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MFGMonkey Episode 3: Chris Dakin – Indian Creek Metal Fab.

MFG Monkey | Chris Dakin | Indian Creek Metal Fab


Welcome to MFGMonkey. This Friday, we have a great episode for you. We have Chris Dakin from Tipp City at Indian Creek Metal Fab to talk about the exciting things going on in the manufacturing industry, what is currently shaking it up, and what to look forward to. Plus, hear how mindset can set you up for success.

If you have any questions, comments, or topics you just want to hear about let us know. 

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MFGMonkey Episode 3: Chris Dakin – Indian Creek Metal Fab.

In this episode, we’re coming from Tipp City, Ohio at Indian Creek Fabrication. We have a special one for you. We have Mr. Chris Dakin in the house. We also have our host, Mr. Dustin McMillan, and myself, Dan Nebraski.

Get online. Go to Get on and check them out.

We have a few topics to discuss and a good overview of what Indian Creek does.

Indian Creek Metal Fab

We’re hitting on that. Chris, tell everybody a little bit more about Indian Creek, what makes this such a special place, your upbringing, and how you’ve been a part of this for so long.

I grew up in the business. My grandfather started a shop years and years ago. Of course, my father worked for him, and it just went down. I started working for my father. It was one of those things where I’ve always been involved in it. The nice thing about Indian Creek is even though it has grown into a larger corporation, it has always been run with a mom-and-pop mentality.

We’re still on the floor, hands-on with all the guys involved with the day-to-day, which is probably sometimes too much. You do that when you’re responsible for a lot of people. That’s evolved into where we’re at right now, having 50 to 55 guys, two locations, and still expanding. Even in a downturn economy, we’re still making improvements, still growing, and still looking for the future.

One of the big improvements that you guys are making is AS.

That’s correct. We sent in our letter of intent. We are an ISO 2015 corporation, and we are moving towards the AS9100 certification. That’s going to take us about 9 to 10 months to complete. It’s a pretty daunting task with a lot of organization and a lot more paperwork. That’s going to be fun, but it’s going to open up some doors for us. It’s going to open up some new avenues for us to try to diversify and get away from the normal, I wouldn’t say normal customers, but spreading out a little bit more.

Even with you guys working with normal customers, you guys are abnormal when it comes to that because you are a company that takes more of a difficult job while most companies will turn it away. They want the easy turn and burn. They want to make money quickly and get out, whereas you do things that are a little bit more challenging. It’s one of the things that I and Dustin admire about your company. You’ll take that challenge because you want it and because you want that niche. Let’s hit on some of the things that you guys do and how you’d rather take that challenge than turn it away.

Generally, when we’re looking for jobs or when we work with you guys, we want those jobs that people turn away. They say, “That’s too complex. I don’t even know how to approach something like that.” We’re very fortunate, I say this to everybody. I believe I work around the best people in the industry. We can tackle these jobs with what I consider to be a large amount of confidence. When we see stuff that people run away from, we run towards it like, “Let me take a look at it. Let me get a crack at that. Let me see what I can do.” That has enabled us to grow into different arenas with power generation, oil and gas, and things like that. That has opened up a lot of doors for us.

There are a lot of risks in doing that, but there are also a lot of rewards on the backside because it’s a gateway. It drags them in because when you do a job that nobody else wants to mess with, and you feel confident in it, and you got the right people you’re working with to complete it, then all of a sudden, you’re looked at like, “These guys are not messing around. They want to get this done. Let’s go after more. Let’s send them some more and see how they do.”

The cool thing is all the guys on the floor are 100% bought in. When we’ve had companies come in to audit, do inspections, and things like that, you’re perfectly comfortable with the welder talking to whoever is in here because he’s 100% bought in. He’s educated and well-spoken. You can walk away and you don’t feel like, “Now they’re talking to Jimmy. What’s Jimmy going to say?”

We’re very fortunate in that aspect. Our guys have been with us for a long time. We don’t have a lot of turnover. These guys understand when a customer comes in. You put your game face on. You make sure you ask the right questions. You let the customer talk more and you listen more instead of talking. As I said, we’re very fortunate who we work with. These guys know how to handle themselves in this type of situation.

I’ve always loved this saying that you have two ears and one mouth. You should listen twice as much as you should speak. You say you don’t have a lot of turnover, and I think it comes from you. It starts at the top. As they say, “They leave leadership. They don’t leave companies.”

I agree with that. We’ve had such success and the way that the business has been run for years and years. We’re very comfortable. We can weather the storm on a downturn without taking a skilled trade guy and having to lay him off. We do have to have some layoffs sometimes. We go from a mass amount of work down to not a whole lot. You can’t absorb all that, but for the most part, we can keep our core group of guys. We don’t have to shuffle them around because of our stability.

There’s something you said before we started. I want to hit on it because I think it’s huge. I asked you what your title was, and you didn’t want it. I think that goes hand in hand with how you run your shop and why people don’t leave you. You treat them as equals, not somebody that’s below you, being the owner or being in that position. I think that’s great.

You have to. There’s nobody better than anybody else. Because I do this and you do that, it doesn’t matter. You treat everybody with the same amount of respect and it’s amazing what you get. That’s a huge focal point for me. When I’m dealing with the guys on the shop floor, I always assume they know a lot more than I do. A lot of times, they do. That’s why they’re in the position they’re in. It makes things go a lot better, just like this latest pet project we’ve got, developing these new excavator buckets. That came from one of the engineers we have and myself. That design came a lot from him. I had some squirrely idea, and he turned it into something. There’s the way we work with each other around here. It’s crazy what you can do.

When you treat everybody with the same amount of respect, it is amazing what you get. Click To Tweet

The Bucket Project

Let’s talk about that bucket project because you guys have taken a product that hasn’t changed or evolved in decades and decades. You’re going to change the market with the design, weight, and strength of the bucket, and take a consumable item and make it not so consumable anymore.

It’s new for us since we’ve never had a “product.” What this project has turned into is repairing a lot of other people’s stuff. It’s not junk. Don’t get me wrong. Some fabulous manufacturers out there are in this business, but when you start hearing not complaints but guys like, “If we could do this and if we could do that,” you start to wonder. We start looking at this and I’m like, “We’re fully capable of knocking one of these things out if we could do that.” That’s how it developed. You get a push from a couple of people outside of the business, “I wish you could make these things.”

I’m dumb enough to try these things. I’m a squirrely by nature. You get out there and do it. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? You’re going to fail. You’re not learning unless you’re failing. You never learn from successes. The further you get into this and you’re doing it, you believe in it. It’s steamrolling and all of a sudden, you get people that are a whole lot smarter than you going, “How did you come up with that? That’s pretty cool.”

You’re a little more comfortable like, “I did that. We did that as a team. This may work out.” What we’ve done was develop and modernize an existing design. It’s been pretty standard as it looks to me for a long time. As I said, we got some smarter people involved in it to help us come up with this design. We’re going to do some trial testing here in the next week or two.

That’ll be cool. We’ll get together and do some videos.

We’re going to have to document the crap out of this because people won’t believe that we came up with something nice.

It’s going to be fun to watch somebody try that.

It’ll be a blast. It’ll be like a kid with a hammer.

That’s one of the things that drew me to you and your dad. I would bring some crazy shit ideas to the table. You guys were like, “I think we can do that.” I’m like, “Holy crap. Somebody else is willing to look at something where I’ve been looked at.” I had a guy tell me one time, “You’re like a dog chasing a car.” I’m like, “What in the fuck does that mean?” I’m like, “John, what does that mean?” He goes, “You’re going to chase this car down. You’re going to catch it, and then you’re not going to know what the hell to do with it.” That has always stuck with me, and somebody said this to me 6 or 7 years ago. With you guys, we’re all chasing the car and then we catch it. We’re like, “What do we do with this thing?” We figure it out. That’s the fun part about manufacturing. Anyone can stamp things. There’s science to it.

That’s a whole other world of manufacturing. The high production side is totally different.

The custom fab is a lot of thinking on your feet and figuring it out as you go. You get into something and you’re like, “That didn’t work.” Everyone gets back together and shifts and moves. That’s the fun part, I think.

You get to see something come to life and you’re like, “There’s a lot of people who said they couldn’t do this or didn’t want to.”

Some of the things that we’re quoting right now, I think it’s going to be unbelievable.

It’s only going to get better.

You guys are already hitting on it. Our audience has no idea how you and Dustin even started. You started to talk about it a little bit. You started to talk about both of you having an idea that doesn’t run you down and you say, “Yes, we can do that,” which started the relationship. I see in you guys when you talk that it’s not just work. It’s life. It’s stuff. It’s everything going on. Say a little bit about how important that relationship is and why is work so great.

For me, you always want to do business with people that are your friends. You always want to work with those people. You don’t always have to like the same stuff, but you have to have a good understanding of talking to the individual. You could say, “We got to sit down and talk about this job. This is complete crap. I don’t know how fast you can pass on this,” or you can say, “We need to go after this. I brought this one job and I had no idea this was out there. Go give me ten more.”

You always want to do business with people who help and are your friends. Click To Tweet

In my opinion, when you get a text at 10:00 at night because I thought of something, it makes work not work. It makes it a badass relationship and we figured out how to make money from it. That’s where I think it’s elevated to that next level, which is hard to achieve in this day and age. You either got your blinders on to where I’m doing my job and after 5:00, you don’t talk to me, or you’re going to hustle as hard as you can until everybody else can’t hustle hard.

It becomes that f-word fun, instead of the other four-letter word that you sometimes want to use.

Manufacturing Jobs Comeback

Dustin, you sent an article to me from Industrial Week talking about the tariffs and how it’s bringing business back to the United States. It’s bringing five million new jobs. Manufacturing jobs are going to come back to the United States. Over 1,300 companies have planned to reshore here. Being a company in the United States in the Midwest, how has this affected you, good, bad, or whatever the situation is? Just say how it’s been affecting your business this last year to two.

We’re seeing a lot more activity. Overall, we’re still slow for the year, but as far as quoting activity, it’s through the roof. We’re seeing a lot more going on. Dustin, you’ve seen a lot more than I think you’ve seen lately, I would assume. I know we have, but my biggest fear is when all this drops. It’s going to be a good time. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s going to be the workforce. There are five million jobs here. There’s manufacturing. They can hire them fast enough, but we’re running out.

We need kids that are going to be going through trade schools. I know this is off-topic, but that’s our biggest fear right now. In 5 to 10 years, what are we going to do? Everybody wants to go to college, tickle the keyboard, keep their hands clean, and drive BMWs. I want guys to get dirty, drive a diesel truck, and make the same amount of money because that’ll be there.

That’s going to be the fad going forward. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case when you and I were in high school. Everyone is pushed to go to college. Dan and I’ve talked about this already when we have Rich on. It’s all going to be about education. It’s a scary topic for everyone. This came from Rich. The one state that’s done the best in the United States is Kentucky. You’re going to see more factories open up in Kentucky in the next ten years than any other state because they have developed the workforce.

They’re going to have a massive job placement. Whether the facilities go there or not, they’re going to have some good people placing jobs coming out of Kentucky. That’s where they’re going to go for their workforce.

The biggest problem too is it’s not being told and explained when these kids are in high school. When you’re in high school and you’re there, your teachers are pushing you to go to college. They’re not saying, “You have this option. Here’s option A. Option B is pretty damn good too. Why don’t you look at this if you aren’t going for a certain career or job?” I and Dustin talked about it in our first episode.

You guys hit on that pretty hard.

I have a master’s degree that sits on the mantle. It looks great, but I don’t use that shit. It’s one of those things where it is coming, and it needs to be more influenced by people that are younger age. The vocational school shouldn’t be looked down upon. We went to vocational school, and there was a group of us that played sports. We did all these things, and we had guys, girls, or people at high school who looked at it like, “Why are you going to vocational school?”

While I was in vocational school at the JVS right up the road here, I worked for an engineering firm when I was 16 or 17 years old, and got a ton of experience. I had buddies go off to college. They got out of college and they were making less than what I was making. They had a tremendous amount of debt.

The worst thing is you end up leaving college with a ton of debt. What are you going to do? There are college kids who can’t get an apartment, yet they have a million-dollar piece of paper hanging on the wall. That’s no way to start, especially in your career. It’s one of those things that looms in the back of your mind. What are we going to do in 5 or 10 years when we’re cranking and busy? How are you going to find these guys? It’s going to be a mad rush to try to get people through those schools because they’ve eliminated them from high school. Shop classes are gone. That’s the worst thing they could ever done.

I totally agree. My son has never taken a shop class. He’s never welded. Unfortunately, he’s willing to do those things. He works for my buddy, pouring concrete. There are not many kids that are going to go, “I want to pour concrete.”

Also, work outside and get dirty. They all want to sit back and play Xbox. There’s nothing wrong with that. I play that too. Let’s be real about it though. You have to understand how to earn a living and do a good day’s work.

Everything is good in moderation when it comes to those things. Dustin, you’re right. I remember taking a shop class. I wouldn’t know how to weld and I probably suck at it now, but I did it in high school. I grew up and worked in concrete. That’s my background. My family is in concrete. They still work on concrete.

That was one of the things that you told me, Chris. You grew up in the shop. You were made to work on the floor and you welded. You looked down at a shop.

He had me do everything first. As always, I started as the lowest man on the totem pole. Like any teenage idiot, I got fired. He fired me three times for good reason. It was my fault. I’m like a bad penny because I always turn up. You go through that, but it’s a learning experience. I worked at a lot of other shops, welding or doing other things in general. You get a deep appreciation for when someone is leading a ship. When somebody is running a company and you see how they’re doing it. That doesn’t make sense until you leave. You’re like, “That’s a whole lot better than over here. Now, I understand why that has to take place and why this has to happen.”

By being forced in a sense to do certain things, by working somewhere else, by sweeping the floors, driving the trucks, working on the equipment, welding, and fab. I don’t have a lot of machining experience because we weren’t doing that at that time, but they made me go through that. That’s all the difference in the world. In my opinion, that’s better than any college education in this industry.

You can look at them at the end of the day and they can’t ever look at you and go, “Chris, you’ve never done what I’m doing.” You’re like, “Actually, I have. Let me show you A, B, and C.

I may not be as good, but I understand it better. That all comes back to when we first started speaking. This creates a very coherent working environment. Everybody understands that we all have a good skill set, and the end results are kick-ass parts, happy customers, and more work.

Also, being able to quote. That plays a huge role in what you’re doing now because you’ll work on quotes and you know exactly what you’re looking at. You know exactly what it needs to take to get the job done. A lot of people who are quoting haven’t done it. They’re just going off of some algorithm where they’re relying on a system to quote it for them, but they can’t sit down and go, “I know that this is going to take this and this many setups.” Dean gets into that when we talk about machining parts.

He gets it down to 0.2. I’m looking at him like, “What the hell are you talking about?” I don’t know the machining side like he does. When you bring us something, Dustin, and it’s got machining, fab, weld, or whatever, that quote will touch 2 to 3 desks. When I look at the fab or the weld, I’ll put the numbers down. I’ll look at the machining and I’m like, “I’m not even going to mess with this.”

I go over to Dean’s desk and say, “Look at this.” “I do this setup. You got to watch this, and we’re going to need a special cutter. That cutter is $1,500.” He starts going through all this and I’m like, “I didn’t see that.” That’s why I went to him. I believe he’s the best at doing that. We can get a very comprehensive quote together. When that quote becomes a job, now you’ve got everybody that needs to know about it. They already know. They’ve looked at it. All department heads are already familiar with it.

You’re bringing welders in. You brought a project that we’re getting ready to start and Mick was like, “Make sure you do this and that.” Of course, that goes into the quote because nobody else saw it.

We end up going back to the customer saying, “Are you sure you meant this? Can you clarify this?” You find out that it was misinterpreted or something to that effect, which happens. It is what it is. It’s all part of the deal.

Open Communication With Customers

That’s awesome open communication with the customers. When we have that relationship with them, we’re not afraid to pick up the phone and go, “You said this in your email. Is that what you meant, or did you mean this?” It comes out in an open conversation, ” I don’t think I meant that.” You get the clarification and you move on regardless. That’s absolutely priceless. We’ve represented quite a few different companies. The ones that I know are going to fail, and we are not going to be successful with the ones that don’t communicate.

You got to do that. In any type of success whatsoever, in anything or any sport, I don’t care what you do, you have to have open communication so everybody is on the same page.

Everyone is working together.

A phone call is so freaking underrated.

Dustin got on me pretty hard about this because I was doing both email and call. He goes, “Call.”

That’s the thing. This is me. I’m old school. He and I are about the same age. I don’t know how old you are. You get a lot of these younger guys who want to sit behind the keyboard all day and fire off emails and think, “I did it. I’m done. Next project.” No. Call because you’ll be the weird guy. Everybody emails, but when you call, people go, “I’m developing an image of what this guy is. I know his personality.” Over an email, you can’t get the emphasis on what you’re trying to get across. Unless it’s a purchase order for a couple of million dollars, then it’s no big deal. When you’re trying to get across, “Are you sure you mean this? Are you sure you want us to do that like we went through?” When you call, I guarantee you that inside of ten seconds, you’ve got it taken care of.

One of the things you did the other day on probably the same call you guys are talking about and the right mindset. I respected the hell out of you for this. When you asked, you didn’t go, “I said this and it looks like this.” You were like, “I’m looking at it. I think it’s this.” You explain it to me and that me not be the so-called “asshole.” That goes miles of a sales tactic of removing yourself from the situation. At the same time, it was great the way you did it. They didn’t feel emasculated or threatened by any means. He thanked you and he was wrong.

That’s what you want. When you’re asking a question like that, you want them to find it out on their own. I always try to come at people in a manner like, “You know a lot more about this project than I do because it’s not mine. I need you to explain this to me.”

Humility gets you a long way.

Humility will get you a long way. Click To Tweet

It sets a tone. It puts in their mind like, “I can work with this guy.” He’s not going to come at me from left field.

It doesn’t become a power struggle.

It should never be that way unless you’re talking about getting paid.

That’s why there are contracts.

When you start getting into a power struggle, it’s whose ego is bigger. You get into the pissing contest.

No good will ever come from that. If you want to completely torch a bridge, that’s the best way to do it.

We’ve all been there.

We’ve all been pushed into that. You’re like, “I’m going to be the bigger guy this time.”

Sometimes, it’s hard not to express that emotion.

It is, especially if you have somebody coming down on your heart. That’s tough to say, “Let me look into this and I’ll get back to you.” It’s hard to maintain that level of being calm.

Especially at your level, there are a lot of egos that come into place when you’re dealing with the owner of the company instead of the person who’s welding. Obviously, you look at things a lot differently than most, but a lot of people will put their ego before the project.

I love that. It all depends on how you can handle that. I hate to say this but it’s true. When you’re dealing with somebody with a huge ego, they’re very easy to deal with because you always know where they’re going to go. It’s like Google Maps. I know where I’m going. I guess it’s probably not good to say, but it is true. If you have a huge ego and you’re in this sport, you’re very easy to deal with. All you have to do is eat a little crow. Who cares? At the end of the day, I don’t give a crap.

You stroke the hell out of the ego.

“Give me the work, man. I know I could do a great job for you. You rock, man. You got this, that, and the other.”

I hope you guys are hitting on all these points because they’re hitting on so many important things and how important it is to do certain things, whether it’s conversation, sales, business, or how to run it. I hope that everybody is soaking this in and taking it because it’s great. Coronavirus has been huge too. It’s the biggest thing going on in the United States right now. Has this affected you at all by any means?

Not really, other than getting the updates daily on the news outlets that you believe or not believe. We haven’t seen anything. We don’t do a lot with overseas. We do some. Don’t get me wrong, but a lot of it is in northern Europe. They haven’t been hit by it that much.

You’re transporting stuff by water. There are planes or whatever because I know some airports are getting hit. A lot of things probably go by truck.

A lot of them go by truck and after they leave here, 99% of our clients that are overseas handle the shipping anyway. We don’t have to mess with it too much and we haven’t heard a kickback that they’re having issues. I think we’re not having any problems right now with that.

Exciting Things Ahead

What makes you more excited about not only manufacturing, business topics that make you excited about working with Chris and the relationship moving forward?

I don’t know. The 144-inch VTL you guys are getting ready to put in. I’m pretty excited to see that thing get up and running. You have that going in. You have the other VTL.

I think it’s a 60-inch bowler, and then we have the 144-inch bowler. Both are being retrofitted right now with brand-new fans, controls, and motors. We put in a new 3.5-meter feeler.

That’s the part that’s most exciting to me. We talked about the VTL 6 or 8 months ago and we were joking around buying it. The next thing I knew, I came here and Chris was like, “We bought a big VTL.” I’m like, “That’s fun.”

It is fun. This all stems from the old man. He had back surgery. He went through all that and when he was bored, that’s not a good thing. We all got these emails. I’m like, “I’m looking at this and I’m looking at that. I’m going to have a smoking deal on this.” The next thing you know, our machinery guys are like, “Where do you mean to put these?” I’m like, “No kidding. The old man got those.” It is. The moves that he makes for this business and everything he does are very well thought out. He never overextends himself. When he makes a move and buys a piece of equipment, it’s a big expense. That’s a big commitment. He does it right. When he does it, he generally has something that’s going to go on it. It’s not going to sit idle. Anything could happen, but generally, it’s all with a master plan involved.

I think a lot of it was we were welding things, or you guys were welding things, and it was going somewhere else to be machined. We started looking around at where we could get it machined and there are two places that we found that have a VTL and one in Canada.

They’re booked up till 2022.

You go to these shops and you go out in the yard, and there’s acres of work sitting on there.

It’s like what Mike was saying. Years ago, they couldn’t give these machines away. They were sitting around saying, “Please take this.” Now, all this work is coming back for whatever reason. There’s a big demand for these things now. You get enough customers to come through, and we try to be as much of a one-stop shop as possible. We try to do the fab. We try to do the weld. We try to do the wet paint. We try to do the machining of turning and whatever.

Certain stuff, you have to send out but still, you try to be as much under one roof or under one umbrella as possible because you have that control. When you tell the customer, “We’re going to do this, we’re going to do that, and we’ll be on time, ” you can pretty much hit the nail on the head. When you have to subcontract certain things, it’s out of your control. It’s hard to keep all that going. We try to do that as much under one roof as possible. This will enable that even more.

I think that’s the answer to your question. It’s constantly evolving. It’s constantly investing back into the company. For us as a sales company, it puts more arrows in our quiver where we have more to talk about doing this. It gives us a ton of things to talk about. It makes marketing super easy because nothing is stagnant. It opens up the conversation for us when we’re talking to existing customers.

That’s another reason why we’re going AS. That’s a huge undertaking. That’s a lot of liability. We’re starting to make stuff that flies now. I’m a little nervous that we’re going to make stuff that goes in the air. It’s one of those things where, overall, it’ll be great for us. It’ll get us highly organized. It will enable us to get into whole new markets that will utilize the crap out of the machines we have. It’ll be a neat deal. I’m excited about that.

There are so many great companies in this greater Dayton area. Your dad turned me on to that make pieces and parts for brakes and airline brakes for BFGoodrich. I’d probably driven down certain roads hundreds of times in my lifetime before I moved to Columbus. I never knew that shop made these little pieces for brakes on Boeing planes. They’re right in our backyard and we have a great hub in this area with not only machining and fabricating but finishing. You guys don’t have to go very far for finishing companies that are certified with a lot of the big military contractors and things like that. It’s right here, all the heat treating and all of the stress relieving.

They have a lot in our backyard. If it’s not in Dayton, it’s in Columbus. We go over to Columbus galvanizing all the time. If it’s not there, it’s in Dayton and vice versa. We don’t have to go far.

That makes this area such a great area for manufacturing.

Years back, this was number two compared to Detroit. Dayton was the hub of everything.

It’s coming back big. We do talk about it being slower, which everyone saw a little dip in June, and all the quoting is coming back. It’s still a little slow. Probably June or July, a lot of things will start taking off again.

When the floodgates open, it’s going to be holding on to your ass. It’s going to be that crazy.

It’s getting there.

It’s going to hit. It’s just a matter of time.

That’s what’s exciting. There you go.

One day, you get up and you’re like, “All those jobs I quoted are now here,” which is a good feeling, but I love those problems. I like that you got this job, like when we were talking about earlier, with all that logistics we’re going to have to do. It’s like, “How are we going to do that?” We’ll figure it out.

I keep using that. The fun thing is you guys look at that and go, “We can make that into another company.” It’ll be a very viable company that will not only support your current business but it’ll be another revenue generator to support other companies around.

Exactly. It’s one of those things where you see that opportunity and you’re like, “We can do this.” A lot of times, the people that I work around look at it from a different angle. They see those things initially, “We can do this, or we can do that.” I didn’t even see it that way. That’s cool. I like that.

Mindset Shift

Some of the other companies look at that as a deal breaker like, “There’s two $2 million of trucking in that. How do we get around that?” They’re like, “We can never win that.” It’s a mindset. It’s a total mindset. It’s like, “That’s an opportunity. How do we make that better?” There are so many people out there who always think it’s going to fail, or they always see the problem in something. If you have that mindset, then you’re always going to be stressed out about the problem and not be energized about the solution. That’s what we do. We solve problems and we add a solution to a problem.

People who always see the problem in something are always going to be stressed out about the problem and not be energized about the solution. Click To Tweet

Dustin, you run your own business. In your position or my position, you don’t have the luxury to be down because people look at you, and they’re like, “Here he comes, shit. He looks like he’s depressed. Something must be wrong.” No, it’s not. You have to be up. You tend to look at everything like, “That’s kick-ass. We’re going to get it. I don’t care what anybody says.” “We didn’t get it, but there’s five more over there that we’re going to go after now. It’s going to be even better.”

That attitude is infectious just like a shitty attitude is. When people on the shop floor or people in your office see a leader who is always down, whether it be the CEO or whoever, they’re going to think, “I better go apply to be a greeter at Walmart because I’m not going to be here long.” If you’re upbeat and you’re always doing this, you’re thinking, “We’re going to hit it. This crazy bastard is going to make millions of dollars, and I’m going to be there for that.” That’s a mindset. It’s an attitude that you create.

If you don’t have it, fake it till you make it.

There’s a lot to that especially when you’re starting out or you’re doing something new. There’s a lot to that but there’s a lot to the genuineness too of loving what you do and being the eternal optimist.

When you haven’t done something before, the total transparency of that takes you so far. It’s like when you get the VTL up and running. You guys have never owned a VTL.

We’ll figure it out.

The cool thing will be once we win that first job, and we go there, and they’re like, “This is awesome. How long have you guys been doing to VTL?” They’re like, “You’re number one. You are uno. You’re the first job on this thing.”

You’re the first one. By the way, you get a free T-shirt.

You’re the guinea pig. What that does is it buys you their respect. They want to help you. You’re totally open. They understand, “That’s why your lead time is this, but we’re going to work with you and figure this out together.” You become a true partnership where if you fake it, then you let them believe that you’ve been doing it for years, and then you f it up, then they’re like, “What snake oil shit are you selling?”

I think you took what I was saying. I meant your actual attitude toward your employees.

You are right. You have to have a positive attitude, no matter how bad things are. If you have a positive attitude, it’s going to spring you. It’s going to attract other positive people. If you have a shitty attitude and you’re always down in the dumps, then guess what you’re going to attract?

The same goes for people you work around. We’ve all had those jobs of like, “I got to sit next to this guy again, or I got to work with this cat. What the hell?” It’s an attitude that you that you have. That’s the way Mike is. If you haven’t noticed, have you ever seen him in a truly down environment? He doesn’t get that way. He’s always excited. When he comes to work, best day ever.

He’s always smiling.

He is because he loves what he does every single day.

He’s always laughing, and he’s always smiling, and he’s always joking.

It’s almost like a callus where you make your mindset that way. It’s a callus where you’re not going to rip the skin. If somebody is better, you’re not going to affect my day because I’m going to be this way no matter what.

You have to remain that way because business, like anybody knows, is going to fluctuate up and down. You’re going to have years when you’re like, “These stinks. We’re okay, but this sucks.” You still can’t let that on because they’re all looking at you for guidance in a degree to like, “How’s this going to go?” You have to be up. You don’t have that luxury.

I totally agree. Dan and I talk about positive attitudes almost to the point where it’s cheesy.

You guys have a lot of good stuff going on and constantly investing. I’ve been here since 12:00 and we’re talking about all kinds of different things from your race shop that you want to rebrand, and not make such a race shop anymore to we were online looking at tow motors and forklifts. That’s the part that makes it fun. It’s let’s get together and talk about business and fun and personal stuff, how we’re going to grow, and where we’re going to be in five years. Once we win this, what we’re going to spend money on? It’s always evolving and trying to figure out what markets, like the guy that we were talking to in Colorado, about the buckets.

That guy was a riot. He’s a wealth of knowledge too. If there was anything I took away from that, it was like, “Homeboy knows what he’s talking about.” It was interesting too, especially with what we’re trying to get into, this, that, and the other.

It opens up those conversations that you have. We’ve never met that guy and he calls off of some advertising that we’re doing. It’ll end up turning into something I believe.

I think so. If nothing else, we’ve got a contact that we can bounce things off of. We’ve got some iron. Let’s get his idea. What’s the temperature in the room for this? That’s good.

We would have never known about the coal industry if we didn’t talk to that guy. It’s not like we read Colorado Daily. You and I looked at each other like holy shit. Those guys are turning everything to natural gas.

I’m going to google that later when we have a drink. I’m googling coal and trying to find out what this guy was saying. Not to that he’s not telling the truth. It’s like, “Is it really that big?” That’s what was intriguing. That was totally off-topic. We’re talking about buckets and how bad they get beat up when you’re going and digging up coal and digging up rock and how bad these guys abuse them. The next thing you know, they’re going to go to gas. Does that mean fracking is coming back? Does that mean we need to regear? That’s where my mind goes. I’m like, “Maybe this guy has got stuff in there.”

Are they going to sell coal somewhere else? What does that look like?

You get into the transportation side. Do we need to start moving coal with trucks? Do I need some help there?

We can buy a train.

I think you guys are hitting on this. You are talking about where you are in five years and what the plans are. It’s that vision mindset. You guys have been hitting on that. You’ve been hitting on this earlier, but you are listening to him and then going, “What can I do with this, or how can this help me or help my business?” You’ve calloused your mind to think that way.

You have to look at things as almost opportunistic in everything you hear. When you listen to something you’re like, “That’s interesting.” You sit back on it for a minute. You think, “There’s opportunity there potentially. We got to investigate that.” It’s the way you have to look at it.

You always have to be looking 5 or 10 years out, where you want to be, where you’re going, and be able to shift, bob, and weave as you go.

World domination.

It’s like this. Who the hell would have thought we would have been sitting around bullshitting and talking on a show five years ago? Everyone was talking about blogging like, “Nobody wants to blog.” We’ll get together and talk though. I’ll talk with the best of them though.

I’ll rub my mouth till people kick me out.

Let’s get some dorky headgear and microphones.

This has been awesome. This has been amazing. Chris, thank you so much for being on. Get on and check out They have Instagram. Check out the new machinery. We’re going to put stuff on our website as they add things. We’ll constantly be updating what they’re bringing on our website as well at

Share the show. Help us out. You can go to, Podbean, podcast, all of it. It’s all there. Look us up.

Chris. Thank you so much.

Thanks guys.

I appreciate your time.


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