Small business is at the heart of the Texas Economy.
In this final show of Season 2 we look at the lessons that Covid taught us and how those lessons have caused real life changed in your business models.
I was dying to get into some REAL conversations to ask: Has the past 2 years affected your identity as a Small Business Owner? Has it forced you to reassess your dedication to your skills, your business and your paradigm of what life is?
This episode of Emerging Texas Strong is sponsored by Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a leading worker’s comp provider in Texas, and is a production of Earnest Media. If you are interested in sponsoring a heartful podcast focused on the journey of Texas business owners for a focused market audience email, contact@EmergingTexassStrong.co
Episode 10 Guests:
Matt McCorkle, Handyman Matt, LLC
Justin Limburg, Stone Bros Pizza
EPISODE 10 TRANSCRIPT:
Texas Mutual In…: 00:00 Support for the emerging Texas strong podcast comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company. A worker’s comp provider, committed to helping companies build a stronger, safer Texas.
Host, Linsey Li…: 00:10 On this episode of Emerging Texas Strong.
Matt McCorkle, …: 00:16 I don’t know, as far as like the future of my business goes. I’m actually pretty content with it. Having experienced a lot of different areas within construction. I kind of, I went back home, you know? I went back to where I started from, except now I feel like I’ve gotten multiple graduate degrees in being a handyman. It’s a nice spot to be where I could really just call my own shots. It’s, life is unpredictable with how many people I know that have gotten deathly sick in the last year and a half. People have died and my brother killed in a car accident several years ago. It’s just, it’s a series of things. That’s really changed my perspective living every day like it’s your last one? I know that’s super cliche, but, I didn’t really put much value in that before. Just, I’m gonna get up and go to work the next day, get up and clean the kitchen again, whatever it is. But finding the small pleasures, the daily tiny pleasures in life, and really taking a moment to think about that. Just this one little thing here sounds silly, but it’s been great. I was a miserable person before <laugh>.
Host, Linsey Li…: 01:40 Welcome back to Emerging Texas Strong, a growing collection of stories, lessons, and advice from small business owners in Texas, working hard to survive this pandemic economy. We follow a collection of businesses and weave their stories together. As we navigate a full season of big picture topics like disruptions in the supply chain, Why Texas? And what your accountant wants you to know. In this final show of Season 2, we look at the lessons that COVID taught us and how these lessons have caused real life change in your business models. I was dying to get into some real conversations to ask. Has the past two years affected your identity as a small business owner? Has it forced you to reassess your dedication to your skills, your business and your paradigm of what life is? In Episode 10, I speak to two small business owners in Texas who are using the disruption of COVID to rejigger their business models in two completely opposite ways. Our first guest from Episode 4: Disruptions in the Supply Chain is our Austin. Mr. Fixit, Matt McCorkle of Handyman Matt, who has downsized his operations for good. And our second guest, new business owner, Justin Limberg of Stone Bros Pizza in San Antonio was a longtime chef laid off by the pandemic who used this moment as the opportunity to hang his shingle and gain control over life’s ups and downs by bringing pizza to the masses. If there is a silver lining to COVID it’s that it taught us what’s most valuable to all of us individually. We all got a moment to look inside and ask, what do I want most and how do I shift my operating model to accomplish that and not just let my business run me instead. First up is Matt McCorkle with Handyman Matt, a handyman turned general contractor. Who’s realized that when he had it all, maybe he’d actually had his fill and he made a choice to downsize his business back to being a one-man operation. He’s lived through the boom. And although there is still money to be made, he’s decided he’s not going back into the mindset that being a bigger business is necessarily better.
Matt McCorkle, …: 04:01 I’m Matt McCorkle. My business is Handyman Matt, LLC. Pretty self-explanatory. I do handyman work. I have a reputation as being a human Swiss army knife. So I’m just a guy with a truck and a ton of tools and years of experience and pretty much anything you throw at me, I can fix it, rebuild it, whatever. So good guy didn’t know. <laugh>
Linsey Lindberg…: 04:25 Do you have any idea year over year? What your numbers are looking like compared to a pre pandemic year?
Matt McCorkle, …: 04:31 Well, that’s kind of a hard one to answer also because my business has changed, right. If you want to compare when I was doing major remodels in new construction, I make far less money now, but I have far more time and more sanity on my hands to deal with. So I’m not sure that’s a bad trade off, but my numbers now? I I’m in kind of a unique position because really I’m only working about part time, time since the pandemic started. And since the film industry started up again, my wife has been working some crazy hours cuz they’re trying to catch up from the previous season that they were supposed to have finished, but couldn’t cuz they got all shut down. So they’ve been working double time over there. So they’ve got a two and a half year old at home and obviously he needs somebody to care for him. So I’ve taken over most of the household responsibilities taking care of the kids. And so I just fill in my schedule with smaller jobs that I can do in a day to a week, you know, just kind of chip away at it. So I taking a different business approach and I guess I am fortunate to have the reputation to where people are willing to wait. Um, they don’t want to call around. I mean there’s a million Chuck-in-a-trucks out there, you know, but somebody that they can actually trust to be in their home with their animals, with their children, with their wife when they’re not there, their valuables, all that kind of thing. I’m not having the problems personally that I would have had if I had kept up my construction business a couple years ago. Just coincidentally, I shut it down right before all this started and whew, <laugh> dodged a bullet there. There’s no shortage of work, and well, in Austin specifically, it’s just exploding and it has been for probably a decade now. So being in construction can be quite lucrative, but the trouble, the trouble with that is there’s so much work and there’s not enough skilled workers that the skilled workers can be very choosy about which jobs they take on. And from a staffing standpoint, I guess if I was to hire more people, my reputation is everything. That’s, what’s kept my business going for all of these years. But when I have somebody working for me, they don’t care about my reputation. They don’t care. They’re just there for that Friday paycheck. And so it’s really hard to motivate anybody to do what they’re supposed to do when they say they’re gonna do it and do it correctly. And I always have to deal with that. Well, they can just quit and go to another spot, gotta tip toe around people to make sure I don’t ’em off. At least not too much. <laugh> so that’s a big reason that I’m just to work in solo. I don’t wanna have to deal with that extra headache too. So just trimming the fat everywhere I can.
Linsey Lindberg…: 07:32 It’s interesting too. I went from having five people on my team to now we’re down to two and we’re gonna go up to three, but I have to also ask myself how big do I really want it to be? (Mm-hmm <affirmative>), you know, cause there’s so much money that goes out, keeping those people employed that you have to bring this much more in. (Right.) You know, but really where’s the, where’s the return on investment. And at a certain point, my question is are we going to see the staffing shortage that’s kind of a national phenomenon happening because there’s so many people who went on unemployment and have had a change of heart and they don’t wanna be in these service sectors. They don’t wanna have their job. And I wonder how many of us business owners that have had to stick it out through COVID and are exhausted. How many of us are going to want to pull back and have smaller, smaller footprints? (Mm-hmm <affirmative>) rather than try to get back to where we were.
Matt McCorkle, …: 08:30 Yeah. Well managing expectations mostly for myself is something that doesn’t come to me naturally. The expectations I have for myself are reflections of, um, my parents, what they instilled in me, their work ethic, those kinds of things. Um, you know, especially in this country, we’re driven from a very young age that you need to maximize your profits, right? You need to make a lot of money. What do you wanna do when you grow up? I don’t know, but I wanna make a lot of money, but why <laugh> I, I have a very simple lifestyle, been in the same house for 21 years. I don’t have a mortgage anymore. My overhead is pretty low, just, you know, groceries, you know, just regular bills, electric, all that. I don’t have car payment. I feel fairly fortunate that I’ve always lived within my means. And sometimes even below my means and letting go of that drive within me to make the most money I can and be the best that I can is not helpful. It’s actually just really frustrating during this time, um, between shortages of supplies and availability of people that you can trust. I’ve let go of a lot of those things. So mostly adjusting my lifestyle to fit my income. I think that’s taken the sting out of it so much. I didn’t need to make as much money as I was before I was making a lot of money because I was driving myself into an early grave, working my off all the time. Never sleeping. That’s not good for you. Turns out <laugh> and just going all the time. I mean, I would be at home Depot. It’s 6:00 AM when they open hoofing a ton of lumber, literally a ton of lumber, by myself and working all day out in the heat and not getting home till eight o’clock at night and just wanna drink a cold beer and go to bed and skip dinner. I’m just so exhausted. I earned myself a lot of gray hairs and wrinkles in that three year period. Give or take. Um, and so now just trimming everything back, tightening the belt a little bit. I’m actually a lot happier now. I don’t have as much disposable income, but I don’t really need it either. So differentiating wants and needs. And other people’s expectations of you also is. I mean, I don’t do any poorer quality work that I ever did before, but I’m okay with telling them it’s gonna take twice as long as it actually should take, cause I’m not willing to kill myself for it anymore. As long as there’s a steady stream. And I still living up to my reputation. Um, and I still leave people with a smile on their face. That’s really all I care about. I think I’m okay. <laugh> and I’m not sure I ever want to go back to that either. There’s just not, there’s just really changed my perspective on how short life is and how on expected things can pop up and completely destroy your paradigms. You know, that’s a big one. So roll with it. <laugh>
Linsey Lindberg…: 11:49 So what lessons have you learned from this experience? You kind of have already gone into this, but a few more, if you were gonna give advice to another business owner out there, or if you even just wanted to give advice to yourself, maybe like a few years ago, what advice would you give?
Matt McCorkle, …: 12:03 Slow down? Take time off. You cannot be your best if you’re not well rested, if you don’t have good daily habits, um, especially during COVID, it’s real easy to drink every day, every night. I mean, I’ve got a friend who owns two liquor stores and she is banking. I mean she’s made more money in the last year and a half than she did in the previous 10 years. And I’m not urging your body from a, a good beverage at the end of a long day. Lord knows I’m not discouraging that, but <laugh>, it is important to take the mental time off. And if you have a physical job, like I do to also take that physical time off, it’s okay to sit on the couch and binge on Netflix. It’s okay. Don’t feel guilty about that. Especially as small business owners, we wouldn’t be small business owners if we didn’t have some kind of drive internally, already, right? Nobody needs to tell you to work hard <laugh> you just do, but it it’s at least as important to take the time off as it is to work really hard. Uh, and I think I’m a better person actually, after having been forced into a slower life, it’s given me time to remember the things that I enjoy about living and I’ve placed so much more value on my friendships and relationships, especially since we haven’t been able to really maintain those this last year and a half. I mean, texts and phone calls only get so far, but it sure miss sitting on the porch and drinking with your friends or just hanging out and watching the kids run around and you know, talking and talking about old times, whatever it is and I missed it so much. And now that we’re kind of moving out of it and maybe back into it, the isolation, I don’t know if I would’ve placed that much value as I do now, if I hadn’t experienced this slowing down and really appreciating the thing that you enjoy about your life and taking the time to do those things. That’s, that’s what the living’s about. Really <laugh>.
Host, Linsey Li…: 14:14 I have a magnet on my fridge that I’ve thought about a lot this year. It says this moment is more precious than you think it causes me to stop and ask myself, am I blessed? Am I happiest right now? I feel like my talk with Matt McCorkle helped illustrate that idea. And I’m so grateful for our opportunity to sit down and talk about it together. When we come back from break, we meet a new business owner who has seized the opportunity of this current moment to launch his mobile pizza business as a way to fulfill a dream and buffer himself from being tossed aside when COVID ravaged the restaurant industry. But first a word from our sponsors.
Texas Mutual In…: 15:01 Support for this program comes from Texas Mutual Insurance Company, a safety focused worker’s comp provider, supplying information and resources that can help Texas employers stop accidents before they happen more at TexasMutual.com.
Host, Linsey Li…: 15:17 And now back to our show. Justin Limburg owner of Stone Bros Pizza went from being employed full-time as the executive chef of a local San Antonio restaurant to owning his own mobile pizza kitchen. The dream to operate his own business was a burgeoning dream. But when COVID caused his former boss to rejigger his own business model, Justin and his wife realized that the time to launch was now. Justin tells us about how his passion for pizza combined with the realities of COVID have shown him. That going into business for himself is how he’s living his best life, dreaming big and making even bigger plans for the future.
Justin Limburg,…: 15:58 Hey, how you doing? Uh, I’m Justin Limburg, I’m the founder and CEO of Stone Bros Pizza. We are a mobile pizza company. That’s bringing you pizzas all around San Antonio. We serve up nine inch artisan pizzas cooked 90 seconds in a wood burning oven.
Linsey Lindberg…: 16:12 Can you tell me about how you came to Texas? Cause I believe you told me you and your wife are from California? So what made you come to Texas in the first place?
Justin Limburg,…: 16:22 So I’m actually from Los Angeles. My wife is from Houston. I had a job interview in Dallas to work with Conde Roso Pizza. They flew me out there. I ended up switching my tickets to come to San Antonio to see my old friend, which is currently my wife and own a house and running the company. It’s it’s amazing.
Linsey Lindberg…: 16:45 Can you just tell me, how were you impacted by COVID 19?
Justin Limburg,…: 16:49 Well, I, we started the business because of COVID 19. I had lost my job. So it was either find a new job or like we own this oven, so let’s try to lean on this. At the first part of itm, COVID 19 actually helped us because we started doing a lot of apartment complexes and HOAs. So we would just show up there and we’d sell 60 pizzas, you know? And then the next day we’d go to a homeowner’s association, sell 120 pizzas, but it was almost like a drive through. I, I almost wanna say it helped us a little bit. I mean, I think like with everybody else, like we, we struggled, but then we’ve found a good spot and you know, we made it and we’re already looking into upgrade we’re COVID survivors for sure.
Linsey Lindberg…: 17:39 So you were telling me a little bit about it before we started, but can you kind of tell me the story about how the restaurant that you were working at before? COVID how that all ended and then what that shift was into the decision to make your own business?
Justin Limburg,…: 17:56 Oh yeah, for sure. So I was the executive chef at So-Hill Cafe. I was there from the beginning. I helped paint the walls. I helped build the pizza oven. I helped the menu. Everything’s fine. Right. Me and my wife bought a house down the street from the restaurant. So it was convenient. COVID shut down. We shut down, kept in touch with the owner when governor Abbott came back and said, Hey, we’re opening back up. I texted my old boss and he’s like, no new, new idea, new staff. And I was like, this is all on text message? Right? I mean, I, at first I was and, and I was, I was really mad. And then, but then, and then I wasn’t mad cuz you know, it is what it is and everybody’s going through this right now too.
Linsey Lindberg…: 18:46 So, but you said you’re not mad anymore? Do you feel like COVID was this golden opportunity?
Justin Limburg,…: 18:52 No, no, absolutely. They gave me the kick in the to say like, Hey man, go do this because nobody else cares about you. All right. Well then, you know, who cares about me is me. So we’re we are gonna take care of our family. Now we hold it in our power to take care of our family, just us. And that’s amazing,
Linsey Lindberg…: 19:11 But you’re definitely getting a crash course in like all the most difficult parts of being a business owner. Aren’t you?
Justin Limburg,…: 19:17 <Laugh> oh, you have no idea. It’s it it’s, it’s a lot of trial and error. It’s a lot of learning. It’s a lot of Googling and honestly, it’s my wife. I couldn’t do this without my wife. Like I can barely use my iPhone, but one night we were talking about doing online, ordering. She couldn’t sleep and the next morning we have online ordering our website’s set up and you know, like I couldn’t do that without her. Like, uh, it’s a great team effort and we’re like I said, we’re finally just like, okay, cool. Like, uh, now what,
Linsey Lindberg…: 19:50 So what kinds of things does she do in support of the business?
Justin Limburg,…: 19:53 Oh, she does all the website, all the online, ordering all the Square setup, all that stuff, scheduling all the stuff that requires computers. Yeah. I pay bills and uh <laugh> and do the manual labor, I guess. Yeah, yeah, without her, like I said, I would be lost. I couldn’t this without her it’s we got plans.
Linsey Lindberg…: 20:14 So let’s talk about your plans. What do you see in the next five to 10 years?
Justin Limburg,…: 20:18 Oh, masses, like right now we’re trying to buy another trailer. That’ll have a bigger oven. So we’re looking at doubling our capacity for these big festivals and cutting down the line time. Hopefully the two year plan with me and my wife is like, so we’re gonna get her from her job so she can follow her dream. And then I’ll be the rock for a little bit. And we’re building that up to where it’s actually gonna work. I really, really like to go coast to coast with the pizza trailer and just hit up state fairs. That would be a good summer pack up the dogs like let’s let’s roll.
Linsey Lindberg…: 20:55 So I’m just curious, you kind of mentioned that one of the things you were anxious to get away from was kitchen life. And I know that one of the reasons I was excited to have this conversation is I know that been a lot of hospitality, restaurant workers and especially kitchen staff who aren’t willing to go back to the old way of doing things because once COVID happened and they got a break and they did start going outside and you know, having a different lifestyle, they just realized like, I don’t wanna go back to that. So I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts about that and your decision for moving on in the future for being this business owner was COVID and the emotional break of realizing that there was more life out there. Was that part of the decision?
Justin Limburg,…: 21:42 Oh no, that’s absolutely the decision. Like the restaurant life, like you’re done at two o’clock at night. You know, you wake up late because you’re going to sleep late. My wife works at nine to five. This is the most time that we’ve ever had to spend with each other. Cause we can control what days we work. Hey, this Sunday, hold on the calendar. Nobody can book it. We’re going on a date. You couldn’t do that before. I couldn’t just call in sick to work. Hey, I gotta go on a date, dude. I can’t come into work, but now like I’ll hopefully never go back to that life. And having control of that is, is the best feeling in the world cuz that’s ultimately what matters in life, right? Happy life, happy wife. This has actually made my marriage stronger because we can control what time we spend together. It really shows like what’s important. And like, yeah, I can work at a restaurant and do this and amazing things or you know, we go make pizzas and I’ll be home by five. That’s that to me is right there. Golden.
Host, Linsey Li…: 22:43 Thank you for joining us on this episode of Emerging Texas Strong. As we wrap up Season 2 and look back on the year 2021, I’m humbled at the struggles that we faced as small business owners. We all had such big hopes for a return to normal! And unfortunately, as we all know, 2021 was anything but normal. But what heartens me is talking to fellow small business owners across the state, hearing them talk about how they’re handling this moment, making decisions and just figuring it out. Well, friends, that’s what being a business owner is all about. It’s the success and the struggle. It’s testing your mettle, getting to know your operation model inside and out and making sure that it fits with what you want for your family and your lifestyle. We all become entrepreneurs for the freedom. It promises. And we get sucked into the whirlpool in moments of intense change and uncertainty like this one. But as I’ve said from the beginning, we’re not going through this alone. And if we learn to listen, share advice and lean on each other, I truly hope that all of us can emerge Texas strong. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast or found it useful, please share an episode with a friend. We wanna grow emerging, Texas strong as a free resource for business owners. So send it to someone who could use these lessons to be happier and healthier business owners. We’ll be back next year with another season of Emerging Texas Strong shorts and a Spanish language sister podcast that will drop in the spring. Subscribe to Emerging Texas Strong to get all the updates as they’re announced. Podcast production, interviews, edits, sound design, and office snacks for the Emerging Texas Strong podcast are done by Linsey Lindberg. Bios and business information for all guests featured in Season 2 can be found on EmergingTexasStrong.com. Find out how you can work with them and support Texas small business. To share the hope, the journey, the struggles, and the advice. Be sure to follow, like, rate and subscribe to Emerging Texas Strong on the web so that each episode shows up directly in your podcast feed. And if you’re enjoying the show and wanna show us some love, leave a five-star review, it’ll help more people find us. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn @emergingtexasstrong or Twitter @Texasstrongpod where I’ll be posting ways to connect with our guests and gems from Episode 10 mentioned in today’s show. And if you’d like to be interviewed, please reach out firstname.lastname@example.org. Emerging Texas Strong is a production of Earnest Media. If you are interested in sponsoring a heartful podcast focused on the journey of Texas business owners for a focus market audience. We love that. Email email@example.com. And remember, you’ve got a friend somewhere in Texas and she’s rooten’ for you. I’m your host Linsey Lindberg. Join us next season for more stories of Texas small business on Emerging Texas Strong.
Texas Mutual In…: 26:17 Support for the Emerging Texas Strong podcast comes from Texas Mutual Insurance company. A worker’s comp provider committed to helping companies build a stronger, safer Texas.
Linsey Lindberg…: 26:27 The postman’s about to stick something in the door is gonna be very loud. These old houses <laugh> I love how you just shove it in the front door. Sorry. Okay, now he’s done. <laugh> what was the question again? Sorry. I.