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Ep011: Building a Business with John Ryan - Transcript

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Dave: Hi, Johnny, how’s it going?

John: How are you, David?

Dave: I am doing great, thank you. I appreciate you being a guest on the IC-DISC Show.

John: Well, I thank you for having me.

Dave: Well, let’s get started. We are recording. So I’d like to introduce John Ryan. He’s the former CEO of Alexander/Ryan Marine. And Johnny’s also been a longtime client of ours and also a good friend for more than a decade. So first, I want to thank you for being on the show. But more importantly, thank you for being one of our very first clients and entrusting us to help you out with some various tax incentives.

John: Well, it worked well for both of us, David.

Dave: Well, good. So why don’t we get started with … I like to think in terms of chronological order, so let’s start with the beginning. I believe you’re from Louisiana originally, is that right?

John: Born and raised in New Orleans. Went to an all boy Jesuit high school and was fortunate enough to play baseball and football there. And I got a full baseball scholarship to Tulane University there in New Orleans and an opportunity to go to a lot of different colleges to play ball. But the baseball coach made a pitch for my parents and I that you go to school in the town where you’re going to make your living. That worked out until I took a job in Houston, but it sounded good at the time.

Dave: And I’m sure your parents were happy to be able to see many of your home games, they probably liked that too.

John: They’ve got the athletic dorm on campus and everything and it was a home away from home, so it worked out well for everybody.

Dave: That’s great.

John: … my wife there. She went to an all girls Catholic school there, Dominican. And we met back in high school and have been together 43 years now.

Dave: Wow. Well, I’ve seen Janet. You might have been in high school, but based on how much longer she looks than you, she must have been in third grade when you met her.

John: You are absolutely correct, David.

Dave: That’s awesome. So you went off to Tulane, played baseball, and what did you study while you were at Tulane?

John: Blondes. No, I’m only kidding.

Dave: Well, you ended up with one. So I guess you were studying the right thing.

John: I thought at the time, I was in business, and I thought about minoring in history to go be a baseball coach in college or high school.

Dave: Oh really?

John: And I decided that that was not an avenue to take, so I just kept with the business side.

Dave: Okay. So that’s good. And then, so when you graduated, what happened then? What was your first job?

John: What happened was I got ready to graduate in May of 1974 and had a couple of opportunities to go to work with different people. And I had a call from a gentleman who was opening up an office in Houston and an oil and gas sales type position. And so I accepted that job on a Friday and the following Monday went to work to fill out the paper work and learn what to do and who we sold to and what type of products we had. On Tuesday afternoon, Tuesday night, I got a phone call from the Atlanta Braves saying I had been drafted and they wanted me to show up the following Saturday in Atlanta for orientation.

Dave: Wow.

John: I had to make a decision whether I wanted a baseball career or accept the business position that I had. And at that point in my life, I knew some people who were in the minors already and they had been up there for three or four or five years and all of a sudden they would quit baseball at 26, 27, 28 years old looking for their first job. They’d been working since they were 21. So they were behind the curve. And so I decided that baseball got me a college education my parents couldn’t have afforded, couldn’t have come close to affording at Tulane, and that’s all I wanted from it. So that’s turned out to be.

Dave: Okay. Well, I’ve heard that story before and I’ve always found that so impressive. I don’t know many 22 year old young men who have a chance to play professional sports, me included, who would have the maturity and perspective to be able to pass up that opportunity to go into the business world. So my compliments to you for that.

John: I made the right decision looking back.

Dave: Sure. So that is just a great story. So you had a lot that happened in a week’s time in May, didn’t you, or 10 day’s time?

John: A very short period of time that happened.

Dave: So you passed up the opportunity to go to the Braves organization. And so what were you doing with Alexander/Ryan when you first got started? You were in a sales role?

John: When I first got to Houston they had an older gentleman who was the manager of the office and had a secretary here, and then I was the third person in the office. And in the mornings, I’d make outside sales calls. In the afternoon, I would help service inflatable life rafts, which was one of our product lines, and learn the business from the bottom up, from the ground root. Two years later, the older gentleman retired and they gave me an opportunity just to continue running the office as a manager, and then later, they made me vice president of Houston.

Dave: Okay. So yeah, I’m anxious to get to the good part of the story. So just to the listeners, I’ve already heard this story, so that’s how I know where the good parts are. I think you were just about to get there, Johnny. What year was it that you made your fateful decision to become an entrepreneur?

John: I had worked for him for … As you know, the oil and gas has many cycles, high and low. And we had gone through a couple of good times and gone through some bad times. In 1990, we were getting ready to come out of one of the troughs that we had. And Bill Alexander was the gentleman who was the sole owner of the company. He had no heirs, he had no children. He didn’t want to talk about stock ownership, he didn’t want to talk about profit sharing, he didn’t want to talk about certain things. And at that time, I had two young kids, 11 and eight years old. And my goals were different from his goals at that point in my life. So I sat down with him at dinner one night and told him that he had been telling everybody that I had built the Houston office to what it is today, and that I would like to buy the Houston office from him.
And his first comment was, “How are you going to pay for it?” And I said, “Well, the easiest thing is if you would finance it. If not, I’ll have to get a loan.” Well, as thing would be, he said, “Okay. You’ve got 60 days to get a loan. If you don’t have a loan commitment in 60 days, then we forget this conversation ever went on.” On the 58th day, I got an SBA, small business administration commitment for the loan. And when I called him to tell him I got the loan commitment, you could have heard a pin drop.

Dave: I bet.

John: But he followed through, he followed through with what we had talked about and agreed to. In November of 1990 my wife and I bought the Houston office. We changed the name from Alexander Industries Incorporated, to Alexander/Ryan Marine and Safety. And so I felt that Alexander/Ryan Marine and Safety more identified what we did versus Alexander Industries. So in November of ’90 we took over the Houston office. Four and a half years later he turned to me and said, “You’ve proven that you can run a company. It’s only right that you own the New Orleans office also.” So he financed the New Orleans office acquisition for me.

Dave: Wow. What a great story. So let’s take this opportunity, what would you say over that five year period from ’90 to ’95, at the beginning of that period you purchased the Houston operation with an SBA loan until you proved yourself with Mr. Alexander, and then he financed the purchase of the New Orleans office. What would you say in hindsight were some of the biggest lessons you learned from that time in your life?

John: The way I ran the company, David, I would like for people to look at how I did it, I tried to do it as a family both on the customer side, on the employee side, and the vendor side. It was a very, very close association of business and friendship. And sometimes, those got intermingled. But to me, you have to follow through with what you tell a customer. You have to be able to move product for the vendors. And you have to have your own workforce of employees happy and know what direction we’re going in, et cetera. So most of my employees stayed with me for many, many years, 20, 30 years or so.

Dave: Wow, you must have been proud of that high retention tenure.

John: Yes. It was a very, very, very cohesive group and we could count on each other. That’s what counted I guess.

Dave: I heard a story, and I’ve never even mentioned this to you but it just popped into my head and I’d like you to validate whether this is correct or confirm it. I heard a story that at one point the company needed larger facility and you had found a piece of property on the northwest side of town. You were going to move from the southeast side of Houston to the northwest side and it made a lot of business sense and from a personal perspective it was attractive to you, but that your employees did not want to have to make that drive to the northwest side. And that based on their input, you chose not to relocate the company. Is that an accurate story?

John: That is an accurate story. We found a sweetheart deal, a larger facility, everything that we had been looking for. And price wise, it was in our wheelhouse. It was everything that we needed there, facility wise. But some of the employees felt that it was a longer drive, a longer commute, et cetera, et cetera, so we opted to stay where we were.

Dave: Which, is ironic, because I know for one of the employees it would have been a much shorter commute, right? That employee being you.

John: Yeah. That was part of the deal I guess that we had to make a tough decision on.

Dave: Yeah, wow. And do you remember what year that was?

John: I don’t, David. It goes back a while.

Dave: Okay. Thank you for confirming that story. I remember I heard that story. I don’t even remember who told it to me. But it was told in the spirit of evidence of how loyal you are to your employees, and so it’s the second thing that struck me. I mean, how many young men would have passed up their lifelong career of being a professional athlete? And secondarily, how many entrepreneurs would pass up the opportunity to have a better facility closer to their residence and defer to the needs of their employees? So I’ve always thought that story is pretty representative of how you chose to run the company.

John: You’ve got a good group of people and you listen to them.

Dave: Yeah, that is great. So how about if we go back from the time that you … to 1990 when you, with a day and a half left to go, you purchased the Houston location. Could you talk to me about maybe some of the challenges? Or maybe you were such a brilliant entrepreneur, you just had a perfectly smooth line that just had year over year growth really smoothly and you never had any challenges. Which scenario was it?

John: Well, oil and gas has cycles, good stretches and bad stretches. And I felt a gut feeling back in middle of ’90 that we were getting ready to come out of that trough. So that’s when I made my move to try to go ahead and buy the Houston office before that cycle turned back up, so we could take advantage of that if we owned the company. So at that point in ’90, I guess the easiest way to describe it was when you count on yourself, when you bet on yourself, you tend to move a little faster, you tend to try a little harder because it’s your neck on the line and your pocketbook out there versus someone else’s. To me, timing wise, we timed the market comeback to that. In 1995, when we bought the New Orleans office, we also made a very, very, very strategic move. We went over to China and asked them for a lifeboat deal to represent them here in the States exclusively.
So we were laughed at initially. They said, “You’ll never sell Chinese lifeboats in the States,” because Chinese products had a stigma that went with them. So what we did, we used our expertise and the information we had and our relationship with the US Coast Guard and actually had the boats US Coast Guard approved over in China. So that opened up a very, very large market to us. Not that many people were in it. Just a very slight handful of people globally in the lifeboat market. We knew pricing wise where we fit in. So it gave us a big shot in the arm by several million dollars a year in sales.

Dave: Wow, I imagine that was significant in those days.

John: If you remember, David, I think that’s how we got together. We were selling lifeboat systems that were built in China, delivered them to Korea for drill rigs that were being built for US customers. So it was an opportunity for you and us.

Dave: Yeah. Yeah, that it was. So you added that Chinese product and that relationship in ’95 and then just continued the growth trajectory. And I’m trying to remember, when was the next down cycle in oil and gas business, was it like ’01, ’99? Was it somewhere in there?

John: Yeah. We had about a five or seven year run. And the thing about it, David, is that the industry at that particular point were building new rigs like it was going out of style, new drill rigs. And it took a good two years to build some of these large rigs. So even when the industry turned down, they had contracts with the ship yards that were building these drill rigs that were still in place. So if we had business with them, it carried on through a period of time.

Dave: Okay. And I believe that over time, I believe the repair and the maintenance business, I believe the absolute revenue of that grew over time, but as a percentage of the business did that become more significant over time, or did that tend to stay as a pretty consistent ratio?

John: As we sold more boats, life boats and rescue boats and davits and winches, as you increased the amount of inventory you had out in the field, then the service work also picked up.

Dave: Okay. So it tended to just grow in lockstep with your install base if you will.

John: Right, correct.

Dave: Okay. So that was back in the mid ’90s. So now, let’s get into the 2000s. What comes to mind that maybe was one of the next significant changes or events that occurred once we got into the first decade of the new millennium?

John: Well, a lot of things happened back to back. We had a very short period of time where the Deepwater Horizon issue hit, big downturn in the industry. They just stopped. There was a moratorium on all drilling and things. So we actually changed from selling life saving safety equipment to the drill rigs to selling to the cleanup people. So we still had a market, but it was a smaller market.

Dave: And was that 2008 that that happened, 2008 or ‘9, do you remember?

John: I believe that’s correct. And then when the people escaped the rig from the lifeboat, when Deepwater Horizon, a lot of people got off on a lifeboat, we had TV stations do some special reports from our warehouse with some of the boats and models and things that we had on hand because we were one of the local USA groups that were in the lifeboat business. So we got a lot of exposure through that TV special report type thing.

Dave: Okay.

John: Shortly after that, in 2010, someone put us up for entrepreneur of the year for oil and gas for Ernst & Young. And they interviewed us two or three times and came out, and we told the story about where we came from and how we got to where we are. And ironically enough, the other two individuals who were up for the same award were customers of ours.

Dave: Oh really?

John: Yeah. And so it was a very interesting dinner that night when we had won, and we took the award away from two of our customers.

Dave: Did they take that in a grownup fashion, or did they hold that against you, that they won?

John: They were good guys. But of them congratulated me. We were all sitting at the same table.

Dave: And that was 2010?

John: Yes.

Dave: So that then takes us to, now what year was it that you made the decision to sell Alexander/Ryan?

John: Let’s say when they started drilling again after the Deepwater Horizon incident, between then and when I sold the company we had a lot of interest. We were still growing the business. We had gotten to the biggest that we had ever gotten to from a revenue standpoint. And we had several people talking to us about, would I be interested in selling, would I be interested in selling? And I had a couple of health issues at that point. And it was, the timing was right to think about that.
So my wife and I made the decision, “Let’s listen to some of the offers.” And when one of the offers got to a point where we felt it was too good to be true, we told them we would be interested in cutting a deal. So we were supposed to close December of 2012. But because their lawyers didn’t want to work over Christmas or something like that, we had to close in January of ’13. In January of ’13 we sold out to a private equity firm up in New York. And it was a good move for us from a financial standpoint and it was, in hindsight, timing was impeccable because the industry shortly after that had a downturn a couple years later in ’15 I think and we would have never gotten what we got for the company had we waited.

Dave: Timing is everything, isn’t it?

John: Timing is everything.

Dave: So then when you sold to them, I believe it was mutually decided for you to stay around for some period of time, there was some interest by you and them.

John: I had a contract to continue running the business. And when I turned 65 in January of ’18, we went ahead and severed the relationship.

Dave: Okay. So during that period where you were working for the private equity firm, so if I’m doing my math right that you were there five years, right?

John: That’s correct.

Dave: So what comes to mind as the worst part about no longer running the show? And why don’t we temper that though with, there had to be some benefits to maybe lower stress or less money on the line. What’s an example of one of the best things and maybe one of the worst things about no longer owning everything?

John: The best thing is the money was in the bank, nothing at risk. We had no personal money at risk. So the worst thing was, when you’re a private entrepreneur, if you have to make a decision or make a direction change in business, you sit down at your desk with a group of people that you trust, your confidants in your company. You sit down, you make a decision right then and there and you make a change. When you are part of a private equity firm, you now have another layer or two or three of management that has to say yes before you make a decision. And that was the toughest change to me.

Dave: Sure. I’ve heard that story over and over and over by entrepreneurs, they almost always say the same thing, that it was good to no longer have such a large percentage of their net worth tied up in the company, but it was really frustrating because they had gotten used to making a decision on a Monday morning and by the end of the week having made progress in the first week on implementing that decision, but no longer being able to do that once it was part of a larger enterprise.

John: I can remember sitting in the office with my whiteboard and strategizing on how to handle a bid or OTC setup or whatever. And all of a sudden now, it becomes a committee instead of a decision right there.

Dave: No, believe me, I can understand. Through the years, we’ve had a number of inquiries in telling expert advisors, and I always think of some of the things that I’ve heard from our clients and other people that have sold. And at least up until this point, that trad off has not been that attractive. But someday, it might just be. So you talked a little bit about the culture at Alexander/Ryan. What would you say from like the customer perspective, what are some of the things that you would say that differentiated Alexander/Ryan from your competitors? What are some of the things y’all did real well?

John: We had in house expertise that, when someone called in and wanted to know something about a widget, we had that expertise on hand.

Dave: Okay.

John: And be it a lifeboat, be it a life raft, be it a case of life saving equipment, we had that expertise on hand. Someone within our organization had that expertise to be able to answer that question. We had a lot of instances, David, where customers would call us asking us for advice on how to handle something because they trusted that what we told them was correct.

Dave: Okay. I can imagine where that would make you more than just a commodity provider of safety equipment, but more of a strategic partner in their eyes.

John: And the other thing, like I said, globally back then there was only four lifeboat manufacturers in the world of substance and we were one of the four. So you were a player, you had a seat at the table.

Dave: That is great. Okay. I want to shift gears just a little bit. When you think about doing stuff in house versus outsourcing, so I know that you made the choice to outsource some of your strategic tax planning through our firm as it related to the IC-DISC and in some other areas. But what do you think when you’re considering doing something in house or outsourcing it. And the followup, is it different if it’s something that’s just a pure cost, like you’re trying to outsource payroll let’s say, versus something where you’re outsourcing something that has more of an opportunistic element like you did when you worked with us? Do you look at them any differently? So what are your thoughts on how you decided what to do in house and what to outsource?

John: Interesting question, because the life boats, we outsourced those because we had a manufacturer, a plant, a factory in China that built lifeboats for Chinese consumption, and we let them build a boat for us to our specification to meet US Coast Guard. So when we did that, that gave us a … you outsource, we outsourced those lifeboats to China. On the local stuff, most of the stuff we had, we represented manufacturers that were Navy USA or we were in their top 10 distributors worldwide. The other thing, David, that I … entrepreneurs run things differently I guess. I never rented or leased anything in my life.

Dave: Oh really? I didn’t know that. So talk more about that.

John: Lease any vehicle, I did not lease any forklifts or cranes. I did not lease anything. I would go ahead and purchase those items. But there are some people who rent them, who lease them, at the end of three years turn them back in and renew the lease. I just, I was not into that thought pattern.

Dave: And why was that, if I may ask? What did you see that was the flaw in that thinking for your business and how you approach things?

John: I know it’s off the books, on the books type financing. But to me, if I purchased something, at the end of three years when that truck was paid for I still had an asset that was worth something. If you lease something, at the end of three years you turn it back in, you’ve got nothing.

Dave: Sure. Well, did that … Go ahead.

John: I just, I was a believer in acquisition versus leasing.

Dave: And do you think that during the down times in the industry, do you think that benefited as opposed to if you’d had everything leased? Did it give you more kind of downside protection having some equity in those assets?

John: Yeah. When I got ready to sell the company to the private equity firm, all those assets were part of what they bought.

Dave: Right. Yeah, so if you had been leasing all that stuff, the business would have been that much less valuable.

John: That is correct, that is correct.

Dave: Interesting. I did not know that. And so when you are then looking at outsourcing some things, what do you look for in a strategic partner? You had mentioned the lifeboat manufacturer in China, some of the companies that you bought from in Houston, one of whom is a client of ours, has been for a long time, that’s sold certain products to you. So how do you decide the relationships that you want to invest time in, whether it’s a tax consulting firm or a transport provider or a lifeboat manufacturer?

John: Business is a two way street, David.

Dave: Okay.

John: They help you and you help them. And the more you help them, the more they help you and just the opposite. The more product we sold for individuals, the better the relationship was.

Dave: So does that mean that your primary focus in these strategic partnerships was not trying to just negotiate the very best price and treat it like a zero sum game, or were you more concerned with the bigger picture?

John: The much bigger picture, because if you squeeze people, that’s a one way relationship. To me, I know that they’re there to make money, they know that I’m there to try to make money. And if you work together, both of you make money versus squeezing one of them to get the best deal at the time.

Dave: Yeah, that makes sense. I can appreciate that. I don’t know if I’ve told you this before, but one of the most valuable lessons I learned in my business came from, as I mentioned, you were one of our very first clients, and it came from a project that we did that was a refund project where we were able to capture some prior year’s incentives and get a refund. And I remember we had two fee options, one, you would pay us a portion of the fee when we started the work and then you’d pay another portion at a certain milestone, and then you’d pay the remainder when the amended tax returns were submitted. But then we had another option that you would pay a greater percentage of the benefit, but not until after all the work was done. And it was a significant percentage, it was a material difference. Like, I would want to recall that the fee was maybe 20 or 30% higher, and I remember you took the backend one that had the least risk even though you end up paying the most in fees.
And I remember, initially I was disappointed because being one of our first customers, I just assumed we’d get paid sooner than six or nine months later. But that’s what you wanted, so we went with it. And then I remember once we did the work and we were paid, I realized that we ended up making a lot more money because we waited six or nine months to get paid and that was a really valuable lesson. And ever since then, I’ve done everything I can to reduce the financial risk of our clients, because I realized that the more compelling I could make it with backend loading fees and reducing risk, the easier it was for them to say yes. And it’s gotten to the point, we have some clients that we’ll set up an IC-DISC on January first of 2019. We go all the way through ’19, we don’t do the work till the summer of 2020. We don’t invoice them till the fall of 2020, and they pay us 60 days later. So we have clients that two years pass from when we first start doing work until we get paid and everybody I know in our business just says that’s crazy.
CPA firms don’t work that way and they ask me why I do it. And I said, “It’s because that’s what our clients want. They want that risk mitigation, and they’re more concerned about the risk mitigation than they are about the absolute fee that they’re paying.” Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for that lesson, because I don’t know if I ever told you that, but that played a huge part in my strategic pricing over the next 15 or so years.

John: In hindsight, David, looking back, I’d make that same decision today.

Dave: And for the same reasons I imagine, just because of the risk mitigation is why you did that.

John: Yeah.

Dave: Sure, that makes sense. And the other lesson you told me, the first few years we worked together I was actually an employee of another firm. And then I had a chance to purchase the business much like you did, and I also, I just realized this, when I had a chance to purchase the business I had a 21 day window instead of a 60 day window to pull it off. But I remember after I did that, you were the very first existing client I went to to inform of the new situation. And you said that was fine and you’d give me a shot under the new spinoff venture. But you told me something then that also was very influential to me. Do you remember what you told me that day when we were sitting in your office in 2009 and I told you about the change?

John: “Bet on yourself.”

Dave: You did. And the other thing you told me is, “You’ll never work harder than when you work for yourself.”

John: Yep.

Dave: And you told me that. And so basically you said, “If you’re willing to work harder, then it’ll probably work out fine. And if you’re thinking you’re going to work less when it’s your business, then you’re going to have a disappointing outcome.”

John: That is exactly correct.

Dave: I always appreciated that, those two big lessons I learned from you. Speaking of lessons learned, what advice would you have for your younger self like back in 1990? So think back. What do you wish you had known then that you know now? And if you had some magic time machine that you could go back and tell your younger Johnny Ryan, what might you tell your younger self?

John: I’ve got several friends in the industry in different … paint industry and different things. And when we sit down and talk, if there’s one thing … if something happens to me tomorrow and somebody says, “What do you think about how Johnny ran the business,” I’d like for them to say I did it right. I didn’t buy business, I didn’t take people to clubs, I didn’t take people to drinks. I didn’t do all that BS stuff. I’d just like for somebody to say that I did it right in the end. And that was more important to me than a lot of things, David. We had an instance one time where a client bought four lifeboat systems and about a quarter of a million dollars worth of spare parts for lifeboats. And they opted to take care of the shipping from China to Brazil. And so we shipped it, they paid us, everything was fine. And about four weeks later, I get a phone call from this purchasing guy in Houston for Petrobras America, and he called us into a conference room and sat down and told me that we didn’t ship the spare parts.
He basically questioned my integrity. And I stood up, some of my people that were with me had to pull me down. I stood up and I said, “There’s one thing that you will not question. You’re not going to question my integrity.” And he says, “Well, we’ll have your lawyers talk to you.” I said, “Please do.” We walked away. About three days later, their attorney called me and we went through the paperwork. He called me back the next day and said, “Mr. Ryan, I agree with you. We received them. We have no idea where they are, they disappeared. We’re going to reorder them again.” So it went from a bad situation to a good situation.

Dave: Wow, and you even got to sell the parts twice basically-

John: Twice.

Dave: … because they lost them. Well, I know … Go ahead.

John: And the gentleman in purchasing had already fired their logistics people. He didn’t tell me that. But he had already had other problems, so he had fired the logistics people, but he was trying to lay the blame on the vendors. So then he lost his job shortly after that.

Dave: Okay. Well, go ahead.

John: Looking back, if I had to give advice to a younger person, “Do it right. Tell the truth, do it right, and stand your ground. Don’t be pushed around. Stand your ground if you know that you’re correct.”

Dave: That is great advice. And I tell as an example of that as we’re wrapping up, I don’t know if I’ve shared this with you, but I had a person that you’ve done business with for a long time tell me once that sometimes his relationship with you was frustrating, but that if he was ever thrown into a third world jail, that you’d be the first person he’d call. And I was telling that story to another person that knew you, and they concurred. And so basically, I’ve asked two people that know you who the first person they’d call if they got thrown in a jail, and they said it’d be you. So I guess that’s proof that you’ve done some things right that that’s the first call they would make, is to you.

John: Friendships through the years. After retirement, I’ve been retired for two years I guess now, a year and a half, and I miss the people. I miss the customers, I miss the vendors, I miss the employees. I just, I miss that game, that competitive game that’s out there.

Dave: No, I can imagine. Well, as we wrap up I want to talk about one more thing. You mentioned that baseball provided you an education at Tulane University that your parents could not have afforded. Based on that comment, is it safe to assume that you did not grow up in affluent surroundings?

John: The most money my dad made was $38000 a year.

Dave: Okay. So y’all were a working family that had to work for everything you got, right?

John: My mom went and taught grammar school to put me through high school.

Dave: Oh, because it was a private high school, right, that had tuition. So with that in mind I believe, and tell me if this is correct, I know that you’re a person who is generous not just with your family and friends and employees, but that you never forget where you came from. And I believe that you made a gift to your … was it your high school that you made the gift to for the baseball field?

John: Yes, the Jesuit high school.

Dave: And was that around the time of the transaction, or was it before that?

John: Actually, before we sold the company. They brought the blueprints over and they showed me the blueprints, and the high school had no facility of its own. It’s an inner city school. It’s been there for 150 years. No extra ground or anywhere to put a stadium or anything. So they found a piece of property and they drew these blueprints up and they were looking for some advice and some money. And the way it worked out is that we made a donation to them and they actually named the stadium after me. It’ll be there for a long time and it’s a very, very, very nice thing to have done over there.

Dave: Sure. And were either of your parents alive at that time?

John: No, they were gone.

Dave: I can only imagine how proud for sure your mother would have been because that school mattered so much for her that she took a job teaching to put you through there. But would you think that both your parents would have been proud that you were able to do that?

John: Oh yeah, pretty heartfelt, yes.

Dave: Yeah, that is great. Well, Johnny, I can’t believe how fast the time has gone. Was there anything else that we need to discuss that we didn’t bring up, anything else that comes to mind?

John: David, I want to thank you for doing this. I think it’s very informative for you and me, and you have always been there. You are a friend and a vendor for us, and I think the friendship comes first. You like to deal with your friends, so we’ve always had that relationship. So thank you.

Dave: Oh well, the pleasure’s all mine, Johnny. I’ve appreciated all the business insight that I’ve received from you through the years and your guidance and mentorship and friendship, the feelings are mutual. Well, thank you again for being on the show. Hey, if anyone wants to reach out to you, if they wanted to reach out to you is that something you’re amenable to?

John: Sure, sure.

Dave: Would your email just be the best way for them to reach you, just have them email you?

John: Sure.

Dave: And what is your personal email

John: ****

Dave: Okay, well, that’s an easy one to remember. Well, awesome. Hopefully, an entrepreneur or two will reach out to you. And again, Johnny, thank you so much for taking the time to be on here, and thank you for your friendship.

John: David, thanks for the opportunity.

Dave: All right, have a great day.