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Laying it Down with Fireclay Tile CEO Eric Edelson

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

This is the cover for the Authentic Avenue podcast with Alicia Dietsch, Senior Vice President of Business Marketing at AT&T.

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Today, I chat with Eric Edelson, CEO of Fireclay Tile. Fireclay lays claim to making the most beautiful tile in the world -- and Eric comes on the show to talk about how the journey to get there involved firing all his customers and becoming unencumbered from retail. We also talked about how this former neuroscientist instilled a mentality of employee ownership into the minds of his investors and team, to the point that he massively over-indexes on it. We speak about the implications of that, and his vision for the future, on today's episode.

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Enjoy! Full transcript below.


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TRANSCRIPT BELOW (powered by Descript; accuracy not guaranteed):

Adam Conner: Eric, how are you?

Eric Edelson: Adam? I'm fantastic. Thanks so much for having me on your show. Big fan, and really excited to connect with you today.

Adam Conner: Big fan. Okay, good. That's Hey, that is a good way to lighten me up a little bit here at the front. Now I had a bunch of questions anyway, but, um, now I'm going to talk about it much more positively.

Thanks for doing that. Uh, first thing I want to ask when we, we chatted before, um, not on this show listeners, we do do some prep here, right? This isn't just awful. You called yourself a big little company. What's up with that. And what can you, can you explain that to me first? And then I want to figure out how our neuroscientists gets into tile, but I, uh, let's start with that first way that you described when we first spoke.

Eric Edelson: Yeah. We're I mean, I still consider us a little company, uh, as it relates to revenue profitability, we're, we're about a $30 million revenue business. So, uh, so you know, decent size, but still small in the grand scheme of things, but we're a very big company in terms of, we have over 200 full-time teammates.

We are a hundred percent vertically integrated. So, you know, we make and sell everything that we do. Uh, and everything we do is made to order. Uh, so it's quite complex with lots of moving pieces and, uh, and so it feels very big and complicated for, for the size of business we have. So that's, that's uh, that's why I always like to say we're, we're both, we're a small, big company.

Adam Conner: Got it. Okay. So you're operating like a large company with a large company mentality and with, with the growth to eventually get there, but simply not. Okay. That makes sense. That that's basically what you're.

Eric Edelson: Yeah, exactly. I mean, we, it's also a reflection of our industry is one where so much of the infrastructure we need to have today to sell and market for projects tomorrow requires us to almost look bigger, act bigger and have more capabilities.

Uh, so many of our lead times, uh, could be up to three years. So, so we have to look like we're going to be three years from now in order to win those projects and have a chance at those. So we actually have to invest so much more in infrastructure up front. To sell it and produce that product later. So, so it's a variety of factors, but because we're the manufacturer, we're also a brand and the retailer, you know, we almost have three different businesses, all, all in one.

Right. But you got to act a certain way. I mean, not everybody was strolls into LaGuardia and gets to tile it up. So I understand you got to have that image.

Adam Conner: Yes. Yes. It's kinda like in that movie, uh, uh, in Jurassic park, there's a wonderful scene where the T-Rex is chasing. Uh, the, the car that's driving away and it says objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.

And I always, I always kind of joke about that in a sense that, like, we just have to like look a lot bigger than we are. Uh, so, you know, fake it til you make it. It's always, it's always presenting an image of, of much more sophistication, much more us having everything totally fitting together and working even though internally, I mean, things are really good, but it can be, uh, it can be daunting and lots of little challenges.

User it's the end consumer. It looks fantastic. And it feels great.

Right. And Hey, there's really no faking it here, listeners. And I said, LaGuardia, that wasn't, I didn't make that up. That's because if you go to LaGuardia and you look at some of the towel work, that's Eric that's Fireclay. If you go to Salesforce is global HR.

That's Fireclay. I mean, this is not, I mean, these guys are acting much bigger than the, than the little company that Eric advertise up front. So, so let me, let me brush your shoulders off for just a second. But then the next thing I want to ask Eric is about you personally, because you have this neuroscience background, you were, you were in the world of biotech investing.

Doesn't seem to me to like line up. Like that has to be a lot of grout between those two tiles. Can you help tell me how you got across to this side of your life?

Eric Edelson: Yeah. And, and great, great tile reference there. So, and I should probably just tee it up. I mean, so, you know, for your listeners, uh, fire, clay tile, we make the world's most beautiful tile.

We do that here in the United States, in California. Uh, so. Uh, tile for residential and commercial projects. Everything we do is made to order, and it could be for a small fireplace surround or for, as you mentioned, a 30,000 square foot custom, uh, installation for the Vardy airport or, uh, companies like Salesforce and Facebook and more so, so that's what we do.

And, uh, I've been here for 13 years and you're right. I, my background in many ways has nothing to do with it. And of course in every way it has everything to do with it. I, uh, I grew up. The DC area. I was always a very competitive athlete, very committed to academics. And, uh, once you college neuroscience, mostly I like to say, was it excuses of not really knowing what I wanted to do?

So neuroscience really combined biology and physics and chemistry and math and, and a wide variety of subjects and, uh, uh, and kind of fit into this, this, this major of neuroscience. Um, but, but really, it was just, I just didn't quite know what I wanted to do, and that even continued to. Uh, when I got my MBA, I graduated with, without a job, I was one of maybe 15 out of 400 without a job, again, not quite knowing what I wanted to do.

And, uh, and you know, all my paths ultimately led to meeting the founder of Fireclay and, uh, and finding this company that at the time was, was very small. And when I say very small, it's just about 20 people back then, about a million and a half dollars a year. Uh, and, and didn't have a lot of systems or infrastructure.

And so it just felt like, uh, an incredible opportunity to help build an organization and eventually lead a company and grow it immensely. So, um, yeah, it's been, it's been somewhat of a, of a strange route, but, you know, when I kind of like go back in history, a lot of it, of course it's together. Uh, so happy to get more into it, but that's, that was, that was a bit of my journey.

Adam Conner: Yeah. Well, I appreciate that because you know, it's not every day. You get that sea change. Although now that you explain it, it does make sense how you would get there, but you continue to engineer this business even after you showed up. And I was reading some other media on you where you described this Jerry Maguire moment where you did, you decided that you had to do something radically different with Fireclay, specifically to turn it direct and to fire all your customers.

Now, that seems like an interesting way to grow a business. Would you mind describing that?

Eric Edelson: Yeah. So most of the tile industry works in a very traditional manner, which is you have manufacturers and those manufacturers are very global in nature. I mean, actually only about 30% of the tile consumed in the United States is produced in the United States.

So most of it. China or Italy, Spain, Brazil, India. Uh, so you have manufacturers who are selling through distribution or to, to retail and retail could be anyone from home Depot or Lowe's. Um, but in our world, which is more of a, of a higher end, a more kind of a custom made product. It's, it's typically either smaller mom and pop or kind of independent tile stores, uh, in various cities.

There's, there's a few that might. Um, have more of a brand name if you have 15 or 20 stores, but it's very regional. Um, but that's, that's really typically how this world works and, and Fireclay was in a category of art tile companies. These are typically quite small companies, you know, maybe. Yeah. 50 or a hundred people, maybe a couple of million bucks in revenue who simply produced product and sold it to these retailers.

And so when I got to Fireclay in 2009, that was the business model that we had a small showroom in San Jose where he did a little bit of our own retail. But I spent basically four years between 2009 and 2013, trying to resurrect the company in these retailers, trying to do everything we could to convince them, to put us on their shelf, sell the product.

And, you know, honestly we just. Uh, rejected, left and right. It was such a struggle. We would, uh, get into a store, but then they would ask us for their own unique, um, boards or, or product that was different from maybe someone else down the street, or they would want, um, exclusivity. And so it was just a very fragmented group.

It was very hard to sell into. And ultimately we were just. You know, a hundred different vendors on a wall. And so just from a math standpoint, the probability of us being selected by a customer was very low. And so, you know, some, sometimes you have that, that motto of like, if you can't win the game, like start playing a different game or find a new field.

And so what ultimately happened was out of this just rejection of not being able to win in this wholesale market. Um, we, we had this vision and you're exactly right. It was a Jerry Maguire moment. I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, got to my computer at four. Uh, on a Saturday morning, it was February 16th, 2013, wrote a three-page manifesto of how we needed to build our own brand and go direct.

I sent it to my partner, fireplace founder, and his reply was, sounds good. And, uh, within three months we had raised $800,000 from friends and family. And, uh, within the next nine months by January 6th, 2014, relaunched, our company fired all of our wholesale customers and felt like we, if we didn't take this moment right now to.

And earn our keep, build our brand, create the best possible customer experience for tile consumers. Um, then, then we would, we would just never win. We would never grow. And so that, that was the journey. It was really out of rejection and, you know, kind of doing everything we could to grow our brand in that other channel, um, that we found this path to being truly vertically integrated, going direct.

And, uh, and it's been amazing ever since.

Adam Conner: What did the team think of that? I mean, because when you tell the story, looking back, it's easy to say, say, well, I wrote this manifested when we raised nearly a million dollars and we went direct and it was fantastic happily ever after, but like there had to have been some lumps in it, that story, what were the biggest challenges to going direct?

Once that manifesto was on the table and the, the pencil was still smoking. I mean, like what was, what was the grit you had to get through?

Eric Edelson: Yes. At the time the team was actually quite small still. So, you know, we might've been about 40 people, but the majority of those people would've been, would have been in production.

I had actually just hired a new, uh, uh, person to lead sales for us who had had about 40 years experience in the industry. And I'd hired him to really build our wholesale channel. So I think it was the second month where we went out to lunch and they said, I know that we just hired you to do all of this, but we're going to not do any of that.

And he was a great sport. I mean, he'd been in the industry forever and, you know, he actually just thought it was a tremendous idea and just wanted to know what he could do to help. Uh, so, you know, internally it wasn't as much convincing. I think, you know, the challenge was that we didn't have money. We had to convince them.

I need to convince a few people to give us money. And a lot of people thought we were crazy. Uh, we, no one had really done what we were trying to do. I mean, there was certainly precedent for selling, you know, consumer products online. And we were inspired by brands like Bonobos and trunk club and, um, and stitch fix and others who were going.

But, you know, to be a manufacturer and to go direct, uh, in tile, how such a tactile product. There's so many different options. There's a lot of variation with tile. You know, all of those things were a lot of, um, friction points in, in places. People thought we wouldn't have success. So, so we really didn't know how it would go.

Um, so I think a lot of it was frankly, just, you know, trying to not necessarily convinced the existing team, but bring together people, um, who we didn't have on the team, hire people, uh, to, you know, kind of launch this company in a way that we hadn't done it before. The, the big challenge that was actually in the early days, it was incredibly fun.

It was so intoxicating. It was just so fun to be so creative. The hard part actually came, you know, a year or two later, which was as, as the sales and brand started to take it. The manufacturing side, um, trying to keep up, trying to scale production, especially with the complexity of ceramics. It's a pretty unforgiving craft and the customization and the sheer number of, uh, kind of skewed.

Uh, I, uh, components that we have color size combinations volume, that was actually very, very challenging that that caused a lot of challenges in some of our early years that took a while to get through. So, you know, I think scaling not just the brand, not just the sales organization and the marketing team, but also the manufacturing altogether without very much money, because we were still quite small at this time without a lot of cash.

That, that was very, very difficult.

Adam Conner: But over time that ended up being the right decision. Absolutely. That and good. Cause I want to ask about it because that team has grown to several hundred people. That brand has taken off as you've noted. Now it's on that point that I want to chat a little bit more about the way that FireCloud is structured, because it is an outlier to me.

I haven't heard of it very often. And listeners I'll tell you what I mean. So. First off, I've been to one other ceramics factory in my life, which I know as you noted on our pre-call, uh, over-indexes me like among the, the society. All right. So suffice it to say, uh, that plant that I was, uh, walking, it did not produce consumer products.

I mean, this was all, this is all like components for things that people yeah. Every day, but it didn't strike me as. A place where even if it were consumer facing, you could build an incredible brand with lots of smiling, faces and stories. I mean, these were tough. These are tough guys operating these kills, operating at thousands of degrees, like in fear, getting their fingers chopped off every day.

And yet you have put this face on Fireclay, which despite needing to work that hard job. Still presents itself to the consumer as this, this beautiful end product really. That's what they see. Although it's not all they see, I will talk about what you do on factory Fridays and just a bit, but the care for the team, doesn't just extend to the way that you portray it.

It extends to the way in which you are a patron of it. And so from there, I want to talk about ownership stakes, because you over-index here, which is the benefit in the return of capital to your own employees. Can you explain how it over-indexes and how you got to that decision?

Eric Edelson: Yeah, absolutely. I actually think some of this comes down to just the theme of your podcast, which is authenticity, and that you actually go back to the history of Fireclay.

It started with four founders and over time, one of those founders kind of the original founder of the main founder bought the other three out. I eventually partnered with him. And today we actually have a pretty kind of wide ownership between. Kind of me and the original founder, uh, our employees and, uh, and investors.

And so when I say authentic, it's like my view is that ownership is never fixed, is very reflective of, um, you know, where you're trying to get to. And it can be very complicated, but ultimately, you know, ownership is an incredible valuable tool to. Um, reward people for their effort. And so at Fireclay, uh, you know, one of the biggest appeals I had early on was, was equity and ownership.

And so me and the founder actually on a handshake agreed to meet earning a 25% ownership in the business over several years. And we literally actually didn't sign a legal document for four plus years. It was really just trusted to handshake, which I would not recommend to others. Um, but, but is a Testament to, to our founder and, um, So the trust that we have in each other and, uh, uh, over time, uh, he, his role actually kind of started to decrease and the responsibility that he had decreased.

And, uh, I saw an opportunity to reward our teammates and those people who were creating new value in the company. So, you know, kind of long story short ownership has iterated quite often at Fireclay. Um, and today we are 30% teammate. We're employee owned. Um, and, and that's something that has been very important to me.

We first introduced ownership through a stock option plan to our employees in 2013, when we raised money from outside investors, we increased that into two in 2015. Um, and then we, um, did a buyout of our founder last year, which allowed us to take our teammate ownership to this 30% level. So, you know, it's, it's been one of these things where I've been, I always wanted to work for equity.

I wanted ownership. I wanted upside. You know, shame on me. If I didn't try to create those same opportunities for everyone else who worked for me, um, because that's inspiring to me, I should be able to inspire others in that same way. I also think it's an incredible way to create wealth. I think, you know, we always talk about three forms of compensation at Parkway, which is your base pay a bonus.

We do a year-end bonus every year, which is, which is quite sizable for our team and ownership. And ultimately. Grow this company, we have investors. So we, we do want to sell this company one day. And, uh, when we do that, we want to make sure that our teammates who helped us get us there have, uh, a huge outcome in that.

So, so that's really kind of the big history and, and, uh, and how it's worked. It's certainly have, has had, uh, lots of complexities. It takes work, uh, but it's very doable and it's been huge for us. I think our employees are still figuring out what it all means. Um, but, uh, it's there, it's theirs and, um, I'm very confident that over time, uh, it's, it's gonna be something that they really do come to appreciate.

They can understand it better. And I do think it very much contributes to our culture. We have an incredible team. We have high retention, a lot of people want to come work at Barclay. And I think, I think certainly that adds to it for sure.

Adam Conner: Yeah. I mean, I'm still trying to figure it out a little bit. I haven't heard of a pool that large in terms of ratio of the equity pool for employees.

And I've, I've, I've worked in this startup space in the tech world for a while. So I know the value of it, but it is just not abnormal. We'll just a little unorthodox. So it makes me wonder what these investors said. I mean, sitting there standing to gain maybe a bit of this equity share back on investment that I've already made one a coconut.

Or a founder walks away and then, you know, you come in and say, well, I'd rather just give this to the employees. Like, I'm sure they're thinking like, Hey, I mean, I know this guy went to high school with the president's daughter, but he's not the leader that he thinks he is. This guy might've gotten one perfect score in the Maryland math, like 25 years ago.

But these numbers don't add up. Like what, how did you get through those conversations? I understand there must have been some heated arguments there. So like people letting go of their money. It's very hard to separate somebody from their money.

Eric Edelson: Yeah, well, you, you, you brought us. I think so. Yes, I did. I did go to high school with Chelsea who was an incredible woman.

Um, and, and what's interesting is that that high school was actually a Quaker high school. And, you know, so much of, I think my values come from that Quaker education, um, being raised in a Jewish household. Uh, so, so generosity commitments to the community, those are, those are like very important values to me.

Uh, you know, I'm a very math driven person. I did work in venture capital and finance. Um, I do have a business degree. So, so the math actually checked out quite clearly from my, my standpoint. Uh, it certainly involved quite a long discussion with our, we have a board of directors, um, with our investors and, um, but we are a certified B Corp and I know you've had other B corks on your show when you're a certified benefit corporation, uh, you have made a commitment to all stakeholder.

And, and we take that commitment very seriously. And because we're certified benefit corporation, our board and investors understand that the decisions we make are not always going to be purely profit driven. And so, because we have that alignment because we have that, buy-in, uh, there has been a common language and a shared set of values and alignment to help us make decisions like this.

So when I come to them, This proposal for a radical increase in teammate ownership. You know, it was a 10 page proposal with supporting financial model. Uh, there was a negotiation. This was not like, uh, you know, it took nine months to, for us to help, to align and get there. It does not just happen overnight.

So, you know, there was a lot of back and forth, but, uh, certainly for my leadership, you know, it's something I was very committed to and, uh, I do believe it's going to be a win-win for everyone, absolutely.

Adam Conner: Well, good. And I thought to ask about that because like, I perhaps am overly cynical about what an investor would want.

Uh, out of their investment. And my guess is that, you know, those, those negotiations took, you know, uh, a little bit of time and that it, it wasn't easy street, but that's, this is the work that you have to put in. If you are going to carve your own authentic avenue listeners, I talk about this a lot. It's like, what are you not willing to back down on?

What are you going to lean into extra hard? What aligns with the values of your organization in this case? It was returning as much value to the team as possible. And you mentioned the generosity that makes up your, the fiber of sort of your, your moral being and the education that led you to that. The education that has led me in the experiences where I've had to build and curate teams over time is, uh, the Jesuit practice of education.

So I, I also grew up in the DC or I grew up in Baltimore, so I went to a Jesuit high school and. They're driving. They had many statements and mottoes. One of them was the idea of, of cure Personalysis is, you know, translated roughly to care of the whole person, but it's, you know, making sure that you are nourishing yourself physically, mentally, spiritually in every sense of the word.

And so I think I see a bit of that in what you do with this team, because of it. I went to your website and listen to this true story. I got this opportunity to talk with Eric. I immediately go to the website and I say, we just look at the team page to see like, who are the leaders? You know, who's Eric, who's this guy, right?

So I scroll down and you can go there yourself, listeners. I mean, this guy must have every freaking team member on this page with like a lengthy bio for everybody he's telling everybody's story. Everybody is truly central to this. And that's also an over-index. Thing. I've never seen that before. I asked him about his benefit and he's got bene --

he can't, he displays them publicly. So like, like this is a really strong show of, of care and that generosity. So, so, so kudos to that. Um, can you talk a little bit about the ways in which you like nourish your talent over time? As we described earlier, you have about 200 employees now. I mean, what are you doing to keep them at their best?

Eric Edelson: don't think we've always been great at this. I think this is something we're getting better at and we're, we're working to improve here. Uh, so I, I think that we've always had a strong culture of, we call it goddess. Ganas is one of our core values. It's all, it's a Spanish word. Desire and heart. And we talk about the ganas culture, Fireclay.

There's always been a very strong work ethic at Fireclay. There's always been a very strong commitment to the craft and that has been very much shared by all. So, so everyone's always been all in and that's been very core. I think with regard to developing talent, we very much have looked to promote from within so five of our six members of our leadership team.

People who have grown up within the organization. If you look at our, our managers, you would see, uh, probably 75% promoted from within. So we always are looking internally. Um, we're definitely bringing in outside talent, but we're giving people internally opportunities to grow and develop. Um, over the last few years, we've gotten much better at this.

We've really solidified our people department. We now have a full-time leading and development specialist. Uh, we are working on, you know, performance management, performance reviews, compensation managers. Um, we do a lot around, we're just hyper transparent, so everyone knows everything. Uh, we share, uh, everything in the organization, except we don't share everyone's salary and we don't share everyone's ownership.

But outside of that, like everyone knows how much cash we have in the bank. They know how much money we're making every single month, they know everything. And, uh, so, so I, I think it's always been like an organization where we've all been all in. Uh, I think we're doing a better job now of creating.

Structure and support systems to, to nourish and develop people. But it's never been something historically. We weren't great at like one of the areas we were terrible at was developing managers. Um, so we were typically just like put someone in a management role and say like high five. That that was not great.

So I would not recommend that. Uh, the last few years we've really tried to strengthen that we have, uh, uh, Ganesan called our Donna's team. We have monthly sessions, we do training, we do book clubs. Um, we do manager one-on-one. I teach a class on the business of Fireclay, where I spend several hours with all teammates to actually educate them on like our business and how we make money and like, Why we do the things that we do.

So, so we're doing a much better job now of giving managers tools to have success as managers. But I don't think it's always been, I think we've been best at, I think that our culture has always been good. Uh, but preparing people for success development, that's something we're now spending a lot more time and energy in that, uh, we should have, we should have honestly done more earlier.

Adam Conner: Well, it's interesting to even to hear that and of course, to have to have that humility to be like, well, look at it. Yeah. Always, you know, this, this forward about it, but it's good that you've gotten there. And it's so obvious now that you care deeply about it. Um, let me ask you one more question before I turn to the advice column, which I always do at the end of these, um, pieces about that.

A word that I, that I love authenticity. Yeah. You, um, you, you, you stayed or you told me that it's important, especially these days, especially now for. Um, people to reclaim their brand. Now you went through this several years ago, when you, as you said, fired all your customers and you, you, you described yourself and maybe you can explain what you meant as a manufacturer, encumbered by retail.

And you went to the state of, I guess, being unencumbered. And, and now you, you, you proclaim today that like other brands should do that. Uh, can you explain more about what you mean there and why there is such a hindrance when you tie yourself to another player?

Eric Edelson: Yeah, we, um, listen, I, I have no doubt that some manufacturers must be phenomenal at just, you know, going all in and supporting retail.

Um, I think for us, the, the, the retail channel was, was very limiting for us. Um, it was a very fragmented channel. There was no loyalty. There were, there were so many different players who wanted so many different things. It was, it was really impossible. And especially. But I'll call the artisan world. The, the, the, you know, kind of custom, uh, made to order world.

And this could be anything from, you know, my world is really like interior as design, um, building materials. I've just, I've come across so many makers who just can't grow because their margins are so terrible. Uh, what they're being asked for from retailers is so hard. Uh, the payment terms from a cashflow management are excruciating, you know, net 30, but really you're paid at like 60 days.

Uh, you know, it's, it's just not, you're not set up for success. And so here we are in a world where social media is incredible. Influencers are the new PR and. The ability to show your work, to show how you produce it. It's never been more available and customers want this consumers want to know who they're buying from.

They want to know the company that they're purchasing from. They want to know their values. They want to know what they're supporting. And so to be able to really kind of connect yourself to the consumer has never been more possible than today. Uh, and so, yeah, we're constantly trying to inspire manufacturers, support manufacturers to say, get yourself out there, like connect directly with customers because it's going to create the best experience is going to create the best end product.

Uh, and, and it's just, it's so much more fun. So, I mean, it's not really, I don't really want to knock retail. There certainly is a value for retail, but for, for what we do, especially in the kind of high-end custom work. Uh, to be able to work directly with customers. It's, it's so intoxicating, it's so much better for everybody.

There's fewer mistakes. Lead times are faster. Everything's better, uh, the experience, the value for the end users, better cashflow cycles management for our team ability for us to support our team is so much better. So it's just been a win-win win across the board. Uh, so yeah, we, we definitely are trying to inspire manufacturers to go to.

And, uh, and for customers to really ask more questions about where their product's coming from, who made it, uh, and, and by doing so we think, we think that's going to create a lot more value. Um, for, for everyone.

Adam Conner: I've seen a lot of folks in manufacturing broadly doesn't really matter what they're making.

I go for this to go direct to them. You know, you did this around when, when was this again? In 2013 and 2014, right? When you went directly? Well, DTC was like, not even a, uh, an acronym that was in people's heads at that time. And so you were certainly ahead of that time, but I know it's happening a lot today.

And so yes, of course, no, uh, no hate to the wonderful partners that make manufacturers what they are. But yes, I, I think that that is a very interesting way to, to continue a growth trajectory. So with all of this in mind, I got to ask you, as we close, I do it with everybody. I ask them how they carved their own path to authenticity and how others might.

The reason I do that is simple because most of my listeners like emulate the paths of those that appear here. And that word is so freaking broad. I mean, I call this authentic avenue because I believe there are myriad paths to achieve that word to manifest. And, uh, the stories to get there are endless.

And so given the fact that we've just gone over years for like roughly the last half hour, how would you, like, what learnings have you picked up or teachings? Can you give to help somebody else do their own thing authentically? Whether it be in tile or not, but, um, heat up the kiln for us if you could.

Eric Edelson: Yeah. You're killing it with your towel reference.

I've never heard anyone do it as well. It's fantastic. When I think about authenticity, I think it's, it's so much about staying true to your core values and, and, you know, as they say doing, doing the right thing, when no one's looking, and what's what I think is even more important today around that is also being accountable to it.

Um, I think the word authenticity is thrown around a lot and, and then it's not really substantiated. And so I think in this world, customers, consumers, Employees, they don't want to just hear it. They want to see it. And so being accountable, dream, being transparent, living it, proving it, demonstrating it. I think it's, I think it's so, so important.

I don't think you can just sit there and say, these are our core values or this is how we're authentic. You've got to show people. You have to, you have to prove it. You have to live it. Uh, that's. That to me is, is the sweet spot today of authenticity. It's it's doing the right thing when no one's looking and, and demonstrate.

That you're doing the right thing when no one's looking because there's so much skepticism in the world, uh, trust is low right now, especially to for-profit companies. So we need to, we need to rebuild that trust. We need to give customers, consumers, our employees, the information, so that we're not just talking the talk, but we're walking the walk.

Adam Conner: Sure. Even when nobody is paying attention to the walk that you're walking, you know, the, to make sure that that integrity is there as quite important. Yeah. I appreciate hearing your story here and for you to be so open about it, about the various things that I think you all, over-index on caring, caring for the team, you know, um, making sure we didn't, we didn't even get to factory Fridays, but Lee listeners I'll leave links to, to let you see that.

Essentially what they're doing on Instagram is they're they're giving a live look. At what they're actually like producing like on the production floor, but they get like Connor, thousands of people to watch this. And that might seem strange. A hundred, couple of hundred thousand people are watching a factory.

Yeah, they are. And you need to go figure out why, because I think it's a really well done way to portray it industry, which shall we say, otherwise can seem kind of dry, but yeah, not here. Um, for all of this, Eric, it's been a pleasure and, uh, listeners, if you're going to like redo your home at some point, or if you have an office, frankly, tell your boss.

To call this guy up, uh, and get yourself, uh, get yourself a fresh look. But for now, Eric, thank you so much for joining me. And I was really glad to chat.

Eric Edelson: Thank you, Adam. Keep up the great work. Really appreciate the opportunity to share.


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