Scaling UP! H2O

265 Transcript

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october 3rd through 5th group discounts are available to learn more go to forward slash special once again that’s scaling up
forward slash special
welcome to scaling up the podcast where we scale up on knowledge so we don’t scale up our systems i’m trace blackmore
the host of the scaling up h2o podcast and nation you caught us right in the middle of legionella awareness month
every year during the month of august we make sure that you the industrial water
treater have all the information that you need so you can help your clients make better decisions
when it comes to legionella bacteria and what we’re going to do today i think is
going to revolutionize how you think about legionella and how it can affect
your company the guest i have today is russell baskin good friend of mine and russ changed his business overnight
and it was because of ashrae 188. it was because of the thing that we thought would never happen
actually happened and for russ it happened pretty quickly and he’s been dealing with it for years
where a lot of us have refused to even learn about the topic now i’m sure that’s not you i’m sure that’s somebody
else but by any chance if somebody out there is listening and you don’t know what you need to know
about educating your clients about legionella and what your company should be doing and saying to your clients
about legionella i hope you use this legionella awareness month
to start learning what you need to say to start gathering resources so you can
help your clients make better decisions that’s what this month is all about
and if i’ve done my job right if my staff have done their job right
we are getting the water treatment community talking to their customers about something they should have already
been talking about well this is episode 265 who can believe that we are so far
through the year but since we made mention of the calendar let’s go ahead and talk about
some things that are coming up of course one of my favorite things the 2022
association of water technologies annual convention is right around the corner
september 21st through 24th in vancouver canada
i will be there so many of my friends will be there i hope to see
you there and the only way you can go there is to register now we made it
really easy for you to register you can go to our show notes page scaling up
and go to today’s show or you can go over to our events calendar and simply
click on the links and they will take you to the registration page and it will also put in a calendar
invitation so you can block off the time so you can go to this valuable
conference now if you are a business owner come the day before
because there’s an entire day dedicated to business owners and how can
we do better practices to make our businesses more healthy
joe cavanaugh friend of show owner of scranton associates she heads up that
committee and she’s a member of the rising tide mastermind so we have an inside look at
all the things that she’s been planning with her team for this business owners conference and
i’m here to tell you that you do not want to miss this if you own a water
treatment company you will be sorry that you did and i think people that do will
get a leg up because successful people are sharing with other successful people
how they became successful and what they can do to become even more successful how would you not want to attend that
for all the information on the business owners conference go to our show notes page and we’ll have everything linked
for you there the association of metropolitan water agencies is having
their conference september 11th through 14th in portland
oregon so this is all about infrastructure issues and creating solutions to solve those problems if
this is something that interests you go to our show notes page and we’ll have all of that ready for you to devour and
even register well as i mentioned today’s guest is russell baskin
of tower water and russ is just going to change the way that you think about
legionella and your company i cannot wait for you to hear this interview but
before we get there let’s do a little thinking on water with james [Music]
welcome to thinking on water with james the segment where we don’t give you the answers we give you the topics and
questions for you to think about drop by drop now let’s get to it
in this week’s episode we’re thinking about writing field service reports what should you really be writing in a
field service report should you write all is good while also listing the issues found
how might a badly written field service report haunt you later how many overly general statements cause
later problems how much detail is too much who actually
reads your field service reports do you ensure all the proper parties are fully aware of any issues or actions
needed to be taken on top of just emailing the report out does your report actually provide value
each visit or is it just a repeat of the last report that the customer finds no value in reading each time
if it’s not written down it didn’t happen and the field service report is high
profile proof of the value you bring when written communicated and shared properly
take this week to think about your field service reports and how you can work to increase their value be sure to follow
tow 22 and hashtag scaling scalinguph2o share your thoughts on each week’s
thinking on water i’m james mcdonald and i look forward to learning more from you
as always thanks for helping us think james you’re doing a lot for the water
treatment industry and we’re getting better each week for your thoughts on water
well now here’s our guest russell baskin i hope you enjoy the interview
my lab partner today is russ baskin of tower water president and visionary of tower water
and who i am extremely lucky to call a good friend russ welcome again to the
scaling up h2o podcast well trace it’s always great being here
very excited to be here with you today i’m excited too and russ i’m going to let the cat out of the bag you are part
of my think tank you are one of the individuals when i said i was thinking about creating not
only the podcast but also the rising tide mastermind you said you need to do it and we
actually talked about that and what that looked like and was that a separate business and how would i manage all of
that so i want to thank you because both of those endeavors have just been so much fun
well you really took the ball and ran with it i would love to take a lot of credit for it but
not going to happen you have great ideas you always have great insight
you in turn have helped me so much in my business and my life
i wish you all the success in the world and you deserve it well you definitely helped with a lot of
that success and i remember it was at an awt conference in palm springs my wife and i had rented
an airbnb and we were at the dining room table right inside there was a nice pool
behind us and i said guys i’m thinking about doing this mastermind
and everybody was like well what the heck is that and i was like well it’s this just with more people and just the
questions that you asked and uh everybody else that was involved in that i can’t thank you enough because like i
said the rising tide mastermind has been one of my favorite things that i’ve ever been a part of and and thank you for
being a part of it we just came off of our live event and that was just spectacular um and of
course i’m talking about uh something that we’re not talking about on the on the on the list here today but since you
are in the mastermind how would you describe the live event to the scaling up h2o listeners
so for me i’ve been to a lot of these kind of events um looking for a lot of motivation looking
to further my personal growth and it really met and exceeded all my expectations
really trace i mean you are an amazing speaker you don’t even appear to be well
rehearsed you just know it off the top of your head you’re always excited to watch you’re
just anything that goes up on the screen instantly draws all our attention
and really all the topics are very relevant and when i see that
that is value that’s the best way i can describe it i am not a guy that likes to waste a lot
of time listen i’ll i’ll do anything with you personally and have a great time but
if i’m doing something for work it’s got to pay off and i can honestly say that
that was an action-packed two and a half day situation
and from the fun to the to the work it was great
we did something called whirlyball how would you describe that to somebody
well if anybody that knows me knows how competitive i am to me it was like
ice hockey in a in a bumper car with a scoop and
i love ice hockey i love the five on five and i love cars and
you know just being able to smash people and and throw a ball into a hoop is just it’s just the best thing ever i got some
great pictures i would love to turn one of my warehouses bays into
the whirly ball tournament place that’s fantastic i loved it it was a great time i think
that’d be awesome i’m going to look at putting something in the back of our warehouse maybe we can have full-time whirly ball and of course the north star
team won the championship so i’m actually having a trophy made and they
will be able to keep it for the next year they’re going to bring it back to the next live event and then your team
the lighthouse can go ahead and win it from them they were a pretty athletic team out
there they were really good gonna be a hard team to beat for sure but i love it i love the masterminds cup
i think that’s gonna be great get a banner and we’ll start putting banners up in one year
i love it i can see it well well russ i have totally deviated from our normal
opening and all the things that i have on my notes so let’s get back to what we should be talking about and we’re going
to talk about legionella we’re going to talk about your experience with legionella we’re going to talk about what you wish you knew
before you got a fedex letter and everything changed from there but before
we get there the scaling up nation wants to know a little bit more about russ baskin cwt so what can you tell them
about yourself what’s important to me is really about being happy and healthy
you know great family making sure that all my people are taken care of and make sure that i’m giving
back for all the things that have been given to me over the years that’s really what motivates me i love
seeing people succeed in this business i love seeing people succeed in life i wanted to be the best father ever
and i think i’m doing a pretty good job at that as well so i’m really here to get back i’m here
to help and i’m here to make the industry better russ how long have you been in the water treatment industry
i started in the water treatment industry in 1988 so about 34 years
i feel like i’m one of the older guys in the group now it’s really strange you know i used to look up to the older guys
and i still do but now i’m kind of in the same class as the older guys it’s it’s pretty crazy yeah i
was at the live event and sean mcgrade who’s been on this podcast a couple of times
he compared me to the same age group as uh jay farmery and bruce ketrick how
does that happen probably the same way it happens for me it’s that you have experienced
more in your age than than most people have you’re willing to learn you’re willing to grow
you’re willing to take chances and when you do that you gain this experience and this knowledge
not to put anybody else down but when you share your knowledge you’re in that elite group and that’s why
they put you in that same category well you’re in that same category too and i think we got there because we made
a lot of mistakes oh absolutely russ i’m curious how did
you go to own your own company it pretty much happened i’m not going to take it all the way back but i worked
for one of the major companies and i had a client ask me
if i could clean their cooling tower and if i can clean their cooling tower i could have their water treatment
i said okay let me take a look at this thing went up there decided sure i can
do that price the whole thing even though my company doesn’t do it and uh i had great friends that were
worked on the outskirts of our industry picked their brains was able to do it started cleaning cooling towers on
weekends and you know in the water treatment space when companies start getting bought and
sold they kind of dilute the culture and my company that i work for diluted the
culture because they sold the company at that time i was number one number two number three within the company and as
soon as the the new company bought us everything went to paying on profit
and since i worked in new york city profitability of my territory was one of
the worst and i went to literally 158
so the writing was on the wall they didn’t they didn’t want to pay us what we were worth and they told me that i have to cease
and desist what i’m doing or be let go and it was pretty much right after the
gulf war and my wife wanted to have a baby and i just noticed if i don’t do this
now i’ll never do it and i always had that entrepreneurial spirit and
i took a leap of faith started in one bedroom in my house with a phone on a desk and i worked at
the original company six years to the actual date that i’ve started there
and never looked back built the business one account at a time one construction job at a time
and you know somehow we just made it and i started a family a year and a half after that moved the business out
another year after that and you know pretty much brought on one person a year
after that and built the business well it is amazing what you have built
i’ve seen it i’ve met a lot of your team not only have you employed a great team
but you’ve created an amazing culture and i know that’s something that you try
to make sure that everybody embraces how do you do that how do you have a culture
in your company that just leads everything else well i guess it starts and where do you start
the business right i wanted to have a place where people would want to come to
and customers would want to be a part of and those were the two founding principles that i started with
and in order to do that you have to make the place fun you have to make the place at least
tolerable to come to work and for me all my friends seem to be the colleagues
that i worked with all work and no play makes johnny a a dull boy right so
you have to make it fun you have to make it interesting you have to be learning constantly you have to give people what they want
and very early on i’d be interviewing people and seeing what makes them tick
and this was way before the hr days so everybody would get a little something that they wanted rather than you know
everything collectively as a whole and when you have employees or people i like to call them
peers rather than employees when you have peers that you’re willing to listen
to and you’re giving them an easy place to make suggestions and you actually take their suggestions
that’s what builds culture when you have meetings and you invite everybody and take them outside the actual company
that builds culture when you invite their families to a picnic
and get to see them that builds culture and then furthering that as you get bigger it
gets harder and harder but if you hire people with the same values
you can really keep the culture going and if your values are good values that
most of the people have they seem to fit and they seem to like each other and seem to want to help each
other because they all feel like they’re part of the same thing i’ve been the recipient of several of
the outings that you do to make sure that culture stays strong in your company one we went skydiving or indoor
skydiving and that was incredible and then i got the pleasure of doing some
training at your offices and then on the tail end of that you had a quarterly
meeting and you had a party right outside of your office and that was just
amazing everybody came several the spouses showed up after they got off from work and everybody was just
enjoying each other and i just remember thinking this is a healthy team
yeah well you can always get 90 of your team let’s let’s be real about it but yeah those are the kind of things that
make the difference and um you know truly getting personal with your team makes them makes a world
of difference and you know giving them what they appreciate makes the world of difference it’s really funny early on
i i want to give them a christmas party bring their spouse do all this and they sat me down they told me this is not
what we want we want a summer picnic where we bring our families go swimming play softball do this do that
perfect even though it may not be exactly what i would want to do but if it’s what they want to do they’re
going to enjoy it and then i will you know enjoy watching them enjoy it so that really gives the that’s the give
back to me at the end of the day russ i’m thinking back to we’ve known each
other for a while but the first real conversation that we had it was at an
awt i think it was in san francisco when we were having a
training there and you and i were sitting beside each other we just struck up a conversation
and we noticed we were using the same language from a book that we were reading called traction
and you and i just just bonded over the entrepreneurial operating system was
that about 10 years ago yeah we started it in 2012.
so yeah we were fresh and new in when we went through that and
yeah i remember that conversation i think we did talk before there but
maybe not as much about business and all of a sudden we had that instant bond and
you know throwing ideas back and forth of course you know you’re a deep thinker i’m a deep thinker
and uh you know we’re always rushing to get to that end point as quickly as we can so
yeah i do recall that and it’s it’s very alive and well today and it’s helped us
through a lot of tremendous breakthroughs within our company as well i remember when we were talking about it
i thought i was the only water treatment company that was running on the entrepreneur operating system i’m sure
you felt that way of course we’ve met probably a dozen other people that are
also running a water treatment company on eos i don’t know it kind of changes
everything it makes things a little bit easier you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and you can you can
be a great water treater and not have to worry about okay how do i put all these things together for
business i just plug it into here and make sure i’m staying on top of things make sure i’m doing all the
checkups and it really does make things easier wouldn’t you agree
yeah once you get through it i’ll tell you a really quick quick story is that
what we were going through right before we started eos i was at a point where
i was actually making a violations list for my people and saying this is a
a level one violation a level two violation a level three violation you know if you get two level one violations
uh you’re gonna be on probation to be let go and it felt terrible i told you i built a company that i wanted people to
come to come and work for and have fun with right and it turned out that we were not
hiring people by values we were hiring people by their skills and yes they were
great people they were great at doing what they were doing but they just didn’t fit in and you know all you have to do is let a
couple of those people go we have never had a violations list since not saying we haven’t had people
that violate what we do but they’re handled on a one-on-one basis and
you know if it’s time for them to go it’s time for them to go we hire fire and promote based on our
values all the time which is the eos way when we first started eos we also had
some people that weren’t doing the things that we said that we were supposed to do and
it was maybe about a month and both of them left the company voluntarily it
just happens they didn’t fit in anymore and there wasn’t any place for them to
not get in line with what we said our values were did you have a similar
situation yes we did we had we had the same thing go on and it was the funny part about
eos is that you cannot escape these values so
what you don’t realize is the rest of the company is running on them as well so if somebody violates them
it’s not only you that notices it’s the rest of the company that notices and if if they’re they will actually have the
conversation before you do to that they better get in line and if they don’t
you’re gonna know pretty quickly that they don’t fit in unfortunately or fortunately but it really it really
erodes your culture when you have people that you can’t make up your values you’re
kind of born with them we gave people plenty of time to get to get on board with them when we started but at the end
of the day if they’re not your values it’s going to be very hard and i know this sounds incredibly
horrible we’re talking about people that that left our team but it actually worked out really well the two people that i’m
referring to they’ve got jobs they enjoy even better than working here and now we’re not trying to push string uphill
if if you will our team functions a lot better because now we found people that do want to live
our core values everybody’s happier i can’t agree more
you know it’s it’s funny is that i’ve cried literally cried when people have left my company because i love them as a
person so much but they’re just horrible for my team because of their values and they’ve
gotten they’ve gotten great jobs and they were still friends today but you
know i i would never have them back into my company well russ it sounds like everything’s
going well you guys learned eos you started running on eos
tower water is at the top of its game and then one day you got a delivery
from fedex you opened the letter what did that letter tell you
i remember this day like it was yesterday to be honest with you just to make it a little more clear it
was a friday afternoon in august i’m prepping to go down the shore my
team is all you know all giddy and ready ready to get out the door and you know the fedex comes and you’re
like uh what can this mean an insurance thing uh you know a customer wants to leave you something like this but no
i opened this fedex and it’s literally an order from the commissioner of new york city
saying that i have to clean and disinfect every cooling tower that that i service within the next 14 days i have
to give a spreadsheet of every cooling tower and all the data from it in five days and
literally in five days i have to turn over all the water treatment reports any
reports i’ve done for these cooling towers for the last year and again it went from friday august 7th
to friday the 13th overnight in that minute my jaw dropped panic set
in i was i was out of my mind i got on the phone called 9-1-1 to my lawyer
you know is this legal can they do this i was in full
blown panic mode at four o’clock on a friday afternoon in the summer i’m
guessing you didn’t make it to the jersey shore no knowing me trace i think i can solve any
problem in about 15 minutes and i went into full-blown emergency
mode to be honest with you and i you know just basically called my wife i had almost the same conversation
i had on 9 11. i said uh i’m not coming home anytime soon
and don’t worry i’m not in the area basically it was it was you know
devastating to me i needed to figure this out and i was gonna stay at work until i figured out
what we were gonna do how we’re gonna handle this what the clients are gonna think
how are we gonna get this done so let’s paint the picture a little bit more for the scaling up nation the first edition
of ashrae 188 was released and then almost exactly one month later there was
an outbreak in new york and this is how the legislation decided that they were going
to correct this from happening again exactly just to make put it a little bit
more clear they followed a protocol from 1989
that happened in quebec city canada so they had the same kind of order 14 days
to clean and disinfect all cooling towers the differences between quebec canada
and new york city is only about 9
910 cooling towers right so there’s 90 cooling towers in quebec city there’s
about 10 000 in new york city so even though there’s tremendous amount of water treatment companies there’s still
not enough people to get that job done yeah let’s face it the people that voted on that they had no idea what a cooling
tower was they had no idea what legionella was they heard that people were getting hurt people were getting
sick and they needed to do something about it correct and it was a knee-jerk reaction
they followed a protocol that was literally 25 years old 30 years old
so what did that weekend look like you got your team together you now have these mandates that you i mean how the
heck are you going to do that in three days and 14 days how’d you do it well
i felt like we were actually going into battle the truth of the matter i called all my lieutenants in
i said how we gonna do this got the white board out love that white board with all my colors and go around and
literally planned this whole thing out we navigated the whole thing out what we were going to do
how can we get listen i had over 300 cooling towers at the time
that i had that i had to get serviced we had to write everybody a proposal we had to get it out because we can’t write
checks out of our customers checkbooks so literally i was like the general and
my lieutenants were underneath me and they were with me unfortunately for them i can work 80
hours straight and they cannot so the big biggest thing about that is
thank god i have some cooler heads on my team that can you know are a different temperament
than me that can straighten me out and you know that’s that’s really
really really important that you know you’re not all the same person on the team or we would have just went crazy
you rush you mentioned temperaments we’ve mentioned temperaments all the time here on the podcast something i
will share with the scaling up nation i’ve let the nation know that i am a a dark red you are just as dark red as i
am yeah i mean i do i do have a streak of blue and a streak of yellow
but i am the guy you want to sit next to if you’re having a problem for sure and
i’ve had many instances of that it’s so funny because my wife and i are both reds
and we’ve seen people go down at events she goes to the head i go to the feet and we go to work like we’re on emt
and neither one of us are but we’re willing we’re willing to step in always so russ that was the premise of how you
just set up what was going on when you got that letter and that’s how you opened up your presentation to the
association of water technologies that was in orlando that was what five years ago or something like that yeah it was
2018 i believe and i remember you just had everybody in
that room their eyes were wide open their jaws were dropped people were
taking notes and you’re going to tell us some things that you had to do and things you wish you did so you didn’t
have to react so quickly and so many people in that room got the information
and i can tell you for a fact they haven’t done anything with it and it is coming sooner or later and it might even
be there and you don’t know that it’s there so nation if you are not tuned in
and listening listen to russ this changed his company if he knew the
information that he is getting ready to share with us right now it would have made everything different it would have
actually allowed him to go home and sleep and his own bed over that week so
stay buckled up because russ is going to be telling us some things that are just
stuff that we need to do or we’re going to wish that we had it 100
and i will tell you that was my most glorious presentation that you were
supposed to help me with if you don’t recall your name was on it all right all right
even mr lewis but it was so funny that when right before this started there was literally 10
people in the room if you recall and i was like you guys better move forward
because there’s no reason for me to scream all the way up you know there’s it’s the room was a huge room and then
all the other sessions let out and all of a sudden i’m sitting in a room with literally
700 to a thousand people and it was like well hold on you were speaking so you didn’t know what was going on
the 10 people that were in the room were texting oh my gosh you need to be in
here we need to hear this and a couple people trickled in and then other people so i i’m not 100 sure that the sessions
let out i think that people chose to leave the sessions that they were in and come
listen to you i really think that’s what happened i’m very modest person so i i don’t
assume that it was all that great well it was great because hey this could close you down
this can mean that you don’t have a business anymore 100 not to say you aren’t an amazing speaker
because you are but the material was oh my gosh this is some scary stuff
it was 100 in all seriousness this was my defining moment in my company no
doubt so with all of that i think everybody’s listing in now so hopefully we can get
the message across because if you knew what you’re getting ready to tell people to do your life would have been a lot
simpler let’s face it you still have a lot to do but you would have been so far along you wouldn’t have to start where
you did so what is something you wish you knew you wish you did
before you got that letter well for me the awt was talking about this ashrae
188 for probably almost 10 years before this law ever came out
it was going through revisions they you know they showed you all the rigmarole and all that all the process which
ashrae goes through to put something like this together and you know i knew
it was coming i knew it was common i heard about it but i was like i’ll wait till it’s out and
then we’ll start looking at it even if it becomes anything right so i kept pushing it off pushing it off i did hear
that it came out at the end of june and i said okay you know the summer time is
a good time everything’s stable we can start looking at it in the summer
and lo and behold the summer came and so did the letter and
i’m like oh my god this is crazy i didn’t they you know awt has told us
this is coming it’s coming it’s coming and now it’s come to me and anybody else
in new york but nobody else so russ i know bill pearson is a
listener and he’s a past president of the association of water technologies and he’s also been the ashrae liaison
for awt for quite some time he was a voting member on the document writing
committee that created ashrae 188 and he was the one that made sure awt was
highly involved in writing that document and it used to be we had a general session in awt and all the liaisons gave
the report and that’s what you’re referring to i’m not sure when but somewhere that
stopped and we no longer get that information so i’m not sure where that’s disseminated to the membership but if
anybody on the awt board is listening russ learned about this through that
general session so i urge you to bring those liaison reports back because if we don’t know what’s going on in our
industry we can’t react fast enough or properly well i know at the training at the um
the twice a year training now there is a legionella portion of that training and there’s definitely updates in there
but i don’t know where else to get it from either it’s not like there’s a a wheel on the awt website under
legionella rags right yeah there’s so many other regulations that could affect us from all these
other trade organizations so awt does a great job of pointing the liaisons and
the liaisons do a great job of reporting back to awt but it’s just been harder and harder for the member to get that
information i’m sure it’s out there i just don’t know where it is i agree you know when you look for anything you
kind of find it but if you’re not looking and you’re you know being aware you
might have to look really hard to find it yeah and i’m sure there’s somebody on the board that’s screaming at their stereo saying trace it’s right there i
just don’t know where it is and it used to be very easy because i would show up to a meeting and you would spoon feed it to me and it’s just not being spoon fed
anymore well nation as you can tell we’ve got a
lot more to discuss with russ baskin and i know you cannot wait to hear it but
you’re going to have to wait because we’re going to continue this interview
next friday in the meantime i hope you start learning about legionella i hope
you start taking some of the things that we’ve talked about over these last few weeks and turn them into the regular
dialogue that you have with your customers and i hope you tune in
for the exciting conclusion of our interview with russ baskin have a great
week folks [Music]
nation it’s hard to improve the day to day when we are stuck living in the day
today and for one hour a week you can join the group at the rising tide
mastermind so you can work on the business without being in the business
that one hour will change every other hour of the week it’s magic it’s not
magic it’s how we get together it’s how we process issues it’s how we encourage
each other and it’s how we just form these common bonds around each other and
there’s a camaraderie that i promise you will not find anywhere else to find out
more about the rising tide mastermind go to forward slash
mastermind [Music]