People. Process. Service.
People. Process. Service.

Episode 11 · 2 years ago

The History of MStone and Tile

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

TJ Mehta started MStone Stone and Tile Company when he was only 22 years old, and now the company owns some of the largest quarries in India and sources from China and Europe, as well. Mehta joins host Tyler Kern and guests Bill Kasko and April Milton of Frontline Source Group to talk about the history of MStone Stone and Tile and how he started a successful business in his 20s.

Mehta was only 22 years old and going to medical school before he decided to go another route, but this was not without scrutiny. Mehta said, “when I declared to my family that I was not going to get into medicine, they just went into scramble mode.”  His father was a doctor, and he had planned to follow in his father’s footsteps until he realized he didn't want to go through school and residency.  After starting his business, Mehta quickly learned as he went. His first shipment of materials had him in a scramble and, when he asked advice from his family, they said, “We have no clue what you are doing. You started a business, figure it out.” He did not even have a place to put his materials or an office at the time.

Eventually, Mehta hit his stride. His company now is very successful, and he has figured out where he fits in the industry.  "The reason why someone like me has an opportunity in this industry is because people like to avoid dealing with people directly overseas," he said.

Listen to the full interview for the rest of the story.

Contributor: TJ Mehta and Bill Kasko CEO, Frontline Source Group

No matter the industry. Leaders need to hold these things dear. Who we serve, how we serve, why we serve? This is people process service, a frontline source group PODCAST. Everyone, welcome to a new episode of People Process Service. Is Always I'm Tyler Kerrent and Bill Casco sits across the room from me. Bill, good to see you. mean. Hey, how you doing, tyler? Good see you buddy. All Right, I'm doing I'm doing well. I'm doing well. We have an awesome guest today, a guy that has started a business here locally. got a chance to talk to him a little bit before the podcast, but I think this is going to be a particularly fascinating episode. I think it's going to be very interesting. Wen't you introduce us to our guests today, TJ. Now I'm going to pronounce your last name wrong. Saya, maybe like Beta Meta. Here we go. Okay, so TJ and as a company called emstone and tile and also made the Dallas smu one hundred this year, which is awesome. Tell us about the company. So M stone just stands for made us Doun. I really don't haven't spend very much time thinking about that. When we got this was a marketing genius. Seventy punst it in a punch, it in on an automated logo maker. So the logo we have was automatically generated. Nice and I think we paid twenty bucks for it, okay, and we just stuck with that. But I started the company in two thousand and twelve. We import natural stone, pavers, flooring, masonry products, landscape products and interior wall coverings and more recently we found a lot of success in reclaimed wood from Indonesia and some vinyl products from China and then some acum, some aluminum, some metal products as well for wall coverings. So our whole show and premises about the three pillars and peers that we believe in, the people, in the process and the service. So when you think about the people that have influenced you or really really helped you get to where you're at, or what was it that you know you started the company, what was it that made you start the company or the idea? So I actually I had some family in India that was involved in quarrying and fabrication of material and when I when I declared to my family that I was not going to pursue medicine, I made that declaration. They just went into scramble mode because they knew I was over confident was going to end up somewhere in the country doing something that made them nervous. So they might all my folks wanted was that I stay somewhere close and they hope they could still push me into law school or engineering or or, you know, med school. But they connected me to these family members who had not done any business in the United States, and those guys got very excited about it. My my dad's youngest brother, okay, that's involved in a fabrication and he said, Hey, look, if you're if you're ready, you know and you and you're willing to start a company and take on some product, then you know we're ready to support you. So I had no idea what I was I said. Yet you know, let's go, let's let's let's it's like I said, let's make this thing hippen. And I also I was under a glaring misconception, which is that because I assumed I had some support from this international Indian exporder and you know, that was not the case. They couldn't help me in any way. They couldn't tell me how to import the material out of store the material, how to truck the material, but there was a lot of learning on the job. So he started the company in two thousand and twelve, all right, actually in two thousand and eleven. Okay, I do you know, got it incorporated, so and so forth, started working on a website and just kind of digesting what our options we're going to be. Most of the product at the time was just a product from other distributors, so that people are telling you how to import the fabrication, or not really even tell you. They're saying it. We got this stuff you want to they said. They say yeah, that's right. They said, Hey, look, we're producing this product. Europe is struggling. That was our anchor...

...market. Europe is struggling. We want to sell in the United States, but the United States is reinsulated. You have to be in the United States in order to sell to the United we're talking about fabricated stone, fabricated hard scate products, papers and and, yeah, primarily hard scate. So I'm just looking from the outside in here, right. What are you thinking? I mean, yeah, like I mean I did. Yeah, have like a history of stone in your background. I really didn't. I just woke up and we're like, I got my degree in neuroscience. I don't know. I really was under the impression that it was going to be a cozy deal, that I was going to come back to Texas Right College, and I don't know that my folks were going to help me or someone was going to tell me how to get the ball rolling. And I remember I showed up that first night, drove back from Ohio, I went to college in Ohio and woke up the next day. I put it, you know, shirt on, tucked it in, put a tie on and I went to my Fox. I said, Hey, you know, so what are we doing here? They said, we have no, no clue what you're doing. Yes, apparently started a business. So, you know, I figure it out so that I was in a scramble. And then there was a small amount of material that had dispatched from India. Okay, tiny, tiny amount of material. In today's sales it represents two days of sales, but back then it was a bit monumental and they'd already the kind of roped me and they shot it out. So I had that to figure out. How am I going to get a hold of this material? Where am I going to put the material, I need an office and so on and so forth, and and I had virtually no lodget. First you need to somebody to buy it, right. So that was its own process as well. What did you think about what? I mean, how did you? Did you reach out to people? I went to low Gra and just literally, like no litterally go down that road of the thinking I'm going to walk into Home Depot and sell to them. No, depot was a few few years after. Okay, we had our we had our stuff together at that point, but we I just started going to local stone yards. I went to I have myself visited absolutely every tile shopping stone yard in Texas. So Do you you wholesale? Is that which we are? YEA importer and a whole stan whole seller. So you don't actually do and installation? No, eary, no, not getting involved in that. We've learned how complex that process can be. So your first, your first customer, tell my first customer, my first cusybe we should ask the actually ask you. Tell us about your first sales call. MMM, my first more interesting. I don't know. My first sales call was to a company here called vicarrow stone. You know I've looked up natural stone in DFW, googled it, found these guys and I said, let me go check them out. I you know, and I went. I spoke to him, I had some photos and he told me how wildly unprepared I was. But he could also see that he could maybe take advantage of the situation, for which he did for about the first year and a half, and he said, Hey, if you're willing to part this material here, I would be willing to try to sell it. I said, okay, great, you know we have we got something here, and that's honestly how I made it happen. The first my first few sales, I went to these. It ended up being stone yards, because these are hardscape products. You need a lot of space and equipment to handle the material, and I went to them. I went to alliance materials over and Keller. They're big, they've been around a long time. They pump up FIF tw million bucks of rock every year to all over Fort Worth. So he gave me a shot as well. He also told me not to show up in a suit and tie or four door sedan. They both told me you need to get yourself a truck, you need to wear jeans. You know, this is Texas, right, this is not, you know, manajor from the customs or right for patrol. Come on, no, there they were. So they were very forward. They could see and I was not attempting to let anybody know that I was new or any of that. Right, I was fabricating my age and all kinds of stuff. Fires didn't want anyone to know that I'm brand new. But they could tell and they took advantage of the situation. They liked how the material looked. I...

...gave basically gave it away from a price perspective. That was another lesson learned to focus on profitability. To mention those individuals and becoming not just a great client but like friends. Now, looking back, they are. Alliance remains a good customer. We've just gone and such a different direction. Okay, right, so they remain customers, happy customers, ones that we service conveniently. But you know, we've shipped the retail model and the the builder model has really become what we do today. So when you think about those people you first had that interaction with, right, how did that influence you as to where you're at today? I just they they helped me realize how monumental and effort it was going to take the pull to figure this out right. You know, I had a bit of a blueprint. To Go and visit with them was my first indication that I needed a homebase, you know, and people needed to be able to touch and feel the product and we needed to be official. And today, you know, they're both very heavily involved in family. Their family run companies, their staff. It's a weird term to use, but they worship these guys because they're there, they're in the weeds and again, these are the guys that told me don't show up in, you know, suit and tie and silk. So they're involved every single day. They're the first guys in, last guys out. It sounds like a cliche, but they really are that way and they command a lot of respect. They help you or referee to other customers. Now, now, if this is not that kind of industry, yeah, as long as it's in a certain radius away from someone and they're happy to do that. So in another state they'd be happy to refer you, but you don't typically get refers. Instead, it was more helping you to understand the business. That's right. Yeah, how to be that success and also to help me understand that it was not the right product to start the business in. It was very complex. We were competing with quarries. Austin quarries are wildly productive in Texas, right, and we were competing with brick, also, Texas is King of brick, and we were competing with manufactured stone, which is Texas is King of manufactured stone. So that kind of helped guide me away from that. So is all of your product important? Everything is important. Okay, so not all. Did you have imports coming in, but you obviously had logistical issues. I said it was lucky I have mare and and everyone was taking advantage of it. You know, I was asking for quotes trucks that cost four hundred bucks. I paid two thousand, or I mean I put it on a credit card. That that I just knew confidently I'll get that, I'll get this all sorted out, you know. So, yeah, it was. It was a very intense I was renting space with a carpet in a tiny little warehouse and how them city with this mean little lady chose like four foot eight, and I was going around begging these warehouses. Hey, I just need a place to park my material and you know, I'll get you paid as I sell it, and so on and so forth. And she has a tiny warehouse, a really, really small warehouse. She said, okay, yeah, you can park your material here, but there's going to be these are going to be the rules and this is how we're going to do it. And so that was that was a fun journey. Yeah, I don't going to help them city much anymore, but you know, that was she was the only one that said yes. Really, because third party, wherehousing is compen it's very expensive, especially since the rise of Amazon and you know, online retail, it's not super practical. So you're doing this on your own. When was when did you hire your first employee? Three years in. Okay, that took long years. Yeah, I just I just did it all myself. I ran five email be email addresses. So apaar Info, orders and samples. So somebody called for are you put them on hold, because I would put them on home or what I would what I would say is I'd get their email justice. Hey, I'll connect your folks by email and I would say that are team and the right AP team. I love that's that's looks like the best story ever was.

That's g because you have to show well, you know absolutely, and because it's I went through the same pain. Yeah, when I started the company it was the exact same situation. They almost didn't want to do business with you because they felt like you're just one person and in the reality of it is you knew you could do whatever they needed to be done. They just it was a comfort level for them. And and then today it's funny because you know, you create something and they don't really know, they don't care, they just want the end product. Pressure that was the same way that you were experiencing was that that's what they want. They just don't have time to waste, right. And and then our industry, you know, flooring, flooring in walls or hardscaping, cladding, that's a one time sale, right. They're not. You don't come back every year to buy the new iphone or you know, you're not constantly updating. Once you have invested in that floor that's you don't get to finance it. It's a major cash investment, whether it's a backsplash shower, it's a major cash investment, right time investment. So in this industry it's particularly competitive. You're not getting that backsplash a second time. Yeah, so it's a competitive industry. You. So as you're going through this, you're figuring out, because it doesn't sound like you jumped into it with a business model or plan. No, I just over confidence, right, and some some misunderstanding is about how my family was going to participate. So at what point did you realize I need to have a plan as soon as I in the beginning, or was it like you jumped in and then you you're winging it and then three years down the road, four years, you're like no, no, take a step back here and we need to get a real know about you know, as soon as the the urgency of figuring out what to do with the material it, the momentum that had developed by me agreeing to do it, I needed to catch up to that and say, okay, let me get get ahold of this material, build some connections, you know. So I needed a customs broker, I needed a trucking company, I needed a store the material, and this is all just to bring it in, and then I needed some people to help me domestically. So built that, built that network. If you know, when you shop around as a customer. You find people are very receptive when you when you go on as a potential vendor, it's not quite so simple. Yeah, but I got I got the material placed and we sold it. It's sold, which was great. So we earned some money, had a little bit of liquidity, started paying some bills and I immediately went to India. I said, okay, I need to go figure out what's going on. I need to bring in more product and I realized that that economic downturn had hit these exporters so hard that everyone was willing to give me a material. They said, Hey, man, we haven't sold anything in three years, four years. How much do you want? Just take it and pay us when you sell it. So, because that you know, even my uncle found him had found himself in a bit of a tough situation when he got involved with me, which I was not aware of. Again, I didn't realize that times were top right. So went over there and identified some goods and said, hey, this is what I've learned in the market. As long as you're carrying it, you take take on the expense of carrying the product. You can sell it is not a logistically efficient product. You can't be in Florida selling and in even you can be in south Florida and selling North Florida right for stone, which is what I did for the first probably four years of the business. So I what I figured out that if you're carrying it and you may create some awareness and you press yourself effective what you can pick up business. So in your business when you wholesale, you're only selling in the Texas market, of the Dallas market. Now we're nationwide. Okay. So I picked up my early clients in in the DFW area, basically one or two major stone yards that were they...

...had enough space to say you can park it here and if we sell it will pay you. Fortunately the products sold. It is great product, I will say right. And then I went to India, brought in some more material, found some success and year three we had sufficient. You know, again it was me running a meet lean operation, third party warehouse over and help them city. We upgraded to a third a proper third party warehouse with an inventory system in this that, and this is all happening in a very small scale. I mean I think the most business we did by year three, the total book of business was a quarter million bucks, but that was still enough to function, you know, and have a distinct business. Right. And then I did a trade show in Las Vegas and the booth was probably half the size of of this room that we're in. It was a five by ten or fifty fifty feet. It cost me four thousand bucks, which just took the wind out of me. And but we set up and then we met a bunch of people in California and they were willing to they just they were already so experienced an Indian natural stone that they just needed a two way. They say, Hey, go, you know, go get me. That's go get me that. They didn't find much interest in what it is that I had, but they said, okay, if you're you're born and raised in the states, Indian Guy, I'm having a hard time in India. If I'll tell you what I want, if you can get it for me, here's a check. So then I realized that if I could become a that if, instead of just carrying product, if I can get product so elected and sold in bulk directly from India, then you know, I had a had a play in California has been very kind to us. It's twenty percent of the total business. Wow, it'stell California Texas is behind, but that's because Texas has a different way of working. So when you think about eight years down the road, Yep. Do you have your process now in place? Oh Yeah, well, is very efficient the way you operate. It's a it's a it could be more efficient. I don't want to. I don't want to. I don't know. Lie about that. There's eight of US total. We have an eleven million dollar book of business, but we're we've created, we've carved down an identity because whenever I would try, you know, started going as young men, as soon as I could afford it, started going to other trade shows and just finding something distinct that I realized quickly if I could bring something distinct to the table in an industry overrun by cart you know, Mohawk, you know, they'll tile based out of Dallas, right, Marazzi based out of Dallas, a porcelain, porcelain, carpet, vinyl. These are monster outfits with monster reach. To just give them something a little different and don't be greedy. That's that's what I started to do and so now everyone knows when they see it. We just did a trade show on Vegas and people always say, you know, we always know you're going to have something different. You know. So has the with the economy changing, right, how did that have an effect for me? For me it was a blessing that to come into the business when things were kind of down, which is obviously an opportunity for those that hold wealth. A recession meant there was a ton of investment, so on and so forth, and and I was still naive at the point. I was coming very aggressive. I was pricing everything very low. So we were picking up business, you know, and it's only moved upwards. And because we're so ingrained in retail and we do all this diy product and then we're based in Texas, I think we're fairly insulated in case things go down. But it's only it's only gone up for us every year. So even your importing fees and do the terariffs have an effect on Your Business? Right now at a China they're having a bit of an effect. But you know, I sell that product to depot lows, minards and Florign decre and they all accepted the price increase and they said Hey, you know, we'll weather the storm with you. A lot of them agree with the trade war. So if you're as long as your buyer is on board with it, they're not...

...going to make it tough for you. That are very they have a fixed they delivered a program that's at a look if this is going to impact our product, here's the protocol and if the product survives the price increase, if the customer is willing to bear or even notice is it right, then you're good. If not, then be ready to buy the product back and replace it. So see, you build the business and you finally get your process in place in your understanding how you need to operate and everything. Yeah, but the service piece of it isn't a lot of that out of your control too, because, I mean there are things that are just well out of your control. At me, as being shipped here right. You've got to get through customs, you've got it justtically trucking, and that's how you develop value in this business. So there's, you know, important. The reason someone like me has a has an opportunity in this industry is because people like to avoid dealing directly overseas. You have no recourse. If you buy you could spend a thousand dollars or a hundred thousand dollars or a hundred million dollars overseas. You have no legal recourse. So one and you have it's cash business. It's thirty down and seventy one when it dispatches the source port. That's how it works in this industry and most industries that I've seen it if you're purchasing on manufactured product. So there's not much recourse. You know, you're rarely going to see depot or any of the big outfits importing directly. They like to have an intermediary because then I'm held liable. Too much risk for them. That's right. It's not worth it, right. You know, they'd rather pay their premium here. are a premium, not deep premium, to work with someone like myself that stands behind you know, a timeframe and quality and so on and so forth. So do you find yourself today going back to some of those? I guess the vendors that are now you're their customer, to renegotiate your rates and you been able to, Oh yeah, to go back to now understand I've got tremendous level of smarter about the way I've got I've got a lot of leverage with the guys I'm working with because they were unique in their markets. Right. That's a reason I was working with them. So we've helped build a lot of these guys up and they kind of they'll support us. The biggest thing early on was I didn't have the funding to buy a bunch of material, but fortunately their circumstance was tough enough that they gave it to us right, and now we're honestly, a lot of them offer their product on consignment to us. They try and I've offered them kind of a profit sharing deal, especially when we're launching a product. We're just getting it out into stores and piloting it. So the locations you said, warehouse here in the Dallas area, warehouse and Dallas, Houston and up in Jersey. Okay, so that's where. That seems like kind of far away. I mean yeah, but it's it's still the center of the world, New York, just because of the way the ports come in. OR WE'RE WE JERSEY, New Jersey's are coming to a port in New Yorkers New Jersey is the most port. Elizabeth is the most advantageous port for us. We can get containers, we can bring in twenty seven tons, which you can only bring in twenty one tons to Houston, Long Beach, etc. At least in our situation. So New Jersey we can bring in twenty seven tons and it gets turned twenty one days and it costs a fraction of the golf for the West Coast ports. And then there's just so much business out there. I just found it fascinating to know how you would even figure that. I mean you'd just like you there's not a book on this. is or there's not, but you just people report, some people people come to you and again you start shopping these rates and just kind of figuring it out and people just help. I mean it's sounds they wanted to. Business is very helpful to you. Every every inch that this material move, someone is getting paid for it. So they have every incentive to to help us do that efficiently and then take their slice off of it. Sorry, you studied neuroscience, right, I said, in Neurosid yes, let's go back to that way. I said. Yeah, I'm kind of skipped over that in the story. But when did you start thinking of yourself as a as a businessman? May I do you still? Do you even think of yourself as businessman, you know, like when that kind of there's no...

...going back now. Yeah, so I definitely think of myself as a business man. Oh my gosh, I thought he's a stoner. I don't know, I I mean that is crazy to go from that to this. I mean this just a change. So not only that, but you should tell them like how you like what you did professionally. So basically, the reason why I brought Tj. Sorry, hi, April, I started talking to the microphone, so I should have introduced April. Mil Know, your totally yes, you're totally fine. So the reason why I asked Tj to come on because, so he's a friend of a friend and when I introduced it, when we were introduced and I started having conversations with him, I'm like what do you do? And he's like, well, this is what I do, and I'm like how, and he was like, well, I was a project manager. Right, right, I did. So when I went to school, I went to place. So you went to where'd you get in college? Okay, H okay, and I went with the I went with my high school sweetheart. Thought I was gonna, you know, marry her and this that, and I was playing football with them. And and after I injured myself and stopped playing, I went on a work study. So I did start working with a contractor. I worked at the Bowling Alley, I worked at the bullying lanes and I worked with a commercial flooring contractor. Very simple stuff. To school basically put you on those pipelines. And you know what? You know what work study is, right, a chunk of your salary goes towards your college tuition, etc. Right, and so that's actually that's where I became aware that this could be tremendously lucrative if done effectively right, because he anytime he bought vinyl, you know it's done tenzero foot vinyl jobs, seventy cents a buck afoot. And the first time he used stone on a much smaller job, would paid sixtyzero. So that certainly gave me, again it the false impression because I even today I don't service those people directly. Right, so I'm not the one earning that that major margin in most instances. But that gave me confidence that this could be something that would work. Well. It's just fastinting when you think about studying one thing and then a total change and then, yeah, so today your parents, what do they say? They're thrilled. Man, it worked out, and that's the that's the thing with Indian parents are involved, that they care and they wanted me to be a doctor. And I my dad's a doctor, he lives, they live in South Lake. A MOM's an immigration attorney, and I just I saw him and I thought, yeah, why not be you know, be a doctor. This is what this is what I'm going to do. Until you realize four years of Undergrad for more years of very expensive med school residency, the stuff that I never paid attention to him doing right, and I said, man, I need to. I just wanted to be financially productive sooner and kind of take control of life. Yeah, and I, like I said, I was over confident, but then I was in it. You know, I think it was the I didn't want to say that I'm going to do it and then not do it. My parents gave me lots of outs. They said, Hey, just you go back to you go back and start studying for law school or met school, and everything's good, don't worry about it, you know, you'll be fine. Well, we'll take care of you. said. Now, you know, I think let's just let's just pursue this thing. Of course that's after they've said yeah, good luck, yeah, fur out part the things. I don't think they thought this was going to I think they their primary motive was to get me close to them, right, and that first year and a half I did live with them in Arlington and then, you know, as soon as I was in a position to live independently and whatnot, I did that. And so I continue to create pressures on myself, financial pressures that kind of motivated me to keep going, and then it just turned into something. You know, it took shape of its own. Did you find yourself in situations where the way to kind of move forward and to continue to build things, you did things that you thought? I don't. I didn't know that I knew how to do that. I didn't know I had that in me to kind of be, you know, become this person...

...that makes this succeed. You know, was there that that drive, that the kind of brought different aspects of your personality at that maybe you didn't know you had. I think I don't do a ton of self evaluation, like non critical self evaluation, but I think I had some I had a knack to sit down and deal with people and learn about their business and just figure you know, when you walk into a potential customers office, what you have to figure out is what can I bring to the table for you? Right, and they like to hear that question. It has to benefit them if they're gonna invest. You know, if they're putting in a dollar, it has to turn into more than a dollar. That's just a simple math. That's all they care about. If I spend a dollar, it has to turn into more than a dollar and in some instances, if it's a small towle shop, that dollar has to turn it to five dollars. You know, if it's a big company, that dollar has to turn to a buck twenty reliably. And now we're you know we're doing with the bigger companies. You know, a lot of people when they start a company, you you learn from your mistakes, right, and you look back after years and think of think about Doctor Courtney Baker who's on a few weeks ago with kids care and talking about screwing up stuff from the beginning. I'm not having a clue and all the mistakes and you learn from all of that. is or anything that really stands out to you. I mean, I know I've screw up, I still do, but these are anything really still, that made a difference to you, that you were able to take away and learn from that. So much today, so much setting the right expectation, setting the proper expectations and being honest with, you know, my customer. So here's here's what it is. It could be anything from how much we have. We have available in in our in stone. It's a natural product. So you know range. You have to explain what the potential range could be. You don't want to. You're selling off of a sample, oftentimes smaller than this piece of paper, and now you just delivered a thousand feet of it and it doesn't look anything like and that's a one way sale. The moment someone's talking about coming and picking it up, you're about to lose big, big bucks instantaneously. So it has to get there and they have to be satisfied. So setting proper expectations with the customers so as not to disappoint that, because as long as they know they're they're okay. Right, you know, as long as you're upfront and honest with people. Define I mean you're in a kind of a niche market. Right. So you're from a competition side. MMM, is is it a heavy competition or is oh yeah, it's vicious. And let's just consider this wall. Right, paint on this wall and Sherwin Williams probably supplied that paint and there are a hundred and fifty billion dollar company. So you could put on the we got carpet right here on this floor. I don't sell anything like painter carpet, though. It is a viciously competitive industry. Yeah, you know. So the customer is is it a market where the customer will turn on you quickly that if they don't have what they expect? The I was customer also, they want there's so many options for a floor, wall, patio or exterior, you know, cladding right from STUCCO, like I said, stucco paint. Then you work your way up to the manufactured products that are exceedingly inexpensive, largely manufactured in the states. So you are it's a niche market. You have to give them. You're either convincing someone to use your product or you're capturing the attention of someone looking for something like that. Right, but it is a wildly competitive industry. But because of the logistics the logistical limitations. It's still a small business. Largely those going to small business local, you know. So as long as you find that guy, that's well. For me. I'm not customer facing, I'm not a point of sale guy. I just have to find the guy that has developed that that a garnered that reputation in their market and as long as he's willing to carry the product and will likely succeed. So you made the Dallas one hundred this year, right, for the third time in a row, their time in a row. Okay, which is fantastic, and congrats, because it's not an easy thing to do.

I appreciate the when you think about five years down the road, ten years down the road, if you thought that far to think where do you want to be and what you want to do five years, I think I've thought. You know, I try not to look too far forward just because I think that's it's a bit bold. That's making a lot of assumptions that I'll be here, the the business will be here. So I don't usually look too far ahead. But yeah, inside five years I think there's no reason we shouldn't be at least three times bigger than we are today. Just at the pace that we're moving right, and our ability to fund, to fund our own business. So we've got a lot more liquidity and support from the banks, and then the trust of our customers. Right. So we're at the point now where my buyers at depot lows minard's Flor in decre they'll give you'll give you twenty stores. So okay, you've got this linear footage, just as your space, you know. You know when sales of a certain skew begin to slow. So it's time anyway. You're always under that pressure to replace that product and they'll say, yeah, you're willing to give it a shot. You know, you supply the displays, you supply all the product and then they take rebates for labor and installation and logistics, and that's the name of the game. So so when you think about, and you were discussing this a little bit about Amazon and the warehouse cost rights like that. So is it important for you to have more warehouse locations across the country from a logistic standpoint to grow, or can you grow still with the three locations that you're operating now? In fact, I'm looking to I'm looking to exit Houston and New Jersey and I'm looking to condense myself here into and just a Dallas. So we will. But we've bought our warehouse, okay. And so we have two major streams of business. We have and we're looking to now develop the third. We've got the retail business, let's call retail, and distribution, and in both of those instances we're shipping large volumes of product direct to someone's distribution center. With does not require me to carry very much product. I'll carry what's called emergency stock, and everyone's taking a hit on that. That's just to make sure that you have enough to satisfy that customer right in the moment. So no one's concerned about making money. Keep the customer happy. And then we've got a good specification and cut the size program so we've got our our stone, our natural stone in all kinds of design show rooms and builder show rooms around the country. That and it's growing. So and you know that processes builds building a home or remodeling his home. He wants to Redo his pool, let's say, and he may select one of our stones. Will be the guy that carries that color, that penality and will say I'm interested in this, get me a quote. I want you know at twenty four by forty eight paver and some pool coping and some cobbles. We quoted out and if everyone and do some sampling, some mockups, and if everyone's satisfied, then that product is going to deliver direct to that port. Will find the most cost effective way of getting into them direct. So that's those are two, call a three. Right, retail, you're just about that. That's like to listen stuff it's on the board that you're exactly. As an example, this is cut to size stone, okay. This is cut to the size, so you don't know one's having a carry very much, okay at all. And then we do have a stocking distribution program as well. We stock our product. Acme break has been an amazing customer of ours. We have I worship that company right. They're based out of Fort Worth. Yeah, if you ever have a chance to go check them out. They've got a campus on for worth and it's dedicated to break and there are Berkshire Company now so that they have been purchased, but they've got a lot of their people that have been there twenty, thirty, forty years and they've been a tremendous customer of ours, Anchor Business, the happiest our job. That's them. A few of the David Weekley's, you know, the town home right projects here. That's them. All the blue seal work. We've got a down hotel in downtown port worth and then...

Burlis in Austin Houston. They've got the happiest hour here in uptown. The stone there's from you. That is our stone. That's specified by so what's the name of the family? Goodness, okay, the Blue Seal from the Harwood family of the run. Yep, they're from their oil pry oil family from East Texas. The hardwood they have been the D major investors and uptown and downtown Dallas they have their own inhouse architectural firm and specification house called Amerigo, and they're also investing, by the way, in San Francisco and hardwoods are moving quickly, right. But they selected the product and we sold it through. Like me break? Well, yeah, it's a beautiful looking building to yeah, it's great that. That was a big one for us in Dallas. Yeah, that was a great project and I sold it too cheap. So yeah, that was lat that was lesson learned. As well, you know, but I just think about your business as being, from an overhead standpoint, extremely expensive. It's exceptionally expensive. Yeah, and especially if you're bringing a product in through Houston, I guess, and right shipping it. They're still trucking it then. Or try rail or what's from Houston. There's no longer rail to Dallas. There's Dallas to Houston, but they will no longer rail from Houston to Dallas. So it unloads it the port. You dray it. You either dray that container directly to your warehouse or do it to a third party facility transload it, the pull the material out, then you put it on your own truck. That's typically what we do, but in the last few years we've been selling this peeling stick. It's a diy pile. It's really what made my career, made the business for us right. So buyer at home depot saw this flexible stone product that we were trying to sell, struggling to sell, and said Hey, if you can make that diy, just put put a two side of tape behind that thing, which also ended up being harder than we thought it would be, but he said, you know, you got a real winner. Here and we're selling three million dollars of that problem. Wow, wow, annually. So what about a moon like? What do they use that for? The DIY? That's black backsplash here, backsmas feature wall, etc. Yeah, it's called aspects stone. Fifty five hundred stores nationwide and then we got we moved from that to aspect wood and aspect metal and we got a new product called aspect collage, which is a vinyl product. Wow, took the moment that I picked that up. I just I've been behind that train, though. So I'm thinking about redoing the hardwoods in the house and I'm going to call Tj and give him my exact man order that I need and have a drop shipped. Yeah, no, piece of cake will be. So we have a showroom now and Dallas we purchased a warehouse with in partnership with cantext capital, good friends of mine. You met them, roam and super, and we have got one of my best friends with immense experience in the finance world, Aj he's our general manager. One of my best friends from colleges are head of sales and we've got a good team. So we've got a showroom now in Dallas and it's been moving very quickly. So we're setting up, setting up displays and dealers, you know, mom and pop dealers are on the state and we're working directly with builders. So we work. Worked with Mansfield customer homes on a seventeen thousand foot palace and Arlington recently. It was a great job. Zero inventory, just time and energy and understanding what the homeowner and designer want and getting it executed well. That's the major, major growth. What we would like to do a cement ourselves in the Texas market and that's how we're going to insulate ourselves from ups and downs. You know, you just tell all the listeners to hold you are. I'm thirty years old and when you started it, how old are you? I was twenty two. Yeah, so that's impressive, man. No, it's crazy who you are. That's invict I just love the side. It's like the parents were like yeah, well, yeah, good luck, yeah, but Oh yeah, to med school or law school, have all these options. They...

I was surprised, you know, because they were so involved up till that point, but they really did believe this. I Hey, your twenty one, you're you're on your own. That's just how the world works. They were pretty tough about I mean, we're here and if you need to eat, you can eat. If you wanted from the risory do laundry, but no one's gonna. We're not going to walk you into it, baby, you along here whatsoever. And they would they wanted me to go to med school. They're both well educated that they believe in the academic path and once when I veered from that path, they said, all right, you know. Well, I'm a big believer though, to you get two strong parents. Yeah, there's a lot that you learn from them that you don't realize. Oh big time your life and you're utilizing that now and it's obviously showing and it's an incredible story to hear, thank God. But really it fascinating thinking about the first few years starting out on your own and learning it through really hard knocks and it was and I was going to the it's funny to think about, but it was. I was in the trenches. You know, we're going to all these I guess at Holt them city and the equivalent of that in Houston and Austin and then New York, in La and Chicago, so random different areas. You're in Theo's are the major markets. Those are the only places that made any sense to me. I said, there's a concentration of people because I was counting, you know, the gas money. Right. I said, how can I hit as many people as possible? And the only people that would, interestingly enough, the ones that said Hey, sure, come on. By the end, they're being the smallest kind of it's a parallel economy, man. There's a these are small showroom. They do a lot of cash business and it's a dirty game. We were just having a discussion this morning about our business and who we do business with, right, and and smaller company, the small businesses. Oh yeah, but ATP came out with the report today, was talking about the hiring and the amount of hiring that took place last month with companies less than five hundred employees. Right, and that's kind of our sweet spot because we build those relationships with those people. You have a relationship with you to know you. They will be honest with you, they will tell you things, one of everything you just talked about. Those are the ones that really make you successful at the end of the day and you'll have back at sometimes the larger they are, the more difficult there actually to work with. You need them, but they're not the bread and butter for you know, they're really the ones that you have had those relationships and you build the big the retailers have been the backbone for us in just scaling the company. But what we like about them is you just do the business on your dollar. It's all on your dollar. They're paying for the marketing, immense amount of real estate and they have a huge teams. You know, these big retailers. I have a big appreciation for all these big company but it's done on the vendor's dollar, unless you're a craftsman or cocacola rue writer, ANABISCO. Do they still exist? Discuss? Yeah, I don't know. I thought a NABISCO. I was just trying to test difference. Those household names right and because you spent a lot of money figuring out how to call this home stone right. It might happen, but I don't know know. I mean I love the fact that it was something as Susie I did the same thing right our logo. It was like logoscom. That's exactly. That's exactly. Forty nine bucks, I think it was. There's just paid for it. And so let's move on. That's just it. And then later, years later, went to have a trademarked and they're like, well, you got to make a little change on this, and so we made a few changes. So we just get a trademark. But right, same deal. Yeah, you know, that's what you do when you're starting something and you figure it out. You make the mistakes and you fall and you get yourself back up and you tomorrow's another day and you live and learn and you move forward and then then you have an opportunity to grow like you are, and that's some you, Dallas. One hundred ward is a big deal. I appreciate yours really isn't it says a lot and very, very interested. The stone business to me is interesting. Stone Tile. It's very interesting. It's vicious, my friend. Yeah, it's a I thought our business was wishes who knew, and I bet it no idea. I bet it is. But this is just a cold world out there in this industry. Yeah, and we're just we've...

...been. I've been lucky. I will never tell anybody otherwise. You know. That's still let I know it all. You've got it. You found some I found some good guys and they walk us into what we needed to do. And now our customers kind of you know, it does go about. You made other couple comments. You mean to be honest with your customer. Yeah, whether they like it or not. Right, and we have found that being honest is the best it's we're never soon as possible, that's right, soon as humanly possible. They made it like here. Right. In fact, we've been fired because of it, but that's okay. Right. No one's ever questioned us when it comes to death right, that we're ethical and what we do and we're going to tell you the truth. And if we get fired because of it, then that's just the way it is. Yeah, I agree. I would much rather do that than have we would never lie, and I appreciate that about Texas as well. I'm dealing in California and Florida, New York. Texas is a much more you know some of them. My first customer said, Hey, my handshake to me is more important than a contract. Yep, but before you shake my hand, just make sure you mean what you say. And that's how Texas has been. These are they really are. They're not afraid and they're honest. These guys will take a loss to stand behind what they said. From Contractors to builders. That'side. I mean they're tough, they're exceptionally tough, but they're tremendously honest. You're very interested. We've been ripped off in California a few times. Warn't the tough, but we've all been ripped off the calf. Yeah, is it. Far is a weird place and the Florida's on worse. Florida, I've had instance over the guy just a company no longer exist that I just delivered to drugs and the company, the website's gone. That can't can't find them. I was like, well, I got duped. This was a it happens. Yeah, it's but there was that Florida Man Challenge on social media a couple of years back. To remember that. I don't read. Type in Florida man. And then your birthday and just see what crazy story has happened on your birthday. That after the guys done. That was a that was a wild time. Well, we got we got duped years ago by company when cupcakes were big and they were coming in and opening of a cupcake bunch of stops and yeah, we got totally duped. And hired a bunch of people from us and then we found out they were doing it to multiple agencies at the same time. was just this interesting scam. Yeah, and yeah, it was. You live and learn from that. It's crazy how industrious people can be with these scams. They really how much time and energy and resources that they they would just spend it on right coming up with an idea like this something. I mean we had a dumpster, and industrial dumpster provided by the city, stolen when we were remodeling the warehouse, and I we had it all on camera. These got to show up in three F three fift the s dual, these really nice trucks that had tools. They came out efficiently, chopped it up and hauled it off and I said, man, if you'd left your car to with me, I'd probably hire you for some work. How well, they stole that dumpster. Why would they still a dumpster? I think you can go. I believe you asked to copy the same question. You said you can. There's money in the the metal. There's money and melting it down, melting it down, and yet they stole a big industrial dumpster and wow, it was on the city had given it to a to use while we remodeled. So so, last question. Your family members that you were buying from in India. Right, they're all happy now with you. They love you there. Yeah, the great things are going well. Yeah, they're all good. Yeah, and you're working them over on their price now. No, you know, I don't try to bug anybody about I'm not a super hard negotiator. Unless the business demands everyone getting more competitive. I found that keeping as many people involved happy as possible is is the right way to do it. You're a good man. Yeah, it's some perfect answer. It is. Yes, it's that just show you're good man. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, Fun Podcast, for sure. I've really enjoyed hearing how you went from Oh Gosh, what am I doing? You know, and it's figuring it out. Incredible website for people to visit mstone DOT USCOM and stone at uscom. Simple, super. We couldn't get em stonecom. That's a...

...much larger going to have to change the name. Yeah, that's a company called the materials marketing and they're they're big fish, so they are a bit Saut of the US. Are Big. Check this out of the US. All Right, he g Madea thank you. So much for joined. Yeah, there's head. Very much I thank you. Great Story and, as always, will be back with more episodes of people press this. They're just put until then, Bill, thanks for I think we're being hum sorry, we'll talk to you guys soon.

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