Episode 13 – Canada, what to do? Tim, Kat and Anthony in Nashville

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Tim is in Nashville this week. He’s there attending the PRSM conference. (That’s the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association for the uninitiated.) The conference promised “The largest Multi-Site Retail & Restaurant FM Conference with best-in-class education sessions and networking events plus more than 300+ qualified exhibitors all under one roof!” But after the first full day Tim can’t figure out why he is there at all.

To get to the bottom of this he’s convened a secret late night taping of the podcast with his trusty sidekicks Kat Byrne and Anthony Vinzi. The conversation begins with a diagnosis of all that’s wrong with PRSM. For starters Tim and company feel being Canadian has put them at an extreme disadvantage. The conference is almost entirely geared to the American attendees.

“We’re like the orphaned child waiting for the scraps.” Tim says.

The other issue is that there are way more vendors than retailers. The rare retailer that does show up is quickly swarmed by twenty vendors. Kat thinks there is a much different atmosphere at IFMA events. They have a strict no selling policy and the events are much more geared to meeting new people in the industry.

“At PRSM it’s more like vultures.” She says.

Tim thinks the biggest issue is that the PRSM event is only once a year. It’s hard to build a community when you only see each other every twelve months. Tim shares the story of the early days of BOMA twenty years ago. They focused on suppliers and get them to collaborate on issues they shared in common. They also met twice a month religiously. There was only a few dozen members in those early days but that has since grown to thousands.

As the episode wraps up Kat is struggling to justify the $5000 annual fee to be a part of PRSM not to mention the $10 thousand expense of traveling to Nashville. Tim thinks that retailers should be given free memberships and the vendors should have to pay a little more.

“PRSM is dying.” Tim says.

Tim thinks they should take a step back. Meet every month. Get a drink somewhere and start slow.

“Get together the people you should. Make it regular so everyone is friend and it will evolve on it’s own.”

Episode 12 – Messed Up with Josh Stratton

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Las Vegas.  It’s a storied city.  The home of The Rat Pack, The Strip and The Bellagio.  But when Tim’s guest this week mentions that he recently returned from Las Vegas he focuses on something else entirely.

“Do you have any stories about hookers and blow?” Tim asks Josh Stratton.  

Josh is a pretty reserved member of the Stadia and Byrne on Demand team and politely declines to fuel Tim’s lascivious imagination.  Instead he shares the story of his recent divorce tour of Las Vegas. He and a friend went for dinner and drinks shortly after arriving in Sin City. They staggered back onto The Strip at the exact moment a group of parachuters landed right in front of them.  It seems a group of intrepid base jumpers took advantage of quiet Vegas night to jump off the top of a construction crane. Tim, unfortunately, is totally unimpressed by this story.

“I think you should have added some hookers, nudity and blow to that story.” He says.

Tim had to beg Josh to do this interview.  It seems that not only do Stadia’s customers think this podcast is a terrible idea, so do most of the staff.  It’s just another example of the loony owner with another dog shit idea that is likely going to sink the entire company.  Josh is used to this of course. He’s been with the company for five years.

Tim and Josh have known each other for longer than that, though.  They first met through a mutual friend named Fraser who worked at an electronics store.  Tim had done quite a bit of work for that store. But the owner was late paying the bill.  Tim rolled up on his Harley, hopped off the bike, stormed into the store and politely told Fraser that if he didn’t pay what was owed he was going to destroy every TV in the place.  Without missing a beat Fraser cut him a check and the two became fast friends. It was at Fraser’s wedding that Josh and Tim met each other. They were both getting trashed at the bar when Tim decided Josh would make a good addition to the company.  

Josh didn’t know a fucking thing about door and glass when he first joined Stadia.  Tim said not to worry about it and the he would learn on the fly. Josh did figure out the business eventually but only after more than a few mistakes.  The most famous example occurred while changing the giant windows at The TD Towers.  It was a frozen January weekend and they had to swap out a 20 foot piece of glass using the remote controlled suction gear.  The glass was out and set to be installed when the R/C unit stopped working. The glass sat hovering just a few inches off the ground for six hours as Josh desperately tried to figure out what was wrong.  In the end the solution was the same as with every piece of electronic gear. Just restart the fucking thing.





Episode 11 – Engineering Gravity with Gord Bendus

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Tim is especially excited for this week’s guest. To be fair, he would have been excited to have any guest this week. The stunning list of people who have refused to appear on this podcast continues to grow daily. Luckily, Tim really fluked out when, for no apparent reason, wildly successful engineering wunderkind Gord Bendus agreed to be interviewed. Gord is one of the founding partners of Gravity Engineering in Toronto. The firm has racked up an impressive list of projects in just a few short years. It’s success if even more impressive when you realize that Gord is just 33 years old. He has made very few mistakes in his decade long career but appearing on this podcast is definitely one of them.

For reasons that remain unclear, however, Tim chooses to start this episode with something totally unrelated to Gord. The podcast begins with a five minute long story that some have called “shocking”. Others have denounced it as “disgusting”. The details of this story are too vile to commit to print but suffice it to say it will almost certainly end in a mass exodus of listeners and, very possibly, a major lawsuit. The story – which we will only refer to as “The Smart Car Shit Story” – is easily one of the most horrifying yet undeniably hilarious stories Tim has told yet.

The episode manages to recover after that horrifying interlude when Tim finally gets around to starting the interview. He does so in his usual tactful manner.

“I hear that most engineers are alcoholics,” he says.

“Where did you hear that?” Gord asks.

“From a bunch of engineers I know,” Tim replies

The conversation moves into the horrors of trying to recover money from clients. The engineering business is just like any trade. Having clients ghost on you happens for them too – though not nearly as often that contractors have to deal with. Tim shares a business near death experience from early in his career. After doing $140 thousand of work for a client they immediately went into receivership. Tim’s company faced insolvency and he was facing total bankruptcy. He got the money though.

“I know a guy that can collect money from anyone,” he says.

The episode ends with yet another shocking story. Tim reveals one of the few times he fired a client. Tim couldn’t stand working with the guy running the job. It was a constant battle. The guy wouldn’t stop screaming at Tim. He worked up the courage to march into his office and declare that he would no longer work for him. After leaving the office Tim realized he has left his tool belt in the office. He had to work up the courage to go back to the guys office to get his tools the following Monday. When he went back in the receptionist had a surprise. The guy had died on Friday. Needless to say Tim decided not the fire the client after all.

Connect with Gord


Episode 10 – Glass Canada Live!

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Tim travels through the heart of darkness along the 401 and finds himself in London, Ontario this week. There he meets up with the Editor of Glass Canada magazine which is the premier trade publication for the glass industry. Patrick Flannery is also the editor of Fenestration Review which puzzles Tim.

“What the fuck did you just say?” He politely inquires.

It turns out that fenestration is a fancy word for the arranging of doors and windows in a building. This comes as a big surprise for Tim. He has managed to work for over three decades in the glass and door business without ever hearing the word ‘fenestration.’

He doesn’t let that slow him down.. Soon Tim and Patrick are discussing the flood of cheap curtain walls from China. They also discuss why Chinese manufacturers have so many advantages over their less subsidized Canadian counterparts.

Soon the conversation shifts to Patrick. Tim is blunt with his questions.

“Do you know anything about the glass business?”

It turns out Patrick, unlike Tim, was spared growing up in the business. Instead, Patrick got a journalism degree which he quickly discovered was totally unusable in the mind 1990’s. He worked as a tool salesman for a number of years before inching back into writing through industry publications like Glass Canada.

Before long the pair start commiserating about the more frustrating aspects of the business. First and foremost is the difficulty of actually getting interviews.

“Do you have problems getting interviews?” Tim asks.

“It’s like pulling teeth,” Patrick says.

It seems there is a pervading culture of secrecy in the door and glass business which is utterly mystifying to both Tim and Patrick. Who told these people that never talking about your business is a good PR strategy? Patrick often encounters this when potential guests tell him they want to keep “a low profile.” A low profile from what? Are they spies?

Patrick wraps up the episode by talking about why trade print publications still have some life left in them in the age of digital media. You can’t leave an iPad on the back of the shitter at the factory. It’s as simple as that. Tim still thinks there is room for growth though. Especially if they start to include more porn in the magazine. Patrick takes that suggestion under advisement and they end the interview with a glass of scotch and a couple of cigars.