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March 3-7, 2026

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Travis “Silkstone” Hesketh: A successful entrepreneur with an interesting background



This week, Taylor White of Ken White Construction and Host of the CONEXPO-CON/AGG Podcast finally gets an opportunity to sit down for a chat with Silkstone Group’s CEO, Travis Hesketh, a fellow entrepreneur whose journey through professional motocross and a formidable construction career epitomizes both resilience and grit. Travis details his transition from the high-speed world of motocross to the equally challenging construction industry, illustrating how his competitive spirit and lessons from the racetrack have propelled his entrepreneurial ventures. Throughout the conversation, he shares candid insights into the setbacks that shaped him, including a significant legal ordeal that resulted in prison time but ultimately redefined his approach to business and life. Together, Travis and Taylor provide a profound look into overcoming adversity as well as harnessing personal growth and strategic thinking to manage and grow a construction business with passion.

Along the way, listeners are treated to an intimate exploration of Travis's background, from his early days in motocross to establishing a thriving construction business. The discussion delves into the core attributes—such as risk-taking and vision—that link Travis’s past experiences to his current success, while also highlighting his commitment to family and integrating them into the fabric of his business. Key points covered include Travis’s strategic reasons for entrepreneurship over traditional employment, the impact of his incarceration on his personal and professional outlook, and his forward-looking plans for his business and family legacy. As you will hear, today’s episode presents a compelling testament to the power of resilience and the relentless pursuit of passion amidst life's myriad challenges, serving as a beacon of inspiration for anyone striving to overcome personal hurdles and succeed in the demanding construction industry.


  • Travis's personal and professional background
  • His entrepreneurial spirit
  • Travis's legal issues and incarceration and their profound impact
  • His decision to start his own construction company
  • Balancing the demands of business with family life
  • His future aspirations for his business and the legacy he hopes to leave for his family
  • The role of personal growth, spirituality, and faith in shaping Travis's life after his legal challenges.
  • How Travis’s background in motocross and his personal adversities have equipped him with unique skills for managing and growing his business

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Episode transcript: 

Taylor White: So I think it was Tuesday. I had a free day. Freaking free day. Free morning. I had no meeting scheduled. That's what I consider. I mean, minus everything else that goes on getting everybody started for the day, jobs, I could do everything I needed from my phone. So I'm going to go to the pit. I'm going to figure out where the sand hits the bottom. And I was just there myself. Or maybe this was last week because you were with me one day. Anyways, I was there one day, but when I was by myself and it was just when I'm in the machine, I was just trying to focus. And I had this goal in my head for four hours this morning to just pull sand up, find the clay. How much sand? What's the sand look like? And it was just the unexpected phone calls, people trying to get a hold, needing answers for stuff. And I'm like, “Man, I had a plan for this morning that was going to go this way.” And then I ended up literally getting out of the machine, turning the key off, getting in my truck, going back to the office. And I had to come back here and I had to answer the emails and then go meet people at a different job site. It was just like the whole day just got completely ruined. And that's why I find it hard.

Even with Jake, he sees it– my filmer. And I think that was the big issue, too with just filmers in the past or just people in general. It's like I'll have a plan and then that plan doesn't follow through. And then it's like, “You let me down, dude. What are you doing?” And it's like, “Oh, you have no idea, man.” So, I'm not trying to say that what I'm doing is so much more important and you have no idea. But just the unexpected .

Travis Hesketh: Yeah, please understand it. And I'm sure you do a good job at communicating with everybody.

Taylor White: I try my best, but sometimes communication gets lost. It's hard.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah, sometimes I'm like, “Remember I told you?” And they're like, “You never told me that.” I'm like, “Well, I told a lot of people. I apologize.”  You know what I mean? But it's good when you can find people that understand that it's not going to be on this exact schedule that things happen and it's not necessarily a priority thing, it's more of urgency sometimes, especially in this industry. Because, if we can't keep machines moving and things swinging like that, it doesn't help anyone.

Taylor White: Welcome back, everybody, to the CONEXPO/CON-AGG Podcast. I am your host, as always, Taylor White. Now, you might notice something a little bit different about today. We're sitting upstairs in my old man's office because we have somebody here in person that I have chatted with for probably, I don't know, maybe two years now. Owns his own business. He's been through hell and back. He's still getting through it. And I know that we relate on a lot of certain subjects the exact same. So super pumped that you made the drive, , 2 hours from Kingston here today. So Travis Heskwith.

Travis Hesketh: Hesketh. Yeah.

Taylor White: Hesketh. I was close.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah. It's a tongue twister.

Taylor White: Yeah. Well, thanks for being here, dude.

Travis Hesketh: Thank you for having me. And, like you said, I mean, we've been chatting for a couple years now and on and off, and I can see a lot of similarities in what you're doing and what we're up to, and it's cool to finally meet in person and chew the fat.

Taylor White: Dude, I love it. Yeah, exactly. But this is my favorite thing to do. We're just sitting down. I wish every podcast could be  this genuinely, because I feel  it's so laid back, relaxed, kind of just chatting. And it's nice that you were so close and you actually made the drive out. I mean, that's a four hour round trip, so much appreciated. But I know that you were recently on a podcast, and I've always wanted to have you on the podcast. And then just stuff slips your mind, whatever. And then I saw you on a recent podcast, and just the way that you were talking and the stuff that you were talking about was genuinely stuff that I never even knew about. And I was , I got to talk to you. So I guess to kind of start things off to prefix people, why would you be sitting here on a construction podcast today with me? What do you do?

Travis Hesketh: Well, as far as what I do, essentially the same thing as you, just maybe a little bit earlier along in the stages.  you said, I've been through hell, and I don't say I'm back yet, but in and out, it feels  all the time. But, no, I've made some bad decisions, I guess, that have led me to where we're sitting, but I have no regrets. And it was kind of cool to meet with those other guys, virtually, which in person is way better.

Taylor White: Yeah, Luke and Luke from the Dirt Bags. Luke, this episode is actually out right now, but it's not out in the time that we're filming this. But I just did one with Luke Payne. Yeah, I went to Montana with Luke.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah. He was saying that, and I wish that was a trip that I could have been a part of.

Taylor White: Dude, you got to come. Well, I think we're trying to plan legitimately hog hunting, and we want it. Would you ever do that?

Travis Hesketh: Oh, I'm in for anything, but it's just whether or not they'll let me in that country, so as long as it's in Canada right now, I'd be good.

Taylor White: Yeah. So where did the love for construction, I guess, start? And then what made you want to start your own business? , start your own construction business and not just go work for somebody else.

Travis Hesketh: I'd say, I've always sort of been an entrepreneur. My roots were dirt bikes, motocross.

Taylor White: Sweet, really?

Travis Hesketh: So I started riding when I was four. I started racing when I was 10. I turned pro when I was 18, and that's essentially all I ever wanted to do. , I was going to be a professional athlete. I was going to make a living riding dirt bikes, and that's all I cared about.

Taylor White: No way.

Travis Hesketh: It was cool, and I got to do a lot of neat things, and I traveled around. I met a lot of neat people, and unfortunately, I couldn't stay off the ground. I had a lot of injuries, so I hurt myself a lot.

Taylor White: How high up did you go? Because you were saying that you were traveling.

Travis Hesketh: Pretty much traveled throughout the east coast of Canada and the US. So I had potential to do things– I mean, my speed was there. I wasn't ever able to put together anything where it mattered.

Taylor White: What kind of bike did you ride?  a 252 stroke or 250.

Travis Hesketh: I started, – Well, I guess I turned pro in 90–

Taylor White: You were pro?

Travis Hesketh: Yeah. In 2000, I did. So I've ridden quite a few different brands. Right now, I still ride, but we're focused more on the woods and doing it as a family. So I got some huskies, and the kids got huskies, so is the wife. So we ride together now more in the woods, and it's a little easier on the body, so that I can make it to work the next day.

Taylor White: That's sick. I didn't know you did that. Do you find that some of those skills are, – I guess, riding a dirt bike, but more so, – I don't know. Is there anything that's transferable skills from dirt biking to entrepreneur life or just– I don't know, living life full throttle.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah. I mean, I guess everything that I seek to get into, I don't do it half. It's just full and dive in and go big. And I obsess about whatever it is that I'm into. And I guess motocross with all the injuries and some stuff. And it was great. I met a lot of people. I learned a lot of things. I had my mentors at the time were guys that were doing better than me. So I always aspired to be  them. And I think that transfers over into even what I'm doing now is that I look at people, even  yourself, that are further along in business and doing cool things. And I look at what they're doing and think of how I could replicate or make an adjustment or do it differently or–

Taylor White: Do better.

Travis Hesketh: Ultimately do it better. I mean, I'm very competitive, but I would say I'm my biggest competitor because I try not to compete against other people because it's not worth it. And then how I guess it came to be that I chose construction as a path, I started, I would have been, I think, maybe 12. My parents rented me a skid steer to build my first track. Didn't know how to run it, and I taught myself. I learned, build a track then. And then I started building my own tracks and grooming stuff and then building tracks for other people and designing. So, , a bulldozer is probably where my strongest strengths are, is in one, even though I don't have one yet.

Taylor White: Nice. We share that similarity.

Travis Hesketh: But it's coming.

Taylor White: I love dozers. It's my favorite machine. I'm the best on it.

Travis Hesketh: Same here. So, I mean, there's not a use for one every single day or I'd have it. And building and designing motocross tracks wasn't something I could make a career out of up here, but the dirt work and all that stuff gave me the skills and the seat time even to be somewhat efficient at it. So, yeah, I've always had the knack of being able to operate anything mechanical.

Taylor White: That's super cool. That's why I am asking that question, because I wouldn't have thought that way. But, I mean, it's true. If you're building dirt bike tracks as a young kid and you're in and out of machinery, I mean, that's kind of where that deep rooted love for machinery or construction and tap that in with somebody who kind of has that leadership entrepreneurial kind of outreach, then, it kind of sets you up for success.

Travis Hesketh: I think so. And it teaches you the visualization side of things because I would look at a blank canvas of whether it's a forest or a field and I would have a track built in my mind. And as  , you're bringing it together and I think that transfers over into a lot of, some of the cool custom stuff that we're doing now where I've got some pretty decent ideas and vision for certain properties of what we can pitch to customers and bring certain things to life and I think that was a big takeaway there. And it kind of gave me the ability to bring that into this construction side of things. And I'd still love to build tracks, don't get me wrong, but they're far and few between everybody.

Taylor White: I like that. It kind of answers, where does that– where did your love for heavy equipment come from? And I feel a lot of times where I ask people on the podcast or just generally in construction life, it always comes from when you're younger. Like, “Oh,  , my dad or my grandpa used to put me on this,” or, “When I was younger at home, we had an old tractor in the backyard, and we just–” And it kind of carries out. It's . I don't know. It's like men were cavemen and hunters and gatherers. But boys, when we were kids playing with toys in the sandbox. Well, now we're– Yeah, we're the same now, but our toys are just getting bigger and more real, and the prices are more real.

Travis Hesketh: They're definitely real. But, yeah, it's been cool to just kind of keep doing what we did as kids. And making a living at something that you love doing, I think is important. I love what I'm doing now. It's not always easy, but it's fun. It's a challenge.

Taylor White: Yeah. Well, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it. I love saying that because it's so true and it’s so cheesy. Right? It’s such a tacky thing to say. If it was easy, everybody would do it. But there are so many times where I feel– I'm not a very religious person at all, but I feel like sometimes in business, something is always trying to test me or test us as a team or as individuals. Whether it's something pulling from your personal life that is affecting you and your business life or something internally in business with conflict with other people or something, someone leaves–  I don't know. I feel like there's always just something testing you. And I like going back and saying that if it was easy, everybody would do it. Because it is not easy, especially construction, I say construction is for savages because it's such an insane industry. You need so much capital, so much overhead, so much investment, so much time. It's insane. It's hard on relationships. It's hard on yourself. It's hard physically and mentally. Every aspect to it.

Travis Hesketh: I can relate to all of those things.

Taylor White: It’s wild, man.

Travis Hesketh: I didn't know what I was signing up for. I knew how I wanted things to look. I can visualize what the equipment should look like and the projects that I want to do. But then,  you just said, all of those other aspects. If it was easy, yeah, everyone would be doing it. Is it high stress? Absolutely. There's days where I'm like, “Wow, I don't know how I'm going to keep it together today, but then there could be a high later.” And you spoke of religion and I had never really practiced any. And actually recently we started to open up a little bit to that and started attending church. And sort of some of the people that I would say I look up to within the entrepreneurial world all seem to have that common thing in mind, and they all seem to be Christians and we've been open to it and kind of learning a little bit. But there's quotes and stuff that now I resonate with about stuff being hard. And what are they saying? God gives his toughest challenges to the heart of– I don't know. I'm going to fumble that one all up. I wish I could recite it a bit better. But basically, people that are built for it get hard stuff dropped on them. And it's cool to see that some people would fold under some of the things that we go through. And everyone thinks it's just construction, how hard could it be? And I got that with motocross. It's like, “Oh, you ride a dirt bike. How hard is that? You just sit on the bike, turn the throttle. Yeah, yeah. That's all there is to it.”

Taylor White: Get on it. You tell me.

Travis Hesketh: Exactly. Go jump that. Yeah.

Taylor White: I like that you talk and you're open about   it, and I feel a lot of the conversations you're okay with transferring over to personal stuff. So you got a family? You got kids? Wife?

Travis Hesketh: Yep. My support crew, it's pretty small right now. I'm an only child. I have three kids. Three little girls.

Taylor White: No way.

Travis Hesketh: Yep. Seven, nine and 10. They're all homeschooled, so my wife is the one. She wears a lot of hats. Yeah, it's good. There's been a lot of things going on, I'd say, in the world that now I didn't really want the kids exposed to or the things that they do get exposed to or be our choice. And so far, it's working out well.

Taylor White: That’s awesome.

Travis Hesketh: And I think, just like I've seen with you and your family, I have three little girls that want nothing more than to grow up and work within this company and see where they can take it after I get it to wherever I can.

Taylor White: Well, we talked about it on the Dave Turin podcast that I just had with him. And I have a personal instagram that I use as well, too. And I just was making a post about it two, three weeks ago. I have a son who's nine months and a daughter who's three years old, and then my wife and we have a dog, and we have a pit now. So we went up to the pit and went for a family walk on a Saturday. And it was just super cool because– Especially when they're so young, it's hard to bring them around and stuff. But I love bringing my daughter, and she's three now. She comes here on the weekend, helps me out if I'm working out here. She's in the shop running around, or she'll grab a broom and pretend to push it, and it's just awesome. And I was more so along the lines of saying, I think it's cool to– I think it's normalized for people to hate their careers, and I think it's normalized for people to be like, “Ugh, work. Oh, Mondays. Oh, thank God it's Friday.”

Travis Hesketh. Yeah. “I have to go to work.”

Taylor White: I have to go to work. Not, “I get to go to work today.” And I think that that's really important. And I don't want to sit here and be some kind of guy and just be like, “Every day is awesome and it's great.” Because it's not at all.

Travis Hesketh: No.

Taylor White: It's busy as their phone is currently going off because someone wants to get ahold of you. But no. It's true. It's just not every day is awesome, but I love what I do, and I look at it, “I get to do this.” I grew up in a family that was a second generation. Now I'm third. I had this opportunity. I could have sat there and I could go to work every day and show up at 6:30, go home at 5:00. But I wanted more out of life. And I think it's important. What I'm trying to say is, I think it's important to show your kids that you are passionate and you love what you do and show them that passion for what you do, because if they grow up seeing you hate your life, seeing you hate your career, they're going to grow up the same way. What a way to live. It's not. It's not good. It's not fun.

Travis Hesketh: The work. To live and live to work, I think, is just something that we've almost been indoctrinated into believing, and we're getting away from that, too, because like  you said, I get to go to work. I've been in a lot worse situations before, so it's to me every day where I get to grab a door handle and open it myself, it gives me a different perspective and an appreciation for everything that's going on. And my kids see that. And like you said, my wife brings them to the job sites all the time. They're heavily involved. I've got them running equipment. They drive trucks and everything, teaching them to back up. And I have girls, and I never imagined. I'm like, “No, I can have a son for sure.” Three girls later, I decided that we weren't trying anymore. But they're awesome. They do everything that boys do. They ride dirt bikes, they’re well spoken, and I'm happy. And it's cool that I'm showing them that what we are doing is fun. They don't need to drive a dump truck or run this, but there'll be some aspect of this company that they would love, and hopefully it's the people and then the whole atmosphere and something. And so far, they're really eager, and it's cool to have them involved in that. And you see so many kids that don't even know what their parents do. They go to work and they come home, and then they're mad, and it's, oh, they're–

Taylor White: People my age that I asked what their parents do, and they don't know. It's insane. I just didn't grow up in that culture. I grew up in a culture where our business, believe it or not, it was never always crazy  this or that. I remember repo guys showing up to our house to get dad's truck. And I remember dad being, “Here's the keys. You want it?” It was never easy, and it still isn't. It's better now. But I remember those times. And I grew up with my mom. We'd get off the school bus and we'd have someone that would get us off the school bus beause mom was cutting hair. And my mom was a hairstylist, and she'd cut hair till 10:00 at night, and my dad was working. I wouldn't see him in the mornings or nights because he was up early and gone late. And it's just crazy, the dynamic of just showing how hard work and you can reap the rewards of it, but it's not easy.

Travis Hesketh: No, but you can also make it fun. Might not be easy, but it doesn't mean it has to suck. And like  you said, there's so many days where I'm up in the morning and I'm gone. I don't see my kids. I get home and they could be in bed. And I think that's why it's been awesome that they are homeschooled, because it could be a class trip at least once a week where they come to the job site, they bring lunch, and we all shut down and hang out with the kids. Or, I mean, they're part of it all. They get to see it all. They get to see people smiling and having a good time. Andwe talk openly about everything, the good, the bad, the ugly, what we're going through, so that they're not sheltered from anything. So they know what to expect and they know what we're going through when we're going through it. When there's stuff that's difficult they see that, but they also know why. You know what I mean? If you're kind of down in the dumps about something that's work related, it's not fair that they don't really know why. And I don't think that it's fair that you keep them sheltered from that.

Taylor White: Yeah, 100%. Well, they'd be growing up in a false reality, right?

Travis Hesketh: There's a lot of that nowadays.

Taylor White: Exactly. Yeah. And you see it with sports and stuff like that. But you talked about the good, bad and the ugly and everything. And I definitely, because I got bits and pieces. I definitely want to hear the story of– I know that your company is called Silkstone, and there was a recent opp sting here, and it was Project Alloy. There was an opp sting, and it was Project Silkstone. Hence why your business is Silkstone.

Travis Hesketh:  Exactly.

Taylor White: So why did you name your business after an opp project sting?

Travis Hesketh: Well, I suppose if it was called project dog or something, I might not.

Taylor White: I love it, by the way. Silkstone is thick. I love the name.

Taylor White: Yeah. And I was like, well, at least that they did something right in that project. Yeah. I made some bad decisions. I was tempted with something to make a lot of money, got myself wrapped up in something that potentially could have landed me in a lot worse trouble. I mean, I gotten some doo doo. I spent two and a half years in jail.

Taylor White: You did two and a half?

Travis Hesketh: Yeah.

Taylor White: What jail did they send you off to?

Travis Hesketh: I was just in Napanee. It was a remand jail.

Taylor White: Oh, Napanee. Okay.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah. No, it's straight down on the 401 between Kingston and Belleville.

Taylor White: Yes. Yes.

Travis Hesketh: Yep. So that was my home for two and a half years.

Taylor White: Is it still ongoing?

Travis Hesketh: Nope, I'm done. Everything's done and over. It's all behind me now. And we're just up from here.

Taylor White: What happened?

Travis Hesketh: Well, I–

Taylor White:  Tell me to stop.

Travis Hesketh: No, no, no. I'm open to everything.

Taylor White: I just am so curious.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah. I mean, I'd rather be the one that tells the way that it is rather than people assume. And that was another reason why I chose to name the company what I did. Because ultimately, I wasn't going to try and hide or deny the fact of whatever it is that I did that I shouldn't have been doing. Obviously, I got in trouble for it. So, I mean, there were some things that I had to own and I thought, well, Silkstone, for one, is a cool name. And I actually had aspirations to get into doing natural stone retaining walls, all that. I'm like, “Man, this is so fitting.” So I didn't want people to be talking behind my back and if I called it Travis Excavating or something that they'd be, “Oh, that's the guy.” And he's affiliated with this, and he was in trouble. I don't want that. So if I just put it out there, clearly I'm open. I've owned it. I'm not up to anything else. There's so many rumors, too, that fly around on a local level that a lot of people think that the project that I was arrested in was named after me and the company, but my company didn't exist until after.

Taylor White: What year was this?

Travis Hesketh: 2017.

Taylor White: Oh, wow.

Travis Hesketh: So February 22nd, 2017. Just seven years.

Taylor White: So what happened? So you got wrapped up in stuff. What was it? Could people go online and see it? What was Project Silkstone? Was it drugs? Was it cars? Was it–

Travis Hesketh: It was quite a few things. So essentially what it was, there was one person, a police agent. So it was someone from the Belleville area who was known to– He'd been in trouble and stuff on and off in his life, and I guess he made some mistakes,, and the police gave him an option to make his problems go away. And they said, “Listen, if you want to come work for us and clean up these streets or whatever their pitch was, then we could do something to help you out, and we can make your problems go away.” They ended up working with this guy. They gave him a $2 million contract. I got to read through all that, see what motivated him to actually want to do this, and that was it. So I had never met him before. The project was ongoing before I had ever met him, and I kind of fell in at the wrong time. He was building some houses actually up the road from where I was living, and my parents wanted to move up to be closer to us and their grandkids.

And I had stopped by, and this house just hit the market, and it was private, so I went and introduced myself, and we became friends and got talking a little bit and tried to put together a house deal. And I knew my parents had to sell their house. And he kind of befriended me. He was about the same age and told me he'd been in some trouble before and put that behind him, and then kind of came to me with some propositions about what we could maybe do to make some money. I've always been open to that, ideas of talking about anything. So we talked about what we could do. And it was essentially moving stuff back and forth across the border. That's what he wanted to do with me. I mean, they did ask me for all kinds of different stuff, guns and drugs and all of that sort of stuff. But the only thing I was really into entertaining at the time was to do some transportation side of things because I grew up in the Thousand Islands. I was really close to the border. I could see New York. So that's where it came to be. And he motivated me with a lot of money. He said, a million dollars per trip. And at the time, I could definitely use a million dollars. So I was like, “Well, let's talk about it.” So we went through. We went back and forth. I met him in October. I was arrested in February.

At the end, I didn't end up doing what they asked me to essentially do, what we had talked about, which was take a package that they were to give me, bring it over to the US, give it to their people. And I'm glad I didn't, because had I done that, it would have been a lot worse than the two and a half years that I sat in jail. It would have probably been a life sentence based on what they led me to believe it would have been. So that part I feel thankful for. As bad as it was, it could have been way worse. So in the end, in Canada, if you have the intent to do something, it's the same as doing it. So there. It was not real. None of it was real. There was–

Taylor White: That's what they got you on.

Travis Hesketh: Yep.

Taylor White: The intent, talking about doing it, saying you would do it, but not actually doing it.

Travis Hesketh: Exactly. So if we could sit here and we talk about, I don't know, going to commit a crime if we're being recorded and all that, and even if we decide not to do it, we could still be charged as if we were to do the crime, which I didn't know any of this stuff. So, anyway, I. I've learned a lot. You know what? Nothing is even worth discussing. If it's going to land me in jail, I don't even want to. I don't care how much money it's for. Don't even talk to me about it. That's for someone else. Best of luck.

Taylor White: Did you have kids at this time?

Travis Hesketh: Yep. My youngest was just born. She was four months old. My oldest was three.

Taylor White: I feel that'd be the hardest.

Travis Hesketh: Oh, it was. It was totally hard. And I didn't actually get to see the kids the whole time while I was gone.

Taylor White: So did you wake up one day in February, and there's a SWAT team outside your house.

Travis Hesketh: Yep. They kicked the door in and came in.

Taylor White: With your family there?

Travis Hesketh: Oh, yeah. Yep. Full SWAT team, guns drawn, yelling, SWAT  tactical gear.

Taylor White: Did your wife know anything?

Travis Hesketh: Nope.

Taylor White: Your wife's amazing.

Travis Hesketh: Yep. She was pretty taken back at the time, and I assumed, I'm like, “Well, I guess, I'll see you tonight.” When I was arrested, but two and a half years later is when I actually came home.

Taylor White: You spent two and a half years behind bars.

Travis Hesketh: Yep, sitting there waiting. They actually–

Taylor White: What did you do to kill the time?

Travis Hesketh: It was good in a sense–

Taylor White: Is it a jail or prison?

Travis Hesketh: That was jail. So I wasn't sentenced. So, I mean.

Taylor White: You spent two and a half years–

Travis Hesketh: Sitting, waiting my court dates.

Taylor White: And then you got your court dates and, like yeah, just get out of here.

Travis Hesketh: No, I thought that it would go quickly and the system is so broken. I was five years in total before I got my final day in court. So I did two and a half years behind bars, and then I was out on house arrest for two and a half years.

Taylor White: That would have been two years ago.

Travis Hesketh: Yep, I finally was wrapped up. I started this company while I was out on house arrest, so I was only allowed to go to work and get her going. And they made it seem a lot bigger than it was. And that was the thing. The media does a very good job at painting a picture that might not be so accurate. And the way that this project they worded it was that there was this big group and an organization, and they took it down. But essentially, that's not what it was. I mean, I can't speak for anybody else, but I know that I didn't know anybody at all. I think there were 22 people arrested from all across Ontario into Quebec. The same day at the same time was a full, big takedown, but for the most part,  I didn't know anybody. So that part was like– it sucked because it makes it look like when they write it up, that I've been a part of something that I really essentially wasn't. But at the end of the day, it is what it is. There's no getting out of this one. So what am I going to do?

And then once I wrapped my head around how bad it could potentially be and I got myself okay with that, I was like, “Hey, even if I had to do whatever, 10 years, I'm going to come out at this age and I'll still have a lot of life left. My kids will be this old.” And I just figured it out that way. Fortunately, I prepared for the worst. It was better. And I'm thankful for even what I went through, to be honest. I think it shaped me. It made me a better person. And if that didn't happen, I don't even know what I'd be doing now. Probably wouldn't be this. I wouldn't have a construction company called Silkstone Group. That's for sure.

Taylor White: No, definitely not.

Travis Hesketh: I wouldn't have even known about it. So, I don't know. I mean, if it wasn't that, maybe down the road it could have been something worse. So it was an eye opener. You learn a lot about yourself, about the people close to you, who supports you, who doesn't.

Taylor White: Did you find that a lot? Did you find that– First of all, so you didn't get to see your family for two and a half years.

Travis Hesketh: My parents and close friends and my wife would come and visit me.

Taylor White: You didn't get to see your kids.

Travis Hesketh: I didn't want them to come and see me because the visits were behind glass and you can't touch. And I didn't want my kids to see me in that situation. They wouldn't understand it. And I got to talk to them on the phone every day. That was the hardest part. And they asked where I was, and I won't lie. So I always said I was away working on a project, and I said, I'll come home as soon as the project's over.

Taylor White: What about now?

Travis Hesketh: They know it all now. And, no, they're good. But at the time, I thought that they were a little too young to understand any of it. But it was cool.  I'd read them bedtime stories, so my wife bought books and sent them in to me, and then they had the same books, so I'd be reading on the phone right along and that they would be reading, and we made the best of it.So it was good. My kids understand a lot more of the real world, and they can learn from my mistakes, too, because I made a pile of them.

Taylor White: Yeah, man. That's a crazy thing to go through, and that's a crazy thing to happen. That's not a story. Somebody just has that many people have.

Travis Hesketh: No. And that's why everyone's, “Oh, I bet you wish you didn't do that.” And I'm like, “Listen, I'd make the same mistakes over again because I'm very happy where I am now. And I'm fortunate.”

Taylor White: Makes a strong man to say that.

Travis Hesketh: Exactly. And, I mean, did I enjoy being away from my kids? No, but was that time good for me? I think so. And even some of the friends that I had who I thought were friends, they kind of dropped off, so it actually made it easier to even do what I'm doing now. Because before I used to think I'm, “Man, I have so many friends and so many people around me, and I'd give everyone my time. And then when I went through and you don't hear from them and they're not there, and no one even checks up on you. And, I mean, the people who I thought may have been like, “Whoa, I want nothing to do with this dude anymore.” They stepped up. They were the ones that were constantly checking in and making sure everything was all right. Because, yeah, it sucked for me being in there, but it was an even bigger struggle for my family.

Taylor White: You need their support.

Travis Hesketh: Exactly. And it was nice to see the good people who weren't judgmental and have just said, “You know what? Regardless of what decision you made, Travis, I'll still stick behind you.” Those people are still there. And the ones that fell off, I mean, I don't have any resentment towards any of them. But I also can appreciate the fact that you only have so much time. And I'm sure you've come to value time a lot more when you're up at 4:30 in the morning and you're working and sometimes it's 11:00. You're like, I wish there were 10 more hours in a day. Well, if I have all these friends and I'm trying to maintain these relationships like I used to, it's just taking away from the important things. So I was always sacrificing something that was important for somebody else, and now the ones who do get my time definitely deserve it because I know it's reciprocated.

Taylor White: Yeah. You have to be selfish with your time because you have business and you have family. Right. And ultimately, too, I always joke with my wife, I have two friends, and I have one really good friend and that's my circle. Other than that, I come to work, I have the people at work. I love the people that I work with, but people outside of work that don't care about YouTube, that don't care about how many dump trucks I own, that don't care about what I'm buying or money or when the paychecks are– Just salt of the earth friends, I got one. And I  like keeping my circle small because I could forget to message you for three days. I could forget to message my buddy for three days, and all of a sudden, it's just, “Yeah, yeah, sorry about that.” He owns a business, too, and he gets it, and I value those friends because he doesn't– It's not work and it's not drama.

I find it's hard to have friends whenever it's work and drama. That's really hard for me because it's like I'm focusing on this stuff. I just need people that understand that I'm chasing and doing something that is not what everyone else in the world is chasing and doing. And I need people that are kind of on that same level. Not talking about money, I'm not talking about fame or anything like that. Just people that understand like, “I get it. You're on to something and you're chasing it, and I respect it. And don't worry about the message I sent to you two days ago about sending you a funny picture of me in the garage or something.” You know  what I mean? Those are the people that I– And that's what I find interesting with your story. And I think that that's a really key part. It  really showed you the truth, people's colors of who you want to surround yourself with and who you don't. And that's what I say about your wife, too, dude. I mean, shout out to your family. That's unbelievable.

Travis Hesketh:  Yeah. I mean, everyone was left with a lot of decisions to make and ultimately I couldn't have blamed her if she wanted to leave.

Taylor White: That's what I was going to say. She could have easily been–  Yeah, okay.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah, I'm not doing this, but–

Taylor White: Your kids? See ya.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah. Well, that one would have been a hard one to swallow. But, I mean, at the end of the day, I made a bad decision, but I'm not a bad person. I don't have bad intentions. I just had balls and was willing to take risks and I've always done that and I'd always think they were calculated. And had that proposition been real, I'm sure I would have executed it and it would have gone very smoothly and it would have been well thought out and whatever, but it wasn't real. And I believe everything happens for a reason. And like you say, the friend side of things, I like, as  you say, having people that are low drama, low maintenance. If I don't talk to you for two weeks, I can just message you and it's just like it was yesterday or whatever. Instead, “Oh, now you call.” I'm sure you know my phone does not stop all day between text messages, emails, phone calls.  I miss stuff. I'll look quickly in a text message and then three days later, I haven't even responded. I keep telling people sometimes I'm like, “If I don't want to talk to you, I will tell you.” So if I didn't respond, you can stay on me. And it helps because there's just so much in a day that I'm juggling and going through and planning. And I don't know if you feel the same way, but I could plan my whole day out. And sometimes by 6:00 in the morning, I take that plan and throw it in the garbage because everything that I was going to do, we can't do that. We got to do what needs to be done, that this has happened and this has happened and that's changed and that. So it's definitely a struggle.

Taylor White: That's the life of a business owner. I mean, perfect example, I think it was– What day are we on now? Thursday.

Travis Hesketh: Oh, I was dragging on.

Taylor White: Oh, I'm the worst. So today's Thursday. So I think it was Tuesday. I had a free day. Freaking free day. Free morning. I had no meeting scheduled. That's what I consider. I mean, minus everything else that goes on getting everybody started for the day jobs, I could do everything I needed from my phone. So I'm going to go to the pit. I'm going to figure out where the sand hits the bottom. And I was just there myself. Or maybe this was last week because you were with me one day. Anyways, I was there one day, but when I was by myself and it was just when I'm in the machine, I was just trying to focus. And I had this goal in my head for four hours this morning to just pull sand up, find the clay. How much sand? What's the sand look like? And it was just the unexpected phone calls, people trying to get a hold, needing answers for stuff. And I'm like, “Man, I had a plan for this morning that was going to go this way.” And then I ended up literally getting out of the machine, turning the key off, getting in my truck, going back to the office. And I had to come back here and I had to answer the emails and then go meet people at a different job site. It was just like the whole day just got completely ruined. And that's why I find it hard.

Even with Jake, he sees it– My filmer. And I think that was the big issue, too with just filmers in the past or just people in general. It's like I'll have a plan and then that plan doesn't follow through. And then it's like, “You let me down, dude. What are you doing?” And it's like, “Oh, you have no idea, man.” So, I'm not trying to say that what I'm doing is so much more important and you have no idea. But just the unexpected .

Travis Hesketh: Yeah, please understand it. And I'm sure you do a good job at communicating with everybody.

Taylor White: I try my best, but sometimes communication gets lost. It's hard.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah, sometimes I'm like, “Remember I told you?” And they're like, “You never told me that.” I'm like, “Well, I told a lot of people. I apologize.”  You know what I mean? But it's good when you can find people that understand that it's not going to be on this exact schedule that things happen and it. And it's not necessarily a priority thing, it's more of urgency sometimes, especially in this industry. Because, if we can't keep machines moving and things swinging like that, it doesn't help anyone. And there's a lot of times where there's an issue that you have to tend to.

Taylor White: Yeah, man. I look at it as it's something that's good, but more so what I like talking about is just , yeah, we had a company wide meeting and we're like, “Listen, this year is going to be different. We have the same amount of work. But I got to run leaner like last year, and I'm going to be expecting more. If you're not on that program, then sorry, but there's people that will be on that program.” And I don't know about you, it's hard when you talk about the new generation or young generation because every generation talks about the generation before them.

Travis Hesketh: Do they ever get better?

Taylor White: Yeah. And I want to prefix this that there is unbelievable, there are smarter, more hardworking people younger than me. In any generation, there's always lazy people. In any generation, there are always high achievers. And I just think that it's just very frustrating, I find, the societal culture of easy money. And, and to me, that's what I have a problem with is the easy money. Like Dogecoin, you get rich doing this or, I could get rich doing that or this. And it's just, I don't know. I feel like I don't want to lose the push of– Hey, we were talking about this before and it was on camera. Okay, don't think just a year from now, two years from now, and don't be frustrated that in a year from now you're not here. Look, 10, 15 years down the road, where will I be? Where am I working right now? And where will this company be 10 years from now? They've grown in the past three or four years. There's a lot of opportunity for growth at this company. Okay. So is it worth leaving for $2 or $3 more an hour to go to another place that is already established? And maybe my path won't be as great there. That's what I feel.

I get frustrated with is I feel there's just a lack of patience. And I actually can say that from, I've hired people from 16 years old to 55 years old and it's across the board, I find it's just patience. And I think that during COVID when we had such a labor shortage because I think we can stop talking about labor shortage now because it's where we are, prefix that. Because in Ottawa I have people begging to come to work right now because they see us working and they're still laid off for the winter. It's crazy. The power is coming back, finally, which is nice.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah, and I agree with you there. When we first started, I couldn't get anybody. I'd quit.

Taylor White: Dude, how the interviews went with us? Sorry, the interviews. I remember we were talking about this yesterday because I had a job interview with a guy and we called them COVID interviews. I would interview people and at the end of it they'd shake my hand and go, “I'll let you know.” Because that was COVID interview. Well, no,  that was the market, right?Truck drivers. I remember hiring truck drivers and being, “All right, I'll let you know.” And it's like, “Man, what world are we living in where you're going to let me know if you are going to come and work here.” And it was just, that was it. There were just not enough people. But now it's changing because there's not this massive boom of construction. Anyways, that was a side tangent. But we were talking about that the other day, and I really want to make sure that I get that point out that finally the power is coming back to the employer, which as an employer, it's nice to have.

Travis Hesketh: For sure. And it's nice to have a bit of a selection instead of just taking whatever you can get and that way you can interview 10,15 people and pick the right fit, the best fit that you believe the person that's going to stick around. Because I've never had any intentions of hiring somebody short term. It's always been, welcome to the family, and I look forward to this journey together.

Taylor White: We’re wasting their time and yours, if you're thinking short term.

Travis Hesketh: Exactly. So, I mean, I don't think an employer, for the most part, would ever want to just hire somebody short term. It's, “Here's an opportunity for both of us. Come and let's see what we can do. See if you enjoy doing what you're doing. See if you like who you're doing it with.” And then it's all just perspective, and you learn a lot about everybody. And, like you say, it’s time. If I think one year is very short, but someone else believes that to be a long time, where do you see eye to eye there? And it's hard, right? So, I'd say that one of the biggest challenges that I found is that when you're thinking 2, 3, 5, 10 years down the road, you're making these steps on a day to day basis. Maybe one forward, two back, three ahead, whatever it is. But everyone else, someone might have a different perspective where they're thinking like, “if I put in a year here, I expect to make some serious advancements.” And it's like, “Well, hey, I would love that, too, but we have to kind of grow at the same time.” Well, the company has to sustain and grow. Otherwise, it's like, “Yeah, I could pay everybody triple what I can afford to.” But then when you don't have a job because the well dried up, it's hard to pay somebody $100 to do a job that you charge $75 for.

I don't know, like you say, going leaner, finding the right people who are on board with the whole vision and want to ride it out with you in the good and the bad. Everyone can be there for the good times. And I saw that in my personal life a lot when I was doing fun things all the time. I had a circle of people around me that filled your whole shop. But then when times get bad or a little rough, it's like, “Where'd everyone go?” But now, as you get older, you learn to appreciate who are the ones that stuck around.

Taylor White: What matters.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah, what matters. And with employees, I've got some good guys now, and I'm fortunate and happy to have them, and I'm hoping that we keep growing and adding the right ones. And I think I got a little excited in the beginning and was like, “Yeah, yeah, come on. If you want to work here, let me show you how great it's going to be.” And I just assume that everyone would like what it is that we're doing and see it the way that I saw it. And it's not always the case. And it's unfortunate because it sucks to see anybody go. I haven't fired anyone yet, but we've all–

Taylor White: Good. I enjoy firing people.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah.

Taylor White: And I say that because I remember we had an older guy that was a project manager that worked for us. And I remember the first time because we were going to get him to start doing some HR stuff, and I said, “Okay, I'm going to fire this kid that we hired in the yard. It's just not working out. Come with me, and I want you to be a part of the process. I want you to see how I do it.” So he came and did it. And I always like building. I break them down and then I build them up. It's like, “Hey, you're done. Bad news. This is why. Bad news.Here's what I would do moving forward.” And letting them leave with something like, “Hey, you might, in your head this whole time while I'm talking, be like, ‘Screw you, dude. You just fired me. Get out of here.’” But I always like giving them some tools of explaining to them why and how you could be better at your next place. So, no, I don't enjoy firing, but I enjoy the process of having that serious one on one time of explaining to them how to build them up. And I remember this project manager,  we walked away. He's like, “If I ever got fired, I want you to be the one to do it.” He's like, “Geez. I feel great about it.” Yeah, I think it is difficult. I enjoy the firing process, but I don't– Obviously, nobody likes doing that so I like to put this spin on it. I have created– The last three people to leave are now entrepreneurs. So I like to tell myself that I create entrepreneurs.

Travis Hesketh: So you have a school?

Taylor White: That's my positive spin on it. I like creating entrepreneurs. So that's what I've done for the past three people that have left. They're entrepreneurs. Because I haven't fired anybody. We actually, the past two, three years, we've been having the same crew. It took us a long time to figure out this, but now we have a really solid crew. But, yeah, the last people that have been going, just started their own business. So I don't know what false hope of reality, I guess–

Travis Hesketh: Same with me. The last few people that have come and gone, they've gone on–

Taylor White: Which, you can't blame somebody for wanting to go and do that because it's their own thing, right? It's just, for me, I just like a little bit of the recognition of, “Hey, this is where I've learned.” And just not slander or back talk or have this weird thing where they're upset with you for some reason. But it's like I taught you what you know and what you're doing. You were open to learning those things, but essentially, I paid you to learn those things. So just don't talk bad on my name and that sort of stuff. That's the only thing that I don't like about that. That's all.

Travis Hesketh: I agree with you there. It sucks because I would support anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur. And like you say, if you could sit down and talk openly and truthfully if someone says, “Hey, listen. I've always wanted to do my own thing. I want to go out on my own. Nothing against this. I appreciate everything that we did together, but I'd like to try it. And I'd say, “Absolutely.” And you know what? Then you can support it. You can get behind it. And then it's like, “You know what? I'm going to refer people. I'm going to help you.” Because there's going to be stuff , depending on what position it was that you could ultimately say, “Hey, I've got something for you. I just had someone call or need this, and I know what you're capable of, and I'd like to refer someone and send them your way.”  And it makes you feel good. I'm a giving person and it's unfortunate when people leave because that's never what your intentions are because usually they're key people that were there for a reason and you want to grow together, and it's you're investing in each other, your time, and you're building that relationship. And it sucks. As an employer, you're taking a few steps back every time that somebody decides that it's not a good fit for them and they want to leave. And now you're like, “Okay. Well, now we got to start the process again.”

And the unfortunate part is, I mean, you kind of changed the way that you are towards people. I think every time that happens, because you're like, “Are you going to be the next one that's going to leave?” But you can't really do that.

Taylor White: Tough. No, but they almost ruin it for other people. That's what I don't like about it. It sucks because it puts a bad taste in my mouth, and it ruins it for other people, but you just can't let that happen.

Travis Hesketh: No, I don't take offense to anything. Sometimes it hurts a little bit.

Taylor White: Yeah, it hurts personally. But then you're like, “Wait, this is business. I got to get up tomorrow and do what I'm doing anyway.”

Travis Hesketh: That's, that's the hard part for me was separating the business and the personal because I was taking things too personal. When you're like, “What do you mean? Why would you want to go?” But it's just I understand at the same time, but it's just there's a certain way to do things. And I like to just leave everything on good terms where I think– Just like in relationships, some people are incapable of parting ways on good terms. They have to hate the other person.

Taylor White: I love that. No matter what. Even if you were the best person in the world, I like that because you're right. And you can't beat yourself over that or try to fix that.

Travis Hesketh: But that's just some people's nature. Even women I've dated in the past, I think I'm friends with every single girl that I've ever dated because I don't leave on bad terms. But you see other people who, “Listen, I have to hate your guts. I will find some reason because that enables me to move on.” And I think that's what some people need, and that part sucks. I don't need to be the villain in the story, but if that's what it takes for some people, then that's their choice, not mine.

Taylor White: 100%. Anything big coming 2024 that you want to touch on? What's your plans for this year?

Travis Hesketh: Keep the lights on. I've taken on a lot. This winter was a struggle, I think, for everybody

Taylor White: This winter was incredibly hard. We both talked about that. It was insane.

Travis Hesketh: And I'm happy to have people within this industry, the community that I've found within Instagram, and that you talk to people and it's nice when they're open with you and you're like, “It's hard right now.” And you get the same thing back. They're like, “We hear you.” Even people that you wouldn't expect to hear it from. And then people are laying off guys and the projects aren't really out there. And we're going to site meetings now, which might have had two or three people before, now there's 40 companies there. And then you're bidding on stuff and the numbers are coming in. And some guys are $1.2 million, some guys are bidding $600,000, and you're like, “There wasn't that in this hold. What's going on?” And people are being aggressive and some companies can afford just to low ball stuff and keep their guys busy until hopefully things pick up. But no, I'd say my plans this year is to be lean, to find some good people that want to be a part of what we're doing, hopefully, long term, want to stick it out. We're looking for anybody that feels that they could add value to what we're doing. I'd be happy to talk and find a place for you.

Taylor White: Reach out to Travis.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah. I mean, personally, it's all a matter of opinion, but I feel that I created an environment for people within this company that I would have liked, and I think that I do a good job at that. Not everyone will agree, but it'd be cool when we find the right people and we grow and we stay busy and do some fun stuff and hopefully get filming some things again.

Taylor White: I agree. Hopefully, we film some stuff together. It's a whole other part that we didn't get to talk to about social media and stuff like that. But I feel that would be an unbelievable part 2, because we're killing every single battery here that we have going on with cameras.

Travis Hesketh: Yeah. Well, I think we have lots to chat about, and, I mean, I'm not far, so I don't mind sitting in this chair.

Taylor White: No, and next time I go to Kingston. We should do one where we pick a night,  a nice summer night or something, and do like a campfire talk around the fire or something.

Travis Hesketh: I'm in for anything.

Taylor White: That will be really fun, but we should do some filming and stuff  like that together. But I appreciate you–

Travis Hesketh: Well, even projects on job sites together.

Taylor White: I think it'd be a blast.

Travis Hesketh: We get all the machines swinging in the same sites.

Taylor White: For sure. I appreciate you coming out. This podcast was brought to you by our good friends over at Komatsu. Thank you for listening to the CONEXPO/CON-AGG Podcast. Travis, thanks for coming.

Travis Hesketh: Thanks for having me. I mean, no, it's great to be a part of everything that's going on in this community. I love it. I love the people.

Taylor White: One big, happy family.

Travis Hesketh: Yep. And I look forward to seeing where we all make it.

Taylor White: I appreciate it, man. Thanks for listening, guys.

Travis Hesketh: Thank you.

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