I had the pleasure of sitting down with a long-time client and a great friend, Chris Camp, to talk about his leadership and owner journey as a multiple-business owner.
Do you think it’s possible for any business to just take off like a rocket at any time? Or, is there a natural growth process, a leadership journey, that makes that kind of success possible?
Have you ever wondered what it would look like to catch a glimpse of a business just as it hit its stride and then catapulted towards success?
Well, those are some great questions, and I think you’re going to love today’s episode!
I think you’ll be intrigued with the path he took towards implementing the paradigm-shifting information he was receiving as part of his discovery process for his businesses.
FREE STUFF ALERT!
I’ve got a download for you today in the form of our Leadership Success Path. It’ll help you make sense of where you are in your journey and what’s next if you’re ready to grow!
Enjoy today’s episode!
P.S. If you’d like to talk to someone about your own leadership journey and how to take your business through a discovery process, click on this link to https://chrislocurto.com/stratplan/.
Full Podcast Transcript
business, people, run, leadership team, grow, started, years, leadership, culture, challenge, atlanta, brick walls, leader, company, business owner, talk, paul, step, literally, thinking
Joel Fortner, Chris LoCurto, Chris Camp
Chris LoCurto 00:00
A journey from leader to owner, to the owner of multiple thriving businesses that are rapidly expanding in different markets. That is coming up next.
Chris LoCurto 00:19
Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show, where we discuss leadership and life, and discover that business is what you do, not who you are. Welcome to the show, folks. Today we have got a fantastic guest on the show. Chris Camp is joining us. Chris Camp is a great friend as well as a fantastic leader, family man, a business owner down in the Atlanta area. And he is joining us on the show to talk about a crazy wild ride from leader to business owner, to multiple business.
Just growing like crazy. I mean, you guys are going nuts. With a whole lot of stuff happening. A lot of great stuff, a lot of stuff that you've worked through. So folks do me a favor, welcome to the show Chris Camp, Chris, it's good to have you on.
Chris Camp 01:10
Good to be here.
Chris LoCurto 01:11
What's shakin, brother? How are things?
Chris Camp 01:13
Good, busy man. So we're getting ready to launch our next business here. So we're just busy getting all that stuff done.
Chris LoCurto 01:23
Man, that is crazy. It is so fun to watch the progression. And again, we're gonna hit a whole bunch of stuff about how things you've screwed up, with things that have been tough, and then things you've done incredibly well, which is allowing you to be able to drop in something like a Dallas.
So you and I've worked together for several years, it all started back at Next Level Leadership Live Event that was here in Nashville. But before we met your journey as a leader, and as a business owner started well before that. So let's talk about that journey. We're going to hit all of those things. And folks, we're going to hit a whole bunch of practical points for you when we come back right after this.
Joel Fortner 02:05
Hey, it's Joel Fortner here. I'm the Vice President of leadership development on Chris's team, and I oversee our Next Level Mastermind business coaching program. Most business owners and leaders lack a clear path to succeed in business. They question whether they're making the right decisions, if they're focusing on the right things to really grow their business. If this is you, need a coach in your life.
Coaches help you make better decisions, navigate uncertainty lead more effectively, and grow your business without sacrificing your life and your family. In their first year, our clients typically see an average of 67% increase in gross revenue and an average of 138% increase in net profit, and regained hours of time.
Our clients stay in the program for three and a half years simply because of the results they get. So if you're ready to run your business at the next level, and see the growth you've been wanting, then visit chrislocurto.com/mastermind. Again, chrislocurto.com/mastermind, today.
Chris LoCurto 03:07
Alright, we're back. And we're talking with Chris Camp. Chris, tell us about yourself. Tell us about the business what you guys are currently doing. And then we're gonna go into a whole bunch of stuff of how you got to where you are.
Chris Camp 03:16
Cool. So we have-currently have three different business units. We have Atlanta Painting Company where we do painting, gutters, flooring, we have Nashville Painting Company, which just does painting, and then we have a company called Southeastern Commercial, which does painting and installs, basically running trim, staining trim doors, all that good stuff. So they all kind of have a different market segment.
And then we have another company that basically just services those three businesses that provides all the marketing, accounting, all that kind of stuff as well.
Chris LoCurto 03:56
And then you're opening up in Dallas as well.
Chris Camp 03:58
We're open in Dallas, the Dallas will be a residential branch. We're launching that June 1. So we're excited about entering the Texas market. And hopefully in the next few years, we'll have locations in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin as well.
Chris LoCurto 04:13
Yeah, it's so funny because you guys did half of our event space when we were buying buildings and we're building on, we added on to it, so we had the first one done. And then when we bought the new one, and ripped open walls and all that, and built a whole bunch of kind of, you know stuff and you guys came in. It's so funny because for years I've pointed to people and said, "So take a look at this half of the building, compared to that half, this is the kind of quality work you want."
And the funny thing is we thought the the first half of the building was really good, but man, it sure made a difference. When you have that kind of quality. You could just literally look at it and see. I mean, I don't know maybe it's not easy to most people. But you know, for somebody when you're paid for it, you sure can tell the difference. So talk about your leadership journey before coming to Next Level Leadership Live Event. Man that was back in 2016. What was it like before that?
Chris Camp 05:11
So I have always been an entrepreneur since I was young. I've always loved business. So in college, I ran my own business and then ended up kind of on this journey through that's kind of how I got in painting was around a painting company in college, and did some leadership stuff there. Then I went to Phoenix and did really well out there for a year and then kind of came to Atlanta to start this.
So I was 23 when I started in Atlanta, my kind of claim to fame is I've never had a job really, outside of being like, think my last job was for Coca Cola as a merchandiser when I was a freshman in college. Other than that, I pretty much have been self employed most of my life. So I've always been kind of that entrepreneur thing like that. And I was really good at it. And really good at making things happen.
Like when I went to Arizona, like, I came in, and was part of the business that we tripled in 10 months. And I was in charge of all the sales, moved and started our business and in 2006, and, you know, and within eight months, we're on track to do $1.5 million our first year. One of the best things that ever happened to me was the economy fell apart. Because that was a very humbling experience.
Because I learned very quickly that maybe I wasn't quite as good as I thought I was. And I obviously have some skills and some abilities. But when I started the business, biggest thing I realized pretty quickly was I was really good at doing things, but I wasn't really good at leading people. And so that, I guess, oh, man, so that was '06, '08. '08 is when Paul joined. And then from '08 until probably really about 2016.
I mean, it was a pretty uphill struggle of just trying to figure out how to make things work. probably like, '14 is when we stopped having to worry about how we were going to cover payroll every week. So I mean, so from your talking was that? Six-eight years, like I mean, it was a pretty uphill battle. I mean, what's funny, my wife Paul and I were out last week.
And we were just reminiscing about some of those days of like, you know, Paul would be like, well, you guys take a check this month, I you know, I can get by, or he would be like, you haven't taken the check in two months. Paul, you take a check, you know, like, it was just whatever we could do to survive. And through that journey, you know, I grew quite a bit as a leader. And have you know, obviously, since we've met grown even significantly more as a leader, but those are some interesting years.
Chris LoCurto 08:31
So it's crazy, because a lot of folks know what it's like to just get out there and bust your butts. You got to make something happen. You going from "Man, things are happening really well.", to, "Oh, crap. This is now gotten tough." What was work-life balance like? Did that even exist back then?
Chris Camp 08:54
No, there wasn't work-life balance. I mean, my wife was amazing about that, like she was very, very, very gracious in the fact that she is like, she was always my biggest cheerleader. So she never, like I never ever felt like, "Oh, man. I'm getting home at eight o'clock at night." Like it was, you know, from that perspective, so she was awesome in that. We got married and then got pregnant right away.
So we had kids, so that was interesting. And then she was a head coach basketball and so it was just kind of this constant juggling act a little bit, I guess. But she was awesome about that. So there really wasn't work-life balance, like it was like, we did what we had to do to survive like, it was put your nose to the grindstone and figure it out. So.
Chris LoCurto 09:47
Right. Years of actually trying to get the ox out of the ditch and make something happen until it released. What were some of the challenges that you experienced? What were some of the setbacks?What were some of the struggles that really sucked?
Chris Camp 10:02
Well, I think the like some of the hardest things, when I look back on those days, or where I've learned from those things was, I really couldn't duplicate myself. So, as I look-
Chris LoCurto 10:16
You couldn't do it or didn't know how to do it?
Chris Camp 10:18
I didn't know how to at that point, right? So the issue I would have is, is, there was only so much of me. And so as we're trying to, like, build a business, you know, I was just kind of running from fire to fire to try to, like, get things back in order, because I didn't have anybody else who could necessarily help me put the fire out. You know, Paul was awesome.
And he would do whatever I asked him to, and you'd run through a wall, he just didn't have a lot of skills at that point. So he was just kind of doing whatever he could to help, and I would put on fire, you know, is, it's kind of that. So that was probably the biggest thing was I didn't know how to duplicate myself or to take the things or my abilities and give them to other people to be able to solve the problems without having to run through me.
Chris LoCurto 11:10
So what so what was that like, as far as, were you attempting to? Or was it a "Man, I hadn't even thought about that yet?"
Chris Camp 11:19
Um, I would say there that I think I knew I needed to. But I also think that I probably didn't necessarily want to.
Chris LoCurto 11:33
Like, have trust that it was gonna work out or?
Chris Camp 11:36
Yeah I mean, my wife will tell you, I'm self-described control freak. So, and partly, that's because I know if I'm in charge of it, it's going to get done. It's gonna happen, right? So I think there was a big part of me that knew I needed to do that, but didn't want to, didn't want to let go of it, did want to be able to do that. So.
Chris LoCurto 11:59
Yeah, and this is super important for everybody who's listening, because we just now have with you saying that a ton of people that immediately just related, and they're going, "Well this guy is successful, and he feels the same way." No. That's the way you felt, there's a world of difference.
And we've all been there. And that's one of the things we talk about is that, you know, when delegation is here, "You do this, wait, you're sucking at it, let me take it back. That doesn't actually work." But the key is, is that everybody goes through that. That's something that everybody experiences, everybody knows. "I don't know how to solve this. Since I can't get it down the way that I want it to let me just take it back and run with it."
And then wonder why, you know, there is no work-life balance. Was there any like brick walls or anything that you couldn't break through? Other than, like, delegation and stuff?
Chris Camp 12:56
So we, I mean, from a revenue perspective, we were stuck, we basically had the same revenue from the first year we started until year five. I mean, we didn't grow, like. And I think, at the time, I think I blamed it a lot more on the economy and the things around us than I did. But it was definitely a direct correlation to my leadership causing us to be stuck.
You know, I, you know, so the walls, we kind of faced then where we, we didn't have a lot of vision, we didn't have a lot of strategic plan. We didn't have really a lot of direction of, you know, what separated us from other companies. We didn't have kind of a core of values of who we are, and this is what we are, and here's what we're trying to accomplish. So those things all just kind of held us back, right? I didn't know that then.
You know, I didn't know what I didn't know, right? You know, to put it into perspective, from an emotional perspective, I'm a 28, 29 year old kid who's got a kid and a wife and I'm trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage and put groceries on the table.
Chris LoCurto 14:10
And personality style wise, a hard charging driver, you know, get it done, get it done. Get it done. Just keep going.
Chris Camp 14:19
Yeah, right. Yeah. So when people talk about brick walls, I don't really relate to that, I guess because you just you just keep going, I probably hit it a few times, but I just kept going like, I tell people this all the time. I should have quit. Like if I was a rational sane human being, I should have quit. I mean, I I should have, but literall- the perseverance to push through those things.
That's probably like the main, like point that I try to highlight is is like, that's a lot of times the difference between success and not being successful is not quitting when it makes logical sense. Yeah, like, not, you know, I mean, if I think about it like, we probably should have quit. And while we should have quit, we were doing things we're building towards the future.
We were laying foundation, we were learning things, we were-and so that's one of the things where I talk about is the economy crashing, not only humbled me, but it also gave us a time to figure out all of these things. Because what would have happened if the economy was good, we would have grown like crazy.
Because we can sell, like our organization, like we've talked about before, we don't ever have a problematic revenue. That's never a problem for us. Like we just organizationally like revenue, finding jobs, finding work is not hard. So we would have grown, but we would have crashed because we wouldn't have laid a foundation because we didn't get to learn any of that stuff. So I'm very thankful that it did happen the way it did, because I don't think I'd be sitting here right now.
Chris LoCurto 16:17
Yeah, no doubt. So, back then, were there any things or what kind of things were you doing to try and solve the challenges that you were experiencing?
Chris Camp 16:29
So I mean, I have always been a big reader. So I've read a lot, read a lot of books. That's kind of right at the beginning of podcasts, I guess, it's kind of when podcasting started, listen to podcasts.
I'm trying to think we started, we actually did a little bit of a kind of similar program to what we you know, with what we did with you guys for a little bit. So we did that we I mean, one of the things that we've always had as an organization is a curiosity to be better. And so we knew that we weren't a finished product by any means.
And so we were always kind of, like, hey, well, that looks cool. Let's try that. Like, that was kind of our mentality and mindset of, you know, well, like that program looks fantastic. I mean, I remember listening to you, like when you were an entree leadership, like we would listen to your podcast all the time be like, Oh, man, we should try that thing. That guy talked about that, like, let's implement that into our business. So.
Chris LoCurto 17:36
Well, we are going to hit a lot of that stuff. We're going to talk about how we met, and all how things started changing when we come back right after this.
Chris LoCurto 17:47
Hey, folks, a couple years ago, I was visiting with a client. And the CEO said to me, "Chris, we're not going to hit our goal." I asked him what he meant. And he said, "We're going to miss our three year revenue goal coming out of Stratplan by a few months." I didn't realize it at first, that he was having a little fun with me by saying they were about to triple their company in less than three years. How freaking awesome is that?
Folks, these are the kinds of results that businesses get by coming through our four day Stratplan event.
On average, we find $2.1 million worth of revenue in the next 12 months that the company was not planning on. And this event is for all sized businesses. If you're small, medium, or large, it works for every single business, because it's not industry specific.
It's about gaining all the information about all the things inside of your business that are holding you back from success, and then giving you a plan and a process on how to walk that out and be successful in your business. By discovering the things that are holding you back, it helps you get to all of those goals that you've been planning on for a long time. So if you're ready to get the perspective you need to solve what's holding you and your business back so you can grow faster, than you need Stratplan. To learn more, go to chrislocurto.com/stratplan. That's chrislocurto.com/stratplan.
Chris LoCurto 19:25
Alright, we are back and we're talking about with Chris Camp, this amazing journey of entrepreneurship. You know leadership, owning multiple businesses and then we get into some of the my favorite parts some of the fun stuff, of when we connected, when we met when we started to do things together.
Back in 2016 Paul Caris, who is a big part of the business. Somebody you grew up with somebody you guys have known each other forever. He invited you to the Next Level Leadership Live Event. So what made you say "Yes, this is the one that we should do, this is the thing that we should go to."
Chris Camp 20:02
Um, I kind of go back to like what I just said before, like, we just kind of were like, "Well, well, that looks good. Let's go try it." Like I honestly, so I wish I had a better story like, man, you had a podcast and I listened to it-and you're so wise and sage. But literally, so Paul was listening to your podcast.
And he was like, hey, they're doing this event, blah, blah, blah, like, I think it'd be really good for us to go. amd I was like alright, let's do it. Like, that was essentially, what was our kind of driving force to go.
Chris LoCurto 20:40
I Love it.
Chris Camp 20:42
So, again, I think like I said, we've always had this curiosity to be better. It's actually one of our core values we've defined now is that making it better is a part of who we are. But that was kind of always been a part of our DNA, I guess.
Chris LoCurto 21:00
Yeah. Now you guys have had some crazy transformative moments as a business owner over the last few years, what were some of those moments that felt like a huge leap forward are a huge win for you?
Chris Camp 21:15
Oh, man, I think the biggest one for us has been our culture. And we've talked a little bit about it.
Chris LoCurto 21:23
One of my favorite stories.
Chris Camp 21:25
Our environments in our office was so bad that literally Paul and I would be like, I'm just gonna work from home this afternoon.
Chris LoCurto 21:36
When the owner doesn't want to go into the office that says something.
Chris Camp 21:41
It was just a culture of like gossip, and just very negative. So I think our first Stratplan, so we like, we went to the Next Level Live Event, we got into the program, we did like the platinum, like all this and signed up for Stratplan. And I would say the majority of Stratplan one was culture. Like, it was just like, it was literally like culture, getting a defined value system, getting a defined mission, like getting the things that I think we had kind of had, but never really took the time to write down and define as us.
And I think that's the difference between, you know, moving from like, what we would call like ritual to habits, right? Like, there's a lot of rituals of things you do. But when you have a process, and it's written down and documented, it goes from a ritual to a process. So that was a big transformative moment for us.
We got to define leadership team, we started having actual leadership meetings, instead of discussing issues inside of the business on a weekly kind of basis. It blows my mind that five years ago, we didn't have a leadership team, right?
Because literally, when I started, like, so when we started Dallas, like, we'll have a weekly leadership meeting, and it will be, you know, might be like three people, but like, we'll have a meeting, even, you know, just the importance of that cohesive leadership team. So the leadership team is a massive one that we've had, oh man.
But like, to me, the culture is the biggest thing, because without our culture, we would not have attracted the people that we brought onto our team. And that's the thing that has allowed us to grow more than anything, is like, we just keep hiring better and better people, and more and more talented people.
And so it's the culture, like, I do a class with every new hire. When they come on board, it's called foundations. And it's like a day class with me, and I just take them through the history of the business. It doesn't matter which business unit they're in.
So if they get hired at the SEC, or Atlanta, or Nashville, or Dallas, or whatever it is, they go through a class with me for a day. And we go through and we talk about our culture, we talk about our mission, we talk about our values, we talked about DISC, we talked about values.
We talked about just all personality style that we talked about all that kind of foundational stuff. And the question I always ask people is why did you come work here? And 9 out of 10 times, it's "When I walked through the door, the environment was super inviting.
I felt like home. It was you know, something about the environment just made me want to be here." And it's it's crazy because you know, like, what one of our guys who's a leader, now he runs our commercial business.
We went through Stratplan, and then really started to focus on our culture and make like that was like just force it, force it force it. I remember having one of the other things out of the first Stratplan was that we need to have fun. And so we started having like company events and doing fun things, because Paul and I are just kind of like, we show up, you were going-apparently not everybody's like, you know, like that, they want to have a good time.
So um, but what was funny about it is I remember, I remember we had this event, it was in March, and we were sitting outside and was a company event, we had it at my house.
And so it's just like a food truck. And you know, people and we're sitting there and somebody started saying something about another employee, and just kind of joking, half hearted way. And I don't think it was malicious in any way. But it was just kind of inappropriate, right? It didn't fit with our culture.
And I was about to go say something. And another employee was like, "Hey, man, like they're not here, you know..." Blah blah blah, like jumped in. I was like, Oh, we might be onto something here. Maybe this Locurto guy knows what he's talking about.
Chris LoCurto 26:23
It becomes self-policing it works.
Chris Camp 26:27
And so that culture piece is just-it is, if I would tell any business owner, if you want to fix your business, stop worrying about processes, stop worrying about system, stop worrying about how you sell more, and start figuring out how you have a culture that attracts great people. Because if you find great people, they'll figure out how to go sell stuff.
Chris LoCurto 26:57
This is where it's fun in the conversation, because we've got this front side of you running like crazy, knowing you should duplicate yourself, wanting to be able to duplicate yourself, not really knowing how to duplicate yourself, and then roll forward to and I'll never forget that we've done how many Stratplans have we done now 3?
Chris Camp 27:21
Fourth is coming up in November.
Chris LoCurto 27:23
Okay, I'll never forget that for a Stratplan, because you guys who came had phenomenal communication. And what we will see every single time on a very first Stratplan is the lack of communication on a leadership team, which shows that it's compounded like crazy inside of the business, whenever you have, you know, when you don't have high quality communication, you can be sure that the rest of the company has considerably less.
But you guys were the first folks coming in. And even though you didn't have an established leadership team yet, you guys coming in that were running the business, you guys did a great job.
And then the when you told me as we're digging through, and you're like, "Oh, we don't go into the office all the time, there's times we will stay away." You know, "Why?" "Well, because it's a little toxic, and there's gossip." It's like, this is so crazy. Usually it's not that way, rolling forward from a business owner who doesn't want to go into his office because of toxicity. You're literally having a party, a celebration with your team.
And now you have this self-policing culture, where a team member is shutting down toxicity. That had to just be a stunning moment.
Chris Camp 28:42
It was, and the crazy thing about it is, at that event was Mike, who now runs our SEC business here. And the crazy thing about it was he had a job offer that was $30,000 more a year in salary than what we could pay him, that he didn't take, because he loved the environment and the opportunity that we could provide.
Chris LoCurto 29:12
Man, that is just that's so awesome. That is fantastic. And the great thing is, is as we've worked together throughout the years, it's this process where-and again we're gonna get to some of this I got a bunch of stuff I want to hit-but you guys have walked through the success path.
We talked about the leadership success path. We did that on episode 402 you guys have been killing it. But to jump forward to look at wanting that duplication process wanting to be able to have a good environment wanting to have-and the funny thing is is even back then you're not thinking "Oh, if we do this culture stuff. It's going to you know, create a greater pool for us."
But by doing it, you're not only having people who want to stay and do a great job and self-police the culture because they enjoy it.
But now you're attracting freakin rock stars. Like, every time you guys come back up with a leadership team, it is, you know, the folks that have been there forever have stepped up, they've done better they've grown, they're taking on bigger roles, but man, it's like this phenomenal machine. That's just bringing up people up into the leadership, you know, that layer. How does that feel? What does that like?
Chris Camp 30:29
It's awesome to walk into the room and know that you're not the smartest person in the room. I would tell every business leader or owner that the pinnacle, in my opinion, is to be able to walk into the room and go, "I am by far the dumbest person in this room." You know, and I, you know, I can hold my own in in any room and I you know, certainly, you know, it's awesome to walk in and be like, you know, just watch the environment.
And what's really cool to go back to that culture piece is it's, it's often there, like, in Atlanta, our Director of Operations, Gary, ran a Sherwin Williams store for 20 years. It took significantly less money to come work for us, because he was like, what you guys are doing, I want to be a part of.
And he's a huge impact of the changes we've seen our business like, he's just, he's a rock star, like, he could have gone to a lot of different places, but he chose us. And it's just, you know, it's, you know, we've got people like that. And we've got, you know, Jason, who's our VP of sales in Atlanta, and he's homegrown.
Like, he started as a, you know, project manager, and the group is like, you guys, we've got a mix of both. And it's cool. Like, it's just really cool to see how that all works together. And like you said, it's just this constant ability to expand because we're just, these leaders are coming in and they're growing and then wanting more.
Chris LoCurto 32:09
Yeah. And I love that. And correct me if I'm wrong on this. By nature, the business, you've got certain pieces in place that will help you to expand, but because you have the culture, you know, you're drawing people to you, it just increases your ability to grow. Not just number wise, but stability wise. It's because you're putting on rockstars that are staying longer, doing better?
Chris Camp 32:37
Yeah, it's it. That's 100%. Like we have people who are coming to our company for careers, not for jobs.
Chris LoCurto 32:44
Right, not for paycheck. Yeah, absolutely.
Chris Camp 32:47
I mean, like, we've got a new guy that. And this, this is really cool. I'm really excited about this. So we basically, I was not involved in the hiring process at all. Like I met him, like, literally, the leadership team was like, Hey, we want you to meet this guy. He's like, we're bringing him on board. But like, we're so excited for you to meet him because he is exactly what we're looking for. And I'm, I'm like, I met him. And I was like, sitting there.
And I was like, I can be a little bit of an intimidating guy at times, and I remember like, he wasn't intimidated at all. Like, he was like, so self confident, just like he you know, he's coming in and I asked him, I said, you know, like, what's your like, what's your vision? He's coming in to kind of run, expand, like we're trying to expand in the commercial repaint sector in our Atlanta business.
And I'm like, what's your you know, and he's coming from a commercial sales, background and landscaping and I'm like, What's your long term? Like, what do you want to do? Like, he's like, I want to run a division. Like, I want to come here and have multiple salespeople, multiple project managers, like, I want to be sitting on that leadership team, running a division, that's a huge part of this company. I was like, oh, we can hire this guy.
Chris LoCurto 34:14
You can start when? Is 30 minutes from now too soon?
Chris Camp 34:20
It's the coolest part about it was is like, I didn't recruit him. I didn't interview him. I didn't- I wasn't a part of any of that kind of process. But our leaders that are in that business have, they know what we're looking for, they know what we are as a company in the culture they want, the type of people we want, and they can find it and bring it in. It's just awesome to be able to see that now we have another piece that he can grow into something fantastic.
Chris LoCurto 34:48
There's such a world of difference. And I think every leader out there has had that person that's come in with you know, their own ideas of all how they're gonna change the business, how they're gonna, you know, what they're gonna do how they're going to, it's going to be better than you've ever done, you know, you've put your blood, sweat and tears into this, well, I'm going to show you how to do this.
Everybody's had that guy. But there's such a world of difference when somebody comes in, and they're like, No, I want to bring my gifts and talents to this business, I want to inject into what you guys are doing. You know, because I'm now passionate about the business itself. It's not all it's all about me, look how amazing I am. This is getting incredible. It's I want to be a part of this business.
And man, I tell you what, there is nothing greater than when you have a kind of culture that attracts that person. And like you said, you didn't even have anything to do with this. You know, this is somebody who's coming in, who's seeing what's going on. And then the leadership team is dropping him in front of you going, we have another champion we'd like to bring on. It's so powerful, it's so powerful.
So for owners and leaders who are listening, who may be a few years behind you in the journey, how would you encourage them? How would you tell them? You know, even if they're starting out, how would you encourage them?
Chris Camp 36:07
So I think the first thing I would say is, is there's a quote from John Maxwell, that I'm not going to quote this correctly, but he basically just says that anything in life that is significant or meaningful is going to be difficult. And so I think the first thing is just acknowledge that by running or doing a business or being, it's significant, and it's meaningful, and it's going to be difficult. And the difficulty doesn't ever really go away.
That like that's the thing is like, you need to love that challenge. Because it isn't going to change, the challenge just changes. So the challenge that I had the first five years is different than the challenge that we have today. And so I would just tell you that like it's going to be hard, don't quit. Like that would be the biggest thing I'm telling you is that it's worthwhile. It's meaningful, don't quit. Because on the other side, there's something amazing that you'll get to if you just keep pushing forward.
Chris LoCurto 37:17
Yeah, absolutely. How did you start thinking about scalability like what what got you to start thinking in terms of setting up to scale?
Chris Camp 37:27
So I would say that's probably a big thing that I would credits this, so you, and then I've got a good friend of mine, the two of you probably helped me more with that than any thing else. So up until the point, when we met you guys, our business would have been what I would have considered like, it would have been me with a kind of a, you know, a chain just dragging everybody behind me as we're going uphill.
So yeah, this is where we're going, you're coming with me. If you don't the doors right there, and we'll get somebody else, you know, that was kind of the mentality of like, so I think one of the things I remember, like getting at, at the event in 2016 was, I can't do this anymore. Like physically, emotionally, mentally don't know that I have the capacity. You know, we were $5 million company. And I had just like, I don't think I could push it any further than I did. And so I remember one of the things just that, you know, talking with you.
And then I have another friend of mine, who is a business owner, and really starting to learn what it meant to be strategic, and starting to think kind of long term and starting to like, lay pieces out. And, you know, I remember talking to my friend, and he was starting his business, and he would build out whole parts of his business. You know, he'd build the whole HR department out, and he wouldn't have anybody there.
But he goes, in two years, I'll need somebody. And when I do, I can just pop somebody in, it's already ready to run. And I remember thinking to myself, like, well, man, look at that long, like long term thinking. And so I learned kind of that strategic scalability thing. And so through that, I just kind of started to go like, you know, I think scalability more than anything is it's thinking two or three steps ahead, and not being afraid to make the investment you need today for what you need tomorrow.
And, and I you know, that was the biggest thing is, from a value perspective, I'm a super high economic, which means I want to get every single dollar I possibly can out of this year. And the next year, we'll worry about next year. And so that was kind of the change into even to the point where like, you know, we're sitting at a meeting on Monday and you know, we're looking at Atlanta for example, and so Wes is my president who runs the day-to-day, Wes and I had, you know, had a meeting and like we mapped out the next three years, like from a revenue perspective, like, what's growth look like?
This business unit, like, we kind of mapped it out what we're going to need from a structure standpoint, you know, what pieces are people who would really have to hire and, you know, we're sitting there, and I was mapping it out. I'm like, Wet, like, if you do all this stuff, you realize, like, you guys are $25 million company, right? He's like, Yeah, we are. And I'm like, none of that stuff seems very, like ambitious, either.
Like, he's like, No, it doesn't. But it's the scalability pieces. It's like, we're thinking ahead, and sort of going and so here's the thing is, you know, we're getting ready to make a hire, because, like, we've overwhelmed our team, like our marketing department has done such a good job this year that we're literally like, we can't run all the estimates we're giving right now.
Like, we're about to go into our busy season. And we're already a week out for estimates. Which is awesome. And so we're working through this problem solving this and, and they're, you know, and our Director of Operations goes, Well, I've got a great guy, but you know, he won't, we can't put him in this role, because he can't fit the salary requirements. And I was like, hold on a second.
I'm like, we're gonna need somebody here in two years, would we not want to bring on a great person and pay a little extra today, to be able to have somebody that we could grow into this role that we know we're going to need? And they're all like, yeah, we would. I'm like alright, so let's not limit ourselves to, you know, this is all weekend pay. So.
Chris LoCurto 41:51
Which is such a different thought process. Again, if we compare early days to now, you know, we can only pay what we can pay, we can only put something in a role that we can afford, you know, let's get the the the button the seat, and move forward. As opposed to now it's this long term thinking of we, you know, we're doing the right things, we're putting the right things in place.
Let's think beyond this, which you pointed to a great thing. You are a high economic now, it's always funny, because as I teach values, and when we what you're speaking about is what we call values, or also another term, we call it as motivators. So you're somebody who's highly economic or highly utilitarian, you, you like the return on investment on whatever you're going to put out, if it's going to be money, if it's going to be, you know, personal time, whatever it is, you're always looking for that return on investment.
And I always said, for high economics, y'all are short term thinkers, you don't think long term. And I used to be back in, you know, back in my early days, I was very high economic as well. And they always go, No, we're not. No, we think long term. It's like, no, look at this, this this. Yep, you're right. We're short term thinkers.
I can always do better with the money I've got right now than putting it away and let it grow to bigger now I can, I can make more with it right now. But in that very first Stratplan we were walking through and again, for us, everybody out there selling their magic pill on how you can grow your business and really finding the money is not the issue. It's all the things holding you back. And I remember walking through that process in the very first what a year, like, hold on a second. Where's the money?
Like we're gonna get there? Let's look at this. We get a little bit further. Hold on a second. But where's the money? Now? Like, we're good. It's okay, we're gonna get there. Don't worry about it. Then we get like, the third time was like, hold on. But where's the money? All right here. If we did this, how much is that? Probably about a million. Okay, if we did this and fix this, how much is that? Probably about 250,000. What if we fix this?
That's at least another 100,000. Okay, keep going. In that process, the difference between then, and now I mean, literally, you know, I mean, brother, I couldn't be more proud of how well you've done and always say, Man, if I was going to hire somebody to come in and run Stratplan and do this stuff with me, it would be you the difference between that place of but I don't know how we're gonna get to the money and I got to see the man I got to see this and we got to keep going. And we got it, you know, dragging the chain up the hill and, you know, doing these things to, you're literally guiding people to no, think longer.
Think bigger. Think, you know, what could it look like in three years? Slow that part down? Take somebody and yes, we have a salary requirement right now, but we're going to be looking here, fit that back in. Talk about that shift in mindset like what are what are some of the top decisions that you've made, that's taking you from that Chris to this Chris?
Chris Camp 44:55
Oh, man. So that's a really good question. It's a lot of multiple things there. So I think number one is surrounding yourself with people that will challenge your thinking. So it's one being humble enough to ask people for their opinions. So one, I think I'm, I think, as a general rule, I'm not afraid to ask people's thoughts or opinions that I respect on making decisions.
So, you know, like, obviously, like Joel and you, Paul, we've got a great leadership team of guys that we kind of meet on a monthly that, you know, will challenge thinking or thoughts or where we're going or things like that. So that would be number one. And I think that the other big thing that really helped me there is is getting a really clear vision is another big part of it.
So for me, getting a really clear vision of why we wanted to grow. And why we wanted to continue to expand and why we wanted to do those things. Once we got that, it just became like crystal clear. For me, it's like, that's an investment. You know, that's an investment, I'm willing to make it. You know, and I'll be quite frank too it's probably easier economically where I sit today than it would have been 10 years ago. You know, because economically, I'm not trying to figure out how to feed my family. You know, so that part of it does make it easier. I don't want to, it's a lot easier when it's like we're paying all of our bills, I'm getting my salary. And you know, I can think longer term.
Chris LoCurto 46:59
Yeah, well, I think the the big key to that is because I don't want people to just hear what we have more money now. You literally made changes. You implemented stuff you did the things we've talked through, you've changed the stuff, and now you have that money, which makes it easier. So it was busting your butt.
Chris Camp 47:19
Oh, for sure. Yeah. I mean, it's I mean, because it's 2016. Like, I mean, again, we weren't like destitute poor, like by any means. But there is a significant difference in what that looks like. I mean, the I mean, from a company wide organization standpoint, in 2016, you know, I think we did $5 million. And, you know, the end of 21. If everyone achieves their revenue goals, we'll do 28 million.
Chris LoCurto 47:46
Chris Camp 47:48
Right. So. So that's, that's from the perspective of thinking long term is, it happens faster than you think too, that's the other thing. Sometimes, like, you think it's gonna be years, and it happens a lot faster than what you think. So. So that's a part. But for me, those are the big things is shifting, like you say, shifting my mindset to, what do I want. So like, our vision, like the reason like we create our vision is we want to grow and expand, to create opportunities for people to become the best versions of themselves.
What we have determined as a leadership team is that you can't become the best version of yourself, unless you have a challenge that has grown you. And most people don't get challenged unless they step into a new opportunity. And so we're just constantly thinking like, hey, if we do this, so like, when we look at like launching something, it's not just what is it going to do for revenue? But who would step up and have to do that? What kind of impact would it make on that? Like, okay, well, you know, this guy could do it, but he'd have to learn these these things to be able to step into that role. Or she could do it, but she'd have to be able to do these things. So.
Chris LoCurto 49:08
I love it, because you just mentioned Wes Dill, who is the president of Atlanta Painting, and a phenomenal guy, a gummy bear eaten phenomenal guy, that guy pops gummy bears like crazy. And he is a monster high C. And he is the president of the company. And so I love what you're saying because you've challenged-so for people out there that are looking at personality styles and just going well, certain personality styles can fit leadership and certain you know, it's only the D's or the I's that can do this.
And and we say all the time. No, it's maturity in your personality style that allows you to do this. You keep creating that challenge. You keep creating that challenge for your team. You created an opportunity where a super high C could step up into a role running a 28, you know, soon to be $28 million business. He's gone through many bags of gummy bears doing this, but but you know, he's a phenomenal guy.
And I love it. Because on the last Stratplan, you know, when he's running this process, and you're sitting on the side watching, you know, this new leadership team that stepped up and seeing how great he's doing. And it's just so crazy powerful, that creating that challenge for your team of not just going, you know, it's still all about me, it's, it's got to be me, I've got to control you're so far beyond all of that into how do I develop people into being that best version of yourself? And I just think that's so crazy powerful. So what are some challenges that you guys are facing today? And how are you tackling them?
Chris Camp 50:53
Um, so I think the biggest challenge for me is stepping back. So the balance between stepping back and letting these leaders fail a little bit, and then stepping in. You know, this sort of December, kind of made the decision to step back a little bit more this year, from the perspective of not being as much the control freak, like not being involved in everything as much and just kind of trying to allow them to kind of have the opportunity to run and fail. So that's kind of, it's kind of like having a teenage child and being like, you know, here's the keys.
While balancing that out, by still being available enough to interject and help and give them guidance and say, Hey, guys, here's something to look at, here's something you should see your, you know, those kind of things, that's probably, that's probably the biggest thing on the challenge side for me personally.
And then the other thing for me is just kind of a shift in roles. So like, instead of being the guy who's kind of, you know, in the weeds in each of the businesses day to day, like, you know, my role is really more of like consultant, like I have, we have a company called TPC, Construction Management. And so I have a controller and a head of marketing, the head of HR, that all report directly to me.
And so like, that's kind of my team. And then I have the business units that I manage. And so like shifting from creating this consulting company that's going in and giving them these guys information, and insight, leadership and all those things and, and doing that versus being the guy who's like, we're doing this, this is the decision we're making. And that's been, that's been a bit of a challenge and a little bit of a adventure, to say the least for me personally. But it's been good personally, as well.
So it's been it's been nice from a personal work life balance standpoint of I've been able to take a step back more this year, personally than I have. Like, I think, I think from like, December 19 until sometime the end of January, I did go the office for a month. So and the world didn't end. So it was this good reminder for me is like I've got really good people and competent people, they know what they're doing, and like I need to let them do their job.
Chris LoCurto 53:38
Yeah, I think it's it's so funny, like, when we we went, our leadership team went and took two weeks away and went to Israel. And you know, we, we talked about what the clients and stuff, you know, we received four emails, you know, total of like, Hey, can you just answer this?
You know, because when you do this stuff, and when you help people to be successful, and you give them the opportunity, and then you get out of the way you don't, it's not the concept of you put them in a role and then Baptism by fire and you hope they make it. It's literally setting them up, training them to be successful, and then letting them be successful. And then being there to support the whole way.
Your leadership doesn't stop. But it's so funny when we got back and we just jumped right in and started going again. And and some of our clients are like, dude, how many fires did you have to put out? Like, there wasn't any fires. What do you mean, there wasn't any fires? How could you be aware that y'all were the way that law no fire? There was literally no fires because we do the stuff we teach you to do. And it's so fun. And it's like you say it's you get to this place and a lot of leaders are like, well, man, I'd be afraid to experience that because I'd hate to find out that I'm not needed. No, no, it's not saying you're not needed.
It's saying you're needed in a higher capacity and you're in that place now where you went from men, you are dragging the chain up the hill, you know, you're the one who's making it happen to, you're the one who is strategically looking over how do I not only make this happen, but how do I allow them to grow into these these roles as well.
Chris Camp 55:21
I think that I'd say it's all time for example, like Wes has a much better manager than I ever would be. So his skillset, his abilities, like he's just better running a company on the day-to-day than I am. But where I'm really good is a long term vision and be able to say like, this is where we need to go. And these are the decisions we need to like, push forward, like, this is what it looks like, five years from now. Building that I can do, and that's a strength of mine. And so one of the things that, you know, I just challenged leaders is like, so many of us and myself included, and I still battle, sometimes we get worth from our business and how successful we are, and all those things that we do.
And I want everybody to look, we want everybody to look at us and be like, Hey, man, you're so good. And, and the funny thing about it is, is when you're doing the same things, and you're growing, nobody says that to you. And then all sudden, one day everybody starts going, you guys are everywhere. You guys are amazing, like blah, blah, and it's like, dude, I'm doing the same thing I did was five years ago, like, I don't know what you're like, you know?
And so it's, it's, it's just finding the thing that you do, like, what is your superpower? I tell this to my leadership team all the time, like, what's your superpower? What's the thing that you are, you do better than anything else. And the more you stay in that thing, and you focus on it, the better you are. So if you're not a great person with vision, hire somebody who's great at vision and go run the business on the day. Like, if you're great at vision, go find a manager or somebody who's great at running the business on a day-to-day and let them do those things, because they're gonna do it better. And that's okay.
Chris LoCurto 57:08
Yeah. And I do think, you know, it's, you've pointed to the the gifts and talents of like a Wes, and these other guys are better at this stuff. But I think it's there has to also be that recognition of, it took a Chris Camp, to run into 47 brick walls, until one of them either busted or fell over, to pave away for great guys and great gals to step up in and just, you know, kill it in their abilities, which you would hate it with your personality style, if you had to stay in the specific day-to-day for a decade or two and that didn't, you know, that didn't push you up into greater strength that you have as well. So a very important piece for people to hear.
And like you said, so if I'm the leader that's out there, that's the one who keeps running into the brick walls, keep running into the brick walls, just get the right tools, it'd be amazing how much faster you could get through the wall. You know?
Chris Camp 58:12
Well, here's a perfect example of it. So where we took, you know, let's see, so 2016, so where we took, you know, 10 years to get to in Atlanta, it took us four years to get there in Nashville, right? And my hope is that we can get to, you know, Dallas, two or three years, right?
So because of our ability to learn, like, we don't need to run into a brick wall, sometimes you can just step around the brick wall. A little strategy goes a long way, you know, but I wouldn't have learned that strategy goes a long way, if I hadn't run to the brick wall 100 times.
And because I didn't quit, I found out that some you can just step around the wall. So that's, you know, that's the thing and, and I will say that my, like the Weses and the Mike's and the you know, those guys that are they're really good about their gratefulness for the brick walls that I've run into. Like they, you know, they're really good about being grateful for the opportunities they've gotten, and they're confident in their abilities.
And that, you know, there are times where Wes will look at me and go, like, you know, there's actually a lot of times where I'm like, Hey, man, we should do this, and they look at me and go, that sounds like a great idea. But here's the three things we need to accomplish first, we could put that on the agenda for next year.
And I'm like, No, no, we need to do this like this is this is gonna be awesome. And we're gonna do this and they look at me and go, No, I need to accomplish these three things first, and then I can go do that like, okay, okay, but what about this?
Chris LoCurto 59:59
That's when he starts grabbing gummy bears.
Chris Camp 1:00:01
Exactly. You know, he's he's not afraid to say he's confident his abilities, but he's also appreciative of, and very grateful for the walls that have been run through and the time and effort, energy and, you know of things and, and he's been here for like eight or nine years. So he's kind of seen a little bit of the beginning. And it's funny because we talked about that, you know, we've got employees, I think, I think in Atlanta, I mean, I think we, our oldest employee outside of our leadership team is like, three years. So in their mind, you just show up, people are like, you guys are amazing.
Chris LoCurto 1:00:48
It's always been this way. I love that, you know, like the Weses is that have that respect, like you're saying is that he doesn't have a problem telling you, Chris, that's probably not our best idea. And at the same time, having the respect that the things that you've gone after, is what got us where we are, you know, there's, we can't lose the entrepreneurial mindset, we just have to put the right tools in place.
And I think the the most profound thing you said there was, and this is one of the toughest things, especially for business owners, it's tough for leaders period, but especially for business owners, because they, they want to be able to do it on their own. I think the most profound thing you said is we have the ability to learn.
If you didn't actually learn the things to do, you're still running into brick walls, or you might be not, you know, you might have sold the business a long time ago or gotten out. It's the ability to learn, and that's the thing that every leader in every business owner needs to hear. If you're not willing to learn, forget it, you just keep running into the brick walls, maybe one of them will break.
But when you learn how to go around how to sidestep how to do it smarter, than it changes the absolute way that you do your business. And it changes the amount of energy and it changes the joy and it changes the effort and it changes your work life balance every one of those pieces. So tell business leaders tell business owners right now what should they be doing in order to grow their capacity?
Chris Camp 1:02:25
Well, I think it just depends on where they're at, in their journey. From a capacity standpoint is I mean, I think you just you need to be constantly challenging your ideas. Like, I've been really blessed to have some fantastic people around me that I can go to, and be like, Hey, you know, you're a couple steps ahead of me. You know, how did you get there? So I think if you're going to grow your capacity, the number one thing is, is that you need to have some humility to understand that there's a lot of things that you don't know, Paul and I were talking last week, and we were laughing, because at 25, we thought we knew everything. And it's 38 now we're like, man, we don't know anything.
And it's just, you know, having some humility to understand that find people around you that will challenge you. Be a ferocious learner. So one of the things that I you know, talk about is like, you can read 100 books, if you read a book, pick out one thing that you can take and implement into your business and do and, and that is probably also just the thing on the capacity side is, is do. Like, one of the things that we focus on in hiring is we want doers. Like we want people that have done stuff and go do things. Because you can't fix anything. If you don't do anything. You can sit there and pontificate for years about how you're going to make the perfect plan. But until you go do the plan, you don't even know if the plan is going to work.
Chris LoCurto 1:04:17
Yeah. I think that's something that we always are looking for is there's so many people who want to be a part of something because they like the thing they want to be a part of. But man, if you want to get in the door fast, show that you can actually accomplish something. Show that you're willing to go grab a chain and drag people up a hill. Show that you know, grab a broom, go sweep something shows that you're willing to get in get your hands dirty and get going.
Chris Camp 1:04:45
Yeah, it's I mean, that's the number one thing like when we start a business, the first hire that we're looking for outside of the person who's kind of running the business is somebody who does things like Paul. Paul had no not a lot of skills when he came to work for me. But the one thing he had was Paul was a doer. Like, Paul would go do things, Paul will go make things happen. Now, a good chunk of them were well done, and a good chunk of them were, you know, not you know, perfect, but if you go do things, it now allows us to go learn something. Like I tell us to salespeople all the time is like, you can't learn anything from a job you don't book.
Chris LoCurto 1:05:28
Yeah. So true. So true.
Chris Camp 1:05:32
Yeah. Like you just you're not gonna learn anything. So, you know, you're not gonna learn, well, Hey, can I cut this corner? Can I not, like, Can we one coat this can be to coat that, like, you are gonna learn to that if you don't actually go paint the house. This is just a theory. And so, like, doing is a massive thing of growing your capacity, because you have to consistently do things to be able to stretch you.
Chris LoCurto 1:06:00
I love seeing you know, when a Paul is showing up all the time, and you know, we've become great friends, you know, we've been hanging out for years now. doing stuff together working, growing the businesses, all that kind of fun stuff. It's so great to see a Paul who as he sits in like, you know, Next Level Mastermind retreats. And when we open the floor up, and we're talking through things with the clients, and Paul is hitting things, and people are looking to Paul going, who's the wise guy over there?
You know, who's who's this guy who has, you know, like you say, came in with not a lot of skill and is now somebody that you know, are the newer clients are coming around going, Wow, this guy knows a whole lot of stuff. Because you guys constantly did it, you know, you don't have to be heavily skilled to learn, you have to have an ability to learn. That's the key. If you have the ability to learn, it's amazing what you can become in the long run. Or brother, if you went back 10 years ago, and you were talking to a younger Chris Camp, what would you tell him?
Chris Camp 1:07:13
Oh, man. Um, well, first of all, I would tell him to not get so angry. That would be the first thing. I mean, I would probably the biggest thing that I would tell him 10 years ago would be teach more, yell less. I mean, I've always been so passionate about, like, passionate about wanting to be great that I think at times, I missed the boat on teaching people and I just yelled and grabbed the reins and went fix the thing, where there's probably people that if I had stopped to teach them, instead of yell at them, they would probably still be a part of our organization. And our business would probably be further ahead. And in a better place than it is today, if I had done that sooner. And so that would probably be the probably the biggest thing I would, I would say is stop, you know, and teach versus yell.
Chris LoCurto 1:08:26
What was the maybe a softball pitch? What was the big thing that changed?
Chris Camp 1:08:30
That was the big thing that changed that. Man. So I think the biggest thing that changed it was just hearing and seeing from the people on our team, how it affected them.
Chris LoCurto 1:08:56
When you can start recognizing, oh, I'm bringing this to the table? It changes a lot.
Chris Camp 1:09:02
Chris LoCurto 1:09:03
Well, brother, man, I'm so proud of you. I'm proud of the team, you guys have just done a killer job walking through this success path and knocking all this stuff out. Thanks for coming on the show and helping a whole bunch of leaders and a whole bunch of business owners to hear that this can be done that not only can it be done, but man. There's easier paths. Is there anything else you want to share to all of those guys out there all those guys and gals that are listening?
Chris Camp 1:09:31
The last thing I would say is just it's worth it. Like, it's it's worth the struggle. It's worth the pain to go through it. And it just is I mean, I love what I do. I love what I do more today than I did 15 years ago.
Chris LoCurto 1:09:49
Yeah, no doubt. No doubt. Well, good to have you on brother. Hopefully we'll be seeing here. I think we see here in a month or so. Right? Yeah, something like that. Something like that. All right. Well, folks, there you have it. The big things I want you to take away from this is just like Chris shared, it's worth it. Don't give up on this. If this is something that's a dream of yours, that this is something that you enjoy.
Yes, it may be tough. The key is learn, grow, you've got to stick to process if you want to grow and succeed. There's just too many things at stake too many moving parts, too many employees depending on you to leave it to chance. So you have to have people further down the path, coaching you, encouraging you, challenging you and holding you accountable to the things in the business and life that you want to achieve. So hopefully this has helped you today. As always, our goal is for you to take all this information, change your leadership, change your business, change your life, and join us on the next episode.
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