Gary Tree – Advanced Building Corporation

We all need healthy food, clean water and fresh air.  We also need some shelter.
Gary Tree is the Vice-President of Advanced Building Corporation.  I brought Gary on the show because he is the rare gem in the construction world that understand the value of communication.  He shared his diverse experiences with us in this interview and brought some interesting things to light, in the construction world.
Advanced Building Corporation does mainly commercial construction projects in the Midwest.

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Authentic Business Adventures Podcast


You have found Authentic Business
Adventures, the business program that brings

you the struggle
stories and triumphant successes

of business owners across the land
coming to you remotely,

but also through the Sun Prairie Media Center
brought to you by Bank of Sun Prairie.

My name is James Kademan, entrepreneur,
author, speaker and helpful coach.

And today we have Gary Tree,

the vice president,
co-owner at the

Advanced Building Corporation, general
contractor here in Madison, Wisconsin.

So you guys do commercial?

We do predominantly
commercial, little bit of residential.

High end residential.
All right.

Depending upon a client.

So there’s two main reasons
that I want to get you in.

One is that from the networking group
that we’re a part of,

you have a lot of insight, just
broadly speaking, in a business sense.

So I feel like there’s a lot of insight.
Thank you.

And two, I guess probably three, actually.

Two is that you bought this business.

You were an employee, it sounds like.

And then you bought it
with a few other employees.


Two other fellow employees,
associates got together and purchased

the the business from the owner
who was looking to retire.

That’s cool.

And then thirdly is that you’re
in the commercial building phase,

which blows my mind from a bidding

because there’s the whole goal is to bid
a lot of times I imagine they’re blind.

I imagine sometimes you’re dealing

with government
and you’re dealing with millions

of dollars of the projects that I
just can’t wrap my head around.

Like how many?
I don’t know how deep you guys get,

how many boxes of screws are
going to be in the sky scraper?

Well, we bidding is about
40 percent of our work, OK.

The other portion that really has to do

with negotiated and return
customers. Our focus

is really on a client for life and to

generate a trusted relationship
where we’re seen as

a trusted party.
Just like you trust your dentist.

Oh, all right.

So that’s that’s where we want to go.

But at the same time,

we recognize that the business here
in Madison is so diverse,

the economy is so robust and there’s
so many different sectors.

So we found a way to participate
in a lot of them.

Yeah, both commercial and to some
extent residential manufacturing.

The a lot of government work,
some Madison Metropolitan School District

work, a lot of work for UW remodels
down downtown on the campus.


And for Dane County and some of their
parks and other facilities in town.

All right.
We do the dirty jobs.

We do the stuff that other
folks don’t want to do.

And after you’ve done a lot of them,

you begin to see a trend in terms
of your cost and efficiencies.

And we don’t count screws
and we’re putting together a bid.

OK, we we look at the overall job and go,

gee, this feels kind of like
the one that we did over here.

All right?
And we were pretty good with that.

So we price accordingly.

And we found that we’re competitive.

OK, we do a fair amount of work.

We’re fairly successful.

And then we take that same pricing model
and we apply it on our negotiated work.

OK. So we don’t get greedy.

Sure. We want to create value for people,
for clients and help them appreciate

what we can do in terms
of leading their projects.

OK, so let’s talk about that.

Let’s just run down the road here estimate
because it’s fascinating to me and I say

that’s fascinating because I come from
when I first started my business,

had a printer repair company
and just pricing for that service.

Which is right.

Half hour.
Forty five minutes at a job.

And parts are very easy because, you know,
it’s a fifty dollar, one hundred dollars,

five hundred dollars part,
whatever it is, it’s very simple.


Whatever algorithm you can apply to,
that’s super basic.

Then I look at fifty million dollars

building or I think of like the Viking
stadium was that was billions of years.

Just stupid amounts of money.

But I think.
How do you know.

Because a small fraction of that would be

plus or minus hundreds
of thousands of dollars.

Well there is, there’s always this,
this range of error and and there’s,

we don’t do a lot of of
multi multimillion dollar job.

Well, hundreds of thousands.

Yeah, hundreds of thousands.

And we we bid typically three to five

million dollar jobs with
without much trouble.

But we categorize every area

of the building in terms of a square
foot or some kind of quantities.

Sure. We can at least have a rough
idea of what the scope is.

And we’ve got some benchmark numbers,
some roundabout numbers that we would use

to say, gee, that we’ve been doing
that work for six bucks a foot.

So at X number of feet,

that that sounds kind of like
that area is going to be this much.

And then we’ll go out and solicit bids from.

From our kadry of subcontractors that we
work with,

we can’t do the work without them, show
how we treat them is really important.

And so it’s not just on bid day,

but it’s on the follow through
and the actual implementation

of the project and managing that and
communicating and then closing it out.

So we’ll reach out to them, get numbers.

But a lot of times

some of the subs we use are too busy
and don’t have time to provide, quote.


And we’ll use historical numbers and then
we’ll step back and go, gee,

that feels like we ought
to be able to do it for that.

No, it’s a little more complicated.

We should probably build a little
cushion in on that project.

And then you can’t do that on every trade,

because if you do, you end
up not being competitive.

So you you look at that and you make some

value decisions that’s
based on experience.


Just like any one of us that’s done
something for a long time,

after you’ve done it for the hundredth
time, you know pretty much how to do it.

And you’re sure you feel you get a feel

for sure, you get a sense of it and then
you adjust on the fly.

We have a bit of a advantage because we

have a fair amount of our own trades
that that we cover work and self perform.

So we’re able to control
a little bit of that.

But that there’s also more risk there,

because if you think that your guys can do
that in a crew of five,

can do it in 40 hours and it takes 60,
well, you’ve got 10 years or so,

but it does give you the flexibility to be

able to control and manage the schedule
of the job and ultimately the quality.

OK, nice.

And then how do you this is you mentioned

subs which the home when you start talking
about communication within construction,

that’s a whole new topic,
I guess, as far as that goes.

How do you I guess you’re talking to your

sub saying, hey, can you quote us
on this little section of the project?

But then I mentioned it takes time

for that bit to get totally put
together and then approved it.

By the time that all happens,

that sub specifically may or
may not have the availability.

There’s that.

Yes, you look at pipelines and things
like that, but you you can never

turn down work because you
think you may be too busy.

No answer.

So the goal is to to try to balance
that work, don’t overcommit,

but at the same time be able
to perform and have flexibility.

OK, but,
you know, when we work with our subs,

we’ve developed developed relationships
with them that are years strong.

I’ve got relationships with guys

that I have worked with in the 90s
here in the Carlson area.

And so it’s just like me calling you up,

James, and saying, hey, I got this project
would share interested in bidding it.

We’re looking for somebody that can
partner with us if it’s a negotiated job.

That right.
And it’s going to look like this.

The timing is kind of like this.

This is the characteristic of the client,
the work, the project.

Would you be interested in talking about

it and this seeing if
we can work together?

So so that’s on a negotiated side.

And then likewise

on the the the competitive bids side,
the public bidding area,

we work with the same subcontractors
over and over and over.

The the way that they get treated reflects
on how quickly they respond fair to you.

So if you are taking care of them
and making sure they understand

and communicating well and you’re not,
you’re just working together

and partnering, collaborating together
on the project as opposed to being the

the guy that yells to get everything done,
then I’m in construction, very common.

And I up a concrete truck.

I don’t think I ever
heard anybody not yell.

Oh yeah.

So so you’ve got screamers
and shouters and.


And the guys that jump up and down,
we tend not to do that.

We like to do a little
more controlled planning.

And then understanding schedules change

and you always got to be
able to work on the fly.

But it doesn’t do any good
to yell at our our folks.

We want to collaborate with them and help

them get on the job,
get it done as quickly as they can,

get off so they can make
as much money as possible.

They always want to be put
into a job in the concrete truck.

And they’re just people
yell and yell and yelling.

And I swear that they’d be asking like,
hey, would you please pass that wrench?

And they still find some way to solve like
is a World War Three going on here?

Yeah, it’s there is this this bravado
that exists within construction.

And then there there’s just personalities

that happens in the field all the time.

The goal is to to try to educate folks

and help them understand that there’s
a different way to do business.

And with the workforce that we have today,
old school doesn’t work.


School just does not work,
you’ve got to find a way to come

alongside, train, educate,
collaborate and work with folks to help

them do what do better
and better themselves.

And sometimes we we get caught up

in the sense of urgency and we
don’t think about that.

But that really has to be part of the the
the brand and the DNA of your organization

in order for your folks to to feel
good about what they’re sure.

That’s fair.

You allude to something here that I want
to touch on because it’s a big deal.

Employees, how do you find employees
are good employees?

Let’s say

that’s that’s a big challenge.

We constantly keep our
ears to the ground, folks.

We sure that we’ve got resumes coming in,
frequently run through our Web site.

We have

relationships with folks that provide
labor services and and other folks that

recruiters and things that we know

personally that are keeping their
their ears and eyes open for us.

We have specific needs, but we
and we like to fill those

those slots with people that are
going to be around for a long time.

We don’t have a lot of turnover.

We invest in Cusack’s and

give them the training they want.

But more than anything,

we try to create a workplace where
they can feel like they’re valued.

All right.

And and we look for creative
ways to do that.

So it’s going to share any of those?

Well, you know, in years past,
we’ve done events together.

We try to we meet
a couple of times a year.

We try to understand

what the individuals are wanting to get

out of their roles and then find some
appropriate training to help them grow.


But a lot of our guys are multitasked.

They’re they’re carpenters,

they’re fitters, or we’re able
to trim carpentry, rough carpentry.

All right.
Don’t mind grabbing a shovel.

If there has to be a little bit of dig

in to do something, we should
have some demolition to do.

And so finding people that like to do
that kind of work and helping them

improve their skill set around, that is
something we pay a lot of attention to.

All right.

That’s cool.
That’s very cool.

That seems rare in the construction.

Well, anyway, well, I’m given

six months ago that the unemployment rate
was so low it was hard to find good folks.


And we’ve

we have a medical program.

We’ve got a dental program.

We got a rock program.

A lot of our folks have vehicles.

So we we respect and acknowledge our

employees sure benefit to the company
and and try to take care of them.

That’s cool.
That’s very cool.

Now, I want to touch on you buying
the business with some other employees.

How did it happen?

How did the owner talk about negotiations
for how you figured out how to pay for it

or what to pay for it
and to share exact numbers?

Well, that was

this has been an interesting journey.

And there’s been a lot of different
people involved in it.

And for me, it was I’m doing something
that I really love to do, OK?

I feel like it’s something
I was meant to be be doing.

It’s kind of I like creating things out

of nothing satisfying, helping helping
customers achieve their objectives.


And being to them an expert
in a field where they can’t do sure.

Do that.

I used to do I used to build
medical facilities and.

Oh really?

And we would talk to the physicians
and they were great at what they did.

But they really have the tool set
to be able to create a facility.


That would help them to be
better at their job.

And that’s what that what I was
a part of being able to help them do.

So construction has always been a part of
my my experience since I got on college.


the problem is for me is that I got

an engineering background,
engineering training.

And I think to a certain extent
that’s that can be a restraint or

constraint when it comes
time to be an entrepreneur.

Oh, sure.

Because as you know, James, you look
at something and go, hey, I can do that.

What do I do with that training?

From an engineering perspective,

it’s all about factors of safety
and analytics numbers.


And so getting out of that comfort zone
and saying, hey, I need to need to think

a little bit differently about
this has been a challenge.

All right.

And for me, that I stepped down
into that area in twenty ten.

And start a little consulting firm myself.

Left to another firm,
I didn’t I didn’t like where it was

headed, so I had
an opportunity to do that.

And for two years, I was

a one man consulting firm doing
construction management consulting.

All right.
And I enjoyed it.

It was a lot of fun,
but it wasn’t sustainable.

All right.

And so that’s sustainable because
the volume of clients well,

where I was at geographically not here
contacts and trying to do 100 hundred

percent on the job and then try
to generate other opportunities

and do some marketing as a one
person company is very, very tough.


when we moved back to Madison in twenty
fourteen, I ended up

with Advanced Building Corporation
and the owner came to me and to a number

of other people in the firm and said,
hey, I’m thinking about retiring.

Would you like to purchase a company.
All right.

This was after you were there a couple
of years, three months, three.

So it was and basically three of us
stepped up and said, yeah, we’d like to.

And then we we

then the reason we did that was because we
we had complementary skill sets that

each of us had different skills
we brought to the table.

And so the the synergy that there

developed looked like it
would be a good thing.

Two of us had businesses in the past and
we’re looking to be able to do that again.

And and understanding that we’d much

rather take the risk and work for ourself
than to work for another entity.

And whoever else would buy it, right?


So so we were able to, over
the course of six months, negotiate a

price and put the paperwork
into place to to take over.

All right.
And and we did.

And and so we have a look back
and it’s been a good experience.

The economy was strong.

And and so that helped us.

And so we’re we’re we’re into were we just
finished our third year of ownership.

So we’re fourth year.
All right.

We brought on another partner a year ago

that added another strength and synergy
in another one of our sectors.


One of our guys retired that that used
to provide support in that area.

So it’s been a strategic plan.

OK, strategic growth and looking at,
well, OK, so where do we want to go?

How are we going to brand ourselves?

The company’s been around since ninety
six, so it’s been around a long while.

But it’s not been heavily marketed.

OK, and for many years it’s flown under
the radar screen to do great work.

I have a lot of great clients

but it just wasn’t very well known
the brand was really established.

So we’re trying to take that and I think
we are taking it to the next level.


And making some inroads through social
media sites and and those kinds of things.

Being a sweet podcast.
Yeah, yeah.

Who who knew that this
would be part of the right.

It doesn’t hurt.
It doesn’t hurt.

So you don’t want to came to you and said,
hey, I want to get out and I’m throwing it

at you first essentially
or all of the employees.

Well, he basically had a few

folks in mind that he knew had the
potential to be able to run the company.


Not everybody has that capability
or that interest.

And so when I interviewed with him

the very first question he asked me for,
I came to work for him was how do you feel

about the owner owning
the company or buying a company?

All right.

And my answer was,
I’d always rather work for myself.

And somebody else.

All right.

So that was in the back of his mind.

He was looking to retire.

And so that time.

Yeah, this is a good
way for him to do that.

So you, the business partners that you

ended up with, you worked
with for three months, three months.

OK, yeah.

So I guess their business partnerships
are weird thing, good and bad.

So one, I assume that you like
them when you worked with.

Well, you know, you get
a sense of of people’s

or their values and and you get
a sense of their character.

It doesn’t take long to figure folks out,

especially if you’re
working alongside them.

And so I’d work closely with
Pat Balwyn and Craig Kilshaw.


And knew they were
excellent guys, you know.

And so but we also knew that we were going

into an area that was unknown
and we’ll figure it out as we go.


And so we committed to each other that
none of us were going to do it alone.

We could.
Do it without each other, sure,

that that was our business
agreement for two and a half years.

All right.
And we didn’t didn’t even have

a partnership agreement
until a few years down the road.

I’m not going to complain about
that because I had the same issue.

We didn’t we didn’t need it.

And it’s still we got a business agreement

now, but it’s still
a trusted relationship.

And it’s the same kind of relationship
internally within our leadership group as

we have externally with the owners
and clients that we work with.

All right.
It’s all based on trust.

The the idea of having to

codify everything and how you do it,
it doesn’t get any work done.

So you you look you work based on trust.

And for me,
my my life and my my wife and I have lived

by a mantra that it’s always the right
thing to do the right thing fair.

And that is that has been
our underwriting principle.

It always costs something.

And the question is,
are you willing to pay the cost?

You know, it’s interesting you say
that I just watched the movie.

I think it was called me five and it’s
was just a typical spy movie, whatever.

But they had something in there said you
can either do good or you can do well.

And I’m like, oh,

is this one of those lines in a movie?

They use that a few times.

That just had you just you’re like, oh,
what a clever and correct statement.

So yeah, it’s interesting.

I completely understand where
you’re coming from there.

So was it tough to find financing to buy

the business or did so this was
this was the owner financed

It was like you’re buying a land contract.

OK, basically.

And so

it was really easy.

We we established a price and some

of the criteria early on and then
the financial piece fell into place.


And then, you know, there were certain
commitments we had to make sure.

And and then after we got through with our
first year, we approached our bank

and said, hey, would you be interested
in underwriting this

now that we’ve demonstrated that,
sure, we know what we’re doing.

And they said, sure, all right.

So we were able to work through
that process pretty seamlessly.

So owner, owner, previous owner
at that time got a lump sum.

I got a lump sum.
And that was part of the agreement that we

had that at any given point in time
we’d be able to buy that contract.

So that works out well because then

the business is essentially paying
for you to own the business.


Which is the goal.
Which is the goal.

I mean, that’s the goal of any business.

I mean, there’s you’ve got businesses
where you start up and then you’ve got

them operating and then you’ve got
them when you’re retiring from them.


So start ups, you want to
set it up so that you’ve got enough

revenue to be able to make the payments,
cover the costs, salaries and things

so that you can get to the point
where you paid off your loan.

And then but at the same time,

you also want to be investing
in the business and then the people.

And so it’s a little it’s a little tricky,

but you just have to keep
your thumb on the pulse.

That’s the name of the game.
No, no, I like it.

So you mentioned that
Advanced Building Corporation wasn’t

really marketed or hasn’t
been marketed much.

So how do you get people to know you or
even recognize your name,

the people that I guess smatter,
the people that you’re supplying?

BINSTED Well, there’s you know,
you’re working with a group of folks that

know who you are.

And and some of our clients
have been repeat clients again.

And that’s that’s helped.

Some of the folks that have worked
in sales for us have longstanding

relationships and networks
within the community.

So when businesses
are thinking about growth,

they’d reach out and say, hey,
Tom, I’m thinking about a building.

And I talk to you guys about it.

And so a lot of the work that we we
the 40 to 60 percent of the work that’s

negotiated that we do comes
to a relationship building.

All right.

And you have to work at that.

That’s a continual thing.

You never know when there’s going
to be a pay off on that area.

And so the idea is to just continue

to strengthen your network and reach out,
let people know who you are, build up your

the public’s awareness of you or the
business, the business awareness of you.

Help them understand what you do and how

you do it and why you’d
be a better choice.

So that to say that you guys haven’t

really done any of the
traditional radio TV.

Oh, yeah.
We’ve had we’ve had ads on on ESPN.

We’ve had well you had on Clear Channel,

we had a Web site about six
years ago with the first website

and so.
Over the last three years,

three and a half years, we have revised
our website, revamped it twice now.

Sure, we are marketing
through social media.

We got Facebook page.
All right.

And so we are trying
to there’s stuff going on.

There’s lots of stuff going on now.

And for a number of years,

we were just trying to generate
a better awareness of who we are

by radio spots and and just some real,
real short clips.

Now, we’ve kind of gone to the next level

where we’re trying to engage with folks
through social media in ways that

they’re searching out for us and looking
to see what we do and how we do it.


So I think we’ve we’ve come a long way.

So I just want to backtrack a little bit.

Did you say you guys got your
first website six years ago?

I think that’s about when it was.

So before then.
Ninety six on up until six years ago.

No website.

I don’t think so.
Yeah I know, I know that when I came on

four years ago

there are 16 there.

The website had been live for maybe

a couple of years and Pat
had had had put together

some content for it and reached
out and had had it generated.

And then we when we took over the new
ownership, we wanted to upgrade that.

And so we we spent the better part

of a year getting that together
live with that.

All right.

Now, as we’ve changed locations
and brought on another partner and our

market has continued to grow a little bit,
we wanted to reach out to the community

through additional social media,
all integrated with the website for sure.

And all that goes on there.
All right.

And so we just launched our our new

website, I think a month,
maybe five weeks ago.


That is I’m just like it’s crazy to think.

1996, the website or the web was
just taking off.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

It’s it’s I’m amazed at the amount

of traffic that it gets generated
through the social media is just.

I’m just amazed.

Social media is just a weird

it’s an interesting dynamic, I guess,

because you get a lot of people that spend
an insane amount of time on there.

They have a lot of people that just don’t.

And it’s a complicated marketing process.

It’s it’s not a straightforward
as we as we’re learning,

there’s a lot of different
methods and ways to to share.

I feel like it should be easier

and I’m I it should be.

But I mean, we you and I go and we zoom or

we we search on something
and then we get it.

Then the next day we open up our browser
and we’re seeing ads on those very same

similar projects or products and going,
well, how did that happen?

And and so that same kind of logic,

as you know, James, is taken
to the the rest of the social media.

Oh, absolutely.
And in building construction and.

I just mean, as a person placing ads,

I feel like they could make it easier,
like you being able to plug in.

This is going after right after,
I don’t know.

Forty two year old woman that makes
at least seventy five thousand dollars.

I wanted to live in this area,
go like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Yeah, it’s I don’t know
a lot about that process.

I do know that now that is we’ve
we’ve debriefed with our website designers

and and whatnot,
that we’re seeing the demographics and we

had tried to target and where
the demographics fell for sure.

And making adjustments and.
Well, how do you do that?

Well, we got a way to do that, you know,
so there are some trade secrets there.

I think.

they get played.
They charge you for the smoke.

Oh, yeah.
Yeah, exactly.

And but at the end of the day, it’s like,

OK, so how many how many calls did
we get right into the business.


And and so that’s what we’re measuring

and we’re beginning to see traction
which then is where that’s OK.

Which is.
This is amazing.

The name of the game.


We don’t care about clicks.
We care about buys.


So it takes time.

None of that happens overnight.

No and certainly not.

No it’s interesting.

So you’re the partnership
so far are going well you.

It’s Yeah.

OK, I, I,
I’ve never been in a partnership before so

I don’t have anything to share
to measure it against but I think it’s.

Well it’s a relationship.


So in the end we’ve all had good
we’ve all had less than good.

You got to work at I’m sure.
I mean great.

You just they just don’t

they just don’t get
created without an effort.

Mm hmm.
So you before you were a co-owner,

I guess you were the sales
manager, is that right?

No, I was a project manager,
but I did marketing for them.

OK, so I came on as kind of a

business development guy.

OK, so you must have had
contacts before you came on.

To some extent, but not a lot, OK?

We lived in this community.

We moved here in ninety one, OK.

And then we were here till 2004 and I was

involved in the construction
business of general contracting and.

And then we moved to Atlanta and wow.

For OK.
And then we moved back

to Madison and 14.

So in those 10 years, Madison
exploded between four and 14.

So a lot of the context that I had,

plus we had the downturn and eight,
nine, one construction show folded.

So I lost a lot of contacts.

Of course,

the landscape changed, but I had a few.

So I run into those those
folks occasionally.

Every once in a while.

Madison seems like a big small town.

Yeah, it’s yeah.

It’s got the best of both worlds.

And so the question is,
what’s the best way to re

reinvest in your relationships
and to generate those contacts.

And one of the things I did a joint
downtown Rotary to get to know people, OK,

and then a number
of Chamber of Commerce’s.

Sure, we’re out meeting and talking

to people and try to find a way
to connect and get back to the community.

So you can

find out who those contacts are.

That’s fair.

Tell me about the Rodrique
that’s always been.

I’ve always been intrigued by that group.

Well, the Rotary International
was was founded in Chicago.

Oh, really?
Around nineteen twelve.

And it’s an organization
that’s international.

It is

the it’s really about
service above self, OK.

It’s a it’s a selfless organization

and the overall intent is to find a way
to help improve our communities

and in whatever areas and not just
locally, but internationally as well.

So there are a multitude of of different

things that are going on with
communication and mentoring

and partnership and and trying
to give back to the community.

In ways that are effective and important.

And so this particular Rotary Club

in Madison has before covid had
about five hundred members.

Did it really.

It’s one of the 10th largest
Rotary Clubs in the world.


And it’s filled with a lot of interesting

and important people and a lot of people
that are just coming in like myself

that that don’t have a lot
of history in town, if you will.

But what’s what I found unique about it is

it’s just, again, people just wanting
to help and giving of themselves.

And not just their money and their time,

but in a lot of times, they were
they served in their profession.

And we we also get a lot
of speakers every week.

We’d have lunch and a speaker would come
in and for twenty five, thirty,

thirty five minutes give a talk
and a Q&A time after that.

And it would be on topics that you

probably wouldn’t have gone to listen
to if they were offered someplace else.

But because you’re kind of a captive

audience, they come in and they share
and you get to the end of that and go.

That was some of the most amazing
stuff that I’ve ever heard.


it starts to change the way you think.

And it all it all works together over time

and again, the the value there is the
investment in the time share over time.

I’ve been a part of that group for two

and a half years and I feel like
I’m just a babe, if you will.

In the program.

But I’ve got some good friends there, OK,

that have been involved
for a long, long time.

And I’ve seen some of the things

that they’ve done and it’s it’s
pretty cool stuff that is cool.

I presented it to Rotary

oh, a year and a half ago,
something like that.

Back when you could present in person.

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

That’s we don’t know what the Rotary is
going to look like going forward now.

None if anybody does,
nobody knows anything.


some of the topics and some of the
speakers have been just phenomenal.

I’ll never forget Coach Healey.

She’s the I don’t know if you know her.

She’s the volley or
the softball coach for UW.

Here in Madison.



leads and guides these young ladies

to to make good decisions on the ball
field and helps them to achieve greatness.

Yeah, and

she was so impressive.

I’ll never forget some of the things

that she shared, some of the books
that she she encouraged us to read

from a business constant

because as a business,
I often think about businesses and where

the mentors to help help people,
you know, get better or to even step out.

And I had no mentor.

When I decided to open up my consulting
firm, it was like, well,

I need to find a way to make
some income and I’m happy here.

So what can I do?

And so I was on my own.

But Coach Healey would

she’d bring these girls in from different
high schools and bring them on the team.

And then they created an environment there
where they mentored the kids to to fail.

Oh, so think about it.

You know, you’re your batting average.

You’ve got a great batting average.

If you can hit three on a ten.

So what’s your response to the students
when they swing and miss and they’re

they’re seven out of 10 times, 70 percent
of the time they’re feeling right.

How are you encouraging them?

How are you helping them to succeed so

that and so they would
practice this kind of stuff?

They would practice feeling
and practice encouraging.

And I’m probably paraphrasing it wrong,

but but the whole concept there was one
when we encouraged them to just go all in.


And then when they fail,
we get we help them up to goal and again.

All right.
And from a I thought, well, what a what.

Why would you not want
to send your child there?

I mean, what a great life lesson.

And then how do we take that and
parlay it over into business.


All right.

And so is those are the kinds of things we
get exposed to or especially downtown or.

All right.
Very cool.

As clever as clever.

How did you choose or
decide on Rotary versus

insert other group here?

I looked at who they were.

I looked at a number of different

organizations and I didn’t want to just
join a group that was all about itself.


And Rotary’s mission,
a service above self.

All right.
Was really what spoke to me.


they they they’re just a

they have a program and they are
all about, you know, this is not for me.

This is this is for others.

It’s about giving back to the community.

And then you obviously, as you do that,

you create some relationships
with folks there.

And that opens up an opportunity
maybe for some business.

But if you go there with the idea that I’m

going to this is a business venture,
I’m going to it’s not so much.

It’s like whenever you do a project

that you’ve probably worked alongside
other when you’ve built something,

help somebody build a house,
a garage or whatever.

Strong relationships are forged
during the process of doing that.

Yes, college is a good example.

Strong relationships are forged in college

because you’re all in this
crucible together.

And so and so you take notes.

And so similar things happen when
you’re involved in every project.

Yeah, it’s fair.

It’s interesting because I’m part of this
group that’s still looking to define

itself, what it’s for,
what it does, all that jazz.

And there’s a portion of the board

that says we’re networking group because
we want to attract business owners

and business people and business
people want networking groups.

And the other portion, myself included,

is more where education or where
we’re for advancing the community.

Because my argument was networking
is going to happen naturally.

Exactly whether your name is
the networking group or not.

And it’s it’s more likely to happen if

you’re meeting, not for the purposes
of networking, correct?


Because networking in and of itself
can feel pretty shallow.

Oh, absolutely.

On the verge of self serving.

But when you’re when you’re working along
somebody on a project and you go,

oh golly, I didn’t I didn’t know
that that was one of your values.

I didn’t know that you felt that way.
I did that.

That’s and now all of a sudden, you you’ve
created a bond at a deeper level, right.

Then just like, well,
what lead can you throw me this week?

Yeah, he’s always joked with the people.

I used to go to networking
events all the time.


And it seemed like I’m just a salesperson
going to try to sell other salespeople,

something that everybody’s
interested in selling.

Nobody’s interested in buying.

Well, the best the best,

the best thing that I don’t
know how to phrase is.

So regarding networking,

one of the questions that was asked one
time of me was kind of in a an aha moment.

So you’re going to this networking event
and you’re going there to network.

So how many of you that are going there
are going there to buy something?

All right.

So so if you’re going there, maybe a beer.

If you’re going there with the idea that
you’re going to sell somebody something.

You’re going for the wrong reason.

Yeah, right.
And so but that’s kind of what it always

develops down to.

I need to go to this network
so I can make a contact.

Well, in reality, you want to go someplace
where you can develop a relationship.

And those I found those to be easier to do

around a project because you
have a shared value already.


And then you could just drill
down a little bit deeper.

So, I mean, this is something else
that you’re talking about, too.

You’re not just trying
to sell necessarily.

You’re talking about trying to sell it all

you’re doing you’re
doing you’re doing good.

Like the weather or sports or whatever.

Top of mind in the news if
you want to talk about it.

It’s something to converse about and you

can figure out where
people are coming from.


To decide if you want to do business with
them, whichever direction that’s going.


Whether you want to buy
from them or something.

All right.
That’s interesting.

So you’ve been a business owner
essentially for a few years now.

Plus, I guess on top of the consulting

work that you’ve done,
what have you learned that you didn’t

necessarily know when you
first started a business?

Oh, golly, where do you start?
Right at the top.

Yeah, you know, there’s.

I guess what I what I’ve learned is you’ve

got to find a way to put fun into the work
you have to bear.

You have to find a way
to make it enjoyable.


it’s it’s better if you have if
you can spread the load around.

As opposed to being a one man band.

And so I think it makes it a lot easier
to have partners to if there’s similar

trust levels and synergies there
that can help you that way.

You don’t feel overwhelmed.

By all that has to be done.

I know that when I was had my own

business, I felt overwhelmed a lot because
it was everything was riding on me.


And I didn’t know
how are we going to get beyond next year.

So having others that are that are
in the same crucible, if you will,

with you in that business helps
you to encourage each other.

And so I think that’s probably the biggest

takeaway is to try to have a try to make
sure that your partners are of the same

constitution, is sure
you have similar goals.

I mentioned there’s some
accountability as well.

Then, right when you’re on your own,
it’s kind of you motivating yourself.

Yeah, there’s I mean I mean, you can

you could take that to a lot
of different levels.


we look at the overall company.

It’s there’s not a lot of.

Well, gee, you were going
a little extra hour here.

Oh, no, we don’t give any
kind of attention that way.

This is more about, you know,
we’re all here to be successful.

And the and the leadership
understands that.

And we communicate around that without
getting into the minutiae.

Yeah, I guess maybe that came out wrong.

I didn’t mean to say, you know, you took
a long lunch or something like that.

I just mean that, you know,

that you could slack in some way, but then
you’re letting everybody else down.


Well, it’s it’s so it’s kind of a higher

level than just yourself,
is what it comes down to.

I guess that’s what I find anyways.

And the partnerships that I’ve been in

is for the most part,
I don’t know necessarily my business

partners felt the same way,
at least past one.

But that’s just a name that’s
just like a relationship.

Well, yeah, and that’s exactly what it is.

And I admire guys like you that have gone
through different business partnerships,

different businesses, because you’ve
got a perspective that is unique.


And and you see it
from a little bit bigger.

Well, they’re expensive lessons,
just like all of them.


Education’s expensive.

Whether it’s in a class, whether you’re
sitting behind a chalkboard or not.

Yeah, that’s the name of the game.

So if someone was considering to get

into a business on their own,
regardless of what it was,

what are some of the bits of advice
that you would consider giving them?

I’d say find somebody that you trust
that you can talk to, OK,

that can can help you be sure,
but make sure it’s not somebody that’s

ultra conservative because there’s this
intrapreneurship that you need to have.

But I really want to you really want to do
something that you’re passionate about.

You want to align your passion
and your work environment as closely as

you can, not everything that you do,
not everything that I do.

Am I all that passionate about
what I am passionate about is creating

a process and a product
that will help people obtain something

that they couldn’t do themselves and to do
it in a way that they felt good about.


That you don’t need any
surprises in construction?

No, there’s probably enough
whether you want it.

And so if you can
be the bus driver and drive the bus while

all your clients are the the riders,
then then you should do that and do it.

But my advice to new folks was, hey,

you can you can put you can accomplish
anything you put your mind to,

but make sure that you’re passionate about
it and then make sure that you’ve got

the necessary expertise to help you
move in that direction.

OK, and

that’s that’s what I would would say.

We all have blindsight, you know, so
we just got to figure out what those are

and then try to find somebody
that can help us with it.

That’s fair.

I like it.
I like it.

Were you able to find a mentor?

No, no.

This is this is something you learn.

This is something I learned.

And I think that’s one of the things
for me, James, that’s been missing

and I think it’s missing in our industry.

Are these mentors that will
are available to come alongside folks.

And I admire folks that have had

relationships with businessmen
that have taken the time to say to help

them get to a level or to guide
them in their process.


I don’t know.

It’s everybody seems to be generating
and working towards their own deal.

It doesn’t seem to be

there seems to be a void where

there might be some some mentors
that could come alongside.

I first, as I was when I started out going

to college,
got into the engineering program,

I had really no business
mentor at that point.

And as a result of that,

I didn’t get involved with any business
classes or accounting classes.

So I came out of school with his
engineering degree and it was around it.

All right.

so as I’m talking to young people that are

going to college, my grandson’s going
to the same college that I went to.

Yeah, and he’s in computer tech.

And it’s like, yeah, you got
to get some accounting programs.

You got to get some business.

You’ve got to know how to manage money.

You’ve got to learn that.

And now is the best time to do

that because it’s going
to get expensive later.


I always tell my business planning class
if you’re bad at managing money now,

when you start, your business
is just going to be amplified.

Oh yeah.
The decimal point just gets moved

regardless of which direction
the money’s going.

So so as I got into

the business and and before we actually

bought into this, I had some
some trusted friends.


That I have been in business a long
time that I reached out to for advice.

And the relationships were there and

I was able to get some good
advice to help guide the process.

Very cool.
So very cool.

So you have to you know,
at some point you got to say, hey,

no fear, we’re just you’ve got
to be fearless and just go for it.

That’s the name of the game.

With entrepreneurship, risk is essential.

Without it, it’s just a job.


With all the stability
that that may or may not entail.

And I that’s one of the things I
love about the business builders.

A network that we’re both involved with is

the the, the entrepreneurs
that are around the table.

That are saying yeah it was just a game,

you know, and here are the rules
and it’s like, you know, OK, I’m

getting to that level so that you can say
and recognize it in that internalizing it

and taking those things
personally and emotionally.

That, that to me is being an entrepreneur.
And then yeah.

Then you’re able to say, OK,

this is a great deal, but we’re going
to have to do X, Y and Z to get there.


I always I always tell
people play the game right.


my dad told me when I first got

my first speeding ticket,
he’s like, what did you learn?

And I knew that he wanted
me to say, not the speed.

I told him, don’t get caught.

And he’s like,

right now, I could just tell,
like, there’s a certain.

That you can you just learn
there’s rules for the game, right?

Right, so we’re all just
playing the game, right?

Sometimes a very complex game.

Yes, but.

But a tax code?


And so it is a game.

And if you understand the rules

to the game
and you’ve got the skills to play

the game, I think you can do
well and desire and the passion.


Yeah, because it’s not
going to come to you.

You know, you’ve got to go there.

And it may take some people fall

into that early in their life and in their
careers and and they’re able to

take that on and reap
the rewards of others.

It takes a long time for them to find out
where their

gifts are at and to find out how to align
their passions with their gifts.

And then to have the courage to step out

of their comfort zone and a little later
point in their life to do that as huge.

This huge.

And then and to my point is, OK,

so were the folks that can help
encourage those to be able to overcome.

And actually do that and achieve that.


And there, you know, we have to be
on our lookout all around us as people.

We’ve got people in our
in our network of influence

that are at those positions where they’re
thinking about doing something then.

And the question I ask myself is, well,
how am I helping them to get to their next

question without telling
them you need to do this?

That’s just sort of not what’s in here.

You have to do this.
Get out of the.

I don’t have a job or a boss.

That’s the whole reason I
want to be told what to do.

Yeah, that’s funny.

But this experience.

Like you could do the other way, but
you just saved them some money in time.


It doesn’t hurt,
but they have to be willing to you know,

you’ve got to find out where they’re at
and then help them to take the next step.

As a to tell them what to do.


And not everybody, even though you can get

to that point, not everybody is
going to take that next step.

No, some just dig their heels and say,

you know what,
I’m comfortable right where I am.

You know, it’s interesting you say that.

And I’ll say that’s just a side
tangent here with calls on call.


I thought calls on call is going
to be fantastically huge business.

No problem, because every
small business has this issue.

Right, not answering their phones.

And then we we just give you
a quick story here in arborists.

Hire us.

It was him and a buddy that just climbing
trees, cutting them down, whatever.

And we quadrupled his
business in four months.

Quadrupled it.

And he comes to us and he’s like,
James, I’ve got to quit.

I’m like, what are you talking about?
You got to quit.

It’s like I can hire for arborists, right?
Not today.

And I’d have work for them
for the next month and a half.

And my thought was, where’s the problem?

And he’s like, I don’t want
to manage too much stress.

I want to manage.
I just want to climb trees.

And I’m like, what did
you start a business for?

You could climb trees and get insurance

and guaranteed pay and, you know, biweekly
paychecks, vacation, all that jazz.

Now you have all the risk of a business
with no reward, no direct reward.


So I found that a lot of business owners
just have what I would consider to be

an ego in their business because he’s like
when people call, they want me to show up.

Not like, yeah, no,
they want to treat taken care of.

They don’t care who takes care of it.

But yeah, that ego about them and
he’s good at what he does.

So all the power to him.

But I found that there are arguably
the majority of entrepreneurs that are

in that baby stage right where it’s a van
and a hammer, a van and a saw, whatever.

They’re happy there.

So I’m like, who am I to say
that they shouldn’t do that?

And the flip side, I’m like,
what’s the point?

It’s grow or die.

Yeah, it’s.

But then if they don’t want to take your
advice, you just be their friend, you know.


And there will be somebody
that will take it.

And I think maybe teachers get
excited about this because they,

they guide the students early
on and through high school and then they

encourage them to take these kinds
of risks and do these things.

And then five years later, they see
the the kids have actually done that.


And it goes back and it’s a huge
thing for them to continue to do that.

And like with us, we don’t have that much

influence or that many people
that we influence on a daily basis.

But they’re out there.

And it’s exciting to me to see people take
that that next step and to achieve those

goals, every interaction just do what
you can, right. It’s interesting.

Gary, I appreciate you being on the show.
Time flies, doesn’t it?

Yeah, this is amazing.
It goes crazy fast.

This has been Authentic Business

the business program that brings you
the struggle

stories and triumphs and successes
for business owners across the land.

I meant to ask you one more question.
I’m going to do it fast.

You mentioned some books at the softball.

coach suggested you, I get the impression

that you’re a reader, I’m I haven’t
spent as much time reading as I like to.

I really do enjoy it.

And I don’t have the titles of those

books, but I’m sure I’ll get them
to you so you can share them.

Do you have a favorite that you read?

One of my favorites that I’ve read
is the The Ant and the Elephant.

The Ant and the Elephant.

OK, and it’s a it’s a book about
the capacity that we have in our intellect

and in how we can put
to put that to work for us.

And the the ant is our consciousness

and the elephant is our
subconsciousness. Really.

And so the question is,

how do you take your consciousness
and help it to drive your subconscious

mind and what influence
and effect does it have?

And there’s scientific evidence out there
that demonstrates that there is an effect.

The question that I have personally is

the motivation behind that and how
should motivate that?

And what I this has been going on for

oh golly, I was first exposed to this
and the Pepper Construction Company

in nineteen must have been 1984.

Oh wow.
It’s been a while.

And, but, and the Olympic Olympic

downhillers used the technique
to strengthen their performance.


So it’s pretty fascinating stuff.
It’s pretty cool.

I’ll get you the title of the book.
All right.

I appreciate that.
That’s awesome.

Well, we’ve been coming to you
from the empty offices of Calls on Call as

our associates, our employees are all
working from home, I’m told comfortably.

But I know we just pay
for an empty office here.

What are you going to do?
Oh, we are coming to you remotely ish

by the Sun Prairie community studios
underwritten by Bank of Sun Prairie.

If you’re listening to this on the web,
please, like, subscribe, comment, and share.

Authentic Business Adventures is brought

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that As well as Draw

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And of course, The Bold Business Book,
a book for the entrepreneur in all of us

available on Amazon and wherever
fine books are sold.

We’d like to thank you our wonderful
listeners as well as our guest,

Gary Tree, vice president
of Advanced Building Corporation.

Gary, thanks so much
for being on the show.

Thanks, James, for having me.

This has been a very
enjoyable conversation.

It went fast, didn’t it?
It sure did, yeah.

Find us airing at 103.5
Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m.,

Sundays at 2:00 pm, as well as

Past episodes can be found morning,
noon and night in the podcast

iink at

Holy cow, it’s a lot to say.
Thank you for listening.

We will see you next week.
I want you to stay awesome.

And if you do nothing else,
enjoy your business.




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