Jess Warren, Quest-Crete - Value of Education

Jon Schuler and Brandon Gore discuss the economics of pre-blended UHPC concrete mix vs. using a "from scratch mix" or lower quality pre-blended mix. Then Jess Warren joins the conversation and discusses his experiences of being a decorative concrete business owner, and the value of education in this sector. You can reach Jess at:

(330) 717-6168







Intro: Welcome to The Concrete Podcast where we talk all things concrete, featuring your host, Brandon Gore.

Brandon Gore: Welcome to The Concrete Podcast. My name is Brandon Gore, I'm your host joined by my co-host Jon Schuler. Good afternoon, Jon. 

Jon Schuler: Good afternoon. How's it going? 

Brandon: Good.

Jon: Good.

Brandon: What are you doing right now?

Jon: Right now, I just sat down cuz otherwise as you know, I pace when I talk and then that messes up the audio. So I just planted my butt.

Brandon: Cool. So today we're going to talk to Jess Warren, correct?

Jon: Yes.

Brandon: We'll give him a call here in a little bit, but before we talk to Jess Warren, a couple calls this week have been about the cost of Kodiak Pro Maker Mix and some guys feel that the cost is high and so I think today a good thing to talk about would be the actual cost of Kodiak Pro Maker Mix in comparison to doing your own mix, what does that cost? And then in question two, the overall cost and profitability of an average project.

Jon: Well first let me just put on the table before we go this direction, which is in my opinion, a big part of this. You and I obviously in many other podcasts we've been part of this game for a very long time and what we're going to talk about in many more podcasts along the way, parts and pieces of it is there are some absolutely amazing artisan, craftsmen, whatever you want to see, skills, I mean, amazing skill and business, so this part of what we're going to be talking about is more business. It falls through the cracks and it gets so far outside of what these guys are thinking that I don't know, it blows my mind sometimes because as you know, I called you earlier and said, I mean just over the last couple days, I've had this conversation that we're going to have, which is strictly, and it was just focused for a moment on the monetary value of materials and once I walked through it with each of these people, it was shocking because they never looked at it that from that point of view. Sorry to be on that diatribe for a minute, business.

Brandon: Business. So I guess the first part of this conversation is the cost of Maker Mix in relation to a normal shop made, you're doing it at your shop, GFRC type mix where you're going to use essentially a 50/50 sand and Portland, some type of polymer, some type of plasticizer and then your fiber and people say, well Maker Mix. The call we got today was from a guy in Canada, so after he pays the taxes and duties and import fees, it's about $65 a bag and he thought that was high. But kind of what you and I are talking about is if you compare a 50/50 mix to that, it might seem high. Although we'll get into the economics of that later, but you can't compare a 50/50 mix to Maker Mix because it's not a 50/50 mix. So if you want to compare doing your own mix, you have to get all the ingredients, which there's a bunch of them, you have to order the minimum quantity the manufacturers will sell to you, which a lot of times is in the hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, you have to pay for the freight to get those to you, then you sit there and batch out for hours each ingredient precisely to end up at the same mix that we have and if you did that, I mean, I thought it was going to be four or five times higher, but you're thinking it'd be 10 times or more cost.

Jon: Oh, I guarantee it. See, I can walk back several years. So if we will even walk back 10 years ago to some of the earliest mixes that I designed back with Blue Concrete, Buddy Rhodes products, et cetera, there was a group of us I can name off, Joe Bates, Alla, James McGregor, remember Ron Mills in Texas, we would get together all like a bunch of concrete geeks if you will, and trade recipes and we were constantly chasing Silica fumes and special admixtures, plasticizers, whatever the case may be and then there became a day meeting, Shawn Hayes, where we made, or I made, because they were my formulas, an active decision to have this stuff pre-blended, I'll never forget this. And when we bring some of these guys back or talk to them we'll have that discussion again with them. I still remember because the group initially was like, oh, this is bull crap, bullshit but I just can't remember. But the moment we all could actually purchase a pallet of 15 different ingredients, pre-blended on a pallet in a bag that I could just cut the top off of rather than having all these raw materials, that changed, none of us looked back. That was the end of the conversation, literally the end of the conversation, meaning none of us were upset about it anymore.

No how, no way and then take that further as you very well know anybody who comes down to my shop, you will find a plethora of raw materials all over the place that I can't really put a true value on because yes, phone calls but how about just storing it? I mean, it's up to 25% of my shop that I'm ready to get rid of at any time. So I guess what I'm saying, there is no way of comparing an apples to apples because you just couldn't do it. The reality is it can't be done economically let alone for $30 bucks a bag.

Brandon: Yes, or $65 if you're in Canada and you have to pay all the fees. But even at $65, it's a steal for the technology and the quality of products you're getting in a bag ready to go. I say the second part of this equation besides the cost of materials and tracking them down and ordering minimum quantities and all those things, would be time savings. What is your time worth? What is your time to drive across town to pick up sand, to drive across town to pick up Portland, to drive across town to pick up whatever it is. If you're lucky enough to have someplace locally that will sell you plasticizer, fiber, polymer, which there are only a few cities in the United States that anybody even stocks those things, otherwise you're ordering online.

Jon: And that's even taken for granted that those locally available materials fit, or let's say gives you the substrate that you're looking for. I mean, this whole conversation, like I said, from a business standpoint, it's undeniable. If you look at a pre-blended material versus all the batching, the five-gallon buckets, the raw materials, da da da, time and time and time again, anybody who circles this will, and again, now we're just talking the cement-based materials. We haven't even got into sealers, you will circle that wagon all day long and I'm using your term Brandon, as you will step over dollars to save dimes, it's ridiculous. It's a ridiculous conversation.

Brandon: Well, I just did some quick math. Let's say you spent a day driving around, picking up ingredients and that's being conservative because I used to spend more time than that when I lived in Phoenix to go to the different places I needed to get what I needed. But if you just spend a day and you only value your time at $85 an hour, which any business owner's time is worth four or five times that amount per hour. But let's say you're a glutton for punishment, you say, hey, my time's only worth $85 and that breaks down to over $15 per bag you spent in driving around.

Jon: Yes, and chasing your tail.

Brandon: Yes, you spent that much per bag in driving around.

Jon: Even if you took the, again, just for easy conversation, let's say three ingredients of pre-blended, whatever though, sand, cement, two sands and a cement, let's say, you and I mixing that in whatever, five-gallon bucket quantities, or even in a barrel mixer quantity. When you take these materials and put them in a large, sheer blender, that's like done in pre-blended materials.

Brandon: High-end pre-blended materials, not everybody...

Jon: Right, it's an entirely different product. It becomes easier to use, better with plasticizers, things become more uniform in dispersion and et cetera, et cetera. So, this is, I mean, all of this conversation's very difficult. Again, as we say, apples to apples, because you can't, you can't put apples to apples and having this, I would bear anybody per who I spoke to today, I called him back and I said, hey man, are you interested in running an exercise with me? And he is like, you know what, Jon, yes. And I said, okay, this is what I want you to do. I want you to sit down, I want to take your current, now again, let's just monetary value, dollars and cents, not the emotional cost or the time cost, just dollars and cents. I want you to break down your dollar and cents in the material you're using, your curing methods and the sealer that you're using and then I want you to go the other direction and look at the other, purely in monetary value and he is like, okay, so he's going to get back to me on that. That being said, as you know, I just got done, I think I posted pictures about it. I just did essentially 45 square feet of my own kitchen using Maker Mix, using ICT and if you looked at that, my square-foot call cost in Maker Mix alone was $7 a square foot. My per square foot application methods of ICT was 24 cents.

If you looked at well between all the applications of ICT, okay, it cost me, now and I'm basing this number on a retail price of a quart and then I just threw in another 25 cents, assuming or $25, assuming you spent a hundred bucks a quart. So it cost me a total of $60 in sealer, including all applications. So the reality is, from a materials cost, would've been what? Eight bucks a square foot. I don't know, man, that's a tough one to argue.

Brandon: Well, we'll get to that in a second but the second part of doing it yourself is accuracy and the reality that if you're batching it yourself, you have 40 five gallon buckets set up and each one has this, one has a pozzolon, this one doesn't and you're like, did I put V-CAS or did I put metakaolin in or whatever it is you're putting there, did I put that in there? Because I'm using white Portland that I can't tell, did we put that in there? Hey, yo, did you put this in there? I don't know, I think so. You get that and then you cast and occasionally something wasn't done correctly and you end up re-casting a piece. Well, that one project, that one project in forming materials, time, product, and then having to redo it all again. Any profitability you had in doing it yourself for the year, just went out the window.

Jon: Yes, agreed, absolutely.

Brandon: It's not just that one project. I mean, it's like when you speed, the speed limit is 70 and you decide I'm going to go 80. So you're making up a little bit of time, but you get pulled over and you sit there for 20 minutes while he checks your license, registration, calls it in and that 20 minutes, all the gains you made over that day of speeding just went out the window.

Jon: You know, I think of that. How many times have we been on a freeway, let's say like a three lane, four lane freeway and it always seems there's that one car dodging in and out of all the lanes trying to get one more car length in front and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And I think I was probably that person too when I was 17 years old, who knows, but zipping, zipping, zipping, and people are getting pissed and you just kind of stay in your lane because you're like, man, this traffic's not going anywhere and before you know it, two minutes later, there's that a car that was touching in and out, back and forth, up and down and he's now two car lengths behind you in the other lane.

Brandon: Yes, because he got behind the semi and couldn't get over and then you go passing him.

Jon: Yes, it's so funny man.

Brandon: Well, the other thing is you're driving down the highway, you're on I10 going across California and you have The Concrete Podcast playing in your car. You're enjoying the sweet, smooth voices of Brandon Gore and Jon Schuler.

Jon: There you go.

Brandon: So that's the second part of it, it is accuracy. What is the accuracy of doing it yourself and what's the reality? And the reality is everybody that does it that way has mistakes. So that's just what happens, when you have it pre-blended, especially if you're getting it from a reputable company that has processes in place because there are some toll blenders out there that play a little bit fast and loose and batches aren't really weighed out specifically as they should and that does happen. Our blender is of the highest caliber and our mixes are super accurate and super consistent, so there's a ton of value in that. But then the next part of this, which you started to allude to is what is the cost per square foot of our product. And you hit on the materials cost and the sealer cost and all together, a high estimate of that was eight bucks a square foot.

Jon: Correct.

Brandon: Well, it used to be a time we used sealers that the sealer alone was eight bucks a square foot.

Jon: Well that, just that, that's what prompted this because this individual is using a product or he just brought in a product. Again, I'm going to say he's still on the hamster wheel of sealers. He still thinks like a lot of people, he still think, oh, the Achilles heel is the sealer until I have this long conversation with him, like no man process, you're not starting from the beginning and it's your concrete, your curing methods and then your choice in sealers. But where I was going with this is at the end of the day and I had him do this while I was on the phone, because I said, I'll tell you what let's just pick, for an easy one because he didn't know his raw material costs in the concrete that he was using. Let's just choose this sealer. He's like, okay and I said, all right, well how many, three and I went to the manufacturer's website, I won't say who it is and I said, per the manufacturer says an application is just over a buck a square foot, how many applications are you doing? He goes usually about three to four. I said, okay. So add it up that ends up $6 a square foot just in sealer alone and he is like, yes, that's what we have and I go, okay.

Then let me ask you, we won't even get into the materials that get wasted per application. I said, but every application based on this thing, you end up throwing away your roller covers and they're not reusable. He's like, yes, I know they're so what does that cost you? And his first answer was oh, you know, I wasn't thinking about that. And I said, well, four applications. He goes you're right, I use one to roll it on, another one to back roll it off, I use a different roller for the tight corners. He said, so yes, I'm throwing away four roller covers per application. So ultimately him and I in this conversation came upwards of $8 a square foot just in sealer, just sealer . That again, we won't even go down the whole diatribe about, well, and that sealer, what are the expectations? Oh, and then I forgot another one, this particular one and he just purchased, he's going to use some 1.5 kilowatt IR heaters as part of its thing and I said, okay, well that's three kilowatts an hour. What's that costing you? He's like, oh my God, I didn't even think about that. I said, man, you're going to run those for eight hours if not overnight, what's that adding to it and you only have two of them when you probably need a dozen for a project. So I don't know, it's just interesting. It's the business side that far too many people don't really itemize these kind of things to really take a look at.

Brandon:  Well, so Maker Mix and ICT was running you and you're very accurate and meticulous about keeping detailed spreadsheets, so it's running less than $8, but we're just going to round up to eight to be safe, $8 for cost. Whereas let's say we're using another bag mix, but a very simple bag mix and instead of being, what'd you say ran for ours, seven bucks?

Jon: $7 a square foot.

Brandon: Okay. So instead of being seven, let's just estimate like this other product is five bucks a square foot.

Jon: Well I was going to say 20, so one of the really inexpensive, super down and dirties that I know is out there is 20 bucks a bag. And I, again, won't say who it is, it's a simple sand cement mix, $20 a bag.

Brandon: Yes, so 30% less. So 30% less, so seven times 0.7 is 4.9, I said five bucks. So there you go. Okay, so five bucks a bag or five bucks a square foot. So you're saving $2 a square foot in concrete mix. Now with that other mix, you're probably not using ICT it's probably a more porous mix. You're probably going to use a topical. So now you're not getting the savings of using the reactive because it's a very low cost sealer per square foot. So now you're going to use a topical that, like you just said was costing eight bucks a square foot. But right there, you're at $13 a square foot and you're stepping over dollars to pick up dimes. You're like, oh, well, Maker Mix is $30, I can get this for $20, I'm saving money. You're actually almost spending double that what you would if we used the best products on the market, the highest quality you can get in the world would cost you less than using a lower quality product that you have to seal with a topical sealer that's destined to fail, that cost a fortune.

Jon: Well, and that was part of our conversation. As we started moving over, like I said, I got into just, because I didn't really want to and I call it the emotional cost, but I'm just saying it's all the stuff we can't really put or that we don't really put a monetary value on. And I asked him, I said, how often do you guys get into these conversations with you and your partner? He goes, oh my God, man, every day I'll bet an hour or two hours of our time. Again, their conversation always revolves around the sealer, this or this or that or which one and we have to order this, bring in this one and it's got five different sealers that they brought in and say, well, what's that costing you? What's that hourly? What does that cost you? And then I alluded back to my personal project that was again, higher estimate, eight bucks a square foot that I got no issues with. That I'm using within three days after casting and sealing, I don't know. I don't know what to say, I'll use the word interesting, but this is a side and I encourage anybody listening to this podcast later on is I encourage you to sit down and go through this exercise in what you're using, what you're doing, why you're using it and really bring that cost full swing into your face, you'll find the same thing like most of us have been doing this, it doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make any sense why you're not using a much better material and et cetera, et cetera.

Brandon: Yes, something that you feel great about that you did the best you could do, your reputation, your livelihood, your longevity rides upon you doing the best work you can humanly do at that moment in time and today, the best product on the market by far is Kodiak Pro Maker Mix and ICT. So if you're running a business, you want to use the best products you can use and what we're trying to illustrate is the best product actually costs you less than using an inferior product with the crappy sealer, it cost a fortune.

Jon: Absolutely. I mean, looking at it, I mean, there's a lot of stuff's out there, hundreds of dollars a quart, or they do it by ounces or whatever the case may be and you may not even take into account. Some of them have hazmat fees or whatever the case may be, or like...

Brandon: Or catalyzed. So you mix up, you don't want to run out halfway through. So you mix up two times more than you need, so you don't run out and then you throw it away.

Jon: And I kept saying roller covers for those guys that aren't catching that, I'm talking about, yes, your application tooling is not reusable so that needs to be taken into account.

Brandon: Or if you're using high quality roller covers, they're $2 to $3 a piece for the good ones.

Jon: Exactly.

Brandon: If you go to Sherwin Williams and don't get the crappy bundle packs at Lowes, if you go there and get the high quality ones, which is what you'd want to use if you're rolling on a topical on a countertop that you're charging $150 bucks a square foot for, so let's say you spend three bucks per cover and you use 16 of  them, what is that? $48 bucks, almost $50 bucks with tax plus your time to go get them. So let's, let's call it $150 bucks that you spend on roller covers.

Jon: Well that in of itself, on project my side, would've added another $3 a square foot.

Brandon: Yeah, exactly. So that brings us to that part of this conversation is how does it relate to the overall profitability of a project materials cost? So if we're talking about Maker Mix and ICT costing you eight bucks a square foot, or if you're in Canada $16 a square foot, which is really being generously high, it’s probably going to be less than that but let's say it is $16 square foot. If you're charging, a minimum of $135 square foot, minimum, which is what I was charging 12, 13 years ago as my minimum. So let's say you're charging $135 a square foot. How is that affecting your profitability on a project? If your project is four bags of mix, it's a sink, you're using four bags of mix, and it is $30 a bag versus the cheaper mix, which is $20 bucks a bag, you saved $40 in this, charging $3,000 or $4,000 for...

Jon: I encourage people, go through that exercise because as we're having conversation and you and I have had this many times, even with the other guys that I know, once it's broke down into these kind of terms, it just makes no sense. It's not logical at all to complain about $10 bucks or $20 in a cost, on a project, it makes no sense.

Brandon: Well, in the last workshop we did here, the Fall Pinnacle Class, which for the people, or actually it was the Spring Pinnacle Class because the Fall one is coming up. So people listening, we have a class coming up November 1st through 6th here in Eureka Springs, me, Jon Schuler and Dusty Baker, a six-day class. It is phenomenal. It is the most in-depth class on the market, anywhere in the world. If you want to learn how to do things the correct way from guys that do this for a living every single day and have done so for nearly two decades each, come to the Pinnacle Concrete Class, you won't regret it. But in the last class we did in the Spring, you had a spreadsheet and we brought up the cost of Maker Mix and people were like, whoa, that's expensive. And you went through, you said, okay, what do you pay for Portland where you are? And you plugged it in, what do you pay for sand? You plugged it in, what do you pay for this? You plugged it in. How many hours it take to do that? Three hours and what do you think your time is worth? People are saying $20 bucks plug it in, every single one of them ended up being more expensive than just using Maker Mix, every single one.

Jon; putting it in that terms, if you will, that the light bulbs went on everybody's head, like, oh my God, I've never looked at it from that point of view. Well, you should, you absolutely should. I mean, you're taking your time to pay for training and that's a whole other cost that I think oftentimes gets overlooked. I mean, not the cost of a class. I mean like the benefit of cost, the value. Absolutely, some people get it and some people don't, but that in and of itself is a huge value in training to again, gets you up and going and move past and be on top of some of these conversations that I just obviously just told you about having. Three people I've had this conversation with over the last couple days, and everyone ended up the same. They're just shaking their head like I wasn't looking at that from that point of view and then I'm on the other end of that phone call conversation going, like, I don't understand why you weren't looking at it from that point of view. Which is interesting. We'll talk to Jess today, Warren. We'll see what his take is. I mean, I'm always interested to see what other guys are saying. We'll see what he says about training too. I think Jess has been to some workshops hasn't he?

Brandon: He's been to several. So he's been the numerous workshops. So the cost of the workshop, if it's your first time coming, it's $4,500 and guys are like, oh, that's expensive. Compared to what? Compared to what? Compared to the online training on YouTube from guys who don't do this for a living, they actually work in IT or at Starbucks or wherever it is they work that are making videos on the side on how to do stuff, is that who you want to learn how to do this from? If you come to a class and it saves you from redoing one single project that class paid for itself, I assure you that coming to a class will keep you from making hundreds of thousands of dollars of mistakes over the course of your career, by coming to the class and learning how to do things right the first time, instead of doing what we did, which was years and years and years and decades of trial and error. What is the cost that? I mean, it's hundred thousands. So by coming to a class for $4,500, that'll keep you from redoing one project to pay for itself. If it keeps you from redoing more than one you're money ahead every day the week. If you've been to a Concrete Design School class, then we offer it to you for half price because you've already come to the class now you're coming back as a refresher and we are happy to have you and we reward repeat attendees by giving you half off. So it's 50% off, so it's $2,250 and every class we have 2, 3, 4, 5 repeat attendees come back and we love it. They come back, we remember them. We had a great time last time they're here and it's a good time. So anyways we have that coming up November 1st through 6th, go to to read more or to register. Anything else?

Jon: No, that's it. Let's see if we can get Jess on the line.

Brandon: We're here with Jess Warren from Quest-Crete in Ohio. How's it going, Jess?

Jess Warren: Very good.

Brandon: You're just telling us about an interesting project you're working on. You're doing a orange-ish countertop with some cool slurry.

Jess: Yep. It is a customer I've been working with since a year ago, September and they started with nothing, basically a concrete pad and it was the color Sedona from Solomon and they wanted me to match it and so we went up with a different variation. It's an entertainment place that has a pizza oven, some other things but I didn't want it to look like, okay, we just poured the same tops or the same concrete as they had for their pad and the pad that they used for the pizza oven. So we want a little different mix, we went with the heavy Dusty dust, little wetter mix and no wet polish and we just basically flip slurry with a secondary color, which is 50% of the main color, has a really cool veining look to it and you have to get to get on top of it to see it, but it looks really cool and then we sand it off and it's got a real nice leathery feel to it and it's probably one of our go-tos, people like that finish, I call it leather. So right now it's got a waterfall edge. So a little bit of fine tuning on the build and then the large pieces, 121 and a half by 108.

Jon: Damn, that is a big.

Jess: Yes, it is.

Brandon: How do you cast a piece that big without any seams or do you have seams?

Jess: No, seams are bad.

Brandon: You don't like seams?

Jess: No, I don't. I don't like seams. I do them on occasion, if the physics and the geometry will not allow me to get the piece into the house, then obviously we work it out, but I try and hide them as much as possible, or I try and make them an accent feature. I showed Spencer a project on our website. We did a top four or five years ago in a basement and I made all the seams kind of look like the same finishes as the DustyCrete look, and then we colored them to waterfall out. So client fell in love with it. Anyways, yes, so this piece here it's outdoors, the only trouble is the eave heights are only 96 inches. So it'll be a little bit of a trick to tabletop it in and drop it in place.

Brandon: And what are you casting on? What are you casting on for a piece that big?

Jess: I have a table that is 8 by 16 and it's a cold rolled steel and if I have to, I do extensions, something I've been doing lately that has been working well where I have to do a Bondo same or anything like that. What I've been doing is a 50/50 mineral spirits and petroleum jelly, and I put it on the Bondo seam for about 10 minutes and then I wipe off the excess and then I hit it with one coat of honey wax and pops like a dream and it leaves no marks.

Brandon: Really?

Jon: Really?

Jess: Yes, you cannot find where it was.

Jon: I have done Bondo several times where I've done everything, covered it in an epoxy or a urethane or whatever the case may be, but yes, you always see it. I mean, no matter what.

Jess: I'll try to send you both pictures of where the seam was. I'll show you, I'll take a picture of where the Bondo seam is and then I'll send you a picture of where it's at on the top, you can't find it.

Jon: Okay, cool. Interesting.

Brandon: Yes, but you're doing the Dusty powder over everything, which probably helps hide it. If you're doing just an SEC GFRC you probably see some type of either swelling, the Bondo, the moisture make it swell or something that would ghost where it was.

Jess: I used to paint it with Kilz and primer, but if you don't wait a certain amount of time and outdoor temperature plays a role in all kinds of stuff, especially if we do an SCC, it'll stick. Its sands off on the other side, but it'll stick. But no, we have found that there's 50/50, the snot-like stuff because I do it on all my molds too and I'll tell you this, I did a sink last week for a client of mine and it's a mold that I've used, I don't know, maybe two or three times and I make most of my own and I had never done this before, but I did that 50/50 mixture on that sink mold and then the one coat of honey wax and I pulled the mold by hand, we just reached in and it popped right out.

Jon: And again, mineral spirits and vaseline.

Jess: Yes, mineral spirits and Vaseline. I just weigh it out on a gram scale and go 50/50 mixture. Mix it until it's like a snot and then I wipe it on, I wait, good heavy coat, I wait 10 minutes and then wipe off the excess and then I go one coat of honey wax afterwards.

Jon: Cool, yes, I'll try that.

Brandon: Yes, I used to do that back in the day, but I had some issues with the mineral spirits attacking gel coat on my molds. Specifically, I have a Modern Muskoka fiberglass mold for my chair and the gel coat was getting killed by the mineral spirits. I finally had to take it to a fiberglass guy that took all the gel coat off, but he told me stop doing that. Do not put that on the gel coat, maybe one or two times it doesn't hurt it, but I'd cast numerous times a week into that mold. So I switched away from doing it, but yes, apparently the mineral spirits wasn't too good for the fiberglass.

Jess: I guess. I mean, the only thing I've been using is resin, when I make my sink molds I have a resin coat, so it doesn't seem to affect it so far. But we'll see, all I know is most of the time too, when I pour, when I do tops on top of the Bondo generally what happens is the top wants to stick to that area. I don't how many times, even if I waxed it, if I did, I would do like 5, 6, 7 coats of honey wax. Even if I primed it with the Kilz, it just seemed to want to stick right there where that Bondo area was, not today, it popped. So yes, I'll probably continue to do this especially on where we have to do it. Very rare, I mean, maybe five tops in the last year that I've had to add onto the table. So everybody asks me, they're like, table that big, how can you move it? Well it's on wheels, I have it on a trailer jacks and so I can raise the lower to make it level and whatever elevation we're at, and then I can move it in and out, moving it around the shop. So it works out well.

Jon: It's good to have a nice big surface anyway.

Jess: Yes, yes it is. The only time it's a hassle is when I want to use the whole table and I can't reach to the middle, so I have to climb, but that doesn't happen very often.

Brandon: Nice man. So yesterday an order came in from you for another pallet of Maker Mix. So you're now on the Maker Mix train, casting your pieces which means at some point, because Maker Mix is fairly new to the market and you've been in business for quite a while. So at some point you made the switch from another product, but we don't need to know what the other product was, but why did you make the switch from whatever you were using to Maker Mix?

Jess: Two reasons. There were some irregularities I felt in the former product when we were mixing and what I mean by that is we just didn't seem like no matter if we use the same water, same mix design, same everything, it just didn't seem like we could get it consistent and there was a slight variation, but drove me nuts. The second reason was when the product was finished and I don't know why it, maybe it had to do with some type of polymer that they used in their mix, but it had a horrible smell.

Brandon: Did it smell like dead fish or cat pee?

Jess: Yes, like decaying seashells, whatever you want to call it.

Jon: I love that smell.

Brandon: I have a funny story about it. I'll tell you about in a minute, but go ahead.

Jess: So I was getting complaints from clients that whenever they opened their kitchen cabinets, they would get this nice whiff of dead fish smell. But the ironic part is I did tables for our church and two of the pastors came up there and they were like, Hey man, is there anything that's it's in your mix and I'm like, what's up? They were like, we can smell, it smells like dead fish in his corner and I walk over there and it is like taking your breath away. I'm like, it will eventually go away, and it did, it did eventually go away, but it was our info center area, which is like all the new people that come in, that's where they go and you're like, great. I mean, that's exactly and so I told my wife, so we just put an air freshener over there for right now but yes, and that was a big reason and then when I found out Makers Mix smelled like blueberries, I mean, who doesn't want to smell blueberries?

Brandon: Exactly.

Jess: But I was looking for a more consistent mix and I was looking for a mix that I felt was a little bit stronger and what I mean by strength is whether it be compressive or whether it be a flexural strength, as far as bend resistance, things of that nature where I didn't have to use as much reinforcement.

Jon: You mean primary reinforcement?

Jess: Yes, whether it be basalt rod, whether it be basalt scrim, whether it be additional scrim and to date since I've started using it a year ago, I think a year ago is when I started using it and I mean to date, we've done some pretty crazy things with, I mean, I've tabletops some stuff with sink knockouts in them that I thought this was going to break. This is going to break and it didn't. But that's the main gist of those were the main two reasons.

Brandon: So that polymer you're speaking of from that previous product, I had the exact same experience, exactly the same and I called Jon because Jon was familiar with that powdered polymer. And Jon said, ah, it'll dissipate, it's the amines or whatever it was. It's the amines in it, it'll dissipate. I'm like, all right, bro. So I cast a black desk for a jeweler in Scottsdale and we did this really cool base for it, powder coated the base, inlaid some silver pieces for it, and it’s for a super high-end jeweler. It's like a private jewelry studio for rich people in Scottsdale. It's on the 10th floor of skyscraper. Anyways, I don't do installation, but I will occasionally deliver a piece if it's small enough that I can put it in my truck and drive there. So she asked me, can you deliver this piece? Absolutely, it was a charcoal color.

So we loaded it in the back of my truck. I let it set in my studio for probably a month after we cast it so the smell would dissipate, for about a month, I'd go and smell it. I mean, it was faint, but I could barely smell it or whatever. So we load it in the back of my truck. We drive to Scottsdale from Tempe. We get there, I pull the blankets off, it's sitting in the sun and it's the middle of summertime. So that black concrete probably got to 150 degrees, 160 degrees pretty quick. So we carried it in, we go up the elevator, we put it in her office, which is probably like 12 x 12 and the door shut and it smells like we gutted a carp and it had been out in the sun for two weeks. She walks in and she assumed we were ripping farts inside her office, and she like looks at us. But it was out gassing all that smell because it got hot in the sun, all the pores opened up and it was just out gassing it and it smelled horrible.

That also happened to funny enough to another jewelry piece we had. There was another jeweler in Phoenix called Mother of Gideon and they actually made our wedding rings but they wanted us to make a concrete display case with this glass top on it and I made that, but I used that powdered polymer from that previous product, same thing. She said, every time they'd open up the case to show something, it smelled like death and she asked me, what can we do? And I said I don't know and they ended up putting like a little air freshener inside that case, which is so embarrassing, but it was a problem that shouldn't have happened in the first place, in my opinion. There are other products on the market that could have been used, but people were, it went so far that people were putting vanilla extract, powdered vanilla, or liquid vanilla in their concrete, in an attempt to override the smell of that.

Jess: Well, I had several, several clients that would call me and say, love the tops, everything's great but when I opened my kitchen cabinets, I said, let me guess it smells like decaying fish under there. They're like, yes, what is that? I said, it's a product it'll eventually go away. I mean, I've never had anybody say, get them out of here, do something different. I've never had to come to that point. But I mean yes.

Brandon: But you feel bad, it's embarrassing.

Jess: Well, I mean, the thing is, I mean, we offer professional service and we offer professional product and everything's been fine tuned to this point and the curtain call or they're asking for is their top smell like dead fish. So yes, it's just not a good scene. So yes, that was a big one though. But yes, and like I said, as soon as I found out my Makers Mix smelling like blueberries, I'm like, I'm in, I'm in.

Jon: Well, I have a question for you, which is going another direction that Brandon and I have talked about quite a bit together, other conversations I have around, how about from a business point of view, other than smell, did you ever sit down and actually like, whether it be a square foot costs, material costs, the cost of change either from the product you came from, or, I mean, do you ever sit down and look at that from a business point of view and what your material costs are?

Jess: Yes, I did. I mean, it was a slight increase from the previous product, but not enough to change my mind and when I say slight I'm talking pennies, I worked out the percentage. Jon, I spent hours sitting down trying to figure out how I could cheapen up the product, because there are several companies out there that that's what they push on their training products and when they do trainings is, oh, we can get you down to $7 a square foot, or we can get you down to where you're making concrete for $3.50. I'm like, you're not factoring in the labor though and the guys just look at me sideways when I bring that up. They're like, what do you mean labor? I mean, how long does it take you to bucket it out? If you have a hundred square foot top, or kitchen that you have to do, I'm going to have 50 buckets lined up and if it takes me two hours to batch out, you know what, I can make that up in a pre-bagged mix, that was a huge determining factor. I've even gone as far as, I looked at the admix, which I use in my, in my slurries, but I looked at I'm like, okay, well, maybe I can save a little bit if I buy my own Portland and buy my own sands and it throwing the admix and what we'll figure that out, but it boils down, we're talking cents.

I mean, not to belabor it, but stepping over dollars to pick up dimes is what I was doing and I just figured in my mind, I thought, you know what, screw it. I'm just going with a pre-bagged mix. This is what it's going to be. From a square footage price, has it changed my game at all? Like I said, from what I charge to customers would have been fractions. I mean, just decimal point. It was not it was not a huge, huge difference.

Jon: That's good to hear because yeah, I mean, you're preaching to the choir a little bit. This is earlier I was talking to three people I've had this conversation with literally over the last couple of days. When I sit down and break it down from this point of view, meaning the business point of view, it always ends up the same. I don't know why you're not doing it this way, that many of us long ago have now moved this direction but part of that too, other than the costs, Brandon and I have alluded to is, and you're saying the same thing I'm guessing right is now you have something that's other than pre-blended, it's consistent and it offers other valuations to your business other than just how much that bag costs.

Jess: Absolutely.

Brandon: Well, you can make pieces that would have broken previously. So that's number one. Number two, the sealer, Jon Schuler's ICT technology, it works specifically or extremely well because it was designed for use with Maker Mix. So now you're getting a higher performance in products so your clients end up with a better performing product where you don't have callbacks, you don't have issues that you would have had if you used a different product and put a topical sealer on it. When you listen back to this podcast, me and Jon had a conversation right before we called you, where Jon was talking about on his last project, he put it into a spreadsheet, the cost of Maker Mix and ICT, and it was a little bit less than $8 a square foot for materials, a little bit less than eight bucks and there's sealers on the market today that are $8 a square foot just for the sealer.

Jon: Let's just say on an average, I don't know, what's an average kitchen, 50 square foot plus or minus, if you don't mind me asking, Jess, how much in let's say overall quantity of sealer, would you say that you typically use on a 50 square foot, kitchen?

Jess: About a quart.

Jon: So start to finish you're into it, a buck a square foot, something like that in sealer.

Jess: Yes, it's probably closer to, I mean, I figured it out at one time, it's probably around $0.87, $0.88 or something like that is what I had figured out.

Jon: And that's all your applications included. That's not per application, that's all your applications included.

Jess: That includes, I mean, if I throw in the microfiber sponge that I do 10 kitchens with, I mean, I can't even factor that in, that's pennies. I mean, it might even be less than a penny for what I'm getting out of it. I don't foresee; the interesting thing when you talk about sealers and this is where I try and tell people all the time and I had this discussion with Joe Dietz, not too long ago, he’s a good friend of mine on the East Coast and I said to him, do you know why you don't have problems with sealer? He goes, why? I said, because you use like-minded products and so do I, I said, these guys that use all these also all ingredients and then try and use one sealer for everything even though they have to understand the science and the technology. So that's why I have the success that I have. All of my products come from the same place. I said, it's inevitable that it's going to work and I said, it's why it's easy to figure out and I had a heart to heart with a guy whose good friend of mine lives in South Dakota and he said I should be able to buy one sealer for any application. I said, really? He said, yes. So, well, let me ask you this. He said, what, I said, when you walk into a paint store, he goes, yes and I said, you just tell him, I want to buy paint. I said, what's the first question they're going to ask you?

Jon: Interior or exterior?

Jess: They are going to say, what are you painting? Are you painting drywall? Are you painting aluminum? Are you painting steel? Are you painting concrete? Because there's a different paint for all of it. And I said, that's the reason why not all sealers work well with every piece of concrete. I said, if I polished concrete up to 10,000 on a diamond,  it's not going to take anything. That's going to be so dense that it won't accept anything and the only thing you can use is a topical and I have had so many of those that like, till I'm blue in the face, but there's guys out there that firmly believe they should be able to buy and getting back to what you said, Brandon, another great reason that I use the Makers Mix along with the ICT is because recovery from emotional, standing around, trying to figure out why stuff isn't working. I don't have to do that anymore. I spent hours trying to figure this out or figure it out and I'm to the point now where it's like, we don't need to think about it. Even my son, who's only been in it for a couple of years isn't even thinking about it. It's just, this is what we do and that has saved a lot on the brevity I would say of the weight of the business, trying to figure out the problems, those are gone, that stuff's gone.

Jon: Yes, that's what I refer to as the emotional costs that it's hard to put a monetary value on that emotional cost, but if you're on that hamster wheel, like so many guys, I'm guessing like your friend in South Dakota, who I'm sure more than once has found himself, he thinks he's still looking for the quote unquote perfect sealer and I can only imagine how many emotional highs and lows or how many products that he purchased and did work or didn't work and how many phone calls and conversations and how many scratching his head moments that he's had. I mean, that's the emotional part of it that's almost impossible to put a monetary value on and that's a hard one.

Jess: It is but the carry over for me is this, most of that emotional bondage or baggage, I would call it doesn't generally carry over because within the business you can handle it. But when it carries over into your personal life, because then your wife wonders why you're so stinking grumpy, because you spent the last two hours, instead of being productive, trying to figure out problems that you shouldn't have to be figuring out, that stuff carries over into relationships and all kinds of stuff. So to me, there is no monetary value because it's priceless because you can't get time back. You just can't get it back.

Brandon: Yes. I mean, we used to lose nights of sleep back in the day when we're using topicals that were failing and you get that phone call and somebody says the sealers peeling off, and then the next day you get another phone call and then the next day you get another phone call and the whole avalanche is coming and you know it's coming, that level of stress, it's hard to define how bad that affects your health and your relationships and just your general state of mind and happiness and wellbeing.

Jon: That's just an unfortunate spot to be in, no question about it.

Brandon: But some guys are still doing it.

Jess: Not me, man. Not me. I don't even; know if I go to a training or if I go somewhere, if I spend some time at another guy's shop, and they're like, oh, you have to try this, this is the best. I'm like, you know what, I'm good with what I got, I'm good with it. I don't have problems. Case in point is this, now I had a client, we just recently installed tops, had a client call me, she goes, I have a spot right in the middle of my island. I said, send me a picture. So she sends me a picture. I said, how long did whatever product you had sit there? She said about a day and a half, two days and I said, and that was what, she said, a rotten tomato. Now why would you leave a rotten tomato sitting on your counter for a day and a half is beyond me.

Brandon: And if you put that rotten tomato on your car hood for a day and a half, it's going to damage your paint.

Jess: Go and put shaving cream on your car, see what happens. So I go out, I'm talking to her casually. I take a little bit of Clorox cleaner, put it on there. I wait about 10 minutes, wipe it off, hit it with a burnishing pad, an 800 burnishing pad, wipe a little sealer on it, she goes, what the hell did you do? And I said, I cleaned it. She goes, yes, but I've been wiping it up. I said, no, you have to clean. I told you this sealer is reactive. I said, you have to be able to think outside the box. It's not like polyurethane on your dining room table. And she's like, I can clean this with Clorox if I wanted to, I said, yes, you won't hurt it a bit. She was like, okay. Yeah. I mean, I was there like 15 minutes and I said, my advice to you is not leave rotten stuff laying on your counters, but I mean, you do what you have to do. But at the same time, that's because I understand the product because I have that peace of mind of knowing how to fix that stuff. My wife, she just did my future daughter-in-law's shower. She cut up 75 lemons to make this lavender lemonade for the shower on our counters. I'm freaking out. I'm like, you have to put something down. She's like why, well, I said, you know a little bit of lemon juice isn't bad, but seventy-five lemons. So we get done, she goes, there's some spotting. I said, I got it. I grabbed some cooking spray, wiped it on, gone. I mean, it's just, she's like cooking spray? I'm like, honey, I'm not going to explain the science behind it, this is what it is and she's like, okay.

So yeah, to me, the comfortability of knowing how to handle the product, how to use it and we just had really good success and I can't speak enough volumes about it, but I think the other thing that guys try to do, especially in our industry, everybody's about speed turnover. How fast can I get it done? How fast can I get it out the door? And how fast can I get it installed? Which I understand that that's how you make money. But at the same time, there are certain steps that you take that you can't skip, you can't shortcut, and to me, that's where it's at and that's why I've had clients say to me, I have to have this in four days. Well, you're talking to the wrong guy because I'm not doing it. So you just open yourself up to too many issues. So anyways, I'll quit my rambling.

Brandon: Well, you know how else you make money is you cast it one time only. You don't make money, recasting pieces. So many guys rushed through the process, if you cast a piece three times, all your profit is out the window, and now essentially you're doing it for free plus giving the client money that they're not aware of, but you're spending your own money to see this project through and put it in place. So, there's a lot to be said for slowing down, doing it right, doing it one time only, and having a piece that you don't have to go back and recast or fix, repair because you rush through the process.

Jess: And it goes back to the business side of things that I always refer to. I tell people all the time, there are great artists out there. That in my mind, aren't great business guys. They're phenomenal with their hands, they're phenomenal, but they're not good business people and I think what happens is guys, they over promise and under deliver from a standpoint of, yes, I can get that done. Yes, I can get that done without looking at a calendar saying to a client we're eight weeks out, we're 12 weeks out, we're two months out or three months out. I understand that your cabinets are getting delivered next week, but you probably should have called somebody six months ago knowing what your project is going to entail. But I think a lot of guys, what they do is they over promise that date, that delivery date, and then they feel the pressure of, I have to get it done rather than calling a client and communicating to them, we're behind, sorry, but we're behind. Most of my clients, most of the time what they say to me is this, thanks for calling, just continue to communicate and let me know and update me. So that's just part of it.

Jon: That's a huge part. I'm just going to say communication just in of itself, not just between us and clients, but in general communication, just communication. You can calm so many things by just communicating and just calm your own problems, just communicate.

Brandon: Well, another part of that is having realistic timelines that work for you based on what you need to do, the client's troubles are the client's troubles, their timeline is their timeline, it's not your timeline. So somebody waits to the last second and says, hey, our inspection for occupancy is in two weeks, we need all the sinks and countertops down. You're like, Hey, that's great, you need to go buy laminate or something, and then we'll make your concrete and we'll install that six months from now, or whenever that's going to be, because that's how long it's going to take for us to get to your project and do it correctly. But another thing that a lot of concrete guys lose sight of is when you're driving down a road and you see a restaurant that has a huge line outside and the parking lot is full, and you see a restaurant across the street, there's nobody in line and there's no cars in the parking lot, which restaurant do you want to go to? You go to the one that's busy and there's something to be said about when somebody calls you up and says, hey, I need countertops tomorrow. Like, Hey bro, I'm 10 months out, I'd love to do it, but I'm 10 months out that says you're somebody in demand. Now you don't need to artificially put that number out there but if you're busy, you're busy and just be honest with people and say, this is what it is and I think a lot of clients at the end of the day can respect and value that you're a person in high demand.

Jess: Yes, and I think the honesty to go with that, just the fact that you're willing to say, Hey, we're a two man band and we do what we can and we're a 1,500 square foot shop, not a 10,000 square foot shop with 30 employees. I just went through this discussion with a client, potential client. He called me, he's like I want to put together some numbers it's for a field house in Cleveland. I'm like, okay. I said, send me the specs or whatever architectural drawings you have and I'll get an estimate out to you. So he's like, I think we have plenty of time. I'm like, okay. So he says to me, he says, now the first few sinks are probably just stock items for you. I said, let me stop you right there. He said, what? I said, nothing is stock, nothing. The only thing that is stock in my shop is powder, that's it, powder, sealer, color. That's the only thing that's stock in there. I said, no. I said, because every sink that I make is generally a different dimension, no two are the same. And he was like, well, these are just 20 inch sinks. I said, precisely. I said, how often are you asked that you need a 20 inch sink? So I get the architectural drawings, they're 17 inch sinks and the other two are, he originally told me they were 84, 72, they were six foot, six and nine foot two or eight foot two. So I mean, these are not standard things you have hanging on the wall but I think that sometimes clients will get the impression that you're a 25,000 square foot shop and you've got 5,000 square feet of storage where you just have these ramp sinks that are readily available.

So yes, I think that the industry in general, and I'm just speaking in terms for my area, but I think the industry in general is, and I think that one of the reasons why I am as busy as I am, and it alludes to what you just said, Brandon is because I am constantly three months out. When people call me and they're like, how far out are you? I'm like three months. They're like, that's not bad. I mean, but the element of understanding your market and I will never forget Brandon when I went to the first class for the Concrete Design School, I will never forget this. When Dusty Baker said, man, I can't get more than $55 to $65 a square foot for tops and you said to him, you do realize that one county south of you is the wealthiest county in the United States, you do realize that?

Brandon: There are people in helicopters in their backyard. Leer jets at the airport parked, ready to take off any moment.

Jess: He said, if I get a hundred dollars a square foot, I'll kiss your ass. Remember that?

Brandon: I'm still waiting by the way, I'm still waiting. Every time I see him, I'm like, hey bro, is today the day? Are we doing it today?

Jess: So, I mean, you have to understand, two counties away from me is Medina county, real estate sells crazy over there. It is the fastest and largest growing county in the state of Ohio. People call me from Wayne county, from Medina county, from all over those places over there and my wife says to me, why do you go there? I said, I go there because I can get the price that I want, that's why I go there. There's money over there but I there are so many guys that don't understand the market that's around them and they don't try to take advantage of it.

Brandon: And the other part of that is they don't stick to their guns on pricing or timeline. When a customer says to them, hey, you say, well, I'm $155 a square foot for countertops and I'm 12 weeks out right now. We budgeted $95 and we need them in three weeks. A lot of guys in that moment fold, they'll say, okay, I'll do it but now they just committed to something that they can't realistically do in that timeframe at a price that they're not profitable. So a lot of times, the best thing you can do is say, no, the jobs you don't take a lot of times are the ones you make the most money on because he didn't lose money on them. So say, I'm sorry, I can't meet that criteria. I wish you the best, if things change and you want to use us, we'd love to do it. You guys have a good day. And I wouldn't say nine times out of ten but probably close to it, they'll come back and hire you for the project. But then in two weeks, they'll say, hey, you know what? We found it in a budget. We're going to push the timeline, we want you to make the countertops with the sinks or whatever it is and they move forward. Dusty sees that all the time now and I talk to him, he's booked up so far out he gives people realistic timelines, which are very long and he gives them crazy prices, but that's his price and people say, you know what, let's do it. Let's do it, we want your product, we'll wait. So that's a big part of it as well.

Jess: It is. You're absolutely right. You're absolutely right and I tell people all the time, wouldn't you rather do five, make the same amount of money as opposed to 10 in that same amount of timeframe and make the same money and way less stress? That's the way I look at it, it's a lot less stress. I mean, we're back to that emotional value and nobody wants to stand around and stare to themselves in the mirror thinking, oh my gosh, I have to put 20 hours in for the next 10 days because I have to meet deadlines. So that's just not healthy for anybody.

Brandon: More time with your family, more time to just have a decent life. Something that you just hit on. Which me and Jon talked about before we called you, is training and the value of training. So you've been to numerous Concrete Design School classes and you've gone to other training classes as well. In your opinion, what is the benefit and the value of attending a training class?

Jess: Well, in my mind, the reason that I started taking trainings was I was getting busier. People were asking for more countertops and I thought to myself, you better educate yourself other than a DVD from California and so I searched all over. I went to a couple of free trainings, but what I found at most of the free trainings were they were pushing product, not pushing knowledge. They would show you how to do some of the stuff, but they were more concerned about selling their product, as well as, trying to show you that you can sell your concrete for a cheaper square foot. I don't want to sell my concrete for a cheaper square foot. I just want to make the most amount of money, but I want to be paid for my knowledge and my skills. So the second after I went to a couple of those, which was fine, I did learn a few things and networking is everything. I got to know some people who were in the industry and that helps as well. So I started to search. I started surfing and I found Concrete Design School class and told my wife about it. I said, it's a lot of money, but I said, it looks really promising.

After I took that class, I learned two things guys which was very important. Number one, when taking a class, it's not just about learning the product, but it's about learning the trade and then the second thing is that I learned at that class was there's some value in things that aren't necessarily associated directly with the product. What I mean by that is the intangibles of how to market yourself, how to use social media. These are things that you don't learn at the average class, but the value that I put into that aspect to me, is wonders because what I appreciated about Concrete Design School was they took time to say, you know what, here's how you should market yourself, here's how you should be vested, here's how to look professional, here's a contract format, here is this, here's that, here's this, these are things, these are intangibles. I'm telling you guys, I would say 80% of the guys in the business don't think about.

Brandon: Well, something that me and Jon hit on was if you take a class, Concrete Design School or another class, but hopefully you'll take a Concrete Design School class, and it saves you from redoing one project, the class paid for itself. If you learn enough in that class, which if you come to the Concrete Design School class, especially the Pinnacle workshops they're doing now with Dusty, Jon and myself, over six days, there's so much knowledge covered. You're going to walk away and you're going to be making far better concrete, far more professionally, marketing yourself better, operating a much more professional company and that alone, just that alone paid for the class several times over. So it's my opinion that training is a great investment to save yourself from making mistakes and to move the ball further down the road and be much further along than you would have had you not taken a training class.

Jess: It also gives you like some important things that I've done, like I've spoken at Youngstown business district, people have you in different business organizations and when you're able to talk about the product and then talk about the business side of the product and you're able to present a very professional front, I mean, it's impressive and you learn those things when you go to classes. Well, I would say professional classes because I've been to some classes where it's nothing but a drunken fest. You make a lot of cool stuff, but it's not geared towards educating you on the entire business and there's so much value in that. I mean, because, I'll give you an example. I did a did a large corporation up in Erie, PA and I went up, I met with the designer. She fell in love with everything, met with the owner, he was all jacked up, got everything done. I met with the business agent who was in charge of the project and I knew right off the get go he was in over his head and I went to the owner and I said, you may want to get that guy some help. He's like why, I said, he doesn't quite understand what's involved with this concrete. Some of the things that are going to have to be done from a construction standpoint. Now when he came back to me, he said, you probably just saved me a lot of money. I said, I don't know that I did, or I didn't, I'm just telling you he needs help because he doesn't understand exactly what's going on and what has to be done in order to accept the installation part of this process. And I said, and I would be more than willing to come up and help whoever's doing it to be able to put the right integrity that's involved.

Well, long story or short of it is, he sent me a thank you letter and all this other stuff that comes from, to me, understanding, especially learning at some of the classes, the professionalism that has to go along with this business, because there's some guys that are phenomenal artists, but if they walk through my door dressed the way they dress, looking the way they look, I'd be like, get out, I don't want anything to do with you and I'm not talking about, I'm just talking about making yourself look presentable. There's a certain professionalism that comes along, comes along with it, but the class alone what I will say, Brandon is not only saves you money from probably having to redo, but it also gives you an opportunity to make friendships and network with people that you can call such as yourself, Jon Schuler, and some of the other guys that I know in the industry. Those classrooms give you an opportunity to know the people around the country and when you have situations that come about, that's how I'd gotten to know Joe Deitz. I mean, that's how I got to know him was I met him through your class. It was a fundraiser they were doing for Patrick Simons and I went over and helped out on that. I met Joe over there and got to meet a bunch of cool guys.

That networking part, that's part of the classroom as well kind of helps you because then let's say Brandon gets to hit from somebody in Ohio and he says, I don't have the time, call this guy. It happens, it happens all the time. I do that frequently, I can't get there. We just delivered tops in Kansas a month or so ago and the guy that we delivered him for, I'm like, listen, I've got a guy in Wichita Falls can do the same thing to save you money. I don't care, I didn't call him, I called you. Okay. Got it, but I could have referred him to a really reputable guy that I know is in that area. So the networking is valuable as well.

Brandon: Absolutely. What is something that you've struggled with recently as say recently last year or two with owning and operating a concrete business?

Jess: Oh boy, that's tough. I mean, I could just throw out COVID and I mean that's a whole nother conversation, how that's just messed things up as far as the supply chain. But I think over the last year or two, that's probably been the hardest part. Not being able to order stuff, but just being in a position to where you can get things in a timely manner, that's tough for scheduling. Scheduling has probably been the hardest part when it comes to that aspect. From a manufacturing standpoint, making, installation, I really haven't had hardly any issues probably in the last four years. But within the last year, year and a half, I would say the supply chain, just trying to figure it out. I mean, my local R+L driver who delivers my concrete, he told me the other day, he comes out of Columbiana, they're a thousand pieces a day company out of that Depot, they're running 1800 to 2000 pieces a day right now, you just can't keep up with it. They're renting 500 extra boxes, so I would say that's probably my number one, that aspect. What's funny about that is each state is different. So if I order some product out of Pennsylvania, well, their rules are, I mean, they're like on another planet. So because they were only allowed to service the essential business, I could order it. I could go on their shipping detail, but I would get dropped to the bottom of the barrel because I was not considered an essential business. So if two essential businesses called in related to the medical industry, so the variant was, I might get it in two days. I might get it in two weeks. It's hard to schedule business based on those. It was so bad at one point in time, I drove to pick up some things.

Brandon: It's happened with some of your orders just with Kodiak because we face the exact same things where there are so many ingredients in Maker Mix that supply chain issues. The blender will have almost all of them, but one or two, and we're waiting on one or two to come in, but they're stuck in a cargo container in a port somewhere and there's no timeline on when they're going to be able to get it out of that port and get to the blender. It's definitely been a challenge as a product manufacturer to try to keep up with demand and keep things flowing. We're getting better and better at it and we're getting the supply chain worked out in ordering enough materials in advance that we're hoping, fingers crossed that we can stay on top of it and not have shortages, and we can fulfill things in a timely manner, but it's definitely tough to do right now.

Jess: I agree. I agree. Again, I'll go back to when we talk about communication how vital that is, because I don't get overly excited with people because I understand the demands of the business. It's rather comical because last Sunday, our preacher preached on having the right attitude and he was going through and listing a bunch of things, how you should be kind and all and maybe you just don't have and I said to my wife, I said, you know what? She goes, what? I said, I that all, I mean, it's good but I said, he's never been self-employed. She goes, why? I said, because you can go from excited to irritated in less than a second when it comes to being self employed, because you have so many variables that are under your thumb or under your control that you cant fix or you can't change. So that's why I don't get overly excited on people when it comes to the supply chain thing, I just pass the information on to my customers. Here's what we're waiting on, I'd love to be a little bit more timely. I was in contractor's office the other day, I walked in to talk to the designer. She said, hey, how you doing? I said, good. I said, we're getting ready to do that island for over in homestead. She said, oh, that's fantastic and she's like, at least you're not 23 weeks out. I'm like, who's 23 weeks out. She goes, well, my garage door guy, she goes, I thought nobody could beat the kitchen cabinet guy but the garage door guy is beating the kitchen cabinet. I'm like, well, is he communicating? She's goes yes, I said, just let your customers know that. I mean, there's nothing you can do about it.

Brandon: What about windows and doors? Windows and doors are a year out right now. It's crazy how far out.

Jess: I have a church we're doing, we're doing all the window sills for a church over in Akron and landed this project back in February. He's like, we're probably going to be ready around September. I said, that's fine. They don't have insulation or windows yet. So I mean, scheduling, we talk about supply chain and scheduling, that's just the hardest part and let's face it, commercial guys, Brandon you hit the nail and head, your schedule's not my schedule. So you can't call me and say, because I've been communicating with you, been telling you, you need to give me at least a month's notice of when you think this stuff's going to go down.

Brandon: So that's been things you've struggled with, what would you say has been, what's the right word? What has been a great success or advance or achievement that you've seen in your business over the last year or two?

Jess: My wife calls it pushing through the gap. I was in the installation or remodeling business for 25 years, 30 years and when I started to get into the concrete side of things, I tried to shift, I quit taking on new customers, but after you've built a book of business, it's hard for customers to call you and you're like, because I had a lot of repeat people. So I said, all right, I'm not taking on any new customers and my business probably from like 2013, 14 on switched to about 60% concrete and then 40% remodeling and then I decided, okay, the only way I'm going to do remodeling is if it involves concrete. If they want me to redo the whole kitchen, they have to do concrete countertops or I'm not doing it. So I started evolving that, but I will say over the last two to three years, it's a hundred percent concrete, I don't do any of that stuff anymore and I'm probably leaning now I'm going to start pushing for bring the trailer I'll load them up or if you want me to deliver them I'll deliver them but I'm not putting them in.

Jon: There you go, cut installation.

Jess: I mean case in point is we put tops in last week. I go in, I said to the customer because when I price out my concrete, I say to them, am I tearing out? And they're like, why? I said because I charge extra for that, if you want me to tear out the old countertops and if you want me to haul them away, I charge for that. I said, I don't put that into the price of the concrete because not everybody, sometimes customers will tear them out or they'll have their contractor do it. So this client says to me no, we'll just have you tear him out. I said, okay. So I look him over. I'm like, all right. So I said to my son, they're laminate, we'll just have to get underneath, undo the screws, pop everything off, it'll be fine. They PL’ed them down. They ran a bead of PL all the way around the perimeter of the cabinets.

Brandon: Oh man, you have to jack hammer those things off.

Jess: I'm fuming, I'm just like…

Jon: Yes, without messing up the cabinet or in the cabinet faces.

Jess: Exactly. I really didn't care about the boxes I could fix those but what I was more concerned about was I don't want to delam, these are 17 year old cherry cabinets, but they were beautiful. I mean, so fortunately I was able to use an oscillating tool and a little bit of finesse and we were able to get them off, but what would normally take an hour to do took four hours.

Brandon: Why would anybody use PL? Who in their right mind would do that?

Jess: I said to the client, I have been in the remodeling business for 30 years. I have never glued down a counter top or have I come across a glued down countertop. She said, what do you guys do? I said, I silicone. She goes, what? I go, I silicone the perimeter. She goes, why? I said, here's why, I had a client that wanted to buy countertops, wanted to know that if he changes the cabinets five years from now, can he take the counters off? And I basically said to him, I don't want to talk you out of the concrete counter tops, so why don't you just wait five years, do your cabinets and then get your tops. He's like, well, we're ready for new tops, but we think we're going to change them, so I said, from that point on, I was like, you know what? I'm just going to be in a position where somebody wants to take it off, they just knife the silicone and off it'll come.

Jon: Yes, I mean most of the stuff we make, I mean, it's not going to shift anyway. You know what I mean? So it doesn't need a ton of adhesive.

Jess: No, no, it doesn't. It doesn't at all.

Brandon: One time we did these sinks in Scottsdale for commercial building. They were floating, they had steel supports that they framed into the framing before they tiled the walls. So it was just steel tube sticking out of the wall. The sinks dropped over the tube. They had a dropdown edge and everything was set ahead of time. We gave them the height to set the tube at so the sinks would be 36 inches or whatever the ADA was for these sinks, for the height, the final height and the client was very adamant they wanted it to be permanently bonded. Because I normally used silicon but they said, no, no, no, use a strong adhesive, we don't want these things ever come off, ever. It's okay, I can put PL down. They said do that. So we cleaned the steel, we put PL, we set the sinks and I think it was six sinks and we got a call all a few weeks later from the general contractor, the building inspector came, they measured all the sinks and one of them was an inch too high because when they set the steel supports, they set them an inch too high. Our sinks were all identical. So whoever put the steel supports just mis-measured they didn’t account for whatever and they were an inch too high. So he said, Hey, I need you guys to come out, take the sink off, we're going to have to open up the wall, move these supports down and have you guys reset that sink. And I said, hey bro, you told us to make them permanent, we used PL I don't think it's coming off. He said, well, we tried to get it off. We couldn't get it off, we'll pay you, but come out and get it off. 


So I came out there, we brought a jack, a pump up jack. We had two like or four by fours. We put it on top of the Jack up underneath the countertop. We started jacking, applying pressure. We're driving shims, wedges, pry bars, we're hammering, we're lifting for probably a solid hour. We're doing everything we can to get this thing off and finally the sink popped up, it broke off. We took it off probably no joke, a half inch, quarter inch of concrete was permanently glued to the top of those steel supports coming out. It ripped off the bottom of the concrete because that PL soaked into the bottom and bonded it. So we just broke it off on the bottom. It didn't break the sink, we're able to set the sink off to the side a couple weeks later we came back out, we set it back. But that's how strong PL is. It's insane.

Jess: Oh yes. Back when I was in the remodeling business and we would do basements, I always used to tell people erasers and pencils are a whole lot easier. Soft costs are a whole lot easier than hard costs and I still remember we did an entire basement one time and we PL ‘ed the walls down because they were adamant and then the wife came downstairs and she was like, I need two walls moved. I'm like, we're going to destroy your concrete. She goes, well, there's PL under there and when I peel this up, the PL’s going to bring concrete with it. She's like, well, I don't want that.

Brandon: You should have thought about it.

Jess: Pencils are soft costs, this is why we do it. But I would getting back to your original question, Brandon, I would say in the last two to three years all of my business has revolved around concrete and my wife calls it pushing through the gap. I stayed consistent and I stayed, I guess nose to the grindstone, getting back to that same thing as far as you I spent a big chunk of money for advertising. I spent a big chunk of money on a website design. I spent a big chunk of money to get myself in the Youngstown business journal. I spent a big chunk of money getting in front of people. That investment has finally started to pay off, and I tell people all the time, the cost of classes only hurts on that first payment because once you do one or two tops and then you realize what an investment it was, it's crazy. So I mean the fact that my business for the last two to four years has just been nothing but concrete has been the hugest blessing, I would say for me, and it's where I wanted to go. I mean, once I fell in love with the product and doing that. So getting back to the value of education, I had a client once, we did tops for a guy in a ritzy district up north of Akron, Ohio, and we're all done and we're cleaning up and this guy comes flying through the door, putting his hands all over the concrete. He's like, this is awesome. He goes, all right, let me know how you do it. I go what? He's like, yes, he was just talking to the guys outside. He said, but they sent me in here to talk to you.

I said, well, they wouldn't tell you how to do it either. He goes, yes. I said, no, they're not going to. He said why? I said, well, you have a checkbook. He said, yes, I have a checkbook. I said, you have it with you. He goes, yes. I said, when you make me out a check for about $20,000, $25,000, I'll start telling you how I do these. He's like, why? I said because that's how much education dollars I have invested to get to this point. I didn't watch YouTube videos, I didn't go on Pinterest. I spent a lot of hard earned money and a lot of time to get to this point. So you want to write me a check, feel free, I'll educate you as much as I can. So customers need to know the value of that education as well. They need to hear it, that you've spent countless hours in a classroom setting, in a professional classroom setting, learning your trade. So we didn't go on YouTube and watch some hokey guy go buy two bags of rapid set and threw down some grout dust and dumped it in there and then shimmy shaked it and now he's got a brand new coffee table. That's fantastic, man, that's awesome.

Brandon: Well, this other point you brought up is you've developed your own look, but the foundation of a lot of your looks comes from the knowledge you learned in the DustyCrete class. So coming and learning from Dusty Baker really kind of paved the way for you to develop your aesthetic but what is the value of that? How much have you made from that that ultimately can be traced back to coming and investing in your education, but that's paid dividends over time.

Jess: Absolutely. I could probably go back and put a dollar figure to it. The blessing too, from that class is I can call Dusty right now. I get off this podcast, I call Dusty and he may not answer, or he may answer, but he'll call me back within probably 20 minutes to a half hour. There's value in that because he understands that his clients and we did a little gig not too long ago, five, six years ago. Guy invited me up to do this whole networking type, he invited a bunch of guys to get together and I went up there and they were like, we want you to do one of your tops. I said, I can't. They were like, why? I said, because then I'd have to share what I learned that class and I promised those people that I wouldn't share that unless somebody else went to that class, so I'm not doing it. So whatever you want me to make, I'd have to do it in private and I remember talking to Dusty before I went up there and he's like a lot of those prima donnas won't come down here and take this class. I said, well, I'm going to tell you right now, I got your back buddy. I said, no, I got you back, they ain't getting no freebies from me.

Brandon: I love that. It makes me think about a question I read a long time ago. It was what is integrity and do you have it? And you answered the question, you have integrity.

Jess: Yes. Well, I mean, I contacted you not too long ago because I did a sink for my wife. It's an erosion style sink. It's in the shape of, she loves...

Brandon: By the way, my lawyer needs your mailing address so he can send you a cease and desist.

Jess: Oh, that's funny. and I remember calling you before I made it and do you remember that? And I said, I'm planning on doing this, I'll give you credit, I'll give you everything if I post it, I didn't post anything but I said, I just want you to know, and you were like, don't worry. I get it, just do what you need to do. But I made an erosion sink and it's in the shape of she loves Key island in South Carolina. It's in the shape of Key island and it has a couple cool different features to it. But I think, and I get into this discussion with people all the time, and this is another bunny trail that we could go down and discuss another two hours. But I tell people all the time in this business from a creative standpoint, if you can't understand why a guy gets upset when he's copied or mimicked without getting some type of recognition, then you shouldn't be in the business.

Brandon: That’s for anything you guys, I mean, anything, the same would be said, if I'm writing a book or something and let's just say, or whatever, I'm writing an article and for a scientific journal and I quote someone else's study, but yet never put a footnote in there, a footnote related to where that information come from or what I'm referencing. It's just astonishing to me that while we're describing right now that people don't see that, or quite frankly, they probably do, they just don't want to see it is what it boils down to. Here's my view on it, people feel that way until it happens to them and the reason they feel that way now is because they've never done anything to the level that other people rip off for profit and it hurts when you put in all the time, energy, failure, because every good design has 50 bad designs behind it that led to that. So there's a lot of invested cost and time and energy that goes into coming up with something but you go through all these different iterations of something to end up at this final design, that design gets a lot of exposure. It gets published, it gets shared on social media and then some guy comes along and says, hey, that's pretty cool. I'm going to start doing that and rips off the end product and all that you put into that, you're finally generating income, people are starting to hire you and now here's some yocal that's saying, hey, I do whatever it is, erosion sink, or I'm doing ammonites and a purple concrete like Fu Tung Cheng or whatever it is they're doing that but they're stealing that design IP from somebody else.

Ultimately they're stealing money from that person's family, from their kids, from their college fund, from all that stuff. It's theft, it's theft. See, the thing about me is I don't care about getting credit because I'm still losing money. Somebody could rip me off and be like, hey, this idea's Brandon Gore, thanks Brandon. But I'm like, bro, you're still taking money away from me that I didn't agree to. I never said it was cool with me for you to do that and I know a lot of other designers that feel the same way that are in a furniture trade. They have a very unique design, it is original and then people in the Ukraine that just happened last week with one of my friends, Thom Jones of Semi Goods, the guy in Ukraine ripped off one of his most iconic pieces and made a YouTube video tutorial on how to make it, because that guy makes money from YouTube views and that video in a week has like 200 something thousand views and he's getting ad revenue from people watching the video, but he never once mentions Thom Jones, Semi Goods, nothing. He takes full ownership of the design, everybody in the comments were saying, oh my God, you're such a phenomenal designer. This is so creative. How do you do it? And it just blows your mind, but people feel justified in stealing because they've never been stolen from.

Jess: The interesting thing Brandon, and I'll give you an example. There's a place right here, I think it's in Columbiana, but it was an old grocery store and a girl bought it and she turned it into like an interior design and it's called posh places and her name is Tess and she's called me before wanting some stuff. So she sent me an email and she said, hey, I'd love to get some concrete sinks for displays in my new shop, do you think you can handle it? And I said, yes, what do you have in mind? I said, do you want an original creation? Or do you want something and she said, I have pictures. I okay, fire away. So of course she fires me off these pictures. I'm like these are all Brandon's. My wife goes what, I go, these are Brandon's sinks. These are all his erosion sinks. She goes, where does she get the pictures? I go, I have no idea, but they're all Brandon's. I said, I can show you back on his posts, these same pictures. She goes, what are you going to do? I said, I'm going to refer to Brandon. She you're not going to do them?

Brandon: I appreciate that.

Jess: No, no, I'm not going to do them and so I sent her an email back. I said, Tess, I know the designer who designed these and makes these, I said, he's out of Eureka Springs. I said he'd be glad to do them and ship them to you. I said, in whatever design or style or origination or what, or similar, I said, he'd be glad to do it. She said, okay. She said, well, thanks for the information. I said, that's fine. She said, you're not interested in doing them. I said, no, because if somebody contacted him, I'm pretty sure he would refer me or refer that person to me if it was like one of my counters, if it was one of my designs or one of my things, I'm pretty sure Brandon would refer.

Brandon: You could have made those sinks and nobody would've known. I wouldn't have known, nobody would've known. If you never published a photo, I wouldn't have been alerted. Now, anytime an erosion sink gets published anywhere in social media, I probably get four or five texts within an hour of people letting me know, hey, so, and so just did this. And it's like, ugh and it's always disappointing because I always feel like I know this person, why would they do that? Why would they do that? But I'm made aware of pretty quick, but I wouldn't have known, but you would’ve known and that's what integrity is, is you're like, hey, I'm not doing it. I'm not stealing from somebody that I'm friends with, that I know as a person. But I'm not going to say it's increasingly rare because I'm not pessimistic on society, but it's something that unfortunately happens more than it should where guys will sell out their buddy to make a dollar behind his back and I wish it wasn't that way.

Jon: Yes, well it happens and unfortunately it happens with more things than that. It happens with materials and it's crazy.

Jess: Part of that though, and this is another part of the business that I don't think guys take advantage of. And I learned this at the first class, I think it was the first, it might have been, might have been your fabric forming class, but I remember you saying shut everything down, take the first 30 minutes of your day, shut everything down and just create, draw it on paper could be a thumbnail sketch, could be anything. I still had that little book that you give and you said take the first 30 minutes of your day. I'll bet most guys don't take five minutes to try and come up with an original design. My wife says me all the time, she goes, you creative people. I said, it's not you creative people. I said, honey, everybody's creative. It's just, if you take the time to learn how to hone in on that.

Brandon: It's discipline. It takes work to be creative and it takes work to have original ideas and original thought doesn't just happen. It takes repetition and takes sustained work to develop original thought and original ideas, but it is possible. But what you're saying, dude, I did that for years. Every morning, before I’d go to my studio in Tempe, I’d go to Starbucks or Cartel Coffee or some coffee shop, and I'd sit outside with a little sketchbook and drink an iced coffee and just do a sketch of anything, anything that came to mind that could be made in concrete and there are some wild ideas that things could be made out of concrete, but I’d do a quick sketch and from those sketches to this day, I'll still flip through those books sometimes and there's still real the amazing ideas in there that I still haven't done, but are just waiting to be done. But yes, it's a process. It doesn't just happen. But a lot of people don't want to put in the work. That's the other thing is a lot of young designers come up and they're like, well, it's on Pinterest. It's on Instagram. It's up for grabs. Good artists create, great artists steal or whatever that quote is. Bullshit, lazy artists steal.

Great guys will put in the hard work to do it. For instance, I did a tile design. Now I know nothing about the tile industry, but my wife worked in that sector for a lot of years in the really high end tile world. So I did this tile design, three dimensional angular, I rendered it in sketch up, I did some modeling of it and I showed it to her and I did a bunch of different ones, but these are all original thought to me. I've never like looked through a tile book or magazine or gone to a tile show. So I'm completely clear minded when it comes to the tile industry, I know nothing about it. So anyways, I do these designs and I showed it to her and the one I really, really liked, I showed it to her and she said, it looks exactly like, I can't even think of the name, some Italian company. It looks exactly like this tile they have. I said, really? She's like, yeah, look it up. And she knew the name of the tile. So I Google it, sure enough. They have almost the act same design and this was the one I was really excited about. After I thought about it made sense because the way I designed it, every facet had a purpose. I didn't just arbitrarily draw it, I drew it based on this geometry and faceting it in a certain way. But it made sense that somebody else had the same thought process to end up at that same design, but they had done it.

So integrity is saying, hey, even though this is original to me, I thought of this by myself, I didn't rip you off. I can't in good conscious at this point, still do it because now I'm aware that somebody else has previously done it. So I hear that argument sometimes or guys say, well, I never even saw that sink. I came up with this idea on my own. Great, but now you have seen it and now you know it's been around since 2004. So now that you're aware of it, what are you going to do, now that you have awareness? So that's the other part of it is you may have had original thought, I'm not discounting that. But once you're aware that at that point, somebody predates it, the river tables, you've seen these things, the resin tables. The guy that originally did that happened like 12, 15 years ago, there's this really obscure post on the internet where this guy did a river table with glass. Well, then this other guy became famous for it and he actually trademarked the name River Table, copyrighted it and he started going after guys, anybody that called it a River Table, he'd send them a cease and desist and he was super protective of it. But then it became known that somebody else had done it before him and it also became known that he was aware of that guy. So what do you do at that point? Because at that point you're ripping off a concept of a design that you knew predates you, but he still held to his guns and said, oh, it's my design. We see how that turned out, now the whole market's flooded with river tables. You can't go anywhere without seeing one of those things. But yes, to me, that's the other side of integrity is even if it is original to you, if you become aware, if you have awareness, what are you going to do? And that really kind of determines where you fall on the scale of integrity.

Jess: Sure. Yeah, exactly.

Jon: I don't know, man. I don't know.

Brandon: Jon's never been ripped off so he can't talk.

Jon: No, that's not true. You guys know better than that. How many times have I seen somebody else takes three ingredients and now calls it an ECC this or...

Brandon: Well, I'm talking about concrete design, you're talking about materials. Yes, from a materials viewpoint, Jon gets ripped off left and right.

Jon: All the time. You turn your back and it'll be that same person who ripped things off and they'll posting somewhere like man… But yes, I mean, I see it often from an entirely different perspective, but yes, it it beats you, you want to get angry about it and the reality is it beats on you? It really does.

Brandon: Yeah. Well, it's definitely, it's a drag. It's a grind. As time goes on, I fluctuate. I fluctuate between not caring to being extremely angry and it really kind of falls into, do I know this person, are they a friend of mine? And if they are and they rip me off, that's what really makes me angry. But if it's somebody that I've never met, never heard of, there's some young kid that's new, whatever, I mean, it still doesn't make it right, this person knows they're ripping off somebody else, but there's not that personal connection.

Jess: That's the ones that really hurt the most is when it's somebody that you know, that you've known for a long time.

Brandon: But it's not just the, I mean, erosion sinks, just one design, but there's a thousand designs, not just my designs. There are a thousand designs out there that guys are ripping off from other guys because they feel justified to do it and there's no satisfaction in that. There might be some quick money to be made, you might land a project or two but long run, what are you, a counterfeiter? Is that what you got in this business to do, to rip off other people? Or did you get in this business to one, actually develop something that has its own legs, that on its own merit gets a lot of attention and notoriety. But I also get it because when I first started, people came to me and said, make this and it's hard when you're struggling financially not to do it. Because you need business and somebody comes in and says, hey, we want this thing and you're like, man, it looks like a lot like Buddy Rhodes or Fu Tung Cheng, or, you know, back then there was very few companies, but they'd say make this and you're really torn because you don't want to do it but at the same time, you're trying to pay your bills. So I get how it happens. But you know, it still comes down to having integrity.

Jess: Yes, I agree.

Jon: You covered a lot. You did cover a lot and we'll still cover more. I mean, there's still more about the business side. Which will just keep it more and more podcasts.

Jess: I mean, I enjoy them. I mean, I like listening to other guys. They're taking the business. I mean, I don't know. I'm kind of a podcast junkie though. So I listen to a variety of things.

Brandon: What's your favorite podcast?

Jess: Joe Rogan.

Brandon: I love Joe Rogan. I listen to Joe Rogan.

Jess: Yes, Joe Rogan, Ken Haynes is another podcast guy that I really like. He's a Backwood country hunter and kind of self-made, he's fun to listen to. I love the back country hunt where you have nothing but a backpack and a tent and your home is where you end up. So most of my stuff leans towards the hunting industry, that's about the only hobby I have. I do some sports stuff. I do some every now and then I'll listen to some sports stuff. I train quite a bit. I lift four days a week. So sometimes I'll listen to a couple of guys. I love to listen to Louis Simmons out of Columbus. He hilarious. So other that, who's your go to Brandon?

Brandon: Well, for me, I like the true crime podcasts. So Crime Junkie, which I like a lot. Crime Junkie, I went down that rabbit hole, I was doing all this excavation or work on my property. I was in an excavator 10 hours a day, and I found Crime Junkie and at that point they probably had 200 hours of backlogged episodes and I went through all of them in a week, it felt like. I just all day, every day listen to Crime Junkie. So I really like Crime Junkie and another one it is Anatomy of a Murder - I like and there's one other one I like, I can't think of the name of it at the moment, but I go down the true crime rabbit hole, but I shouldn't, because now I'm super paranoid. I don't want my girls to go outside, I don't want to go anywhere. If I walk to my shop in the dark I have my Glock in my hand at 10 o'clock at night. It's a hundred feet from my house to my shop, but I got a Glock with a light on it in the dark as if there's somebody in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, trying to murder me. So that's probably not a good thing for me to listen to, but I do enjoy it.

Jon: Now you guys got me, I'm going to have to start looking for podcasts. I don't do any of them.

Brandon: I was going to say you listen to the Concrete Podcast.

Jon: Yeah. I mean, like, as you're talking about, I mean, I literally Googled, I didn't even realize I'm looking now. I didn't realize there was so much, Planet money. I see Crime Junkie.

Brandon: Oh, Planet Money's great.

Jess: A lot of good stuff out there.

Brandon: There's a really good one. So PBS has a lot of good podcasts where the production value is really good in a sense of, they have a great team and great interviewers and documentary style and there is one called S town, S as in Sam and it stands for Shit Town. But you know you obviously can't name it Shit Town as the title, so it's S town. S town is phenomenal, phenomenal. It's a documentary, it's a hundred percent real, they're interviewing essentially more or less following this guy in this podunk town, but it is like insanely powerful. I listened to it, I was on a road trip to Arkansas or to Arizona, I'm sorry. I was driving to Arizona from Arkansas and I put it on and my wife called me. I just kept muting the call for hours. Every time she called me, I’d just mute the call because I was so just in the podcast, but S town, super good. If you're on a long drive, it's a good one. If you can make it to the Pinnacle Class, we'd love to see you, buddy.

Jess: Brandon, that is a rough time of year for me.

Brandon: I don't want to hear it, no excuses. Yolo.

Jess: I would have to buy an Arkansas hunting license and then I'd have to shoot your deer that you have running.

Brandon: I have wild Turkey and deer literally standing on my road when I pull in each morning or when I used to live down the road, there'd be Turkey. I'd pull in on my driveway and there'd be wild Turkey running down the center of the road, I'd chase them down the road as I was driving. The largest buck ever taken by archery in Arkansas was taken pretty much on my land, at the bottom of the hill where I live was where it was taken.

Jess: So this is your selling point for Pinnacle of getting me out there that some of the largest deer in Arkansas are in your county or are in your area. Because November is like my favorite time of the year. It's like, you know travel quite a bit, but short story. So we did these tops in Kansas. My son, Spencer loves the Turkey hunt. Well, one of his favorite things to do, I never really got into it because coming into the springtime is when you usually hunt them and I like that's when in the renovation business, that's like when you're starting to amp up. So I never really had time. So this guy comes rolling into my shop. He's a friend of mine. He's like, hey, I want you to do this tops, I want you to do this island, da, da, da. I'm like, okay. He said, but give me the pickup price. I said, right, I give him the price. He's like, okay. I said, well, what's out there that you're replacing. He goes, it's steel. I said steel. He said, yes, they bent steel over top of like MDF. I go, interesting, I've never seen that application before other than maybe like stainless, he goes, no. He goes, no, we have an undermount. I said, ooh. I said, did it rust? He goes, that's why you're replacing it. So anyways, long story short, he's walking out the door and I said, Hey, good luck with that, tearing that off. I said, that's probably nailed down pretty drastically. I said if you need some tips and tricks, I'll give you some other stuff from the shop here, you can borrow when you're out there.

So he's walking out the door, he turns around and he goes, I have a better idea. I go, what's that? He said, how about you guys drive out, stay in the lodge and you install it and you can hunt turkeys for a week for free and stay in the lodge for free, just like a vacation. And I'm like, well, let me think about it. So as I'm turning around, Spencer goes, we'll do it. I'm like wait a minute, he's like, yep, we'll do it. I'm like what? He goes. Yeah. He goes, dad, come on. He goes, we can Turkey hunt in Kansas and all I'm like, whatever, I said, I guess we're doing it. So, yes, that's how we got locked into doing that, but it was a good time. I mean, the lodge sat on a 10 acre lake. We had a boat to ourselves. I was in the middle of nowhere. That's my kind of place.

Brandon: Well, bring your bow. All right, buddy. All right. Good time. Appreciate you. Good seeing you. Good talking with you guys. Take care. All right. Take care. Bye. Bye.