Entrepreneur Interview with
James Beale, Founder/CEO, NGS
Interviewed by John Stringer, Micheal Monk, Junmad Hollis, Gerren Whitlock, & Ronald Barnes.
Stringer: All right. First of all, I just want to say thank you again, Mr. Beale, for joining us. We are delighted. Our team is here and dedicated to the mission. Our goal today is to interview a successful entrepreneur to gain some insights based on the class we’re enrolled in right now: Management & Organizational Behavior. So again, thank you for your time. Really.
Beale: You bet.
Stringer: So I want to introduce you after we’ve all introduced ourselves. As you know, my name is John Stringer and I’m a senior at Morehouse College majoring in Business Administration and Management, currently residing in Atlanta, GA… and we’ll quickly go around and introduce the rest of the team.
Monk: Hi, Mr. Beal, my name is Mike Monk. I’m a junior in Business Administration and I’m from Harrisburg, PA. Nice to meet you.
Hollis: Good afternoon, Mr. Beal. My name is Juhmad Hollis. I am a junior at Morehouse College, a Business Administration major and I am from Birmingham, AL, currently residing in New Orleans.
Beale: Nice to meet you.
Whitlock: Good afternoon, Mr. Beale. I’m Garren Whitlock, a current senior here at Morehouse College, Business Administration major with a concentration in Management from Jackson, Ms. but reside here in Birmingham, AL. Pleasure to meet you.
Beale: Pleasure to meet you. Likewise.
Barnes: Good afternoon, Mr. Beale. Ronald Barnes, I’m a senior Business Administration and Management major at Morehouse and residing in Trenton, SC. Nice to meet you.
Beale: Nice to meet you as well.
Stringer: So that’s the team you’ll be getting questions from. And as we ask you questions, just know as a heads up, we’re going to state our name each time because we’ll also create a transcript so that’ll make it easy to know who’s asking what.
Beale: Perfect. I appreciate it.
Stringer: Great. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce – to our readers, listeners, and viewers (if you’re watching this on video) – an amazing entrepreneur named James Beale. He’s a leading expert in glazing solutions and specializes in helping organizations evaluate and implement building envelope security, sustainability and branding technologies. His expertise comes from more than 15 years of industry experience and founding National Glazing Solutions (NGS), the nation’s largest and fastest growing glazing security and sustainability solutions company. His customer-first approach has helped him become the go-to consultant for multiple Fortune 500 companies and we’re delighted to dive into the questions. So, let’s get started.
So, Mr. Beale, John Stringer here. Can you give us a brief description of your organization, how you like to present it?
Beale: …. the company mission? …I can kind of go off on a couple of different … touch on a couple of different areas for you guys.
Stringer: Sure. Mission highlighting the mission might be good, and… whatever’s near and dearest to you outside of the bio.
Beale: Perfect. So, the way that I would explain our company is that we are the leading energy security and branding retrofit company in the United States for glazing. So, …. whether that’s blast protection, active shooter mitigation, forced entry, solar, control or branding, complete rehab of buildings with architectural surface films and really … the business is unique in the sense that in our, it’s a niche industry and it’s very fragmented. Where we kind of cut our teeth is we provide end-to-end solutions: design, manufacturing, consultation, pricing and installation.
So if you own a commercial or government building, if you own or lease a commercial or government building, essentially, you’re our target customer – whether that’s K through 12 or military, federal, county, city, state. Really, what we do is provide end to end service, right, which I think you guys know. My business partner likes to call it the frictionless process: you know, you call a contractor or you want to talk to somebody, you want somebody to make it easy: Everything from the design selection the recommendation, the pricing, all the way to the delivery. There are very few people, especially in the trades, that can do that and that do that. So, the number one reason people do business with us is this service. We’re not the cheapest. And, in fact I hate using that word, but we provide the most value and I think that’s really what separates us from the pack.
You can either be the lowest cost player like the Dollar Trees and the Family Dollars of the world, or you can provide value which would be like the Targets of the world…and you get sort of a core group of customers that swear by you. I would say we’re kind of like the Target in the construction and trades industry if I if I were to give us an analogy there.
Stringer: That’s excellent. Thank you, Sir.
Monk: Mr. Beale, Mike Monk here. Can you tell us the story behind how you began this entrepreneurial venture and what inspired you to launch this company?
Beale: Yeah. So,I’ll try to give you the elevator version of that. But a long time ago – and this is how I know John, actually – John and I started a band and before the band started making money, Is was basically installing blinds, shades, and shutters. I realized pretty quickly that the guys that were selling / people that were selling the blinds, shades, and shutters weren’t doing a great job. And this is back in the housing boom when they’re, you know, houses were just going up left, right & center. So I started selling and I realized when I went to those appointments, there were, you know, literally 20 proposals for Mrs. Jones Windows, right? I did a little bit of diligence and found out that there’s only two or three commercial companies and the jobs are 10 times the size. So, to me that was pretty much a no brainer, right? Why am I going to fight for a smaller piece of the pie? It’s, you know, with all these other companies where it’s, you know, it’s a lot more margin pressure. Competitiveness and whatnot. And so, I pitched the deal to a window film company that was selling residential and commercial locally. I said let me go after your commercial book of business. They said OK. The first deal I pitched and landed was Budget Blinds nationally. So, Budget Blinds franchisees, window treatments.
They had a need to offer window film as part of their solution set. And the thing with Window film is it’s very hard to install. It’s like auto tint on your car, right? If everybody could, if anybody could install it, you would just buy it off the shelf. But you don’t. You buy it professionally installed because it’s a specialty trade. And So, what I realized is that window film comes on a roll and it can be shipped anywhere in the country and there’s a network of installers that are hungry to do the work. And so I pitched sort of a concept to that company about doing a turnkey nationwide window film program using subcontractors and they said OK. We pitched it to Budget Blinds and they agreed. So, we spun off a new company and gave me 25% ownership in that company. And then about 2006, the band had a single on the Billboard charts for single sales. We signed a small record deal and went on tour. And of course, like every other young musician out there, I thought, woohoo, you know, we’ve made it. I’m off. And of course, that wasn’t the case, right? The Justin Bieber’s of the world were coming out. YouTube was coming out and 2008 happened: the economy crashed. We were getting ready to go on tour with The Cult and that went away. And I was left with kind of like a fork in the road personally, which was “do I want to be the guy that plays, you know, cover band, you know, covers at bat bars after hours? Or do I want to go and pave my own way?” And it’s in my nature: I wanted to go and pave my own way. And the company that I helped cofound, they defaulted on a note payable to me. And so, I went to the VP of Operations and said “Who sold everything” He said “you did.” I said “Who got everything installed?” He said he did. And so I said, “let’s start our own company.”
I borrowed $10,000 from my brother and we started the company with a cell phone and a laptop each. And it was pretty tough sledding. We didn’t make any money for the first couple of years, and there were a number of months with no paychecks and, you know, some pretty scary…. let’s just say I ran up some pretty big credit card bills. And then we really started to pick up steam. Fast forward to last year, we did about $50 million in revenue. We have about 130 employees and this year we’re projecting to do minimum $80 million in sales. And I think we can crack closer to 100 million this year because of all the security issues, all the active shooter events that you’re seeing almost nonstop: Michigan State another example. So the tailwinds of our business – sustainability and security – have absolutely exploded for us and you know I like to tell people we’re not chasing these things. It’s the right intersection of preparation and opportunity, right? So all these years that my business partner and I grew and we serviced, we did the Dollar Trees, the one window blackout film, whiteout film, and we wrote a business plan, and we said we would service national retail because we knew the subcontractor model, and then when we had enough liquidity and enough credit, we could then start going after bigger commercial projects. We started doing that, we started hiring and when we got to a point where we were starting to become a market leader, not the market leader at the time. All of these active shooter things and events started to really pick up steam and because we service national retail, we service smash-and-grab – we install security films for smash-and-grab and some of those same products are used to delay entry for active shooters. So, K through 12 schools, things like that, government buildings. And so we were really well positioned to take advantage of the demand and security. And then we help bring a product called Riot Glass to market and everybody thought I was nuts. They were like, you know, like “Riot glass? That’s aggressive.” Then 2020 hit and all the civil unrest occurred. And all of a sudden, we couldn’t put up riot glass fast enough. And so with riot glass and our security efforts, we then became the number one installer of security retrofit products in the United States. We’re 3M’s biggest customer. We’re all of the major manufacturers, including Riot glass, we’re their biggest client. We don’t own Riot glass but we helped bring them to market at the national retail level and now to government. And since then, we’ve just been selected as finalists in the GSA Green Proving Ground for their global search for carbon emission reduction technologies and we were selected last year and 2022 finalists and we’ve just been on a roller coaster… I mean everything just seems to be falling into place. Texas and other states around the United States, too, implemented mandatory security hardening projects for K through 12 because of all the active shooter and we’re the biggest player now. We touched 10,000 projects last year, everything from one-window retail all the way to the Atlanta International Airport. Everybody on this call has probably been through there and you’ve experienced one of our installs. I like to call it the most experienced window film project in the world because we installed solar control film, brand new technology from 3M – no metals in it – on about 90,000 square feet of glass on all the new concourses in A, B, C, & T, and it was for heat gain reduction and glare reduction. It was also to reduce glare for the pilots pulling up to the concourses. So anyway, I’ll stop talking for a second so you guys can ask me more questions. But yeah, there’s a lot to say about where we came from and what we’ve done and the hustle & hard work to get there.
Stringer: Thank you for that.
Hollis: That’s awesome. This is Juhmad Hollis. Our course reading states that entrepreneurship occurs when an enterprising individual pursues a lucrative opportunity under conditions of uncertainty. When you reflect on your career, how do your experiences compare with that statement?
Beale: It’s 100% accurate. Listen, I’m not the smartest guy in the world, right? And I think you’ll find most honest entrepreneurs will kind of tell you the same thing, right? I think honestly, you know, what I saw happen, essentially, was the opportunity which I pointed out earlier in my story about seeing that there was a need for applied films. And there was an issue there – it’s kind of a challenge to install and a lot of people were having a hard time installing it and they wanted one point of contact and one company to install nationwide – i.e. Budget Blinds and others. So, we kind of explain our business model is like a 3-legged stool, right. You have the manufacturers, you have contractors, and you have the customers and they all want to work together and they don’t know how, and they can’t, and we just connect that. We’re the connective tissue between the end user all the way up to the manufacturer through the installers and then manufacturers. So that kind of aligns with your statement there.
Stringer: John Stringer here. Just a probing question along those lines: we’ve learned about control, like quality control. Being that connection through those 3 – The customer, the manufacturer, Subcontractor – How are you ensuring Quality Control? Like what have you put in place to help ensure great results every time?
Beale: It’s a great question and we get asked that all the time. I’m sure you can imagine. And you know we have basically worked with and selected professional installation crews all around the United States and it’s taken years to get there and we’ve trained. Now, we have a fairly large installation force ourselves. We have offices in Chicago, New York, DC, Atlanta and Houston. And so we self-perform a lot of work now. And so with that we were able to control more of the quality if it’s a specialized install. We we have our Subs and our in-house installers tagged by capability. Right. So if they don’t, if they don’t know how to do a project, we don’t put them against it. We have completion protocols where when a job is getting ready to be completed, signed off right by the end user, by the customer or the customer’s representative and we have to get completion pictures. So, it’s a combination of completion pictures and customer acceptance. It is how we manage that. It’s not to say that we don’t have issues. Sometimes we do, but by far and large, I would say that as much work as we do, we have very little issues. So I think our process, our quality control process is fairly effective.
Stringer: Nice. Thank you.
Beale: You bet.
Whitlock: Garren Whitlock here, Mr. Beale. And our course persistence is defined as never giving up, whereas resilience is defined as adapting to changing conditions. Our next two questions we’ll address each separately. That said, first, can you tell us about any activities you initiated to persist and stay the course during the time of crisis? We’d love to hear about both the crisis and the activities that you’re willing to share.
Beale: So. Activities. Let me think through that question because there are plenty of examples of us working through adversity. If I could use that term here, and that comes in many forms, right? For an entrepreneur and a business owner, financial challenges, personnel challenges, competitive market conditions, market challenges. We’ve had a number of them. And we’ve worked through it, persisted through in a couple of different ways. Number 1 is, you know, sometimes you think the sky is falling, you have them. I’ll give you an example. We were doing a project for HH Gregg. I don’t know if you guys remember HH Greg back in the day, they’re now a failed concept like Best Buy, big box retailers. We were installing security film for them. The architect had specked the wrong material. And we told the architect they had specked the wrong material and they were not doing it the correct way. The architect did not, did not correct it. We continued to install the way the architect had expected there was a massive breach and it caused some problems. HH Gregg was going to come after us. They were talking about suing us. And we basically hunkered down and really relied on the fact that we knew that we did everything right. And we documented that we did everything right. And at the time if HH Gregg had sued us or come after us, that very well could have been the end of our company because we just didn’t have the means to to pay. The loss that they had incurred, and it would have been, it would have been a really, a very big problem for us. And so we basically dug our heels in and I don’t want to say fought but we stood our ground. And we stood our ground on the, you know, on the grounds that we knew we did everything right, documented everything properly. We believed in what we did and we believed that we gave the customer every opportunity, every opportunity to do the right thing and the architect did not do it. So there’s an example that does kind of align with what you’re what you’re asking there. Absolutely, yes, it sure does. You know, and then I’ll tell you another one and this is, you know, personnel, if you guys are in, you know, if any of you start your own business, you’re going to hire employees and the personnel piece is a challenge and there’s adversity that comes along with that. And it, you know, we’ve been in situations where we’ve done the right thing and we believe we’ve done the right thing and I’ll tell you. Every single employee that we’ve ever fired, or I personally have ever been involved in letting go, they all have the same common, core quality and that is they don’t believe they did anything wrong. They don’t. They don’t have the ability to look and see constructively how to do things better and so it’s very hard to rationalize with somebody who doesn’t believe they did anything wrong. And those are typically the people that take you to court and sue you for or try to sue you for things that are not legitimate. You know, whether it’s discrimination or any number of wrongful termination or any number of those things. So we’ve, we’ve worked our way through. Some of those, those times and again it comes down to. You know, documenting what you do, believing in what you do, and doing the right thing.
Whitlock: Awesome. Thank you for sharing.
Barnes: Hey, Mr. Beale, Ronald Barnes here to follow up on that question. Can you share any activities you’ve initiated to be resilient during a time of crisis? Again, just to remind you, in our course resilience is defined as adapting to change and conditions. If you have any insight on that, we greatly appreciate it. Yeah. There’s one during COVID which we had to very quickly adapt our signage division to make sneeze guards and we had to produce them in China. Because we couldn’t get them in the United States. And we could not get the customs in America. Actually ended up, unfortunately they ended up accusing us of, of dumping, of dumping plastic. Yeah, there, there was a, it was a, what was it? It was a can’t remember exactly, but we couldn’t get the materials in the US because the supply was strained because of all the sneeze guards and all the plastics and everything was going on. And our biggest customer Dollar Tree at the time said we need 30,000 sneeze guards. So we went ahead and worked with one of our Chinese. Buyers and did the best we could to accommodate them and we shifted our workforce from doing…. we pulled in installers, administrative people, you name it… just about everybody. We used different roles to package and put together sneeze guards for Dollar Tree to basically keep payroll going. So I would call that an adjust and adapt and a change scenario that we that we put in play pretty quickly to ensure that we could continue operations.
Barnes: Thank you for that.
Beale: You bet.
John Stringer here. Well, what have been some of your biggest learning experiences throughout your entrepreneurial endeavors so far?
Beale: You know, I’ve learned a lot from a lot of people along the way and I’ll try to give credit where credit is due. The thing that I would say that I’ve learned personally and professionally is how to deal with other people in a constructive manner, especially employees, and building the business. You work with a lot of different personalities and you work with a lot of different people and you often, as an entrepreneur… and John, you could probably relate to this… we’ve worked together in the band before, but you know when you’re an entrepreneur you can tend to be opinionated and you can tend to think that your way is the right way. Right? And so, what I’ve learned is to really try to take more time to present my point of view to get buy in as opposed to “this is what we’re doing.” I’ve learned that when you get people to buy in and ask them to contribute, you’re going to get a better end result. If everybody on the team has an opinion that, well, “it was his idea, I didn’t want to do that anyway,” you’re not going to get the same result as if you got everybody to contribute and buy into what you’re doing. So I would say that’s the biggest lesson that I’ve learned: engaging people in a constructive way and trying to get them to buy into what we’re doing so that they have ownership.
Stringer: Beautiful. That’s a great one.
Beale: Thank you. You bet.
Monk: Mr. Beale, it’s Mike Monk again. This is really fascinating here about hearing about the evolution of your business, how you’ve changed from the start to where you are today. Where do you see your business in the future? Do you have a 5 to 10 year plan for what’s next?
Beale: So that’s a great question. Where do I see us in the future? I would tell you I see us being a… when I think of our company down the road, I see us being of a bigger company with probably some more divisions, more diversification ,almost like a Johnson Controls in the building space… and doing more engineering and bringing more proprietary products to market, working well more with manufacturers to bring products to market that we brand. That’s kind of where we are already – bringing some products to market – sort of white boxing if you will other manufacturers’ products, but we want to actually R&D and bring some of our own patented products to market. That’s kind of the greater evolution of our company. And we will continue to acquire other companies in our space around the United States as well because in the next five years, I think you asked for our five year plan, our revenue goal is $250 million. And in order for us to get there, we have to do a number of things. We have to acquire market share. We have to buy some other companies. We have to introduce more products of distinction and we have to acquire more repeat recurring national contracts. And the way for us to do that is by really kind of checking all of those boxes, which is greater market share, more product, a greater product portfolio that is unique to us, and increase our service levels.
Stringer: John Stringer here with the follow up question. When you mentioned products of distinction, does that include patents or anything like that or are these..
Beale: Exactly. Yeah, we ultimately want to work on some patented applications and if the reality of that is in the near term, it’s more likely we buy them than develop them. Because we just don’t have the personnel, we don’t have PhDs on staff, right? And so the fastest way for us to get there is to really acquire other companies that have got a patent and that are either selling it or we could just buy the company. And we actually tried to do that with Riot glass. We tried to buy them and we were pretty far along with our negotiations with them and they decided to work with a different private equity firm. And get acquired by a company called QMI out of Chicago. . So yeah, John, that is the plan for us and the near term plan is to buy them as opposed to build them if that makes sense.
Stringer: That does. Thank you.
Hollis: Junmad Hollis. This is an amazing story, Mr. Beale. Definitely. I would like to know are there any daily routines that you follow personally to keep you in a good space while dealing with the pressure of entrepreneurship? And I apologize for for my son in the background.
Beale: No, no problem at all. I wish I was hanging out with my son. Right now. I’m on the road. So yeah, actually, I’m pretty much an early riser. I’m up usually at 5:00 AM and I have a home gym and I like to go down and work out in the morning and then get up and I’m on e-mail by like 6:00 o’clock right. So I try to get as much of my like, you know… There are projects that I have in my sort of on my task list to get done everything from whether we’re launching like right now we’re launching a new brand called Aspire through our graphics department and, you know, whether it’s an acquisition that we’re working on or integration, different things, those things take up a lot of time. So, I try to chip away a little bit of those every day in the morning because in the afternoon I have meetings and you guys will probably find out you can whittle your day away with meetings sometimes, and I try not to do that. I try to actually do work and the best chance for me to do that is in the morning. So, I try to really put my time in before most people are having their first cup of coffee.
Hollis: Thank you for that.
Beale: You bet.
Whitlock: Gearing Whitlock here again, Mr. Beale. It’s fascinating to have something that you started from the ground up and making those connections that you did in order to get things done. Looking back, what are you most proud of when you consider how your business has evolved compared to when you first began?
Beale: What am I most proud of?
Beale: You know, that’s a great question. I think I’m most proud of the fact. Good at this stage in the game. NSR Company provides so much value for so many families. You know, I don’t want to be cheesy or anything like that, but I really do believe, you know. Like, you know, it’s really cool. I watched some of our employees, our key employees, post pictures about their dream homes that they’re building, you know, because of the careers they have with us and I mean, that’s the coolest thing in the world, right? And you and a lot of the people that work with our company, we promote from within, right? They’re homegrown. And so because of that, you know, we get to watch them professionally develop and really kind of watch them grow personally and professionally. I mean most, we have very little turnover. In fact, we’ve virtually no turnover in our company. Most of the employees have been there, have been there for you know, 10 years, seven years, you know. So it’s really cool for me. It’s very fulfilling to watch and see people that we’ve hired provide so much value for their families through something that ultimately the little old me did with the $10,000 loan, right. So that’s the most fulfilling thing. Of course, as an entrepreneur, there’s always that competitive spirit, I love winning and I love seeing the company grow and get more market share and win bigger contracts and outpace our competition every year. So it’s probably twofold: I love the people aspect of and the and the value and then I also love the value and the growth of the company.
Barnes: Thank you for that, Mister Beale. This is Ronald Barnes again. I know you mentioned earlier that dealing with personalities and thinking that you’re always right as an entrepreneur was part of one of the biggest parts of your learning experience. So, our apologies if it crosses over with the answer to this next question, but what have you found to be the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Beale: So the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur is not knowing where your next check is going to come from when you’re starting. Right? Those concerns are not where your next check is gonna come from but am I gonna meet you know even the numbers am I gonna meet budget, right? So it’s the same in a kind of a weird way it’s the same issue just on a much bigger scale. When you’re starting the concern and the biggest challenge is “how am I gonna, how am I gonna get the next contract or how am I gonna you know, keep the lights on” or not having the line of sight and the stability that a business like ours after 14 years now has, right. And I’ll tell you a funny little anecdotal story: my business partner and I, you know we first started business in 2009 and we were, we were making like 10 to $15,000 a month in sales. And I said, listen, Pat said we have got to get to $50,000 a month in sales. And he said, I don’t get it, James. I don’t see it. I don’t see $50,000 worth of window film out there. You know, of course he’s the OPS guy, right? I’m the sales guy. And now we’re doing 5 and $6 million a month. You know, to put that in perspective, so he, he didn’t see 50,000 a month, we’re doing 5,000,000 a month. And so it’s funny. I always look back and you know I always tease him about that. Like that’s the one that that won’t go away .
Back then it was such a challenge. I mean for us to break even was like $20,000 a month, right? And so we were always struggling to get that, to get that next check because we never knew where it was going to come from or how we were going to get it. I even remember a time when we received the check for a job. It was $10,000 and it was from a GC and we were broke. Pat and I hadn’t had a paycheck in weeks, in months actually. And so we ran to the Bank, Bank of America, and we went to deposit and they said, oh, we got to put a hold on it. 10 days. We said, no, thank you. We took that check right back out of their hands. We walked down to BB&T at the time we said, hey, can you cash this check today? And they said if you open up an account, we’ll let you cash 90% of it. We said done. And ever since then we’ve been a very loyal customer for what now is Truist and we have all of our banking products with them.
But again, sorry that was probably a little bit longer winded than you wanted to hear, but the challenge was always knowing where or if your bets are gonna payout ,right? Your next check, where’s the money coming from?
Barnes: Yes, Sir. So basically dealing with the unknown was I guess what you would say would be the most challenging.
Beale: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Cause the major difference between entrepreneur and employee is an employee is guaranteed a check. Right? An entrepreneur isn’t.
Barnes: Yes, Sir. Thank you.
Beale: You bet.
Monk: All right. Mike Monk here. Sounds like quite a journey. How have your personal values impacted or directed your business?
Beale: Ohh in a major way. I have been generous to a fault you could say. But I you know, there have been plenty of business relationships with our customers and with our vendors where we ultimately ended up paying to do things that we weren’t obligated to take care of what we did. I believe in treating others the way I want to be treated and if it’s questionable, we’ll take care of it. You know and ultimately, I’m looking at the long play not the “how much money am I gonna make right now on this deal.” I think a lot of people get caught up on how much can I make on this deal versus building a relationship. And I’ll tell you a very valuable lesson I’ve learned is you build a relationship with people in the industry that you plan to make a career in. Those people move around, they go places and they remember. And I can tell you we have the best reputation in the industry and we have people that come back to us all the time. The majority of our businesses is repeat / recurring because of the way we treat people, and that is a direct reflection of my values.
Stringer: Beautiful. Thank you for that. And I recall… let me just say, John Stringer here first. I learned a lot from you working with you in our band days and our label days because of your ability to sell, because of your ability to tell a great story, and because of your ability to build relationships. I witnessed that firsthand. I’ve admired and learned from that. So, appreciate you sharing that wisdom.
So, last question, and we wanted to keep this down to 45 minutes. So what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs – those who work inside of a business and innovate – that you haven’t already shared with us? Any parting wisdom, advice or even stories? We’ve got a whole 5 minutes.
Beale: Yeah, listen, I’ve got more than 5 minutes too, you know. You know, I’m happy to talk about this stuff. I love, as you said, John, I’d love to tell a story so I would tell you guys, you know, I did already touch on Find a niche. I don’t know if I presented it this way, but find a niche. That you can own, you don’t have to be. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. But if you can find a segment or a market where you can really just dominate that market or that segment, that’s how you’re going to win. You know, you don’t have to be the smartest. You don’t have to be the fastest. You don’t have to be. You just have to be persistent, dedicated, and committed, dominating that space. And you will do it.
Because what I have learned time and time again is people just don’t want to do what it takes to be truly successful. And that is, you know, waking up every day with the intent and the action behind the intent. A lot of people missed that. Missed that piece. They wake up, say “ohh, yeah, I wanna do it. I wanna do it. I’m gonna do it.” But they don’t do it. They just don’t do it. And you know, they’re showing up is half the battle. And you know I have woken up every day for 14 years. You know, maybe, maybe not every day – there have been some days where I haven’t felt like doing it. But pretty much every day I will tell you that I have been very driven and very focused because people say to me, come on, $50 million? Window film? and it’s like, yeah, you know what? I didn’t even know about window film before that, you know, before the band. But I saw an opportunity and I knew I could do it better than the way they were doing it. And I have, and I am, and I will continue to. And so I would encourage you all to, when you see an opportunity and you think or believe you could do it better than it’s being done, that’s your win.
Stringer: Beautiful. Love that. So, if we have a little more time then we did prepare a few backup questions and I’ll let the gentleman, whoever wants to go next choose one and chime in. And you probably have time for a couple more. Let’s do at least two more, alright?
Hollis: I’ll go. Junmad Hollis. Again, Mr. Beale, is there anything that you will never compromise when it comes to running your business?
Beale: Yeah, I’ll never compromise on my ethics. If it’s not right, it’s not right. No matter how much money there is to be made. And I’ll tell you that has played very well for me and for us and for the business. I’ll give you an example. We have customers that we work with that we’ve literally will… they trust us so much, they say we’ll just do it. Send us a bill. OK. We could, if we were so inclined, you know, we could send them a bill that’s much bigger than the work that we’ve done or even slightly bigger, right? A lot of people get caught up in that and we don’t do it. And if I find out or learn that anybody on our team or anyone has done that, they’re in trouble because that’s not how we operate. In fact, we found times where we’ve done work and our clients have come back and said “Tthat’s it? Wow.” And we’ve actually refunded people because we’ve charged for something and it didn’t take us as long or cost as much as we thought. It was because our margins are set on the high side of 40%, gross margin are on the low side 30%. And you know, we know there’s plenty of scenarios where we could charge more than that, but we also believe that the long-term relationship with our clients is what’s enabled this company to continue to grow and people will not leave. So that’s the thing I would tell you is don’t compromise on your end.
Stringer: As a follow-up question, John Stringer here. Just real quick: with the new direction you’re going, these products of distinction, are there plans to increase margins in that direction?
Beale: Yes, but the biggest thing that we do is we build a business case for all of our sales, right? So, it’s not like we’re gonna build a luxury purse that you think we can sell for $10,000, we’re gonna sell for $10,000. We sell sustainability and security products, right? And we know that. We know that people have budgets. And that there are other products in the market that have certain price points. So we try to build a business case where we think our process, service, or product, or combination thereof, is the better value. And so, again, within the confines of the margin being within those numbers that I… you know, if it’s in the 30%, it’s volume play. Obviously if it’s not a volume play, we try to get to 40%, but time and time again, like on sustainability projects ,there has to be an ROI that’s sub five years. OK. Like REITs, real estate investment trusts, they’re typically turning their buildings in under five years, right? And so if you don’t have an ROI that’s sub five years in our business, you’re not gonna sell anything. So, again, the business case drives a lot of our pricing like can we bring a product or service to market that’s going to meet the sustainability initiative or agenda for these companies or the security initiative agenda within the budgets they’re trying trying to make happen.
Stringer: That makes sense. Thank you. And our last question, who’s got that?
Barnes: Mr. Beale, Ronald Barnes here again. I would definitely like to know the answer to this question, especially since you mentioned starting off with only one laptop and one cell phone and taking years to make money. How did you market your business when it was brand new?
Beale: You know, that’s a great question. So, a lot of a lot of good old-fashioned shoe leather hard work, right? So, what we would do and specifically what I would do is I would go and find all of it in our space. I would find all of the general contractors that I could that I knew there were bidding on retail work. I’ve called them, I’d ask them to look at plans. I’d look at plans. I would then go and search on the Internet to see who else was bidding those plans and if I didn’t get the work, I would actually pull the permits to find out who was awarded the job. And then I’d reach out to that GC and I’d develop a relationship with them and it would just spider web out. And then from there, so, it was a lot of like, “what free resources could I find and leverage?” and in the construction world, permits are public domain, anybody can search permits, right? And so I would go and do that to find out who was winning the work because they wouldn’t tell me, but I’d go find out. And when I find out, I call them and say, “I know you were awarded this job. Um, and I’ve got a price for you for this, this, this, and if I don’t get a chance, this opportunity. But you know can you give me a chance your other opportunities and here’s the value I can bring to the table.” So a lot of rolling up my sleeves, making phone calls, working late nights trying to find information that was free and available on the Internet.
Barnes: Yes, Sir. That brings it back to your point of just showing up.
Beale: You know, that was half of the battle, so it took a lot of driving focus.
Barnes: Thank you.
Beale: You bet.
Stringer: Hey, John Stringer here. And I love the fact that you showed up, did the work that others might not be doing. Yeah, you say you might not be the smartest guy, but I think you’re smarter than a lot of entrepreneurs who didn’t think to do that, you know? That’s pretty awesome.
Beale: Well, I’ve said this to a number of people. I could get on stage , because I do a lot of speaking engagements at security conferences and sustainability and things like that – I could get up on stage and I could tell my competition exactly what I’m doing and I guarantee you, none of them would do it. Just because it’s hard work. It’s hard work to do things right. To do things well, it’s hard work. Otherwise, everybody would be.
Stringer: Yeah, that makes total sense. Well, unless there’s any last questions, gentlemen, are we good?
Excellent. So I can’t thank you enough, Mr. Beale, for your time, your insights, your example, your success, which I am…. being an early witness to seeing from its starting point to where you’ve grown. Now, I don’t know why, but I feel like you’re my family who’s done good, you know what I’m saying? Like my brother who went out and just crushed it. So it makes me makes me happy, man. Just to hear how well you done and watch the path along the way and then knowing your family, your kids, your wife they get to benefit from that. So just beautiful man. Loved everything you shared. Thank you for your time.
Beale: I appreciate that. And I’ll just… you know, a parting thought to you guys: as you know, you’re thinking about…. and you may already have ideas of what you want to do, you know, you don’t have to have an idea out of the gate, right? It took me years to land on, ultimately, where I am today and it was a happy accident, right? So don’t get discouraged. You don’t need to have an out-of-the-box amazing idea right now. When the time is right and the opportunity…. again, preparation and opportunity… when it comes up, just understand that you’re either going to make the commitment to make it happen or not. And that’s OK too, right? But if you make the commitment, go after it, because the chances are your competition isn’t going to go after it as hard as you will.
Stringer: Beautiful. Well, I couldn’t have said it better. Thank you again. It was just perfect, and we really appreciate your time and we’ll share this with you – the transcript – once we’ve gotten a chance to look at it. If there’s anything you want to add, tweak, or what have you, we’ll make it editable for you and then we’ll be submitting this, I believe, within the next week. So, expect to see that transcript by this weekend.
Beale: OK, awesome.
Stringer: Thank you so much, Mr. Beale. And if all my brothers would like to come off and say goodbye, we don’t want to hold you up any further.
(Several goodbyes and thanks.)