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Martin King 0:08
In this episode, I sit down with a guy named Greg Fox of Fox family heating and air out of Rancho Cordova, California. And besides being a nice guy, Greg has an amazing story. In my opinion, he is the example of what the American Dream is all about. He started late in the HVAC business, he started out like many of us do in installation, residential installation, and then he went up to service. He was a long term employee of a sizable HVAC company. And things got a little weird after a while, and he decided, You know what, I think I’m out of here. And there was a bunch of other twists and turns, but ultimately, Greg ended up with his wife to start up their own HVAC business. Now, that’s not the whole story, though, what Greg did with application of what he learned in a prior line of work, and his experience, what he was able to do is get down to the heart matters. And what I’m talking about with that is the hat the way he goes about selecting his employees, it has more to do with personality, and work ethic and attitude. And this is something I think that really gets overlooked. And if you’re a technician out there, and you’ve been at it for a while, and you’re thinking about, wow, you know, I’d like to start my own HVAC company. But maybe I’m too old. The reality of it is you’re never too old. And it’s all about wanting to work hard, and having the right attitude. And I think Greg exemplifies that. So check this out. This is a really good episode. And I hope you get a lot of takeaways. So a couple things before we get into this episode. If you want to get email alerts, when we drop new episodes of the process to the pro podcast, just go to our website right here, I’m showing on the screen and you can fill out this form. And you’ll get emails from us when we drop new episodes. Now rest assured, you can unsubscribe at any time, we don’t do any BS with, you know, sending you these weird pages, if you want to unsubscribe, just it’s no problem to do that. And it’s just real convenient to get notification when new stuff comes up. Second thing is on the right hand side of the screen here we’re trying out this new app, or you can leave us a message. So if you have any type of a device that has a microphone on it, you can send me a message. And I’d love to get your feedback about this content, stuff that you’d like to have added that kind of stuff. So check that out. And lastly, if you jumped over to this episode from one of the social platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, whatever it is Twitter, make sure that you click like and I know you’ve heard that a million times. But it is helpful to us to tweak the algorithm a little bit. So we get a little further reach and be able to help more people out. Alright, so without further ado, let’s check out this interview that I had with Greg Fox with Fox family heating and air.
I love talking to contractors, I interviewed quite a few people. During the month, I was super excited about getting you on my podcast. So I’ve got a bunch of stuff. So I’m going to try and kind of get through this. I’m going to take one big shortcut in our conversation. I was listening to you, Mike may Barry’s podcast I think that’s how I found out about you. Oh, nice. He he did a great job with your bio. So what I’m going to do is at the end of in the show notes, what I’m going to do is I’m going to put a link to that particular podcast. So because what I want to do is I want to focus on some other stuff sort of another a 2.0 of the of the interview that Mike did. So so just just real briefly, just kind of touch on the main points. Give us your Reader’s Digest on how you ended up at owning Fox family heating and air.
Unknown Speaker 3:53
Yeah, so I, I Ay, ay was the son of an H back technician. He was a civilian employee at an army base in Indianapolis. So that’s how I was exposed to the mechanical field in the first place, which in the Air Force, they made me a mechanic there as well. So I did my one term as a aerospace ground equipment mechanic, and we learned about 60 pieces of equipment. And then I got out of the military ended up bartending for about 15 years. And, and then, by the time I hit 35, I was sort of like, Man, I want a real job. I mean, I’m not I’m married, I have a kid I don’t drink anymore. You know, like bartending is not fun for me anymore is great money but so this one company in town gave me a shot. And I was an install helper and just doing all the dirty stuff and eventually worked my way up to lead installer. I just really absorbed it and I really embraced it eventually became a service technician sold one piece of equipment or sold one system for them. And I knew me So so I got my contractor’s license. And I just ultimately, I went out on my own because my ethics are a little different than the company I was working for. So,
Martin King 5:17
right. Yeah, I remember hearing you comment about that with with Mike that you’re in Rancho Cordova, which is just outside of Sacramento, California.
Unknown Speaker 5:28
Yeah. On the side of Sacramento. Yep. Perfect.
Martin King 5:31
I actually I’m from Placerville. So I, we moved to Oregon about about five years ago. And so I’m very, very familiar with that area. Do you guys bind your parts with RSD? in Rancho?
Unknown Speaker 5:48
I don’t I’m a Ferguson loyal.
Martin King 5:50
Unknown Speaker 5:52
Nikki brothers. Johnstone supply? Yeah, and but I rarely go to RSD.
Martin King 5:59
Yeah, yeah, I there’s a guy down there, John Poland, he was just awesome. There was a period, I was helping a contractor out in the foothills doing wineries chillers for wineries and stuff. And he was he was really, really cool. So just wondering if you pas have happened across. So let’s talk about the business climate, you know, I want to kind of find out post COVID, whatever, you know, post COVID 2.0, who knows what’s actually going on, but you’re obviously flourishing. And in a lot of ways your story struck me. Because you’re kind of the American dream, right? And you make just kind of get the grit that you need, and you make it happen. So how is how is graves world right now with, you know, post COVID? Personally, business wise, what’s what’s going on? Right?
Unknown Speaker 6:52
So I really appreciate that super kind words, Martin. So obviously, the cost of systems has been the most dramatic thing this year. And systems have gone up three times. And I know Linux is already looking at another price increase in November most likely. So it’s just intimidating after COVID. Now, seeing these price increases come. And the scary part is, are the other contractors increasing their prices with it too? Or are they waiting till the end of the year to increase their prices, which could influence whether customers go with us or not on their equipment replacement. But as all professionals like your territory managers, and you know, some of the people who have been in the business for a long time, say, if those people don’t raise their prices, they won’t be around for very long. Right. And, and so that’s easy to embrace that. That philosophy, you know, like building materials, you went to Home Depot and Lowe’s, and all of a sudden your your $3.02 by four went up to $10. apiece, a $35 sheet of plywood went up to 80 bucks at $5 apiece. And And now, since the commodity of lumber has gone down dramatically, dramatically, then now the prices have come down out of Home Depot and Lowe’s and some of those other building material companies. So I say that, because the price of steel apparently has stayed the same. And it’s pretty much hovered since all the way from 20 to 2021. And when it like a lot of people feel like steel is a bubble and so that it’s going to drop off dramatically here in the very near future. But you know, for a fact that a fact, manufacturers aren’t going to drop the prices of their furnaces and their air conditioners and things like that. You think to the shock already. Yeah. So that’s one thing that kind of sticks to my mind, you know, coming out of postcode, you know, coming post COVID Here is just like supply chain stuff, getting settled down, getting the microchips, getting the control boards, getting the shipping, you know, the containers, shippers. There’s a lot of just sitting the bay for weeks on in and at the Oakland port just trying to drop their stuff off one reason or another, if any part of that shipping supply chain breaks down. Influences is the bottom line, you know, here ultimately ending up with the customer.
Martin King 9:36
Did very many of your competitors disappear through COVID? Or did everybody pretty much recover?
Unknown Speaker 9:43
I think every single contractor I know it just hit every record, you know, just blew past any record they ever had.
Martin King 9:50
So if they stayed in business has been pretty darn good because this pent up man.
Unknown Speaker 9:56
Yeah, you know, early and early in 2020 Like that March, April timeframe when we were told to stay home for a month, which was crazy. But we were all told to stay home for a month. That was kind of scary, like, what’s going to happen? How long is this going to happen? Right? But ultimately, it did come back around. Right? Once we started our doors, I think we all realize, Hey, we are essential workers. We do people, people need to be cool, and they need heat. And this is sometimes for some people, it’s a matter of life and death being comfortable in their own homes.
Martin King 10:30
Right, we saw the same thing in the in the process, chiller manufacturing world, because there was that big confusion though, in the very beginning, when everything the governors were all shutting things down. There was a confusion as to what businesses are or are not essential, right. So in the manufacturing world, we first because our plant was in Pennsylvania, our we got orders to shut down and then all of a sudden, you’re like, Oh, well, you know, if you don’t have an MRI running, because you don’t have a chiller to replace it with. It’s a problem. So we, we quickly got turned around as essential, and we were able to stay, you know, in the manufacturing world. So it’s just kind of a weird time. You know, this, this whole pandemic thing? It’s just, it’s just crazy.
Unknown Speaker 11:15
Right? We don’t we don’t ultimately know how this is gonna end up like, will we ever get back to pre 2020? Life? You know? Yeah, yeah.
Martin King 11:25
So I want to segue into the the labor market. Greg, you talk to Mike about the, you know, the challenges, you know, the skills gap, which I talked about quite a bit. How, how is your world in that, like, you know, if your business, obviously, there’s pent up demand, you guys sounds like you’ve got a good amount of volume coming your way? How are you doing to attract people? Or do you just have enough presence in the marketplace where people want to work for you?
Unknown Speaker 11:57
Yeah, I think it’s a little bit of both of that. So I was just telling Melissa this morning, who co owns this business with me and works super hard at it, probably harder than I do.
Martin King 12:07
She’s the numbers. Lady, right?
Unknown Speaker 12:11
She is. Got all the admins. So yeah, I did, I ended up turning up turning my my employees, my workers, I say, go to Melissa, she’s got the answer for you on that. So. But, you know, to be honest, not everything is flowers. And I’ve personally had a hard time not attracting not hiring service technicians or maintenance technicians, a hard time nailing down a inexperienced installer. So I would just love to if I could get a couple of experienced installers that I can, you know, keep them busy, which obviously, I’m busy. But at the same time, my technicians who sell equipment, they can sell more equipment, while my installers do the while my installers do the installs. And so that makes a lot of sense to me for every time. Right now, when those guys sell a job, they’re the lead on those installs. And I have like, I have like four guys that I can trust to be the lead on those installs. And then they’ll have a helper or take other leads with them, and they’ll bust out a job together. But boy, I last year, I thought I had hired a couple of good installers, one turned out to be you know, more of a helper. And then and then I was getting close to hiring another one. But I just didn’t think I could trust him, you know, with with my reputation and putting my name on his work and stuff like that. And then you gotta be careful with that. You can’t just take anybody in. You know. So,
Martin King 13:46
yeah, it takes a long time to build up credibility with your, your client base. And it takes no time to damage it. It’s just it’s a crazy thing. Right?
Unknown Speaker 13:58
Right. I feel super optimistic, rolling into next spring that I’m going to be able to attract a couple of installers. So I’m not I’m not getting, I’m not getting down on it, I really feel confident that I’m going to that our brand and our reputation out there in the field. You know, we’re up to like 1213 employees right now in five years. And so I know that our name is getting out to other companies and installers and technicians. I know my YouTube channels are definitely drawing a lot of attention to Fox family heating and air. I mean, some of the other owners of the big companies are are like, you know, noticing or coming up and, you know, shaking hands with me and just wanting to talk, you know, and stuff like that. So I feel like I can find new technicians pretty pretty easily. And there’s a process for bringing them in to Yeah, I can either attract the experienced technicians here and there or I can bring them in from technical schools and I have no problem doing that.
Martin King 14:56
Yeah, it’s really interesting on your on your model. You’re the business model that you do really kind of made my heart sing. One of the specific ones was, when a fox family technician or quote, salesperson is selling a system, you’re not shining these guys up and sending them in, you know, khakis and, you know, the monogram shirts and all that kind of stuff. The same guys that are doing the installs are the ones that are actually selling the gear. And I, I’m a firm believer in that, you know, if you’re, if you’re a homeowner, and you want to have an installation done, it’s that connection, right? And I think if they’ve got a guy showing up there, or or lady that is actually dressed like a technician knows the equipment, like a technician, you just instantly have that confidence. Right? You know, you don’t have a oh, this is a serious, he doesn’t know anything. Right? That’s
Unknown Speaker 15:56
what I tell them is, you know, like some of the technicians that I’ve hired, they’re like, Well, I’ve never sold equipment before. I’m like, that’s perfect. Because I’ve got a process for you, I have a sales book for you to go through from front to back with the customer. And you have all kinds of help, but yet, you’re the one that already has rapport with the customer. So they would much rather not have to wait until a salesperson, a selling technician or a comfort advisor or comfort specialist comes out and tries to sell you this the system so that they can nail down their commission. So let’s
Martin King 16:29
let’s drill down a little bit more on these technicians a little bit because what like we were talking about a little while ago, there’s a skills gap. And what are you seeing out there? Greg with like, are the manufacturers do anything? You know, you’re primarily in residential? Right? You guys don’t do any commercial? Okay. Okay. So maintenance contracts as well.
Unknown Speaker 16:50
Yes, we have about 1500, we have about 1500 maintenance contracts right now. So,
Martin King 16:55
and those that’s also in residential, primarily?
Unknown Speaker 16:58
Yep. All residential, we’ve completely stopped doing commercial just because we like to get paid now. So
Martin King 17:04
yeah, yeah. And you’re and you’re using the maintenance contracts to sort of steady out that edge when your business, you know, drops down substantially in the in the fall in the spring, you you know, in the year that you use those maintenance contracts is spread out your business volume a little bit.
Unknown Speaker 17:27
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s why that’s why I mean, how, you know, building up that maintenance agreement base, forces your company to grow, because, you know, like, you can, I can schedule my guys right now, during the really nice weather, when nobody’s using their heating or cooling systems, I can schedule them with for maintenance calls for the day. So they know they’re going to get there, they’re going to get for maintenance calls, you’ve got two hours to do it. You can either blow through it if you want. Or you can really spend, you know, an hour and a half hour and 45 minutes, going through their system, nurturing it, babying it cleaning everything, like a good technician would and building rapport. Right? Yeah, exactly. And that’s what I was doing when it was just my company, when it was just me out there in the field was, you know, like I can, anybody can do that maintenance. But developing a relationship with those customers is was really what it’s all about. And I know it’s kind of cliche, but darn it, do it, you know, stop saying it and do it. You don’t need to sell something to everybody, every time you go out to a place like that’s kind of how it was with the other company that was working with is that you know, and if you weren’t selling add ons and things like that, and turning systems over for new equipment purchases, then then you got your name written down on a you know, with red marker on a dry erase board where they could easily thumb your name off the board, because you’re not selling enough, you know, and I never wanted to be like that. So I never pressured my guys to do that. I tell them, the most important thing to do is keep that relationship going with them. You don’t need to sell them something every time because what we really want is that in the goal, that end game is having the opportunity to give them a quote for a system. When it does come time
Martin King 19:14
this box family do internships, Greg to try to get the next generation involved in skilled trades. Have you guys ever considered doing internships?
Unknown Speaker 19:24
I totally would. But what really ends up happening is I just hired them and I just bring them in and like some guys just want to come in part time 20 hours a week and sort of learn, you know, get some hands on while they’re attending school. And, and then of course, I want those guys after school, you know, so full time. So that’s sort of how that ends up happening. Now, right now, I’m sort of in a spot where I have plenty of maintenance guys that are learning to become service technicians. So I had those guys, those those, those new people are coming in learning how to ask To install to, but I tell those people the most important thing to learn as a service technician is you need to learn how to install that equipment first. That way you know how it’s supposed to work when you can figure out what’s not working
Martin King 20:17
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Unknown Speaker 21:13
Services. So love building that round, you know, like so I don’t just have maintenance technician service technicians and installers. We kind of do everything here. And I really like that I think the guys like it too, because it gives them some variety
Martin King 21:27
now. So what are you what are you hearing in the industry with other owners maybe or even through the equipment manufacturers? Is there? Is there any energy going into attracting young talent, whether that be you know, kids that aren’t college bound? Let’s just face it. Some kids are just not, you know, meant for college. Like, Hey, me, too. I was dyslexic, high schooler and college scared me. All right. So
Unknown Speaker 22:00
my family made sure I knew I wasn’t going to college because we didn’t have the money to pay for it. So yeah. It’s not mean it’s just that’s the facts of life growing up in a blue collar Indiana. So
Martin King 22:10
yeah, yeah. So is there any talk in the industry? I mean, I’m trying to keep up on all the trade journals and stuff like that. And it seems like all the manufacturers are doing stuff. But I don’t know if there’s much outreach going out into the younger generation and trying to get creative about making connection with these people and trying to get them get them in Is there is there any activity going on to attract new new talent, new kids into the industry?
Unknown Speaker 22:39
Yeah, I’ve seen two contractors right now, midsize companies who have just recently started up their own, like their their school, you know, so like, company, a tech school. And so I’m thinking that they’re trying to attract, you know, like people who might be looking at h back school so that they can pay $18,000 to go to an H back school and learn that maybe they’ll see company, a tech school, and then realize that that is actually paid training hands on paid training with that company, so that they can come up and learn that way. So the old company that I used to work for, and then a couple of companies just recently started doing that. I think it’s a really good idea. I don’t necessarily have the manpower to do that right now. But I thought that was pretty innovative. You know, and I think it’s sneaky. I think it’s sneaky. Good. Good idea.
Martin King 23:28
Yeah, that’s good. So So what is the what is the the core things, Greg, that you look for when, when you hire, let’s say, an apprentice? So let’s say some somebody maybe right out of tech school, they don’t know what they don’t know yet? What are some of the technical things that you’re looking for? And probably, to me, the most important things, what are the attitude things that you’re looking for in these, these new new guys,
Unknown Speaker 23:54
so whenever I start considering someone, I immediately the very first thing I consider is, you know, like, I can train you to be a great technician, but I can’t train you to be a good person. So you have to come into this company as a good person for me to even consider you. And so we have a multiple interview process, that kind of weeds, weeds that out and that’s like some chatting on the computer. And then it’s, you know, having a first interview with with me and Melissa, and then having another interview with some of my leaders, my leadership team so that they do they even want to work with you, you know, but, but I think, I think it kind of comes like, when I hire you, I want you to be like me, honestly, like, I want you to be like me, and if you can’t do that, then you know, I gotta go work somewhere else. So I’m looking for people who are humble, but confident, friendly, but you also know when to stop talking. You know, some people just keep going and going. Will they fit in with our team? Will they They do things our way can I figure out in my head if that person is going to be willing to do things our way, and maybe not the way he learned it already. And then I think, I think I just have to know is this person self motivated to like to continue learning on his own, like when they go to, you know, new people, when they come in, like young people, when they come in, they can’t just work their day, following you know, another technician learning that go home and then just chill. Like, you got to, you got to continue, like, you got to really dive in deep. Whether it be like my YouTube channel, or there’s so many other guys that have great, you know, their service technicians, and they got their camera on their chest, and they’re out there, you know, doing videos showing that way. I mean, those are great things. And that’s how I learned ultimately, I’m just trying to hire people that are like me, that are humble, confident, friendly, and will just fit in, you know, cuz I can teach you to be I can teach you to be the technician, it’s not rocket science,
Martin King 26:02
do you use any type of personality profile test like disc is a big one, calipers another one, you guys use anything like that? Or
Unknown Speaker 26:11
I think technically, we’re not allowed to do that stuff. Like, we’re not allowed to give them written disc test and stuff like that here in California. Really? Okay. But having learned it, and, you know, just some training that I have had, and reading books and stuff like that has, you know, continuing to learn as an H back owner? Yeah, definitely. In my head, I can figure out what these people are just by talk just by talking to them. But yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s a good way of figuring people out, you know, it’s, it’s intuition to Martin, you know, it’s like, you can immediately read somebody, you can immediately read somebody in the first three seconds that you see them, I think when you try to attract some of these people, I think one of the things that we’ve done to try to attract people is offering like an online interview. So 2021, and 2020. has, has taught us that these online, meetings are good, and they’re useful, and they save a lot of time. They’re super efficient. So that last time I was this last time, when I was hiring a warehouse person, I went through probably about, I don’t know, 1515 interviews or so every one of them. I did that first interview online. So talking to talk to them, just like I’m talking to you now. And I could still get to know them. I could still, you know, like, what did they dress like, I had one guy that was literally propped up in bed, didn’t have a shirt on, and his hair was messed up. And he’s, you know, he’s having that first interview with me. And so he didn’t get the job. But then I had had, you know, ultimately, the guy I did hire, I had brick, you know, and he’s like, he’s leaning into the camera, you know, and he’s really interested in what’s going on. He’s got a polo shirt on. And you’re like, Oh, my God, this is my guy, you know, right away. And so what do you got there?
Martin King 27:58
Oh, well, I was just, I was thinking about, you’re obviously a people person. Great. There’s no doubt about it. And I would maybe my brain went back to what you did before going into HVAC, as you were, you were in a what I call a melting pot type of a business. You were you’re a bartender, then you’re a barback for a while. And I’ll bet you I’ll bet you that a lot of your guts. You know, as far as being able to size people up and really get a feeling for people. I’ll bet you a lot of those those skills came from that working in a bar. I’ll bet you
Unknown Speaker 28:33
Martin King 28:35
In a past life, I was a mobile DJ, my dad was the first mobile DJ in the United States back in the 60s. Anyway, long story short, for a long time, I was a DJ. And I developed those what I call spidey senses, you know, you just you just out and you become a people watcher, right. And you learn a lot about body language, you learn about people’s attitudes. And it’s, it’s, it’s one of those skills that they don’t teach you in college. It’s just not.
Unknown Speaker 29:06
That’s right. You know, like, extroverts, like us. We, I think we adapt to that, you know, adapt to our surroundings a little bit better than maybe more introverted people. Like my, you know, my wife, lovely person, she’s just introverted. And I don’t think she wants to know, people, you know, and she’s just really happy in her own world. I on the other hand, I’m a people watcher, like everywhere I go, I’m always aware of my surroundings, who’s around me what they’re like, yeah.
Martin King 29:38
I get it. I totally get it. Hey, so I want to be time efficient here and I want to go back a little bit so we can move forward. So I segwayed over into your experience as a barback and bartender and you went to you came to a conclusion in your life that you know this, I want to do something good Have you had very high mechanic? mechanical aptitude? I believe in high school if I remember, right, and your dad, as you mentioned, you know, he was a, he was a maintenance tack, I think was on a military base, if I remember correctly, right.
Unknown Speaker 30:14
Yeah, yeah, he worked on like, in the in the, although like the the soldiers buildings where they lived at and then the, and all the industrial stuff too. So like he, he worked on it all. So and I
Martin King 30:25
think that’s awesome. So that the idea of HVAC was sort of in the back of your mind, I want to get into, I want to talk to those journeyman level technicians that are all over the planet Earth that that are considering starting their own business. And let’s just face it, there’s enough business out there for all of us. That just is so I want to get I want to get to that that inflection point where, you know, you’re one of those guys that doesn’t like to sit around and not have a job. And you want to you want to make this pivot from, you know, being in the restaurant business bartending business into HVAC. What was that? What was that crossroads like that? Were you married then was, you know, how did your wife factor into that? You know, how did all that play out?
Unknown Speaker 31:16
Yeah, it was definitely. I was definitely married, I have a son, Eric, you know, we went from, you know, making really good money, cash, a lot of times bartending, but no benefits. And basically, if you get injured, then right are not working, you know, so you gotta stand and you got to move fast. And all that stuff your hands, you need your hands to do that kind of work, though, physically, you just got to be there. But to be honest, the owner and I of that company, that business, I think we just after 11 years of working with each other, I think we just parted ways. And so it was sort of forced upon me to, to leave. And so I like to be honest about that kind of stuff. And so I was put in a position do I want to keep doing this industry, and I did go to another restaurant and start to start to work there. And the culture was completely different than what I’ve been used to for the for the last 11 years. Because I loved working for, for that that that bar, it was great. It was just, you know, a couple things. I think it was just me not drinking, I’m not the party guy anymore. And I think he wanted to just kind of bring somebody else in. So it was the right time for us to leave right then and there. I needed to figure out what am I going to do? I knew that my dad did heating and air conditioning. I talked to my aunt, who is her and my uncle, own an electrician business here in Roseville area. Heat, my uncle is actually the facilities coordinator, facilities director for Disneyland for a couple decades. So I mean, the big man on campus there. And so I kind of went to him thinking man, could I be an electrician? Could I be your helper if I try to learn from you? And so I did go around with him for a couple weeks. And then my aunt suggested Why don’t you try to get in with one of the bigger companies around town, you know, just tell them, you know, tell them, I’ll sweep your floor, I’ll do anything, you know, just just to show you what kind of person I am. But that takes a lot of humility, to you really got to humble yourself when you go from one industry. And I get this a lot of time from people from YouTube, make contact with me. And they say I’m 35 years old, is it too late for me to start in this industry? No, if you’ll, if you’ll humble yourself and, and know that you’re going to be like when somebody needs you to go into the house or needs, go into the house and fix a doctor, take a doctor steal a doctor, strap something up or go get that thing. Like, you got to be that guy and you you can’t be that guy, then then maybe you are too old to be an installer or a technician maybe you can still get it as a warehouse guy. But I think it takes a lot of humility to jump to jump industries. And I think if you’re in that, I think if you’re in that stage of your life where you’re jumping from one career to another, I think there already is some humility there. You’re like, because you know, you’re competent over here, and now you’re going into this field, you’re nervous, you’re timid, and how do I get into it. So it took, that’s what it took. And then you got to embrace it. Like once you’re in, then you got to embrace it. And you got to try and absorb anything that’s coming to you. Like, you have to be willing to learn their way of doing things not the way you think you want to do them or how your dad taught you how to do them or you know how you’ve always done it in the past. You have to you have to be vulnerable and make yourself available to that company to do whatever they want you to do, and it’ll pay off.
Martin King 34:38
You know, what was really interesting about what you said, Greg is, you know, you didn’t really get into the technicals part of it. You got into the heart of it, I think right there, meaning that it’s a mindset that you have an attitude that you have to get and that’s I totally agree with that. I used to have technicians I hired that, you know, I said this to my current employees or my employees back then I said, You give me somebody with a right attitude. And I can teach them to do anything. As long as they have a baseline of intelligence. I can teach them to do anything. It sounds like, it sounds like that’s how you do business too. Great.
Unknown Speaker 35:18
I agree. Yeah. All right. So
Martin King 35:20
you’re in business. So you go into the trade. And then you you went through, and I’m going quickly here, but you went through, you work for a big contractor, we touched on this earlier, you learned a lot. And then you know, you really didn’t care for their business acumen. And then there was another inflection point when you decided, hey, you know what I’ve got, I’ve got the technical excellence that the foundation laid down here, I’ve got the right attitude. Tell me about the Crossroads about about setting up your own business. You know, what, how’d that go down?
Unknown Speaker 35:53
The decision to open their own business? Yep. Okay, I was at a point with them where I was like, this is, you know, this isn’t the way I want to work anymore. Like, because of what I told you earlier with the percentages and always having to be, you know, selling and stuff like that. So I decided, You know what, maybe this field isn’t for me, I’m going to try something else real quick. I’m going to go to school and try to learn how to be a police officer. So I went to school in 2014. I went to like this year long Academy, where it’s like a part time. So you go to you have your job. And then like, four days out of the week, you go to police academy. So those are long days. And so you’ve got a lot to learn in the police academy, and you’ve got a lot, you know, you still have your full time job, and a little bit of work life balance. But my wife is wonderful at that and fully supported me the whole way. Got through 2014 graduated Police Academy with no dings, no dropbacks or anything. I really excelled at it. I really loved it. I knew I was going to be become a police officer very soon. And so I went through I don’t know, I probably I didn’t really want to move out. You know, I didn’t want to move to Contra Costa County, I didn’t want to move. I want to stay in Sacramento County. So if I can get a job here, great. If not, then I’ll move on. I was pretty confident I could get one. And I even got to the final interview with his one police department with the chief of the police department. Boy, I nailed that interview and great conversation. The next thing that I knew was coming to me in my mailbox was an acceptance letter. And that, you know, I just need to go get your psych eval done. And then we’re going to start this. Well, the letter came in the mail. And I was super excited. I saw it from that police department. And it said, Sorry, you were not selected. And I was like, crap. Oh, okay. Yeah, big letdown Valley. Okay. So I tried a couple other departments definitely get too far in the process with them. And you know, maybe it’s because you’re a maybe it’s because you’re a 40 year old guy trying to get into a field. Maybe they don’t want older guys. No, and that’s fine. You know, whatever. So I was obviously sort of ticked off at the time, right? Like, I was like, Well, you know, like, I’m determined, and I don’t want to do I don’t want to go back to them. Right? I guess I’m not going I guess I’m not going in this direction. So I had that sit down with Melissa. And she’s like, you know, what, Greg, you have the determination to make anything happen. And that’s one of the things I love about you. So she really kind of gave me the encouragement to I think we can do this. I think you can do this. I trust you. Let’s try it. And so we did. And yeah, it just started off with rest is history.
Martin King 38:35
Unknown Speaker 38:37
trying to get those first customers, trying to get that first bit of inventory, trying to get your first truck trying to set your truck up, answering calls, going after the calls and just doing everything. It’s a huge list of everything. So
Martin King 38:52
well, I can tell you that, you know, I ran my own HVAC company. For a long time, I can tell you that our wives are our strength and that they have to have a ton of patients dealing with people like us. Yeah, so one of the biggest questions that I get from people that are considering you know, starting their own business is the work life balance. This will be kind of last segment that we’ll talk about and sure that you know that they’re feeling it already. So if they’re a journeyman level technician, I don’t care if it’s residential, commercial, industrial, whatever it is, there’s they’re very busy, you know, because we talked about the skills gap, the you know, these individuals are very, very busy. They’re starting to think about wow, you know, could I be successful as a business owner they’re sort of at that crossroads that both you and I were at how do you deal with the work life balance? You know, you you have, you have one son? How many kids you got? Yeah, just
Unknown Speaker 39:58
Eric and Okay.
Martin King 40:00
How do you deal with that? How do you deal with the work life balance with all the demands of your, you know, owning a business and verse? It? How do you deal with that?
Unknown Speaker 40:07
So fortunately, at the time, he was 22 when i So, yeah, he’s, um, people are like Union kids. I’m like, Yeah, I got a man. So he, he was already moved out of the house, he’s super driven. He’s a welder. And so it’s just, you know, empty nesters named Melissa at home. And I have always been someone like I play hockey every week, I’ve been playing hockey for 25 years. You know, at the time, I was training for marathons, and triathlons and stuff like that, and I’m going to do that, like, I’m going to take time for myself and take care of me, so that I can take care of other people. So I’m very bullish when it comes to taking time for myself, you know, and, and then at the same time, you absolutely cannot forget your wife, I mean, that you you guys cannot, you know, people say leave your work at home, or leave your work at the job. But we don’t do that, because we work with each other. So we are literally with each other almost 24 hours a day. And today we’re celebrating our 24th year together. So it’s crazy that we don’t, it’s crazy that we don’t drive each other nuts. But we’re opposite. You know, we’re opposite personalities. And we just work really well that way. We don’t, we don’t sweat the small stuff. And we never have, if I really want something in the relationship, then I’ll fight or argue for it. But for the most part, I don’t care, like I’m just gonna let it go. And if this is what she wants to do, then I’m just going to make that happen. And kind of go along with it. Because it makes life easier for you to just kind of go with the flow, you love this woman you love your kids don’t sweat the small stuff with him. So you got to take your time for them in the slower seasons, you’re not going to be as busy, right? So like during the summertime, you’re trying to build your business up. You’re trying to figure out how to keep your truck stocked and all this all the you know, money and finances and admin and all that stuff, trying to get on it going. So in the summertime, you’re getting killed in the wintertime, you’re getting killed. But those off seasons. Man, I was chilling out. Like I was recuperating. I was recovering. I was back to making videos and all that stuff. And I think you got to do that for yourself.
Martin King 42:14
I totally agree some of the Well, I tell people I’m a recovering workaholic. Because my my father owned his own business. And my role model is my my was my dad and he was he was always working. He was a DJ, he owned a bicycle shop, I had to break some habits that I really first I didn’t know I had where I was just totally obsessed with success in a business and a lot of the stuff that I if I had to do it all over again, Greg, I probably would have worked a little bit less. I wish I had your attitude much younger in my life. I’ve changed I’m working on it. But I totally agree with that. You know, having that work life balance I work with my wife as well. You know, having your your responsibilities. Well. Segmented is a huge help, whatever we had whenever we had issues is when when we were trying to dip our toe over on the other line. So yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that’s just a recipe for trouble. We were really big on on date nights. You know, we even when we had our kids living at home we tried to revisit as often as possible. Why the heck we got married in the first place.
Unknown Speaker 43:27
That’s great. Yeah, that’s great. Get back to basics. Well, that’s
Martin King 43:31
great. So I’m going to wrap things up is there any final things you would like words of wisdom to people considering going into the HVAC refrigeration trade or people considering going into business? I think you’ve covered some really good stuff. Is there any last thoughts that you have that you want to share with with the community out there?
Unknown Speaker 43:51
I feel like we really covered it Martin. The people getting into this field need to come in humble but confident, friendly, but know when to shut up. fit in with the people around them you know and and I think you’ll go far.
Martin King 44:09
Thanks for stopping in. I appreciate it. Let’s keep the conversation going to connect up with me on LinkedIn or leave comments. I’m always around or at the end of this video here. You’ll see my email address. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Take care and we’ll see you again soon.