Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Jun 28, 2021

Welcome to episode 31 of Fire Code Tech! On this episode we are speaking with John Zalepka about everything passive fire protection. John is the host of The Burn podcast, and we get into the impetus for starting the show and the great content that he is involved with. Tune in to this episode if you are interested in professional development tips, marketing / business development advice and much more.


Would you tell us a little about your origin?

What is Specified Technology Incorporated?

What are your thoughts on single contractor designation for firestopping?

What kind of firestopping products are available?

Would you speak about the roles that you held and what you do now?

Would you speak about The Burn Podcast?

What was the impetus for starting the podcast and would you speak more on the origin?

What are some tips and tricks that you would give for marketing?



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 30, one of fire code tech. On this episode, we have John EPCA in episode 30, one of fire code tech. We are talking about everything. Passive fire protection. John is the host of the new, the burn podcast from STI. And we get into the reasons why he's got into this podcast game tuned into this episode of fire code tech.

Cuz we talk about some absolutely fabulous tips and tricks for professional development. How to grow as a professional and how to market yourself as somebody in the workforce. If you love fire protection, professional development, and how to get ahead in fire and life safety, you're gonna love this episode.

If you want to hear more about John, check out the show notes, you can check out a link to the burn podcast and a lot of the other. Links that we talk about in the show, don't forget to subscribe. So you never miss an episode of fire code tech and follow us on social media. LinkedIn's probably the platform where we post the most consistently.

Also, if you could do me a huge favor and give us a five star review on apple podcast that helps out our analytics and helps us stay in your feed. Let's get into the show. Well, welcome to the podcast, John. Thanks so much for coming on. Appreciate the time, Gus. Thanks for having. Well, awesome. Well, I love to get started with, um, a little bit about your background and, and how you kind of found your way into the industry.

More specifically kind of, uh, fire stopping and passive fire protection. Would you tell me a little bit about that, John? Sure. I mean, well, how does anyone really find themselves in their career? Really? I mean, it wasn't like. Running around the neighborhood saying, Hey, I can't wait for the passive fire protection industry to be born so I can have a career goal.

I mean, you know, it's interesting to think about, but as a whole fire stopping is relatively new to the construction industry and it's still somewhat in its infancy. If you ask me really so. Sure. I guess in a way, my career kind of parallels that, you know, I started my first business when I was in college and I eventually sold off most of the intellectual property to target corporation in 2000.

And. And after a semi retirement for a summer to get my golf game in, in line, I started working as a marketing consultant to stay busy. And then in 2013, a very dear friend of mine, David jello, who is, uh, the Northeast regional manager at STI. Now, uh, he and I were sitting around just kind of talking business and I was a few years removed from the sale of, of my business.

And I, like I said, I'd been doing some consulting work. Until that time. And then I was ready to, I guess, to get a real job. So I thought I was gonna go and work for a big agency. You know, I'd always been in the branding and marketing and advertising world. So I was gonna be calling on some of the largest brands in the world in New York city.

And Dave was like, Hey, I didn't know you were looking for a job. And I kind of said, I really wasn't. And he said, give me your resume. Seven plus years later. Here I am. Wow. Yeah. That's so funny. I love your point about like, oh, you know, how does anyone find a career in, you know, I have, uh, um, sisters in-law that are in high school and early college.

And I remember what I was like, kind of in college or getting outta college. And most people are just kind of stumbling through it. I resonate with that. That's pretty funny. And also, yeah, I mean, what a great industry to, to, to fall into and, you know, uh, with the so much promise. So that's cool. I love hearing about that.

Yeah. So, yeah. Would you, so mostly you've, uh, uh, been at, uh, the company you're with now at, uh, STI, uh, would you tell the listeners about, uh, kind of what that company is for, for those who don't. Sure. Well, um, STI stands for a specified technologies, Inc for anyone that doesn't know, uh, we're a industry leader in developing innovative fire protective systems, essentially that stopped the spread of fire smoke and hot gases.

Right? So we talk about passive fire protection. So for over 30 years, uh, since 1990, uh, we started and, you know, we kind of work hand in hand with the construction industry. We try to simplify the solutions, cuz sometimes it can get kind of messy out there with fire stopping problems. Uh, we see 'em all the time.

I, I started as a, a territory manager here, uh, back in 2013, just working with, uh, contractors, essentially. Uh, Teaching them how to install proper fire stop systems. I mean, the funniest story was when I first started, I had some great teachers. I mentioned David jello, but mark nun who has since passed away.

But he was a, he was a former contractor who came to work atti the same time as I did. And the first day out in the field, he, he brought me a hard hat and a, and it was, it was brand new and he kind of took a look at me and said, nah, it doesn't look right. He started kicking my hard hat down the street and threw my vest in some mud.

And, you know, he threw me in a stairwell with a drywall contractor to kind of spend some time with the folks that actually install our products. And, you know, I couldn't believe that, you know, a single trade didn't install, fire stopping. I mean, can you imagine if every time you ran a sprinkler pipe through a wall that the drywall contractor was responsible to make sure that worked.

Kind of like, it was very eye opening right in the beginning, but, um, fascinating at the same time to learn how the different trade. Use our products. Wow. That's a great story. Yeah. I've always heard the, the new people on the construction site talking about kicking their, their hard hat around in the mud.

So that, that you don't look so shiny on your first day that did . He took, he took a look at me. He was like, no, that's not gonna work. So, uh, that's exactly what we did. You gotta target on your back, John, we gotta fix that. Absolutely. That's great. Yeah, that's a great point on, uh, you know, uh, how it's not just one trade looking at fire.

Um, but, uh, you know, I should probably is kind of, uh, outta sequence in how I thought it would go, but in, uh, where I work now, we, um, love to see if we can one, um, dedicated person doing the fire stop, but it seems like most of the time it is. Like, uh, you know, each trade kind of doing it, but we try to ride our specs to where there's one, uh, contractor kind of doing the fire stop.

Would you, uh, do you have any thoughts on that or like how often you're, you're seeing that in the industry or, or if you are still kind of in a capacity to, to speak on that? I don't know. Yeah. I mean, you know, we always recommend that, you know, and oftentimes architects and engineers will write it into the specification.

That one trade is responsible for all of the fire stopping, whether that's actually enforced by the time it gets to the job site, um, that remains to be seen. And that is contingent a lot upon the general contractor, the local authority, having jurisdiction, the ownership, a lot of people have a say, or don't have a say in, who's gonna do the fire stopping.

And, and so. When it falls down to the trades, you know, hopefully they're qualified enough to do that. And that's why we spend a lot of time training the different subcontractors and trade specific applications so that, you know, if, and when it does fall down to them, uh, they're prepared to, to be able to pick up the pieces.

But you know, there are specialty fire, stop contractors. Uh, the F CIA is out there, so they have a, a great list. Of folks who are, you know, prepared to do all of the different types of applications. Um, so sometimes we'll see, you know, midway through a project, the general contractor say, okay, that's enough.

I've seen enough. So let's get someone in here that, uh, knows all of the systems and can kind of clean it up. So, you know, but upfront, if you can, you know, pre-construction meetings, if the subs are gonna do it, if you can get everyone coordinated, There shouldn't be a problem, but you know, if you can have a specialty contractor do it, that that's always recommended.

Yeah. It's interesting. It seems like the bigger projects always have it, but, um, some of the smaller guys, it's a little bit more of, uh, um, at the discretion of the, the individual contractor, but, uh, interesting. Yeah. I like talking about that and. I don't know, I'd like to dive into, to passive fire protection more and, uh, stick on this point a little bit.

Um, yeah, I don't know. Uh, I'm a code nerd. So my head always goes to like, uh, how do we know when we need passive fire protection or, you know, you guys also deal with like, uh, um, smoke tight, uh, penetrations as well, or that sort of. Yeah, that's right. So essentially, when do you need it is anytime an opening is created in a wall or floor, uh, for fire stopping a rated wall or floor, and then the same deal.

When you have your, your smoke partitions there, you're gonna need to put some type of smoke and an acoustical sealant in there to, you know, stop the spread of, of smoke through those walls as well. So E essentially, anytime a hole or an opening is created. So if you're talking about a mechanical electrical plumbing, sprinkler, co.

Throw all knocking holes in there to run their, their service lines that make a building inhabitable. Uh, you have contractors that create joints, uh, drywall contractors, masons, uh, that make control joints that, you know, you have two rated assemblies that come together that need to be fire stopped with the material that is a Laster that can kind of move with the joint because that's what it's intended to do to begin.

And then you have your edge of slab. You see these beautiful high-rise buildings with a lot of glass on the outside, and they're, they're, they're basically hanging off of the building they're curtain walls. So, uh, there's gaps around the edge of the building that need to be dealt with as well. So essentially anytime there's a gap or an opening in a ready assembly, you have to have some type of a tested and listed system, um, to be able to get that rating.

Yeah, I like that. Thanks for that exposition, John, I just, uh, I kind of like have found myself in this space where the reason why I got into this kind of podcast game. Is because that I was kind of interested in like this teaching part of it, cuz I'm, you know, very early on in the industry and still trying to figure out, you know, how, uh, when is this required?

How do we, how do we know if we need this? So, um, I like to belabor the point, um, even though probably anybody who's listened to a fire protection podcast might already know this. But, um, yeah, I love that. Uh, you were talking about edge of slab assemblies, and that's a term that I hadn't heard. Um, we're working on a Highrise project right now and we are working with Hilty this week.

My, uh, architect was like, oh, do we need a listed, uh, assembly here? Oh, was that a bad word? Did I just say a four letter word? That's the H word. That's the H word. Now they're one of our major competitors along with 3m and STI. I mean, we're basically the only three full line fire stop manufacturers. STI is the only, um, manufacturer that's 100% committed to fire stopping.

We don't really have a plan B. So, uh, we, we put all our R and D into, you know, getting tested, enlisted systems, but yes, to answer your question, you need some type of a system around the edge of slab to, to make sure that you extend the fire rating of the floor through that non-rated curtain wall. I mean, if you think about curtain walls, right?

Uh, they're made up of things that burn you. Aluminum glass is gonna shatter. So, uh, these are not rated assemblies, but the floor is, so that floor has to continue out to that, that non-rated carbon wall. Yeah. And so somebody was talking to me about this edge of slab, uh, interface, if you will. And they were saying, oh, you know, uh, this kind of like, uh, gap is where in, uh, near the ethos was kind of how the, the gr fell business happened.

I don't know if you. Were, uh, aware of that, uh, the grin tower fires and kind of any, any of the, the proceedings around that, but I don't know if you had any thoughts or, or knowledge about that. Yeah. I mean, you know, usually catastrophes make people's eyes open and, you know, codes and standards throughout the world start to, you know, change and adjust to, you know, the different connections of curtain walls and how you're gonna deal with.

Those connections and those gaps that are created. So, you know, I don't know too much about the specifics of it, but, you know, I do know that every time something like this happens, you know, different codes and standards are updated. Um, at STI, I know that we have a strategic initiative team that deals with current walls that actually works with, you know, not only the engineers and the architects, but also the manufacturers to make sure that, you know, when the panels are, are made in, in the factories.

Things such as fire protection are considered early on. So that by the time they get out in the field, you don't have to put extra, um, support there to make sure that the fire stop system stays in place. But, um, you know, a lot of upfront planning can, can make sure that the building is, you know, not only safe, but save you.

Probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in installation of those panels and the proper systems once they get on site. Yeah. I mean, that's something great to talk about here is, you know, if you don't plan for some of, of these systems in your construction and you find out you need a edge of slab con you know, you have an edge of slab condition and you need a, a rated, um, Uh, system there you're, it's gonna be a huge deal.

I mean, the architect I was talking to was, you know, having to re coordinate with structural and, you know, kind of incorporate these, uh, details for the rated assembly and their wall section. And it's no small task to incorporate. Um, one of these, these systems, if you, if you have a situation to which you need.

And you didn't provide it. So I think that's a, that's a great point on, on how it can save you money by understanding these, uh, requirements and, and, and, uh, putting them into place when they are, um, are present. Yeah. Sorry. I mean, you know, there are things that manufacturers can do to help contractors and installers in the field, once things happen and they're called engineering judgements.

Uh, they're not the preferred way to do things, especially. When it comes to those edges lab conditions. And especially when you consider the fact that certain building codes don't allow for engineering judgements in certain jurisdictions. Um, so there are, are, you know, a lot of upfront planning can save you a lot of headache downstream, for sure.

That's great. That's great. So, um, yeah. So what are, what, what are some of these like assemblies or that the products for these assemblies look like for somebody who's a little bit more of a, a layman, like there's, I mean, there's a wide variety, but yeah, I'd love it. If you would touch on a couple of the different ways that you could do this.

Well, I guess you could break it down to, through penetrations and joints. So essentially anything going through a wall, like I said, your mechanical, your, your plumbing trades, your electrical trade. Uh, needs usually some type of an ENT sealant. This is something that's gonna expand with heat. When the fire hits it, it's going to fill any voids that are left after the fire starts to attack either, you know, the plastic jacketing on cable or even the drywall itself when it starts to deteriorate these insent products will expand.

And they're basically they're passive again. And they're VO fillers. Once they start to activate, and then you have your joints, uh, which again, you know, The edge of slab, that curtain wall is gonna move from wind sway or whatever else you're gonna have your, your different joints, your head, a wall, or your wall to wall.

These controlled joints are gonna move with, you know, uh, load or, you know, just, just movement itself in the basement into masonry walls. So you need something more of an E Laster. So we have sprays and CAS or sealants, uh, to deal with those joints. So that's gonna allow movement, uh, as that happens. So, you know, Basic terms when you're going through penetrations, you're looking for Alast American.

When you're dealing with your joints, you're looking for something that's, uh, um, I'm sorry. Insent for your through penetrations and then for your joints, you want something that's Alast. Awesome. Yeah, I think it's, uh, it's kind of wild, cuz there's so many different ways I've seen those like, uh, those like pillow looking things as well for like the, those big, those big penetrations or big kind of void fillers, but uh, yeah, it's kind of wild.

Uh, the, I think most people probably think of the cock or whatever the fire cock or, you know, that's kind of a, uh, can be a nonsense term at times it's used so. Flippantly, but yeah, so, um, normally our product section in our training, um, program takes about four hours. So, um, if you have some time, we could kind of go into all the different products, but now there are, there are plenty of products for, for different applications.

Um, but in its simplest form, you know, through penetrations inthe, Messent joins the lesser. Cool. Yeah. And so. Uh, I, I think we touched on it briefly, but, um, yeah, one, you said that you were, uh, what are the roles you held initially was to, to help with these solutions, but yeah. Would you kind of like speak a little bit about the, the roles you held and, and kind of your position now at, uh, STI?

Sure. Again, like I said, I started in 2013 as a territory manager, so I. Out in the field, you know, working with all of the different trades, the subcontractors, uh, the general contractors doing lunch and learns at architects, um, working with ownership to, you know, see what they care about. So, you know, I ran that whole gamut just to, you know, Get accustomed to who does what in this project.

Cause there are, you know, there's just so many different people that have responsibilities for, for fire stopping on a, on a project. So once I started to, you know, piece it all together, I, you know, I started to mess with a lot of the, the presentations that we were making and I eventually got asked to become the training and development manager.

So what that has become. You know, an expansion of our accredited training. So we had maybe a handful of AIA, which is the American Institute of architects. Um, they have, you know, their accredited training programs and we had, we had a handful of them. Now we have 20. So, uh, over the pandemic, we really shifted our focus to, you know, having webinars.

And I've been able to work with a lot of great thought leaders, not only within our company, but within the industry. Create about 30 different webinars. We've trained over 10,000 people and we have everything from, you know, your most basic fire stop 1 0 1 to some of that, like you said, you love the codes and standards.

We even had a webinar recently on, on codes and standards. So, uh, we have a lot of great trainings now that we've been able to develop. And, and that's my current role now is training in development manager. Cool. Yeah. I've been seeing those badges online. I wanted to ask you about that at some point. It, it seems like a fabulous idea to give somebody not just a, uh, uh, you know, a way to learn more to, but, but a way to brandish their, their knowledge and their, their search, if you will.

I think that's excellent. Yeah. Did you speak about those, uh, those fancy badges I've been seeing on LinkedIn? nah, I appreciate you bringing that up actually. And, um, happy that you did. Uh, we partnered with a company called Credly and it's a digital credentialing, uh, company, essentially. It's, it's basically taking the old school certificate and making it a digital version.

I mean, technology's pretty much changed everything from, you know, the way we shop the cook to manage our health. So the way we learn, right, we're doing a lot more online modules for, for training and things like that. So it's it's this is this. Digital badging is gonna change the way that we can showcase our skills and our experience in, in fire stopping, or, you know, a lot of some big brands are out there doing this digital badging as well.

So essentially what it is is it creates some metadata. So we put all of the different keywords for the trainings, and then they link that over to some context and some verification of those courses. So it it's, it's a great way to provide not only what you learned. But actually to verify it with the trainer, which is us, um, to put that online so that it's almost like an online resume and there's even different ways that, you know, people are using it to network and manage their own per professional development.

So, uh, we've essentially enhanced our earns benefits with these digital badges. So appreciate you bringing that up though. So they're out there. You're seeing them. That's good. Yeah. No, I think that's great. I'm a huge, uh, uh, Uh, promoter of professional development and just kind of always looking for a way to make yourself more competitive in the industry.

So I love talking about professional, uh, certifications and, and qualifications. So yeah, I think it's so smart because people see those and they're like, man, that looks cool. You know, I'd like to post too about, you know, something that I've done good. You know, people don't get that opportunity as often as you might think.

And so I've seen. Uh, like ICC does some, the similar badges as well. And I think people really enjoy that way to like, uh, give them a chance to post about something good they're doing. So I think it's smart deal. Yeah. I appreciate you saying that again. And you know, it works both ways, right? I mean, it, it helps us from a branding point of view.

People see STI out there and. It also lets the earners know or their networks know that there is this fire stop training. And we, we have so many courses now, as I mentioned, we did all of these webinars and we recorded them. So they are available, you know, to listen back on our fire, stop university on our website.

I'll plug that right now. Www dot STI fire, Um, and our training page is great. So you can see all of the different courses on there that we have available. And they're all free essentially. Um, we only charge for our premium course, which is a two day, uh, usually in, um, in our corporate headquarters at Somerville New Jersey, but we've been doing it as a virtual model's called fit level two.

Um, it's a small nominal fee, basically covers the cost of the training materials and things like that. So we have a, a train to trainer program. With that as well. So teaching others how to teach is something that I'm pretty passionate about as well. And it's just a, a great time to be part of this, this industry.

Yeah. I think, uh, it's, uh, such a good time to be a part of the industry fire and life safety in general, and because there's so much opportunity and it sounds like you guys have been really taken a hold of this. Digital eLearning, uh, TIAL wave that's coming down the pipeline. So I think it's awesome. I think that's all good stuff and I'll be sure to throw some, uh, links down in the show notes for people, uh, in case they didn't catch that, uh, that link for, uh, where they can find some more information about those, those courses, if they're so inclined, but, uh, that's awesome.

So I wanted to, uh, talk a little bit about this new, uh, podcast you got going, the burn with STI. Would you mind telling me a little bit about how you got started and what you're doing? Uh, I guess it's probably like the career path, right? You never know how these things are gonna start, but it's, uh, it's been great fun.

Uh, I like trying to figure things out. Uh, this has been interesting, but thankfully I haven't had to figure everything out. We have a great team that's working behind the scenes. Jason Tanisha, Christina, Matt. Uh, we even have a guy Scott Seinberg that works outside of the company. With a company called Scott's on air.

So he's been producing a lot of the show managing the RSS feeds and all of that stuff. So I haven't had to figure that out. So it's really allowed me to kind of concentrate on, you know, guest prep and also my day job, but , you know, at the end of the day. Sure. That's awesome. Yeah, it's, uh, it's a lot to, to figure out.

So that's awesome that you. A team around you kind of help in this. Uh, so for sure. So basically the podcast is just about like, uh, your perspective or what are some of the topics that you like to, to get into with, um, on, on the, on the show? Yeah, so it's essentially, it's, it's built around life safety and code compliance in the built environment.

So. We, we call it the burn beyond fire stop. So some of the goals for the show essentially are maybe getting beyond fire stop. Um, I really want to be able to provide some insight and become a resource in the life safety space. And you know, so we've been talking to codes and standards people, uh, we've been talking to, well, I guess I'll just name 'em right.

So, uh, we had drew he's been great. He was with an inspect point, which is a fire and life safety inspection. He's also the executive director for the New York fire sprinklers contractor association. And he's also a podcast host, uh, the fire protection podcast, Laney who's at Luber, she's in the marketing department there, and she drives innovative strategy for blaze master and freeze master, which is an antifreeze with had shown the crane.

He was with, uh, a fire. He was a firefighter for the C. Uh, division of fire for many years, and now he works at UL underwriters laboratories in the building life, safety, security and technologies division. And, uh, it's just been great getting to know these people. Oh, and my first guess I, how could I forget Ruben?

Uh, Ruben is with, uh, one of our divisions, STI Marine. He actually does a, a little thing on LinkedIn every Friday. Uh, so you gotta check that out. He he's awesome. Ruben monk. Uh, it's just been great. Getting to know the guests, you know, in the prep, you know, I go on the LinkedIn profile, so I get to learn a little bit about them.

And then I get to dive a little bit deeper in there and, you know, try to get, you know, even beyond whatever it is in their industry. So again, we call it beyond fire stop. So even if it's a fire stop person, which, uh, our next two guests, uh, bill McCue, he's the executive director for F CIA and pat TACHE.

He's with global fire protection. These people are both in the fire stop game. So we try to take the podcast, at least beyond fire stop for the guests there. But, you know, I guess goals for the show, like to get a little bit more beyond the fire stop and again, life safety and code compliance. I think that's a large, large area and even, you know, things that I'm not considering right now.

So, uh, it's kind of where we're headed. Gotcha. Yeah. Very interesting. So how did you guys, uh, think about, you know, that you wanted to produce a podcast as a company? I know it seems like the, the people who always understand that it's a good idea are always the marketing professionals. I see across the board.

If you look at huge comp or big companies, like. N FPA and S F P E. It seems like the, the people at the helm of a lot of podcasts are people who understand this, uh, this kind of environment and, and try to, uh, to tap into it. Yeah. But I'd love to hear a little bit more about your experience with getting it started and kind of like the, the impetus for it, or, uh, some more back.

Sure. I mean, it's, you know, they say when's the best time of the plant a tree 20 years ago. When's the next time today? I think they say the same thing with the podcast, right? When's the best time to start at five years ago. When's the next best time today. So I, I think looking at it in that it's just another medium.

It's just another place to put your brand was. Kind of the impetus to, to think about, Hey, how do we do this? And then when you take a look at it and you realize, Hey, everyone's got a blog there's I don't even know what the numbers are. A hundred million blogs, and there's only like 2 million podcasts. So you, you can kind of stand out in your space, even if you're just standing out in your space.

Right. So it just being there sometimes. You know, it'll develop. So, I mean, I, I talk about goals for the show. They were pretty broad I don't know if you, if you break that down later, you're gonna realize that it's not really, so I don't know exactly where it's gonna go. It, it's interesting. It's it's fluid.

I tell people. So, um, it's just kind of fun doing it and being there. And I think, like you said, from a marketing stand. I'm in the marketing department now. So I think maybe I said it one day or maybe someone else said it and it was just like, oh yeah, that'd be a great idea of who's gonna host it. And they're like, oh, John I'll do it.

so that's kind of just where it came from. And you know, I'm involved with Toastmasters, so I practice public speaking. So I guess that's why. The fingers kind of got pointed at me like, oh, he'll do it. So, and I'll do it. I'm like Mikey, back in the day, I'll eat anything. that's good. Yeah. I think it's okay to, you know, be fluid in your, you know, kind of what your goals are or where, what you're looking to do for it.

Uh, my brother has a podcast and so I, I talk with him all the time. Kind of refining what you're trying to have as a message or trying to find that voice. Uh, here I listen to a lot of stuff about comedy. So, um, I hear them all the time talking about, you know, the, the reps and sets they have to do before they kind of find the, their direction and their unique voice.

And it's, I think it's a similar kind of regard in, in podcasting. That's cool. I like hearing about it. I'm a huge podcast junkie. So that's why I'm, you know, poking and probing at the, uh, the sentiment behind it all. Yeah, no, I mean, and you bring up a great point with the, the comedians, if you study them. I mean, those, those are the best speakers.

I mean, that's communication mastery. If you ask me, if you can really master. Stop and pause and wait for that laugh and get that laugh. It's uh, it's, it's really impressive to watch really good comedians, you know, hone their craft. So, um, just studying those people, help with the podcast as. Yeah. So I wanted to kind of, uh, touch a little bit more on, uh, on like marketing or, you know, uh, or branding or, you know, kind of get your sentiment since we're kind of talking about that in conjunction with the podcast, you know, for somebody who's trying to navigate, you know, Finding their own brand or, or maybe, you know, to phrase this for the professionals who will be listening to this, you know, who have to self brandand and have to, you know, be cognizant of how they're portraying themselves on, on LinkedIn and, and, uh, everything you need to do to navigate, uh, being a professional in 2021.

You know, do you have any advice for people who were kind of, um, working on that piece? Sure. Um, I love acronyms. So I came up with one for a lot of things. It works map a P right? So it's your message, your audience, and then the people that you're, you're trying to deliver that message too. Uh, Jeff Bezos had a great quote.

Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the. So I think understanding that, you know, a lot of times marketing people will say, Hey, look at me, look how great I am, but I think it it's also what, what message you want people to carry around with them after? So from a personal standpoint, I, you know, I tell people, try to figure out who you are right now and is that different than what you wanna be.

So if you can determine what you want to be, that's your message. So you say, okay, This is my message. This is what I'm all about. And then you have to identify that a, that audience. So, you know, who are you giving that message to? When I was out in the field, my message to the general contractor was way different than it was to the subcontractor.

And it was different to the architect. Right? So your message and then your audience, and then the people that you're talking to. Uh, so you have to research your industry and follow those experts who talked about the comedians. That's great for delivery and things like that, but who are the people that are.

Standing out in the space, you know, and like you mentioned LinkedIn, uh, network online. Um, this way you can connect with those different people, cuz at the end of the day, you know, you don't do business with companies, really. You do business with people, uh, so your message, your audience and, and your people.

And, and that's kind of the same way when you're, when you're branding your, your company, you really wanna, you know, get that message across and to the intended audience. And you know, sometimes that piece. A product or placement, you know, you can, you know, swap out that P it's. It's not that simple. Yeah.

That's great stuff. Yeah. I think it's, uh, it's a good, uh, point to talk about knowing your audience. And I see, uh, the people who I see, you know, speak most effectively or brand most effectively understand what's value to who they're speaking to. So I think that's a huge component. Being an effective communicator and just, um, being relevant in the digital age.

But I appreciate your, your insight on that, John. Sure. And so, yeah, you know, kind of circling back on the podcast, is there anyone who you've thought of as kind of like a, like a white whale guest you can think of, um, you, you might not, and, and that's okay. But I thought I'd just like to ask about it cuz.

Just for my interest and you know, there's so many good people out there. I've found that the more you start looking for this sort of thing, the more like you just like a string that you start pulling and then it just keeps coming. So I didn't know if you had any, uh, thoughts on that. I mean, I don't have any white, well, guests, there's not like a hit list.

Obviously there's people I'd like to speak to and no one said no yet, so that's, that's a good thing. but I guess maybe a white whale guest would be someone that would reach out to me. And maybe doesn't cancel at the last minute. sorry again about that. but, uh, no, I mean, it's, it's really just identifying the different.

Areas of life safety and code compliance and just finding some, some interesting people to reach out to. Um, but again, if anyone is listening and they'd like to be on the show, please reach out to me, perhaps you and my white whale guest. Yeah, that's a good one. Yeah, I just was, uh, my, one of my white, well, guests, I just got to speak to you recently was, uh, was Joe Meyer, I think, uh, before I had started the podcast, I knew that I wanted to have Joe Meyer on the, on the show just because.

He kind of does exactly what I do, but had one of the first kind of, uh, really, um, digital, personal brands in fire protection that I knew of, um, that wasn't just like somebody from the old guard that had, you know, um, the, all the years of experience in the, and you know, all the alphabet suit behind their name to give them the clout that they needed.

And so, yeah, that was one. It's kind of what I was thinking of, but, uh, but you know, that's what it was for me, but yeah, I appreciate that exposition. You're still so early on and, and things will change and evolve and as things pick up momentum, it kind of changes your perspective along the way. So that's cool.

That's right. We have a, we have another meeting about this tomorrow. So if you ask me this question on Thursday, I'd probably have a way different answer. So maybe I'll call you back. We'll edit it in. Hey man. Yeah, we'll edit it in. I don't care. um, cool. Well, I always like to, uh, kind of plug people for, um, a couple professional development topics at the end, because I, you know, when I speak to people who are interesting and, and have good ideas about what's happening, um, how I like to get their take on what they see going.

So I wanted to start out with, um, what kind of trends do you see in your role now in, uh, you know, it could be pertaining to passive fire stop or, you know, what you're seeing in that space, or it could just be in, in business. I liked your Jeff Bezos quote. Sure. I mean, so from the fire protection standpoint, we're always innovating.

I mean, like I said, the fact that 100% of our business is dedicated to fire stop. Uh, we have some really smart people handling the systems and the products end of things. So I'll speak from what I know about, which is training and development, right? So I see, especially for the, you know, the AEC community more remote and or hybrid.

We saw it from last year during the pandemic, all the continuing education and the training was 100% virtual and we did the whole pivot thing. I hate that word, but we did it. Uh, we pivoted to virtual and we did a lot of webinars and a lot of this continuing education, tying it back to, you know, accreditation for these folks that were gonna.

The ability to, you know, keep their, their industry standard because they couldn't go to these conferences and trade shows that were shut down. So I think the lunch and learn as we know, it might be dead or it's going to evolve in some way. I also think that perhaps we're gonna see more, uh, remote inspections or at least portions of those inspection.

I know from a fire stopping point of view in the 2012 I C um, there's now special inspections are required for certain buildings and more and more jurisdictions are going to start to enforce this. And, you know, we have some great digital tools, uh, called fire stop locator that, you know, allows you to, you know, do your work and document it so that, you know, I think we're gonna see more digital tools as well for, you know, inspection.

And also, like I said, learning for. Yeah, those are all great. John, I love that about the death of the lunch and learn, you know, I think it's, uh, but hopefully it's also the death of me overeating at lunch after all the lunch and learn food is still hanging out. But, uh, it's been so interesting finding the, uh, the space around e-learning kind of exploding.

I mean, you look. All the associations, um, kind of in business, around, um, fire and life safety and, and digitally what they're offering compared to last January, you know, or the January of 2020. And it's just kind of crazy how much growth we've seen in that space. Uh, I just, uh, seems like everybody in the game is kind of bolstering their ability to deliver online.

Uh, it's like it's poured, they've poured gas on this, uh, Ability to bring digital content to people. I think it's so smart and something that's not going anywhere. You know, I think it's, we've seen a lot of efficiencies in how you can get to people and, you know, conserve their time and conserve your time.

You know, my whole piece, I'm not gung ho on, uh, working remote. I would've told you that I was, um, before we all got sent home. Uh, you know, there are some efficiencies gained with not having to go sit in a meeting or sit in a lunch and learn. And, you know, you can get people's time from across the country, but not also have to swallow, uh, a big portion of their day.

So it makes the barrier to entry lower. So I love that as a point about, um, how you can. You know, a trend of what's going on. Yeah. I mean, listen, there's, there's nothing that's gonna replace the human element, but there are those efficiencies for, for your everyday things that I think are not gonna go away after this.

But, um, you know, that human element, that social interaction, I, we definitely still need it in certain settings for sure. But, um, yes, efficiencies. Are definitely not going away. And so, uh, to follow up on that, you know, you talked about a couple of, of good, um, e-learning resources to STI, but just wanted to, you know, plug you for, if you, uh, what other kind of resources would you recommend to people who wanna learn more about, um, maybe it could be pacifier protection or, or even the marketing stuff.

I've loved hearing about that from me. Sure. I mean, you know, again, you're gonna wanna look for manufacturers that specialize in, in what they do. Uh, you mentioned our, our trainings. We have our fire stop university. There are about 20 different courses that you can take everything from the curtain wall that we talked about earlier to interior finish, uh, to just your 1 0 1, if you're an installer out there.

So, um, if you don't wanna just settle for someone because of name recogni. Because maybe they make your favorite drill or your sticky note. Um, but when it comes to fire stops, we've been, we've been doing it since 1990. It's all we do. There's no plan B. So we have a lot of great resources on our website for marketing as well.

Um, and especially for the, you know, the design community, we have some, some great CAD drawings. The BIM resources are on there. We have guide specifications, other design tools as. So it's just chop full. Of information, uh, our engineers, our, our dynamite, I think we have over 250 combined years. I don't even know where you get that number from.

I get you add 'em all up, but I mean, they're the best in the industry. So they are a tremendous resource they're they're available Monday through Friday, seven to seven, they have a live chat right on our website. It's all free. So they even do Saturday emergencies. They're on call for, for contractors and architects.

Just so many different resources and it's all on our website. So check that out again. Should I say it www dot STI fires, Put it in the show notes. I'm sure. But a lot of resources, so don't just settle for anyone. Gotcha. That's great. Yeah. I was just thinking of, uh, that's a, that's a great plug for the STI resources and I'm gonna object those out too, because I've been trying to buff up.

Passive fire protection. I was telling you in the pre-interview that. I think it's, uh, so important and really where the future of where fire and life safety's going. But yeah, you know, I realized that I didn't bug you about earlier when you were speaking about it as, uh, remote inspections and, and kind of that digital system that you're speaking about to log your pacifier protection systems.

Uh, that kind, that sounds pretty interesting. Uh, what, what is that system you were speaking about? So it's called fire stop locator. And essentially what it does is it allows you to, um, map, you know, you basically take your life safety drawings and you can map every single penetration or joint system. And it will allow you to document the, the actual UL system that you used.

You can show a before and after photo. Uh, so this way, if you are in a, let's say a healthcare facility where you're gonna. Joint commission every three years coming around, um, rather than popping all of those different ceiling tiles to see the penetrations, this would allow you to, you know, hand an iPad or a phone or a desktop computer, and you'd be able to see the work that was done, who it was done by.

Um, it's all barcoded. So there's little QR codes that, uh, will go back to, you know, the, the application to kind of show you so you can just quickly scan it and you can see what was done or. Look through the whole system. It's a it's Dana mate. It's an awesome. That's cool. Yeah, I think that, that, uh, remote inspection piece or that, um, kind of the, the virtual or digital twin of facilities is a big thing in the industry and trying to bake in more information about a facility into the digital model or, uh, make the documentation more robust is a wonderful thing.

So that's cool. I like hearing about that. . Um, yeah, so I just wanted to, uh, you know, end with, uh, what, uh, what piece of advice would you have for somebody who, you know, sees, sees John and says, man, you know, how do I, how do I, uh, win in the fire and life safety industry? Well, I would say. To become a specialist.

You know, I, I oftentimes I'll use the analogy. Would you rather be a general practitioner or would you rather be a brain surgeon? I mean, you know, who makes more money? Right. And they probably work less of the time, but now, but being a specialist within the industry, uh, people will seek you out. Then if you can be that, um, fire stopping specialist within your.

Within your company, if you're a contractor or if you are, or if you're a distributor of someone who sells our products, if you can be that, that resource, then people will seek you out. They'll come to know you like you and trust you. And that means that they're gonna buy whatever it is that you're selling, because they know that you're, you have their best interest in heart and you are a student of the game and you're gonna learn so that they don't have to learn, you know, the hard way kind of thing.

Yeah, that's great. I love that note because I feel. Uh, fire protection and fire and life safety is, uh, all specialists. And then if you get even more niche within the industry, like you can really kind of see this amplifier effect for your career. I mean, the opportunity within the, the fire and life safety industry is just immense.

And I've found that at any time you can find a extra sticky place or something that's even more difficult than the baseline of what we're doing. You know, you've found a place where you can add even more value and there's even more, you know, compensation available. So, uh, I think that's a great point. I love that.

And always pick up the phone. I mean, when I was new to the industry, if I didn't know the answer, I didn't send you to voicemail. I picked up the phone and I, I told you I was gonna find out. So people would rather hear that you're working on it than silence. So, uh, that would be my other piece of advice to someone new, to the.

Yeah, that's great. Yeah. It can be difficult sometimes. Uh, we were working on bringing in interns for the summer and, uh, just having to be like, all right, you need to check in with these people because you know, they might not have that muscle to, to reach out when they're, when they're flailing and not have it under control.

So I think that's a great point to not be afraid to anybody who is a professional realizes that, you know, you're not gonna know everything, or you might have to circle back and get answers or. You might need to, you know, get some help. And so I think that's a great piece of advice and, and a learned skill.

So that's great for sure. And, and join Toastmaster. It it's, uh, if you don't know what Toastmaster is, it's a public speaking group, people of all ages and backgrounds come together to practice their public speaking skills and the language leadership listening. Uh, it's a great organization. So I highly recommend it.

If you wanna communicate better, get your message across. It's definitely the way to. That's awesome. Yeah, that's a good, uh, that's a good recommendation. I've heard, uh, a couple people refer to Toastmaster, so that's interesting. But, um, anyways, John, anything I, I didn't ask about that you wanted to talk about, or, uh, any other last thoughts as we're getting close to the end of the podcast?

No GU, uh, I, I think we hit it all. I do appreciate you having me on the show and giving me, uh, a platform for the burn. So check out that podcast, check out our website for all those great resources. And, uh, again, like I said, just appreciate the time. No, thank you, John. It was, it was a lot of fun and yeah, I'll drop a bunch of links in the show notes and yeah.

Thank you. Alright. 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 and 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.