In this episode of the CONEXPO-CON/AGG podcast, host Taylor White speaks with Matt Stanley, a paving foreman, marketer for American Pavement Specialist, and founder of Raised on Blacktop about the themes of marketing, branding, and company culture in the construction industry. Stanley begins by sharing his family's history in the paving business, with three generations working for their family's company. The two then go on to discuss Raised on Blacktop, a merchandise and marketing company started by Stanley in 2020, and the success it has brought him. The family dynamic within the business is explored, with Stanley sharing how his mother instilled the importance of getting along with his brothers, which has translated into a successful working relationship.
Throughout the conversation, Matt and Taylor touch on various topics such as social media engagement, branding, and consistency in content creation. Stanley emphasizes the importance of starting small and growing organically, and how his diverse background has influenced his brand's street feel. They also discuss the significance of fostering a positive company culture, which Stanley believes has contributed to his business' success. Join these two experts in the field here today to gain valuable insights into the paving industry and learn more about the importance of branding and company culture in business growth.
- Taylor’s upcoming live podcast at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023
- Stanley's family and their history in the paving business
- American Pavement Specialists
- Raised on Blacktop
- Building a brand organically
- Seeking inspiration outside of the industry
- Company culture and employee retention
- Fostering a positive work environment
- The challenges Matt experiences in balancing work and running his brands
- The importance of consistency
- Matt’s vision for the future of his brands
- The importance of perseverance and maintaining a positive mindset
- Advice for aspiring influencers
- The machines that Matt’s company will have on display at the show
- Appreciating the hard work that goes into achieving big moments and taking time to enjoy them.
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Taylor White: Hello, everybody. It is me, Taylor White, talking. Just before the podcast starts, I would love to remind everybody that I will be doing a live podcast at the show on Thursday, March 16, from 2:15 to 3:15 in the community zone. And if you're asking yourself who is going to be this amazing guest, it is Dana Wuesthoff, who is actually the show director for CONEXPO-CON/AGG. And she will be sitting down and having a conversation about what it takes to put on a show like CONEXPO. And to be totally honest with you guys, I reached out, and I'm like, “I want to talk to somebody that has such a big hand in making everything happen,” and that is what's going to be going on. And I cannot wait to sit down with Dana and talk about everything CONEXPO, talk about the previous, and even maybe tease something about the future. Obviously, that will be posted on YouTube and everything later on. But stop by the Community Zone, March 16th from 2:15 to 3:15. I will be there. Dana will be there. Live show.
Welcome back, everybody, to the CONEXPO-CON/AGG Podcast, brought to you by our good friends over at Komatsu. I am here today with the man, Matt Stanley, who is a paving foreman/marketing for American Pavement Specialists, founder and creator of Raised on Blacktop, which I have seen all over the Internet. So, I am very fortunate to sit down with Matt today. I'll call you Matt rather than Matthew. Is that all right?
Matt Stanley: Yeah, Matt works. Whatever. Thank you for having me, Taylor. I appreciate it.
Taylor White: Yeah, no problem. And by the time that this podcast actually comes out, I think this is coming out after the show. If it hasn't, then this is just an ad for what we're doing. But we actually were on an influencer panel together talking about marketing and branding and all that stuff, which you have a strong grip on, which is what I'm really excited to talk about today.
Matt Stanley: Likewise.
Taylor White: Yeah. So could you give me a little bit of a background, I guess, for the people at home to understand? Kind of like who you are and what you do? Maybe start there. But then also, I think when I first saw you is, understanding what's American Pavement Specialists are and then what's Raised on Blacktop.
Matt Stanley: Yeah. To give you my backstory, I kind of got to explain the family dynamic a little bit. So, my family's been in the paving business for three generations now. My grandfather opened up a paving business in 1957, started with basically nothing, built his business up. My dad worked for his father up until he was probably about 30 years old and made that tough decision to break off and start his own company. So, that's what we know as American Pavement. So, my mother and father started that in 1992, which, oddly enough, is the year I'm born. But I'm the youngest of four boys.
So, my oldest brother now, he owns a residential company called Elite III Asphalt. He's in our area. And then me, my brother Josh, who's 33, and my brother Jack, who's 36, we all work for American Pavement still. So, it's us three boys, my mom, and dad. We got a crew, about 25 guys. A lot of people think we have a lot more guys than we do, but we're pretty lean and mean. We all wear a lot of hats. So, that's the American Pavement side of things.
And then, Raised on Blacktop is something I'm sure we'll get into a little bit more, but it's something I started around 2020, officially, and it started off of our social media, just like you and I got into the merchandise and got into the YouTube game. So, we're sort of like a merchandise and marketing company and getting a lot of opportunities thrown at us every day. But it's not to the point now where we kind of got to find our direction and stick to it and buckle down.
Taylor White: Yeah, that can be kind of difficult, too, sometimes. Yeah, we can get into that on, too. So, as far as American Pavement’s Specialists, so it’s a complete family business. So you’re other three, two brothers, are in the business as well?
Matt Stanley: Yeah.
Taylor White: And do they have kind of the same roles as far as what you’re doing, or are they doing other stuff? Is there somebody that’s more like, “I’m taking over”? Or is that one of the family dynamics that’s like, ‘whoa’?
Matt Stanley: Yeah. I mean, it’s always a thing, right? Not really. It’s an underlying thing. I don’t know if you have any siblings in the business. So just to make it simple, I am very much a glorified played gaming operator. I run a paving machine every day, but I do run the job from a paving machine like a lot of paving crews out there. So me and my brother Josh were close in age, we pretty much tag team on the paving crew. If there is a third crew running out, typically, I’ll be running that crew, he’ll have his own paving crew. Then my brother Jack, he does our milling division, so he does all the milling, he does a lot of the prep work and reclamation.
So American Pavements, we’re primarily a commercial, and we do a lot of municipality work, so basically town contracts and things like that. So it’s heavy commercial and town contracts. We’re not really doing state highway work that’s pretty unionized in our area. We’re a private company, and we take pride in that. So, yeah, we’re basically commercial municipality. We do primarily milling and paving.
So as we’ve got older, our roles have gotten a little narrow, which is good. I think when people talk about family business, family dynamics, I look back at those years, 15 to 20 years old, when we’re all full of vinegar, for lack of a better term. All on the job together, all on the same job together, that’s when you could get a little friction. But we’re a buried company now, a lot of more guys to manage, our roles have gotten much more narrower as we–
Taylor White: I asked that question not out of being nosy but I asked that out of curiosity because I know working within the family dynamic, it can be difficult. I mean, I'm going to speak for myself, obviously, but working with my father, and my sister, she helps us out as well too. But more so, me and my father have days where we're just at each other's throats. How's that family dynamic? Do you combat that? Do you run into that? Or is everything just peaches and cream all the time?
Matt Stanley: Peaches and cream all the time, bra.
Taylor White: That's what I figured.
Matt Stanley: Now, you know what? I got to give my mom a lot of credit for that. I would take it back to just like growing up as kids, right in the house, playing sports, four boys around the house, super competitive, right? Sports, we made a competition out of everything. But I say this that growing up– I get chills when I say this because it's so important that my mom made sure that we all got along. There was no “You hate your brother.” It was none of that. From a young age, it was like, “That's your brother. When you get older, they're going to be the only ones you could trust.” So, she made it a point that we all got along and were friends. So, take that to family business. Yes, of course. There's times when you get into little scuffles or little screaming matches here and there. It happens to everybody, right? But, within a big family, you get to know when to just get it out, and then it's done with, it's over. Not between just me and my brothers, but me and my dad, my brothers and my dad. There's blow-ups, but you got to be able to just that's it, and it's pretty much game time. I compare a lot of things to sports. It's just like blowing up on a teammate and then still got to finish the game right. So, there's that.
Taylor White: I think that that's a really important quality to carry over. And even like you said, it's not just you have those days where you get into it with somebody. It's not just because it's family to family. It's like it could be John on the other crew that you're just butting heads with today. And I think that what you said is actually what makes a really successful leader as well, too, and business owner and this leader, in general, is actually just understanding that, all right, you take it and you get over it.
Matt Stanley: Yeah. Taylor, that's a great point because a lot of times, 90% of the blow-ups on a job, it's maybe you're mad. And then your buddy John, who's just standing there, he ends up taking the rat because he's standing there. If my brother blows up and I get mad, he's not blowing up on me. He's mad. He's stressed out. And as I've grown older and got a little more experience and mature, I kind of realized that. And at a younger age, you don't realize that if your dad blows up on the job, he's just stressed out, and you're standing in the way. That's the way it is sometimes, right?
Taylor White: Yeah, 100%. Yeah. And that's the industry as well, too. What made you to switch it up? Because this is what I really want to talk to you about today as well, too, is the social media. You have this to be– I mean, with everyone listening, if you haven't gone and seen his stuff, your vibe and your energy is very like, especially with Raised on Blacktop, it's super streetwear where you have an eye for the look and the appeal, where it's not just you throwing up shirts or throwing up hats. Where did the social media, your cool kind of side, where did you get that from?
Matt Stanley: The swagger?
Taylor White: And why did you want to create it? Yeah, I guess we could use the word swagger. Yeah, you have swagger and the social media; how did those come to fruition?
Matt Stanley: I'll tell you how we got on social media, and you might even connect to this because we're around the same age. So growing up in school, I wore my merch everywhere, right? Even before it was sold online. Just like you, you wear your Ken White hoodies, right? All your boys want them. The girlfriends back in the day, they all want a hoodie. So that was always a thing locally in school. We sponsored sports teams, so everybody locally knew we had – they knew we were a paving business. It wasn't like I was the type of kid where “What does your dad do? Or what does your family do?” Everybody knew that I was a paver. So with that being said, the merchandise was always kind of a thing before I knew it.
And then we get up until 14, 15 years old; sports are pretty much done. I'm working full-time in the summers now. And we had a website at the time, and being 14, 15 years old, my brother's 17, we didn't really know how to go online and update our website. It wasn't as easy as it is now. So we were like, what can we do locally that we could kind of keep people up to date on our projects? We always were equipment junkies, we're in our trucks. So how can we post our trucks online, share the new equipment we bought, and then share projects that we're doing in the area? And that led us to Facebook. So we built a Facebook business page, and that was solely based on the fact that we could update our community on the jobs that we're working on. So Facebook, and when we started, it didn't have the thought process, like, we're going to blow it up. It was more, so let's just share what we're doing because I think it's cool, and maybe somebody else will.
So we got on Facebook, and then Instagram came along. And I want to say we got on Instagram around 2013 or 2014. And it's pretty funny because I do 95% on Instagram now, and I wasn't the one that started it. I didn't really believe in it. I didn't know if a paving company had a home on Instagram, like, who would follow a paving company? But my brother started it, and we started posting. I think the trucks, the Peterbilt trucks, probably got us some traction. But it's been a very slow growth, and I think that's why we have good engagement now. We've briefly talked about this before, but I remember all the milestones from more than the 5,000 to 10,000 to 25,000. And here, we have well past 100,000, but we have good engagement because of that slow build. Think you see a lot of pages out there that may have half a million followers, a million followers, but the engagement isn’t what we’re getting, and it’s because they had viral moments, I’m not saying that they’re fake followers; it’s just that the engagement is not there because it’s been a rapid growth.
Taylor White: As far as social media. You're right. Engagement is everything. And I think you're spot on. There are accounts that have lots of followers, and they have the viral moments, and that's what makes them exposed and their engagements kind of whatever. But I think the biggest takeaway from that, too, that I really like, and I always say is that everybody's path to being that high number, being an influencer, is so different than everyone else's. There's people that will post and blow up, and in two years, they are like, holy, everybody knows this guy. There'll be guys in six months. Excuse me. They'll do that. And I'm not kind of the same way as sometimes the trajectory is just a little bit longer with that.
So you're doing 95% of everything right now on American Pavement Specialists. But the Raised on Blacktop, you had a love for merch and stuff like that. Where did that slogan come from? Where did that kind of born? Where was that born?
Matt Stanley: Yeah, I'm sorry I didn't answer your question last time. Raised on Blacktop, how it started, where the swag comes from, I don't know.
Taylor White: Let me tell you about my swagger.
Matt Stanley: Yeah, right. Five, six years ago, I would say, and I could be wrong, but like I said, I was always kind of spearheaded by the company's shirts just for our guys and stuff. So I was a little bit into it, dealing with the screen printers and stuff. And then I would go to the screen printer and say, “I want a certain – look at the shirt. It's a black logo on a black shirt.” Every screen printer is like, you can't print black on black. And I'm like, I'm kind of into this. I like it, but I need a little freedom here. So what I did was I bought a vinyl cutter online. I bought a heat press, and I started breaking small amounts of our own merchandise in my room upstairs, actually, on my bedroom floor. So that's how I got into it. And it was more so like I could buy a nice Nike hoodie or a Carhartt hoodie, and I can make twelve of them for me and my brothers.
So with starting that, I started messing around with some slogans. I started Raised by Blacktop or Non Blacktop. I came up with Raised on Blacktop, came up with the logo. It had a street feel to it. And when you ask about that street feel, I think it comes from where we live. We're an hour outside of New York City. I went to a high school with 3,000 kids in our high school. So it's a big school, lots of very diverse – they say my high school – they speak 40 languages at my high school, so I have friends from all over the world. So that kind of – I don't know what the right word for it, but that kind of influenced what I'm doing. And I always look for inspiration outside of our industry because I feel like, no shade to the construction industry, but everybody kind of looks at each other, especially manufacturers, and you see stuff, and they're all kind of copying each other, and it's pretty dry.
What we know on social media, if you want to make a bang, you kind of have to have a little sauce, you have to have a little flavor. And I like to be a little edgy. I think it gets people watching and get people coming back. So that's where the street feel, the brand comes from. And it's also Raised on Blacktop, so it's not just pavers. I want my brand to represent hustle. I want it to represent – it could represent basketball, racing, skateboarding, but more so, going back to hustle, family business, getting up early, working hard. And I don't care if you've never been on blacktop in your life, but if you're a hustler, you get up early, and you work for a living, Raised on Blacktop is the brand for you, and that's what I try to portray every day.
Taylor White: Yeah, well, it comes through, too. I remember when I saw it for the first time, and I was like, “That looks really cool." And I love the appeal of it. I love the look of it. So you've done a really good job with that. As far as the hustle and stuff like that, one thing I want to know is, outside of social media as well, too, you're in business as well, too, and obviously, that is a huge interest of yours, too, and much of mine. How do you guys find it with employing people and turnover and keeping people? Because you guys seem like you have really good culture, and I know social media plays into that as well, too, so that's why it's kind of a good question, but I wanted to know how you kind of obtain your culture, keep employees, find employees?
Matt Stanley: Yeah. So we've always had good employer intentions, it sounds crazy, even before culture was a thing before we even heard about it online, and I never even gave it a thought. But my dad has his first employee still working for us 30 years later, and we have a lot of guys that have been working for us for 20, 15, 10 years. And growing up, I kind of take that I took that for granted a little bit. But I think the main reason – Yeah, and it speaks a lot to my parents, the type of bosses they are.
Taylor White: Good people.
Matt Stanley: And now, at an older age, me and my brothers, I'll take a little bit of credit as to we're in the trenches with them. So I think employees like that, they like to work beside their boss. My dad is a guy who's extremely busy, doesn't have to be on the job every minute, and isn't, but he'll hop from job to job. When he pulls up, he doesn't stay outside in his truck. He gets in the trenches, breaks a sweat just because he loves it. It's crazy. And it fires the guys up. Paving is hard work. So if your boss is out there sweating on a 100-degree day and going through four T-shirts like that, it gasses them up, and my dad likes to do that, too. But now, with social media, I'm sure you get it, too. There's a lot of people that want to relocate and come to work for you. We've never done that yet. I'm nervous to take a chance on somebody and have them relocate just to come work for us. And then here they are, they're alone where we live. But I would say with the younger generation and even kids my age when they're in between jobs or in between careers, they know who we are. I make it look cool. I mean, I got 15, 16-year-olds beating our door down to come work for us, and we're on a lot of high profile jobs, so we really can't hire them until they're 18, but I think in the next 10 to 15 years. We're kind of known locally for having one of the youngest crews around, especially in paving. It's an old industry, dude.
So, there's a lot of guys that are laboring, and they're 40, 50 years old, and paving is a young man's game, so we try our best to hire young. If I have any preference, I like to hire a kid that's 19 or 20 years old and ready to start from the bottom and work his way up. Because in paving, that's kind of how you grow in this industry; you got to start from the bottom. It's the way I started. And in our eyes, it's the best way to get someone fully trained in. And it could take two to three years before someone's fully trained in; some are faster. If they're slower, it's probably not for them. But yeah, we like to hire young. We hire almost always people with no experience because they come with no bad habits.
Taylor White: That’s really important. I like that, too. They don't come with any bad habits. We have an 18-year-old that runs our 25-ton excavator, and everyone's always like, "That's crazy. Like, he's so young running that excavator." And I'm like, "Yeah, well – “ And he never ran an excavator before he got in. He had maybe five or six hours in it, and I just gave him a chance because he's a really good kid. Just loyal and mature for his age and just a really good kid. Man, sorry, he's 18, but you're right on that he didn't come with any bad habits to start with, so that was kind of really important.
Yeah. I really enjoy watching your dad online. It just seems like– You said you touched on it. He's out there in the trenches and he's doing a lot of work and stuff, and I just feel like your dad is. I don't know where you kind of grew up, but I feel like he definitely relates to a lot of the people around here. We're in something called the Ottawa Valley, which is kind of on the outskirts of a woman. I feel like he would relate really well with blue-collar people. Is he in the office a lot of the time? Do you have a heavy office staff, or kind of what's his role in the business as well, too, then?
Matt Stanley: So my dad, I mean, he does a lot of the estimating still. He still puts the final numbers on things. We estimate things, but when it comes to the final number on a big job, he's definitely throwing that on there. Our office staff is light, and it's something that we need to improve on. Not that we're struggling in office, but as the company grows, we need a real staff in the office. Not taking anything away from my mother. She usually has a girl in the office, too, and they do an amazing job. But my dad, primarily, he's on the job sites, and he's a special man, bro. He's 58 years old, and he says he has 50 years of experience, and he says that with a straight face, so he's that type of dude. He's been working from a young age, went to high school a couple of years, didn't graduate high school, and just the man that goes out and sets an example every day doesn't stop learning. He's always reading magazines. Now he's online.
So I think the success we've had on the YouTube– And I will try my best to explain this, you know just as well as me, YouTube, Instagram, we're rolling this out in a millennial way, I guess you would say as far as the videos. But when you bring my dad in, and he's talking on a video, and he's giving them that old school vibe and that blue-collar American, just badass. And you mix that with the way that I'm presenting it, and I think that's why people relate to it because he's a relatable guy, blue-collar regular dude, wearing a white T-shirt. But then you put together this cool production around him, and it just seems to be working out well.
Taylor White: Yeah, that relates 100%. That's what I was trying to say, but you said it better. The way that you are curating your videos and stuff like that is really interesting. You're not trying to be the protagonist in this, right? You're not trying to be the main character, right?
Matt Stanley: No, not really, dude.
Taylor White: But is that something you think of in the back of your head? Because the way you're just talking is that's how I think, too, right? Like, how do I look? What am I dressed? What am I presenting? Can I relate? Your background thinking of everything you're making? You're not just like people think where you’re just pulling up the camera, and here we are filming. There's a lot of thought that goes into it. Have you thought about that? Obviously.
Matt Stanley: Taylor, I would say that– It might not answer your question directly, but I'll get back to it. Raised on Blacktop, I am the protagonist now, but I don't want to be. I want the brand to be bigger than me. But as far as the YouTube goes, on a paving job, we got one shot to get the video. We got certain spots in the job where we get– Most of our stuff is one take just like yours. It's raw. But yeah, if my dad's not around, then sure, I'm the face on the camera if he is. In a perfect world, Taylor, if I'm on a job, I could be on the machine. I can kind of tell my videographer, Shane, what to get, what shot to get, what order I want. I kind of have the video done in my mind, but then I'm like, “Dad, take Shane over here, explain this. Take him over there and explain that.” So I know people don't want to watch me online the whole time. So, yeah, in a perfect world, it'd be great that me and my dad was talking on every video, but he's an old school dude, too, so he likes YouTube, but he doesn't want a camera in his face all day, and I know that. So we try to mix it up and keep things different.
Taylor White: Yeah, my father is the same. He doesn't go on camera that much. Obviously, I'm the main character. You know, I play that. But I think, yeah, I struggle with that, too, almost. And it's like, I know that people– When he's on video, on camera talking, people will be way more engaged with the video rather than if it's just 14 minutes of me just on there doing whatever. So I find a balance of showing some of the guys, but then showing me, but then trying to make the content based around, like, “Okay, how do I make it so that when I am on camera, people are interested and engaged with that?” So it is really difficult. Yeah. My dad, he does not like being on camera at all. Your dad does a very good job at it, like very good. My dad sees a camera, and he'll shut his office door and walk the other way. He doesn't want to be a part of it. He likes it, but he just doesn't kind of want to be a part of it.
But I think it's as far as direction of content and stuff like that, where do you see, I guess, are you going to keep doing American Pavement Specialists YouTube and then Raised on Blacktop as its own thing? What's kind of the direction for both those brands? Or, like you said, I want to get into what you were saying, I guess at the beginning of, like, “Hey, I don't try to figure out directions.”
Matt Stanley: Yeah. So, in the beginning, I think it was a little easier because as far as American Payment is a brand in itself now online, and we all know what Raised on Blacktop is. So when it first started, it was more just treading water, figuring it out as we go as the brand has grown. As far as Raised on Blacktop goes, I'm still not full-time. I'm still on a paving machine 10-12 hours a day. I've told you this before. I go back to the shop, I'm doing orders all night. I have hired a company now that's going to start doing my orders. But Raised on Blacktop, I definitely need to get a team around me to make things a lot easier because last summer was super stressful for me, affected relationships I had. I wouldn't say health, but I was super stressed out. So that's not good, right? And I think it reflects, I wouldn't say, in the brand, but you kind of end up rushing some things, rushing projects that aren't supposed to be rushed as far as social media goes.
But yeah, we're going to keep going with the American Pavement YouTube channel. I would like to have another Raised on Blacktop YouTube channel, but to do that, I think I need a team. I need a videographer full-time. And my videographer, I'm definitely like his number one customer, but he still works for a lot of freelance. He's a freelance videographer for a couple of other people. So I still haven't made that huge jump into going full-time with the content. But I think that needs to happen organically, and I could see it happening in the next couple of years with both the brands. Same as you, I'm here to stay, bro. So as impatient as I am, I need to remind myself that as long as you keep the brand around, we're both killing on social media, and that's the hardest part for a lot of brands. So keep that going and then let the logistics kind of not fall into place, but let it happen organically and figure it out as you go.
Taylor White: Do you think that somebody listening right now that's trying to get their brand– Because what you're saying is consistency is key, I always say that as well, too. A little side note story, last night when I was– When I first started YouTube, I had this company, this guy, won't mention his name, won't mention the company. And I remember he emailed me saying, make videos and put them on my channel because your channel is going to go nowhere. Like, talk me down and did all this super negative stuff. And then I'd post videos, and then he'd send me nasty emails about you shouldn't be doing this in your videos and not your videos and would reach out to me personally, and it was crazy. And I remember I just blocked the guy, and he started gaining a lot of more success and a lot of views. It's been probably two years. So then last night–
Matt Stanley: You blow past them?
Taylor White: Last night, I was laying in bed, and I was like, “You know what? I want to check on this guy.” And I very much stay in my own lane. I actually, on social media, don't follow a lot of construction people. I follow construction people, but to be honest with you, I have a lot of people muted because I don't like outside noise. And I feel like that should be super okay to say. I don't like seeing what other people are doing, so that I remain focused on my content is what's coming from my brain and not somebody else's. But like you said, I get it from– I'll watch a Nelk or a Danny Duncan or somebody and be all that, “Okay, I'm going to do that. But with construction.” Anyways, point of the story is that guy a year ago stopped doing social media and is completely dead in the water. Gone, done, run out, no social media, nothing. And I was like, boom, that stays true to what you just said and what I'm saying, which is consistency is key. So for somebody that's starting a brand, I know that you would say consistency, but what helps as far as they're listening and we're talking about how we're successful on social media and whatnot how and what could they do to help with that?
Matt Stanley: That's a great question. I hope I have a good answer for this. But I see it with a lot of companies, not even construction, but locally. We've inspired a lot of restaurants locally, landscapers, restaurants, you name it. Everybody wants to do videos now. They're all hitting me up, wanting to use my videographer. But my big thing for someone that's starting out, maybe you do have an established business, but you want to get on social media. You want to build the brand, start building it around what you're good at, right? Don't go try and extend yourself and hire a videographer and make some three-minute Instagram clip that's a beautiful montage, but you're like trying to play– I'm not going to call it our game. You know what I'm trying to say? We're doing that because we have a good creative team around us. We know what we're doing. I get a lot of people hit me up and like, “Just use your cell phone.” If you're a funny guy, make videos, make people laugh. If you're not a funny guy, post a picture and write a nice little thing about it that gets people following you, too. Focus on what you're good at.
I actually like that a lot of construction guys and girls in the industry that maybe you don't have a whole business page, but you have your page that you post your work, but you also saw your family a little bit. I like pages like that where it's not just project after project. It's like, I do want to see your son's baseball practice on a Saturday, and you sponsored the team. I think that's cool content, right? Because it's all relatable. We're all the same in construction. We wear the same clothes. We drive the same trucks and stuff. So I think it's all relatable and just focus on what you're good at and who you have around you. And then, after a while, you could build the team and get that photographer or a videographer or whatnot and then get into the YouTube space. But I see a lot of companies that hire a videographer, and just as well as me, if they don't know what they're looking at, and they shoot a video for a landscaper or a masonry guy, I could tell it's like, that wasn't it. You're better off just posting a 30-second IG clip.
Taylor White: Yeah. Content is so important. Whatever the style of stuff that you're making. And you're right. I went three years doing it all myself and using a GoPro and my iPhone. It was a lot of work, but what you just said is I didn't start off by, “Okay, videographer–
Matt Stanley: You use your resources.
Taylor White: I use my resources, exactly. Yeah, there it is, resources. But what you're saying is I found kind of my direction. I found my “Okay, what am I doing online?” Because when I first started social media, I didn't know what I was going to do with it. I just knew, “Okay, I'm going to start posting.” And then I kind of found it. So then when the videographer came, it was like, “Okay, so I show Ken White Constructions day to day, and this is what we're going to do.” You know what I mean? Like you said, I'm just reiterating what you're saying because it's so important is know your direction as far as kind of where you're going. Don't just try to throw resources at it and hire a videographer that does. If the Royal Bank of Canada is trying to find a financial advisor for the front desk, don't get that person that's making that video to make you a blue-collar, bad-to-the-bone video to try and hire people to sit on top of a paver when it's 120 degrees outside all day, and you're breathing in asphalt fumes.
Matt Stanley: You're better off getting a GoPro and just holding it and figuring out how to clip it and throw it on YouTube.
Taylor White: Exactly. So I think that that's really important for people on social media. And being authentic, right? I think that's kind of what I was saying about your dad is he's just super authentic. I don't know your dad, but he doesn't give a crap about what people think of him online or anything like that. And I think that that's a good way to do it, too, is don't worry about what people are doing.
Matt Stanley: I think that's the biggest compliment I've ever gotten as far as not through social media but in person. When someone that's been following you for a long time or a contractor that's been following you for a long time, and we end up doing some paving for them and, two days after being on the job, they're like, “You guys are exactly what you portray online.” And that's good for our company. And it's also like, I'm doing my job here. As far as online goes, that's like the best compliment that we can get.
Taylor White: Yes, I try to do that with employees, too. Sometimes I feel like I lack on that on that side of it.
Matt Stanley: I think you're doing a great job.
Taylor White: I appreciate that. Jeez, my head is going to explode.
Matt Stanley: No, it’s my favorite YouTube channel.
Taylor White: But yeah, I think that those are all really important and good notes for people that are trying to do social media now. Let's say for the different demographic that are listening to this and is somebody that maybe has some traction, so how does somebody that has traction– Because this is being released after panel conversation, so we might have already talked about this at all, or I'm not giving away secrets. I have traction on social media. How can I make a little bit of money, or how can I start working with brands? How do I reach out to people? How do I become those people who are promoting SeatGeek? And how do I get Komatsu to reach out to me or this brand or that brand? You know what I mean? How?
Matt Stanley: I mean, the cut-and-dry answer is authentically, organically. I wish I knew about LinkedIn five years ago. I probably could have sped this process up a little while. That's a little hit there. Get on LinkedIn, pay for the premium account. You can pull up Komatsu and find everybody in their marketing department and start shooting them messages. But to get in the influencer brand deals, games, you do kind of have to give out free work, to begin with. You got to start promoting that brand before they're paying you. But you do have to be a little careful because, no shade to any brands that I've worked with or that I plan to work with in the future, but they will take advantage of what they can. If they're getting free content, they're not going to just turn around one day and be like, “All right. Now we'll start paying it.” So you kind of have to be careful there. What was the second end of that question?
Taylor White: Oh, jeez, I have ADHD. I don't even know what I asked you.
Matt Stanley: Yeah, it was getting those brand deals.
Taylor White: Exactly. Yeah. You already have a following. Like, are you cold calling– I guess what I'm asking is, are you cold calling somebody on an email or emailing them? Are you calling them? How does it work?
Matt Stanley: I got you.
Taylor White: You know what I mean?
Matt Stanley: The obvious answer. I can't believe I didn't say it. You go to CONEXPO, bro? Really. And I'm not just saying that, but–
Taylor White: No, you're right.
Matt Stanley: You go to a Bruce, right? If you're on social media. Yes. That's how I got into the picture. And I was going to at least the National Pavement Expo, the World of Asphalt. Those are like little niche shows that we have in the asphalt industry. But a lot of times, these companies, they do see what you're doing. Even if they don't engage with you, they see you. But that's like on a corporate level, it's on a marketing level. So when you go to your local dealership or your regional rep, he might not know, they might not make that connection, and you have to make that connection for them. So going to these shows, you have the engineers in the room. You probably get dependent on the size of the company, like LeeBoy. The CEO is going to be in the booth for most of the time. The engineering department is going to be there. The marketing department is going to be there. All the regional reps will be there. Then if you're lucky, some of your salesmen will be there. But it's about going there, having your brand on, and shaking their hand with clear eyes, and just making a good presentation yourself. That's how I started. It was more shook their hands, invited them to check our social media.
And when I got back in 2019, I had an email waiting for me that said, let's start sharing some videos online. And then an awesome angle to it is that if maybe you're not going to the shows or you need to find a brand that you could work with on a low level. Because once you work with one brand, the next brand that's maybe got an eye on you it shows that, “Hey, Taylor does know how to work with brands.” I started with, I don't know the first brand I was working with, but LeeBoy was the first brand that I had a real brand deal. It was a huge deal for me. And now I'm a John Deere brand ambassador. And I'm sure it had something to do with Lee Boy. They saw that what we were dealt with, LeeBoy. They saw that we know how to play nice. Because as you know, there's a lot of people that could post good content, but to post good content and get paid for it is very hard to do, so you got to show them that you can do it.
Taylor White: Yeah. And you mentioned different platforms, so I actually, recently, and I'll always admit when I'm wrong, I think that it was on this podcast, actually, that I did with both Luke's, Luke Eggebraaten and Luke Payne. I was saying how LinkedIn is so dumb. LinkedIn is stupid. Don't ever use LinkedIn. And they're like, “No, man, it's so important.” So then flashback to two weeks ago. I'm like, “I'm going to post on LinkedIn because I got some really nice photos. I'm going to start posting some photos.” Three days later, I got an email from the CEO of a big company here. And he's like, “Hey, I saw your mulcher on the skid steer. I got 50 acres of bush.” And it ended up turning into this job for us. And I was like, I slept on LinkedIn, and I was completely wrong. I was just using it wrong. And, like you said, you can dial in and go, I'm going to find this person. This person. This person who's in charge of estimating at this GC that I want to work with. So what platforms, LinkedIn included, do you think are important to be posting on?
Matt Stanley: Depending if you know how to use them? I think Instagram right now is probably the hottest for construction. I would say Instagram, LinkedIn. I wouldn't sleep on Facebook, either. I think there's a lot of people on Facebook still. I sleep on Facebook all the time. But I would say if you're going to in the social media game, you kind of got to know why you're on there, right? I didn't get on there to get more work. We were already an established business. We have plenty of work. The work we get online is kind of like scraping the cherry off the top. Just the good stuff. But it did grow our contact list huge, too, for a contractor. So we work for a lot of excavators. We work for a lot of site guys. They're 1020 miles or 30 miles away. We typically maybe wouldn't go that far. We do, but some companies won't. They see us working in New York. They're like, “I didn't know you guys come this far.” And boom. Because they're watching us on social media.
But getting back to LinkedIn, it's amazing because if you get connected with someone, it's almost like Facebook. Once you're connected, you're connected. It's not like I just follow you, and you don't follow me. You know what I'm saying here? So if you can get connected with, for example, I'll just use myself. Like I'm connected with– he just stepped down, but he's the CEO of Wirtgen so I'm connected with him. And now all his friends, if he likes my post, it goes straight to their page that the whole Wirtgen company is going to see it. Same thing with John Deere. I have a little bit of a following on LinkedIn, but I posted something the other day, and the first two people was the VP of John Deere and the CEO of Wirtgen and it reached five people. That'll take you years to do on Instagram. It’s just because I was connected with some people that they're friends with. To get in the nitty gritty, I think there's not enough content in LinkedIn to fill the pipes, so your post does get pushed out a lot more. Kind of like what's going on in TikTok right now.
Taylor White: Yeah. What about TikTok?
Matt Stanley: I'm on TikTok. I'm on there because I don't want to fall behind, but I'd rather not be, bro. I really don't like it. I don't like what I hear about it.
Taylor White: We just banned it in Canada, so any federal government employees have to take them off their cell phones. That came out yesterday.
Matt Stanley: Wow. Yeah.
Taylor White: Which is kind of weird, right? I don't understand. Our phones are made in China. I mean, you have all these other apps that are listening and watching what you're doing. But I'm with you on that. I have a good following. I got over 100,000 on TikTok, but I don't know if I'm a big fan of TikTok because I just think it's dumb, to be honest with you.
Matt Stanley: I do too, and I don't want to sound old saying that, and maybe we do.
Taylor White: I know. I feel like I'm a dad, right? So I'm like, God, am I like that old 27-year-old now? It's like, that's just dumb. But I genuinely believe, I mean, 100,000 on TikTok is like a thousand on Instagram, you know? Like the numbers are just being, I don't know. They don't convert well. So are you doing reels and stuff on TikTok?
Matt Stanley: I pretty much just repurposed stuff from Instagram to TikTok. I think we have about maybe 35,000 on APS, and then I've got like 3500 on Raised on Blacktop, but I probably should be pushing a little more with my brand because it could be easier to get sales off of as far as merchandise. But I just don't feel good about the platform itself, and I hate the way it's set up. Some dumb seven-second video and onto the next. Kind of beauty of YouTube, I would say, is that your videos continuously get views. When people sit down and watch them, they watch them, and when they click a video, they're going to be entertained, or they're going to learn something. That's what I try to portray. That's what I get out of your videos. I know when I click a video, I'm going to get a good laugh. I'm going to learn something and see something I've never seen before.
Taylor White: Yeah, I think that it's important with longer-form content as well too. I think long-form content is definitely here to stay, especially on channels like YouTube as well too. I know YouTube's doing shorts and stuff now, but I think long-form content is like where it's at, and I think it's also just cool, like showing the business and being able to look back on that in 20 years from now, seeing that online. Even someday, if the website is still around, like my grandkids, they'll be able to go back in the archives and see grandpa swearing around, running around the yard topsoil season. I think that's cool.
Matt Stanley: See Grandpa Taylor on a beach chair in his garage.
Taylor White: Yeah, on a beach volleyball garage. Yeah, 100%.
Matt Stanley: Yeah.
Taylor White: So I wanted to touch at the end here on CONEXPO in the past. I mean, you already mentioned the people and talking to people, and I think that that's very important. But what is it about trade shows that you really enjoy or CONEXPO specifically?
Matt Stanley: One I like, Las Vegas for a few days is cool. Not typically with CONEXPO. It's not typically a place I would go for a vacation, but CONEXPO is a great excuse to go to Vegas for three or four days.
Taylor White: More of a Miami guy, eh?
Matt Stanley: I am more of a Miami guy. Maybe not more, but yeah, Vegas is cool. A lot to do. It sounds pretty cut and dry, but the network I enjoy the most. Getting to meet these manufacturers in person. And then, if you're on social media, it's a great chance to meet people. And actually, we're going to meet for the or we've already met for the first time when this comes out. Yeah, we had a great time too.
Taylor White: Yeah, we had a great time too. Yeah, we've already met.
Matt Stanley: Now, we're best friends forever. But it's big. With social media, if you're actively on there, then you go to these trade shows, and it's like that could be the knockout punch for you. It's meeting that person that was following you, like, “Oh, I follow you.” And then that could turn into something one day. And then, of course, seeing the new equipment is awesome. We're going to have a few machines on display this year, which is amazing.
Taylor White: Really?
Matt Stanley: Yeah. So our LeeBoy Raised on Blacktop Special Edition.
Taylor White: No way. That's sick.
Matt Stanley: That will be there. Thank you. And then we bought a Mauldin Motor Grader. It's like a maintainer that's going to be, I guess I can say it now, it's painted red. It'll have our logo on it at the show, so that will be there. And then we're doing another special edition. It's called the Bagela Asphalt Recycler. I don't know if you've seen that. We recycle asphalt in the off-season.
Taylor White: I have seen that.
Matt Stanley: So it's a little machine that we save all of our leftover asphalt all year, put it in a pile, break it up into little pieces, and be loaded in this machine. You don't need any permits for it, so it's clean air, and it melted down into a hot patch. So in our area, it's pretty big because asphalt plants closed, just like Canada, can't get it. So we're able to make recycled hot patch, and it keeps us somewhat busy all winter. So we're making a little special edition of that. And I think that's it, three machines, but pretty cool. Crazy to think that three years ago, I remember going in 2020 when I was dying to be on the influencer panel, dying to have a machine there or something. And here we are, 2023, and we have all that going on. So pretty crazy. Got to definitely live in the moment there and appreciate all the hard work because I'm not too good at that.
Taylor White: Yeah, I agree. I look at big moments and go, “Oh, my God, I can't wait.” And then they happen, and then I'm just always on to the next thing.
Matt Stanley: Yeah.
Taylor White: And I think it's important to stop and smell the roses.
Matt Stanley: Sure. Absolutely.
Taylor White: Matt, appreciate you coming on here today, man. And yeah, I guess we've already seen each other at the show. But for the sake of the show right now, thank you to our podcast sponsor Komatsu, for this episode. Matt, thanks for coming on, man. And I'm excited to see you at CONEXPO.
Matt Stanley: Thank you, brother. I appreciate it. Two-time guest. I feel honored.
Taylor White: Here we go, baby. Thanks, Matt.
And I would love to remind everybody that I will be doing a live podcast at the show on Thursday, March 16, from 2:15 to 3:15 in the community zone. And if you're asking yourself who is going to be this amazing guest, it is Dana Wuesthoff, who is actually the show director for CONEXPO-CON/AGG. And she will be sitting down and having a conversation about what it takes to put on a show like CONEXPO. And to be totally honest with you guys, I reached out, and I'm like, “I want to talk to somebody that has such a big hand in making everything happen,” and that is what's going to be going on. And I cannot wait to sit down with Dana and talk about everything CONEXPO, talk about the previous, and even maybe tease something about the future. Obviously, that will be posted on YouTube and everything later on. But stop by the Community Zone, March 16th from 2:15 to 3:15. I will be there. Dana will be there. Live show.