up. Question whole lot right now. No, not a dumb question at all. In fact, I get that. I get that question about three times a day right now. Just calls, you know, whether it’s an existing customer or a customer that found us somehow. And they ask if, you know, either they can buy it, either they can refinance existing quit equipment or they can refinance their existing equipment with a newly quoted purchase. And the answer is yes to both. We can we can look at both of those. OK. So the other thing I forgot to mention earlier, too, is this is a big thing right now. As far as conserving cash and, you know, you’re not writing a check for a purchase if you if you can avoid that and not maybe going through a bank and putting 20 or 30 percent down, if you can avoid that. I get about three to five calls a day right now for customers who paid cash for their equipment. Anywhere from a month ago to three years ago.And they’re wanting to get cash back out of that equipment. They paid for it. Sure. That, unfortunately, is something we can’t do just because there are issues with blanket liens. If they paid, they paid for it. If someone’s got a blanket, lean on all their assets, then whoever that is owns that equipment as much as they do.

Don Clymer:
Gotcha.

Josh Penman:
I encourage people right now, especially in strange times, conserve your cash, use financing if you’ve got 10 to 30 percent to put down. That’s fine. Use your bank as long as you don’t have any real estate or working capital needs coming up. Otherwise, if you want to if you want to look at financing a hundred percent, then what we do is is quite a bit better.

Aaron Franzen:
Hey, Josh, what’s the turnaround time if somebody fills out an application? You know, whoever they’re working with, we would then submit like a pro forma invoice over to you guys and then we kind of start the process. What’s the timeline?

Josh Penman:
Yeah, once we once we get the application, we’re it can be as fast as two hours. It can be as long as a week. It just kind of depends on customer’s credit. I mean, business and the amount they’re looking for. It’s the one of the things I keep going back to. But those really dictate what how we underwrite it. So here I got a good credit, good business, credit, good time and business. They’re looking for anything really under a half a million dollars at that point. It’s going to be a same day approval. If you’ve got a startup or a customer that maybe has some some credit issues in the past, which a lot of the customers we helped do have credit issues from the past be construction is not an easy industry and people go through bumps, go over bumps in the road all the time. So that’s that’s what we look at. So with that being said, sometimes we’ll need to get more information. We need to get a statement or we need to get a personal tax break at that point. It kind of depends on how quickly the customer can get that stuff. Once they get us everything we need, then you’re looking at if if if there are financial statements involved. Usually you’re looking at it one. Probably one business day trip.

Aaron Franzen:
All right. One business day. And then maybe a little time for funding to go through and then think about the time it takes to build the rig. I mean, if that’s a three to five week lead time. So I think that’s important to plan ahead and make plans for this summer and fall when things hopefully start picking back up. You know, just keep some of those lead times in mind.

Josh Penman:
He had a lead time on the rig is a great point to hear. And I’m glad you brought that up. And that’s why a lot of even on our standard contracts without any any any built in deferral once we fund. And then they are going to back up a little bit there. So application we talked about, once we get the approval, we get the pro forma invoice from Idei. So we get that pro forma invoice. We email everything’s done electronically. We email documentation to the customer, either electronically sign it or print it and scan it back to us once we get that back. That’s when we fund. So once we fund, that’s when the lead time begins. So, you know, great point. Keep that in mind. If you’re looking at it, you want to start. And Jill, in July, you should be get you should be getting your application in now. Right. So once once we once we fund Idei, even on our standard program, we bill in arrears. So the first payment isn’t due for 30 days. Now, with the step with the deferred program, if we if we’re able to get a three month deferral, you can I mean, if you if you’re Reeg lead time is six weeks. You can get your rig and have basically a month and a half before you even have to make a payment. So you’re out there doing jobs, billing, invoicing, hopefully collecting before you ever have a payment.

Aaron Franzen:
Right. Which is huge. I mean, a 90 day deferred or a six month step up. You know, if you can pay one hundred dollars for six months, that’s time to make some money. You know, I’ll go and generate some capital and build up your business. And then you can start paying down your equipment.

Travis Pankake:
It’s a huge head start. Huge head start.

Aaron Franzen:
Really is all I had to. I mean, we try to keep anywhere from three to five rigs and stock at any given time across the country. So there is a lead time. I mean, just we’ve gotten deals done in two or three days with the rig delivering, you know, seven, eight days from the original phone call, we’ve been able to get funding. Getting approval, get funded, gets shipped and have a tech out in front of a customer in seven or eight days. So something to think about with the stock rigs versus more of a custom bill being a three to five week lead time.

Don Clymer:
Hey, Aaron, do we have the the generic form on the Web site for the cause? We do. Yeah, we do.

Aaron Franzen:
We have the application and the rig building tool. So you can go to the rig builder, build your dream, rig the application and we’ll get it done. And what is that Web site here? I believe it’s idei dash insulation, dot com.

VARIOUS:
So right now I’m still engaged. Even when you’re working from home.

Josh Penman:
Yeah, I know the majority of the application. I would say ninety nine percent of the applications we get for I.T. customers come right through the IDF Web site. And it’s it’s, you know, IDF logo read on it.

VARIOUS:
And it’s real simple to write. It is seamless. It most customers tell me it takes and I’ve gone through it before.

Josh Penman:
It takes under five minutes to fill it out.

Aaron Franzen:
I’ll say two in the last, you know, three and a half, four years that we’ve heavily been working together. How many times has a customer actually been denied it?

Josh Penman:
Right now, I just pulled these numbers last week for a different vendor and it was. So these are these are global four for all of my customers. That idea I would fall right in line with this, though. It was 35. It’s under five percent of applications. Get flatout declined.

Aaron Franzen:
I rarely see him. I mean, almost that I can definitely count on one hand over the last four years that someone has been denied.

Don Clymer:
Or just or just not have the Don ever been in business before? Right. Yeah, no credit, right?

Josh Penman:
Well, I would say even some of this startups were. I mean, we’ve we’ve at least been able to offer a solution. It’s very rare. That’s for sure.

Aaron Franzen:
I think we covered everything. Huh. Do you have anything to add, Josh?

Josh Penman:
No. No, I don’t. I appreciate you guys doing this. And it’s been it’s been fun to join you here. This is a cool thing.

Aaron Franzen:
Yeah. Thanks for coming on. You heard it here, folks. Josh Penman, American Financial Partners. He’ll finance anything that we should put that in there. Well, Josh, we do appreciate your time.

Absolutely. Thank you guys for coming. Yeah. Have a good weekend, boys. All right. See you, Matt.

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