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Sage: [00:00:00] Welcome back to It's Not a Tiny House Podcast where your host, Wyatt Reid and Barna Kasa talk about all things housing while working on creating a unique and affordable housing solution in rural Colorado. They cover everything you need to know, from city code to financing by interviewing experts and sharing their personal experience so you can have the knowledge to overcome the problems nobody else is talking about. And now onto the podcast.

Wyatt: [00:00:26] What's the day to day like for you right now? I don't think I've ever had a chance to ask you like what you do other than outside of the FEDC space. And so can I learn a little bit about you in that first?

Rob: [00:00:39] Yeah, I'm what I affectionately refer to myself instead of an old man I say, I'm a tech pioneer. Because I was actually doing tech before a tech was cool. That's back in the 80s. And so my my vocation is as a mechanical designer, mechanical drafts person. And I worked in factory automation equipment. And so literally, you know, drawing stuff on the board and then going out into a fabrication facility, making it, then installing it, putting electrical controls on it and making it work. Conveyors, pick and place devices, palletizers, you name it.

Wyatt: [00:01:23] So you'd be familiar, more than likely, you know that I'm from Minnesota, right? Thief River Falls is my hometown. And Digi-Key if you're familiar with Digi-Key electronics, that's my hometown. And they have. They've built like a million square foot facility and they have a giant pick and pack operation where there's so much automation inside of it. You had a heyday in there. Yep, yep. Massive concrete building that is just

Barna: [00:01:46] Like, yeah, half the stuff in its offices from Digi-Key.

Wyatt: [00:01:49] Yeah. And that's that's home, right? And so, you know, we kind of when you live in a community like that, you generally find a lot of people that are also play with that kind of stuff outside of the office. You know, I got a good, a good friend of mine that I grew up with, and his dad was the original contractor that I worked with. And now he works for Digi-Key, and he kind of like leads teams. And I'm like, dude, this is the perfect situation for you, because he was the kid that had built a 3-D printer on his desktop years ago, and he's like, This is going to be more common than a blender at some point like, and I'm like, What's a 3D printer? How does it work? And he has always been into the mechanical side of things. And then this electronic element that, like myself, does not know how to add to it. So you guys would be like.

Rob: [00:02:37] Yeah. That's what we did. I grew up in Canyon City, OK? And so I went to Mike Giezman's in the day. It was a drafting program, right? And I got my certification in mechanical design while I was in high school. And then Giezman actually got me my first job at a company called Colorado Conveyor Company. And we actually manufactured conveyors. And so the way it worked in those days is that you had a senior guy and he got, in essence, an apprentice and you had a set of skills, but you didn't necessarily have any experience. And so he puts you at the drafting board. And it was a joke because it was a father son operation. The father was significantly older than me at the time, obviously, and so the father would come in early and tell me what he wanted. And I'd put it down on paper, and then the son would come in in the afternoon and change it all. Right now, this is before, before we had CAD, right? So it was a lot of work. And so the joke was don't draw more in the morning than you can erase in the afternoon.

Wyatt: [00:03:37] We were just talking about this with Mark. Literally that conversation of you get real careful pencil line goes because it's like, I don't want to undo this. I think this it's that measure twice cut once on the on the drafting table.

Rob: [00:03:49] Precisely. And so that that mentality leaked into my daily efforts, right? And I'm a, you know, I'm a the type of a person that likes to create and I like to see the results of my efforts. And so that was really fulfilling to draw something and then and then go out in the shop and actually build it and then install it. And then you watch the customers actually interface with it. It's a totally cool thing, right? Yeah. But the productivity sucked, and so the long and short of it is that I knew from my experience that there were better ways to do this, but there weren't things like AutoCAD back in the day, right? This predates that. And so I started doing some research about computer aided design, and then I ultimately met somebody that was in the microcomputer, computer aided design business or microcomputer CAD business. And what that meant is that they were doing CAD on a on an IBM AT, which was a, you know, a back in the day, it was an 80286 chip. It was six megahertz.

Wyatt: [00:04:51] Ok. He's going to know a lot more about what you're saying.

Barna: [00:04:54] Super fast.

Wyatt: [00:04:55] Yeah, yeah.

Rob: [00:04:56] My my phone sitting here would be by literally a million times faster.

Wyatt: [00:05:01] Holy cow, OK. And that's great. But you can draw lines,

Rob: [00:05:04] You could draw lines

Wyatt: [00:05:04] Without an eraser erasing them.

Rob: [00:05:06] And I was fascinated with it. It was fascinated with me. And so they needed a pioneer type mentality to come to work for him. So I went to work for him selling computer aided design systems. And this was in 1985. Ok, so this was no. Nobody had a computer in their home.

Barna: [00:05:25] We were just talking about that.

Wyatt: [00:05:26] Yeah, yeah, this is great.

Rob: [00:05:27] So that's how I got involved in tech. Well, in those days, you had to do everything, so you had to understand DOS. You had to figure out how to get software to work yet and figure out how to make the hardware work. And so we were a systems integrator, so we would sell systems to architects. And you're talking about the average price for one of those white IBM boxes back in the day was about $7000,

Barna: [00:05:51] Which would have been like fifty thousand today.

Rob: [00:05:54] Oh, easy.

Wyatt: [00:05:55] Yeah, yeah.

Barna: [00:05:56] I think the first computer my dad bought at home was 3500 dollars.

Rob: [00:06:01] There you go.

Barna: [00:06:01] And it was, you know, bulky. It was a box and DOS basically.

Wyatt: [00:06:06] And you're talking green And black screen.

Wyatt: [00:06:09] No, this actually had color.

Rob: [00:06:10] Yeah, I'm talking color.

Wyatt: [00:06:12] I'm asking because...

Rob: [00:06:13] But no, you're right there at the edge of that. I mean, you're talking, you know, 640 K.

Barna: [00:06:19] Went from one color to 16, right? Sixteen whole colors.

Wyatt: [00:06:22] Yeah, who needs more than 16 colors. You can have any color car you want as long as black. Let's go back to that.

Rob: [00:06:28] Yeah. Model T. So at that time, I when I got involved in my first, you know, kind of thing to do was get CAD into Canyon City High School. So I took one of these machines and the software, which a company called CAD Vance and I donated it back to the high school and that that was kind of the genesis of their CAD program so that that matters in that my personal objective is to reinvest in the people that invested in you, right? And so that's kind of the the whole point. But in terms of technology, I kind of started before technology was a thing. Right? And people would still say, you go into an architect's office and he'd say, Oh, I can. I can do this better on the drafting board. And it's like, No, you can't. Even with these antiquated CAD systems that, you know, by today's standards, it was still more productive. And so you hear people like Roybal and Associates, Architects, Fentress and Associates, Barker, Reeker, Seacat. These are all big design firms now in Denver, and these were all customers of mine back in the 80s, right? So it kind of launched them into this, you know, technology craze. And so from that point, I take my mechanical design skills, right. I take my interest in the in the CAD side and that kind of launched my career. So if you look at everything I've ever done for the last thirty five years, it has that technology component. It has the, you know, mechanical and the engineering component and so forth. And so that's why when I when I move back to Canyon City in 2007, it made sense to me to take this accumulation of skills and bring it to bear, you know, in a market that was sadly deficient of of people that are participating in the process.

Wyatt: [00:08:16] Truly, and businesses as well, right? Like. So I mean, in the first example, right, like Digi-Key is where I'm from, right? Right. That's a multibillion dollar company at this point, right? Right. Sure. Artic Cat is next door, right? Right. That's I don't know how many millions of dollars a year that business goes, right? Yeah. So they're shipping ATVs and snowmobiles and all this kind of stuff everywhere. All I've ever known and ever seen is that you must produce a physical product or good in order to be worth much. I come out, I come out here, and this is something that's different from about this region of Colorado. Sell experiences here? Tourism? I'm like, what happens if nobody travels? You don't ship anybody anything for money that you can't send them a raft? That's right. Expect them to be on the Arkansas. Right, right. So experiences are tremendous and travel is is is great. But what is the physical product or good that you sell for money?

Barna: [00:09:09] Yeah, that's not a robust economy if you only have one.

Wyatt: [00:09:13] Exactly.

Barna: [00:09:13] If it has one leg.

Wyatt: [00:09:14] Yeah. So it's a one tiered approach, right? And that's why. So so we're with Rob Brown. You're with FEDC, right? Right. And that's Fremont Economic Development Corporation.

Rob: [00:09:24] That's right.

Wyatt: [00:09:24] OK and when we talk about economic development and you're talking about mechanization of things, you're talking about all this, all this factory, if you will, creation of physical products and goods. Right, and bringing that to an area that has kind of sorely lacking like you just kind of mentioned, right? Sure. Not maybe sorely lacking, but it's I think it's underutilized in the area here. We have some of the most beautiful terrain, right? Some of the highest quality of living as far as when you're not at work? Wouldn't people want to live here, make stuff during the day and ride trails at night and that kind of thing. And that's kind of, so you're 07. Yeah, you're back here.

Rob: [00:10:05] I'm back. Yeah, I graduated from high school left, came back 25 years later. Yeah, 07 said this was not the same place that I remembered, right? Sure. Abject poverty here. You don't have to get too far from this building or too far from Main Street and Canyon or Florence. And you see people that really need help. You know. They're financially challenged for a number of reasons. They definitely need work. And so that was the kind of the the realization that I made that re-engaged me with the community. I still got to do something, you know, to try to take what I've learned over the years and bring it back into into, you know, into into production right into the whole, you know, solution.

Wyatt: [00:10:48] You're looking at a stag, not stagnant, maybe, but you're looking at a capable workforce without a conduit? And so how do you put conduit in place so that it can, you know, move the needle for the community, which is true pride, quality and jobs, quality and work?

Barna: [00:11:04] What is the makeup of the local economy? So when we first moved here kind of made the joke that it's 50 percent prisons, right? Like is what is the what makes up the economy in Fremont County? Like manufacturing, real estate, tourism, you know, just what does that make up?

Rob: [00:11:21] Well, let's talk about let me give you some underpinnings on what FEDC is, and that'll kind of help to expand on that. FEDC is a private, not for profit organization. So that means that we basically are membership driven were non governmental, which makes us quite nimble and able to react to changing situations. That's really our our our lease on life. Relative to the economy I think from an outsider's perspective, especially, they see Department of Corrections, they see Bureau of Prisons in the county, and they assume that that is really the driver. But when you start actually dissecting it, it's quite interesting that you'll find that the majority of the people that work for the Department of Corrections and Bureau of Prisons don't live in Fremont County, and they they live in Pueblo and they live in Colorado Springs. And the reason that they do that is because of spousal employment. Most, most folks in that particular income range are two income earners. And as a result, the spouse needs additional employment, and traditionally that hasn't been available in the county, so they go to another place. Another missing component to a large degree in Fremont County is ethnic diversity. And when you look at the makeup of Bureau of Prisons and Department of Corrections because they're more of a global type scale, they have much more ethnic diversity. And so when that family moves to the to the area, they don't feel as comfortable, possibly as they might in an area where there was more of that diversity.

Wyatt: [00:12:50] So they're going to stick to Pueblo and Springs as well.

Rob: [00:12:53] Absolutely, they are. And the solution, by the way, to ethnic diversity is job creation. Because when you have a small community that's, you know, homogenous in its makeup it can't change dramatically unless you add something to the mix. So FEDC exists for the purpose of being that additive force, right? We're looking at adding something and whatever we're adding. Maybe it's intellectual property. Maybe it is capital. Maybe it is political capital, maybe it's.

Wyatt: [00:13:24] Social influence.

Rob: [00:13:25] Yeah, maybe it's influence. We're adding something and that's a long way around the horn to answer your question, and I'll try to answer it directly. So in terms of what drives our economy here, there are three basic components, I think, to our economy. The number one driver, which most people I don't think realize is natural, is a natural resources production. So if you look at at these quarries, you know, like, you know, Fremont Paving and the Ary's operation.

Wyatt: [00:13:54] They are selling rocks

Rob: [00:13:56] They're selling rock.

Barna: [00:13:56] Langston Concrete.

Rob: [00:13:57] Tezak. He's selling rock and that, and Martin Marietta and you know, these are huge producers of aggregate that are going into rail lines. They're going into, you know, highway production and stuff like that. So that's who employs the most people in the area. Is this aggregate production.

Wyatt: [00:14:15] Privately?

Rob: [00:14:16] Privately.

Wyatt: [00:14:17] Yeah. Ok.

Barna: [00:14:17] Well, that includes their drivers.

Rob: [00:14:20] The drivers, the guys that are running the equipment, the administrative people that are working in the offices. And remember, that's a very valuable job for Fremont County because the wealth is created outside the community. Ok, and then brought in.

Wyatt: [00:14:35] Yeah, because they're set, they are selling it outside of here.

Rob: [00:14:38] And that's right. So that means that there's a constant flow of money coming into the community versus a service based industry. If we all go to the coffee shop, that's a great thing because that's our neighbor and we buy a coffee from him or from her.

Barna: [00:14:51] But they just moving money inside the community. It's not bringing anything in.

Rob: [00:14:55] That's exactly right.

Barna: [00:14:57] We are just circulating it.

Wyatt: [00:14:58] Yeah, and that's fine but a stagnant economy is a dead economy.

Barna: [00:15:00] Still got to bring money in.

Rob: [00:15:01] But it doesn't incrementally grow, it doesn't add something.

Barna: [00:15:05] So is it the problem with aggregate production employees also that just like the prison employees, they don't necessarily live here either.

Rob: [00:15:14] Yeah. The aggregate producers in in that sense of the word, we have a much higher percentage of those people that actually live and work here.

Barna: [00:15:21] What's that percentage, do you know?

Rob: [00:15:23] I couldn't. I couldn't tell you the percentage off the top of my head.

Wyatt: [00:15:26] We spoke with one of the large aggregate sales owners, business owners. Right? And it was kind of an interesting conversation because, you know, we're working on housing, right? And so I sat with him and we said, Hey, we're trying to do this, this housing project, we want to move the needle on this, you know, where are you most of your employees work or not work, obviously. Where do they live? And it was kind of like, Well, I mean, most of them are coming in from Pueblo. Yeah, or the springs. Yeah. So they're commuting in. Right. And that was something for for us at least where it was like, do you think they would live closer to work if they could? Yeah, but nobody can find anything. Cant find anything, affordable on top of it.

Rob: [00:16:06] That's a great point. You know, we can we can jump on the housing side of but of these three pillars, if you go back to that, you know that that natural resources production, right? You've got tourism. And then you got wellness. So you know, the hospital system and so forth. That is a huge employer here, really. And with a, you know, a high average age, you know, sixty seven years old in the county, then you're talking about a high incidence of of medical and wellness and fitness and all of those things that are related to that segment. So you have a huge amount of money that is spent in our community in that component and paling by comparison you know, our tech and other industries there well down the list. But in in terms of their growth percentage of growth, these these smaller segments are, you know, on these verticals.

Barna: [00:17:01] So is manufacturing and on that chart somewhere?

Rob: [00:17:04] Manufacture is absolutely on the chart.

Barna: [00:17:07] Comparable to tech? Or is it more or less?

Rob: [00:17:09] Manufacturing is probably a larger component than tech at this particular juncture. But durable goods manufacturing is just not something that Colorado in general, you know, is known for excelling at from a comparative point of view, right? So we do it here. In fact, you know, we have one of the the largest examples of that here in Interroll right here in Canon City. They they make powered belt curves that are used in airport conveyor systems and things like that big producer of those things that they're the only one in the nation that produces them. They happen to be right here. So we do have great examples of manufacturing, but we're not Wisconsin, you know, we're not Illinois.

Barna: [00:17:55] But how do you how do you scale that? Because so my dad's an engineer, he has developed several products. Some of them are. I run the those products or that company now. And he has, he used to have stuff manufactured in China. And I can tell you right now that a prototype was 125 dollars. It was for a Delrin little piece. Prototype was, the prototype, one hundred twenty five dollars and then each piece after the prototype was around $23 dollars, OK. So I started kind of just looking around in Canyon City and I went to a local manufacturers. What is it company? M&V Precision? Down on 9th or up on 9th Street, right? And they came out less expensive plus no shipping. So that is here.

Rob: [00:18:45] It's a mystery. Why, why that isn't more, you know, more properly exploited, right? And what I call that is reshoring or near shoring, right? So where there's this impetus in days gone by to to, you know, go to China for manufacturing? Now all we have to do is is look next door and we find this opportunity for this, this near shoring. So instead of going offshore, we go near-shore, we go right in our own backyard. That is a great opportunity.

Barna: [00:19:15] How do we promote that? Because the only way I know that they existed is because I've driven down that road a couple of times, and I knew they there was something manufacturing related next to Sentry Siren. And that's that's the only reason I just stopped by one day I was like, hey, my dad's got some products. I've got some products I need had them in a Ziploc bag. Can you make this stuff sure we can make this. We can make all this stuff like great. Can I get a price cut? The price on like, this is awesome. Like, so like, it's like top secret. Just like everything else. When I moved here, everything was a secret? Like mountain bike trails zero point nine miles from my house. No idea. I don't know why. I had no idea. I just had no idea rock. I mean, how close is that, 10 miles, 15? Awesome rock climbing. Yeah. Shelf Road rock climbing? No idea. Manufacturing three miles from my house. Instead of shipping, getting it from China. Why is it a secret and how do we promote that so people can come here and go, wow, this is available. This is available, this is available.

Wyatt: [00:20:21] While I'm there I'm going to go pick up a rolling conveyor belt up at Interroll.

Rob: [00:20:25] I think the the question is simple. And by the way, there is at least three or four more manufacturing companies like you just described. Yeah, right here in the area. I mean, we could throw we could throw a rock and hit them from here.

Wyatt: [00:20:37] I go to Carochi, they see me every week, you know, and they they are a little bit more on the old school repair certain side of things. But dude. I mean, if the if dark days rolled in and you need the dudes the got stuff done, I'd be in that shop. They'd figure out how to get the power turned on and they know how to turn threads and they how to. I mean, they do amazingly complex and different amounts of work, and they do it on the old school spectrum. These guys aren't running Haas, you know, six axis machines. They're running the they're turning on old mills and lathes and they're getting it done. It's really, really cool. So we've got a community of extremely resourceful people. And I have a different product that I designed and it's a it's a heavy duty bracket. It's a massive bracket. And they make it for me. And I can sell it from here and ship it anywhere that we would want to right and couldn't find a comparable product that was available on the market. It's just one simple example of like like the foam noodle is was a bad idea, right? Well, now that guy is a millionaire, right? And so, yeah, finding your local resources and then paying your neighbor to build something for you if you can't do it yourself. It's something that we need to reconnect, but like Barna said, you know, how do you find out about it?

Rob: [00:21:52] Yeah, I think I think that's an interesting challenge right there because by the way, I'm familiar with your bracket because I actually did some red line on that for you once a once upon a time. And yeah, and it's an interesting piece, very unique piece for its your particular segment. But what you've got to challenge with with any small business like that is capacity, right? And so those same organizations that you mentioned are also running at capacity. And if you were to say, hey, you know, let's scale this up, the first thing they would say is, OK, I'd be happy to scale it up, but I'm going to need this person, this person and this person. So what you really have here, in my opinion, is is an obstacle to growth, which is access to labor inventory. And if they had the labor inventory and they had the the the more macro understanding of the market in the world, then they could expose their products to to more people and thereby grow their company. So I think it's a community kind of a decision that we're going to have to bring those guys up.

Barna: [00:22:55] So you're walking straight into my next question.

Rob: [00:22:57] Fair enough.

Barna: [00:22:58] How does housing affect your lack of labor inventory?

Rob: [00:23:03] It's a three legged stool. Ok. So this is the way I see the the whole question, you know, of economic prosperity in rural America. You've got this three legged stool, one leg. Is transportation, OK? One leg is housing and without one of the legs, you know you're you're literally missing and the third leg is daycare. And I think that's a conveniently missing comment. And it's not just but daycare for kids, it's daycare for seniors nowadays.

Barna: [00:23:38] But transportation is kind of missing, too.

Wyatt: [00:23:40] Absolutely. Well, I mean, OK, there's a public transport if you can get on the list. Twenty four to forty eight hours in advance. That's like not how it works.

Barna: [00:23:51] We talked to one of the tourist destinations a while ago, a couple of years ago, we're on the same committee or part of the same organization, and it was kind of like, yeah, we need employees. We pay well, we need employees, but we don't have anywhere, anywhere close to put them right because if they're not close, they can't get to work because they don't necessarily have a car or the insurance or the whatever we need them. So they have to be in town because this place is a little bit out of town, they have to be in town. And how do you get to work? So it's you need a car. Ok, well, that's an extra expense. It's an extra like how do we fix all of them?

Wyatt: [00:24:31] Like the way that I look at at. Most of the cities in at least Fremont County are Canyon City is a good example and then and then Florence, they're kind of close enough, but not far enough away to be separated, especially from the outside onlooker.

Barna: [00:24:44] You can drive there, but you can't ride your bike there.

Wyatt: [00:24:46] Like it's like pseudo rural.

Rob: [00:24:48] You can but you better take your life in your hands.

Wyatt: [00:24:49] You might like. We don't have a huge taxi service. Uber's not down here. You can't really get around here locally very well. Unless you own your own wheels, right? And in order to own your own wheels or to get a loan for your own wheels, you have to have what? A job, available credit and.

Barna: [00:25:07] You can't get a job without a car, man.

Wyatt: [00:25:09] How are you going to get a job without an address? They want to know that first, right? So you've got to have a Social Security number and address and these kind of things. And if you don't know where you live, if you're housing insecure enough to where you're not confident to write down on an application where you live, right? That's a very interesting genesis of a very complex problem. And there is no one single solution, right? But I think it's an agreeable thing to say. Affordability. And one of the reasons that we don't have a ton of manufacturing in Colorado would be cost of living is high, right? As opposed to some of the Midwest places where cost of living is a little bit lower, like where I'm from northern Minnesota on or. Yeah, yeah. And you got Ohio, you got an Iowa. I mean, you've got, you know, these these real farming communities, you know, like that's that's the bread and butter. They're already they're already shipping all of your grain and stuff everywhere, right? So sure, they know how to get stuff done, but they also have a plethora of land that's less expensive. And they have a bunch of people, at least that help you can get your house built, right? And so here, you know, you're not going to come here where you have to pay employees 30 bucks an hour for them to have a living wage to assemble your manufactured products when 800 miles from here, you can pay them 15. And everybody's good.

Barna: [00:26:25] In Ohio, minimum wage is nine bucks. Or something like that.

Wyatt: [00:26:27] Right? I mean, I'm just throwing around numbers, right? Just for for math sake, right? So how do you create products that can be shipped from here, made here? And are that useful? My argument would be, of course, you build houses that you need here and then you also build houses that they need there. Well, you're while you're at it, you're already doing. You already got the you already got the hammer out, build another one and ship it. And that's a light, a larger ticket item. Right, right. And so I would say if we find ways like we're proposing to build housing here and to build housing here that ships there, we kind of get our cake, we get to eat it too. Plus we get us. That's just kind of where I'm at from a manufacturing standpoint. A larger ticket would be my option.

Barna: [00:27:14] So right now, those are the three legs of that, that stool, which seems like three are missing or in short supply.

Rob: [00:27:22] We don't have the stool.

Wyatt: [00:27:24] So is that what's really hindering economic development here?

Rob: [00:27:28] It's not just here, it's it's an it's a national crisis. Not not just a thing. It's actually a crisis, in my opinion. It's especially prevalent in rural Colorado and in Fremont County it has got to be very near our number one issue, and it is it's of epic proportions. And so my point in bringing it up is that if you want to solve the labor crisis, you have to solve for that problem. So we can't look at it as well. If we could just attract more people from Pueblo or for more people from Colorado Springs will solve our problem for labor. Inventory doesn't work that way. What we need to solve is the housing component, and we need to solve the daycare component. Yeah, we need to solve the transportation component as one problem and go after the entire entire stool, if you will, so we can figure this thing out.

Wyatt: [00:28:24] Yeah. So we've we've talked about this a lot. Barna and I have have worked, you know, on a project, obviously right now that's The Industrial Hotel. Sure. But what we've what we've really come up with after that is to scale that product up, right and go, OK, this is a four unit boutique hotel, right? But down the road, we could do 20 to 40 housing units, right? When you have high density housing like that and you have the need for transportation and child care, somebody in that community, instead of those 40, you can set up their child care facility for the day, right? Right there. Right. And a bus can come in and pick up 40 people at a pop and bring it to work. Yeah, right. So it's is it. Is it perfect? No. But does it move the needle 80 percent of the way for 20 percent of the work? Yes, right? And that's kind of where we're going. Like, we can give you quality of life. We can give you a community. We can give you an opportunity to learn how to build a certain kind of housing. Obviously, right its a bit more factory style. But and we we still then can create not only the stool right, but we we set something on top of it and that would be a career.

Rob: [00:29:28] Yeah, agreed. And what what FDC would call that and when we rebooted FEDC in 2013, a couple of years later, we created a concept we call profit clusters, and the concept of a profit cluster is you establish, you know, an element that is of desire to the community. Maybe that element is a business that you want to relocate here. Maybe it's an industry that you want to expand. Maybe it's a a business concept, or maybe it's a social issue, but you have a focal point that you start with. And then once you have that focal point, and let's say that focal point in this discussion is our stool, our three legged stool, that's what we want. So then you build what I call a profit cluster around it, which means a series of support mechanisms in order to push that initiative forward. And then it becomes a cluster of like minded people that are working together for a common good. The best example that FDC has to date is FEDC TechStart. So when we, you know, conceived the idea of becoming tech relevant in the community, we said, How do we do that the most efficient fashion? How do we do it quickly? And the decision was we put people like minded people in a room together, in essence and and concentrate that momentum and and help to push the thing forward. So how do we do that in this particular scenario is that we establish, I'm saying, the collective we the community says this is no longer an optional thing that we'll worry about next year.

Rob: [00:31:04] We say this is an idea of relevance. This is a component of importance. So we elevate it to that level and then the need an absolute need. And then we start building the support infrastructure around it. And the best example that I can give you of what a profit cluster is is the the the famous Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos model, right? So John Elway knows that he's running this team. Peyton Manning, you know, Hall of Fame quarterback becomes available, can play any team in the NFL would take them. But Elway wants to win them here. So what he does is, he says to Peyton. He said, what if I built the best offensive line in the NFL? What if I had the best running back in the NFL? What if I had the best coach in the NFL? And what if I had the best organization? Would those be interesting to you? Would you consider the Denver Broncos? And Manning said, Yeah, if you could do those things, I would consider it. And then at the same time, Elway goes to the lineman and he says, Hey, how would you like to play with Peyton Manning? Would you come here if you could play with Peyton Manning? He's got neither. Neither side in his back pocket yet, but he's using one to lever the other.

Rob: [00:32:17] That's a profit cluster. So when we look at our stool and we look at our housing problem and our transportation problem and our daycare problem, we say, OK, what support elements? What mechanisms do we need to create momentum around that? And maybe it's your industrial hotel concept is one of the support mechanisms. Maybe it's federal and state funding. Maybe it is creativity from a local architect. Maybe it is, you know, a financing package from a local bank. Whatever it is, you have to start assembling those and as you start to assemble them and you in effect, put these people in this hypothetical room together. Now, all of a sudden you have momentum. Yeah, and you know, we've done several profit clusters now. We've done tech start. We've done WellStart, which is a wellness fitness behavioral health model. We've done we're just starting AgStart. And if you start looking at these on a Venn diagram where those intersections are between tech and ag and wellness, that's a target rich environment for our community. Those are things that we can do here that we could attract people. So using it in this housing example, then we start finding where these different people, these intellectual properties, these ideas are and we bring them together. And what you have now, in my opinion in our community is a disparate group of people that all know the problem, but they haven't established a common goal to work together on the project.

Rob: [00:33:50] And so you want to help the situation. You take what you know, you figure out who in the community knows more about a particular topic than you, and then you start assembling them together just like you would any other building block that you know that you're using. And and that's how we could solve this problem. Let me give you an example of of how you know you could potentially solve the problem. Let's say that you're a you need a new worker on on board and that you need eight hours of work. Ok, but no, nobody, nobody is out there to to fill the role, right? You advertise for it. You try your best. You can't find somebody, but then you find somebody. Maybe that says, gosh, if that was four hours a day, I. It handle it because then my husband will be home from work and he can watch the kid while I go to work, right? So then it's like, OK, well, what if? What if a single eight hour shift was handled by two people? Ok, maybe that's a possibility. Barna, in your area cottage cottage industries, right? That's that's an old term. But what it meant is you took a plastic tote full of components to somebody's house and they assemble them and they got paid twenty five cents for for a sub assembly.

Barna: [00:35:02] Nehemiah just took some wiring home at the end of the day because we ran out of time. It's like, I'll just do it at home and I'll come back.

Wyatt: [00:35:09] And they can watch the kid and they can do whatever, and they can make sure that

Barna: [00:35:11] Watch TV or whatever they want to do.

Rob: [00:35:13] Precisely the key there is that requires the ultimate inflexibility. It's harder to manage. It's more difficult to find two or three people for one job than it is to find one person for a job. All of these things are obstacles, but the reality is is the creativity component is what's going to drive the success. And so in my opinion, that that is how we start to make momentum on a on a what is, you know, a national problem. And in Fremont County, we have a, you know, median average income of $40,000.

Wyatt: [00:35:45] Let's just say it was thirty five last, you know, several years ago and I looked into it and that's the is it still the lowest in the state?

Rob: [00:35:51] It's among the lowest in the state, for sure. It's definitely the lowest within a, you know, a two hour radius,

Wyatt: [00:35:57] Seriously desirable area for sure.

Rob: [00:35:59] Yeah. So so the trick there is is that you can exploit in a positive - exploit is not necessarily a negative connotation. If you can exploit in a positive way that fact, then you can do these mass productions of parts at a at a, you know, an offshore price. But right here in our backyard, you can deal with housing challenges. You can deal with challenges.

Wyatt: [00:36:24] Huge benefit to that to is two instead of one. Let's just say in the times of COVID or any other situation where that one person that you were so reliant on right is gone, you're back to zero again, as opposed to if you've got two or three or four and people are cross-trained. Yeah, you know, the ball continues to go up the hill. Yeah, you might slow down, but you know, one is better than zero.

Rob: [00:36:49] That's exactly right. And you're seeing post-pandemic, you're seeing this new trend organization that I'm very familiar with. They had a mandate, they said on a certain date, everybody's got to come back to work and they've all been working virtually. And that makes sense for that company. They've always done business that way. They know how to get business done in that fashion. So they say, come back to work and we'll be better than we were before. That's probably true. No, no disagreement for me on that. But about 20 percent of the workforce said, You know what? We don't want to come back to work. We don't want a forty five minute commute. We don't want to leave our kids with somebody else. We don't want these things. And so that business is large enough to weather the storm and they'll be fine. But what they did is they jettison 20 percent of their workforce, and those workers are now going to be looking for something else. So from a creativity point of view, we might have an opportunity now as things as things transition. And I've seen many, many, you know, engineers and bankers and people that, you know, they turn their hobby into their full time vocation at a critical juncture, and this could be no less critical of a juncture than any of us will probably see in our lifetime, right? So there there is an opportunity to acquire these talents, but the people that are going to acquire them are the people that are already, you know, in process, right? So I think it's going to be an objective for FEDC. You know, our our theme or our motto for 2021 is "Evolution Essential". We believe that all of us have to evolve into a, you know, a higher level species in order to compete in this, this new market. And so that's what we're trying to convince. All of our members and all of the community is that you can't just do status quo. You can't look at it the same way that you used to look at it.

Wyatt: [00:38:47] And the freedom is the same as currency too right. So so the professional plumbers, electricians, the guys that I work with on a daily basis, they show up when they're ready to show up, when they have their parts because they're they're professional, right? When you're a professional, it could be anything. It could be this or that. It doesn't really matter if it gets done at three a.m. or three p.m. I'm the professional. Pay me for my work, not for my hours.

Rob: [00:39:11] Your results.

Wyatt: [00:39:11] Yes. And I think that this may be a hard shift for, you know, certain more traditional companies. And obviously, even even like for for myself, I can only get so much built based on how many hours I'm there, That's just there's a there is a correlation there, right? But at a at a certain point, if you're getting your work done, you got your work done. Yeah, and that's like the birth. Of all these small, independent businesses and contract work where I go, hey, you're a fabricator, that was I would normally have to go to a a shop and do all this fabrication. It's waiting for you. It's ready to go. So whenever you can show up and get it done, you get paid for the work. I don't care if you were there for 10 hours or ten minutes.

Rob: [00:39:50] Yeah, that's right. Based on value received.

Barna: [00:39:54] Yes, I just did a survey before when I was talking to you on the phone, it was like Bureau of Labor Statistics, I think. They they sent me an email like, you need to fill out the survey. So I have one of my companies as cost of works that actually manages all the employment for all the other companies that I've got. So I get one for I get one for every single state where we have employees. I work for Ohio, one for here, one for New Mexico. And then they start going into all the COVID questions. It's like how many of your employees are working remote or semi remote or whatever or at the office. I'm just like 100 percent remote, 100 percent remote. No, we didn't change anything. No, they always had flexible hours and we've been doing this for 13 years. We have five six employees in three different states and it's always been flexible. What do I care about? Is the job done?

Rob: [00:40:46] Yeah, that's right.

Barna: [00:40:46] And that's it.

Rob: [00:40:47] Win or lose? Did you get the job done or not?

Barna: [00:40:49] Did you get the job done? And if you're not, dude, what's going on? It's like, Oh, I'm sick, OK, cool. Just let me know. Like, that's it. Yeah, because then I can talk to the customer and say, hey, the developer's not feeling well, we'll get to it in a few days.

Wyatt: [00:41:01] I happened to me. The house ain't getting done when I'm sick. I'm working remote since since forever, right?

Barna: [00:41:06] Birth.

Wyatt: [00:41:06] So, so like, it's a new concept for people like myself sometimes to think on the other side of that coin to be like going to the same place. People do that right? I don't do that right and so well.

Rob: [00:41:19] And it's not a perfect environment for everyone, right? Absolutely not. I've got a young mother that's got three toddlers. She's got, you know, distractions extraordinary.

Wyatt: [00:41:30] That's far more important.

Rob: [00:41:31] She's probably less productive at home than she would be if she was in the office. But then she's paying somebody to watch her kids, right? So.

Wyatt: [00:41:40] What's the net loss or gain?

Wyatt: [00:41:41] That person evolves by finding a a job opportunity or creating one that is more in tune with their lifestyle.

Barna: [00:41:48] Or going to a co-working space like Emergent? You know, I got to get out of the house. I need a place to focus. I just need internet and my laptop.

Wyatt: [00:41:56] And you're right, that can take place when your partner, if you've got one comes home, takes the kids and you go, Okay, so now at four p.m., I get to go do my work and it's going to be out of the house or whatever. That way, that way, you know, those folks that that didn't find that working from home traditionally worked for them because they couldn't clock in or clock out, right mentally. There are there are a lot of us who like when I go home is a good example for at least for the conversation, like the notebooks with me, the computers with me. It's when I take care of anything. It doesn't go bang, which is pounding nails and actually building stuff, right? I got to do paperwork, I got to do billing. I got to do ordering

Barna: [00:42:31] 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. Yeah, every morning.

Wyatt: [00:42:33] That's literally, what's happening there, right? And there are certain people that like, I got to get out of this house to get something done, but they've been thinking about it all day. They leave the house, they get eight hours worth of stuff done in two hours because they've literally line themselves out perfectly.

Rob: [00:42:47] Yeah, pay for results, hyperfocused.

Wyatt: [00:42:50] Yeah, and those people exist. And yeah, I think COVID ushered that in, and I was kind of interested to learn that many of the larger companies were kind of led there by the nose, only to find out that they might have liked it better because they're like, Well, wait, no, we don't have to pay for. We have happier employees. We don't have to pay for the office space. Yeah, like and so we kind of some of that got dissolved. And I think, you know, a chunk of those outfits were like, This is actually really good. Now, factory work a little bit different because you can't expect everybody to get a welder in the garage.

Rob: [00:43:21] Or a one hundred ton press or whatever. You can't take that thing home.

Wyatt: [00:43:25] There are exceptions to to that. And and, you know, having people not have to travel as much right works towards one of the the the pillars of the stool, right? That's right. So like, we don't have to have we don't have to build that one the whole way anymore. Right? Which is which is great, which means we also don't have to build a childcare one the whole way, either. That's right. So we're getting a ton of help potentially there if we choose to look at it creative or

Rob: [00:43:50] At a minimum that maybe they don't look the same way they did traditionally, right?

Wyatt: [00:43:53] Yeah. So it's not, you know, got to drop the kid off at seven because I got it now I got a forty five minute commute that I got to be there by whatever and get my lunch and be done. So we have some if we choose to be positive, we found right there just a couple of ways that we can kind of work it a little bit better. Not all jobs. We get it right, right? We still need. We still need housing.

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