Barb McGrath 0:00
I’m excited to introduce you to today’s guest, a graduate of Luther College High School here in Regina. He started off as a plumbing apprentice. He had an idea, a passion, and a willingness to approach business differently. Taylor Weiss Gruber took a took it upon himself to do things differently. He’s the founder of Spartan mechanical, and he approaches business life and his customers with a friendliness outgoingness and straight talk approach that his customers have come to know like, and trust. Welcome, Taylor. Thank you for being here.
Taylor Weisgerber 0:41
Thank you, Barb. Thanks very much for having me.
Barb McGrath 0:44
Yeah, it’s a pleasure to have you here. So tell me a little bit about how Spartan mechanical came to be?
Taylor Weisgerber 0:52
Well, that’s a bit of a long story, Barton, it all started back in 2012.
Taylor Weisgerber 0:58
Maybe even as far back as 2011. To take him back into high school, I had a couple different options on my plate of what I truthfully wanted to do
Unknown Speaker 1:07
Taylor Weisgerber 1:17
Ran his own plumbing business, which I was fortunate enough to be brought into. I worked for him for two and a half years, it was probably the longest two and a half years of my life.
Taylor Weisgerber 1:31
Other people listening to the show might know exactly how well working for family can go over at different points in time. So after that, I had already started working on my apprenticeship to get my Red Seal endorsement.
Taylor Weisgerber 1:45
I worked for another business here in the city for another two and a half years, it was the best two and a half years of my life. And in the trade. I had received my journeyman certificate or a journeyperson for those concerned.
Taylor Weisgerber 2:01
After that point, I went out to Alameda for about eight months, and I worked in the plumbing and gas fitting industry out that way in a rural setting, to try and widen my horizons. At that point, I had come back to Regina, and I wanted something different. I wanted something for myself, not only for myself to be proud of but you know, a point that can grow myself as a person as an individual. And, you know, as the army would say, be the best that you can be?
Barb McGrath 2:29
Sure. So take me back even a little bit further. What when you were in high school, what made you think that you wanted to get into plumbing? Or was it simply that there was a family business there? Or was there anything until you got into it? How does that come to be?
Taylor Weisgerber 2:45
I never wanted to do plumbing. When I was in elementary school, I mean, you know, if you said what your parents did for work, you know, mom did this. My stepdad did plumbing. Well, that was the end of so many jokes. And at that point, it was what it was right? When I first started out, I was actually gearing towards going into the IT field or something more of a support specialist role. The one thing that I really attributes to my qualities is my ability to speak.
Taylor Weisgerber 3:15
And my ability to guide, I’ve got a real knack for being able to go in the back of my mind and lead people through certain issues. It’s really benefited both, you know, personally, as well as entrepreneurially.
Barb McGrath 3:28
Got it. Okay. Yeah. You know, and that’s not necessarily a skill that we would associate with a trade sometimes. And not that not that trades don’t require leadership. It’s just not a skill that you hear people talk about. So, you know, how have you approached the business differently? What did you see out in the field? I’m talking with my hands, what did you see out in the field? versus what are you doing now to actualize that change?
Taylor Weisgerber 3:55
The one big thing that I saw in the field is I’ve gotten a lot of colleagues and they do beautiful, amazing work, artistic work, or, you know, depending on the customer, they do it fast, they do it efficient, and they do it proper. The one biggest thing that I see in our industry is an undervalue of a person’s true value. Right. And that stems down to the leadership role. Yeah, the one thing I want to do is I want to develop great people, I want to make people the best that they can be. And in the truest sense of the word. I want them to do quality work, and
Taylor Weisgerber 4:32
Basically extend themselves to any customer, whether it’s ours when we get to that point, or whether they want to go out on their own to theirs. We want to provide a great experience. We want to build an idea of, you know, kind of a family mentality as much as you can in the business world, right. We want to build a support system for our future staff, but as well for our customers.
Barb McGrath 4:55
Yeah. And just based on our conversation that we had before we kicked off today.
Barb McGrath 5:00
You have some really long term visions for this business, this isn’t a five year make a bunch of money, you know, head to Hawaii kind of thing. This, you’ve got some really long term visions for this business. So can you talk a little bit about that? And where does that come from? Because not, not all business owners have that type of approach.
Taylor Weisgerber 5:20
Yeah, for sure. So the one thing is growing up, we didn’t have a lot growing up, we grew up just on the north north side of the tracks,
Taylor Weisgerber 5:29
Almost staying near in the thick of it. And so growing up, we got to see a lot of stuff that was interesting to say the least, could be very interesting.
Taylor Weisgerber 5:39
And the one aspect that really stuck out in my mind is, you know, support for people who are, you know, low on the log for lack of a better term. And the kind of long term business goal that I do have is I want to venture out into a bit of philanthropy, right. And I may be able to achieve that goal, I might not be able to achieve that goal. But I want to see better things for, you know, the centered people in Regina, I want to see better things and better opportunities available, and find ways to extend those opportunities to the people that really require and need them. I don’t want to just give people you know, money or, you know, resources indefinitely, I want to create opportunities for them to build themselves up.
Taylor Weisgerber 6:22
But also get, you know, kind of give a bit of a nudge, but help them up the ladder along the way. I don’t want to see people do bad. I know my mom had hard times, and she sacrificed for me and my sister indefinitely. And if there’s anyone that I can, you know, help in any other way, that’s kind of my, that’s my next 40 years, that’s, you know, my retirement plan. If I can be that person for Regina, that’s going to be my goal and what I work towards.
Barb McGrath 6:50
You know, and obviously, those are very admirable goals. But what I really like about what you said, there is the hand up, versus the hand out, right, that whole mentality around teach someone to fish, and you actually give them a skill that can help them build a life, where just giving them you know, the fish is a totally different thing. So yeah, that’s, that’s a very unique mentality. What does that actually look like in your business right now? Can you articulate how you’re living that or just even starting to live that?
Taylor Weisgerber 7:23
Absolutely. You know, we’ve done a couple things, Regina, Early Learning and Development Center, we haven’t done a lot with where we’re starting to work a little more hands and hands, and hopefully that relationship will continue. The one other thing that I see is you got to work on the youth, right? Because I mean, as cliche as it sounds, the youth are future, and it’s, you know, nature and nurture, right? What kind of situation do they see themselves in? So I was lucky enough to do some pro bono work for the Regina Early Learning and Development Center. As simple as it was it, that’s kind of the way we’re gonna start out, and through building a better business through building better clients through, you know, building a better capital account.
Taylor Weisgerber 8:05
And developing from that point on, that’s kind of where we’re going to grow from there. Yeah.
Barb McGrath 8:10
And, you know, that’s, it’s exciting to be able to think that far in the future and how that actually supports your business. Because for a lot of entrepreneurs, we look at the bottom line, and we think this is this is business. But in fact, the support that we provide across our community has so much more to do with how rich our business will be. We’ll still have to pay the bills. Yeah, but then, right, then there’s life beyond bills being paid. And my business partner, and I’ve had that conversation a few times, because he’s very driven by that bottom line. This is how much we made this month. This is what our expenses were. And my approach is, yeah, but but at the same time, we got time with the kids, or we got to go somewhere.
Barb McGrath 8:59
Yeah, you know, and so those are the experiences. So I’m a very experiential person, let’s do stuff. Versus, you know, cuz you can’t take it with you. It can sit in the bank account, but you can’t take it with you. Right? Yeah. So what does the Spartan team look like? Is there you and how many people?
Taylor Weisgerber 9:20
You know, there’s a lot of people.
Taylor Weisgerber 9:23
Now, people that are on payroll, that’s another question, right? People backing me which I appreciate, I’ve got my amazing fiance, she’s been nothing but an awesome support for myself, in doing this venture, whether that’s home cooked meals, or whether that’s even, you know,
Taylor Weisgerber 9:41
Doing a couple of other things, running parts if need be. I’ve got my mother who’s backed me, as far as on the payroll goes, it is just myself for now. And, you know, some core accounting staff, stuff like that, that subcontract and we’re kind of working on that growth. We’re trying to get in a position where you know,
Taylor Weisgerber 10:00
I’m comfortable enough that I’m guaranteeing the next person who’s going to be hired on at Spartan is going to get what they’re worth, you see the benefits of the worth, I don’t feel like a company should really grow unless they’re able to provide some of those key aspects, they might feel that they’re ready to grow.
Taylor Weisgerber 10:16
But they haven’t done enough homework or enough trimming of their own fat to necessitate that extra person. They can streamline their business, they can focus on their, you know, their proper customer base instead of overextending themselves. As we were talking about before, when you focus on that customer base, where you specialize in, you’re going to grow your business exponentially because of your experience, which is your value.
Taylor Weisgerber 10:40
Anybody can sweat two pipes together, but to do it with, you know, proper arrangement in mind or safety in mind. That’s a whole nother story.
Barb McGrath 10:48
Yes, absolutely. It’s interesting, we general contracted the build of our house. So we hired each of our trades individually, we got to know them, we had personal relationships with them. With some really good experiences, we had some really poor experiences. And I remember one time in particular, doesn’t matter what trade it was, there was a specific, specific way that the whole house plan had been done that we wanted something done. And the trades person, even though they quoted the job a certain way wanting to change it. And just, it was quite clear, they wanted to do something that was gonna take less time and cost them less. But from an aesthetic standpoint, it was really going to detract from the aesthetics for us. So my husband and I are very good at sort of good cop, bad cop. So he talked with the tradesperson came in, you know, told the story. And he was like, No, no, let’s talk with Barb.
Barb McGrath 11:43
So my steel toed boots, I come out to the whole house to meet the tradesperson. They explain what they want to do. I am literally crawling up the two by fours in the wall and saying no, this is how it’s happening. Yeah. And honestly, goodness, the poor man just stood there, looked at me and said, Okay, yeah, we can make it work.
Barb McGrath 12:10
And so when I, when I hear what you’re talking about in terms of, you know, doing things differently, those are the things that that we as consumers, those are the stories that we retell, because those are the experiences that made a mark, know how the contractor came to us and said, Hey, we can do it better. Instead of Oh, we want to take shortcuts, it’s really different experience. Right? And so yeah, being able to to do that sort of thing. You do both residential and commercial, because you talked about eight H vac and gasfitting. So like, what is your bailiwick? What services do you provide to customers?
Taylor Weisgerber 12:52
Yeah, so you know what, when I worked for the previous businesses that I was employed by, we took care of a lot of really great places in the city, we took care of multi unit dwellings, apartments, when I was with my second, you know, business employed, we took care of Regina, public school board for a huge portion. So a lot of my experiences come with, you know, large scale structures.
Taylor Weisgerber 13:16
That’s not to say that we don’t do residential, but with these large scale structures, one of the big things that I was able to become more comfortable around was with boiler systems, air handler units, you know, which might not be as, as key placement in some of our residential homes. Some have boilers Believe it or not, but most are forced air heat. So my background is really logic and troubleshooting. If there’s a piece of equipment, you know, and it’s not working, right, can I fix it? More than likely I can. But you know, what, if I don’t, I’ve got colleagues that I can extend myself out to in the industry, that may have a leg up on me, so that we can solve the problem because at the end of the day, it’s not about you know, specifically who’s solving the problem. It is to a degree, you got to be comfortable with your contractor, but you want that problem solved. And you know, what, I hate to say when it comes to you know, things like that, I would rather trust the doctor who’s willing to take the five minutes to research my issue than someone who’s just gonna wing it on a whim.
Taylor Weisgerber 14:20
So that’s kind of what our my original scope was. We are doing residential right as an entrepreneur.
Taylor Weisgerber 14:27
It’s a very much you know, basic approach. You take what you can get, and you keep building on that. You build those relationships. So you know what, I didn’t have a lot of choice right when I started. I did have a couple of contacts in the industry. I had some that were ready to jump ship completely and wholeheartedly for me. I had others that were more you know, and you know, we want to see how you do first because we don’t want to burn a bridge into someone who in our industry, it happens a lot. You know, that works for six months and is could put so much
Taylor Weisgerber 15:00
Other scope as far as the H backside goes, is we deal with, you know, residential, air conditioning. We deal with furnaces. We deal with ductwork, right, we’ve got an awesome crew of people that we can tap into as a resource to supply all of these different things that a customer may want. But our real specialty and what I’m geared towards is boiler work. I love boilers, they are probably the best thing going in any building. I don’t care who says what, they’re fascinating.
Barb McGrath 15:29
Yeah, isn’t it funny, we all have our thing that just fascinates us. So when you look at the industry as a whole, and even thinking broadly, the trade, are you seeing companies starting to merge and create more large companies? Are you seeing more solopreneurs like yourself?
Taylor Weisgerber 15:49
It’s difficult to say, because I’ve been approached already, you know, in in about the two years that I’ve had my business multiple times on, either shutting down my business and going into, you know, a strategic management role for other businesses. I’ve had other businesses that have wanted to amalgamate and operate under their name.
Taylor Weisgerber 16:10
Generally, as our trade goes, there’s a lot of businesses, a lot of bigger businesses that do a lot of new construction, they hire quick, and they fire faster, right, or lay off, depending on who it is. So we got a lot of these guys that come from a new construction background, which never to knock them because they can pipe new systems like nobody’s business, they could do circles around me any day of the week. And I don’t care who knows it. It’s just the nature of the beast, a lot of these fellows will go and they do tend to start up their own businesses, because you’re out of work. You’ve got family, you’ve got no other choices. When all these companies are laying off for firing, where else are you going to go? Especially in a D saturated job market, right? You don’t have all the options. And you know, even the true talents out there are finding it difficult to find work.
Taylor Weisgerber 17:01
So a lot of these people will start the new businesses, but they have a new construction background, we don’t have a lot of new construction going on. Now. It’s taken me eight and a half years to know what I know, BB in terms of the service world. I don’t expect anyone to walk in and start their first day and know what they’re doing with flushometer is with boiler systems, right? When they were used to running water lines, there’s sewage.
Taylor Weisgerber 17:23
You know, and that brings it back every day’s a school day.
Taylor Weisgerber 17:28
And I don’t know everything, I don’t expect everyone else to know everything. It’s one of the biggest things that’s frustrating for me to see with other people in the industry is, you know, this perpetuation of that cycle.
Barb McGrath 17:39
Yeah. You know what, I love that approach, every day’s a school day, when you know if that’s the mentality that you have, when you get up in the morning, what am I going to learn today? versus, you know, what do I have to do? Right? Like, that’s, that’s a real mental shift. And I don’t know if you’ve ever even heard yourself, say that, or if it’s very intentional in your language, but that’s a really cool statement. Because, yeah, if you’re not learning something every day, then what are you doing me? You’re kind of on the downhill slide. Right? Exactly.
Barb McGrath 18:10
Um, one of the things that I found really interesting when I started my business, and same thing, I started as a solopreneur. And, you know, I would go on, I would build a website for a company or I would set up their social channels. And the one of the one of the best lessons I think, that I learned early on was, the more I shared, and asked for collaboration and asked for support, the more my business grew. And it’s a little bit opposite what you expect, because you think, well, if I have to share this project with somebody, I’m only going to get half of the revenue, and they’re going to get the other half. But they would get half and I would get half and we get two more jobs out of it instead of only one more. It was like, Oh, this multiplier effect, like this is kind of cool, man.
Taylor Weisgerber 18:55
Yeah, well, exactly. And even in your situation, you know, if you got a half and a half, well, is it really a half and a half? No, because you’re bringing in two holes, right? You’re going to double that revenue, because you’re two experts bringing in your contacts, everybody that you know, you want the same, you know, kind of, you know, end result, right? Everybody wants that same end result. Everybody does want that big dollar amount at the end of the day, but what they choose to do with it? That’s always the big question, right? And that’s what determines one entrepreneur from another.
Barb McGrath 19:27
Exactly. And I think to your comment earlier, when we’re talking about growing the business and bringing that second person on, when you really have a clear vision for your company, it’s hard to bring someone into the fold, because you want them to interact with customers and represent the brand in the same way you do. And that was one of the hardest things for me was start to say, you know, you other person, like go and work directly with, you know, this client and we would talk a lot about it, and we went
Barb McGrath 19:59
Talk about what was important to me. But all you can do is example by, you know, lead by example. And then you have to have faith in people. Yeah, right.
Taylor Weisgerber 20:12
Yeah, you’re totally right, in every sense of the word, right? The one thing that, you know, I grew from an understanding from, you know, talking to other people in the trades, or, you know, looking at different resources for trades entrepreneurs, the one biggest thing that they said, Put in your mindset, put in your toolboxes, you run your business in a very specific way. And you’ve got very different, you know, ideas for your business and the way you want things done and how you want the T’s crossed and the i’s dotted.
Taylor Weisgerber 20:41
But you have to come to the realization that nobody is you, you are the only you unless you’re twins, but in a mental capacity, that’s still true, right? You are the only you, you’re going to have the same values that you’ve held forever, not everybody, and not anybody will hold all the same values that you will. And you know, what, a lot of the other entrepreneurs that are maybe thinking about hiring or getting to that break even point come to that understanding, you’ve got to know that you will never have somebody who is the spitting image of you. And the sooner that you can realize that the sooner you might be able to make that leap forward.
Barb McGrath 21:18
Exactly. And the challenge is, how do you harness that to grow your business? Yes, have your business shrink by the folds?
Taylor Weisgerber 21:25
Yeah, and the false right, work on those faults. My past employers that I spent two and a half years with, they’re going to remain nameless, but it was the best two and a half years that I had in the trade. They did everything to build you up as the individual. Right? They wanted to have full confidence in you. And you know what, I screwed things up. But you know what, at the end of the day, the company atoned I atone for what I have screwed up, or we have screwed up as a team. And we moved on, right. And it was always a learning opportunity.
Taylor Weisgerber 21:52
But it’s as an employer, you know, you need to take that approach a positive approach. And you know, what people are either going to be receptive, or they’re not. And that’s going to bring you to your next question, do you keep them? Do you work on them? What do you want? What do they want? Right? And, and?
Barb McGrath 22:10
Yeah, exactly, not every employee is gonna have that that same sort of approach, right? So I don’t know if you can hear in the background or not. But of course, we’re still recording from home. And my dog is at the office door here. And he’s like, let me in, let me in.
Barb McGrath 22:26
You can hear voices in here. And usually he comes in really impressed with me right now. So
Taylor Weisgerber 22:36
They’re, um, she talked about values. Do you have kids yet?
Taylor Weisgerber 22:41
Not yet. But if it was up to me, we’d have three if it’s up to my fiance, we have to we’re still working on that. That’s still a debatable item. Chopping away in the kitchen here.
Taylor Weisgerber 22:54
Yeah, you know what, that’s that’s kind of what we have. In our mind. We were engaged last year, we had a lovely engagement. And, you know, like I said before, she’s really integral into me being who I am and being able to do what I’m doing.
Barb McGrath 23:08
Yeah. So it’s interesting, because I’ve always understood what values are. But until I had kids, which is years ago now, until I had kids, I really didn’t appreciate how different everyone’s values are, what we value what someone else values, right. And, and that gave me such an appreciation for how different we are all raised. And so the differences like they start right at the very beginning. Right, it was it was an eye opening experience for me. I remember, you know, coming home and just shaking my head and being like, wow, okay, I now understand this totally different.
Barb McGrath 23:52
Taylor, I have kind of lost track of time. So quickly, we’re gonna wrap up the show. But before we do, can you let everyone know how they would get ahold of you?
Taylor Weisgerber 24:00
Yeah, you know what, again, everybody, thanks for listening to us ramble on and have this discussion. I do appreciate everybody’s time.
Taylor Weisgerber 24:26
And of course, you know, good old cell phone, get on that phone ring those phones, as you know, tell a miracle would say and don’t ever hesitate to reach out to us. We’ll always approach you with a smile and a friendly attitude.
Barb McGrath 24:40
Awesome. That is fantastic. So thank you, Taylor, for being with me here today. For anyone listening. Of course, if you’d like to find Spartan mechanical, just plug him in Google and you’ll find their business listing there on the right hand side. Thank you for talking to me about how you’re approaching a, I’ll say a traditional industry.
Barb McGrath 25:00
Very differently know, like and trust is not necessarily something that folks will often associate in the plumbing field. And so I think you’re doing some fantastic things.
Taylor Weisgerber 25:11
Awesome. Thank you, Barb.
Barb McGrath 25:12
Absolutely. If you’d like to be a guest on the show, you can email me at Barb at Google girl.ta or reach out on Facebook and Instagram at Above the Fold. ca. Just to reminder, you can even submit questions in advance of the live show on our Facebook page when we’re live. Unfortunately, we’re not right now. I’m your host, Barb McGrath, local business owner and Google girl. Remember, you worked hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.
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