Episode 5 – How to ruin your life in 3 easy steps with Anthony Vinzi


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The road to Anthony Vinzi‘s appearance on this podcast was a long and arduous one. Tim and Anthony have known one another for over a decade. Their paths would occasionally cross on various construction projects. Anthony runs Promain Exterior Maintenance, a full service concrete and ashphalt company based in Woodbridge. But it was in 2010 when they really became friends. 2010 also happens to be the worst year of Tim’s life. Though those two facts aren’t related. Well, actually they kind of are.

You see, Tim had a shit crazy year in 2010. His brother and he stopped talking to one another after many years of working together in the family business. But that’s a topic for another podcast. Then in March of that year Tim was forced to admit to an affair. Then he was sued in April by one of the women for sexual harassment. Tim and his then wife broke up and he moved out of the house. Then in October Tim’s 20 year old son Hilton was left in a coma after a skateboarding accident. He remained in St. Michael’s hospital for 21 days before he succumbed to his injuries. Tim was a broken man as he recounts in the episode.

“I was embarrassed. I was a mess. My heart was broken, my ego shattered and my reputation was in tatters.”

That’s when Anthony enters the picture. Tim had hired Anthony to pave a driveway at one of his properties. Those plans were shelved after Hilton’s accident. Tim basically stayed inside his house and didn’t leave for days at a time. Getting out of bed was next to impossible. But once a week Tim would hear a light tap at the door. He almost never got up to see who it was. But eventually, he would open the door to find a large Tim Horton’s coffee on the stoop. It was usually frozen solid by then and there was no sign of who has left it. This went on for several weeks. Then one morning Tim happened to up when the knock came. He opened the door to find Anthony’s orange coat descending the stairs.

“Hey!” Tim said.

“Oh hey man,” Anthony answered. “I just wanted to make sure you were OK.”

That began a years long friendship that culminates in this week’s episode.

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Episode 4 – “Muslim, eh?” with Saleem


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Saleem, Saleemo, Sal the Magician. He goes by many names but he is, perhaps, best known around the Stadia office for his catch phrase.

“How are you today Saleem?”

“Just Chickie Bamboo!” he replies.

Chickie Bamboo. It’s a puzzling turn of phrase but one that, despite it’s intense silliness, has begun to catch on among Saleem’s co-workers. He’s been with the company for over ten years now. He started working with BOD not long after moving to Canada from his native Pakistan. Tim is eager to learn more about Saleem’s time working at the company as our chief estimator. And they also discuss Saleem’s experience as a new Canadian.

Saleem was married in Pakistan just a year before boarding a plane to his home in Canada. He first worked for AOL but ten years ago he joined Byrne on Demand working as estimator. He later crossed the floor to do the same job for Stadia.

Pakistan is, of course, a Muslim-majority country and Tim wasn’t long into their conversation when he started asking Saleem about his religion.

“Do you find this office to be culturally welcoming.” Tim asks.

Saleem says it is. He points out that when he first started with the company he got the OK to pray alone in the company boardroom. Saleem also leaves the office early on Friday’s for the evening service. He says he was unsure about how his co-workers would react. That feeling of uneasiness didn’t last long. Tim says Saleem has been his barometer to ensure that the company is as welcoming a place as possible.

After Tim finishes badgering Saleem about his personal life the two begin an intense session of office gossip. (Though it’s mostly Tim doing the gossiping.)

“What’s it like working for Mike Wickenden even though he’s ten years younger than you?” Tim asks, desperately searching for any sign of envy or animosity from Saleem.

Unfazed, Saleem causally replies that Mike is the more experienced of the two and he’s happy to work for him. He quickly adds that they have great chemistry on the job. Tim presses on with his line of questioning – eager to reveal some underlying hatred between his Director of Operations and Chief Estimator.

“Has Mike every yelled at you?” Tim asks.

Saleem says no but does point out that he knows when to avoid Mike’s grumpy moods. He quickly turns the tables on Tim and points out that in fact Tim has yelled at Saleem. Though Saleem charitably points out that Tim had the good taste to phone back a few minutes later and apologize for losing his temper.

The majority of Canadians leave their job every three to five years. Saleem is an outlier having stayed with Stadia for a decade. Tim asks him why he decided to stay for so long. Saleem says the company’s accommodating culture has been a big part of it. He adds that being a new Canadian with a wife who works full time while raising two young kids isn’t easy. The stability of staying with one job has been a big part of his success.

Tim and Saleem wrap up their conversation with a discussion about the frustrations of the job. Specifically the pair commiserate about the annoying habit of some contractors who ask for estimates knowing they will never give Stadia the job.

“They’re using us as a check price.” Tim says. “And I’m OK with that. Just be up front about it!”

Saleem agrees and the pair finish their conversation with Tim asking to hear a joke. The result is not worth writing about but it does confirm that although Saleem is one of the nicest people at the company, he’s definitely not the funniest.

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Episode 3 – “I could die at any second” with Kat Byrne


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Today on the show Tim invites his daughter to be the first ever interviewee on the podcast. Kat Byrne is the General Manager of Byrne on Demand – that’s our general contracting business for those of you out of the loop. Kat started working for the company seven years ago when she was just 17. Now at the ripe old age of 25 Kat has taken over the day-to-day management of the business.

If you had asked Kat as a kid whether she would end up working for her Dad her reply would have been an emphatic “no!” The reasons for that are simple enough – especially if you know anything about the Byrne family history.

“We don’t speak to anyone in the family anymore.” She tells Tim in the interview. “If we mix family and business we are never going to talk.”

Tim’s brothers Mike and Kevin along with his brother-in-law all work for competing businesses in the door and glass industry. Tim feels they have all tailored their businesses in order to directly compete with Stadia and Byrne on Demand.

“It’s psychological warfare.” Tim says.

Kat says that she rarely speaks with her uncles. They occasionally make awkward eye-contact at trade fairs but little else. That lack of contact doesn’t bother her.

“You don’t get to pick your family.” She says. “If the relationship was supposed to stay together it would have stayed together.”

The Byrne’s have a long history in the glass and door business stretching back to the 1950’s. Tim’s Dad Ray Byrne owned Byrne Glass and before that RayWin.

“He used to go bankrupt like I change my underwear.” Tim says.

Kat says an average day at the office is always different. It’s a noisy, busy place that you have to be a bit of a loud mouth to fit in. She says they try to be pleasant to one another – though screaming does occur from time to time. People tend to work better under pressure and in a competitive atmosphere according to Kat.

Tim plans to record 26 interviews with various staff members over the next year. Since Kat is the very first of those interviews Tim asks her what she thinks they will say. Since they’ll be answering the question in front of the owner she expects them to be very polite.

“None of them are going to tell you the truth.” She says.

That said Kat does think the company feels like a family and a second home to the vast majority of their employees.

Kat left the company for about a year and likes the place a lot more the second time around. She thinks that’s because she changed a lot in that year. Kat quickly rose through the ranks. She attributes that quick rise to the fact that she was “raised by wolf.” The fact that she is the owner’s daughter is creates some odd situations. Most of the new staff have been hired and trained by Kat. But some of the staff have known her since she was a baby. Adding to the complications is the fact that being a women in this industry can be tough.

“Job sites are sexist as shit.” Tim says.

Kat’s counterpart at Stadia is Michael Wickenden. Mike is the Director of Operations at Stadia

while Kat does a similar job at Byrne on Demand. The companies are two separate entities but operate under the same roof so the two staffs interact a lot. Kat says bluntly that she found Mike very intimidating for many years.

“Up until a year ago he scared the shit out of me.” She says.

Mike is, by all accounts, a very quiet guy and that left Kat wondering whether he hated her or not. It took a while for her to figure out that they are on the same level and ventually came to view him as a partner. That’s because she worked under Mike for several years it took a while to view him as an equal. Now they talk regularly though it’s usually just one word at a time.

Kat and Tim are preparing for the company’s very first retirement party. Rod Murray has a long history with the Byrne family. He first worked for Tim’s Dad in the 1980’s. When Tim struck out on his own Rod was the first person he hired. For a time Rod’s business card featured the initials OFW which stood for “Only Fucking Worker.”

Kat’s goal is to make sure that clients phone her before Tim. Tim’s biggest pet peeve is learning that something is wrong from the client instead of the staff.

The conversation wraps up with a maudlin discussion about how the podcast will be very valuable to Kat once Tim kicks the bucket.

“Twenty years from now you’ll be able to hear my voice. After all I could die at any second.” Tim says.

 

Kat Byrne is the General Manager of Byrne On Demand.  You can contact Kat at katb@byrneondemand.ca

 

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Byrne On Demand

Stadia Glass & Door