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Ep 71- Crafting Industrial Success with Jason Hayes

Ep 71- Crafting Industrial Success with Jason Hayes

Crafting Industrial Success with Jason Hayes

In this episode of Building Texas Business, we delve into the remarkable journey of Jason Hayes and his family’s business, Top Coat Fabrication. Despite the tumultuous nature of the markets, they managed to emerge as an industrial leader, a testament to their resilience and adaptability.

He shares Top Coat’s blueprint for navigating change while excelling in oil, gas, and petrochemicals. Intentional culture-building through staff gatherings and challenges instilled trust and community, cornerstones of Top Coat’s prosperity.

In conclusion, his journey to company president wove together personal learning, workplace achievements, nurturing customer bonds, and proactive growth to create the powerhouse that Top Coat is today.


Transcripts are generated by machine learning, so typos may be present.

BTB (00:00):

Welcome to the Building Texas Business Podcast, interviews with thought leaders and organizational visionaries from across industry. Join us as we talk about the latest trends, challenges, and growth opportunities to take your business to the next level. The Building Texas Business Podcast is brought to you by BoyarMiller, providing counsel beyond expectations. Find out how we can make a meaningful difference to your business at and by your podcast team where having your own podcast is as easy as being a guest on ours. Discover more at Now. Here’s your host, Chris Hanslik.

Chris (00:01)

In this episode, you will meet Jason Hayes, president of Top Coat Fabrication. Jason is the second generation of leadership in a family-owned business and tells how he went from hope to learning to be more intentional about growth.

Chris (00:16)

Jason I want to welcome you to Building Texas Business. Thanks for taking time to come on the show.

Jason (00:17)

Absolutely Glad to be here.

Chris (00:18)

So I think the best place to start is just tell us a little bit about Topcoat. What is the business and what?

Jason (00:28)

does it do? Okay, we’re an industrial fabricator, so we fabricate oil and gas and petrochemical equipment, a lot of welding, piping, structural steel, pressure vessels pretty much anything you see when you drive by chemical plants. That’s the type of stuff that we fabricate.

Chris (00:43)

Okay, and y’all been in business. Now for what? 40 plus years, 40 plus years.

Jason (00:45)

This is our 44th year. I think it started in 1980. Okay, yes, it started as a sandblasting and painting company, and that’s how they got the name Top Coat.

Chris (00:55)

Oh, okay, that makes sense. And so started by your father, I believe. Mom and dad, okay, still 100% owners. Very good, so what was the I guess, the inspiration that had them start Top Coat to begin with?

Jason (01:18)

I think honestly, if I remember the story right, my dad was working for a contractor down in Freeport and I don’t remember the whole story but he didn’t get treated right so he got let go or whatever happened. So he decided he was going to start his own thing. So he did they and they started this blasting and painting and it just kind of took off. His work ethic combined with everything else and industry in our area, so there was a lot of oil and gas in our area at that time. Mobile had a big shore base down there, so his contacts led to him doing some blasting painting for mobile and then they asked him if he could do some work offshore on their platforms, because they have platforms out there. So that that led to that part of the business and it just kind of started growing a little bit from there so it’s interesting.

Chris (01:53)

So many people that I’ve talked to have you know unique stories, but there’s a there, there’s some that have a common theme that it’s kind of, out of that hardship or disappointment or something, they decide to go on their own and do it their own way. It sounds like that was the case for your dad.

Jason (02:08)

Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know exactly what drove it, you know, but yeah, that’s what led to it.

Chris (02:12)

Tell us a little bit then you know how did that lead to. You know what the company is today as it relates to you know the focus and the mission and the purpose of the company. How has those early days influenced where you are today, some 44 years later?

Jason (02:28)

Well, let me give you a little bit of history about that. So when he started working offshore for Mobile at some point, he was just doing sandblasting and painting, well, on a project. They had asked him if he had any welders or knew any welders, because they needed some welding done out there. So he said yes, as a matter of fact, I do so. Welders because they needed some welding done out there. So he said, yes, matter of fact, I do so that he started hiring welders and doing construction on the platforms as well. So the offshore oil and gas was our bread and butter for many years, 20 plus years at least. So that even when I came on board in 98, that was our biggest business was oil and gas offshore construction. We’d send crews to the platforms and do maintenance and platform installations, platform removals, kind of everything in between. So that was great. The downside was, you know, when oil and gas is great, it’s great, but it’s dead, very cyclical too, right Big time. So we had a lot of struggles and I didn’t see any other struggles that they saw. My mom and dad went through so many downturns that it was everything they could do to survive, but they did Well.

Then, after the BP spill, macondo incident. Then the government really cracked down on offshore industry. So pretty much all the platforms we used to work on started coming out of the water. So all the stuff that we used to do existed no more. So that’s when we really had to decide and make a big pivot in the business and say you know what we’ve been doing? A little bit of fabrication that supports the oil and gas, the offshore let’s, let’s focus on that. We have the knowledge base, we had some experience in it. Let’s let’s focus on that. So we literally changed the name to top coat fabrication and we didn’t do anything off-site anymore. We focused strictly on fabrication and we would ship our stuff, you know, kind of all over.

So it opened another big door to us for the petrochemical industry, because down in our area, you know, we’ve had Dow Chemical, all these chemical plants right in our back door. But it was almost like we swore we’ll never work for the plants, we’ll never work in the plants, just because it has that stigma of okay, once you get in, you know your foot in Dow, you know it’s, it can be great. But then they people say they own you or you know whatever, and so we never did. Well then now with just the fabrication, that’s when we started reaching out to these chemical plants and started really digging in and started doing a lot of work for them.

So, and then, another big blessing was not too long after that, we got approached by a big company that had property next to us, had a, a facility, and then they wanted to buy our facility for an expansion. So we were on the water, we were on the intercoastal canal because we had crew boats coming in and out. We did a lot of dock services, so none of that existed anymore. So this was just a huge place that we didn’t need, so that we used that to actually buy a piece of property, built a brand new shop where we’re at now, a brand new facility. We built it the way we wanted. That was, you know, based on fabrication. So that’s where we still are.

Chris (05:08)

Okay, that’s great. So you know, I guess, a good lesson in the adage of don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Yeah, y’all learned to diversify pretty quickly, right? Yes, yeah, exactly.

Jason (05:19)

So now you know we still do oil and gas work, but it’s fabrication. We do a lot of stuff for West Texas oil and gas and we ship our stuff out there. We do a ton for the petrochemical industry right in our back door. We’re getting into commercial building fabrication now not the buildings themselves but the structural components that go into them. We’re looking into the offshore wind generation, solar, anywhere. We can do our fabrication in different industries for that exact reason to diversify.

Chris (05:50)

It’s a good lesson right for people out there that you know. Start a business, maybe with that one big customer, that focus. It can be good when times are good, but you got to think about you know what. If this goes away, what else do we have? That is a compliment to it.

It’s a big liability yeah, if you don’t, yeah, it ain’t no different than what you were saying if, if you got too far in with someone like Dow, that’d be no different than you know, kind of that singular focus. So let’s talk a little bit. How did you get involved and kind of come up through the business? Because you’re now the president, I definitely want to talk a little bit once I hear kind of the back story about at some point there was a transition in leadership, so I definitely want to dive into that. Sure.

Jason (06:26)

So right out of high school I worked for Topcoat for the summer between high school and college and I went off to college that next semester. I went to Texas A&M. I was in mechanical engineering program. I wasn’t ready for college, so I was there for two semesters and then they suggested that I leave. So I left. After that I came home and started working in 98 at some point and started at the bottom, started as a helper.

The summer before college I was just a weed eater. We had this huge facility on the shore basin. I literally just weeded it all summer pretty much. So then when I came back I was a helper, just doing whatever you know in the shop around the facility. At one point we also made a realization or my dad did, because I had nothing to do with management then, but he made a realization that we needed somebody that would take care of the safety. We always had good safety records and good practices, but we needed somebody that could take charge of the program. Right? So I got volunteered to be the safety man. There you go. So I did that for a few years. They call that voluntold.

Chris (07:27)


Jason (07:28)

I was being polite, you’re exactly right. So I did that for a couple years and then I don’t remember how the transition it was kind of a slow transition into just kind of taking more of the reins of the management. So at some point I can’t tell you when, but he named me as the general manager. Okay, so he was the president, I was the general manager and then so I had, you know, a couple of people that kind of reported directly to me and then all the work happened underneath them. So that, and that was the case for a pretty good while. And I mean I’ll be brutally honest that I was not into leadership back then. I wanted to be the top dog, right, I wanted to be the guy in charge, but leadership as I understand it now was not in my repertoire.

Chris (08:10)

Yeah, well, I mean, it’s easy to want to be the guy, yeah, but there’s a lot that goes with it that not everyone understands. Right To do it, the right way To do it right? Yeah, I knew nothing about leading people. Well, what have you done to try to help educate yourself, get some experience to become a better leader?

Jason (08:31)

I think it started with a desire wanting to be better. When you hit that point in 2010, I hit a really low point in my life. That’s when I turned my life over to God and became a Christian. It just really changed the way I was thinking. So that kind of led me into leading my family and at some point, you know, I started reading books, I started learning more, listening to podcasts, and that just literally flowed into work. Okay, there’s a realization. Okay, now I need to be a better leader at work. And what does that look like? So I started going to conferences, reading books, listening, just consuming as much content as I could, yeah, and then just slowly started putting things into practice at work, which was awkward, you know, at times when you try to bring some new thought processes and stuff to the team where it’s never been before. You know, this is the way we’ve always done it type of mentality, and I was the same way.

Chris (09:26)

So it’s a struggle, it’s a beautiful story. It’s an easy trap to fall into, right For people. Well, we were just doing it this way, because we’ve always done it that way. That is a eventually that becomes a death sentence for a company because no one will. Eventually that becomes a death sentence for a company because no one will innovate or think differently. And so I definitely applaud you for coming to that point. And you know, and as you know, now it’s a, it’s an everyday. You know you got to keep learning and keep growing, yeah for sure. So let’s go back to the kind of the transition, because at some point you become president I don’t know what your dad’s title is now, but you kind of take over the reins. Let’s talk about how did that decision kind of come about? And then how did y’all manage through the transition where you became kind of the.

Jason (10:11)

It was gradually happening already, so my dad is still the CEO now and he was like saying he was the president back then and it was just I, I probably just. It was a combination of me taking more and taking more initiative and him being able to release more right. So there wasn’t anything set like, okay, I’m going to give you more, I need you to take more.

Chris (10:30)

It was just kind of I started pulling and he started giving well the given parts, probably the hardest of those two, oh, I’m sure’m sure, allowing himself to let go and trust. How did y’all manage the communication within the company? Did you just let it happen by kind of osmosis? The actual?

Jason (10:51)

leadership just happened. So I’ve worked really closely with most of my leadership team for gosh I guess 16 or 17 years now several of them and so it just happened. We started really clicking together, growing. A lot of us have the same kind of mentality we want to get better personally, we want to get better in the business. We’re, all you know, looking at the big picture type of thing. But the actual transition from me to GM to president, I didn’t even know about it.

So we have a staff meeting every Monday with the entire company. We have breakfast and I typically show some type of motivational video, tell the whole staff a few things that might be going on within the business. And in one of those meetings my mom shows up. And my mom, she just doesn’t. She’s never been involved in the business since I’ve been there. She’s part owner but never been involved in it, and so she’s. So you know, I said hi to her before I’m going to the meeting and I didn’t think anything about it.

Well, during that meeting my dad gets up and says okay, I want to announce that jason is now the president of the business and I’m he. I don’t think he said this, but he was stepping up to the ceo. So it was like a we both kind of moved up okay. But he mentioned, you know, that he just that he just wanted to. He knew I was passionate about it, I was passionate about the business, passionate about the people, and he knew I wanted to take it to new places. So he named me president. So nobody knew, not me, not anybody else, it just happened one day oh, we don’t. So it was a cool honor and you know it didn’t change much. It didn’t change much because the structure was already there. Yeah, it was just a matter of a title really then. But I think I started taking it even more serious then.

Chris (12:23)

Makes sense. So I guess we talk about as it exists today. Then you’re still working with your dad, but more the responsibility for the day-to-day falls on you, Right? Yes, definitely.

Jason (12:34)

He’s there almost every day. I mean he’s there every day that he’s around. If he’s not, you know, gone out of town or something, he’s there. He’s typically in his shorts and flip flops or you know shorts and shoes and fishing shirt. But he is there, which is great to have him. I’m honored to be able to work with him. He still lets me pretty much do what I want. I mean trusts me.

Chris (12:58)

So one of the things I noticed in getting ready to meet you today was on your website, the company’s website. You’re very big on your people and your culture, so let’s talk a little bit about how you would describe the culture at Top Coat and what are some of the things you think you’ve done to help kind of build to get to that type of culture.

Jason (13:22)

The culture is amazing at Top Coat and that’s my passion. My passion is the culture. That’s one of the biggest things I think spend most time thinking about.

One of the first things I did was start having a just a like a weekly meeting with my, the leadership team. We started doing that, I would bet, six or eight years ago, Just a weekly meeting. We didn’t really have any structure, I just wanted us to meet, put our heads together and talk about things going on. So that was the first thing I started. And then, after that, we started the full staff meetings. After we moved to our new place, we actually had a place we could meet, but we started having our full staff meetings once a week too, and we kind of used that as a transition.

I don’t remember how it came about, but we started doing a type of physical challenge where every Monday after our staff meeting, we’d have some kind of challenge where it would be, we’d do push-ups, we’d do dead hangs. We’ve done just about everything you could imagine. Some of them are physical, some of them are not, but we do that and it’s we literally make the people pay. If you want to play five bucks, Everybody puts in five bucks and wants to do it. Winner takes all, unless it’s a team sport. You know, we’ve done tug of war, We’ve done dodgeball tournaments and little things like that. It just creates like maybe 15, 20 minutes of fun and there’s trash talking from all the you know, the audience and everything else. But it’s that’s just a tiny layer that just it just adds a little bit of fun into the workday. It makes it a little more human, right?

Yes, and that’s one of the biggest things my dad fought me on at the very beginning was doing these. You know his mentality was you know, think about what that’s costing the company. You know you have this entire crew shut down for 30 minutes additional. What do you think that’s costing us? And I wrapped my head around it and I thought about it and I understood. But at the same time I tried to make him understand. I think it’s way more valuable to spend that time and spend that money on this time, because I think overall it’s going to be well worth it.

Chris (15:12)

Yeah, kudos to you for that, because it’s easy to look at the black and white and ensure there’s a cost to that. But I think you’re right when you evaluate it holistically. If you’re creating engagement and fostering that environment where everyone kind of knows each other better and feels more like a team, I think the returns are exponential. Right, you can’t necessarily put dollars on it, but you probably can’t look at lack of turnover, maybe better productivity once they’re back at work. So I think to your point it was it’s a wise investment to making your people yeah, I agree, and I mean to this day.

Jason (15:47)

If you look on our LinkedIn page or Facebook, when I put up videos of the challenge that we do, that’s even on LinkedIn. Those are the posts that get so many comments, so many shares. It’s people connect with it and so many people say, man, I wish we did that at our place, or I wish my company would do stuff like that. And it’s like it’s those little things that people I don’t know if they don’t think about them or they just don’t think it’s worth it, but for us it’s been kind of a game changer.

Chris (16:15)

Hello friends, this is Chris Hanslick, your Building Texas business host. Did you know that Boyer Miller, the producer of this podcast, is a business law firm that works with entrepreneurs, corporations and business leaders? Our team of attorneys serve as strategic partners to businesses by providing legal guidance to organizations of all sizes. Get to know the firm at boyermillercom. And thanks for listening to the show. That’s great. So one of the things you mentioned kind of as the company’s evolved is, you know this diversification into fabrication and doing other lines of business. What are some of the things you do as the president of the company to kind of create those relationships with the new customers, new vendors, and maintain those strong relationships?

Jason (17:09)

We have a sales team that does a lot of the actual interaction. But most of our customers I’ll know their name, I’ll know their contact information and I’m the one that reaches out to them personally. For if we’re going to do it, then let’s say we sponsor a lot of golf tournaments, you know skeet shooting teams for fundraisers and that sort of thing, and I’m the one that normally reaches out to the people and ask them if they want to you know, participate with us. We had an industry night a couple of weeks ago and I call all the what the customers that I know and have the contact information. I’m the one that calls them and I also do customer follow-ups. With every project that we do that ships out, I do a customer follow-up call with everyone. I call them personally, just as me, thanking them, number one for their business and then number two just seeing if there’s anything we can do to improve that I love.

Chris (17:55)

And I’ll tell you we tried here and we’re not consistent with it. Love, and I’ll tell you we tried here and we were not consistent with it, but that kind of what I would call customer survey, satisfaction survey. So you’ve got it baked into your routine to do it on every order.

Jason (18:07)

That’s amazing, I learned that from Mattress Mac. Okay, we bought some furniture from him and I think twice now, and every time sometime afterwards he calls personally and just thanks us for his business. Oh we darn.

Chris (18:19)

Yeah, Well, I think it’s a great lesson for people you know that are listening to this and have their own business. That personal touch and that follow-up can go so far in creating that customer loyalty Right. So that’s amazing. I guess you report back to your people on what you learned from that so that’s amazing.

Jason (18:39)

I guess you report back to your people what you learned from that. Yeah, so we have a Teams, our Teams folder that we open up every day or every week in our leadership meeting and I keep the spreadsheets in there so we review it every week. Any ones that I call, you know, I’ll be honest, I’ll let them build up, because our project coordinator sends me. Every time we ship one out, he sends me the contact, you know, until I know what the project was, who the contact name is and so forth. And I will, all honesty, I let them build up because sometimes I’ll procrastinate doing it, you know, because I’m like, oh, it’s one more thing I gotta do, right, right. But then after I do, let’s say, just the day before yesterday I called six, six clients and every time I do it I’m so glad that I did because I feel better, I’m sure you know, I feel better because I let them know, number one I that I them.

Number two we’re trying to ask them if there’s anything that we can do to improve and be better. We want to know and I don’t think. I think it’s so uncommon that people don’t people say they want feedback. But I think they want the five-star rating Right. They don’t want the honesty, they just want okay, how many five stars can we get?

Chris (19:35)

Yeah, they want the high google rating, right right which it feels good to get that.

Jason (19:39)

But we’re not going to get any better if, especially if there’s a client that’s not happy about something, some most of them aren’t going to come and just out and tell us, hey, so and so went wrong. But if I ask, is there anything we could do to better, that’s when they’re going to say, as a matter of fact, there is. Yeah, I haven’t got that yet, but we will sure you will. I mean, that’s the point, that’s what I want.

Chris (19:59)

I think that’s great. You know, sitting here thinking I need to do more of that. You know that, as I told you before we came on, I learned from all the guests and I’ve at least learned that from you today. I think that’s wise advice.

Jason (20:11)

And it has to come from the top. If my project coordinator is talking to the clients, you know 24 seven7. It’s not going to be the same Right.

Chris (20:18)

That’s right. So let’s talk a little bit. I mean, it’s been up and down in the economy the last few years. What have you experienced at Top Coat kind of as it relates to the last four or five years and kind of the you know turbulent environment, and what are some of the things you’ve done to kind of manage through?

Jason (20:36)

that We’ve stayed pretty steady the last several years. Now. Last year ended up being our best year in history revenue-wise. Revenue and profit-wise. Several stars aligned for that, some great projects from some longtime customers. But the few years before that we were okay, we were steady, right, and that’s.

I think that’s one thing that Vistage taught me is to be proactive. I’d sit back for years and say, man, I hope this company grows, I hope this company grows. And then, with you know, the Vistage group and just everything that I’ve been involved in so far with that has just really taught me that you have to be intentional, you have to, we have to make it happen. So we going to grow, how are we going to make this happen? So that’s where the big focus is now. I mean we since I’ve been there, you know, 26 years we’ve had some horrible years. I mean when we first take great story, when we first built our new facility beautiful shop, beautiful, everything we had no work, zero. We got down, I believe seven people in the company completely, and I remember just like it was. Yesterday we’re having my staff meeting, so it’s a small group, but I’m kind of telling them look, we literally had 75 grand in the bank and we said this is all the money we had left. We had all this money from selling our property, but we’d spent on this new facility and we had some money, but it had just dwindled down to nothing because the work had died, and so that was in 16, I think 2016, 2017. Okay, so I’m telling the whole team look, guys, I don’t know what we’re going to do. We’re going to figure this out, but I really don’t know what I do, what we’re going to do.

And then, literally during that meeting, our phone, our office phone, rang. There was nobody in the office, so I turned around and I answered the phone. Quick, five-minute conversation. It was a guy driving by our facility. He was an inspector for Chevron, phillips and Sweeney and he said I’m leaving the shop and I’m the inspector and I can’t stand Something along the lines of I can’t stand working with these guys. They keep lying to me, I need to find another shop and I’ve just been driving by your place. I want to see if I can come talk to you about doing some fabrication work for us.

That led to us doing $2 million to $3 million a year for them almost every year since. Oh, wow, and so that was. It was like that was. Since I’ve been in the business, that was the lowest point that I felt, because I was really feeling that pressure of what am I going to do? What am I going to do? And there was no strategy to this. It was like it was a God moment of having him drive by all this stuff at the same time by having a new facility help?

yes, absolutely if we had not been there, he never would have driven by our place, because where we were before nobody drove by right, so nobody knew so so that’s it.

Chris (23:10)

I mean well, that’s an incredible deal. So 2016 is seven employees, $75,000 in the bank. How did you end 2023? How many employees and what was your revenue?

Jason (23:20)

2023,. We had $22 million in revenue and for most of the year we were probably around close to 100 employees. Wow.

Chris (23:30)

That’s an amazing turnaround, congratulations. Appreciate it yeah, congratulations, appreciate it. So, yeah, I like what you said earlier, when it was you were hoping to grow and you’ve learned to go think about how to grow and be intentional, because that otherwise you hear there’s another cliche hope’s not a strategy, right? So sounds like you mentioned vistage, so you’re a vistage member, that sounds like, and other vistage members, including myself. I know how valuable it can be to grow as a leader, but then how you think about your business.

Jason (24:00)

Sure, absolutely yeah. And, like I was telling you earlier, the network that you meet the people, the different people in every area of business yourself for legal, whether it’s taxes, insurance, whatever has to do with business. There’s people that I’m connected with, literally one-on-one, that I can call, I can sit down with. Most of them will just meet me for lunch. If I need to bounce an idea off of them. That’s the biggest thing.

Chris (24:24)

Something I tell people that have businesses all the time is you’ve got to build a solid network of trusted advisors that you can reach out to, whether it’s a banker, insurance person, accountant, lawyer, another entrepreneur or business owner right, that you can just reach out to, because even when you’re having a bad day and maybe they can you know, hey, I’ve been there before, so you’ll feel, because a lot of times you feel alone. What are some of the things I guess, as you’ve evolved as a leader that you’ve found to kind of whether it’s a particular book or conference you go to that have really been valuable to you to kind of grow as a leader?

Jason (25:00)

I can’t think of a specific book, but I think, the mentality of giving your people the tools that they need to do what they have inside their head. You know, I think so many times I’ve learned that even our leadership team at work they have so many ideas and great ways to do different things, but they don’t always let them out. So I think creating number one, creating a safe place, like our leadership meetings that we have every Wednesday morning, that’s a safe place. Whether it’s a conflict that we have, whether it’s an issue that they’ve been holding in, whatever it may be, that is the place where we draw those things out and we squash them or whatever we need to do. To me, that’s probably been the biggest thing.

Chris (25:41)

It’s a hard thing to do, but you’re so right that safe place where people feel like they can share without being judged or criticized is unique, I think, but so important.

Jason (25:52)

And it’s so simple, but we’re all humans, especially at work. Yeah, and it’s so simple, but we’re all humans, especially at work. I’m sure we all swallow a whole lot more at work than we do anywhere else, because maybe we’re afraid of our job, we’re afraid of whatever. But I think it’s been really good for us. We’ve solved so many issues just because we’ve created the structure for it.

Chris (26:11)

So one of the things I like to ask folks that come on is can you tell us a setback you’ve encountered in your professional life? Maybe it’s your personal life, but something that sets you back. But you learned so much and you grew from it that you’re better off because of it today. Man.

Jason (26:30)

I know there’s plenty of them.

Chris (26:32)

That’s what most people say.

Jason (26:33)

Yeah, there’s plenty of them.

Chris (26:34)

I’m just trying to think what would come to mind, maybe something right after you kind of took over being either general manager or president at Topco, maybe something in those early days.

Jason (26:46)

I think one of the real struggles is it’s not a moment but learning the business finances. You know I struggle a lot with okay, we need this piece of equipment to get better, we should just go buy it. Well, my dad has the finances and the history of the accounting behind it and I’ve struggled because he and I butted heads quite a bit on things I think would be a good investment and things he thinks wouldn’t be a good investment. So that’s become something we both had to work on. Really, I mean, I lean on him a lot for his knowledge and different things when we’re purchasing, making big purchases or expanding our facility, whatever we’re doing.

But I think having those conversations was probably some of the toughest things we’ve had to do. Gotcha, and it’s just like anything else, it’s just like with the leadership team. It’s creating a space that we can have those. I mean, he and I have worked together for literally 26 years, so we work well together and we communicate fine together. But it’s me getting up the courage to ask those questions too. That’s been a struggle.

0:27:49 – Chris

So what I hear you saying in that and I think it’s a natural struggle for people in leadership because, like you said, from day one, you wanted to be the top dog. Sure, it’s having the humility to ask your father or mentor someone that you don’t know or don’t know enough, right. Sure, so that takes a lot of humility, yeah, for you, and I think it’s also a blessing that you have the courage to use it.

Jason (28:19)

Is you have a built-in, you know, advisor, mentor, right there, you know, letting you grow and being there to kind of guide you along the way yeah, and I don’t utilize them as much as I should, but every time we have a conversation like this, it reminds me how much I should I, how much I do and should you know, put more value in that another thing that you mentioned was mentioned was y’all can butt heads.

Chris (28:37)

So what have y’all done? Because I guarantee I’ve had other people that have done what you’ve done on the show, that have taken over a family business. I guarantee there’s people who are going to listen to this, that are doing that or see that in their future when you get to that place of how will you and your dad communicate on big issues. If you all kind of got it agreed upon, let’s do this in private and really hash it out and not let other people see what’s going on. I mean, is that something that’s one that you all kind of have a practice of doing? If so, how does that work?

Jason (29:11)

Yeah, definitely. I mean, he’s in our leadership meeting. He sits in our leadership meetings pretty much every week. He’s pretty quiet, you know, off to the side, he’s just mainly listening, but there’s plenty of times where I’ll you know if I have an issue with something he said, or vice versa. He’ll either come to my office and shut the. I always, I constantly, have to remind myself that this is his baby. This whole company is. I’ve had a lot to do with the growth and where we’re at in you know the current state, but at the end of the day, this is his and he. He created it and I’m just a part of it. Yeah, so I have to constantly remind myself of that. And then he I mean, he tells me multiple times that you know I’m doing a good job of running it. So he’s constantly having to remind himself that he gave me the authority and the power to run it. But it’s definitely a team effort.

Chris (30:04)

I think it would have to be. The other thing that comes to mind again, kind of unique to family-owned business and second generation of leadership of that family-owned business is how well do you and your dad do at leaving the issues at the office versus trickling over to the Thanksgiving table or anything like that?

Jason (30:24)

Yeah, he’s probably better at that than I am, but even I don’t know. From the time I was born, he and I have had an absolutely solid relationship always. He was gone a lot when I was growing up for many years because he was doing a lot of offshore work. So he was gone a lot when I was growing up for many years because he was doing a lot of offshore work. So he was gone a lot, but we always had just a top-notch relationship. Yeah, so I think without that it would have been a hundred times worse. Yeah, but I don’t think I can’t remember a single time where any tension between me and him ever stayed very long period, but certainly much less made it out the door. Yeah, yeah, we could have this tough discussion and then say, all right, let’s go get some lunch yeah, you know that’s good here and you know.

Chris (31:03)

The other thing is, I think when you’re an entrepreneur and you own this business, you live and breathe it, so you you’re going to be thinking about it when you’re at home and those conversations could come up versus, just as natural, when they happen at the office right it.

Jason (31:15)

It always has. Yeah, I mean, whether we’re at my house, his house, it’s typically something with work is going to come up and we’re going to talk about it.

Chris (31:21)

It just happens. So let me ask you this just about your own personal leadership style. How would you describe your leadership style today? How do you think it’s evolved or developed over the last several years?

Jason (31:33)

I would say my style is to. This is just off the cuff, but I would say my style is to help anybody that I’m leading, make sure they have the tools to do what they need to do. You know I’m really passionate about I haven’t been extremely proactive about mentoring all of my leadership team, but I want to know their goals, not just professionally but personally too, and I think a lot about like, what can I do to help them succeed? If the person is going after what they were put on this earth to do and I can be a part of that and help guide them to that, I think that is the ultimate definition of success when it comes to leadership. Yeah, so that’s kind of my passion. I haven’t been as good at the mentoring side and maybe the personal side. We talk about business roles and stuff quite a bit but I really want to be more involved with their goals in life overall. Sure, Not involved in them, but what can I do to help? How can I help?

Chris (32:29)

Well, at least understand them, so you know how you can be a resource.

Jason (32:31)

Yeah, and again, I want all my resources to be their resources too.

Chris (32:35)

So that brings up kind of a good subject. When you think about that, and maybe I’m going to ask you about yourself, what do you do to try to maintain some type of balance in your life right between work and family, knowing that you’re always thinking about the business, right?

Jason (32:53)

I’ve done pretty good with that for the most part. I’ve never been a workaholic, just not me. I’ve been a huge family guy always. I have four kids, ages 15 down to 7, so we stay busy, sounds like it, but that’s another. Passion of mine, too is just the kids and the family. I’ve never had a struggle with staying at work when I should be at home.

Chris (33:20)

Now having the leadership team that I have is what makes that possible. I was going to say you got to have some tools in place to help facilitate that. So hiring good leaders to work with you, Anything that you look for, or when you do interview or interview someone for a leadership position and or think about promoting them to one.

Jason (33:34)

Culture is the number one thing. That’s what I always start with. Will this person be a fit for our culture? And that’s typically if we’re going to hire not just leadership team, but maybe even the level right. You know, underneath that, most of the time I’ll. I want to know the person. I want to have a one-on-meeting. You know, I’ve met several people for coffee that we were interviewing for a project manager position, just because I want to just get to know the person. The resume says what they’ve done. The resume says everything that they’ve accomplished. But I want to know are they going to fit with us? And if they don’t, then that’s an immediate no. So I think that hiring for the culture is the number one thing.

Chris (34:13)

So many people, including myself, believe that right. Lots of people have skills that could fit with what you do, but are they a type of person that fits with who you are and who you want your people to be? Right, and I believe the people that are culture fit.

Jason (34:30)

You never know where they might end up, even with the company. We’ve hired a couple of people that were a great fit for us and they were doing one thing. Well then, as soon as we get, they get in and they’re a great fit, and then we start seeing all the stuff that they’re capable of. Then they start getting snagged by this person and next thing you know they’re just keep moving up because everybody’s starting to see.

Chris (34:49)

You know they’re capable of yeah, but it started with the fit right. That’s great. Well, jason, I love the story and the family transition. I think it’s a beautiful story when they’re done right. They’re not always are. I want to always wrap up on a few off-topic personal things. Okay, what was your first job? Was it something at Top Coat or something other than that?

Jason (35:11)

Yeah, it was Top Coat, the one right after high school, so weed eating, yeah, it was great.

Chris (35:16)

So great. All right, what’s your preference? Tex-mex or barbecue Tex-Mex? I could eat it every day. I mean, I didn’t even finish the sentence.

Jason (35:25)

I know you jumped on that one, I know.

Chris (35:26)

No question.

Jason (35:27)

So I always ask people if you could take a sabbat Ooh 30 days, oh man, for at least a week I’d take my wife and we’d just sit on a beach somewhere. Yeah, without a doubt. Yeah, and then I would just do some traveling, a lot of traveling. I want to do a lot more traveling. The only place out of the states I’ve been is to Mexico, for me and my wife on our honeymoon. Okay, so I’ve got so many places I want to see, but I just don’t make the time or make the plans to do it.

Chris (35:55)

Well with the four kids as you described, you got your hands full right. Yeah, well again. Jason, thanks for taking the time to come on the show. Really enjoyed getting to get to know you better and meet you.

Jason (36:07)

I appreciate the opportunity man.

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