Ep. 5 - Building a Manufacturing Business | Consulting, System Integration & Associated Challenges
Play • 52 min


Welcome, everyone. This is episode number five of the manufacturing hub podcast with Vlad and Dave. So today we wanted to step back from some of the conversations we had with Sean last week and kind of take it back to ourselves and discuss how we landed where we are today. Some of the challenges discuss how we entered. I guess the manufacturing industry which we've covered a little bit in the past episode, but go into a bit more detail as far as our businesses or our ventures are at their core and maybe also get some advice from each other. Understand it a little bit more and kind of see where things are planning out to go in the next couple of years and what plans we both have in that regard. What are your thoughts? Dave? Is that pretty much what we're talking about? No, completely agree.

Completely agree. As I told Vlad, when I pitched this idea, one of the things I always appreciate is people talking about their businesses and when they have a podcast being able to go listen to how those changes, what their projections were and what actually happened in relation to the projection for everyone who isn't aware. Both led and I own our own business. And as we go through this, it certainly can feel lonely out there, right? And it feels like in the industrial automation community. There aren't a lot of people talking about it. It seems like there are a lot of fairly decent sized companies. It seems like there are a lot of VC based startup companies and then you've got a bunch of systems integrators that are kind of in the middle of that and what I haven't found throughout any of my journey is people talking about that and documenting it in a way that other people going through this journey find useful.

And so my concept is I'd like to crack it Open, talk a little bit more about what we're doing. And you know where we see the future going for us. So you guys can want to ask questions and anyone that is crazy enough to listen to these in a few years with the assumption that Vlad and I are still doing this and talking about what we're doing can hopefully be here as we document this journey. Yeah, and I think it's also an important learning growing process because I think at least I'll speak for myself. But I'm definitely not where I would like to be in the future. So I'm always looking to learn to grow to kind of bounce around some different ideas, see how other people are doing it. And ultimately that's why there's like a chat platform where you can give us some advice or maybe give us some insights on how you would do things.

And I think it's important as they've mentioned that there's really nobody talking about this right now. And there's a lot of people asking the same questions. I feel around getting a manufacturing business off the ground, whether it is systems integration, just a lone Wolf Plc programmer, or what have you. So I think it's going to be also good for ourselves to kind of discuss these ideas and learn from each other as well as the community in general. And I'll even admit myself that I've been trying to find myself a mentor that has launched a similar business. And I do have people in different companies in place that have been extremely helpful, but they're not necessarily where I would like to go. So it's been a challenge to kind of figure this out on my own, for sure, obviously, with good advice, but not necessarily fully aligned with what I'm trying to do.

But, Dave, you want to. Sorry. Sorry. Go ahead. No, I was actually going to. So one thing that I wanted to I had to bring up during. This is mentorship, right.

So I know a lot of people in the community. Vlad. I know you know a lot of people in the community, one of the things that helped me over the last year and a half almost two years now is having a mentor that in some way, shape or form, is within the community, but doesn't necessarily know me personally. And so there is an organization called score. Their website is score org. And I went through the process. I found a mentor through their online process, had a couple of conversations with them, and Steven has been absolutely fantastic.

We meet it's all a volunteer network and almost exclusively people who have, like, made it to the point in business in which they would like to give back.

And so it's completely free. They give of their time freely. And they go through some training in order to make sure that they can appropriately mentor someone. There are a lot of people on a variety of different verticals. Since the pandemic has hit, the numbers have gone up significantly, I think they are up like, 85%.

I would completely suggest going through finding someone in your local area. We do Zoom calls, and for me, it's nice to have someone that doesn't necessarily know me. Listen to me. Talk about what I'm doing and what I want to do. And then they can just tell me if I'm crazy, you can talk to your friends. You can talk to your spouse. You can talk to other people in the industry.

But most of the time they're not going to look at you'd be like, that's a stupid idea. It's nice to have someone who, as in partial as can possibly be, but still want you to succeed. So I would I have in the past on LinkedIn and other places suggested that and would wholeheartedly suggest you guys go take a look at score org. Even if you don't want to mentor, they've got a bunch of absolutely phenomenal webinars and other pieces of information. If you're going to start a business. I wish I found it earlier than I did. Yeah, I guess I just opened the site in one of these sites and I guess I'll have to explore it a little bit more.

But that does seem like an interesting concept then I guess I have to do a little bit more research on how to find a mentor through it, but I'll definitely check it out. I really appreciate the reference I was going to say. Go ahead, go ahead. No, I was going to say completely. And if you've got more questions I'm happy to chat offline about those. Sounds good. I was going to say I guess to get us maybe started off.

I think maybe we can re summarize what exactly we're doing. I know that we've talked about it a little bit more in a previous lecture, but just to give a kind of a summary of what the ventures are and kind of maybe explain what the next steps or goals would be. So that kind of clues people in that are watching this without context. Sure, completely. Why don't I start with whoever what I'm currently doing and then I have something to talk about that is in the process of being launched after we talk about what you're doing blood anyone is currently listening that wants to hear what we're doing has to has to stick around, but currently and for the last 18 19 20 months I've been running a company called Caplan solutions and then I've been blogging about my journey digital transformation industry for auto everything along those on my website. Davidif com the breaking of those what was very intentionally in the past. I've written hundreds of articles and done hundreds of videos and I I wanted a place that is as I call it like one source of truth for Dave.

So if you guys want to look at anything that I've done manufacturing hub, everything else that is the place to look for me. And as I describe on that site and as I've distilled more even since our first or second episode, my goal is to help manufacturing companies go through transformational processes that pay for themselves. Now, that was not necessarily the goal that I had set out or written down when I started. Kaplan when I started Kaplan, I thought it would be more of a marketing scalable business development solutions, but I've found that I continue to get into it. What I really love is to get further and further into the project. So what I do is I help manifest. As I mentioned, my goal is to help manufacturers go through processes and then my passion is finding that return on investment and finding ways to show that they pay for themselves because as we're going through a digital transformation or a transformational process just in general, if it is a cost factor as opposed to a a revenue generator, at some point you're going to stop so finding the right organizations and taking them through this path.

And that is a variety of ways. I do a bunch of what people would consider consulting going in, helping to start projects and then beyond going in starting to help projects, or I do some amount of what would be considered like it. Ot convergence. It kind of like all of those buzzwords with the goal either myself or partners going and deriving value and the programs that we deliver and the solutions that we deliver so that we can continue down this path of transformation of organizational change.

And you do. I guess I've seen a lot of posts on your site that I very deep into some of those topics as well. I think you break down digital transformation in general, you talk about different manufacturing metrics, you've got videos with gym, one of which that I watch today. But there's a whole series of some of the impact you make as far as I guess, like data collection and then application to the industry goes. And I think there's I guess a lot more to this and I don't want to, I guess jump into the next steps. But you're doing some recruiting also that we kind of discussed a little bit you're diving into, I guess, into many areas, but everything is still encompassed in the manufacturing space. If I understand that correctly, Yes, completely.

So my goal is to help those manufacturing and those industrial companies and flat. As you mentioned, I have a variety of partners that I work with and it's a combination of doing work and some of it, of course, is helping them get marketing and get their message out and kind of products and solutions every year.

I have a product or maybe a couple of products that I kind of do some work to help continue them down the path into the next phase. Both led and I are very young in relation to the manufacturing industry. We've got a lot of time to go and so the world class solutions that we're deriving the best in world solutions that were implementing today in 2,021 are going to be three solutions ago by the time that we're done. So I do my best to have conversations with startups with nice service providers and help kind of continue along their journey. And that is kind of double sided one. I want to help them provide solutions and two, I want to know what's coming next and I feel that some of my value and certainly understanding what the market looks like and helping direct people towards what is next awesome and then kind of just to jump into those technical solutions have in the past done a lot of technical solutions.

I will continue to drive and develop a bunch of technical solutions in the last probably four or 5 months. I have specifically started laying out more case studies in relation to MES and EE and things to do and things that I've seen that have done poorly because the goal is of course to be able to deliver some of that value and let people understand what the market looks like. What has worked with not worked with. Of course, the overall intention of having conversations and seeing how I can help them or if I can help them. Yeah, makes sense.

No perfect. And then I certainly have more to talk about.

But I want to kind of dive a little bit into what you're doing and kind of what if memory serves led the first time we connected? I had created a video talking about breaking into industrial automation and a bunch of good resources and almost immediately one of the first comments is you missed Vlad and soles Plc and so I went on the site or I went on the Udemy site and I'm like, Wow, this guy has created an absolute amazing collection of training videos and can we talk a little bit about your path to the creation of Scoles PLC? Sure. Yeah. I guess I'll take a very big step backwards and kind of explain where it stemmed from so that people get a little bit more context as to how it came to be. So when I was working on my bachelors of engineering, I actually stumbled upon several embedded systems so the Arduino, the Raspberry Pi the usual kind of entry level systems and I had started a YouTube channel at that time where I would explain some of the technical concepts and that was kind of the first step that I had taken into video and content creation. I had a very small blog on I remember at first it was HubSpot and then I figured out how to migrate it into WordPress and it was very small. I explained some interesting electrical concept and it started to grow fairly large and it got to 30 K. I think now by 40 K subscribers.

I haven't necessarily focused that much on it because I ended up joining a company and kind of getting into PLCs and that took a lot of my time. But what I think that really gave me an advantage is that I understood content creation and I had experienced it for first hand, so to speak and fast forward to. So this is around 2,014 where I landed my first job, got into the manufacturing space, really learned how to program PLCs and HMIS through a very large employer at the time and I had very good mentorship.

I had really great bosses that kind of sent me to some of the Rockwell training and allowed me to essentially learn those systems which I didn't in my bachelor's degree at all. I guess in hindsight I would have probably picked manufacturing just because of how big the industry is and how many opportunities there are. But I just didn't know any better, right? And so as those years went by, Let's say 2,017 I have my normal job as a systems integrator. As a contractor, I worked for again a very large us based companies. I would go to different plants and integrate these systems. But what I noticed is that there was very little content. I guess Paul in at that time had its class on Udemy, but there was nothing, I guess with a bit more examples that kind of showcase some of the videos.

And so I thought, well, why don't I film a few videos and put them up on YouTube and see how they do? And that's kind of the beginning of Solas Plc. I kind of thought of a name. I was able to create a website really easily. And so I put up a few videos, put them on YouTube and they don't think honestly, much more of it. But like I said, I did have the advantage of knowing how to build those unquote online assets as I got started. So put up a few videos, they got really positive feedback. So people watch them.

And of course, at the beginning you don't get any views whatsoever on YouTube, but out of the 20 people or so they say, like, Oh, this is really great. This is something different than maybe on OEM putting out again like a 20 page slide deck on how to configure a drive and they just read through the slide deck. I actually showcased how to configure this or program that and what I learned afterwards through some ads on YouTube is that Udemy was a thing at that time. So I made a very basic course on our logic 500, put it up on YouTube and put it up on Udemy. And once again I got really positive feedback at the time. So this was I think at this point 2,000 and 18 maybe mid 2,019. So not that many years ago.

And from that point on, I continue to kind of share my expertise primarily on YouTube. And then I slowly migrated away from you to me because of the limitations that that site specifically has. And so solar Plc has become. I guess, a little bit more recognized in the industry. It provides classes right now on PLCs HMIS drives point I owe. I wouldn't say that it's anything. There's no necessarily groundbreaking technology.

I think that anyone can learn those systems on their own. What we do provide is like a condensed format where if you want to get up to speed from someone that has been in the industry and learn those systems, then it's the place to go. And I think certainly that looking back at the way I learned, Let's say Allen Bradley systems, because that was the primary platform, at least for me, at every company that I've been to. Those classes were extremely expensive and I just remember wanting to learn more, but my employers wouldn't necessarily be willing to subsidize any of that training, right? And I went to like rock. Well, I think it was like Rs logic, 5, 0 basics, one and 2 and both of those classes were four days together and the cost was five to 6 Grand for the enterprise. And that was like a reduced cost, right? And so I recognize that there is a need to, which is, I think a little bit unfortunate that the industry doesn't really provide ways to train people, which is actually changing with inductive automation like how they present the ignition platform. And I think tat soft has put out something similar, but it's incredibly difficult.

I find to learn these like Plc and HMI systems unless you have, you know, access to the materials, the software, and then of course, someone who actually explains it. And there's still I feel very little of it in the field and I'm actually personally I guess a little bit on the side, frustrated by the lack of panic and robotic design experience, I personally want to learn a little bit more how to program robotics. And I know that there are classes currently in the us, but it's with the pandemic and all. It's been very difficult to get a seat out in person. For whatever reason, these companies do not present online for if you tell me what's the thought behind that everything is in person and you have to go there and learn.

But I guess to wrap this up on the same note as I'm working on solos Plc, I'm also pursuing my MBA, so I'm in the process of finalizing. I guess my master's degree in business and finance. And the reason for that is because I really wanted to understand not only the technical aspects, but also the business aspects of what I was doing because I think there's as a ceiling as an engineer that you hit at some point where you need to start to be able to bring in those projects. And you need to be able to understand the financials behind certain decisions. And they've definitely knows this area a lot more than I do. But you need to be able to submit quotes proposals you need to be able to execute on them. You need to make sure that it's cost effective not only for the business that you're selling to, but for yourself as well.

And I just felt that I was lacking some of those aspects, so I'm actually graduating in a little bit less than two months and at that point in time, in addition to Solas Plc, I'll also be doing some systems integration services on my own as we discussed with Dave, and the goal is to combine some of my previous knowledge to obviously do the technical services and then do some consulting services on the Grand scheme of things in manufacturing. So that probably sums it up pretty well. It looks like my LinkedIn comments are not updating anymore. I need to refresh the page. It's really strange. Mine pause as well. But while you're doing that and checking that blog.

I will agree. So I actually taken and completed and taken and started two poll in classes and back when I looked in like 2,016 2,017 something like that, there wasn't a ton and for me the ability to find all of that in an easy way. It is fantastic. And as you mentioned you're doing with soles Plc what Paul is doing with I think he calls it the Plc dojo now is really good. Sean Tierney at the automation blog is doing is putting together a bunch of courses. The fact that the courses are coming online. Hopefully we will push more larger manufacturers to put them online.

I will say that I think that there's a difference between taking a course like that and taking a course from someone. I think I saw Frank in the comments. I know Frank does a lot of in person training when you do that training. It's not like you're sitting in a class or watching the webinar because you can go and ask questions and you can talk about specific applications. I think that that's important and then I will hope and kind of reiterate that we'll see more robotics training online like the panic training. I don't know if you've ever looked at the pieces that you have to take from panic to get to the actual robotics programming. There are like four or 5 courses that you have to take before you can actually take the course that you want to take on robotics programming, but that may have changed in the last couple of years since since I looked and I think that all of those are beneficial, I think will certainly see more of it pushed in the pandemic.

But I'm seeing a smile on your side. I saw Frank comment on there, but I guess I think to your point also I think that in person classes definitely have their place and I think especially with the fact that manufacturing is a severely hardware. I guess focused environment, right? You need to be able to learn some of the concepts that are very difficult. I find to teach online and I think in the perfect world you would have access to a physical lab where you could go and actually practice some of those concepts and be able to learn not only Plc programming as I would call it, but be able to build your kit. Get the electrical knowledge that is required as an engineer or technician or Plc program or whatever with an actual hardware kit. But I think I guess like my approach to that is that the savings that are passed on with the online format for the class. Usually people can buy a Plc so like a micro logics 100 series, for example, would go on eBay for around 150 dollars or so and so you could buy that.

Get the free version of Rs logic 500 and then be able to practice most of those concepts in your house. In a sense, you're saving a lot of money so you can afford some of the hardware that you otherwise wouldn't be able to get with a pure online experience. Completely agree, completely agree. And Let's talk more about kind of what we see that the future looking like. I know you talked about doing some consultation and some system integration work coming up when you finish your your MBA and I've got some other projects and companies coming up as well. So for me, when I think about goals and for me, I like to write goals down. I have a notebook.

It lots of notebooks. I like paper. I like paper and fountain pens. Perfectly fits well in the the manufacturing industry. But I like to write my stuff down. And so for me, you know, this year I had a couple of goals I wanted to kind of diversify what I had been doing and part of the diversification was finding more people who felt the same way that I did and as opposed to just having one or 2 clients and all of your money coming and all of your time coming from one or 2 clients. And if you're a consultant, you're going to roll through it.

You're going to turn over generally 40 of your client it's every year. And so for me, that variance was a little too high. And so I wanted to focus on some more projects and some more diversification of kind of income streams, if you will, so that I always have a couple of different areas for me. And I'm sure black projects are when projects hit, they hit hard, you ramp up. You do a lot of work. And the hard part when you're small integrator or small consultant is the fact that okay. I may be spending all of my time working on just one thing.

And if I'm working on this project 60 hours a week, I'm probably not looking for the next project and that I find is an issue of most integrators until you can afford to have like, a sales guy or a couple of sales guys to bring people in. But you're probably not bringing a salesperson in your second person as an integrator. Those. Okay, go ahead. Sorry. I was going too sorry for interrupting. I wanted to squeeze in a question that we got on YouTube that I think is very relevant and both.

I guess for me to get that knowledge again. So Chris Farrell says, I just started a company. Our focus is panels and enclosures, so they're essentially an electrical designer. We are wanting to support small automation firms, build their Plc. I'm guessing he means cabinets. Any tips on targeting those companies. So I think to point the prospecting aspect and the sale aspect is extremely challenging when when any of us are getting started.

So maybe you could also give us some tips on how that has been for you and what you would recommend to Chris and myself, even. Yeah, sure. I'm sorry I had to cut out there. So the question was, Chris has just started a company. Congratulations, Chris. I would hope that this is a timely stream. And the question is, what does the sales process look like? And how does he continue to get sales? Like any tips, I guess, on targeting companies for which they're looking to provide their services to? Yeah, completely.

So, generally speaking, when you start a company, hopefully you have a couple of clients that you're planning to do work with. And ideally, that will give you some amount of runway when you look to start a company. And it's a smaller company. As I told Vlad, as I tell everyone, I would suggest being specific in your niche instead of being the guy that can do everything like I can program all of your PLCs.

I can program all of your skates and all of your his. And I can build whatever you want. Pick something that you're very good at. Pick something that you're very passionate about and focus and target on that. And Vlad's probably laughing because this is the exact same thing I told him, like, three weeks ago when we had this conversation. But if you pick something that you're good at, then the conversation becomes, Hey, do you need Plc programming, or do you want to update some of the HMIS that you have? Maybe with some of the software, maybe a newer piece of hardware? And then from that point, it's a specific question, as opposed to going on knocking doors and saying, Hey, do you need any sort of automation service that can be provided when you ask the Hey, do you need any sort of automation service that can be provided? It becomes. I don't know what automation services are and unless they've just specifically just had that conversation of Yes, I need this thing.

They're probably not going to think about it. So be specific in your targets and be specific. In your asks, we have a comment on LinkedIn from Brent, and I think that's an important resource for Chris.

So there's going to be if you're trying to do work for companies that will ultimately need panels, a good resource is to look at the integrator list. So one example that brand gave is inductive automation, so you can go and look at that list. I'm actually going to copy this link and post it on YouTube where we got the question from Chris, but ultimately there's going to be a list of different integrators for all sorts of Plc and OEM platforms. And you can probably, if that's who you're targeting, find a very specific, I guess, starting point of people to contact, if that makes sense.

Dave, are you back? We're having some trouble with your internet connection. Are you out of Texas or.

No, I don't think it's my internet connection. I think it's my Zoom. I don't know what's going on. I apologize for that, guys. And just to add to what flat was saying, you can search via geography in there on the integrator portal for inductive automation.

I want to go back, I guess, to your goals. So you talked a lot about diversification, I guess. How are you? I know we mentioned at least one of those things, which is going to be finding resources that's becoming a big area is that kind of what you mean by diversification? Is there any other areas that you're looking into? Is it based on services? How do you and I guess, how do you also figure out which area to diversify into or what's your process on that side? We're losing you, Dave.

I don't know if you heard the remainder of my question in there.

Okay. Glad I'm back. Are you there? Yes. Can you hear me? I can hear you. I don't know. Maybe I didn't update my most recent Zoom. I apologize to the good of diversification for me. Looks a couple of ways.

First, in addition to just some of the larger projects I'm offering this end of last year and end of this year, some road mapping. So as opposed to people that know exactly what they're looking for, it's a I would like to be able to go out and help them literally roadmap what their solution are going to be. And so for me, that's starting with projects sooner, and that's allowing everyone to get some amount of comfortability and be able to have the conversation as what does this return on investment look like? As we talked about in the very beginning, I want to do projects to pay for themselves. So being able to start from the beginning and say, Hey, phase one is X y and Z things we should be able to pay for ourselves based on savings in three months or six months. And so that has been going fairly well. And then kind of that leads into more of the project work. And the second part of that as we've alluded to a little bit, is that I'm working on a company called in dust.

And as part of that, is it's a combination kind of recruiting and staffing, more contract opportunities as well as project work. And the goal of that. And you guys will see more of that as we roll out in the coming weeks is to be able to kind of answer the questions that I get all of the time of. Hey, Dave, I'm looking for a job or. Hey, Dave, I'm looking for someone that does X y and Z things and be able to spend some more time kind of putting together all of those lists, kind of figuring out who fits best in what project. And as I told, Flad kind of doing a lot of that work up front to make sure I'm not putting anyone on a bad project. And I'm sure everyone that's been on not good projects knows what those means being able to do some of those and then put together teams of people whose skill sets best fit those projects as we go through the process of doing some of these projects, which may or may not include a road mapping service and other things like that.

And while I'm excited to talk about this, I feel like I could talk about it for hours. I have talked about it for hours already today and or earlier this week. So that is very exciting. And that for me, a is something that has been four to 6 months in the making and is something that goes as how do I how do I bring in partners? And so Jordan Humphreys, who may or may not be in the chat. He and I and a third partner are working on this and this is going to be a major focus for me as we move forward and what I found. And I know what Jordan has found because he started a company approximately the same time is that you can only do so much work as one person. If you can bring in some other partners who have the same beliefs and values that you do, you can have an exponential multiplier of those opportunities.

And that is very much part of this is how can we find other people who have the same beliefs and values that we do in order to continue to provide good opportunities and as a whole better serve the community? Yeah. Curious what you guys will come up with when it comes to the staffing industry because it has been, I guess, tough at times for me, both on the job seeker and but also on the recruiting side. It's very difficult. I find to find qualified individuals that as you probably know, you have to screen, you have to fully understand. And then you only get to speak with them half an hour to maybe a few hours about what they're looking to do. And it's been very difficult to find people, especially for whatever reason, in controls, because I think a lot of the very talented individuals are already taken. And then on the other spectrum, they're maybe not willing to move where they're locked in.

And it's been very, very hard. And I think it doesn't help that a lot of these manufacturing plants are very in remote areas. So it's difficult to get people to kind of align with the job. It's been a challenge, so I will make a couple of points. One. I think with the advent of remote work, if you don't have to physically be at the plant all the time, that's going to be a big bone. And two, I would say a lot of the top tiered talent doesn't necessarily come on the market.

They may talk to a recruiter or they may talk to a couple of people, but you're going to see that they're working for one company. And then at some point they're working for someone else. And most people don't know that they are on the market. And so Jordan and I have talked at length and on video about the value of having good recruiters in your network and as to if it's Jordan, if it's some of the other people in the network who are all absolutely fantastic if you're made to talk to her as to where you are in your career after you've had that some amount of experience, I would certainly suggest having at least one good recruiter in your network because they're going to be able to match you with jobs. And as I've grown in my career, that's certainly something that I have used more and felt like that has been a benefit to me. And then again, finding good people, we have a bunch of goals of a phase one and beyond phases. But again, I don't want to Bogart this.

We have some rollout that we're doing. And as we are rolling that out, I promise to keep everyone who is listening on the the stream up to date. If you don't know about it already, because I know Jordan has been very excited as I and we've been talking to a lot of people about it. And I feel like if we don't toss it out there on this today, at some point, it will be six months from now and everyone will be like, well, why hasn't Dave talked about this on stream? And so that has been a big part of what I wanted to do.

Re diversification a couple of other things that I wanted to do. I kind of fill it into this bucket of collaboration is kind of find a way to create more better content. And that literally brings manufacturing hub with Vlad and I into. This is Vlad and I have had the conversation starting at the end of last year is how do we find a way to bring and engage interesting items to the community? And we kind of kicked it off, maybe at the end of last year of this and I think it's gone really well. I've got some other content goals in mind. I want to talk more about the technical stuff, which, as I mentioned, I have certainly done. And I've got a whole list of other blogs that one need to go up and two need to get written for that.

And so it's been exciting. That has worked very well for me. I I think I've just kind of talked through that the last 20? Minutes. But do you have a list of goals or things that you're planning to do? To be honest with you, my list of goals has been very fluid. I've always been the approach and then try and execute and then see how things pan out type of a person. And I think that has played out in my favorite, least for several ventures that I've done in several directions that I've taken because as I had spoken to my business partner on solos Plc is that I usually try and implement something really quick, test it out, see how it works. And then if it doesn't work, then I kind of quickly abandon it and move on to something else.

And I think that's how I've been been able to kind of not necessarily pivot, but test ideas really quickly, right? But I guess one important thing has been content. And I think what I've realized while I was building solar Plc is that I cannot call myself necessarily an expert in everything. Again, we talked a little bit about that too. But there's so many platforms that I think people are interested in learning and one of the goals is to find people who would be able to present some of those subjects in a very, I guess, concise and intelligent manner and deliver that through solo Plc. And of course, we would pay them accordingly. But ultimately I want to maintain a certain level of quality a certain level of engagement, and make sure that those individuals are paid for their time and their effort and whatever that structure may be, I haven't fully figured it out, but I am trying to find people that would write for us that would produce videos for us. And I think that's really the next step for solar Plc and in terms of the systems integration consulting, I've actually I built up a website already for that.

I don't know if I ever sent you the line, but it's Joe tech com the name just random name. I guess I really love these kind of non descriptive names that can be used on anything but the goal there is to, I think, really to find the first client. So as I had mentioned to you, I definitely have a lot of connections and people that I've worked with that would be more than willing to kind of give me some of the work. But I cannot necessarily engage all of the previous clients that I got through my previous employer.

Just out of respect for what they I've done in people that they've put in front of me. And so what I'll be doing is pretty much trying to figure out the first project. Obviously, I would love for it to be something extremely meaningful because at the end of the day, what I found the most interesting for me is to work on really complex problems, whether that is technical, whether that is people. But at the end of the day, I'm the guy who programs PLCs during the days, or at least that's what I've been doing the last seven years. Then I get home and then I program PLCs at home and try and figure out different things and they can learn different things. So I enjoy the challenge. You know what I mean? I wouldn't see myself doing the extreme paperwork that I know some of the places to require.

And so I would try to abstract myself from some of that. But the more complex, the better. And of course, I'm willing to prove myself and make sure that people understand what I'm able to bring before moving on to something bigger. That's kind of the next steps for Joel tech, so to speak. No, that's fantastic. I don't think you sent me the link. I will have to take a look at it.

I think when I tried to spell Joel tech, I spelled it incorrectly the first time I Googled and I got some really interesting got some really interesting things, but I like what you're saying kind of all around. I guess I do have one other piece of advice that I read on LinkedIn. It's something that I do, but I think it was very meaningful. James Dean had kind of posted something to the effect of when you talk to someone, ask them how you can help and you'll be amazed how many opportunities that you can find yourself in. If you just ask the simple question, how can I help you or how can I remember about this problem? Yeah, it was a good post, James. Everything that he posts I feel is much more meaningful than the things I post. Everything he post is absolutely fantastic.

I really like that. That one kind of hit home and it's certainly something that I at least try to do with all of the interactions that I have or find a way to offer some help whether there's compensation or not, because there are things that are more important in helping people sometimes and much of the time is more important than where the commercialization comes in. But as you're looking for new customers, ask them how you can help. Even as you're going and doing work for a client. You should continue to ask those things because they may think of you as the Plc guy, but they may not think of you as the guy that can do. Hmis or Vlad. Maybe you're coming in and you're offering some consultation on an MES and you see that they have some issues at the Plc level.

You should ask them about that because more than once have I run across people in that exact same situation that were like, man, I really wish that you or I knew your company did that because we're having struggles. The project is held up on Plc programming had I know you know that you do that. I would not have gone out to hire another third party integrator to do that Plc work. So just be aware that while you know everything you can do. And while you're sure you've told this person or hand them a line card and they know everything that you can do, they probably don't realize it. And so you should continue to have those conversations with people. Yeah, I think that's a very good advice.

And I guess that's what my hopes are with this Joe tech portal. I put the link in the LinkedIn chat, but ultimately it's going to be a way to kind of showcase some of the skills that I'm able to provide our services that I'm able to provide. And I'll expand it a little bit more Similarly to what you've done with how you've shared your knowledge and kind of make sure that I redirect people. But obviously as those conversations come, I'll have to be ready to kind of give them maybe some kind of a pitch of what else I can do for them. But to get back to the point by James, I think that's extremely valuable. And I'm looking to do that outreach actually pretty shortly, right from this point on, because I will be looking for these projects in the next couple of months. So just reaching out and figuring out what people need and hopefully aligning on something that is obviously beneficial for them.

But that's very interesting and kind of exciting for me as well.

No, that's good. And I guess as we are almost coming to it in natural clothes on time and other things, I will say it certainly feels like the industrial automation. The manufacturing market is very busy. Most of the people I know are a good medium to large systems integration companies are busy.

It feels like a lot of people have started that hiring process again in the last couple of months. And I know that it seems like there are people who are still getting hit with some COVID layoffs or some potential COVID layoffs, but especially out in Texas. There are still a lot of oil and gas folks that I know who haven't figured out what that next thing is, but it it feels like the market is picking up. I've seen Chris Luke Kurt Anderson, a couple of other people post how the automation index just continues to rise and all of these things just continue to rise so it feels like it should be good. It feels like there should be opportunity for people to deliver good projects either now or certainly in the coming weeks and months, because there will be a lot of projects that need to be delivered. Yeah, I agree. I'm very positive on the manufacturing space and I think it's only going to continue to grow.

It's just a matter of time and a matter of figuring out the right partnership to make it worthwhile, because at the end of the day, I think it's extremely important to align. I guess the needs of the other party with what you're able to provide. And I think that's where the challenge is going to come from. Dave, actually, Dave Heller from tat soft, ask you if you're still in Chicago and he mentioned that he swamped over here, I think they're really up and coming and they launched their new platform. Right? That has been. I think. I guess I don't want to speak for Dave, but I think it was a very big success and I think they're bringing a lot of the trainings that they were somewhat lacking and actuallyi've downloaded their software.

I haven't had that much time with it yet, but I've heard really good reviews for many of the people that I see or I guess taken high regard in the manufacturing industry. So I think certainly is something to look at. I'll put a link. Yeah, I've heard nothing but good reviews. I think factory work is the new release in what we're calling framework. The newest frameworks. I apologize, Dave, to answer your other questions.

No, I'm not currently in Chicago currently outside of San Antonio, Texas, but I probably won't be the next time you see it. The next time you see me on stream. I think as we head back East spring or summer, it's my hope to make a stop in Chicago. There are a lot of people including you who I owe meetings, coffees or lunches with. So hopefully I will be able to do that. I would certainly like to catch up with you guys in person if and one in person things come back that would that way would be nice.

All right. Dave, do you want to wrap this up? I know that we still have a couple of questions coming in and a few comments from Dave correcting you on the spelling. I apologize, Dave, but I apologize. I will put out a correction on via LinkedIn post later when I apologize for getting the name incorrect, but I do want to. I guess maybe close this off to an extent by mentioning that we have a very cool episode coming up with Preston. Who is he's? A founder of a small systems integrator and I've been following him and I think connected with him two to 3 years ago, but he's grown tremendously based on the post.

They got a new HQ built up. He's got a lot of different projects that he's working in. I'm really hoping that he can provide us with some specific insight on how to get something like that off the ground because I think that's where I'm at least trying to head into. But he's done a lot of the very cool things. Besides that, he is given out a Plc. I believe it was one to 2 months ago, a semen Plc. So he's doing a lot of really cool things for the community and I think it's going to be really cool to speak with him, ask some questions, and then figure out kind of what he is looking forward to in the next couple of years as he grows his company completely.

So Preston Hadley from envision it will be on March 17 th we're taking a week off so we will be back on March 17 th 600 East Coast time, five o'clock central time. I think three P M Pacific so we will be back on the 17 th there what we haven't mentioned is mostly lad has put together a website for the show so we've got manufacturing hub live if you guys would like like to check us out there, it should have all of that information as we have guests and other things we will continue to put that online and live. I appreciate everyone that has reached out with all of their love and support for this everyone that has reached out to ask if we need guests. Thank you, guys all, please feel free to continue to send those Vlad and I have a Google Doc sheet that is expanding by seemingly the minute as I go and put on there. So we certainly have a lot of good shows coming up. We want to put some of these shows where we talk about where we're at where we talk about the market. But we also want to make sure that we bring on interesting guests to talk about what they're doing and their journeys along the way.

Yeah, I think that's good. Do you have anything else before I ask people to, like comment Subscribe and give us five stars on Apple podcasts again. Cool. Right ahead, please. Okay, well, perfect. Thank you guys all for listening to Vlad and I hopefully not ramble on too much talk about our business. Hopefully, it was valuable to to all of you one more time as we are like semiprofessional streamer podcasters at the moment, please hit that thumbs up, please comment about my beard about the PLCs that flat has behind him hit the Subscribe button connect with us on LinkedIn like the manufacturing hub with Dave and like the page on LinkedIn and we'll see you guys on the internet.

But it looks like somebody is clicking a lot of likes on the LinkedIn page. Oh, that's pretty cool. You can spend them. Thank you, everyone for watching. Really appreciate it. And we'll see you guys next time.

Awesome. Sounds good. See you guys. Bye bye.

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