Ep. 106: Getting Aggressive with Your Business with Keaton Turner of Turner Mining Group

Keaton Turner, Turner Mining GroupAre you losing bids or struggling to recruit new employees? Is new technology passing you by? It’s time to channel your energy into the right areas to supercharge your business. Keaton Turner, president of Turner Mining Group, joins Host Missy Scherber for the inaugural episode of “Contractor Conversations” on CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio.  

They discuss:

  • Taking the leap into starting your own business
  • Where the mining industry is headed in the next 24 months
  • Estimating, bidding and dealing with losses
  • What technology and equipment is changing the game for Turner
  • Using social media to tell your story and recruit your workforce

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Show Transcript:

Announcer:                     

Welcome to CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio, highlighting the latest construction technology and trends to drive your business forward. Coming up in March of 2020 CONEXPO-CON/AGG is North America's largest construction trade show. We bring you expert advice from your favorite brands, startups, and industry peers. And for even more news, sign up for our weekly 365 e-newsletter at conexpoconagg.com/subscribe. We've got another great guest on the show today, so let's dig in.

Missy Scherber:              

Hi everyone. Welcome to CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio. I’m your host Missy Scherber, and I’m thrilled to introduce a new segment on the podcast called Contractor Conversations. Every month I’ll be talking to your favorite contractors around the country about their projects, workforce development, technology, and of course, equipment. I hope these conversations give you the expertise and support you need to thrive in the daily work that you do.

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a contractor based in Minnesota and I own a demolition and excavation company alongside my husband Trevor.  I’m passionate about our industry and I want to recognize all the hard work that you do every day to build our world. I truly believe that CONEXPO-CON/AGG is the event where the construction industry can come together and belong. And I sure hope you’ll join me and my guests at the show in Las Vegas in March of 2020. Now, please stay connected with me on Instagram where you can join the conversation and stay up-to-date on all the exciting things that are happening at the show that you won’t want to miss. Now let’s get started with today’s episode.

Missy Scherber:              

My guest today is Keaton Turner, president and founder of Turner Mining Group out of Indiana. Keaton has worked in every single aspect of construction from estimating to operations management to strategic direction. He holds a bachelor's of science in construction management and business administration from Indiana State University. And he's been known to tell it like it is in an inspiring way on Instagram. While other companies are struggling with hiring, Turner is getting hundreds of applications. So what's his secret? Let's find out.

Missy Scherber:              

Well, welcome Keaton. It's so great to talk to you. I've wanted to chat with you for a long time. We've been friends on Instagram, what, for like a year now. Is that correct?

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah. Something like that.

Missy Scherber:              

So thank you so much for joining Contractor Conversation today. We're really excited about the show. And I just wanted to jump right in and have you kind of start by tell us a little bit about how you got into construction.

Keaton Turner:               

Well, thanks for having me Missy.

Missy Scherber:              

Of course.

Keaton Turner:               

I knew growing up I always wanted to do something with my hands, build stuff. I was always taking things apart, whether it was the remote or my bicycle or whatever. So, I was always kind of a tinker. Throughout high school I didn't really know I wanted to be in construction, but I knew I didn't want to sit at a desk all day. So I ended up going to college for construction management.

Missy Scherber:              

Awesome.

Keaton Turner:               

And did a few tours and fell in love with construction, and it was off to the races from there. I was hooked.

Missy Scherber:              

That's awesome. And what were some ... That's been a big conversation on Instagram, is the courses now offered for construction management. What did you find valuable about those courses in college?

Keaton Turner:               

Really pretty much nothing.

Missy Scherber:              

Thanks for the honesty.

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah, I'm always going to be honest.

Missy Scherber:              

Yeah, I love it.

Keaton Turner:               

I loved the university. I'm an Indiana State University alum. They got an awesome construction management program. It has nothing to do with the program or the professors or even the kids that I was in class with, because some of them have gone to be rock stars in their own right. People go to college looking to gain all this knowledge that they can apply to their job right when they graduate. And it's just not, it's not realistic. It's not true. It doesn't happen that way.

Keaton Turner:               

If I could give anyone that's going to college advice or if I could go back and give myself advice, it would be really invest in the relationships because that's what really sticks with you after college. People that you can call and bounce ideas off of, people that go into other industries just to catch back up. For me, I would never go to college with the expectation that I'm going to learn some skill or craft or trade that's going to really help propel me in my career.

Keaton Turner:               

Now, I'm all for the college experience. I think it's the best four years of your life if you do it right and stay out of trouble. But for me is what I did after college really made the difference.

Missy Scherber:              

Well, and I'd say too, to back what you're saying. I mean, so much of construction is learned hands-on on the job site. Like there's just, there's no way you can really put that in a book, can you?

Keaton Turner:               

You can kind of learn Xs and Os and drawings and plans. I mean you definitely pick up some valuable tools in college, but it's really hard to go put them to work, especially if you're the guy that walks onto a construction site as the college grad who is going to show all of these other guys how to do things. I learned that pretty early on in my career also.

Missy Scherber:              

Yeah. Okay. So Keaton, walk us through how you started your company. I know so many have wondered. We know Turner Mining Group is a new business, but walk us through how you got started. What was like that big moment that happened that you were like, "Okay, I'm doing this," and why?

Keaton Turner:               

Well, it's a great question and I don't, I probably don't talk about it enough. I was working for our family's construction excavation company. My uncle owned the company. And I was really living the dream. Got to travel. I kind of helped build and grow the company pretty early in my career right out of college. But as I got closer and closer to 30 years old, something in my mind kept telling me, "You're going to die someday. You're going to have a ton of regret. Sitting there before you die, you kind of went out and did your own thing and made a big impact."

Keaton Turner:               

Social media has played a big part of it, because I, as I was helping grow the family business, I realized there's a ton of young, passionate kids out there that don't get a shot. So I knew I could build a work force around that. There was obviously its own set of challenges, but really the thing I'm most scared of is regret. And I just, I couldn't, I couldn't let any more days go by knowing there was a big opportunity out there without even trying.

Missy Scherber:              

I love that you brought up that as you were considering starting your business, that social media really inspired you on the workforce that's available out there, but that your motivation was regret, that you didn't want to regret getting to the end of your life and not making an impact. So tell me how mining and Turner Mining Group came into play as you were processing those two thoughts.

Keaton Turner:               

Well, I think the mining industry is kind of a big, old, scary industry. Everyone always thinks about mining as underground and cold and dirty and all these fatalities. To some extent in certain parts of the industry that can be true. But, for me, the part of the mining industry that I was attracted to obviously is above ground and there was just a huge blank slate out there for a real professional service provider in that industry.

Missy Scherber:              

Awesome.

Keaton Turner:               

There's not any real solid players that only do mining. You've got a lot of mom-and-pop contractors everywhere that kind of dabble in it here and there, and almost none of them use social media to recruit. So I thought, "Man, I got a little bit of an advantage right off the bat."

Missy Scherber:              

Absolutely. And what was kind of your big moment where you're like, "Okay, we've started this business. Let's go"?

Keaton Turner:               

I just turned 28 years old. I had a two-year-old boy and a brand new newborn baby girl. And I just, as I got closer to my birthday, I thought, "Man, I, it's time to do this because my kids are going to get older. Once they start school and get into high school, I'm never going to want to take this leap of faith. There's too much on the line at that point." And so I thought, "Man, I would rather go broke and take a big shot and try something like this than to look back when I'm 45, 50 years old and never have taken any, never have taken any risks and lost the opportunity."

Missy Scherber:              

So you did it, you took the big leap of faith into the mining industry, which you're right, it is kind of a dinosaur industry. To be honest, I had never even thought of mining until you came out on Instagram with it. So we're glad you took the leap of faith. What was your first job? Because I know for Trevor and I, we always look back at our first job and think, "Oh my gosh. Can you believe we did that?"

Keaton Turner:               

Oh man, yeah.

Missy Scherber:              

What was the first job that you took on and where was that?

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah. The first job we had was for a cement producer down in just outside of San Antonio, Texas. It's a small job, maybe $350,000 job, which in mining world is pretty small job. We were mining material for them and we had to tarp it all. I bought $20,000 worth of tarps. I've still got $10,000 tarp somewhere in Texas. I don't know where. If someone finds it, let me know. But I ended up losing, I think we lost 30 grand on that job. The very first job. So it was kind of an eye opener, like, "Whoa, this is not as easy as I thought it was."

Missy Scherber:              

Right, right. It's always funny, the first job you have that big loss, but then you're like, "Okay. I can do this. I can figure this out." Right?

Keaton Turner:               

Absolutely. Yeah. People say you never lose, you learn. And I obviously, I learned a lot from that one, being the first-

Missy Scherber:              

Awesome-

Keaton Turner:               

... and people and managing. I thought I knew a lot before I started this business and I realized, no, I didn't know very much at all.

Missy Scherber:              

Yeah. And I'm so glad you're talking about the lost part of it because that's where the grit kind of has to kick in, right? It's like losses you have to keep moving forward. And that's what separates true entrepreneurs able to build business in this industry. And I love that you're open about that, that hey, losses happen.

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah. And I think so many people aren't. I thought I worked hard when I was working for my family's company. I always treated it like it was my company and my money. When I did eventually go out on my own, you're working to put food on your family's table, and it's a little different than just being a salary guy, whether the job goes well or not, you're going to get paid. It's a whole different world. It's definitely eye opening. And I try not to, no matter how big we get, I try to always remember that first job or the first couple of jobs where it was sink or swim, do or die every single day.

Missy Scherber:              

That's awesome. I love that you're carrying that into what you're doing. So that's a great background on the family business, how you got involved, that you went to school for this, but really learned so much on the job site.

Missy Scherber:              

Let's transition into industry outlooks. You have operations all across the United States. What is your outlook for the rest of the year? What's the year looking like for you as this economy does so well?

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah, I mean, everything that we see and everything that we keep hearing from our clients is faster, driving forward, more, more, more. Really the theme of our company over the last, I guess it's been 18, 24 months now, is make hay while the sun is shining. Because the mining industry is a little bit cyclical depending on the type of material, you've got to do all you can do when things are really well. Now, we see things staying pretty aggressive growth for a while, I would say for the next 24 months at least. So we think the outlook is great. We see a ton of people investing in new equipment, which kind of tend to tend a little further projections. Things will stay pretty well. So we're excited about the next 24 months or so.

Missy Scherber:              

That's awesome. So you definitely see in the next 24 months workload increasing, not decreasing?

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah, absolutely.

Missy Scherber:              

Good.

Keaton Turner:               

There is no shortage of opportunity out there for us or really anyone.

Missy Scherber:              

And is there a specific ... This is just curiosity on Trevor and I's part. Are there pockets in the country where it's busier right now or is it just kind of all over for you?

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah, I mean, really the main metropolitan hubs are always going to be busier on the materials side, when I'm talking materials, building materials, sand and gravel and cement. So you get places like obviously Los Angeles, Nashville, Tennessee, Atlanta, the DC Metro area, those are all huge areas for us.

Missy Scherber:              

Awesome.

Keaton Turner:               

We've got all kinds of people in and around those areas, servicing some material producers. And then, you kind of get into those flyover states where you may have one or two or three big facilities per state that tries to keep up with a lot of the states. But definitely the hot spots are where all the concentration of people.

Missy Scherber:              

The big hubs. Okay. So recently you talked on Instagram about being aggressive when you're in a bid war. Like let's be honest. We're in it to win it when we're estimating. Was there a specific big project that you were working on?

Keaton Turner:               

There probably was. I get in a mode, especially when it comes to bidding and proposal, that's what I love so much about this. It's really you just boil it down to competition.

Missy Scherber:              

Yeah, absolutely.

Keaton Turner:               

And I'm a pretty competitive guy. It's about wins and losses. I think I said something along the lines of we want to put people out of business, which is kind of an aggressive thing to say. Obviously we love everyone and-

Missy Scherber:              

Yeah, absolutely.

Keaton Turner:               

I'm kind of a people guy and we respect everyone in the industry. But when it's time to submit your bid, that's where the rubber meets the road. So there are some relationships with our clients that we know we want to keep and there's some new relationships that we know we want to go steal. That's when it becomes more of a hunt and chase and track down and kill it and win it.

Missy Scherber:              

Absolutely.

Keaton Turner:               

Some of them you don't want. Some of the clients, you're not as aggressive towards. Or some of the projects maybe. But that particular post was probably one of those aggressive days for me.

Missy Scherber:              

I was so glad that you talked about the estimating side. I think it's the side that's easily overlooked when you're on the field and you're operating. But from our offices, at least, we're so motivated in the estimating process because it's like this is what is going to keep our guys going. We got a win this one.

Keaton Turner:               

Estimating is such a mental thing.

Missy Scherber:              

It is.

Keaton Turner:               

I live and die in estimating. I would say more than half my time is spent in estimating and in creating proposals for new projects. You play this mental game where at the end of the day you're really bidding against yourself.

Missy Scherber:              

Definitely.

Keaton Turner:               

You hold all the numbers. How tight of a margin do you want to take on this job? How bad do you want the relationship? How bad you need to keep people and machines moving? So you get right down to the end and you think you want to know what other people's numbers are. But really, you're just bidding against yourself.

Missy Scherber:              

That's absolutely true. That's a great, great thing for the estimators out there to remember. You kind of mentioned that one of the things, one of the trends in mining is faster. So let's talk about equipment in technology. In the mining industry if faster is important, we have to ask the question, what piece of equipment or technology has been crucial for your business?

Keaton Turner:               

Well, I'll say we don't use a ton of GPS. There are projects that do require it, but it's not something that's mandatory on a majority of our sites. For us, really it all comes down to the dealer support. When we talk about technology, we rely so heavily on the dealer, I want them to have the technology. We do use time-tracking. We use busybusy as do you guys, and we use some other cool tools in the back office and field office reporting. But as far as equipment goes, I mean I've told a lot of people it's going to break some hearts. I don't care what color the machine is. I don't care if it came from China or if it was built in the US. To me it's just another tool, like a screwdriver or a hammer. What I really care about is the guys that are going to take care of it when it goes down.

Missy Scherber:              

Absolutely.

Keaton Turner:               

In the mining world, we're hard on everything. It all breaks. It's not a matter of if. It's a matter of when. So we just, we need to know that our dealers are there to service and support us no matter what.

Missy Scherber:              

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's so important. The dealer supports everything. So in mining, and again this is another curiosity point and I'm sure a lot of the Gramfam and social media community out there wants to know. What specific pieces of equipment do you guys use the most of? And I remember your Pit & Quarry interview, you guys prefer the excavators, but give us a quick little moment of metal if you would.

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah. So a typical site for us, more than not are the haul trucks. So you'll have 5 to 10 haul trucks, articulated haul trucks. We prefer to load them with an excavator. Now there are times where a loader has its place and is a little more efficient. But typically you'll see us run excavators anywhere from a 336 size Cat up to a 390 size.

Missy Scherber:              

Awesome. Favorite machine.

Keaton Turner:               

And then obviously your dozers. We'll run dozers large to small. We'll run graders to keep the road smooth and water trucks to keep the dust down. But that's a pretty typical fleet for us.

Missy Scherber:              

Okay. What's behind you preferring that? Is the wheel loader kind of the way it's always been done in mining and you prefer the excavator for different reasons?

Keaton Turner:               

I wouldn't say it's the way it's always been done. There's so many different types of mining. You get into big high production mining. You've got face shovels and rope shovels and drag lines. So I don't want to say the excavator is the be-all end-all. For us it is. A few things that I can quickly point out with an excavator, the machine itself, in an excavator you're not tracking or walking back and forth very often. You're typically swinging, digging into a pile, whereas a loader, you're all the time moving forward and backwards.

Missy Scherber:              

Interesting.

Keaton Turner:               

If you look in the mining industry, there's a ton of fatalities. People driving pickup trucks behind the loader and either the loader may not see them or they forget that he's there. He parks the pickup truck. There's just a whole new sense of danger when you have equipment that's moving constantly.

Missy Scherber:              

Wow.

Keaton Turner:               

The learning curve in an excavator is much shorter for a new guy than in a loader. Part of it's because of the articulation of a loader and how they move around. The other part of it is you can just, when you're sitting in an excavator, typically you're sitting up on a bench or a pile and you can watch where you're loading the material into the bed of a truck or into the hopper of a crusher, whereas the loader you're on the floor typically loading up into a truck blind and it's a little more tricky to get the hang of, at least quickly. So the article outlines a ton of other reasons why-

Missy Scherber:              

That's awesome-

Keaton Turner:               

... we prefer excavators.

Missy Scherber:              

I think it's great.

Keaton Turner:               

But that's my take on it.

Missy Scherber:              

I think that you've kind of focused on efficiency. It's faster for workforce development at works, and that it's safer. I think that's fantastic that you're being nimble and saying, "Hey, why don't we try this? It works better." So we'll have to send everyone a link to that article because I thought it was just so fantastic. Trevor, is a huge exc. I mean, the excavator is his other child. So he was obviously a huge fan of that article. So great job and congratulations on that cover of Pit & Quarry.

Keaton Turner:               

Thank you.

Missy Scherber:              

So on the subject of equipment and technology, what do you think is going to be the biggest game changer in the next five years when it comes to equipment in tech?

Keaton Turner:               

Not specific to the mining industry, but really construction in general, I think you're going to see a lot more augmented reality. It'll be interesting to see if Trimble and Google team up for some wild glasses that you can wear and see grade in real time.

Missy Scherber:              

Yes, wouldn't that be awesome?

Keaton Turner:               

I've seen some sneak peeks of some stuff like that and it's pretty wild. I think you'll see a lot of it coming up on the windshield of the machines. You see heads up display on cars these days. They cast an image on your windshield. I think you're going to see a lot more of that. You're going to see things just become more, easier and more second nature for younger people. The average age of the miner is 52 years old throughout the industry in the US.

Missy Scherber:              

Oh wow.

Keaton Turner:               

That tells us that a ton of baby boomers are retiring over the next five to seven years. So what that means is they're going to be more younger people in machines. They're going to make them easier for younger people to use and operate especially safely. I think you're going to see a lot more augmented reality that helps make things safer and a little more efficient.

Missy Scherber:              

That's great. And attractive to the next gen, which is so important when it comes to recruitment. And that's part of CONEXPO-CON/AGG. One of the booths I'm most excited to see is the tech experience where they have the engaging kind of immersive experience for attendees that educates and brings it to life. Like let me see what it looks like before I get it out on the job site, right?

Keaton Turner:               

Yep, exactly. I remember my first CONEXPO maybe Topcon. Someone unveiled their new GPS system. And back then GPS was just coming out. That was 10 or so years ago. And it was a big deal. Machine control was still a thought and kind of an ideology. So it's interesting to see where things have gone and where they're going to continue to go.

Missy Scherber:              

Absolutely. So tell me quick. What benefits do you feel like technology has provided from a customer service perspective? I mean, and that's something for us in our business, we're really looking at, is how do we connect the clients with the technology that we have access to and make what we're actually doing everyday more applicable to them? So tell me, what benefits do you think technology provides from the customer service perspective?

Keaton Turner:               

Well, for me, without doubt, at least from my perspective, things like VisionLink, JDLink, Cat access, those types of programs have changed the game for us. Our heavy fleet manager, he's looking at over 200 machines that operate every day across the country, California to Maryland, and Michigan to basically Mexico. And he gets a text alert anytime one of those machines has an over-speed or low tire. I mean he can set the alerts to whatever he wants. It's crazy to think that we can diagnose and troubleshoot and repair an issue in real-time sometimes even before it happens.

Missy Scherber:              

Absolutely. And from an office.

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah, it's a game-changer for us.

Missy Scherber:              

That's awesome. So let's talk a little bit about workforce, obviously one of the subjects we're most excited to talk to you about, because you've just done such an outstanding job on social media and just as a business, not just in social media. While many contractors are struggling with hiring, Turner Miner Group is getting hundreds of applications. What's been the secret?

Keaton Turner:               

To be honest with you I think it's being sexy. I think we ... It's so crazy for someone to say that word sexy and associate it with the mining industry, and I think that's probably why it works. If we were just like any other contractor or even mining company, you'd see some stale marketing. You'd see guys in brand new vests and hard hats that have never been in the dirt. You wouldn't see any of our actions. I'm kind of a no-secrets guy and I want to pull the curtain back and people look right inside the back office.

Keaton Turner:               

We're working on some cool stuff to show ... We showed a lot of the fun, sexy side of the business and there's been a lot of hype around that. But I want to show some of the negative sides, people quitting and walking off the job, people getting mad. I really want people to understand that it's real.

Keaton Turner:               

I think that approach has just kind of been a breath of fresh air. Obviously, there's some other folks that are catching on that young kids are not spending their time looking at newspapers. They're not looking at help wanted ads online even anymore. They're spending their time in Facebook, Instagram, and even a little bit more these days LinkedIn. So that's where we're spending our time.

Missy Scherber:              

That's so great. And I love that you're making it attractive because really marketing agencies have caught onto this and all other industries. But that you're bringing it into construction like, Hey, let's make this attractive and cool, because it is cool, is just fantastic. What about the aspect of training? Because you are, your workforce development strategies are working so well with the next gen. What about training? Because a lot of these applicants I imagine aren't as experienced yet in the industry.

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah. We've got a pretty good blend. I think our average age of our employee is 27, 28 years old.

Missy Scherber:              

Oh awesome.

Keaton Turner:               

So quite a bit younger obviously than the rest of the industry. We take people from all kinds of different backgrounds. I mean we've got folks that are 35 years old, 10 or 15 years in the industry, rock stars that kill it every day. Then we've got folks that are brand new, that have never been around heavy equipment before.

Keaton Turner:               

For us, training has got to be a top focus and a top priority. You're putting people in big expensive equipment that it takes a certain understanding. Every single crew that we have, we've got a training lead person that before any new person comes onsite, they would have to have some industry training, which is required by MSHA. But then we also go above and beyond and we'll put them through our own internal training.

Keaton Turner:               

With site-specific training there's a task orientation and task training. And before that person's ever allowed to operate equipment, whether they have experience or not, before they're ever allowed to operate equipment on our site, the training lead has to sign off that this person has demonstrated they have the capabilities and understanding to ...

Missy Scherber:              

That's great.

Keaton Turner:               

Operate it safely.

Missy Scherber:              

That's great to have a set of eyes there on the job site. And what would you say you do to build a positive workplace culture morale? Because I know that's important when it comes to retaining good employees or good staff members as well. So what would you say you've done to build a positive workplace and culture?

Keaton Turner:               

Really, I think it starts at the top or from the office out to the field. I think if the office is only concerned about making money and quarterly financials, eventually that's going to trickle down into the field operations. It's amazing how fast negativity can spread.

Missy Scherber:              

Isn't it?

Keaton Turner:               

And how fast positivity can spread. We really focus on celebrating our people every month. All of the employees in Turner Mining Group vote on an employee of the month. We hand out these big golf course checks.

Missy Scherber:              

Awesome.

Keaton Turner:               

For $500 an employee gets their picture on social media. It's kind of fun.

Missy Scherber:              

It's awesome.

Keaton Turner:               

It's awesome to the employee. Obviously, they get real money. And then, just social media in general. There's so many fun things that we can do to shout our people out when we get sites that have zero industry citations or zero incidents or safety accidents, we'll host a big dinner or get pizzas on the job site. We just, we really try to go above and beyond to make it fun and exciting and interesting because it's already an interesting and fun and exciting industry anyway. You just got to let management know to keep it fun and not ruin the fun for everybody.

Missy Scherber:              

Right. I love that positive and fun is kind of at your core culture there, and I just think that's fantastic to bring. Okay, so one funny question that I had to add in. What was your recruitment strategy for Travis Brown, the infamous mining strong 6.0? How did you get that guy?

Keaton Turner:               

Well, I got to be honest with you. I've known Travis for a long time. Actually Travis and I, we had a history back at my previous company and I had to fire Travis. I knew he was a talented guy, but there was long story short when I started Turner Mining Group, he was one of the guys that I said I've got to get back. I called him and we went and had lunch and he's like, "Man, I don't know whether to punch you in the face or give you a hug."

Missy Scherber:              

Oh man.

Keaton Turner:               

Travis, he's awesome. We got a lot of history. He's one of the best. He's been super pivotal in our, especially our early success. But still, every day he's an absolute warrior.

Missy Scherber:              

That's great. And who knew that he was such a talented model as well. I mean, he was a great pick for you.

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah. A lot of hair on that guy.

Missy Scherber:              

One last question. When it comes to workforce, what messaging do you think it's important to tell our kids? I'm talking elementary, middle school, early high school, because that's really where in my opinion it really starts for them. So from a workforce perspective, what messaging is important to send the kids?

Keaton Turner:               

Well, for me it's a no-brainer. For me, it's without a doubt before anything else have fun. Life is so short. You're going to spend over 30 years of life working. And that's just not days. That a third of your time on earth is going to be spent working. It's got to be something that's fun.

Missy Scherber:              

Awesome.

Keaton Turner:               

No matter what you do, there's going to be stress, there's going to be problems and headaches, especially if you're doing it at the highest level or at a high level. But that's something I always tell my kids, is before anything else, if you're not enjoying it, it's time to make a change.

Missy Scherber:              

Yeah, that's great. And I love that that's been a part of your message, recruiting great young talent is, if you're not having fun, what's out there for you. And the construction industry is so fantastic because it is fun. It's outside. It's on-site. So that's great. I love that, that you're bringing that out.

Missy Scherber:              

So let's talk about the family reunion coming up here in March of 2020, CONEXPO-CON/AGG. You've been attending now for the past decade.

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah, that's right.

Missy Scherber:              

Awesome. And what's kept you coming back every three years aside from the obvious?

Keaton Turner:               

A part of it is just the huge gathering of people that you don't always get to see. Because we work coast to coast, we've got a lot of different clients, a lot of different vendors that we use, a lot of different equipment providers and dealers that we depend on. And so you can usually count on somebody from every organization showing up, and hopefully, multiple people from every organization. The festivities are always great. There's a ton of places to go have fun and get everyone together. I only try to spend two nights in Vegas. I've learned that's about my limit. But there's no show like it. I'll say that.

Missy Scherber:              

Yeah. And I heard it's two and half million square feet of metal tech sessions that it's just awesome.

Keaton Turner:               

I've never seen the whole thing. I think if you do, you've got a dedicated plan to go see it. It's humongous.

Missy Scherber:              

I'm going to try to scale every square inch if I can in five days.

Keaton Turner:               

It's crazy. It's a really big show.

Missy Scherber:              

It's awesome.

Keaton Turner:               

But it's like nothing else. I mean you'll see 994 loaders parked inside a building, sitting on carpet, D11s sitting on carpet. You can just jump right in. So it's pretty wild. It really is.

Missy Scherber:              

It's awesome. Now over the last 10 years, what products, technology, or services have you found at CONEXPO-CON/AGG that have advanced your business? Have you actually kind of connected with something new or learned about any product that you've then taken back to business?

Keaton Turner:               

Yeah, absolutely. A couple of years ago at a show, we had met a new ground engagement tool producer that we hadn't previously done business with. They make buckets for machines, they make teeth for buckets, they make cutting edges, so on and so forth. It turned out to be an awesome relationship and it all stemmed from the show. If we hadn't have crossed paths there somewhere, we'd never known about them.

Missy Scherber:              

That's great.

Keaton Turner:               

So there's all kinds of opportunities for new relationships that otherwise you may have missed.

Missy Scherber:              

Right, right. And do you attend the education sessions?

Keaton Turner:              

I have. Yeah.

Missy Scherber:              

What's been your favorite one that you've attended?

Keaton Turner:               

I think it was probably early on. I was kind of a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed kid just out of college. And they started talking about machines that would cut grade on their own.

Missy Scherber:              

Awesome.

Keaton Turner:               

And it was wild. I mean, I thought there's no way this machine is going to cut grade to a 10th of a foot by itself. And then, sure enough-

Missy Scherber:              

Here we are.

Keaton Turner:               

Six or eight months later, we, yeah, we ... Well, even back then we got a couple of machines and I'm like, "Yeah, they actually do this by themselves." And then nowadays they got fully autonomous machines. I think last year or last couple of years there were, Cat had a remote operated booth where you could actually operate a DA that was in Peoria, Illinois.

Missy Scherber:              

Isn't that crazy?

Keaton Turner:               

So it's pretty wild to see. So I'm curious what's going to happen this year, but every year there's something that surprises me.

Missy Scherber:              

That's so great and it gives my operating aspirations a chance, these remote operated pieces of equipment.

Missy Scherber:              

Let's do a quick rapid fire round to end here of just some fun questions to ask you to get to know you a little better Keaton. So what was your first, I'm talking very first job?

Keaton Turner:               

Very first job, I started my own little lawn mowing company at 10 years old and ...

Missy Scherber:              

That's great.

Keaton Turner:               

I bit off more than I can chew because I had too many lawns and couldn't get them all done.

Missy Scherber:              

So you started with lawns, ended in dirt. I love it. What was your very first car?

Keaton Turner:               

Ford Bronco. Still have it.

Missy Scherber:              

Oh you do? Those things are awesome.

Keaton Turner:               

Yup.

Missy Scherber:              

If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?

Keaton Turner:               

Probably design and build homes.

Missy Scherber:              

Awesome. And what song gets you pumped up in the morning? This is a really important question in the construction industry because everyone has their song and they're very attached to it. What song gets you pumped up in the morning?

Keaton Turner:               

I am already a pumped up person, so I typically try to come down a little bit. I think my go to song is Hook by Blues Traveler.

Missy Scherber:              

Oh, I like it. Okay, I'll check that one out. And who is one person that you wish you could have dinner with?

Keaton Turner:               

One person I wish I could have dinner with. Dead or alive?

Missy Scherber:              

Dead or alive.

Keaton Turner:               

Probably Benjamin Franklin.

Missy Scherber:              

Very good. What would you ask him?

Keaton Turner:               

Did he ever think the second amendment would get to this point in our country.

Missy Scherber:              

Wow. I love it. Now, here's a very, very big one. Your go-to gas station food because again, that's another reality for construction workers, is we have to get the gas station.

Keaton Turner:               

Oh man. I'm a Smart Water and beef jerky thing. We've got a whole closet full of at the office. So definitely probably two or three Smart Waters and a big bag of beef jerky.

Missy Scherber:              

Oh, I love it. And last but not least, infamous question, jeans or khakis on the job site?

Keaton Turner:               

Definitely jeans for me.

Missy Scherber:              

Darn it. Maybe next time.

Missy Scherber:              

Well, thank you so much Keaton for spending time with us today. That's all the time we have, and we really appreciate you taking the time to share your success, your inspiration, and I really look forward to seeing you out at CONEXPO-CON/AGG in March of 2020.

Keaton Turner:               

Thanks so much Missy. Appreciate it.

Missy Scherber:              

Yeah, we'll talk soon. Thanks Keaton.

Announcer:                     

And that's going to wrap up this edition of CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio. If you liked the show and think other people should listen too, make sure to subscribe and maybe you leave a review on iTunes. We'll be back next time with another great guest. Until that time, be sure to visit conexpoconagg.com/subscribe to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter. More than 30,000 other construction industry pros are already receiving news and insights to move their business forward.

 




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