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Authentically successful

Carol Schultz, Founder of Vertical Elevation, interviews SATIC's own CEO, B.D. Erickson II to talk about the importance of building a team with high level buy-in and how that influences a strong corporate culture. 

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Carol Schultz is the founder of Vertical Elevation, a talent equity and leadership coaching advisory firm specializing in strategic business planning, leadership development and career coaching. Carol interviewed SATIC CEO, B.D. Erickson II, on her show Authentically Successful to discuss his story and how he built his team of 5-star engineers and how he inspires them everyday to have high-level buy-in to achieve the same goal daily. 

Transcript

B.D. Erickson II: “So what we want to do is reach people, make them aware, but you can’t just scare people! I don’t want to deal or trade in fear but at the same time I don’t want what happened to my child to happen to yours just because you’re unaware just like I was! I was never a bad dad, I wasn’t informed!”

 

Carol Schultz: “Welcome to the Authentically Successful show! I’m Carol Schultz, founder and CEO of Vertical Elevation, a talent and leadership coaching advisory firm. We partner with founders and CEOs to create talent-centered organizations either where they don’t currently exist or re-build companies into talent-centered organizations. We are committed to supporting your vision and values by creating healthy successful companies leveraging the best talent, retention, development and succession strategies. Listen at the end of the show for information about becoming my next guest on one of the most important podcasts about building thriving companies. Here we go!”

 

“My guest today is B.D. Erickson, founder and CEO of SATIC USA. Founded in 2008, SATIC is the country’s leading clean power manufacturing facility. B.D. is a proven leader and team builder, successfully navigating an ever-changing high-tech business climate. Spanning two decades in high-pressure leadership roles, B.D. has been recognized multiple times for building winning teams, creating an outstanding corporate culture and having a massive impact on company-wide growth. He possess a proven track record of sustaining high-level team buy-in, not simply surviving but thriving in the high-pressure environment of  advanced American technology manufacturing. B.D. welcome!”

 

B.D.: “That was a mouthful, Carol, thanks for having me!”

 

Carol: “It was a mouthful, that’s why I had to record it twice! So tell me what the biggest problem is that you solve for your clients, B.D.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

my peer group, in that peer group I started to sell lighting that was clean power, and that didn’t mean a lot to me at the time and I knew that the lightbulb was more efficient, saved energy, didn’t buzz or flick, etc., so I kind of compartmentalized that. My wife passed away in an automobile accident and my son and I moved from Hawaii to Montana so we could be by the fam, I could be by her fam and our fam, I needed help! We both needed to be petted a little bit while we cried, you know? So when we moved, kind of in haste, we bought a house under the biggest powerlines in our whole town. First of all when we bought the house, I missed it, right? At one point he and I were standing on the deck and we’re both, it both just hit us at the same time, I’m like look at these powerlines! Well again you don’t want your house under powerlines, but I was more worried about the aesthetics of it to be honest, Carol.”

 

Carol: “Who wants to look at that every day?!”

 

B.D.: “Who wants to look at powerlines?! Especially in beautiful Montana! We’ve got this huge property and the view is gorgeous, and then boom there’s these powerlines, stop it! So the previous few years, he has perfect attendance in school, well-liked by teachers and kids, great attitude, good grades, and in the first year in Montana that holds true. That second year, his grades are slipping, his attitude is-he’s more blue, more melancholy. Pretty soon it becomes more noticeable, he’s missing days in school, he’s sickly, he’s suffering a lot of anxiety. So as a dad, you’re like is it PTSD? Is it because you’re missing mom who was great to have around? Am I letting him down? We both miss her. So, it attributed to that in the first year, just all the trauma that he and I had been through emotionally, like how does that not scar you? It does! But it just kept getting worse, and so what are his symptoms? He restless, he’s nervous, he’s anxious, he can’t sleep, in fact leaving his room almost became painful. So I began to just become my own doctor for my kid and I’m googling, calling people, and it turns out his symptoms lined up with something called EHS- Electrohypersensitivity. It’s real! People think you’re wearing a foil hat! You try and tell them hey when women got fibromyalgia 20 years ago? Don’t think we didn’t tease them, don’t think that we didn’t think they were marginalized, it’s in their head or whatever else, well now we know that that’s grade A malarky, it’s overactive nerves, it’s caused oftentimes by toxicity in our environment, it’s your perfume, your deodorant, your hairspray, the Wi-Fi, the baby monitor, all of that crap, you know, combined can have an effect on your nervous system. There’s some lag time between something negatively effecting the population- smoking cigarettes, plastic in water bottles, mesothelioma and asbestos, lead in pipes in Rome, and the Greeks made wine in lead and they went nuts! You don’t know oftentimes when something comes out that it’s harmful in the cause until later. So now it’s well established that Electrohypersensitivity is indeed real, and if you suffer from it while not instantly debilitating it lowers the quality of your life. So, let’s finish the story here, how do I stop it now? Do we move tomorrow? Can I detox him? You know, what do we do? And there weren’t a lot of things in the marketplace that addressed this cheaply, effectively, fast, I’m a dad I want my problems solved, so we had to make it! We truly had to make it, and I had this background in clean power tech manufacturing from my lightbulb career path just lined up. So, I hired a team of engineers, being a leader is something that I’m good at, find the personalities that I need, get the personalities to buy in, play at a high level and get to market. It took us a few years, and now today I’ve got the best team of engineers I know, we build a great product, we build it in America, we have all this testing and safety and efficacy and all of that, and now truly, I don’t want to be a boastful person I don’t like the way it hits the heart, and I don’t want to be an ungrateful person, we sell them faster then we can make them, truly. We’re building a new facility several blocks from where we are that’s three times the square feet, we’re hiring employees constantly, it’s got challenges, it’s a blessing and a malediction, but what a fun set of problems I have!”

 

Carol: "How does this stuff work?" 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol: “How does it attach to your home?”

 

B.D.: “So there’s two ways- we have two major product lines, one of them is the simplest, you plug them in! And when you plug it in, it’s gets the entire phase, you really only need two because you have two legs of power in your home, half of your outlets are 120 on A and half of your outlets are 120 on B. Now when you combine that for your dryer, your range, your air conditioner, that’s how you get 240. That’s how that works. You’ve got one leg of 120 and one leg at 120, and if you want them both you’ve got 240. So you need one to get on A, plugged in anywhere on an A, plug the other one in on a B, it’s very easy to find out where they are, we just show you when you buy the product, and you got it! Or you can wire one in at your braker panel and it does it all right there from the braker panel.”

 

Carol: “That’s super slick! So when you founded the company going on 13 years ago now, or 14 years now, I guess it is 2022, did you boot strap? Did you take any investment? Tell me about that.”

 

B.D.: “Boy, you know, I’m going to write a book and my book is going to be called ‘How To Do It Poorly’ or ‘What Not To Do’, right?”

 

Carol: “Oh good! We love to hear those stories!”

 

B.D.: “So we formed the company in ’08, but we weren’t doing anything until about May of ’09. So May of ’09 is really the kickoff, you know, when we’ve got a product idea and stuff. The market was doing really funny things if you remember, ’07, ’08, ’09, it was a very exciting time to be in the business game. I had a good career path before, I was going to start the business with a couple of buddies that were just going to help me, they wanted me to run it and do all that stuff but they wanted to partner, we had a big line of credit with the bank, so me not knowing, you don’t know what you don’t know, Carol, so you know what I said? We’ll spend our own money first, we had about half a million in cash, we’ll spend our own money first and then when we need it, we’ll use this two million dollar line of credit we’ve got. So we spend our money very quickly, poof that half million was gone, and then we went to go pull on the line and the banking system was very upside down at that point, a lot of banks had failed, Bernie May, Fanny Mac, and they were like ‘well you don’t have that line anymore..’ and now we didn’t have the half a million that made them even want to give us a credit line. So we just started using that credit line immediately and put and take and managed it wisely, we would’ve had the two million dollar credit line and our own half a million sitting in the bank. Since we did it backwards, and which logically, doesn’t the bank want me to spend my money first? No! Not really! It’s not the way it works! Other people’s money! So we had to take private investor’s money, truly friends and family, we boot-strapped it, we built them in the basement of one of our buildings that was never designed for that, and I had never run a clean tech manufacturing facility before, I worked with them and for them, but I’ve never run one! So, there are a lot of things I had to learn, and you usually learn when you do it wrong! Right?! You say this is what I need, you take massive action and you do it, and then pretty quickly realize that you could’ve done things better, faster, cheaper, whatever. So now, 12 years of really being in business later, I consider myself pretty jedi at the stuff that’s inside my wheelhouse and a big result of that is being in the trenches, getting the bumps and bruises, coming out the other side. And I think the thing that I’m most proud of is, you know, how many businesses make it three years? It’s like half or something like that, but how many businesses make it five years? 15%! And then how many businesses make it to 10? Like 20% of that 15 or whatever depending on what Google search you do. Business is a very hard thing to do, not that many people can be successful long term in business, and the things take you out, running out of dough, running out of cash flow, not knowing who your demographic is, you know, finding your customer, and it’s interesting finding your customer because there’s so many places to get news now. When I was growing up, there were three channels growing up, ABC, NBC and CBS. I was a teenager before Fox even existed, right?! But now today, oh my goodness, Facebook, Pintrist, Instagram, FourSquare, Tik Tok, Snapchat, YouTube, Reddit, forget about it! And so your demographic gets their news at a different place and what’s the message to your customer? So you could spend a lifetime poorly delivering the message to a place they’re never going to get. So you have to say what is the pain that my customer is solving? How do I convince them that I can fix it for them and turn that pain into pleasure? Where do they get their news and what’s the message? So I don’t know where the heck I was going with this but it took a long time to sort out, but we figured it out! We made the leap.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

meters, they have concerns about 5G, they have concerns about putting  the Wi-Fi thing right by your face while you sleep! Now we learned 20 years ago that you don’t want the baby monitor by the baby, do you? No you don’t! We know that now! But for how many years was there a baby monitor by the baby? See what happens is that that thing is always looking for the signal, it’s trying to do its job, but that constant signal is bad for the biological! So they find us but that wasn’t as hard once we knew where to fish for them, where they congregate and who really our demographic is. But for the most part they find us, so nowadays we do certain engine optimization and keyword and do Google ads spending and all that, and that’s a big part of it. Another part of it, and I don’t want to rabbit trail on you a lot, is if you’re going to have somebody standing at your braker panel with a screwdriver, that’s a pretty big leap from just being interested in something. We have a third party person standing with a screwdriver, a technical expert, doing something at your braker panel, solar companies are already having discussions all over America to people about clean power, saving money on your electric bill, standing at your braker panel with a screwdriver and say man if we partner with people who are already there, they’re already doing it, they’re already be standing at our customer’s braker panel! And solar electricity unfortunately, and we are the largest solar panel installer in Montana, it does make dirty electricity. So it makes direct current and we use an inverter to make this alternating current, and just by way of operation it creates electromagnetic fields, harmonics and distortion which are some of the key attributes of dirty electricity. Solar…”

 

 

 

solar turned on and solar turned off. Getting some awareness and then some buy-in. And then it was mom-and-pop solar companies and we’re moving, you know, 50-100 units a month, we’ve got some traction and some business and we’re profitable. That took a long time, Carol, that was harder then heck, right? You think about giving up a lot. But then they started realizing then the solar actually produced better, it wants to be clean, the inverter wants to be cool, your air conditioner wants to be cool, it wants to be happy! Your phone doesn’t want to charge slow and hot, it wants to charge cold and fast! And you know what I’m talking about! Every 21 times you charge your phone, it gets hotter than blue blazes, why?! It didn’t the last 19 times! You don’t have to be an electric engineer to just go hmmm that doesn’t seem good. And why is the back of my fridge so hot? Why is the back of my freezer so hot? Your reasonable and intelligent person says that doesn’t seem okay! That’s the stuff! That’s the stuff I’m talking about! When your speakers go ‘click’ or ‘pop’, when my mom would vacuum it would put lines on the TV, you could hear your sister’s blow dryer on the radio! Don't tell me you can't! You can! How? That's the stuff! So it turns out that not only is what we just described harmful to 

 

 

 

 

 

 

right? Do you make more and then they sit on a shelf for god knows how long? Or do you start hiring more sales people because you actually need them now or do you hire them before you need them and they’re sitting around and they’re not making any money and they quit? It’s a balancing act of knowing when to do all that.”

 

B.D.: “Oh sleepless nights! Heart burn. Entrepreneurs are underpaid, I don’t care what he or she makes, you’re underpaid! You’re never off work, you’re always gut sick, you’re always anxious, there’s always a million to-do’s, there’s these things that you’re trying to navigate. Do I buy this piece of equipment because I might get the order or do I wait until I get the order and then try to buy the piece of equipment? Do I hire them to scale?”

 

Carol: “It’s an age old question of what do I do as a founder! Because if you end up hiring people and making things too soon, you end up losing a lot of money and you may end up losing people, right?! It’s very challenging.”

 

B.D.: “Cash flow is everything! So you can’t have all of your cash now sitting on the shelf in products. You’ve got to use that cash often to market. Once you use it to market, you’ve got to really hustle now to convert the new cash that has come in into quality finished goods.”

 

 

 

 

major, maybe three major companies that we compete against haven’t changed their product in 20-25 years. The landscape of dirty electricity is so vastly different just in the 12 years that I’ve been in the game, we’re about to launch Gen III in only 12 years. So while those competitors exist, we are lightyears ahead of them, we believe, in functionality and all that stuff because we also listen to our customers. Our very first plug-in model, for example, was on about a 12 inch cord, the lights blinked, it looked pretty techy but when you plugged this in, now it’s hanging Carol, it looks stupid, maybe your outlets are 10 inches maybe 14 off the ground and now you’ve got something hanging on a cord blinking? It’s dorky, right? And the lights were so bright that when you turned off the lights to go to bed it turned the place into a disco tech! Right? So the very next product that we designed, we changed it! So it plugs in like this, boom! So it’s up off of the ground plug this one into the bottom of the two plugs, there’s a plug on the front, we didn’t take your outlet and it only has one light that doesn’t strobe!”

Carol: “Right, right. I have two powerline adapters in my house and they’re exactly the same thing, they have a plug on the front of it so you don’t lose your outlet.”

 

B.D.: “So you know exactly what I’m talking about. So that didn’t change, well, we did increase the internal technical functionality of it. the external functionality that makes it user friendly and all those things, that’s also some things you learn as you go along if you listen to your customer because when you engage your customer, they’ll tell you first of all what their problem is because they want to be heard, and if you can make it differently or better, they tell you! So you can’t constantly change it and you can’t make everybody happy, but if you’re consistently hearing something, give the people what they want! Find the problem and solve it, that’s what business is! You’re suffering from something? Let me ease that! Let me take that off of your plate! That’s what providing a service is.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

what I didn’t know, we’d make 500 of this model, 500 of this model, 500 of this model, and then almost immediately the 500 of the one model is gone and you’ve only sold 200 of the other one and one of the other! So now you’ve got 1,000 of these other guys just sitting here and you can’t service what the customer really wants. So it’s called Con-Bon. It’s a style of manufacturing, Toyota pioneered it with the Japanese, if you remember Lee Iacocca, he went over and he toured Toyota, he came back and he phoenixed, Dodge, Chrysler, Plymouth from the ashes with the K car, the mini-van, and the Labarron. So what that does it rather then being a push system, we’re going to push all of these products on the shelf, we’re going to have a couple and then when you pull it we replace it. So you’re always filling the hole. So you’d only have two or three of each so they’re available, but as soon as one takes the customer is always telling you. So you always keep your cash, you keep your powder dry, your kegs are full of powder, right? But now your system is set up so as soon as one disappears from the shelf, that’s what you fill. And learning Con-Bon has changed our lives here, everything that we do here is lean on Con-Bon, and I learned that as just being a young business owner going to the seminars. In Montana, we have Montana’s Manufacturing Extension Center! It’s free to the community to go and learn about assembling and manufacturing. All of our guys have been through it, we practically teach it with them now because we love them, we’ve been sending guys there for a decade, and then also we were rewarded an $18,000 grant to set up the workflow of our manufacturing, that was something else that Henry Ford really invented and pioneered the production line and the moving production line so you have a lot of parts coming off that are consistent. So having a person stay at a station in a good ergonomic way, hey we’ve got fresh air, we’ve got good light, we’re in a good mood, we’re high-fiving, I’m in a posture that feels good, I’m ergonomically correct, and I do a step that maybe takes one minute, if each of those steps takes one minute and there’s 15 steps and you’ve got 15 people, you’re cranking out one every minute! You’re not working hard, you’re working fun! And the other part of that is culture, the attitude of that person because you can do something that’s really fun with a bad attitude and ruin it. And here’s an example on that- You could go to Disneyland with a grump, they’re complaining about the lines, they’re complaining about the food, they’re complaining about the heat, they’re complaining about the cost, they suck! They suck all the fun right out of that adventure! But if you’re with somebody who’s fun, like hey let’s go on this ride, let’s do that, we love this, I’m really grateful for that, it’s a completely different experience! You could ask somebody to do the worst thing ever, hey I need you to go my storage shed, empty it out and take all that crap to the dump on the hottest day of the year. Nobody wants to do that, right?! But if you went with somebody, you know, out comes the lamp and they’re dancing with it and they joke, and then you get to the dump and they want to shoot cans with a beebe gun or something, I mean that can turn into one of the funnest days you’ve had all summer if you’re with the right person and having the right attitude. And so, you know, we always tell each other here you don’t get up in the morning and lace up your boots and go to fun, you go to work. So granted, it’s not fun, it’s work! But can you make it fun? Can you have a good attitude? Can you smile at people and forgive them freely and have upbeat music and stuff like that? So that’s a huge part of the culture here. Every time something is sold, they ring the bell and everyone cheers, we all wear company shirts, it’s on under this sweater because I’m trying to look professional for my interview today, and having the brand and having the tribe and having the comrotatory and having the buy-in, I love coming here, I ask everybody, I tell them consistently that I can’t do this alone, gosh I sure wouldn’t want to and I’m not capable of it, and if you help me make it happen for me it will happen for you. If it happens for me then it happens for you. So here’s our roles, how can we make it better? What do you need to be successful? I love you, value you, appreciate you, I will

 

 

 

 

known American demographic, our websites are in English, they’re in US dollars, you know, a lot of states have state taxes and some don’t, that’s all pretty easy to navigate having a pretty good experience for that. Is my Spanish speaking customer having a good experience? They’re not! What if you want to pay in pounds? What we’re going to do this year is really globalize the product line, globalize the interface and the experience and we’re going to expand the markets. So we’ll go after the same market that we’ve got, there’s a lot more solar companies that are on the queue right now, they’re on my vision board, we keep constant vision boards, constant never-ending improvements it’s a part of our team mantra here, we’re constantly going after those on our vision boards, and then reaching more people with the conversations about the things that we’ve talked about, like when they delivered water via aqueducts in Rome, it was an engineering marvel! They had running water and toilets in homes and stuff like that and it was incredible! They didn’t understand the correlation of the use of lead. Again in 1976, the number one building material on the planet was asbestos, three years later we learn about mesothelioma. I mean, forget about it, right? So what’s happening now is that 20 years ago, Carol did you need our products? Not like you do today! You know, we grew up with the incandescent lightbulb, Edison invented it 130 years ago and we used that lightbulb until what? The curly-q compact fluorescent! The biggest piece of garbage in the history of God’s creation, right? It’s buzzy, it’s icky, oh it’s poisonous! Don’t break it and step in that thing! Well that’s what I want in my house, right? We’re going to mine it in China in the most detrimental way to the planet and we’re going to bring them to beautiful Montana and we’re going to put them in landfill. Who came up with that idea?! So those really had an effect on electricity. All of our device are DC, our phones, your tablet, your laptop, these are direct current. So you’ve got have that special little box and the plugs that convert that AC to DC. Things have changed in our world that have made dirty electricity a lot bigger of an issue then it is, right? If you have a little bit of lead, do you die? Well probably not, but do you want a lot of it? No! That kind of goes for everything, right? You know, will a couple of French fries and a couple of cigarettes in college kill you? No! But you live on that stuff and then the communal effect on that stuff is bad for you and we just know as human beings that you need some fresh air, you need to drink some good water, you need to eat not junk food all the time, it’s the same thing. So what’s happening today is that we just live in a lot more of it. So when I was young, cars had antennas, cars haven’t had antennas in 20 years, they’ve got a shark fin now, right? Because it was FM in town and it was AM on the road trip, you know! You’ve got FM in town and once you got out in the middle of Nebraska you got AM radio. Well nowadays you’ve got all of these 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi, Netflix, DirectTV, Dish Network, his printer, the FBI van, you’ve got a lot, I mean you open your phone and you see 100 networks, right? There’s so many now! So if those signals landed on the antenna of your car, your home electrical wiring is a mile potentially of high quality copper, it’s a super antenna! You live in a super antenna! So where do all of these waves want to land? They land on antennas! That’s why we call them antennas and that’s why we use them! So now with the rollout of all these other things like the cell towers and the Dish and everything we just spoke about, it’s further exacerbating it. So what we want to do is reach people, 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that they can do for themselves for free. Then we say also if you want to take that to the next level, here’s our filter, here’s our offering and then engage and go ahead and ask for the sale.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ago, here was the way that we kind of taught and coached, which was incorrect by the way, find the one thing that you don’t like to do, hate to do, aren’t good at, find the person that’s really good at that thing and get them to do that thing for you. So we’re really looking for a skill set- they’re good at Microsoft Excel, they’re a good engineer, they’re not afraid going up a scary ladder, right? Finding the skillset, no, forget that, boom, throw that out the window right now. You have to have skillsets, but if that person is a grump, has a bad attitude, doesn’t have buy-in or whatever else, then I don’t care how many cheerleaders you have on your team, Carol, one grump will suck all the air, all the joy, all the fun out of the workspace! You think, you know, it might be one thing to suck the joy out of Disneyland, but sucking the joy out of work? So instead, what I really look for is a humble, fun, gentle, well-rounded emotionally healthy human being. Now I will help that human being to learn or improve and help with whatever we need them to help with. Now you still have to get people on the right seat on the bus, that’s true! Right? You still have to have the right person for those paths, but the most important thing is somebody that has a good heart and a good healthy mental attitude and is easily coachable and can be a cheerleader. I’ll tell you, people here laugh, people are laughing here so many times I have to tease them about doing work, and you know what? They’re always working, they’re enjoying it, they’re engaged, they treat each other nice. So something that I learned, to answer your question, was there was a time when I really looked for skillset, while that’s still on my radar, I’m really looking for a personality. I’m really looking for a heart.”

 

Carol: “Of course. It’s really more important than skills. Skills are necessary, I don’t want to negate that.”

 

B.D.: “They’re necessary! Of course! I mean, oftentimes too, you know, what we learn here or there, you’re going to do it differently at this new job, they’re going to have their way of doing it anyway! And that company wants you to do it their way! And so, first of all, they probably never did it their way exactly before anyways, and we want them humble enough and coachable enough to do it this way and then you help them know later too that we ask you to do it this way and it’s not because we’re stuck in a rut, it’s because we’ve been doing this for 21 years and there’s 37 different ways that we’ve tried this and just trust us and have a little love for us that this is the way that it’s been the most successful with the most people over the growth. So that’s part of it. The other part is how do you recruit?”

 

Carol: “Right, that was my next question, how do you typically find your people?”

 

B.D.: “So my people are our best recruiters, so here’s my pipedream- so you’re at the barbecue and you don’t know everybody, you know a couple people but for the most part it’s strangers and you’ve got your Dixie plate of food and it wants to spill, you’ve got your little cup of wine or beer or whatever in your other hand and you’re trying to navigate and when people come up to you and they’re just trying to make small talk and they say ‘What’s your name?’, ‘I’m Carol’, ‘Well what do you do?’, and that’s the opening solve if you will to create some repour and all that. Here’s my vision- somebody asks one of my team members ‘Well what do you do?’ ‘Hey I work at SATIC!’, I want the other person to actually go ‘Oh, you lucky! Do they have any openings?!’ Right?! I want to be known for being a really fun cool engaging place to work so that when other people hear about us, see our trucks, experience it, they know that would be a great place to work and while I know, so downtown Missoula Montana, I would say every other restaurant, I know I might be exaggerating a little bit but boy not by much, every other restaurant has a ‘Help Wanted’ sign in the window, or oftentimes it says we might be a little slow please be gracious with the seven people who decided to come to work today. I have a stack of resumes on my desk, I have a stack, I probably have 13 people right now that really want to be next in queue to come work here. Everyone here get a dollar raise every six months they work here. Boom. Every six months you get a dollar an hour raise as long as we make targets, as long as we meet the goals that we’ve put out there, everybody gets that, we have not missed it in four years. In four years we have not missed it, so people that have been here, they’re making eight dollars an hour more! Our health insurance isn’t crap-ola, it’s great! You want to know why? I didn’t want to have health insurance just to say you have health insurance, just check a box, I’m not a jackass! I want a super low deductible, I want super low co-pay, I want the stuff where if somebody twists their ankle to make sense and I don’t want to insurance brand you and you cringe, it’s like handing somebody the off brand, I didn’t want that, and so I’m very cognizant of having really good healthy snacks, I’m really cognizant of having great recreation and play areas and stuff and I think some people might fear that that becomes a distraction, no! Stop it! A happy healthy person gets so much more done in the four or five hours that you spend clicking and engaging then somebody else does in six or seven, and that’s, I think everybody hearing this deep down knows that’s true, maybe they just don’t know how to get there. So one of the ways that I’m getting there is by not just saying I love everybody but showing them and having a culture in my company that buzzes, that’s award-winning, that draws people and compels them to want to be a part of what we’re doing down here.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

will do anything for love, that’s got to be a give and take relationship, that can’t be a one way thing, they can’t be afraid of you and stuff. I read a lot of performance books, I read a lot of leadership books, I devour them actually, my favorite author probably right now on the face of the planet is actually a woman named Brene Brown, and Brene Brown is about being vulnerable and authentic and I just read Daring Greatly again for the second time, and Daring Greatly is about that the dare is to be vulnerable, to be human because we put on this tough front and put on that mask a little bit and that’s fine, but if you want people to love you and to be loved and be loveable you’ve got to be vulnerable. So yes, I agree with what you’ve said absolutely. That’s how you build that relationship.”

 

Carol: “Yep, and it’s funny that you say that because I said to him yesterday the first time I met you and I was taking a course that he was leading, and he came out and he told a story about meeting his wife and so on and so forth and he started crying and I was immediately like, I don’t want to say in love right because that’s a little too strong, but I was captivated in the fact that a man could be up in front of a room actually authentically crying over something and not being afraid to show who he is. When I started doing the work that I’ve been trained for in 1998, I couldn’t of done that. I mean I can now, I’ve been able to do it for many many years, but it takes a lot of training, it takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of, you know, finding someone or having someone who helps you find those blind spots. You know what you don’t know…”

 

B.D.: “Yes. It takes courage to be vulnerable.”

 

Carol: “…Yes that’s fantastic. So I’m going to assume this but I do want you to confirm for me, would you consider that you’ve built a culture of feedback? And do you know what I mean by that?”

 

B.D.: “Of course I do! And they only get feedback if they feel safe! If people don’t feel safe then you get a bunch of ‘yes men’ or people who also can’t be authentic or whatever. So if someone is going to come to you with something that can be done better or whatever, they’ve got to be safe, and sometimes guess what? It’s actually me that needs correction. There have been a couple times where my leaders have come in and shut my door and sit down and rub their knees and I say ‘okay what have you got?’ and it’s me that’s errored, it’s me that needs correction, and I love that they trust me enough as a human being and as a fellow human being to correct me. That’s how we all grow, I’m in a leadership role, I’m not perfect! I’m not fallible! None of those things are true! Are you kidding me?! Forget about it! And you know sometimes being the leader will go to someone’s head and now they do start to think a little highly of themselves, right?”

 

Carol: “I mean, look at the country we live in! Hello!”

 

B.D.: “That’s such a part of the culture too isn’t it and that’s a tragedy even for the leader because if you’re not growing, you’re dying. You’ve got to be growing all the time! You’ve got to be learning! I don’t read all of these books to stay the same, I read all of these books to get better! So the book, though, doesn’t know what I’m doing wrong, when I’m reading the book it’s kind of up to me to do the self-check and change it. I need those around me to point out my blind spots, I need those people that love me to help me get better too. It’s crucial! So if you start being offended by that now then how can you grow and how can you have any of them feel safe if you’re so small now that you’re going to be offended. You’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself too. When our VP came in, boy I had really done a naughty, I had really just done something silly, and we laughed! We gut-rolled laughed at me, we couldn’t help it! That in just a moment of not thinking and opened my mouth and not only was he in trouble for it, I loved it and I knew and as soon a she said it I knew and we laughed until it hurt and so it ended up being a really warm, you know, interaction between he and I that we’ll remember 20 years from now.”

 

Carol: “Yeah, that’s really great. What would you say are the biggest opportunities and/or threats in your space?”

 

B.D.: “So the opportunities, you know, there’s one other thing that I want to say about culture really quick before I answer that question, you can’t expect people when they come to work for you to work there until the day they die. At 70 years old now, you’re going to give them a gold watch and off they go and all that stuff. No, they have their own stuff. They want to learn how to play the ukulele, they want to get married, they want to live on a beach in Hawaii at some point, so you have to let them know that they’re safe to have lives and goals and dreams beyond these walls. So one of the first conversations I have is Okay at some point you want to go water skiing in Lake Tahoe or something, just know I’m aware of that, I want to be aware of your goals, I want to help you get there, let’s put it on a timeline, you’re going to help me when as we stage you to this and then I’m going to help you, you’re going to go with love and we’re going to send you off with a party and I’m going to give you a little checky-poo because I’m grateful and any time we see each other again in the future we’re going to high-five, we’re going to wave, we might even hug. Let’s help you get where you’re going. If I help you get where you’re going, will you help me get where I’m going? People love that! So the opportunities really are what I was talking about, alternative energy is really growing and it’s not slowing down! It’s only a few states that are rocking with solar, Wi-Fi, 4G, 5G, smart meters, that’s here to stay baby! It’s here! So the opportunity is growing just because of the way technology is using and I’ve kind of been playing small in the American market, I’m done playing small, Carol, I’m building a facility three times the size because I’m ready to play big. And that really means international. And serious threats are right now I’ve got a ton of components sitting in ports off of Seattle, I’ve got boats in ports off of Long Beach, I’ve got boats in ports on the coasts that I can’t get to quickly enough and as I grow and expand being able to get components, etc., do business effectively, that’s a real challenge that I’m experiencing right now today that as my business grows, we’ll grow exponentially potentially.”

 

 

 

 

 

it fun, show some of the fun things you’ll do, it’s oftentimes a career path is different then maybe someone who has an idea in their head of what that might look like or be. And so at the educational forums, we have a table and we invite females over, it’s just about female leadership and it’s female engineering and we show them the kind of stuff that we do and we just ask does this seem fun to you? If this seems fun to you then please know that it exists and please know this is what it looks like on a practical scale. We love being community-involved, we love adding value, it seems like the more value that you add the more joy you experience, right? That is builds all of those other things that are important to you.”

 

Carol: “Awesome. Well with that, B.D. Erickson, founder and CEO of SATIC USA headquartered in my old undergraduate town, Missoula Montana. It’s been a delight to talk to you and to hear about the really super interesting thing you’re up to! I wish you much success!”

 

B.D.: “Thank you so much, it was really fun being on with you today, Carol.”    

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B.D.: "One that not all of us are aware of, the reality in that dirty electricity, something that might not have heard of before, it's interesting because you can't see it, smell it, touch it, taste it, most people just can't feel it, but it exists. It's bad for electronics, it's wasteful, proven harmful to the biological. So that's the pain in the problem that we solve." 

Carol: "How did you come to this?" 

B.D.: "Like is weird, it's interesting how you find yourself on your life's path. A convergence of things happened, I was a leadership person for a personal development group, for Tony Robbins, and so that was a great part of

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B.D.: “So in a very simplistic way, electricity is called current! It moves very similar to water, it really does! So when I was a kid, you and I drank out of the hose, you’re running around with your pals on a hot summer day and you get a drink out of the hose. Now we don’t even drink out of the tap! We’re drinking bottled water! Well you might have a Britta filter or something like that that you put the water in, you run it through, you know, activated charcoal, we’re going to get lead, we’re going to get fluoride, we’re going to get chlorine, we’re going to get all of this other stuff out of it. That’s not terribly different then what our units do. Our units charge, saturate out with the electricity that you’re getting and then filter out and provide this clean filtered regulated power.”

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Carol: “Right. So you talk about your customers, how do you find your customers? Or do they find you? Or both? Like how do they find you? What are they looking for that they find you?”

 

B.D.: "Yeah, they find us! So interestingly when I first started telling people what I was doing, you know, first of all it's pseudo-science, you're wearing a foil hat, you're nuts, and the second part of that presentation is how many other goofballs like you can be out there? Because your customers is clearly a goofball, you're looking for someone hiding under their bed in a foil hat. Well what we began to find is two things- number one, a ton of people suffer from EHS, a lot more than you would know. It's not something that you talk to them about it, bump into them at Wal-Mart or at church and you ask them that questions, no, and there are really large growing communities that have concerns about the new smart

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electronics, it’s also harmful to the biological. Since you can’t see it, smell it, taste it, it’s kind of like carbon monoxide or radon gas. Same things, but they also kill you! And so it’s a pollutant that’s hard to recognize but once you know and look for it, it’s easy to detect and it’s easy to filter it. Once people caught on that you’re getting better production out of your solar, you’ve reduced amps on your energy hogs like your air conditioner, and you’ve taken away this potential health concern, it’s that tipping point where you’re not getting an order for 12 units, you’re getting an order for 1200. And you say holy crap how are we going to make these and make them well and ship them on time?”

Carol: "Right, exactly. Well, you know, I think that regardless of what you're making or selling, this is a sort of the age old problem of a founder growing a company, 

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Carol: "Exactly. Exactly. What's the competitive nature, if anything, of your business? I mean, who else, is anyone else doing what you're doing?" 

B.D.: "I'm so blessed right now, we don't have really great competitors it seems like, some exist, but they don't do it with our tenacity. Our two main product lines' competitors, they haven't changed their product in 25 years. Well you and I are just building our friendship, you'll get to know my quickly, I can't wait, as soon as I see that something could be better or done differently, so what electronics are is a grouping of a lot of little parts and pieces and diodes and resisters and capacitors and rectifiers and all these things on a circuit board designed to play you music or be a screen or something, and what will happen sometimes is just one of those little manufacturers, they'll make a leap, they'll come out with a better product, they'll figure out something. So the two 

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Carol: "Exactly. What are some of your biggest challenges that you're facing right now, B.D., in your company?" 

B.D.: "So our landscape is a little different today for several years, we talked about earlier, it was cash flow. Cash flow. Cash flow is one of the main challenges, you've got to have some money to juggle! You don't have to be profitable, you could lose money for years! As long as it's still coming in so that you can juggle it, you can't juggle it it just stops! So one of the things that you absolutely positively do not want to do is turn you cash into finished goods too soon. Also, let the customer tell you what finished goods they're going to buy before, because waht we did in the beginning, I didn't know

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protect you, I will defend you. People will do a lot for money, we’ll do anything for love. You will die a cheese grater death for your child, happily. Happily right? You will do incredible things if you’re loved and you’re valued and you’re heard and you matter then anything is possible.”

 

Carol: “Right. So you talk a little bit about listening to your customers, you’ve got about 21 employees, what about the growth to where you are right now and what your plans are for 2022 from a standpoint from where your investments are going to be in your company?”

B.D.: "The major investments that we're going to make will be providing a better interference for international customers. We've got a pretty good handle presently on

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make them aware, but you can't just scare people! I don't want to deal or trade in fear but at the same time I don't want what happened to my child to happen to yours just because you're unaware just like I was! I was never a bad dad, I wasn't informed! Nobody told me! So the first thing that we really want to offer people is that this is real and it's measurable, don't live in fear, here's how to defeat it! So we have an EMF Protection Guide that I wrote myself, well, my engineers wrote, I wrote myself listen to me, we went over this thing with so many different engineers and techs and copyrighters adn stuff, to try and tell people first of all- here's where it comes from and here's how you can stop it yourself. Here's how you turn things off, here's how you can block things, here's how you can shield things, and it's common sense

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Carol: “Okay, so let me get you back on track, you went off on a tangent, tell me about your growth of up to 21 people, how that’s happened and where you’ve made mistakes and what you’ve learned from them and what you’re doing differently now from a people standpoint.”

B.D.: "People is the most challenging part. So we're at 21 now as I've told you, we're going to triple our square footage and we're going to double our employees over the next year. When there's seven of them you can manage them, 21 people have personalities and allergies and things that they love and things that they hate and things that they want to do and things that they hate to do and all this stuff and it gets more challenging to navigate them. When I was a business and performance coach 30

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Carol: “Well, yeah that’s a really great point maybe because I think that, you know I just had this conversation yesterday with a former coach of mine who I hadn’t talked to in some time, about the importance of just, and this word can get overused, but just being really authentic with people. Right? And showing who you are to them and your own challenges because then people can really start to see, wow, this person gets it, they have challenges too! Right? And I think that’s one of the most important things that really any leader can do for their peers, subordinates, or up aboves, you know?”

B.D.: "Yes! When you say that, when I was saying they

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Carol: “Interesting. What’s your website if somebody wants to reach out to you and say I’d love to work for this company! How would you get in touch with them?”

B.D.: "So our website is our company name SATIC, S-A-T-I-C USA.com and you can see the leaders on there and their emails are on there, mine's on there, I'm not hard to access, I'm not some aloof dude that you can't call or meet or email or get in, you know, our business is open, our doors are open, we love to give demonstrations, we love to teach kids, I think there needs to be, I'll answer one of the questions, I also said on a board for getting more females in engineering. For some reasons there's not a lot of female engineers, you know, I travel and I do my best to when we're there make

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Carol: “Solar does that?”

 

B.D.: “Solar does that! Absolutely!”

 

Carol: “Wouldn’t want you to know that though..”

B.D.: "Right?! And a lot of solar companies, they don't know! Gosh, well they said it's got good power factor, it's got good voltage, it must be fine. They're not looking for EMF, it's not because they're evil, it's not on their radar! It's the HAM radio guy that cares about it, right? It's the audiofile or the person who is sick. So we started going out and saying look, let us just show you on some meters

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