How A Grey Collar Gets Blue and White Collars On The Same Page

November 24, 2021 00:58:36
How A Grey Collar Gets Blue and White Collars On The Same Page
I See What You Mean
How A Grey Collar Gets Blue and White Collars On The Same Page

Nov 24 2021 | 00:58:36


Show Notes

When I met Bill Stanton he was on point to make sure more than 100,000 LED fixtures were selected, ordered, manufactured, shipped and delivered to more than 240 public schools in greater Tampa FL. Not only was the job big, but it had to happen fast. Bill knew his business and, with a handful of others, got that job done. In this episode, Bill and I talk about how a kid from Long Island learned to bridge electricians' and executives' worlds to get them on the same page. Here are a few ahh-ha! moments I had, along the way:   

4:39 - Blue jeans in the boardroom work when you do the math.

7:32 - Balancing customer and supplier objectives often get both what they need, but less than both hoped.

16:55 - Customers see certain pieces of the puzzle but might need educated on other pieces. That doesn't mean pressured. It means showing them a different way to think about their situation.

26:13 - One project, different returns on investment - such as the CFO and the maintenance crew.

34:57 - Framing trade-offs in the context of a supra-ordinate goal or objective, such as protecting the customer relationship.

41:53 and on - Math is math but do you have all the variables in your formula?

50:01 - How to not burn a bridge, even if it took nearly two years to cross it!

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:06 Welcome to, I see what you mean a podcast about how people get on the same page or don't, or perhaps shouldn't today. My guest is bill Stanton. It was a colleague with a career in electrical construction, led lighting sales and service bill. Welcome to the show, Speaker 2 00:00:21 How you doing low this morning? Good to see you. Speaker 1 00:00:25 So give listeners a short bio about yourself bell. Speaker 2 00:00:29 So I'm 51 years old when I was 17 years old, my, I was working for a silk screening company and my uncle got me a job with a coworkers that does electrical and he, he had an available spot for an apprenticeship and it was a non-union company. And I worked for them for about two years, a year and a half to two years, and they got an opportunity to do a union job. So they, so they, so they entered the union and they gave me a choice if I wanted to stay on the non-union side or go to the union side. And after speaking with my uncle and a couple of other people that I trust in opinion, they said, Billy, the way to go is in the union. And, uh, I got into the union. I did a five-year apprenticeship and 30 years later, Speaker 1 00:01:27 But Speaker 2 00:01:29 I still have the card. I shelved it about 10 years ago because led lighting became very, uh, started to become very popular. Yeah. It wasn't quite there yet though. So like a, a standard ball that you screw into a lamp weighed two pounds. Yeah. So yeah, because for a heat sink. Yeah. I think the biggest thing with LEDs is keeping the heat away from the chips and it was painful in the beginning, but it got better. And, uh, I basically got into sales and installation of these products because all of the utility companies, not all of them, but a lot of them started giving rebates on them. Yeah. So, and we cover a 50, 60, 70% of the project sometimes more. And, uh, I was like, wow, this is a good gateway to a business, especially when you can get somebody to cover half the money for our customer. And I've been doing that for, in the led for over 10 years now. And my business did very well. And then my area tried to applause a small little area. And then, uh, I got offered a job from a, an led lighting manufacturer to help them with sales and service with any warranty issues they may have and explaining to a customer from a different angle. Right. So, so low, I came from a blue collar world, made it into white collar. So I'm a gray collar guy. And I add my gray sweatshirt on Speaker 1 00:03:04 Well, and when I worked, when I worked with you, you were in that in-between place in between position or role. And you knew, so let's talk more about that. Cause that's very interesting. You know, the podcast is called. I see what you mean. It's about that. So that aha moment we all have from time to time, when you could be talking to an executive, you could be talking to your wife when you had that one, where you go, oh, okay. I see what you're saying with that. Aha. Flash. I see what you mean. And it's about how, what that has to do with getting on the same page. You you've moved between the blue collar world and the white collar world and Bridgette, you might've been, you might've spent a career getting people on the same page about different things. Yes. But you call yourself, you know, the, the gray, the gray collar. So what's that? Tell me more about what that's, what that means. Speaker 2 00:04:00 So, because I came from the blue collar world, and then when you're sitting at a board meeting with people that are it's different perspectives, right? So I'm going into the meeting, figuring out the best product that would work for the costumer. Right. I have to make the customer happy and I have to make the executive happy the company that's selling the project. So it's a fine line, you know, when you go through a negotiation, right. If you have two parties in that, they're both a little upset about it at the end, but they both realize it's beneficial. I have to find that Speaker 1 00:04:37 Happy, good outcome. Right, Speaker 2 00:04:39 Right. So, but when you go, when I, and it's whether when I first got into the white collar area or up until now, when you come in with this New York accent and a pair of jeans and maybe, uh, my shoes and my outfit is from target or Kmart and theirs is from Louis Baton. They might look at you a little differently than they do. But at the end of the day, I put all the data together and tell them how I can save them more money and have a better outcome at the end of the project. Speaker 1 00:05:15 That's funny because you're right. The image the image could make could cause concern. But then I know, I know you let's say your technical expertise is solid, but I also knew that your business as a human was pretty sharp. You understood what the business concern was of the customer or client. Correct. So although he or she might look at you for when the meeting starts says, oh, who's this guy. I think you said at the end, I think they were won over by you by your solid, by your solid credibility. Speaker 2 00:05:52 Right? So facts are facts low, right? If you, if I put something on this peak pay two plus two equals four. And, but I had to show the customer, these facts, I had to show the people I was answering to off the top that was selling the job, these numbers, like, here you go. Like, it wasn't just, oh, whatever this guy said, we're going to roll with the proof, the proof's in the pudding. Right. And it's like I said, you know, though, it's funny, lived up living on long island, born and bred here 51 years. But I've been traveling the last six or seven years. I used to think everybody else had an accent. I didn't realize people can pit. They know what state or what region I am. I couldn't tell what region they were from. If I got them at an airport, you know, from down south or whatever. Right. So I do come off a little aggressive and strong. And I don't mean I'm passionate. I just want to get my point across. And I want to be heard. So Speaker 1 00:07:01 Tell me, and I know that to be true because Tommy, about the perspective of the two perspectives maybe of the client you're selling to installing for servicing and the owner of the organization, the company that's providing the product, how did the perspectives differ so that when you do that two plus two equals four on the paper, facts are facts. You bridge the two perspectives or maybe bring them together a little bit. Speaker 2 00:07:32 Right. So I try to bring them together. And then both of them are not going to love what I do. So when I'm with the client, right, like there's budgets. Right? Right. So you have a hundred dollars, right. We have to maximize that a hundred dollars. Right. So I might tell the customer, you know, the higher arts might say, this is the product we're putting out. And I'm like, well, maybe that's not the best product because that product, yes, it's in the budget. But then when you bring labor into it, we go over budget. So we have to find a product maybe with a little less labor. And not that I, like I said, I have blue collar roots. I do want to help my installers and I want them to make their money. But if we don't sell the job load, well, you know, Speaker 1 00:08:21 You know where the trade-offs are between these factors. Speaker 2 00:08:24 Correct. So my job is to keep the labor costs reasonable and the product reasonable. Right. So I can have a high end product and tie in labor because we blow the budget out. So we got to lower both and find that happy balance. Right. Here's my cost to Myron and his project. And he is the owner of the company that's trying to make maximize profits. Right. So it's, it's a, it's a fun dance. And what I'll try and do is, and I usually come up with a solution that will work for both. Right. I just want to make sure the customer's happy at the end of the day, because without our customers that goes for everybody, we know it works Speaker 1 00:09:09 Well. And how much, how much is it the case that the relay there's a longer term relationship than that one deal, that one installation at that one time, I mean, there's a there's that does, how does that figure into the way you try to bridge them and change perspective so that they they're going to accept. They're probably going to have to accept something that you're proposing. That wasn't what they thought, Speaker 2 00:09:31 But what they'd first imagined from both of them, from both of them, right. From the client and from the, from the owner of the company, Speaker 1 00:09:38 I asked you this question, do they, do they see that trade off in the context of a better relationship? Like, oh, we could be in a relationship, a business relationship for a number of years and that's got value in it. Speaker 2 00:09:50 It's a tremendous amount of value live. The client doesn't want to be disregarded. Like, here's my proposal. You know, I hope you like it. Good luck when you spend some time with a client and let them know what you're going to do and why you're doing it. Yeah. It goes miles and miles. I can't tell you how many meetings I've walked away with a client. And they're like, wow. I felt, I knew a lot about this. And I'm like, yeah, but like, what's just say a school project. I'm like, remember, this is all I do. You're you have to do the whole school. Right. You have to worry about janitorial supplies, cleaning walls, getting kids to the class. And you got a million things. I get to focus in this one lane for the most part. I mean, I have multiple lanes, but this is what I do. Speaker 2 00:10:41 And I do my research before I see a customer, I'd find out what the local rebates plus I'll base a product on rebate. Right. So sometimes you'll pick a light fixture, but maybe that utility doesn't have a great program for whatever. Right. Right. And I'll like, fix y'all whole is a lot more expensive than a land or replacement or vice versa. Right. You know, maybe they thought, Hey, I'm just going to change all the bulbs slash in my Lance in my place and call it a day. And I'm like, well, maybe you want to go with a brand new fixture. Right. Cause I can get you 60% of the money from a YouTube. So it's just finding that happy medium for the customer. And like I said, for the client, but like I said, when I, if I sold it to the customer, now I got to go tell the boss or the younger the company, Hey, they w we got to shift this a little because otherwise we could lose this project altogether. Speaker 2 00:11:45 Right. Then I have to sell this to them. But it's different perspective, right? It's a different point of view. Listen, you have to sell the client first. Right. You have to have a client to sell something to us. So once we put this all together, and then I walked through all the steps, what the costs are. And I tell them, I try to explain the whole process to them, how it works with whether it's the rebate company or the contracting. Right. Because now when you're working in an area, another thing part of the labor side, you got to bring people in after hours. Right. So let's go to a school or a warehouse or whatever. You can't be driving a sizzle left around, go having construction around people that are working or walking in a hallway. Right. Right. So that's the other thing, you know, when you work after hours, it's more money. Right. Speaker 1 00:12:38 And these are things, these are the kinds of things that somebody on the client side wouldn't necessarily. No, no, no. They wouldn't necessarily be thinking about they wouldn't have factored in. So I could imagine a number of aha moments that they have talking with you. Speaker 2 00:12:55 Yes. And then I'll just educate them more on product. I mean, listen, the first thing I want to hear when I sit down with a client, I mean, it's easy for me when a client's educated about what they're doing. Right. Cause I don't have to start at a, you know, a <inaudible> I can start a G H B based on the conversation. So once I gauge them and figure out where we're at, and then I'll walk them through the site where, you know, wherever the site might be, and then, Hey, this is what I would do. And a lot of times what I'll do low, somebody says, okay, I'm going to change all the lights inside of my building. You know? And I'll, I'll have the email or the report saying what the customer wants, all their contact information. I'll try and get to the customer's location an hour early. And if they had asked for the insight I, Speaker 1 00:13:46 You walk it, I Speaker 2 00:13:48 Walk it or drive to the site, depending what it is, because they might not realize if they needed outside, like entails. And then I don't convolute the joke. I say, Hey, here's the proposal. Once we get on the same page, he has the proposal for this. But Hey, you might want to take a look at your outside line to rebates a really good, or you don't have time clocks on your fixtures in that burning 12. And they're like, wow. You know? Yeah. And maybe they don't do it then low, but it's in the back of their head. Especially when I spit a report out saying, Hey, if you spend, what's called a 50,000 and I'm going to save you 2000 a month, right. We can do that project actually. Right. Right. When I'm doing those planting seeds, right. Sometimes they grow low. Sometimes they don't. Speaker 1 00:14:40 Is that a client? Any, client's got a project budget, but they've got the whole budget and all of the, for all the operations. Right. They're always balancing a lot of things they might not have at all thought about the cost of their outdoor lighting right now, because they have it in their head indoor. You're coming in to talk about indoor light when you point out the opportunity and they rethink it, I guess it's like a recalculation. Right. That perspective shift is just, uh, okay. Well, I hadn't thought about that. Um, and they might say, I don't have the budget for I'm. I'm interested. I don't have the budget for that. Now. What if Billy, what if we did it in a year? Would the rebates still be there? Right. That's just say they're now they're wondering, they're thinking, would the rebates still be there? You might say I'll check with the utility because you don't know. Right. Speaker 2 00:15:32 So, so, so it's a great question though. And that's a long question. So I'll ask and you don't know. Right? Because they have a certain budget for the year. The time of the year I am with you sometimes I'll know, like, let's say, I mean, today we're in the beginning of November, most of the utilities are gearing up for next year's rebates. Yeah. And they will send something out, you know, like a pre-sales sheets, Hey, this is what it's going to be next year. So that's really good information to have. Right. If you had a fixture that was getting a $20 rebate and it's going to go down to 10, they're going to be like, oh right. They have a thousand fixtures. That's 10 grand that leaving on the table. Yeah. Right. So it's almost like another sales. I didn't go. But so it depends what part of the year it is. And some of them do it, you know, bi-annual, they'll change the program. Right. So January 1st and July 1st or so, Speaker 1 00:16:29 You know, I think it's really interesting. You, okay. So if you're going to see a customer, who's already made a purchase decision. They want to replace the, Speaker 2 00:16:39 Well, no. What they w like, they know what they want, or they think they know what they, right. Speaker 1 00:16:44 But you're also helping them make sense of additional thing, additional factors, additional information. I don't want to say you change the picture on him. It sounds, it sounds Speaker 2 00:16:55 Right. We're not going to do bait and switch on them. Right. So when I first go in, like I said, which pretend we stick with that scenario where they want the inside lighting done. I do the outside perimeter thing. I go in, I don't start out the meeting. Like, Hey, by the way, I was stalking, you know, an hour earlier and driving around and security had to stop me. So I bring that in. And at the end, I am there for their manger. Cause I might be just talking to the maintenance guy or the facility guy and him and his boss said, I need these inside. Like he don't care about outside, like, right. So I am that. But with their main concern was addressed their trouble areas in which figure out what we really want to do. And then that's something I throw in at the end, like, Hey, maybe you want to bring this. And by that time they told me, Hey, my boss, Joe says, uh, this is what we'll look and Hey, maybe show Joe this for a few charts. Yeah. I said, and then when I leave, I put a P you know, a day or two with, depending on the size of the project, I give him a proposal. It's just the little caveat to end on. Because like I said, that guy might just be focused on with his bow. And that's what he should be focused. Right? What his boss tells him, Speaker 1 00:18:16 Just the idea of, I think, providing the additional information and shifting the perspective, like you said, it's not a bait and switch you show, you're giving them, you're talking to them about the need. They have, you're offering a solution to that to perceive the need that they perceive, or even within the scope of the indoor lighting. If they're not thinking about, we already touched on this, the rebates, if they're not thinking about the labor, if they're not thinking about costs, that will are real costs. You know, you know, people are, sometimes they get a little, we get a little tunnel vision. It's kind of a mental accounting. We do. Somebody could have Googled the cost of light fixtures and they, they got a thousand and they do the math and they think that that's ballpark of what they're going to write. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:19:04 Right. This is my budget. Right. So Google right. Google is great. And it's also awful, right? Oh, I get, give me a quote for $40 on the front. Look, I can buy it from Amazon for 20, $25. And I'm like, all right, did you do your research on the fixture? Right. Does it have all the requirements? Is it UL listed? Is it that right? Like it very well could it, Right. What, right. And who do you go for for the warranty. Right, right, right, right, right, Speaker 1 00:19:40 Right. Speaker 2 00:19:41 Right. Exactly. So that company, ABC changed its name to after it's all the a hundred thousand of those units. And I'm not saying everything you buy. Speaker 1 00:19:53 No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Like, wait, but these are the factors that you have that you know about that they're not thinking. Speaker 2 00:20:01 Right. And I got to fight this when a guy says, Hey, look, here it is, this is what it costs. And I'm like, okay. You know, and then I listen, I'm there to educate them. Right. And then that lesson, you can win a one out of four jobs or one on a tangent, you know, depending on what industry and where you're at, you're doing good. Right. You're not going to win every job go. Right. Right, right. Right. If you did, you probably sell yourself a little too Speaker 1 00:20:28 Short, you've got some batting average. Yeah. You're right. Speaker 2 00:20:32 Right. So it's about educating the customer, but I'm okay with them doing their hallmark because right. Then I have some apples or apples and oranges to compare and say, Hey, listen said, wow, that's a really good deal. That was all that, all that I see. And if I know the person I'm working for and the manufacturer I'm working for, can't go to that bottom line. I tell them straight up, listen, I can't, I can't beat it. Right. Like why, why w I want to waste his time, his, or her time or my time. Right, right. Like, but I'll say that's a really good deal. Yeah. You know? Yeah. Speaker 1 00:21:11 If they know a compares, if, you know, compare as well on all the factors, not just price. Okay. Speaker 2 00:21:16 Correct. Yeah. You know? Right. You know, like we said, warranty, is it eligible, right? Because these fixtures or lamps have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for rebate. You just can't buy the cheapest ball bid because it's the same shape. Speaker 1 00:21:32 Got to think about the supply. If you order where you're ordering from, can they ship the number you need when you need them? Is it one time? Or is it if phased, right? Those are, those are all factors that have to do with construction that maybe a facility manager understands a CFO might not ever think of if a CFO's not done a project like this, why would they know to think about that kind of stuff? Speaker 2 00:21:56 Bye, bye. That's sitting in a warehouse right down the road somewhere. Right? So, so supply low, we can do a whole other podcast Speaker 1 00:22:06 Supply, especially the last couple of years. Speaker 2 00:22:09 Right? So the last, the last six months to a year has been devastating to supply and listen to low. I don't have the numbers. I'm not a super fat guy. I'm giving your ballpark numbers. The company I work for right now has anywhere on a daily basis between 60 and 140 foot containers floating in the port of LA. Speaker 1 00:22:33 Yeah. So I want you to say what that means, because I know I've read not about lighting fixtures, but I read that general, Speaker 2 00:22:40 But, but it's supply in general, right? It's just not lighting. Speaker 1 00:22:45 So what you're saying, what you're, I think what the situation is, the docs are full. Stuff's not getting shipped out and on the road fast enough. Right. So when you said floating, you literally meant their ships stacked up outside the port. They can't get, they can't unload. Speaker 2 00:23:04 Right. So from what I hear, and like I said, once a while, I'll get a news flash or I'll hear it from somebody I work with, you know, we, the company I worked for, we have two phone calls a day just updating us on supply inventory pricing. And we do have like a dedicated team just to track that inventory. Right? So like this morning they were excited because 20 of the containers are on dry land because they might've been floating out there for two weeks waiting to get into the port. They made it to dry land. And just because it's on dry Speaker 1 00:23:39 Land, it's on the way to you. It's getting Speaker 2 00:23:42 Shipped out a day later, but it's one step closer, right? Yeah. So like it said, this, can you imagine this 20, 30, 40 bolts out there with, I don't know how many, you've seen a container 500 containers, a thousand containers just floating there. So, and this is what I've heard though. Cause I don't want anybody fact checking me and Bob is, so think about these big boats. Do you think they planned on floating around for an extra 2, 3, 4 weeks. So I heard that. So they have X amount of food and water on that boat. Right. This supposed to dock reload for the trip back. Yeah. No food, water and whatever other containers they're gonna bring back to their perspective port. Right. From what I've heard, they have to helicopter food and water to them. Like, you know, they have to eat, you know? So yeah. So what do you think that does to the price of the container? Speaker 1 00:24:44 So Speaker 2 00:24:46 A ballpark figure, Lu, like I said, I don't speak with our county too, but I hear the ballpark figures up there from China to port a valet, a 40 foot container would normally cost in the $4,000 range today. It's 8, 12, 16, $20,000. Right. So I guess they make a priority list, but just because you paid 12 or 16,000, they don't wave the boat in. Right. So when it gets to dry land, I guess that's when you get prioritized. Jeez. But so to get a customer on the same page, like they don't want to hear about your supply issues should have this product. You're trying to sell me this product. Speaker 1 00:25:33 That's crazy. Speaker 2 00:25:34 Yeah. So forecasting forecasting is humongous right now. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:25:38 So let's shift a little bit here. There's some always interesting human dynamics and the things that we're talking about and you use the word negotiation. Sometimes you might even do a little mediation, right? You might be able to try to problem solve between a couple of parties, not even necessarily your company, which is supplying you and the client, maybe within the client organization, finance and facilities or safety. Right. There's some safety issues around lighting. Not that the lights are safe, but the location of the lighting and the lighting fixtures and the, and the, uh, the emergency lights. Right. You might even be doing some negotiating between people. Right. Speaker 2 00:26:13 Right. So, so when you, you think about a job though, right? So I go meet with the maintenance guy, the maintenance guy doesn't write the check. Right, right. So he's got a report, the, his bot, let's say we're all on the same page. She's interested in what I have to give them. I give them a proposal. He's got to give it to his boss. Right. Then there's another meeting where I'll sit down with the guy I first met with his boss. Yeah. And then the CFO, right? The being cat there is in the house. Right. I'm okay with being campus cause right. Like in part of the proposals or whatever we put together, we're going to tell you how much money you can save. So being counter or the accountant wants to know the return on investment. You're exactly right. The maintenance guy could care less about the return on investment. Speaker 1 00:27:06 And he'd like to know how much he's going to have to work on the damn fixtures. Right. What's the maintenance on them or what's the replacement schedule it. Right. Speaker 2 00:27:14 He's got to change bulbs, palace this, and he can't wait to get the lights. Then he would write me the check right there in that if he had the authority. Right. Right. So there's a process, right? What stick to the client side of the organization. Right? So you have the maintenance or the facility manager, maintenance guys, you owner of the company, the CFO. And then you have logistics to bring into, to this, to forget about the supply thing, but stay away. Which, okay, where are we going to store all this stuff? Right. You know, what are the hours of operation? Right. So we have to bring the contractor in their contractor and okay. Right. He's gotta be agreeable to all of this stuff. Right. Cause he has to walk a mile, right. To bring a light fixture into a building. Right. Like that's time is time is money love. Speaker 2 00:28:02 Right. Right. So you have to bring so many people in, right. The initial meeting is that's the easiest part. Right, right, right. Cause that's just figuring out getting, you know, me and that guy on the same page, what his boss asked him to do. Right. And then, like I said, it's bringing in all the other parties and getting everybody on the same page. Right, right. There's a tone. Right. You have to bring the utility company into it. Right. What's the timeline of this. Right. You have to make sure that rebate money is going to be available right. At this project six months out. Right. So there's so many entities that you have to bring in. And you know, when you get 6, 7, 8 people in the room to get everybody in the same to stay in their lane and everybody moving in the same direction is not always easy. Speaker 1 00:28:52 No, it's, it's, it's never easy. So, so when I, when I worked with you, we did have a bunch of people who knew these kinds of things. Yes. When, when you're working with some clients, I imagine they're not anticipating half of these things or some significant portion of right. So who's thinking about, or somebody might like the met the maintenance guy. Might've had the thought, and maybe I mentioned to you, I don't know where we're going to put all this stuff. We're I don't know how we're going to do the demo on this stuff. And like it's a school again, or an office building. You don't do demo during the day, you got to get it out at night or weekends and you got to clean up. Right. And Speaker 2 00:29:29 Right. Everything's gotta be perfect the next day so they can operate like nothing's going on. Speaker 1 00:29:33 So he or she might've thought of that, you know, you know that the janitorial staff is thinking about those kinds of things, because they've done it before and they've had to clean up after somebody else. Right. But that stuff doesn't always get elevated up the chain of command and conversations. So that, so that it's on someone else's mind, you would probably bringing things up in those boardroom conversations, you and your jeans and your, you know, and, and like you said, the CFO comes in or I am asking you what happens when you're raising these kinds of things for the first time and your eyes are wide. Like, wow, bill, I haven't thought about that. What are you, what do we do? Speaker 2 00:30:12 Right. Because from the initial meeting, and like I said, because I can relate to the guy that does the maintenance, right. That wasn't my blue collar background. Right. Details are important though. And it's important for me to make sure that that guy is going to be all right, right. Because on the chain of command is the guy that's, what's just say making the least amount of money and he's going to deal with the most amount of shit. Speaker 1 00:30:36 Yeah. True. True. That's true. That's right. Speaker 2 00:30:40 I want to address his concerns and I'm not afraid to bring it up in a meeting. I don't care who looks at me off. Speaker 1 00:30:46 Well, you have to have a no surprises policy. You don't want them to price later. Speaker 2 00:30:50 Right. I said, if you don't want to deal with it, now you are going to deal with it later. And it's, if we don't figure it out, now it's going to cost you more later. Right. Because everything's going to come through a screaming hole when you know, which pretends it's a school, you know, because schools have very sensitive areas right now. And the guys worked in a room and there's light fixtures and screws and Dustin garden plastic all over the next day. Right. And nobody told the custodian, this was going to happen. And he walks into a nightmare Speaker 1 00:31:22 And the teacher walks in, in the morning and finds all Speaker 2 00:31:25 That. Right. And then has the call custodial. Oh. And imagine this being in six, eight classrooms in one night, right? I mean, right. You have to address all of this stuff and the fine detail. And yes, the CFO of the company does not want to be or whatever, but it's just getting the point across to them. Like, Hey, listen, I'm trying to save you money. Speaker 1 00:31:49 That's it. That's a good point with the thought that flashed through my mind was total cost of ownership or total cost of operation. There's a total cost. There's not just the light fixture cost, total cost. And sometimes it's money that you're writing the check for us sometimes it's time. So you might put your janitorial staff on some things, but that means they were not going to do something else at that time, Speaker 2 00:32:14 Which is getting neglected. Speaker 1 00:32:16 Right? So there's a total cost of that operation. That is real, that if you had three or four different parties involved in the conversation from facilities to finance, to whatever, the logistics, whoever that, who, whoever that might've been. I know that, I know that we touched a little bit sometimes on some it networks and what we were working together. And you might still these days, and then you might have somebody from my team involved, Speaker 2 00:32:40 Right? Yes. And they speak another language that I don't even comprehend. Speaker 1 00:32:45 They've all got their own perspectives. They've all got their own missions. They've all got their own objectives. They've all got their own constraints. They've all got their own resources, whatever constraints, staff, time, money. Sometimes you might be raising questions. Now I know you, I know you have an answer to the question or you'll go figure it out and bring it back. Exactly. You could be raising questions they haven't thought of. And sometimes that's unsettling, uh, scary to somebody in a position, more of, more of an executive position. I don't know of an executive that ever was on top of a project that went on time and on schedule and on budget, on schedule and on budget. It just things that there's always delays and overruns, then they're worried, then they're worried. Well, what's going to happen. And you're saying, I'm trying to forecast that for you so we can nail it. Speaker 2 00:33:33 So that was a client that I had to negotiate with. You build a product, right? There's 50 components. We manufacturer X amount of those say 90%, the other 10, we outsource. And there was a defect on one of the parts yeah. Contract there. I had to go back now and change these lights out. That's time you had to rent the scissor lift, do this. It gives a price of what's called a $10,000. My company calls me up cause I help deal with that. Part of the issue I visit the contractor and my job is to get that $10,000 as low as I can. So, you know, I start doing math with the contractor. I speak the same languages as them. And I get it down to what's calling 5,000. He's not thrilled. The company I work for is not thrilled, but that's the part of a good negotiation, right? Two, one happy RDC, I guess. But not as unhappy as the beginning. At the end of the day, it was solved the issue. And that was him calling to thank me. And I have to see him in a little while because this one happened to be a long island because I had been in 32 states in the last seven months. I'm glad this one, Speaker 1 00:34:50 Right. You know the world I come out of with the conflict resolution studies. I don't know if you remember that. I Speaker 2 00:34:55 Remember just speaking on. Speaker 1 00:34:57 So what are the outcomes that you hope for from a conflict? If you can resolve it, certainly one category is the, whatever the issues are, financial issues or resources, time, you know, uh, there's some substantive issues that you were hoping to get agreement on. And you're gonna, let's say you can reach agreement on them, but like you're pointing out, there's always trade offs. You don't get everything. If one side gets everything at once, the other side gets nothing. Okay. Maybe it goes that way. But then the relationship is done. You're not going back to that. So sometimes you trade off some substantive outcomes in this case may be some dollars or an ongoing. If you negotiate with the relationship in mind, you're willing to trade on some other thing. Speaker 2 00:35:42 Right? So there's different. Trade-offs right. So I'm when I go to a locations, what school? Similar to the one I went to, I'm going to see an angry contractor, right? He is. So my first part is to diffuse him a little bit. Like I'm here to help. I know you're upset and almost anything I tell you is not going out. You're a contractor, this customer, we have to make happen. Whatever goes on behind the curtain. We have to figure it out because I don't want you to lose that customer because that customer could own 10 more buildings. Maybe this was portion of one building, right? I want future work out of them. And hopefully in the good faith that we're trying to make a resolution here, there is trade-offs and Speaker 1 00:36:28 Well, that's a very, I'm going to pause you there. That's a very important framing. How you frame that is really important. If he, or she would say, wasn't thinking that now they're going to go high. Yeah, your bill you're right. You're going to work with him. But what you did was put working with him in the context of working with the client again, Speaker 2 00:36:46 Right? Like, cause I don't want to see you lose a client over our product. Right. Would I, I would never want to see that. I don't want to lose a client over a small issue we had with the product. Right. I mean he had to make it right. But so what I'll do, that's how I started diffusing at the end of the day, we want to make your customer happy because that customer is our customer to even know you. And there's so many levels. So he's the contract, right? So we, as a manufacturer, we sell through distribution. So I had to deal with his distributor for us. Speaker 2 00:37:20 Right. And I, and I said to the distributor to get me and I that's the great thing about the company I worked for. It doesn't matter where this, they walked me on a flight to make sure that customer is being addressed. Right. And that's money out of our pockets. But we have to resolute the issue that we believe was RSU because low I've been to locations where I've flown to the location and I'm like, it was based on poor install quality. So I said, Hey, and I'll, I'll take the pictures and document everything needed. Like This is your issue, but let me try and help you. Right, right. I'm here. I'm here. You're not going to reimburse me for my plate. I don't want to lose this. Cause I don't want to lose you. I don't want to lose the district to fix this shit. So like, when I deal with costumer like this, it's, it's three costumers low it's it's my distributor. It's the contractor for the distributor. It's the end user for the contractor. Right. So there's three customers I can lose or gain in one shot. Speaker 1 00:38:26 Yeah. That's right. Yeah. And as a trade-off there's a, trade-off some of them for each of them, some trade offs, Speaker 2 00:38:33 Every level is a trade-off. Right. So let's start with the distributor. That's who we deal with the next door to that guy puts in. If I can salvage this, he's going to get a discount. Right. Or free shipping, whatever the case would be. So then the contractor, it's the same thing. I mean, he's got, he's getting the service of me showing up, but that doesn't make him happy until so, but he's going to want this guy. So the discount trickles down all the way. Right. So the next discount for the distributor might not necessarily be for this contract. Speaker 1 00:39:09 Right, right, right, right. Speaker 2 00:39:10 Or this end-user right. So they could be three multiple discounts that we're going to give along the way it could add up. But we want to keep the business. Yeah. And then not, when not a lot of companies do this, they don't just send somebody out to address the issue. And they'll either walk away from it and say, Hey, sorry, good luck. Or are they kind of check? And they don't even know what they're cutting the check for. But I mean, that's not good business in my mind. Right. So it's, it's about just getting to the end user. That's all go all that's all of our customers. Speaker 1 00:39:47 That's, that's the perspective to keep, let me ask you this. You mentioned, when you S when you showed up to meet the angry contractor, I'm here to help I speak your language. So you started out as an apprentice in electrical construction. So you learned the trade from the bottom up from the ground Speaker 2 00:40:04 Up from the ground doctor. Speaker 1 00:40:06 So when you talk into a electrician to say, you know, contractor today, you, you do speak that language. It was the language you learned from the very beginning, right? Like, how about the, how about the business language? Where did you learn that? Because you speak that language too. I know you do. Cause I've been in those meetings with you, Speaker 2 00:40:24 Right. So maybe it's a dialect of the business language. So, Speaker 1 00:40:33 Well, you also ran your own constructing con uh, construction company. Speaker 2 00:40:37 Yes. Yeah. And it was a, it was a small company and I had it dialed in. Right. Speaker 1 00:40:43 Then you understood that the thought processes, the decision Speaker 2 00:40:47 And, and the cost slow. Right, right. Like you walk on a job and you see one of your guys, uh, maybe disregarding some parts, like just throwing them on the side. And I'm like, well, I pay a lot of money for those, you know? And then you're gonna, you're gonna go to home Depot or the supply house next week. And I'm going to see a hundred knocks. Right. Well, maybe you can throw them on the floor and we wouldn't need to do that. So I'm looking from the CFO's perspective. I'm looking at how do I save them? I treat the money, like it's mine. Right. And I treat both people like that. Whether it's the end user or the company I work for, or the contractor, I'm trying to save everybody as much money in grief as possible. So as I'm sitting there, they appreciate the service. And some of them might, like I said, might not even care. This is what I need. Get me the best friends. Right. And, and then he calls to other companies to do the same thing. Well, it was price wins. And Speaker 1 00:41:51 Sometimes it goes that way. Speaker 2 00:41:53 Right. But there's a cost to service too. Right. So if I like to be 10% high, but the other company just sent them a flat proposal, didn't talk to them, didn't do anything. I'm probably going to beat that guy up. Right. Cause they know they have somebody to call. Right. And they, and somebody that's going to show up. So, but yeah, as far as sitting in a meeting with the CFOs, I understand where they're coming from also. And I'm looking to save them money too. But because, and I guess I just started out here with bill Stanton, blue collar guy walking in. And when I got into the led game, walking into a random delving, I thought needed lighting, explaining myself. And I got thrown out of buildings, which is, which is fine. Maybe they, of course it is sales. Right. Right. So, but me being a smaller role CEO, but you still have the broad scope. It's just different comments are in different spots. That's all. So numbers are numbers. That's the greatest thing about, I love numbers. And that's the greatest thing about numbers. They're true. Right? Like there's no side side in the real song. Right. Two questions equals four every time Speaker 1 00:43:08 I remember. Speaker 2 00:43:10 But it's just making sure that the CEO knows I'm looking out for them. Also, they may not like put on, you know, whether it's good medicine or bad, bad medicine here. It is. Right. Speaker 1 00:43:23 Mostly what it, what I saw come down to and I was working with you was that you thought of things, things that needed to be considered that perhaps were overlooked that had numbers attached to them. So numbers are numbers. They don't lie. But if you have an incomplete picture, right, you don't maybe know the total number. Speaker 2 00:43:42 Correct. So, so low with numbers, you have to have, right. You have to plug all the numbers into the equation. Right. So if there's six different numbers to plug in, whether it's of course the fixture, the contracting, uh, custodial crew to clean up Speaker 1 00:44:00 The Speaker 2 00:44:00 Rebate, like there's so many things tied into this. Right. And you have to think about, okay, if that person has to do that, it's going to cost the money. Cause they got to send a person there for two hours. Right? Right. So, or if the rebate changes from $10 to $8 right now, we're going to go back to the client and say, Hey, listen, it's $2. Last time, 2010. It's $2,000. $2,000. Don't sound like a lot, but it's a lot for some people, right? Normally you want somebody check for 2000 today. I'll send you my address after the CAS. But you can't complete a formula unless you have all the numbers low, all Speaker 1 00:44:38 The factors, right. Speaker 2 00:44:40 You do. The math is, does multiplication is division. Traction does addition, that's it. So if you're missing one number, it changes the whole, Speaker 1 00:44:50 I think the whole complex, I think too, what I saw happen when we work together, what I'm hearing you say is that when it comes down to it, everybody who makes a decision, whether it's the janitor or the facility guy in charge of the facility manager or the CFO, or it doesn't matter. We're always making trade-offs. And what I think you're saying is the more factors you put in front of them and can help them understand the numbers, the smarter trade-offs they can make. Speaker 2 00:45:22 Right. So, so like, let's just go to a standard warehouse show up in space. They lease the building, right? The lease is up in two years. They don't want to do a project. Right. That the return on investment is five years into somebody else's building and you're out in two. Right. So maybe they want a cheaper, but, but they need better lighting. Right. So then I'll come up with a cheaper avenue. Right. So, okay. Hey, we're going to do lamps instead of fixtures. Right. You'll get your money back quicker. It's not going to be as nice. But what I'll also try to do, like, I want to understand the customer's perspective. Do you plan on releasing it for after the two years, for another 10 to 20? Is that the main goal? Right? Because then we're not going to take into consideration, like, okay, do this to temporary your whole job. Speaker 2 00:46:18 And then if you resign the lease, it's, I'm going to pave the way for it, by what I'm doing. Right. Right. So there's so many, right. You can spend an extra 10%, but it's going to save you 40% after the two years. So I'd want to get the whole picture and the whole story. And listen, then I'm going to give you three layouts, right? High, medium, low. And it'll be the cost association. And if you want to do the best, this is what it's going to cost. But that's after you sign your 10 or 20 year lease, it's just Speaker 1 00:46:50 Amazing how many factors to consider a trade-off there's Speaker 2 00:46:53 So many pivot points. And that probably goes, Lou, that goes from a million products out there. Right. Not everything is, you know, Hey, listen, if I need a knob for the straw, I know I, yeah. I have to match that knob. Otherwise my wife's going to punch me in the head. Right. But you know, but there is so many pivot points though. So that's what it, it's getting your customer's story. And yeah, listen, sometimes customers have three minutes for you. Sometimes they want to spend three hours with you. And I can run on a little bit from New York and I've told Costa and said, listen, just shut me down. My skin is very thick. You are not going to hurt my feelings. Speaker 1 00:47:40 No, it is true about you. Is that your, your mind, your brain is gone. Yeah. Your mouth going. Cause you're thinking about you're analyzing constantly. You're always thinking of options Speaker 2 00:47:51 Right quick, because I got to make an option. That's going to fit him. And it it's actually something we can pull off. I mean, so the company I worked for, we had really great engineers in the U S and uh, sometimes I make promises to customers and I don't want to say promises. I said, let me talk to my engineers, but I'm 95% sure they can do it. Right. I think about it from a mechanical standpoint, not an engineering stamp and 99% of the time they pull off my crazy idea. Wait, I know when their phone rings and they see my name, they're not excited. They know bill is not bringing in fresh bagels and coffee from them. He's got some stupid task and he had some stupid idea. And where are you going to shut them down or run with them? We're going to figure it out. Right. But, but that's the great thing about the company I work for. Like, I'll tell the customer, listen, I don't know if I know physically he can be done. I don't know, from a tactical standpoint, right? Like if we custom design affects you and maybe we can't get a UL rating because I said, you're right. We could just do this. Right. But we can't get, we can't get the wattage below what we needed or above, you know, the lighting. Speaker 1 00:49:14 So there is engineering. Trade-offs, you know, what's amazing about this. As if we plotted a bubble graph, all the circles of the subjects are the areas, the domains, engineering, manufacturing, shipping, supply chain, logistics. Every one of them has got trade offs within them, within every space or domain there's trade-offs that could be made. Right. And you're trying to bring it all together. I mean, I suppose every sales person is trying to bring all of that together in a solution that makes two or three main parties happy. Right. Let me ask you one more question, then we'll do a time-check in the question of getting on the same page. I, I, I like to think about what happens if you can't and can you, if you can't go and see, Speaker 2 00:49:57 Can you get back? Can you get back to it for another day, Speaker 1 00:50:01 At times, you know, like in an organization, which has a lot of work I've done, if you can't get on the same page, what I would want to ask is, all right, there's differences between people or parts of your organization. Can you use those constructively and don't trash relationship together? Speaker 2 00:50:16 Right? Don't burn the bridge. When I had my own company for a large lighting project, a lot of money and rebates involved, but because it was such a large project for such a large corporation, it takes time, right? Because there's politics now that's politics. That's another stuff. So, so I started off with the contractor. Then I met with the maintenance to facility guy. So the contract and the, and the maintenance guy, they told me what they wanted. I did a full audit of their three locations, gave them a budget, put it together. Okay. This is how much the project is going to cost. What labor, this is, how much of a rebate you're going to get. This is the timeline of getting the fixtures, right? So not all the bottom line dollar. And this is what you're going to say per month. There were a turn on investment was somewhere in the 13 month because they were 24 7 our facility. Speaker 2 00:51:28 So when you're open that long, the savings is 24 7 with load that's 8,760 hours in a year. So I called it installing ATM machines, right? The money just keeps falling. Like to me, it was a no-brainer. Right. But because you had to go through a contract that the contract has to sell the maintenance guy, the maintenance guy has to sell his boss. That boss has the sound. Now the CEO is in another country or another part of the United States. So there's so much logistics on this. So they're like, bill, we're going to get back to you. I'm like, all right, they're going to go price me out and do whatever, but that's fine. So they call me a month later, Hey, bill, we're interested in doing this again. And I said, okay, great. I said, let me call the utility company and make sure the rebates are the same, you know? And they said, yeah, they're the same. But they will be changing soon and they will be coming down. So I went back to the costume and told them this, I think they don't know sales, pitching them. I said, listen, your rebate is going to go. I don't remember the numbers from a hundred thousand to 80,000. Yeah. And I think the number was even higher than that. Speaker 2 00:52:48 So by the time that all happens, the rebates change. Right. By the time they run it up and down the ladder. So they said, bill, we'll let you know, this might be a project for next year. He said, okay. I understand. So I don't know, five, six months go by. It's a new year. It's a new rebate program. I go back to them. I know the door is there. And I know people, I know they haven't done anything yet. Right. So I went back to them and I said, listen, the rebates up again. Here's my suggestion to you. Speaker 2 00:53:32 So when you get a rebate, it's not like you just utility companies cut you a check. When the jobs, all, there's a lot of paperwork, a lot of paper, a lot of painful paperwork. You know, it's like a small loan, especially a rebate of this size. And like I said, it was probably just like, it's going to up the top of my head, 200, $250,000 and just rebate money. So I said, this is what you should do. If you get a, you have to get a pre-inspection at the fellow. I said, I'm going to fill all the paperwork out for you. I'm going to do all that work for you. I'm selling myself. I said, no charge to you. No charge. Right. This is time and money. Right. I'm taking away from my guys. And I only had three or four guys working, but you know, they they're pretty self-sufficient. Speaker 2 00:54:23 So I fill on the paperwork I bring to you because I want to bring to you, Tony. And I said, lock in your rebate. It's good for 180 days, six months. So six months. So we go through this whole process and there, of course they say yes, because it's no cost to them. Yeah. Right. And you're going to secure as possibly 200 grand. And we can worry about this. Sure enough. We do that. We get the pre-inspection. We get the pre-approval. We go through all this. Okay. Valley. We'll keep you up to date. Okay. Yeah. Four months goes by, I'm like, make a phone call. I'm like, Hey guys, do your thing expires in a month and a half, two months, listen, you need a lot of fixtures. Yeah. This isn't just sitting in a warehouse. Right. Right. And so when you need something from, from China or another country, let's forget about pandemic and supply issues and all that. Speaker 2 00:55:26 I need a thousand connections to that, whatever it is, I call the manufacturer. Okay. 12 weekly lead time. Right. Because you have to get all the components, put all this together. Yeah. Build it, ship it, you know, and then reship it. So I said, guys, you realize if you ordered today, you wouldn't get it for three months. So you're already going to be expired unless one manufacturer has some in stock. So you can start the project, I'll call the utility, say, Hey was starting it because there's so many. That's how I, so I think it was like a year and a half to two years. But because I stayed persistent on it, load Speaker 1 00:56:15 The people who are involved in this decision-making uh, far more on their minds than this one thing. Speaker 2 00:56:20 Of course. I mean, this is a, a company, a fortune 100 company, right. Are they thinking about their half a million to a million dollar line? And that's what labor and everything. I mean, that's one dot on his desk. Right. Speaker 1 00:56:38 I'm not tracking it, but you, so what you were doing was just keeping it in front of them to keep them say track. Don't illustrate it. This don't, don't lose sight of this because right now that's your best chance. That's cool. That's pretty cool. Speaker 2 00:56:49 So at the end of it, after it was all signed and done sections audit, I said, you know, if you were to listen to me, then we get it. You would have had your money back. And another a hundred 150 grand than your father. I said, and I'm not saying, I said, I understand how the corporations and especially bigger corporations. Yes. And especially when you get involved with schools, right? Like you can't just go to a school, a public school in New York and say, Hey, you should do it. Right. The project you will be worked on together. That that was a couple years in the making. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:57:27 Yeah. Speaker 2 00:57:29 Yeah. Well, like, and that's why I don't hunt that down. But when they come to me, then, then I go for it. But it's, it's a listen, I'm not looking to hunt in the toughest areas. I liked, I liked some low hanging fruit. You know what I'm saying? Don't get me wrong. I'll go hunting with the big cats, but I'm not excited about it all the time. Speaker 1 00:57:49 I bill, I've enjoyed this conversation. It's been fun. And I've like always, when I talk to you, I learned a lot. Speaker 2 00:57:55 I'm sorry though. Speaker 1 00:57:59 Best to you have a good holiday season. And I look forward to talking to you soon, Speaker 2 00:58:03 Also bestie. Hello, happy holidays. And uh, can't wait for the next. Speaker 1 00:58:08 Thanks bill. All right. Bye bye. Thanks, bye. And that's how I see it. My friends, I want to thank bill for recording today's episode with me. You can find it at, I see what you mean dot <inaudible> dot com. Plus all the usual places, send questions and suggestions through your app. Subscribe and give me a five star rating unless you can't. In which case, tell me why and join me next week. When we take another look at how to get on the same page and stay there, unless we shouldn't.

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