Ep. 118: The Cornerstones of Culture with Mikel Bowman of Bowman Legacies

Mikel Bowman, Bowman LegaciesMikel Bowman has been a life coach, pastor, mentor, and culture guru. He has devoted his life to helping others realize their true potential. In this episode Mikel and host Missy Scherber dig into leading with joy and humility, as well as building a culture based on honesty, ethics and respect. Mikel's straightforward approach to everyday problems will help organizations of all sizes usher a great work environment for those in blue collar professions.

They discuss:

  • A career switch from counseling to construction
  • Driving greatness out of your staff and creating clear lines of accountability
  • Making culture in a priority in an industry with limited good examples of it
  • Bringing professionalism to the jobsite and making marginalized groups feel safe and comfortable
  • Building bridges between the office and the field through proactive communication
  • Being honest and fair in your recruiting process
  • Taking personal responsibility to grow in your role

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Show Transcript: 

Intro:

Welcome to CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio, where we bring you boots on the ground perspectives from construction, business owners, and industry experts about their successes, challenges, and whatever else is on their minds. Consider them your own personal mentors on technology implementation, equipment solutions, business management, and more. Enabling you to apply their expertise to your business. Held every three years in Las Vegas. CONEXPO-CON/AGG is North America's largest construction trade show. For even more ways to connect with the industry visit conexpoconagg.com/connect. We've got another great guest on the show today. So let's dig in.

Missy Scherber:

Thank you so much for joining us for another season of Contractor Conversations on CONEXPO-CON/AGG Radio. I'm your host, Missy Scherber. And this year we're taking a deep dive into what it takes to be an effective leader in construction. From business development, to employee recruitment and retention, to enhancing your soft skills. We're here to help you level up.

Joining us today is Mikel Bowman, owner of Bowman Legacies. Mikel Bowman has been a life coach, pastor, mentor, and culture guru. He has devoted his life to helping others realize their true potential. In today's episode, we will dig into leading with joy and humility as well as building a culture based on honesty, ethics, and respect.

Mikel's forward approach to everyday problems helps organizations of all sizes, usher a great work environment for those in blue collar professions. All right, Mikel. Well, welcome to the show. So excited to have you here. We just had our pre-powwow and I'm just jumping out the microphone right now like, "Let's do this."

Mikel Bowman:

Actually, you and I, we've skirted around each other for about two, almost three years, just kind of back and forth. I literally, stood about three feet from you in Vegas-

Missy Scherber:

What?

And you didn't say hi.

Mikel Bowman:

There was tons of people everywhere. All kinds of people were asking me questions and stuff. So I just went to Aaron's party and just called it.

Missy Scherber:

Oh, wow. So you just ditched me for the dirt nerd. I get it. I get it.

Mikel Bowman:

Aaron's a friend and I love him dearly and so-

Missy Scherber:

He's awesome. Well, Mikel, welcome to the show. We're so grateful to have you, your thoughts, your wisdom on season two of Contractor Conversations. For those who might not know you, who might not follow your amazing Instagram, which is so inspirational and fun to watch, why don't you just give them a quick background on what you did before construction, and then a preview of your construction career. And then, we'll talk about what you're doing now.

Mikel Bowman:

I went to school for being in a non-for-profit for counseling people, married families. I worked at a ministry that ministered to one-percenter bikers for seven years. And I counseled them, did inner city, inner prison ministries was on the suicide watch for a local jail. So if someone was in that way they would change them to a table and put me in front of him, and I would have to convince him of why he needed to live. And then, we just kind of came to that place where I realized, even though I was making a difference in people's lives, I didn't see a way to market that, and we just weren't making the finances that we needed to move forward.

So I had a good friend of mine that was a driller, and he was like, "Mike, I can get you one tomorrow." And he literally did. I mean, I had an office, I had someone that would print off stuff for me. And then the next minute, literally standing on a 54 foot ledge with unconsolidated material broken and falling everywhere. I mean, literally the next day.

Missy Scherber:

Someone needs to hire that recruiter that got Mikel Bowman into the construction. From counselor to construction worker. I love that.

Mikel Bowman:

It was minus 30 that day, the windshield factor. And beard was in its smaller, younger stage. I mean, there was ice on our eyelashes. Every place, we had a place that was showing there was ice on it.

Missy Scherber:

You got sold.

Mikel Bowman:

Oh, I did and I was like, "Oh, my God. What have I done? And then, I got to put my own rig. I ran a Sandvik DI550 on those good days where it's running good and you're getting footage. It was a phenomenal job. I loved doing it. I love dealing with the customers. I loved walking into the door and a superintendent say, "Thank God it's you and nobody else." And the safety role opened up. Our safety guy always wanted to start his own business. So Andrew, he started his own business and I said, "You know what? I think I can do this." And so I just love people. I love people and was able to mitigate some citations that we had with MSHA that we had thrown out of and conference that were supposed S&Ss. And so I was very successful, and kind of got known for that. It's kind of like that gunslinger. And so that was like, I got them knocked out in conference, which never happens. And so I got known for that. And then, I started talking to this guy named Keaton Turner.

Missy Scherber:

Oh, Keaton Turner, one of our previous guests. What a guy.

Mikel Bowman:

I actually talked to him a couple of weeks ago and I still talk with Keaton. And I started talking with him just about culture, started talking to him about safety. I saw a few of his posts and I thought, "This guy is kind of rad, man. I just got to figure this guy out." And so, I had no plans. I really was coasting. I was doing really well. I had a job just so automated, so easy for me. After five years of doing it, it was just an easy job. And he offered me a job. And we went back and forth for probably about two months, me just saying no. And he said, "Just meet me for coffee. We live in the same town, meet me for coffee for God sakes." And so I was like, "All right, I'll meet you for coffee." And by the end of the conversation, I called my wife, I said, "I just took a job here."

Missy Scherber:

It was over. Keaton is the man. I mean, I love the way he just approaches operators at every level, just as team members. So you were done the minute you said yes to coffee.

Mikel Bowman:

I was hooked. He can sell water to a drowning man.

Missy Scherber:

That's a great talent.

Mikel Bowman:

So I started with him literally, in the infancy of the organization. I mean as GM, I did everything that you can imagine. And there really wasn't a definition to my job for the first year because... And that's what Keaton told me. He's like, "I pretty much just need you to do whatever I ask you to do." So I dabbled in everything from HR, payroll, hire, fire, recruiting. Oh, my gosh, fleet management, safety, and then eventually ended up being the cultural guru there.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. And that happens a lot with the infancy of a company. We're going through that now with the Demolition Excavating company. We've struggled on hiring and firing with the office team and it's like, "I don't know your role yet." I still have to figure out what I need and sometimes it's hard for people that, it's a tough thing, but it takes a really committed person to really go through those early stages of business with someone.

Mikel Bowman:

Well, for me, it was all about just carrying that shield. Bowman Legacies, we have the sword and the shield as our logo. And that's just the thing that's been real big for me. And so I liked Keaton. It was like, "I want to carry your shield." And it wasn't roses and sunshine and unicorns every day.

Missy Scherber:

Never is.

Mikel Bowman:

We've had some pretty livid conversations, he and I back and forth. Mostly me, I'm pretty vocal.

Missy Scherber:

So, you brought kind of your skillset from the previous mining company. You brought that to Turner Mining Group. You spent a few years and what? Really looked like on Instagram, was just some great team members. And it sounds like it started with safety, but then, from what I'm reading your Instagram posts, you really started to mentor a lot of these guys out in the field just beyond safety. Tell me about that transition or how that happened.

Mikel Bowman:

Well, with my position and I think a little bit of my character, I tend to want to be there for people a lot more. And I think that's a lot self preservation, because I need it, right? I need that kind of grace. I need that kind of help too. I just was extending that kind of love for the guys. Having been in the field, I know what it's like to be in the dirt. And so I know some of these guys were away from home. They're away from family. Some of them had wives and children. And so for me, my passion was [inaudible 00:08:55]. I was told by one of the guys, was on staff, he asked me why I didn't stay in nicer hotels when I would go to like San Jose. I'd stay with the guys, because those were my men.

Mikel Bowman:

If they're not eating, I don't want to eat. If they're laying on the ground, I'm laying on the ground. So I would couch it in their apartments that they were staying in. So I could get the understanding on the dynamic of what their every day and their culture was like. And too few leaders want to do that. They want to stay in a nice hotel. They want to have the nice plane tickets. They want to sit upfront, and they want to have the nice dinners, and they want to go to CON/AGG, and they want to be schmoozed by clients.

Mikel Bowman:

And they want to do these things, but they fail to realize that staying in the dirt with your people, and actually learning how they live, and humbling yourself in that way, it changes the dynamic of your culture and the understanding of the way your people live and what they need on a daily basis. And so, I was able to do that. And my phone sits by my bed. So 24 hours a day, three o'clock in the morning, I'd get phone calls from California. I talked to two people actually, out of suicide of which one had the firearm in his hand. And so, that kind of gave me that trajectory towards that cultural side of things.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. You've really been on several sides of it. You were General Manager, in that position where you're leading guys, but you had been the guy. And you knew, "Hey, there's a unique approach in how to reach these guys. And really, when you can do that off the field, it's amazing what you can do on the job site. You can accomplish big things when you're connected like that." So your leadership style, which kind of leads me to my next question of... Before we lead into more of what you're doing now. So you go from in the drill rig to leading at that company in the safety area, then going to Turner, starting to lead teams, not just in safety, but as human beings and as people. And I'm assuming in those years you really developed a leadership style, which it sounds like it's pretty, "I'm going to sleep on the couch if you're here." Describe your leadership style. And then, I want to talk about what you're up to now.

Mikel Bowman:

So my leadership style, as I said, I think I answered at one time as all in. When I asked someone to come on board with me or I'm leading a team, I have a lot more grace, I think, than most people do. And I'm willing to work with someone because I really realize that every person on your team has greatness within them. But you as a leader need to drive that out. All too often, we're production-based. In a lot of companies we're production-based. And so, if the guy's not good in a haul truck, he's not good in a dozer, he's not good in a haul, well then he's just not good. And that's not necessarily always the case. I'm also big on making clear lines of accountability for these people. A lot of the times, people just up on the job sites and we do not train them enough and go further enough with them, so they have a clear understanding of what's expected of them, so that when they have that opportunity to fail, which they will, you can hold them accountable to where they have fallen and bring them up.

Mikel Bowman:

And I think that's just not always the approach that people take, but I've watched it win time, and time, and time again, where people were so faithful to me. I had one of my old bosses, Matt Boltman, and I'm forever grateful for him to have told me this. He's told me, said, "Mikel, there's two kinds of leaders." He said, "There's one that says, "Let's take that hill." And then everybody else on the team backs up and hopes he gets shot. And then, there's the other leader says, "Let's take that hill." And then, everybody on his team just rushes to get past him so he doesn't get in the harm's way." That's the kind of leader that I choose to be. It's not always easy, but it's the best way to bringing teams to a cohesive understanding of what you're doing and getting everyone to understand their value. And that perpetuates a team that moves forward faster, harder. They work longer hours. You've got to continue to feed them with that kind of vision. And I think that when we're in such a production-based community, it's easy to throw someone out and get someone new.

Missy Scherber:

For sure. And to be 100% transparent with you, we've struggled with that personally, as a small business, because no production is so costly for us and we're this small. And I always say, "Oh, I wish we were 10 times bigger and I could afford to keep him on, and train him, and do this." But it's like, at some point we have to figure that out. We have to figure out, like you said, how, one, I think we've successfully... Our team wants to run out ahead and be like, "Let's take this hill. Let's go." But then we kind of hit a wall at some point with some of our team members of, "Now what?" Am I valuable here? Am I accountable? Am I accountable for the good and the bad?"

Missy Scherber:

And we've struggled through that. And so that was why I was so excited to talk to you today because I want to raise my hand and say, "I'm guilty of... Oh, hey. I need a culture. I need a good culture and I want a good culture, have a vision, and a dream for it." But I've struggled for, what's next? And building a good culture. So you just described your leadership style. So now help me describe as a leader, how to take that and develop a strong culture for our company.

Mikel Bowman:

I think it all starts with understanding that as entrepreneurials, we are passionate about starting businesses. I've always said about Keaton, one of the days he's going to start a pancake factory, or God knows what, golf carts, I don't know. But it's not going to stop with Turner Mining, it's just going to keep getting bigger, and bigger, bigger. But the problem is, you immediately jettison yourself in as a leader. And leader is not a destination, we have to stop looking at it at such a hierarchal view. You're standing on top and you're looking down, if you flip the script on that, it's more like a funnel and you're at the bottom looking up. And to serve your people properly, you have to lead them properly. If you're single and you're listening to this right now, you're a leader. You're leading your own life.

Mikel Bowman:

If you're a father, if you're a mother, you're leading your family. And to do that successfully, everybody has to be aware of the lines of accountability and where they are. I once had a friend that said, "You can't hire friends or family." And that's the biggest lie. Sometimes we hire buddies, they work really hard at first, and they're super passionate, and after a while, they lose passion, and they kind of just feel like they can do whatever they want. And we see that with family sometimes. The owner's kid comes on and everybody hates the guy, because he's not being held accountable to the same rules.

Mikel Bowman:

But we have to be very pragmatic and take our emotions out of that situation and say, "Hey, I'm here to lead. So in order for me to lead and steer this horse properly, first, has to have a bit. And that bit has to be put in its mouth in such a way it doesn't even know it's there, so I can steer it in the right direction." In other words, when you're balancing things on the side of, what is your culture? That's even part of your culture. The culture of how you lead is so valuable, it's so important. And it all starts with accountability as the chief cornerstone. The chief cornerstone to everything is accountability. Look, if you and I were sorting Bobcats with a switch today.

Missy Scherber:

Sounds fun.

Mikel Bowman:

Yeah, right. That's an old saying that hillbilly is here where I'm from, Tucks say. If we were to do that, guess what? We better have a plan. And there needs to be accountability, because I don't want to get hurt. And I want you to go home with all your fingers and toes. So often, that's what our businesses are like. We're jettisoning forward so fast and we're moving forward so fast that it's just like, we're just trying to throw the right person into that job just so that we can get that job done.

Missy Scherber:

Get it done. Yeah, absolutely. We're definitely guilty of that. Just like, we want to get the job done, we want to give them the hours, we want to make sure everyone's provided for, and has a meal at the table, so it's just production, production. And honestly, there's not a lot of example out there of good cultures within the construction industry. So we have this norm within our industry and excitingly enough, it's starting to shift, which is why consultants, coaches, like you are so important to help guide us on something we've never seen before. It's kind of easy for me to be like, "Oh, all of our cultures just suck and how are we going to this? Just kind of like the pessimist.

Missy Scherber:

And then it's like, "No, this is exciting. This hasn't been done before in our industry. This hasn't been a priority and now it is. This is great. Let's talk about that." So, where someone like me says, "I'm ready to build a strong culture for my teams." What do my teams need? Where do I start? What would be your advice if you had just a couple minutes with me of, "Missy, start here, and here's what your teams need most."

Mikel Bowman:

Right. I have the most awesome privilege to know a man named [inaudible 00:18:23]. And he's become a personal friend of mine. And I dearly love the man. I do. He and I have talked on the phone together and both cried. And he had shared some harrowing stories of his life and I, mine. And I love what he does. And one of the things that he does is, I think in the very beginning of his company, organization, he defined his culture. And that's one of the things that he and I both see eye and eye. You have to define Missy, the culture that you desire. Too often companies, they have these vain practices. They'll have these days where they bring everybody in. And all of a sudden, "We're going to come up with our core values. Yay, These are our core values."

Mikel Bowman:

And then, the next year, you're high as a kite because you feel like you've gotten this awesome part of your team. You've made these big changes in this grassroot movement that you're making within the organization. And then you realize you're not living by any of your core values. And it'll kill your culture. Especially, when you're sitting there putting out really nice commercials of all the things that you're doing, and got a great Instagram presence, and you've got a great LinkedIn presence. And then everything on the inside is corrupt and dead.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. So you're saying, define a culture that you can live by every day.

Mikel Bowman:

Herb says it this way... I love this. He goes, "I want two guys to drive home and look at each other and go, "Dang, we worked for this place. Look what we did this week. Look what we built." And so, he's very simplistic about that. Now, driving that forward, you've got to look past the bottom dollar all the time. You have got to invest. If you're going to become what I call legacy company, at some point, you've got to pump the brakes and you have got to decide where you're going to lie. Are you going to be culturally sound and you're going to move forward? Are you going to define the culture that you want? Are you Wolfs on Wall Street or are you actually wanting to build up and grow your people into something phenomenal and great?

Missy Scherber:

Yeah, which is so cool. So you're bringing up, looking past the bottom dollar. And I want business owners out there to know those first three to five years, that's all you do to survive, right? You're literally like, to make all these payments that keep all these people moving. It's just like, bottom dollar, bottom dollar, bottom dollar. And then you reach a point which we've reached this year of, "Okay. We want to be a viable company with a powerful team of awesome people that never want to leave. We're financially sound. We have that cushion. We're good."

Missy Scherber:

And that's when that shift happens of, "Okay, we're good with the bank account. We're good in the financial area, but wow, you've been going so fast." Like you said, the meat grinder. Now, we got to pause and think about our people and how this company affects them. How does it change their life for the better? So, we're at that phase right now of... I'll admit, we've had to focus on the bottom dollar to make it. But now we're at year five. We can look at ourselves and say, "We're okay. It's time to focus on our people. It's time to build a better culture and to learn from the mistakes we've made." What do our people need, Mikel? What do they need from us?

Mikel Bowman:

Think that's super organic. And here's the reason why I say that... I hate those kinds of terms like, organic and all those catchphrases, but I really do believe it's true. Every organization is going to have a different face. They're going to have a different vibe, a different feeling, a different way they approach how they do the job. If you are making pancakes or if you're moving earth, there's always a different approach. There's always a method to your madness. I think when we talk construction, honestly, I think safety is paramount. It's the other chief cornerstone. It is one of the greatest foundations that you can possibly have to show your people that they truly care. I talked to a business leader the other day, who's just growing exponentially. And I asked him, "Do you have a safety guy?" And he was like, "Oh, nope." It's like, "Buddy..."

Mikel Bowman:

And the problem in that too, is a lot of safety people have really put a bad name out for themselves, a bad taste in the industry for certain people. It's true. There's too many safety cops out there who can't run a piece of equipment. They've never been in one, but they're sure going to tell you how to operate one. I actually had a driller, one time called me, said, "Mike, this lady's asked me to do some crazy things." And so, she was a safety lady in Kentucky, and she was asking him to fold the mast to the drill up, every time he moved on the stripping. Well, the mast is important. It works as a counterweight. So when you're in adverse situations, you want that counterweight to be out in front of you. And so you can bounce.

Mikel Bowman:

And he was in some pretty tricky stuff. And so, I had to call her, I'm like, "Look, you have no idea what you're talking about. You're going to get my guy killed." And so that's put a bad taste and what not. So if you're a safety person and you're listening today, and you've [inaudible 00:23:35], let me tell you something, you need to be in the field and have some humility when you approach your people. But yeah, safety is one of those things that's a chief cornerstone as you grow, especially, when you get to a certain... I think, if you have over 60 employees, you need to have a full-time devoted safety person. You just do. And that's hard because it's saw is overhead, but you have to decide [inaudible 00:23:56]. This is an investment. This is how we move forward, it's investment.

Mikel Bowman:

And then training, let that safety guy work with that safety person side-by-side. Don't just throw them out there in that field, teach them, train them the way that you want them to do. Let them know about the vulnerable places in your heart and soul for your organization, because it's like a baby, and you're raised in that thing. You're trying to grow it, and nurture it, and do awesome things. You want that baby to be flourishing. You don't want it living under a bridge.

Missy Scherber:

Not at all. So, we're starting from scratch. So you're saying one of the cornerstone, safety training, is what I wanted to know from you. What do our teams need? Because you've been in the field on the ground, our guys and girls, because we do have females that work for us as well. They're just such grinders. They just work so hard. If I were to pause and be like, "Hey, what would you like from our culture?" They'd be like, "What are you talking about, Missy? This is fun, whatever." I really want to know from you, and I want other business owners listening to this. What do they need from us with our culture? So I hear safety, training, what else? Accountability?

Mikel Bowman:

They need accountability. And this is a hard one, because some people err either one way or the other. I have known a business leader that would literally jerk someone out of a piece of equipment, like physically grab them, pull them out and tell them to go home. Okay, that's not good. And eventually, you grab the wrong guy or the wrong girl and you're going to get a broken nose. And then, on the other side, a guy that just couldn't fire anybody. He just couldn't fire anybody. And I had to coach him like, "Look, this is what's best for the organization." So accountability, even for you as the leader is so important. I was on a job site once and showed up with a business leader who showed up with boots that were not steel toe. Sometimes wasn't wearing his hard hat and was not following the same rules that he expects his employees.

Mikel Bowman:

One of the biggest things your employees need to know is that the rules that you are holding them accountable to, that you're holding yourself accountable to as well. And then they truly know you are all in the same boat together. You're all in. It's so important. And seldom is that seen. I have been several different companies. I've literally been in hundreds of mine sites to see Presidents and CEOs come into these places. Saw one in a helicopter that came out in penny loafers, which I didn't know still was a thing-

Missy Scherber:

It's a thing.

Mikel Bowman:

I guess, they're still out there. Penny loafers, he had khakis on and a polo shirt, came out, no safety glasses, no hard hat, walked around his mine site got in helicopter and left. And so culturally, you'll kill yourself when people feel like that they're marginalized. And we see that so much in this country. Look at where we at as a nation. You as a company, Missy, have got to be the complete opposite. And it's something too I want to touch on. And this is a little controversial, I guess. But you said you have ladies working for you. We need to make the construction space safe for women to come into, and all of the marginalized peoples to be able to come into a safe place.

Mikel Bowman:

So we need to be professionals for heaven's sakes and we need to hold our people accountable to that. I've been on job sites where racial slurs were made towards Latin Americans or African Americans and I've had to stop that stuff. And a lot of times them being the minority on the site, will laugh it off because they need a job. And that's not okay. I've seen filthy jokes around women who are in the construction industry that made them feel uncomfortable at the sake of feeling like one of the guys, they kind of shrugged that off and laughed, and it's unfair. It is not okay. The mining and heavy civil construction arena, we are 50 years behind the eight ball. We are 15 years behind the game in understanding culture and understanding what it's like to build a safe environment for people to come and work every day.

Missy Scherber:

And so, you're really taking safety beyond. It's not about building a safe environment, per se, of OSHA and MSHA and all these things. It's about, do they feel safe as a person, as a human? Do they feel good about themselves? Do they feel safe to have crucial conversations? And do women feel safe to feel the respect and even men? I mean, there's a lot of yellers out there. I mean, is your culture about safety and how they feel about themselves?

Mikel Bowman:

So you want a guy working in a drill or on a haul on a 200 foot high wall, when he's going to work or she's going to work every single day and feels like the team that she's on hate him, or that she's being marginalized, or he's being bullied, or mistreated? You want that person up there? Do you want to go look at their mom, or their dad, or their children, or their wife, and have to say, "They're not coming home because they weren't in their head. They weren't in the right space as they were concerned about so many other things."

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. I absolutely love where you're taking that. Safety is so much more than OSHA.

Mikel Bowman:

It's huge.

Missy Scherber:

Do humans feel safe in our presence? Do they feel safe to make suggestions? Do they feel safe to talk about their experience with our company? It's emotional safety as well, like you're saying. It's incredible. So you're saying, it's safety, it's accountability, it's people, it's a culture of people, and kind of humanizing our industry in a way that it's never been done before. Like you said, we're 50 years behind, not just with women, but with men. The treatment on the job sites has to change and get better. And what I wanted to say today is, it's critical that construction companies improve their cultures for us to build a better industry. Our workforce will not sustain the amount of work out there. And I think the way to get more people in is strong cultures. But I know there's a lot out there like me who are like, "Can I hire you please? Because I don't know where to start. And there's only enough hours in the day."

Mikel Bowman:

Well, and want to talk to young business leaders or just business leaders, period, with this, don't despair, because there are some phenomenal things that you're doing that you're also discrediting and don't realize. The reasons why you do want to hire a third-party because I'd have nothing in it. Guys like me, we don't have anything in this. In other words, I can come in and go, "Look, your baby's ugly." "Yes."

Missy Scherber:

Need some work, brush your hair.

Mikel Bowman:

"Brush her hair. She needs to take a bath. Give her a bottle, she's starving to death." But because it's not my baby, you know what I mean? I can come in critically or someone like me can come in critically and say, "Hey, look, this is what I see you're doing wrong." And it's more about investments. "And here's what you're doing right though. And these are the things that need to be uplifted."

Missy Scherber:

And let's build on that.

I love that. So let's talk about what disconnects. This is such an important thing to talk about. What disconnects have you seen between management, and the field, and the construction mining industries? And what are the first ways to start tackling those disconnects? There is such a disconnect right now between management office and field. How do we build these amazing strong bridges between the two, because they're both so critical to a successful business?

Mikel Bowman:

I think one of the things that's very important and this is a problem that's happened since the beginning of time with teams and hierarchy, when there's always a hierarchal view of leadership. And I think it's funny. It just reminds me of a time I was drilling in a stripping. I was about two foot of mud. It was very cold. And our safety guy came out and said, "I think your rotation's too fast." So I'm drilling, I'm out at the panel, I'm on a drill tech, semi, and he says, "Your rotation's too fast. And I think that you're not level." And I looked, I'm level. My rotation is exactly where the guy who trained me, who's been doing it for years, taught me how to do it in this area. So he just continued to tell me all the things I was doing wrong.

 

And I asked him, I said, "Hey, you ever ran a drill?" He said, "No." I said, "Have you ever ran a piece of equipment?" And he's like, "No." I was like, "Well, if I'm doing something wrong, go talk to that guy right there. And he'll let you know whether I'm doing something wrong." And that's the disconnect. So, the disconnect happens when we have people who have gone to college, they've got an education, and they become a management, and they're making decisions for people who are boots on the ground, and they've never shoveled tracks before.

Missy Scherber:

Yes. Okay. So you're opening up a can of worms here, my friend. You started this, let's just go on record right now to say, you started this. So here's my side of that. It's not an argument it's conversation. So we've had some field team members who are like, "I want you to come in and experience what I do." And I'm planning on doing that. I'm planning on getting my class B with Deb. She really wants me to understand operation of the truck. And there's been some other field team members who have said that. And sometimes my rebuttal is, I want you to understand what it takes to sell, manage, maintain the job site, the equipment, the truck, the insurance. I want you to understand what I do as an office person, as a field person.

Missy Scherber:

And so there's this weird disconnect, right? It's on both sides. I feel like a lot of the field people or field teams that I've experience, don't have a lot of appreciation for the office staff, and what they do, and understanding, and vice versa, you're absolutely right. A lot of us office staff, we have not been in the equipment. We don't understand it. We're focused on keeping it moving full-time. So how do we bridge that gap knowing that not all office people could spend a year in equipment, not all equipment people... I mean, I don't think any operator wants to spend more than an hour in the office. Help me, help me, Lord.

Mikel Bowman:

Help me Lord, help me. You need to get it in the field. You've got to take opportunities to get in the field. You don't have to learn how to drive a D8, okay? However, I've done that on top of mountain, looking at San Jose at night, gorgeous, did it once. I want to own one. Yeah. Oh, my God. I want a dozer so bad. But you've got to get out in the field. You've got to know your people. You've got to know the hours that they're working and appreciate that.

Mikel Bowman:

And then they have to know as well. One of the things I will say Turner does beautifully is they have so many people in the office posting about their daily lives, that people in the field get it, that these people are working hard. Keaton does a great job of pointing out what these guys in the office are doing. The types of hours that they're pulling, the things that they're doing. He did a wonderful highlight on Ben one time. A guy named Ben Schonberger, he walked in on Sunday, Keaton came in the office, and had no idea Ben was actually there. They hadn't planned to meet or work, but Ben was working that Sunday to get things done. And I think that's really important and daily communication between the staff. So you in the office know what's going on in the field isn't [inaudible 00:35:44]. It's very important.

Missy Scherber:

Got it. So you think just building stronger communication and really as a company mixing up what we highlight. So highlight what's going on in the field, shine the spotlight on those operators, on our drivers, but also, shine the spotlight on what's going on in the office.

Mikel Bowman:

Right. I remember meeting a guy in Michigan who had been following our posts and stuff like that. And he just started talking to me like I knew him, right? He just starts talking to me. We're just sitting there chatting back and forth. And I looked at one of the guys I'm like, "Who is this guy? I don't even know who he is." And the thing was, because Turner had done such a good job of highlighting stuff that I was doing, this kid knew me inside and out. And then I felt ashamed of myself because I didn't know him, but literally, at that point, and still now, you're talking to hundreds upon hundreds of people. It's thousands sometimes and it's kind of hard to remember whose call sign is what on Instagram. But I got through it.

Mikel Bowman:

I think one of the biggest things is you've got to care. You've got to want to have a great culture. You've got to want to look at your organization, not as a monster. Stop feeding the monster, okay? And get control of it. And that's through rolling out proper SOPs. And how you do that properly. Are you just blasting the guys with chains just all of a sudden? Are you letting them know that it's coming? Are you getting their feedback and stuff that you're trying to change? It's so important. It's just such a cohesive job here. It's not, "Hey, I'm in the office making rules and doing this. And you're out in the field doing that." It's like, no, you've really got to breed that culture of, "We're all in this together." And if it weren't for the guy behind the desk, the guy behind the dozer can't do his job.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. I love this. So the first thing is care. Care about the culture. That sounds like a first step. And that's a big one. So we're there, we care. We want a good culture. And then the second thing you're saying where I feel like maybe we've missed it a little as conversations with the field, get out in the field, have the conversations. I'm laughing at you saying this, because I'm like, I tried to kind of establish some rules that I thought, not rules, but processes in the office where I thought, "This is going to clean up." Right? "This is going to clean things up like, it's going to get the truck organized." Deb came in, read them and she's like, "I ain't following those rules." She's like, "Missy, here's why this won't work, this won't work, and that will work." And I'm like, "Oh, I didn't even think about that."

Mikel Bowman:

In that moment, your first reaction in your mind need to go, "Yes, I am so glad I got the feedback because I could afford this." And that's where too many people see the baby, right? So they roll out SOPs or they roll out stuff. And then the field goes back to those, "No, this sucks." And that's usually how you're going to hear it, right? You're not going to hear, "Gee, I think this could be adjusted in this way or that way." No, it's like, "This sucks." Well, woman, you didn't get any kind of feedback from them in the first place to see what's been going on. And especially in the construction industry or mining, every site is different.

Missy Scherber:

Right. And there's so much brilliant on the job sites. What I learned from that situation is, "Wow, our team is so brilliant. They have so much experience and knowledge. I will never put out another procedure, or process, or standard without checking in with them and saying, "What do you think about that?" So care, have the conversation. Any other pillars or cornerstones that you feel are important when you're really embarking on this amazing mission of building a strong construction culture?

Mikel Bowman:

When I teach self-defense, I always tell people when they're upset about not doing something the way I've showed them. I said, it's sure a hell of a lot better than getting in the fetal position and doing this, right? So continue to try. And then when something fails, guess what? That's beautiful. Just did a podcast on Bowman Legacies podcast about failure. A baby does not see trying to walk and falling down as failure. That baby keeps getting up, don't they? The next day they keep getting up, they keep getting up, they keep getting up.

Mikel Bowman:

But what they do is they learn. We teach them what failure is. We teach them the shame behind failure. You need to embrace failure and understand that when you're trying to make your company culturally sound, you've still got to pay the bills at the end of the day, right? You still got to keep the lights on. You still got to keep the hydraulic oil and the blood, and the glitz, and the glory going on in the field. You got to keep your customer happy. And that's an edge too, on culture. Being transparent enough to even ask your customer, how are we doing? Ask people, how are we doing? And realize you're going to fail and that's okay, because they learn and you adjust.

Missy Scherber:

It's a beautiful thing that you can learn. So really quick, I got so much into company culture. Selfishly, I was excited to learn from you, but I know there's a lot of business owners that listen to this podcast. They're also a lot of operators that listen to this podcast. Talk to me about personal development, and personal coaching. What are some of the key things that have made a huge impact in the operators' life, when you've been out in the field with them, what do they need from you like personal development-wise, coaching-wise?

Mikel Bowman:

One time, I Shanghaied a bunch of the youngest guys on a job site, I purposely took them all out to eat. And then I found the youngest guys there and I said, "Hey, let me drive you back to the hotel in my truck." And so, they all eagerly piled in. And so, I asked them as I'm driving down the road, it's this long, lonely road in Northern Michigan. And I asked them, "So what are you doing here?" And there's this long pause. And they were like, "In your truck?" I was like, "No, man. What are you doing here working for us? What are you doing here?" And they're like, "Well, I'm a haul truck driver." Or, "I'm a haul operator." "I'm a dozer guy." "I'm this, I'm that." I'm like, "Oh, okay, no, no, but what are you doing here?"

Mikel Bowman:

And helping the people that work for you realize that they mean something. And that what they're doing means something even for their personal selves, because these guys were going out drinking every night. These guys were out there partying every night and they were spending everything they were making and having nothing to show for what they were doing. So taking that time to invest in them emotionally is so powerful. And I'm going to tell you, business leaders, look, these kids that work for you. And I say kids, because I'm getting longer in the tooth and grayer in the beard, right? These kids see you as a father figure or a mother figure. They see you as an authority figure.

Mikel Bowman:

And when you show up to the job site and you give them the way to go and the pat on the back, it means so much more than you actually taking them out for beers. It means so much to them. They're working for you. They're riding for your brand. They're wearing it on their heads. There's a Midwest Mole is a company in Indianapolis. And I talk to these guys every once in a while online. And I had the privilege of talking to one on a phone conversation and had a picture of one of their workers doing this. And on his bicep was some Midwest Mole logo tattooed on his bicep.

Missy Scherber:

That's awesome.

Mikel Bowman:

It's like, that the guy who rides for the brand.

Missy Scherber:

That's culture right there.

Mikel Bowman:

That's culture, baby. But it's bigger than that, right? It's so huge. And culture is enormous thing, and too many at times, times we feel like it's the beer, it's the taking them out to eat, take them to Vegas. Vegas is awesome. It's such a wonderful time. Had some of the greatest memories of my life there meeting some phenomenal people. But that's not the end of it. They got to know that you're there for them.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. So you're saying the bigger impact is really stopping out on the field, like taking a look at their work and saying, "Hey, you're doing an awesome job. You made that customer happy. This is amazing." All back to value, which you've touched on a lot. Alicia in the previous episode talked about modeling culture and value that people at the end of the day want value. And so I love that these first two episodes on effective construction leadership have really talked about value, and valuing your people and modeling what your expectations are of them, which is exciting. So I do want to dive a little into workforce development. I think it's an important conversation. Where do you think construction companies... Where can we do better when it comes to recruitment and retention? And you can't just say culture.

Mikel Bowman:

Nope. Last year I was in Vegas, I saw Mr. Starbuck get up there and said some pretty... I love that guy. I do. I love that guy-

Missy Scherber:

Jimmy Starbuck is honestly one of our favorites. We are personally close to him. We absolutely love Jimmy.

Mikel Bowman:

I can hear him say the Instagram over and over, "The Instagram." He told me in Vegas, "I follow you on Instagram." And I just died. I died laughing so hard. But he said, "I recruit quality people. I pay them their worth. And I'm honest and fair with them." And this is a huge problem in our industry and especially in the United States. We love to look flashy. We love to look big. We love to look altogether. And then when we show up, we find out that the culture isn't where we thought it was. We find out that maybe the foreman is kind of a scumbag, but he can get the job done. He's not much of a leader.

Mikel Bowman:

And then we find out that this isn't such a great place to work, and then they become disenfranchised, and then they leave. And so, when we recruit, we've got to be honest. If I tell you Missy, "Look, we're going to battle. You and me. Me and you. We're going to war. Here's the enemy. This is what they look like. I have every weapon to my disposal." And you show up, I have two 10 speed bikes and a fishing pole. You're going to be pissed at me.

Missy Scherber:

Good point.

Mikel Bowman:

Right? You're going to be like, "Whoa, whoa, wait, whoa, whoa. This is funny. Nice joke, right? You're joking." I'm like, "Well, this is it. This is all I got." And that's what a lot of people are doing in recruitment. A lot of recruiters out there are spinning stuff, especially corporate recruiters are spinning stuff like everything's coming up roses. Everything's phenomenal. Everything's wonderful. And then when they get there, they realize it isn't. Anybody going into a new position has to know it's not all roses, but I want to hear the truth behind things. I recruited the safety guy one time, corporate safety guy for a national company. And I told him, I said, "Hey, look, this is how it is. This is where we suck. This is what's wrong with us. This is a mountain that you've got to climb. I'm here for you 110%.

Mikel Bowman:

And I will never leave your side, but this is what you've got to go through. Now, on the other hand, this is what's great about us. This is what's phenomenal about us." But I let people know the full entire package, so they don't feel like I've lied to them. And many recruiters are great at getting those numbers in, but they're not great at being honest. And some of them don't even know, they're just feeding out rhetoric that they've heard or they think they [inaudible 00:47:26].

Missy Scherber:

Right. And this is a great kind of principle that I know Turner Mining, Liz on Instagram, she just talked about like, "You got to really give them the full picture." And one of our laborers that we recently hired, he had the stars in his eyes. "I want to be an excavator operator." And I'm like, "Oh, boy. I've hired a few of those." If we don't them in the excavator in a year they're mad, right? So I was honest with him, I said, "It's going to be years for you to really master and learn, and be around our lead operators. They're going to give you time. We can give you time quickly within a year." But I was fully honest with him where in the past I was like, "That's great. We should try to get you in there and try to get your training, or whatever. But for the type of work we do the foundation digging, you have to know grade, and surveying, and it's not just digging a ditch or digging a hole or loading a truck."

Mikel Bowman:

You're not a dirt donkey. You're doing things to precise-

Missy Scherber:

It's very meticulous. And so I gave him a realistic picture and he was pumped. He's like, "I'm in. I'm fine with that. I'm fine with five years. I'm fine with seven years." And I was like, "That was awesome." Like you said, that honesty, that transparency. So you're saying one of the keys in recruitment is give them the honest, fair picture, which is something you quoted Jimmy Starbuck on. I love that. I love that. So you're a big proponent of public praise and recognition, which is awesome. How can leaders better acknowledge their staff and make them feel valued?

Mikel Bowman:

This is a hard one. And I'll tell you it's hard because you can give a million dollars in ones to a guy and they'll still complain, right? They're going to wonder why they weren't highlighted. Especially if you're a large company, this is hard. This is a hard thing to do to highlight every single person, but to do it consistently, you're showing your other employees what to live up to. And what's awesome is... I highlighted an employee one time that wasn't so great in some other areas. And I got phone calls like, "Hey, that guy is such a jerk here, here, and here, and here." I'm like, "I know."

Mikel Bowman:

But I didn't talk about there, I talked about how awesome he is here, here and here. And it gives an opportunity for everyone not to feel like they have to be perfect and they're good at some things. And highlighting your people, it's just giving them the credit. We're growing so fast as far as organizations, even now, we're trying to figure out, "Okay, we're getting spread thin. How are we scaling?" It's madness if we even scale. Especially in construction industry, we've been so blessed. Mining to grow and to be able to grow exponentially. So it's hard to do that. Just keep doing it. Don't stop. Don't [inaudible 00:50:00]. Just keep doing it. You're going to get complaints no matter what you do. So keep going, keep being consistent.

Missy Scherber:

I love that. And what advice would you give to the workforce out there, the laborers, the operators for their career advancement or where they are, maybe, they just came into our industry. Maybe the culture is great at their company they're at, maybe it's not, but they're excited to be in our industry. What kind of advice would you give them?

Mikel Bowman:

I don't care what the culture is, you be the culture. First foremost, you be the change you want to see. Stop pointing out how everybody else... Take personal ownership over yourself and lead it. And I'm going to tell you, you will advance. If you're in a haul truck today, you watch what that dozer does. You don't take your eye off of it. You pay attention. You learn. You show up on time. You do what no one else wants to do. You be the person who is willing to carry the shield and a sword in the battle, no matter what. And you will advance, you will move forward. You'll get in the dozer. Once you're in the dozer. If you want to be in the haul, okay. You watch what that haul does. You study, it's not just about cashing it in, and turning on your Bluetooth, and just doing the job because it's a job. If you want to advance, the template has not changed for a millennia. Show up, take personal ownership over yourself, take personal criticism, and grow like crazy. And I'm telling you, you will move forward.

Missy Scherber:

Wow. That is awesome. That is what I feel like so many field guys... They reach out and they're like, "I want to grow. I want to advance. I want to be in management." And I've struggled on what to tell them to do. And they're asking me, "You're an owner. What do you do?" That was phenomenal. Personal ownership. Be the change you want to see. Be there first. Be there last. Owners do notice that. We can't not notice it. It's just like, "Wow, there's that guy."

Mikel Bowman:

If you're a laborer right now, or you're an operator of some kind, you're not a business leader. I want you to hear this. You have no idea what it's like to be a business leader and look at your field of people and see the bulk of people who just don't want to be there. It's maddening. When you're saying, "Look, I'm paying you to do this. We made an agreement. I didn't lie to you and you still don't want to be here. And because I've got to pay the bills, I've still got to keep your grouchy behind in that piece of equipment and that's the [inaudible 00:52:39]."

Mikel Bowman:

If you're the guy who's saying, "Man, look, I'm here to lop heads. I'm here to take over. I'm here and I'm going to do whatever I'm asked. I can be a part of any team. There is no leader I cannot work for." I'm sick to death of hearing guys go, "I can't work for that guy." Look, I never said that. I worked for every most maniacal, awful leaders and I still carried their shield. And then I advanced because of it, because I could get along with anybody.

Missy Scherber:

I love that. So take the personal ownership, do all those things. It will happen. It's just inevitable. It's inevitable. And it's so noticeable. I know for us as owners, that those guys that... We think we're the first ones out there. I was out there this morning starting Deb's truck, and one of my guys was already there and I'm like, "Oh, you're here early." Your instant thought as an owner is, "What can I do for that person to advance them?" What an awesome attitude. What a great thing. So this was so inspiring on so many fronts, not just for business leaders, but for operators and field team. The more we can work together to promote each other, the better industry we're going to build.

Missy Scherber:

All I got to say at the end of this episode is you're hired to help us on our culture. Come on into Minneapolis. Let's make this happen. Real quick, I want you to talk about the podcasts that you really enjoy. How do we all advance? One, we're going to start listening to your podcast. I'm very excited that you're doing that. To be legacy. I love you're using the word legacy, legacy, legacy. As an operator, what's my legacy? As an owner, what's my legacy? But two, what are any other podcasts that we can listen to, to get the Mikel Bowman, like the Facelift Friday every day? How do you feed yourself to be just this awesome energy that's very inspiring and exciting?

Mikel Bowman:

I'll tell you what, I watch a guy and have talked to him several times. And I don't know how he does it because he literally stopped thousands of comments. But trying to get him on my podcast actually, and got turned down, but I'm going to keep trying. Ed Mylett. I'm going to tell you something. This is a man who doesn't have to give. He is a millionaire made over, I don't know how many times. But he has chosen to take his life and go, "I've got to give back massively." And he is an inspiration to me. And he has fed me for a long time. And I'll tell you who turned me on to him. I'd never even heard of the guy. Keaton Turner, one time, "You got to listen to this." So we're flying from Hartford, Connecticut to Detroit. And by the time I got to Detroit, I told him, "I'm ready to eat a house, man." That podcast was awesome. And so, I haven't stopped and haven't had the privilege to actually have conversations with the man. He is an inspiration and it doesn't matter if you're an executive or if you're a guy just carrying a shovel every day. I don't care where you are in life. His podcasts will change your life.

Missy Scherber:

Awesome. So we are turned on to that as far as personal growth. And give me one on Facelift Friday. I love your Facelift Fridays.

This is a curve ball for you. I told you I'd have a few.

Mikel Bowman:

This is a curve ball. Oh, gosh.

Missy Scherber:

What an awesome thing. I know Trevor's like, "Enough with your curve balls." By the end of the week he's, "Get this girl out of here. She's on fire." Hey, I'm half Hispanic. So it is what it is. Well, a bit feisty. So, Facelift Friday is awesome because sometimes you're at the end of the week and, hey, it's either been a tough week or a great week. If you've got a frown, how do we turn it upside down? Tell me what inspired you to start Facelift Friday and what's a core value of Facelift Friday.

Mikel Bowman:

I didn't know anyone was paying attention.

Missy Scherber:

Like get your facelift, like lift it up, smile.

Mikel Bowman:

Yea. Exactly, right. The thing about Facelift Friday, first of all, I've always loved the comedians that were willing to just make a complete ass of themselves to make someone else laugh. And so if that works for me, then the mission has been complete. But for me, the core value of it is just loving people that I don't even know. And just trying to point out and highlight, "You've got greatness in you. So start living like it. Smile. We're all in this together. We're a kaleidoscope of people. We're Brown people, we're Black people, we're red people, were white people." I don't know what you want to label yourself as, but ultimately we're a people. And so we have to understand that we are absolutely 100% all in this together and we need to love one another and we do. And that's what gets the job done at the end of the day.

Missy Scherber:

I absolutely love it. And I just think this was such a great episode. I want to do like 10 more with you.

Mikel Bowman:

I will be happy to.

Missy Scherber:

But here's what I'm walking away with, the operators and field guys out there who really want to advance and grow in their career, they've got to reach out to you. You'd be a great coach for them. Companies who want to improve their culture, whether they're small or large, you could really infuse a culture of safety and care into any size business. And they need to reach out to you as well. They just got to get in line, because I'm first in line.

Mikel Bowman:

One of the things that we do is LinkedIn and Instagram coaching, because we've found success there. My partner and I love to coach you in that. We've found some great results with our clients. You can look on my LinkedIn and you can see some on my bio there. Some people have just said some great things. Yeah, and we love coaching you on your personal life. Because here's the thing guys, you aren't going to advance ever if you don't get this thing up here right. And that thing has got to understand, now, you can make millions of dollars and still be a butt hole.

Mikel Bowman:

The fact that matters at the end of the day, you want people to look in your casket and while they're grieving, they're grieving because of the loss of someone they loved dearly, and fed them, and gave them so much, and enrich their lives every day. And so that's the takeaway. I want anybody to take away today, whether it's working with me or not, or just taking personal ownership to change your life. I don't care where you are. I don't care if you're in prison right now, I've seen people's lives change. I don't care if we're divorced right now, I've seen people's lives change. I don't care where you're at. You can grow, you can move forward. It just takes time and determination and you've got it well within you.

Missy Scherber:

I love it. We can all do this. We can all build a legacy within our respective roles, regardless of where they are and just knowing our value. And like you said, taking personal ownership to make the change, to be the change. I think is just one of the most inspiring things I heard today. So we're going to shift gears a little, got to end it with a little fun, rapid-fire round. So here we go. One more curve ball for you. What was your first job? I'm talking very first job.

Mikel Bowman:

My first job was hard-carrying, so I mixed mortar and carried concrete block and stone. So that was my first official, you actually have to sign a W-4 and all that kind of stuff down.

Missy Scherber:

Yes. That is much cooler than being the receptionist at Great Clips. Let me tell you.

Mikel Bowman:

My wife's a hairstylist.

Missy Scherber:

That was my first job.

Mikel Bowman:

I know more about hair than any man should know.

Missy Scherber:

I can tell from that mane of yours. What was your first car?

Mikel Bowman:

My first car was the [inaudible 01:00:10], but it was a Toyota Land Cruiser Jeep with the full down seats in the back. And yeah, smoked real bad, but I wish that I still had it.

Missy Scherber:

You fancy, huh?

Mikel Bowman:

Oh, I love that thing, man.

Missy Scherber:

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

Mikel Bowman:

I would love to be a back country, survivalist trainer. That's something that I used to teach young people, kind of like how to spend that night in the woods, and get out, and make it. And I would love to do that full-time.

Missy Scherber:

Awesome. What song gets you pumped up in the morning?

Mikel Bowman:

Led Zeppelin, Immigrant Song.

Missy Scherber:

I like it. Who is the person you wish you could have dinner with?

Mikel Bowman:

Ed Mylett all the way.

Missy Scherber:

I was going to answer that for you. I love it.

Mikel Bowman:

If you're listening.

Missy Scherber:

Ed, we're here for you. Come on this podcast you.

Mikel Bowman:

Oh, dude. Absolutely.

Missy Scherber:

Help the construction industry. What is your dream piece of equipment?

Mikel Bowman:

Oh, God.

Missy Scherber:

I heard that dozer D8. I heard the drill rig.

Mikel Bowman:

Yeah. CAT dozer D8, brand new though. I want it brand new. No scratches. I want to put the scratches on it.

Missy Scherber:

Okay. Caterpillar. Did you hear that? He wants the factory tour, and he wants to drive it off the lot.

Mikel Bowman:

I'm sure they would be more than happy to sell me one.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. What technology is going to be... Because you've been on this side of it. You've seen how tech and equipment affects teams. I mean, you've seen that hands-on the job site. What technology is going to be the biggest game changer in the next five years, in your opinion?

Mikel Bowman:

Autonomous. I think it's a little scary and it's pretty awesome at the same time. So, I kind of have mixed feelings, had been with the operators and been an operator myself. So I'm worried on what that will do for our industry, but I think it will be a game changer if it's done right. Hopefully, for the best. But we'll just have to see.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah. Who are some of the brands that you're seeing kind of pave the way in that?

Mikel Bowman:

Well, definitely CAT has some things. I know Volvo has some. Komatsu definitely are working towards it. I've seen an autonomous drill. Epiroc right now has the SmartROC, which is pretty much, I mean, you sit in the cab, but it does everything for you, for the most part. You just pretty much tram to the hole and it does it for you. So it's very impressive piece of equipment, big fan of Epiroc, as a matter of fact. Wonderful piece of equipment.

Missy Scherber:

Yeah and it's interesting because the autonomous equipment can really make an impact in what you talked about, the safety, as long as it's done well. Because there's some sketchy situations in construction. I'm excited for it.

Mikel Bowman:

Yeah. I've almost [inaudible 01:03:02] a time or two, and ran over by a 777. So, I know want it's like, so-

Missy Scherber:

Been there, been there. And any autonomous equipment that you saw at CONEXPO? Were you able to-

Mikel Bowman:

I was not. I was so glad people were just pulling at me everywhere I went. It was a weird experience for me, because I've never really had that before. But I didn't have a ton of time really to just enjoy the equipment like I wanted to.

Missy Scherber:

Look at the iron, right?

Which speaking of CONEXPO, I mean what an awesome, awesome event to bring us all together. We always talk about this on the podcast and everyone just starts... I'm watching right now, I'll just be like, "Oh, my gosh." You can't put words to it. You can't put words-

Mikel Bowman:

Just this year too, because I've been to it before. And this year when I went just to see so many people, and I guess my experience was different than the first time, for some reason. But this second time, so many people with the same mindset and so many smiles was overwhelming to me, because I was a wrestler in high school and wasn't very good. And I did some martial arts, but everywhere I went, there was always roistering. There was a lot of posturing. And here it was just a lot of people going, "Oh." It was so great. And then the panels, and to be able to speak was such a privilege and to be able to meet people that just so desperately want to see our industry be the best in the world, because I'm telling you, Canada, Australia, these countries are really pushing hard to be the best and we're the best, dang it. We need to be the best.

Missy Scherber:

Just put it out there. You're absolutely right. Everyone had a smile on their face. You're in awe. You feel like a dreamer, but you also feel like a doer, like, "Wow, look at what this equipment can do. Look at what these people can do. Look at what these OEM companies can do to build our world and empower me to be a part of that." It's the coolest thing. Then there's the panels which were epic. It was honestly one of my favorite parts, were the panels, were the trainings. I lost Trevor literally for a week. He was all into the iron and just gone and looking at me like, "I'm not going to no class."

Mikel Bowman:

Now, we talked about culture recruitment and retention.

Missy Scherber:

At yours.

Mikel Bowman:

At ours, yeah. And so we got to speak the main pavilion and then, we were at the Mirage.

Missy Scherber:

Very cool.

Mikel Bowman:

Yeah, it was awesome.

Missy Scherber:

That was the best part. I love those panels and those discussions. And we'll have to figure out a way, if there's a way to share yours maybe we can share your panel with this podcast. That'd be so great. So what was your favorite memory?

Mikel Bowman:

My favorite memory. Gosh, my favorite memory was just meeting phenomenal people. That's just all there is to it, especially on the panel that you ran with Jimmy up there, and Aaron was up there. And knowing Aaron and having had known Aaron for a while, and been on sites with Aaron before. To see kind of the future of where we are going as a nation. When I was a kid, you could drag your knuckles and really not know a whole lot, and just be hateful and mean, and that's what it was all about. But now to see these professionals up there talking about things and how they're trying to invest in their people and move the industry and the nation forward was inspiring. And I was just honored by the whole thing.

Missy Scherber:

I love it. I love that you love the Tech Experience. I know Jordanne at CONEXPO, worked really hard for that influencer meetup and it was a smashing success. It was the highest attended event there. And I think that really spoke to the construction industry of, "Here's what we need to be doing more of."

Mikel Bowman:

I have one beef.

Missy Scherber:

One beef. Oh, boy.

Mikel Bowman:

One beef. So I got up to get a beer and they were all gone. I literally stood up, turned around. I knew I had to be fast, ran over and they're like, "We're out of beer." Okay.

Missy Scherber:

They weren't prepared for how much construction workers and contractors love beer.

Mikel Bowman:

Holy cow. It was like a mass Exodus. It was like-

Missy Scherber:

We will make that improvement next time. Well, I can't thank you enough for sharing your joy, your ups and downs in the industry, what you've learned from them, and really your empowerment on this episode. Thank you for empowering us to be better business owners, to be better leaders on the field, off the field. You're just a very inspiring person and it was an honor to have you here on the podcast today. So thank you my friend.

Mikel Bowman:

It is an honor to be here. Thank you so much.

Missy Scherber:

All right. Have a good one.

Outro:

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 leave a review on iTunes. We'll be back next time with another great guest. Until that time, be sure to visit conexpoconagg.com/connect for even more ways to connect with the industry.