On today’s episode, Dylan Mercier, Owner of D2 Contracting, joins Taylor White for a discussion centered on a number of topics, beginning with Dylan’s journey into the construction business and his decision to start his own company. Their conversation further focuses on the challenges that come with running a business in the industry, including underbidding and finding good employees. The two also reflect on their recent trip to CONEXP-CON/AGG, the largest construction trade show in North America, and Dylan shares his experience with renting equipment and why he decided to invest in a skid steer. He also emphasizes the importance of creating a positive work environment for employees and reveals his passion for infrastructure work, specifically water, sewer, and storm utilities.
Together, Taylor and Dylan go on to highlight the power of social media in the construction industry, exploring how it can be used for branding, gaining a following, and finding employees. They stress the importance of networking with competitors and sharing information to help each other grow, as well as the significance of adapting to changes in the economy and finding new opportunities. Overall, Taylor and Dylan’s discussion here today shines a brilliant spotlight on the fact that, in the construction industry - as in so many other industries - hard work, dedication, and a mindset that prioritizes the well-being of employees and investing in their personal growth are key to the long-term business success for which we all strive.
- Dylan's journey into construction and starting his own company
- Challenges of running a construction business, including underbidding and finding good employees
- Bonding over love for industry and the CONEXPO-CON/AGG experience
- Networking opportunities and excitement for future trade shows and technology advancements
- The importance of, and different ways to utilize, social media in construction
- Renting vs. owning equipment and the importance of quality candidates for a business
- Investing in employees' personal growth and well-being to create a positive work environment
- Adapting to changes in the economy and putting in time and effort to grow in your career
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Dylan Mercier: There's always different ways to do things and there's always a way to find a solution to their problems.
Taylor White: Welcome back, everybody, to the CONEXPO-CON/AGG Podcast. It's been a while for me, at least it is after the show right now and I feel amazing. I want to thank our awesome sponsor Komatsu, their booth and their display was beautiful at the show. I definitely want to say that. With me today, I have my buddy who is with me at the show the entire time as well, too. The man from D2 Contracting, Dylan Mercier.
Dylan, thanks for being on, buddy.
Dylan Mercier: I appreciate you having me, buddy. I appreciate it greatly.
Taylor White: It's good. I'm finally glad that we got to speak to each other and to chat. And I know that you have a lot kind of going on in your plate. And also we went to the show together, so that's kind of some stuff that I'd want to get into with you as well first. But for everybody, that's not me, get a little background info on you. I mean, you got your construction business going on. What do you do? Who are you?
Dylan Mercier: So, yeah, my name is Dylan Mercier. I own D2 Contracting. We've been in business since July of last year, so we are fairly new to the game. I myself have been doing this for the last six or seven years, basically, since I graduated high school, whether that be– I’ve been all over the place, general contracting, site work, excavating, and even some painting and siding with my parents before then. So it's been a whirlwind, but I don't really know how much you want to get into it. But yeah, that's me. That's who I am.
Taylor White: Cool. Dope. So what led you to, I guess, where you're at right now? I know that your parents were saying that they had a family business. So what were you doing before? You were saying July of last year, what made you want to take that leap to go and kind of do your own thing?
Dylan Mercier: So I was running a land clearing business for somebody else in the area. I did that for a little over a year. I had a great time doing it, but I just always knew at some point down the road I was going to be off on my own. I just didn't know when. My parents always told me to go work for somebody before you just start fresh, not knowing anything. So I kind of trusted their intuition there and just went off and found somebody to work for. Kind of explained what I envisioned myself doing at the company and it took off pretty quickly. We went from a company that wasn't doing a whole lot to a company that was doing a lot of land clearing and right away clearing for municipalities, developers, all kinds of things. It was exciting. We still did a lot of residential work, too, but that's kind of where I got my feet wet, I guess you could say.
I'd always been around equipment and stuff, working at a landscaping company growing up, but I was never really in it. The hardscaping and retaining walls and stuff that we did wasn't anything like I do today. But I learned a lot at that land clearing company and I don't know, July, it was time, I knew that I was ready to do something else, and I wasn't really gung ho on land clearing anymore. It was a lot of work, a lot of downtime, a lot of maintenance, and it's a cutthroat market around us. So that's what kind of led me on to start my own thing. And now we do a lot of general site work, residential site work, packages, everything from stripping the topsoil, digging the basement, hooking up the utilities, putting in the septic all the way to the final grade, and bringing in topsoil at the end. We also do a lot of underground utilities, water main work, sewer main work.
I haven't really dabbled a whole lot with the storm yet, but we've got some projects coming up, so that'll change. But that's pretty much the rundown. Like I said, the land-clearing thing just wasn't for me. It's really cool, but it's a lot of work. And I guess the one thing that drew me away from it was the fact that it wasn't mine. I think if it were mine and I had control, at the end of the day, it was my control, it would have been different. But that's just how things go and it's how you learn.
Taylor White: Yeah. I was just going to say, I don't know, I feel like if somebody was like, hey man, here's a massive link learning project and it'll work out and if you had access to the machine, maybe you would do it now. I think what you said at the end is key. It wasn't your thing, it wasn't your business, and I think that's just kind of what it comes down to. Just like the mentality of having something that's yours and it gives you more so of a reason, especially when you're wired like that. Because not everybody's wired like that. There's a lot of guys that don't want responsibility and we need those people as well, too. But someone like yourself, for myself that wants to wake up every day and work for themselves and take on all the added stress and everything like that, that's just your mentality going into it.
Dylan Mercier: Yeah. What it boiled down to is the fact that I'm just completely unemployable and I've known that for a long time. And I come from a family of entrepreneurs. I don't mean that in a bad way. I like to be the one making the call and that's left up to me. I kind of like the stress, I like the chaos. It's exciting. It makes my day go round.
Taylor White: Yeah. You kind of have to really love the chaos when you're running a business, especially. It's actually interesting because we're at two completely different points in business. We're 55 years in business, you're a year in business, but yet we still, in conversations with each other, deal with the same problems. Whether it be other contractors underbidding you and doing the job for less or not being able to find people or find good enough people. We have the same problems. Not all, but most. And I think that that's interesting about the industry is that it doesn't matter how kind of big or small you are. That's what I enjoy about talking to you as well, too. It's kind of like we both have the same kind of stuff going on.
Dylan Mercier: Yeah. There's a lot of things that I'll come to you for and you give me totally different answers than something I'd be thinking in my head because we're in two different positions and I think that's vice versa, too. There's some things I've probably told you along the way, like you're like, I didn't really think of it like that, but it's definitely interesting. And you hit the nail on the head with that one.
Taylor White: Yeah, no, I've never actually took an advice from you and thought that it was good advice. I wanted to share that with you.
Dylan Mercier: Okay. I got the receipts.
Taylor White: I want to ask because this was interesting the other day when we were talking about it. I don't know if it was on the phone or over text, but you were talking about how I was saying, like, residential commercial. And it's funny because I meet a lot of people who love– For instance, I just hired, I have another cousin who's starting with us.
Dylan Mercier: That was awesome.
Taylor White: Yeah, he's like, "Dude, I don't need to be in an office. I just want to be on the ground in the bottom of a hole, in a trench box, mud and covered." And I feel like I'm a mixture of both. Like, I like the office, but I also am more of a field guy, and I want to hear it from you. What is it about the sewer and water and just like that type of grimy, gritty, big machinery sling and dirt? What do you like about that in the industry, I guess? What's your love for it?
Dylan Mercier: That's a really good question. There's probably not a good answer either, but I'll do my best here. Honestly, I can't really say the danger involved, but just the fact that it's hard work and it's not for everybody. There's a lot of people that don't get into things like this because of how hard the work is. Like you said, how gritty you got to be to get down in that hole. You could be in a 30-foot hole working on a sewer main in the cities, and to some people it's normal, and to others, it's like, "Holy cow. You're crazy." For me, though, I don't know. It's exciting. It's something new every day. And just to put it in perspective, we've been on a water main. There was a water main break in a mobile home park here in Brighton. We started it last Thursday.
Taylor White: Is it on Eight Mile?
Dylan Mercier: No, it's not on Eight Mile.
Taylor White: No, it's not the one Eminem grew up in Dang, dude. Dylan's from Detroit.
Dylan Mercier: Yeah. Shout out. Hopefully one day, though. But it's something new every day. And when I say that we went out there fully expecting to find a four-inch main in a spot they said it was in based off their historical data and their old ass builts and drawings and stuff, and it wasn't there. So we had to cross gas, AT&T, Comcast, you name it, electrical, everything, to try and find this thing. It took us two full days, even with the backstock, to finally find it and figure out what was going on. And lo and behold, nobody had a recollection of it because it was done God knows how long ago. But there's a four-inch main that runs under two trailers that we just had to cap at both ends and basically run five or six new services to all the new trailers that were hooked up on that. So every day we thought we'd finish. Friday, we were like, "Oh, yeah, we're done." We go check the other trailers. "Hey, you guys got water?" “No.” We're like, "All right, we'll be back out here Monday." Yesterday, we wrapped up the last trailer. We're like, "You guys got water?" “No.” We're like, "All right, let's run one more service." So it's exciting. I don't know. It's a headache sometimes, but I like it. It's the chaos. It's fun.
Taylor White: Yeah, I think it's like the grind for me. Everything that you're saying is you're explaining why, and you summarize it at the end. I like the chaos. Because everything you're saying is chaos, right? It's like if there's something that they put in the ground, whether it be gas, internet, fiber optic, whatever, it was there, and you just kept coming back to and doing it. And I think that it's just something that's kind of instilled in you, especially in blue-collar. Blue-collar work is something that it's either love it or you hate it. You're either the person that's looking at us going like, "Oh, my God, I'd never do that job," or you're the type of guy being like, "Oh, I wish I was in the bottom of that hole right now, just slanging it with these guys and girls.”
Dylan Mercier: There's times I catch myself jumping out of the machine and getting down in the hole just to help the guys, and then they're like, "What are you doing? Get back up in the machine." It's like, I just like to be everywhere. It's exciting.
Taylor White: Yeah. I end up just kind of being more of a burden to the guys, really. Whenever I'm doing that, I'm just kind of like in the hole, getting in the way, and they're like, "Hey, man, get out of here.” Dude, let's talk a little bit about CONEXPO, man."
Dylan Mercier: All right.
Taylor White: How did you find it? How did you like the show? I know that we were there. We were there for about three and a half days. We saw as much as we thought that we could. I just think the sheer size of it is unbelievable, which, again, is the whole more reason to be like, "All right, well, I'm pumped for 2026 because I'm going to check out this thing that I didn't get to see, that I wanted to really see." But what did you think of the show? How'd you like it?
Dylan Mercier: I loved it. I thought it was super fun. I think the biggest takeaway for me from it was the amount of hands I shook, the amount of people I met because it's crazy to kind of put a name to a face or a face to a name. And you can chime in on this, too. The amount of people we met when we were there was crazy, which is great because networking is everything in our business, whether people want to admit it or not. But from the show’s standpoint, I think it was great. It's laid out really well. You do a lot of walking, but that's to be expected. And I'm beating a dead horse here because I've heard everybody say it. I've talked to that, went, but you literally cannot see everything. It's impossible. I mean, just between our group, we probably saw three or four different, I guess, exhibits, you could say because I know they were kind of mapped out everywhere. And then that last day I was there, I got a chance to go walk around some more, which is nice because I saw a lot of things I didn't even know were there. So it was exciting. But to see all that big equipment, there's nothing in our world that wasn't there. And everything from the smallest electric-powered mini to a 390, it was cool, the cranes, everything else.
Taylor White: Yeah, I think it was super neat. And like you said, it's the people, that was the coolest thing, even the people that were listening to the podcast, but people that were like, "Oh, dude, so I know you from TikTok or social media and stuff like that." I think that that's the coolest thing. And I was saying to you, it drove me harder to come back and really nail down social media and continuing on to do it. And I think that that's the coolest thing in our industry. And I think that that's why it's a really important time right now to kind of be involved with social media. Now, that's obviously how I met everybody listening.
How I first met Dylan is I think we started posting about land clearing because we had a big project we were doing at the airport. And I remember I think you reached out to me or I reached out to you, I don't know. And you had a big Fecon mulcher. And I remember being like, "Damn, that thing's badass, dude." And we just kind of talked from there. But again, my point is its social media. And I know that if somebody from a different industry was listening to this conversation right now, they'd be like, "You guys are still talking about how social media is important." But honestly, it was so cool. And I think it's so important in construction because I still think if you're a company or you can add value in construction, in the industry, on social media, then you're going to find success on it. Whether that be you wanting to be an influencer or just branding your company or growing your company or just growing a following online, whatever. I think that there's so much opportunity in the construction industry right now, especially because bringing a different style into it.
Like now on social media, on different platforms, you see guys throwing up different stuff. I remember when I started doing a little bit of different music. People are like, "Whoa, we've never seen this before, what is this?" But now I'm seeing guys innovate and be so creative on it and it's just so cool going to a space like CONEXPO and meeting those people and it's like chatting with them about it and be like, "Dang, you saw that video," or them recognizing certain points of it. So yeah, what's your take on social media and the value of it? Because again, that's where we first met and I know that you used to do a lot of it and you want to do more of it now, but what's your take on that?
Dylan Mercier: In the last two years being on social media, I've made some of my best friends on it and that probably also sounds crazy. That's like one of your buddies like, “Oh yeah, I met a girl.”
Taylor White: You call them your BFFs?
Dylan Mercier: Oh yeah, 100%. Wow. But as far as social media goes, there's so many different ways to do it. And that was also insightful too, while we were there being able to go to some of those talks. Like for instance, the one that you guys were involved with towards the end of the show with Matt from American Pavement, Jimmy Starbuck, Missy, and Katie. That was super interesting because all you guys kind of do social media a different way and there's no right way to do it. It's whatever kind of builds that traction and gets you to the next level. And a lot of people are interested in other things. So there's so much of it out there. And if you can kind of just get people engaged and get them on your pages, it's game over after that. But from a social media standpoint, if you're not doing it, I don't know what planet you live on at this point because even finding help, some of your best guys have come from social media.
Taylor White: Everybody in the past year and a half, two years.
Dylan Mercier: Yeah. Which is wild. And I hope to someday be at that point where I can utilize social media to find people. I've definitely had people hit me up, but we're just not ready. We're not a big enough company to do something like that to take on a bunch of guys off the internet. But one day, I really hope to utilize that as one of our biggest takeaways from social media is to find those quality candidates because that's the biggest thing. Without quality candidates, I'm nothing and my company is nothing. And that goes a long way.
Taylor White: Yeah. The last time that we were together, IRL, here in Ottawa, I remember we were talking about something, these other guys online, and we were going on about LinkedIn and it's kind of funny, it came full circle. I remember you guys were like, LinkedIn is awesome. And I'm like, “Yeah, okay. Sure.” I hate LinkedIn. I think it's stupid. I think it's the most irrelevant platform to be on. You're wasting your time. So at the beginning of this year, in December, skip ahead now, December, I'm like, you know what? I'm just going to throw– I got some really good high-quality photos. I'm going to throw some projects that I'm pretty proud of. And I think it was four days later, I had the CEO of a massive company, LinkedIn, message me, whatever you want to call it, DM me on there. And he's like, “Hey, man. I got 50 acres of bush. Do you want to come mulch it with your mulcher?” And I was like, no damn. Dylan was right.
Dylan Mercier: You had to tuck your tail between your legs. Yeah.
Taylor White: I'll always admit when I'm wrong. So you were definitely right about that one with LinkedIn. You found success on that, right?
Dylan Mercier: Yeah. Some of my best clients to date have come from LinkedIn, whether that was me working for other people, going out and finding the work, or just with my company alone. Two guys I work for significantly came from LinkedIn, which is wild. And it's crazy to think that a platform like LinkedIn has made me money. And I pay like $50 a month or whatever for the premium, so you can see who views your profile and everything.
Taylor White: I was thinking about that. Is it worth it?
Dylan Mercier: Oh, yeah. I can see who views my profile and if it's anybody–
Taylor White: Like anybody?
Dylan Mercier: Anybody and anybody around my area. So if they view my profile, I'll instantly just connect with them and it seems to work. And there's a couple of other things that you can do with the premium. I haven't caught on too much yet, but I think the biggest takeaway for me for the premium is the fact that you can see who views your profile because it's cool to see who's looking at you. Because sometimes its competitors, sometimes it's someone you might do work for sometime soon. So I don't know, I just like that.
Taylor White: How do you deal with competitors? How are you dealing with competitors?
Dylan Mercier: Me?
Taylor White: Yeah. Are you friendly with them? Are you like friends close and enemies closer? You got any people that you want to not see here any more, what's going on?
Dylan Mercier: No, I take their scraps. I eat that up. I take all the work that they don't want. And right now, yes, they are a competitor, but any competitor I can develop a relationship with and get on their side and let them know, like, hey, if there's some work out there that you guys don't want to take on, one because it's just the quality of work isn't there, the money's not there, or even three, it's just a hard job that a lot of people don't want to tackle. We're young, dumb. We'd love to tackle it, so let us. But two of the companies that have really helped me along the way is solely– I mean at the end of the day, yes, they're competitors, but they feed me work like it's going out of style. And it's really helped me and my company and my guys. It's helped us kind of boost to the next level. So I don't really get behind the whole don't talk to the competitors, don't give them information. The more information I can share with somebody and the more information they can reciprocate back, I think the longer it goes for both parties.
Taylor White: Yeah, I agree. I remember I was chatting with somebody a while ago, and they're like, can you explain the secret sauce to what you're doing with your business or anything like that? I'm just like, there's no secret sauce, man. I'm just like, this is what I do and this is how I do it. And yeah, I just feel like people, it's like an outdated way of thinking, but it's like, well, I'm not going to tell people how we do that or what software we use to do this or our take on something like this, or how did I manage to do that. Because, man, you can all learn something from somebody. At the end of the day, there's enough work to go around for everybody. Yeah. Sometimes it's like, dang, this guy took this job on me. But yeah, I feel like keeping your friends close to enemies closer, but also they don't have to be your enemies. WE guys can work together as well, too, and still get stuff done.
Dylan Mercier: 100%. I literally wouldn't be able to do a lot of the work I do without my competitors because they're the ones who've been renting equipment and trucks, and yeah, it's helped me immensely.
Taylor White: So how does your business model work? You just talk about renting and stuff like that. So how does it work? In D2, I know you have a truck, and you've got a company truck, you got an employee, he's got a company Visa. I know you got some stuff going on. When you get loaded up for a job, do you call your local rental place, how's it working? Because this is good knowledge, dude, for the guys that are trying to get into it. And they're like, Man, I don't have $200,000 to spend on an excavator.” Because, again, who does? So let's hear it.
Dylan Mercier: Yeah, it's very hard to come by. Again, going back to what I just said, my biggest savior in the last six months is one of the companies I do a lot of work for. They have a lot of equipment that sits around their yard they don't use very often. And I've pretty much had free reins to it the past six, seven months, which has helped me crazy. But I use every avenue possible. And this might sound crazy, but there's guys who rent skids on Facebook Marketplace. There's a website called Rubble, which I just recently rented from. I don't know if it's in Canada, but I know it's in the States. And I'm renting a Cat 306 for what the guy's payment is for the next three months. It's kind of a no-brainer for me because, at the end of the day, it's not my piece of equipment. I don't have to worry about the payments come January, or February because that's when it gets tough. But we just bought our first skids here. We got a Cat 259, 1200 hours on it. It's a D3, though.
Taylor White: Did you tell me this already?
Dylan Mercier: No, I don't think I've told anybody. I just signed the paperwork yesterday.
Taylor White: Yesterday?
Dylan Mercier: Yesterday, yup.
Taylor White: Good for you. How many hours are on it?
Dylan Mercier: 1200.
Taylor White: Oh, dang.
Dylan Mercier: Yeah, it's a 2021 D3.
Taylor White: It's a D3?
Dylan Mercier: Yes. It's got three years of warranty left. Three years or 3000 hours. But that was the one thing that was killing us. I'm okay with the excavator rentals because I can track them down pretty easily just between Cat and all my other equipment manufacturers and those third-party websites. And shoot, I found a smoking deal on that 306 for the next three months. But the biggest thorn in my side the last seven, eight months has been a skid. Because the skid rentals will eat you up alive, chew you up and spit you back out. It was costing me $300, $350 a day, depending on who I was renting from. And a skid steer payment is like $1,500 a month. And yeah, the weekly rentals were $1,500 a week. So we're excited about that because that'll help us, from a number standpoint, not having to throw so much money at rental on the skids.
But as far as, like, the minis go and some of your bigger excavators, I like renting those because out of this job we're doing right here in Brighton, I need a 305, so we've had a 305 out there.But the next job I'm doing this coming week, we need a 315 out there. So I have access to basically everything. You take on the rent and you bill for it. I've never had anybody question it, and it's worked up until this point. So it's not as bad as people make it seem sometimes. Renting is not fun. Especially paying those bills after you have the– Like for instance, the 315 I've had for the last two months. I'm not looking forward to paying that bill here in the next couple of weeks because it's astronomical. But again, you bill for it all and you make it work. So it's not as hard as it seems. And I don't think a lot of people like I said, look down on it. But I like it because I have access to 40 different pieces of equipment at any time.
Taylor White: Yeah. So you're utilizing connections like you said the first thing. One of the guys that does kind of the same thing you're doing. So you're utilizing connections and then you're also utilizing rental, third-party rentals, and stuff like that, which is super cool. And you see a lot more of that now, especially in the industry, is these apps that are kind of tracking down because, I mean, you're saying a lot of specific models of excavators, but realistically, you don't care. Just give me a 15-ton, give me a 5-ton. Don't care what model or brand it is, as long as it's a good deal, good rate, and it moves dirt and does what I need it to. Let's kind of just get it done.
Dylan Mercier: Yeah. And one thing that's helped me, too, is since I've been around this for the last couple of years, I've been able to develop relationships with salesmen at a lot of different equipment manufacturers, too. Just even when I wasn't on my own, and they have helped. There's been times where the week ran us up on a machine, and I'm just like, “Dude, can I have two more days?” And he's like, “Yeah, dude, no problem.” And that's huge because I was just talking about this with one of my employees. I was like, what would we do if we didn't have our Cat salesman? Or our Alta salesman? Because it would be crazy, the bill I'd get. Because if you don't have somebody on your side at the end of the day, those equipment manufacturers probably aren't going to help you. You got to have one of those salesmen on your side and develop a relationship with them because they'll help you out and they care about you. Because at the end of the day, they know at some point you're going to buy a piece of equipment from them.
Taylor White: Yeah, 100%. What was it with the skid steer? Well, how come you were like, okay, this is the piece I need? Obviously, the machinery people don't think too vague on it, obviously communication and rental and stuff. But I'm more interested on what was it with the skid steer versus the excavator. Is there just more work with what you're doing for skid steer versus the excavator or just throwing away too much money?
Dylan Mercier: We were just throwing away way too much money. And a lot of times we would do a job without a skid just because we didn't want to pay the rent on that.
Taylor White: Why do you think skid prices are so high?
Dylan Mercier: I don't know. I wouldn't necessarily say they're super high. Because if you look at a mini rental, this mini I've got for $3,200 a month for the next three months, to me it's a little bit higher than what I anticipate a payment would be for a 6-ton mini, but it's not that much more. And the fact that I don't have to worry about maintenance or anything, I'll eat that cost. But the skid, it was just we would go three, four days on a job and then the last day bring it in to do cleanup. It's just one of those things it's nice to have. It's a jack of all trades. There's a lot you can do with one and it'll be nice to kind of have to not worry about it. And that's another thing, too. I was spending so much money sending guys to go pick equipment up. Even if we started at 6:00 a.m., by the time you get to the rental plate, by the time you get to Michigan Cat or Alta or wherever and get the machine loaded and talk to your salesman or whoever, or the yard guys, it's 9:00 A.M and you're like, “Oh my God, we lost two hours of the day. We could be working.” So it'll be nice to just have the excavator dozer there and then just show up with the skid because we can't really move anything unless it's under 6-ton anyway.
Taylor White: Yeah, I hear you, man. You got to do what you got to do sometimes. Do you guys have frost laws? That’s what I meant to ask.
Dylan Mercier: We do.
Taylor White: Okay. Are they over?
Dylan Mercier: So this year they did not go into effect for 90% of the state because we never really got frost. It was kind of one of those one-off years. Some of our bigger counties and municipalities turned them on, but for the most part, it helped because the month they were on, the county we were working in wasn't a problem. Now, it would have been different had we gone 20 miles south, but we pushed that job off on purpose just because between us moving our equipment, getting equipment there, and then trucking - like hauling 33% of the load is costly for the customer too. So I just kind of let the guy know we're going to push this off because you're not going to want to pay this bill.
Taylor White: Yeah, you mentioned earlier that you're like, oh, then it's like 9:00 A.M. And then I'm at this machine place and it made me think about the amount of hours that you have to put in and the amount of hours that you're putting in currently right now in a week. I mean, you're probably doing insane. Like you're going to 1:00 A.M., 2:00 A.M. most days because you're doing field and then office at night. And I know a big conversation in the industry right now is work-life balance and all that stuff. And I know that that is geared definitely more towards employees, obviously, but I guess for the people that kind of want to start to do their own thing, having a hard work ethic and working harder is definitely you have to be doing that. So what are you kind of putting in for hours and what keeps you motivated to do that? Obviously, yeah, let's kind of get into that a little bit more. I like that topic.
Dylan Mercier: I joke with everybody around here that I'm buddies with or some of the other companies I work with. I have two shifts. I work second shift and first shift. First shift we're out in the field doing the work and if I get lucky and the job is doable for my guys and I can kind of take off and not have to work till 2:00 A.M. that night, I will. But the majority, probably 95% of the time that's not the case. And that's okay, I'm all right with it. What drives me is really it's people I look up to and a lot of these companies that I strive to be one day. And you're not going to get there just kind of sitting by the wayside. The work doesn't come to you. You got to go out there and get it. You got to chase it. And if that means sitting in front of the computer from 6:00 P.M. to 2:00 A.M., it just has to be done. What drives me, though, is energy drinks and coffee. Right now, it's the only way I can get to that point and then turn around and wake up at 4:35 A.M. The next day. It's hard. There's some days where I'm like, “I don't want to do this,” but it's just something in me that I'm just like, man, I want to do this because one day I want to be like you or some of our other buddies or like some of these companies I do work with. I don't always want to be this–
This is no shot to anybody that is just an owner, operator, a couple of guys, and a couple of pieces of equipment. That's not what I want to be. I want to be some giant moving machine that just cannot be stopped, and you got to put in the work to get there. Nobody made any of these companies off luck and just sitting back and relaxing. Maybe a little bit of luck, but not so much relaxing. And if that means you got to work seven days a week, 20 hours a day, you got to do it. And I knew that going into it, and I took the bull by the horns and got after it, and I've made it this far. And who knows? Let's see how far I can keep going until either sleep deprivation takes me or something just crazy like that. But I don't know. It's hard, but you got to do it.
Taylor White: Okay, so you're mentioning kind of seeing where it takes you. And obviously, before this podcast started, I was mentioning about losing my hair, and it's actually crazy. I lose hair when I'm back-stressed at work, and just like right now, especially because you're like, we're just coming on a winter. We need to get cash flow back in the business. We're lining up projects. We're pricing lots. Hopefully, we're getting lots. It's just a super stressful time right now, especially being in construction. It's funny, when I went away on holidays in Florida, we came back, and I remember sitting on the couch, and my wife was like, “Your hair is growing back on the front.” And I'm like, “Wow, awesome.” We just got back from vacation, and now here it is, losing it again. But that all, in turn, comes with a lot of conversation that we've been having today, which is like working your butt off, getting everything done, being out there, loving the grind. And you were kind of talking about, where will this take me? Where do you want to take it? Where do you see yourself in 10, 15, 20 years? Is D2 massive? Is D2 20 guys? Are you doing $20 million? Are you doing $200 million? Or you’re doing $2 million? $200,000, who knows?
Dylan Mercier: Me, personally, when I started this, I made a five-year plan to do $10 million after the fifth year. That's my goal. Who knows? And I told everybody this when I started. I don't care if you think I'm crazy. I don't care if I sound absolutely insane. It's what I want to do, and I'm going to strive for it. And if I get there, great. If not, we're going to try harder and get there next year. Where do I want to be, though? I want to build a company with as many men and women as possible that want to be here. I want to make it a place that people want to show up to work every day because there's a lot of places– And this is everywhere. It's not just Michigan. It's not just the Midwest. It's the entire US. It's probably the world, but I want a place where people want to come to work. They want to work hard and they want to feel like they've done something at the end of the day. And the only way you can attract people like that is to have them buy-in and give them a salary or a truck or whatever it may be. You got to make it worth their while too and I wouldn't necessarily say I'm doing this for myself. I mean, obviously, at the end of the day, we are doing this for ourselves and our families and hopefully one day I have a family to work harder for. But I wouldn't be anything without the people that help me every day and the guys I have now. And I hope that as a whole, we're all doing well in 10, 15 years.
And where we want to be, I really like to mainly focus on infrastructure. America's infrastructure especially is not so great. The things I find under the ground every day on a daily basis is insane, like the quality of our drinking water, and it's crazy. So I think that's a world that's never going to stop. We're always going to be– Technology is always changing. We're always going to find new ways to do things. And that's one thing that kind of drives me because I'm just infatuated by it. I want to see where it goes.
And I know this for a fact because we did a water main break there a couple of weeks ago. There's a city very close to me that still has wood water mains. It's crazy, but that's because the city is a very popular city. They have a very, you know, the nightlife there and everything, it’s just too much for them to rip the whole road up and replace all that. And if it functions, it works. But you got to also think about the people that live in that town, too. I can't imagine the water quality is great. I know it gets tested and treated and stuff, but still to me, I don't know, there's something about it. But I would mainly like to stick to infrastructure and not so much highway work, but a lot of water, sewer, and storm utilities pretty much.
Taylor White: Well, it's kind of what you love, right? And you kind of were mentioning about family and how that's important and you want to see your employees do well and obviously, maybe one day have a family of yourself. If you finally asked a girlfriend to marry you, who knows?
Dylan Mercier: My little brother just got engaged, man. I don't need any more heat, dude.
Taylor White: Dang, dude. That was awkward.
Dylan Mercier: Yeah.
Taylor White: But you do it for that reason. And I feel like obviously it's good to have goals like what you're saying. We have those same ones when we have roundtables as well, too. We're talking like, okay, revenue-wise, employee-wise, where do we see ourselves? But I'm also a genuine believer that you can have that mindset. But I also think if you have the mindset of, okay, I want to see my employees do better. I want to see how can I make it better for my guys, how can management help in here? I always tell them, “Guys, this is us. I want to see you guys do better.” This isn't just so I can stuff my pockets full of money and live in a crazy house with a Ferrari and a Lamborghini. I don't give a crap about all that. I generally want to see everyone do really well. I like nice things, and I'm okay, that's fine. But I think if you have that mindset as well too, then it will happen. You put that energy out there, I feel like you get a lot of that back, and I live my life a lot like that. I believe in karma. You do good things, good things happen back to you. If you're a person that's constantly causing drama or stirring up crap in your community or with other people, that just won't get you anywhere, man. I think being a really good, rounded person really helps.
Dylan Mercier: Yeah, there's a lot of people that– Those kinds of people only make it so far. They'll do well for a while, but it all comes to an end and it usually crashes and burns. We don't have plans to do that. It's way more deep-rooted than that. I care about people's health and genuinely, I want to see others around me do well, too. So it's a mindset you have to have if you want to run a successful business because if you don't, it may work for a while, but it's not going to work forever.
Taylor White: Yeah, that's one of the things that I'm constantly thinking about with our business. Right now, I'm currently drawing up, brainstorming stuff within core management of like, what can I do with guys and girls here to make their lives better? You know what I mean? What info can I give them or what courses or training or something can I give them that A, they're not just going to think is super lame and boring or whatever, but maybe they will. But maybe if I at least push them onto that and it's like, hey guys, I'm still going to pay you today. We're all still going to get paid. But instead of going doing this job like, you know what? It's Friday. I got this person coming in. They're going to talk to us about financial planning. They're going to talk to us about how to invest your money or how to save money or how to look at your spending or how to budget. And I feel like that's an aspect of other businesses and places that they don't do that stuff. And I think that that's why, in order to make it a better place to work, you kind of have to do that sort of thing. Because I was thinking about that the other night and it just was like, man, you got to do stuff to help them. And then there will be a percentage of people that will be like, “I don't care. They're helping me with this.” But there'll be that percentage of being able to retain people, being like, “h, my employer, dude, they actually helped a lot. They care about us. They're investing in us. This is super cool.” Do you agree with that?
Dylan Mercier: Yeah, I 100% agree with that.
Taylor White: Okay, cool. No, I just think that it's really important, as far as when you're building your business up, too. It’s like making sure that your employees are looked after and giving them tools to succeed in life as well, too, rather than just the whole, like, all right, come on. Because there's a lot of talk about that right now because retention is really hard right now. Finding good people is really hard right now. So it's like, how can you make your business, and it's a tough conversation. How do I make my business a better place for people to work? But at the same time, I'm running a business, and I don't have all these excess funds to do this, but sometimes we spend excess funds for maybe training that. It's like, well, how about we take this training and we just supplement it with something like this for personal growth, for the guys and girls. Okay, that sounds a little bit better. That might be better for them. I just think it's an interesting conversation to have with people in order to add value to their lives.
Dylan Mercier: Yeah. And the best way to do that– It's not so much complicated and as hard as it seems. At the end of each year, you take a look at your numbers and go through your overhead percentage, and if you're doing $20 million and you can throw 2% of that overhead percentage into investing in your people, that's way more money than you'll ever need, depending on how many people you have. But there's definitely avenues to attack that side of things, and it's not as hard as it seems. And I think a lot of people's greed gets to them, and it's unfortunate, but it's not me, and it never has been me. I've always been a giver. I'm not a taker.
Taylor White: I'm happy for you, man. I'm happy to hear that.
Dylan Mercier: Yeah.
Taylor White: It's true, though. I wanted to touch on one thing at the end here. Obviously, there's a lot of talk about the economy and the way things are going, and I always like getting other business owners' input on how are things looking down there. Are you guys still super busy? Are people still throwing around money? Are people being a little more conservative with their money? What's going on?
Dylan Mercier: I think people are throwing around money like it's going out of style. You're always going to have the customers who don't want to spend a lot of money. But the biggest thing, especially in the residential market, and that's one thing, and I don't want to toot my own horn, but it's really easy to read somebody from a residential sales standpoint, whether you're going out to quote septic or a retaining wall or a drainage project or just a grading project. It's like, “Listen, how much money do you have and what do you want done? I'll make it work.” And I do it every day. There's always different ways to do things, and there's always a way to find a solution to their problems for the money they have. Now, if they have $500, $1,000, maybe not so much, but I don't really see it.
I can tell you one thing just from the municipal standpoint, that work has not slowed down at all. I think there are more bid lettings put out this spring than there were last spring, and I thought last spring there were a lot. Now, that goes into play with it's a lot more deep-rooted than that. It has a lot to do with politics, but the budget that's set forward is pretty high here, and they spend a lot of money on trying to– And our governor, actually, she's really pushing infrastructure in the roads and stuff, so I haven't seen a slowdown in it. No, but there's a lot of people that would probably say otherwise around me. But you've got to be chasing the work through the right avenues and finding it in the right spots. And there's some things I could think of right off the top of my head from finding work that just wouldn't work right now. But I don't know. I don't have an issue with it. I don't really pay attention to it. I just keep going.
Taylor White: That's good. That's an important thing. I think that's, like, a good summary of my conversation today with you. It's like I don't stop. I just kind of keep going. And I think that's a really important takeaway for people, especially guys– Even if you don't have a business, I wish that you could instill that in a lot of employees' mindsets, too. It's like, “Hey, man, there's a huge opportunity to grow here at this business. You just got to work your butt off.” But the problem is maybe that employee got ruined at another place where they did do that, and they never got rewarded for it. That's the crappy thing, is, when you have an employee like that, that's like, “Man, I did that at my last job, and I got stumped.” So I think that it's a good takeaway of the attitude of work hard and you'll get rewarded for it. Yes, it's a lot of work upfront, and it's a grind, but at the end of the day, you just got to be the type of person that really likes that stuff, too.
Dylan Mercier: Yeah. And this is just a side note, too. That first job I ever had when I was– I was kind of a late bloomer because I played so many sports in high school. I think the first job I had was the summer of– I was probably 16 or 17. My first employer was my cousin at the time. He owned a startup landscaping company, and now they do, I don't know, probably $10 million, $12 million a year. They're huge. But at that time, I was just a little stuck-up brat, pretty much. And for the most part, I always get things that I wanted. And my cousin, he put me on some job where I was just like, “I don't want to do this.” And he's like, “Listen, dude, good things come to those who wait. Just stick it out. Do it.” And for some reason, that's always stuck with me. And it's true. I worked for them for the next two summers and ended up doing the last summer before I went off to college. And finally, I was running that skid steers on the new yard installs and the retaining walls, and I was like, “That's true.” So you definitely have to put in that work before you can just get to be the top guy or the number one dog. In this industry, especially, you have to put the time in before you can really just shine. But it's exciting to go out and do something new every day and learn something.
Taylor White: Yeah, 100%. I like that. You're totally right on that. You nailed it. Drop the mic after that, boom. Dylan, dude, we had an awesome time at CONEXPO. I'm always a joy talking to you. I loved having you on today, having a talk. Thank you for being here, man. I appreciate that.
Dylan Mercier: I appreciate it greatly. I had a good time today. I look forward to 2026.
Taylor White: Yeah, me as well, too, man.
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