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Jan. 18, 2023

E89: Serial Acquisition Entrepreneur Wes Kauffman on His Journey and Implementing EOS - How2Exit.

E89: Serial Acquisition Entrepreneur Wes Kauffman on His Journey and Implementing EOS - How2Exit.

Wes is a Lancaster, PA based entrepreneur operating the second largest Fastsigns Franchise in the world. He is the husband of an amazing florist and flower farmer Jenelle and the father to two amazing children Emma and Luke. Wes is an avid Premier...


Wes is a Lancaster, PA based entrepreneur operating the second largest Fastsigns Franchise in the world. He is the husband of an amazing florist and flower farmer Jenelle and the father to two amazing children Emma and Luke. Wes is an avid Premier League fan and Tottenham supporter. His favorite board game has been and always will be monopoly, and a huge Lord of the Rings Nerd.

Wes began his entrepreneurial journey in 2003 with the purchase of a small camera repair company in Lancaster PA. By 2018 he had grown revenue 12x via organic growth coupled with 3 strategic purchases.

In December 2018 Wes purchased his first Fastsigns Franchise in Lancaster PA. During the pandemic, he joined forces with an Everett, WA-based Franchisee and together they purchased another wide format printing company in Lancaster. Together they leveraged the two locations and grew revenue in 2021 by 250%. In 2022 Fastsigns Lancaster joined forces with the neighboring Fastsigns in York PA and they are on track for 35% revenue growth in 2022.

Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/FQPZrVT778Q
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Contact Wes on
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/wes-kauffman-95ba5b13
Twitter: @wes_kauffman
Website:
-http://www.fastsigns.com/311
-http://www.perfectimagecamera.com/
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Transcript

Ron Skelton: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the How2Exit podcast. Today I'm here with Wes Kauffman. He's a serial acquisition entrepreneur, owner of multiple businesses, and he is actually buying, he's bought some franchises recently. So we're gonna chat about that. Let's just jump right in. Thank you for being here today, first of all.

Wes Kauffman: Absolutely. Thanks for having me. 

Ron Skelton: Yeah. And let's kind of jump in where we jump in with everybody. You've been, I was looking at your show notes and stuff. It looks like you've been doing this for nearly 20 years, right? You bought your first company a while back. Let's just start there. Your origin story.

How did you become an entrepreneur? What was your first purchase like in that type of stuff? 

Wes Kauffman: Sure. Absolutely. So I bought my first company in 2003. I got outta college, moved around a little bit. Before I got married, about a month before I got married, I moved out here to Lancaster, pa, which is where my wife is from.

An interim job. I was actually working construction. For an Amish house framing crew, which was, I learned how to work. I will say that I have never met people that are so excited to get up in the morning and just go work incredibly hard. So it was kind of good for me. I think it [00:01:00] was a bit of a growing up period for me.

I would've been 22 at the time. So I did that for two or three years after we, after we got married about three years in was, I mean, I'm a, a driven person and there was no way, nowhere to go there, right? I was just a worker and I think I would've loved construction. I think I could have owned a construction company.

I enjoy it. But at the time, I was talking to a gentleman that, my wife's, my father-in-law went to church with, and he owned a small business, actually a micro business that did camera repair. So I was talking to him. I knew he was, he's pretty smart, really intelligent investor in the stock market and just said, Hey, I wanna do something else.

I was looking at buying a lawn care company that was for sale in our neighborhood and he is like, why don't you come check out what I'm doing? I'm looking to get out of this and go do something else. So I went and worked for him for a day or two. I'm kind of a nerd at heart. Lord of the Rings is my favorite, everything.

I'm technical. I like to work on stuff. So I went and [00:02:00] did that, agreed to an apprenticeship, worked for him for six months, and then took over that business. What was great is, it was a micro business. I mean, when I took over it was 75 grand a year in revenue. It was tiny.

Yeah. It was just a lifestyle business. But because the cost of goods was so low and the rent was so cheap, it was a good wage. Bought that, did that for about eight years and just me in a small room and got kind of tired of it, but it taught me everything about accounting and running my books and all that.

After that I bought, we moved to a new location, started to grow. I purchased another photo business, in our region. We started doing rentals. We started doing printing. I bought another camera store that was going out of business, took that over. And then I bought out a photo printing company that we were sharing a space with.

So over those, I think 11 years, grew it to about 1.2 million in revenue. And it still operating. We're about a million right now. It's kind of sits around a million, other than co other than [00:03:00] 2020. And I think we've got eight staff there. Runs itself. I have two managers that are doing a great job.

Hopefully at some point we'll be able to transition and sell it to them. I'd like to kind of move that over to them, but they're not quite ready for it. We actually just as we were discussing eos, we just started implementing EOS over there, so I think that's gonna be helpful. 

Ron Skelton: That's cool. 

Wes Kauffman: For them. 2017 I was, so in the photo industry, we do a lot of printing. So fast signs, the franchise was reaching out to photographic people, entrepreneurs, trying to get them to buy franchises because there's a lot of crossover. They do co-brand. And so I had looked at launching a brand new franchise, probably 45 minutes north of us in Hershey, PA.

Decided against it in 2017, the drive, from my house to commute would've been too much and so just kind of let it die. And then early 2018, the local fast science franchise, I was on Biz Buy Sell, which is like, what I do [00:04:00] for fun is go on Biz Buy Sell as I'm sure many people on this podcast do. And I saw a sign company, Langster PA, for sale, and you can, they always try and make 'em generic, so you can't tell which brand it is, but you can figure it out pretty easily if you do a little digging. So I reached out, looked into it, almost put an offer in somebody else got it under contract, so we kind of walked away, but then that was in January, February, that summer.

It was just on vacation in May with my wife and I'm like, we need to reach back out to that guy. I just, I think we need to do it. Reached back out, the deal had fallen through with the other buyer, and by the end of that year, by December, we were owners of a fast signs. It was doing about 2.1, 2.2 in revenue.

This was a decent size acquisition. Probably about 300K EBITDA on it, or SDE, I should say, not EBITDA. And ran it for 2019 was a huge, a lot of growing pains. The sign industry is, we're [00:05:00] essentially a custom manufacturer. Every job's different. Processes and systems are really hard to dial in.

While it was doing well on revenue, it, the systems weren't really there for that particular franchise. And I think a lot of sign franchises struggle with systems because of the custom manufacturing part of it. But we did all right, had a good 2019, learned a lot, 2020 hit, started out really well.

And then covid, so there was a lot of soul searching between March and May, June of that year. And in May of that year, I reached out to a gentleman on the West coast who owns, fast signs in Seattle. And at the time he was doing work for Amazon. And I said, Hey, do you want an East Coast provider, east coast help.

And he says, no, why would I do that? But, we hit it off. I'd known Dan from the photo industry. He had owned photo stores as well. So we had a shared, we had shared trauma is the way I like to put it, because of the photo industry is tough. It's really [00:06:00] tough. And so we had that and we, we kept talking and we ended up buying another wide format print company that I had been looking at here in the Lester, PA area.

They were doing about 1.5 million annual sales, but had a really awesome facility, had the equipment we needed to scale, had a really great staff. So it was kind of, we didn't just buy it for in and of itself, even though they were doing well financially. And then we made the pitch to Amazon and they made us their East Coast provider.

They only have a few, like official signage providers for their new warehouses. And so they brought us on board and so obviously that was huge for us. We went from a combined 3.5 in revenue to a little over eight the following year. And then, so that was 2021 the first year. And then this year we've brought in, there's a Fast Lines York, which is about 40 minutes away.

That gentleman John, awesome guy and I've wanted to partner with him for a while. So he, we merged, not [00:07:00] merged the territories, but merged the operations. And we've now moved all of our production operations into a 37,000 square foot production facility here in Lancaster, doing the production for York and Lancaster.

And they still have a sales office in York, obviously. So probably about 30% growth this year. 35. I think we'll do. Last year's combined revenue would've been about 10 million, and this year I think we'll do a little over 13 with a goal of growing that next year significantly. Lots of change.

I have an amazing group of people here. We're at 53 employees. They're probably a little change weary, all the mergers, all the growth. It gets tiring, but at the same time, they're doing a great job and we're continually improving and getting better every day. 

Ron Skelton: Cool. And I think, if you're just getting into EOS, EOS and some of these other business operating systems out there are, they're critical.

I think, crucial, I think I should say, especially in high changing environments, cuz then you have a uniformity. Yeah. And if you use something like e o s where they just kind of see that and they go [00:08:00] Google it and do their own research and there's free voice resources for 'em to do it, it doesn't seem like you're doing something odd.

Right. The new guy doesn't know what he's doing. 

Wes Kauffman: Crazy system. Yeah. It's been good for us as a leadership team. I'm very much the visionary, and I'm, I've been kind of able to own that a little bit. I think before I just thought I had ADD which I probably do.

It's not diagnosed, but I probably do. 

Ron Skelton: Join the club. 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. They bought me a, a little, I dunno where it is. It's a little squirrel that a nut outta his mouth. Yeah, that's, I'm a squirrel sometimes, so. But John, my partner is, an integrator to his core and so we're actually in that transition where he's gonna be the integrator. I'm gonna focus more on the visionary stuff and I think it'll be really freeing for both of us and it'll be better for the organization.

He's learning to, it's been really cool to see cuz I'll come up with some crazy idea and he's like, no or not now. Right? Just gimme a second. Let me fix what we gotta do right now. I mean, [00:09:00] that's been awesome. Honestly. We have a great relationship and it's cool to have that. 

Ron Skelton: Cool. You would think, I mean, the reason a lot of people buy franchises, it's because they've already got, the exact step by step everything. Like McDonald is notorious for being told that, cook this for three minutes and 29 seconds. Right. They flip the burger at, 30 seconds or whatever, not a 31, not 32.

Right. You put two dashes of salts. I grew up, I think it was one of my first jobs, so I, flipped burgers for about a few weeks and then I realized that dad paid me more money. Cause I wasn't gonna work. I was mad at dad, I wasn't gonna work for dad that summer.

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. 

Ron Skelton: So I went into town, I had my own vehicle.

So I went into town and, flipped burger for a couple weeks and I called dad and said, Hey, I'm sorry, this sucks. I want to go back to work payment. 

Wes Kauffman: Please take me back. So like, the sign industry's a little unique, like I was telling you earlier. It's custom manufacturing.

Every single job's unique. Every single job needs a custom design. It's not like printing business cards or printing mailers, where you're [00:10:00] gonna do one design and print a thousand, you might do one design and print one and that's it. Right? So,

Ron Skelton: Right.

Wes Kauffman: With our larger clients, some of the nationals, Amazon, Walmart, et cetera, we do much higher volume, but still a lot of it's custom.

And so I think like Fast Lines is an awesome franchise and they definitely give you systems, but I think in some ways it's almost impossible for them to regimen it like a McDonald's or a Subway would because they're literally, I can build you the same sign five different ways, depending on, is it an inside sign, is an outside sign, do you want multiple dimensions?

Is it flat? Is it, does it need to be lit, reflective? Like there's a lot of questions that go into, cause people say, I want to sign, and like, okay, I'm gonna ask you 30 questions and then we'll figure out what you actually want. Right? 

Ron Skelton: Right. 

Wes Kauffman: So I think that's, I mean, they do give us the tools and they give us the training.

but it's really kind of up to you as the individual franchisee to really [00:11:00] dig in and figure out exactly how you're gonna do it. And so there's pros and cons to that, right? 

Ron Skelton: I use the, with my real estate investment, career, I use fast signs quite a bit just cuz we have 'em print the, foam board signs, right?

They were never the cheapest. It's just like when I ran out, I would have them do it and I could beat their prices hands down online, because I think it's this, the model that's set up. You guys are set up to do fast and to do one-offs to where, a lot of these things online, if you don't order in a hundred plus, they don't want to, they won't deal with you.

Wes Kauffman: They don't wanna touch it. Yeah. And they often have much more limited, like, I know some of the big, there's a lot of wholesalers or big online places and they have very much refined, like this is the type of foamcore we carry. And whereas I can come in and say, I can make it a million different ways, we're doing, we do a much more like custom design build is really more what we do.

Like we're doing a, for a, they're building a [00:12:00] library here in, in Lancaster, and they have this, it's like a honeycomb wall that we're using these take form. It's a, it's like a wooden, how do I explain it? Like a wooden shape that's been pre-made. So we're doing that with custom pieces of acrylic that are lit and all this like, so it's a much more like, yeah, if you're just gonna print a thousand yard signs, I'm not gonna be your best price.

And to be fair, I don't really want to be right. Like, that's not, but if you need something really complex or you need crazy turnaround times, stuff like that, we can generally help out with that. 

Ron Skelton: I'm pretty sure it's the fast signs that the one I use when Tulsa, they could get me like high end like loss, good looking business cards in 24 to 48 hours. 

We would go in and like, okay, hey, we're gonna go over to this trade. Like we'd, somebody would pop up and, Hey, I didn't pay, I didn't, I don't have the rest of the money to pay for my, I knew everybody in town. I knew all the, all the other vendors and stuff in town.

And somebody would be [00:13:00] like, Hey, would you, we'd like half a booth at the Home and Garden show. 

Wes Kauffman: Oh, right.

Ron Skelton: It's tomorrow or it's the next day. We would go over there and go, I'm setting up a trade show booth. My budget is X, y, z, like a thousand bucks. What can you print for me? 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah.

Ron Skelton: We can do brochures or, you know, business cards. For a while there I was actually having, I'd have guys walking around these trade shows with big balloons. I've printed somewhere else cuz Fast Signs, giant balloons. 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. I've never done balloons. That's a different ballgame. Yeah. 

Ron Skelton: So you've got these signed businesses, you're looking at biz buy, sell and stuff. Have you ever, like there's just so much on there. Have you ever taken a look and done a deep dive into something Totally. Like, I, I don't know why I'm looking at this, but I think I might buy it and then, cause I catch myself doing this is the way I'm asking.

Wes Kauffman: Yes. Yeah. Too much. In fact, that's probably been, the biggest question I'm asking myself right now is, where do we want to go with this? Like what's, are we doing a HoldCo or are we doing a rollup? Is kind of what I have been asking myself. And I don't know that I have the answer right [00:14:00] now.

Like I, I think rollup because we're finally, we're building a new e r p right now. We're really getting systemized. Seems silly to not do a rollup because I'll be able to optimize whatever we buy. At the same time, I think there's probably gonna be a little bit, I'm not sure what it looks like to do a rollup within a franchise.

What do my exit opportunities look like? Is there's someone, cuz I could take this thing and let's say I'd take it into the next five, 10 years. I buy, I'm at 70, 80, a hundred million in revenue, right? Because I, of what I acquire. Is there someone out there that goes, yeah, I wanna buy that.

Or are they like, I wanna buy it, but not as a franchise? So does it hurt my multiple? Am I better going in another direction, manufacturing or something similar and doing a roll up there. I don't have the answer right now. I'm kind of exploring that. 

Ron Skelton: I think it definitely, and I don't know the answer either, but my gut tells me it would limit your pool of buyers.

You get into those kind of numbers and your pool of [00:15:00] buyers are private equity, family offices and strategic buyers and some individuals, but usually it's gonna be one of those investment banker, investment bank, private equity, investment bank back private equity.

Strategic versus, one of your competitors wanting to buy it out. You build something big enough and you haven't run efficiently enough, the corporate franchise might buy it back. It's not uncommon for these big franchises to actually have a hybrid model where they have X number of franchise and X number of, franchise zone.

The problem is they're gonna have some, say, some controller who you sell it to. 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. 

Ron Skelton: And it might cut your multiple down because like, they can just say if they wanna buy it. It's when Amazon started to, I know some Amazon resellers. People will sell their stuff on Amazon, and if Amazon decides to enter it into your market, they'll send you a letter.

Basically it says, Hey, we're entering your market. We're willing to buy your company for X, Y, Z or we can compete with you. You don't wanna be competing with the guy. 

Wes Kauffman: You do not wanna [00:16:00] compete with Amazon. Yeah. 

Ron Skelton: Like, you don't wanna compete with the guy cutting your check. You're tied up, you're bound.

In a tough situation. So you could put yourself, I could see where that if fast science got winded, you wanted to sell it and then they wanted to, Acquired the whole thing and you're like, yeah, I wanna hire multiple, they're, it could be very possible for them to go, yeah, well we're not gonna let you sell it to anybody else.

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. Well, and they've never done corporate owned stores. That's kind of one of their things and I think it's like, Hey, we don't compete with our franchisees. That's not what we do. And that's cool. Like, I get that. So I don't, yeah, I don't know. It'd have to be someone that, the EBITDA number is high enough where they're like, we don't really care if it's in a franchise. If we can keep running it, it's a good investment. 

Ron Skelton: Family offices probably would be that way. There's a lot of family office offices that, especially if you get to get their attention, you kind of gotta be above that 25 million, mark. But if you get up there and, you can make a significant impact to a family office, what they're looking for is deploying their wealth, and getting a return on their investment.

Wes Kauffman: Right. 

Ron Skelton: [00:17:00] And say something, and they're looking at some other stuff like E R P, environmentally responsible, products and companies and that type of stuff. Which I think that, being a printing company and being owned by fast signs, they've probably got that pressure already. So they're probably making some of those shifts anyway, so. 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah, we're currently working on that, doing some, like carbon footprint studies and that sort of thing. It's expensive, but Amazon's asking for that. We're moving that direction and all, there's all the big guys are gonna ask for that.

Ron Skelton: Yeah. It's just a, there's pressure, there's pressure from investors. Anybody, especially Amazon and companies like that are publicly listed. There's just pressure from the community in the market space is the one, so. 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. Well, that's interesting. That's good insight of the family office. And like I said, I don't have to make the decision now cuz we're in the midst of merging with, probably merging with another company that'll significantly increase the revenue. So I got that on my plate, but, looking two years down the road, three years down the road, kind of want to figure out where this thing's going.

Ron Skelton: So that's what I was gonna ask you, like, what's the end [00:18:00] goal? Just from looking at the, looking at all this stuff, if you're looking at an exiter, you're looking to do something else in five to 10 years, it's time to start planning all that is now. Sounds like you've already got your, 

Wes Kauffman: We've been discussing like, is that what, are we looking for an exit or we looking for an annuity?

Right. It's two different directions. The way we build the leadership team, it's gonna be more of an investment now not running quite as lean to build an annuity versus like cut costs, be as lean as possible.

Ron Skelton: So what is, let's talk a little bit about, like, you, you went hold, co or roll up. Roll up to me they're both the same in the, in the acquisition phase of it.

Wes Kauffman: Right. 

Ron Skelton: What's different is in the way you hold them, in the way you do your financials and the way you prep it for exit, right?

So a holding company, you could still acquire, two fast signs in every state, in every major city and still be considered, a holding cone, not a rollup. 

Wes Kauffman: I think probably the differentiation I'm making is that a hold co for me is I'm looking in other industries [00:19:00] versus a rollup.

I'm strictly focusing on the signage space. I think that's probably more so it's probably a little more nuanced. It's, are we gonna stay in our industry or are we gonna diversify? And then are we gonna be holder? Are we gonna hold co, are we gonna look for an exit in five years? Right. 

Ron Skelton: I like the hold co mentality of, who are my suppliers? Like, who do I sell to and who do I buy from? And then

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. 

Ron Skelton: Basically start owning the food chain. 

Wes Kauffman: So you're suggesting I buy Amazon? Is that what you're saying? 

Ron Skelton: Yeah. Maybe.

Wes Kauffman: Easy. Yeah. Yeah. Once at a time. That's actually interesting you say that though, because I had reached out to a supplier, kind of with that intention, like, I could buy my supplier and then I'm vertically integrated.

We didn't get real far. I was a little nervous about it, to be honest, cuz it's a different model. And then, the people they're supplying are my competitors. And as they're, what does that look like? 

Ron Skelton: So, yeah, it's all blue ocean. You should be fine. The whole trick with that is you just gotta manage it as if you're the chairman of the [00:20:00] board, right. And like, manage your own conflicts of interest and stuff. 

Wes Kauffman: Right. 

Ron Skelton: So that it stands on its own. It runs on its own. It gives you a fair deal because you own it, but it also doesn't hurt those other guys. You don't get anti-competitive against the other competitors by jacking up their prices for them or anything.

Wes Kauffman: Right. 

Ron Skelton: Otherwise you just hurt. You're hurting an asset you bought and it's, they're gonna find somebody else. Right? 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. 

Ron Skelton: The other one is I advise a few people who are thinking about growing through acquisition and like, or they're like, Hey, how do I get to, I have x, Y, Z franchise.

I'm trying to open up at a hundred miles away in this other big city near me. How do I get there? And I was like, where do you get your, where do you get your most, the most of your referrals from? Like who refers the most business to you? And in this case, he does air duct cleaning and fixes, like dryers and stuff.

And it was like the appliance repair guys. Like, cool, okay, don't buy an air duct cleaning company and, a hundred miles away in this big other city, why don't you look around and see who, if anybody's selling their appliance repair shop? Interesting. Cause then you have a facility, right?

All he needs for the air duct, cleaning [00:21:00] business is a truck. And the brushes and the, the tools are going, the tool truck. The appliance repair companies already have tool trucks, so you just need a different magnet for your damn door and you put two trucks down there and you're open operation and you have a source of leads because, half the time these dry repair guys go out there and the whole reason the dryer doesn't work is cuz the ducts all jammed up and they're not, suited to, to clean that rob you or reinstall that properly. The other thing I would say to you is, who gives you most of your referrals? Where does your business come from? Like on a given basis? Like who's sending you the most? A lot of times that's the guy you wanna consider.

Wes Kauffman: Right. We've thought about that like, yeah. The crazy thing for us is when you get into the signage industry, like you don't think about it till you get in it and then you drive down the street and you're like, oh my word, there's a $5,000 sign. There's a $5,000 sign. Like literally there's a hundred thousand dollars worth of work within 200 feet of me.

It's just insane. I'm sometimes amazed that municipalities let us put [00:22:00] up as many signs as they do cuz it's kind of ridiculous. We've thought about, do you buy an entity that has a lot of signage needs and then on then that entity is your customer and you're just guaranteeing yourself all that work.

Ron Skelton: Right.

Wes Kauffman: Because they're gonna buy it from somewhere. Might as well buy it from me. 

Ron Skelton: Yeah. I'm trying to think of who would be, like commercial construction or even like the guys that go out and finish, like, you build a commercial building. Think about it. The guys that go out and finish out the hospitals and stuff. There's signs everywhere in a lot of commercial buildings. The placards on the doors, the exit, exit thing, directions exit, direction placards, and then we all that. Yeah, no, 

Wes Kauffman: All the braille and the ada. We have a, we actually print our own, we make tons of braille and we do the takeoffs, for the contractors.

We do the bid work. Industrial developers, like we're working on one industrial site. It's an obscene amount of signage. Like it's a 2000 acre site. Like the amount of signage that will be there is just crazy. So I look at that now. I mean, that's a [00:23:00] big fish, but still, who's making the recommendations on that stuff?

Is it the civil engineers? Who's down the food chain saying, Hey developer, you should get these signs and you should get 'em here. 

Right? 

Ron Skelton: Yeah. You may not need to buy the construction company if there's a, they're all licensing out to the same architect and civil engineer.

Wes Kauffman: Right. 

Ron Skelton: You might buy a three person civil engineering company. Let 'em run their thing. You just kind of own it and say, Hey, whenever you need signs, come over here. We'll probably 

Wes Kauffman: put us on the plans that, I mean, all the architects in the architectural drawings say, here's where you should get these signs from. Just put us in there. 

Ron Skelton: Yep. So a lot of that's what I was saying, just, what's your source of food? Like, who are your suppliers? And then who refers the most business to you? Like, where's your business coming from? That's the first places you always wanna look. Yeah. And then there's al also like other logic stuff like, are there shops in town or other stuff in town where selling signage or something around, that selling signage makes sense.

Roll up versus HoldCo. 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. 

Ron Skelton: Exit versus hole. What's the [00:24:00] similarities between 'em? That's the one thing you wanna say, like, If I didn't wanna make the decision today and I wanted to run a good company, what would apply to both of them? And start there. Like system processes, right.

Wes Kauffman: Lean systems, the right leadership team in place. Like I think, your multiples go up if the investor says, I don't have to do anything day to day in this business. I buy it and it runs itself. So I mean, that's what we're focused on right now.

Even with me moving to the visionary role and, my partner taking over the integrator role. We're trying to get to the place where if I'm gone two weeks, it doesn't matter. Like the place just hum along and we're very much getting there. Like, versus a year ago I was very involved in the day-to-day and it's changed drastically.

So I, I think we're at, we are executing on all the right things. It's probably just for me, more of a question that relates to what's next in terms of acquisitions. Do we stop? Because after this merger, we'll be in the 30 million range in annual revenue. So do we then [00:25:00] continue and like I said, trying to get to 60, 70, 80?

Or do we say, let's just, refine this thing and get it really dialed in and then do an ESOP or sell or whatever. I don't think we know. I'm 45. I'm not ready to retire by any means. So I'd say, I think that's a question me and my partners have to answer. But you chose to exit, correct?

Ron Skelton: I chose to exit for many reasons. So I had a, real estate investment group and we were specialized in doing stopping foreclosure, and the market got so hot it ate up our, I think there were not, there was just no, no available inventory for our strategy. 

Wes Kauffman: Okay. 

Ron Skelton: And, I could have switched and shifted, but I was kind of burned out on it.

Wasn't seeing eye to eye with the partner at this point. We've been working together for, from like in one company or another. We've been working together since like 2007, 2008. It was 2017. Around 2017. So he wanted to continue doing, he thought he could ride it out. I wanted to leave.

We just, I basically, we own, we owned a bunch of real estate. We just split up [00:26:00] the real estate to where it made more sense. So I had an exit. I went on to do some other stuff. I bought, I had taken control of o ownership of the local Real Estate Investment Association, and, realized that with two other partners, realized that everybody wanted to be the, the chief and nobody wanted to be the cook on that.

So I quickly divested myself of that to the other two guys. And that's changed hands like three or four times since then. 

Wes Kauffman: Oh, wow. 

Ron Skelton: And, It's a lot of work to run our big real estate investment association with very little income. The reason I got rid of it is like I'd already moved to Dallas cuz I move around a little bit now, like this digital, no med lifestyle.

And so we were in, down in Dallas, we were running the club in Tulsa. And it just wasn't making, at its best it would do two to 300,000 a year and there were three of us that owned it. It just, it had no path to make it. It was fun, but, good people, but just had no path.

I just gave my shares over to one of the other partners who wanted himself to both me and the other. There were three of us, the two of the partners gave our shares to the partner that [00:27:00] wanted it. And then as soon as he had it all on his own, he realized he didn't wanna do it all on his own anymore now.

No. And now I think he's a minority owner in it and he's got somebody else running it. Okay. But, I jumped into the acquisition of mergers because I wanted to do something in a bigger game. Okay. And I bought a pest control company. I still own it. I bought it way too small and made a big mistake. And, so it's just myself and a couple techs and, I'll never probably get rid of it unless they want to because they're, it's a, it's my nepotism company.

Everybody that works there is a relative related to me. 

Wes Kauffman: Everybody needs one of those. I'm just, 

Ron Skelton: And as we grow it, it'll print money, man. The pest control has really good margins. So yeah. As, as we acquire other ones in that market, I don't think I'll, I don't think I'll do it anywhere else either.

Wes Kauffman: You had mentioned, did you do a marketing rollout? 

Ron Skelton: We did. I partnered with some guys when I first got, so I told you I didn't know what I was up to, so I went and hired some mentors to teach us. And I saved mentors cause I did a couple of different programs that are out there and the first one [00:28:00] I did, it came out of, I'll just say it, it was Jeremy Harbour out of, out of Europe. I would say great program. The network and the people are awesome. I meet people from all over the world, through it cuz he, like, he's in Dubai one weekend and then, one week he has a yacht and specifically he teaches from his yacht. He's spot and sold a bunch of different companies ticking some public and stuff.

The information is by like water hose method, where like you sign up for the course and he sends you like 40 or 50 videos. They're like, okay, you probably ought to know how to run a business really well before I teach you what I'm gonna teach you. So here's 50 vi videos that teach you that and then you spend three days with him.

We talking about just deal sourcing and how to fund the deal and you know how to negotiate it and his way of doing things. And then, you have this whole community around doing that. So out of that community, we were meeting every week to try to figure out what we wanted to do with the knowledge we have now.

And one of us popped off like we should do a roll up. And another's like, okay, marketing companies, why have a marketing mba? So we did like, who wants to raise your hand and run this thing? 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. Right. 

Ron Skelton: About eight of [00:29:00] us raise our hand. And I learned the heck of a lesson from it. It didn't go bad.

We actually had, I still got the stack of stuff over here somewhere. I talked to over 200 plus marketing agencies on less than 200 days. We spurred enough interest with the way we were doing this rollup, we were taking minority stake, doing a true rollup where they were getting a higher multiple because of the larger company we were creating.

And it was unique enough and we brought in some really top guns in the industry. People had done. Top 10 market agencies, not once or twice their careers. 

I think the biggest thing I learned is that marketing agencies, I was, the things I was shocked about was that marketing agencies still have a hard time getting leads for themselves. The co we were in the middle of Covid and most of 'em are used to trade shows, bumping elbows and knowing people.

Taking somebody out to dinner, doing the wine and dine and getting the client.

Wes Kauffman: Right. 

Ron Skelton: And now that was locked down and done. They were having a rough time finding like how to source leads. The lead generation companies were killing it. [00:30:00] I've met a few guys that owned lead generation companies are less than two or three years old, running on three, four people and they were generating seven, eight.

One of the guys was doing 9,000,000 in 3 years, you sell, I know we're a million dollars of leads a year to insurance companies. 

Wes Kauffman: Wow. 

Ron Skelton: Built out a, five or six websites and some local hotspots on different like, Google Maps or whatever, listings or whatever. And was generating, he was selling a thousand plus calls a week or a thousand plus calls a day or something to, insurance providers.

I was killing him like one of the big ones too. He is like selling 'em to farmers. He did this in just a few years. We talked to some really interesting guys and, that it's, that project's probably still going on. What I'll be straight up, what happened is two of the partners realized that we had eight CEOs in the room, and everybody wanted to like be the visionary.

Nobody wanted to be the integrator and we were having more time getting stuff done. Yeah. Which drives me nuts cuz I'm one of these guys big visionary, we need to do X, Y, and Z. Who's up for it? When you, somebody says, okay, I'll take care of that. I'm a guy, [00:31:00] like by when. Right. You'll do you, you volunteered for this.

I wanna put it in a project. I wanna see by when and I don't wanna hear about it until it's that day. Cuz I'm coming up with my next vision, right. To get any of 'em to commit to a date, like end date and time, which is a nightmare. So when two of the partners said, Jay, this isn't working the way we thought it was, we were mad at first, but like, we're gonna buy you guys out and we're gonna do it on our own.

After being mad for a few days, I decided that was a good idea. Like, let's let them have it so.

Wes Kauffman: It makes sense, right? 

Ron Skelton: Yeah. Yeah. And, uh, I learned some very valuable lessons. Number one, I just finished, before I did in the merge, I did a gap in between. That's why 2017, and I was, when you were talking about Covid, as I took a couple years off and went down to Dallas and did this thing where it was team development and leadership where we're building highly effective teams.

And everything we did in that marketing rollup was against everything they taught . 

Wes Kauffman: Like literally you were teaching it and then you're like, ah, I'm not gonna do that. 

Ron Skelton: It was like, I, you volunteered for the first year and the second year you teach the first year students. [00:32:00] It's a two year program type of thing.

Everything that we did in this program, I was going against in this company we had just created, and it was like, that was bugging me too. It was like, okay, yeah, it's either, am I not working this or is it not working. And then it just clicked it, clicks in your head, like, I've got, eight people who are used to being. SVPs or CEOs are better.

No, we don't have any integrators here and I'm still looking for a decent integrator. I think every, I've done the research and I've interviewed a hundred plus, people over the years, over the last couple years, inside of the podcast, I've done nearly, I'll have a hundred by the end of the year here.

And then just random people that I interview about owning business. I'm the guy that'll sit down beside a coffee shop, right? I sat down, coffee shop here not too long ago, and the guy was sitting, it was really busy. I said, can I sit here? There's four you four chairs. And he was, he was wearing a, uniform.

I was like, what do you do? And they're like, oh, I own a so-and-so business. Pretty soon he is like, you're asking me a lot of questions about my business. I was like, ah, I kind of own a thing about that, and that's just what I do. If it bugs you at any time, stop. But I dig into business models and what I've [00:33:00] realized is, there, there's so many similarities, right?

He was having a hard time figuring out how to do leads. Right? He had a hard time finding great employees. So it's like the top three in those market agencies were getting good qualified leads. 

Wes Kauffman: Right. 

Ron Skelton: He could close, he's a good sales guy. He could close him when you know who to talk to, but like knowing who to talk to.

Yeah. And start, getting conversation, starting what I call a lead. Finding great employees. So, yeah. And then the, the third one is systems. Like exactly the third one's a systems and process, right? 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. That's, I mean, that's where we're at. And like I, some of these guys on Twitter, like, I mean, John Matzner is one of 'em, he's a big systems guy.

And of course Josh Schultz, I think it is with King Cast. I look at these guys and I'm like, wow. I mean, it's not me, right? I wish I was like those guys, but I also, man, there's so much power in automation. There's so much power in systems. If we can, I see it. I see it. Like I believe in it. I probably, I'm not the guy to [00:34:00] build it, but I see it and that's something we're actually doing here.

We just, started a quality assurance role as a director level. So would report directly to the integrator cuz you know, we've been given a lot of lip service to SOPs and processes and systems, but we didn't actually give someone authority. And so we're like, okay, so we're not really being honest.

We say like, yeah we think this should happen, but no one has the authority that's all they do. So we're pretty excited about that seat and we've identified someone we think could fill it. I'm hoping cuz that's kind of like you mentioned, like not being able to find a good integrator

if there's such a lack of integrators out there, maybe it's like, it's the systems and the automation is what we need to really dig into. Right. Well you know the interesting, you have amazing systems and automation, not that you don't need an integrator, but, maybe they don't have to be so high on that scale of integrator.

Ron Skelton: What I was gonna [00:35:00] say until I got A D D, DOF and lost my train of thought was. I have interviewed over a hundred plus business owners. I talk to business owners all the time, and what I've always figured out, if they're doing more than seven figures, they're doing seven figures plus, they have an integrator and I can identify 'em pretty quickly.

So in my real estate things, I don't say this very often cause I don't wanna coach anybody anymore, but I had, three, maybe four different times where I was coaching NFL players to how to buy and sell real estate. Retired NFL guys. And I won't say who they are cuz it, I respect their privacy and stuff, but one of 'em was asking about it and we never got to the point where I was consulting 'em on real estate.

But that's why we were having conversations. And he had a sales organization who sold solar panels and solar stuff and was it solar? No, they did, they did solar I believe and they did the electrical, like where they re they sold you different electric company cuz in Texas it's, 

Wes Kauffman: Oh right. We used the provider. Yeah, yeah.

Ron Skelton: Yeah. You can change providers and stuff. They would change your provider and I think they used to or did sell solar too, but he had, quite a few more than a [00:36:00] hundred sales reps. And he was talking about like, I talked about his business model.

Cause that's what I loved to learn. And he is talking about, the, so anyway, we were talking about his business and how it grew and it was like, okay, he brought on his, his office manager and she started taking, he realized how organized she was.

He started giving him more and more, and the next thing you know, he was single at the time, his office manager became his wife, and now she's a like chief operation officer. And he went from talking, and I just identified it right off the bat, just from what she did.

He comes with ups with the ideas, she implements them and makes 'em run smoothly and won't let him implement the next idea until, this one's running smoothly. And I'm like, you've got, 

Wes Kauffman: you got an integrator. Yeah.

Ron Skelton: Yeah. You got an integrator. He didn't even know what that was at the time, and he didn't need to.

But I've been able to identify that if you're above six or seven figure, I'd say if you're above seven figures at least, okay. Within a few minutes of our, me talking about your business structure and who does what in the day-to-day operations, I'll know whe whether or not you're just naturally an integrator or [00:37:00] naturally, or you're a visionary. And the first thing I'll say is, who runs your day-to-day operations? 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. 

Ron Skelton: Who makes, once you figure out it should be done? Step 1, 2, 3. Who makes sure that it's done? Step one, two, and three? Cause it's not you. That's not any, that's not a visionary trait. I hate repetitive task.

Wes Kauffman: I don't mind working. I actually love the physical aspect of what we do. I sometimes I just go out and work on the floor. Yeah. I think it's good culture building, but I enjoy it. But yeah, I couldn't do it all day long. In the sense of, I'm too, I'm daydreaming too much. I'm thinking about what the next thing is and how we're gonna get there.

I probably, I caused too much chaos to be honest. Like , they're like, great thanks. But in, perfect image, the first store I owned they had a little thing on the wall that says days since Wes rearranged the shop, because I'd just be like, this is a mess. And I'd rearrange everything. And it was, it was like one of those, work loss days, signs and it was never more than like 15.

Like that had to be the max it got to was 15. 

Ron Skelton: Being the owner of a sign shop could be fun. Cuz you could always make fun signs. Like for like, things like that. [00:38:00] Right. You could just walk in. 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. Yeah. Well, yeah. Or people make fun signs and stick 'em on your wall and you didn't know about it.

Which there's, the reason I'm sitting here with the white wall behind me is cuz the one that's on my other wall.

Ron Skelton: What does it say? 

Wes Kauffman: It's a quote, but it's got a nice photo of me on it and, didn't really wanted it. It's a quote, I think it's from the office. What I'd rather be feared or loved.

Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me. Yeah. But they did it in like a high-tech vinyl, so if I take it off, it rips a paint off the wall, so. I dunno if it's respect or not, but it's there, so it's fine. 

Ron Skelton: I think I'd be in trouble if I worked for a signed company because I would always be messing with somebody, right. 

And I have a sense of humor that's either loved or hated. It's just, there's just no in between.

Wes Kauffman: It's black or white. There's not any other.

Ron Skelton: Somebody said, my 15 year anniversary was last week, or about a week next, about two weeks now.

Around Halloween. Somebody says like, how do you stay married for, for 15 plus years? I was like, we've been together for 19. I said, she just has an incredible sense of [00:39:00] humor, cuz most people couldn't put up with me. Right. Like, I say things and do things that I probably shouldn't say, and she just knows.

It's just my awkward, quirky sense of humor and just nods her head and shakes her head at me and like, it's like 

Wes Kauffman: she's gotta love it or else she hate it. I have a friend like that. He equally offends everybody. I'm like, you can't say that. He's like, yeah, but I say it to everybody, so it's okay. Yeah. Okay. I'm not gonna say that.

Ron Skelton: Gotta be careful what you say on these shows. You don't wanna be canceled before you even make it. So let's talk, it's, we're, we've been in here for almost an hour now. Let's, how do people get ahold of you if they wanna learn about the sign business or if you, what can we, as an audience do for you?

Wes Kauffman: Well, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. I'm, my dms are open. I answer them pretty quickly. Someone actually sent me a signed company for sale last week. So I'm, I looked at the sim this week, signed the NDA, it was interesting. I don't know what we'll do, but I'm always looking for acquisitions.

I'm looking for any way I can help, honestly, like we're, [00:40:00] we're still growing like crazy. We're focused primarily on national accounts. So if you know somebody that works at a company that's got hundreds of locations across the US that needs, rollouts of big, big sign packages, we do sitewide work for Amazon, well, we'll ship to hundred, 200 sites, over the course of a week. Walmart and stuff like that.

In terms of the business side, I'll take any referrals you can send me. I also just kind of want to help. Like I'm the type of person that is like, if I can give you advice and I love business, I love the opportunities. I had some guys reach out to me about a possible investment and I'm not gonna, I'm not doing it right now, but I'm super excited about what they're doing.

Like if I can assist them in any way, like absolutely I want to. I think that's what I love about, and maybe it's just, I'm just finding it, but there's a small business community that you're aware of that's actively helping one another. Actively like encouraging one another and cheering each other on, and like, [00:41:00] they're just passionate about doing cool stuff and, speaking that same language.

And I'm excited to be part of it, honestly. 

Ron Skelton: Cool. 

Wes Kauffman: Like you said earlier, it's a blue ocean. There's so much opportunity, it's like, how can we help one another? 

Ron Skelton: Yeah. I like the, I told you I did Jeremy Harbour's, I also done Roland Fraiser. I've talked to all the other Carl Allen. I've talked to all the other guys.

I haven't done their courses yet, but I probably will. I'm a course junkie. I'll take 'em when, when I'm doing something that I kind of know what you, each one of their strong points is. If I have an acquisition or something, line it up, you're kind of like, Hey, I probably should use this strategy.

I'll go run through one of their courses and they're usually under 10 grand, so it's not like they're expensive. 

Wes Kauffman: And you can, it's, it's going to school, right? It's continuing education. 

Ron Skelton: It's Roland Frazier is interesting. It's free to do his first little week thing, and then you sign up and it's under 10 grand.

It's like five or 6,000. But man, there was like two, I still haven't made it through all the videos. And that was, eight months ago. There's 200 plus videos in his Cajabi library. And so when I need something, a lot of times I'll just look through the videos there and I was stumbling across the other day and they're [00:42:00] like, how to run a better podcast?

I'm like, I probably should have watched that. So Yeah. 

Wes Kauffman: I can learn something from that. 

Ron Skelton: Yeah. Yeah. I'm a internal learner. I've got more college degrees than the average full should have. And, so that's awesome. Thought I was gonna teach college, but, I'll just leave that at that. But, I just like to learn.

I like to learn. That's why I'm generally intrigued by other people, their business model, how it's working. And then I used to, one might work for you. I don't know if they have it where we're at, but you can look around. It's called 1 million Cups. And I wish they would do something in the acquisition entrepreneur face that this is, cuz that's a startup type of thing.

But it's ran by the Kaiser Founda or is funded by their, started by the Kaiser Foundation. But what it is, either one week, one or two weeks out of the month, they get together at some type of coworking space and then they have one to two startups get up. And then the rules are you have to be in business for a year.

You have to have some traction. And there's some rules around what start, what a startup is. They get up and they do a 15 or 20 minute pitch, and then everybody asks 'em really tough questions [00:43:00] for five or 10 minutes to help 'em move their game forward. So it's in the spirit of, okay, what's your path to profitability?

Or like, just like really getting their gears to turn. And I abso, even when I own the real estate investment group, I absolutely love going to this. And people would ask me, well, you own a real estate investment group. Why are you going to a startup hangout, every Wednesday? Because a while when they started it was every Wednesday.

And I said, because two things. Remember when I was doing foreclosures, so I was doom and gloom all the time. Remember every client I had was losing their house crying, they were upset. It was a very dark kind of industry. It's one of the reasons I didn't wanna be in it anymore. The second was, is these entre, so when I got to see these entrepreneurs, they're fired up, right?

And you'd be asking 'em a tough question like, Hey, have you what, how, what's your roadmap to profitability? Or what's, have you thought about X, Y, and Z? And then as soon as you get done asking, I should probably just take a look at that with my Company, right? 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. It's my roadmap to profitability.

Ron Skelton: Have you tried cross, cross-selling and upselling or whatever it is you're talking about and you realize that you're giving yourself advice cuz you know you needed to do it, you just haven't said it out loud and you'd go back, you could go back to the office and implement what other people [00:44:00] ask or what you ask.

So it was just a, it was my Wednesday inspiration, right? Because if you're, yeah. If everything you do is like, like I said, everybody that came in, we were doing five, six hours, six houses a week, something weeks where we were buying them and that's incredible. We were stopping foreclosures, but everybody that talked to us had a horrible story how either they lost their job, got sick, got some type of life threatening illness, right?

Something happened in their life and or the. Moving them, bending them over, like the banks are doing 'em wrong. Yeah. And, for the longest time, the banks knew my name. They hated my guts, like. We filed so many complaints with the consumer on our Financial Protection Bureau assist our clients doing it, that at some point, some of the bigger banks, and I won't say their name on here, but would actually, if my name was signed care, if I changed the LLC or whatever, if it was my signature, if it said Ronald Paul Skelton Jr.

On it, they would send us a letter saying, offer rejected buyer's not qualified. And I would have I'd literally be, we'd have a counselor with cash sitting in there. So we turned 'em in for that. Right. For blacklisting investors. So we got, if you remember some of the [00:45:00] CNN stories that, these big banks got in trouble for blacklist, investors.

I started to turning the wheel on that. I didn't say, I recalled everybody I knew doing what I was doing and kind of was the instigator. Hey, we should all turn, 

Wes Kauffman: we're gonna turn these guys in. Yeah. 

Ron Skelton: We should all turn them in for Listiness. I Are you on the list? Are you on the list? And then sure enough, a bunch of us filed a complaint within a week and they got popped. So.

Wes Kauffman: Well, it's interesting you talk about like learning. So we, you had said, who's your supplier, who's your referral partnering?

But then we gotta talking about marketing agencies and funnily enough, marketing agencies have a huge say in the signage in a lot of organizations cuz they, sometimes they outsource it and market up and do it themselves or whatever. So we'd a, we've actually thought about, my one partner I think would do a great job running a marketing firm.

It's kind of his passion. And so we've looked, that was an acquisition we thought about. We haven't dove deep into it at this point cuz like we're still doing a lot of stuff and merger and all that. But that's one like vertical that we thought of getting into. [00:46:00] I'm not a marketer, so it kind of terrifies me.

I'm like, e I don't know, I don't know anything about that. 

Ron Skelton: But if you thought about it, like who in town's designing all the logos for these guys? Like any new startup or, so you're looking, if you're going for national accounts, that's a different thing. But if you're looking for like a lo you know, if you're just really looking to expand in your local space, who's the go-to guy for logo design?

Sign branding for the branding because whoever's making that branding call, it's like, okay, you're gonna need new signage. Right. They're the ones that gonna say, you gotta have new letter sign 

Wes Kauffman: who we work with. Yeah you're right though. For the national account space, which is really our focus.

That's a tough one. Cause you, you're talking about big marketing agencies at that point, they're already guys.

Ron Skelton: and it's interesting is there's so many different flavors of marketing agencies. There's things that do like what's called geofencing, and all they do is like target your local area and all they do is run ads for you.

There's ad placement companies, there's branding, there's design, logo design and creatives. The people that, there's agencies that own, I was just talking to a guy who has a [00:47:00] multimillion dollar agency in India, and he's wanting to, wow. He's wanting to exit out of, and he's got big, chocolate brands and other stuff, US based companies that he does their packaging and design and stuff.

Designing for their design, their packaging, labeling and everything for products. They move into India. Right. 

Wes Kauffman: Wow. 

Ron Skelton: So just as, as wide as you could think of the, like, marketing agencies are, as far as what all they do. Yeah, they're u it's huge. I mean, there's so many of them that probably would never send a lead to like the guy's doing doing AdSense ads or Google ads and Facebook ads and up price 'em a little bit.

Yeah. They're not gonna say any leads, but the guys just developing those brands and doing brand logo designs and 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. Brand awareness and all that. 

Ron Skelton: Brand awareness and stuff like that. Now, those guys probably.

Wes Kauffman: I was speeding of my director of finance, was telling me about, a really cool business outta Chicago.

They do, if you watch a soccer game and there's the digital billboard ads. So he sets up those billboards for FIFA, for US [00:48:00] soccer all over the world. He's gonna be at the World Cup, like all that stuff. But what's crazy about his technology is he actually developed, I mean I'm sure he is patented it, where depending on the feed and the country you're watching it in, it'll show a different ad.

Ron Skelton: Yep.

Wes Kauffman: And it's, they use like the color of the LEDs and the frequency of the television cameras to determine which ad shows, and it's amazing. So he can sell like three and four ads on one screen for one broadcast. Brilliant. That's brilliant. 

Ron Skelton: That's not something I haven't heard of. That's really cool. 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah, it's really neat. 

Ron Skelton: Cool. So let's end us the story cuz we're at, we're after the hour now. What's the coolest thing you ever made? And all your signed companies and everything. What's the weirdest, coolest, or story worthy, thing that you guys have made? 

Wes Kauffman: Oh boy. Put me on the spot. The coolest thing we've ever made, man. Trying to think.

Man. So this honeycomb wall we're building right now is really awesome. I'll have to get some photos of that. It's almost too complex to explain. [00:49:00] Honestly. They showed me and I was like, okay. Wow. That's intense. That's pretty crazy. 

Ron Skelton: I have a

Wes Kauffman: Actually, go ahead.

Ron Skelton: I say I have a friend who owns a marketing agency in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and h his sign is on Greenwall.

It's live, like mean. There's, it's, they put some type of mesh on the wall and it's actually got some type of their plants growing in it, but his sign is on this living green,

Wes Kauffman: That's pretty cool. And he just projects, he projects on it or what? 

Ron Skelton: He, there's, acrylic letters or something that go, like they, okay.

The stick out, the plants can grow behind and stuff, but, uh, 

Wes Kauffman: that's cool. 

Ron Skelton: Yeah. 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. We just, we did a cool electrical sign for an Amazon site that had a, like a green wall. Yeah. I'm sorry, I'm not, I'm coming up with blanks. Like, there's so much cool stuff. We do. Actually, the favorite thing we just did is, and I'll, maybe I'll get you some pictures.

My designers, I challenged them to make this really their room. I said, look, this needs to be a showroom. They did this really cool, like under the sea sort of thing, but little bit cartoonish, like kind of fun. Everything's awesome. And [00:50:00] then something that's really happening now in our signage space is this, P E T foam.

It's a sound absorbing foam. I can see the panels, it's like in office spaces and all that. Well, we can print directly on that. So they took pieces of that foam and they printed like waves. And then we have C N C routers, so we cut 'em in the shape of a wave. So from the ceiling, it's like waves are crashing down from the ceiling.

And this P E T foam, it looks really, really cool. 

Ron Skelton: That sounds cool. 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. They're not quite done. They have a divider that's going in the room and there's gonna be a big yellow submarine on it. And that 

Ron Skelton: Cool. If you have that sound, you have that sound phone. Myself, when I set up a new studio right now, you can see I've got the stairs in the background.

I'm in my tiny home in the middle of the Redwood Forest. But at some point I'll probably pop up another studio. 

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. 

Ron Skelton: And, when I do that, I'll probably, I might reach out to you and say, Hey, yeah, let's do something cool to go behind me. I usually absolutely, if you see my early shows, I always just put weird art behind me.

Like there was a long time, for a long time there was this monkey or this gorilla that had a headset on. It looked like he was talking to him. So he had sat there behind me the whole time on with the headset, like he's listening [00:51:00] into the show. But, 

Wes Kauffman: yeah, we could totally do, we could do something like use that foam, but you can cut it in all kinds of dimensions so it actually comes off the wall and you could do some really cool stuff with it.

Ron Skelton: I have to do something cool. Probably, probably by mid time next year I'll determine Right now we're looking for land. That's ours so we build some, build a house. We're gonna stay here for a while, so we'll probably build another house. Yeah. Expensive. But I appreciate having you on here today.

Is there any one last, one last thing. If somebody could, remember like one or two things from the show today, what would you want 'em to remember of you? 

Wes Kauffman: What would they wanna remember of me? I think one, like how can I help reach out to me, I wanna be a resource for the community, I think is the biggest thing.

And if you have, you knew of an awesome sign company for sale somewhere in the, like the south of the country, Southwest Texas area, southeast, maybe in California, I'm definitely interested. I think we're gonna keep going that way. But yeah, how can I help? I think that's the biggest thing. I [00:52:00] want to be a resource for the community.

I'd love to just talk to people about the cool things they're doing and seeing if I can give any ideas. 

Ron Skelton: And you're definitely a good role model for acquisition entrepreneurship works, right? That's right. From camera repair shop to, print shop to now, on the track to be a 30 plus million dollar.

That what you said earlier, you guys will be potentially 30 plus. 

Wes Kauffman: That's a goal. Yeah. Hopefully next year. We'll here, next year. So yeah. 

Ron Skelton: Awesome. That's a, and it's all through acquisitions and, mergers and growing. Yeah.

Wes Kauffman: I really believe acquisitions. Like, I, one of my goals, I want, I believe in entrepreneurship.

I believe in it creating, wealth for people. And I, I've got a number of amazing employees that I'm like, Hey man, let's get you a business. Let's figure something out. I'll help you. Like, I think we're moving away from this, like, greed is good mentality and if we have this op, this idea that we just wanna help each other and help each other succeed, like, I'm gonna succeed too.

Right. If that's the way we're focused. 

Ron Skelton: It's funny you made that greed as good comment. When I decided to go from real estate to acquisition to mergers, [00:53:00] a buddy of mine when I was in the military, him and I used to watch that show all the time, the. I texted him. He, I had, I texted him, he didn't respond to him, and I, his wife asked me, he's like, Hey, did you try to reach out to Kyle?

And I was like, yeah, just gimme a message. I said, Blueland a condo or blue, whatever, loves, something steel. I forgot what it was even said. It was a great quote from that show. And, he reached out like, what the hell you talking about? It's like, I'm moving into acquisition of mergers. He goes, oh no, you're gonna be the evil.

No, I'm not. I'm gonna, I'm gonna do this. Right.

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. 

Ron Skelton: But, it was funny. Was it Blue Horse? She loves Anaconda Steel was from, Jordan. 

Wes Kauffman: Jordan Belfort? 

Ron Skelton: No, no, no. That was a different thing. Oh, what was the show? Wall Street. Right? Wasn't Wall Street the, acquisitions and merger shows from the early, late nineties?

Wes Kauffman: Yeah. I don't think I watched that one, but, 

Ron Skelton: oh, okay. Well, what would you agreed as good as a quote directly from the 

Wes Kauffman: Oh, okay. It's just something I heard. Yeah. So, yeah, I just think, I think. The world's changing. I think E T A is a massive opportunity for so many people, and I think it, I'm excited about it.

I wanna help [00:54:00] people do it, regardless of what that means for me. 

Ron Skelton: Well, I appreciate you having you here today, man. And we'll call that a show. 

Wes Kauffman: Great. Thanks, Ron. It's nice meeting you. 

Ron Skelton: Hold on. All right, hold on just a second. Sure.