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What Happens When You Double Down On An Innovative Idea, With Rob Kessler [WJ157]

What Happens When You Double Down On An Innovative Idea, With Rob Kessler [WJ157]

Narrator: He built a screen printing company and sells t-shirts on accident and it becomes a million-dollar company. He then house hacks a few office buildings successfully before talking about his main focus, a company called, "Million Dollar Collar" that he started. Brandon Harvey here with Brandan Dukeman and this is Wealth Junkies.

This is the Wealth Junkie Show brought to you by C of Capital Partners. 

Brandon Dukman: And we are back. I am Brandon Duckman here with Will Harry thanks for joining us for the DailyWealth Junkie Show. We've got another great guest in store for you today and I've got nothing else to say so I'm going to turn it over to Brandon to introduce our guest for today. 

Will Harry:  Thanks Brandon, today on the show we have Rob Kessler. Rob is the inventor of Million Dollar Collar, it's a simple solution to fix the unsightly collapse of a collar of a casually worn shirt. I'm really excited to hear about that and the other things that he does as well. Rob thanks for coming on the show. If you could just give the listeners a little bit more about your background and how you got to where you are today. 

Rob Kessler: Yeah, absolutely and it's great to be with you guys. I've done all kinds of stuff, sold things from houses, cars, diamonds. I was always into sales, my Dad was in the jewelry business so I remember being 10 or 11 years old holding these little tiny crystals and saying "How is this worth $3,000 or $4,000?"  So I always had that retail background. 

Brandon:  I'm thinking that right now my girlfriend's pressuring me to pop the question so I"m kind of thinking that same thing you were thinking.

Rob:  At least your Dad isn't in the business and you don't have the, "Oh what did you get your girl?"

Brandon: Oh, yeah. Right, and they always want to say you did the wrong thing and impart their knowledge.

Rob: My wife's pretty well dialed in so I think that worked out good.

Brandon:  That's good. 

Rob: So I've sold houses, cars, and diamonds. In 2006 I was selling real estate and was into commercial development doing condos presale. Then the market was starting to slow down. I had started a graphic t-shirt line working with artists and I was paying all these other screen printers to do the work and they were just charging me like crazy. I decided to buy the equipment, learn how to do it, taught myself how to do it, and actually built a million-dollar screen printing business out of my business just doing it that way. I just started telling a couple of friends, cause I wanted to print my own stuff and so I started telling my friends if you need anything I got this equipment.  The word just spread around town and I built this. 

Brandon:  Did you intend for it to get that big or did it just kind of happen?

Rob:  Hell no. The last thing I wanted to be was a screen printer.

Will:  Especially sitting in your basement with all that equipment. 

Rob: Yea, I did probably 20,000 shirts in my basement on the most basic start up starter kit you can imagine. A table top press with a flash dryer and I did all my shirts like this until I could afford to move out of the basement and my wife and I bought a 6,000 square foot building. Moved into there and sub divided that down. We took half the building and then made the other half into 8 little offices and rented those out. 

Brandon:  Oh wow! I would have loved that. 

Will:  Were you the only employee  for working in your basement or did you have other people coming in?

Rob: I had a buddy helping out for a couple of years. He was a Fedex driver or something so he would just come over off times and I'd pay him to do stuff and he'd help me out. Then my Mom got involved. She retired so she would help out folding shirts. If you ever ordered 100 shirts before they always bundle them in dozens and then you pull one out and there's a big pile. We individually folded every single shirt by size. I cut out the label that came in the shirt and put my own label in so every single one of the shirts that went out was a marketing piece. 

Brandon:  That's cool.

Rob:So they knew how to contact me. And we just did a couple of little things like that. I never ever, ever, in 9 years missed a deadline. I never delivered a shirt late and that is notorious in the industry. So stuff like that we grew way faster than I thought we would. 

Brandon: So originally this thing was meant to be a pure side hustle? 

Rob:  I wanted to do the graphic tee shirts because this was 2006. So Ed Hardy and all that stuff was going crazy. So I partnered with a bunch of local artists and said instead of having to sell a $2000 painting why don't we take that art and put it on a t-shirt and you could market yourself with the same painting and have it on a bunch of people. 

But I found out the artists are terrible, terrible self-promoters so I had all this screen printing and buying all these shirts. People were like, " Dude I don't care about the art I love the shirt." So then I started a clothing line which that company called "Newd" which stood for nothing else will do. So you basically had our mission statement built right into our name. So we did everything on that level. So I started the clothing line then I said I have this screen printing equipment that I need to pay for bills so I'll just let people know that I'm screen printing and then more and more and more screen printing came in. Finally, I was like I pushed the clothing line to the side and built the business of screen printing. 

Brandon:  I think it's cool. I think there's lessons to be learned there. You weren't just totally rigid and hard-headed. You were willing to adapt to what the market wanted from you. You weren't like I'm going to make this work -- You kind of did ... You went where the money was basically. 

Rob:  It took talking to my Dad. He's like Dude .... The screen printing was great cause I would get an order on Monday. I would order the shirts and I would have them Tuesday or Wednesday and I would deliver them Thursday and I would be paid. Where I'm buying 100 shirts to put in my line and hoping they would sell at some point online. The cash flow just didn't make sense at all.  Finally, he was like dude what are you doing?  Just follow the money man, it's there. 

Will: So what did you do from there, did you guys move into the new building, new place, did you just start hiring more people and scaling up business or what?

Rob:  So right before I moved I started hiring. I hired a sales girl, I had a buddy working and I hired this other kid out of high school who I kind of molded into a mini me. So when we moved--

Brandon:  He was like a prodigy?

Rob:Yeah. I knew his mom and stepdad for a long time. He just graduated high school and didn't know what he wanted to do and he was just thirsty to learn. It was great, I got him rocking and rolling.  We moved out, we knew the building was way bigger than what we needed and so my wife opened a gym in about 1000 square feet, I had 2500 square feet and we subdivided. There were offices in the other half of the building but we built out two more and subdivided that out and rented out those 8 offices to cover the overhead of the building. 

Brandon:  So did that cover was what I was going to ask. So you bought the building and ... So you kind of house hacked a building if you know that term. It's a common real estate thing. You house hacked a commercial building which is cool. So the tenants that were outside of your business did that cover the mortgage?

Rob: Eventually it did. We got in and got situated with ourselves, my business, and my wife's business and then we totally gutted that half of the building. It was all wood panelling, it was the Sheet Metal Workers Union Hall in Milwaukee, Wi. So it hadn't been touched in 30 years. It was all wood panelling. It was dated. 

Brandon:  Straight out of the 70's or 80's right?

Rob: Yes, so updated all the electrical. The thing that we did with our offices was we made them an all-inclusive office.  When we were looking to transition out of the house. I can afford the rent then it's like how much is the electricity going to be, how much is the water going to be? How much is this going to be? How much is this going to be and that going to be and it just got to be so overwhelming when we were moving that it was like there's more people in the same position that we are. We took these offices and divided them up by square foot and made it an all-inclusive office. Our smallest was 95 square feet and then our biggest was 150 square feet and it included the internet. We just put wifi in that half of the building. We included electricity and everything. You could walk into one of our offices for a couple of hundred bucks per month and have your own space, lock it up and we called the company. Get off your kitchen table was our website, getoffyourkitchentable.com.

Brandon: What do you mean for a few months. They didn't sign long leases or anything like that? 

Rob:  We did a year lease but it was just a couple of hundred bucks a month for a small office. When you look back at the price per square foot our 95 square foot office was $300 a month. So we were getting $30-$40 a square foot for rent. It was crazy. We were like $300 -

Brandon: It was super cheap for that. It gets them out of the house if their wife is yelling at them for having a business in the garage or basement or anything. 

Rob:Yeah, you don't want to meet customers at your personal residence. That person was in the same spot that we are and we only had 8 offices and there were 3 million people who lived in the Milwaukee area so we didn't need to find that many, we needed 8. It worked out and filled that thing up and it was great.

Brandon: I love that. So how long did you do that and own the building and run that business? 

Rob:  So we got married in 2011 and bought it right before that in late 2010 that we bought the building. It was finally full by late 2011 or 2012.  Then we sold it in 2018 and then we moved. My wife and I sold everything else that we had including our duplex and moved out of Wisconsin in late October 2015 and bought a new building in 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. We did the same thing, that was a 16,000 square foot building, 22 offices, revamped the whole thing, updated it, filled it with tenants and sold it 13 months later for 3 times what we paid for it. 

Brandon: So how did you find that first office deal and how did you find the next one, 16,000 square foot one?

Rob:  So the 6,000 square foot building is about two blocks from my house and I drove by it all the time. It was sold for like 3 years because they started at an astronomical price. They were at close to half a million for this building. 

Brandon:  They weren't that motivated to sell it?

Rob: Yeah. It just kept coming down and coming down and coming down and then the timing just worked out. We ended up dropping an $180,000 offer on it and they took it. So we got the first one for a steal. 6000 square feet for  $180, 000. 

Brandon:  That's unbelievable. You're making me really, really jealous right now. That's insane.

Rob: So we were situated in LA things were going good and I was just wanting to get back into real estate and learn more about it so I'm like I'm going to start looking in Wisconsin because I know that market and start running numbers and see if I can ... I just want to get comfortable with the numbers again. I want to see if I can look at a price, see what the cap rate is and see if it makes sense and I started looking and found this one-two mile from my in-law's house in Green Bay and I am like this can't be right. It was advertised for like a 2 CAP. They were asking for $225,000 for 16,000 square feet and I did all the math.


Brandon:  Was it like in a war zone?

Rob:  No it was in a nice area. It was getting $4000 a month rent already and it was in a [?] and it was foreclosed on years earlier.  It was totally neglected but it was almost half full getting $4000 a month in rent. I was like $4000 a month, $200,000 it just doesn't make sense so I had my father in law drive by it and he goes no it's legit. All brick, big huge parking lot area. Dropped an offer on that one for $150,000 and I think we got it for $160,000-$165,000 or something like that. 

Brandon: That is unreal.

Rob:  22 offices and we built one new one in the basement. Rearranged a couple of things, got out some bad tenants. Filled the entire building, all 22 offices are rented out in 13 months but both properties on the market, because we were like we're in LA we're not going back to Wisconsin, let's just unload these things and move forward with our life.  A guy came to look at the Milwaukee property and happened to be telling the broker I'm going up to Green Bay for this.  And we're like no way we have a building in Green Bay too.  Bought both of them in one swoop. It was a crazy deal.

Brandon: It doesn't happen too often. Are you willing to share numbers?

Rob:  All 32 offices were all-inclusive with the internet, with electricity, with everything and that's what rented them out instantly. 

Brandon:  Are you able to share ballpark numbers on what you were able to get for that? I know it was a portfolio deal but ..?

Rob:  We sold both buildings for $860,000 and I think we bought them for 3 something and invested 250 or something. We really, really updated ... $30,000 roofs and air conditioning units and we dialed it in all of them so someone could walk in and just buy them. 

Brandon: So it was turn-key for whoever bought it?

Rob:  Yeah, cause they were cash flowing for us. 

Brandon:  Wow how long did you from when you bought it to when you sold it? How long did you have it for? 

Rob:  The Green Bay property was 13 months and the Milwaukee property we had for 5 or 6 years. 

Brandon:  So for the Green Bay one you were right over the threshold where you could not have to pay the short term gains. 

Rob: It came together, my Dad, fortunately, was very successful so he basically helped with the loan on the Green Bay one and said I'll give you a short term, one year to take care of this. I went to have dinner with him and slid a check 13 months after I borrowed the money for all of it back. It was pretty amazing. 

Brandon: that's pretty cool. So you and your wife are in LA now and what happens from there? You just sold the buildings and made a chunk of money, what's the next step?

Rob:  So we invested some of the money into a yacht charter business so I'm a captain, a 50-ton master captain. We have this amazing yacht charter business that has been rocking.

Brandon:  Wow!

Rob:  Again we do all-inclusive predetermined built out excursions. So last year was basically our first year we did 90 charters. 

Brandon:  When you say we that's you and?

Rob  My wife and I. 

Brandon: That's just you two, okay.

Rob: Yep. It's a fifty-foot yacht, it's a sea ray. Bella Boating is the website, bellaboating.com and so we did 90 charters our first year. We had celebrities like NHL players and the NFL. We just got in with a really great crowd. I invested in another company called Quantum which is pretty amazing for your real estate people. It's a way to pull out the equity in your home without additional monthly payment. They will basically buy a chunk of your house and give you a check and when you sell the house then you repay them. So you have no payment until you resell the property.

Brandon:  So they get some of the equity so they're not ...

Rob:So your house is worth a million bucks you got a half a million in equity. They give you $200,000 and they get 20% and as the years accumulate they get a slightly higher value. They know that a  homeowner typically will take care of their house even if they don’t own 100 percent. In 10 years if you sell they own 25% but that thing is appreciated over those 10 years and so what does it really matter. That one is still getting rolling but it's a very cool opportunity. 

Brandon:  I have to look at that, what's it called Quantum? 

Rob: Quantm, Quantm Real Estate. Q-U-A-N-T-M. And they're trying to do stuff with ... It started out with Cryptocurrency and all that when that was really hot a few years ago. But you could buy fractional ownership and then they'll sell off those pieces so you know the Malibu area and you want to own fractional ownership in the homes that they have in Malibu. Now there's a little trading platform where you can ... as that goes up and down.

Brandon:  That's unreal. 

Rob:  It's like a super intense program  It's really cool.

Brandon:  That is cool. 

Rob: So we're an investor in that. 

Brandon:  Okay, good stuff. Tell us about this Million Dollar Collar?

Rob: So Million Dollar Collar I invented a product that goes down the front of your shirt. So if you ever wear a shirt without a tie the front collapses and you hate it and it looks sloppy. I invented a product that goes down there. I came up with it during my wedding in Jamaica. The brand new freshly pressed shirt didn't even say I do and the whole thing collapsed under my shirt and I just looked terrible on the biggest day of my life. So I came home from Jamaica and started cutting open shirts and invented this thing that nobody had ever thought of before I don't know why.

Brandon:  So how did you ... So that's how you came up with it, the problem was there and then you wanted to solve it. What did you do to test it and R&D behind it? 

Rob:  So that took 3 years because I was ... I had the commercial building that I was trying to fill, I had my screen printing business I was doing, my clothing brand that I was doing... So I had 3 other things going on and I got this idea and my wife thank God she was very supportive but... I came home from Jamaica, cut open the first shirt, and just shoved a piece of cardboard down the front and said this is the part that needs structure. You never needed it before because when you wear a tie you button it all the way up.  But nobody wears ties anymore but there's no structure here. So I started with a piece of cardboard, she instantly was like, "oh my God I get what you've been complaining about for all those years." So obviously cardboard wasn't going to last. As I was cutting open shirts I learned quickly every shirt is made almost exactly the same. There is always two layers where the buttons and the holes are and there are always two layers in the collar band. Opening up a couple of stitches where these two meet you could slide in, there is this hidden channel, it just slides in and hides in between those layers.

Brandon: So it's like a piece of plastic I assume?

Rob:  It's kind of like plastic that's what took the longest. I ruined 100 shirts testing every plastic on the market. 

Brandon: Which is probably fairly expensive. 

Rob:  Many blinds and milk cartons, I found every piece of plastic around the house. I washed dried and sent it to the dry cleaners. They use such insane heat at the dry cleaners that it would just melt to the shirt so I ruined a lot of shirts trying to figure it out.

Brandon: I see so you would leave it in there. 

Rob: Yeah, once it's in it's sewn in and lasts the life of the shirt.

Brandon:  Oh. 

Rob:  You know how you forget collar stays, you forget little accessories.  This is in and done and you never have to worry about it.  So I had to base it on whatever the most extreme thing somebody was going to do with their shirts. If you're a guy that takes your shirt off and throws it in the hamper for two weeks it's fine and then the dry cleaning with the heat was intense. So we worked with a plastics company to develop the material. 

Brandon:  So did you self fund everything, bootstrap it?

Rob: Totally bootstrapped, still bootstrapped today. 

Brandon: Oh wow.

Rob: We've been selling online -- it took 3 years to do that. We've been selling online for a little over 4 years now. We launched in January of 2016 and sold almost 300,000 units to people in 117 countries. It's starting to get there. We're in big conversations or we were until this Coronavirus thing took. We've talked to big brands about licensing it to them so they're going to put into production and just offer shirts with it already in.

Brandon: Who did you go to when you had this idea and did you fund it from -- So you had a little bit of capital at this point obviously. Who did you go to ... Like who do you go to with that idea? And the plastics company you were testing it with?

Rob: I started with a buddy of mine from high school. I was like I got this idea. He's like I got a patent attorney. So I hired the best patent attorney  I could find in Milwaukee because I knew I was going to put my entire life into this so I didn't want to risk not having a really great patent. I started with that and the patent search. If you're going to patent something, be ready to start writing thousand dollar checks like every single month because it's never-ending. But I knew this was where we were going to go. So I just started testing, I was going online finding plastics companies and ordering all their products. Oh, this is a high heat one. Most high heat plastics get to 275 degrees before they fail. But dry cleaners use close to 450 degrees so it's not even close.

So I just happened to be talking to another friend from high school and he's in that industry and he introduced me to a plastics company and we just started talking and figured this thing out. It's lightweight so you can't even feel it in the shirt, it's soft enough to be sewn through so they actually sew through it, that's what holds it in place.  It's insanely heat resistant, almost 700 degrees so nearly double what they do at dry cleaners. It's rigid enough to keep up but still flexible enough so it's annoying to have in your shirt. 

Will:  It's not giving you a rash on your neck.

Rob: Yeah, it's not going to jam you. 

Brandon:  Like a piece of metal.

Rob:  It's really like the perfect material. It's wild.

Brandon:  So once you got it.

Will:  So how long did the patent process take for you to get?

Rob: It was like 2 1/2 years and we are just over 6 figures now into the patent. It's insane. 

Brandon:  So after you had the product already you got it all tested and you were ready to bring it to market what was the first thing you did?

Rob: So before it was even done we launched a kick starter. We were going to do our own shirt, we were going to have this thing built in, design the shirt and make this really great thing.  We did Kickstarter for $40,000 and we raised $18,000. Which was a total blessing in disguise. The unequivocal feedback was why are you trying to compete with all the brands, why not license it and why can't I upgrade the shirts I already own. So like you said before how I pivoted with the screen printing we pivoted with that. We stopped the idea of making dress shirts and pivoted to the aftermarket universal fitting thing. I had it figured out and I had to change. So now Million Dollar Collar fits into every single shirt and it looks ... So this is what a set looks like, it's two pieces and then it's basically it's just this. It sits inside the shirt right in there and it's just a really lightweight, nice, really flexible piece. 

Brandon:  That's unbelievable.

Rob: I have my material made in sheets and then it's die-cut and stamped out so that's how that process works.

Will: So it's fairly easy for let says I buy a set of those and place them in my own dress shirt or do I need to take it to like a dry cleaner or seamstress?

Rob:  If you know how to sew you can do it and basic, basic sewing skills.  I ended up teaching myself how to sew because I was testing so many different things and it was $10 to $15 every time I went to the cleaners to get it installed. I just did it myself. We now have a network of about 600 dry cleaners and tailors that we're in, in the US. They're already on the map, they know how to do it. A lot of them will actually do the first shirt for free so they have the stay, they'll provide the stay and do the install and they'll probably just charge you the regular laundering fee. We have a lot of people doing it already.

Brandon:  So did you start selling it online? Did you get into some stores? How did that progression go?

Rob: We had the website and dialed that in and launched in January 2016. We initially went straight to the manufacturers. We talked to Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, all the biggest brands. We went to New York and had all these meetings. And they said, "You know it sounds like something we don't know. " And we had no sales to prove it so we said alright let's go prove this thing.

Brandon:  Got it. So is it purely a track record thing?

Rob:  And we've done it really the hard way. Think about any other product that you buy online that you get somewhere. You have to wait for it to come in the mail and then you have to go somewhere else to use it just to take advantage of it. There's not a lot of products like that so we really didn't have a road map to follow. We've just been figuring it out as we're going. We're making traction and we're in all these dry cleaners and now we're having the conversations with those brands on the high levels. 

Brandon:  So you figured out going to the dry cleaner was the way to get it out there?

Rob:  I thought that was the way because that guy is already dropping off his shirt and he's not worried about his shirt. He cares enough about the way he looks that he pays someone else to clean his clothes, press them for him. Money isn't really an issue for that guy as much because he's paying for this service regularly I just assumed that is where the customer was ... The problem is dry cleaners aren't all the savviest businessmen. They just do their business and it is a little bit of work to convince that this is a great opportunity.  The smallest dry cleaner in the US sees 200 shirts a day. There are not many stores that sell 200 dress shirts a day.

Brandon:  How do you motivate these owners to push your product?

Rob:  We go to a really exciting dry cleaner trade show and we show them the product. 

Will: A little sarcasm in there.

Rob:  But we've gone and we've learned that ... If you've been at the dry cleaner the girl at the counter or the guy at the counter is like how many shirts, any stains, come back on Thursday. They're not really salespeople. 

Brandon:  They're very dry.

Rob:  We've developed all of the processes, we've developed the marketing materials, we've developed all of the packages and really tried to make it as easy as possible.

Brandon: Interesting.

Will:  What was the price, say I'm dropping off my shirts, I see your product right there on the counter. I say I want to put this in, what's the additional inclusion to put this in?

Rob: We suggest, and we've heard from all of our customers, right around $10 is the sweet spot. We tell these cleaners $10 is right where you want to be.  Now if you go on my website and buy or amazon and buy the stays themselves they come in packs of 5, 10, 20, or 50. You're going to pay anywhere from $2 or $3 per set depending on how many you buy. If you buy them from me and then go to a cleaner that doesn't have us you're going to end up $12 to $15 bucks all in. But a lot of the cleaners you can go right to and they have them in stock and it's $10 bucks one time and it's in for the life of the shirt. You wear a shirt 50 times before it fails at $10 its pennies for every time you wear it.

Brandon:  Yeah, it's a no brainer. Wow.

Rob:  I looked at doing can I sew it, can I iron it on. You can see that both sides of this are exposed to the millions of patterns that are out there there wasn't any easy way to do it. Believe it or not, sewing it in is the easiest, least expensive, quickest way to do it. So that's where we're at.

Will:  I feel like it would be the longest-lasting too.  If you did iron on the chances of it falling off or something like that would be higher. 

Rob:  People have tried sticky tape, hard plastic things, I didn't like any of the other options. Some people have this metal scaffolding that goes up underneath. Everyone is trying to solve the problem. 

Brandon:  So how long did it take before you started to get profitable? Are you profitable right now?

Rob:  We are right at dead break even right now, my partner and I aren't making any income. One of these deals with one of these major brands is the game-changer. It's like the game-changer we've been working for, for 7 years. 

Brandon:  It will put you over the top.

Rob:  Yeah, totally and it gets us major exposure. We've been talking to one company for a 2 million unit test. We sold 300,000 in 4 years and now we're talking 2 million in one test. 

Brandon:  That's crazy.

Rob: But they came to us in October, we're sitting here in March with nothing, it's a very long process.

Brandon:  A lot of runway. 

Rob: Yeah we've got our direct consumer, we've got our dry cleaners and tailors, we've got these licensing. There's these short term wins and long terms win 

Will: What's their biggest concern or come back to you when they try to join your product?

Rob: One of the concerns is installing during production. Changing the production process, obviously, if this is a test of 2 million shirts it's a fraction of what they make in a year. They told me they sell around 30 million men's dress shirts a year. That's a pretty efficient train that's running already so to change any little step of that. The beauty is my product is such a minimal bump in the road. When they're sewing the shirt together they're going to slide this in and then when they attach the collar to the body of the shirt they just keep sewing and sew right through it and continue on. It's still that little step and teaching a thousand people how to do that process. 

Brandon:  So you basically tried to take this from the V2C model to B2B where you're selling to these big distributors and that'll be your client. 

Rob: The B2B is where we want to go with Million Dollar Collar and a year ago we launched go tieless which is the first shirt with it already built-in. We've been bashing our head against the wall getting these guys to try it and they weren't. We said screw it, let's just make our own shirt and we'll show them that there is some technology in it and there is some value in having the technology in a shirt. We started testing and making, this was our very first prototype shirt that I'm wearing, go it figured it out. So I got married 7 years ago in February. Last year in February, 6 years ago almost to the day, my business partner is in a prototype of our new dress shirt with Million Dollar Collar built-in. 6 years from when I got married to when he got married he's actually got the shirt.

Brandon:  No kidding.

It was your wedding where you looked all ...

Rob: Yeah.

Brandon:  Disheveled and everything because of the collar.

Rob: I got to be the before but it's all good.

Brandon: That's' great.

Rob: So we launched that late last year, we had some issues with our first company that was supposed to be doing our Facebook Ads so we restarted in February and last month was our first month of sales. We are actually cranking right now.

Brandon:  As we record this, this will get released a few months from now, we're deep into the Coronavirus stuff so everything has come to a grinding halt. It sounds like you're still out there kicking butt.

Rob:  Ecommerce seems to be ramping up because people still need their things. I think people know this isn't the end of the world so they're continuing their lives and eCommerce seems to be filling in the gap while all these stores are closed. It's been really good for us actually.

Brandon:That's great. What else are you working on right now? What are you looking forward to in the future?

Rob:  Man, so I'd love to get back into real estate and do some investing and I'd love... The duplex I gutted to the studs and redid the entire thing and it ended up being 95% of what I envisioned from the day I bought it. I was a bad realtor in fact that my buddy called and said, hey I want to sell my duplex. I said, alright I think I can get this much for it and then I ended up buying that thing so I couldn't even low ball him, I couldn't even get a good deal on it. I'm going to buy this, I love the duplex, I gutted it to the studs and did all the work myself. I taught myself how to hang drywall, and do all that stuff. I'd love, I have the vision and seeing a house and what the potential could be so I look to do that again. Definitely get more back into more real estate. My wife is super busy, she's a Hollywood stunt woman so she's on set all the time and she's just a super badass.

Brandon:  No kidding, that is super badass. You guys lead an exciting life. 

Rob:  Yeah, we're all over the board. So she's working on some stuff and we do some projects together. We have good synergy where we work together and help each other in business.

Brandon:  That's great. So we were talking before we started recording this and you mentioned something about the commercial office real estate. Your thoughts on that where you saw it going can you share that with us?

Rob:  You know again I think this is a weird time that we're in right now but it's not the end of the world. My vision in the commercial space was coming from my personal experience.  So we built out these all-inclusive offices just to fill a need and it seemed to be that nobody else was doing anything like it. Everybody in the world hates being nickel and dimed yet all these businesses nickel and dime you for every little thing.  

They don't think about the consumer as much and that's why my companies have been successful, my father's company, my aunts. Our companies have been successful because we think about the consumer because we are the consumer. I think if more people put themselves in the buyers' shoes you would see a lot more opportunity. If everyone is doing it one way it means there has to be an opportunity somewhere else. Our charter business has blown up immensely. It's done, we make it as easy as possible. 

Brandon: That's great. Have you read "The Art of Contrary Thinking"?  It's about what you just said, how everybody is thinking one way there's another way to do it. 

Rob:  There's a book called, Zag, that's a really quick 45-minute read. When everyone is zigging you have to zag.  I love it, that's where my mentality is at, my Dad did that in the jewelry business. Everyone else is over here, he's now one of the largest independent jewelers in the country because he went the opposite way. I saw it on a massive scale at what he was able to do. 

Brandon:  I love that.

Will:  Yeah there's always a way to do something a little bit different then what everyone else is doing.

Rob: Yeah, how are you going to stand out if everybody else does it this way, you can't. You can stand out by doing it totally differently. 

Will: So you've talked a lot about your partner and having partners throughout your business experience. How important was it to you to have a partner and choosing who to partner with?

Rob: I only have so many skills, so having somebody by my side helps. My wife is super detail-oriented and gets things done. Where I am we should do this boat charter thing because I have been captaining with other guys and I see that they're leaving a huge opportunity on the table. I found the boat, I did all the research, I do all the maintenance on it, I captain. She has the contracts dialed in, she has a follow-up. So she fills that gap for me.

My partner Steve is very technical so he was on a sales force for years, he was at Rico for years. He knows how to get to the CEO and C Suite and have those conversations. He also understands website design and development and how all that stuff works. He really handled that and he's really graphically inclined. I am like the big idea guy.

Brandon: The visionary.

Rob:  There's a great book called Rocket Fuel and it talks about visionaries and implementers.  Walt Disney and Disney World wouldn't be there if it wasn't for his brother. He famously said "I'd be bouncing checks left and right. I need to get this done, only thinking about what he has to do and not understanding that side of the business."

Will: That's really good, I love it.

Brandon:  You have some good stuff. I'm looking at some of the suggested questions on your media pack here. So one that I want to hear your answer to is, Why no ties, Why don't you like ties?

Rob:  So I sold cars for a while.

Brandon: That's literally what I was thinking. I'm not even kidding. I was about to say that.

Rob: I was 23 years old, I graduated from college when I was 22. First time in my family, I did it in 4 years working full time. I was working with my Dad. I worked for my Dad, I had moved out of town to open his first out of the city store. I wanted to move back to town. He said I don't have any spot for you and I'm not going to play special favorites to you. Why don't you go out and find some other thing so when you come back you could bring some outside perspective to our company and really help us grow?

I always loved cars and I was always in sales so I figured I would go sell cars. See if I can ... What my Dad did with jewelry I can do in the car business. I remember being there every day having to cinch up this tie and hating it and trying to see what is the easiest knot I can put on, it was always in the way. I hated it. It wasn't me, I think they used it to have some authority or something. Who wears ties now? Politicians, Lawyers, and ...

Brandon:  Exactly. Waiters at TGI Friday’s and that's it.

Rob:  I think a lot of businesses are holding on to the ties because they don't know that this exists. So the more people ...

Will:  That's what we're here for, we're helping you spread the word.

Brandon: You got to get it out there, I love it. 

Brandon:  I'm not a fan of ties either, I hate them, I think I'm choking to death every time I wear a tie. 

Rob:  I have a big neck and shirts just don't fit right and I've worn a tie once in the last 10 years outside of one of my best friends' weddings. There's a place out here called the Magic Castle where you have to wear a tie to go inside. 

Brandon:  That's cool. We're going to jump into our moments of truth questions here so it's the same questions we ask everybody. I'm excited to hear your responses to these. My first question is who is your success role model?

Rob:  My Dad. My Dad left Detroit, his family, everything he knew, started over completely in Milwaukee. He ended up walking into a jewelry store and said look I need a job. Give me 30 days if you don't love me I'll walk away no qualms, no nothing. 30 Days later the guy fired his brother in law and hired my Dad full time. My Dad knew nothing about jewelry but he understood how to take care of the customer. 10 months after that he left and bought a little jewelry store and grew from almost nothing to the 3rd largest independent jewelry in the country. 

Brandon: That's a great role model to have. 

Will: That's an incredible story, wow.

Rob:  And it turned after 11  years, that was 1980 he bought the store, in 1991 he was so frustrated, he hadn't grown barely at all in 11 years. He went to see Tony Robbins in Chicago, Walked on Fire. Did the whole thing was like the light bulb of all light bulbs. He grew like 50% a year, year over year growth in 20 straight years after 1991.

Brandon:  I heard those seminars are pretty powerful.

Rob:  I was very fortunate to go as a college graduation present. For me I wasn't in that I don't know what I'm doing with my life. My Dad literally was going to go the jewelry down the street and hand them the pink slip to the store and say Dude take it. I don't even want this anymore when he went to see Tony. So he was totally lost, he was totally out there.

Brandon:Burnt out.

Rob: When I went to college I had 2 cars, I was working for my Dad full time. I was making more money than any of my friends. I wasn't in that turmoil so I didn't get quite as much out of it but I reread the books a lot over the years. There's certainly been times I was like, I don't know what I'm doing.  I had to go back to those times and had to think about where he put me, and what Tony was talking about. If you're in that turmoil and you're not sure Tony is a really, really great place to turn to.

Brandon: That's a good way to buy it.  So what's your biggest success so far?

Rob:  Locking down my wife was a pretty big success. She's amazing, together we're unstoppable. We've done some amazing things. It will be 10 years later this year we've been together. It's pretty incredible because neither of us was in a relationship for more than 2 years before that and most of it was 2 weeks. So to be with someone for 10 years. Now that we're here on house quarantine we're both here 24 hours a day is really putting us to the test.

Brandon: Exactly, that's hilarious. I think you met your match, she's a stunt woman. She sounds like a badass. 

Rob: They're always fake, they don't actually connect.  

Brandon:  True.

Brandon:  So outside of quarantine what does a typical day look like for you?

Rob:  I will be honest, in the last ... I realized recently I'm not very disciplined and being that big figure I have to let my mind go and wander. I really focussed down on discipline with my time. I write down every 30 min. block what I'm doing and I'm.  There are certain things in a day I need to accomplish. And it's really changed things, then all of a sudden this quarantine and this Coronavirus thing happened but so it's thrown it off a little bit. I went to Grant Cardone's 10X Growth Con which was just a couple of weeks ago. Got that inspiration I think that my Dad got when he went to Tony Robbins and so... 

Brandon:  No kidding.

Rob: Get in the discipline and every single day I write down my goals and my life goals and every 30mins I'm doing this and I'm doing this. It's real quick you learn how you waste time when you jot down what you've been doing. 

Will:  I believe it, I 100% believe it.

Rob:Everybody has the same 24 hours. It's what you do in it. 

Brandon: That's right. 

Rob:  And that's not my quote.

Brandon: Right. The next question is coming up.  

Will:Brandon I don’t have it in front of me whats….?

Brandon:  What's your favorite quote? 

Rob: My favorite quote is "do more for others then they expect." I think it was a Wilt Chamberlain quote. I remember when I was 12 or 13 years old when I would cut the grass outside of my dad's grass and then I picked up the neighbor.  I would literally be cutting the grass and somebody is going to drive by while I'm cutting this grass and ask me to cut their grass because I'm cutting it so good. I think doing that and providing more will always go a long way. It's really working in our charter business. People will come on board and they hear we give out a snack platter and it's this really amazing spread and it's all in there and it's always more than they expect.

Will:  So it's all in the details, attention to details is so crucial.

Brandon: That’s huge.  What are some of your hobbies?

Rob:  I was playing volleyball quite a bit. The weather is kind of crappy in Southern California so we call 70 degrees here zero. 

Brandon:  I was going to say I don't think I've ever heard crappy weather in Southern California.  

Rob:  The barometer changes quickly so last winter that my wife and I were in Milwaukee we had two days in a row the windchill was 75 degrees below.  That was what really solidified us moving out here. Now 70 is our zero, so if it's 63 here it's like 7 below 70.

Brandon:  You guys are spoiled.  I don't want to hear that we're in the DC area that's chilly. What is next? What's the best business book you've read?

Rob:  I'm really in the Grand Cardone universe right now. So 10X, if you're not first you're last.  All of his stuff really resonates with me. I like those books, I've read all of Tony Robbins books, Zag was a good one. I liked Rocket Fuel that really helped put in perspective where my strengths are, where I belong, and where my partner Steve belongs. That's helped out a lot too. 

Brandon:  I need to read that, have you read traction, the prequel to that?

Rob: I haven't read that one yet but it's on my list. 

Brandon: Every time we do these interviews I have more books.

Will:  Exactly. 

Rob:  Extreme Ownership was a good one. I just finished that one on audible. 

Brandon: It really did a great job explaining how it's your responsibility to handle everything and take ownership of why things are failing. 

Rob: I think it goes in line... I like Gary Vee too and he's like everything is my fault. If something is wrong it's my fault. Once you start taking ownership for those problems it's really easy to find the solution because you don't blame anybody else.

Brandon:  That's so true. Grant talks about that too. I think Grants is a little over the top sometimes but I remember one thing that he talked about that was when you own something or own a mistake or even if it's not your mistake it takes the pressure off. You don't have to point fingers, that's on me. It's my fault that sales are down even though all your salespeople aren't doing what they are supposed to. You own that, you need to have a better day to day guidance for them. When he was saying that it just made perfect sense where it just takes the pressure off.

Rob:  Absolutely. If you're the boss and you hire the salesperson it's you. It goes back to what Gary says too, If one of my employees screws up that's my fault I hired them. 

Brandon:  Exactly.

Rob: Hopefully they learn and we move forward. My Dad was like that too. You can screw up but just learn from it. His rules were customer first, team second and the company third. There was really great synergy within the team at each of the 7 stores. As long as you put the customer first and made them feel that they were the most important thing at the end of the day things always worked out.

Brandon:  Look at Amazon, Amazon is a trillion-dollar company because of that. 

Rob: Yep. Being an Amazon seller I can tell you it's not so great being on the seller side.

Brandon: Maybe that's on the lower end of their priority list. 

Rob:  Yeah but you know what without the sellers it's 50%  of their business and it just drives me insane that they don't take care of us anywhere close that they do to the buyers.

Brandon: They're so big that the sellers are a customer to them. I agree.

Rob:  I know they're doing all of their AmazonBasics but they don't have every product and I've got the only thing that I've got and I still am battling with them constantly. My color background was off by two little things not perfectly white and they suspended all of my listings I'm like --

Brandon: Seriously. That's crazy. 

Rob:It's crazy.

Brandon:  Wow. I didn't realize it was that particular.  Google Ads get crazy too.

Brandon:  Last question here Rob. If there's one key piece of advice to give our listeners with about achieving success what do you think it would be?

Rob: I can tell you, stick with it. You only fail if you're quit. I'm 7 years into this thing. it's barely paying enough to cover its own bills but I continually see doors open, opportunities come. I had conversations with people I'd never thought I'd talk to in my lifetime. I won't know where this thing goes if I quit. If I have to drive Uber or Lyft if I have to do this thing or that thing or whatever on the side to keep this thing going that's what I'll do. Fortunately, my wife and I work well together and she's successful and things are going. She sees where we're going with this company so we're able to focus full time and do what we need to do and stick with it man.

Brandon:  I love that. That's such good advice. 

Will:  Because if you quit you'll be sitting here thinking what if's and in 10 years you'll say.. Or you'll see somebody else that didn't quit.   You'll be like shit that's something I should have done. 

Rob: I'll tell you what I've had several comments on our Facebook ads and things people were like Dude this was my idea I had the same idea 3 years ago. That's pretty cool. 

Brandon:Right, they're the ones that quit or never got started or whatever. Now you're the one that is able to reap the rewards of sticking to it.

Rob: I've risked it all, I've literally risked everything. We have every dollar into what I'm doing. If you work out the hourly rate I probably been making like 75 cents an hour for 7 years. If you want to live that life that nobody else has then you have to do things that nobody else will do. 

Brandon: Amen.

Will: Absolutely. Well Rob how can our listeners get in contact with you? Where can they find your products and all that good stuff?

Rob:   So all the companies we have milliondollarcollar.com, we have gotieless.com, we have bellaboating.com. They can find us on all of those. My email is rob@milliondollarcollar, rob@gotieless if you want to send a direct message.  If you have questions about patenting a product or our shirts. We're actually working on some really, really cool potential opportunities with our dress shirts that other dress shirt companies aren't doing so there is some cool stuff coming up with that.

Brandon:  That's great.

Will:That's awesome, I'm excited to see where you guys go. I like the idea, I hate wearing ties. I was actually at a funeral a couple of weeks ago and I didn't have a tie on and my collar was slacking down and people were like coming over and fixing it for me. I was like I know, I get it, it was messed up.  So I wish I would have known sooner.  Well Rob we appreciate you spending time with us today and you have a great story and great insights. Thanks again.

Rob: Absolutely you guys are awesome thanks so much

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