EP 12 - Integrity in Life & Business with Dan Auld
After some time in the Military and working for a few others, business owner Dan Auld, leads his crew at Integrity Flooring with... you guessed it, integrity. Moving from the business start-up phase to sustainability with several employees created space for Dan to realize what's also important is having a purpose. Listen in on the conversation... as Dan shares what is working and what he is thinking about next.
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Jaime White 00:01
Hello, and welcome to the Believe Crew Podcast; The Business is You. I'm Jamie White, Founder of Believe Crew and your host, let's jump right in. Welcome to today's podcast. We have Dan Auld with Integrity Flooring, and I'd love to know more about how you got started in business and what you love about what you do.
Dan Auld 00:22
Yeah. Hi, Jamie. Thanks for having me. Glad to be here. I've never really had a sure answer of how I got started. I never really set out to be an entrepreneur. That's not what I envisioned going into the trades. But how I started was I learned to trade when I was 17 is kind of when I started out in Steamboat Springs, Colorado from a phenomenal boss that I worked for out there. And I grew to love the trade, you know, working in hardwood floors specifically. And from then, there was a few life happenings deployment and a couple of things, I came back and started working for another company. Actually, the original owner of Integrity Flooring, he was just starting at that time. So I was there from day one. And kind of helped him grow it but I wasn't the owner, I wasn't, you know, the manager at that point, I was just, it was just me and him at that point. And it wasn't something that I don't think he really, you know, decided like, hey, I want to do hardwood floors. He was a builder by trade, I guess is what he really started in. And then the whole recession happened. And hardwood floors was one of the places that we were still getting work or he was still getting work. So I went to work for him after deployment, and really started to enjoy it. And it's not that I didn't mind working for him. But I could tell I wanted to do things differently. I really started to enjoy the work in the trade. And he's a great entrepreneur. He's got many businesses, but he, you know, didn't really seem to love it. And I think he, you know, he was he would tell you that too. So I kind of pressured him, you know, hey, if you're ever thinking about getting rid of the business or whatever, let me know, let me know, I actually did leave, at one point. Try out something I wanted to do, which was security, armed security. So I worked as an armed security officer at a nuclear plant for a couple of years. And thought that was something I liked, you know, the job looked appealing. But then I worked that job for two years, and I absolutely hated it. I couldn't stand it. And so I would do some side stuff for my previous boss at that point during that time. And then he just texted me one day said, I think I'm going to get out of the trade and so I texted back said don't, I'm gonna come back, I'm gonna quit this job. So I went back work for him, and kept putting those seeds out there that you know, if you're ever interested in eventually he did. A Sunday Afternoon texted me and said, Hey, come over, we're going to talk about you buying the business. And so that's when Lindsay and I bought the business. And we went from there.
Jaime White 03:00
That's amazing. I love it. And I love that you, how do I say this, like looking for opportunities that aren't presenting themselves? Right? That seed of suggestion doesn't have to come from only one side, it can come from us asking and saying, Hey, would this be possible?
Dan Auld 03:22
Right? Yeah. And he did a lot. I mean, anything I kind of brought up, he was very open to which was awesome, which was great. as open as you can be, as you're starting a business, right, you're kind of limited to some things, you can just go and get the best stuff right away. But like I said, he was an entrepreneur, that was just one of I think at that time, three businesses he was running. And his focus wasn't always there. And so that's where my focus was, was no, that was what I did for a living. And he, I think he always kind of had that in the back end. But he had some younger kids, and he wanted to make sure that they didn't want the business. And so that's kind of where it started. But
Jaime White 04:02
so when you think about that today, how did you have to transition into becoming the entrepreneur?
Dan Auld 04:09
The last few years, I'd say, two years, that I was working for him, I was doing a lot of the management, I'm not gonna say I was running the business completely, because there was a lot of them, you know, the monetary stuff. And, you know, the, the numbers of the business I wasn't involved with, but I was doing a lot of the sales, meeting with customers dropping jobs up ordering materials. So I had that benefit before I took over. And so I got to see how a lot of that work. And I knew the trade, you know, I had done the trade before I even worked for him. So I knew that very well.
Jaime White 04:47
Often times a technician doesn't necessarily put the tool belt down and say Okay, I'm ready to move into the next level. I mean, that takes a different type of thinking. So that's why I'm curious how that shift happened, but what you are saying, as you were already sort of given an opportunity to move into management of sorts, or sales and marketing in a way. And so that sort of started helping some of the discussions or some of the thought processes that would need to shift.
Dan Auld 05:13
Right. And I was open, you know, I really liked the idea of running a business once I thought about it more. And I can be pretty competitive. If there's something that I want to want to do, or there's a challenge put in front of me, whether I know how to do it or not, I'll figure it out. And, you know, that's one thing I've learned, even with our own crew now, just because they're our top crew leader, our best crew leader, that doesn't make the management material. And so I've had to go through that process several times of, you know, what's the next steps for them? Because they're not interested in management, or they're not, they're not management material, and where can we help them progress. But for myself, it did interest me the idea of business did interest me. And it wasn't something I really thought about, you know, as a young boy, it's not like I was out to be an entrepreneur. But as I fell into those roles, I did grow to love them. And the numbers, I've never been a numbers guy, and but when I see them, and you can see what you're putting in and what's coming out, you know, it's, there's a security there, I think that's really where I got it is the security and knowing the numbers of the business that brought me security. And so that's where I think I got invested into the numbers side of the business.
Jaime White 06:30
Well, tell me more about that. Because I know that you are now into Dave Ramsey, and really growing your employees and helping them with their numbers. So what are some of the things that have shifted for you there?
Dan Auld 06:42
Dave Ramsey kind of happened after business. And when I talk about security, you know, that's why I got into Dave Ramsey. It's not like we were ever really struggling with money, but I didn't know business very well. The emotional aspect of debt, it was something that I couldn't, I wasn't okay with, I'm not, it's not that I don't mind risk. But we try to, I try to minimize risk, if you can, and having debt when we bought the business is something that, you know, it was, it brought me down it, I felt like it didn't let me perform if something is always in the, you know, in the forefront of your mind. And if you could get rid of that you can run a business differently, you really can you have a different mindset, but and then transitioning that into the employees. You know, as a young man, I was never really taught anything, financially. And there's a lot of financial classes in high school and college, but they're not teaching the principles of it. Unfortunately, when I see you go, you go to high school, you go to college, and that's one, you're hearing from one. One single minded of a person that is a person that went to college, that is a person that probably borrowed student loans to go to college, and then what trade they you know, if they're a doctor, they're gonna be borrowing money. And so that's all that's fed into the younger generations as they go through because they really don't hear from businessmen that didn't go to college, they really didn't hear from trade school. People, you know, the farmer,
Jaime White 08:11
right? It's who we surround ourselves with and the conversations that become normal. Like when I listen to you, and I think about debt-free versus, you know, I was in asset-based businesses, that was a little bit more Robert Kiyosaki style where it was, like, use other people's money. And so whatever the conversations are, that were around, that becomes the new normal, and then I listening to Dave Ramsey, and it's like, well, it can be done, you know, like that shift my mindset, and I know what you're saying is true. My son was in a personal finance class. And they told him that debt was normal credit card debt was normal school, that was normal. And of course, he was a Dave Ramsey fan. So he was like, not for me, not for me.
Dan Auld 08:50
Right. And that's, I mean, that's the way those teachers go, that's the way they were taught. And so that mindset just keeps getting passed on and passed on. And there's not much new thought coming into that, that series of teaching. And for me, you know, I read Robert Kiyosaki stuff and, you know, everybody's got their own way. I'm not gonna say, you know, debt free is the only single way but when you're debt free, you have more control you do. I can control more of my finances, then. I mean, look at Dave Ramsey story, when he went bankrupt the bank calling his loans and everything going on with the government right now, are our student loans getting forgiven? Are they not getting forgiven? And so when you have all those things coming into your life, your minds and your emotion is all over the place. And if you can cut all that stuff out of your life, now I have control of my finances, not to a tee. There, you know, there's things that come in everyday, everyday life, but I have much more control than depending on a bank or line of credit, or the government or whatever it is. And so putting that on to the employees. You know, we actually we offer Dave's Financial Peace class to all of our employees. It's one of the things that they get, and that will cover for them. It makes them more solid employee, you know, they're not stressed out about money they're not, it makes a lot of their marriages better. And so if that's one thing I learned in the military and being on deployment, if you have a solid foundation, and I do believe that that is where a lot of you know, PTSD issues and stuff come from are people that are, have a lot of other things going on in their life that that are, you know, happening back home, if we're deployed that aren't settled, and then something happens. And they all of a sudden have to jump to that mindset. And it's, so as an employee, if it gives them more solid foundation, it makes them a better employee. And that's how we feel and just pouring out of.
Jaime White 10:42
Yeah, not a distraction. So you find that they're a more solid employee, and they've got that security, like you've talked about, I mean, if we can create that financial stability, then we can make better decisions. We're not coming from a place of fear when we're making decisions, and really kind of taking the emotion out of it and saying, Okay, well, this is a financial decision. So when you're growing your business, do you sometimes run into those moments where you're like, Okay, I'd like to grow in this way. But we're going to need to or did you, you know, as you were transitioning to debt free, run into those moments where you're like, we're not gonna be able to make that investment right. Now, we're gonna have to wait.
Dan Auld 11:20
Right? 100%. And it is a slower process. And I've had people tell me, oh, you know, Robert Kiyosaki is way faster, this way is faster, if you borrow money, it's faster. Maybe, maybe there's, there's more risk, there's more variables there. If it works, exactly how your plan says it's going to work, it probably is faster. In the military, we have a saying this is the only reason you make a plan. And so you know exactly where something went wrong. And when, when things go awry, it may or may not be faster. And so for some people, it does work very well. Others it doesn't. But yes, there has been, you know, we grow at the speed of cash. And so there's been some things that we have to hold off on. And it has maybe slow down growth, a little bit, but I feel like it's much more solid growth.
Jaime White 12:07
So when you think about how you've had to develop, personally, buying out this business, and then growing your team, it sounds like you've put a few team members, how many employees you have under you now? And what are some of the things that you've had to learn about yourself, normally,
Dan Auld 12:22
we have eight team members now and then myself and my wife, so eight employees. More employees does not always mean equal more, more money, it doesn't always equal, more work getting done. That's one thing I learned we had, I think the most we've ever had was 11. And that actually was one of our least profitable years, a lot of things getting overlooked. So there's some things when hiring to that you just simply can't hire, you can't. You can, I should say you can't train, you can't train desire, you can't train, you know, someone with a work ethic, that desire has to be there to get that work ethic first, before you can actually train somebody, you can teach somebody processes, you can teach somebody systems and in standard procedures. And so, character means a lot when we're hiring. And there was a time, you know, we would just hire anybody that could come in and work, you know, yes, we have more production, right. But you end up dealing more with personal things. And it takes the bottom line down. And that's not profitable either. So we're kind of stringent with the hiring process. When it comes to growth. That was something I had to learn kind of the hard way. And then also with, like I mentioned before, just because we have our best crew leader that doesn't make him manage your material. And there are people that are great managers. And then there's people that just aren't interested, don't have those thought processes, whatever it may be, but they're better off and probably happier doing something other than management.
Jaime White 14:07
Yeah. You know, it's interesting when you talk about character and the things that you can't train Kwik Trip obviously, most of us are on here, know Kwik Trip. The first question in an interview is what is the last random act of kindness or something along those lines? What was your last random act of kindness? And they said, you know, then we have to train our interviewers on. What does the pause mean? Because sometimes people are gonna step back and pause. It's because it's not because they haven't done it, but maybe it's because they're so used to being kind that they don't even see themselves that way or, you know, so interview questions and learning how to determine, you know, what employees are going to be the right fit for the company. It's what I've seen from you is that you have a certain set of values that you're operating your company from, obviously the name integrity for and kind of says that if we had to pick one, right, that was probably one.
Dan Auld 15:00
I've always said, if you want to make something hard for yourself, put integrity before anything you're gonna do.
Jaime White 15:07
I'm envisioning this company with eight employees that, you know, you really have this strong core, and you're interested in that stability and creating that security for people. And so you're building this really strong foundational trait based company like in today's society, finding people, you know, usually people are complaining that they can't find someone to work, would you echo, you know, the same questions or problems that you feel others are saying, do you hear those same things and feel those labels,
Dan Auld 15:35
it is hard to hire. And that was once one thing we looked into what two years ago, we talked about hiring a company that would, you know, recruit or whatever. And at that point, he literally told me, he said, What is the point? What do you have to offer that is better than anybody else that's going to bring anybody in. And that was, you know, the middle of COVID, when it was hard to hire, and it still is hard to hire. That was something that I learned in building the business from what it was before is the mindset before was always kind of hurry up, get the process or the project done as fast as you can. You're just go go go, type, that's kind of how the business was run at that point. And transitioning that into a place that people want to work. At that point, there were no employee benefits, time off, you know, things like that weren't really a thing, which it was the start of a company. And so that's quite common, it does take a lot of work to get that going. But just building a place that people want to be, you know, that they look forward to coming to work, and just not making it slave driving, grind all the time. And so, setting that kind of, I don't like to use the word culture, that seems like it, but that's what it just gets. I feel like but having that culture and other people do notice, employ people that we do jobs for notice. The employees tell their friends that you know, or maybe on a union job somewhere, and it's just grind, grind grind, well, then they, they care a little bit more than that, and they want a good place to work. And so that's kind of where most of our employees come from. I am a little bit lucky that most of our employees are actually military or ex-military. And so that's, I've had ties with that, and be able to bring people in that way too.
Jaime White 17:22
Wow, that's really cool. I know what you're saying about culture. And the word is, feels like it's got a little bit overused, but it's
Dan Auld 17:32
in every sports locker room around the nation. So it Yeah,
Jaime White 17:35
yeah. And it's a thing. When I think about hiring employees, and the challenges that come in, yes, there is a challenging environment right now, you could say, but I would say it's more specific to certain industries. And maybe the reason that those industries are a little bit more challenged is because either a the culture isn't what people want to be involved in anymore, or be the technology hasn't kept up, or the owners haven't changed the vision of the company to really match today's environment. Like when I was hiring people, if I showed them that I was interested in them, and growing them. It wasn't about the pay, it wasn't always about the benefits it was about that I showed an interest in them in their lives. And then how could they grow? And what were the opportunities within the company? And then at what point did it no longer makes sense. And I found those to be amazing conversations, and then you enjoy working together. It's a team environment, we're spending how much time together doing amazing things. Why not enjoy it?
Dan Auld 18:42
Right? Right. And when you have, you know, good group of guys that are involved with each other's families, really, and that's one thing, going back to helping our employees and get given them a good foundation to work off as I tell they, they need to use their time off, if possible, you know, that's important to go spend their time with their family and make sure everything's right over there. Otherwise, you're not going to be you know, worth what you shouldn't be when you come to work, if you don't, if not take care of those things. Just don't be working all the time. We have several that are, you know, new fathers and having babies and so they're in the early stages of that and just trying to implore them to, you know, take the time off, and, and do the right things, you know, be a family man. And that always comes back and helps them perform better. They feel secured. It shows that, you know, we care, not just myself but other employees covering for them while they're gone, or whatever it may be. And it's just a team effort. It actually turns into a team effort. People are Yeah, well, we'll pick up for him not. He was gone last week and he's gone all the time. You don't hear that kind of stuff.
Jaime White 19:45
What do you see in the future? Maybe a couple years out, as maybe God's calling for you or your company.
Dan Auld 19:53
That's kind of something I've gone through. I've gone through a phase and I'm kind of looking around now. Not really sure what is next. I really enjoyed running the business, this last couple of years, I've put managers in place, you know, so I don't have to do everything. And that has really worked out in, during our Debt Free Journey, that's where our, my vision was so much, you know, that's what I focused on. And I kind of learned something interesting is, after that, you know, we had everything, personal side and business side, completely debt free. And then I found myself, you know, I, I knew I needed to focus elsewhere on the family and stuff like that, because I was driving so high. And so I was trying to disengage a little bit from the business, and I found myself needing purpose, you know, I was I was pulling my purpose was really what I was doing. And so I think I really went about that wrong. You know, I'd get a call from my project managers, I'm getting frustrated, be like aww, you know, you should be taking care of this. Well, the last six months or so I've really realized how much I do need to be engaged in the business, not pull it away, but you don't have time for what's right. And you know, I have changed the way I do things personally, after the debt-free part of my story is past. And so the future last couple of months, we've been, I had the opportunity to get on a few webinars and stuff with the NWFA the national floor association. So just being involved in the educational side of the business. We're working with a company that's developing an app that allows us to monitor job sites and things like that remotely. And so I've been able to be in the development phase of that. And then we hired a production company, because we're doing a customer educational video, we feel it's important. And we've seen the results when you actually sit down, you don't sell a customer, but you educate them, and how much that makes them comfortable with the process and they want to learn more. customers only want to learn so much I've learned that I just had customers, you know, want to see it, you know, learn as much as they can and then maybe do it themselves. Well, they get overwhelmed, right? Yeah, you do it, this is too much, ya know, so, really trying to educate the customers. And that's one thing we're putting that video together for. And I've enjoyed that part of the business, not necessarily growing, production wise, but customer service wise, and educating. You know, I wouldn't really call it coaching our customers, but just being involved with the educational side of the business and growing, that we're working with other people and different projects. So I would like to go down that more that route more, you know, being involved with the overall industry and not just our own customers.
Jaime White 22:49
Yeah, it sounds like you're embracing the role of visionary really, which is, you know, to consider new r&d, you know, what research and development on new things that maybe not all the ideas get passed into implementation, but they have to be considered at some point. And who better to do that, you know, then the company visionary to say, Hey, this is still in alignment with what we're doing. And the other piece that comes to mind is, when we think about the basic human needs, like you've talked about security and stability, and that is one of the basic human needs, right, we also need a little bit of uncertainty a little bit venture in our lives, maybe it doesn't have to be in the in form of debt. But for some people that have an addiction to uncertainty or an unhealthy need, they may like that, you know, level of stress and uncertainty. In then there's, you know, love and connection, which you talk about, like, with your families and making sure that we still have that connection with other people or in that team, inside your environment. And then significance, we all want to have a little bit of like, I mean, something I but then the last two, which are actually made to the spirit is growth and contribution. And so what I hear you saying is that you're starting to really lean into those because you've created this healthy, you know, space for certainty, uncertainty, love and connection and significance, you know, that that's kind of like Check, check, check, check. So now, how do I grow? And how does my company grow in a way that we can give back and contribute? And that's amazing. That's, that's the most beautiful space to be, because otherwise, like you said, What's my purpose? That is actually a human need. We need that. Right. So I love it.
Dan Auld 24:29
Yes. And us both the hiring process, is it hard to hire people? I had a good friend of mine that I talked to, he's a business owner as well. And he mentioned he's like, you know, maybe it's not time to hire. And when we're not hiring, there's always growing pains with hiring. And so that's kind of where your focus is when you're trying to grow the numbers side, in the people side. But you can sit in the space you're in and all the problems you're having with that space well, try to solve those. And so that's what a lot Out of the, you know, this jobsite monitoring company we're working with and so like, those are problems that wood floor guys have, because I conditions not being right. And so we can work in our own little space. And maybe it's not growing in numbers, you know, we're not putting more crews on the road or anything like that. But we're still growing in making that foundation solid.
Jaime White 25:15
Wow, that's amazing. So when you think about becoming a business owner, that you've become an even becoming the person that you've had to become in order to run the company in a way that's healthy and growing and contributing, is there anything else that you would like to express to somebody that's either thinking about being in business or more, maybe more importantly, growing from doing the work themselves to adding employees, anything that comes to mind,
Dan Auld 25:44
there's a few things. One thing I've always thought and, you know, I realize it's a myth is the work life balance is not a myth, but it's not 40 4040. You know, it's not 40 hours a week, working 40 hours a, you know, eight, eight, I should say, eight hours a day working eight hours of rest and relaxation, eight hours a family that doesn't exist, when it comes and goes, you know, when you're growing a business, yeah, you are going to have to put almost all of your time in starting and growing that business, after it gets legs and starts growing needed to pull back a little bit because you've been cheating something you've probably cheated your family, or your health mentally or physically. And so as you go through business, it's not the same time implemented into each category every single day, or every single week or every single month. But those things you have to focus on what's important at that time. Christy Wright, wrote a book, I read her book, and it's take back your time, I think, is the title of that. And that's what she talks about is I kind of had that realization that I read the book, and it was it just solidified it. And then also, once you have an established business, and it's grown a little bit, you do need to pull back a little bit, you know, you shouldn't be working 6070 hours a week, if you're after you've been in business for three to five years, or whatever, that that does need to come back. Because you're gonna burn yourself out, or just change your job roles. You know, if you're, if you're going to continue, you're going to have to change, if you're going to continue comfortable, you're going to have to make changes as you go. It does get hard, I would tell someone else starting that they definitely need to surround themselves with like minded people. You know, the people that are around you speaking at you is what, that's what your thoughts are going to be. And so find the people that you feel are, are successful. And the people that are motivating the people that speak positively and not negatively, and have somebody that you can really go to and be open with that is definitely needed.
Jaime White 27:52
I love that when you mentioned about finding people to surround yourself with that are in a way that you define success, right? Like, everybody's definition of success is different. And I think that's important, because I feel like God's calling us into different things using our different gifts and talents. Raising our families in different ways. It's all it's all good. It's just that what's, you know, how do we find that, the circle of influence, to support us in the way that we're meant to kind of be challenged and contribute. So I love that. Thank you so much for all of this insight. And I really am inspired by everything that you're doing and the person that you are. And I know that being a person that inspires others, sometimes we don't realize how much of an impact and effect that has on others and really thankful for them.
Dan Auld 28:47
Yeah, it isn't Everybody needs somebody around. I think that's one thing I do struggle with is I'm not a big rah, rah guy, right? Not, you know, super energetic and some people are you watch them and you're like, Man, I just wish I was more that way. But there's a there's a place for everybody. And I just try to be consistent. That's the thing I try with but yeah.
Jaime White 29:13
Yeah, my son, that's 20, he has been so inspired over the years by people that are similar to you that you know, maybe have a podcast to share their information. And then he just waits for their next release. He's not listening to the rah rah guys. He's watching spindles spin and the boring things maybe like what I like to ask people when sometimes we want to look at what somebody else has that we don't is what skill or what strength or what gift of yours are you willing to give up to have a different one, right? Oftentimes, we're not willing to give up something of our own. Even if we see something in somebody else that maybe we should be that way. No, you're inspiring, even if it's not rah, rah.
Dan Auld 29:59
There's one guy Listen to Jocko Willink coming up oh I love him but you know that his wrote that book Extreme Ownership absolutely not a very rah rah guy either. You know just his presence is something that's solid in you know that the strength there is guys like him are just those are kind of people I look up to there not rah rah, not flashy, but there's a trust and just a solid foundation there. That's really attractive.
Jaime White 30:26
Absolutely. I have his book I've given it out so many times I think the left copies still in the plastic maybe it's time to take the plastic out and make it look like I'm reading it, but I'm just buying new ones and giving them out.
Dan Auld 30:40
Yeah, that's one book that I give to all of our employees. Extreme. Yeah.
Jaime White 30:43
Yeah. It's huge. Reading that reading that when I was in the process of leading employees created a mindset shift that I needed to have shifted was very important.
Dan Auld 30:55
Yeah, yeah, it's a tough one. And I mean, they call it extreme ownership for for a reason if you live that lifestyle in that, that way to a tee. You know, we all try to, right but it is. That's extreme, but very beneficial.
Jaime White 31:14
Thank you so much for coming on. Appreciate it. And we hope to talk to you again soon.
Dan Auld 31:19
Sounds great. Thank you