Oct 25, 2021
Hello All! Welcome to episode 39 of Fire Code Tech. In this episode we are speaking with Joseph Cervantes. In this episode we talk about the perspective shift from a technician in the field to an individual who manages business development on a national level. Joseph gives a charismatic account of lessons learned along his career in fire alarm and low voltage systems.
Show Me the Code
How did you get started in fire and life safety?
Tell me about some of your early projects in the fire alarm industry?
How did working with titans in the industry like Siemens and JCI help you in your career?
What are your goals and challenges now at Space Age Electronics?
Speak to me about Show Me the Code?
What advice would you have for professionals?
Hello, all welcome to the show. I'm Gus Gagliardi, and this is fire code tech on fire code tech. We interview fire protection professionals from all different careers and backgrounds in order to provide insight and a resource for those in the field. My goal is to help you become a more informed fire protection.
Professional fire code tech has interviews with engineers and researchers, fire marshals, and insurance professionals and highlights topics like codes and standards, engineering systems, professional development, and trending topics in the industry. So if you're someone who wants to know more about fire protection or the fascinating stories of those who are in the field, you're in the right place.
Hello, all welcome to episode 39 of fire code tech. On this episode, we have Joseph Cervantes .This episode's really interesting because we get to talk about the perspective shift from Joseph, making his way from a technician to somebody who has managed operations and, you know, national business development.
I really enjoyed talking with Joseph. He has a infectious, uh, motivational tone, um, that I really enjoyed and some really big charisma and some awesome takeaways for any professional. If you need a dose of get up and go get him on your Monday morning, this episode is gonna be just right for you. Joseph also runs a online YouTube show.
Show me the code, where he talks with professionals about different, uh, fire alarm and technology topics such as fire service, access, elevators, and bidirectional. Amplifi. Um, you can check out some links in the show notes. Don't forget to subscribe. So you never miss an episode and follow us on social media own.
If you wouldn't mind, give us a review on apple podcast that helps out the show so much. Let's get into the show. Well, Joseph, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Welcome to fire code tech. Absolutely. Thank you for having me. Yeah, so we were, uh, kicking around a couple topics before we got started, but yeah, I, you know, I were just kind of getting to know each other and um, I always kind of liked to start off these podcasts with, you know, how you got into fire and life safety.
And I feel like you. About to, you know, um, dive into that bit of exposition about your career, but I realized that we hadn't hit record yet. So, yeah. Would you tell me a little bit about that, Joseph? Yeah. Yeah. You know, the, the, the interesting thing is we kind of don't know when we're coming outta high school, in my opinion, a lot of us, at least, uh, what direction we want to go in.
Right. We're we're thinking, uh, you know, there's a lot of different opportunities out there. I could follow in pathways of some of my mentors, or I could really just develop who I want to be. Right. And, and, and you can do that every day. I've, I've found over my life that you can kind of rediscover yourself every day and recreate who you wanna be at any given time.
You you're, you're never stagnant, right. Continual learning, continual education and continuous improvement on yourself. Um, so, so. You know, I, I started, uh, really young working. Uh, I did flooring. I used to help out my brother-in-law who owned his own company. And, uh, we would do that stuff on the weekends.
And then I grew a little bit and, you know, became of working age. We're talking 16 here. And, uh, I would work for longer periods. We'd work, weekends, work over the weekend, uh, you know, at schools and things like that, uh, installing cafeterias and doing, you know, toys, arrests and stuff. And it really led to me understanding craftsmanship.
And I thought, you know, this is a fun career, but it's hard. It's LA you know, it's pretty laborious. You you're lifting a lot of weight and stuff with carpet and tile and all that stuff. And, and as I got into high school, I wanted to hang out more with my friends, but I still wanted to earn an income. Um, and so I had started working at Disneyland and I was there as a cast member at Disneyland for about a year and a half, just finishing up high school.
Uh, and it, funny enough, man, my car broke down and I didn't have anything to fall back on. Disneyland was about a half hour away, 35, 40 minutes away. And so I had to, you know, figure it out or get something local as a, as an opportunity until I can get my car back up and run. And I get a call from my brother-in-law and he says, Hey man, I went down to this company out in long beach.
You need to go check 'em out. He said, they're, uh, they're, uh, low voltage installation company. And he said, you love working with electronics and stuff. And I've known that about you. So why don't you go check 'em out? So I knew how to hook up car stereos and, uh, you know, that was the gist of it. Maybe some VCRs, that was the guy that took apart stuff at home and put it all back together.
Right. Electronics and all that good stuff. So, um, I went down and I interviewed and within about an hour, I had the job and. That's where it started, man. and, uh, you know, it, it, uh, it kind of just like what you were saying, you know, you, you, you have this mentality where you just want more. And for me coming in as a technician, um, I didn't know anything, but I had a hunger.
And every day I would show up, I'd have my tool bags the first day. I remember going out and getting some tools and stuff, some hand tools and, uh, uh, looked around, you know, the industry wasn't really, we didn't have the internet like that. Right. It was still dial up, but I knew how to search around for things.
I'd go to home Depot and stuff and look for tools. And, um, I'd also ask some of the guys, Hey, what are some of the common tools that you use on a regular basis? So asking questions, I was able to emulate what the senior guys were doing, and I would learn how to work with a multi-meter or work with, uh, you know, hand tools day to day.
But then I would also in the morning before, when everybody was standing around there, out smoking a cigarette or having drink coffee or something, I'm asking a senior guy to put a trouble on a. Saying, Hey, put a ground fault or put a shorter or, or put a trouble on that system so I could figure it out.
Right. And there was a method to my madness because what they didn't see was that when I was at home, I was reading the code book and I was opening up drawings. And I was looking at all the general notes sections of the drawings to understand what the heck I was doing. I'm out there. Uh, I know how to read schematics, right?
I, I installed car stereos. I did electronics. Like this is just a little bit bigger scale, but everything circuits. And so, um, you know, I just, I had to, I had to move in that direction to really apply myself and say, if you're here for eight hours a day to learn this thing, learn how to do it. And you're in a really fast paced environment.
You get left behind pretty quick, if you don't move. And I saw what my lead guys had put up with and I kind of learned from them and, uh, yeah, within, you know, six months. I was already seeking out. Nice. A so I, I was just really aggressive young. Yeah. That's, that's probably like the best thing you could be as a young professional, getting into the industry, you know, you're never gonna know everything that you need to, so I love hearing about, uh, you know, people's stories and people's ambition and drive, uh, cuz I think it's infectious, this, this hustle and this thought of, you know, uh, continual development, which is something that we've already touched on a couple times now.
But yeah, I love that story of like having some knowledge of, you know, AV and a little bit of, you know, the component architecture of electronics and just kind of seeking out this first role and diving head in. That's awesome. Absolutely. Absolutely. I I, like I said, I'm here for eight hours. Of my life. And I, I, I don't know about everybody that listens to your podcast, but I look at my life very seriously from a perspective of every moment has to matter, right?
It doesn't mean that I'm doing something every moment that may matter to somebody else, but it has to be, we have to live with intention. Like you have to live intentionally, everything that you do has to matter for something. And if you're not doing something that is being intentional, then you know, you're not, you're not respecting yourself.
And so when I came into that, you know, into that role, I said, look, I'm getting off of my knees doing carpet and flooring and stuff, and I'm gonna go install electronic systems in a building. And, you know, the, I knew a little bit about 'em, but it was fire alarm. And that seemed pretty serious to me. So I felt, well, you know, if I'm watching my, my senior guy open up drawings, he's reading something.
You know, he's talking to these building inspectors and talking to this guy, like these are serious things that they're doing. I need to know that because if I wanna be that I have to know what they know. Yeah. There's some definitely an added, like implication to fire and life safety work, uh, where you feel early on in your career that, you know, yes, you're learning, but there is this impetus to figure it out because these systems are not just, uh, ancillary to, um, the building, uh, they have impact on people's lives.
So yeah, yeah. Even us, even us. And I'll, I'll tell you some stories as we move through the conversation about how it even impacts us today, and we don't even realize it. So. Yeah, that's great. So I always like to get a sense of, you know, people's like kind of project work. We're still, you know, early on in your career in this part of the discussion, but you know, like moving forward, what are these kind of, uh, projects that become some of these formative experiences early on in your career?
Joseph? Yeah. So, so as a project technician, uh, I think through every phase of my career, I've had, uh, really dramatic experiences that have kind of opened my eyes and, and you know, it, it's, it's from a couple of different levels, right? It's not necessarily just a project itself, but it's the enormity of the responsibility that you have.
And when you realize that it creates a level of consciousness that you take and you're like, wow, okay. I matter. Right. So, so in my role at DC associates and fire co was interesting as a senior guy going out and installing my first system and, and my very first project that I went on by myself. It was a little company, Mary in Torrance, California, and I went and started their cup facility.
We were, we were the first integrator to go into this complex. They wanted to try out a new guy, uh, or a new gal in town. Right. And so we came in, I started that system out. The first time around ever installing wire by myself, all that stuff, trimming it out. And it turned green programmed perfectly. And all the devices tested because I went through meticulously and I like forced myself to say, don't make any mistakes.
Right? Uh, it's a life safety system. And my wiring was always really clean and, and all that kind of stuff. So that was very, uh, impactful for me. Cuz then I ended up getting, awarded myself a five story expansion of inpatient hospital stuff. They gave me the project and they said, well, you already have the relationships out there.
Go run the thing and we're gonna convert this thing from that vendor to us. That was huge, right. That hospital still stands today. It's got an emergency room, it's got a NICU unit, a, a L and D ward. Uh, we did all kinds of crazy stuff like w doors and infant abduction. And so, so it's like, it, it still a living breathing facility and it still serves people today saving people's lives even today.
Right. So that matters. Wow. And then as I continued on, as a project manager, for instance, um, I ended up managing almost about 9 million in fire alarm work, and that's pretty substantial in fire alarm when you're talking, you know, uh, little parts of smarts projects, as well as, you know, large construction jobs.
And that was a lot of Kaiser Permanente work in Los Angeles for Siemens. And it was just so, uh, uh, so great of an experience to understand P and L it helped me to understand, uh, the, the business side, um, how to manage people effectively. And how to take what I learned as a technician, and just translate that into a bigger mindset of delegation, because I can't succeed alone.
It takes my team in order to succeed at these projects, cuz these things are behemoth, right? We're talking smoke control, full active smoke control, uh, you know, 5,000 addressable points on fire alarm systems. And we're in, you know, we're integrating with mechanical contractors and elevator guys and all this stuff, but you're maintaining a business at 9 million.
It's just a large responsibility. And then, you know, the next level up from there was moving on to Johnson controls and becoming an operations manager. And again, turning that volume up, seeing it from the next level of, of visibility, which is more 30,000 foot perspective and understanding how each individual in a business.
Can maximize them, their, their can maximize their, their efficiencies and their potential. If you give people a good structure and you help them to understand their roles. And if they understand that leadership is there to be in the Fox hole with them and guide them through, it really helped me to learn business from a totally different perspective, standardization, making people good at what they do, cuz they're repeating the same process over and over again.
And then understanding that we can make these technologies plug and play. And so that was huge, huge, huge, from my perspective. Uh, moving on in my career into where I'm at today at space age, man, there's so much good stuff to unpack there. I love what you were talking about. Um, with that panel lighting up green the first time, I can only imagine like the emotion of that, uh, as somebody who's, you know, just got their first big project, uh, that I can like feel that as, as you're talking about it, you know, um, as a huge moment, and then, uh, you spend six months on some of these jobs there.
These are hours of your life that you're spending frustrated, tinkering, trying to figure this stuff out. And when you turn it on and it works. It it, yeah, it was, it was, uh, monumental for me mentally to say, I can do this. Yeah, man. That's awesome. And then, yeah, moving on to those large scale projects with, you know, thousands of points, those are, those are huge projects, you know, with the complexity is, is off the walls to deal with these com complicated systems, smoke control.
I mean, it doesn't get any more, um, hard to put together than smoke control for, for fire alarm. In my estimation, I mean, that's about as tricky as it gets. Uh, it really helped me to, to, to, uh, have respect for the fire alarm project managers. Um, because we, we, we are the quarterback between the local authority, the FPE, the architects, the engineers, the mechanical contractor, the sprinkler contractor, the door contractor, the ceiling tile contractor, the electrical contractor, um, Uh, and nowadays, obviously we're getting into concrete, we're getting into two, a communication systems.
Like there's so many of those different trades elevators, and they all have to integrate generators, fire pumps. Like they all communicate to this central core system. Yeah. That's so great. Yeah. Uh, integrated systems and something I really wanted to touch on that you covered in your quick recap on your career so far is like sure, this management development or this, like this focus on people and interaction with people, I think is like a very crucial step in the development of a career.
And like kind of this moving up is understanding how to motivate and how to interact with people and how to facilitate teamwork better. So I just, I love that theme cuz it's something I'm kind of feeling in my, in the position of, uh, you know, what I'm experiencing right now as a developing professional, like.
How to be a motivator, how to be a team player, how to be a, somebody who facilitates people to get things done. So I love hearing about that. Yeah. Nobody likes, nobody likes to be told what to do. They wanna be shown. Right. And, and the one thing that I always, uh, can stand behind for myself is I'm gonna be the first one in, and, and you're gonna see me walk through that.
You're gonna see me walk through that door and I need a band of people behind me that wanna follow. And, and not necessarily, they're not following me, but they're following in my direction. Right. And so, um, I can't inspire people if I don't know what I'm talking about. If I've never had the experience of doing it, I tell new sales professionals, please go out in the field and do the work, physically pull the wire, install the devices.
So you understand what it takes so that when you bid a job, you're bidding it from the perspective of, I have physical experience in doing that role, right. Um, uh, engineers go out and, and, and physically see a system work. Uh, I tell my, my partners, uh, and my coworkers here in the manufacturing world all the time, I send them pictures and say, look, our systems installed in the biggest Highrise out in this major.
This is you, you built these boxes and this wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for you for what you do. We all have to understand that role that we play. Right. As a technician, as a project manager, as an ops manager, we all play a certain role in a, in a, in a organization professionally, and even in our, in our personal lives.
But I'll go back to a book it's called good to great, you know, as an ops manager, I had to understand the right people in the right place on the bus, cuz it's a very packed bus and we're all going in that direction. And I'm driving the bus as an ops manager and I need to make sure that I have the right people on that bus first of all.
But then I wanna make sure that they're in the right positions to, to, to maximize their best, uh, characteristics and capabilities. Right? If they're analytical, I don't want them in a position that, um, an emotive person would succeed. because maybe they're more closed off and they want to think about what they have to say before.
You know, they approach a, a response, whereas that needs somebody that's more prompt to give a faster response. Right. Um, and I think that was my best. Under my best understanding in management was to really read people, understand who it is that I'm working with and lead by example, the same as being a parent lead by example, get in the Fox hole with people, make sure that they, that they understand what you're asking of them.
So you have to set good expectations up front, but you have to show them how to perform and how to be successful at what you're asking them to do. And when they see that and they can rep replicate that and repeat that process over and over again, cuz you've created a standard way to do it. Now people can succeed and it's like football.
You don't think when you're out there, you just do it. It's second nature. Yeah, that's all great stuff. Yeah. I think there's, there's so much to be said for, you know, the best leaders that I work with are all, uh, set good examples of being a team player, player set. Good examples of going beyond expectations.
Set good examples of, um, the facilitating teamwork and bringing a, a team together. You know, uh, like a team builder or somebody who knows how to have that emotional intelligence that you're talking about to right. Um, key into what's important to people and what's important to the business. Um, so I think that's all, uh, really, really great stuff.
Um, I wanted to, you know, break in a little bit more on, you know, you work for some really huge projects with really, you know, uh, big budgets and, um, some powerhouses in the industry, like, uh, JCI and Siemens. And I just, you know, like as somebody who's worked for predominantly smaller companies, like how did.
How did these, uh, roles like kind of shape you? I mean, it, it seems like, um, they were extremely influential, but, um, from your perspective, how did they shape you in your career? Yeah, no great question. I I'll, I'll tell you this. E every, every experience I've ever gone into in my life as a role or an opportunity, I'm always interviewing that company.
Believe it or not. When I walk into an interview, I'm not walking into an interview for them to just know about me. Like, I want you to put me in my position. I want you to show me what my day to day operation looks like, so that I can see if it fits good for my. Because I bring a lot to the table. Right.
I'm I, uh, and, and I think self-confidence is a good thing. That was the only way of going from a small company with less than 50 employees at DCA or fire call, uh, very, very small operations. Um, but knowing that. Like the, the installation was second nature to me. I, I was already nice at level two, so I understood the code.
I understood how to reference the code. I understand how to research the code. Uh, I knew how to have, uh, relationships with AJS, cuz I had sat through numerous certificate of occupancy, uh, inspections. Um, so going into the roles at, at Siemens particularly, I was very, very confident as a matter of fact, uh, I think in six months I went from being a senior level technician to be a project manager level one.
And then a year later I was a project manager level two, which is really, really high ranking. I was like in the president's club, um, uh, where they ranked me with all the project managers in the us. And, and, you know, they, they obviously Siemens took a very, very, uh, uh, critical role with me growing in my confidence in the industry.
And then Johnson controls was like, okay, what, what can I apply that I learned at Siemens? And, and the difference, I think between companies like Siemens and say an installation company, uh, smaller installation company, is that they invest in the employee. They want you to learn, they'll pay for you to continue ed, continue your education.
Um, I went and took my PMP exam. I missed it literally by I think, two percentage points. It was pretty, pretty, uh, pretty horrible. And I never retook the test. I don't know why, but I still remember the criteria and understand how to lay out how to lay out a project. So it was never about, um, uh, not being capable, going into those roles.
It was just about me trusting my intuition and myself and my capabilities and saying, listen, I know I'm a 30 year old kid. Because I still looked at myself at that. I, I knew I was a 30 year old kid going in and running a 35 million operations, uh, like Johnson controls, but it's nothing like I haven't done it before, just more volume.
So I have to be responsible for more, let me grow into the role, but don't be afraid of the role. Yeah. I think that that's a great point about that, that confidence and that, um, ambition to learn and kind of to grow, you know, you never have all the tools you need, uh, to, to succeed at a role when you get into it and kind being adaptive and getting in there and, and not being timid and just kind of grabbing the bull by the horns and going after it.
I think that's the mentality that I see. It's like a real entrepreneurial spirit and, um, just of the people who get things done. I, I see that very commonly. Well, I think a lot of the times when, when we take jobs, when we take jobs, right, we take a job and we think, oh, uh, I should already know what I'm doing.
Yeah. And, and when we don't know what we're doing, we have an option. we have a choice, either go learn about what you're doing, or try to fumble your way through it. And personally, it, it doesn't feel comfortable to not know what I'm doing. Yeah. And so I always try to prepare myself as much as possible before I take something on and engage it.
And I mean, I had what, 16 years of experience and fire alarm. So the fire alarm, wasn't the, wasn't the part that was the unknown. It was, how do I manage a company? Like you're putting a huge load on my shoulders and, and how do I manage that? And I'll tell you, I created standards. The same thing I do in my life.
You know, when you brush your teeth, Gus. What hand are you righthand or lefthanded? Right hand you're right hand. Right. Okay. So, so when you're brushing your teeth with your right hand, you're pretty good at it, right? Sure. Do you think about it when you're doing it? No. No, it's just, it's it's secondhand nature.
Right? I just go at it. I put the toothbrush on the same or the toothpaste on the same way. And, and, and I, you know, I brush my, whatever you get my point. Sure. So when we show up to any role or any responsibility that we have, we have to create standardization in the way that we approach that role. And when we create a standard way of doing things, I check my emails.
First I respond to 'em. I go to my phones, I check my voicemail. I do that. And then I do this, this, this, this, and this, but each one of those tasks has a particular way that I've set that I do it because it's the most efficient for me. It's similar to brushing my teeth. The more I repeat something, the better I get at it.
Right. Where I don't even have to think about it. Like I brush my teeth. Well, when it comes to fire alarm or managing a company or anything like that, the more you repeat what you're doing, the better you get at it. And at Johnson controls, the more I repeated what I was doing, which was creating a standard way for people to do their role and for us to look at the numbers every month and for us to review the month and for us to review continuous improvement, as we started to implement strategy in repetition, the financial side of the business grew, and we ended up going, uh, from, uh, like some, some numbers wise, uh, those that listened to you from a 17 to a 22% EBITDA over the course of four years.
It was just, it was, it was, it was focusing on not rigidity. Like I, I know some people may have called me the ethic police in that role. I was very responsible cuz I managed safety and yeah, so I was, I was kind of by the book, but when it came to managing projects and managing installation practices financially, we benefited from what I learned at Siemens and going through my PMP because it was very structured and we knew how to protect ourselves from the risks that we see on construction projects all the time with delays.
And we just got over some with COVID right? We're still dealing with delays now, but the encumbrances of what that brings onto an organization is huge. And some people don't realize that, but it costs an organization to still manage through these times when the manpower isn't being as productive. And so you, you, we had to know how to get through these sorts of events and still be profitable cuz we're in business to make a profit.
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. That's great points about documentation, like documenting the role and having a playbook. You know, I think that in times when, you know, you falter or you don't know what to do to have a playbook to look back and say, no, this is how we do it. This is the process. And, you know, I don't think about how we, how far am I on this project?
You know, how done are we? Um, I think that is so important. And sometimes I think it's, it's easy to lose sight of having that playbook and that documentation. I think it makes it, it takes away the, that, uh, active brain and trying to figure it out and just makes it move forward. I think that's a great, right, right, right.
Absolutely. Dude, that is absolutely key. That is absolutely key to making a business profitable is you have to, you have to not think. And, and it takes experience, but how fast do you want to get there? Right. How, how much experience do you want to attain? And that's where these experts that you, that you can see out there in the industry.
They, they all say we all have the same 24 hours in the day, right? How much are you willing to put in of yourself so that you can become who you wanna be? And, and you see people that show up for eight hours a day, you sh you see people that show up for 12 hours a day. Maybe they put in eight hours in the field, but they're doing four hours at home.
Or like I used to do, I'd take out the code book and read the code book while I was using the restroom. Right. I mean, little things like that. And, and, you know, it's funny now that I say it, but it's true because I was 19 years old. I'd use restroom and I'd read the code book, cuz I wanted to have an. And I wanted to learn and I wanted to make more money while I was doing it.
Cuz if I'm doing this for eight hours a day, I better know what I'm doing and I wanna know what I'm doing. Yeah. I think that the people who get ahead, they they'll put in that extra. They'll put in that little bit of I to do more because I mean, if you're not, and I've talked about this before, but if you're not putting in.
More effort, you know, it doesn't always have to be more time, but it can be, and often is more caring, caring more about what you do. Yes. I think that you're gonna see the dividends in the return on your career. And like you've said numerous times, not just accepting the status quo, but looking to improve and looking to, to grow.
And putting in that extra effort, whether it's, you know, oh yeah. Nobody's holding your hand and saying that you have to know the code. No, you probably could have got your job done only knowing a little bit about the code, but you chose to focus on excellence and to not only know the code, but, you know, be able to be versatile and be able to, you know, speak about it with authority, which has been extremely influential in your career.
So, I mean, I think that's, that's awesome. Yeah. I really resonate with that. Um, I think thank you, man. I think every young professional should, should take a note and out of that book and say, you know, you gotta push forward and, and really focus on, um, not just punching a clock. Um, you know, it's, it's not for the company.
It's for yourself, you're doing yourself a disservice. If you don't, you're doing yourself a disservice. If you don't put that energy in. That's it coming out of operations. It's funny what I, I was told one thing, um, I always go back to football. I'm a big football fan, right. But I always go back to something about, uh, uh, that, that I was told and that, that I still continue to tell people, even after I learned it.
And I learned this pretty young continue, uh, consider a company, a five gallon bucket of water, and it's filled up right to below the brim. You take your fist and you shove it in that water. You raise the level of that water, right? The level of water in that bucket, rose just that much because you filled that space that we didn't know was there, but you filled the space.
Now you can pull your hand outta the water and that water level will rec reside just a little bit, but it, the hole that you left will fill itself in, you're never bigger than the organization. An organization is the sum of all the parts. And so we, we have to contribute our part to that organization.
Make sure you're in the right position on the bus and that you're put in a position to succeed. You, you have to any, any young professional getting into any position that they are given. If you show up to work and they're like, okay, just go over there in the corner and figure out what you're gonna do that that's not gonna inspire you.
Unless you're inspired to say, oh, that's how you do it. Well, you know what? I want to be a manager one day. So if that's how you do it, let me introduce to you what a system looks like. I have a system I can show you how to do after three weeks and it's gonna increase your efficiencies and then they hand you a manager's role, right?
So there's a couple of ways to look at it. You can look at it as a negative because they didn't give you a role and you're, you're identifying it for them. Or you could see it as you know, this company really doesn't have it together for me. Uh, I want to grow and this company seems to just want people to fall into an abyss.
Yeah, I think that's a great point. You can, you can either choose to be defeated or you can see it as an opportunity and say, Hey, I'm not neglected. I've just been given a blank slate to, um, show, you know, make my own roadmap and playbook for what success looks like. Um, I think that's a point that's a mindset choice.
You know, it's, it's funny cuz when I go back to installation, uh, you know, knowing how to install car stereos, my first job, I remember pulling wire. I remember, uh, going to projects five o'clock in the morning. You know, I was the guy that put the wire in the wire cart. I'd bring it into the building, I'd lift the ladders.
Like I was the new guy and I used to look at these senior guys and they would, you know, sit around for an hour, drinking coffee, smoking a cigarette, doing Asbuilt. And I'm like, I want that. Like, I, I want what he's doing. So how do I get there? And I knew that I had to know what he knew in order for me to get there.
So it was encouragement for me to put a little bit of effort from myself into wanting to learn that right. And it was a goal of wanting to be better. Um, but the more that I learned, the more that I understood that it translated financially for me too. So I was 21 years old making almost $25 an hour. And for that, you know, for that period of time, it was 19 97, 98.
That was pretty good money for my age. I mean, that's still good money now. It's still not bad money now. So , there's still a lot of, there's still a lot of entry level people getting into the industry, looking hoping to make that much money. I mean, but, uh, no, I think that's great. Um, I love that sentiment about, you know, it's, it's in your best interest to, to be excellent, man.
I agree. You know, like this, you do what you do for eight hours a day, man. You do what you do for eight hours a day. Why not be great at it? Yeah. Yeah. I love that. So eight hours is a long time. Like eight hours is a long, long time when you actually focus on the minutes. Eight hours is a long time. Yeah. And it's your life, you know, it's your 40 hours a week.
It's your, you know, however many hours a year, you know? Yeah. You really just gonna phone it in from that whole time. So there's 2000, there's 2080 hours available of productive work every year. Right. But we only a lot for 1,640, I think it is because employees have vacation time. Plus they have, obviously, this is my operations management experience.
2080, you have 20, 80 hours of, of physical work time that you can have as an individual to work a year. Like that's a lot of time, uh, think of a, think of the amount of movies you can watch in 2000 hours. Right? Yeah. Think of how many books you could read in 2000 hours. Yeah. Like, like if we're doing this stuff for eight hours a day, at least I'm hoping everybody's doing it for eight hours a day, you should be really good at what you're doing.
Yeah. That's great. So yeah, I wanted to move on a little bit. I think that we've really covered. Some great pieces of your growth from technician and laying your foundations and fundamentals in the code and in the constructability of fire alarm systems. But I wanted to talk a bit about what you're doing now at space, age electronics, and, um, let people know about, uh, you know, what gets you excited today and the challenges that you're tackling now in your career.
But yeah, I'm, I'm interested as somebody who is, uh, continued to develop, you know, what, what are your challenges now? What are your things that you see as growth, you know, um, to contrasting to that, uh, management and some other things that we were talking about previously? Sure. So in my, in my, uh, in my previous life, I was a Tony Robbins.
I'm sure you can hear it in my voice. I'm very passionate about what I do. Um, I, I, I, let me ask you a question, Gus. Sure. You know, in, in your final days, even, even, even growing up before you knew what you were gonna do. Yeah. What was your ultimate goal with your career? Like, not from a role perspective, not to have a title.
Like what, what is your ultimate goal when they look back and they say this was Gus in this industry, what was your, what was your, what's your motivation? Yeah, I think, uh, to be successful, to be, you know, uh, independent, to be, um, a team player to be good, you know? Yeah. Um, broadly I think just to that's I think that's what winning looks like in my.
Sure, uh, to be good to be, uh, well regarded. Yeah. I, I consider my life like when, when we look back at my life, look at this dash, right? It's the dash that you're gonna see on my tombstone that says from 1978 dash this year, and in that dash is experiences like this. It, it, that dash means this what we're doing right now.
Right. And that dash to me is how I, I, and we all do this. I I've learned a lot about the brain. How can I go back and solve some of the problems that I had both as a child or as a teenager, or as an adult, or as a professional or as a father, as a mother or as a, a, you know, whatever. Like how can I fix something that I experienced in my.
So coming to space age, it was a very interesting situation that happened to me. Um, uh, I won't get into all the details of what had happened, but I, I, I became available and I made a phone call. I, I gave myself a pity party for about 30 minutes after I became available. Uh, like I threw a pity party and I was really angry and frustrated and not understanding why things happen the way that they do.
And I remember after that pity party, I looked at my, uh, he was four years old at that point, he looked at me, he said, dad, are you okay? And I said, I'm not okay right now, but I will be in a minute. And I picked up my phone and I made like seven or eight phone calls. And out of one of those phone calls, I had a random conversation with somebody and they said, Hey, we'll give you a call back.
Um, I gotta walk into a meeting and it was probably about a week later that I got a call from, uh, who was then my hiring manager and the national business development manager, Christian White. And he said, Hey, uh, you know, we wanted to talk to you about joining the teams. Is there any way we can come out and meet with you?
And it took about a week and a half for them to situate it. And I didn't understand why, but they were flying out from Massachusetts and Florida to come see me. And I thought, wow, these guys got on airplane and came out here to see me. Okay. And we went and had lunch and, and the conversation started around, you know, what do you want yourself to be like, who do you wanna be?
Because like I said, we could recreate ourselves every day in whatever image we wanna be today, you can decide to be a completely different person than you were yesterday. And I decided at that point that I wanted to be a change agent in this industry that I wanted to leave a legacy. I want that dash to mean legacy and here's who it touched.
And for me, working at space age is building a legacy is like you said, it's about yourself fitting a role within an organization. So I've always had the passion for life safety. I've always been very passionate about what I did as an installer, as a project manager, as a technician, you know, all that stuff.
I saw the debilitating factors of, uh, lack of resources, uh, product that just was not really good. Wasn't manufactured very well. That caused me time. Uh, one of my projects that I installed, uh, the electrician didn't install the conduit properly. And I was, it took me almost a month and a half to pull a garage that should have only took it.
Two or three days, um, it was just a really bad install. And I spent like 33 hours one day working overnight because I was troubleshooting installation that was done improperly and, and I remember falling asleep in the corridor and the fire marshal woke me up during our, during our inspection. And he's like, Hey man, what are you doing?
And I'm like, oh my God, I didn't sleep since Friday morning or that I woke up Friday morning and it's Saturday night, I missed my Christmas party. And, and from that day I had this conviction within myself to say, if there's something that I can do to fix this industry so that people don't have to do that anymore, I wanna be responsible for that.
So what I look at myself here at space age is I'm a liaison between that installation world that I cherish so much and all those installers of the project managers and superintendents, and formants that I treasure so much that put in that work every day to build buildings that we all use every day, malls and stores and grocery stores and Costcos and all that stuff.
Right. And a manufacturer who builds really, really cool stuff, cuz they, they understand what the industry needs and they're putting they're reinvesting money back into the industry by building new technology. And when they see that something's wrong, they fix it. They don't just let it continue to subside and think, oh, well, it'll be fixed down the road from a ceiling bracket to a document box where there's, as-builts missing on most, you know, installations that were done back in the eighties and nineties, nobody can find as-builts for those systems.
It's like, well, why not put a box in the fire com command center? Now it's in the code, right? Uh, uh, um, anyways, that conversation, it was about inspi inspiring this industry to have no excuses for wanting to be better. And, and it fit perfectly for me, it was, it was in my wheelhouse and life safety. I was talking to the people that I was working with my entire career, continuing to build relationships, but they mentioned one thing to me.
They said, we want you to be an influencer, and we want you to be a change agent in the industry. And I took that seriously. So LinkedIn has become my, uh, social media channel of choice. And I use it religiously to stay in contact with all of my connections, because there's, there's a huge effect that happens when I can create a story or show a story one time to 10,000 people then to have 10,000 conversations about that same story.
Now I can retell that story to five or 10 people down the road if they ask me about it. But if they see it and 10,000 of them see it, and it only took me 30 seconds to tell that story. I just told that same story, 10,000 times in 30 seconds. So from a business perspective, that makes a lot of sense from a connections perspective.
These people that I'm talking to are people like me as a technician and a project manager who need the technology that is gonna make their life better. So I'm trying to solve those problems that I couldn't solve as them in their. And I was like, wow, what a perfect relationship where I can come in and be that liaison.
But then I can start developing who I wanna be in the industry. And that's when I got involved in industry relations, became the secretary of the board for, uh, society of fire protection engineers. Dan in San Diego became a me, a board member. And now I'm the secretary of the board for the California automatic fire alarm association.
I've sat on the work group for, uh, uh, the I codes for, uh, chapter 33, uh, the 20, 21 edition. I'm now on a NFPA technical committee, nine 15 for, for remote testing. Um, I'm involved in a lot of associations across the us. I do education across the us, um, and I'm becoming an influencer just by educating people on the codes that they need to understand in order to be successful at what they do.
Wow. Yeah. Yeah. Wow. That's great, man. That's, uh, you talked about some great points in, uh, getting involved with professional societies and communities. Um, what do you see as like the biggest impacts, uh, through this obviously a common theme throughout your career has been networking and, you know, having influential people and mentors, uh, how do these professional societies kind of play into that development we've been speaking about?
Well, so, so, uh, Napoleon hill, I'm reading one of his books right now, actually I'm surprised I never heard of it. Uh, he talks about the mastermind group. Um, uh, you know, Carnegie talked about the mastermind group, um, teams, all teams, your team, any team were only as strong as aureus link and, you know, as professionals.
In an organization. You know, if we, if we all wanna succeed as an organization, we have to pick up sometimes for the people that can't pick themselves up. Right. And I think as an industry, we also have to do the same and we're a very busy group of people. And we, we, uh, you know, we have a lot of things going on.
We all wear multiple hats and sometimes education. Isn't always the easiest thing for us to find time for. Right. But I think that when it comes to life safety systems, ultimately the builders are responsible to know the code and the installing contractors that they hire and bring in are responsible to know the code for the people that expect them to know the code.
So when you get involved in industry it's, I think what it, what it becomes more is knowing the people that know the code. And then learning it as you go, cuz you're influenced by them. They become your mentors and then you inevitably take their role and become a mentor for somebody else. So once you learn it, you can't just hold onto it and retain it.
You gotta pass it on. Um, but industry relations helps you to learn who the right people are, where they fit within your education and what you're gonna need from them. Cuz everybody comes into your, uh, there there's a reason or a season, right? And, and, and learning from those individuals, whether it's on a large scale basis where they're doing a, a presentation on a code or if it's, um, where you become a part of that membership and see them regularly and you interact with them regularly and then maybe you do business with one another, or maybe they help you to find a business partner that you work with.
Everybody has a role. In your professional environment when it comes to associations, they're either in the industry as a, as a connection, or they're gonna be a resource for you down the road, so never lose sight of that. Yeah, that's great. Yeah. I love the, you know, the big theme we've been talking about is continuous learning and understand that you have, uh, I watched, um, one of your, uh, show me the code episodes where you're talking about fire service, access elevators, and was really interesting, but yeah, I wanted, um, everybody who's listening to hear about what you're doing with, show me the code.
Would you speak on that? Yeah, so I actually didn't know anything about fire service, access elevators, uh, up until about a month and a half prior to recording that episode with Sigi. Um, but I have, you know, a lot of partners that we work with and I connect with a lot of people on LinkedIn. So. I get asked a lot of questions.
And when somebody asks me a question, I like to research it and follow through and know the answer. Right. And everything that we deal with in this industry is based on code. If it's not a code, like a security system or a CCTV system, that's more of a white canvas. You're designing something to protect the owner.
Fire alarm systems are health and safety. So they're mandated. It means that there's a standard way to install it. And you should know what you're doing. You do this for eight hours a day. You should know what you're doing. so show me the code is a way for me to give back to those individuals who don't always have the time or who may not have the confidence to call up a fire department official and say, what am I supposed to do about fire surface service access elevators, or I'll be honest with you.
A lot of the people that watch my stuff are actually in the fire service industry, they're fire protection, uh, fire prevention, and they will watch these things and say, Hey, look, I may not have had a chance to go watch, uh, a four hour course on it, but he gave me all of the groundwork that I needed to understand that.
And so I found industry experts in my career. SGI is one of em. I deal with him on a regular basis with KAA and also with my interactions in the industry, uh, Wayne Moore, uh, who is probably one of the pioneers of NFPA 70. You know, I interviewed on survivability and such a huge topic that goes over something that costs so much money.
If you don't get it right. Um, the purpose of that is in sales, if you don't sell a fire alarm or a fire installation or a fire protection system, if you don't sell it right, it can cost an organizational, a lot of money. And that costs a lot of people, a lot of sleep, it costs people, their jobs, and it can cost an organization, their business.
So I'm trying to promote education so that people understand there is a right methodology to approach this. I have a contractor's license in my state because I'm supposed to understand this and I may not have the time to do it, but you're providing me a repository that I can go back to watch over and over and over again until it drills into my head.
And now I can recite it like you. Yeah, that's great. I love that you've chosen to cover in your, you know, YouTube series, some of the, like most difficult pieces of fire alarm, you know, uh, I saw you had, um, uh, emergency responder, uh, amplification systems and these are some extremely difficult and nuanced and not very well covered areas of the, of the code and of standards and, you know, kind of burgeoning areas in the industry where people are still, um, if they're not just, uh, specialists trying to figure these out, you know, um, depending on your jurisdiction, you might not have a ton of these buildings with these systems.
And so it, this resource is invaluable for people who are trying to, uh, make buildings safer. Yeah, well, you know, the thing is keep in mind of something. A lot of what we're seeing with fire service, access elevators with bidirectional, amplifier, uh, you know, whatever you wanna call it, distributed antenna.
Um, two eight communication systems for area of refuge, um, occupant, evacuation elevators. All of these new requirements are part of what came out of the effects of nine 11. When the building code really started to be shaped around evacuation exits exit access and, and how do we protect individuals on opposing floors?
So that we can do something faster, right? So OES and FSAs came in because we wanna be able to access this, this fire occurrence faster. So we're gonna protect the elevators a little bit more. Um, but then, you know, there's individuals that can't get outta the building. We gotta provide them areas of refuge.
Um, and, and those systems have to be survivable. And so, so the codes remember we're on three year cycles. A lot of the time, a lot of the stuff is progressing from the west. So California's early adoption and it goes across to the east. There are some progressive jurisdictions throughout the us, but really California's just, you know, we, we just, we're going through our tri right now and we're adopting 20, 24, uh, approved language in the California building code in this next edition.
That'll be enforced in 2020. So we're gonna be a year ahead of the building coding, even becoming official because you know, California sees that if something's beneficial to the industry, we're gonna put it out there and make sure that that industry, the industry or the people, the civilization in that area knows that we're taking those proactive measures.
And so it's, it's being a part of that and helping to create awareness around those codes and standards and giving future information. For those that are getting up to speed with those building codes and standards, cuz the buildings we're putting up today are gonna be in the 20 12, 20 15 building code cycles.
And that's important cuz you gotta remember when your building permit was pulled that that's when the technology is gonna be based on. And there was a lot of changes that went into effect 20 12, 20 15. Um, and it's gonna be necessary, uh, for us to be able to go back and, and look at that and say, okay, now I see the differences.
Now I know how to apply the technology and not lose money as a business owner, man. Uh, yeah, I could go on for, uh, a good minute about the complexity of dealing with the code in California. I've never worked in a more difficult, uh, jurisdiction and I've worked in, you know, in New York city and, and, um, a bunch of other, uh, very, uh, rigorous, uh, areas for codes and standards.
But California is, uh, Man, um, LA and parts of California, without a doubt, the most difficult to, um, be accurate with codes and standards that I've ever dealt with. So it's, uh, remarkable that they're, that they're so proactive that they're on the, on the nice edge of code adoption like that. It's kind of wild.
Yeah. And, and that's why industry relations matters, you know, like on, I, I sit on the cafe board and I'm grateful for that opportunity, cuz it continues to call my attention every month when, when we're having our meetings and just talking as professionals. But like our, our, uh, our state agency meeting where we had the department of state architects, the, the office of the state fire marshal, the building, listing materials, uh, officials, uh, Oshpod, who's changing their name, um, like all of these different code entities and state agencies.
And they're talking about what to anticipate. I mean as a business owner, as a building owner, as a engineer, as an architect, as a whatever, EE, if you're involved in construction and an association is offering you free online time with these entities and saying, you can ask them questions about what you're anticipating or, Hey, how do you interpret this?
Get involved, you know, like there's nothing greater that you can do for your own education than to have a conversation with these people. Cause they're gonna tell you exactly what you need to do to be successful. Yeah, that's a great point. So, so yeah, continuous education, um, but ju just never see yourself as stagnant, especially in this industry, cuz technology's changing the code changes every three years and technology is staying far, far in advanced of even where the code is today.
I'm push I'm pushing early adoption of 20, 24, 20 27 language. Now. Wow, that's incredible. Well, I think that's a pretty good, uh, tip for people, but I just wanted to, um, uh, round out the conversation with, uh, if you were going to, um, think you've given a lot of good advice to professionals throughout this interview, but, um, as sort of, uh, an endpoint, um, for people who are looking to be competitive, uh, in the industry, uh, what advice would you have for somebody?
Um, maybe just any professional, but obviously you could make it, uh, fire alarm oriented as well. Absolutely. So I, I have a couple of different mediums that I've always expressed myself. Uh, uh, I have a couple of different YouTube channels. Uh, one of 'em, one of my business ventures that I did was, uh, meditation, uh, and, and motivation.
It's called your cup of Joe. Uh, no, you know, no, no play on my name. Right. but, uh, um, so I'm, I try to motivate people to understand, uh, the facts of, of just overall life. I, I feel like I'm an old soul, right? And I I've, I've learned this one adage that I take with me, and then I attribute to everything that I've either succeeded at or failed.
What, what people may consider failure. I don't consider a bad thing, but I'll tell you why. In a second, your thoughts become your actions and your actions become your reality. So your thoughts inspire intentional action. When you can be an observer of your thoughts and you can consciously focus on your thoughts and actually observe your thoughts, you can then control your actions because you decide what actions you want to take.
Now, those actions that you take depended on the quantity and the quality of those actions. If you have a plan and you execute a plan and you observe the plan to see what happened in the plan, if you failed, or would you consider failure or failure is actually showing you where you need to go in order to succeed, it's showing you what direction you need to go in based on the quantity of those actions that you take in that day, you will eventually experience that reality.
If you only take two actions in that day, your reality will get to you in a year and a half. If you take four actions in the day, that reality will come to you in nine months. If you take 50 actions a day, you'll see that reality in a month. If you take a hundred actions in a day, you'll see that reality in a week, your thoughts create your actions and your actions create your reality.
And it doesn't matter what you are trying to accomplish in your professional life, in your per personal life and being a better parent and being a better husband and being a better wife in trying to get through school, your thoughts and how you observe your thoughts and how you live intentionally through your actions that will eventually accomplish a goal or a reality.
And, and if you can, if you can document that, like we talked about having a plan, you will succeed. Don't lose faith in that, but when you're not consciously aware of your thoughts, you start to experience failure and not having a plan failure tends to stop people. We get paralysis by analysis, right? So I will go back to that.
You're doing what you do for eight hours a day, professionally learn how to be an expert at that study at it. Learn your craft. You're you're. If you wanna be a parent, you're gonna be that 24 7. Be good at it. Understand what your children need in order for you to be a good parent. You know, you wanna be in a good relationship, learn what it means to have a good relationship.
What you want to experience. You should be giving first. Like there are little things that we can do, but again, it's our thoughts that inspire action and it's how much action do we take in that day that we will experience the reality that we want. I, I will please put that, put that in big, bold letters over my name, your thoughts, create your actions and your actions create your reality.
Yeah, I'll leave you with that, Gus. That's great. That's great, Joseph, thank you so much for coming on the show for people who wanna find you, where can they go to find out more about Joseph Svante? Yeah. Yeah. So, uh, look me up your cup of Joe. Um, I should start doing that more, uh, um, on YouTube and then you can also do show me the code.
If you're in fire protection, you can definitely find me there. Um, if you're on LinkedIn, look for me on there. Joseph R set OFTA senior and, uh, yeah, we'll, we'll, we'll all stay connected. You can become part of my network and learn some about what I do or ask questions if you have them. Awesome. Awesome.
Well, I'll throw some links down in the show notes, but yeah. Thanks again. Hey, thank you for what you do. Keep educating, keep doing what you do even on the days when you don't wanna show up. Just show up, man, cuz you're doing a good thing. Uh, I feel the same way after I have my, uh, my, my podcast or, or my videos.
And you know, it takes a lot of work to do to get there and people don't see the post production editing and all those hours that you put into it and searching for the experts and all that stuff. But congratulations for taking the steps necessary to make this dream that you've had a reality and just keep.
Keep going. Yeah, I appreciate that. Thank you, sir. Yeah. Right on, man. Thanks for listening, everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes end standards interpretation.
Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time.