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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

RVAL012 Dane Malmberg_REV.mp3 transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

RVAL012 Dane Malmberg_REV.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.

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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EPISODE 13

Spray Foam Technology and Innovation with Ben Brown, President and CEO of Natural Polymers, LLC

June 2020  | 39:20

The people that are leading the way in spray foam innovation are leading the way in the market place right now.

On this episode, Travis and Don welcome Ben Brown, President and CEO of Natural Polymers. Ben has been working behind the scenes for 22 years to make the chemicals in your spray foam more efficient, better for the environment and better for your customers. Ben takes you in the laboratory and the research and development room to show you the past, present and future of spray foam technology.

Natural Polymers LLC is dedicated to the development of high-quality Urethane Systems with low VOC signatures and an environmentally friendly, raw material base. Their petroleum and natural-based products are third-party tested, meeting and often times exceeding industry standards.

3:26 – Working with the chemicals behind your favorite spray foam

6:57 – Dinosaurs of the early days of spray foam

11:49 – How Ben has made spray foam more efficient and safer through technologies like Natural-Therm Zero Plus

17:53 – When an R-Value isn’t exactly as advertised

21:54 – Why Ben is leading his chemists out of the lab and into the field

25:46 – What’s the future market for new spray foam technology?

29:27 – How Natural Polymers is scaling up and still focusing on quality products.

33:17 – What’s the draw to Natural Polymers LLC?

Season 1, Episode 13 Transcript

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Various:
This is the one and only the original podcasts 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, Idei 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. Hello and welcome.

Travis Pankake:
This is Travis Pancake, your host, alongside my co-host, Don Clymer. How’s it going today, Danny?

Don Clymer:
It is going good. Beautiful day here in Colorado Springs. Nice. 70 degrees. Sun is shining and the dogs are barking out in the backyard. So I hope you can hear him, but it’s going good. Despite what’s going on in the outside world, only to hear you’re supposed to get, what, five inches of snow coming up? Yeah, yeah. It’s a I don’t think the kids will be hunting Easter eggs outside. That’s for sure. The long. I think this is the last nice day we get.

Travis Pankake:
Well done. What are we doing today? Who are we talking to?

Don Clymer:
We actually have one of our sponsors on a good friend, a true partner to Idei Ben Brown with natural polymers. You know, we’ve been doing business with Dan for for a while, couple years now. And like I said, just become a good friend to all of Idei. True partner has some of the best products that we’ve we’ve bought in years. And you kind of surprise me, we haven’t had him on the show yet. Whoops. No time like the present. Yeah. Yeah. So we got we got Ben Brown Natural Polymers. You can find them at Natural Polymers, LLC eCom on the web. We’ll have some links in the description below.

Don Clymer:
And Ben is sitting there at his office in West Chicago, Illinois, with his German shepherd, Gus. So we might get a special guest appearance by Gus. But, Ben, welcome to the show. Glad to have you on finally. It’s been a long time coming. Thanks for having me on today. Guys, I really appreciate it. Yeah, absolutely. Let’s, um, let’s just kind of get into it, because I think everybody who’s heard me talk about natural polymers and, you know, every time I say something about you, I’m like, you gotta hear this guy’s story. If if there’s a manufacturer out there who understands every aspect of the business from, you know, the chemical side to installing it, being out there and pulling the trigger as a spray foam contractor to to now a manufacturer, you understand the frustrations that our customers, our listeners have out there because you’ve experienced it from every aspect of the business. So I think a good way for for you to introduce yourself to our listeners is just start at the beginning and in how you got into spray foam. And then we’ll then we’ll go in and talk about some of your innovative products.

Ben Brown:
Yeah, that sounds good. So, I mean, I basically got into the industry, you know, indirectly through a friend. My first job at a school when I graduated from college was working for a chemical company that happened to make polyester polio’s that they sold into the spray foam industry in polyurethane industry in general. So my first job was working as a technician in a lab, you know, running tons and tons of reactivity, profile and salability studies. And then from there, I got to the opportunity to become a commercial manager and work directly with spray foam contractors, primarily in the roofing sector. And developing the spray foam, doing all the fire testing, doing all the code compliance testing, and really gave me a great opportunity to experience the laboratory, the formal laboratory and the quality control process and really see what that aspect of the business was. But as I get into the business and worked on the R&D side of it, I got more interested in the commercial side of it and the application side. And so as I was out working with the contractors, running trials around the country. It brought me back to my my roots, which really was in contracting. And I grew up working for my father as he was a general contractor, carpenter, contractor. I literally grew up on custom home job sites, you know, you know, playing around and cleaning jobs and then, you know, as as early as I could remember. And then as I got older, of course, put me to work as soon as I was old enough to. So it kind of reminded me of that. And as I was working with the contractors, I kind of miss that aspect of my life. I like working in the lab. I like that the R&D side of it. I always wanted to be a chemist as it is a young kid. I used to fantasize about making my own superhero called Chemical Man.

Travis Pankake:
So, you know, mix up the Franklin color was his cape. Yeah. I don’t ever I don’t think fantasy ever got that far.

Ben Brown:
But I, you know, thinking about that stuff as it is a young boy and growing up and, you know, and then just like I said, a lot of my life was on custom home sites and doing, you know, a variety of different things. As he built the jobs from start to finish, I’d have to go and literally, like, stick jobs out with them and stake out foundations and, you know, clean jobs is everything you imagine. So from my whole life. And so the only other job I had outside of the polyurethane industry was working for my father. And so as I got working with spray foam contractors who were really more in the roofing side of it, I just got drawn to that. And so when after about three or four years working in the company, there was a commercial manager that had got approval to buy some new spray foam equipment. At the time, the machine they had there was probably 30 years old, the 1970s old. Fifteen hundred. I don’t know if anyone ever out there remembers those. They might remember the sixteen hundreds. But the fifth, I’m sure there’s a few of our contractors out there. Was the gun and everything. So they. That’s Guzman, right. Yeah. It was an old guzzler, you know, like from the you know like one like maybe the first or second generation machine that they ever made. So is it really old machine and the gun and you know, so that’s where I had to, you know, work in the lab and work on this stuff. And then they upgraded. We got to a glass craft piece of equipment that does it, another dinosaur. And so we, you know, work got that. And so, anyways, make a long story short, they were getting rid of this machine. So I decided, well, I could take that machine and, you know, maybe start a side business. And although I’m not going to get into roofing, maybe spraying small additions and houses and, you know, crawlspaces, this product would be a great spray. Foam would be a great product for that. I don’t see any when, you know, this is early 2000 and really in my area, in all my years of being in construction and, you know, a contract, never saw anyone use it. The closest thing we ever saw to polyurethane foams was the great stuff that they were using our outdoors. And when did you start insulating your dad’s homes? So I did. Yeah. So you as my first customer. He had a couple of small additions. And then once I got this machine, it took me probably about six, eight months to buy a trailer, get a you know, set it up, get a generator, a good compressor, you know, and build this thing. You know, I literally spend my nights and weekends working on this trailer to get this machine set up and got that set up. And then, yeah, I would go out and try to, you know, take my, you know, long weekends over like a Memorial Day weekend or whatever, and, you know, go in and spray a a job that should have shaken me probably a few hours. It took me probably a week to do it because the machine kept crossing over and those machines were really tricky compared to what they have now. You’d have to you have to set the chair of your pressure regulators different than, you know, on the upstroke and downstroke. And I really didn’t know what I was doing with it as far as the equipment, you know well enough to sure manage that. And then, of course, you’re 100 feet away from it, so you can’t see what’s actually going on. So I learned the hard way, though, you know, rebuild the gun to spray for five minutes and rebuild the gun for.

Travis Pankake:
Superefficient, right?

Ben Brown:
Yeah, exactly. I mean, that’s, you know, so. So, you know, I kind of got an appreciation for early on, not only the construction side of it, the contracting side of it, but you know how difficult it is to actually go out there and, you know, get jobs done and, you know, figure out how to build jobs. And then at some point, we had to go and actually get jobs done, legitimately, get them approved by the code officials. And they did not want anything to do with spray foam. They looked at it like it was a specialist. And so I had to go and sell up, sell this to architects. Then I had to do this, you know, I my free time because I was still working full time in the laboratory. So this was just literally on my, you know, weekends or days off or know vacation to try to get this going. And, you know, I just thought I really believed in and I really saw a future. I really thought this was going to be something that, you know, as the economy and different things adjusted in the world, oil prices might go up, energy costs are going to go up. People are going to be looking for more energy efficient ways to, you know, insulate their homes. I thought this was a great technology for that.

Don Clymer:
You’re looking years down the road and planning.

Ben Brown:
Yeah. And so that. Exactly. And so. So I really thought, you know, 10 years from now, this is gonna be a great market. There’s going to be a great market for that. I could get in on the ground floor of it.

Don Clymer:
Well, and weren’t you kind of scooping up the the foam that you were spraying at the time, thinking with your background saying, hey, I could make this a little bit better?

Travis Pankake:
When I was just going to ask, just out of curiosity, what foam were you sprain? Was it a competitor of yours today?

Ben Brown:
No. So we were you know, we made the lab that I worked at. They allowed me to make, you know, foam a few sets here and there, you know, initially. So we were I was making my own bones. They were looking for formulations that I was modifying and, you know, and getting them to reactivity profile and the chemistry just dropping down the density and all that kind of stuff in it for more. Yeah. Exactly. A little of it actually was a lot more difficult than than it sounds. And the products, you know, in the early days were all they were good foams structurally. You know, they didn’t have the reactivity profile and the raw material base that we’re using right now. And that polyurethane industry in those days, their own was using primary means. They were using lead catalysts and then they weren’t using the, you know, environmental safe products that we have now.

Travis Pankake:
So technically speaking, how long have you been making foam then? If you include those years.

Ben Brown:
Twenty two years. Trying to answer your other question. So that did lead me to the point where I wanted to make better products. I said, wow. I mean, you know, the company I’m working for, we’re using like Catalyst, although they’re using out roofs and these are industry standard products. In those days, they were still using, you know, ozone depleting, you know, blowing agents and stuff so that the industry’s changed, you know, in the 22 years that I’ve been involved in it significantly. And I’d like to think that I’ve been a good part of that change in, you know, and developed a lot of the newer technologies. And that definitely been an early adopter of of a lot of these cutting edge technologies, which we can talk a little bit more about later on.

Don Clymer:
Yeah, absolutely. I think now’s a good chance to do that. I think everybody kind of got to feel for your background and the struggles you went through and how you can relate. And I know that’s that’s a big part of why the idei sales reps like dealing with you. They can call you directly. And we we have customers who call you directly and bounce ideas off you. It’s not a you know, you said you worked for this big chemical corporation. You just do not strike me as a big corporate guy. You know, you like to be innovative. You like to to do your own things and and stretch the boundaries a little bit. So, I mean, it’s it’s a natural progression, I guess, to see you become natural polymers. Right. So we can talk about the innovation products or innovative products you have. I know we’ve been we’ve been working very closely with you on some of them, specifically the new natural Thurm zero plus. Do you want to you want to talk a little bit about that?

Ben Brown:
Yeah, I mean, that’s a really exciting technology as we switched into these fourth generation Blowen agents. And I kind of talk to you a minute ago about when I was starting, we were using ozone depleting, you know. Whistle blowing agents and then the industry progressively phased that out, so now you know, I’m on the I was on the tail end of the ozone depleting and got into the non ozone depleting raw materials. And now we’re on our fourth, fourth generation blowing agent chain, which is the HFA technology. And so I started working on that technology back in 2012 when there was really only two players at the time who were looking at future technologies, Honeywell with their sources and Dupont with their Opta on product. And then Dupont later spun off their company. And it’s called Camorra’s now. And so that’s how we got working with the next generation blowing agent technology for the H.F. hose. And we really looked at that for a number of years. Like I says, I think some people only started their R&D development in the last two years and we’ve been working on it for quite a long time.

Don Clymer:
Then there’s companies out there right now that don’t even have an HMO available to the market. I mean, it. It’s crazy. It blows my mind.

Ben Brown:
Yeah, it it it makes sense to me. I mean, does it make sense from a commercial standpoint? But it makes sense in the sense that they’re not technologists. They’re you know, a lot of people will get in this industry. They just want to do sales and they’re more focused on the sales side of it. And I think that’s where, you know, I’m really strong on the technical side. It on the sales side. That’s where we’re great partners because we can team up. And your guys, his expertise, his sales and my expertise, his technology. And, you know, you you guys want cutting edge technology and that’s what we want to bring to the market. So so anyways, this zero plus technology is our second generation HFA. So we’re already on the next generation. We kind of came out with our first product and it’s a two pound our regular two pound AFO is a really robust product, but the market has a strong desire and need for these, you know, super high yield products, ultra low odor products. You know, just there’s just different types of niches within the market that what people want. And there’s different ways to make these technologies perform differently. So as we’ve got experience selling our regular HFA technology, we want to develop something that was kind of more like our natural Thurm zero, which is a high yield product and very, very great innovative product. But one of the limitations with that product was, is that it doesn’t meet a class to vapor barrier. You know, one inch. So we find that people are using that product. They want to use that product more like a traditional clothes cell product, but they want the yield and performance benefits that they get with the zero. So we came out with the zero plus adopting the HMO into that technology to allow it to be a true closed cell product and be able to be a class to vapor barrier at a one inch pass. And but to have a lot of not get rid of the characteristics that we were getting with the zero. So the zero plus it’s the zero on steroids, right? Yeah. So it’s an integration.

Don Clymer:
So we’re seeing, you know, you’re comfortable where I guess our techs are seeing excess of 5000 board feet out there. And I know that’s subjective. Right? There’s a lot of factors that go into it, but we’re seeing in excess of that. And what was the our value we’re getting on that?

Ben Brown:
I mean, that products coming in in the in the seven CAGR value out of it, you know, so it’s a very competitive to the to the market for HFA technology, for the yield. You know, we think we’re going to see on average 15 to 20 percent better than what most of the other H.F. those that are out here and pretended to that our value that holds through.

Travis Pankake:
Right. It doesn’t lose its our value. Some of the foam’s out there that are, you know, the high our value Sevan’s or, you know, after three inches there, they’re actually dipping a little bit. Is that does that going to happen with with the zero plus.

Ben Brown:
Well, that’s interesting that you say that we did a study on a lot of the different technologies that are out there. And what we find is that when people have these are values that they’re advertising, they’re at a certain lift thickness. What we find is when they try to spray above a certain thickness, they tend not to have quite as good in our value. What happens is the cells tend to start to get open. So as you get above four inch lifts, you have a tendency to start opening the cells and these type of products we recommend. You could spray him thicker. But you do see some reduced our value as you go Zacher passes. So we recommend spraying it for inch lip passes, but it’s certainly safe from a fire standpoint to spray a thicker it’s not going to, you know, auto ignite if you sprayed it at six inches. I think there is a there’s always a ceiling with these products. Right. But for optimal physical properties and to get the best results, you want to kind of have some some minimal guidelines there. I think the main thing I have learned over the years was spray foam development. And technology is a given take. So if you have one area that you can really excel in, like let’s say you have a really high are about, you’re sacrificing possibly some other area in. The key with these technologies is to balance all those parameters. You have to meet the fire. You know our value. Dimensional stability. There’s a number of things. And so you need to in order to have a high performance product. You have to be able to have high performance in all the areas. And so that’s what we try to do with our all of our technology. And then this product in particular, we really hit, you know, something better than what we see out in the market. And, you know, we’re going to get a lot of traction, I think, with this product.

Don Clymer:
Well, that’s a the one of the great things about working with with you is is just this morning called you up and I thought I had that shirt off. Sorry, I called you up and I said, Ben, I need a high heat tank foam H.F. So do you have that? Yep, I have it. I there’s some commercial out there. What is it. Yeah, we got that. But every time you’d ever say no. And it was another case this morning. Again, second call was we have a customer. One of our sales reps dug up and he does decorative rocks and we needed a certain density and coloring whatever. And your answer was yes. I can do that. I have I have some sitting here. That’s the that’s what we love about working with you. And our contractors love it. Just because you are you are innovative and you have the ability to to make the products that not only you see a need for, but our customers have a need for. And, you know, you’ve been you we’ve had great success with you going out. You actually the the owner of Natural Polymers goes out and does test sprays with our customers to make sure that the product is being installed right. And performs right. And and does what he says it’s going to do. And you don’t get that a lot of times with some of these big corporations. And like I said earlier, our contractors can call you and bounce ideas off. And I think that’s where some of this innovation comes from. Right. I mean, it’s not all just, you know, we have issues with termite’s and darkling beetles. And do you want to talk a little bit about the foam use we’re working on to combat that?

Ben Brown:
Yeah. Yeah. Before I mentioned that, I think one of the things that I like to do is you can just do things in the lab and stay in the lab. And I think what to your point, a lot of the big companies, they have chemists and chemists are typically white lab coat guys. They don’t want us or men or women that don’t want to they don’t necessarily leave the lab that much. They don’t get out in the field and get involved in the actual and use of it. And that’s that’s critical for these type of technologies. You really have to understand the application. And seeing it is one thing and, you know, having living lived that life. I mean, I did for a number of years, for over five years make a living as a contractor. So I sprayed foam like fiberglass sprayed cellulose. I did all those things. So I think that gives me a really unique perspective on the.

Don Clymer:
Well, it adds credibility to you. Right. You can get out there and walk the walk and talk the talk with these guys.

Ben Brown:
Yeah, absolutely. So that’s that’s what we try to do, is that I don’t want to ever get so far away from my business that I’m not able to do that because that keeps me engaged with the end users, which ultimately is the people that we need to, you know, make sure that they’re getting the best products and technology and the best support.

Don Clymer:
Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about the the past phone. I don’t know if if you’ve come up with a name yet because we’re still in.

Ben Brown:
Yeah, we call it work. We think we’re gonna call Pescado. And so it’s a thing you might remember this conversation that you said this before, that, you know, we talked about this a year or two ago and I was like, yeah, I’ve got this technology that I developed, you know, and I’m never formally tested it, but I’ve got this technology that I wanted to test, but I never thought there was a market for it.

Ben Brown:
So I think, you know, the person was asking for this or there was potentially an arcade. So we went and did some third party testing, which is difficult to do for termites and stuff, because there’s these aren’t just ASTM tests that you standard tests. You have to go find a lab and, you know, go through a whole process to get this. So we’ve navigated that and we found some labs that can do this type of work. And we took these products and went out and tested them. And what we found is that, yeah, this technology really is something that is a deterrent for those types of bugs. And we’re actually expanding on that. We’re going to be testing it with mice in some different types of products, different types of pest, because we want to see if we can get an overall protection to it. And the technology is a proprietary technology. We actually filed a patent on it, which is kind of rare. And the spray foam industry isn’t to file. Is our most time formulation wise? You typically have things that are proprietary, so you don’t file a patent typically because then you would be disclosing your formulation and, you know, with slight alterations, you could, you know, basically get around somebodies patcher. In this particular case, it’s a little bit different because of the way it’s based on the mechanism of the and how it deters the pests and stuff like that. So it’s it’s not formulation based. It’s actually, you know, a technology base. So it’s kind of a unique approach to it. So at some point, if we do have a patent on it, we can talk a little bit more specific, how it works, the phone, the technology, its nano bytes.

Travis Pankake:
Right. Does it try to interject some humor here?

Travis Pankake:
That’s funny. Come on.

Don Clymer:
The pictures you’ve shown me now with the case studies against the termites, with, you know, against wood, against, you know, standard spray foam and then then the spray foam, the pest guard is pretty interesting. I mean, they they might inspect it a little bit, but then they they’re like not we’re not interested in this one. We’ll move on. So it’s interesting. What do you think the timeframe is, Ben, to get that, you know, released in the market? Are we talking maybe fall of twenty 20 or is it going to be a little bit more before we before you get everything done?

Ben Brown:
I mean, as far as the product being able to release it, you know, it’s right. It’s commercial, it’s ready to go into the market. You know what we’re what we’re trying to figure out is really what the market wants. I mean, there’s a debate on how spray foam is going to be used in the south. Right. Yeah. Well, you know, whether or not we need this or not. So it’s it’s technology that we have. But we need to figure out where the market is for that technology. I think how I would market it is, you know, get some more testing done on it with some other types of pass. I think you could market it as a pastor turn product. And it’s one of those things where, I mean, why wouldn’t you want to have that in your product or not? I mean, probably get five or six calls a year. And people as your phone resistant, that might be nice to build, say. Well, yes, that might prove, but it is resistant. And these more so than the other ones. Exactly. And that’s that’s what we find is like when you compare it, they do a rating. Somebody actually is trained to rate these things and it’s zero through 10 and zero being like a failure in 10 being, you know, no investigation. So they take these different colonies and they put wood there. And then, of course, they want to eat the wood. So the wood looks like Swiss cheese when it’s, you know, after 20 days or whatever exposure, 30 days exposure and then with the pest guard treated product. It’s a you know, we get we’re getting a nine and nine out of 10. So that’s almost perfect. And then with regular spray foam as a control, I mean, it had some investigating there, like a six or seven. And so they do it, although there’s no food value for a typical foam, they will and or into it a little bit and investigate. Whereas once you have the Pescado technology, they just they just they’d rather die than go into the into the product. With that in there.

Don Clymer:
So it’s right there. There’s one thing you mentioned that I kind of want to circle back to as a, you know, the relationship between Idei and natural polymers, because there’s probably a lot of our listeners out there who are saying natural polymers, never heard of them. But you’ve been around for, you know, what, 12 years, ten.

Ben Brown:
When did natural power over natural polymers has been in business? Since 2005. Oh, we’ve been there over fifteen years and.

Don Clymer:
Right. But see that the reason why some of the our listeners probably don’t know or have heard about natural polymers, I think I think more have in the last two years or so since we’ve kind of partnered up. But there’s still some out there that don’t. And it’s because you you have focused on the products and, you know, you just built a new plant out there, really fantastic plant that that’s fully automated or will be automated and pretty advanced. But you want to focus on that type of stuff versus the sales, and that’s where Idei comes in. But, you know, you want to touch a little bit on the new plant. You you because it’s a it’s a pretty big upgrade from your first one.

Ben Brown:
Yeah. I mean, we had a original plant that we put together in over the years. It was really a starter plant. It was you know, we went from being kind of outside and there’s no storage space to being able to move inside over years and setting up a, you know, a toat mixer and then going from a top mixer to a, you know, a mixer that could make 30 drums at a time to, you know, eventually at that site a mixer that could make, you know, or 200 and some drums at a time. So it was it was an evolution as we grew the business of adding tanks and equipment. And then we just outgrew the space. It just wasn’t a way to make it efficient. Organizing in line up all the tanks. And we we didn’t own the building. We didn’t have the ability to grow the business the way we wanted to and support it. So I had all the pots and pans and the equipment. But to really have the kitchen. Yeah. Just set it up. Right. It didn’t have a good, good, good enough kitchen and, you know, you couldn’t organize it. So there was a lot of bottlenecks. And so we found that over a couple of years. I mean, I think that was one of the one of the hurdles or one of the reasons why we didn’t do more with idea sooner is because we just didn’t have the the space to, you know, really support it guys as business. So that was it for you guys were done a lot of business with. What? You know, how to do more isn’t a limitation there. So we move to a new site on 18 acres. There’s plenty of land to, you know, build a bigger building if we need to. But at the you know, the building that we have on here is over fifty five thousand square feet. We’ve got a semi automated production, as you mentioned. And, you know, there’s that setup so that we can, you know, in the future add some full automation to it. So we have a world class lab. We have lots of space. There’s you know, it’s just a way to really organize the business and keep things clean and organized. I mean, if you go in my plant in the back. We got we buy things in bulk. The truck drivers come in there. And those I was so clean, this plant that they’ve ever been in, they can’t believe it really is. I want to look like a pharmaceutical company. When you walk in here very clean and, you know, like you could, it’s food grade quality, you know, very clean, organized, but, you know, at the same time make a polyurethanes. But there’s no reason to have, you know, a messy, unorganized, you know, site. And so it’s want to be real efficient. We want the people to, you know, take pride in what they’re doing and make sure all the products are, you know, done correctly. And I think the better working environment, you know, I think you get people who take more pride in what they’re doing and do a better job. And, you know, everyone feels better about what you’re doing. And, you know, you can then you could really organize and lay out a lot of experiments and you could do a lot more. So, I mean, we’re set up to continue to grow our business and support our customers and keep developing new technology and new products.

Don Clymer:
What kind of what’s your capacity level right now or how much how much can you put out?

Ben Brown:
I mean, we could, you know, theoretically with this site and the amount of tanks and the way we’re set up, we could probably supply half of the North American volume for springform. I mean, with the with the site and the capacity that we have here. So the potential for us to, you know, supply the market with these different technologies. You know, it’s is basically unlimited, really.

Don Clymer:
So with you setting it up to be like a pharmaceutical company, are we going to see natural polymers, CBD, oil?

Ben Brown:
Yeah. And we’ve got the we’ve got the land here. We can grow. That’s illegal. I know. And I soon to come.

Travis Pankake:
Soon to come. Thank you. You got anything?

Travis Pankake:
Yeah. I was just going to add, you know, with so many different products out there and everybody having claims to things, would, you know, what’s the draw to natural polymers other than, you know, obviously the technology, the fact that you’re, you know, working in the business and on the business. What are some other factors that brings natural polymers, you know, above the rest?

Ben Brown:
I think what we’re trying to do is focus on a very specific strategy of good, better, best. And so there’s a lot of companies out there that have, you know, spray foams and there are maybe some of them are good and some of them are OK. You know, we have products that can meet and compete at all different levels. But I wrote Focus’s is cutting edge innovation and coming out with new technologies and new things that are, you know, going to continue to grow the market and make the products better and safer. And so we have a number of products in the pipeline already that are probably two or three years ahead of maybe some of our competition. And we’re just going to keep working on these technologies and working with you guys to to bring those technologies out. Keep talking to the contractors and looking at the market and seeing what what do people need? I think we have a lot more technology and a lot more stuff to offer. But, you know, we’re just kind of waiting to put everything together and get the marketing strategies and all these things behind there so that we don’t, you know, come out with the wrong message. We want to make sure that everything is supported and organized. Do you have you ever seen.

Don Clymer:
So since we’re on quarantine and watching a lot of movies, have you ever seen the movie with Jim Carrey called The Yes Man, where he can’t physically say no to anything?

Don Clymer:
You’re like the yes man to the spray foam industry.

Travis Pankake:
I can do that. I can do that. Yeah. I mean. I know you mean.

Ben Brown:
I think that stems from the background that I have. And it wasn’t in spray foam. I was in, you know, rigid polyurethane. So a lot of the stuff that you guys, you know, have needs for, it’s stuff that I’ve either been involved with in the past or you don’t know enough about the technology that it’s you know, it’s very simple for me to to put together some of these things. So some some things and power things are pretty basic. And once you understand that technology, it’s not that difficult to have. You know, we we have all we’re full, fully capable lab. So we can pretty much do all the testing and stuff, everything but full scale fire testing we can do in-house. So for some of these products that don’t require, why are some of those types of things? They’re not difficult for us to develop them. And, you know, just over the years, we’ve just developed so many different products. You know, there’s no way to really put out a catalogue of all that stuff, you know? But we you know, so we just worked together to try to get what you need.

Travis Pankake:
Yeah, I know. One thing that’s great about the partnership, Ben, is, you know, we have a lot of eager customers that, you know, some of us get close with. And we have I don’t wanna come guinea pigs, but we have plenty of testers out there that, you know, feel like they’re included in the development of some of these things. So, you know, it just that open partnership with with you an idea, an idea as customers, I think is is helping move along some of that debt products, you know, that keeps us ahead of the curve, so to speak.

Ben Brown:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, our our goal is to try to, you know, work with you guys to really help your customers, give them the best products and listen to the customers. And, you know, we’re not happy until they’re happy, so to speak.

Don Clymer:
Oh, it’s no lie. I mean, I think we use the word partner more in this episode than we have in any other one. But you truly are a great partner to us, to the industry, to our contractors. I love seeing the innovation that comes out of you and the true passion that you have for your company and in the industry overall to make it a healthier and safer and, you know, environment for for the contractors, for the homeowners, for everybody involved in it. So it’s just. It’s nice to see you because you don’t get that from everybody out there. But there’s there you have a ton of information on your Web site. Like I said, it’s Natural Polymers, LLC dot com. You can find links to all his products on on our Web site, Idei Das Dash insulation, dot com. And it’s been I think it’s been really informative. Ben, I appreciate you. This was kind of an impromptu podcast that we scheduled. I think it came came together in about 30 minutes just because, you know, we’re all kind of locked up, not being able to get out on the road. And I appreciate you taking the time and sit down with us. And hopefully I kind of get a little little better insight to you and your history and into natural polymers.

Travis Pankake:
Yeah. Just to circle back quick, too, on just your history. You know, you’re coming up through the industry being in kind of all facets of it, from installing it to making it for, you know, as you said, technically 22 years now. It gives a lot of credibility to what you’re doing today with us. So appreciate your time, Ben.

Ben Brown:
Yeah. Thank you, guys, I really appreciate the opportunity and hopefully there’ll be more opportunities to talk some more about these newer technologies as we get closer to rolling out some other things.

I think you’ll be a reoccurring guest then, since you are a sponsor right here to pay for this somehow, right? Yeah. Well, thank you all for listening. You’ve been listening to our values. Stay tuned for the next episode coming soon. And if you’ll like it, subscribe. Tell a friend. And if you don’t like it, tell a competitor. Have him listen to it. But thanks again, guys. We appreciate it.

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EPISODE 12

Get To The Next Level with Spray Foam Advisor

June 2020  | 42:00

As always, you are in for another episode packed with valuable information. Today, Travis, Don and Aaron welcome Robert Naini, of Spray Foam Advisor. His company provides information for SPF business owners, salespeople, applicators, and distributors, with the goal to improve efficiency and generate more profit through their training and learning techniques.

Listen to this wide-ranging conversation about the shortage of skilled labor. The shortage can effect cost, efficiency and in the long-term, be a huge drag on the entire industry. The challenge is how to avoid this shortage and Robert discusses how recruiting, education, a focus on retention and investing in people can do just that. A key is to break out of the old mindset that the only “good jobs” are ones that require a college degree, and show younger people the value of having a job in industry.

11:10 – Where has the skilled labor gone?

16:35 – Where should you recruit?

20:35 – How to retain the best people

23:05 – Breaking tradition

27:05 – The true cost of labor shortage

29:41 – reinvesting in people

31:20 – Rethinking how we train

36:18 – Recognize how your employees work and what they want

Season 1, Episode 12 Transcript

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Various:
What’s my superpower? Yeah. What’s your superpower? I’m still trying to figure out, Robert. We haven’t been able to figure that out in like fifteen years. So, you know, you’re really you’re not wearing flannel shirt.

Various:
This is the one and only the original podcasts where you can find yours and your business’s true value. You’re listening to our value brought to you by America’s insulation source, Idei Distributors. You want to hear from the best contractors, 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:
Hello, friends, welcome to our value brought to you by Idea Distributers. This is the Insulators podcast. We’ll bring you industry experts in building science, fiberglass spray, foam, spray, foam equipment, business and marketing leaders and many others. So sit back, relax, take some notes. You’re listening to our value. I’m Travis pancake sales and training here at Idei, alongside my co-hosts today, Don climber Pao and Aaron Francene. So, Don, what are we doing here today? Who we bringing on today?

Don Clymer:
We are bringing the one and only spray foam adviser, Robert 90 on the show today.

Travis Pankake:
Awesome. Yes. So what can you tell us about the guy you’re going to? You going to. Are you going to acknowledge his presence today?

Don Clymer:
Yeah. Well, we’ll bring him in. OK. We’ll bring him in. So I we were just talking about this before we came on. I’ve known Robert for over ten years, at least back to his demo like days. But now Robert is with and he is the one and only spray foam adviser, like I said. And I’m just gonna read a little bit of his bio. Robert has a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from the University of Texas at Arlington. With many years of experience on the cutting edge, a spray foam insulation dating back to 2004. Holy smokes. Robert has developed a unique, yes, a unique knowledge base, including spray foam, sales and marketing employee and applicator training, building science awareness and building code expertise. Therefore, he can leverage his spray foam knowledge and business, know how to help both manufacturers and contractors grow their business. And that’s what we all want, right? Right. 100 percent.

Travis Pankake:
Yeah. We didn’t introduce friends any.

Various:
Did he say hi? Yeah. Good enough. Hi. So, Robert, with all kidding aside, we’ve known each other for a while. I ran into you at the last SBF day out in Pasadena and we were just kind of talking and we actually started talking about food and and how I miss the food from New Orleans, being in Colorado now, enjoying cultural food, good food out there is green chili, but we’re talking about the food out there and the fried grouper sandwiches in Florida where you live. And then somehow that conversation transitioned into, hey, do you want to do a podcast?

Travis Pankake:
Quite naturally. Yeah. So.

Don Clymer:
So here we are. Kind of take us through a little bit of your background and how how you went from an MBA in engineering to being the spray foam advisor, as we all know you today.

Robert Naini:
Sure. Don, first I want to say thank you for asking me to be on the podcast, so I really appreciate it. But, yeah, it’s as you said with my background, after I got my undergrad in mechanical engineering and my Masters in Business, I started at Demel. And that was actually an ax to that. I had no idea what spray foam insulation was. This is back in 2004. I barely even knew what insulation was. I actually knew more about our value and you value in thermodynamic calculations from my engineering degree than I actually knew what the physical products were in real life. And my dad had actually started working at Demo like a couple months before I graduated college. And he slit my resumé. Fred.

Don Clymer:
Yeah, Fred. Yeah, I remember Fred.

Robert Naini:
So Fred, 90, my father worked in the customer service department and he slit my Rosnay on the desk of Davel. All the CEO and owner didn’t like USA at the time. And Dave’s assistant called me and brought me in for an interview. And I started the next week and I started in the in the as an engineering intern, actually, and spent a couple of years inside at the engineering department, went out and did a couple of years in the field as a sales rep, moved back to Texas and started an architectural specification program for Dibala. OK. I remember that where I was doing a bunch of architect presentations all across the country and training the entire staff. How to do architect presentations. Perfect. And that led me to create the engineering department and become director of engineering. I brought on put an architect on staff. We had a technical director on staff. We brought a fire engineer on staff. And so I was running a team of five and we managed all technical challenges from sales reps, from contractors, gold officials, building builders themselves, architects, any type of technical issues related to the the way the products could be used in the field came through our department. And then all the product testing to get evaluation reports and to meet code and provide code compliance and all of that documentation.

Don Clymer:
So you’ve done everything from sales to engineering to architectural presentations. So you’re, well, well-rounded in the spray foam industry.

Robert Naini:
That’s right. That’s right. And so that led me to Dave actually promoted me to see oh, I don’t know any. There’s a couple named drops that might come out here where some people that left them like vacated some positions and there was a restructuring before the sale, before the eventual sale happened. Dave Freital left them like canals and left them like and I was promoted to Seelow. They left one letter during that l can Alice.

Various:
And I know that name. Who’s that? You know that a little a little known drop in action there.

Robert Naini:
I became CEO of Demelec USA and then the transaction, then the sale to Sun Capital, the private equity firm that bought Demelec occurred. And I was COO during that time date. We did the transition from Dave Lall to a new CEO, Dave. After about six months, Dave retired. I worked with the new CEO to onboard a new VIP suites and combine, you know, bring dim like USA and didn’t like Canada, who were operated as two separate companies previously helped bring them together as one company under new management structure with a whole new leadership team. And after about a year, I left and started spray on the visor. What was.

Don Clymer:
Have you had you been working on spray foam advisor in your head kind of thinking this is what the industry needs, somebody independent?

Various:
No, not at all. It was a year round, like the complete honesty here.

Robert Naini:
I got laid off. I goes to see CEOs. Oh, that’s from a you know, a previous regime. Sure. And we brought in a whole bunch of new executives. I was the last man standing from the previous regime. And I was part of, like, I think a nine or 10 person cut that happened a year after the transaction. And that was an shit moment. Yeah, it kind of completely caught me by surprise. But it was one of the best things that ever happened to me, because I if if it didn’t happen to me, then I might still be working there today and never would’ve got my feet off the ground with something of my own. And so, you know, it took me about two to three weeks to realize, you know, my superpower is really understanding a lot of technical information and figuring out a way to condense it down and share it with other people. What’s Mozer power?

Various:
Yeah. What’s your superpower? Right. I’m still trying to figure out, Robert.

Travis Pankake:
We haven’t been able to figure that out in like fifteen years. So if you know, please tell us you’re really you’re wearing flannel shirt.

Robert Naini:
You have him around. So he does something special. He just has to figure out what it is.

Travis Pankake:
Yeah. Do we make the Patagonia plug now that liking Patagonia. Billboard. So we digress.

Don Clymer:
So here you are. Your superpower is the spray foam advisor to the industry.

Robert Naini:
Well, it’s really just a matter of, you know, spray foam advisors, a brand. Right. Just like Idei is a brand that the idea behind spray foam advisor when I started it was that I felt I had value that I could offer to more than just one employer. You know, there were plenty of employers in the marketplace that were I could have gone on interviews and tried to get another job, but I thought I had strong enough value that I could offer to more than just one employer. And so I started shopping around my services as a consultant, knowing that my ultimate goal would be to build training and education platform for the industry.

Aaron Franzen:
When did you become the spray foam adviser? Did you guys really say that?

Robert Naini:
And so I think 2015 is when I bought the u r l started marketing spray foam advisor start. I started writing my blogs in 2015 and started picking up a couple of contracts in 2013.

Aaron Franzen:
Are you a one man band or do you have a team or.

Various:
I’m a one man band all you baby wanted at all.

Various:
Hey, nice. Nice. Well, go ahead.

Robert Naini:
I will say that I have learned the value of hiring out the things that I’m not great at. And you know, most the time I just Ru’s rely on virtual assistance or, you know, some type of, you know, part time help because I am not to scale where I really need a full time person. And when I do need help, it’s typically in an array of different things. So I look for those skills when I can find them.

Travis Pankake:
All right. Well, let’s get down a little bit business here. You know, one of the things that Don and I were talking about before the podcast was the topic of skilled laborers. Right. Where have they all gone? I’m citing an article that you wrote, Spray Phone.com from February about a year ago. So a lot of the information that we’re going to talk about it is that’s where I’m going to get it from. Great article. And obviously, you want to dive a little bit deeper into some of those subjects. So one of the things I’m looking at is where have all the skilled laborers gone, Robert?

Robert Naini:
Yeah, it’s a big question. And I don’t know what you’re hearing from your customers, but when I talk to contractors out there in the marketplace that the number one challenge that I’m constantly being hit with is where do I find labor? What do I do about personnel? And I’m constantly hearing that as the number one challenge. And when we talk about labor, most of the time we think about it on the applicator side. And it’s more than just the applicator side. It’s all parts of the business, including, I would say, on this spray foam sale side of things, because there’s just not enough knowledgeable people when it comes to these topics to be able to just hit the ground running in the D. Positions.

Travis Pankake:
Yeah. I mean, one of the things that my job takes me across the country dealing with insulation contractors, that’s the number one gripe. Labor labored labor there.

Don Clymer:
Consider how do we find it? Yeah. You help me find labor, I’ll buy from you. Exactly.

Aaron Franzen:
And like you say, its sales, its estimates is it’s hell, it’s office help. I mean, there’s a shortage of help in across the board, not just labor.

Robert Naini:
Right. That’s right. Well, you know, all positions ultimately come down to labor. It comes down to some personnel filling a role somewhere. And, you know, the question that I posed in that article and I did the same, you know, the presentation, the breakout session I did at SPF Way this past month and February was about the same topic. And that question I pose is kind of, you know, more amusing than real, because the reality is we never had the labor to begin with because the is growing so fast and we’re an infant really compared to other construction trades.

Don Clymer:
Hey, real quick, and what do you think the industry is growing at on an average?

Robert Naini:
What rate? Yeah, I think we’ve slowed down a little bit, but we’re probably in the 10 to 12 percent year over year growth. This kind of my that’s kind of my feel right now for the market. You know, we had we had years. You know, if you think back five, six years ago, springform was growing at like a 18 to 23 percent clip. Yeah. And it was kind of outrageous. I think that slowed down a little bit, but I don’t see it stopping it.

Don Clymer:
So especially with the increased energy codes and how it’s not going to it’s not going to stop. We’ll continue.

Travis Pankake:
What do you what do you think has created some of the slowdown labor, the size of the market in general?

Robert Naini:
You know, as the market gets bigger, it takes a bigger you know, it takes a bigger piece of the pie to make the same 20 percent clip. Right. So so at a 100 million dollar market space, it only takes a 20 million dollar growth to get a 20 percent clip. But when you’re a billion dollar marketplace, it takes two hundred million dollars. It’s like it’s it’s just the sheer size of numbers, I think. So that’s one of the key factors.

Aaron Franzen:
So you said that there’s always been a shortage of labor in this industry. Do you think it’s because the demand has outgrown the contractors that can fulfill it? Is that what you’re alluding to?

Robert Naini:
Yeah. So that’s part of it. And then also, you know, I mentioned the youth of the construction of the spray foam industry and overall construction. If you look at other segments of the construction market, they’re also having labor shortages. You look at a track, contractors, you look at electricians are huge. You know, you look at any skilled labor out there and they’re they’re finding difficulty filling those roles. So how do we fix that? Yeah, that’s that’s the big question. Right. Right. Yeah. They’re my my opinion. Like, I have a plan, but it’s something that the industry as a whole has to tackle and we can’t wait on it. And it’s better to think about, you know, why is this important? First, you know, what happens if we don’t do something about it? Well, if we don’t have labor five to 10 years in the future, then we become beholden to. The laborers that are in the industry, too, the knowledgeable laborers that are available, which means labor prices go up. That means bid prices have to go up. And that means we have to. We have to start having bigger conversations about why there’s a big discrepancy between, you know, spray foam prices and other insulation.

Don Clymer:
I was just going to say that spreads just widened.

Robert Naini:
It just gets bigger. Yeah. So I think, you know, you asked how do we attack this problem? And my opinion is it has to. It has to be done across the board at all levels of the industry. It starts with recruiting, constantly, constantly recruiting new talent from everywhere possible.

Don Clymer:
I was just going to ask, where do you think our contractors should recruit? Yeah. I mean, is we’re open. I mean, that that’s like I said, that’s our number one gripe from our contractors.

Aaron Franzen:
Yeah. Did it do installers use a recruiting agency? I mean, do they are they going out saying, boy, I really need a job that they can do?

Don Clymer:
People still take ads out in the paper. Help wanted. I mean, honestly, I met some of them do.

Robert Naini:
Yet they’re still taking ads out in the paper. Oh, really? Electronic papers. Right. So Facebook marketplace, Craig’s List, some of these electronic indeed dot coms and these electronic websites. That’s where. What’s the other one? Not Facebook, but the professional link. LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn. So these are some of the sources that I think contractors are used to using.

Travis Pankake:
Well, let me let me back you up a little bit, because I’m kind of going from your article. You know, when was the last time you heard of millennials say, I want to work in the construction trade? So we got to look at this from even earlier than that. Right. How do we get the skilled labor interest back into some of the youth, some of the you know, the high school students, the college students where, you know, shop class? Well, yeah. I mean, that doesn’t even exist in some hice things anymore. So obviously we can do all the recruiting in the ads and looking for labor. All we want. But if it’s not there where we should start earlier than that. Right. We should get to reinforce it from a different level.

Robert Naini:
So. Well, the issue is that, you know, how do we get to this place, to the situation in the first place? Right. And a big factor is shop classes, vocational schools, vocational programs and high schools. They don’t exist anymore. Right. And you go back. Funding has been cut dramatically. You go back 20 to 30 years. Our generation and we were told, what? Go to college, get a degree to go get an office job, to go get a good job. And that good job was always viewed as a white collar office job.

Don Clymer:
That reminds me of my favorite Super Bowl commercial ever. I can’t remember. Maybe Doritos or whatever. It was a little kid. And they’re interviewing and there’s a little chubby kid is like, I want to work my way into middle management. You know, I mean, because that’s just where I found it in her head. Right.

Robert Naini:
That’s right. That’s right. And so that driving force, it drove a big portion of the population into universities and into professional careers and away from vocational school. Combine that with the downturn that happened around 2007 to 2009 time frame. And there weren’t very many jobs. Right? There weren’t jobs available in the construction industry because people were being let go and kicked off to go find jobs elsewhere. So we now look 10 years in the future from that, you know, 13, 12, 13 years in the future from that downturn. And that experience doesn’t exist in the construction industry because it was all sent off to go find jobs elsewhere.And they’re not coming back.

Travis Pankake:
And that labor force is now aging and retiring and going away. Bingo. So where are we going to fill this from, Robert?

Robert Naini:
Yeah. So we have to do it organically. That’s my opinion. And we have to start now because organic growth takes a long time. If you if you’ve looked at any part of your business and even, you know, a good way to look at it is the growth of a business from an organic standpoint takes a long time. The growth of the population pool from an organic standpoint takes a long time. So what do I mean? When I say organic? I mean, we have to do it from the grassroots. We have to recruit regularly. And you say where from? My opinion is I want to hire smart, high integrity persons that are honest and truthful and and will show up when they say they’re going to show up. I want to hire for character and I will train knowledge and skills.

Don Clymer:
That’s a great point. So so you find that high integrity guy, the guy with character, the guy would drive. How do you keep him? Because this isn’t an easy industry. The addicts are one hundred and forty degrees. You know, they’re crawling through up and over stuff. They’re wearing their shoulders out. Once you get that guy, what’s the best way to retain them? Yeah.

Robert Naini:
And these guys are people just like anybody else. Stook. You have to find what they are most interested in. Right. What is that individual’s interest? Are they interested in opportunity? Do they want opportunity to grow and become better and maybe transition into another part of the business? Or do they really like being the technician and being the mastermind technician behind the equipment, which means that they’re likely going to become, you know, a crew lead, a a shop lead. Maybe they even become the trainer for the business.

Don Clymer:
So you should be able to as a business owner, you should be able to lay out one or two different career paths that, hey, if you do, good. I hired you because X, Y, Z. Right. And if you excel at these, here’s a career path for you where you can improve yourself.

Robert Naini:
That’s right. That’s right. And I look at this from maybe from a I don’t know if it’s a biased perspective, but this is how I came into the industry. Somebody found me with no knowledge and no skills. And they found me and saw the opportunity to teach me and train me these concepts and see how I could provide value for the organization over the long term.

Robert Naini:
And with that, I had to take action. I had to show up. I had to be involved. I had to grab the bull by the horns and do the things that were necessary. The reality is there were three, four or five other guys in the organization that had the same were we’re putting the same type positions as I was. We’re given the same opportunities. And they’re not even in the spray foam industry anymore, really. And so you have to realize that sometimes it’s just not a good fit. You know, like you might have to go through three, four, five guys to find one that sticks and and actually becomes what you’re trying to create.

Aaron Franzen:
I think people want to be engaged and they want culture and they want opportunities, sometimes more so than money. Money is important, obviously, but that’s millennials. That’s what they’re looking for.

Travis Pankake:
Well, and we need to get away from that message that, hey, you have to go to college. You have to get an education. You have to get an office job. How do we sell that? It’s OK to work with your hands. Use your skills in other ways. You know, some people just are naturally gifted with tools and. Working with their hands and things like that. But because of society, because of that, hey, you must go to college and get a college education to get a good job. We need to get away from that message, not discrediting college by any means. But it’s not it’s not a necessary thing to get. You have a job that you can have a good life from. Well, and a lot of cases, the kids who go to vote take school.

Don Clymer:
I mean, you see it all over Facebook. Instagram. Mike Rowe. Right. A lot of cases the kids can make more money doing this type of work than they can at an entry level office job.

Travis Pankake:
And they’re not paying off student loans right now because they’re jumping right into a job.

Robert Naini:
So that point right there, that that’s a conversation that I don’t think is being had enough right now, that the marketplace is that student loans, the cost of university now is different than it was 20 years ago when I went to school. It’s the return on investment is not necessarily there, depending on the type of program that you’re going into. If you’re going into law school, if you’re going in to be a doctor, if you’re going in to be an engineer, then those programs are necessary. But if you’re going just for the experience and you’re going to have one hundred thousand dollars in debt and graduate six years later with an interdisciplinary study in human relations like what the hell you’re going to do with that?

Aaron Franzen:
You’re going to do sales. I mean, that’s exactly what you just described, is what Erin went to school for. And he’s sitting here on the podcast or whatever.

Various:
He said that we have we have new sales reps here this week. And last night we were talking and I went to calls for this and that. And everyone is in sales. But to your point, you can still go to college and still be a spray foamer. And you said Mars, you said master technician just calling it that rather than, you know, we always say labor short. There’s a labor short. This isn’t a labor job. This is a technical field with chemistry and with fluid dynamics and building science. And I still think that there’s a place for go to college, learn, learn, get it, learn this. Disagree. Yeah. You know, understand the technical side of it. Spend time in it and then you’ll be equipped later on to either advance or start something for yourself.

Aaron Franzen:
So I don’t want to say don’t go to college. Go to college. Oh, absolutely not. Either way, there’s still yeah.

Travis Pankake:
There’s value there. But like you said, it doesn’t necessarily need to be your end game. Right. Your courage education doesn’t necessarily drive you to your end career.

Robert Naini:
Well, I think it needs to be evaluated based on what type of opportunity that’s going to create for you vs. the message go to college, because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

Don Clymer:
Exactly right. Yeah. This is what we did. This is what you’re going to do. And this is what your kids are going to do. Doesn’t have to be that way.

Robert Naini:
My best friend from high school went the exact opposite path of me. He graduated. He knew he didn’t want to go to college. He went to a vocational school. He became a reefer mechanic. So the refrigeration units on the back of trucks became a refrigeration mechanic and he works on refrigeration trucks. And he’s been doing that now since he was 19 years old.

Travis Pankake:
Yeah, you got to deal with reefer. This guy’s from call. Yeah. I remember Columbine on a specific Colorado where I am.

Travis Pankake:
So we get off topic a little bit there. Right. Right.

Don Clymer:
So, OK, let’s talk a little bit about. So we’ve we’ve identified the guy. Gave him a career path, you know. But what happens if we don’t identify that guy? And we continue down this path of labor shortage? You know, I assume costs are going to go up. Yeah.

Robert Naini:
You know, like what would happen if in 10 years all the contractors wake up and they’re less able? Labor costs is now 50 percent higher. We’re all making more money, more or more. Guess what, Don? They don’t buy more chemical from you, right? Right now they buy less because they’re selling less jobs. Because now the there the jobs that they have are fewer and far between because their price has gone up overall. Now it’s going to go up faster than inflation. So we’ve become we create a bigger disparity between current prices and future prices by not trying to aggressively address a labor shortage.

Travis Pankake:
True. So other than, you know, us doing this podcast kind of thing, how do we get this message out more?

Robert Naini:
I mean, we have to be telling everybody, right. You what can you guys do? You guys interact with thousands of spray foam contractors every year. You you and your teams have to be sharing this message, right? I try to share it as much as I can. The manufacturers in the industry have to be sharing this message and all of us have to be doing our part when it comes to training and education, because that’s what we’re dealing with, is it’s a it’s a labor shortage of skilled personnel, of knowledgeable people. So we have to be able to take people who have high will and high desire and high integrity and the drive to become better. And we have to create paths for them to gain the knowledge and actually be effective in the field. And that means that the companies that operate out the field, spray foam contractors, for example, they have to become more sophisticated. They need systems and processes that onboard these new people into their business that get them operating as fast and as efficient and as quick as possible with as little impact on the best people into the business. Like with this little impact on the business owner, with this little impact on the best sprayer, with this little impact on the best sales rep. And we have to get them into the organizations where they’re effective in short order. And then they have to have some form of continuing education for their personnel so that they can move them forward on that career path.

Don Clymer:
So I got a question. Is it? I’m not sure I want to phrase it. So once once you find that guy. Right. The guy with all the qualities we just talked about, it’s equally important to invest back into that employee with trainings continuing at. So it’s not just, hey, you know what? You know, some of these guys, some of the contractors out there might might use that as an excuse, right? Hey, there’s no there’s no labor out there. We can’t find the right guy when, in fact, they’re not investing back into their employee. That’s a huge part of it. Wouldn’t you agree?

Robert Naini:
I agree. So so what I see happening in the industry is the business owner calls and says, Robert, you know, I’ve had five guys in the past two years come through my doors and they’ve all not worked out like they just they come in and it’s grueling work and it’s hard to do. And all of these excuses and it’s probably a lot of what they’re hearing from their people. But when I turn the question back on them and say, OK, guys, what is your process for onboarding these new people? What do you mean process? Right. What is your process for taking them from not knowing anything to knowing that the knowledge that they need to to be more than just an assistant.

Don Clymer:
To being a master technician

Robert Naini:
Right. What’s that? What methods are you using them? Opportunity. And they’re not doing anything.Well, because they don’t know how to do it.

Travis Pankake:
The answer is I put him in the truck with Jimmy so he can get his 40 hours this week. Right. Right. I mean, that’s keeping him busy.

Robert Naini:
Think about what happens. Right. So we bring on we’re going to say we bring on a guy to be an assistant. So how do we train him? Well, we send him out with our best spray foam crew or our best to spray foam tech. And we expect that that tech trains him with no guidance, with no with no other information. So what happened? Tech sees him as competition. Yes. They go out to the job site. The tech sees him as competition. He might take my job some day. This guy, if he gets any good, I might lose my job. But then the tech also says, you know, I get paid by the board foot. Right. I can’t waste any time training this guy because I like if I slow down my job, then I don’t get paid as much. If I spend any time training this guy, I don’t get paid as much this week. So they drive after what they’re paid by. That’s what most techs, most sprayers in the industry. That’s what’s gonna drive their actions, is whatever they get compensated for, whatever their incentive is, they’re going to drive after that. And if they get paid by the set or by the board foot, then they’re going to drive after spring. More material.

Travis Pankake:
So instead, we should be, as the owner should take that head tech guy and say, hey, I want to expand this business and I need your help doing it. You’re going to be our trainer. You’re going to be our trainer. I’m going to bring you in. And in a month from now, when you get this guy or two months, you know, whatever the timeline is and you know what? We’re gonna have two rigs. We’re going expand business. And you’re gonna be a part of this growth.

Aaron Franzen:
Yes. You can give them a business growth objective, you know, to give them up.

Don Clymer:
You’re going to get a center board foot for whatever that rig does.

Robert Naini:
Train ride. And you can do that if that head sprayer is interested in that type of growth path for himself. Right. Because I’ve come across a lot of sprayers who were just like, leave me alone. Let me do my job. I’ll crank out as much material as possible. But I just I don’t want any outside distractions or responsibilities. I just want this. It ain’t broke. Think all he wants, then you need to go find somebody else.

Robert Naini:
What you need to probably do is look for one of those aging guys, the guys that are aging out of crawling through one hundred and forty degree attics that have been doing it for 10 years and find somebody like that who doesn’t want to crawl through attics. But that can become but has an amazing trainer. I mean, it’s then you’ve got, you know, for training. You have to look for special skills. Right? You’ve got to look for communication and teach ability and leader somebody who can actually leadership. Right. Somebody who can actually command an audience when they’re whether it’s one person or three people, they have to actually be able to take hold of the situation. And not all great sprayers with the skills have that skill set. I would rather have a guy for a training position. I would rather have a guy who’s a really good communicator and trainer that has the knowledge, you know, than have a really good sprayer that has no communication skills.

Aaron Franzen:
All right. How long do you hold on to that new candidate for? I mean, if you put some goals and objectives in place and it’s just not. That’s probably another issue is that we get a guy and he’s he’s OK. He’s hanging around, but he’s not, you know, getting it done. How long do you keep trying and fighting? I mean, is it three months to two years?

Robert Naini:
I don’t think it’s a hard and fast time rule because it’s gonna be you’re gonna have to be flexible given the situation and the dynamics of your area and the type of work you’re doing and a whole bunch of different factors. But this is an ongoing management question in every industry. Right. So if you go back to some of the management consultants for years, one of the guidelines is that a good corporation should actually let go of the bottom 10 percent of their staff every year and replace them. You can beat the idea is that you improve the overall company by getting rid of the laggards and going to find new people. And you really people in theory are going to be better than the lack.

Various:
Get rid of the C players, right? Yeah, that’s right. That’s exactly how long you invest to make him a B player. How long to invest in a B to make money before, you know. Yeah. Annually. And those go ahead. Eventually you’ve got to make decisions. Yeah. You’ve got to move on. If you can’t get a B two and A. You’ve got to cut bait.

Robert Naini:
Well, the reality is not every person in your organization is going to be an A player. And so there’s room for B players in most companies because they’re necessary. Like, they get a lot of the day to day activities and the grind done, you know, not do it at an A level, but they get it done and it needs to be done. And the reality is, if you if you put a a high level a player in front of monotonous day to day activities, they’re not gonna be very happy. In most situations.

Don Clymer:
So the key is to recognize it once you have the talent. The key is to recognize what they want. Do they want to be left alone and just go out there and spray? Do they want room for advanced advancement? Right. And then once you figure if they want the advancement opportunity, what is going to be the best path for them? So going back to you have to invest in your point employees, not just monetarily, but you have to get to know them, figure out what their goals are, what drives them, and then create a career path for them. That’s going to keep them with you as a valuable asset to the company engagement. Yeah.

Robert Naini:
And keep them interested. Right. And that’s I mean, that’s why employee evaluations are so critical to how a business operates. Because in theory, in those employee evaluations, that’s when you’re finding out, you know, what skills are they best at? What areas of the business are they most interested in? What future path of growth do we have? Or are they just a seed player that’s just going to get the bare minimum done? And, you know, if we have bare minimum jobs, then maybe they fill those roles. Yep.

Travis Pankake:
I don’t know why, but every time you say, see, player Don keeps pointing at me. I don’t. That’s not fair. That’s not fair. So, Robert, just to kind of wrap it up a little bit, the work we find out more about you.

Robert Naini:
Sure. Spray foam advisor, dot com. That’s my Web site. And, you know, anybody can go create a free account at spray foam advisor dot com. That, for example, with this topic is of interest to you. Somebody could go you can go create a account that’s free from advisor dot com. And I have the entire recording from SPF feh of this discussion in more detail on the Web site. And they’ll be able to access that. I also have you know, for those of you interested, I have probably 30 other seminars from the past four or five years of SPF eight conventions available free on the Web site as well. And a record, different speakers.

Don Clymer:
Something tells me, depending on the hits on this one, we may just have you back to talk about another subject.

Robert Naini:
Sure may. Of course. And then, you know, if you kind of the the solution, in my opinion, starts with recruiting new talent and recruiting from everywhere possible. The best ways to find high integrity people are referrals. You know, talk to people that, you know, talk to high quality people that you know, they know other high quality people go to churches and, you know, the religious organizations you’re affiliated with. They know typically high quality people, you know, look for high quality people in your community. They’re going to be able to typically point to other high quality people. And and then you have to be able to onboard and train them. And that means systems and processes for contractors that are looking for information. There is a free an eight part video series at W w w SPF webinar dot com. That then I make free available to the industry. So contractors, anybody in the industry, you know, sales reps, distributors, manufacturers, anybody can go sign up and get this eight part video series that provides just general information across a spectrum of spray from topics, whether it’s, you know, building science, building codes, safety do’s and don’ts, general best practices. It’s kind of a catchall introduction to spray foam education video series.

Don Clymer:
So if somebody is listening to this podcast and they they’re intrigued and they want to talk a little bit more one on one with you, they can. Yeah.

Robert Naini:
Yeah, definitely. Robert at spray foam advisor dot com, that’s the best way to get a hold of me. Or you can get me on my Facebook page. Spray foam advisor. Either one of those message me on my Facebook page or Robert at spray foam advisor dot com.

Don Clymer:
Perfect. Well, I think this was great. Yeah. Lot of good knowledge coming out. You know, something tells me we’ll have you back on to write on about a couple more more subjects. Again, spray foam advisor, dot com pancake. You want to take us away? Yep.

Travis Pankake:
Even listening to our value brought to you by Idei.

Various:
Robert, thank you. Thanks, buddy. Thanks. Chair.

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