Aug. 18, 2022

Blue Collar Badasses with Matt Vetter


 Matt Vetter is the president of Schafer Construction, Inc. For more than two decades, he has worked in various roles including self-employment as a lone wolf consultant and departmental director at a large construction firm. He now serves as an owner in charge of all facets of business. Today Matt talks to us about Blue Collar Badasses!

Transcript

Josh
 Hey, good day, fellow dealmakers. Welcome to the deal scout on this show, we travel around looking at deals and bringing in makers to have conversations that one I can learn into as an audience. If you hear something cool that you're listening to about the deal, all their contact information of our guests will be in the show notes below. You can reach out to them and say, Hey, heard you on the show. Let's do a deal together. Right? There's, we've had a lot of people who come on the show talking about commercial real estate and acquisition and buying, multifamily investing in commercial real estate. I wanted to bring someone who works on the other side of the coin, who helps actually build them, fix them, maybe help you flip them. With that, we're bringing on Matt to the show, Matt, welcome to the deal scout. 


 Matt
 Hey, thanks, Josh. I'm glad to be here. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Now you're in the frigid north. Where are you guys located? 


 Matt
 We are, we're in Michigan. We're about 45 minutes Northwest of Detroit. 


 Josh
 Okay. Right on. Right on. Well, appreciate you being on the show. Why don't you give us an idea of who you are? 


 Matt
 Yeah. I'm the president and majority owner of Schaefer construction. We're a small scale, a commercial general contractor. We build everything other than single family homes primarily operate in about a two hour radius from four at our offices in Brighton. Like I mentioned, and yeah, we, we specialize in a different kind of form of construction and in helping owners really put their deals together. We, we focus on true design build. The client will hire us first and then we will actually go out and find them all the design consultants, obviously hire out all the construction. It's really a turnkey kind of concept through completion model that we practice. 


 Josh
 Cool. Now, how come it's not called a Vetter construction? Why is it Schaefer? This, was this an acquisition on your part? 


 Matt
 It, it was, and it still is. It's an acquisition in progress. My business partner, Stan Shaffer started the company 25 years ago. I bought it in as a partner five years ago now. We're in the process of kind of finalizing some last things and then Stan will go off and sail into the sunset. 


 Josh
 On his yacht or his sailboat. And then you, you continue swinging hammers. 


 Matt
 Yeah. 


 Josh
 How did how'd you get into the game of construction? 


 Matt
 When I started building houses, when I was in high school, late high school at the time a, it was good money. It was, cash under the table, gave me a good workout. I, I, I kept my physique up and, it's, it kept me out of some trouble, and I just, I fell in love with it. I've kind of bounced around through different phases of residential and landed in construction or commercial rather here. And I just, I can't get enough. 


 Josh
 Yeah. I grew up on a construction site in south Florida and that's how I kept my girly figure for awhile. My dad and I, we did a lot of, mostly rehab, kitchens and bathrooms, I was the demo guy. You got your start in construction, what was your your first job in construction? What were, what was your task? 


 Matt
 I was the lumber boy. I moved to piles of two by fours from one spot to another spot and I'd move them again. I learned over the years that most of the time, there really wasn't no purpose in me moving that lumber other than to kind of toughen me up and, make me realize that I was a low man on the totem pole. Yeah, 


 Josh
 Yeah. Yeah. You get pretty good at carrying a piece of plywood or a two or three, or, different two by fours, but it's good for a young man to carry heavy stuff. Right. 


 Matt
 Absolutely. It teaches you the value of hard work. I wouldn't be where I am now without it. I'm sure that. 


 Josh
 Totally. All right. You said you started in residential, right? Moving lumber. Me too. And then you got into commercial. Why, why do you feel that you wanted to make the switch over from, the residential side, the commercial side. 


 Matt
 In the early two thousands, I owned my own residential company. We did, smaller scale projects, decks garages, finished basements in the Michigan market or Detroit market, especially, the big three auto execs are huge. Were doing $250,000, finished basements all the time. It was tons of fun and great money, a lot of creative latitude in oh seven. Really. We started seeing those clients kind of dry up and it was almost like the auto guys knew what was coming. And, one thing led to another in oh eight, I was presented with an opportunity to kind of start a program that would catapult me into the commercial realm. And I jumped in head first. It was kind of by necessity, but it's worked out almost as if it was by design. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Super cool. You mentioned that you, you did decks and basements and such. I'm in the process of, and I might need to do this myself building a privacy fence. I might need you to come down and swing a hammer with me, bring back some old memories. 


 Matt
 There you go. No problem. I still have the tool bags. 


 Josh
 Sounds good. So, Matt, you dove into commercial real estate kinda head first started in 2008 where you got your first foray. What were some of the, the differences you saw early on between residential and commercial? It may be obvious, but I wanna, I want to dig into that . 


 Matt
 Just two main differences. One is money. You make more money in commercial. You also charge more money in commercial. The other is pace. The pace of work and the demand of schedule in commercial is so fast and so much greater than residential. That it really was an eye-opener. It continues to be. That's where a lot of people struggle. We have guys, approach us that are doing residential now and want to come work on our team. And, truth be told a lot of them can't hack it because the speed at which we have to operate is so much different than where those guys are. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Yeah. You have to go fast because a business has to stay operational and they, so if they're doing renovations or projects, they got to get back up and running and construction. Sometimes it's a necessity. We did a few renovations in a mall. We had to go up, I was in middle school, but after hours we would go nine o'clock and work till four in the morning, clean up, and then I'd go back to school the next day. So you work business hours sometimes. After hours, what, when you got into the company about five years ago, what inspired you to want to be like, did you always know you wanted to buy into this business and become owner and take over it, or was it a job getting started? 


 Matt
 I was like I mentioned, I had a couple different of my own companies. I was approached in early 20, 10, 20 11 by a large local firm. I ended up working for them running their pre-construction department for a number of years. It got to the point where I realized a I'm a terrible employee. I, I don't want to have a direct boss. I wanted skin in the game. Again. I, I have that entrepreneurial blood in me. I didn't always envision buying into the company where I'm at now, but I knew that at some point again, I would own my own company. Again, it's, it's the land of opportunities we live in. As long as you're ready to jump on them, when they come knocking, that's what you need to do to keep moving. And that's what happened. 


 Josh
 Yeah. You've been with this organization five years, become the majority owner. What have you found are the projects that you like the most? 


 Matt
 So we've really broadened our scope. Like I mentioned, we'll build everything aside from single family homes, but we've done some really neat stuff where we built a community center about a year and a half ago. Indoor courts and walking tracks and cool, what it was right. It was during the midst of the COVID shutdown. Building a, something to rebuild community again, after everything opened was pretty cool. Had a lot of, a lot of heartstrings pulled we're working right now with a local nonprofit that provides shelter services for women and children. That again is, it's the projects that kinda, there's more meaning to them than just just steel, but it doesn't matter what it is, it's, if you're building multi-family or building homes, you're creating futures, you're, you're broadening your culture by building new facilities in your community. That to me is what really kind of makes me tick. 


 Josh
 Now in Michigan, I'm a Florida guy and I lived in Michigan for a brief time. I chased a girl up there, grand rapids, actually. 


 Matt
 Okay. 


 Josh
 It gets cold up there. How in the world are you building stuff when it's so cold outside? 


 Matt
 I've been in the Midwest, at least my entire life. I was born in Chicago area and been here since. So it's just fact of life. I mean, there's, you gotta get creative. We, my guys on the earth work crews are working through the winter for me, are real happy that they have heated cabs. I'll put it that way. You just, you learn to get creative and learn to work around the worst of the weather. And, as long as you can keep schedules, you can make it work pretty well. 


 Josh
 Sounds cool. Sounds cool. The community center, a nonprofit, what, in your years of doing this, like, what was, what do you think has been the largest project you've ever worked on. 


 Matt
 Personally for now? This nonprofit organization is its largest in size its largest in contract value previously, when I was working for someone else, I mean, we built world headquarters for fortune 500 companies. I, I built and seen a lot, but again, now that we've where I'm at now, it's a different scale, right? We're still growing w we're growing pretty damn well right now, actually. The size of the products I'm building now are not the largest I've ever seen yet. 


 Josh
 Super cool. This will be helpful for other business owners, especially in the construction industry, but also for owners, property managers and owner operators of these groups who want to rehab, or they want to add value to, they might have some land, they want to do some value, add stuff, bidding jobs, right? That is, that's something that takes a very long time to learn or assumption. I, I never got into that, but bidding the job right. Is super important from day one. What are some things you've learned? What's some advice you have on the bidding side that will help deal makers on the backend. 


 Matt
 You're right. It does take a long time to learn long time to master it. It's re estimating and bidding. It's really a blend of art and science. Especially the way we do things, we start very early, so very conceptual based projects where, napkin sketches and we can provide very accurate budgeting at that level, within plus or minus before the last year is plus or minus 5%. Now we've stretched it a bit it's plus minus 10% for the market. The biggest thing I could say is it's never too early to get started, whether you're an owner and operator or anyone else, the earlier you team up with someone like our firm and get us involved and get us working on your behalf, the better you'll be, especially in today's market. If you don't have to even know construction to know what's going on out there, that the volatility in commodity pricing is it's nothing I've ever seen in my career. 


 Matt
 To team up with someone who truly has a pulse on that pricing and what the heck is going on a day-to-day basis is going to save you money. It's going to save your project potentially down the road. It's, it's never too early to start. 


 Josh
 One of our advisory clients. We saw them with the pricing changes and such. We saw them bid a project. By the time they were even starting the project, they priced themselves out of a project. Right? They started implementing things in the contract for price increases due to supply. What, what ha what do you guys do? We're in a, we're in a situation in the economy where there's a lot of inflation, it's hard to get windows. It's hard to get, you know, product. What do you guys do to protect your bottom line and your, your company? 


 Matt
 Yeah. W a, a situation is putting it lightly. We are definitely in a situation right now. 


 Josh
 Yeah. 


 Matt
 Contractually we've added in escalation clauses. Like everybody else has. We have to, I'll be honest. They're, they're tough to negotiate. Cause cause neither side wants to take on that added risk, but you have to start from somewhere. And, and we come to amicable terms with our clients now and we have safety nets in place. If windows all of a sudden, double in price, then we have to insulate ourselves from that so that we can keep operating in terms of logistics and just strategic operations. We've started operating and doing things very differently in the last year and a half whereby in our job sites. Now they look like storage yards. We have shipping containers lined up and it's like on day one, I tell my entire team, go buy everything you need to, as soon as you possibly can, we'll store it here. We'll, we'll keep it secure. 


 Matt
 We have a project now with trailers full of rooftop units that won't be installed for another six months, but we have to do that in order to keep things moving. There's a lot of risk involved in building right now on our side because we typically do guaranteed maximum price contracts. How those, those contracts work, there's not a whole lot of leeway at the end. If, if something goes bust. We've gotten pretty good at acclimating and early ordering, getting different lines of credit with vendors. It's, it's everything you can do right now. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Not it's super smart and it's almost a necessity. Cause if you price out the project and go in phases, by the time you get to phase three, it might get super expensive and you might lose all your profit there from swinging hammers, residential to now focusing on, as an owner, you're focusing on employees, culture, you're focused on bottom line. How did you learn this stuff? And what are you learning? 


 Matt
 I learned it the hard way I learned it, school of hard knocks. I learned it from making a whole lot of mistakes, ? I, I I've taken my bumps and bruises and I bled a lot. W what I've learned is that culture overcomes a lot of the business ineptitude, right? If you can build a solid culture with a solid team, the rest of it can kind of fall into place, and it can be learned. You can't learn culture, you can't learn how to be a leader. You have to have it in you. That has been kind of my driving force. And, we, we're very big on our core values. We're very big on our culture. We're very big on this team mentality that extends far beyond the walls of us. Now, seven people, it's, it's the hundreds of guys on our job sites. It's all of those companies, all of, their families. 


 Matt
 When I go to bed at night, I tend to think about that. Like, damn, I'm feeding 200 miles today, and that's what kinda, what that allowed me to move into the role I am now, and kind of pick up the business acumen along the way, because, it's just a, it's a learn as you go type environment a lot of times, especially in construction, I think. 


 Josh
 Yeah. What do you think? What do you think the future of craftsman of tradesmen? What, what does that look like? What, what challenges are you seeing with skilled trades? 


 Matt
 It's bleak right now, we are on a collision course for disaster across the skilled trades. I, I run a podcast, also the construction corner, and we talk a lot about this, about, the philosophy of the blue collar bad-ass. And, as a society in the last 20 plus years, we've allowed different groups, different motivations to strip shop classes out of high schools into, to really downplay the value of the skilled tradesmen. And, we pumped that college is the only way to go. If you don't go to college, you're a failure and blah, blah. When in reality, these are the men and women that are building America that are keeping us afloat that are, providing investment tools for investors that are providing jobs for the tradesmen. When there's a construction is one of the very few industries that can, it literally can't go away, right? Our buildings, no matter how good we build them, they have a lifespan. 


 Matt
 At some point in time, they're going to have to be renovated. They're going to have to be fixed, torn down rebuilt. If we don't fix this problem in a very near future, we're going to have a massive problem on our hands, because there's nobody left. The average age of a construction worker in our area is like 56. Right? As those folks start retiring, what are we left with? And, and so, there's those grassroots efforts that we team up with. There's a lot of groups out there trying to help. And it's about organizing. It's about getting the word out and really pushing these careers as a viable option. W when I was in high school, even though I was in construction, being in construction for the rest of my life was never an option. It was, it was thumped on me that you got to go to college. 


 Matt
 And, and I, I did got a degree on my wall back here. That means literally nothing to me all the while though, I had friends who left high school and started working as electrical apprentices. They were making a quarter million dollars a year. By the time I was graduating with nothing but debt, and we just, as a society, we have to get back to that mentality that these positions are so crucial to our very fabric. 


 Josh
 Yeah, yeah. Blue collar bad-ass is I like that. That might be the title of today's episode. I, I see this happen, even in our hometown where I see construction projects that are far delayed and they're, they have signs out front, like hiring. Like we need people who know how to swing hammers. Yeah. It's such a noble, you know, career. It's a great way to make money, fixing stuff and building stuff. Let me ask you this, you for future generations, do you have kids? 


 Matt
 I do. 


 Josh
 Congratulate, oh, three boys. There's your construction company. The future of it right there. Yeah. Cheap labor. The future, if talking to your boys and I've got three kids, right? Like what advice do you have for them? In regards to what you see the challenges with skills trade, where are the opportunities for future generations? 


 Matt
 Oh, the opportunities are endless, right? If you can, if you learn that very first thing of hard work and work ethic, whether it's by moving lumber around or doing whatever, digging ditches, if you've learned to work hard and build that grit, you can scale any mountain. You can create any company. You can imagine, because again, construction goes nowhere, you can't replace it. With robots, we can automate some things and we can bring technology in, but you can't get rid of the construction force itself. I, my oldest is 15 and we're having these conversations on a very regular basis. And, I, I pushed him to do whatever he wants. I, I, if he wants to go to college fine, I'm not knocking that college is a great route for some people, however, it's not the route for all people. And, I just tell them that, listen, we need to figure out what you're interested in. 


 Matt
 If it's working on a construction crew, if it's, eventually being an entrepreneur and owning your own company, there's different paths to get there. And, and you just got to back the kids and force them, push them to find what they really, what they're turned on by mentally. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Yeah. Super cool. I loved construction, but there's different aspects of the construction site. Now I got my PhD, right? The post hole Digger. I spent my time digging post and footers and, and such like that. I put in the blood, sweat, tears and time into it. In my mind, it's my, dad was encouraged and let's go to college. I got a heavy debt load because of that. Right. And, and a lot of times we don't even use the degrees or the education that we go to school for when it comes to the skilled trade, the skilled, when it comes to that, the blue collar workforce, right. What industries do you think are great opportunities for? The entrepreneurs coming out, the entrepreneurs and hard workers coming out to the workforce, where should they be focusing in that? 


 Matt
 As far as trades, selfishly, I'm always going to say carpentry. That's where I, I was trained as a carpenter. We see a lot of business owners now, whether they're GCs or, or specialty contractors that came up through the ranks of carpentry. There's a lot of reasons for that. The carpenters kind of drive the schedule, right? They're the guys that are onsite the longest or the most of anyone. So, if, if my son were coming to me to ask what my opinion was, and I was not trying to sway him, other directions, I would definitely push to get into carpentry. You learn the guts of the building that way. Totally, I, I think that's the route. 


 Josh
 Super cool. Now you have a podcast show, give it a shout out. And why did you start it? 


 Matt
 Our show is called the construction corner. I co-host with my good buddy, Dylan Mitchell, Dylan actually started it. I think about four years ago. Now I was always interested in podcasting. I called Dylan one day, about two years ago, asking him for recommendations on microphones and what the heck I needed to make this happen. He said, well, here's what you need, this and this. Why don't you just come co-host with me. And two years later here we are. 


 Josh
 Boom. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. What has been your favorite thing about podcasting? 


 Matt
 The relationships you form, right? It's all about conversations. We don't monetize it. We could, but we haven't done any advertising, but we have really interesting people on every week and really great conversations. We've, we've done deals with people that we've had on the show. We've, we've created long lasting relationships that I now know people around the country I can rely on for different facets of what we do. 


 Josh
 Yeah. Super cool, man. The construction corner, people could find that on iTunes, Google, and anywhere else, podcasts are found. 


 Matt
 Yeah. We're on all the platforms. 


 Josh
 Heck yeah. That's awesome, man. Now let's go on the rehab side of things. We, you got a lot of, people buying multifamily and buying and building, build for rent communities and, and rehabbing those place. On the commercial side for makers, what are some things to consider when looking at a commercial building to buy, from your perspective of, construction, 


 Matt
 It really depends on what your investment goals are. For example, we're seeing a lot of conversion activity right now where investors developers come to us and they want to buy a building that's being used for X. They want to convert it into Y great example is self storage. It's an incredibly hot market right now. Guys are buying up or people are buying up these buildings that warehouses or even office space we've seen in converting them into storage. The biggest thing I can recommend is do your due diligence team up with a true design builder. Who's going to walk you through the whole process because, renovation comes at a typically a lower cost than ground up construction. That's the allure of it, right? But it doesn't, if you're not careful. If you miss something that you should have caught, if that roof doesn't really just need some patching and it turns out it needs to be completely torn off and replaced, that's a huge bust. 


 Matt
 If you find that there's contamination in the building, there's all, there's a whole litany of things that could happen. It's really turned into a wasp nest if you're not careful. I would say, just team up with someone who can lead you through that process very early, so that you don't make a costly mistake that could literally kill the project. Some of these things are deal breakers, right? If you get up into multiple six figures of, oops, that's a bad day for everybody involved in it. And it can typically be avoided. 


 Josh
 Yeah. We've seen a local project that it was supposed to be an easy renovation. Well, not easy. It was supposed to be a renovation, right. They got into the project and then they had to do a complete tear down and rebuild from scratch that wasn't in the original price budget that wasn't. That probably cost a few jobs, 


 Matt
 Right? It's a bad day. 


 Josh
 How could you prevent that from happening? Because right. Bringing a group crew like yours, but what are you looking at that other people might miss? 


 Matt
 We're going to come in with a team we're going to bring in a structural engineer, we're going to bring our architect. We're going to bring in our environmental consultants, we're going to test everything. Obviously get a phase, one going immediately. Most, most banks require that now anyways, for financing, but as best as testing, Nishapur reports, we look at everything as a holistic system. We can go back to the owner or the investor and say, here's the assessment of this building? We think the roof has 10 years of usable life left. We think the HVC has whatever, five years of usable life left. And here's why. We can kind of show them and then at least provide data, ? As you, the investor or the owner, you can now make a better informed decision. Okay, I'm getting this building for this cost, but here's what I'm going to have to budget for in the next five to 10 years. 


 Matt
 We can kind of lay out that whole structure so that you can decide, is this really that great of a deal? Or is it not? 


 Josh
 Yeah. It really a good deal or not? That comes from my dad used to always say, do your homework. Wasn't really good at it. Your homework, right from doing the podcast back to podcasts, I love podcasts. What has been your favorite moment from doing this? Being a podcast host for the last two years, what has been one of your favorite moments? 


 Matt
 99% of our podcasts, they're all remote. It's all like this on zoom. We did a podcast with a group of two brothers that own a flooring company in New York city. Actually, I had the chance to meet them in person pretty recently at a summit in St. Louis and, shaking hands and, having that relationship continue. The one guy looked at me and said, he's like, I never thought I would say this, but being on your show was the best thing that's ever happened to us. I said, wow, we're not that big of a show at all while. Cool. He goes, I had aunts and uncles and my grandmother calling me saying they were so proud that you boys were on a podcast and you got all this exposure and, nationwide exposure. That was definitely one of the highlights for me so far. 


 Josh
 Yeah. That's really cool, man. I really liked that I said, all right, like it, that was my natural reaction. I'm like, that's recorded on there, but like, that's super cool, man. Because growing up in the, in a construction household, like you get very little athletes, there's not awards unless you're like a new home builder, but you're competing with the big D there's very little attaboys in the industry. If people hate you'll see it all over Yelp and Google and such like that. It's very few people go, man. Good job kid. That's awesome. Right. 


 Matt
 That, so that is the blue collar bad-ass mentality. Right? These guys and these girls, they love telling their stories, but very few opportunities to tell those stories to anyone. And, and that's what we try and do on the podcast. As we do with the construction company too, is let's give these people a voice and, bring this collective team together in a way that the industry hasn't ever seen. 


 Josh
 Yeah. I like that, man. Super cool. Super cool. I've got a friend that I'll introduce you to, and you'll, you'll have a great conversation. Maybe get you, maybe get him on your show or something, but yeah, super cool. What you're doing, what's the future of Matt look like, and the in Shaffer construction, you look like a young guy, not too many grays up there. Like, 


 Matt
 No, I think the zoom camera helps that, but we're growing leaps and bounds. We we've now 30 extra revenue in five years and my projections are to keep it moving. I, a couple of my mentors, Andy Frisella and ed Myla, they always talk about, as a leader, your vision has to be so damn big that the visions of all of your people can fit inside it. Our targets, our revenue targets that, that I've set up over the last few years. We've crushed them. Now it's like, all right, my vision has got to get way bigger. We are taking this construction company to levels that I never even thought were going to be possible. You know? That's what I want to get to. 


 Josh
 What is one thing you did? Like if you looked back 30 X ago, right? 30 X in revenue, that's pretty significant unless it was zero, right. 30 times zero is zero, but right. Looking back, what's the one thing that you saw that made the biggest impact to that 30 X revenue. 


 Matt
 Culture and it's. Yeah, and it's not a, I mean, it sounds like a food who kind of thing. On the cusp, it may be, but honest to God, building that culture and our core values and starting from a new foundation has allowed us to attract better employees, attract better specialty contractors, attract better clients. And that is the key we are. We've gotten to a point where we can be selective now, building houses or even in my early years in commercial, I would work for any single person who had a paycheck or a checkbook rather. There's no, there's pluses and minuses and that thing. Now we've taken this to a new level where we've developed our prototype clientele, right? Our prototype employee, our prototype partners, and using that model has really allowed us to scale at leaps and bounds. It wasn't from zero, but it was w we've, it's been pretty significant. 


 Josh
 Super man for deal makers out there, right. Who are looking at projects. They're, maybe looking at this project versus this project and let's go like rehab versus ground up. What are some things to consider before they pull the trigger on, let's just say they could only choose one deal. 


 Matt
 It depends on what your, what your market is, what your product is you're looking for. Right. But, but doing your due diligence and making sure that the municipality you're looking to build or renovate in is going to let you do what you want to do. That's, that's key and making sure all the zoning classifications and all the other, bureaucratic nonsense that we love to pile on. Make sure it all works for you first, before you get too far down the road and can't turn back. We do studies all the time for folks who say you had asked that very question, well, why do I want to build new when I can buy this for cheaper and renovate? And, we do budgeting comparisons and we can show dollar for dollar, what it's going to be. It really will go back to that lifespan. We talked about ago, yes, this new building may cost 25, 30% more today, but in 10 years, this old building we renovate is going to need all this maintenance that you may be at a disadvantage at that point. 


 Matt
 Do your due diligence, have somebody on your team that can, they can really guide you and help you make these comparisons. 


 Josh
 Yeah, totally, totally. The, so you're building this out and you say, you need to expand your vision even more, right? Your, your coaches, your mentors are going, Hey, man, your vision's too small. You're like, dude, I just 30 X, this business we're growing. People we're increasing our footprint added new product lines and all sorts of stuff. They're saying, Nope, not big enough in your mind. What are some things that you need to overcome between your own ears to get there? And what might that even look like. 


 Matt
 Between my own ears? It's, it's still this overwhelming imposter syndrome that I think every entrepreneur has it, and I don't think it ever goes away. Cause we're always told and taught, like you got to work for somebody else. When you don't work directly for someone else that there's a lot of Headspace, you gotta be able to figure out. I mean, that's my challenge constantly, as far as what my vision looks like, I want to take the company to levels that our market has never seen, we're gonna, we're going to do as much as the big guys. We're not going to have these massive layers of inefficiencies and employees and Southern employees and assistant employees just to fill roles, but we're doing it. We're proof now at this level that we can do pretty tremendous revenue with a pretty lean and mean team. I'm starting to build that strategically and build those systems so that now at this level, I know what we need and I can just apply the multiplier to it. 


 Matt
 We're going to be doing incredible numbers, but still very lean. And, and that's, I think is the key to whether any of these storms that we're all going through right now. 


 Josh
 What is your superpower in the business? You can't say culture anymore because obviously like you're like culture was the number one thing. Take out that because you've proven that what is your number one superpower after that? 


 Matt
 I've always had an ability to get very strategic and to think very critically and to see through a lot of the BS. I told you, I went to school. My degree is actually in psychology. I don't talk about that a whole lot, but in all honesty, being able to connect and communicate with people from the guy, literally digging the ditch to fortune 500 CEOs, that takes a lot of ability to pivot a lot of ability to kind of chameleon almost and being able to communicate with everyone has always been key. 


 Josh
 Yeah. That's awesome. Man. Resources to learn and grow for other, construction companies out there, obviously the construction corner podcast show. What are some other, yeah, man, absolutely. What other resources have you found that were really helpful for you to learn and grow? 


 Matt
 You know, honestly, it's my competitors now. And, and, and just ask the questions, right? I have guys now that we're direct competition and they'll call me out of the blue and ask my advice on something and, Hey, what are you doing to solve this problem today? I'm not going to give away the farm. I'm not going to tell you what my, my magic sauce is, but, we have these communication and these discussions and, we're all part of the same team in a broad level. Right. If they're doing well and I'm doing well, then now we're all doing a lot better. And, just to just have the conversations, find the people who are doing what you want to do and get as close to them as you can. 


 Josh
 Now, how, when it comes to competition. Right? In my own backyard, there's a guy doing the same exact thing as me. How do I know if I'm asking him for advice or her for advice, they're not going to give me the worst advice ever, just to screw me up. 


 Matt
 Yeah. Be real careful. You got to, you got to vet out who you're talking to also, and don't expect, don't expect all the secrets either. Yeah. A lot of people I think are very willing to talk about what they do and to tell their stories and cast their vision and what I think you need to kind of glom onto and benefit from. Nobody's going to tell you that, Hey, here's how you can beat me. That that won't happen. 


 Josh
 Yeah. On a construction site, there's many different aspects of it. There's many different skillsets. There's many different jobs right now, you're in a role of leadership and you're focused probably in culture, leadership money, right. And strategy. What tasks on a construction site do you get tempted every once in a while, the dive back. You're like, actually, that was a fun for me. It was demo. Anytime demo shows up in, like, I like doing, I'd pay someone to let me demo their bathroom. Now. I love it. 


 Matt
 It's twofold. We don't build with wood a whole lot anymore, but on the occasion we do. When I walk into a job site and smell sawdust, again, it immediately makes me want to go back and start, banging walls together or something on our typical site that has no sign of wood. I would love to jump up in one of those big machines and, play like a kid on a Tonka truck for a couple of days, move some dirt. 


 Josh
 Hey, I've got, I'm building a fence. I already told you about that. If you want to smell some fresh PT wood, come on, man. We'll build it. So, yeah. All right. During this interview, we've talked about deals. We talked about, the decision to, buy a build versus rehab kind of thing. What question, what other questions should I be asking you in and around, construction in deals that I screwed up and didn't ask you, okay. 


 Matt
 The design element and the design build model versus the design bid model. Old school construction, you as the owner would go and hire an architect first, and you'd tell the architect, roughly what you want and how much money you have architect goes and draws you a pretty picture and sells you a, a big roll of drawings and then takes it out to bid. And the architect was really good. The numbers come back in and they meet your budget. Everybody's happy if the architect wasn't or he made a mistake, or he doesn't know what he's doing. The numbers come back in and you're left with a really pretty set of drawings that you can't afford. We kind of flipped the script on that model, where you find me, and you hire me directly as your fiduciary, as your design build partner. We will go find the design consultants on your behalf and hold those contracts. 


 Matt
 That way we can talk very candidly, you and I about what is your budget? What are you comfortable with spending for this, whatever product it is you need? Now, let me go and back into that number so that I can guarantee you when I'm done with the design process, we're going to roll right into construction, because it's the same number I told you on day one where, and it's not a slight at the architects because we still work with really great architects, but those guys don't have their pulse. Don't have a hand on the pulse, rather of the pricing they're not supposed to. You need someone that knows that, both sides, that table. 


 Josh
 Yeah. And that's interesting. So, if you don't have your finger on the pulse of pricing and inflation and all the different, supply chain issues, they might build out something that doesn't exist anymore, or that you can't get the supply for when you're like, yeah. I just bought 30 units and they're in my self storage right out front. We know the game. That's super interesting. I didn't think of that. That is a great value differentiator. How in the world do you then acquire new customers? Like how do people know to go to first rather because the traditional method is, oh, go to an architect or an engineer and work through the process, and then they will refer you to three of their buddies. Right? That's the normal that's what's been trained. How do you, how do you fight against that . 


 Matt
 We don't advertise at all in the common sense. It's, it's all word of mouth. It's all, referral-based 80 to 90% of our clientele are either repeat clients or their direct referrals from past clients. Aside from that, we've gotten really heavy into our social media. We post a lot. I say we very broadly it's me, but trying to educate the general public on this method of construction. It's, it's got its pluses and minuses for sure. That it's worked pretty well for us. 


 Josh
 Super cool, man. One more question as we're going through, if I grabbed your phone right now, and I looked through your number one played song in the past 10, 15 years, what's your number one go-to song. You're driving in the pickup truck. You just picked up some lumber at the lumberyard. You're heading to the job site and you want to put on your number one jam to pump you up and get ready to swing hammers. What does that sound like? 


 Matt
 My wife makes fun of me all the time for this, but I listen. Good. I listen to Cowboys from hell by pan Tara on my way to every single meeting and sales presentation I've done in the last 15 years. 


 Josh
 It's your pump's song? 


 Matt
 It is it's my, my hype song, but it's, 


 Josh
 It's pain terrace, Cowboys. And what, 


 Matt
 How boys from hell. 


 Josh
 Can you think it for us? 


 Matt
 I could, but I'm not going to. 


 Josh
 That's good. All right, Matt, for makers in the audience that want to reach out to you, they might not be, in your, within a two hour drive of you, but they still want to pick your brain, maybe get on your show, follow your show, or maybe they're right in your backyard and they want to do deal with you. How can people find you. 


 Matt
 Best way is on LinkedIn, Matt Vetter, the E T T E R. You can find me with Shafer construction on all the platforms, but LinkedIn, my personal page is the easiest and quickest. 


 Josh
 Super cool. Super cool. Well, Matt, thanks for coming on the show, talking about construction, commercial construction, fascinating topic, love what you guys are doing a really great value differentiator. I can't believe I said that without stuttering, but great job, man. Thanks for being on the show. Fellow dealmakers, thanks for listening in as always reach out to our guests and say, thanks for being on the show. All their contact information will be in the thing down below in the contact form thing. So, connect with them, say, Hey, her John, the deal scout. I've got to figure out a way to do a deal with you. If you're working on a deal and you want to talk about it on the show, head over to the deal, scout.com, fill out a quick form. Maybe we'll talk to you on the next episode about a deal until then see you guys. 

Matt Vetter Profile Photo

Matt Vetter

President

Matt Vetter is an entrepreneurial minded business leader and expert in pre-construction services currently serving as President of Schafer Construction, Inc. With a career spanning all aspects of residential and commercial construction for greater than two decades, Matt has worked in roles as varied as a self-employed lone-wolf consultant, to a Departmental Director of a large construction firm, to his current role as an Owner in charge of all facets of the business.

An avid hunter and fisherman, Matt tends to spend as much time as possible outdoors with his wife, three children, and the family dogs.