The Empire Builders Podcast

Stephen Semple and David Young

Reverse engineering the success of established business empires.

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#068: Sleemans – John Sleeman – My Aunt had the original beer recipe book
4d ago
#068: Sleemans – John Sleeman – My Aunt had the original beer recipe book
What do pirates, Al Capone, and getting your name and trademark have to do with Sleeman's beer? Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not so secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well, it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients, so here's one of those. [Travis Crawford Ad] Dave Young: Welcome back to the Empire Builders Podcast. Dave Young here with you alongside Stephen Semple. Today, Stephen, as we head into year two of the podcast, you told me the topic, and I have never heard... I'm assuming we're back to Canada products. Stephen Semple: We're back to Canada, yes. Dave Young: This is Sleeman's Beer. I don't know anything about it. I don't love the name. I hope I love the story because the beer sounds like a product that maybe Bart Simpson would order it at the bar when he goes in: "Give me a bottle of Sleeman's." Stephen Semple: After you hear this story, you're going to be begging me to bring a case of this beer down for you. Dave Young: Well, I expect you to. Stephen Semple: Maybe we're talking about beer today because living in Canada in the summertime, and I'm here on the lake, the other night, I was sitting out and just enjoying one of those beautiful evenings in Canada. You know what I was drinking? I was drinking a bottle of Sleeman's Cream Ale, which is actually one of my favorite beers, and I've loved it for a long time. I said, "You know what? I need to tell the story of this beer because it's an awesome, awesome story." That's kind of where it all started was that inspiration. It was originally started in 1834 by John Sleeman. Dave Young: Holy cow, that's a while back. Stephen Semple: 99 years later, in 1933, it was shut down, and then opened again by the great-great-grandson, the fifth-generation brewer, John Sleeman, in 1988, 55 years after being shut down. Dave Young: Wow. Stephen Semple: In 2006, 18 years after reopening, it was sold to Sapporo for $400 million, and today is the third-largest brewery in Canada. So it's really quite a journey. Dave Young: That's amazing. Stephen Semple: The Sleeman family name was originally Slyman. Dave Young: Slyman? Stephen Semple: In the 1600s- Dave Young: Yeah, that's better Stephen Semple: You're going to love this. In the 1600s, the Slyman family were pirates running illegal ventures out of England. Dave Young: Of course they were. Stephen Semple: Of course they were. Dave Young: Why wouldn't they be? Stephen Semple: This is documented. They were privateers. They were pirates. By the middle of the 1800s, they decide to go legit and invest in something they really liked, beer! Dave Young: Why not? Stephen Semple: Because what pirate doesn't like beer? So they started a brewery and a string of pubs in England. At that time they changed the name from Slyman to Sleeman because they wanted to get away from their pirate past. Dave Young: That whole pirate background thing. Stephen Semple: That whole pirate background. Dave Young: You wouldn't want people to think that you were the same family. Stephen Semple: Exactly, as who pillaged them the year before. Dave Young: Just change the vowel. Stephen Semple: In 1834, John Sleeman moves to Canada. He arrives in St. Catharine's from Cornwall, England, and he starts a brewery called Stamford Springs. He operated this brewery for 20 years quite successfully. But this was the time of the Industrial Revolution, and due to industrialization, the water in the St. Catherine's area became heavily contaminated,
#068: Sleemans – John Sleeman – My Aunt had the original beer recipe book
4d ago
#068: Sleemans – John Sleeman – My Aunt had the original beer recipe book
What do pirates, Al Capone, and getting your name and trademark have to do with Sleeman's beer? Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not so secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well, it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients, so here's one of those. [Travis Crawford Ad] Dave Young: Welcome back to the Empire Builders Podcast. Dave Young here with you alongside Stephen Semple. Today, Stephen, as we head into year two of the podcast, you told me the topic, and I have never heard... I'm assuming we're back to Canada products. Stephen Semple: We're back to Canada, yes. Dave Young: This is Sleeman's Beer. I don't know anything about it. I don't love the name. I hope I love the story because the beer sounds like a product that maybe Bart Simpson would order it at the bar when he goes in: "Give me a bottle of Sleeman's." Stephen Semple: After you hear this story, you're going to be begging me to bring a case of this beer down for you. Dave Young: Well, I expect you to. Stephen Semple: Maybe we're talking about beer today because living in Canada in the summertime, and I'm here on the lake, the other night, I was sitting out and just enjoying one of those beautiful evenings in Canada. You know what I was drinking? I was drinking a bottle of Sleeman's Cream Ale, which is actually one of my favorite beers, and I've loved it for a long time. I said, "You know what? I need to tell the story of this beer because it's an awesome, awesome story." That's kind of where it all started was that inspiration. It was originally started in 1834 by John Sleeman. Dave Young: Holy cow, that's a while back. Stephen Semple: 99 years later, in 1933, it was shut down, and then opened again by the great-great-grandson, the fifth-generation brewer, John Sleeman, in 1988, 55 years after being shut down. Dave Young: Wow. Stephen Semple: In 2006, 18 years after reopening, it was sold to Sapporo for $400 million, and today is the third-largest brewery in Canada. So it's really quite a journey. Dave Young: That's amazing. Stephen Semple: The Sleeman family name was originally Slyman. Dave Young: Slyman? Stephen Semple: In the 1600s- Dave Young: Yeah, that's better Stephen Semple: You're going to love this. In the 1600s, the Slyman family were pirates running illegal ventures out of England. Dave Young: Of course they were. Stephen Semple: Of course they were. Dave Young: Why wouldn't they be? Stephen Semple: This is documented. They were privateers. They were pirates. By the middle of the 1800s, they decide to go legit and invest in something they really liked, beer! Dave Young: Why not? Stephen Semple: Because what pirate doesn't like beer? So they started a brewery and a string of pubs in England. At that time they changed the name from Slyman to Sleeman because they wanted to get away from their pirate past. Dave Young: That whole pirate background thing. Stephen Semple: That whole pirate background. Dave Young: You wouldn't want people to think that you were the same family. Stephen Semple: Exactly, as who pillaged them the year before. Dave Young: Just change the vowel. Stephen Semple: In 1834, John Sleeman moves to Canada. He arrives in St. Catharine's from Cornwall, England, and he starts a brewery called Stamford Springs. He operated this brewery for 20 years quite successfully. But this was the time of the Industrial Revolution, and due to industrialization, the water in the St. Catherine's area became heavily contaminated,
#067: RX Bars – Could you fire your Mom?
21-09-2022
#067: RX Bars – Could you fire your Mom?
CrossFit and paleo diets lead to the creation of RX Bars. Starting with only $10K, they sold for over $600M. Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not so secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Steven Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Steven's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode word from our sponsor, which is... Well it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients, so here's one of those. [BWS Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Ad] Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast. Dave young here, along with Steven Semple. And Steven, as our listeners may know, we record these in, well, I don't know if they know it or not. We don't sit down once a week and record, we'll record three or four episodes in a row. And we just got done talking about cookies. And now we're talking about another edible product called RXBars. And I'm starting to get hungry. Stephen Semple: So it's going to be an early lunch for you. Is that what we're saying? Dave Young: It might be an early lunch. Yeah. Yeah. So I've seen RXBars. I see them in stores. Wherever your favorite bars are sold, you're going to find these RXBars. What is the story behind the RX brand of bars? Stephen Semple: Well, it's a pretty interesting story. So RX, which is the letter R, the letter X, Bars, they're Dave Young: Prescription like. Stephen Semple: Yeah. Yeah, that's interesting. I hadn't even put that together. So yeah, like prescription, and they're these little energy bars. The business was founded by Peter Rahal and Jared Smith in 2012 in Chicago, and they started with really no money. They invested a few thousand dollars each and no experience. They had no experience manufacturing food. And in 2017, five years after starting, they sold to Kellogg's for $600 million. Dave Young: $600 million. Stephen Semple: $600 million five years after starting. Have I got your attention? Dave Young: What a happy day for those guys. Stephen Semple: Yeah. Yeah. When you look at energy bars, it's also a crazy, crowded space. Go on Amazon. Dave Young: They're everywhere. Stephen Semple: They are everywhere. It seems like there's new ones all the time. So it wasn't like energy bars was like this new thing where there were... No, it was a really, really crowded space. And again, they did this with little money and even less experience. And Peter is an interesting guy. He really struggled as a student and really struggled in business. He's dyslexic, and he was a D student, And he talks about how he worked really hard to get a D. And he found work very hard. And what people don't realize, especially people with severe dyslexia, linear activities are really hard to do. And basically, pretty much every entry-level job is hard. And I heard an interview with him talking about how hard it was to actually even fill out and handle a checkbook because it's this linear activity and anything that's linear is really, really hard. So he even had a really difficult time getting into college. Stephen Semple: Now, his father was in the food business. They had a family wholesaling business, and the initial plan was for Peter to enter the family business. And he started off doing an internship at a food processing plant, Mondie Foods in Belgium. He did that for about a year, and it really didn't work out all that well. And then he went to Lebanon for a time because that was the family heritage, and he wanted to learn more about the family heritage. And when he returned to the US, he learned that the family really didn't want him working in the family business. He really was not cut out for it. Food wholesaling is a very linear business. As he describes it, failing was not foreign to him because of all the struggles h...
#066: Famous Amos – We hope he made $100M in the last sale
14-09-2022
#066: Famous Amos – We hope he made $100M in the last sale
Wally Amos built, sold, worked for, and quit. He got brought back and might have got a return on the final sale just because he liked baking cookies. Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is ... Well, it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients, so here's one of those. [Tapper's Jewelry Ad] Dave Young: Welcome back to the Empire Builders Podcast. I'm Dave young, and I'm alongside Stephen Semple. And Stephen, you got the story today of another cookie guy, another famous cookie. This one's really famous. Stephen Semple: Totally. Dave Young: Totally famous. Famous Amos. Stephen Semple: Famous Amos. Yeah. So Famous Amos Cookies was started by Wally Amos on March 9th, 1975 on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. And here's what's really interesting. It is the first, it was the first cookie store in history, and this story is... There's a lot to it. There's success. There's decline. There's return. There's so much going on here that I really don't know what to say other than it's really interesting journey that we're going to go on. Dave Young: Lots of chapters in the Famous Amos story. When you say the first cookie store, like all the others were just like a bakery where it was other things besides cookies? Cookies, they also had. Stephen Semple: Right. Yeah. This is the first one where it was just cookies and that was it. It even predates another podcast we did, which was Mrs. Fields' Cookies. It even predates Mrs. Fields by a couple of years. Dave Young: Okay. Stephen Semple: Yeah. So first cookie store in history, and it's a really interesting journey because Wally went to school to study to be a secretary. Dave Young: Really? Stephen Semple: Yeah, and the first job he got was in the mail room of the William Morris Talent Agency, which is one of the top talent agencies in the world. He worked his way up, and he became the first black talent manager. First one, so he was really groundbreaking on that. And he reached a point where he decided he wanted to leave the agency and set up his own agency to manage his own clients, but this new agency he started was really struggling, and he would go home at the end of the days and he'd feel frankly depressed, and he wanted to feel good about things. So at the end of the day, he would go home and he baked cookies at night. And he'd baked these chocolate chip pecan cookies like his aunt made. Dave Young: As one do. Stephen Semple: And he really did this to self soothe. It was never a business idea. It was something he did to make himself feel good. Dave Young: Just made some cookies. Stephen Semple: Made some cookies and he'd bring them back to the office. And when clients were in, he'd give them to clients. And one day light goes off. He said, "The one thing that makes me happy is making cookies. Why don't I start this as a business?" He gets on the phone. He calls old clients. He gets an investment from Marvin Gay and a bunch of others. He raises $25,000 from these well known musicians and decides I'm going to start this business. So in March of 1975, he opens the first shop dedicated the cookies in the world called Famous Amos Cookies. Dave Young: Famous Amos Cookies. Stephen Semple: Yeah. Dave Young: I love the fact that the cookies were a form of therapy for him. I mean, it's like a Ted Lasso moment, isn't it? It's... Stephen Semple: It sort of is. Yeah. Yeah. And so he opens it up in this highly visible location in Los Angeles on the seedy, because at the time very seedy Sunset Boulevard was full of runwa...
#065: Dyson – It sucks, but not enough.
07-09-2022
#065: Dyson – It sucks, but not enough.
That is the prospect’s dissatisfaction.  5,136 iterations later the problem is solved. Dave Young: Welcome to The Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not so secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is well it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those. [No Bull RV Ad] Dave Young: Welcome to The Empire Builders Podcast. Dave Young here, along with Stephen Semple. Stephen, when you told me what the topic of today's podcast is, I immediately thought of commercials that they do. And we're talking about Dyson today. So the company that makes the vacuum cleaners and fans, I assume other things. But I've read a little bit about, is it Stephen Dyson? Is that his name? Stephen Semple: No, it's James Dyson. Dave Young: James Dyson. Stephen Semple: You're so close. Dave Young: You're Stephen. Stephen Semple. Stephen Semple: I'm Stephen. I really shouldn't make fun of remembering names because I'm terrible at it, so. Dave Young: He doesn't care. As long as we remember the last name, which is Dyson. Stephen Semple: That's it. Yeah. So Dyson was founded by James Dyson on July 8th, 1991 and you're right. They make vacuum cleaners, and hand dryers, and air purifiers and all sorts of stuff. And they sell over $8 billion of this stuff. They have 13,000 employees and they're still privately held. They're still a privately held company, which is really unusual, really quite remarkable. They're really best known for their vacuums. And that was the first product. That's what we're going to talk about today, because it's really interesting. And you'll notice this parallel of some other things we've talked about, story about how this vacuum all came about. Dave Young: So here's a guy, he's British, right? Stephen Semple: Correct. Dave Young: Here's a guy sitting, saying to himself, all these other vacuum cleaners suck, but not enough. Stephen Semple: Correct. That's exactly it. That is exactly it. And the interesting thing is James Dyson did a lot of innovation and he really kind of considers himself this amateur engineer. So yes. And what he means by that is he would look at a product and he'd go, this product is not good. How can I improve it? But you would think somebody who thinks that way and has that background, you would think that he went to university for science, right? Like engineering or math or something along that lines. Dave Young: And he didn't. Stephen Semple: He did not. He did the arts and classics in university. Dave Young: No kidding. Stephen Semple: Yes. And what drives me crazy, and he'll even say it, so many people frown on the arts and classics in terms of an education, because it's not practical, but he'll tell you a lot of his thinking came from that degree in terms of how he looks at the world. So while he was in university for the classics, he discovered design and in the mid 60s, design was not being talked about at all. And when he was told what it was, he became really interested. So he went to the Royal College of Art and he studied furniture and then architectural design. But at his heart he still considers himself a very much an amateur engineer. Again, he looks at things and he says, how can I make it better? So in 1974, so remember the company was founded in 1991, 1974 he buys a Hoover Junior vacuum. So it's 17 years before founding of Dyson. This is one of those upright vacuum cleaners, it's got the pillow sort of case thing hanging out the back. Dave Young: Yeah. The big nasty bag that you put in there and Stephen Semple: Yeah. Dave Young: Zip it up. Stephen Semple:
#064: The Jet Business – Close to the money, not close to the airport
31-08-2022
#064: The Jet Business – Close to the money, not close to the airport
I just had to walk in. Who puts a jet in the front window of an office building in London's financial district? Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders podcast, teaching business owners, the not so secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode word from our sponsor, which is well it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those. [BWS Heating & Plumbing Ad] Dave Young: Welcome back to the Empire Builders Podcast. Dave Young here with you alongside Stephen Semple, who shares amazing stories about businesses that start really small and do something just crazy, innovative to spark growth and then they become empires. And today you're going to share, are we... It seems like we're jumping the... Are we going straight into like private jets? Because that's not usually where we start with a business, right? It's usually mom and pop and you get some of the kids to work and the jets don't come along till a little later in the story. Stephen Semple: Yeah. We're going to be talking about a company called The Jet Business. Dave Young: The Jet Business. Stephen Semple: The Jet Business and they sell private jets. That's their business. Dave Young: Well, this is what we call a descriptive business title. Stephen Semple: That is a descriptive business title. It is. Dave Young: Yeah. Stephen Semple: So where I came across this, I was in London, England in the fall of 2021 and I was there speaking at a number of events. I was speaking at Oxford University, Cambridge University, the London Society of Medicine and the London Stock Exchange and I was staying near Hyde Park and the day I was speaking at the London Stock Exchange, I decided to get up early and walk to the exchange. It was about an hour's walk from where I was staying near Buckingham Palace over to the exchange and I'm walking along Park Lane, just beside Hyde Park and right at street level, I see this fuselage of a jet, you know, there's office buildings and there's kind of a retail level on the ground floor and there's this, what looks like a jet fuselage on the ground floor of this office building for this company called The Jet Business. Dave Young: Nowhere near an airport? Stephen Semple: This is blocks from Buckingham Palace in downtown London, right across the street from Hyde Park. Dave Young: Usually I expect people that sell jets to be, you know, located at an airport somewhere. Stephen Semple: Google it and look at the pictures. I'm going to also post some pictures on the website along with the notes on this so on the Empire Builders Podcast website so you can see some pictures. And since I do work with a private jet business here in Canada called Kreos Aviation, K-R-E-O-S Aviation so if you are in the market for a private jet, check them out, they're awesome. I decided that I would come back later in the week and drop in. I was like, what the heck is this? I couldn't at that point because I had my engagement so I was curious. Stephen Semple: So later in the week I walk into the lobby and I asked to be shown around and they were really awesome. I told them I work with a competitor in Canada, I'm in marketing. They were awesome. They were cool. They spent a whole bunch of time with me. So in the front of the office, right in ground floor, looking out at Park Lane, they recreated the fuselage of one of their jets and they set it up in a popular configuration so you can walk right into this fuselage, stand up in it, sit down, walk around, see what it's like and you can see this from the street. Stephen Semple: And here's what I found fascinating. If you think about it, their clients are really select, rich folks.
#063: Black & Decker – Making a better drill.
24-08-2022
#063: Black & Decker – Making a better drill.
How do you turn it on and off without taking your hands off the device? Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well, it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those. [Mother's Brewing Ad] Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders podcast. I'm Dave Young, alongside Steven Semple. Steven, when you told me today that we were going to talk about the company that we're going to talk about. It hearkened me back to days when I considered myself a bit of a handyman, I still feel like I can do some things, but we're talking power tools today. I believe you're not much of a man if you don't assemble your own flat pack furniture. Stephen Semple: So you're an Allen Key man now? Dave Young: That's right. Traded in my Black and Decker for an Allen key, but Black and Decker is what we're going to talk about today. Stephen Semple: It's an interesting story, because it was founded back in 1914 by Duncan Black and Alfonso Decker in Baltimore. Dave Young: Well, that's all we need to know, I guess. Stephen Semple: That's all we need to know. Today they are the largest manufacturer of power tools in America, and here's the cool thing. They even have a drill on the moon. Dave Young: There's a Black and Decker drill on the moon? Stephen Semple: The astronauts take up tools for doing the core samples. Black and Decker was the manufacturer of that. And of course, they left it behind. Dave Young: Are they still making things in the US? Stephen Semple: You know what? I didn't look into where their manufacturing is. In 2010 Black and Decker merged with Stanley tools. Today, they're part of that fortune 500 company estimated to be worth 30 billion dollars, they're a big deal. Going back to the beginning, when it was just Duncan Black and Alfonso Decker, they met in Baltimore in 1910 while working for the Roland Telegraph company. They were both employed there and they became friends. The thing that's interesting is they both had very, very different upbringings. Alfonso came from a very poor family. He had to drop out of school to take care of his family, but he was always a tinker and he made lots of inventions to get out of chores. You'd love this one, Dave, he didn't want to get up early to feed the horses. Dave Young: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Stephen Semple: He rigged up this thing that when the alarm rang, so he'd set up a clock, and when the alarm rang, it would open up a feeder to feed the horses. So he didn't have to get up to feed the horses. Dave Young: I like this guy already. Stephen Semple: Duncan Black came from a much more comfortable home. He actually didn't have to work, but they met, and they became friends. In 1914, while at the telephone company, Decker suggested, Hey, he's opening his own company, and he wanted Black to come with him. They decide to open their own business and do their own designs, but they don't have any money. So, Duncan Black sells his car to Alfonso's father-in-law for 600 bucks, and Alfonso mortgages his house for $600. Between them, they've got $1,200 to set up this machine shop. Dave Young: Okay. So, it's a machine shop that they're opening. Stephen Semple: That's where they start. Dave Young: Okay. Stephen Semple: They focus on manufacturing existing designs and they got some jobs to manufacture candy mixers and pocket makers and things along those lines. Dave Young: Okay. Stephen Semple: But business is slow and they decide to take a look at the power drill.
#062: Price on website?  We answer the question.
17-08-2022
#062: Price on website?  We answer the question.
Armadura Metal Roof reveals the behind-the-scenes of putting their prices on the website and the positive change in customer behavior.  Dave Young: Welcome to The Empire Builders podcast, teaching business owners the not so secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Steven Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Steven's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode word from our sponsor, which is, well it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those. [Armadura Metal Roof Ad] Stephen Semple: Hey, everyone. Welcome to The Empire Builders podcast. This is Steven Semple here, and we're going to be doing something a little bit different. We've given Dave young the day off and instead I have a very special guest with me, Matthew Burns, who is a customer of ours. And I asked Matt to join us on today's podcast for a really specific reason. I've had a lot of people asking the question or having the thought of, should they be putting their price on the website? Stephen Semple: And what I thought, I could go on my rant about my belief that one should, and instead I thought, you know what? This is a great opportunity to bring on Matt and have him speak about his experience at Armadura Metal Roofing about putting pricing on their website. Because when we first started working with Matthew and Armadura... And you've heard the Armadura ads and they're fricking awesome. But when we first started working with Matthew over at Armadura they didn't have price on their website. And that led for quite an interesting conversation, especially when you look at the background of the roofing industry, because, correct me if I'm wrong, the roofing industry really doesn't like the idea of putting price on website, do they? Matthew Burns: Oh no. No. That's a scary, scary thing to do, yeah. Stephen Semple: So before we get into it, tell us a little bit about your awesome product over at Armadura. Matthew Burns: Armadura Metal Roof was born from a desire to make things easier for the installation guy, the guy who's up on the roof working the 9:00 to 5:00 in the hot sun and the cold winters grinding. Metal roofing is not an easy product to put together, especially if you didn't start in metal, if you started in asphalt and you had to learn the industry, and so a lot of mistakes get made. Matthew Burns: And the systems out there were built by an engineer in a room that has no idea what it's like to be on the roof. They just know that, hey, if we do these things, it's going to work, but you have to do five times the amount of work. Matthew Burns: So when Armadura was invented and we went through the engineering of it, we decided, well, let's put more things together. Let's engineer this thing so that when the installers touch it they go, "Wait a second, I don't have to go as slow. Wait a second, I don't have to remember to add clips." So that's how it was born. And then launched out in 2013. We got some really quick accolades for developing something that was really easy to use. Now it had to beautiful. It has to be amazing for the client as well, for the homeowner. Stephen Semple: It is an awesome product with texture and depth of color. It's beautiful. Matthew Burns: In R and D we probably spent a year and a half, almost two years just in developing it out, just in making it perfect. Stephen Semple: And just so people understand, you guys had a background in shaping and forming metal because for decades you've been serving the automotive industry. Matthew Burns: Yeah. Stephen Semple: So it's not like, gee, we're trying to figure a whole pile of things out. It's like, no, you already had a lot of expertise. Matthew Burns: Yeah, 48 years in the automotive industry or stamping for automotive. I mean,
#061: Mrs. Fields – Why does the mall smell so delicious?
10-08-2022
#061: Mrs. Fields – Why does the mall smell so delicious?
How giving away free samples created an empire of 250 stores worldwide in just 15 years, Debbie Fields' success as an empire builder is inspiring. Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a Marketing Consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is... Well it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients, so here's one of those. [Jim's Razorback Pizza Ad] Dave Young: Welcome back to another Empire Builder's Podcast. Dave Young here with Steve Semple. Something about cookies? It's not cookie monster, that's not a product. Stephen Semple: Not cookie monster, not cookie monster. Dave Young: I'm trying to think of famous cookies. There's lots of them. Who are we talking about today, Stephen? Stephen Semple: We are going to be talking about Mrs. Fields cookies. Now, have you ever had the opportunity to have a Mrs. Fields cookie? Dave Young: I'm not really sure. Are they mass produced, and can you buy them in stores? Stephen Semple: Well, you mainly get them in these little cookie shops that are in malls, and they come out warm and soft and chewy. Yeah. Dave Young: Oh, okay. So it's like going to Cinnabon or something like that. Stephen Semple: Yes, exactly right. Dave Young: I probably have, I tend to try to stay away from those places. I'll give a wide birth to a Cinnabon. Stephen Semple: It's a really interesting story, because it was started in August 16th, 1977 in Palo Alto, California by Debbi Fields. And today, they've got 250 stores worldwide. And in 1992, 15 years after opening, it was sold to the investment firm, Famous Brands International, for $100 million. Dave Young: Wow. Stephen Semple: In the 1992 dollar, so she did really, really well when you think about, basically in a 15-year period of time, she grew this business from start to being a business that she sold for $100 million. Dave Young: Nice little payday for Mrs. Fields. Stephen Semple: Nice little payday for Mrs. Fields. So Mrs. Debbi Fields, she grew up in Oakland. She had this very humble beginning. Her dad was this blue collar worker and her mom was a homemaker. And at the age of 19, she we would say today, she married up. She married Randy, and Randy was a financial analyst who worked in Palo Alto and was rubbing shoulders with the elite of Palo Alto. And what she would do, is she would put out these soft chocolate chip cookies for people when they had them over for entertaining. And they all liked them. They all really liked them. But many looked down on her because she was this hick from Oakland, right? Stephen Semple: And after one party, she gets really snubbed by one of the Palo Alto snobs, and she decides, "You know what? I'm going to open a store. I'm going to do this. I'm going to open a store." And she opened a store in a mall. Now, I want you to think about this. A cookie store, first of all, is a crazy idea. She wasn't the first to do a cookie store, but close to the first to do a cookie store. And food locations were not in malls at the time. The world's first cookie store had only opened two years earlier and food courts were not in malls. The first successful food court happened in 1976 way over in New Jersey. And this was after a number of failed attempts of food courts. So food courts had been opened and had failed. So this was a really innovative idea of opening a food shop in a mall. Stephen Semple: But what she saw was lots of foot traffic. So she was way ahead of this whole food court boom. So she opens this crazy idea of a cookie store, and as far as a crazy idea of in a mall. But this is also what makes her so special,
#060: Leatherman – Is it a tool?  Is it a knife?  That was the problem.
03-08-2022
#060: Leatherman – Is it a tool?  Is it a knife?  That was the problem.
Why did it take ten years to make the first sale? How did they grow to sell over three million tools a year? I'm not sure I could have done what Tim Leatherman did. Dave Young: Welcome to The Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom-and-pop to major brands. Steven Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well, it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients, so here's one of those. [Jim's Razorback Pizza Ad] Dave Young: Hey, welcome back to the Empire Builders Podcast. Dave Young, along with Steve Semple here, and we're talking about the Leatherman tool, which is, man, I'm going to let you just run with this because it's like somebody that finally made a Swiss Army knife useful. Stephen Semple: Leatherman was founded by Tim Leatherman, hence the name. Dave Young: Wait, that's his name? Stephen Semple: That's his name. I know, when I first saw the Leatherman, I thought, oh, this was made by some guy who worked with leather and things along that lines, but no, Leatherman is his last name. Dave Young: Oh, how cool is that? Stephen Semple: Yeah, it was founded by Tim Leatherman. In 1982, they made their first sale of $175. The next year they sold 200 tools, the following year, 30,000 tools, and two years after that, so basically in 1986, 4 years after that first sale, they were doing 160,000 tools. Dave Young: Amazing. Stephen Semple: Then in 1993, basically 10 years after that first sale, they hit the one million tool mark. They had been basically growing at a 50% a year growth. Today, they do about three million tools a year and the business is estimated to be worth $100 million, and it's still 100% owned by the founders. Dave Young: Oh, no kidding. We're recording, we can see each other on camera, but I have this Leatherman. I don't know, I've had this sense probably their early days. I don't know if it's got a date on it. Stephen Semple: Yeah, they're cool tools. Dave Young: Yeah. Stephen Semple: In many ways, they feel like this real overnight success, where they go from one tool to 200 tools, to 30,000 to 160, to three million. That first sale that they did, it took them seven years to make that first sale happen, seven years of zero sales. Here's what ends up happening. Tim grew up in Portland, Oregon, and he got a degree in mechanical engineering from Oregon State. At university, he met the love of his life, Chau. After graduating, he moved with her back to Vietnam, because she was Vietnamese. While in Vietnam, he noticed that there was all these kids that had these roadside stands that could repair just about anything. He realized he couldn't repair things, and so he looked and he goes, "My degree's really not practical. I really need to figure out some practicality," so he started taking things apart and fixing them. Stephen Semple: Now, just before Vietnam fell, he managed to get himself and his wife and their family out and they returned to Oregon, but once they settled in Oregon, they decided, he and his wife, he and Chau decided they wanted to travel Europe. In 1975, they decided to travel around Europe, especially Eastern Europe. They had heard the best place to buy a really cheap ass car was Amsterdam, so they went to Amsterdam and they paid $300 for this Fiat. The way he describes his Fiat, he says, "Think about a Volkswagen van and reduce it down by two thirds, and that's your Fiat." It's this little, tiny vehicle. Stephen Semple: They do this 10-month trip traveling around 17 countries. He had this little, like you were saying, Swiss Army knife, this little Boy Scout pocket knife, Swiss Army style. He used it for everything, for fixing things,
#059: Demographics – Why there is such a shortage of workers
27-07-2022
#059: Demographics – Why there is such a shortage of workers
2020 first time in seventy years, people leaving and joining the workforce have reached the balance point. Ten years from now, more people will be leaving the workforce than entering. Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well, it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those. [No Bull RV Ad] Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast. Dave Young here alongside Stephen Semple. Stephen told me we're not going to talk about any particular business today, but we're going to talk about some trends that pretty much affect all businesses. So this is sort of a break from the usual format, and I think it's an important one. We've had a couple of these along the way. What's on your mind today, Stephen? Stephen Semple: COVID and supply chains and all this other stuff. We've seen this dramatic shift. There's been some weird stuff going on. Some of this is forever change, some of this is temporary change, and some of it is masking what's really going on. What I want to refer to on that is this whole mass resignation scenario and the shortage of workers that has been caused by COVID. Stephen Semple: I want to explore this a little bit more deeply because what I believe is there's a deeper, longer-term trend businesses and employees, we all need to be aware of, government, government policy, businesses, employees. This is going to affect all of us. From a business perspective, the business that figures out how to work in this environment wins long term. That's why this is important, and I think it's being missed. So I'm going to take you through a little bit of a history ride here to build this case, so bear with me for a moment. If we go back to the 1950s, population in the United States was basically 160 million people. If we looked at... I'm just using 60 to 70 as a proxy for people leaving the workforce, and I'm using 20 to 30 as a proxy for people entering the workforce. Dave Young: You're talking about age. Stephen Semple: Age, correct, in terms of the age of the population. I know that's not 100% accurate, but it's a pretty good proxy. In 1950, we had about 4% of the population leaving the workforce, and we had about almost 8% of the population entering the workforce. So demographics alone was growing our workforce. Plus, we know in the 1950s, substantial immigration because, for example, by 1960, the population grew by 30 million people. Now, part of that was birth rate, part of that was immigration, but that is massive population growth growing from 150 million to 186 million. That's big growth in 10 years. Again, at that point, if you looked at it, it was about 3.5% of the population leaving the workforce and over 6% of the population entering the workforce. Again, 1960s, workforce is expanding in size. Stephen Semple: Now along comes to the 1970s, population has grown from 150 million to 205 million. Again, big growth due to immigration as well as birth rates. And we're facing the same thing. In the 1970s, we have about 3.5% of the work population leaving the workforce, and at this point, we have almost 8% of the population entering the workforce. Dave Young: The Baby Boomers are coming of age. Stephen Semple: Baby Boomers are entering the workforce. Now we move forward to the 1980s, and that trend continues. Baby Boomers are entering the workforce. We have almost 9%, a little bit over 9% of the population entering the workforce, and we've got around 4% leaving. Plus, we have another trend behind us in the 1980s. Both late '70s and through the '80s,
#058: Shreddies – Good good whole wheat Shreddies
20-07-2022
#058: Shreddies – Good good whole wheat Shreddies
Sold in Canada, UK, and Australia this breakfast cereal was a boring and dying brand until…. Find out how a simple twist made all the difference to their advertising and promotion Dave Young: Welcome to The Empire Builders podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well, it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those. [BWS Home Services Ad] Dave Young: Welcome to The Empire Builders podcast. Dave Young here, along with Stephen Semple, and as usual, Stephen just gives me a loose idea of a topic, and then I have to... It's almost like a quiz show, Stephen, and today it's just the number 58. It's the number 58. What could that possibly mean? We've already done 57, that's fine. Stephen Semple: There you go. There we go. It's quite a bit of a roll here. We now can prove to people we can count. We went from 57 to 58. Yeah, 58 is an important number for you and I, because it now means we've been releasing this podcast on a weekly basis for a year. But then people go, "But wait a minute, Steve, there's 52 weeks in a year." Well, we started with six episodes, because one of the things in podcasting they talk about doing is, you should start with a bunch in the can because when people come to your episode, often what they want to do is, they discover it, they like it, they want to be able to binge. 58 is a year. So look, we're going to have to have a little celebration and fireworks and it's a big deal. And that's the other important question. You up for another year, Dave? Dave Young: Sure, I love doing this. We've got some of our partners and friends that are helping in the background with this, and we have a 92% listen through rate. Stephen Semple: Yeah, that was Matthew shared that. Dave Young: Matthew, okay. Stephen Semple: Yeah, because he handles a lot of the social media postings around this. Dave Young: That's a pretty good stat for a podcast. A lot of podcasts are like, "Eh, people just bail once they feel like they've got the meat of her." Stephen Semple: One of the stats on podcasts is... I can't remember whether it's 25 or 30% of listeners drop off in the first five or 10 minutes. Dave Young: It's always fun to record. The stories are always interesting. We both love how people build a business and the interesting things that they end up doing that make all the difference for them. Stephen Semple: Yeah, and we have a fun one today. It's a little different story, but we have another fun one that we're going to go over today. Dave Young: Okay, are we going straight into that or is this just a... Stephen Semple: Let's go straight into that. Let's give people what they're here for. Dave Young: Okay, all right. So I don't even know what we're going to be doing other than 58. Stephen Semple: Other than 58, well, what we're doing is... Now this is a product not available in the U.S. It's available in Canada, Australia, and UK. It's a cereal that's made by Post called Shreddies. So Dave, just for your benefit, I'm going to hold up the... Dave Young: Oh, we don't have that in the U.S. of A. in Texas. Stephen Semple: So the important thing to note on Shreddies, is it's a small square cereal made of shredded wheat. Dave Young: Is it the same as Shredded Wheat? Stephen Semple: It's the same but very different because it's really thin and tiny and crunchy. Dave Young: Okay. Stephen Semple: Really thin wafer. It was first introduced in 1939 by Nabisco, and it started in Canada. And one of the reasons why I wanted to talk about this one,
#057: Heinz – his favorite number was 5, and hers was 7
13-07-2022
#057: Heinz – his favorite number was 5, and hers was 7
From debtors prison to the fastest-growing company in America. HJ Heinz is the story of fish guts, watery ooze, and new manufacturing breakthroughs. Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well, it's us. But we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients, so here's one of those. [Jim's Razorback Pizza Ad] Dave Young: Welcome back to the Empire Builders Podcast. So Stephen, this is episode 57. Unbelievable. Stephen Semple: 57, isn't that amazing? Just amazing how time flies. And when I got thinking about it, let me ask you a question. When you think about products, Dave, what product comes to mind when you say the number 57? Dave Young: Oh, that would be Heinz. Stephen Semple: That would be Heinz. So today we're going to talk about Heinz. But isn't that incredible? I did not prep you on this. And yet, you say to people, "The number 57," people immediately go, "Heinz ketchup!" So now there's a whole ton of things that we could talk about when it comes to Heinz. I mean, we could do probably God, I don't know how many podcasts we'd do, but what we're going to talk about today is ketchup, because that's really the thing that got things going for Heinz. So Heinz was founded by Henry J. Heinz in January of 1869. And what Heinz did at that time is they did a variety of bottled and pickled products. But things weren't going so great, because in 1875, Henry Heinz went off to debtor prison. Dave Young: Debtor prison, so they were founded long enough ago that there was still debtor prison. Stephen Semple: Yes, sir. And he spent a year in debtor prison. And then in 1876, he traveled off to the UK. Let's just fast forward a little bit. Today, 60% of the retail ketchup market in the US is Heinz. And on March 12th, 2013, Heinz was sold to Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital for $23 billion. Dave Young: I didn't know that. I was unaware that Uncle Warren picked up Heinz. Stephen Semple: He along with 3G Capital, they bought it together. So now back to Henry. So after Henry gets out of debtor prison, he travels to the UK and he gets inspired by a bottle of catsup. You know, C-A-T? The C-A-T version? Fermented fish guts is, essentially, what it's made [inaudible 00:03:39]. So it's this fish sauce that's really used to hide the taste of rancid meat. It's kind of disgusting stuff, actually. But it got him thinking. What if he could replace the fish bits with something better, like ripe tomatoes? So he returned to the US and started to work on the recipe. And HJ and his brother, John, emptied out their mother's savings and started experimenting. They wanted to make something with this really broad appeal. And they experimented with a lot of things, including green tomatoes. What they discovered is that when you use ripe, red tomatoes, it makes it thicker, because of all the pectin in the tomatoes. So that's where they landed. Stephen Semple: Think about this. You get out of debtor prison. You go to the UK. You see this fermented fish gut product and say to yourself, "I can do this with tomatoes." You go, you clean out your mother's savings, and you're off to the races. So they developed ketchup and it really started to sell well. It was actually doing very, very well. But the next thing that they did is they put the ketchup in clear bottles so the customers could see the product. And they were really one of the first to do that. Before that, everything was always in green or colored bottles. They were one of the first to do this whole idea of packaging into a clear bottle. But the real growth is about the start.
#056: Oldsmobile – launched the car industry by outsourcing, creating spinoffs like Dodge
06-07-2022
#056: Oldsmobile – launched the car industry by outsourcing, creating spinoffs like Dodge
They named the band REO Speedwagon from the REO Speed Wagon, a 1915 truck that Ransom Eli Olds designed. Doughty had seen the name written across the blackboard when he walked into his History of Transportation class on the first day they had decided to look for a name. Oldsmobile introduced the concept of outsourcing Dave Young: Welcome to The Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is well, it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients so here's one of those. [Mother's Brewing Ad] Dave Young: Hey, welcome to The Empire Builders Podcast. Dave Young here, along with Stephen Semple. Stephen, when you told me today's topic, I got all nostalgic. When I was probably 15, my sister's a year older than me so she had just turned 16 and our first car, she got to drive as a driver and I got to drive as a student driver and then eventually as a driver, was a hand me down. My grandmother's 1971 Oldsmobile 98 with a 455 big, big engine. That thing was a land yacht. Four barrel carburetor. Should not put that in the hands of kids 16 years old, but I think my dad's thought was, well, it's got a lot of sheet metal. We're going to talk about Oldsmobile. Stephen Semple: We are going to talk about Oldsmobile and one of the big reasons why I felt like we need to talk about Oldsmobile is when it comes to the mass assembly line and a lot of that innovation that happened with automobiles, Henry Ford gets a lot of credit and deserves a lot of credit, but there was a bunch of innovation that happened before Ford, that if it didn't occur Ford wouldn't have been able to do what he did with the moving assembly line. And I think it's a lesson that has been lost to history. Ransom Olds deserves much more credit in history than they've gotten so that's where we're going to explore a little bit. Again, before Ford could do his moving assembly line there was a bunch of innovations that had to happen and the car makers that we all know today, this is now the interesting part when we go back to history, car makers we all know today were not the first car manufacturers. We all think this whole thing of first in is the one that wins. Dave Young: Yeah. Stephen Semple: Well in the automotive industry all the players that got in first are all long gone. It was the second wave that became the dominant players. The first car maker in the United States was James Duryea, who made the first Duryea automotive in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1893. We've never heard of them. Dave Young: Who? Nah. Stephen Semple: Right. They ended up getting the money for doing it because there was a race that was held, this 54 mile race that went from Jackson Park in Chicago to Evanston and back again and it was held on Thanksgiving day in 1895 and they won this race. Dave Young: 54 miles. That's just like an average commute now. Stephen Semple: And it was $2,000 prize money. So they got this $2,000 prize money and all the recognition from it and started to make cars. And the first car that they made was the Duryea Motor Wagon and they started making those cars in the 1900s. And they basically made, I think it was about 13 or 14 vehicles before it was all ended. Dave Young: They had not figured out the mass assembly line. Stephen Semple: No, and by 1900 there was a hundred different brands of horseless carriages being marketed in the United States. All of a sudden there was all of these manufacturers, but they were all virtually handmade and as we know were all outrageously expensive and it was cars were perceived as a toy for the rich. Now Ransom Olds was a son of a blacksmith and he ...
#055: Uncle Nearest – Story trumps almost everything
29-06-2022
#055: Uncle Nearest – Story trumps almost everything
For Fawn Weaver the story of Uncle Nearest needed to be told. Learn how Fawn, with no distilling background, turned this story into one of the fastest growing Whiskey distilleries in America. Dave Young: Welcome to The Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from Mom and Pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well, it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those. [WyattWorks Ad] Dave Young: Steven, we've been recording these podcasts for a while now. And I think it's about time we just stopped and had a nice drink. Any objections? Stephen Semple: Got a bottle right here. Dave Young: Got a bottle... ooh, Uncle Nearest. Stephen Semple: Uncle Nearest. Dave Young: Uncle Nearest. There's got to be a story there. Stephen Semple: There's an awesome story with Uncle Nearest Tennessee whiskey. Dave Young: All right, let's hear it. Stephen Semple: But before we get into it, I think we need to let people know both you and I actually have got a little bit of background when it comes to whiskeys. Dave Young: A little bit, a little bit. We've both been through the whiskey som the whiskey marketing school in Austin, Texas, has a program to train people to be whiskey sommeliers. Stephen Semple: Yeah. Yeah. And at the end of this, this is going to be a two-parter because at the end of this, we're going to invite two other whiskey somms to join us. One, a partner of ours, Gary Bernier and my girlfriend, Morning Mays, who are also both soms and the four of us are going to do a tasting together and let everyone know what we think of this whiskey and I haven't even cracked the label on it. Dave Young: Oh, that sounds like fun. Stephen Semple: First to the story, this whiskey was founded by a lady by the name of Fawn Weaver in 2017. And they've won a ton of awards for this whiskey. At the time of this podcast, they've also had tremendous growth. They've had 11 quarters of triple digit growth. So they have been just killing it. In March of 2021, about four years after their launch, they had sold 1.5 million bottles of Uncle Nearest Whiskey. Dave Young: Wait, when were they launched? Stephen Semple: They were launched in 2017. Dave Young: Okay. Stephen Semple: So basically four years later, one and a half million bottles had been sold. Dave Young: Amazing. Stephen Semple: Here's the funny thing. Fawn has no background in distilling, none. She likes whiskey. Her favorite are high proof bourbons, drinks them neat, but no background in the whiskey business whatsoever. Now the closest she had come, she had had a successful business in PR and was a real innovator in product placement on social media. She had also worked for some high end hotels and restaurants, but before entering the whiskey business, she was best known for some books that she wrote on marriage. Dave Young: Wow. Okay. Stephen Semple: Yeah. Her affair with this, pardon that pon just talking about marriage, but her affair with this whiskey starts back when she's reading an article in the New York Times. She's on vacation in Asia and she's reading the New York Times and she sees this picture of Jack Daniels in an article about this black man, Nearest Green. And the article is not kind to Jack Daniels, talks about how Nearest Green is a black man and a former slave and is really not kind to Jack Daniels, but she looks at the picture and she says, "Something's not quite correct in the picture," because it's the picture of Jack Daniels leadership team and right there in the center of the picture, right beside Jack is Nearest Green. Stephen Semple:
#055.1 – Uncle Nearest Bonus – After listening to the story – you know you want to know how it tastes.
28-06-2022
#055.1 – Uncle Nearest Bonus – After listening to the story – you know you want to know how it tastes.
Stephen and David invite Gary Bernier and Maurning Mayzes to sample a bottle.  The result - 4 whisk(e)y sommeliers and lots of opinions. Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Stephen Semple: All right. Stephen Semple and this is the bonus edition of the Uncle Nearest Podcast from the Empire Builders Podcast. I'm here with David Young, who you guys all know, I do the podcast with me but we have two special guests. We have Gary Bernier, and Morning Mays, both of whom are whiskey sommeliers along with David and myself. Stephen Semple: We thought since we had this great podcast on Uncle Nearest and a fabulous story and if you haven't listened to it, you really want to go give it a listen but we thought you know what? We can't talk about whiskey and just talk about whiskey. That just seems so very, very, very wrong. Especially when we've got a couple of people who are trained in whiskey. It brings a cool perspective because all four of us have very, very different taste profiles. This is going to be fun. Stephen Semple: In particular, Gary being with us because Gary's got his own whiskey YouTube channel. Hey, Gary. Gary Bernier: Hey, Steve. Thanks for having me. Looking forward to tasting the Uncle Nearest with the rest of you. Stephen Semple: Yeah. You know, we recorded this podcast months ago and it's been really hard. This bottle has been sitting on my shelf unopened, because I said I wouldn't open it until we did this. Morning continually comes over and says, "When are we going to drink that whiskey?" Now's the time. Morning Mays: Now to preface it, I did request a pour be made about 15 minutes ago, because I find some whiskeys take time. Dave Young: Really? Stephen Semple: They do. Gary Bernier: They do. Morning Mays: Yeah. Stephen Semple: Yeah. Morning really finds that. For background for people, there's this traditional belief amongst whiskeys that the really smoky, peaty, harsh whiskeys are a thing that guys like, and women tend to more like the light, bourbon, sweet bourbons and Irish whiskeys. I'm going to tell you, our relationship shatters that myth. Morning, like, I mean, if you open it and it smells like the campfire from two tables over, Morning is like, "What's that? I need to try that." Yeah. Yeah. Dave Young: I go for the sweet stuff. I head straight ... My favorite is a French single malt that tastes like birthday cake. Stephen Semple: You see, we're going to have four perspectives on this. Morning Mays: Dave, you like the icing on the cake? Dave Young: Absolutely. Yeah. You like [inaudible 00:03:17]. Stephen Semple: Well, this is going to be interesting then, so that's great. Dave Young: [inaudible 00:03:23] in the bottom of the oven. Stephen Semple: What we're saying is Dave's here. I'm next to Dave and then Gary is between Morning and I. This is going to make for a really interesting tasting. Dave Young: I'm easily within reach. Look at this. I can go right ... That's the one. Stephen Semple: That's the one? Okay. Dave Young: That's the one I like. Gary Bernier: That's Dave's [inaudible 00:03:41]. Dave Young: Then it's ... Morning Mays: Okay. Dave Young: Darn it, [inaudible 00:03:45]. Stephen Semple: Yeah. For background, Dave is calling in from the whiskey vault at the Wizard Academy and, as you can tell, the whiskey vault has got a lot of whiskey in it. This is going to be cool. Just as a reminder, Uncle Nearest is a Tennessee whiskey. What that means is it's made the way that a bourbon is made in terms of it having to be at least 51% corn. What separates a Tennessee whiskey from a bourb...
#054: M.M. Lafleur – High Function, High Style
22-06-2022
#054: M.M. Lafleur – High Function, High Style
That's not how fashionistas buy clothes, but we make and sell clothes for professional working women—a story about understanding your customer's needs and developing to their needs. Dave Young: Welcome to The Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is... Well, it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients, so here's one of those. [Tapper's Ad] Dave Young: Welcome to The Empire Builders Podcast. Dave Young here, along with Stephen Semple. Stephen, good day to you. Stephen Semple: Good day to you, sir. Dave Young: You want to say good morning, but you never know what time somebody's listening, so I don't know. So you told me the topic this morning and I got to admit I'm sort of stumped. When you first started saying it, I thought, "Oh, cool. We're going to talk about the 3M company." Because you said MM and then I'm like, "Oh, 3M. Yeah, they're innovative. They did some cool stuff. We're going to do Post-it Notes? What are we doing?" And then you said a French word, M.M.LaFleur. Stephen Semple: That's right. Dave Young: And you even gave me a hint that it has something to do with ladies fashions. And dude I'm stumped, this is my life as an unsophisticated hick from the sticks. I have... Stephen Semple: There you go. Dave Young: ... no idea what M.M.LaFleur is, but it sounds French. Stephen Semple: I will wet your whistle a little bit. 10 years after they founded it, they were doing over $100 million in sales. Dave Young: In just 10 years. You'd think I'd have heard of them. Stephen Semple: Yeah. So they were founded by Sarah LaFleur on June 1st, 2011. And as I said today, they're doing over $100 million in sales. And the thing that's really fascinating about this story is Sarah, the founder, had no background in fashion. Dave Young: Oh, well, she and I have something in common. Stephen Semple: Yeah. Here's how little background she had. At one point, they said to her, "We need to hire a pattern maker." And she said, "But I thought we were doing solid colors. Not anything with patterns." And a pattern maker is the person who lays out how this material's going to be cut so it could be sewn together. Dave Young: I would've actually had an edge on her at that point. Stephen Semple: Right? This is how little background that she had in fashion, but she was always interested in fashion and her mom had a jewelry business. And so she had this clear vision of what she liked. She liked things that were classic, and polished, and simple. And she had a number of professional jobs, she worked for Bain Capital for a while as an analyst there. Dave Young: Oh, wow. Okay. Stephen Semple: Wanted to look good, but she would agonize over what to wear. She would get up in the morning and she'd agonize over what to wear. And she found this was actually a pretty common problem. There's studies that show that women spend on average 16 minutes in the morning just thinking about what to wear, which is basically the length of this podcast. Dave Young: Wow. Just thinking about it. Stephen Semple: Yeah. And it's interesting. If we go back, in 2004 there was a book written, Paradox Of Choice, which talks about how, if there's too much choice, we actually become more anxious, and less happy, and it leads to less sales, and all those other things. And so what she decided was she wanted to create a line of clothing that was simple, and elegant, and not have too many options. That was well made, looked great, reasonably priced. Dave Young: This is a concept in male fashion that has been addressed a lot.
#053: Hallmark – When you care enough to send the very best.
15-06-2022
#053: Hallmark – When you care enough to send the very best.
It's rare to find a company founded in 1910 that is still owned by the family today. What's impressive is that they have achieved greater than 5 Billion in sales annually. Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well, it's us. But we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those. [Armadura Ad] Dave Young: Dave Young here alongside Stephen Semple. We are loading up another episode of the Empire Builders podcast. And Stephen, you said that the topic today is Hallmark. There are so many things I think of when I think of Hallmark. There was a store in my hometown that was a Hallmark store, and there's the movies. Stephen Semple: There's the movies, yep. Dave Young: Christmas time. There are the ornaments. Where are we headed with this today? Stephen Semple: Well, we're going to go right back to the origin of course. Hallmark's a big deal. They do 5 billion in sales. They have 30,000 employees, and they are still privately owned. Dave Young: Oh, no kidding. Stephen Semple: We don't come across this very often where you've got a company that was started back in 1910 and has grown into this big thing and is still a privately held business. It's kind of special. Dave Young: That really is. Still in the same family? Stephen Semple: Yeah. Yep. Dave Young: Okay. Stephen Semple: Which is very cool. Dave Young: How did they get started? Stephen Semple: Well, they were founded in 1910 by Joyce Hall in Kansas City, Missouri. Today, they are the largest manufacturer of greeting cards in the United States. They also make, as you said, ornaments and party goods and a bunch of other things. They bought, in 1987 from Benny and Smith, they bought Crayola. Dave Young: I didn't even know that. Stephen Semple: Yeah. And on the TV things, they also, in the early days, did some joint ventures with Jim Henson. Dave Young: Okay. So the Muppets and all of that? Oh wow. Stephen Semple: Yeah. The business started out being postcards. So Joyce Hall and his older brothers, William and Rollie started a company called Norfolk postcard company in 1907. It operated out of a bookstore in Norfolk, Nebraska, where they worked. And within a year, Rollie bought out the store's non-family business partner and it became Hall brothers and the store became the Hall bookstore. The postcard business did really well and soon they outgrew the store and they moved to a bigger city. They moved to Kansas City in 1910. Dave Young: Okay. Stephen Semple: And by 1912, two years after the move, the postcard craze, it was a real craze. It was a massive thing, started to fade a little bit. And what they then started to do was sell Christmas letters and greeting cards. They changed the name to the Norfolk Card company. This became really interesting up until about 1917 because before this time, the Victorian class, the hoity toitys, would wrap their presents in this really fancy, heavy, expensive paper. The less wealthy couldn't afford this, and actually in many cases, less wealthy couldn't even afford presents. But what they would do is they would decorate the presents with less expensive colored tissue paper. That would be how people would decorate the presents. It's 1917, and the brothers were having a great Christmas season. So good, in fact, they ran out of tissue paper. Dave Young: Oh gosh. Stephen Semple: So searching through what they had, they came across this fancy French paper that they had, and this paper was used for the lining of envelopes if you remember.
#052: Don’t Mess with Texas – Don’t do it.
08-06-2022
#052: Don’t Mess with Texas – Don’t do it.
Discover how the State of Texas saved money and got cleaner highways through an anti-littering marketing campaign that never used the word litter. Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not so secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well, it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients, so here's one of those. [No Bull Ad] Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast. Dave young here, along with Stephen Semple. And Stephen, you picked a topic today that hits me a little close to home here because I moved to Texas in the last year, and so we're going to talk about that saying don't mess with Texas. Stephen Semple: We are going to talk about the saying don't mess with Texas. And part of the reason why I want to talk about this is advertising is a very important part to building an empire. And there's some cool things about how this ad was created that I think provides us some really good insight in terms of how great advertising campaigns are done. Dave Young: I'm going to interrupt you just for a second because I have a feeling that there's a lot of people that just think that phrase don't mess with Texas is just one of those things they say in Texas. But that's not the case. You start talking about advertising. And I don't know that people understand just where that phrase came from. Stephen Semple: That phrase is now actually trademarked and it's owned by the state of Texas. Dave Young: As it should be. It's not just saying, "Hey, we're Texas. Don't mess with us." It was a litter campaign. Stephen Semple: It was a litter campaign. And here's the problem. The state of Texas had this issue that they were spending $20 million a year cleaning trash off the highway, and it was increasing by 17% a year. And so they needed to come up with a way of reducing that. And when they started this campaign, don't mess with Texas, within six years, the littering dropped 78%, saving the state 16 million a year. So it had a huge impact. Dave Young: When this started, I'm guessing, Stephen, that the state of Texas didn't spend lots of money on buying time because I believe these were public service announcements. Was there an actual campaign? Stephen Semple: Well, they were partially public service announcements and they were an actually campaign. But here's what we want to talk about. So we're going to peek behind the curtain of how this campaign was created because this is where business owners can learn something for applying to their own campaign. We're going to insert the audio for the very first don't mess with Texas ad. [Don't Mess With Texas Example Ad] Stephen Semple: All right. So now, this ad was created by Mike Blair and Tim McClure of GSD&M in your hometown of Austin. Now, if you noticed, in the ad, they never used the word littering. This was an anti littering campaign that never used the word littering. And we often talk about, Dave, that when we want somebody to do something or feel something, the most powerful ads are when you don't use the word. If we're fun, don't use the word fun. If we're trying to build trust, don't use the word trust. If we're trying to get people to stop littering, don't say stop littering. They never use the word littering in the campaign, yet we all understood what they were trying to convey. Stephen Semple: And the brilliance of this ad started with the description of the customer, in this case, people littering. And how often do we come across customer descriptions that are just basically a bunch of socioeconomic crap? Oh, they're 18 to 24 year olds that live in this community and make this much money an...
#051: Creemore Springs Brewery and the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516
01-06-2022
#051: Creemore Springs Brewery and the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516
There is only one reason to stop in Creemore on your way north or south, Creemore Springs Brewery and their Lager how John Wiggins transformed his town of Creemore. Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders Podcast, teaching business owners the not-so-secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant, story collector, and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode, a word from our sponsor, which is, well, it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those. [Tappers Ad] Dave Young: Stephen Semple and Dave Young here. Stephen, you're in Ontario, Canada, and I'm in Austin, Texas. And of course, today we're going to be talking about Canadian beer, eh? Stephen Semple: That's right. How's it going, eh? Dave Young: Hey, ya Hoosier. You mentioned that we're going to be talking about Creemore Brewery. Stephen Semple: Yeah. Dave Young: And this is one that's unfamiliar to me. I mean, when I was in college, we liked Canadian beer. A lot of my friends and I drank a lot of Labatts Blue and Molson in those little barrel-shaped bottles or cans or whatever it was. This one didn't start till after I was even gone from there. So Creemore Brewery, what's the deal? Stephen Semple: Yeah. And it's actually called Creemore Springs Brewery. So if you're wanting to Google it, it's Creemore Springs, C-R-E-E-M-O-R-E Springs brewery. And they are now part of Molson's Brewery. Molsons bought them back in 2005, and they were a private company, so we don't exactly know what they were sold for, but industry sources sort of think the number was around $25 million. And given that they started in 1987 and then were sold in 2005 for $25 million, that's not a bad little return on investment Dave Young: That ain't a bad run for some people that just like to make beer. Stephen Semple: That's right. It was started by a guy by the name of John Wiggins, and John Wiggins fell in love with this little community called Creemore. And here's what I got to explain. So I live in Collingwood, which is two hours north of Toronto. And if you were driving from Toronto to Collingwood, the quote unquote highway that you drive on is a twisty, turny, two lane road, right? Dave Young: Okay. Stephen Semple: Creemore is off of that road. It's not even on that so-called highway. It is off of that so-called highway, about 20 minutes south of me. It's this little tiny village that really, frankly, no one knew was there. And John had a ski chalet not too far away from Creemore and fell in love with the little village. And at the time, he was a graphic designer, and he decided that anyone in town he would do a design for, for free. And it's really cool, because when you're in Creemore today, you still see a bunch of his work, and it was really spectacular and gave the village a nice little feel. Dave Young: Nice. Stephen Semple: Then in the mid eighties, he came down with very serious arthritis and couldn't do design work any longer, but he still wanted to do something. And his buddy was a master brewer. "Hey, let's start making beer." So they took over a warehouse in town and decided to turn it into a brewery out in the middle of fricking nowhere, an hour and a half north of Toronto, in 1987, when craft beer was really not a thing yet. Dave Young: Right. In 1987, you start a beer company, you're going up against the big boys. Stephen Semple: You're going up against the big boys. And even the few craft brewers that were around, quite frankly, weren't making great product. And at the time in Ontario, beer distribution was very restrictive, and so they had a lot of challenges ahead of them. So what they did was they started this radio campaign. They did a radio campaign talking about Creemore.
#050: Phone Number Rant – We don’t need them anymore?
25-05-2022
#050: Phone Number Rant – We don’t need them anymore?
Nobody remembers phone numbers any more and don't get me started on LOOOOONG domain names. Your designers and marketers should know better. Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders podcast, teaching business owners, the not so secret techniques that took famous businesses from mom and pop to major brands. Stephen Semple is a marketing consultant story collector and storyteller. I'm Stephen's sidekick and business partner, Dave Young. Before we get into today's episode a word from our sponsor, which is, well it's us, but we're highlighting ads we've written and produced for our clients. So here's one of those. [Jim's Razorback Pizza Ad] Dave Young: Welcome to the Empire Builders podcast. I'm Dave young, alongside Stephen Semple and I was looking at the show notes for today and there's no brand mentioned. It's just Stephen saying he's going on a rant. Stephen Semple: This one we'll make sure we mark explicit. Dave Young: Is this, oh, this is not safe for children. Stephen Semple: Probably not. Dave Young: Oh my gosh. What kind of bee is in your Burt's Bees bonnet? Stephen Semple: Well, there's something I see going on all the time, especially in the home services space. Dave Young: [inaudible 00:02:04]. Stephen Semple: But not only and that is, you'll see somebody who will spend all this money. They get this beautiful design done. They wrap a truck or they do a- Dave Young: Uh-huh. Stephen Semple: ... billboard and they put the God damn fucking phone number on it and it drives me absolutely insane and we're going to go through the reason why that shouldn't be done. Dave Young: But Stephen, since Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone in 1876, isn't that amazing that I would remember that year? We've been putting our phone numbers on everything. Stephen Semple: We have and we have to stop. Dave Young: We're saying the time has come. That ship has sailed. There's no reason to do it anymore. Tell me more. Stephen Semple: Part of this is the world has changed. Here's the thing. Do we remember phone numbers ending longer? Dave Young: [inaudible 00:02:54]. Stephen Semple: Have we still got that skill? I don't know my kid's phone number. Dave Young: I went to mail something to my daughter this morning and he asked me the phone number. I'm like, yeah, I got to get my phone out to look it up because I don't know. Stephen Semple: Right. So our skillset for remembering phone numbers is just not there any longer. Dave Young: No. I do remember my phone number when I was a kid, but that doesn't do me any good now, that phone's disconnected 40 years ago. Stephen Semple: Well, that's so funny because I have some passwords that are old phone numbers. Dave Young: Sure. Stephen Semple: Right? Dave Young: Yeah. Stephen Semple: But here's the other thing. So first of all, we don't have the skillset for remembering phone numbers as well. Secondly, we used to have to only remember seven numbers, right, because the area code didn't count. So for example, when I was growing up in Toronto, Toronto was 416, outside of Toronto was 905. Well now there's like five or six area codes in Toronto right? Dave Young: Mm-hmm. Stephen Semple: Now, if you're in a smaller community, like where I live now, they're all 705 numbers, that's fine but for many, many, many places, there's more than one area code that you need to remember so now we're having to remember 10 numbers, not seven and you want to know how much harder it is to recall 10 numbers than seven? Dave Young: According to science? Stephen Semple: According to science. It's 50 times harder to recall 10 numbers than seven numbers. Dave Young: Uh-huh. Stephen Semple: We don't remember phone numbers as much as we used to. We now have to remember something that's way harder to remember,