Imagine starting a mobile detailing business at a tender age of 15 and growing it to serve some of the world’s wealthiest individuals. Our guest for today’s episode, David Allen, did just that. Together, Mike and David reflect on David’s extraordinary journey as an aviator, entrepreneur, and founder of The Allen Groupe, an aircraft detailing service. In this episode, Mike and David dive into the heart of David’s story, starting from his early years influenced by his mother’s immigrant mindset of hard work and dedication. They explore the challenges and triumphs of his business journey, how he navigated through the aviation industry during 9/11, and how he managed to turn his setbacks into comebacks.
They also take a deeper look into how David managed to innovate in his aircraft detailing business, shifting focus from revenue to profit, and building software that revolutionized the aviation industry. More importantly, they reveal the critical role of fostering an ownership mentality in the workplace. David’s insights on aligning individuals with roles that showcase their strengths and interests, and the significant impact this has on team productivity, are sure to inspire and challenge listeners.
But the conversation doesn’t stop there. David is not shy to share about his financial setbacks – a lawsuit, a settlement, and bankruptcy. Yet, he emerges triumphant, turning personal and professional challenges into valuable lessons. His experience offers a sobering reminder of the importance of balancing delegation with retaining financial control. David’s journey, peppered with lessons, insights, and a hefty dose of resilience, is one you won’t want to miss. So, tune in, and let’s learn together from this inspiring entrepreneur’s journey.
Entrepreneurial Success at a Young Age
The Value of a Degree
Exploring Delegation’s Freedom and Balance
The Limitations of the “Why” Question
Marriage and Grief
Success, Discovery, and True Friends
Overcoming Challenges and Sharing Wisdom
Connect with David Allen:
Check out the video version of this episode below:
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Episode transcript below:
0:00:00 – Mike Malatesta
Hi everyone. Mike Malatesta here and welcome back to the how it Happened podcast. On this podcast, I dig in deep with every guest to explore the roots of their success, to discover not just how it happened but why it matters. My mission is to find and share stories that inspire, activate and maximize the greatness in you. On today’s podcast.
0:00:20 – Mike Malatesta
I’m talking with an amazing entrepreneur who got his first business started while he was still in high school. He’s worked with some of the greatest racing teams in history, and now he flies all over the world, sometimes in his own plane, providing detailing services to some of the biggest airlines and the wealthiest people on the planet.
0:00:39 – David Allen
I don’t really like the word employees. I have no problem saying the F word, but the E word it seems really offensive to me. I like team members. I don’t like the word employees. They always say well, nobody will care about the business like the owner, right, like nobody will do that. That’s such bullshit. The guy who’s in the inventory room, he knows the part number for damn near everything that’s in there by heart and I couldn’t tell you the first part number that we have in our company, right? So in that particular task he cares more about that than anybody else in the company. Well, when you build up a company like that, where people care more about their tasks within the organization than anybody else, well then you’ve just spelled that myth that only the owner will care as much as because he’s the owner.
0:01:21 – Mike Malatesta
There’s definitely some ups and downs in David Allen’s journey and you’ll hear all about some of them right now. Hey, david, welcome to the podcast. Thank you for having me. It’s been a long time in the works here, so I told you guys a little bit about David in the intro. Let me tell you a little bit more about him and then we’ll get into kind of the uniqueness of this for me at least and then we’ll get into the uniqueness of David as well.
So David Allen is an aviator, an entrepreneur and the founder of David Allen certified and the Allen group. Correct Correct Okay. He started his first business at the age of 15, a mobile detailing company in Indianapolis, indiana, focusing initially on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, providing cleaning services for drivers, motorhomes and team transports. Today, he owns and operates companies in the US and Europe that specialize in detailing, disinfection and protection services across multiple industries, but mainly focused on aviation. Is that true? Correct Okay? David is driven by his impassioned call to serve and to share his expertise to help people, as he believes, relationships are everyone’s most important asset, and I happen to believe that as well.
0:02:52 – David Allen
Well good, we’re a good company.
0:02:54 – Mike Malatesta
I’m going to just add that this is the first time that I’ve done a podcast with a guest David in this case who has actually flown his own plane to come to near my home and then come and stay with me and us For the second time. It’s just I feel like Tim Ferriss traveling around the world and meeting people in their homes, and we’re having people come to them. So what a gift. Thank you so much for that. Well, thank you, so let’s get started. I start every podcast with the same simple question, that is, how did it happen for you?
0:03:32 – David Allen
Well you, thank you for the introduction, that was very lovely. Thanks again for the second invitation to come, and not only come, but stay with you and your lovely family. You have a great wife, great daughter. Really enjoyed cooking for you guys last night. That was great.
And so how did it happen? As you mentioned, I was detailing cars at the age of 15 and I grew up next to the Minneapolis School of Speedway. I went to Speedway High School, or mascot as the spark plugs, and you can’t make that up and started washing motor homes. For some legends AJ Foyd, johnny Rutliff, bobby Rahall, the Answers, rick Mears, and really, really great opportunity. It’s the IndyCar series and the Holman George family. It’s a band of brothers and people that travel from city to city and it’s truly, it’s just a family atmosphere. So everybody kind of takes you in and as a 16 year old, it was great when Betty Rutherford would make you hot cocoa because it was a little cold outside, you know, and so that you have a passion for racing as a result, and I was always that curious boy that always looked up in the sky every time I saw an airplane go by.
Boy, I really do need to do that one of these days. My mother, who I consider one of my greatest proponents ever she’s an immigrant from Costa Rica. She never made more than $1,000 a month in her life, but when I’d see an airplane or I’d see a fancy car, she’d say well, one day you’ll have it, one day you’ll have it. You just got to work hard. You just got to work hard. If you work hard you can do anything you want in life. Very much the immigrant mindset. Well, I believed her and it breaks my heart when I see another little boy or girl see something, whether it’s a car or just something out there in the world, and the parents say, well now, people like us, we can never have those things. And my mom was complete opposite. My first car was a 1967 Dodge 440 Coronet that was given to me after my grandfather died and I played hockey in Indiana. There wasn’t, you know, hockey wasn’t a big sport that far south, and so we had to go up to. You know, I consider the rich neighborhood, rich people neighborhood, and we would drive that little 440 Coronet all around the houses because I just, I loved a daydream and you know, one day, mom, I’m going to buy you a house like that. You know one day I’m going to buy you a house like that, and so you’re just having that support and encouragement just made me believe I could do anything. So I got my pilot’s license and I’d been detailing cars I was doing the IndyCar circuit and one of my customers, a car detailing customer, had a had a small single engineer plane and I detailed it. It was. It was kind of loved, the environment, loved being out at the airport. I loved the community of aviation. It just really reminded me of the same community that happens in racing. It’s everybody has a similar interest in everybody Generally wants everybody to do well. Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt in racing. Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt in aviation. You know people are like hey, where there’s a little marginal day, maybe maybe you know, do you need a safety pilot with you? Maybe think about going a different day. And so I really enjoyed that community.
And the next customer I had car detailing customer, a twin engineer plane, and I was at the airport and one of my best friends called and he’s so what do you do? I’m at the airport cleaning the plane, loving life, and this is great. And he’s like. You know, our corporation has a corporate flight department and I just heard the chief pilot talking about how unhappy he was with the aircraft cleaning. We can’t find good aircraft cleaning. Would you be interested in talking to him? I said yes, and this chief pilot took me under his wing. He taught me the difference between household cleaners and aviation approved cleaners and what to do, what not to do, around the airplane. Everybody thinks if you can detail a car, you can detail an airplane. There’s a lot of differences, a lot of nuances of you break something on a car, it’s not going to affect safety as much as it would if you were on the airplane. Yeah, exactly. And so, and that’s really kind of how it happened.
From there I started doing some planes for net jets. They sent out an audit and by this time I’d really honed in my craft. I’d been going to some really nerdy conventions like the carpet and rug institute and disinfection and mold remediation. I was just very passionate about cleaning and I’d gotten my pilot’s license at the same time, so that when net jets sent out this audit, they never found a provider that was so well educated in their craft. They invited me to Columbus Ohio, their home base, and basically said we need somebody like you to open up locations around the country. And that eventually led to around the world and really just on the shoulders of net jets, we were able to expand domestically and internationally, and that’s really how it happened.
0:09:09 – Mike Malatesta
And how does a 15-year-old find his or her way into this club of IndyCar racers? Was there some relationship that you had at that time, or was someone?
0:09:25 – David Allen
Yeah, I was in the most motor speedway and my best friend was very more passionate than I was about IndyCar racing and one day he was introduced to the home in George family and we were detailing cars. He had his own car cleaning customers. I had my own.
0:09:42 – Mike Malatesta
Just like in the neighborhoods.
0:09:44 – David Allen
Yeah, well, we were in the community, yeah, so somebody yeah in the community, right In the neighborhood, okay and further that we became adopted sons of so many just because we were industrious, we were hardworking, I want to think that we were polite and respectful and super appreciative and we didn’t overstep our boundaries. I’m sure I did a few times and I was told and that’s okay, that’s how you learn, but really it’s had so many people just take us under their wing and brought us into their families metaphorically and really in true life. It was great. So that’s kind of how that manifested itself.
0:10:31 – Mike Malatesta
And you told us a little bit about your mom. What about your dad?
0:10:34 – David Allen
My dad. So if my mom taught me how to dream, my dad taught me about quality and doing the right thing. So he always said the longest distance between two points is a shortcut. And he just honed in on quality. He was the guy. He was a jeweler, he was a photographer, he was a musician. He did all three of these things to make ends meet and he was regarded as one of the best jewelers in Indianapolis. Multiple jewelry companies, even though he worked full time at one jewelry store, multiple companies would have him work on custom made pieces which he would do at home.
And he just would get so angry with me whenever I try to do a shortcut or I would just kind of half ass it the first time, and then he would say look, it took you twice as long to do this one job. If you just would have done it right the first time, you’d be done and off to the next day. And my dad’s very linear. He doesn’t do step two until step one’s done and it’s done right. And so he had my mom who’s the dreamer and the encourager. You can do anything. And my dad was the quality guy. The quality guy, the quality guy, the quality guy, reputation. Do it right the first time. So it was really a healthy balance of the two.
0:11:58 – Mike Malatesta
And what else was 15, 16 year old David interested in besides high ride cars and detailing?
0:12:09 – David Allen
You know, I guess, growing up the way that we grew up, and then all of a sudden being in this world of very famous people and very wealthy people in the community and very influential people in the community, so there wouldn’t be a week that wouldn’t go by that I wouldn’t see one of my customers in the business journal or the newspaper or on the news, and it was really overwhelming.
So at that time, you know, I just had aspirations, that I wanted to be like them, I wanted money and I wanted the cars and I wanted the lifestyle and those things. And you know, right or wrong, I just I thought that money was going to kind of, you know, buy you happiness. And then, little by little, you know, some of my customers who had adult children or maybe even children my age, who didn’t have a relationship with their own children, it just kind of slowly dawned on me like, oh wait, maybe, maybe money is not everything and maybe you know it’s, it’s it helps. It helps certain things and it gives you some freedom, gives you some opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t have and some experiences that you otherwise wouldn’t have. But you know, maybe there’s a. There just needs to be a healthy balance between you know, aspiration and work, life quality balance.
0:13:36 – Mike Malatesta
So I’m imagining that at 1516 you’ve got this business going. You got money, you know, in your pocket, certainly more money in your pocket than most of your friends and the kids you go to school at. That, would think.
0:13:49 – David Allen
Yeah, I mean, even by the time I was a freshman in college, I was making more money than my father, which was Okay so that’s how it was and it not in like a arrogant way it was.
It was just. You know, I’m I’m 55 years old now, and so 1984 to 1991, noah’s charging $150 a detail a car Were you were what. 3040 years later, 40 years later, and you can still get a car detailed for $100. You know like you can go almost anywhere in the country and get a car detail for 100 bucks. So 150 hours 40 years ago, you know, by detail two or three cars a day, I mean I was making $1,000 easy over a weekend and yeah, so that was, that was a lot of money and I was paying my way through school and and taking trips and doing some some really, some really neat things back at the time. So yeah, it was just a different world. But at the same time I was just driven to work the next day and it wasn’t so much for the money, it was people were calling me I need to get the stuff done and whatnot, and it was just, it was just a work ethic and, you know, wanting to get my mom out of this terrible apartment and move her into something nice and virus and nicer furniture. I mean, my truck was just an S10 truck, it was brand new but it was. You know it was, it was great. Like I was, I thought that was everything at the time, yeah, so, so yeah, that that was.
My interest was work. In fact I never spent a weekend at IU Bloomington. I came home every weekend to clean cars. It was only an hour away. So, like I mean, I like to go out. The party might be kind of an extreme work and you know I was dating back then and it was just, you know, nice to go out every Friday and Saturday night in Indianapolis at the bars when I turned 21. But that really I wanted to get up at 5, 36 o’clock next morning because I had two or three cars to do and I still had school to do. So you know, I was just really driven just to get get the next job done.
0:16:00 – Mike Malatesta
What kept you in school? Like I’m trying to think, if you’re my lawyer.
0:16:05 – David Allen
Oh, your lawyer, it wasn’t my dad. Okay, yeah, I was a little shit. I was like what on? You state what I need school for, what I need college for. Well, I have a lead foot. You can say, and there isn’t too many states where I haven’t gotten a speeding ticket, and he would get me out of my speeding tickets. And he told me if you quit school, I will no longer represent you, I won’t get you out of your tickets. And that was motivation for me right there to finish. And you know what? And I’m and he was right, I’m glad I did.
You know the confidence that you get from saying you have a degree and you, you, you finish school, you know. First of all, it demonstrates that you are responsible enough to go to school to pass and do all the stuff to do that, and that’s something that nobody can ever take away from me. But but yeah, it was at some time. What time? And you know me, if you’re 19 years old and you’re making $50,000 a year, it’s you’re bound to be a little arrogant in the 80s.
Yeah, in the 80s you’re like, yeah, what do I need school for? I’m never going to use my degree. I’m never going to use my degree. And you know, when I got the degree, I was the first person in my family to get a degree, on both sides, right. And so my dad still has a degree hanging up in his office. You know, and I was, I was proud to get it, I was proud to give it to him. Would you get the degree in Management?
0:17:30 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, so so it’s probably something that’s coming handy.
0:17:34 – David Allen
Yeah, I don’t know. You know, I feel like if I was, if I probably looked back and looked at some of the shenanigans I pulled. It was kind of like Rodney Dangerfield and back to school. I mean, I had dinners delivered to class, I had pizzas like Jeff Spicoli the whole. Yeah, like interrupted class, but not like pizzas, like I’ve done pizzas, like like full on.
0:17:57 – Mike Malatesta
you know buffet with sides, you know the whole bit, you know like unannounced unannounced Just like unannounced and yeah, I was did that make you a professor favorite, or did that make both yeah? So tell me about it.
0:18:15 – David Allen
So yeah, so like a couple of my even stayed in touch with, like you know, I never had a student like you before or since, and you know you’re definitely somebody that I will always remember and and thank you for, you know, making it not so serious.
And but I had one guy who was always just trying to like teach me a lesson and and and try to get on me and but I studied because he see I was jackass but I still did my work and so when he would think that I didn’t know what was going on, he really kind of wanted to embarrass me in front of the class and I would just I was a little shit, I’m kind of embarrassed by that. But that you know, it’s who I am, it’s part of who I am. I own who I am, but you know and I don’t know if I necessarily go back and do anything different but we had fun. I entertained a lot of people I can tell you that and had a lot of fun, and I was and I kind of still am, the guy that you know what you think I say and you know, kind of I don’t, I don’t do it to hurt anybody.
0:19:21 – Mike Malatesta
0:19:23 – David Allen
0:19:23 – Mike Malatesta
I’m kind of like.
0:19:24 – David Allen
Don Rickles. You know, like, if you ever, if everybody’s old enough to remember Don Rickles, I mean that was his whole bit. You know, like he went out to the crowd and he made fun of your ethnicity, your accent, your heritage.
0:19:35 – Mike Malatesta
You know, but and then he was your best buddy after what I heard, yeah.
0:19:39 – David Allen
Yeah, and you know you always wanted to be ripped by Don Rickles like that. Ah, don Rickles, you know he really got me. So you know I never do it to hurt anybody and everybody knows that it’s just in jest. But yeah, so I did the work to do it and I had fun. I still, like I said, I kind of I kind of it’s what is it? It’s ready, aim shoot. I’m kind of shoot, aim ready. You know I do it the other way.
0:20:06 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, so you graduate with this degree of management. You’ve been cleaning cars in the weekend, being what you think is what I say kind of guy.
0:20:14 – David Allen
0:20:15 – Mike Malatesta
You get out, and then what?
0:20:17 – David Allen
And then I had a decision to make either keep going in the car racing or focus on, you know, building a business. And I thought Indy car racing, as much fun as it was and sexies it was, it’s just, you know, it was 12, 15 races a year and didn’t see how you, how you took it vertically, I didn’t see how you took it horizontally. Like you know, was I going to do NASCAR next. And just where do you, where do you go from there? So then I chose auto detailing. I just focused my efforts on auto detailing and I had the opportunity to buy a parking management contract at a class A building in downtown Indianapolis. Just so happened. What does that?
0:20:56 – Mike Malatesta
mean Like you run the parking garage.
0:20:58 – David Allen
Yeah, okay, so I bought the contract. It was all valet parking and it was the number one law firm in Indianapolis. Our two state senators were there Crystal Dahan, who was the owner of RCI, which is resort condominiums resort, and he was is a class A building with really unbelievable Top tier tenants.
Yeah, tenants and clients, and you know several of the lawyers from that law firm went on to be mayor and the governor I mean it was. It was just pretty, pretty amazing. So I did that for several years and then that’s that all happened while I was continuing to build my car detailing business and get my private pilot’s license. And then that’s when I want to say it was in 1998 or 99, probably 98 or 99, when net jets sent out that audit. And then from there I set up an apartment downtown, down in Orlando, and then 9 11 hit and I couldn’t run that business remotely, like I had been to small children and I was spending time between Indianapolis and Orlando.
But then 9 11 came and my insurance went from $8,000 a year to $48,000. And I had to let go of one of my team members and to stay down there full time. It was either that or close the business. I couldn’t cash flow the insurance plus payroll, and so we made a decision that I would do that. And then, a year and a half later, my family joined me and what that did is it allowed me to open up in Atlanta, palm Beach and Orlando, and then one location turned into five, six, seven and the journey was just really was $100 a month to a million dollars a month in less than seven years.
That growth was just dynamic and incredible, and that was both international as well as domestic.
0:23:16 – Mike Malatesta
So you mentioned early that you know some people think detailing a plane is like detailing a car, detailing anything, and obviously it’s not. You talk about this audit with NetJets. That was sort of the catalyst for this for your company. What is for people who don’t know what is the main difference? I’m thinking like most people probably don’t even think that planes get washed. You know, it’s just like they you know most people that only have commercial air experience. Right, the plane shows up. Why would you wash it?
0:23:51 – David Allen
It’s like Well, so airplanes are made out of aluminum and if you service them and they don’t get corrosion, they’ll practically live forever. Okay, you gotta get new, you gotta change oil, you gotta change engines, you gotta change parts and whatnot. And to highlight this, the chief pilot for Eli Lilly went to the Air Force. His basic training was in Texas. 40 years later his son went to the same branch, to the same base, to do his training and flew the same plane that his dad flew.
In no way, yeah, so you can’t use household cleaners on airplanes. That you can. You can grab Don Liquid soap and wash your car. Well, you don’t do that for an airplane, you know, instead of spending $8 a gallon for soap, you have to spend $48 a gallon for soap. And really the reason is because of the testing and the validation to make sure that whatever you put on the airplane is not only gonna not hurt the paint or the aluminum, but also the windows. You know, do anything to the antennas and it would just cause any of those type of issues which could be a safety issue for any airplane.
0:25:06 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, okay, you all right. Steve, you wanna sit with you, all right just settle down for a little bit Okay. This is Steve, everybody Welcome Steve. So that’s the difference you go down to. If I heard you right, you start this business. 9-11 happened, so all the aviation sort of stops and everything gets scrutinized.
0:25:28 – David Allen
Yeah, I think we didn’t work for like at least 45 days. 45 days Because I think it was two weeks right Before commercial aviation was able to start flying again. If I remember correctly, tsa was invented. That’s the birth of TSA. And then, you know, the FAA first focused on commercial aviation and then second, you know, like started figuring out private aviation.
0:25:51 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, so your one-man show, and what?
0:25:53 – David Allen
your. Yeah, yeah, I guess you could say that One-man show. Yeah, I guess I did. I forgot about that. I still had employees in Indianapolis working in the parking garage. But yeah, no, I was a one-man show after 9-11. Holy cow.
0:26:08 – Mike Malatesta
And you completely abandoned the auto detailing at that time.
0:26:12 – David Allen
Yeah, well, no, no, no. I kept that business for maybe another five or six years and eventually gifted it to one of my team members there.
0:26:23 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, and in your description of that timeframe you mentioned two kids got married. When did that all?
0:26:34 – David Allen
Well, that was 1996. We got married, started having kids and all that fun stuff.
0:26:41 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, 96. All right, so you were 30 or so Trying to do that math.
0:26:49 – David Allen
0:26:49 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, 1986, yeah, yeah, you’re right, 30 years old, all right, so you go from, would you say, $100 a month to $1 million a month in seven years.
0:27:00 – David Allen
0:27:01 – Mike Malatesta
You got all these different locations. How are you feeling, how are you managing this?
0:27:09 – David Allen
Well, how am I feeling? I’m feeling great. I was hindsight’s always 2020. I was focused on top line revenue versus profit. And then I was always focused on building my infrastructure. I always knew that I wanted a $20, $30 million company and in order to do that, I needed the infrastructure to do that. So when the revenue presented itself and I had a revenue mark and I had a profit mark whenever I went above that profit mark consistently for a couple of months, I would then hire some more infrastructure middle management, per se, director of marketing, director of customer relations, and as we got bigger and surpassed 100 team members, I needed a full-time HR person. Well, then I needed a accounting person, and that person needed an invoicing person that did nothing but invoices. And then we built software and that was really that was the game changer for us is the software that we developed. It was not only a game changer for us, but it was a game changer for netchats in the industry.
So, typically, 8% of your fleet is in maintenance. The other 92% is flying. Well, the model back then was to get the plane clean while it was in maintenance. Kind of makes sense. Well, maintenance and cleaning just don’t mix. Mechanics don’t want you around.
You can’t really wash an airplane while a mechanic’s working on it and then, the moment that the airplane’s ready, the customer, the corporate charter department or corporate flight department they want their airplane, they gotta go. It’s like when do you clean the airplane? So I went to netchats and said hey, how are you managing the fleet? We have this spreadsheet, we look at it every day. We spend probably six, seven, eight hours and at the end of the day we assign work to it and said, well, what if I created a database that was all web-enabled and it just automatically told you what it needed when it was needed? We set the parameters and we worked the puzzle backwards and they’re like, wow, if you can do that, that’d be great. And I said, but then you give keys to cleaning vendors around the country and we cleaned the 92% of the airplanes, not the 8% of the airplanes that are in the fleet, or in maintenance.
0:29:37 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, so it’s a turn in that thinking right on its head, basically what they had.
0:29:40 – David Allen
Yeah, and they were like and now we’re unencumbered. We’re unencumbered with maintenance, we’re unencumbered with crews. The crews get in at eight, nine, 10 o’clock at night, sometimes five. They go to the hotel, they wait for the next day to go fly. Well, now we’re not being interrupted by maintenance or trying to work around anybody. We can get in and we can get out and do our job and that, really, that did really well. And then that software I just kept expanding it Back in 2002, 2003, 2004,.
Where there wasn’t well, the iPhone hadn’t even come out, right. I mean, at the beginning it just it’s really kind of came out. I forget what year it came out, but there wasn’t all these apps. So there wasn’t like an online time clock. So we created one for our business, because we had 37 locations, you know, and planes we could clean at night. Our guys were sleeping during the day and our customers at seven, eight o’clock in the morning would wanna know, hey, what was done. We don’t wanna wake up through guys so you can go on the software and look what was done. Well, we could go on our online time clock and see who was clocked in and who wasn’t right. So we always had our finger in the pulse. And then it expanded to inventory management and all this stuff we just wrote ourselves, we just wrote the software ourselves.
And I went to SAP and I went to Oracle and they, well, we can do it. Sap, I think, wanted $700,000 and Oracle wanted a million dollars. And then the kicker was they get to keep the, the data. Oh great, I’m like, no, that’s my data. You know, I mean, I understand, right, but I just couldn’t afford that. But I could afford, you know, a programmer for, at that time, $60,000 or whatever we were doing, and that’s, that was a huge difference.
And then, like any business I mean, your business is about people, right, and so, just, I don’t necessarily say, subscribe to the belief that you try to hire the right person.
I think you hire the person that has really good values and good work ethic and are genuinely good people, and they might hire into one specific job.
But then you hone in on what they really do well and what they don’t do well, and like, take them out of the jobs where they don’t do well and put them in the jobs that they do do well, right, and while the revenue is impressive, right, it’s a neat thing to say well, I went a million dollars a month, you know, in seven years, from a hundred dollars a month. What I’m more proud of is the fact that our turnover was 18% and an industry where your turnover is 100 to 300%, and so when you’re not turning over people and you’re doing a service type business, the quality’s there and it just makes it easier to manage. So we did several things. We did a thing called the Colby Index and we did that for every team member. When you help people understand who they are and how they would best achieve results, it’s kind of IOP for them. They haven’t gone through this type of exercise.
0:33:01 – Mike Malatesta
How would you describe Colby to people who are listening? How would you describe what it is?
0:33:08 – David Allen
Yeah, so Kathy Colby created this index. It’s not like a personality test. You know personality tests will change with events in your life, including going to the military or loss or divorce. Yeah, trauma Colby index is how you naturally would do things. It’s your driving instincts. And so how I always describe Colby was if you and I were to clean this room, you might be very linear in the way you do things. You know you might start from the top and work your way down, you might dust and then the last thing you do is vacuum. Well, that’s not me. I’m scatterbrained, I’m like squirrel ice cream. But when we get done we guarantee that the room’s going to be just as clean as the way you did it. And the epiphany, the aha for me is I love my dad. I love my dad, but he is a linear guy and he just was always like focus on one thing before you do the next thing.
0:34:13 – Mike Malatesta
Well, it’s good to be to see you, yeah.
0:34:15 – David Allen
And if you love somebody and you respect them and you try to do it their way and it doesn’t work for you, there’s something wrong with you and like and my dad got results this way, but I couldn’t get it. I just, you know, I probably would have been diagnosed with ADD back then. I just couldn’t do it and so I kind of always beat myself up. So it’s 28 or 29 years old and I did the Colby Instinct Colby Index and it’s, and it told you how to get your best results and it said do 10 things at once. That’s how you’re going to get your best results. The way to get your least results is to focus on one thing and just do one thing until you’re done with it and do the next. Well, here I am. I’m almost a 30 year old, grown man and I get the freedom to be myself. And it was like it was. It was game changing for me, it was eye opening.
You know, it’s just it’s just one of the tools in the toolbox. Sometimes you need a hammer, sometimes you need a screwdriver, sometimes you need a wrench, and like that, that particular tool in the toolbox of life was just. It just had a really big impact on me and I wanted to share that with my team. And I don’t really like the word employees. I have no problem saying the F word, but the E word it seems really offensive to me. So I just I like team members, I don’t like the word employees, and so I just would always share this with my team and then we would try to put them in a task that they really excelled at doing.
You know, they always say, well, nobody will care about the business, like the owner, right, like nobody will do that. And that’s, that’s such bullshit. Because the guy who’s in the inventory room, he knows the part number for damn near everything that’s in there by heart. He knows where to get it, he knows who to call, he knows how to fix it. He needs to know everything. He just knows everything. It’s what he does. And well, I couldn’t tell you the first part number that we have in our company, right? So in that particular task he cares more about that than anybody else in the company. Well, when you build up a company like that, where people care more about their tasks within the organization than anybody else, well then you’ve just spelled that myth that only the owner will care as much as you know, because he uses the owner. And that’s really how we built it.
0:36:34 – Mike Malatesta
By creating an ownership mentality based on putting you in a position that is naturally aligned with who you are, and what you’re good at Is that?
0:36:45 – David Allen
Yeah, and then. But but take it to the next step. Yeah, If you’re doing something that you’re good at and you enjoy doing, kind of pretty happy.
0:36:53 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, if you’re doing a task that you’re not very happy with.
0:36:56 – David Allen
They’re kind of frustrated and we just had a group of a lot of happy people. Now, it wasn’t perfect. We had our days. We were like a family. You know there’s some infighting between brothers and sisters, but at the same time, there were times where, like you know, we made fun of our weaknesses. You know everybody made fun of my week. Everybody knew my weaknesses, right. Like if you want to talk to David and you want his undivided attention, you’d say, hey, I really need your fact finding time. You know, if you’re a squirrel brain right now, like just tell me when you’re ready to listen to me, yeah, and we’ll deal with it. Like okay, and that was great. So we knew our strengths. We also knew our weaknesses.
0:37:40 – Mike Malatesta
So you said that you don’t you hate the F word, and I’m assuming that you mean family applied to you.
0:37:45 – David Allen
No, no, no, no no, I’m thinking the F word is really. You know the F word, yeah, okay, I like I have no problem saying the F word right, which is supposed to be offensive in our culture, but I don’t think it is anymore. But I’m really offended by the E word, which is employees.
0:38:01 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, so it’s. So a couple of things on that. First of all, I wanted to get I do want to get your take on team versus family, because a lot of business owners, a lot of entrepreneurs say a lot of companies say, hey, we’re a family, right? You mentioned team, which I like as well. I don’t like employees and I don’t like saying that person works, worked for me.
0:38:23 – David Allen
Right, I hate that.
0:38:25 – Mike Malatesta
I always, almost always, say I work with David, for example, because I, just because that’s really what I do, you know, for me, we work together it doesn’t happen without everybody.
0:38:38 – David Allen
Yeah, so I want to.
0:38:39 – Mike Malatesta
So let’s tell me what you think about the family thing when it comes to business.
0:38:43 – David Allen
So I think it’s a double-edged sword. It definitely is double-edged sword and there just needs to be some boundaries. So the good, the good part of the family is, you know you genuinely care for the person that’s seated next to you or within the organization and if there’s a tragic event or there’s any kind of loss, we all share in the loss. We kind of come together. We all have our own examples with that.
I think some of the I necessarily wouldn’t say the bad or the drawbacks might be a better word is that you could overstep your boundaries. And it’s not, it’s not my job to fix what’s going on in your personal life, nor is it your job to listen to what’s going on in my personal life, and I think a lot of CEOs and business owners share a lot about what’s happening in their life. You know, and everybody kind of knows, all about what’s going on in that person’s life and you may not know as much as what’s going on in that and somebody else’s personal life, and there’s just, you see, to make some boundaries in all that.
0:39:54 – Mike Malatesta
So yeah, I think, I think it’s easy to say, hey, we’re a family here. It’s much easier to say than it is to do because, well, let’s face it, when you, when it’s family, you’re sort of entitled to a position, right, I can’t, I can’t, non-family you, right, you’re a family. And in business sometimes I have a non-family you or you want to know, non-family me, and that’s got to be okay, right. That’s why I kind of like the team thing. I’m kind of a word words matter to me sort of person. That’s why I kind of like team thing, because when the team doesn’t, doesn’t want you anymore, you leave the team. And when you don’t want to be on the team anymore, you leave the team. Right, no, team is great because you’re a coach.
0:40:42 – David Allen
I’ve always thought more of myself as a coach. So, yeah, I, I believe I like that assessment metaphor better and that’s why I like team members. Yeah, you know we’re a team.
We’re a coach, you know we’re going to have a session. We, we, we called some of our things, you know, 101, 201, 301, 401. And. But I invested a lot into the team. You know, once a year we had an annual convention per se that brought in the managers, the assistant managers of every location, and we talked about personal development. We didn’t talk anything that had to do with our industry, so it was usually a two and a half day retreat. It was three days, two nights, usually in Florida. You’d be surprised how many people have never seen the ocean.
So we would, you know, we would just do half day, kind of. You know, team building exercises, and you know, give them a half day to go to the beach, or we go to the blue man group or, you know, just do something that was experiential. And what was really great about that is if you had somebody in Denver and you had somebody in Florida and they each had the same problem they, because they were in silos, they would come either to me or somebody that was, you know, the director of operations, right. But then when they all got to meet each other and they were more than just a voice, they had faces that they could see because they sat next to each other on the beach, so they sat next to each other. The blue man group Well, now they were like hey, I got, you know, blue juice. If you remember, blue juice is that blue toilet fluid water that was in airplanes way back. You know, I got this. It was very caustic and it would stain the carpet or whatever. How are you getting it out? And so now you had this cross fertilization that was happening and it was all inspired by the relationships that were built, these team building. You know sessions that happened once a year. And then you know that’s where it just gets really, you know really kind of fun.
And then we would, if somebody was going on vacation, we would send a team member from one location to another location because we really preached. You know processes that were duplicatable, scalable, practical and sustainable. And so you know, I was always an admirer of McDonald’s and McDonald’s University. It’s just, it’s really pretty incredible. You know Starbucks did the same thing, and so I’d always say we got to do this. You know the McDonald’s Starbucks model, like, it’s got to work here, it’s got to work everywhere. You know, if it works one time, it’s got to work a thousand times. If it works at one location, it’s got to work at a thousand locations and it’s got to be practical. Like you know, as much as I wish I had a campus, you know, and I had a cafeteria and it was free and you could do share or work day and bring your dog to work, you know that’s just not practical in our business, right? Right, I work for home.
0:43:43 – Mike Malatesta
Work from home is not practical. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve got a jet to clean.
0:43:47 – David Allen
But I’m working from home tonight, right, so, and then it’s got to be sustainable, so it’s just got to endure over the long, long, long term. And people really, they embrace that. You know, once you gave them those, those founding principles, well then that’s how they would start to think, you know, and they would talk to each other about that. And it was, it was, it was just a really really good time.
0:44:12 – Mike Malatesta
How have you found the best way for you to, as you’re building these relationships with your team members, as you’re really inviting them to thrive with their, with their unique ability, let’s say, to use a?
0:44:29 – David Allen
Now use the unique ability or God gifted. Yes, it just depends, you know, if you’re a spiritual person or Christian world calls it. You know God given gift and you know people in the secular world would call it. You know their, their, their unique ability or their special talent.
0:44:46 – Mike Malatesta
So I’ve been in the waste business most of my career. We’re going into. You know we’re basically doing what you’re doing with an airplane, but we’re doing it inside of a factory, right with a machine or a tank or whatever.
And a lot of people think, well, who would want to do that kind of work? You know, and and I say well, there’s a lot of people that want to do that kind of work, because there’s a mission behind that work. There, there is an outcome that you can be proud of, because you walk into a situation Right, and I’m curious how you think about that with what you’ve been doing and with your team members. Because same thing like oh, we’re just, we’re just cleaning, we’re just cleaning cars Right. It’s like how do you get?
0:45:30 – David Allen
It’s a great question. It’s a great question so I think. I think it’s multifaceted. Number one there’s always value when you know you do something that maybe you don’t want to do but then, after you do it, it’s like okay, that looks good. Let’s take making your bed Like it’s easy not to make your bed, right, but it’s easy to make your bed, and so, and then when you do it and you come back to your room and it looks nice, right. So starting something that’s dirty and even when it looks clean, that in itself is is cathartic, right, it’s cathartic, it’s physical work. It makes you feel good, you know. The second thing is you’re in a community and I call it I’ve never called aviation an industry, it’s an institution, right and you think about what aviation is done. Stop the Second World War. It’s taking products and food and people from every facet of the world to another facet. You couldn’t do that on a train, it’s just amazing.
0:46:48 – Mike Malatesta
It’s had to have raised global GDP. You know, yeah, much more than anything.
0:46:55 – David Allen
Right. So you’re in this institution of people that are good quality people, right, and so you’re appreciated. We always want to be appreciated because everybody likes a pat on the back, right, and so you’re getting that pat on the back from the customer and then you’re getting paid for it. You know having pretty basic kind of stuff. So, starting out with something that’s dirty, being appreciated, being in an environment where you are appreciated, you’re considered a team member.
We jokingly call people out when they say employees and we tell our customers, like, if you’re looking for a vendor, you got the wrong company. If you want a partner, hey, great, we’ll be your partner, but we don’t want to be a vendor. Vendors are commoditized. Employees are commoditized. They’re not treated very well. The usually an owner of a company that has employees like we’ll just find somebody else to do it. Well, if you have some investment into this person and they’re a good person, then I feel like it’s your job as the coach to put them in the right role.
You know, you look at, you know. Use a football metaphor If you’ve got, you know, a team set up for if you’re offense is set up for the West Coast offense, but you don’t have the players to fulfill that. Well, maybe we need to run the ball. You know, maybe we see to get some guys and got some huge guys up there that can block. Like, you know, let’s, let’s, let’s shift and change. You know, like this is what I would like to do, but this is the team that I have. So I’m going to build my strategy around the team and I just think it’s, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a switch and it’s. I think it’s very powerful and people recognize that and they’re like okay, well, I want to stay here, I want to stay in an organization that does something like that.
0:48:44 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, and you, you mentioned that when you took the Colby, you realized that you had the freedom to be who you are, and I think you also mentioned that you got this thing up. I think 37 locations was the last number, I think that you used talking to. So I’m curious what did you do with all that freedom?
0:49:09 – David Allen
Let’s well, I started to write a book called when would you stop. I never finished that book. It probably needs to be finished. But you know, my, my thought about that is you know, when you first do the Colby, you want to first delegate away all your weaknesses, right, and focus on your strengths. Well then, I always wondered what happens if you start delegating while your strengths, you know when would you stop? And that was really kind of the path that I started to go down. And you know, I think that’s when you could create something very, very, very meaningful and so that you could have more time to spend with your family and you talked about family earlier and and do some of those things.
I probably I don’t want to say cultish like, but I just I was probably a little bit unbalanced in some of that thinking, thinking that, well, I’m terrible at QuickBooks, I’m terrible at invoices and I’m terrible at this and that, so I’m going to let my CFO worry about finances, right, so I’m going to delegate that all the way. Well, some things, you just as an entrepreneur, a business owner, you just have to have your finger on Money’s one of them. And so there’s, like anything else, there’s a healthy balance and there’s two extremes, and I probably was too extreme in some of that thinking, and whenever there’s an extreme in the marketplace, there’s always seems to be a correction. So so, yeah, so that’s, I just think. I think hard work and working and staying busy is a good thing, can we?
0:50:53 – Mike Malatesta
talk about the correction.
0:50:54 – David Allen
Sure. So first of all, I was dealt some personal news that was very difficult for me to accept and I didn’t process it very well and you know they say that your, your measure of a person is revealed when things go wrong and kind of ashamed about some of the way that handled some things that happened in my marriage when things went wrong and I just went to really kind of a dark place. In the midst of that dark place I had a team member who had committed tortuous interference and what does that mean? He was working for me on my payroll while working for another company at the same time.
Okay, and so that led to a lawsuit which led to basically a settlement, not a court settlement, but it came with a if you’re late. It triggered a $500,000 penalty in the summary judgment. And so we were probably two and a half years into this settlement and we my office manager had missed a payment by accident. She recognized it maybe a week afterwards. We tried to make it right For whatever reason. I was served at an address, a former office address where I wasn’t at anymore, in Indianapolis, I remember they moved to Orlando, there was a hearing without representation and they got a summary judgment. I woke up one morning and all my accounts were frozen and it triggered a bankruptcy.
0:52:29 – Mike Malatesta
And hold on a second, the tortuous interference that was the employee.
0:52:35 – David Allen
Well, we can call him an employee, he wasn’t a C member.
0:52:39 – Mike Malatesta
He was double dipping. He was working for you and working for someone else.
0:52:42 – David Allen
And then he was bringing customers over and bringing employees over.
0:52:45 – Mike Malatesta
So how did you end up paying a settlement? Shouldn’t it have been the other way around?
0:52:49 – David Allen
No, because we hired him from the other company. I had no idea what he was doing.
0:52:56 – Mike Malatesta
So he continued to work for his previous employer, so he’s like a mole.
0:53:02 – David Allen
And you hired him.
0:53:04 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, I don’t know if it was, I thought you said you, I thought you said he was taking your customers to the other.
0:53:09 – David Allen
Yeah, no, no, that would be. That’s what, oh, so he was working.
0:53:15 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah, so grow your business at the expense of his employer, his other employer, right, that he never severed ties with Right, but you didn’t know anything about this, of course not.
0:53:28 – David Allen
You know, the other company was a known litigious company. This was at Las Vegas and actually somebody you interviewed, sam Schmidt, is a really good friend of mine throughout a racing. So I called Sam and I’m like hey, sam, I need a lawyer in Las Vegas. Here’s the deal my guys want to hire this gentleman in Las Vegas and we had MGM, which was a great account. It was a great, great account out there, but this young man pretty much had everybody else.
He’s like we want to hire this guy. The problem is he works for Company X. Okay, well, I really don’t want to hire him. Like no, no, no, we’re going to grow the business. We really need to hire this guy. He’s not happy there, he wants to lead, he wants to come work with us. He’s heard about us, blah, blah, blah.
I’m like okay, so I call Sam, I tell Sam the story and he’s like well, there’s a boy that’s and my daughter and his son kind of fancy each other, like 10 years old maybe, like it’s a kind of a cute little. You know, I wouldn’t even call it a first love, but like whatever first flirting thing, and he goes, but let me talk to him. So I he called him long story longer. I talked to the lawyer, then I handed the lawyer off to my guys. Guys, if you want to hire him, you use this lawyer to hire this guy.
Well, my guys didn’t follow through, plain and simple, and for whatever reason. And and this guy started working I want to say with us, but I’m going to say for us in this instant and he hadn’t resigned, and then he was doing work for us, and then he was bringing employees from the other company to our company, and that’s not anything I would. It’s had nothing to do with my growth strategy. I’ve never done anything like that before since.
And then, when the other company found out, they sued, we sell it out of court, and then, two and a half years later, the payment was late, and then that’s what triggered the summary judgment the $500,000 penalty. And so now you’re thinking I want to call it 2012 or 2013. Gas was expensive at that time, we were starting to have the financial crisis and people weren’t flying private jets and we were running on really thin margins, and so we had to file bankruptcy. The company filed bankruptcy, which lasted close to three years, and at the end, the judge didn’t confirm my plan or the other person’s plan, but the other person was able to go to the bank that held my SBA loan and buy my assets, and that’s how I pretty much lost the US company.
0:56:24 – Mike Malatesta
The other person being? I’m not sure I understood that.
0:56:28 – David Allen
The other company, the other company, the company. Yeah, they were able to go and buy the bank note because I had nothing at that point.
0:56:38 – Mike Malatesta
Okay, Did you ever find out this person, why this person chose to do that? What was his most so?
0:56:50 – David Allen
here’s one thing that I’ve learned we all, most of us, have had children right and you can never answer a why question. Perfect example your son or daughter is like why is this guy blue? Because God made it blue? Well, I did. God made the sky blue right. And you just keep going. At some point you can’t answer the question. There’s like there’s not an answer.
And I will tell you, I went through that and I, sadly I did that to myself for seven years. A lot of self-pity, a lot of self-loathing, like why would somebody do that? Why would somebody do that? You know, I’m a little embarrassed that it took me that long to kind of like go through my journey of grief. I’ve always said pain is not a contest and grief has its own timeline. I wish my timeline wasn’t so long.
But there’s a question that seems that can’t be answered as the why question, and so I’ve kind of given up on the why question. I think the question you have to ask is you know, what can you do about it, what can you learn from it and what can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen again? And once that kind of started to shift, then I saw, you know, a huge shift in my personal life and in my business life. And you know, bad things happen to good people every day and one of my mentors said you know, if money can solve it, it’s not a problem. And it’s so true. And as we sit today doing our podcast, you know there’s a husband and wife that’s been married 40, 50, 60 years and they’re sitting in somebody’s doctor’s office and being told that one of them has ALS, one of them has stage cancer or, you know, there’s no heart. You know there’s nothing that can be done. You know, you know, saying goodbye, settle your affairs.
And and I had a money problem, you know, I, my business, you know, went away. I’m not going to say it was taken away, it was just. You know, there’s some things that could have done better, smarter and protected myself. I could have been more involved. You know if, in hiring this person, I could have been more involved in making sure that payment was done every, every month. I mean, you know, I can’t blame anybody except myself, right, I’m done, and the buck stops here. Right, the buck stops here, and I chose to delegate away some of those things and didn’t have my finger on the pulse because I was too busy trying to operate in my unique abilities and my God giftedness, and I think sometimes you have to take out the trash, you have to wash the dishes, you have to go to the grocery store and maybe some of those things aren’t fun for you, but you still have to do them, you know? I mean, still got to do laundry, yeah, so that’s part of my journey as well.
0:59:41 – Mike Malatesta
So your bank accounts are frozen. That leads to ultimately losing. You lose it. The business are part of. I was going through a divorce.
0:59:50 – David Allen
The divorce precipitated the financial loss, but you know that was no fun either. I mean, divorce is horrible. It’s just so disruptive and hurtful to the family, the family union, the children.
1:00:08 – Mike Malatesta
How did you?
1:00:08 – Mike Malatesta
get out of it, I’m sorry, how’d you get out of it?
1:00:11 – David Allen
Get out of what.
1:00:12 – Mike Malatesta
I don’t mean the financial part of it, but this why thing, you were asking yourself. You’ve now learned not to ask why, but you mentioned it was a second year period. So that’s an abyss Right, it’s pretty deep and pretty wide, but how did you get out of it?
1:00:29 – David Allen
Well, I figured, if Tony Sopranoff could go see a therapist every week, I could too, and so you got your own, dr Melphie, I got my own, dr Melphie.
Her name’s Kim and she’s a gift and you know I had some really, really amazing people. You know, another lady was Teresa. She was she still is a coach. She would always check in like every three months. She always set up a call and would just talk to me and it’s like you know, one day we’re going to have this story to tell us.
It’s going to be a great story, you know, and I heard her and you know I, and for a long time I just didn’t believe it, cause I was just wallowed and self pity and self loathing and I but I kind of knew she was right, I just like, I just didn’t know how to get out of it and a lot of, like you said, like pain is not a contest and grief has its own timeline. You see, people who have been married for 20 years and you know they lose a spouse and they never get married again, and you, you know, have another situation where somebody’s been married and they had four years to say goodbye, cause they knew, you know, and they sat in pride with their spouse for four years and then a year later they’re, they’re dating again. Well, their process took four years right, yeah, sure Right.
1:01:48 – Mike Malatesta
It just seems like it was fast. It was, it seems like it fast.
1:01:51 – David Allen
It seems like it might be inappropriate for somebody else, but like it wasn’t inappropriate, like you know, the other spouse is like don’t make, don’t be a martyr to me. Like you know, go find companionship if you have that opportunity, you know, and don’t feel guilt doing that. You know you have the freedom to love somebody. You know, love them as much as you love me and I think that’s a. That’s what a special gift. So, you know, for whatever reason, mine took seven years and you know kind of the. You know it’s only one thing you didn’t mention, and the introduction is because, because I had this extra time on my hands.
You know I was able to solve a cleaning problem for one of my airline customers which developed into a patent and, you know, is now its own business, you know. So I started a business with a really good friend of mine and we clean. It’s called APUs auxiliary power units. So if I was to talk to everybody like a five year old, you have two engines on the airplane that usually hang on the wing and make the airplane fly. Well, there’s another jet engine in the in the back of the airplane and it’s kind of like the generator that runs your house or your, your motor home or your boat, and it’s responsible for water, for heat and air conditioning and lights and everything inside the airplane.
Yeah, all the internal stuff, and so the fix is the way you’re supposed to clean. It takes about four hours by the manufacturer’s guidelines and you know I was able to invent a way to make it to do it within 30 minutes and to do it in an environmentally friendly closed loop system. And you know that’s really taken off and that probably wouldn’t have happened. I probably would have delegated that away, you know. And so now my US businesses has come back and my European business is doing really well and I now I have this amazing, you know new business with you know cleaning aircraft engines, and it’s just. And I found a really you know, I found a great lady I’ve been with for four years. We’re now engaged and you know it’s just.
All those things wouldn’t happen if I would have taken seven years to go through my pity party and and figure things out Right, and I think there’s this whole self discovery. You know, like I’d already kind of known that money doesn’t buy happiness. It gives you freedom, and freedom to do what you want to do when you want to do it, and that’s that’s what I appreciate about about money, but it it it really helped me hone in on who your true friends are Like when you have a couple of airplanes, you have a lot of friends. When you have, you know, two homes in Palm Beach and one in Orlando on the golf course, you you have a lot of friends. And when kind of tragedy strikes, you kind of find you know, like everything else, you find out who your real friends are.
1:05:02 – Mike Malatesta
I was going to ask you about that, david, was it were there? Were there a lot of people who weren’t supportive or just did, were ambivalent, or maybe they didn’t know what to do, so they didn’t know.
1:05:13 – David Allen
I think the last I really do, like you know, usually if I, if I see a child that has some type of an infliction, I’ll ask the mom or dad, you know, may I ask you know? And I’ll go yeah, my son or daughter’s autistic or has down syndrome or whatnot. And I think that’s a very uncomfortable question, you know, to ask somebody, and I think every parent would rather you ask than stare right. And so I think a lot of people just didn’t know what to do. And you know my my, then I felt a lot of shame. I felt a lot of shame. It was pretty public. You know. I had a pretty spectacular rise and even more spectacular fall, public like in very public.
No, it’s public within my industry oh the institution, like everybody knew. You know we had grown this company, the largest private detailing company in the world, and everybody knew about the lawsuits and people were buying for the scraps. You know when it all, when it all kind of torn apart, and so so I imagine before this, people were like they wanted David Allen around.
1:06:20 – Mike Malatesta
They wanted yeah they wanted to be a part of you.
1:06:24 – David Allen
They wanted to say that yeah, and you know what, and that’s intoxicating. I’m going to look you straight in the eye and tell you like it’s hard to separate. As a human being. I, you know I’ve seen these journeys of of successful kids that are entertainers and whatnot, and you know they look back and the cashier move embarrassed by this or that. You know it’s kind of a jerk and you know I can look you in the eye and tell you the same thing. I was just a little embarrassed Like I felt my values were there and I felt like I really treat people and I really like honored people’s true, true values and what, what they did really well with the Colby. But when somebody’s always, you know, putting on a pedestal, putting on a pedestal, putting on a pedestal, you know the pedestal keeps getting higher and higher than the farther, the further you fall.
1:07:10 – Mike Malatesta
Well, when you know I always think too like when people say yes to you all the time, exactly kind of makes you feel like you know the smartest guy in the room, right, and that they’re saying yes to you because they really believe right.
True, true, not that they’re being paid to say yes or not because they have some type of a bit of affiliation, that it just it’s a. Well, it reminds me sort of a totally different story than yours, but this you know, like a year ago, when Will Smith went up and slapped Chris Rock right, I think it was Chris Rock.
1:07:46 – Mike Malatesta
1:07:48 – Mike Malatesta
And I think to my, I just think and I don’t know these guys, you know at all, I mean but I think to myself that’s so out of character for Will Smith. But you know what, maybe Will Smith’s been told that Will Smith can do anything for so long that he just, you get told yes, all the time.
1:08:06 – David Allen
You think there is no, no, there is no boundary there is no, yeah, anyway, I just yeah you know and I feel like so you know and I have, that was a tough situation. It was a tough situation for both of them. It was just a joke, right, like it was just a joke. Will Smith felt like he had to honor his wife. I know he would take that back, you know he would take it back.
He probably feels a lot of shame about that and the families had to heal from it and wrongly he’ll be wrongly identified for that slap the rest of his life. But that’s not. You know deep down that’s just not who he is.
1:08:47 – Mike Malatesta
No, and I know that’s not your advocating, but like I, just I just like I understand both sides of it.
1:08:51 – David Allen
Now, right, where before I probably had been anti Will Smith, you know, yeah, but when you kind of go through some of those ups and downs and you, you know to your point where people were always putting on a pedestal and saying you know this or that, and people were, you know, I was being invited, like you know, as I talked about that seven year run, all of our invitation was by growth. I never knocked on a door, I never heeded out a flyer, I never opened up a location, I never did the field of dreams If we build it, they will come. We were invited to every customer that we took care of. So when your, when your growth is by invitation only, and you know people want you to speak and they want you to do this. And you know there’s a couple of books where you’re a chapter in each book and it’s, it gets a little intoxicating, it goes to your head, plain and simple. You know, and I’m I’m sad about that, I’m a little embarrassed about it, and I lost some really good friends. You know, in the midst of my, my downward spiral, and you know, those, those friends will not come back and I’m really sad about that, you know, and now I have a different life now and all we can do is look forward and I have, like I said, a really special lady and I’ve got two grown children and I’m very proud of both of them and my life is pretty, pretty great.
You know, I’m in Waukesha, wisconsin. I’m on a lake and my dog’s out there swimming like a crazy man and I flew my little single-engine putt-putt airplane in here and I’m gonna fly it out in about an hour or so and I’m gonna go to Oshkosh Air Show and you know, it just goes back to kind of how this whole thing started, you know, and a single-engine airplane and you know what what a great opportunity to to meet people like yourself and your wife and your daughter and to meet other people in the industry and the institution that we call aviation. It’s just, you know, I’m living a great life. I really am. I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’m trying to parlay those into not doing those again in the future. Right, and all you can do is apologize to the people you’re hurt and just be the best version of yourself, going forward.
1:11:19 – Mike Malatesta
What is the best version of you going forward?
1:11:21 – David Allen
The best version of me is not taking anything too seriously. Humor is one of my cornerstones of my values. So is loyalty. So is, you know, integrity. And I, you know. While Will Smith had a momentary lapse of judgment, you know I did too, and I just who hasn’t Right? Well, I don’t know. I feel like I might beat it myself up more than other people do, but like I just wanna live a life of integrity, you know, and do the right thing for everybody. So win, win, win. It’s kind of all goes back to what mom said right, you take care of your people, your people will take care of the customers and the customers will take care of the bottom line. She was not a sophisticated woman, she was a good woman. She didn’t know anything about business and I told you her income, you know. But she knew how to treat people and that’s what she taught me. My dad taught me how to do the right thing, you know, do quality, and I think it’s a winning combination.
1:12:31 – Mike Malatesta
Well, you definitely had. Your parents definitely gave you both sides right the dream side and what did you call it? The dream side and the quality side. I love that Most. So many people don’t. Kids don’t get that. They don’t have parents that give them either one of those and maybe it didn’t feel like it all the time, but it sure feels like it built a very special person as a result of having those.
1:13:03 – David Allen
1:13:05 – Mike Malatesta
And having spent like two days basically two days with you now, one back in 2020 and then now in 2023, I think what I come out of this with is not only you know how special, driven, caring and thoughtful you are, which is amazing, but I also go to like what you were just talking about. Everybody’s had some downfall in their life. Most people don’t have it public, so it’s happens. They know it happened, they know they could have done something better or whatever, and they just hide that. You were not in a position to hide it, maybe, but the fact that you are so willing to talk about it and not just all the shit, but the I never would have probably never would have thought of this APU thing or whatever. I had been me just being, you know, and I think I don’t know. Nobody wants to go through seven years of crap in their life, but it’s what you do with it. I think that says more about who you are than you’re doing something really cool with it, and you also made dinner for us last night.
1:14:38 – Mike Malatesta
But I hope it was good.
1:14:39 – Mike Malatesta
It was good, yeah, it was awesome and I Risotto is not my go-to thing and it was fantastic.
1:14:48 – David Allen
Thank you very much it was fantastic.
1:14:50 – Mike Malatesta
You did it. Yeah, kicked us all out after I made them make dinner for us. So, david Allen, thank you so much for being on the pie yesterday. It’s been a pleasure and a joy getting to know you. Glad we finally got this done. Is there anything that I haven’t asked you or that you want to share with me or everybody?
1:15:12 – David Allen
One thing I was voted best dressed in high school. I like to tell that to everybody. Oh, you were. Yeah, I was voted best dressed in high school.
1:15:18 – Mike Malatesta
Yeah so he had a T-shirt on before.
1:15:22 – David Allen
And he’s like no don’t feel right.
1:15:24 – Mike Malatesta
Exactly, I’m sure, where I just kept the same crappy shirt that I was wearing.
1:15:29 – David Allen
Yeah, that’s it, so that comes out. Yeah, that came out. That comes out, that comes out.
1:15:33 – Mike Malatesta
Well, thanks for having me Sure what about if anyone wants to contact you? Do you want to give them any contact?
1:15:38 – David Allen
Yeah, so my email is david at allengroupcom, at allengroupcom, and that’s A-L-L-E-N-G-R-O-U-P-E. So there’s an E at the end of group. It’s like the fridge spelling of group. The website’s the same it’s allengroupcom, a-l-l-e-n and that looks like groupiecom.
1:15:59 – Mike Malatesta
All right, thank you very much. Thank you and to everybody listening, I want you to maximize your greatness today, please, and make your future your property, something that you are very, very proud to own. Hey, everybody, thanks for listening to this show and before you go, I just have three requests for you. One if you like what I’m doing, please consider subscribing or following the podcast on whatever podcast platform you prefer.
1:16:25 – Mike Malatesta
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1:16:32 – Mike Malatesta
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1:16:36 – Mike Malatesta
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1:17:16 – Mike Malatesta
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