Kurt Ballash is a U.S. Army veteran and owner of Ballash Woodworks, a custom woodworking shop located in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He has found his next mission through the family trade that allows him to step into helping other transitioning soldiers identify their purpose after service through the artisans outreach program that he created.
NOTE: Complete transcript available at the bottom of the page.
Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 218
How To Automate Your Business – https://screwthecommute.com/automatefree/
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Higher Education Webinar – https://screwthecommute.com/webinars[03:15] Tom's introduction to Kurt Ballash [05:09] About the woodworking business [12:50] Starting in the business with inherited tools [22:12] Helping veterans in transition [30:46] Sponsor message [32:05] A typical day for Kurt and how he stays motivated
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Episode 218 – Kurt Ballash
[00:00:09] Welcome to Screw the Commute. The entrepreneurial podcast dedicated to getting you out of the car and into the money, with your host, lifelong entrepreneur and multimillionaire, Tom Antion.
[00:00:24] Hey, everybody, it's Tom here with episode 218 of Screw the Commute podcast. I'm here with Kurt Ballash. And I met this guy at the Military Influencers Conference where I saw examples of his beautiful work and I'm talking spectacularly beautiful work. He's got Ballash Woodworks, I think is the name of his outfit. And he's a great Army veteran. And so I'll introduce him to you in just a minute. And I hope you didn't miss Episode 217 now. Also, you should be watching for Episode 220. They're related. It's a two part series on getting more people to show up at your webinars. So that was last Monday and then next Monday will be part two of that. And it's really, really powerful tips on getting more people to show up. Our automation book is a freebie. You get for listening to this podcast and you can find it at screwthecommute.com/automatefree and you'll get my automation book that shows you all the things I use to run my business. And just one of those tips, just one has saved me seven and a half million keystrokes. And that's not an exaggeration. I just did a podcast a couple hours ago. The guy thought I was kidding. No it's massively great tool and you'll get it for free in that book. So screwthecommute.com/automatefree. And while you're at it, go head to go to screwthecommute.com/app where you can get our podcast app that does all kinds of cool stuff in your cell phone and tablet. You can take us with you on the road and we've got complete instructions over there so you can see how to use all the fancy features. Okay. Let's see, our sponsor is the Internet Marketing Training Center of Virginia, it's a distance learning school which teaches legitimate techniques to make a great living, either working for someone else or starting your own online business or both. And we got approved by the Department of Defense for a military spouse scholarship program. So we give just without that, we give big scholarships to any military that's active duty or veteran and their immediate family, law enforcement or first responders, because we thank you very much for keeping us safe and letting us do the things we do, because you're risking your butt to do it. So if you want to check that out, check out IMTCVA.org. It's a distance learning school. So you can be anywhere in the world with an Internet connection and do your studies. Now if you're military just put slash military and that will go into details on that.
[00:03:18] All right. Let's get to the main event. Kurt Ballash is a U.S. Army veteran and owner of Ballash Woodworks, a custom woodworking shop located in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He has found his next mission through the family trade that allows him to step into helping other transitioning soldiers identify their purpose after service through the artisans outreach program that he created. So, Kurt, are you ready to screw. The commute.
[00:03:48] So how are you doing, man? I haven't seen you since the conference. And it wasn't a really good day for you there I understand.
[00:03:59] I've been really well since the conference. The conference had a lot of great connections that I've been able to absorb a lot of knowledge from all the people that I connected with there, watching and keeping up with all of your work since then and just trying to learn as much as I can.
[00:04:14] Well, yeah, but I think I did a speech and then you threw up. So that wasn't a good day for me.
[00:04:20] Well, it wasn't directly related to you.
[00:04:23] Only indirectly. Oh yeah, I was sitting next to you, man. You were you were hurting that day.
[00:04:33] Yeah, I blame it on the seaweed that Robert Garcia made me.
[00:04:37] He'll have to listen to that to hear that. So. So that was. Yeah. Was a great event. I was so thrilled to meet you. And I'm still cherishing the the beautiful coasters that you made. And then I understood you slammed them out so fast it made your head spin. But they were still like a thousand times nicer than I've ever seen.
[00:04:58] Yeah, we hammered out about 200 coasters for the event within a week before heading up there. Four days we hammered that out. My employee was getting sick of sanding edges.
[00:05:12] So tell us a little bit about the woodworking business. How did you get into it? You make custom things. Do people tell you what they want and then you build it or you just build stuff on spec and then sell it to them? How do you run it?
[00:05:25] So I'm a custom woodworking shop, so I advertise that I'm capable of creating anything out of wood. But I specialize in life edge and home furnishings. So a live edge table is where you keep the kind of natural bark edge to the slab of wood instead of dimensioning it down. So it's really kind of and you see a lot of people doing those of Oxi River pores in them. So we specialize in that kind of stuff. And I also do other kind of dining room tables. We just did a really nice big four foot by 10 foot farmhouse themed table. So it had the bread boards on the end to allow the expansion and contraction of the white oak surface. It was an absolute gorgeous piece. Legs were hand turned by another veteran that I do a lot of business with and I support. So I've surrounded myself with a lot of other veterans that are capable of handling the detailed work that I don't know how to do like woodturning and wood carving.
[00:06:27] I see. Any particular job that you're most proud of?
[00:06:34] I would say that every job becomes its own kind of moment of pride. But I look forward to the challenges of the next one versus looking back on the previous one and relishing that we should be ready for the next thing, not focusing on the past. And that's kind of something that I take into my woodworking. All right. What's the next thing and how can we execute that one a little bit better?
[00:06:58] Yep. Anyone particularly more difficult than another?
[00:07:03] So I had one that pushed and challenged me a little bit beyond my comfort zone at the time. It was a ladies table and she wanted to create was a river in the middle. And unlike a lot of other rivers that we've done out of epoxy, she wanted to be able to see elements through it and have things floating within what we would call the water. So we tinted this epoxy really dark. And we put some sand in the bottom and we filled the bottom so it would look like dirt. And then we tested the epoxy slight blue and we poured it in there. And throughout the drying stage, we drop these different objects in there. So they set at different levels within the epoxy. Some of the stones would be really close to the surface and other stones would be really close to the bottom. They had this gorgeous geode that came out of the surface of the epoxy and actually came above the surface of the table. It was the most challenging yet rewarding thing because it was at that moment that I realized that epoxy wasn't as intimidating as it seem to be.
[00:08:01] Now, do you keep a portfolio of every piece?
[00:08:06] A lot of my pieces are we kind of put it all together on our social media.And my wife also does some final product photography at the end of each project. And then we we try to go back and get a picture of the piece within its home. So we can show how that piece was placed. I think that's really important for families to see that piece within its home versus seeing it within my shop or my showroom. Because you can't really start to connect with your piece of furniture. It doesn't really start to gain that family significance until it's in that home.
[00:08:45] Are you ever called to the home before you make it to make suggestions on what would fit best?
[00:08:51] So typically the process for a lot of custom pieces is I would come into your home and we would measure the space that it's occupying. It's a dining room table, for example. We want to measure the total room and then we take off the walking area and then we got to size the table correctly. So you don't have issues with seating. I make a recommendation. Sometimes the customer goes with that recommendation and other times let's go a little bit bigger. It'll be OK. Don't worry about the seating issues in this space. So sometimes it allows me to cater the table to the individual, makes sure that the piece fits their house and some people know that they're gonna be moving soon so they're like no we want it a little bit bigger. So let's do that same design template, but just make it a little bit bigger. It allows me to go in and see what other types of pieces they got in her home, like what type of furnishings they bought. What is the details on that? Does it have different molding and profiles or is it square or is it modern? Is it rounded? What are the other elements within their homes? We try to match that piece of furniture to their style versus trying to force them into my style.
[00:09:58] Right, right. Right. Okay. So tell us a little bit about the business side of it. Like if somebody wants a custom piece, I would assume you'd have to get a significant deposit, right.
[00:10:08] Typically the process is if I have to come into your home and do a consultation, it's eighty five dollars consultation charge that covers my time, my gas that lets me know the customer's serious and then also lets them know that I'm not just some random woodworker. I'm professional we go when we apply that to the final balance, do the actual design time that we go and work with component making the component list for their piece. Once we get that design done and we get the component list built, that allows us to get a materials estimate. And I typically what I do is if the project is over five grand, we break it down into three payment phases. If it's underneath five grand, we do two payment phases. I'll take the materials deposit plus employee labor upfront and then I'll take the final portion at the end. And if it's a larger project that requires three phases after the build is done, before we go into the finishing up the process, before we start putting paint or clear coats or stain on it. The second third would be do and then the final third would be due upon completion. And I always tell the customer it's upon successful and satisfactory completion of your project, not just completion, because there's a difference between done and being done to customer standards or customer satisfaction.
[00:11:31] Right. Now do they typically know a lot about wood and tell you what wood they want or do they rely on you to make those suggestions too?
[00:11:41] I would say that I get a fair balance of people that have a decent understanding and education of lumber selection and choices and people that are completely oblivious to lumber selection and choices for their applications. Sometimes that requires some education. That's part of that consultation is the education phase where I the entire build process that's going to take the cost of materials and it just to kind of give them a frame of mind before leaving there so they can decide whether or not they want to move forward with the design process.
[00:12:12] Do you have sample like wood, little wood blocks so that they can see kind of get an idea what the thing will look like?
[00:12:19] Typically, what I'd like to do is I bring some of my coasters because my coasters are made different pieces of cut offs and scraps and allows me to show off the natural colors of woods that are available from purples to reds to browns to blacks to greens to whites. If you can think of a color that you want to achieve on a piece of furniture, we can almost find an exact match out of that color. The natural number and I try to push that on the customer versus trying to stain to match their color specifications. I'd like to bring up the natural beauty in wood vs. cover it up underneath another color.
[00:12:52] Got it. Now, how did you start the business? I mean, a lot of equipment involved in high end woodworking, right?
[00:12:59] Yes. So I was lucky enough that my my grandfather had enough tooling when he passed that my father was able to take over his primary woodshop and there was a whole nother set of tools at my grandfather's boat shop. And those were what I inherited. Level joiner planer table saw, radial arm saw a few routers just enough to kind of get going. Some of the tools dated back to like the 1960s old Rockwell like good hand made stuff where you still had to put oil in it. So I inherited some well-made tooling and I started applying those things after like during my transition from service. I started dabbling again. My wife wanted me to start making things. Let's try making this palette table and let's try making. That's me being me. I'm going palette table. That's not what my family creates. It was enough to spark that kind of interest again to get my mind going back down that road, because for a while I didn't see it as being a way for me to create a living. It's just maybe a hobby.
[00:14:08] So I got an idea. Crazy. Why don't you make a really like a mahogany palette instead of taking a palette and then trying to make it? The guy that does my videos made a little fort for his kids out of palettes but nobody's ever made a really high quality pallette.
[00:14:28] Yeah, that would be kind of entertaining. Maybe I'm gonna get kind of this whimsical thing like mahogany pallet over here. Wow, that's so nice. Yeah, it's even dovetailed together a slide, but it will never come apart. Great idea. So that kind of sparked the interest in about 2013. I got out of service. I started thinking that I was going to go back and be a physician assistant. I got in that Methodist university and I started taking classes again to pursue medical, which was what I did in the military.And things didn't line up right.Things always felt like I was going to have to do anatomy and physiology again after doing it three times at three separate institute, one of which had an in-depth cadaver lab. So I've already done that education. They wanted me to take it again in order to meet their syllabus so they can get their money from what it was. And it was at that moment that I kind of realized like, all right, well, I'm kind of done with this. I'm not going to do A&P again. If that's what it takes, then it's not for me. I went back. I did some time as contracting as a medic overseas at an embassy. And then.
[00:15:45] So these are jobs, right? These are just jobs.
[00:15:47] Yeah, these are jobs that I had while I was building this woodworking thing. I was coming home from these these away times and working on woodworking projects in the evenings or between classes or working on those projects between deployments and throughout that time, I started finding that I was able to focus a lot better and it was allowing my mind to work through a lot of the issues that had kind of been buried from years of service. You know, when you're in service, you kind of don't deal with the things that you see and do you kind of just throw them underneath the rug and you go on down the road with your battle buddy and everything's OK. But when you get out, you're kind of by yourself and you don't have anybody to kind of just drag you through the mud, so to speak, that you're just stuck sitting in the mud. So woodworking allowed me to kind of call my mind and really learned how to forgive some of the people that hurt me throughout service and betrayed me, as well as kind of work through some of that damage. And I wanted to do it more. I was finding joy. I was finding peace and connecting with something that I kind of ran from as a kid. It was really igniting this passion inside of me. And I slowly realized that this was my purpose. It was to create things with my hands.
[00:17:00] So you. So you're saying as a kid, you didn't go to your grandfather and makes boats with him or any of that stuff? You didn't you didn't do any of that.
[00:17:09] I did some time in the shop. I would go and hang out with my dad, you know, and I would I would compare it to maybe my wife has to take off for a day and she's not able to watch the kids during the summer, so the kids are coming to work with me for the day, I think. But I would I would do stuff while I was there. I would have my dad start nails for me. I remember at a young age I would pull boards out of the scrap van and I would pound nails. I was practicing, working a hammer. I didn't see it was a way for me to stay occupied. Start 20 nails and half of them would end up flying across the shop. But over time it stopped happening and I got more proficient with those tools. And as I gained proficiency with those tools, my dad got down this little box of hand tools, his hand drill press and a handsaw and some chisels and let me work with those and experiment and learn the process of creating things with very little. And I would sit there and I would watch him work and I would watch my grandfather and him do this dance in the shop where at the end of this dance you were sitting back looking at this masterpiece of craftsmanship and. At a young age, I see my dad working so hard and he would come home after a hard day and he would be like, you need to go to college to so you don't got to work as hard as me, you know. So he pushed me towards thinking that that wasn't just a way to go, so to speak, through the ways that he would talk about his days versus now. I find joy in those things. And when I come inside, I share those experiences with my daughter. It's not I had another long day at work. It's I learned some things today or I had a good day at work. This is what I created or this is so beautiful. Come look at this. You know, I think that was no fault to my father. I think that, you know.There was a lot going on and maybe he wasn't the type of educational mindset that I'm in now and trying to teach my daughter because I know that there's realistic avenue of self-employment, entrepreneurship through woodworking. You can make a good living doing what I do and you don't have to struggle to do it. You just gotta be good and you gotta have attention to detail and you gotta have patience.
[00:19:22] Yeah. And your dad was a generation that they're just hammering everybody. The colleges. You got to go to get a college education. You know, just hammering that into people. And nowadays I'm like totally against that because I have a webinar on all the things colleges are doing. They're jacking up the the fees outrageously and the education is going down. You know, they're actually inflating the grade point averages to make it look like they're doing a better job of teaching. And then the testing is shown that the kids are dumber.
[00:19:56] Meanwhile, our international testing rates are continuously drop. Yeah. An argument of education is doing what for our youth again.
[00:20:02] Exactly. So I'm all for home schooling for your parents that are capable of doing it. Cause I've never met a home school kid that wasn't great because, you know, they're doing things that they you know, they're little sponges because they're being encouraged to to do good things and things that they like. And, you know, so they're not being exposed to all of bad stuff in the public schools.
[00:20:27] Yeah, we take a very active portion and teaching our children what we experience. And since both my wife and I are entrepreneurs, we've got our daughter running a lemonade stand out front of the house and in the summer and trying to figure out if there's ways for her to attract customers during the winter with like hot chocolate and stuff like that. So we try to teach our kids to look at opportunities like that and kind of gain that spirit that we had when we were kids. Go grab the lawnmower and walk up and down the street and cut grass for a few dollars. If you want to go to that movie or go with your friends to the arcade, then it's time for you to go earn that money like we to have. I didn't I didn't have an allowance for a little bit. I remember having allowance for a very short period of time. But if we wanted money, we had to work for it. Now, if we don't work for it and we just don't have money and you know it. I started working with my stepfather instead of working with my dad in a woodshop because I wanted to be a AC buildings install new office furniture and I was seen 17 years old. And man, I'm kicking myself in the butt like if I had another two years with my dad one on one and my grandfather at that time, I'd be significantly further ahead in my knowledge base of woodworking than I am right now.
[00:21:38] I did the same thing. My dad was a master electrician and still I got to be very careful with electricity.
[00:21:45] I don't play around with electricity.
[00:21:47] Yeah, I do it. I wired my whole trailer and I wired my school and stuff like that. But I was extremely careful doing it. But when I was kind of chuckling when your dad was having you pound the nails because my dad would go by used lumber and make us pull out the nails and straighten them out and use them over again. So I don't know how many thousands of nails I straightened out in my day.Tell us about your your project. You've got this project to help other transitioning veterans. Is that true? Is that a correct characterization of what it is?
[00:22:27] Yeah. I mean, we try to catch them in transition before they get to the point of not having a purpose. Like, I tried a lot of what we do for veterans nowadays, it's almost reactive. And I'm trying to get ahead of the power curve by helping people transition from service with a plan and maybe understanding that the plan doesn't have to include college. You don't have to go back and sit down with a bunch of 18 to 22 year old kids and try to relate to life with a bunch of people that will never relate to you. You can go and you can pick up a trade like woodworking or perhaps leather working or a construction worker, and you can go earn an honest, good living. And a lot of us guys that are transitioning or even soldiers in general that are transitioning. We would like to do things with our hands. We didn't join the service because we want to sit around and do nothing. Some of us joined up because there's college money on as the carrot on the end of the street and such. But for the most part, people like being and working with their hands and doing things other than sitting around in an AC building, punching a computer or answering phones for somebody else. And I think that's what I try to help them understand with a program network creating. It's called the Artisans Outreach. What we want to do is we want to connect the artisans with the veterans while at the same time connecting the artisans and veterans and active duty with the community and letting people know that this is where your furniture comes from. This is the process that it goes through to be created while at the same time offering an experience to come in and learn that process. Get your hands on it and maybe explore how it can be beneficial and therapeutic to you and your recovery process from post traumatic stress or transitioning and and kind of feeling like you lost that next mission, that further purpose. You know, we want to try to catch it while they're transitioning. So they transition into a purpose versus waiting until they get out and then they're lost and then trying to help them identify purpose.
[00:24:27] Now, where does this take place? How does this happen?
[00:24:31] So right now, we are working with active duty and veteran components in my shop right here and behind my house. We got about a 700 square foot building right now, but we're looking at expanding by the 1st of January, 2020 into a four thousand square foot facility closer to downtown Fayetteville.
[00:24:49] This is Fort Bragg, right?
[00:24:51] Yeah. This is right outside of Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, North Carolina. We're gonna be moving into a four thousand square foot facility and continuing to offer more resources and gathering places for entrepreneurs and places where we can host classes with leather makers to come in and learn other trades besides just woodworking. Because although I believe everybody should have some time type of hands on skill, woodworking may not be for everybody, just like playing an instrument may not be for everybody. So I'd like in in all hopes I would like to bring more than just woodworking onboard. We we work with a leather maker, we've done one class that weren't really successful. We got another one planned for first quarter, 2020. We plan to continue those every quarter potentially more frequently as the demand increases. We teach active duty military veterans and their family members how to create their own tables. We just try to find a way to get their hands busy and give them a purpose to come together with somebody else and connect and possibly share those experiences.
[00:25:58] Yeah, A Green Beret buddy of mine makes knives. Really, really nice knives. And he also does stuff with horses. So it's called equine therapy for returning vets and stuff. So, yeah. I mean, there's all kinds of things that they could do and make beautiful stuff. But I'm thinking like, boy, if he had me in the woodworking class, you'd like say, oh my God, we've got to get this guy something else to do. I bought a radial arm saw years and years ago and tried to glue two pieces together, edge the edge. And it all worked all over the place.
[00:26:41] But it's OK that you don't. Or you may not find the ease in applying the skills of woodworking because not everybody is meant to be a woodworker. There's some people out there that are meant to be potters or glass blowers or artists. I mean, I think there's a lot of other modes of creativity that it doesn't have to be working around power tools that could potentially sever a limb. I understand possibly be a concern for some people. You know what is pretty safe getting on a wheel and turning some clay into some some small boat balls or vases or coffee cups or something along that line? Like our goal is to create a center where all of these trades are condensed and then offered back to those transitioning soldiers, those veterans, as well as their family members, to come in and explore those trades to potentially see that, hey, I don't have to go and force myself into fitting in this, you know, I.T. job that I heard about on the radio because it sounds so alluring. You know, free transition assistance into the I.T. field. Well, then you're regretting your life three years later because you're sitting there answering phones for some technical company. You're not really working in Internet technology like you thought you would be. You're not going in there and you're not doing real cyber security or whatever it is that we want you to explore every modality. And even even if you don't pick this up as a profession, maybe this is just something for you to explore your creativity and the safety of your home instead of resorting to other modes of compensating and dealing with those things that you had to do while serving. Instead of picking up the beer or the the medication or whatever it is. What if you went out to your garage and you made a coffee cup or you turned a pen and then at the end of the night you've created something and you had a time to mentally relax and let go and concentrate on something and not worry about all the normal stresses of day to day lives time and time again. I hear how relaxing it is just to get out there and run the sander because you can let your mind go. The white noise drowns out the extra noise in your head, and it allows you to work through a lot of those issues a lot easier.
[00:28:57] But you know, Kurt, you saw me at the the event. You know, I'm not going to let you get away with not making e-books about what you do and selling it around the world for extra money. You can't get away from that.
[00:29:11] We are working on it, Tom. After I left that conference, I was ignited. I had a passion. It's coming. Unfortunately, I don't have two of me, so I can't execute all of my ideas so quickly. My wife, my teammate, my partner. She is amazing. And it's it's hard for her to keep up with me sometimes just because it's there's so many great ideas that I was able to absorb and learn from guys like you and sitting down with Steven and Lane and all these other great guys that had really good, insightful things to say that really kind of sparked my. Well, how can I really make this a little bit bigger than just me and my business? Like Ballash Woodworks is great. We do great work. But how can we make this bigger than Ballash Woodworks? How can we make a bigger difference and bigger impact? Make people around us see more than just the pieces that we create.
[00:30:06] That's what I want to have a part of. How old's your child?
[00:30:11] I have four children. My oldest is in college and I have a 14, a 13. And then my youngest. She is 8 years old. Well, eight in about a few days.
[00:30:21] There you go. You got a perfect Internet workforce right there that knows more than I'll ever know about computers.
[00:30:29] Yeah, that's. And unfortunately, like the children, the one that's in college, she's really tasked out there. I don't want to ever try to interfere with her ability to pursue the art.
[00:30:40] She's too old. She's over the hill. The eight year old's the one.
[00:30:43] The eight year old's the one we want to start training on the social media.
[00:30:50] So we got to take a brief sponsor break here. When we come back, we're going to ask Kurt what's a typical day look like for him and I'm real interested he said January 1st is going to be in a building five times bigger than what he is. So that's gonna be cool. But then we'll ask him how he stays motivated.
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[00:32:09] So let's get back to the main event. Kurt Ballash from Ballash Woodworks is here and he's expanded into a gigantic building helping a lot of veterans. And and now he's talking them that that last ad I was thinking about this sign I saw in a in a gas station, it said, you know, labor sixty dollars an hour, but one hundred and twenty dollars an hour if you worked on it first.
[00:32:36] Yeah. Cleaning up other people's messes.
[00:32:39] Exactly. So anyway, tell us what a typical day looks like for you to get up early you still work out what you do?
[00:32:48] I usually wake up around 5, 5:30 to my wife's first alarm and I have my coffee pot set to auto brewed and start brewing at 5:30. Start stirring in bed around 5:00, 5:30 out of bed, usually five forty five, six o'clock. I usually sit down or drink a cup of coffee, help get the kids up and going, help get my wife out the door with them. And then I have about a 30 minute window where if I was going to go for a run or if I was going to do some extra time on the computer administration task, I would take that. And then usually from about 7:15, 8 o'clock, I have time with my wife. I sit down with her while she's eating her breakfast and I wait for my employee to show up at 8:00. And we talk about kind of some of the things that we have to do for the day or maybe just spend a few minutes together talking about stuff like how much are we going to spend for each kid on Christmas or whatever it is. And from about 8 o'clock till noon we work. Usually in the morning is when I do a lot of my shop time. I keep my mornings. I try to stay inside the shop. And then my afternoons I usually dedicate towards if I need to get out and do customer interactions, consultations, if I need to go drop off a piece that's done in the afternoon.But I try to wrap up in the shop and with work around 5 o'clock and get home to the family to eat dinner and see how the kids are doing and spend some time with them. Unfortunately, at this season, leading up to about Christmas, I would say middle of November through about Christmas. Sometimes I'm required to work some late nights, so I have to work a little bit later than that. But for the most part we stay in the shop. I take a break, 15 minute break every two hours and we take about a half hour for lunch. So we make sure that we we keep the morale high and just take good work, rest cycles and get the guys a chance to get on the phone and talk to their spouse a little bit and just kind of remember that everybody there is human and they're not a machine. So we can't just work for eight hours straight.
[00:34:52] So the actual employees or contractors or what was their business?
[00:34:59] So this first year of hiring, we have one employee that stuck through the year and he is a ten ninety nine this first year will actually be bringing him on formal payroll on the 1st of January once we get all of our proper insurances or like worker's comp policies, etc. So as of right now, we have throughout the year I've had a couple other guys that came in and have worked with me for a couple months and then left for one reason or another. Either they weren't didn't have the attention to detail that I required or it just wasn't them. Some people, when you tell them the same the same object for 16 hours in a week and that's half of their workweek. It's hard for them to stay motivated if they're really not in it for the woodworking aspect. That's one of the hiring challenges that I have.
[00:35:46] Yeah. A lot of younger people, a lot of companies, the air conditioning, plumbing. They're getting hard to find interns and apprentices because people weren't going into those jobs as much anymore.
[00:36:01] Yeah, I read a news article, it might some article, a journal entry or something that was talking about how at one point like one in four students had pursued some type of shop class in high school. And right now it's averaging like one in six. They've seen this drastic drop in people wanting to attend those types of programs because it's almost seen as antiquated, replaceable. We got machines that'll make that stuff. Why do you need to do that? Well, I think that that's part of what has led to this decline in the trades. And now we're almost at this crisis where we're having trouble finding people to fill the trades.
[00:36:38] Yeah, that's for sure. And this one guy said he says, the only thing I learned in shop class was how to call for estimates. So. Yeah. Yeah. People can't do anything anymore. That's the big complaint I have when I look at today's youth. They just can't they barely can exist. You know, if their tires flat, they're like stuck forever until AAA gets there, you know?
[00:37:03] Or they throw it away and get a new tire.
[00:37:08] So anyway, tell everybody how they can find out more about your program. Now, can you work with anybody that wants some woodworking that's not in your service area there?
[00:37:21] So we we can offer some phone and consultation type stuff over the phone, and I've done some stuff with other veteran woodworking businesses in the past where we get on the phone and I kind of walk them through what I would do. And it's really hard to teach somebody woodworking without having them there, to teach them how to hold the material or handle the material.
[00:37:42] I'm actually talking about if somebody wants to buy a custom piece.
[00:37:45] Oh, I apologize. So they can find out more about Ballash Woodworks at ballashwoodworks.com. From there you can see that we have our store up and running. There's a little about me section if you want to kind of understand what woodworking kind of means to me and my journey from running from woodworking to really pressing in and identifying woodworking as my purpose. There's also a tab on there ballashwoodworks.com/outreach where you can learn a little bit about what we do within our walls to help other people learn the woodworking trade and transition out of service within to their own purpose. And through our store you can check out our amazing cutting boards or coasters. We have some cigar accessories like we call the R&R rest and it has a perfect little cup holder for your scotch glass and a little cigar rest that doesn't go off the edge of your armchair. When you're sitting down with your buddies, you've got rolling pins, some general kitchen goods and home decor items. My wife has got some prints of some magnolias and some really awesome chicken pictures that she took of them in some monocles and top hats. And just some amazing stuff that, you know, if it's kind of into that southern charm, that country elegance, kind of humorous style of artwork, that's great for any home. Throw it up in your bathroom and it sure to catch a laugh every time someone goes to do their thing. We're trying to add a lot more personality to our site as far as we acknowledge that the pieces that we create last generation. So we want people to understand that when you buy a piece of woodworking from us, you're buying an investment that allows you to create memories around that piece. A $50 rolling pin is one that, you know, I still have my grandmother's rolling pin. You know, when we go to my dad's house, it's like, oh, there's grandmas rolling pin, you know, like those things mean something. The memories means nobody can ever come to throw that stuff away because the memories that you had growing up, the noodles or whatever it was. So what we try to tell people is that you're buying the lasting generations of wood. So long as you take care of this stuff, these are gonna be pieces that you can pass on to your children, your grandchildren, your great grandchild.
[00:40:20] All right. So are you moving all your equipment to this new building or just having a new place to do the transition work?
[00:40:29] We're moving ballash woodworks to the new location. We're also joining forces with another company as well. That does knife making. He's a pretty talented dude. He's got a pretty large social media following, but he's got a lot of equipment that he can't fit in his small space. He's currently operating out of his garage like I am. And he's looking for the next thing. So we're going to combine forces. We're going to have welding, blacksmithing. We're going to have a power press and a power roller on there as well. So it'll allow us to start bringing in knife makers to teach classes there. We're trying to combine forces. So Ballash Woodworks for a place for artisans. Our outreach is going to be operating through the place. We're going to be using that as a conduit to start growing this this this new organism, so to speak.
[00:41:20] This is this is going to go big. 4000 feet won't be enough pretty soon.
[00:41:25] We're currently looking at another idea here in town. It's about 50000 square feet. And combining with a lot more ideas and trying to see how we can make it work. But due to I'm not a developer, I've never worked with any any project that size where I'm surrounding myself with advisors that can help us gather that larger vision and grow into that larger space.
[00:41:50] It's a great second mission you're on, that's for sure. So thanks so much, man, for taking the time to tell us your story.
[00:41:58] Thank you very much, Tom, for having me on and giving me the platform to share a little bit of my passion.
[00:42:04] Absolutely. So everybody, check out this is episode 218. So any time you want to go to a direct episode, you go to screwthecommute.com/218. We'll have links to all Kurt's stuff in the show notes. You want to check out all the things he mentioned that are just in his store because you can buy them no matter where you are and the work is just exquisite. I've seen it personally. Thanks, Kurt. And everybody we'll catch you on the next episode. See ya later.
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