Whiskey & Wisdom

The Power of Perseverance - Jon Carne (Port City Apparel)

July 19, 2023 Whiskey & Wisdom Episode 79
Whiskey & Wisdom
The Power of Perseverance - Jon Carne (Port City Apparel)
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Show Notes Transcript

I am thrilled to announce the release of our latest podcast episode! πŸŽ‰ In this episode, we dive into some fascinating discussions and gain valuable insights from our guest, Jon Carne from Port City Apparel. Here are three key takeaways that you don't want to miss:

1️⃣ The Power of Podcasting: We explore the incredible potential of podcasting as a medium for connection and communication. As we bridge the gap between generations, we discover how this platform allows people to connect on a deeper level. Whether you're a seasoned podcaster or someone considering starting your own show, this episode offers valuable wisdom and inspiration.

2️⃣ Building Meaningful Communities: Our conversation delves into the importance of cultivating strong relationships with our customers and team members. We hear stories of long-standing relationships and the impact they have on personal and professional growth. Discover how these connections can shape not only our understanding but also our empathy towards others. Join us as we explore the power of community and the role it plays in our lives.

3️⃣ Continuous Learning: Our guest shares his personal journeys of self-improvement and growth. We learn about the importance of reading and learning, even when we may not have formal business training. Discover some of the authors and mentors that have influenced our guest, including the renowned John Maxwell. This episode serves as a reminder that learning is a lifelong process that can lead to incredible success.

Don't forget to like, comment, share, and subscribe to our podcast to stay up to date with all our latest episodes.

Thank you for being part of our podcast community! πŸ™ŒπŸŽ§

Cheers, 
Tyler & Chris

Find Jon's Business at:
IG: @portcityapparelpca

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How to find us:
Whiskey & Wisdom: @whiskey.and.wisdom
Chris Kellum: @ctkellum
LinkedIn: Christopher Kellum
Tyler Yaw: @tyler_yaw_
LinkedIn: Tyler Yaw

Chris:

Welcome back to the Whiskey and Wisdom podcast. Coming to you live from the Cargo District Studios. This is your constant host, Chris Kellum and Tyler Yaw. This week we bring on a man of many hats in multiple businesses.

Jon:

John Karn. Today I'm here with Port City Apparel. Nice.

Chris:

And for those who've been around a while. He is, or his business has been the person who actually made our original glasses. Yeah.

Tyler:

And we kind of got set up with everything. Just a quick shout out to, there was a giveaway that I. With one of the only giveaways I've ever won in my life. So it was super exciting and it was the very first branded merchandise that whiskey and wisdom had. So it was pretty exciting. And when we were looking to brand our glasses, we knew who to go to because of that. So we've been extremely happy ever since. Great.

Jon:

Well, I Heather in our office who handles our marketing, she is a big fan of all, and she set this up. So today's my first podcast. So, hopefully it goes well. Otherwise Heather won't set another one, but super grateful for the opportunity, not just to be here, but just to share a little bit about our story. And then also this is so new, so I'm excited to get maybe some wisdom from you guys as well, which is cool. Yeah, that's great.

Chris:

Yeah. I mean, if you ever want to start your own podcast, I do have a studio you can use.

Jon:

So I, I I think one of the biggest bridges from my generation to let's say Heather's in her early twenties and then you guys in the middle it's just this medium and truly understanding the power of it and the, just the ability for people to connect on a different level. And just that, that's a that's a constant source of learning for myself as well as the other elderly people in our business, anyone who's over 30 in our business is considered the older set, which is which is pretty funny. So, anyway, but yeah, it's I'm, I'm excited to be here.

Tyler:

And actually with that being said to just a shameless plug for Carter District Studios, we're actually starting a summit. It's gonna be called build your community summit. And we're bringing in people that have built pretty good communities around the Wilmington area specifically. And what they're doing is kind of. Coming out and saying like, Hey, these are the ways that we built our community around us and the overarching theme for us. When we talk about it is going to be how you can build your community using podcasts. Very cool. Yeah. So it was a kind of cool thing that's coming up and it kind of fit into what you were talking

Jon:

about there. Yeah. And I think like for our business, we're connected with so many different types of businesses. So on a, on a I think there's three different. customer groups that we serve. All of them have a community, but some of them are maybe in town. I'd say probably 50% of our business would be regional to the Cape Fear region, and then 50% is outside of that. But we get to interact, especially through our event products like some of the marathons that we work with. Some of the five case that we work with. We work with a great company in town through go time and through without limits. We do a tremendous amount of events, and we get to go to see everything from Habitat for Humanity do their. Turkey trot, and then you see the actual end use of that, which is they raise the money and then they're building houses here in town for people that need them. And so it's, it's great to be in business and it's great to serve people, but it's also great to see the businesses that you serve serving other people, which is, which is pretty cool. That's

Tyler:

great. Before we get too far into it, Chris was doing a lot of research on our newest whiskey here. So tell us about what we're sipping on today, Chris.

Chris:

So we, I somehow got, walked through the liquor store and saw this bottle and was like, Oh, it's pretty it's Baker's it's from the Jim Beam family. But it's very interesting. So every one of the bottles, the whiskey has to have been aged for at least seven years, seven years. Yep. This bottle actually, and it looks like they're all 107 proof too, which is kind of cool. To do all that work to make sure it gets to the same proof. Yeah. But this one was aged for seven years 10 months but traditionally when they put it all in there, it's supposed to have A more fruit vanilla caramel on the nose, but your palate is supposed to be more of a medium bodied with little oak in vanilla But they're all single barrels. So each one is going to taste a little

Jon:

bit different I just took a sip and I tasted all of that see That's what I'm here for. Yeah. Thank you.

Chris:

So let's just take another sip and cheers

Tyler:

It is good

Chris:

you can't taste that Yeah, they definitely say the finish is a robust flavor. So sit on your tongue 107

Tyler:

proof. Yeah, it's spicy

Chris:

It is but it's not as spicy as I was expecting for a

Tyler:

107 No, it's super smooth, but it like it hits you in the back of the throat. Yes especially compared to the last One we had, Oh

Chris:

yeah, I mean like 80 80 proof,

Jon:

which makes a big jump up 27 and one shot. I feel kind of funny because I think I had a choice in the selection of this. So I'm like, yeah, so if it's kicking you in the back of the throat, that was on me, right?

Chris:

Well, it's nice to like when you, I always look at whiskeys and I'm trying to figure out like when would be the best time to drink it because a lot of people like, well, I'm only a whiskey drinker and I'm like. Understandable, but I'm not going to drink a McAllen all the way through summer. It gets too hot. This, even though it's a one Oh seven definitely has like a warmer taste to it. So I could see it as like another one of our like spring, fall drinks versus we do have some that are like real spicy, like a lot of rise. It's hard for us to catch me drinking a ride in the middle of summer.

Jon:

I would think 40 degrees, little fire feed up sun setting. That's kind of what I'm thinking

Tyler:

with that one, too. Yeah. I mean... It may be a little bit colder for

Jon:

that one. If it's

Chris:

40, it's a little too cold. I would drink this

Jon:

at like... I think that'll warm you

Chris:

up. Yeah. Like if it's 60 degrees outside, when I don't have mosquitoes or anything, and you can watch a sunset. Sure. Yeah. But I'm not going to argue. I definitely like your setup, too. Yeah. I just don't have a

Jon:

fire pit. Yet.

Tyler:

With that being said, enough about the whiskey, tell us a bit about

Jon:

yourself, John. Well, I, as I shared, this is the this is a second generation for us. And I say that we started our business, my wife and I in San Diego. So we're both transplants from Southern California and we started the business there, had our three boys there. And through some just pretty big events chose to move. A couple of those events were my wife was in a pretty serious car accident with the, she was pregnant with our third son. Oh wow. And just through the process of just meeting with the doctors and she was in she was in the emergency ICU for almost three weeks and they shared that our youngest son was probably going to have some severe just developmental issues from some of the blood loss and some other oxygen issues from, from my wife's accident. And at the same time, our business had a pretty traumatic event during the same three week period. We had a 4th of July t-shirts that we were making for a big customer. Mm-hmm. and it was a couple container loads, and they got seized by customs for an X-ray exam. They had a date on them. Yeah. Uhhuh and I, and I was calling and they, Hey guys, if you don't let the t-shirts out, We're going to have a problem like it's the 4th of July, so those two events I remember standing with my dad in the, in the elevator and scripts medical center in San Diego. And this was in 2004, I guess. And I said we're out. Like, he's like, what, what do you mean we're out as we, everybody was from Southern California. And I said, we're going to move someplace where we can just get Michelle, get my wife and, and then our third son's Christian just get him someplace where we can take care of him. And, and so that took a process to get everything done. And we moved parents, grandparents we all came out here in 2000. We actually bought in 2005, but we, we didn't move till the next year. And it was very interesting because we had a. Business in California at the time and just trying to do business, you got to remember before Skype was real, I mean, it just started, but it was really glitchy. And most of our customers in our business were a branded apparel business. So back in those days we were doing mostly Disney universal and hard rock cafe was our biggest client. They were very hands on. They needed to have You know, every design had to be perfect. It was retail, so it wasn't necessarily doing promotional products. This was retail apparel that was gonna sell for a lot of money. And so that was just a really tough process. So we all got here. We, we, I, my original office was the port city Java down on 23rd and market street. And I just sat in the corner until Steve finally came after about a year. He's like, dude, like, I know you buy a couple of coffees, but you're here like 10 hours a day. And so then we opened a little office and, so that's how we got here to Wilmington. The, the, the business side of it really started you know, decades ago and my wife actually was business student at San Diego state. I was, I was a history major, English minor. I thought I was a volleyball player there. Wanted to coach and teach. And I went to work for a little volleyball apparel company, and I really fell in love with the people more than I did necessarily the business. And so that's how I got in instead of teaching and coaching and having my summers off, I wound up getting into this crazy business. And so that was a long, long time ago, but really, I think the move to Wilmington was a, just a game changer on many levels. We moved from a really. Fast community, San Diego or Los Angeles is very, very fast. Right. Everybody's in a hurry. The product was in a hurry. The people were in a hurry and I'm getting here. Everything slowed down, which was a little bit good and a little bit bad from a business perspective because we would expect people here to move as quickly as the people there. Yeah. No. And it took. A couple, three years to really get on the same wavelength because when you're sending

Chris:

an email expecting a response, somebody's like, Hmm, I'll give it a couple hours or like take a day to think about it over there. Yeah, I'm sure they're like, okay, you got an answer within.

Jon:

Yeah. And our, our biggest client was in Florida. So we were on the West coast. Well, they would be up at eight here. So we would be up at five. And then our couple of our other big customers were on the West coast and they would work till six. So we were, so we were working, you know, five to see, yeah, you were, you were, you, it was, it was pretty busy. And so the, the, I think I heard a couple of your episodes this week where there was a couple of interesting topics that came up. And one of them was the, the financial slowdown, so that hit us here as well. And so, we actually have four businesses here. And port city apparel came about in 2009 and it was a direct impact from the financial crisis, just affecting all the end user destination resorts. So universal Disney hard rock, they all slowed down dramatically in 2008. And we had to like think, what are we going to do? And so Port City Apparel was born in 2009, and it really was able to utilize all the manufacturing skill we had from our manufacturing side of the business for JMJE, which is our manufacturing company. And it also was able to do small business. I guess outlook and small business production levels, whereas our core business was doing big numbers. And so that was a big transition to was trying to figure out how do you, how do you do 24 when we were used to doing either 240 or 2400. Right. So that was a, that was a mind shift for us as well. And just watching Wilmington grow. This place is. Since we moved here, it's tripled in the number of businesses that are here, the number of people and really the number of opportunities. And that has also brought a whole bunch of talent to the community. Some of it's homegrown through UNCW. We have, I think, nine or 10 Seahawks on our team. Oh, that's great. Yeah. A lot of a lot of Cameron business grads. And so yeah, that part of it has been really neat. And then just from a business aspect, starting to utilize a lot more of the East Coast facilities for production. And then we brought our own machines in as well. So we, in the first five or six years, everything was on the West Coast, even though we were based here in our office was here, all the production was out there. So

Chris:

how do you sell a smaller staff or you have a larger staff now?

Jon:

So we have. Larger staff. So the pandemic was another event you guys talked about a couple of times this week. And that was a big challenge and for us we had a commitment to keep everybody on for as long as it could sustain the business could sustain our team. And it's about 150 days with zero revenue. And it got a little. Dicey slash concerning. And from that time, I think our team was about 13 in, in 2020. And now we're, I think 17. So we've grown a little bit and there there's four different businesses. So the port city apparel side of it has the largest amount of team members and it's got the most production level. Here in Wilmington as well. Our knitting businesses is not based here. So the sales office is here, but we do probably produce the product someplace else. Okay. So

Tyler:

when you started the knitting company, was that before or after Port City?

Jon:

So great story. So we started the sock. So we have a sock business called Socko. It's a hundred percent USA made sock business. And that was created with a partner. And our partner was the artistic side of it and the creative side of it. We were going to run the business side of it, the production side, the financing side of the warehousing side, which is something that we're really, I think we're really good at that. Right. And my wife is now my only partner, thankfully. But through the, through the. We've had a couple of partnerships in our business career. Partnerships are really tough. It's a, it's a business marriage. Right. So, the sock company was started in 2008. Socko and the port city apparel was started in 2009. Those are both the response to the slowdown. The legacy knitting. When we were able to buy our partner out in 2021, we started Legacy Knitting as a new parent company that owns SoCo and then also works with a whole lot of companies around the, the country producing custom socks and beanies. Nice. Oh wow. Okay.

Chris:

Yeah, that is literally my favorite thing. It's. Funky socks. Oh, yeah, like every time I'm that guy like I grew up watching like random TV shows and seeing people in full suits And then they pick their foot up and you see like the funky socks going on Because I used to watch bones and that was like the thing is Her partner always had a full suit because he was at work, but then he had some weird Rooster socks or something crazy going on. So that's what I do at work all the time now

Tyler:

Same. I'm the same way too. I started when I was in jewelry as well for a while. And it was always like a conversation starter and stuff like, especially like if there was the kids running around, they'd be like, because I always were Superhero socks. I still do and be like Superman, like Hulk.

Jon:

Well, we have so there's a like 2000 and it was actually the same time period. 2008 a business in California, a really great sock maker. It was it was a group of X surf industry executives that got together and said, there's a niche that's just not being served in the, in the surf industry. they started this company called stance and they were the first people to come out with a sock. Most, most up until then. Even if you saw a quick silver, some of the big brands, Hurley Volcom in the surf shops or mall shops, they would have like socks, but it would just be like. Two or three pair hanging at the end. It was like, yeah, we have to have socks. Yeah. And they would sell'em for like$4 a pair,$8 a pair stance. Came out and said, we're gonna sell ours for 16 to$20 a pair. And people were like, you're never gonna make it. And all of a sudden, Every kid had to have these crazy socks, right? So we started ours a year later. Our schtick wasn't having all the crazy stuff on them. Ours was a three stripe classic 70s tube sock. Didn't go so well retail. It turns out people like the funky stuff. Yeah, they really like the funky stuff. So, so, the first couple of years we had some great ambassadors. And it was a labor of love. And thankfully we had another business that could pay the bills so we could build the brand without needing the cash. And but as time went on, three stripes really got ingrained into fashion. And all of a sudden you saw everybody, you know, from Louis Vuitton to Tom Ford, to whoever the models were on the runway wearing three stripe tube socks. And about two years ago. We actually got a photo shoot with Anne Hathaway. This really cool photo shoot and she's wearing our Saco socks. And yeah, very, very cool. So, so it's, it's taken a long time for it to just probably like, just like this bottle, it took a long time for Saco to kind of age and get into its own space. And but it's finally starting to truck now and we've got some great distributors, but the, the new sock business works much like PCA does and PCA's serving a whole just array of different customers from energy companies to mom and pops to food distribution companies. To brands and so the sock company is doing the same thing and we just had a an amazing if you guys are into sun care products, sun balm it's a very popular brand. So we just delivered a couple of weeks ago every small retailer that supports sun balm will have. 24 or 48 pair of our socks in their shop and buy some stuff. You'll see a pair of sun. You get a free pair of sun bum with a 30 purchase. So, yeah, it's pretty, like, that's a pretty cool it's a great brand for us to be collaborative. Yeah.

Chris:

I mean, it's, I always have, as I got older, I had to figure out what products work on my skin because I, I end up allergic to.

Jon:

Yeah. And I'm like,

Chris:

what is in all this? You never know. But sun bun, sun bum has been really good. I'm pretty sure that's what my wife uses. Oh yeah. I just get a sunburn.

Jon:

I went to Puerto Rico during the pandemic. My youngest son Christian, by the way, fun fact, was back up. So we move here, we get everybody here, we move the businesses here. It's excruciating. My youngest son doesn't really say a whole lot till he's three and everybody's like, Oh, well, this is the effect of the accident and there's going to be more that's going to come out. And turns out he has issues, none of them related to the car accident. Yeah. So, we, so that, so, anyway, he's actually going to be at UNCW as a freshman this year. So, yeah. So that's great. So shout out to Christian and the Seahawks, but the. We go to Puerto Rico on this mission trip. And I'm there and our doctors there and he, and I'm putting on the fancy sunscreen and he pulls out this, a tube of Desitin, which is diaper ointment. And he's putting it on, you know, and I'm like, what are you doing? And he's like, well, look at the ingredients. And I'm like, I look at it and he's like, this is the best sunscreen on the face of the planet. It's a dollar 50. I'm like, you gotta be kidding me. So I use a little diaper ointment. Now, Oh, interesting. I never would have guessed do what you got to do. Yeah, exactly. Oh, that's

Chris:

funny. We've just like being here. Oh, you can pull that closer to you and a stretch. Like being in where we're at talking to people all the time and learning things. I'm like, there's so many businesses that get the big name because of their marketing. Like, I love MJ. I mean he's, I'm going to put him up there as one of the best basketball players of all time. Agreed. But like, his bottle of liquor is always on the top shelf because it's just a tall bottle. Right. Doesn't mean it's the best

Jon:

bottle. Yeah. He's, yeah. So for us, I, in my middle son is a big MJ fan. And so he's, he'll, he'll be listening to this later and he'll be like, dad, come on. I have, I have like, yeah, anyway, we won't even get into my, my top five, but MJ is definitely in the top five. Yes. So anyway, from a marketing standpoint, I think that's a. A really, again, an interesting play between the generation that I come from and this new generation that understands not only the, the social aspects of media, but also what's going to be coming with AI and just like, I mean, there's, it's, you know, Mark Zuckerberg creates a new, whatever it's called thread and all of a sudden he's got 40 million followers in two days and you're like, like, that's how, that's how quickly things can change. Right. So for us we didn't market. Yeah. Very well, and it wasn't because we didn't have the desire and it wasn't that we didn't have the budget, but we didn't have the talent and then putting this on myself. I didn't understand it well, and during the first 20 plus years of our businesses I, I did a lot of things by instinct. I was a. History major volleyball player. So I was like, I didn't have any follow your gut. I didn't exactly. And a lot of that gut was gut wrenching. Because I made some, some, we made some, some big errors. And so that looking back is, you know, if you don't learn from it, then it's really a mistake. If you learn from it, then it's an opportunity and growth. And so I think the biggest thing I, I got just because of all the companies we work with, I'm around some brilliant marketing people. And I happened to meet one at stone brewing. His name's Chris Carroll and he's now he's got his own consulting company. But he was there for many, I think 13 years or something. And he took them from a very small company as a marketing person to a very large company. And he said he just one day we were meeting and he said, John, get this book by Seth Godin. And I'm like, what's the book? And he's like, it's called, this is marketing. And I'm like, well, how good could that be? So I read it. Now I've read it several times and I listened to it. And from a, a person who doesn't understand marketing I guess naturally, it's brilliant. Seth's approach is, is 100% client base. It's 100% the other person it's 100 it's, it's not about you. It's about them, right? What can you do every day to serve them, solve their problems, make sure that you're consistent, you know, over and over and over. And I'm like, well, this isn't marketing. This is like. Business one on one. And he's like, exactly. Right. Exactly. So I'm like, Oh, so we, we hired a couple of really neat. I can't use the word kids cause they'll get upset. But we hired some young people. Who are very talented and they're learning as they go to, in fact, I think you've spoken to one of them, Heather, and just a different approach, different thought process from photography to writing, to connecting to just making sure people see that it's not just a company or a business, but that there's people there. Yeah. And so that to me, it all made sense, but we didn't have anybody doing it. And most of marketing has to be doing, even if you fail, you at least tried, right? So, for, for our business we just started that really earnestly three years ago. So the first 25 years it was word of mouth and you know, success and failure. Yes. And I

Chris:

haven't known you guys since I've lived here my whole life. So I've heard of port city apparel and they're one of the few brands like you guys are one of the few brands. That I trust because of the quality of your products, which is why the word of mouth works. Sure. Versus like, oh, hey, you know, I've seen a ton of a marketing. Like when I hear Port City Apparel, I'm like, what is that? Right. Right off the top of your head. But then you, you look into it and you're like, oh, hey, they have really great stuff. Versus these brands who have like this amazing marketing team, but their product is

Jon:

not. I think from, from day one, we. Because we had a manufacturer's background and we were working with some really you know, people could say, Oh, it's Disney or Oh, it's universal or it's hard rock. Well, 20 years ago, a lot of people really wanted to wear hard rock cafe t shirt and then Disney to be Disney approved as a vendor, universal approved. And it's not a lot. It means a lot and very high standards. We had a very, and then the design efforts that go into a product, it takes them a year to bring it out. So. We were doing that for decades, watching the process. And one of the things that I learned was it doesn't matter if I love a design. It matters if the client loves it. Yeah. It's like, Hey, let me tell you what you should do. And it's like, what would you like to do? And I could share with them my opinion. Hey, that probably isn't going to be the best t shirt for your, what are you looking for? And they'll say, why? Hey, bring me what you love. And let's see if we can execute it with your brand. And like I was hearing earlier, there's three different customers that come to port city apparel. There's the person who needs a price or, or a quick delivery. They've got an event. Yeah. That's probably a pretty small percentage of people. The second one is they're an established company. They're busy. They're a marketing executive or a marketing on a marketing team, or they might even be a parts manager at an auto dealership. They want a really good product, they want it on time and they want it for a fair price, but they have their day job. They got it. They're like, I don't have time to think about this. I'm going to give it to a pro. And then the third group of people that are like, we love those people. Those are the bread and butter of our business. But the exciting part that gets us up every day is we get to meet with a lot of young brands. And it doesn't matter if it's your brand or it's some billion dollar brand, if they want to execute the product well. We want to be in the conversation, listen, and then come to the table with not just creativity, but because we manufacture, we're able to get them every brand that's available. So if you want to look at t shirts, we would have a hundred different manufacturers versus just saying, Hey, I just have two or three. So if you want to, if you want a hundred dollar t shirt, they exist. Yes. If you want to, if you want a 3 t shirt, they exist. There's a big. 100 is probably a

Chris:

little ridiculous. But there's a quality difference. You have access to those people who make the quality shirts. Like, if I buy an Old Navy t shirt and it's for 8, I'm like, well, they're still making a lot of money, which means the cost of this t shirt is really low.

Jon:

And it's probably a lot of shrink. Yeah, right. Yeah. We're 10 washes and then, you know, somebody else is going to get it. Quantities of scale.

Chris:

Yeah. And I'm one of those people who I'd much rather spend a good spend money on a good quality piece and just wear it for decades. Yeah.

Tyler:

Kind of going back to the marketing thing real quick too. Just because we talked about Rocco off camera is. I always love watching his social media because they're always up to something. And it seems like your social media is very similar to that too. Cause you guys have a lot of fun at, at work, which

Jon:

kind of, we do. So we have a really I'd say age diverse group of people. Yeah. So we have a pretty large set of under thirties and then we've got over thirties and I separate them that way. And what's fun is Like when we will get in the office and people will start talking about movies and I'll ask, you know, I mean, I'll share with like popular like star Wars. Yeah. And they say, I've never seen it. I'm like, I'm like, are you kidding? I'm like, wait, how about Harry Potter? They're like, I haven't seen it. I'm like, Oh no. I'm like, I'm not even here, but I'm like, you guys, So there's some real fun that the, that the socials have because of just the difference in the thought processes. So we've got some really, really great creativity. And then yeah, we have a pretty loose pretty loose office. Everybody comes. We really want to work hard. We're an eight to five business, but we tell everybody no OT. So we, we require it. If you want to work overtime, you're not working in the right place. We demand that you come put your best effort in work eight hours pound and then go be with your family and go hang out. And then we, you know, we try to take as many. Opportunities to celebrate the team whether it's a baby shower birthday, like every birthday gets celebrated yeah, we try to do at least once a month a meal in the, in the warehouse with everybody. So we don't have a front of house or back of house mentality. Everyone's a valued team member. And so when you see people walking around having fun, it, it really is pretty fun. So did I see

Tyler:

that you guys are having like a, this might've been a couple of years ago now, but like a ping pong tournament.

Jon:

Yes. Yeah. We have one every year. Oh, that's awesome. And yeah, this year Carson took home the prize last year. I somehow skated through with the, with the prize. And then the great thing is like, well, I won't spoil it cause we're going to top golf soon, but there's some cool prizes. So, it's not just the tournament. There's, there's lots of rankings that go into it and there's, there's lots of bragging rights. There's literally a big trophy with your name on it. I mean, it's a big deal. And then yeah, everybody has a good time with it. Cool. So

Tyler:

that's a way to do it too, because I feel like if you're not having fun at work, like you're doing something wrong because you're spending nearly a third of your life

Jon:

there. Yeah. So, and I think too, like if, if, if it was all fun and games, it would be great. But it can't just be work. So yeah, all the time. And if you're serious all the time, it can get a little taxing on everybody. And, and we have stressful times just like everybody. Like this, this last three years has been a, just an odyssey not just for our business, but for a lot of our customers and a lot of our vendors. We had you know, we had a lot of customers that didn't make it. And that's just a reminder that, you know, this place is fragile. Yeah. And business is fragile. So, you know, one of the best things that we did during those 150 days when there wasn't any revenue, we had some salespeople that are awesome in our office and they were like, John, what, we were working remote and I figured out we could make masks and make hand sanitizer. So all of a sudden we became essential, which was amazing. And but I said, call every customer and just ask them if we can help them. And they're like, well, what do I, what are we selling them? I'm like, you're not selling them anything. Does that, if they need something, we'll ship it to them and they can pay us later, but just ask them, can we help? Can we ship you mask and we ship you hand sanitizer. And they made thousands of phone calls over that four months and that the fall of 21 or fall of 20 spring of 21, our business like increased so dramatically because of all of that effort, those people remembered, you know, and so it wasn't necessarily fun. But it was like, if we got to be here and we're going through this, let's try to at least assist these other people that were really struggling and it was, it was going to, we were going to get hurt no matter what. So you might try to help somebody if you're, if you're, you know, if everybody's hurting, let's at least see if we can be helpful. Yeah. That's a great mentality to take for that. We saw it around Wilmington too. There was a, there was a restaurant. We printed up a bunch of shirts and actually Rocco, I think was even involved with that. And just trying to raise money. We went out to some of the breweries and, you know, just eat. It would just buy whatever, whatever they were selling, like just try to help them out. Yeah. And so I think that, that mentality has to go into the marketing as well. Yeah, definitely. Which

Chris:

leads into our sponsored segment right now right now we're sponsored with 30 off local. Have you ever heard of them? I have. So we sponsor, we're working with them because we figured we're a local podcast. We want to help support local and might as well. Save a little money at the same time because their motto is kind of shop local save local support local. Sure and it's really awesome because they actually support a lot of local restaurants bottle shops Maybe me in the future Local events, fine dining, especially for us. I think it's really cool because it so there's places in the cargo district as well as some like fitness shops and fine dining. I mean i'm looking at this list of spots and it has a view at a loft. Is that how you say it? Yeah,

Tyler:

a view. Yeah, that's one of my favorite places to go to, which it always helps get the 30% off of there because it's a little pricey when you're doing rooftop bars. Yes.

Chris:

But it's cool because you get a full price gift certificate for 30% off. You just go onto the website, make an account and you can purchase these gift certificates and they kind of send it to you on your phone. You can print it out, show them to them. And I'm like, you know, like I said, shop local, save local, support local.

Tyler:

Yeah. And we're always looking for like different sponsors and stuff too, and it has to make sense for us. We're very picky like that. Yeah. So when we kind of saw like all of us come together, like, Hey, this is exactly what we're trying to support. So like, yeah, this, this makes a good partnership.

Jon:

Well, I'll tell you like going back And Eric McCart came to us maybe three years ago, like it was literally right before the pandemic. Yeah. And he just shared with us, you know, what it would mean to be involved with their business and marketing and sharing. And so we committed to that and it, it just has been like, I'll say nothing short of amazing and wonderful, not necessarily in the phones ringing or whatever, but just in the connections that we've been able to make and then also the people that know other people. You're just so surprised you walk in and you're like, Oh, there's, there's three people in the room and they're like, everybody points at each other. And so, yeah, I, I, we haven't been a sponsor of that, but I will tell you we're pretty yeah, we're, we're pretty thoughtful and we'd love to sponsor great things. So I would, I would be interested to hear more about what we could do with you guys as far as something like that looks like. Yeah,

Chris:

definitely. We love it. And like I said, And we, we do small shout outs all the time, but your brand, like when Tyler bought these glasses, I was like, you were the silliest person ever because we hadn't even had like three episodes and he bought these and, but they've lasted and they're still,

Tyler:

yeah, and just having a guest be able to take this home with them. Yeah, it just. Is that extra kind of the extra point that you're talking about to

Jon:

and it's thoughtful. Yeah, it's memorable someone Yeah for you guys to like you're always out purchasing products. You're always shopping someplace You know, there's such a big chat about sustainability and about you know, definitely what impact the industries have on the planet. And for our industry, it's a it's a real big discussion point because Things that don't get used or they get used once and thrown away, right? That's just not a positive. No. So if you're a business like for us, we, and Oh, John, you're, you're marketing's buying higher end products or more quality. Yes, we are because it'll get used more. It'll be seen more. It'll be more valued and you won't have to come back and buy it, you know, day after day or year after year you buy, you know, so, products with planned obsolescence or, or they just, it's not for us a smart move. Yeah. So I love that you know, something like this is going to be used, you know, over and over by somebody when they take it home, which is great. That's the, that's exactly what we want to do is create a product that someone's going to use literally over and over and over. Yeah.

Tyler:

It's fantastic to you. Every time we get a picture from one of our past guests that like has it out, like on their back porch or something, it's like, Hey, drinking a whiskey out of the whiskey and wisdom class. That's super cool. And I'm sure you guys see that all the

Jon:

time. We get a lot of photos and we get to share a lot through, you know, the great thing is just the people that we have. I want to call it a relationship, even if it's transactional, the people know that it's first class and they're going to be everything from. The order confirmation to the follow up, to the, even the invoicing, the way that we do business is going to be first class. And so at the end of the day when you see the product out there in that's natural life, being served or being used, you're like, wow, that's so cool. It's easy to see it with the races and the events, but when, you know, like we walk into car dealerships that we work with and everybody's dressed head to toes, I mean, just super tight. Wow. Are you going to a coffee shop? It's just, it makes a difference. And you walk into another business. And it's, you can tell someone they don't have that same attention to detail or it's not important to them. And maybe I'm biased, but the people that really care about that, I notice it. And I'm sure other people do as well. Oh, they do. Yeah. But, but just more. Subconscious, I guess. It is. Yeah. If you care about it. What else are you caring about? Yes. So if the people present really well and the product's awesome, then that business really cared about what the people's perception was of their, of their brand. Yeah.

Chris:

Nice. So we're at the funny part of the episode. Well, you mentioned going into coffee shops and I see a note here that you do drink a lot of coffee. Yes. Do you make it at home or do you go out to like local shops?

Jon:

Yes. So

Chris:

what is your, what are your top three local places

Jon:

to go? Okay. So, that's not very, so I'm going to start, well, I actually, I don't, I don't frequent Starbucks. Oh, okay. I, I, if I need to go there. If I'm at an airport or whatever, it's great. You know exactly what you're going to get. So I'm, I'm very partial to a little shop here in town called social coffee. One on Oriole drive. Yes. And actually we just gained a awesome new team member. We, we took him away from social. So he and but yeah, so I make, so this is a fun fact. 10 years ago, I was just talking to one of our. Neat team members. And she's like, John, when I first started here, you were drinking Folgers and and it was rough. I'm going to tell you. So rough. So rough. She's like, what? So, so, I do make coffee at home and we make it at the office. And then I'm one of those kind of strange people that can have a pretty big cup of coffee at dinner and be asleep five minutes later. So I just caffeine. It does tend to, I guess, get me going, but I love the taste and I love the flavor and I love the smell. It's something about the war and I don't even drink at all. I just hold the cup and I love smelling it. So, yeah. Other fun fact for this show specifically the last time I had a drink like this was in Cabo San Lucas 29 years ago. Oh my goodness. Yeah. Sorry. No, no, no, no. It was I wound up in a tree in the middle of, of a bar. Yeah. They had to get me out. They had to get me down. And my wife was like, you know, come down and yeah, no, no. So, anyway, but yeah. So that's, that's another story, but you said funny. So yes, it wasn't funny at the time. We can laugh out about it now, but yeah. Right. I wound up spending the night outside. It was like 110 degrees. Oh my wife locked me out of the condo. She's like, you're out there. I'm like, Oh, and you got to sweat it out. I'm kind of sad. I just let that story out. Cause

Chris:

everyone's like everyone, you have to have a good story. Yeah. And I like that. If

Jon:

you'd been there, it would have been the most amazing story. You know, this is so good. Yeah, definitely. I love

Chris:

it. Yeah. No.

Jon:

So

Tyler:

what real fast too, since we were talking about social, since they're roasting their own. They just started doing they just started doing it now. So is that what you're bringing into the office now?

Jon:

Or so no, I I don't know exactly what is in Pete's or in the, so we get, we have a Pete's. Oh yeah. Yeah. The Pete's coffee. Yeah. Pete's coffee. And I don't like French roast. I don't lie. I don't like a lot of the flavor. I like dark or like Colombian, but I like it where it's pretty strong and I drink it black now. So I was drinking. So, I was drinking too much. I was drinking a couple, probably a couple pots a day and I'm like 24 glass 24. So, then I've cut it way, way, way, way, way back. So now I'm trying to have like maybe seven or eight cups a day. Okay. But look, but the cups, like not, not, not, not, not a venti, you know? And and then I, I throw half of it out, but I love coffee when I say I love coffee. I love coffee. Yeah. And everybody around me loves coffee. Yeah.

Tyler:

I'm the same way too. Yeah. Blue cup has a pretty good cup of coffee. Okay. So I get, and that's right here. Yep. That's right across the street from us here. Okay. So I go there quite a bit and I'm the same way. I only drink it black now too. When I did 75 hard three years ago, you have to start cutting out like carbs and stuff where possible. And I was like this. Added sugar and creamer is just wasted carbs for my day. So I started drinking it black and and then that's when you can really start diving into flavors of coffee. Is when you're drinking it black and kind of figuring out like, oh, it's so rich.

Jon:

Yeah, and you can tell then somebody will make a flat cup of coffee and you're like, thanks, but no, right. Yeah. You're like, you know, I mean, I love Danny's coffee. I do, but it's just not, that's what I was drinking back in the band, you know? Yeah, it's not the same.

Chris:

Well, I joke about like drink coffee. I don't drink it. Everyone looks at me like I'm crazy. Cause I don't drink caffeine like that. I'll drink tea. But that's just like, I have a long, like I have a free day with nothing planned. So sure. I'll drink a cup of tea. But we started at the we're here. Reads and we offer coffee. Okay. And because I support local, I just try to go to like the local coffee shop and like buy a bag. And that's when I started like truly smelling the difference and, and everyone in the store, because. Something happened and like we ran out of the bag that I had bought, so they found a bag and they're like, Oh yeah, let's use this. And everyone was like, this is the most stale, boring. I'm like, yeah, that's what happens when I, you let me, yeah, I'm going to spend a little bit extra money, but you're putting money back into the community. But you're also getting better flavor. Yeah,

Jon:

we, we we probably we, we love putting snacks and I'm talking everything from Slim Jim's to, to chips, to protein bars, to actually not, we'll do some whatever, they're healthy, some of them, a couple of them are healthy. And it's great because everybody at the office you know, can just dive in and then the coffee's always there. And there's a couple probably I leave it by the way. Do you freeze your coffee?

Chris:

Okay. Summertime I do freeze my wife's extra coffee. So that way, when we go to the beach, she has, she can have an ice coffee. Okay.

Jon:

So I free, I put the, I like I'll fresh grind everything. I put it in the freezer and I tape it tight and it'll keep 90% of its flavor for about a month. If you leave it out, then it'll, it'll start losing a lot of its, yeah. Put it in the freezer. That's what we do, too. Oh.

Chris:

I thought you meant like once you make the coffee, you freeze

Jon:

it. No, I'm talking the beans or the grounds. The beans not so much, but the, but the fresh ground. Once you grind. And once you grind it up, put it in the freezer. Yeah. It'll, it'll just keep that pop.

Chris:

I'll have to, I mean, I have plenty of space in my freezer, so I'll just store my coffee in the freezer.

Jon:

So, yeah, so I just have a quick question for you two. Yeah. So for the, the process of this, how did you all... Get together. I mean, I'm, you probably have shared this on other episodes, but this is my, yeah. Yeah.

Tyler:

So, we both worked at Reed's together. Okay. Actually. Yeah. And so we worked together at Reed's for a few years and we just kind of hit it off there. And I started over at my new job, my financial advisor now. So I went over there and we still got together and hung out, got drinks and we wanted to start a podcast at some point. Yeah. And when we were talking about what we're going to do, we wanted to share other people's stories. And we're asking people around like, Hey, what should we name this? Or like, maybe we'll have a whiskey component, like who knows? And then someone offered up whiskey and wisdom and we're like, you know what? That makes a lot of sense. Yeah.

Jon:

Yeah. Oh, that's great. I love, I love The collaboration to just, I'm listening to you and it's great. Oh,

Chris:

it's quite literally. Cause we work together, right? Yeah.

Jon:

There's a lot of, there's

Tyler:

a lot, a lot of background stuff here. Oh yeah. There's a lot of teamwork that went on. Cause like we have just enough different personalities, but enough similarities that like, we're not going to get on each other's nerves. too much. And but different enough where like, I tend to be more like the serious stoic type of, and then Chris will definitely lighten it up. So I knew if I just had an interview podcast with someone, it'd be quite boring. And and if Chris had an interview podcast, you, you wouldn't know what you were talking about. So

Chris:

he at least has some research, like we've gotten better. Like we don't have official seasons, but she can kind of see, yeah. You'll notice when we change something in the podcast, because we'll like do a little bit more research or we'll know something. And that's literally just me just chilling. Like, Oh, Hey, I showed up. What do you do again?

Jon:

Yeah. Well, you too. If you've, if you've been through customer service issues together, yeah, those are some of those powerful moments. If somebody is really unhappy. And you can see how someone solves that problem or, or meets that person where they are. It gives you so much, not just understanding, but empathy. And also just like, Whoa, that's like, how are we going to deal with this? Right. Yeah. Yeah.

Tyler:

Working in retail. So

Jon:

you saw that a lot. Exactly. Yeah.

Tyler:

So, Chris has a last question for you. Then I have a question following up after that.

Jon:

Yes.

Chris:

So question is because you've had multiple businesses and you have quite a large family has been brought over here. What would the definition of success be for you?

Jon:

Great question. I think it's probably changed dramatically. If I, if I were to go through each decade, you know, you, you mentioned you know, fine watches earlier. And, and I think the, when you start a business the goal is at least in my thinking was that you wanted to have some financial independence. You also wanted to have some flexibility, but most importantly, you, you have an idea or a, or a way of translating a certain task or, or a product so that the public will see it differently than someone else and you'll, you'll get more customers and you'll succeed. And I think that was initially what we sought to do. And then the second part of it, we, once you have some success, you want more success. And when, and so when you're defining success, it could be financial, it could be reputation. And then, you know, now it's going on the, like, I would say we're in the third quarter, my wife and I of the game that we're playing. Maybe entering, maybe closely at the end of the third quarter. And I think now it's, it's you know, it's much more based on the community that we have. You mentioned that word earlier, and I know it's a little cliche, but the community we have is we have customers that we care about deeply, that we have long standing relationships with, and some of them are personal, but most of them are just professional. And. Then we have team members that we like literally have to shepherd every day and our goal is to grow those people. And I had a couple of really, really strong mentors that came along and those. Guys just imparted to me to start reading and start learning because I wasn't trained in business and the more I read and a couple of like, my favorite, one of my favorite authors is John Maxwell. He just talks about success on so many different levels, but really it's not my success. It's if the company or the business is going to succeed. The people individually inside have to succeed first on their level, then on a team level, and then finally the business is successful for me on a business level. The success is the team is functioning at a high level. We're growing people. They may not stay with us forever, but if they look back and say, Hey, I spent some time with with this team, I grew tremendously and we invest in that. We have constant we're reading books, we're learning, we're watching You know, programs that are helping us grow as people from a personal aspect. We're now we have our youngest son leaving my wife and I we're down to just having my dad who's gonna be, I guess, 90 here pretty soon. So he lives in a little cottage on the back of our little property. That's great. So we're, we're getting rid of all the teenagers, but we're, we're just, so we're just down to him, but he has his own insurance, his own car, he buys his own groceries. So he's easy. But I think from a, from a, from a personal aspect you know, faith and family are the most important things for, for success. And I think it's easy to say that if you can pay the bills or if the business is somewhat stable, but we've had some periods where the business wasn't stable. And those things were the things that actually got us through if we didn't have our faith in our family, like we, we would literally not have been able to get through some of the, we've been in some pretty hectic scrapes over the last 28 years. And and then we've had like, so we've had two years of scrapes and 26 years of amazing fun and business. Right. I wouldn't trade it for anything. So success to me is where we are today. And where I hope to be, you know, tomorrow and next year and the year after that. That's great. I love that. Oh yeah. Okay.

Tyler:

That's perfect. Yeah. I love that answer. So mine kind of follows suit along with that too. It if you were to tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

Jon:

Ooh Yeah. I share these stories in the office frequently. Yeah. And my, my kids know most of them, my wife knows most of them, all of them. Mm-hmm. the younger me was very angry. Yeah. And very competitive. Yeah. And I was competitive because I. Long, long, long story short. I'll try to make this 30 seconds. I wasn't born here. I was born overseas at the age of five. I had to go away to boarding school. So I got to see my parents maybe three weeks out of the year until I was close to a teenager. We moved to the states when I was about 12, yeah, 12 years old. And when you grew up in a dormitory and you learn how to be really good at fighting for your food, right? And fighting for everything else. And so, the, the younger me hurt a lot of people. And that's a, that's a, that's a tough place to be. So I guess if I were to look back and say you know, I guess the most important thing I probably should have done was had a lot more grace and mercy for the people around me. Instead, I had a lot of anger. So I'm super blessed and grateful now to be where I am and, and I'm a shell of my former self, which is great. And I'm much more in tune with the people around me and my, and my family. But yeah, it was the younger me is not a good. It was, it was not a pretty picture. Yeah. So, anyway,

Tyler:

no, that's great answer that. Yeah. That's super powerful. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, that's good.

Chris:

Since. We're wrapping up. Do you have anything you guys want to shout out?

Jon:

Yeah, I just I mean, obviously I, I'm just super grateful again, and that fact that we were able to work with you all just on some products before we even, you know, had a, had a chance to talk to you like this is great. So, grateful that you love the product. Absolutely. And I actually have a couple ideas from today's Just listening and learning. And so I'm going to share some stuff with you guys that you can share with your clients. And we'll it won't be 30 off, it'll be 100% off. So yeah, we'll do something nice for you guys. But yeah, just, just, we, we care about our team. We're passionate about the client and the product that they want to build. And I know that's easy to say, like I use that phrase earlier, it's cliche, but it, it, it's true. It's important. Like we want the whole process from the, the start of the conversation to literally the followup call afterwards to be the same. So the person on the other end is like, man, these people are on it. They follow up. The product was great. Thank you so much. You know, and some of those people we talk to once a year, some of those people we talk to. Once a day, but we want the conversation to be the same regardless. So the quality, yeah, the quality, quality, the quality of people to first and foremost. Yeah. So love it.

Tyler:

And we'll also put the Instagram and everything down on the show notes as well. So thank you very much. Find it, click it and

Jon:

go straight to you. I love it. Appreciate

Chris:

that. Yeah. Their Instagram is very interesting because it's port city apparel, PCA. Yeah. Yeah.

Jon:

But

Chris:

it makes plenty of sense. I love it. Their website is super bright, super fun. And if you ever need any apparel needs, check them out port city apparel, legacy knitting. You

Jon:

got it. Yeah. I mean, that's amazing. Yeah. And. Yeah, I got some, I got some ideas for you.

Chris:

Cool. Perfect. Talk about it. Thank you everybody for listening to the podcast. We'd love it if you'd like, comment, share, subscribe and we will have some fun stuff in the future for you to check into as well. Yep. All right. Cheers.

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