DiscoverThe Company Next Door
The Company Next Door
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The Company Next Door

Author: Ete AhPing

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In this show I have the opportunity to sit down with hundreds of small business owners and help tell their story. We spend less time talking about profits and revenue and more time about how the business came to be, what got them started, why do they do what they do, and what keeps them going. This show is focused on small businesses in Utah but I may one day branch out to other states.
51 Episodes
This week Ete sits down with Candy Will, aka Butterscotch the Clown, and owner of Candy Entertains Kids and a founding member of Family and Variety Entertainers (FAVE). Candy is 68 years-old, a California resident, and mother of former guest, Mike Will.Some big takeaways from this episode:Completely ridiculous, out-of-nowhere events can cause problems for your business.When Pennywise-wannabes get stabby in real life.When Conan parodies you with a nasty clown.Networking within your industry and learning from your peers will up your game.Taking classes, making friends, talking extensively with people who do what you want to do, going to conventions, entering competitions, becoming a board member in industry groups, and teaching classes will help you grow and put you in contact with people who can offer random opportunities.Jumping into business before you really know what you’re doing can sometimes work.In the beginning “I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.” She may have started out painting faces with acrylic paints but it got the ball rolling. Now most of her gigs are for face painting.You can figure a lot of things out as you go.There are things you about clowning you’ve never considered.4-H has “clown leaders.”Quality face paint is not cheap.Balloon animals are a great idea until the kids start crying. Beware of grass.For clowns at parties, parents’ expectations are more of an issue than unruly kids.There are three categories of clowns.
Today, Ete sits down with entrepreneur Mike Will of A Great Clean, located in Heber City, UT. Mike is a passionate musician (check out Mike Stance and Unfailing), a pug owner, a heat-hating snowboarder, and owner of a successful carpet-cleaning business. Ete and Mike met in a hot tub at the beautiful Mountain Valley RV Resort in Heber City, UT.Big ideas from this episode:A “free roaming spirit” can lead to entrepreneurship.​​I kind of was able to connect that idea of that free roaming spirit, of wanting to be out in the world sharing a message, with my idea of also wanting to manage myself without needing someone else to tell me what I need to do every day. And so the idea of music led me straight to entrepreneurship.Claim the right name the right way.I realized that I hadn't trademarked it properly…and ended up losing the company to another company that is very popular in this area…Sometimes you have to let go and start over.…I was contacting attorneys and finding out that I did have a case. What I realized then was that it was going to become a case of the deeper pockets. I needed to have money to go to court. And I realized I needed to take a step back from something that I had been focusing on every day for three years. And it was actually kind of a relief.Shift your focus when you need to.And I just started moving in the direction of, okay, I need to focus on one thing at a time now, because if I spend this time trying to build another clothing company…I'm just gonna spend so much energy and not really give what I need to to the business that's actually going to put money in my pocket. And so when I realized it was time to focus on the carpet cleaning, I just did what I need to do.Your business needs to work for you, so  only work with the clients who will honor that.I've been doing this now, for three years, four years that I haven't been answering my phone, my business has not suffered for it. I have found the clients who are willing to work with me in the way that I'm asking them to. And in that sense, I'm allowing the people who are good for me to come into my life.Charge what you’re worth.I started off at 25 cents a square foot...then realizing as I got better, that that is the the poor man's carpet cleaning. You know, like, if anybody's charging you 25 cents a square foot, they don't know how to charge what they're worth, or they're beginning,You might not need employees.But I've also had employees that I've trained and spent time training–time and money–and to have them leave and realize, Oh, now I've built my business up to this point, a now I either need to find somebody that I can train again, or what I took a deeper look at is, if I was to just handle this on my own, which I know I can, would I  make more money.Connect with yourself, be yourself, and believe in yourself.…have a meditation practice, a way to quiet the mind a little bit in order to hear what the heart is telling you…that's been one of the ways that I've truly been able to connect with that belief and self.Do what feels right to you. Don't let anybody tell you what the right way to be you is.So when you hear self doubt come up in the mind and you know, in your heart, you want to experience what life has to offer you, in order to receive what it is that you want, you've got to believe in yourself.
Today Ete sits down with Gavin Hallock, founder of KASH Financial Services located in Gilbert, AZ. Kash provides advisory and consultancy services for business projects and improvements, external CFO services, and cash flow management for businesses.Gavin has more than 15 years of experience working with small to mid-size companies. He has a BS in finance from Arizona State University and a Master’s degree in accountancy from University of Phoenix. He also has an IRS Enrolled Agent designation.Gavin is married and has 3 children. He enjoys running and cycling.In this episode:On finding his business idea“I always analyze things. Because part of being a commercial banker, I was always talking to business owners, asking them the questions. Hey, why did you struggle in this? or Why are your margins down in this? Or why are they up? And what are the reasons? I'd always ask the why. And so in the back of my head, I was always like, hey, these business owners need help, they need some advisory help...that right hand person to be there to help them excel.”On clientele"So from the beginning, I thought, oh yeah, I could take on all these different clients. And and now I've realized like hey, you can take on clients, but you really need to take on the right clients."On networking"I've developed relationships with many different local business owners, where they provide the solutions, and then I can use that as a network and help these customers find the right solution at a good price."On business ownership"And it's kind of funny because, like, it's a different stress when you own a business than when you work for somebody.""I always analyze things. And sometimes you get this analysis paralysis, but you can't do that as a business owner. You have got to be like, alright, this isn't working. I got to move forward with this."On mindset"And you can't beat yourself up as a business owner. You can't. You have to continue to move forward. "On unexpected paths and pivots"But to me, it's that the pathway that I took to get to where I'm at today, it's allowed me to, to learn so much, and also have this big skill set… ""Maybe in six months, I have to pivot and do and do something a little bit different. And that's what I've learned from the beginning. I've only been in business, like really in business, for like, eight, nine months. And then you always have to pivot, until I think you establish yourself. And I hope this is the path. But who knows...""Yeah, I think you always have to take a pulse check and say, hey, what, what's going on? Is this working? If it's not working, then maybe what things might work, and kind of toy with that while you're still doing what you're doing."On getting ideas"When I'm out there on a hard run. Like say I'm doing intervals or whatnot, the only thing you can do is just say like, Okay, I gotta get through this. But like, as soon as you're done, you're resting...that's when my biggest ideas come out. Or if I'm driving on a road trip with my wife, ideas start coming to me because the kids are back there watching movies and I'm there with my wife and and that's when you're just driving and there's no other distractions."Advice for Entrepreneurs"First thing, if they want to get into business, I would hope that they have meditated about or prayed about it.""Don't think that it's gonna happen overnight.""Set those goals out there, even if they're lofty, but celebrate the small milestones.""Just do it. Just keep at it because consistency builds results."
Meet Carter and Keaton Fife of Fife Bros. Poop Patrol. (You can email Fife Bros. Poop Patrol at Carter (10) and Keaton (7), sons of Rusty Fife interviewed on Season 2 Episode 1, are by far the youngest guests who have been on the show. The 2 brothers own and operate a dog poo pick-up and removal service in Gilbert, AZ.In this week's episode:Serial Entrepreneurs: salsa and poo (and citrus) removalPreventing a Turf War: respecting boundaries and territories A growing clienteleMarketing Secrets: your Mom on Facebook and flyersKnow your expenses (about $14)Picking up 4 weeks of poo at the house with 4 bulldogsMa’am and Sir: showing respectDouble Check for Poo: offering great serviceTime Management: baseball, play, and pooWord of Mouth: Brittany’s beer-drinking party neighborsSaving up means “good kid money.”Dreams: architecture, professional baseball, and shoe salesA Phil Knight fanGreat Advice: get help, quality service, be kind to your clientsThe elevator pitch“Sometimes you’re just gonna have rude people…”Failure doesn’t have to be “sad.”Two kids define success.You can start a fire with a pee bag.Survival essentials? Root beer floats and a bed. Alternatively, water and an AR-15.
Meet Liz Robinson, co-owner of Ted’s Shooting Range, located in Queen Creek, AZ. Ted’s Shooting Range offers firearms educational classes, and includes a gun range, a retail firearms store, and a dive shop.Some topics of discussionA multi-faceted business: classes, range, and retail (5:27)Shooting as a skill that offers a level playing field (8:19)A sales boom: “Liberal” first time gun buyers (12:17)A perspective on guns: “It's a tool of a sport that I love to use.” (13:44)For traumatized women, guns can help them “feel like they're getting control back of their life.” (15:36)2020-2021: millions of new gun owners (17:24)A woman-owned company: earning a place in a predominantly male industry (36:18)Women gun owners: “we don't treat them like they're stupid” (37:40)Race and gender politics in business (throughout)Guns and the current political climate (throughout)Business lessons and ideasA serious responsibility: when you have to say no to a customer (18:05)A partnership between two very different people is a good thing (20:12)“If you have an employee that just is not working out, don't don't hold on to them for too long.” (22:15)Personnel issues: “I listen to my employees a lot, not just the management, it’s the employees.” (22:13)“I won't tolerate racism.” “Won't tolerate it in my employees. I won't tolerate it in my customers.” (22:36)“Lead by example, how you treat them is hopefully how they're gonna treat the customer.” (28:37)Success is “how I feel inside.” (30:10)Franchising hesitancy (30:48)“Be flexible. Because you never know where a good thing is gonna come from.” (33:24)“If you're so rigid, it's going to just in some cases, I think it just destroys businesses” (34:15)Miscellaneous interesting stuffWho the heck is Ted? (:34)“When I was eight, I was a janitor.” (2:48)A toy gun under her pillow (6:40)“My kids starting shooting at 3 and 4.” (7:06)
Meet John Walters, co-owner of the newly launched Mister Bermuda in Georgetown, TX, and founder of several landscaping/mowing, lawn fertilizing, tree care, pest control, and snow removal businesses in New Jersey, Utah, Texas, and Alaska. Discussions and InsightsFormal education is not for everyone (3:18)Starting businesses when you don’t know the business (4:34)All you need: “Third grade math and I don't know what grade work ethic.” (5:10)Starting businesses is a skill that can be learned through practice. (8:23)The challenges of life as a serial business starter. (8:40)“You can always take a client base and do something with it.” (10:15)The formula: “You show up when you say you’re gonna show up. You do what you said you were gonna do. You charge what you say you’re gonna charge.” (11:06)Manual labor and contemplation (22:59)How and why to build a network of friends in the business. (27:42)There’s a huge difference in clients from different areas. (33:58)Seeing the value where others can’t. (35:58)Just follow your instincts. (37:17)Mentoring: 14 guys in business. “You don't have to know everything to teach it. You just have to know what you know, and teach that.” (42:40), (53:13)Growing older while operating a small service business (47:42)Avoiding burnout: Spend your time where it’s most needed. (50:47)Miscellaneous“Not that you're going to be the life of the party, but you go to a party and everybody's gonna have questions about the trees.” (19:13)How Ete got into the business: “You don’t have to pay him. Just take him and work him.” (20:48)“Two things overrated in this country: orthodontics and academia.” (46:11)Career Attention Deficit Disorder (52:17)
Meet Ryan Bégin, co-owner of KG Showroom, located in Ormond Beach, FL. Ryan and his father, Laval, own and operate KG, a brick and mortar showroom and online retail store where "you'll find a large selection of quality brands for the kitchen and bath and dedicated showroom specialists to help coordinate your projects." The StoryGrowing up around the extended-family businesses. (The Bégins are coming up on 50 years in the kitchen and bath industry.) (4:10, 12:05)Architecture school at UF.  (17:51)From Modern Age to Kitchen Gallery: The late 80s economy and changing from factory to storefront (24:08)Trading architecture for international economics (25:56)Looking towards the expat life in China (27:19)An important epiphany: “And then it dawned on me, I didn't want to do that.” (28:09)Commission sales: “seeing how risk affects your daily life” (30:24)A bookkeeper goes MIA. “She had bled our family financially dry.” (31:59)Finding “the place I felt I could help the most…” (42:47)A “short term” position change (43:44)From business boom to The Great Recession (47:26)Taking it personally: digging out of the business’ debt for 3 years (44:15)Becoming an owner (48:23)Ideas and InsightsConnect to the community: look back, not just forward (5:40)The trend: people want “real” again (6:20)Is automation a threat? What COVID taught us. (7:45)When technology helps: fax machines for everyone! (10:57)Information and access control: two-way protection (38:50)Not the typical entrepreneur: a methodical style (20:14)“If you’re willing to do something well”: the money will come, the business will come. (21:30)Frank Lloyd Wright: a business owner as conductor (22:34)The employee culture of “you don’t want to get caught” doesn’t work. (41:51)The “undying hope” of the entrepreneur: “There’s never a “no” in my future.” (49:37)One “huge hurdle”: incorporating technology (50:50)Trusting your gut: The ultimate tool for learning and growth (53:59)The review process is critical: “what decisions have we made here? What am I doing? And what am I not doing?” (59:25)Own the consequences. (1:03:10)Success: "knowing that you’re on the right path." (1:06:00)Miscellaneous Fun StuffOrmond Beach: birthplace of speed (not the movie), and playground of Hudson Hornet (1:20)“I thought I was going to be a meteorologist. I laugh about it now but–. I wanted to study meteors.” (15:11)“‘Does anyone know what that's called?’ I said, it's a heat low. And he said, ‘Who said that?’ And that was my that was my claim–that was my day of fame right there.” (18:12)“Sometimes…I want to go off on a homestead and build furniture.” (102:59)“I’m gonna bring her [sourdough] starter with a field of wheat around me.” (1:12:33)
Meet Chelsea Conrad, Holistic Health & Nutrition Counselor and owner of Bodhi + Sol, a holistic wellness center located in Deland, FL.In this episode:Getting to Business OwnershipA musical theater degree, acting, and a cutthroat property maintenance company (4:32)The stress of constant rejection leads to a new passion. (16:56)A Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor (18:03)Changing the trajectory of a childhood dream: mourning one passion and focusing on another (19:42)“Together, we make a whole brain”: business partnership dynamics (8:45)A right-brainer learns Quickbooks (11:19)When business partners part ways (9:58)Bodhi and SolThe Tree of Life and the Sun (:56)A Holistic Wellness Center: not just a spa (1:33)Something different: All-inclusive treatments (47:34)The Blending Bar (48:16)Sales: it’s about helping, no sales quotas, just education and suggestions (27:14)COVIDClosed for 3 months and heartbreaking decisions (9:34)Irony: being stressed out and forgetting self-care as a wellness spa owner (36:10)Sound healing (36:18)“Reinserting my passion back into being a business owner” (37:16)“Really be rooted in the community." (56:44)“We want you here.” “I still have my job. I want you to have yours too.” (1:02:14)Advice for EntrepreneursYou need support: “Surround yourself with other people who can recognize you for who you are and what you really need and listen to them.” (40:10)“Go for it. Follow your heart. Follow your dreams.” (41:56)"There will always be things that hurt but to always be pushing forward toward happiness.” (42:50)Defining Success"People walk in here feeling one way and they float out with a smile feeling different and that for me is why I do this." (43:54)Helping clients “feel taken care of just truly, truly taken care of.” (49:33)“Success for me is it's one person at a time, feeling better walking away, saying, Oh, my gosh, I feel so much better now.” (51:29)"I really take pride in the little wins. And those all feel like successes. And so then my overall picture feels very successful.”(52:20)“If we can all work toward finding our own inner peace, through the turmoil, and allowing that light to shine out…It goes back to our own self care so that we can let that light shine so that can ripple out to other people." (45:32)Other Fun Stuff“I was kind of a terrible two year old and would scream constantly, which is why I think I can sing now.” (3:30)Playing a 12 year-old boy in a nationally touring musical production (15:22)
Meet Britt, owner of DynoClimb, located in Deland, Florida. DynoClimb is a unique climbing gym with a mission "to create a dynamic community of climbers, adventurers, and fitness enthusiasts." In this episode:Growing Up"Sketchy" climb at Galleons (1:17)A 13 year-old cuffing and hemming suits (12:58)A born entrepreneur: selling his family their own stuff (13:45)A midwest minister father who was British and grew up in India (14:11)How Climbing HelpsBlocking out distractions, disconnecting from outside world, focus, "trance," "zenned out" (2:36)Functional fitness (3:21)Excitement? Fear? Both. (3:37)Empowerment (4:01)Kids and confidence (4:31)Decreasing overstimulation in kids on the spectrum, kids with ADHD (5:18)Becoming a climbing community: it's a lifestyle. (6:09)Teaches that Micro-details make the difference. (6:22)Business Lessons From ClimbingSolving routes, solving problems through your strengths (7:02)"Gravity is inevitable": "the master has failed many times more times than the apprentice has even tried." (7:47)Beta: analyze your opportunities and move (9:02)Micro-details: "It's that tiny little detail that are gonna push you to that success." (10:10)Read your route ahead of time: Vizualization (27:18)Building Dyno-ClimbDinosaurs and a leap of faith (19:39)A big issue: construction (29:16)Finding the right market. And the winner is: Deland, Florida? (21:21)Getting started: A business plan, research,  an SBA loan and family funding (25:36)Can we meet the expectations? (31:43)Operations: Getting those well-oiled systems going. (32:55)Tying in with local businesses (33:50)Michelle: Branding and risk mitigation (45:14)COVIDThe 2020 rollercoaster (35:21)Humbling community support (35:45)Leadership required (37:20)Using transparency and confidence to gain trust (40:01)Miscellaneous Good Stuff"Thanks for the adventure, Daddy." (24:54)Alex Honald: what the best climbers can do (27:55)The kilter board is awesome. (46:51)The "Breakfast Burrito" and "Something's Always Wrong, TN." (49:45)Deland is one of the skydiving capitals of the world? (51:52)
Meet Joey Maxwell. Along with his wife, owner of The Studio Creative Group, an Emmy award winning "company dedicated to producing spectacular visuals on screens both big and small," located in Deland, FL. Joey is a former commercial airline pilot and voice actor, and is currently a cinematographer and director for his own business,  as well as a very involved supporter and contributor to the Athens Theatre in Deland.This and more in today's episode:Benefits of a small town business location (1:37)Doing what you love on the side (6:37)The downsides of a good corporate job (7:12)A spouse as a work partner (8:31)A true team mentality: how a group drives creative achievement (9:10)The importance of getting an outside, objective perspective (10:30)The benefits of aiming to create a "dream job" for everyone (14:22)A work relationship can actually help a marriage grow (11:59)Money as motivation (16:11)Fulfillment as motivation (17:16)Making your passion your career (17:43)Benefits of a family business (19:18)You can’t teach your kid to live your best life if you aren’t. (19:18)The satisfaction of being an entrepreneur (24:08)The Stress (25:27)Ups and downs: not having a consistent income (25:28)Entrepreneurs have to forecast and plan ahead for lean times (26:44)When you get busier than you're ready for (27:37)Working with clients on creative projects: it’s tricky (28:30)Guiding a theater through COVID (30:24)What’s it like to win an Emmy? (34:26)Imposter syndrome is a thing. (42:03)Entrepreneurs as artists (42:26)Easing doubts: validation makes a difference (40:17)During COVID The Arts are even more critically important (45:37)Crowd funding equity campaign: building a community arts center co-op (48:04)“Creators are responsible for everything important.” (57:27)You need to progress, or why do it? (1:00:16)"Journey, but journey hard.": Advice for a young entrepreneur (1:01:44)Success? Dreams were fulfilled because I was there. (1:04:09)Don’t stop, don’t pause. Shift. (1:06:22)
Meet Debbie Wilds, owner of Shear WildnessCheck out these topics:Building a community and relationshipsIf you were waiting...everybody would just talk. It was like a little community meeting place. (20:53)When you come here...I want you to meet your neighbors, I want you to feel comfortable and I want you to have fun. (21:20)It's just like a real culture of care. (23:28)Not every hairdresser is a great hairdresser. But they still have people in their chair. And that's because they've made a connection with that person. This business is about making a connection with people. (25:18)I tried to be compassionate, maybe more of a friend than just just somebody that standing behind the chair cutting your hair. (49:00)You have to have trust...and you cannot break that bond. I can say no to the picture that they bring me off Pinterest and say, "That's not gonna work for you," you know, or whatever. So we do that. We're real honest. (1:10:37)Losing a clientIt hurt me when people left and went someplace else. But I realized now, as I've grown, you know, maybe we just didn't make the connection...(25:39)Find out why they disappeared...if it's something that we have done wrong, that's a learning point. That's something that we can turn around. (49:25)Work as a callingI feel like that's my gift. That and I know that God has sent people here to just sit in my chair one time just to hear a word of encouragement. (24:01)I had to...just realize that this is this is who I am. I have been given a purpose. (39:38)I feel like maybe I might have been born to do this. (14:53)COVIDWe had to get a storage unit and we pull everything out of here... We had to come back in and make sure that everything was six foot couldn't get the screens, you couldn't get the PPE...(44:56)Because I feel like we're losing that human connection. And, and I think that COVID has brought out the fact that we need it. (51:02)Hairstyle EvolutionIt was just the beginning of men infiltrating the women's salons..." (52:13)And then the 80s...You couldn't get big enough hair. You just permed over top of perm...Oh, the 80s your hair could not be shiny cuz it was dead. (54:46)And then you know, we kind of went through where they started to get sleeker had...the real sharp cuts and very precision cutting. (55:14)I've been through the mullet. Oh my goodness, the mullet. (55:29)Passing on the TorchI feel like it's probably going to be like a death to me, you know, something that I'm going to have to work through. (59:59)Biz AdviceYou have to know that it's not a 9 to 5. Having a business is 24-7. It does not go away at all...That probably has been one of the hardest things on my family." (41:25)You have to be able to think outside the box. And you have to be able to deal with people that think outside the box and think differently than you. (43:56)Misc Good StuffI went to high school and the first day that I got there when it was time to go home I missed my bus. And I was like, oh Lord, I don't even know my address. (3:35)My first year I had to take a I had to go get my chest X ray to make sure that the lacquer that I was using, which is hairspray, but it had it was I mean, truly, it had lacquer in it. (53:13)If you are stuck on an island, grab your lipstick. (1:04:21)We were going to do Lamaze, which, let me tell you people, just get the shot.  (1:05:50)I wouldn't take a chicken with me. That is for daggone sure. (1:07:59)
About DeanOwner of Healthy Homes Pest Control located in North Central Virginia.Husband, and father of 5Experience in construction industry, IT, programming, data analysisBig Ideas from This Episode Customer care is their core value. And they mean it."We know all of our customers."(1:33)"Our main value is that we care about people. And we express that care through pest control."(11:33)"I've taken calls at two o'clock in the morning." (11:49)"We want to meet that need and take care of your problem. (16:50)"And that's really what I define as success, when you can touch somebody else's life and it makes them feel better."(33:11)"I think we should earn your service every month by being good at what we do, by keeping our word and fulfilling our promises." (39:51)They know what they don't want to be."There are companies out there and their business practices are, I just don't feel they're very people centered...They hire kids who go out and knock doors and this hard, arm twisting sales process to sign folks up and service is secondary to them." (14:19)"We don't do contracts. We sign you up and we provide service for as long as you want us. We don't want you to keep us as your pest control company because we're gonna beat you up if you try to quit. We want you to keep us because we're doing a good job." (38:53)Customer care drives success."We've had explosive growth this past year in spite of COVID. And I think that's because we provide good service, we try to respond to inquiries almost instantly, during business hours, even even into the evening, we respond promptly when people have an inquiry. Existing customers know they can call us." (14:42)"Customer service is really the key, I think, to our success." (14:56)Finding and managing employees:"So what we're looking for are people that share our main core value, which is that concern and that care about people." (22:39)"Put the employees first and let them know that you've got their back, that you care about them." (23:04)"I think it's important that everybody in the organization is on board with that purpose, they all are rowing in the same direction, and have that same vision." (37:16)"You have to build a culture that is in harmony with that vision...Then you have to live it. Your people have to see that you believe what you say." (38:13)Challenges "Sales early on, when you first get started, there's no recognition out there of who you are, you're kind of starting cold from scratch. And the first few months, picking up new customers went kind of slow and didn't go as fast as we planned. And we were kind of chewing through our savings..." (35:57)For Entrepreneurs"The thing I discovered is that most folks in this business and similar home service businesses just can't figure out the customer service. (16:07)"You have to have that passion, that visionary, entrepreneurial spirit, that spark that makes you makes you go. Then you need technical expertise." (47:29)"I don't know that every person needs to go to college and get a business degree, but it sure as heck wouldn't hurt you to take an accounting class, yes, or two or three, or a finance class. Those things have been immensely valuable to me. Or a business law class or two." (48:21)"You need a good accounting firm, you need a good lawyer, you need to develop a relationship with your banker. Getting access to capital is very difficult for small business, especially a business...where most of your value is in an intangible asset." (49:05)"You need to have a plan for how you're going to grow." (52:15)
About Gradwell House6400 sq ft facility converted from a Masonic lodge into a recording studio with multiple recording rooms and rehearsal spacesAbout Steve and DaveFrom South JerseySound EngineersOwners of Gradwell House facilityHusbands and FathersWere members of Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right BA Start The Parts of Business They LoveOwning and working at a hub “full of people who are all doing music industry stuff with so many people that are doing what you're doing." (7:06)“Dave and I have been recording bands for 20 years. We don't record anything else. I mean, very little else...everything else is rock and roll bands. Dude, how cool is that?” (12:40)“Doing this stuff is an incredibly good fit for my personality.” (14:34)“It's just such a nice feeling to not have that weird doubt in what you do or whether your day is going to be good or bad because you don't like the thing you're about to go do.” (16:24)Being recognized for “the technical level, the cleanliness, the professionalism of the staff.” (31:28)The Hard PartsBurnout (11:59)“When you're first starting out your clients suck, too...You're working with garbage. Yeah. So that can grind you out.” (12:12)COVID: "So the pandemic hits, and we went from every room having, you know, between two and four hours, five nights a week to all of the rooms having zero hours, seven nights a week, like zero." (37:04)The Metal Core moment of the 2000s. “Metal core almost ended it for us.” (41:07)Major Insights The space where you do your work and invite clients matters. A lot. On several levels. (8:56)“Take every single dollar you get and put it in the bank, and then take it out with your debit card or take it out with a withdrawal.” (20:33)"Put it on paper.” (21:59)“Very consciously, the idea with this place is...there's the diversity of revenue stream.” (35:11)Once you have created something, you need to do “the promotional aspect”, “the legwork”, the “backend.” You need an “entrepreneurial spirit.” (51:21)“So even if you rub weird personalities, even if you have a sometimes you do drop the ball...If you prove that you are always dependable, they always come back.” (57:47)“The classic idea of if you build it, they will come is 100% not true. The most untrue thing you've ever ever heard.” (58:15) “Get really good at one thing [at a time].” (1:04:25)Start out minimal. (1:05:20)“Entrepreneurs are always so boastful about what they did, all this great stuff. It's like, yeah, but listen, I could not have done this without my wife.” (1:08:41)“Just be humble dummy.” (1:11:23)“There are operating expenses, man. You're going to break stuff...Guess what, it sucks. There's nothing you can do about it. Just go take care of it.” (1:14:21)Miscellaneous Good Stuff"My wife found this really sketchy warehouse in Gloucester City for like 700 bucks a month. And it had a junkyard dog and everything." (3:26)"Honestly the only reason I wanted to record is because there was nothing else that sucked as little as that...Every other job I've ever had sucked. So that one easily sucked the least." (9:28)The second interview to describe live sound engineers as “bitter” people. “Like no one ever seems happy necessarily doing it.” (10:04)The “Sad Guy” in the band. (44:16)The multiple releases of William Eilish. (52:26)Ete is an 8 out of 10. (1:16:03)"Falafel's just so eatable every day, every day." (1:17:38)
Today Ete sits down with Jace Kandle of Lake Kandle.About JaceSouth Jersey nativePartner at Lake Kandle, a family-owned 86-acre destination campground and swim club in it’s 60th year24-7 manager during the seasonBig time fan of Atomic SquareWhat helped him get to where he is todayNot starting from scratch: stepping into an established family business that was already a recognized South Jersey institution (2:02)Learning from the past: seeing what to do when you inherit $1,000,000 in debt (10:21)Education: an international business and history degree (17:23)Making the personal choice: being able to grow up in the business and then choosing to become a part of it (22:36)Outside support: trustee of NJCOA - access to good information, and advocacy through an industry organization (26:51)A restorative resource: exercise -  finding clarity through running (30:05)Understanding parents: parents with realistic expectations of kids (33:38)Purpose: enjoying the chance to work with and to help young people grow (37:21)A restorative resource: Nature: getting to connect with Nature (38:46)The hard parts: memorable learning experiences (mistakes), difficulties, and challenges along the wayManaging dozens of employees, mostly young, inexperienced teens (31:00)Dealing with unexpected problems out of his control. Feeling “helpless.” (26:17)Covid: how it affected business, feeling helpless, dealing with expectations, and questions with no answers (26:18)Challenge of learning to delegate more (34:30)Transition between the season and off-season and back (34:50)Nonstop work: Being there 24-7. Not having “a life” during the season. (20:13)Major Insights Running a small business is “a high stakes poker game. Every day.” All your eggs are “in one basket.” (23:50)You can do everything right and still have your business fail. The unexpected happens. (24:19)“Everyday ends.” (25:15)“You have to be fluid, because, you know, things change. Things change really quick...Figure out what people want.” (32:50)“Be patient...It’s gonna take a whole lot of work.” (39:31)Watch your expectations for happiness. Invest in the “meat and potatoes,” not the “quick hits.” (44:34)“Happiness is feeling purpose.” (45:45)Miscellaneous Good StuffSouth Jersey is not a dump. (:24)A kid’s dream: full time Sega, wiffle ball and jailbreak (3:47)First tractor accident. At 7. (14:39)Taking over the family business: “It was like Lion King...I can't wait to be king.” : ) (15:47)Trying to be an engineer. “But uh, then physics hit. And there she went.” (16:53)Yes, please: The Kandle family tradition we want to institute too. (40:06)
Today Ete sits down with Scott Abbott, founder of Five Star Painting and founder/CEO of Pronexis.Scott Abbott is a pretty big get for our little show. He's a prolific entrepreneur with some extremely impressive credentials. And considering all that he's involved with, he's got to be one busy guy. Luckily we had some back channel connections and Scott was gracious enough to spend some time with Ete. So here we are starting off Season 3 with Scott Abbott. Enjoy the episode!About this episode:What sets Scott apart?His many, very impressive entrepreneurial endeavors and successes. Here are a few highlights:Entrepreneur of the Year at the University of Manitoba and Innovator of the Year for Manitoba. (12:12)Started Five Star Painting and eventually had 150 franchise locations in 5 countries. (1:02)Started Pronexis, the top lead development & growth platform in the home service industry (36:23)Has owned multiple businesses in the past and currently owns 7 businesses, sits on the boards of 6 companies, and advises funds.What helped him get there? His Dad tossing a phone book at him. (7:17)Having confidence, even when it’s “unfounded.” (17:28)Not fearing failure. (18:05)Loving the job. Never waking up and not wanting to go to work. (46:35)Support. Finding his tribe at Entrepreneur’s Organization. (48:22)Doing the hard things. (52:23)Memorable Learning Experiences (Mistakes) and Hard Things Along The WayOnline fishing tournaments and bankruptcy (btw, it wasn’t his fault) (11:12)Taking a Suit Job (13:52)Five Star Christmas Trees: success and the one mistake (42:46)His first employee firing (47:10)Major InsightsDo your market research. (19:56)Fill the holes with the right people. (25:34)It’s always hard. As you succeed, what’s hard changes. (25:59)Things are sometimes "fragile" and out of your control. (29:31)Sometimes the risks are not greater than the rewards. (30:04)Dissatisfaction can be good. (33:02)Success = Adding Value (34:02)“Excellence is only discovered in focusing yourself.” Don’t be the CEO of Everything. Don’t chase all the "Oh, Shinies." (43:54)People get into entrepreneurship for different reasons. Know your reason. (54:14)Invest in yourself. (55:20)Miscellaneous Good StuffGrowing up in Winter Peg: Colder Than Mars (for real) (1:56)Wim Hoffing it (4:28)He’s basically Survivorman (59:07)From nosebleeds to holding Bono (1:01:17)
During Season 2 of The Company Next Door, we've had the privilege of talking to 13 exceptional people. If you've missed any of these conversations, go take a listen. You're going to want to hear what these people–just "average," friends and neighbors–have to say about their lives and businesses. You'll learn that the everyday people in our lives are truly fascinating, with surprising and remarkable stories, and honest to goodness profound wisdom. The fact that we're surrounded by such interesting people (each of whom, without fail, claim that that they have nothing to tell) never ceases to amaze us.So here we are at the end of Season 2. It's recap time. It's an impossible task to wrap up each interview into a neat, succinct little narrative so we don't even try (which is why you need to hear each episode!). But we can pull out a few things from each conversation that really struck us. In this recap, Ete dives into his favorite take-aways from this season. Hear Ete's conclusions, the accumulated wisdom of 13 great interviews, in this episode of The Company Next Door.Season 2 Episodes:Rusty Fife (Built Medical)Megan Perry (Trail Talk Provo, Heber)Dave Zimmerman (Noisebox Studios)Audrey Watkins (Elevate Nutrition and Fitness Consulting)Brett Lee (Serial Entrepreneur)Allison Page (Founder of Trail Talk)Howard Mattson (Plan One Financial Group)John Perry (Bio Green, Greene County Fertilizer, Lawncology)Tom Stone (Commercial Real Estate, Guild Mortgage)Travis Wilcox (Heber Hatchets)Tim Naval (Eco Lawn Salt Lake City)Isabel and David Dupes (The Great American Food Truck)Interview with Kyle Moody (MoodyBlu Express)
Today Ete sits down with Tim Naval of Eco Lawn Salt Lake.A single mother with 5 kids to raise on her own. An absent father. Several moves across the country. Not "much direction as far as structure." A first "job" of stealing candy from Wawa (the best of all convenience stores) and selling it to kids at school. No plan whatsoever for a future career and advisors who "advised" him little except to tell him not to do the one thing he loved. An introverted style, having to wrestle with "negative thoughts," perhaps a certain lack of confidence. "Statistically," Tim Naval tells us only half-kidding, he should have "really bad psychological issues. Maybe a lot of addictions..." But far from what could, or even should have been, today he has a thriving business, a beautiful home, and most importantly, a wonderful family life. He's got the time with his family he craves. He doesn't worry that the bills will be paid. He's got great hair. By his own estimation, "Relatively I feel like I made it...I'm happy." How did he beat his odds?Tim acknowledges with sincere gratitude the service rendered to his family by his own extended family, especially his aunts, friends, and members of his church, who all made a huge difference in his life. His faith, he tells us, gave him "a good grounding." But more than anyone or anything else, he credits the support, the examples, and the love of the main women in his life: his mother, Tracy, his wife, Carlie, and his daughter, Nina, with helping to mold him into the man he is today living a life he loves. His gratitude is heartfelt and touching.Tim recognizes the sacrifices made by his mother on her family's behalf. She worked tirelessly to give them the things her family needed and wanted. "I would see her go [to work] and just coming home and being just completely exhausted and drained. And then having a bunch of rambunctious kids that didn't help out in the house very much." These days, Tim is thankful, not only for what his mom did for him, but for what she taught him about hard work, "just keeping at it" under difficult circumstances. Then there's Carlie, Tim's wife. She supports and encourages him in his work, and pushes him to be his best. She is ambitious in her own right, with an advanced degree, and a great career as a midwife. She's a strong woman, "a workhorse," as Tim puts it, another example for him of the power of consistent effort. "You could go into the kitchen, she made homemade focaccia bread, homemade no bake cookies. And then she did that after doing like a 5 am workout, teaching online, grading, like just never stops, and is always happy. I take a lot of my cues from her." Finally, there is Nina, his 2 year-old girl. Her birth was a defining moment, a "huge turning point." He sobbed with joy when she was born, and since then, she has become his world. Nina has provided Tim with the motivation to focus, a sense of responsibility, a reason to work his hardest, to be his best. He wants nothing more than to provide a good life for her.While the women in his life have helped set him up with a good foundation, we can't forget that Tim worked relentlessly to grow his business. And that has meant growing himself, pushing himself in ways that have been uncomfortable. He "timidly," but bravely stepped into the role of entrepreneur. And he did so with humility and fortitude. He's had to learn to cope with innate tendencies that don't lend themselves to running a company. "I just don't like putting myself out there...I'm just like, very, very introverted." But he did put himself out there, and through bold perseverance, he is prospering. Tim's company won Best of Salt Lake last year. His business is expanding rapidly. It's seen remarkable growth despite the pandemic. It's all pretty inspiring.Ete and Tim, old friends, recount Tim's story on this episode of The Company Next Door.
Today Ete sits down with Kyle Moody of MoodyBlu Express.If you live in the Heber Valley chances are very good you've seen Kyle Moody. In fact, you've probably talked with him or gotten his help at the local Smith's, where he's worked for the past 13 years. Perhaps you've seen his picture on the Smith's shopping carts. Or maybe you're at the self-checkout and you can't figure out why you're not getting the mix & match discount even though you triple-checked that you have the right products, and nothing is working, you're starting to panic, and there's a good chance you just might kick the machine and walk out the door grocery-less. Then, a guy with tattoos and dark, well-coiffed hair (yeah, that guy) comes over, patiently talks you down, and fixes everything with a few keystrokes. (True story.) That's Kyle. Wherever you run into him, he always has a smile, a friendly word, and a willingness to help. This genuine and constant kindness has rightfully earned him trust and goodwill in the community.  And that has translated into support and encouragement from the people of the Heber Valley in his new entrepreneurial venture, MoodyBlu Express, a shuttle service that runs out of Heber.Kyle's childhood was full of stark and confusing contradictions. Kyle, who's home-life was split between time with his mom and time with his biological dad, describes his upbringing as living "two separate lives." At his mother and step-father's home (Kyle considers his step-father to be his dad) things were pretty normal, stable, secure. His needs were met. But when he went to stay with his father, things were quite different. His biological father was often homeless. Kyle remembers being with his bio dad and having to sleep at a bus stop because they had nowhere to go. Kyle suffered abuse. Even as he recounts these dark moments, he gives his dad credit for having a true desire to spend time with him. This is typical of Kyle. He looks for the good in people. Considering the adversity he's had to deal with, and there has been plenty, it's easy to wonder why he's filled with so much optimism, compassion, and true love for people. He points to one motivation. No description of Kyle could be written without a discussion of his faith. He wears his faith on his sleeve, with absolute sincerity and without apology. "Becoming a believer" in Jesus, he tells us, was a turning point, the turning point, in his life. It is how and why he can accept and love people as they are. In 2019, Kyle launched his business. MoodyBlu Express (the name is a nod to the nickname he'd been given by a dear friend) is a shuttle service that focuses on transporting people between Heber and the Salt Lake airport, though they provide transportation to other places as well. Kyle got his start with one vehicle, a Hyundai Sonata left to him when his grandfather died. Three weeks later, the car was totaled. Other people would have given up. But Kyle did not. The story of MoodyBlu Express is full of challenges, including some pretty major ones–the sort that leave you crying on the shower floor–that were often overcome when people came to his aid, seemingly out of the blue, and just in the nick of time. While the timing of this help might be a strange coincidence, the fact that people wanted to help him, was not. After years of sowing seeds of kindness and service to others, he was gratefully able to reap some returned kindness–help when he most needed it. And now there is plenty to show for pushing through those hardships. Business has "exploded," according to Kyle. He's been able to add more vehicles and drivers to his fleet. Online reviews are glowing. COVID has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for MoodyBlu. Kyle is excited about his prospects and looking forward to "seeing how far I can go." Hear Kyle's story in this episode of The Company Next Door.
Today Ete sits down with Isabel and David Dupes, owners of The Great American Food Truck.We often speak of each interviewee's "journey" on this show, complete with twists and turns, surprises, and unlikely coincidences. But David and Isabel have taken one of the most twisty, surprising, and unlikely routes to their present life. They have most certainly been on a "journey," trekking great distances both literally and figuratively, to the life they have now. And they had a secret weapon in meeting all challenges–their strong devotion to each other. Ete remarked on the overwhelming sense of authentic love, respect, and kindness with which they treat each other. Not a sappy sweetness, but a true concern for each other's well-being in each moment. He hoped that this would come through in the episode because it is something quite evident "in real life" and special about the couple.This journey of thousands of miles began in two very different places. Isabel grew up in Valencia, Venezuela, the third largest city in the nation and a bustling industrial hub. Her father was an economist. Her grandfather, the captain of the first ship to bring oil from Venezuela to Europe was "somewhat of a national hero." Large family, food-filled gatherings were frequent as "every little thing, we celebrate," noted Isabel. David grew up on a farm in rural Ohio where his family–two siblings and his parents–raised cattle. Generally, it was just his family. Eventually, David became a software engineer and moved to Nashville.Their two stories converged in Miami, where both happened to be vacationing. At the time, Isabel spoke very little English, and David, little, if any Spanish, but that proved not to be much of a barrier. Soon afterwards, David went to visit Isabel in Venezuela and within a year, he had moved there. As a software engineer, David was able to continue his work. Isabel became an entrepreneur. She  started walking the beach with a cooler selling her home-made gelato. When the "ice cream mafia" tried to put her out of business, she set up a kiosk to sell her frozen treats. She began selling her gelato to restaurants. It was at this time that her US permanent resident visa came in and they had to move to the US. But when Isabel received dual citizenship Venezuela became their home again. They were living an idyllic life with their children in a house they'd built on a beautiful island. And then they began to see serious warning signs. There was political instability, social unrest, food and gas shortages. Americans were targets. They began to fear for their children, so they left.Isabel and David loved Park City, but the exorbitant prices of housing led them, as it has to many others, to discover the enchanting Heber Valley. They moved to Heber. Isabel started selling Venzeuelan food at a local farmer's market. People loved it. She found a food trailer at a great price. It was equipped for cooking and selling hot dogs, corn dogs, and nachos. So they figured, why not? The Great American Food Truck was born. They knew they were onto something when their line kept pace with the venerable, much-loved Lola's food truck.Excited, they moved forward. By mid-March their truck was wrapped and they were all ready to go for the season. And then COVID hit. Everything shut down. In May they were invited to park their truck at the Mountain Valley RV Resort, which went well. They started selling at other local spots. The community has been very supportive and things are looking good for The Great American Food Truck. They hope to keep adding trucks.David and Isabel could never have envisioned this life. Standing in a cattle farm in Ohio, or a busy Venzuelan city, who could have foreseen any of it? But they are loving the life that has unfolded–twists, and turns, and surprises, and all.
Things were going so well, incredibly well. Travis Wilcox, uncharacteristically, had taken a chance and it was paying off in a big way. He is, by his own account "the most conservative person on the planet." Risk-taking is not in his nature, and even he himself seemed surprised by his desire to start a business, a very unique business at that. But something about this idea would not leave him alone. He "felt compelled to try it." After months of research, gathering feedback from family and entrepreneurial friends, creating business plans and giving presentations–perhaps trying to persuade himself as much as anybody else that this could work–Travis took the leap and decided to start Heber Hatchets.Travis got his first taste of hatchet throwing at a Christmas party. Before trying it, he, like many of us, was skeptical as to how hatchet throwing could possibly be feasible–not as a business, that was definitely not on his radar–but just the physical act itself.  Could any non-pioneer-mountain-man possibly throw an axe several feet and get it to stick into a wooden target? Multiple times? And is that fun? After actually trying it though, also like many of us, he was hooked. When he began thinking about possibly starting his own venue, he took family, and then entrepreneurs he respected, to various hatchet throwing places to give it a go. He wanted them to see what this axe throwing thing was all about. Everybody seemed to agree that it was a great time, and that Travis was on to something with his business idea. Travis moved his business plans forward.When it came time to find a location, he rented a warehouse in his hometown of Heber. The location was a bit off the beaten path, but would be a relatively inexpensive option. He would later realize that that had been a mistake–he had paid too much attention to his inner anti-risk-taker–but at the time, it seemed like keeping the overhead as low as possible was the best course of action.Before their doors had even opened, a great opportunity emerged. After Travis' daughter had set up a meeting between her father and the Provo-based escape room venue, Get Out Games. The businesses decide to form a partnership.Heber Hatchets started up in July 2018. In August of the same year, Heber Hatchets in Provo opened for business. These venues, especially in Provo, where Heber Hatches was located on the town's main strip, were incredibly popular. Hatchet throwing was a hit and the business was a success. By December of 2018, another location had opened in Logan. At the beginning of 2019, two locations were opened in Idaho, followed by one in Spokane. Another Heber Hatchets was set to open its doors in 2020 in Kennewick, WA. Everything was built out, everything was ready. Things were moving fast. And then COVID hit. The pandemic has crippled every industry that involves people getting together and Heber Hatchets has taken a severe hit. Closed for months, but still responsible for paying rent, utilities and other overhead, the business is lucky to have survived, and that was only due to earlier atypical but prudent management decisions. The weakest location (and namesake of the company) in Heber, has had to shut down, but the others remain, and have even reopened, though in a very limited, and less lucrative COVID capacity. Despite all this, Travis remains optimistic.Learn more about Travis, his story, his entertaining and unique business, the difficulties he's seen, the mistakes he's made, and the advice he has for other entrepreneurs, and Ete's obsession with The Blue Dot in this episode of The Company Next Door.
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