Introducing the Guest
John: Hey, everyone. This is John Victoria and welcome to the HVAC Financial Freedom Podcast. Today, we have a very special guest, Brad Rapone, and this is also a special day because this is the first time we're doing an in-person podcast. We're both local, he's from Manassas, I'm from Arlington, Virginia, and decided that we'd actually do one together in person. So, welcome to the podcast, Brad.
I'm super excited because just planning for the podcast, there are so many things that I think you guys will be able to take away from this podcast. There's a few things, like how to grow your HVAC business, mindset and personal development, and also cuz the name of the podcast is HVAC Financial Freedom, we'll be talking about building wealth and how to get to financial freedom.
About Brad Rapone (TradeWraps)
John: Just to [00:01:00] intro things for the people who do not know you yet, could you just quickly share with everyone like who you are, what you do, and how you serve the community?
Brad: Of course. So my name is Brad Rapone, I'm the owner of TradeWraps. Here at TradeWraps, we offer vehicle wrap, design, printing, and installation services nationwide. What we really focus on is streamlining that process and taking the headache out of the vehicle wrap buying process for the HVAC & Plumbing industry.
John: Awesome. How can people find you? Are you on social media? Is email the best channel? How would someone get in contact with you?
Brad: All of the above. I mean, we're on Facebook, Instagram, you can call the office, you can email me directly if you want to at bra[email protected], and we'd be more than happy to talk to you.
Recent TradeWraps Customer Testimonial
John: Awesome. So I guess just to kick things off, because I think it'd be really great for us to dive specifically into TradeWraps to kick things off. But before, you know, we just hopped into everything that you do. I did want to read a testimonial from one of your customers very recently. I just wanted to get the backstory, the behind-the-scenes of everything that was [00:02:00] going on. This is really cool if you guys haven't read this one before.
What Russell said, "I tell ya, if you're not using TradeWraps, then you're really missing out on having an essential partner for your business. Last Wednesday, we had a truck go down with a bad transmission, and of course we're out of spare trucks. We all know what happens now... Rescheduling calls, upset customers, lost revenue, and a displaced technician. Massive headaches for, I don't know, usually takes at least four weeks to get a new truck on the road. I'm in a real pinch. I touched base with my friend, Brad Rapone at TradeWraps, gave him a heads up that he'd have one of my units coming his way very soon, and if he'd be so kind to please expedite this for me. He told me he's currently booked out all of April...
We're currently in April right now.
...but not to worry, he'd see what he could do. Had the truck dropped off for the wrapping Friday morning. Brad had one of his guys work all weekend for an 8:00 AM, Monday morning pick-up. So, it was turned around in five days from purchase to pickup. Thanks, Brad and TradeWraps. You guys are a true business partner!".
The Amazing Team, Culture, and Customer Service of TradeWraps
John: That's insane. Completely full [00:03:00] month? Tell me what was going on and what's the backstory because that's incredible.
Brad: Russell is a great guy. Of course he lays it on thick, which always makes me feel really good, cuz it makes us wanna do even more, right? We have great customers, because we make great relationships with our customers, that's why we're here. This is our 12th year in business and we wouldn't be here if we didn't make relationships with our customers. But with Russell, yeah, he called us up and he's like, "I got this vehicle I needed a turnaround ASAP. My transmission blew and some other vehicle.". We were booked out actually probably into May at that point in time. This is what I love about having such a good relationship with our customers. We don't normally work weekends. We make sure that we give our guys that time off.
And so I went to my guys and I was like, "Hey, Russell's in a bad spot. He needs this vehicle done. Who's willing to get this done for Russell?". And we had one of our guys stepped forward and say, "I'll get it done for him.". We had one of our guys do it over the weekend, that was completely voluntary and that's what I love about my team, our customers, and our relationships. It's because they have that same [00:04:00] relationship with them that I do. They know how important Russell is as a customer, and so they're willing to come in and get that done for him. It was amazing!
John: That's amazing. I mean, it says so much about your team and also the culture you've built here at TradeWraps. Step up on a weekend when that's typically a personal time, but really just like stepped up into play. Let's get it done. Let's take care of our customers. That's so huge.
Brad: Yeah. That's our main focus. We're customer-centric. If we don't take care of our customers, then we don't have anything.
John: Amen to that. The customer focus is sole key, and I guess I'm curious, like what inspired that in the beginning? Was this always something that you felt? Was it something that you grabbed from a business mentor? Like, "Hey, this is something that we need to focus in on.". Can you talk more about why you decided to bake that into your culture?
Brad: I think everybody kind of goes through a point where, I don't know the exact statistic, but it's like something stupid, like 86% of people that start a business actually had some type of experience or skill in that trade to start the business, which is why HVAC is the way it is [00:05:00] and that's why most businesses are the way they are. We're really good at doing that thing, but we're usually not good at doing the other things like running a business, managing, hiring, that kind of stuff. I was in that boat, as well. I'm really good at design. I'm really good at installing vehicles. And at some point in time, I had to come to that realization that in order for me to grow, we do need to be more customer-centric to separate ourselves from other people. Cuz just like in any business, there's competition. Why use TradeWraps over some guy down the street, some sign shop? This is our tactic. This is what we do. We service our customers the best we can. The inspiration for that came from, I believe I read a book called "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh, the guy that started Zappos, where he created Zappos basically on the will and drive of servicing the customers to the best of their ability. So many models out there nowadays that are like this, too. I mean, if you don't service your customers nowadays, that news travels fast. Travels real quick.
Falling In Love with Your Customer's Wants and Needs More Than Your Art
John: And also it reminds me of what we're talking about earlier prior to the podcast. The E-Myth Revisited... [00:06:00] Most people... You started the business they're artists and they're in love with their craft and what is they're doing. And to take that step outside of that and think more about, "Oh, it's not just about my art. It's about how are we delivering true value to our customers.". That's the many times that could be the missing piece, as well as building the systems to actually grow a business. And maybe it's that artist's mentality that could be a big block? Or...
Brad: Oh, of course. Yeah. I mean, obviously E-Myth is a fantastic book for any business owner and that translates through any business, even ours, which I used to think was not the case. You just think that, "Well, we're wrap guys, we're artists, we're different.". And that's not the case. It's a business. I believe it was the E-Myth that focused on the artist and being the artist, and fall out of love with your art, and fall in love with what your customers want. At this point, like we could be the best wrap company. We could have the best installation, we could have the best prints, we could have the best material. But if we can't have great conversations, great relationships, and deliver for our customers when they need us, it doesn't matter as much as that [00:07:00] does. That's why we have to fall in love with what our customers need. In this case, we also needed a quick turnaround, and there are limitations to what we can do there, but we found a way to make it happen.
Why Vehicle Wrap is a Smart Investment
John: I love that, and I guess now let's just dive in more specifically into what is that you do. So, let's imagine that I am a potential customer, like I'm on the edge of wanting to get all my trucks redone, but I'm just on the edge; I'm on the fence. Like, what would you say to me, like, why should I invest the money to just rewrap all of my trucks? It's an investment, so why should I do that?
Brad: That's a great question. Nowadays, time's change and things evolve. Marketing evolves. It used to be like, "Hey, let's go throw some money in the yellow pages.". I don't even know if yellow pages still exists anymore at this point. Everything evolves over time. At some point in time in the service world, there was the guy with the blank truck and then the guy that got the lettering, and he got the one color. And then at some point in time it was like, "Hey man, this guy has two colors on his truck". So evolution, right? All of this just evolved into vehicle wraps or your next [00:08:00] stage of marketing. Especially with how popular things are nowadays in the industry, it's almost like if you come into the HVAC & Plumbing realm and you're not getting your vehicles wrapped, it's gonna be very hard for you to compete. It all starts with a great design. If you don't have a great design, again, it doesn't matter if I use the best premium wrap films or if I have the best printers or the best installation, the design is what's gonna get you the return on investment first. Then it comes into, "Can the wrap last that long with the right material, with the right installation? Can I hit the right colors with certain types of printers?". There's a lot that goes into it, but it definitely starts with design first. So it's not just about getting the wrap done. It's about getting the whole project itself done correctly.
The Do's and Don'ts of a Great Vehicle Wrap Design
John: Awesome. And I guess just to dig into, it sounds like the design is such an integral piece of the success of it. I remember during a previous conversation we had, you mentioned how personal brand, like a wrap on the personal brand is not gonna be the thing that you should do. What are the big no-nos and what are the best practices when it comes to designing the wrap initially [00:09:00] since it sounds like that's the foundation of everything?
Brad: Yeah. Good practices for that is just gonna be keeping things clean. I'm so glad that things have gone that way, because as a designer... That's one of the reasons why I got into doing vehicle wraps just because there were sign guys that were doing vehicle wraps, and then there were graphic designers that were designing them. But most people didn't go to the graphic designers because the sign guys had their own sign designers in-house. And so that's why you had the whole fire and ice kind of stuff going on. A lot of that clashes because usually a sign designer is limited, even though they try their best. It's limited versus a graphic designer that is great at doing graphic design. Some of that has to do with your communication with the customer because sometimes that's what he wants. That's what Bob's Plumbing wants. Bob wants fire and ice. Because to him, it doesn't matter if you're getting a solid color or if you're getting a full photographic image, it's the same price.
Brad: Especially years ago, it was more of like, am I getting my money's worth? Am I being loud enough? And then, we do want attention. You wanna [00:10:00] command attention, but you don't wanna be loud and annoying. I'm so glad that things have kind of come around and people do more clean design. So we want nice clean design, more graphical, less photographic. Usually, pictures of people on the side of your vehicles aren't really resonating as much as they used to, because that was more of an old school, like Yellow Page kind of ad thing. Like, here's our family on the green grass in front of a house with some blue sky. That's not really the trends nowadays. It's more of the clean stuff. Getting some type of avatar in there sometimes is good to relate to children and bring that fun play to it. But yeah, clean designs, making sure the colors aren't clashing. Color palettes are very important.
Secrets to an Effective Commercial Vehicle Wrapping
John: I see, and what other elements? You're showing me some of the wraps earlier, there's phone number, website, seems like there's awards... Any other things that are important to incorporate as part of a design?
Brad: Yeah. Keeping it clean is the best thing, it's like K.I.S.S., right? Keep it Simple, Stupid. Nowadays, I think the trends have gotten away from even putting your phone number on the vehicles, or if they are, it's not as prominent. [00:11:00] Or if you're a guy that has multiple phone numbers, because you feel like somebody's not gonna call you from this area code or that area code, like all that stuff has gone away now. If there's a phone number at all, it's usually small, because most people aren't writing down phone numbers. They usually see you driving and they say, "Okay, I'm gonna google Bob's Plumbing because I just saw Bob's Plumbing like three times today.", versus like, "Hey, did I write down Bob's Plumbing's phone number, which was 1-800 BOB.". Lists of things too, I would say is a no-no.
John: Lists. Are you saying, like, let's say...
Brad: Service list.
John: ... Oh, service list. How about if someone put, like, differentiators, would that be still a no-no? Is it...
Brad: If you do, I'd keep it to three. Like for instance, I had this guy a long time ago come to us and he did plumbing. He wanted almost like a service list of like everything he does for plumbing. It's a very long list. And so I'm designing this thing and it extends from the roof to the bottom of the wheel. It takes up that much space. And it really like crowded the logo and the brand [00:12:00] of what we're going for, because he didn't feel that if he put plumbing, that people would understand that plumbing also included all of these other things.
Brad: It was kind of like, well, if they don't understand what plumbing is, do you really want them as a customer?
Brad: And his thoughts at the time were, "Well, I just want them to know everything we do.". Okay, so we did that. Years go by, he comes back with a couple of new wraps and he wants to change up his design, and we eliminate that entire list. Another no-no would be like, if you have different divisions, like if you do HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Geothermal, whatever it is, don't have different designs for each vehicle.
John: Hmm, why is that?
Brad: It takes away from the overall brand, like the size of the extremity of your company. So some people might even see them. Some people would do them actually extremely different. And so, some people would think that your electrical division is actually a whole separate company. They wanna associate that with you.
Brad: So if you know, that's very popular now. People are doing HVAC, they're doing plumbing, they're doing electrical. They do it all in one [00:13:00] spot. You'd be a one-stop shop. That's smart. It's good business. But don't have like my HVAC trucks look like this, my plumbing trucks look like this, and then my electrical stuff looks like this. It should be all under one place, and we offer this, this and this.
John: Mm-hmm. Yeah, very similar with SEO actually. Like, it would not make sense if you had separate websites for each of your different services, like you'd all want them in the same place.
John: Because the power of the website's better, the consistent brand is a lot better. So yeah, makes a lot of sense with just making sure that everything is consistent. More and more places and people connect, like, "Oh, this is a one-stop shop.".
Brad: It's 24-hour marketing, it's always on the road, and it's where your customers are. When you drive your vehicle into the neighborhood to do that call, you have the neighbors looking out, seeing like, "What's Suzy getting done at her house?".
Brad: And if it says, "HVAC", and they're like, "Well, I don't need HVAC, and it's your HVAC division vehicle. Well, I don't need that.". But she needs a plumber right now.
Brad: So if it's said, like they do [00:14:00] HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical. Well now, she may need electrical done or she may need plumbing done. And now she sees that, "Suzy's using it, so I should use it.".
John: Yeah. I like it. How'd they call it? I think it's called shingle strategy. It's not necessarily the thing that you're servicing for, but because you have those different shingles. Like people see it, it hooks attention, like, "Oh, that's the way I'm gonna get looped in.", even though that's not necessarily what you were doing initially.
Brad: Right, exactly.
Vehicle Wraps Drive Sales and Build Strong Brand
John: Love that. Another thing I wanted to talk about too, around this topic was the mistakes that a lot of digital marketing companies will make when it comes to having tracking numbers.
John: Right? Because, you know, the thing I was telling him was like, "Oh, why don't you do as many tracking numbers on the trucks?". And then, he was explaining to me that... Feel free to jump in. But like, I, it was a complete mindset shift.
Brad: You know, we always try to quantify cuz wraps technically fall under marketing. And so marketing should be cheap, because if marketing's working, it doesn't really cost you anything. If marketing is costing you money, then it's not working. And so when people [00:15:00] say they wanna get a wrap done, and they see the cost, and they're like, "I don't know if I want to do this or not.". And it's like, "Well, it shouldn't really matter cuz this wrap should generate you X.". We've always tried to get that number out of our customers and from my talks with our customers, it's hard for them to differentiate the exact number that comes from getting the vehicle wrap done versus them pushing their other marketings, their SEO, and things like that. Because the wrap plays into your overall brand. We were talking earlier, it's seven times someone has to see you and you're saying it's more now?
Brad: So again, marketing's changing, right? Trends are changing. So, over time they have to see you so they may see your truck three times today. But they didn't write down your phone number, so if you had a specific phone number or tracking number for that vehicle, or your vehicle wraps, they may not have called that phone number. Or if you don't have the phone number on the vehicle, and they just google Bob's Plumbing, and they see that, "Oh, I'm here at bobsplumbing.com.". Did that come from the website? Did that come from SEO? Did that come from the vehicle? So it's hard for them to [00:16:00] differentiate totally. But it's definitely the one driving factor that's out there where people are seeing more. I mean, it's mobile billboard. It's your brand that's out there consistently in people's faces. It's gonna get you more views than like a TV spot. It's gonna get you more views Then a radio spot, especially if you're on this area where we get a lot of traffic.
Brad: Right? Got a nice big box truck or those tall vehicles now, medium roof transits, you know. Everybody's gonna be looking at them.
John: Oh, my gosh. And it's true. It's this lollapalooza effect. It's not necessarily one plus one equals two. It's not like that, but it's a combination of all these factors. Let's say you have the wraps, you have the website, you are doing some ads, you have the radio spot and it can be tough to attribute it exactly to one thing. But it's the combination that creates this omnipresence effect that, "Hey, we're in the market, we're in the community, we're here to serve you and here's what we do.". Yeah, it can be very tough to exactly quantify like, "Oh, this is exactly where it came from.".
Why Choose Trusted Professional Vehicle Wrap Experts at TradeWraps
John: So, just transitioning, you shared a video recently. And if you don't follow Brad on Facebook, he shares a [00:17:00] lot of motivational self-help stuff. And I, I love it. I'm also a very big fanatical personal development fan. And so the video, you captioned it, "Your obstacles and challenges is where you build your muscles of growth.". They also mentioned a Winston Churchill quote: "Success is maintaining your enthusiasm in spite of setbacks.". I know you're very involved in the trades right now. I'm just curious, like, we're moving to busy season for a number of industries. I'm curious if there are any obstacles and challenges that you currently foresee for some of the trades and how TradeWraps is helping to address some of those issues.
Brad: Oh, man. Oh yeah. They have their own issues like any business. You know, getting great people and providing great training for them, and growing a business. That's just everyone's business, in general. But as far as things that we can help with and issues that may be arising at that time, there are so many things that you need to focus on as a business owner and we tried to bring as much service as possible to making this one less thing you have to worry about.
Brad:[00:18:00] You can go and you can call five different sign shops and figure out who's got the best price. Is this guy gonna actually give me the product that he wants? Is it gonna last more than a month? Is it gonna last the full five years like it should? Did you use the right product when there's a problem and you call them up? Is he gonna answer the phone? Is he gonna fix it? Does it fall under warranty? Does it not fall under warranty? Does he know whether it falls under warranty or not? Are your vehicles gonna be consistently done? Are they gonna be able to keep your brand consistent from vehicle to vehicle? Are they gonna keep the placement from vehicle to vehicle? The colors from vehicle to vehicle? So instead of going through that whole process, that trial and error, that pain, and that time which costs you money and distracts you from what you should be focusing on, or all the other things you can focus on, I guess, you could just call us.
Brad: We'll help get you streamlined. We're here for you. We take care of our customers. We don't back down, like if there's a problem, we're completely honest. If we messed up, we're human, we've made mistakes before, we own up to it and we get it fixed. Bottom line.
How TradeWraps Help Customers Protect Their Vehicle Wraps
John: Love that. Also just to highlight, you have a guarantee, right? It's like a [00:19:00] five year... is it warranty or a guarantee or...
Brad: We use 3M™ products, and because we have 3M™ preferred installers on staff and blessed printers from 3M™, we have two different types of warranty. So you have like a MCS™ warranty that comes straight from 3M™. So if there's a manufacturing defect, if the vinyl just prematurely falls off and it wasn't an installation error or if there's a premature fading of the product, then 3M™ covers that. We stand behind our product as far as failing goes from the installation side, cuz most of the time these sign guys are playing slap and stick mentality, and they're just kind of cranking them out real quick, and they're just slapping wrong there and getting them out of there. And then, they may have like, like for instance, the most popular vehicle that we do nationwide is a medium roof transit. Extended, non-extended doesn't matter. They have those channels on the side, those window areas. A lot of people like to stretch those in, because they don't want to see like white exposed, so they stretch it in there. And what they don't understand is that by stretching it in there, almost a hundred percent of the time it's gonna fail at some point in time, because you have to have the perfect conditions to make it stay and the right [00:20:00] products to make it stay. And most of the time, if they're not educating the customer enough to tell them what they need to get that done. And so they don't cut it. They stretch it in. And then it ends popping out and you'll see it driving on the street and it looks like just nastiness, like it's popped back out, it's ripped because now it's been spread. So we cut the channels. We educate the customer on that, you know, we let them know how it's gonna look. We make it clean. We don't cut on the vehicle. And we wrap it in, that way, it's gonna last five years. No problem. We stand behind all of our installation stuff. We actually follow up with our customers, we're usually calling them. We might annoy some of them because we follow up too much. We're like, "How's the wrap doing? Is everything going right? Is everything going correct?". And if there is an issue, "Oh well, I wanted to call you because there is an issue with this and this.". We're like, "Cool! Send us pictures or bring it by. Let's take a look at it.". Or most people would run away from that because they don't wanna see you again. That mentality of like, just getting it out, getting it done, like, wing, wing, wing. But we're here to make relationships. We need to. If the wrap's driving down the street looking like trash, and they're like, "Yeah, I gotta wrap it at TradeWraps.". That's not usually a good thing, right?
John: That's not a good thing.
TradeWraps' Dedication to Bring Top Quality Work & Customer Service Nationwide
John: And you [00:21:00] don't just serve the DC, Maryland, Virginia area, but you also serve customers nationally. So,
John: I think that's definitely something I want to highlight. So, how does that process work? Let's say, I'm in Sunny San Diego, California, and I want to hire TradeWraps. What does that process look like? Are you flying over and doing something? What does that process look like if I'm not local to the area?
Brad: We've developed such a great relationship with our customer base and we started doing stuff nationwide because our customers started referring us to their friends in business. And their friends, sometimes they're local and sometimes they're like in different states. And they're always like, "How can I use TradeWraps if they're not in the same state as me or close to me?". Again, that's just a problem that we've solved. We feel like there's more people out there that are having these problems with other companies do what we do. So again, we want to broaden our range of service so they can have that same level of service and get back to working on what's right for their business. If you're anywhere else in the United States, the way we work, we handle all the designing and the printing here at our [00:22:00] headquarters in Virginia, and we contract a local installer that we have found our approved installer list. And usually what they do is they come out to you, they come out to your bay as long as you have a bay, and they wrap it in your bay so that you can see it being done. And then as soon as they're done, you can get it right on the road, out the door and to work. So again, we handle all that coordination, logistics, shipping... everything. You don't have to go around and call different people. You don't have to figure out if this guy's good or not. We can just bring that right to you.
John: Love that. That's sole key, right? It's saving time because you already have those pre-established relationships.
John: If some are doing on their own, maybe they could do it, but is that opportunity a cost of time? Why not trust a trusted partner to take care of this for you?
Brad: A hundred percent! And sometimes, we'll fly out as well. It really depends on the volume of what needs to be done. Like, if we can't find someone in your area to do it right, we have flown out before. Like for instance, we were doing a job for a cool customer of ours in Portland. We, our team, couldn't find anyone in Portland to do this [00:23:00] job for us. And I think it was about five or so vehicles. And so, Julian, our same installer that stepped up for Russell here, said that he would go to Portland. We sent our response team all the way to Portland and he stayed there and wrapped everything for this customer. That customer gave us a raving review, as well. Not to toot our own horn, but we don't apologize for being awesome, right? Sometimes we send our guys out, because at the end of the day, we still feel like we have that obligation that we've made a promise that we would get this done for you. And if there is a point where we can't service you, we're honest, upfront. We're just like, "Hey, we can't.". There's been a few times where we've just been like, "Look, we just can't find anyone here. It's not logistically possible for us to get someone in your bay.". Sometimes they don't have a bay, so it's just not gonna work out. If that's the case, at the very minimum, we can just print and ship the graphics and then they can find their own installer that way. So at least, the designing and the prints are consistent. But yeah, we're here to help everybody where we can.
John: Yeah, above and beyond, just flying over. That's amazing.
A Transformed Life
John: So, just to transition, I wanted to talk more about business and personal development, and I know there's two significant [00:24:00] things that happened in your life. I think one of them was meeting Rock Thomas, would you say? Your mentor?
Brad: Oh yeah. Rock's my boy.
John: And then also, you mentioned that you attended Tony Robbins' Unleash the Power Within event around four years ago.
John: And so, I was curious if you could speak to both Rock, as well as the event, like the type of impact that they've had in your life. What are some of the things that you've learned or how have you been transformed by them?
Brad: This is... this is personal, but I'm always willing to share. And of course the people that know me really well already know this because I've had these conversations with our customers. But there was a point in time where, and I feel like most business owners hit this at some point in time, where you're in it, you're doing it, you're good at what you do, but you're hitting this like glass ceiling that you can be doing more, but you just don't know how to get there. And what I'm envious of in our HVAC & Plumbing industry here is that they have resources available to them. They have these national groups, they have coaches and stuff that can come. So if they want, if they ever hit that wall or that ceiling, they [00:25:00] have a whole networking system that can help pull them up and teach them how to be a better manager, be a better leader, be a better trainer, be a better salesperson, increase their business by this, by doing X, Y, Z. In my industry, we don't have that because our industry's so young still, and of course I also did it more to myself by saying like, "Well, now, am I the artist?", but we're really artists. We do art. This can't apply to me. That just doesn't work here because we're artists. I remember hitting this like glass ceiling and just thinking like there's gotta be a better way. Because it was one of those nights where, you know, I'm here late at night, wrapping something for someone or doing somebody else's work that I hired to do here. And I had a customer base that loved me, that love TradeWraps, but yet it didn't seem like it was really working behind the scenes.
Brad: It almost felt like we're on a stage and we would give like a presentation and we got this like play going on with our customers and how we talked to them. And then like behind the curtain, we're running around with like fire going on behind us and stuff. Like, "How are we gonna get this done?". There's always a problem. Always [00:26:00] another challenge. Those growing pains. So, I started looking into more of like what I can do to better myself to grow the business. Through my research I came across Tony Robbins stuff, and so I went to Unleash The Power Within, I took my wife, we took my install manager, and we took one of our other installers and his wife. We all went there. We had a great time. We walked across fire, a lot of great insights there. Ended signing up for business mastery, learned a lot of great things there. I met Rock Thomas at business mastery...
Brad: ... and got in that way. And Rock's been a definitely more personal connection for me to push me in a direction to stop thinking so small, start thinking bigger, and really push TradeWraps to be more than what it is. We have so many new things that are slated for probably 2023 that we're gonna roll out to our customers. We're gonna help them even more than what we're doing now. And that's because of people like Rock Thomas helping pushing me in that direction.
John: Any sneak peeks? If you don't, you don't have to.
Brad: Nothing yet.
John: Under wraps.
Brad: It's under the wraps right now.
John: Under the TradeWraps.
Brad: We'll sneak it out [00:27:00] here in 2023, and everybody will be a little surprised, and hopefully we're solving some more issues for our customers.
John: That's amazing.
Brad: So they love us even more. That's what we're doing. We're here to solve problems.
Front Loading VS. Freeloading
John: Also, I... I listened to a podcast that you're on, prior to this. It's The WrapIQ Podcast and the topic was Front Loading VS. Freeloading. And I think that's a concept that you got from Rock Thomas.
John: Could you, I mean, just the short synopsis, so people can actually watch the podcast. But like, what is that? No, when I first heard it, I was like, "Wow, this is amazing. Why don't I do this more often? Why am I living so reactively in my life?". And it wasn't always this way, but you just forget, sometimes you lose your way.
Brad: Of course.
John: Could you share like very briefly, like, what's a Front Loader versus like a Freeloader? It sounds like an insult. Like what, what, like, what is this, what is this?
Brad: Well, they can be taken as an insult. And honestly, that's kind of the way, I guess you need to take it at first. It's because in order for us to grow, we always feel like, especially in business, we always feel like, well, it's always that guy's fault or that person's fault, or that customer's fault when really it's we need to change first.[00:28:00]
Brad: Right? We need to be the better leader. We need to be the better person. We need to be the better business owner and we have to grow. And so the Front Loading versus Freeloading is something that Rock preaches a lot and really gets me into my core because it's easily explained as it's proactive versus being reactive. I used to walk in the door here at TradeWraps and be what's called the professional firefighter.
Brad: Right? It would be like, I didn't have a plan for the day. I didn't have a plan for the week. I didn't have a plan for the month. Except for that we were just gonna be amazing in everywhere that we can. But I would just show up and it's like, "Where am I needed? Do I need to be wrapping today? Do we have a problem in the print department today? Do we have a problem with a customer here or a customer there? Do we have an issue, you know, where I was being very reactive?". And I think business owners go through a phase where they are being reactive, because they're allowing their company to flow through them versus around them, like for them.
Brad: And so, this saying Front Loading versus Freeloading can affect people in so many different ways in your life. But for me, it affected the way that I was doing business. I was being a professional firefighter, being very reactive to [00:29:00] everything that was happening to me versus being more proactive for being a frontloader. For instance, when the medium roof transit's first started coming out and we found that the best way to make that work was to cut those channels, which does expose a little bit of whites very cleanly in that area, we weren't communicating that. We were being great communicators. We're telling the customers the way it was gonna be. We just did it.
Brad: And some customers were just fine with it and they weren't saying anything. And some customers were like, feeling like they were gypped in some way, because they felt like they were getting like a paint job done and that there was some white exposed and they didn't like it.
Brad: And what we found was, well, if we explain to them upfront, most everyone didn't have a problem with it.
Brad: And if they did have a problem with it, there's a solution. There's a different type of material we can use to make sure it does stay, but it's gonna cost you probably 30% more.
Brad: And then you really find out if it really is a big deal or not, if they're willing to pay that or not. But if we never had that conversation, it never happened. So that's the Front Loading being proactive versus being reactive where, " Oh, well they're upset" because they see [00:30:00] white exposed. I've applied this to my life in general, you know, like I plan my weeks. I front load my week, I make sure that everything's on my calendar ahead of time. If it's not on my calendar, it's not there. Doesn't matter as much. I dedicate certain times to growing the business, working on the business versus working in the business. I front load my physical fitness, my health, I make sure I had my miracle mornings. So yeah, front loading versus freeloading has been a super impactful thing for me. So if you're not doing that and you're being a freeloader, at the moment in any part of your life, maybe you need to look at being more of a front loader.
John: And I think one of my favorite quotes from that podcast was: "If you can't lead yourself effectively, how can you expect to lead others effectively?". Front Loading is an example of how can you effectively and proactively lead your life and that example can now be passed on to your team because you are effectively leading. So definitely check out the podcast, The WrapIQ Podcast, the episode is Front Loading VS Freeloading.
Past Experience of Living With Chronic Back Pain
John: And then, now to [00:31:00] transition to something else, which I thought was absolutely amazing about your story. When you were 18 years old, I believe you suffered a back injury. And for 17 or so years, you suffered from back pain, and then a transition happened in your life, and it just all disappeared in two to three months without any surgery. Mind-boggling! Can you tell us about this? Like, this is like a miracle. Like, what?!
Brad: It's crazy, and this is one of the things that Rock had the biggest impact in my life, because no matter what I've accomplished so far in my life, I feel like this has been the most impactful thing, just because of how much pain I was in. When I was younger, I was 18, I was working at a big-box store and I hurt my back. I was super heavily into Martial Arts. In 2001, I was actually in Korea, training with the Korean Olympic team. Martial Arts does everything to me at the time. That's where I met my wife. I went from doing like back flips that night to working overnight at one of these big-box stores to walking with a cane on a Christmas Eve and Christmas day. It's one of those, if anybody's had back pain, they know how much this can hurt. But I've had [00:32:00] a bunch of discs that have been bulging, been out of place that had been ruptured over the time. And at the time, the only thing that was prescribed to me was getting surgery done, fusing the spine, and the doctor at that time... I'm 18 years old, right? And I feel like I'm a superhuman because I do all these martial arts stuff. I'm jumping over people and doing all these crazy things and I can barely like take a step forward now. It's very humbling. But he's like, "After you have the surgery, they're only gonna be 20% better than you are now.". And I was like, "20% better than where I'm at now? Like that didn't seem right.".
Brad: So I avoided surgery then, and I focused more on just stretching, healing, and doing yoga... that kind of stuff. For my entire life up until like three years ago at this point, so I was 18 and I'm 37 now, that back pain has been always there. And again, anybody who's had that back pain, they know exactly what I'm talking about. But it gets to the point where like, you know, I'm wrapping, I'm on my feet all the time, I'm getting like electricity down into my knees. It [00:33:00] affected my whole life. My life was wrapped around how much pain I'd willing to tolerate that day.
Brad: And so, like, there was one point in time where we took my daughter to Disney World for the first time. And I knew taking her to Disney World was gonna be the most painful day of my life.
Brad: Because of all the walking and stuff. So, I did it anyways, obviously, cuz I'll do anything for her. But I remember, I've had to take pills to stay upright, to wrap with my guys. I had to take pills for that day. Doctors always just keep pushing the surgery or pushing more pills. And it wasn't until I was over at Rock's house one time and he was talking to me about my back pain and we were going over my goals. One of my goals was to have little back pain, as possible.
Adapting to a Vegan Diet
Brad: And at that point in time, I had just signed up for finally giving in. Cause I was getting the back injections and everything too, and those weren't taking anymore, so they weren't working. So that was in like November. Just signed up for surgery and I think I scheduled it for like springtime of the next year. In November, Rock was just like, "Why are you settling for a little back pain when I have no back pain?". You don't understand. You don't understand. [00:34:00] This is just what I have, right? And he challenged me to go plant-based for 30 days. Cuz he was saying that if I ate these plants, my back pain would go away. And I was like, "Bullshit.".
Brad: Just bullshit, right? "This is stupid. What are you talking about?". Especially at that time, if anybody knew me at that time, I was pretty much like a meditteran. I'm an amateur chef. So, I'm like making beef wellingtons in the weekend. I'm eating barbecue sandwiches for lunch, like all of the above. I was the guy that's like salads and stuff is rabbit food.
Brad: But, I don't back down from a challenge. Rock's never steer me wrong. So I did it begrudgingly, still thinking it was bullshit. Within two months of me cutting out dairy, cutting out meat, cutting out sugar and processed bullshit. Within two months, my back pain was completely gone.
John: Wow. And this is after almost two decades of pain.
Brad: Right. That's without any type of expensive surgery or procedures or pills or negative effects that come with anything else that you do, right?
Brad: Even at that two-month span, when my back pain was gone, I didn't believe it.[00:35:00] I was like, "No, it's not possible. That's just today. Maybe I'm just having a good day.". And it's like, maybe I'm just having a good week. Maybe I'm just having a good month. And it wasn't until like that three-month mark, where I started doing my own research, I kind of did the opposite. You know, some people do like research and then they make all these life changes. You know, I was just challenged. I got the results. And then, I did the research afterwards. And I found that I had a massive amount of inflammation in my body. And because of that inflammation, it wasn't allowing my body to heal itself. Our bodies are incapable of healing itself. And because of the food that I was eating, you know, I was heavily into drinking sodas, all kinds of processed stuff. You know, I was a McDonald's guy grew up on McDonald's stuff. All this stuff was like preventing my body from healing itself. And so when I cut all that out, I was just amazed how fast my body healed itself. So after that three-month period, I ended up dropping 47 pounds. My body fat percentage was like around 28%. I think it went down to like 15.
Brad: My visceral fat was like through the roof, like diabetes and heart disease was [00:36:00] probably imminent. It was like win versus if.
Brad: And now it's like, not even there anymore. Blood pressure perfectly fine. My protein levels are through the roof. Everybody was like, "Where'd you get your protein from?". Protein levels are through the roof, man. You don't need all that stuff. So, yes, that was a massive thing that's changed my life. It's the amount of energy that I have now, and no pain is phenomenal. When I see these old pictures of myself, like wrapping with our guys, or with customers and stuff, it's a whole different person.
Brad: That's like, "Yup, that guy's in a lot of pain.". And because we change those things too, like, those are the other things that I've changed to myself to then help change others. You know, it's in my business here, in general. Yeah, I think John C. Maxwell talked about the law of the lid.
Brad: Right? How can we show people or tell people how to do other things if we can't do it ourselves? And that's just one of those things like, "Hey, let's take care of ourselves. Let's show up to work.". Now, I show up to work with energy than most of the people that show up here. Just from that little thing, it's crazy.
John: And if you, guys, wanna check out more of his story, he was also on the Fall In Love With Fitness podcast and he explains more about his story.
The Identity Shift: Who You Need to Be to Succeed
John:[00:37:00] And I guess just one last thing on the health, on that podcast, there was a takeaway that I had which was around, "It wasn't just changing what you're eating, but it was shifting your identity...
John: ... and then organizing your life around that.". Could you speak to that? Because that's such a difficult thing for people to do. To shift their identity and then, I mean, the results are there. So could you just like speak to the importance of that and how that played a role?
Brad: Yeah. In anything that we do, we challenge ourselves, right? We say, we're gonna do these things. And how many of those things have you done that you've kind of committed to doing for a little bit of time and then you drop off?
John: There's plenty.
Brad: Right? Like diet's the number one thing, right?
Brad: January comes around, everybody's like, "I'm gonna get fit this year!".
John: January 31st.
John: Where are they?
Brad: And that's because people focus on the wrong things. They focus on like losing the weight or they focus on... Even if it's business-related, like focusing on, "I have to sell more. I have to do this.". If we create an identity around what we're trying to accomplish, [00:38:00] then it's not temporary. Like, diet is temporary...
Brad: ...and identity is just who I am. So for instance, like when I made that commitment to be plant-based, you know, there's plenty of people that they'll wave meat in front of your face and they're like, "Oh, don't you miss this?". And I was like, "No, I don't.".
Brad: I can respect it cuz I love to cook. I can respect how it tastes. I can respect how it is. But for me, that's pain.
Brad: And my identity is I eat this way or I work out this way. I identify as I'm an athlete. That's how athletes do, they never skip a day working out, right? That's just what they do. They focus on recovery, working out, their health and nutrition. So why can't I do that? Versus like, "Hey, I'm gonna just lose some weight, eat some salad this week, and maybe hit the gym a couple of times.". And then when it gets hard, you drop off. But if that's your identity, that's who you are. That's what you do. There's no negotiation. That's what it is.
John: Wow. That sounds like it relates to what we were talking on earlier. Just the identity of being the artist versus being a true entrepreneur or business owner. I love that. It's not just, "Oh, I got this hack that I've [00:39:00] done, I've literally shifted how I view myself and what is normal in my life.".
Brad: A big wall that came up for me in making that shift between plant-based. And I know we keep talking about the plant-based stuff, but big wall that came up for me is that my identity at the time was I love cooking.
Brad: I love to eat and that's how I get my contribution bucket-filled. I like to cook big meals. You know, I got Italian heritage, so it's just kind of in me, I guess. I like to have people over. I like to cook for them and that's where I get my satisfaction, my contribution from my love is. You know, you eat the food, you love the food because I made it for you. Like I said, I was an amateur chef, we've done all these cooking classes. I felt switching to the plant-based world was dropping an identity that I had created for myself, and Rock had to help me shift that identity into, "Well, you're really good at cooking. Why not make plant-based food or plant food taste good?".
Brad: Cuz in my mind, I thought plant food's just bland, plant food's just lettuce on a plate, and it's grass, has no [00:40:00] flavor, and if it has flavor it's not good for you.
Brad: So he's like, take all that skills that you've created over the years and apply that to this, and let's see what happens. And he's a hundred percent right. Because you know, I enjoy experimenting. I love giving somebody like a plant dish and just being like, "Hey try this.". I'm not fooling people. I'm not saying like, "Oh, there's meat in this.", or anything like that. I say, "Hey, just try this. Oh, you say you don't like this certain type of mushroom or whatever, well, try this.". "Does it taste good?", "Oh my gosh. It tastes amazing.", "Okay. Awesome.". With that, I feel satisfied cuz I've crafted on how to do that.
John: When's the cookbook coming out?
Brad: Oh, man. I keep a digital one. I just keep posting, you know, especially if you follow my Facebook, that's all you see. But yeah, definitely, identity is a big thing. Like I said, the artist switching into being the business owner. You know, if anybody's seen like Robert Kiyosaki's Cash Flow Quadrant.
Brad: The top left one is employee. The bottom left one is self-employed. Top right is business owner. And the bottom right is investor. And it's like, employee swaps time for money and everybody wants to jump into [00:41:00] self-employed, which also swaps their time for money.
Brad: That's where most people stay.
Brad: So, you have to shift that identity into, "I'm gonna be a business owner where I leverage people for money.".
Brad: And then the business owners going into the investor, which is "I leveraged my money for money.".
John: Wow. That's perfect transition.
About Investing, Building Wealth, and Financial Freedom
John: Now, we want to talk about some investing, building wealth, and financial freedom. So, I believe you're doing real estate investing.
John: Could you tell us more about that? Are you doing single family, multi-family, or...
Brad: I'm dabbling in diversifying. And then, like a Grant Cardone doesn't like to promote diversification. But you know, everybody has their saying. I like to diversify. No, I feel like at some point in time, may all of us guys who are on a business are making money. And if you're making money, you should be putting it away for a rainy day. And I feel like the best way to do that is through real estate.
Brad: Buying into real estate has tripled my net worth. There's so many ways to do real estate, right? There's multi-family, there's short-term rentals...
Brad: ...there's [00:42:00] buying homes with no money down. There's just so many ways to do things, like there's commercial, there's residentials, all kinds of stuff. But yeah, I think definitely investing into real estate helps build wealth, as well as focusing on building the value of your business. One of the things that hit me hard at business mastery was if you're not building your business to sell one day, whether you're going to sell it or not, you need to be billing it as you're going to be selling it.
Brad: Cuz if you're not, then you're robbing yourself of that value and that wealth, or if someday you have to sell unexpectedly, at least you have that built in. You can't just go, "Oh, well, I'm thinking about retiring now. So now, I'll just clean up the books. Focus more on the value of stuff.". You know, okay, well, if that's gonna take time now.
Brad: You could just be doing that anyways and take advantage of that. But then, funneling some of that money in that you're making into, Rock always calls it, planting your orchard.
Brad: Buying a house here, buying a house there, buying a property there. I do short term rentals in Florida. It's a good money maker for me. I have a commercial unit which is this unit here. That's been a good money maker for me. And have some land, that's a good money maker. [00:43:00] And...
John: Doing crazy crypto stuff?
Brad: I have done some crypto. Yeah. I've never really understood crypto, to be honest with you. I've just kind of it was the popular thing to do. I threw some money at it and I made some money, lost some money, made some money, lost some money. It's very up and down. It's like an emotional rollercoaster, which I guess is part of the addicting part, you know. But the main thing's, Yeah. Real estate are definitely my go-to for diversifying everything.
John: Yeah. And as they also say, putting it back into your business, building your orchard... Your best return will just come from your business, developing your people, and building out skills. We're talking earlier about Trainual, which is a software that...
John: ...you're using to train up your team. It's just amazing. Yeah. And reinvesting and building things up. Awesome.
John: So I think we're close to the hour. Is there any last takeaway that you wanna share with everybody before we zoom out of the one-hour podcast?
Brad: I would just say, everybody's doing a great job. Keep pushing the boundaries for your business. Like I said, you, HVAC guys, have this whole network of people that are willing to help and train and grow your business, jump into it if you're not. And then as soon as you jump into one of those, [00:44:00] definitely contact us to do your wraps because as you grow, we grow and we wanna make relationships with people and keep pushing forward.
John: I love it. Well, thank you, man. Thank you for joining me on the podcast.
Brad: Appreciate it, man.
Connect with Brad
John: Thanks for all of you who stuck around until the end. And just one last reminder, where can people find you? How can they get in contact with you?
Brad: They can find us on the internet. They can find us on Facebook, Instagram, we're @TradeWraps. They can email me, [email protected], or you can just give us a call. We're here for you. We answer our phones.
John: Alright. Thank you, Brad. Thanks so much everyone, and I'll see y'all on the next episode.