South Sound Connection (SSC) LIVE launched Season 2 on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 9am PST
SSC LIVE is brought to you by:
Secret Sauce for Keeping Good Employees - Made in Tacoma, Rite in the Rain - SSC LIVE 015
Ryan McDonald, Rite in the Rain (Tacoma, WA)
Ryan joins us to discuss:
READ MORE on the history of Rite in the Rain in an article published by The DYOJO following a tour of the RITR facility and an interview in early 2020 with Ryan.
South Sound Connection (SSC) presented by The DYOJO Podcast and All American Restoration Services (AARES).
See our past episodes as well as our roster of local guests for SSC LIVE Season 2 "Made in the South Sound".
Benchmarks of Growth - Part 2 of 6
The DYOJO Podcast, Episode 57
Guest: Gordy Powell, Georgia Clean (Atlanta, GA)
At the beginning of 2020 I set out to interview a broad swath of people in a position of leadership to compile their insights on various benchmarks of growth. Our motto for The DYOJO Podcast is, “Helping you shorten your DANG learning curve,” and the best way to achieve this is to learn from the trials and errors of your fellow entrepreneurs.
Gordy shared several gems for those in a position of leadership to take into account for the personal and professional development:
This is the second discussion in a six part series on the benchmarks of growth. We will be discussing this topic in upcoming episodes of The DYOJO Podcast with dynamic industry leaders Lisa Lavender, Tammy Birklid, Whitney Wiseman, O.P. Almarez, and Andrew Golkin.
If you would like to hear more of Gordy’s story and perspectives:
The DYOJO Podcast is sponsored by Enlightened Restoration Solutions (ERS). Ben Justesen and his team have put together a dynamic live class which reviews real world estimates and elevates your ability to master the methodology of Xactware. Including how to determine your own labor rates, create your own price list, and navigate pricing feedback. -
From deep within the 22 million acres of forest in the Pacific Northwest emerges the unique story of a Tacoma based waterproof paper manufacturer.
If you live in Tacoma, you have some perspective on how massive the Port of Tacoma operation is. If you are not from the Pacific Northwest (PNW) it likely isn’t something that is on the forefront of your awareness. What both groups may be surprised to know is that this city of just over 190,000 people is home to the “Pacific Gateway” for trade between Asia and the United States.
Washington State is renowned for its vast natural resources, and the PNW hosts over 22 million acres of forest with timber playing a key role in commerce for the region. Against the backdrop of the end of World War I, and the excitement of Tacoma’s growth potential, arose many opportunities related to the timber industry. Not coincidentally, within this paradigm emerges the focal point of our story, one Mr. Jerry L. Darling and his secret sauce for waterproofing paper.
An Opportunity in Every Challenge: RITR 1.0
If you were a timber surveyor in the early 1900’s and needed to keep notes of your observations, what would you use? There were no cell phones or iPads and if it rained your notes would be destroyed or distorted. While this may not be a problem that many readers can identify with, in the Pacific Northwest, where timber at that time was thriving and rain is abundant, writing in the rain presented a real obstacle that could affect your livelihood. As the product has evolved, so has the market, as it turns out many professions require documentation while working in adverse conditions. Rite in the Rain professionals include land surveyors, engineers, first responders, skilled trades people and military personnel.
Jerry Darling is a native of Raymond, Washington, born in Willapa Harbor. He was known as an outdoors man who had many interests. Early in his career, Jerry worked in his fathers milk and soda bottling and oyster shucking business. Jerry heard about the challenges timber professionals had with keeping notes while in the woods from Alec Polson of the Polson Lumber Company. Entrepreneurs see an opportunity in every challenge and the secret sauce began stirring in Jerry’s brain after that conversation.
According to his long time partner, Lloyd Silver, “Jerry was a feisty guy, about the size of Jack LaLanne, and almost as fanatic about his fitness.” For those who don’t know, Jack was one of the early fitness celebrities and bodybuilders, hosting his own show from 1953 to 1985. Jerry was also, “A very proficient sailor, skippering (sic) for many years on his cousin Rad Pratsch’s ‘Flying Cloud’, and scoring major points in many regattas in the thirties and forties.”
To give the reader an idea of the impact of lumber to the area, “In 1907, Tacoma's 135 lumber handlers stowed 202,559,628 board feet, a record that has never been equaled. Throughout the globe Tacoma became known as The Lumber Capital of the World.” Lumber and the rise of the Port of Tacoma created a positive economic impact for local jobs, the growth of the region and the import/export capacity of the nation.
In the early 1900’s, the leading innovation for timber notes was called a Tally Board which was nothing more than the smooth side of a wooden roofing shingle that was painted. Jerry’s first entrepreneurial venture was conceived in 1916 and he connected with a local printer, Harry Buffington. The two worked together to develop a “painted piece of paper” that could oust the cumbersome Tally Board. They worked at developing a waterproofing formula for dipping paper and had launched the first version of Rite in the Rain (RITR).
The Sauce Sours: Swindled
Like many young men in that time period, Jerry departed to join the effort of World War I. Unfortunately we were not able to acquire much information about Mr. Darling's service but when he returned from war there was an issue with the business. The details are murky but Jerry returns to find that, “The business had fallen into the hands of stock swindlers,” and Buffington was nowhere to be found. Darling had to start over but he also found the demand for his innovation had risen in the region with the rise of the Port of Tacoma.
On March 25th of 1921, a steamship, the Edmore, arrived at the newly constructed Pier 1 in the Port of Tacoma. This arrival marked Tacoma’s official entry in the commercial shipping market. Fifty members of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) reportedly, “Loaded 600,000 board feet of lumber in record-setting time.” In just 24 hours 25 carloads of lumber were freighted and the proud team sent the Edmore off on its journey to Yokohama, Japan.
With the relaunch of the business, the JL Darling Corporation’s early partners were Jerry’s wife, Mary, and young son, Peter, all doing their part to stir the sauce to build the family venture. Their production line started as a bicycle driven chain inside their home in Brown’s Point. A brand distinctive of Rite in the Rain emerged as a means of necessity rather than forethought. When the paper came off of the line, the coating gathered at the bottom corner which was subsequently trimmed. By the 1930’s, the Darlings decide to open a shop across the street from their house in Commencement Bay. The new location allowed them to construct longer chains to drive the coating of pre-printed sheets that they were still acquiring from other printers. The secret sauce is slowly gaining steam and Rite in the Rain is becoming a viable business.
Stirring the Sauce: Rite in the Rain 2.0
Bill Sny, a local machine shop operator, was recruited in the 1950’s to design and build a Continuous Web Coating Machine to replace the hand dipping process. Upon completion, The Darling Corporation now has the only machine of it’s kind and was the sole company making “waterproof writing paper.” The secret sauce has allowed them to grow to three employees and to offset their reliance on outside printers, Jerry purchased a Multilith offset printing press and a used paper cutter from Weyerhaeuser's print shop.
By this time the Darling Corporation is producing their Forest line, Engineer forms and bound books. It is during this time, between 1930 and 1950, that we believe Jerry moved the operation into Tacoma with the first known location being a multi-story space shared with Pioneer Printing at the intersection of South 12th and A Streets. Paper products have quite a history within the Pacific Northwest and Jerry was one character in the broader story. Sharing the same location, Jerry would have interacted with a prominent local business owner, Mrs. Phebe A. Howe. Phebe incorporated Pioneer Printing and Bindery Company in 1889 (coincidentally the same year that Washington became a state) with her three sons as stockholders. Mrs. Howe came to the Northwest by way of moving from New York to Walla Walla, Washington in 1877, where she started her career in printing and binding. In 1887 she moved her family to Tacoma and resumed her efforts in the printing business.
For context, and as a quick sidenote, Col. Willam Farrand Prosser, who was appointed by President Hayes as a special agent of the U.S. Department of the Interior for Oregon, Washington and Idaho writes of Pioneer Printing, “Their close attention to business and honorable methods have won for them a large and profitable patronage.” Prosser became a colonel during the Civil War, served in the House of Representatives in Tennessee, moved to the Northwest where he founded the Washington State Historical Society and founded the town of Prosser.
Lloyd Silver Dips His Toes in The Sauce
In 1958, a local Tacoma salesman named Lloyd Silver enters the story. Lloyd was a big personality and the story goes that he and Jerry had a mutual friend, Bill Gregory, who was also the Darling’s accountant. Bill knew that Darling’s company needed to enter a new phase of growth and at the age of 68 Jerry was thinking about retirement. Mr. Gregory thought that Lloyd would be a good fit to help develop the business.
Only good things happen when two business minds consume a few lunchtime martinis, right? Jerry offered Lloyd half of the company if he would come aboard and help bring Rite in the Rain into the black. Mr. Silver was named VP in January of 1958 and was President by December of that same year. Lloyd rolled his sleeves up and focused his efforts in expanding the brand. Within a year things were headed in the right direction and Mr. Darling honored his word. In a letter Lloyd composed to recount his recollection of “The Rite in the Rain Story”, he states, “The Darling’s and I hit it off from the beginning and it was a beautiful ‘marriage’ with never a cross-word exchanged or a difference of opinion in all the years of our association.”
As their production abilities increased so did the notoriety of their product within markets of need. Lloyd’s sales background kicked in and he attended the first trade show that the company had ever been a part of. He built the first water feature to showcase the waterproof properties of their Rite in the Rain product. This feature is similar to those on display at local hardware stores such as McClendon’s. Within five years the business had doubled and Lloyd became a 50% shareholder.
Lloyd put his artistic abilities to work as well, developing graphics for the initial marketing materials. He began revamping the logo for the company and is reported to have drawn or contributed to the duck logo that was utilized during the 50’s and 60’s. His scripting was instrumental as well and his handwriting served as the print for the logo. You could say the brand was on fire but unfortunately so was their volatile “special paint” which caused three warehouse fires in 1963. Growth and the fire issues led the company to move operations to Port of Tacoma road to a 6,000 square foot warehouse facility in the tide flats in April of 1965. Lloyd and Bill Sny modified their production time and again until a fire in 1968 destroyed their most efficient machine to date. Thankfully insurance proceeds covered the loss and they once again built the contraption from the ground up.
The Secret Sauce is Strong Partnerships
In the 70’s, Lloyd invited his sons, Scott and Todd Silver, to join him. The brothers had gone to business school and had started working towards their respective careers. When Lloyd called upon them, the young men saw the same opportunity that he had in 1958. The brothers learned the business and worked to elevate the company to the next level by implementing systems. Todd and Scott Silver ran the day-to-day and purchased their father’s half of Rite in the Rain in 1995. One year later, the brothers were able to purchase the remaining half of the company from Mary and Peter Darling.
To this day, Todd and Scott still get along and respect each other’s strengths in business. Scott is a numbers guy and worked as a bank examiner for a time after college. He gravitated towards the financial aspects of business including inventory and production. Todd oversaw the sales and marketing development of Rite in the Rain. Their skill sets were complementary and their relationship is intact after years of being in business together.
Speaking to their business relationship the brothers have said:
Rite in the Rain moved to their current Fife location just on the outskirts of Tacoma around 1996. Initially there were tenants at the current location but as the company grew they began to occupy these offices, especially as shipping and ecommerce took off in the general market. Rite in the Rain is an example of what a company can do when partners recognize each other's strengths and allow each other to operate for the good of moving the mission forward. Jerry recognized his need for Lloyd and empowered him to bring his business savvy to the company while rewarding his efforts with an investment share in the company. When Lloyd’s sons took over the business, the complementary strengths helped usher Rite in the Rain to new levels both internally as well as externally.
As the company grew the owners were smart about building at a sustainable pace with a goal to minimize their debt burden. Rite in the Rain owns their buildings, machinery and continues to operate from a stable position. Their growth hasn’t been without risk but their capital allowed them to fund their experiments into new markets such as the military outreach which has propelled their growth in the last decade. Even though they exist in a market space that isn’t attractive to most, they built the business to a level where they are on their second tier of investment ownership. Several employees have been with the company over a decade, pressman Jeff Slusher holds the current tenure title having been with RITR for 27 years.The company continues to explore new niche markets including extreme sports and unique businesses including diving where professionals can compose notes while underwater.
Made in the South Sound Timeline for Rite in the Rain
The DYOJO Podcast LIVE Episode 52 from Thursday, March 11, 2021 at 9am PST
The DYOJO Podcast is sponsored by iRestore Restoration Management Software - Powering Your Vision, Values, and Leadership. It's time to calm the chaos, get your team organized, and focus on your efforts for growing your business. iRestore offers all Job Management, Relationship Management (CRM), Equipment Management, Vehicle Management, Human Resources, and Scheduling all in one portal.
Joyce Gabriel, Senior Project Manager (Puyallup, WA)
Joyce discusses the two books from The DYOJO as well as some great perspective on learning how to interact with your co-workers to achieve shared objectives.
Mark Springer, CEO of Dayspring Restoration
President of Restoration Industry Association (RIA)
Property Restoration Trends: Mergers and Acquisitions
We broke for a note from our sponsor iRestore and a special treat from the marketing powerhouse duo of Born to Repair and GMS Distribution.
Mark Springer shared some valuable perspectives for the everyday restorer:
The DYOJO Podcast - the weekly podcast for Intentional Restorers. Every Thursday at 9am PST on YouTube, Apple, and Spotify. Sharing The DYOJO WAY to shorten your DANG learning curve for professional development. www.thedyojo.com/listen
Books by property restoration professionals for skilled trades, carpet cleaning, and insurance claims professionals, The DYOJO Podcast suggested reading list for January to keep your momentum for 2021. The key to becoming an Intentional Restorer is to train your mindset and your habits daily; this is The DYOJO Way. Thankfully we have so many great resources, including these titles from professionals within our industry as well as podcasts for and by property restoration entrepreneurs.
The ServiceMaster Story by Albert M. Erisman
Al does a masterful job of walking the reader through the early years of the development of the ServiceMaster company as an organization built on core principles lived out by five generations of leaders. Mr. Erisman's work is enlightening for any business leader who desires to build a company that is profitable while still grounded in their principles. I thought found two key principles that would benefit modern restorers: 1) the shingle principle of leadership, where managers understand their role as complimenting those who come before as well as after them; 2) having new leaders work in the field with their team members prior to assuming their executive roles. This is something we talk about in Be Intentional: Culture as well with regards to Ted McCarthy and the resurrection of Gibson Guitars. Erisman discusses how those in a position of leadership at ServiceMaster were able to navigate The Tension Between People and Profit.
We Did It Their Way by Wm. F. Bane
Wm. F. (Bill) Bane tells the story of his family’s rise from obscurity to a position of prominence in the cleaning industry and how the family parlayed a twenty-dollar investment into a multi-million dollar business. This book is a compendium of some of his life’s adventures including thirty-five years in the cleaning profession. It is a step-by-step diagram of the path followed by the organization of the family business and the development of a unique cleaning system. The trials and tribulations associated with a new business are outlined in a sometimes humorous, but always realistic and truthful way.
When Words Collide by Bill Wilson
Bill Wilson presents the process for resolving insurance coverage claims and disputes. He emphasizes understanding the policy as the authority and encourages the commitment of all parities to finding a reasonable resolution. David Princeton joined The DYOJO Podcast to co-host our discussion with Mr. Wilson. As David wisely encouraged our audience, learn to effectively communicate your "because" when outlining your recommendations to the insured and the carrier. Understanding the policy and properly interpreting the policy, as it relates to unique claims situations, has been the career long passion of author Bill Wilson. In the book and our discussion, all professionals are reminded to "RTFP" which includes knowing what you are selling, being clear with your communications, and being reasonable with your interpretations.
The DYOJO Podcast is the weekly podcast of The DYOJO Way for Intentional Restorers. Helping property restoration professionals to shorten their DANG learning curve by developing the mindset and habits for achieving their goals.
Books by property restoration professionals for skilled trades and insurance claims professionals, The DYOJO Podcast suggested reading list to close 2020 out strong and start 2021 off on the right foot. The key to becoming an Intentional Restorer is to train your mindset and your habits daily; this is The DYOJO Way. Thankfully we have so many great resources, including these titles from professionals within our industry as well as podcasts for and by property restoration entrepreneurs.
The 24HR Tech by Andrew McCabe
Mr. McCabe has created a Step By Step Manual To Increase Mitigation Profits And Reduce Training Time To Just ONE DAY. This short and easy to read book is intended as a complete training manual for new Water Damage Technicians who wish to quickly learn how to properly document insurance losses involving water damage. Andy developed this process over years of water damage claims experience. He still uses it today in his consulting practice – Claims Delegates.
Get Out of the Truck by Idan Shpizear
Idan shares his own story as a means to help entrepreneurs to Build The Business You Always Dreamed About. The book is a quick read. It was designed to either be read from cover-to-cover or as a resource that can be referred to as a business person goes about their process. Idan also speaks as a leader to other people in a position of leadership, distributing the lessons that he has learned as he built and scaled his property restoration business. Whether you are starting out or taking your organization to the next level, Idan shares, “As you work towards growing your company, don’t lose sight of the numbers. But don’t lose sight of these less tangible objectives either.”
Unqualified Success by Rachel Stewart
Are you ready to be an unqualified success? Rachel has composed one of the best personal development books that I have read, Her story is proof of concept that you can venture out into something new and bridge The Gap Between Where You Are Now And Where You Want To Be To Achieve Massive Success. If you dare to read this book, you will find that your excuses melt and your obstacles become opportunities. You should feel unqualified but that should in no way stop you from pursing success. “When we are willing to trade in our need to win or succeed for a need to simply learn and grown instead, we open another world of possibility for achievement (p.186).” You are not alone, you have resources and a tribe of fellow unqualified successes rooting for you.
Independent Adjuster's Playbook by Chris Stanley
Would you like to own your own business in a recession proof industry? Chris Stanley has created a career map that will take you from having zero experience to getting claims as fast as possible... without the frustration, heartache, and the dreaded waiting. In this conversational and action-oriented book, Chris presents a proven solution and underground playbook that will take from zero experience to working independent adjuster in as little as 30 days. This book is the Step By Step Guide & Roadmap To Becoming A Successful Independent Adjuster.
See the video below which aired as a segment in The DYOJO Podcast Episode 44 with Kevin Hussey of United Fire and Water Damage out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The DYOJO Podcast - helping professionals in the skilled trades shorten their DANG learning curve.
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is an 18 year veteran of the property restoration industry and a business coach through his organization The DYOJO.