Gary Mottershead, who has experience in both manufacturing and chemical engineering, thinks it’s critical for specialists to view themselves as business owners first. Gary started GCP Industrial Products in 1999 and has developed into North America’s biggest sheet rubber importer. It has evolved into an innovative, digital-first industry leader today. GCP was one of the first companies to enter China and sources products from many other nations.
Gary has been a Strategic Coach client for over 30 years and an associate coach for over 25. He and his wife are proud grandparents and the parents of two entrepreneurial grown children.
The Story of GCP Industrial Products
The story of Gary Mottershead’s company began in the middle of the 1990s. As President and Founder of the company, and former owner of Recovery Technologies, an innovative tire recycling business, Gary was asked the following question:
Are you interested in selling tire-recycling units to China?
Intrigued by the possibility, he jumped at it. After a few trips, Gary soon discovered the Chinese didn’t require the equipment he was offering. But they did require his support. Particularly on how to navigate the specific constraints of the North American sheet rubber industry.
Together, Gary and his collaborators set out to create a superior, durable sheet rubber material. A material whose quality would remain constant and homogeneous throughout rolls. Before the first roll of rubber eventually departed the production floor, Gary and his companions had to wait three years.
A product range that originally exclusively included commercial SBR has grown to include more than 4,500 SKUs, three brands, production on multiple continents, and one of the industry’s broadest selections of sheet, sponge, and foam rubber.
And now here’s Gary Mottershead.
Full transcript below
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Podcast with Gary Mottershead. Take The Leap!
people, business, gary, gcp, entrepreneur, product, customer, gaskets, tires, coach, years, world, china, organization, rubber, moved, dupont, work, talked, sell
Gary Mottershead, Mike Malatesta
Mike Malatesta 00:05
Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the HOW TO HAPPEN podcasts. So happy to have you here as I am every week. And I have another amazing success story to share with you. I’ve got Gary Mottershead on the podcast with me, Gary, welcome. Well, thank
Gary Mottershead 00:25
you, Mike. Delighted, delighted to be with you. You paid me the favor of being on mine. So I’m delighted to be back on with yours now.
Mike Malatesta 00:32
Yeah. And well, thank you for that. And it was it was an honor to be on your show as well. So let me tell you a little bit about Gary so that you can get as excited as I am. So Gary Mottershead is an engineer and entrepreneur and author, and an Abundance360 member and you’ve heard me talk about abundance before. With his background in manufacturing and chemical engineering, Gary believes it’s important for specialists to consider themselves entrepreneurs first. In 1999, Gary founded GCP industrial products, which has grown to become the largest importer of sheet rubber into North America. And by the way, Gary, it’s really nice to have someone on the podcast who has what I call a normal business. That’s kind of my background normal, like businesses with stuff. And it’s nice to have another entrepreneur on here with stuff. So, yeah, so Gary, so I don’t know where I ended there. But I’ll just say it’s the largest importer. I think I said that. So today that company has moved away from just being stuff and it’s become a forward-thinking digital first inspired industry leader GCP sources materials from various countries around the world, and was one of the first to make inroads into China. Gary has also been a Strategic Coach client for over 30 years. And you hear me talk about strategic coach all the time, and an associate coach for over 25 years. And Gary would be your only the second associate coach that I’ve had on the show, Theresa Easler was my coach. And so I had Theresa on the show some time ago, Gary and his wife are proud grandparents and the parents of two entrepreneurial grown children. So Gary, I started every show with the same simple question. And that is, how did it happen for you?
Gary Mottershead 02:28
Well, Mike, first of all, thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to be on here and honored also to be on here with Teresa, who those who I was just with recently, and Theresa calls me her older brother. And that’s because I think I’m 20 days older than she is so and we’ve been at Strategic Coach together long time. Great. So yeah, How’d it happen? As saying briefly, before we got on, I’m going to tell the story of of how I became an entrepreneur because it’s not the same for everybody. And it’s it’s not a one time aspect of a journey. And I’ll I’ll recall that. When I was when I was working. I had spent a couple of years at Imperial oil, the Exxon sub in Canada subsidiary in Canada, in the chemicals business. And then I moved on to Dupont, in industrial sales, and I really enjoyed Dupont, the DuPont corporation, and I was moving up the ladder there. And I was a sales manager and I was in a meeting one day with my not my boss, my boss’s boss, the VP man who was probably twice my size of physical stature, and very aggressive driven man and appreciated working for him. And I was wearing a meeting with a customer one day. And I happen to know a little bit about the customer that he didn’t there had dealt with them in the oil business years before. And we were in a battle at that point in time to be able to save plying supplying plastic resins, you’re talking about stuffed plastic resin to be able to make gas pipelines, and underground piping. And so an arc one of our competitors wanted to buy our rest. And so we’re in there talking to them. And I was in that meeting and I knew that wasn’t quite totally on the up and up that I figured they wanted to buy our resin to be able to discredit everything we had done. And which meant we would have to tear up in Canada, the province of Saskatchewan, at least at that point in time, which is going back more than 35 years ago, it’s going to be eight or $9 million, not my money. And I remember being in the meeting and my boss looks at me like he looks at me and says as they said some said Gary, isn’t that right? And I said no, John, that’s not right. You could have gotten the air with a knife it was so frozen and so cold and that’s what I called an sei a serious career impediment because in an organization like that, it doesn’t matter it’s not your money What does it carry you on? You’re gonna sell it but my, I know, I will say my ethics or whatever it was was such that I said I just can’t let this go. because I know we weren’t going to be able to, to deal with it. And I ended up in a, in a battle with CSA, the Canadian Standards Association to make sure the residents and everything were correct. But that was just, you know, just because I realized that my at that point, Mike, I realized that my motivation was different. So that was kind of the first nail in the coffin, and then spin it forward a little bit later, I was in a business, a development business, and I was a senior guy in that group, heading it all up. But they were, they brought up some people from Wilmington, Delaware, in the US, we were operating in Canada, and I, I had more experience, I was the top guy, I realized I wasn’t being paid as much as the guys that were coming in from the US. And, and when we were having this meeting, nobody paid attention to me, they just paid attention to them. And I realized, you know, what, unless you’re gonna move me down to Wilmington, Delaware, I’m a US citizen. So move me down to the moon be down at the stage where you can have the recognition and credibility or Amada here. And I literally said at that point, at that point in time, that was it. I said, I just I don’t see. I don’t see the future in the organization. Everybody else saw my future in the organization. But you had to toe the line, you had to follow everything that the corporation, the organization was saying, and for most people, that doesn’t matter, because it wasn’t their money. It wasn’t anything else, you just had to follow. And I realized I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t follow that pattern. And so I got out of so happened shortly after a friend of mine, called me and said, Hey, would you like to come to work with me, I need some help in marketing. And it was in the I thought it was in the product, chemical business, actually, in the cleaning business, I ended up with 250 people working for me. And, you know, 24 hours a day in the cleaning business, so it hadn’t been in. And then the final piece of that if you if you need a doc three legs off the stool, this was the third one. I’ve been called to a meeting on Sunday night. This is a friend of mine who owns the business and called the meeting on a Sunday night, which is unusual sitting on the plane between Toronto and Ottawa. And I hear two people talking behind me about the company they were coming, that the company they just bought. Not only was not only the company that I worked for, it was also a company because I realized I couldn’t stay in this company for a couple of years, that actually asked me to come in for an interview. So they interviewed me to see what was going on with the company. So I knew on the plane before I even got to the meeting that I was out. I was gone. I was going to be history. So I walked into that meeting. And I you know, even at that point, I wasn’t really super upset. I don’t know why I walked in the meeting. And you know, shortly after that, I came out and called home and say to my wife, Karen, the business been sold, and I’ll be out. So even though they hadn’t told him yet. And it was just a matter of time, because you could see the writing on the wall. And so at that point, I had to, I knew I had to start but it was sort of a three year process to come through. And so what had happened while it happened, as I think goes Hemingway say is it, how do you go broke slowly at first, and then suddenly, and so that’s exactly what happened is it slowly all of the all of the structure got taken away. And maybe because I allowed it to. And then here it is, I was then going to be out on my own. And I couldn’t start anything else, Mike, I couldn’t go work for somebody else I was offered the job I was offered to be VP of the company was a normal stepping stone to come out of a big organization as a sales manager and go to be VP, a small under President, whatever was going to be and I couldn’t do it. And I just I then had this started on my own. And so it was one of those things where I just totally, either intentionally or unintentionally cut off all my other avenues. So I’d only had one option left. And maybe that’s the way I had to do it. But that was the that was it really start of me becoming an entrepreneur and that was back in 1989.
Mike Malatesta 08:54
Let me let me thank you for that. Let me ask you a few questions. The the cleaning business that you were in what what specifically were you doing?
Gary Mottershead 09:03
I was the I was the VP of half of Toronto, eastern half of Toronto. So I had 250 people that were cleaning anywhere from office buildings, to commercial spaces to malls. Okay, so janitorial Yeah, totally. Yeah, totally janitorial business. And I saw I had 250 people. And it’s also realized that I was not of the same methods at the city, that most of them are Portuguese. And so having to like talk about learning, having learned how to work with people that you hadn’t normally worked before, because I’ve worked on the 27th floor of the Toronto Dominion center. You know, sort of in what people might call an ivory tower working for DuPont. Now here I was on the ground floor. But yeah, the janitorial business, I’ll still remember knowing an inspection was coming up at a Chinese Mall. They’re cleaning a toilet at five o’clock in the morning and my three piece suit so make sure it would pass inspection. So it was it was a different world.
Mike Malatesta 09:58
And there’s this This this interview that you talked about, I wasn’t sure that I connected that. So you had interviewed with these folks that were on the plane prior.
Gary Mottershead 10:06
Well, what happened was I knew that I knew the company was being sold and things are up and that I wasn’t going to. I’ve been there just under two years. And I apologize, I didn’t fill in all the pieces. And, and so I thought I’d go look around and I didn’t want to stay in the janitorial business, but because you’re in that field, you know, what you when you either I can’t honestly, I can’t honestly tell you, Mike, whether they approached me or I approached them. But probably my name was out there. It wasn’t certainly as easy as it is today with all the you know, in deeds and job or job opportunities, and LinkedIn is places to connect. So anyway, but I did go for an interview for a spot that they said they had at the point in time. And it wasn’t what it was within within two months, maybe even a month. But the everything else unfolded where I was so.
Mike Malatesta 10:57
Okay. And you mentioned this es sei, I think you called it.
Gary Mottershead 11:05
Yeah, serious career impediment.
Mike Malatesta 11:06
impediment. What was it? Like? You said what it was like in the meeting when you corrected John, what was it like, after the meeting?
Gary Mottershead 11:16
Oh, it was really cool. Cold sort of say, and I don’t mean, I meant, you know, and we always use cool for things that are nice. It wasn’t that way at all. And there was a, you know, what, what occurred to me at time afterwards, Mike about that was was talking about confidence. And I just had a level of confidence, either or arrogance or cockiness. I don’t know, what might be maybe a combination of things that that age, my life. And that said, I could do this. And I could say that, because this is what I felt. And but that product felt honestly, it wasn’t. And so, but it was, I think it was a real challenge to John, that, that I would do that. And, you know, we never had we never had a great relationship. It was certainly wasn’t any better after that. So when you, you know, you want somebody in an organization who said of vice presidential level to be on your side, and that wasn’t gonna happen. So I, I didn’t have to read between the lines too much to figure that part out.
Mike Malatesta 12:21
And, you know, I was just wondering, like, Wouldn’t it be a great story of afterwards, John said, you know, what, Gary, I thought about what you said, and yeah, I need to listen a little bit better, you know, or something. So John,
Gary Mottershead 12:32
you know, this, there’s, there’s a lot of things that go on, and, and understanding people. And John was a very self made man, he’d never, he didn’t actually go to university, it was making it to high level actually made it down to the US headed up a large division in the United States afterwards. I didn’t always keep in touch with them. But a gentleman who worked with me, and still works with me, was very good friends with him. We were all in the plastics Division at the time. So I, you know, I never had any animosity towards John, I don’t think John ever had anything for me, we’d always ask how each other’s work through mutual contact to Russ. But no, it was, you know, what we were, we were pretty clearly in different worlds. And my way was not going to be the way to be successful inside of DuPont. And he understood it better than I did. And from that part, I appreciated it, but it also meant that wasn’t my world that to be part
Mike Malatesta 13:27
of. Yeah, it’s kind of a it’s kind of a good sort of early on, because, like, you sort of intimated you know, there’s this Wilmington, Delaware, that’s the corporate headquarters for DuPont. You know, you sort of intimated that there’s a way to get ahead, right, there’s, you got to, you know, particularly if you’re talented, right? It’s not enough, maybe to just be talented. You have to be talented. And then you have to sort of play I don’t know, if play the game is the right thing, Gary, but you have to you have to do the right things.
Gary Mottershead 14:06
Yeah, you know, it’s like we both know that. And because we’ve talked about your career in the past, too, is that you, you have to have a level of, of confidence and self-assurance is if you’re going to go and do things on your own, as we call it to be an entrepreneur. And you don’t need that in an organization. You can be part of the momentum, you can be part of the flow that goes along, bright people. I really enjoyed it, administer some fairly bright people that we worked with. I enjoyed it. And it was only as I got to the end of my time, when they were they were doing things that I just said, This doesn’t make any sense. Why am I wasting my time with all of this stuff? Why are we working with these particular consultants and why are we doing all of this? And so the moment that you begin to think you know, better and say so, with your bosses, you’ve kind of You’ve kind of, you’ve kind of dug your own grave. And, and so not that you not that you still couldn’t go ahead, but you weren’t going to be you weren’t. You just weren’t going to be in the flow of things going on. Because, you know, I was never an upward serving person, I was always a downward serving person. And then so as people are going up the ladder, they want people to serve them, as they’re going up. And, and you can get, you can get sucked along with them. I wasn’t going to do that. And I think that frustrated them, because I could, and I did, I think I did good things, I moved up the ladder a fair bit, but and people who were behind me who came up actually got to the, to the management team level in the organization. So I knew I would have been able to be there. And that was, but that was a conscious decision on my part to give it all up and say, You know what, I’m gonna go and take something quite uncertain. Because I can’t see myself staying here. It just wasn’t going to be satisfying to me. And that, so is, in some respects, I got driven to an idea. But I got I got more, I got more pushed away from where I was, because I didn’t see myself fitting. And that was really the big thing.
Mike Malatesta 16:12
Gary, where did you grow up? And how did you? Or when did you know you wanted to be an engineer?
Gary Mottershead 16:19
Well, I grew up in the in the Toronto region, I was originally born in New York, my parents are Canadian, we moved to Canada when I was two years old. So really, I grew up in Toronto area, I’d say not so much that, that I wanted to be an engineer, I realized when I was about 15, or 16, going through high school, that if I was going to make it through academics, it was going to be in the technical field. You know, I didn’t Excel and in what would be traditional arts, I didn’t excel in languages, and other artistic ventures, but I could work if you had me science, math, chemistry, physics, that kind of thing. So I consciously said, when I was about 15, that all this is the route I’m going to go. And I’ll also be at school was never really important to me. I don’t know why it was never, it was always it was always a means to an end. I said, Okay, what was it? What are the check marks that I need to get? What needs to be checked off my list. And so I said, I knew I needed certain percentages to be able to go on to universities and go on and do things. And you know what, I quite honestly only worked hard enough to do that. Because that was their rules and not mine. So I, I knew this a long time ago. So at the age of 15, or 16, I decided this is what I would do. And then my father, who was a very strong person in my life, said, Gary, Get your engineering degree, get an be an engineer and get an MBA in your set. He was in the oil business and had been pretty well, all of his career. I didn’t realize till later, he had also been an entrepreneur. But he didn’t we just never really talked about that. Because the time when he became an entrepreneur is the expression I say as its people became an entrepreneur because you couldn’t hold a job. So you know, it wasn’t sort of positive as it is today. It was really more negative. So I, I trusted my father. So I said, Alright, I can do sciences I went in to be an engineer. By the time I finished three years of engineering, I remember being at Dow Chemical, in Sarnia, Ontario, right across the border from Port Huron. And they said, Oh, we want you to come back, we want you to come back full time when your time is over. And I stood up and looked around. That’s time when the the all the desks are laid out in those little cubbies that had bought like four foot four and a half foot walls, whatever. And maybe five people I was tall enough, just look over them. And I saw people who had been their chemical engineers when they’re five years, 20 years, 35 years, all the way in between and I said, I don’t want to do this. And so I said, I gotta get through fourth year, I got to get my degree. And then I’ll figure out what’s next. So actually, I, I, I took my engineering training I never became in Canada, which called professional engineer. And I went right on to business school after that, recognizing that’s where I would go. So, you know, it’s, it’s not a it’s not our traditional way, Mike. I mean, I always I guess I recognized from an early time in life that I was going to carve my own path. But there are things I needed to do. And I’m not I love the technical things. I have an iPad gadget graveyard of all sorts of things that I’ve tried. Coach asked me one time, well, how many tablets have you gotten? I just looked at Christine is my sister and I said, she said you’ve got all of them. Okay, so put down all of them, you know, and so I I’m glad I did it. I’ve stayed in a technical business, I understood manufacturing. But I spent that time from 15 to 24 on the technical world, and then when I got out into Dupont, I realize it was about people. So the rest of my life since that point in time has been more about people but with a what I’ll call a a strong interest in technical background and
Mike Malatesta 19:54
what you said something interesting, while you said a few interesting things, but first I want to ask you about the The MBA has that, in retrospect has, has having that helped you as an entrepreneur, Gary?
Gary Mottershead 20:12
You know, that’s a, that’s a, that’s something I’ve thought about from time to time. And I, you know, there are two, I’ll give you this, there’s two schools of thought about being having more education and being an entrepreneur, some people will say, No, you don’t need it, you go on and do your own thing, be an entrepreneur. And, and I’ve learned to that I’ll answer that piece first. So that piece is that if you needed to have it, so it, it meant you completed something, and you didn’t start for a couple of years, and then head off because you got a great idea, then you better go and complete it. All right, because it’s not so fast. And so not so much the degree, it’s the fact that when you sit in the room with somebody, you know, you’ve done it, you’ve been there, and you don’t, you’re not trying to make up for anything. And so, what I felt was important was once I finished my engineering, I recognized that I would be in business. So let’s get some training on business. So I think in, in retrospect, taking my MBA was useful for me. Because if, you know, I spent 10 years in the corporate world before I became an entrepreneur, so if I was going to get somewhere in that corporate world, I needed to have both of those boxes checked. Right? And so I wouldn’t have had the exposure had I not got that. If you were if you were hell bent on on being an entrepreneur early on, I wouldn’t suggest you need to go and get an MBA, if I was always working for a small company, but I worked for two, you know, multinational organizations, and that was important. So for what I did in life, it was important. Okay, for other people, I think you need to make your own judgment, if it’s going to be frustrating for you. I enjoyed those couple of years, I learned an awful lot about what I how I could push myself. What was important to me. And so those are the things that I take away from from those couple of years.
Mike Malatesta 22:07
And when you when you were done at the cleaning business, I think you said that was 1989
Gary Mottershead 22:17
Yes, I have that, right. Yes, it was
Mike Malatesta 22:18
you and you started your company GCP in 1999. Yep. Okay, so what, what transpired in between those,
Gary Mottershead 22:28
well, because of that, that that part, that part is missing from it only because I started a tire recycling business right away actually. Oh, okay. 1989 And that was my first venture. And that went on for about eight years and we pioneered the use of liquid nitrogen to be able to freeze the tires to break it down. So if you get into roads, you know, to crack sealing products making all a lot of the traffic cones that you see today. A lot of the and playground matting and everything else I should say pioneered a lot of that a long time ago more than 30 years ago when it wasn’t really very chic to do any of that stuff. And but that’s what I did so I did that we develop the unit’s made them commercially viable, sold them dozen of those all around the world that was really a pure startup from that standpoint as GCP was and then but I had other partners and when it when it got sold. It just wasn’t my I just wasn’t the fit anymore. But yeah, that was my first venture So 10 years later I did another one
Mike Malatesta 23:40
so you made the equipment to recycled tires Yep, sounds like and that’s interesting the the nitrogen so you freeze the tire you break it and so you separate the steel from the rubber that way is that what happens or Yeah, I
Gary Mottershead 23:54
was we because I had the chemical engineering background and the training we we designed it as a like a like a refinery so the tires were chopped first the big pieces were taken down to small we had a chamber that was 40 feet long that was tilted nitrogen went in one end liquid nitrogen and one in tires one in the other. So it freeze it down had to get below minus 20. And then we would drop it into a hammer mill hammer mills were all built below ground. Because the fiber and the steel and the rubber all freeze at different temperatures, the smashing it with the hammers allowed it to break the pieces away. And then from there, we went into sort of a more elaborate separation process magnetics Of course. And separation machines, because when the rubber breaks up, it breaks up into a seemingly random but it breaks up into a very consistent product, particle size distribution. And so we go from those particle size the various ones, we separate those into the right sizes because larger particles could go differently than the smaller particles and so forth. The smaller ones could end up being recombined with plastics and other back into other fine where they need to find materials, for example, the crack sealants, or that you wanted that coarser ones could end up into landscaping. And into that we helped pioneer all this, you’ve probably seen a lot of football fields and soccer fields that have the black stuff kick up. So we worked with sports turf out of Montreal before they can pay with their bills to be able to put rubber and, and sand into artificial turf to replace natural grass. So yeah, there’s, there’s a lot of things that I look back on and say, Yeah, I’m glad I did a lot of those things. But a lot of people made a lot more money out of that than I ever did. But it was it was I, you know, people talk about success to significant, I was significant before I was successful, because I thought we got all these tires done out there. And maybe I like to say in my own ego that I’ve been responsible for recycling more tires than anybody else. But and I still do today, the rubber we use today is still recycled material. So that’s sort of been the basis for me, but it was,
Mike Malatesta 25:58
okay. Have you kept up on that industry? Just out of curiosity or anything? No.
Gary Mottershead 26:04
Okay, no, no, I part of it was, it was a, it was a really down and dirty business, I mean, very much. So there was a lot of cash with respect to how tires were being handled a lot of politics. Big companies hadn’t gotten into it yet. And everybody who got into that business, just figured they knew better than everybody else. And I said, You know what, I’m not I’m not going to be in business where ignorance survives. And so I said, I’m gonna get out of this, and which I did, but I had nothing to start to. So I had to, it took me a couple of years to fold into something else get recovery technologies going, but it’s something I needed to do. And when I left it, like I had no regrets. I was gone, I was done. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. And, but it’s great. It really toughened you up. So let’s
Mike Malatesta 27:00
go ahead. So where did the idea come from? And then the recovery, so to play we technologies, recovery technology, so recovery from you leaving that very difficult experience to saying, You know what, I’m going to try it again. With GCP.
Gary Mottershead 27:15
Yeah, well, I a couple of things. One, because I had worked with GCP, I had been, people have been in touch with me, I’d been around, I’ve been involved in the scrap tire business, I would call it on the association and I got approached a few years earlier, if I would help a company in China help sell its its equipment. And I thought, Wow, great China they sell. So all sorts of equipment, I think I can manage doing that. Anyway, so I advise the husband and wife couple out of Chicago for a couple of years, no compensation or anything, he just did that. And then when the when the time came for me to leave recovery technologies. And I didn’t have anything, I just started to do some work with Strategic Coach, I got son getting ready almost to go to college. So you know, sort of things needed to happen again. And I was also in my 40s. And I said, you know, I don’t have a pension, I don’t have anything else built up. So the next thing I do is go to work, like you know, if you want to as it happened, there’s another piece of so I had to work. But so I was put in touch with a factory who’s still the largest supplier to us. Back in 1996, eight, I would say 1998. And when we started, we started working a little bit together and seeing what we could do before I had left the previous company. And so when 1999 came along, I I told them no, I wasn’t gonna work with them for a couple of years. And then when I realized I had nothing else to do, I said, Well, I might as well try this. And I could see that the wave was going to come from China. And I decided I did not want to be on the bottom of that wave and talked about me being an author. The first book I wrote is called Guan chi. And Quan Chi is the expression for a trusted relationship in Mandarin. And I could see the wave was coming. And I said, Well, I don’t want to be underneath it. Can I can I get on top of it. And so we started paddling as you would if you’re a surfer and you start paddling out there and we caught the wave and happened to be, you know, now more than 20 years. I figured maybe 10 years was until people figure things out. But I guess you’re not as smart as I think that they are sometimes. The so that’s that’s what, that’s how that’s how that piece happened to come along. almost by accident. But certainly the background it prepared me for.
Mike Malatesta 29:37
Okay, so you if I understood your timeline right there, so you started in Strategic Coach when you’re still with
Gary Mottershead 29:48
recovery technologists? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Well, and that and the thing about strategic coach was is that because in a big corporation always getting trained. When I got out of that, I said, Well, how am I going to Am I going to do now you’re on your own, literally, that’s the scariest part, you’re really on your own. And so when I got introduced to it, and I met in, back in April of 1991, and an intro presentation, I said, either this guy’s really crazy. He’s really smart, because I think the same way that he does. And, and, and I said, he promised a couple things to us. And I said, All right, if that’s what he’s gonna do, I need to do something. And so I joined in November 11 1991, as a client. And so it was really crazy. Because what 85 90% Of the people were all financial services, and I come in and talk about tire recycling. That’s a that’s a fish out of water. You know that how that is? Today, it’s not so bad. But back then it was like, and then everything, everything they gave all concept I had to, I had to translate into my own use. Maybe that’s why they liked me so much, because I was able to make it all workable, from what, from what Dan Sullivan had pulled together, back in those early days.
Mike Malatesta 31:00
So smart, by the way to get involved in something like that. So early in your entrepreneurial career. I know I waited way too long, you know, to get involved in something that could help me understand how to be what I am, and also get better at it. Yeah, I thought it was good. So I thought I could do it all. On my own. Have you ever met anybody like me
Gary Mottershead 31:28
care? Yeah, you know, it’s, it’s interesting, we’d have that. But I, I somehow, either by instinct or whatever, knew that I couldn’t do it all. And I didn’t want to. So for some reason, I was able to, to gather other people around me, even at an early stage. So coach, and Coach didn’t talk an awful lot about it back then. But it certainly helped me put, as people call it balance or harmony in my life today. That back then which I, which I think there was great other dangers in my personal life had I not done so.
Mike Malatesta 32:06
So if if, if we were looking at GCP, and, you know, the late 90s and the early 2000s. And we were looking at it today, and 2022. What’s the difference?
Gary Mottershead 32:19
You know, I’m going to I want to say one cut one thing versus we started this, we started off with purely the we started off with a very interesting business model for what was the time because we have no inventory, we have no assets, all we have is relationships. And that’s the way we started. And that’s the way it still is today. And what I didn’t realize, when you look at you know, we’ve talked about abundance, 360 and Salim Ismail talking about exponential organizations, it’s really was the model for what exponential organizations are because you’re not tied to any capital, you’re not tied to any particular manufacturing. So that’s the basis that I got started, literally because I didn’t have the money to do it. And so I was able to get my suppliers to wait for payment until after I got paid, which allowed us to grow. So we when I look at it, so the essence of why I started back then is still the same. What did shift for us is that we took on more and more responsibility ourselves to be able to find the suppliers work with the suppliers and with the customers. So we went from one product to multiple products. We went from having one got one person in China to an office in China. We went to having reps and so we continue to expand our our reach of products. And I think far more far more diligent, far more understanding how important quality is how important communication is. And so in a lot of ways, the essence of the company is the same Mike. But our ability to be able to expand and take on take on more risk if you want to call it take on more suppliers has grown greatly over that period of time.
Mike Malatesta 34:07
And the no inventory no assets thing, Gary, can you help me and people listening understand how you supply products to customers without having inventory or assets? Yeah, that’s
Gary Mottershead 34:25
what we did is I determined that what we would do is we would want to bypass the traditional importer, wholesalers style of business. And part of it is because I didn’t really want to manage it. I wanted to keep the organizational structure and the corp structure pretty clean. We were sitting here in Canada, majority of our business the United States. Laws are all different state laws are different and taxes are different. So I wanted to keep that as clean as possible. So what we what We determined was who could bring in, who could deal with full containers, because that would be the most economical way. So we looked at who were the customers who could bring in full containers, so we could help grow the full container business starting at half a container, so that they would carry the inventory. And they would be the distributor or their converter for it. So we were intentionally did that. But we also knew that we would cut off a part of the opportunity for the business because of that, but what allowed what allowed us and then we and then we had to operate on trust, Mike so because in the end, our customers gonna know who the supplier is, and the suppliers gonna know who the customer is. And as most as I can, I try to avoid what I call a one to one relationship where I have one customer buying from one factory, or one factory supplying one customer, that’s much easier to get around. So I really liked the, in the old the organizational matrix, so that we would supply multiple products to a customer, and that customer would end up in the factory would also sell to multiple customers directly. And so the rest of it was all built on trust. I said, All right, I’m going to and I went over there I met all the factories, and they’ve basically met all the customers to begin with certainly not the case today, by any means. But to make sure that we can deal with the right people, there’s some didn’t work out. And but most of the ones we’ve had have stayed with us for quite a while both on the customer and on the the factory side of things.
Mike Malatesta 36:31
And so the way that you make money is in the sale price, when you are a supplier and your customer is essentially its own distributor that we
Gary Mottershead 36:43
buy and sell. Yeah, okay. And I always made point that we we work on behalf of the customer, we go, we go we find things, we’re good at finding things and developing things, that’s certainly my my strength and background and developing other product or businesses. And so the engineering, that’s where the engineering background comes in really handy. But I always say we work on behalf of the customer. And it kind of quasi that we work we work really exclusively with certain suppliers as well, because that just makes for a better relationship. But we we’d always look at it as our job to find out what the customer needs. That was that’s always been our basis. And the
Mike Malatesta 37:19
customers that you’re selling to Gary, what do they look like? And what are they buying?
Gary Mottershead 37:24
Yeah, we’ve articulated them as being between 5 million and $100 million that either industrial distributors or converters that to convert the product into gaskets, we’re very strong in the gasket industry, which requires a lot of technical specifications. Okay, so gaskets have to have a right hardness the right thicknesses, the right colors, the right patterns, or everything on them. So we’re we chose to be in the technical world, as opposed to the more the it’s still a commodity in a lot of respects. But the technic, being able strong technically is where we were at. So that’s what we focus on. And they also have to be well financed, and they have to have a net of a solid customer base. For us to be successful with them. We don’t really work well with startups, even though we were one, we work better with those who are established and who can see the value of what it is we do. Hopefully they’ve tried to do stuff on their own, they’ve tried to import themselves. And it’s been difficult. We certainly didn’t deal with the same political climate, geopolitical climate that we have today in 2022 Back in the early, you know, back 20 years ago. But that’s that’d be nice to hear their situation, but that’s what that’s how we did it. The other thing that I based it on is that because I had the recycling business, I said we’re gonna use recycled rubber. And I’m, I’m going to bring recycled rubber into a commercial space and which never really had been done on a large scale before. So I said we’re going to this is what I was kind of pick out in some respects, this is what people need, this is what they need to have. And we just pushed it and pioneered it and we’ve had exceptionally few failures of any sort. Mostly any failures that have occurred is because people have picked the wrong product in the wrong polymer. But that’s knowing that was knowing the technical aspects knowing the business and coming at it from what our strengths were, but also
Mike Malatesta 39:23
Okay, so you you know to a gasket manufacturer for example, you’re the raw material supplier and then the value add into the gasket and then they sell it to their customer.
Gary Mottershead 39:34
So for example recently I was down in in Phoenix and I saw under our customers down there and we supply red rubber red rubbers with primarily gets used into the plumbing industry. And they’ve got these very large tables computerized and there they are, what they call you know will gain cut all the gaskets they’ll all be interlaced everything else and all the holes have done, and there’s just machines are pumping these things out nine hours a day. and using the rubber so, and they pull them off. And they’ve all gaskets are different sizes, so they minimize their waste. And, you know, they like the product. So it’s clean, it’s clean, that everything works. It’s right hardnesses. And it looks right. Not blemishes. So there are a lot of, you know, things you don’t necessarily think about. But the surface finish has to be good has to be has to be clean, that can’t be differences in thicknesses because then it won’t seal properly. So little things we take for granted. And of course, most of our most of the time, the business environment like nobody ever sees just the supply chain issues of the last couple of years have now brought this to the surface. But you the reason why I like the rubber business is you can’t make anything that moves or operates without having rubber or silicone. Everything needs to know whether it’s ours or not. But it’s it’s it goes into the it goes into that world.
Mike Malatesta 40:51
And the recycled component is is China recycling tires to get the rubber? Or is the rubber coming from other sources there and then they’re making it into the rubber.
Gary Mottershead 41:02
No, it all comes from China. And if you go back, because China was cut off from the world for 50 years, to the communist early part of the communist period. So they had to use whatever they had internally. Okay. And so one of the reasons why I ended up going to China was, I could find everything right there, I could find the machines weren’t new. Remember, machines around the world were pretty much the same. They there was a key component that could teach people how to operate that. And then the other part was the raw material could be supplied right from China. Okay, and so I called it a whole, you know, for me, it was all made and made in China component. And all we dealt with was freight. And for a while there, freight was not as big a deal, it cost less to come from Shanghai and tension, it’s to go to LA than it did go to LA to New York. So back then. So it, you just looked at the main trade off with the equipment being the same, the raw material and the and you had the labor, and those are reasons, but you had to have the quality. And that’s one thing that we really worked on with them. Because nobody made what we wanted off the shelf. We had to go with every single factory and get them to understand standards understand what we needed, understand the cost structure, and be able to make it the way it was required for North American standards.
Mike Malatesta 42:22
And the reason I asked that question, I’m glad you you gave me I’m glad I asked that. Because for a long time, like for the standard recycling industry in the US, China was sort of the market for receiving all of that stuff. And then they would process it and then use it, I suppose. So I wondered if tires were the same thing. The, in the in there in the intro in the bio, we talked about GCP being, you know, forward thinking digital first company now and I’d like to understand what that means.
Gary Mottershead 42:57
Okay. Well, you know, that comes from a lot of the work that we’ve done with abundance, and looking forward. And we decided, myself and Christine who works with me really on a lot of the IT and the HR pieces together. And I actually believe that HR and IT have have converged in a lot of ways that you have to have good HR, you got to have the proper it, and communication capability. But anyway, she came on board with me. And I said years ago, I said, Look, I want to be in a position because we live up here in the northeast, that if we have a snowstorm and people can’t get in what do we do? How can we operate? How can we operate if nobody can come to the office? And so we consciously looked at this and several years ago, so what do we need to do. And so, before the pandemic even started, everybody was moved from a desktop to a laptop. We moved all to the to the Google platform so we could communicate all internally. And when the day came that we had to close the doors in March of 2020. We literally closed them at five o’clock on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, we held our first team meeting all on Zoom. And we were communicating only with everybody and our customers. The only thing we didn’t have nailed down was the phone system which we’ve now since done. And now our phone system is which was already it was already a VoIP system. But now the phone system is set up that it’s just like you can take it from your laptop, you can take it from your own phone, you can take conference call, just like anybody would be in the office. I always have somebody answered the phone because that’s something that I thought would be important. So that was the that was the first step. And then the second step is when it pandemic hit is we taught our customers how to use Zoom, how to work with it. And so we went beyond the product side and said look, this is how you communicate with people because they were being isolated and some people have to go to the go into the factories and into their warehouses and into the production facilities but others the offices weren’t so they didn’t really have communication. So we worked with them. on how to communicate. And then we spin it forward a little bit more recently, in the last two years, we have been developing a software platform, using artificial intelligence to help companies predict what they need to order. Quite simply, we call it predictive ordering. And we’ve had that if you had that work going on, because of all the supply chain disruptions, but I’ve seen this for the 40 years that I’ve been in business, because of the supply chain disruptions, we said, We’ve got to find a way to help manage the complexity of the data, because now they got to think about not just three or four months, so minimum, six months, that’s not good enough, nine months to 12 months. So the complexities and what’s the business going to be like out there? What’s it going to be like, Ben, it’s so far away? What are the pricing going to be like? So we started working on that, and we’ve, we gave our first live demo last week, we’re doing another one now. And we’re really pulling that together, where we can actually help people do the heavy lifting, so and then we declared our own company as a as a virtual company back at the beginning of 2022. And now we’re working on how do we all communicate? How do we work together, what become the standards of what it is that we need to do so. And that meant everything had to be everything, all your processes have to be very robust. So we have a digital platform Taskforce. And we’re going through every single one of the pain points in the organization, and saying, How can we make it easier, cheaper, faster, and deliver bigger results? And how do we make sure that everything is up and available on the cloud, so we can operate from anywhere. And to that extent, over a year ago, we moved our accountant, Accounting Manager, and she and her husband were from Germany and had a couple of children. Now all the family had gone back to Germany from Canada. So we moved to Germany, and she’s been working out of Germany for more than a year now. And so we have had an office in China, we got a rep in Mexico City in Houston, another one at Western Canada. We’re spread out here in and around the Toronto area, Southern Ontario. And so we just we just figured out how to work it, how to make it work. And we don’t need to see people physically we go to see them. So even though we have formal offices that we come to, which I still like to come into, and where I am doing this podcast from, we learned literally just said, how do you how can we operate in the digital world in a way that we can be in a physical business, but still have a digital, a very strong digital presence?
Mike Malatesta 47:22
And the power of no assets and no inventory gets magnified here. That’s yeah.
Gary Mottershead 47:28
Because now you don’t you’re not managing anything. Yeah. I’ve always said we manage information in relationships. So
Mike Malatesta 47:35
that’s so funny, right? Because you deliver product, real physical product, but you manage Yeah, that’s a great way to look at it. Well, go ahead. No, no, go ahead. I was just thinking, the lesson in there.
Gary Mottershead 47:47
Well, the I had an older gentleman who I had great deal respect for who was a researcher and a chemist. And he, he told me a long time ago, and I took him to China with me to help the drum, he says, Gary, you’re in the service business. He repeated that expression, I can’t tell you how many times for three years, before I finally got on the, into my head. He was a product guy. He was a product guy. That’s pretty good his whole life. He said, You’re in the service business. And Duncan McKillop his name, I always have great respect for them. And I, he was right. So that turned my head around. And so we got paid for product, but our value is always in the service. And our said, So the lesson that we took from it, whether it makes too much sense to you is that we just said our our product may be a commodity, but our services. So we’ve continued to look at how can we up the value of the services that we provide for people?
Mike Malatesta 48:41
Yeah, so that’s something powerful for everybody that’s in a, quote unquote, commoditized business, right? So you’re in a commoditized business, what are you going to do, you’re going to fight, you know, to the bottom with everybody else who’s sort of just, you know, focus on price only are you going to figure out a way to accept that the product you deliver is, is maybe a commodity, but the way in which you deliver it can be completely different than what other people do and have a ton of value.
Gary Mottershead 49:13
And we totally got played that in the last 12 months when the cost of freight went from like $3,000, a container to 30,000. And we always made it simple for everybody’s we delivered it all the costs included while trying to raise your prices, when that world is used to single digits at best and over the course of years to go up 3040 50 In one case, 60% was enormously challenging. And we really had to come to the point that we were losing our own value because I’ve always felt the margins that you get are related to value. The lower the margin, the less value you bring it purely simple in my whether rightly or wrongly, but that’s the way I looked at it from our organization. And so we were really struggling in fact, we were delivering product being underwater. Well, when you don’t have inventory, you’re not, you’re now not contributing to your any costs. Because when you’re underwater for us, we’re, we’re pulling money out of our pockets, we’re not even contributing to overheads. We just said, No, we have to stop this, we have to value ourselves. And so we continue to move the product costs up. freight costs up separate things. And we said, You know what, this is not our fault. But you having to come and value yourself was really the most difficult thing we had to do in the last 12 months. And say, if people can’t buy it, that’s not our fault. We have a service to provide, we’re not and we changed, we changed because we went in in the business, we want to long ago that we were 30% below the marketplace, because we needed to be because people didn’t trust the product from China, we eventually became more of a market leader. And therefore our costs were kind of set. But in the last in the last year, we had to say, price is not our issue. It’s we provide access to material, that’s the benefit that we bring, and we could always get it. And so just how long it took to get there with the final cost was going to be and so we had to really switch our frame of reference to see and understand and for other people listening, what is your value, and our value is getting is giving them access to products. That was totally value.
Mike Malatesta 51:15
That’s a really interesting segue, because I want to spend the rest of the time talking about your work as a strategic coach, associate coach, or whatever the right word is. And even there, in that example, you you basically had to I mean, you’re teaching this all the time, right? About value creation, and all this stuff, and you’re faced with a situation and in your own business, you your, maybe your natural instinct is okay, we’re gonna absorb this too. Because that’s what you do. Right? And then you’re like, Wait a second. No, no, no, no, no, we have to figure out a way that we’re not the bad guy here. Right, that we’re not the one. So you know, you had your own sort of lab? I guess. So so, you know, you joint you. You mentioned joining Strategic Coach, when you were with the tire business, you became a an associate coach, I guess I want people to understand what that means. And, and I want to know, so you’ve coached, I guess, 1000s of entrepreneurs probably now in 25 years. What? What do you help them? What do you bring to them? What does the program bring to them? And why do you love it? Well, assume you
Gary Mottershead 52:27
love it. Well, I, you know, Mike, you’re right, you don’t stay unless you love it. They won’t keep you either, you know, your clients won’t stay with you. Because when you coach the same people over and over again, year after year, you have to get better, I have to get better every year. And I to the extent I had a person who is a friend, but also a client from here and went away from me for a while came back is when he came back, he said, Jerry, you’re different. I don’t feel any different. Because we have to continue to evolve, we have to continue to grow. So I liked that part of it. I’d like to challenge that. That’s what I had to do each year and makes me think all the time. And, and what it means is that it really is, it really is quite a commitment to be to be a coach because it goes into my calendar, like right now, here it is in the early part of 2022, my calendar is booked out to the end of 2023. And before, by the time this airs, I’ll be booked out into 2024. All right, so you have to be willing to make that kind of commitment to do that. And the other part is, is that you’ve really got to love people. And, you know, maybe it’s probably simply put that my purpose in life is helping people in organizations grow. And so my, when I when I was doing nothing, like trying to figure out what life was going to be like back in 1998 going, I was driving down the road one time on a very sunny day in October. And I said you know what, I want to be involved in a billion dollar’s worth of business, but doesn’t mean my business is going to be a billion dollars. And so I just begin to start coaching and I found out that was the way to do it. So how can I help other people grow their businesses and grow their lives so that I get to influence that that way, in a positive way, not from not for me, but for them. And and that’s what’s really driven me Mike is to be able to say that I get the opportunity to help other people help ourselves bring from my own business, as you said, my lab back to the back to coach and from Coach back to our own business. And I’ve been able to make the two quite complimentary to each other.
Mike Malatesta 54:33
And we talked about at the beginning, you sort of being an outlier as a tire recycling equipment manufacturer, amongst these other financial planners, which is largely what coach was designed around at the beginning. What are you seeing now? And who are the types of people that you would encourage to get involved or to reach out to you?
Gary Mottershead 54:56
Well, in a, you know, in fundamentally anybody who considers themselves an entrepreneur, and has the desire to continue to grow their business without sucking up all of their life, their personal life with it, I’d suggest they go to coach, because that’s what you ask the question. That’s what coach really does. Coach helps us understand what we do best. We call it unique ability, and then how to organize our world around us so that we can, we can be at our best all the time, that’s a couple of great books out, no one’s called who not how, again, understanding that we are limited in terms of what we’re capable, like you talked earlier about, about wanting to do at all, well, there’s a reason we have to do all of those things. And I don’t want to want to slap that off at the time, we have to do it all to understand it. But we also got to understand when it causes us frustration, and what coach does is gives you permission. And you’re in a room of people who exist in a community of people who think the same way. And so you’re not alone anymore, because entrepreneurs are quite isolated. For for the in a lot of ways, particularly in the business you are in, in the business that I’m in, we don’t have other people around, you literally can go and talk to you because they don’t necessarily understand it. But the the other thing that’s been great about Coach, it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, it doesn’t matter how old you are, it doesn’t matter what your background has been what schooling or anything else you’ve done. If you choose to be an entrepreneur, you have similar issues to everybody else. And so no matter who they are, we can be all great coaches to each other. And that’s just a wonderful weaving process that I love to see in pulling people out. helping them be more than they thought they could ever be. It’s always been my goal, whether it was from my own children, or my, my team here, or there are vendors in China, our customers, but also all the coaches, and I really, really appreciated that opportunity to do that. And that pushes me to be better. And look at what’s next and what’s coming. And that’s exciting. Because otherwise, what are you going to do with your life, you know, when your career might come to an end prematurely when you’re when you’re still at the top of your game? So
Mike Malatesta 57:01
and what is next? I mean, you got your calendar, almost booked out to 2024 on the coach side. But what’s next for you? And what’s next for GCP?
Gary Mottershead 57:08
Well, I’ve, we’ve kind of I grew the business 10 times from 2004 to 2014. And we have been able to replicate that again, which doesn’t sit well with me. So I realized from the physical world, whether your inventory or not, you have physical limitations. And so I’m looking at how do we get out of those physical limitations. So I look at the problems that we’ve got out there. It’s one thing that’s coaches really good that we call that DOS, dangerous opportunities and strengths. And so what are the dangers our customers are facing? What are their opportunities? What are their strengths, and of course, the supply chain challenge has been the big one. So and so I, I try and blend everything merge everything together converge, I guess is probably a better term for that. And so I’ve been fascinated with AI, I’ve been fascinated with 3d printing. And we’ve now found a way that we can take the capture all the data that we’ve had, because we get great data on all of our customers and be in to be able to pull together what people need to order and how they need to order what does a container look like? And not that It answers everybody’s questions, but I call it the 8020 rule, can we do 80% of the heavy lifting, so they can spend their time on the 20% that they can adjust for what they need to. So what I’m excited about is that I see now away with what we’ve got with this platform, this is the first piece of it, we can sell it, we can use it internally, but we can also use it for people outside or in any industrial space. My son who works with me has got the idea can we doing what some people would call like matching, but have an industrial products online brokerage platform, because finding products around the world is challenging. And so we’d bring people onto that platform be a paid platform, we manage it, if people want to, if they want to things built, can find out that we’re good at developing so we can do the development work. And the other part is we can handle logistics. So if you want to handle logistics any of the world around the world, we can do that. So I see an opportunity to take the core of what we’ve done right now, and really expand it to go to the 10 times or maybe even more than 10 times beyond where we are right now. And now we’re not tied to the physical limitations. We’re not bumping up against some one other company and who we sell to and who somebody else buys from. And that’s and that’s, that, to me is really exciting. Because it it takes what we’ve learned, but also puts it into the realm where we’re more into the future side of the business.
Mike Malatesta 59:31
Yeah, I like that. It’s basically taking your model and then saying Who else? What other companies can we apply this to? That could? Yeah, thank you sounds right. There’s something there.
Gary Mottershead 59:43
Oh, I hope so. Because, I mean, I would like to do the things that I like to do and I’m you know, I’m not that I’m going anywhere but I you know that the every day to day business for me is one where I’ve got great people great organization, we’ve been complimented about that. And so I honestly don’t wear Read about it. I watched the numbers and, and it allows me to work on what I think is coming next where they don’t have to figure they don’t have to be afraid of that what’s coming next because although do that part for them? You know, like the geese that fly, there’s always one party out front, you know, cutting the wind, but they’ll alternate and move up. But I’m the guy that goes and cuts the thing cuts the air out front. So see what’s coming?
Mike Malatesta 1:00:21
Well, Gary, this has been a fascinating conversation. Thanks so much for being on the show. Is there anything you want to leave us with?
Gary Mottershead 1:00:29
Yeah, I’d say the only thing I’d say is that, it if you if you’re really frustrated where you are, then you might not always have that the driving force to go and do something, but look at what would excite you. As we know, all entrepreneurs get excited about the things that they do, but their life also changes. And, and I’d say, take the leap. If you can take that leap. That’s the one thing that entrepreneurs can do. It’s worth it. Because there’s no better joy than being able to be a great resource for service to a lot of other people by your ideas and not feel constrained. So I’d say if you’re going to do it, go for it.
Mike Malatesta 1:01:10
Well, there you go. You heard it from a pro. Take the leap. I like it. Thanks, Gary. Thank you very much, Mike.