S02E27 – What the hell is a building consultant anyways?

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Of all the job titles Tim has heard thrown around over the years “building consultant” is definitely the most confusing. Stephen Emberley from Tri-Tech Pinnacle Group is here to explain. Together, Tim and Steve talk about why so many job sites are torn apart by internal bickering.  They also debate the importance of firing clients who aren’t working out.

INSTAGRAM: @TimByrneAlmostLive
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S02E25 – Why being an asshole is bad for business

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Tim is joined this week by Doug Macy from Trust 1 Security. The pair talk about how to create a unique identity in a crowded marketplace. Tim has tried to center his business around his own personality. Making yourself the brand is a great way to generate some name recognition but it has it’s downsides too. Doug thinks Tim has succeeded because he is fiercely loyal and refuses to abandon his friends when time’s get tough. “If someone falls and your don’t offer a hand, you’re just an asshole.” Tim says.

SOCIAL: @TimByrneAlmostLive
WEBSITE: TimByrneAlmostLive.com

S02E21 – Death of a Salesman with Andy Rutledge

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Being a salesman sucks. Especially if you’ve just started in a new territory or with a new company. By month six you’re ready to quit. You’re depressed. You’re frazzled. You have no one to turn too. Now you do. On today’s episode Tim shares how you can get over the hump and really succeed.

He’s joined this week by Andy Rutledge, a relatively new salesman at Stadia.  He is in the midst of dealing with the desert that is month six at a new sales job.  Tim provides some counsel to his younger counterpart.

The problem is that success for a sales person is hard to see in the moment.  Success means money and even if you’ve been making some deals you won’t see the fruits of that labour for at least another three months.  That means you have to have a robust sense of self.  You have to believe that you’re succeeding.  Otherwise the voices in your head are going to take over an make your life miserable.


S02E20 – QuadReal with Cheryl Gray Part 2

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Cheryl Gray is a titan in the Toronto real estate industry. In the second part of our conversation we discuss the looming recession and about how to build real relationships in a digitized age.

I was also extremely eager to talk with Cheryl about how young companies can get a foothold in the industry. Cheryl is untouchable to the average trade or vendor. She explained how an up-and-coming company can get the attention of a big player like Quadreal. This is must have information for start-up companies!

S02E19 – QuadReal with Cheryl Gray – Part One and Two

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I actually got goosebumps when my guest this week agreed to appear on the show.  I’ve know Cheryl Gray for something like 30 years now.  Over that time she has become one of the most powerful women in Canadian real estate.  Cheryl is an Executive Vice President at QuadReal Property Group which manages a $24 billion portfolio spread over 17 countries.

Over the first part of our conversation Cheryl and I dig into her history in the industry.  She first started in the industry in recession-plagued 1980’s Calgary.  She and her husband relocated to Toronto in the late 80’s where she began her rise through the industry.

Cheryl and I also discuss the growth of QuadReal and she details what a property manager really does.  I, of course, try to get to the truth about what a vendor has to do to develop a relationship with a company as huge as QuadReal. (Hint: BE DEPENDABLE!)

S02E18 – The Avison Young Episode with Steve Ichelson

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I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time.  Steve Ichelson is a major player at Avison Young, the world’s fastest growing real estate services firm.  Steve is also a very old and dear friend.  Together we shine a light into some of the lesser known parts of our business.  Vendors don’t have a clue how the big property management companies operate.  Today’s show is all about changing that.  You’re going to come away with a much better understanding of how the big real estate firms operate and why they are so hard on their vendors.



S02E17 – Kevin the Goat Live At PM Expo

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Tim and Anthony are joined by a very special guest this week.  Our famed mascot Kevin the Goat joins the pair live in studio.  Kevin was incredibly well behaved for his first recording session.  While he didn’t offer many opinions he did provide us with the unforgettable image of Anthony and Kevin cuddling live on camera.

We’re just a week away from PM Expo.  We’re doing something a little different for this years trade show.  We’re going to be doing live broadcasts every day from Nov 28-30.  We’re going to be talking to a huge variety of guests from across the industry.  And we’re still hoping to convince Doug Ford to stop by for a chat.  Be sure to stop by our booth where you can watch and listen to the show being created!

S02E14 – Sex, Lies and Videotape


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For the first time ever Tim Byrne Almost live is actually live!  We broadcast today’s episode on Facebook and Instagram in real time.  It was a bit of a disaster.  We haven’t really figured out all the equipment yet.  Luckily Anthony Vinzi from Promain Exterior joined me to soften the blow.

Timology 6 – Recession?

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Class is in session for the latest edition of Timology.  Today I battle through an early winter head cold to reveal the state of the economy.  With interest rates rising and the stock market sputtering there is a lot of concern out there.  Rightly so. I think that the chances of a recession in 2019 are very real.

A recession is only going to be amplified by the current political environment in the United States.  If Trump gets re-elected in 2020 then the recession will be fairly mild. Not because of any great economic skill on Trump’s part.  Second term Presidents tend to put their feet up and coast on their accomplishments. If a new guy takes power there inclination will be to cut to the bone.  And that could have disastrous consequences for the economy at large. That’s especially true for Canada’s economy which is so dependent on trade with the States.

So what can businesses do?  Hunker down and get ready for the storm.  If you are able to pay off any corporate debt then do so immediately.  Rising interest rates will make servicing any debt really difficult. The other thing you can do as a small business person is double down on customer care.  Focussing on those personal relationships is so important in a downturn.


S02E11 – The Battle of the Sexes

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I always start the show by saying this is your Wednesday night drive home. But tonight that’s particularly accurate. My niece Alex Byrne and I recorded this week’s episode during an interminable four hour post-thanksgiving drive. We’ve edited this episode down to just the most offensive bits so I hope you enjoy it!

We start the episode by discussing the big controversy of the day. The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation battle had just concluded at the time of this recording. Alex took a somewhat dim view of the accusers. “I felt like there was a lot of hearsay,” she said. I personally think that when someone comes out as an accuser at the height of someone’s career it’s pretty suspect.

Alex and I then started to talk about the state of the family courts, something both of us have had way too much experience with. Family law is way out of date, in my opinion. Back when my Mom divorced my Dad her biggest fear was how she was going to live. Now that’s completely flipped. It’s especially bad if you’re a business owner because the courts tend to just make up what your net worth is.

I really liked this episode even if Alex needs to work on her conversational abilities. (She’d dispute that.) Recording an interview while driving with a microphone in my hand may not be the safest thing I’ve ever done. But it worked out in the end!

S02E05 – The Naked Truth (On Being Too Expensive)

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There are few things more painful in life than being dragged into a corporate workshop.  That is until you go to a Tim Byrne corporate workshop. Instead of the usual droning on about sales projections and team building you get a Tasmanian Devil whirlwind of foul-mouthed truth speak.  The good folks at Curb Signs Inc. made the fateful decision to invite our hero to their office in Aurora to deliver a lecture on all things sales.  

“Everything you do is too expensive.”  Every sales person hears that every day.  But that’s bullshit, according to Tim. Well, most of the time anyways.  33% of the time you’re not too expensive compared to your competitor. You’re too expensive for their budget.  It’s all about how they build their budgets.  Property managers will always move numbers around to make it look like they’re saving their clients money.  Often times they will take money out of the budget for your work and stick it somewhere else – leaving you with nothing. So when they tell you you’re too expensive it has nothing to do with your estimate.  The other 33% of the time you lost the job because they don’t like you. It’s only that last 33% where you will actually lose a job because you were undercut by a competitor.

Building relationships is by far the hardest job a sales person has to master.  Sales people

will do anything to avoid having to go to yet another social function where they awkwardly stand in the corner talking to people they already know.  Those events are about building new relationships!  The easiest thing about the job is writing the purchase order or bidding the job.  Shaking hands and meeting people is fucking awful. Cold calling is the worst of the worst.  But it’s the only way you’re going to be successful so you better get good at it and quick.The only thing your organization is going to need in the next few decades is people that know how to talk to people.  Most of the jobs in big companies are going to be automated. Building relationships is the only thing matters.    

S02E03 – Touch my junk!

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Tim has an absolutely phenomenal guest in the studio this week. Not only because he’s a great guy but because the company he works for is absolutely trouncing the marketplace these days. William Stefancic is the commercial sales manager with 1-800-GOT-JUNK. Will started with the company when he was a student working in the trucks. He worked his way through the ranks and took over commercial sales when he was barely in his 30’s. The company grew quickly by focussing on the residential waste removal. Will has been tasked with putting a new emphasis on commercial customers. That’s where Tim comes in.

Tim is pretty interested in all the weird stuff William has come across during his decade with the company. The list William provides definitely meets the definition of “weird”. You can only imagine the stuff you find crawling through basements, backyards and storage spaces. “You meet a pretty wide spectrum of humanity in this job,” Will says. “Hoarders, abandoned buildings and overgrown yards are a normal part of the job.”

The Toronto franchise of 1-800-GOT-JUNK is by far the largest in the country. It was started by Paul Guy who after meeting founder Brian Scudamore became the company’s first franchisee. Unfortunately, he was in Vancouver at the time and had to drive a waste removal truck all the way to Toronto to start the business. Will finds that story particularly inspiring. When he was first starting with the company, spending his days bouncing around in a hot garbage truck, he made the decision to do his absolute best at a job that other might have found beneath them. That hard work and dedication has paid off.

If you have an office filled with old office furniture or a project manager with storage lockers filled with people’s abandoned stuff Will is your man. He and 1-800-GOT-JUNK are aggressively courting commercial customers. Tim thinks commercial leasing guys are particularly desperate for dependable waste removal. “The property manager has a huge problem finding the right labour source for waste removal,” Tim says. For one price, William says, 1-800-GOT-JUNK will sort you out.


William Stefancic


S02E02 – An architect’s nightmare on my street

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The relationship between architects and tradespeople is sometimes less than congenial. Today Tim tries to fix that. He’s invited Stephen Pollock, a Toronto-based architect with more than 20 years experience, onto the show. Tim asks all the questions every tradesperson has wanted to know about they guy behind the drawings.

First up is a discussion about how an architect figures out what to charge their customers. The rule of thumb is that an architect can expect to be paid between 5 to 7% of the total project cost. “I’ve never seen a project go under budget,” Tim says. People always want more than what they can afford. Stephen says the art of architecture is reconciling those differences. An honest architect will tell the client when they are not a right fit for a particular project.

Architects are expected to wear a lot of hats on any job. They need to be able to make a drawing that is on-budget and up to code Then they need to be able to work with every imaginable trade and act as advisor and therapist to the client. It’s not an easy gig.

Stephen dreams of building his firm and being able to mentor the next generation of architects. He has had plenty of bad bosses in his past and he wants to make sure that he doesn’t repeat the past.

S02E01 – We finally get paid!

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Things are about to change in the building trades. The Ontario government has decided to radically overhaul the Construction Lien Act. The first set of changes came into effect July 1st. Tim decided he needed a crash course and asked lawyer Olga Morozova to join him for a chat. Olga has worked for all levels of the construction business and knows what’s about to change.

One of the biggest changes is that, for the first time, the government mandates time frames for payment. Owners must pay within 28 days of receiving an invoice. Olga says the old days of contractors blaming the owner for lack of payment are over. Getting paid your holdback is another big issue in the trades. Because you can lien the holdback Olga is telling all her owner clients to pay that money within 60 days.

Tim wants to know why screwing over subcontractors has become so common. Tim thinks the big contractors and owners have systems in place to stop or slow payment. He once had someone inside an accounting department tell him that it was policy to reject 10% of all invoices. A lot of subcontractors are barely hanging on because giant firms aren’t paying their invoices on time. Olga says she sees this all too often. She says your first call should be to your lawyer.

Tim has only placed about three liens in 30 years of work. He’s one of the lucky ones. For a lot of companies liens are a common part of the business. The changes to the law allow subcontractors more time to “preserve” and “perfect” the lien. Olga explains those definitions to Tim and reveals why they are so important.

The changes to the act are long overdue. The last time the law was updated was over 35 years ago. Making it easier for subs to actually get paid on time will be a huge boon to the industry. Only time will tell if the law will really make those changes.

Timology 5 – The Psychology of Selling

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Selling is hard.  It’s exhausting physically.  It’s exhausting mentally. It’s not for the faint of heart.  Tim tries to drive that message home this week when he is once again joined by his sales guys Dylan and Andy.  It’s all about the psychology of selling and why the hardest part of the job is dealing with what’s going on in your own head.

The episode starts with a conversation about embarrassing yourself on the job.  You have to be prepared to do it. Tim shares just such a story. Earlier this year he met with the head of one of Stadia’s biggest clients.  The guy is a major power player in Ontario construction. He’s way too busy to be taking meetings with Tim. Yet Tim, somehow, managed to get just such a meeting.  It was a hot day. Really hot. And Tim decided to where one of his nicest shirts. It was a purple shirt. Arriving early Tim sat on the patio directly facing the scorching summer sun.  By the time the big shot arrived Tim’s purple shirt was soaking wet. The pit stains stretched down to belt. The big shot was clearly weirded out and he hasn’t taken Tim’s call since.

The point of that horror story is that you have to be prepared to look stupid.  “If you’re not putting yourself outside of your comfort zone every day you’re not going to make it,” Tim says.  It’s going to take a while to get comfortable with yourself in the job.  


Timology 4 – Tim’s Tips for Sales Guys

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Tim needed an audience for this week’s episode so he invited Stadia sales guys Dylan and Andy into the studio.  The three had just attended a sales seminar together.  There was plenty Tim liked about workshop but, naturally, there was also a lot he disagreed with.  So he invited the boys to join him for a post-mortem.

Tim says that a good salesman focuses on what the customer wants.  People in sales too often worry about what they want.  Dylan has been working sales for Stadia for 2 years while Andy has just started working for the company.  Tim says there are about 5 tiers of experience that a sales guy will move through during his career.  In the first 3 months of a sales career everyone is totally focused on making as much money as possible.  The problem is that creating new clients often means giving away free favours.  The problem is a new sales person has no favours to give away.  It’s all about who you know when it comes to favours.  It takes at least 2 or 3 years to get there.  Those first 3 months are a long haul.

Sales workshops always emphasize the importance of knowing everything about the product that you’re selling.  Tim thinks that’s a lot of horseshit.  You don’t need to know much about your product.  You do need to know a lot about people, the resources you have around you and how to make them fit together.  If you can put a sentence together and communicate an idea in 30 seconds or less, you’ll do just fine.  In the first level of a sales career you need to learn how to communicate, how to pick-up on social cues and begin to build your network.

As you go from level 1 to level 2 the most important thing you can do is try to gain knowledge.  That might sound easy but it’s harder than it sounds.  Most people are asking questions not to learn something but to defy authority.  Especially in a male dominated industry like construction there is a lot of bravado.  Try and shut-up and listen once and a while!  You’re going to have a meltdown around 9 months in when you realize you don’t know what you’re doing.  Read, listen to podcasts and watch YouTube videos constantly.  You have to be self-aware and be willing to recognize what you have to improve.









Timology 2 – Why selling is like dating

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In the first episode in this series Tim outlined the mathematical formula every great salesman needs to follow.  Marketing + relationships + accounting = a sale. Today he reveals the secret to building relationships. It’s a lot like dating.  Would you walk up to someone in the bar and say “Hi! I’m really good looking and I’m great in bed.”? It wouldn’t work. It’s the same in sales.  You need to form actual relationships with actual people before you can expect to sell anything.

Building a relationship starts by getting people to remember your name.  Then it’s learning the other person’s name and using it at least three times in a conversation.  You’re trying to build intimacy and that can’t happen if you don’t know the other person’s name. Tim uses all sorts of tricks to get people on the phone.  That isn’t easy these days. Try and avoid voicemail at all costs. But if you have to leave a message make sure your name and number are at the front  of the message.  Do anything you can think of to get a callback.  Tim will record happy birthday on a voicemail whether it’s the person’s birthday or not.

Long before you ever seal a deal you need to know your client.  It’s the same as dating. Most people don’t hop into bed on the first date.  And if they do it tends to be a little weird. You have to build an actual relationship before you get lucky!  At minimum you’re going to need at least four interactions with your client (lunch, phone calls, a meeting on-site) before you sign any contracts.  

Timology 1 – The Secret to Being a Great Sales Guy

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Tim is excited to launch a brand new series for the summer.  His “Timology” series will reveal the secrets of great salesman.  Tim came by this knowledge the hard way – years of failing. For over 20 years Tim scratched and crawled his way to building a successful business.  Along the way he developed a winning strategy for selling his products and services.

Tim says that three are three facets to being great in sales.  Those are relationship building, marketing and accounting. In today’s episode Tim talks about the importance of building a relationship with a client.  Tim likens building those relationships to being a successful political candidate. You have to shake one hundred hands to get one vote. The math is similar in sales.  You have to introduce yourself to one hundred people to get one sale.

Building a relationship with a client depends on personal contact.  Tim insists on taking a potential client out for a drink or a meal before taking them on.  If they don’t have time for that Tim isn’t interested in working with them. You need to become friends with your clients otherwise you won’t be able to depend on them for future business.

There is a lot of negativity around sales.  There is a common idea that sales people are scumbags who will say anything to get your money.  And to be sure there are plenty of guys like that out there. Tim takes an opposite approach. If you are the only one walking away happy you’re doing it wrong.  You don’t just bid jobs in order to bid jobs. You have a moral obligation to give the client a fair price.

Episode 21 – Blooper Special

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Tim celebrates Season 1 with a retrospective episode featuring some of the funniest, dumbest and most offensive clips from the last 20 episodes.

The episode features perhaps the most important conversation ever featured in the podcast.  Back in Episode 7 discussed where the best bathroom can be found in downtown Toronto.  Tim is immediately interested in this line of conversation having visited every public washroom in the GTA over the last 30 years. Tim excitedly describes Crown Property Management’s bathrooms near the airport which have alcohol wipes that can be used to wipe down the seat prior to use. The pair then debate which building has the best washrooms in the downtown core. For the longest time Tim used Atrium on the Bay because for years the loading dock manager would let him use the second floor washrooms. (This was before the age of the security guard, of course).

Next we return to one of the more disturbing tales ever spun on the podcast.  In Episode 8 Tim welcomed his old mentor Bill Stallon onto the podcast.  Together they recounted one of their more memorable adventures together at Beaver Valley. The group retired to a hot tub after a large steak dinner. Because no one had swim trunks that meant everyone was naked. Not having anything to drink one of the hosts offered a full bottle of XO Cognac.  After drinking the entire bottle Bill was now soundly asleep, happily bobbing in the tub.  What followed next was a heroic attempt to move the much larger Bill out of the Tim.  After dragging Bill like a corpse across a frozen threshold they left him in the laundry room. (Covered up for modesty’s sake.)

Along with these classic tales the blooper episode also features Anthony Vinzi noting that Tim looks like a vagrant and the story of Tim’s insane attempt to break the sound barrier in a brand new Porsche.  It’s been a great first season!  Hope to see you when season two gets underway in the fall!


Episode 18 – Suit The Hell Up! with 4 Men United

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It wasn’t so long ago that our hero wandered into a clothes shop in Woodbridge.  It’s called 4 Men United.  It’s run by four brothers born in Canada to an Italian family with a long history in the fashion industry.  Tim likes the place. It’s a much more comfortable place to shop than your average men’s store, usually populated by a hungry horde of ravenous salesman.  It’s different at 4 Men. But Tim, being Tim, quickly wore out his welcome. You see, one of the brothers sports a rather large, dark beard. The kind of beard that any Italian man might grow.  But for Tim something else came to mind.

“Hey!  Nice terrorist beard!”  He said one day while trying on a pair of slacks.

“Hey!” said the offended owner.  “I have friends who are Muslim!”

Unfazed, Tim retorted that the owner was, in point of fact, an idiot.  He was not referring to Muslims. He was referring to terrorists.

Tim recounts this story at the start of this week’s episode which features, by some miracle, two of the brothers who agreed, against their better judgement, to appear on the show.  

Alessandro and Marco are ridiculously young to be running a successful retail store.  Just 23 and 28 they learned at the foot of their father who worked in Canadian retail for decades.  After their dad’s retirement Ales and Marco, along with their older brothers Michael and Mario, struck out on their own.  The business has been operating for four years now. They’ve been incredibly successful. Just this last year alone they they did over 400 weddings.

The key to their success has been a focus on quality service.  That runs contrary to the rest of the industry which seems to focus on predatory sales tactics than actually giving the customer what they want.  All of this seems to completely bore Tim.

“Which one of the brothers has had sex in the store?” He asks.

Too professional to answer the brothers gently skirt the question.  Tim is undeterred.

“How many guys have you seen butt naked in the change room?”

Again, being professionals, neither Ales nor Marco will admit to bearing witness to any such thing.  They do, however, admit that there is a tendency among a certain kind of customer to strut around the store in their tighty whities while trying on clothes.  Most of those customers are named Tim Byrne.




Episode 17 – Susan Allen’s 1st Podcast featuring BOMA Toronto

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Tim is really excited for this week’s guest.  He somehow managed to convince the President of BOMA Toronto to join him on this edition.  Susan Allen has a ton of experience in building management, including a decade at Cadillac Fairview.  Tim’s been super-impressed with her work ethic for a long time and was thrilled when she agreed to appear on the show.

Susan has been in the industry for a little over twenty years.  She worked at TD Centre for about eight years and later was asked to move over to the retail side of the business.  Her first property was at Woodbine Centre which was a faltering shopping mall in Etobicoke.  She managed to turn the place around and learned a lot about retail in the process.  Moving from commercial to retail was very different. The commercial world is a lot more buttoned-down and corporate.  Woodbine depended on a lot of small businesses with very different expectations. Tim gets to brass tacks right away.

“Who pays their rent better?  Retail or commercial?” He asks point blank.

Susan is very diplomatic in her answer.  She says big corporate retailers are pretty easy to deal with because they are so stable.  The smaller mom and pop operations are often struggling and that meant Susan had to make accomodations for them.

Susan had already worked with BOMA for more than a decade before she came over to work as President.  She had left her position at Cadillac Fairview to get her MBA. Shortly after the President of BOMA left and she was asked to take over.

“Is BOMA an old boys club?” Tim asks.

When he was more involved with the organization he found it to be a pretty insular place.  Susan says they have worked very hard to change that. Every member can apply for any position now and they will all be guaranteed at least an interview.  BOMA has also been working hard to open the organization to younger professionals.

“Do women get paid less than men?”  Tim asks.

Susan says she hasn’t experienced that in her career, with the caveat that she has worked with two great companies over the years.  These days top talent is in such high demand that she would be shocked if it was pervasive practice.

“It just doesn’t make any business sense.” She says.

Tim wraps up the conversation by asking if she works more or less hours since moving to BOMA.  Her husband asked the same question. She says she’s just not wired that way. She’s always working to raise the bar higher.

“You’re a total powerhouse.” Tim says.




Episode 16 – The King Ron Rau

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TIm is coming to you one last time from the Gaylord Hotel in beautiful downtown Nashville.  The Gaylord is the site of this years PRSM conference but Tim just can’t get over that name.  

“I can’t even handle that name.” Tim says at the start of this week’s episode.

Tim’s co-host this week is Paint Chips otherwise known as Anthony Vinzi from Promain.  Paint Chips was awarded one of Tim’s famous nicknames after being interviewed on TBAL.  Anthony was so boring it was like eating paint chips thus earning his latest moniker.

Today Tim has invited Ron Rau to join him on the podcast.  Ron is an old friend and together he and Tim have been through a lot together.  Career changes and divorces are just two examples. Though Ron is quick to point out that he hasn’t been divorced yet.  Tim asks Ron how long he’s been married.

“37 years.” Ron says.

“Ugh.” Tim tastefully replies.

Tim invited Ron on the show to talk about something most of us will experience in our career.  Losing a job. Ron worked at the same company for nearly 20 years. They were in the middle of restructuring and Ron had been charged with laying-off many of his staff.  That was difficult. Then he was called into his bosses office and told he was being let go to.

Tim knows that Ron lived and breathed his job.  Getting the axe was incredibly difficult. Ron’s former company asked him to work for a few weeks more.  But then he found himself with no place to go. He was used to speed. Going fast all the time turned into very, very slow.  That took some getting used to.

Tim shifts the conversation to ethics in the retail business.  When Tim was doing work for Ron’s former company he says he worked harder than for any other client.  The reason for that was simple. It wasn’t for the money. It was because they were friends. The norm in the industry now is that vendors don’t have personal relationships with retailers.  Some retailers forbid contact at all. Companies have put in those rigid rules to prevent anyone being “on the take.” That has made the entire much more impersonal.

“I’m not sure if retailers know what they’re buying half the time!” He says.    

It’s become so extreme that showing up at a job site with a box of doughnuts is totally verboten.  Tim thinks it’s just about basic manners and politeness. Tim’s Mom taught him to show up at a friend’s house with a gift.  It’s basic human decency.

Episode 15 – Cold as Ice with Boston Rob

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Tim continues his adventures a the PRSM conference in Nashville this week.  This time he’s invited an old friend Boston Rob to join him. Oddly Rob is not from Boston originally but the nickname has stuck over the 15 years Tim has known him.  His real name is Rob Atkocaitis.

“I have a cream for that.” Tim says.

Rob has had a bunch of jobs over the last 15 years but he now works with Ocean Air AC.  They manufacture portable air conditioners and heaters.  The business has changes a lot over the last decade. In the past manufacturers would sell through a stocking distributor but now the middle man has been cut out.  Most manufacturers in the HVAC world sell direct to their customers now.

Ocean Air manufacturer makes everything in the United States making them the kind of business Donald Trump says he wants to defend.  Tariffs on foreign manufacturers would be a huge boon to their company. The HVAC market has been flooded with cheap products from Asia.  They won’t last as long as Ocean Air units but they cost less up front. That’s hard to compete with.

Rob says he is a big relationship sales guy.  He’s travelling at least three days a week to keep up his relationships with all his clients.  He’s been in the industry for so long he knows his stuff back and forth. Meeting new clients can be brutally hard and he says it keeps getting harder.  It used to be much more relationship based. Nowadays it’s all about cutting costs as much as possible. Unlike most manufacturers Ocean Air actually follows up with clients after their units are installed.  

“What’s the most embarrassing things you’ve ever done in front of a client?” Tim asks.

Rob recounts a story from early in his career.  Still in his mid 20’s went on a long day of golding with a client.  Needless to say the “golf game” was just code for a long day of drinking.  After the game he was invited back to his client’s place for a nightcap. Being a young cub he was still unaware of the dehydrating effects of alcohol.  Within minutes of arriving at the house Rob passed out. A team of paramedics arrived to cart him off to the hospital. The doctor took a battery of tests and asked how much he had to drink.  Despite being 15 or 16 beers deep he didn’t even register as legally drunk. His client was so impressed he stayed with Rob for years.

Contact Rob




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 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



Byrne On Demand

Stadia Glass & Door