How to Demolish Negativity and Create Growth - with Dan Shoemaker

Want to find out how to level up in your career or small business? down arrow
Hard work, dedication, and doing whatever’s necessary to learn is what it takes to become successful.
If you have the passion and right attitude, you’ll find yourself moving up. oncoming fist: medium-light skin tone
Sometimes it just takes a change in perspective.
In this episode of The Proud Skilled Worker, we hear from Dan Shoemaker, President of Shoemaker Demolition Inc. He started his career hauling with a beat up Toyota Tacoma and modified jet ski trailer, and grew to starting his own company.
You don’t want to miss his advice! Check it out.


Main Takeaways:
hammer and wrench | Your outlook determines your outcome
hammer and wrench | If you want to move up in your career, be persistent
hammer and wrench | Tradesmen who excel in the little things will be most successful
hammer and wrench | Anyone can be successful with enough hard work
alarm clock 00:00-07:34 | Starting from the ground up: Dan’s business journey
alarm clock 07:34-10:13 | How do I get my employer to invest in my training?
alarm clock 10:13-15:55 | Flip your perspective
alarm clock 15:55-20:59 | Dan’s take on trends in the industry
speech balloon “If you want to build a lead, you have to follow. Buckle down, focus in and be like, I’m going to grind this out, I’m going to learn, I’m going to make myself valuable, I’m going to educate myself on this.” - Dan Shoemaker, President of Shoemaker Demolition Inc.
speech balloon “There’s so much noise for business owners…you have to prove it to show you have what it takes.” - Dan Shoemaker, President of Shoemaker Demolition Inc.
speech balloon “The second you take complete responsibility for every aspect of your life—the good, the bad, and the ugly—then you can really start to shift the course of your life.” - Dan Shoemaker, President of Shoemaker Demolition Inc.
speech balloon “Focus on solutions and get really practical about what is in your control. Think about what you can control today, not what’s happening in the world.” - Dan Shoemaker, President of Shoemaker Demolition Inc.
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Full Transcription: 

Michael Peatrowsky  00:13

Hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of The Proud Skilled Worker. Today we have an opportunity to interview Dan Shoemaker, President of Shumaker Demolition, Inc, in Ventura, California. And I want to say thank you so much for taking time out of your day. I know this is a huge season for you. I know you guys are busy all over. I just want to take an opportunity and ask, how did you get into the skilled trades? How'd you find yourself in the industry you're in?


Dan Shoemaker  00:37

First of all, thank you for having me on your podcast, I'm happy to be here. I grew up doing work in different construction and working for general contractors, working for drilling companies, things like that. So I've been in a lot of different trades, done a lot of different things throughout the years. So that's kind of started out young after high school, you know?


Michael Peatrowsky  00:56

How'd you end up in business for yourself, Dan? I mean, is this something that you acquired from somebody? Or do you start it on your own after just all the exposure?


Dan Shoemaker  01:02

Actually, I was looking for a job at the time, and I wasn't able to lock in any, any kind of work. And so I was just kind of my back was against the corner a few years ago, I was trying to find solid work to support my new daughter and things like that. And I knew I had to make the moves to make something happen. And so I just started this little hauling business, you know, and just kind of hustling, just picking up whatever jobs I could. And then it kind of started growing more and more, and just I kept investing, like, whatever money I'd make back in to the business, buying more equipment, buying a bigger truck, a better truck, better trailers, you know, got licensed, my contractor's license for demolition, and they just kept going like that. So that's kind of how it started.


Michael Peatrowsky  01:48

No, that's great. So started off hauling, started off buying trucks, trailers, bigger, bigger, bigger, and then you started knocking things down, tell me about how Dan knocks things down.


Dan Shoemaker  02:01

You definitely want to cover all your bases before you start demolishing anything, you know, you want to make sure you've kept all the utilities to the structure, whatever it is, gas, electric, water, all the different things, notified all the different departments, got proper permitting, that everybody has a game plan, everybody's on the same page, the whole crew's focused and you have a plan of attack for because it can be very dangerous, you know, you have a huge structure is coming down. And it can, it can be unpredictable. And so you want everybody there to be really focused and be really on point. And basically when when you're trying to take a building down or house down, the main goal is just to get it on the ground as fast as possible, because then it becomes safer once it's on the ground. So then once it's on the ground, then you process it a little bit, and you want to haul it out as fast as possible, you know, so that obviously, you can make the most money on the job, the faster the better.


Michael Peatrowsky  02:56

What's the largest building you've ever brought down?


Dan Shoemaker  03:00

Like large houses and parking coverings, like really large parking coverings, parking structures, small portable structures...

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Michael Peatrowsky  03:08

That's great. I've never knocked anything like a house over, so you have me beat! I'm curious to know in the industry you're in, and coming up in through the trades, and even starting your own business, and now owning the business: What's been the biggest challenge you face, Dan?


Dan Shoemaker  03:20

It's you gotta be tough to stick it out. Because you know, you like, you get busy. And then you're first of all, you're trying to find jobs. And then once you find the jobs, then you're trying to find the people to help you get the jobs done and trying to complete it and be profitable. But I think the main thing is just trying to find the leads when you're first starting out, because nobody knows who you are as a new company and trying to establish credibility, nobody calling you know, so you got to try to figure out how to get people to want to, you know, you got to find those leads. So that's the hardest part is finding the leads. It's it's like a roller coaster at first because you you're scrambling, you know, but I think as you keep going on, you start to pick up more and more momentum. And it can be kind of tough, because sometimes you got to lowball it to, to be able to get those jobs starting out, you know, you can't demand like the high premium, if you don't have you know, a lot of skill or a lot of experience in a certain thing. So you, it's kind of a hustle to start out with, a little bit of a grind. But then as you do more jobs and you gain more and more experience, and you can start asking for more money, and people start to, you know, want your services more and more, you have a little more money to advertise. So it starts to get a little more momentum, which is the you know, that's what it takes.


Michael Peatrowsky  04:32

Yeah, I think it's interesting that you describe the struggle that it is to start a business is new leads, gaining experience, and then gaining more more income and being able to build on your book, those are reciprocated and matched I think in skilled workers and in skilled labor in the field is: in order to gain more experience, you need to find a company that's going to invest in you. You have to find a company who's going to give you an opportunity. You have to get experience by doing that over and over and over again. And then that's where you start to request more money for your skills you have a higher skill set, you're able to provide more value.  So as a business owner, it's interesting for me to hear you say, like, "Hey, I'm going through this three phase process of building up my leads, and where are your opportunities, and then building up your experience or your jobs, and then building up your your income", which is also how a skilled worker would look at it. At the end is, my income is going up as my increase, and my experience increases. So it's super cool to see those match, like a business is trying to do what a person is trying to do for themselves, they just have to do it a little differently. But it's always incremental growth, it doesn't typically happen overnight. And as you just described, that beginning part is a grind, you got to sometimes be willing to come in and start a little lower on the price, you got to be willing to come in and gain experience. So you can prove yourself or build your resume or build your book. So definitely super interesting to tie those two things together. I don't know if that correlates to you at all, but it was really fun. 


Dan Shoemaker  05:51

It totally, it's the same thing. And it's and it's it, that's the attitude to take if you want to become successful quickly. Because if you want to build a lead, you have to follow. So like you have to become really good at a trade, if you want to demand more money for whatever your skill is, wherever your service, just buckle down, focus in and be like, I'm going to grind this out, I'm going to learn, I'm going to make myself valuable, I'm going to make myself and educate myself on this, I'm going to become quality. And I want to be able to ask for more money. You know that same for a worker, the same for an operator for a business owner, for anybody.


Michael Peatrowsky  06:24

You said something that I think is so crucial that everybody needs to hear. And I think people need to hear this more and more: in order to lead, you have to know how to follow. That's something that I learned in the Marine Corps really, really young in my Marine Corps career is that no matter what, who you are, what you do, how good you are, if you can't follow orders, if you can't follow another, you're never going to lead because nobody will be able to trust you. So you said it, you hit it on the head. And I think it's so important for people to be real about, hey, sometimes you gotta follow if you want to be a leader. Yeah, appreciate you saying that, 


Dan Shoemaker  06:54

You know, thank you for your service, too my brother was marine too. So I know you guys are... 


Michael Peatrowsky  06:58

Semper Fi 


Dan Shoemaker  06:59

...hardcore. The thing about it too, is that if the times where you can do that, where you can just like check the ego at the door and be like, who cares? If you know, uh, you can learn something from everybody to a lot of people that are taught me a lot different people in my life, you know, some maybe sometimes there can be difficult people but you know, if you just be like, forget it, like I'm gonna focus in, I'm gonna learn here, I'm gonna, like, I'm gonna get the information, I'm gonna and take that kind of approach, then things will start can start moving really fast. You know?

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Michael Peatrowsky  07:27

It's right, your ego is not your amigo. So I have a good friend of my life who uses it all the time. So kind of kind of next here, Dan, what we're going to do is we have we have some questions here from some actual skilled workers in the field targeted at yourself as a business owner, as somebody who's looking to provide value to their employees. So we're gonna jump right in. And I want to get your honest feedback on how these things work. So one of our questions is, "How do you get your employee--to an employer--to invest in training programs?" So if someone wanted you to invest in a training program from them, how would they come to you and request that?


Dan Shoemaker  07:58

I mean, I guess it depends, can you give a little more context?


Michael Peatrowsky  08:00

Yep, so say you have someone on your crew who wants to get more into the demolition side and less on the cleanup side, and I'm not 100% sure how the break goes, but if someone's like, hey, I really want to learn to drive or get trained on the excavator? How do I go about doing that? How do I go about building a training program with you to where I can get experience, get certified on that, and develop my career through you guys?


Dan Shoemaker  08:23

I mean, first of all, we have to start out by establishing that credibility by you know, showing up early every day, working hard, having a positive attitude, you know, and then and even the guy that's just starting out that they're going to gain a lot of respect from everybody just for that. You know, if they, if they could see a spot for growth by talking to the owner frequently, a lot, bugging them, talking that then you know, that message is eventually gonna get through if there's, if there's that position. It's kind of like there's so much noise for business owners, for contractors, and there's so many different things coming at them. You got to really, you know, fire in hard and frequently, and prove it to show that you got what it takes. Be the squeaky wheel, you know, just kind of like bug em, I guess, you know, that's what you'd probably do.


Michael Peatrowsky  09:10

Yeah, I mean, what it sounds like is what you're saying is just stay persistent. I think that people on in any industry, whether it's manufacturing or construction or demolition, I think people get confused because they're like, "Well, I asked for it once and it never happened." And the reality of what you just said is everybody's being asked 1000 things, make sure you keep asking, make sure you keep that on the forefront, because 1), is that still something you want to pursue 2), is that something that you have a reason to pursue? Continue to tell people "hey, I'm interested in this. I want to grow, I want to grow, I want to grow 


Dan Shoemaker  09:41

Yeah, and there's probably five different people that the person is considering giving that opportunity to and you know what it's just like anything in life, if you're this one person, and they keep asking you, and they're, you're showing up, and you're working hard every day, and you're doing a really good job. You know what, this guy's got the confidence to take on that responsibility. He believes in himself enough that he's gonna bug me every day about it. Like, I'm gonna give him a shot, at least you know, right?


Michael Peatrowsky  10:04

That's right. And you said it, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. So the louder you are, the more you say you want to grow and develop, the higher that chance is gonna come to you. 


Dan Shoemaker  10:12

Yeah, absolutely. 


Michael Peatrowsky  10:13

Jumping in and into our next question, and this is directed right at you. But I like to turn this, this this podcast and these things towards actual skilled workers in the field. So I'm gonna kind of adjust that a little bit. It says, "Being a small business owner and a one man army, what are some ways to advance?" And what I'm going to kind of ask you to elaborate on is, that that process you took inside of your own career, is now you're a business owner. Now you're a one man army. Now you've built all that. Tell me the story of that advancement that you took, because you went from a hauling company to a demolition company, Dan, that's not. Those are not like fields, necessarily. So I want to understand how you built who you are and what you are, and some of the attributes, some of the skills you applied that you think business owners and then skilled laborers/skilled workers can apply to their day to day lives.

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Dan Shoemaker  10:59

Yeah, I mean, I just had this Toyota Tacoma was a little old piece of junk Toyota Tacoma, and I took a jetski trailer, I worked a day for this guy, he and I traded the day's work for the jetski trailer. And we we patched some sides on there, we welded some sides on there, took this little tiny jetski trailer and turned it into a little hauling trailer. And we started just hustling, just doing whatever kind of jobs I could. It's just an idea, it doesn't matter. You know what I mean? It's just like, I had the idea to do it and I'm going for it, it's just that that's all it takes, that's where anybody wants to start their own business or do something that can make it happen. You know, it's just like, you have to get ready to, a lot of, for a lot of setbacks, a lot of failures, a lot of like, hard difficult times. But that's, you know, that's that's the process, it's totally doable. Anybody can do it, as long as you stick it out and you're, you're tough. I think that people if they're interested in doing going out of their own or starting a business, is that kind of like the crux of your question is like, what would I say to somebody who was wanting just to start out, go out on their own with it as business?


Michael Peatrowsky  11:59

Yeah, I think if you want to go out, going out on your own, or even just advancing yourself personally, I mean, what are the skills and attributes you used to develop those things, as you talked about, I think you even said it, if you have an idea or a dream, go get it. And I'm like, I kind of want to elaborate on that piece. Because I think you can apply that to any part of your life, whether it's working for someone, working for your own business, anything, you can kind of take those principles and apply. So what does that look like to you? 


Dan Shoemaker  12:23

They gotta get knowledge, they have to read, have to get the knowledge and you got to become hungry to get the knowledge and realize how much it can benefit your life by reading books, or listening to inspirational podcasts, by taking responsibility for your life. You know, if you can understand that, it's all up to you, and the sky's the limit, but it's all about, I have to get the information and get it inside of me and then apply it, and then you can, you can start to really make it happen. You know, it's like you have to, you have to have the knowledge, you know. And so just just to if even if they didn't want to start their own business, they just want to grow in the business they're with, or whatever it is, you have to realize that it's going to be about developing their skills, and specializing in their skills, developing the fortitude to stick it out and, and maintaining a positive attitude, you know, learning how to direct their energy and their thoughts, and motivate themselves every day. That's what it's all about, you know, to realize. But I think of a lot of people realized what the potential that they had, did they do it, they would do more, but I feel like a lot of times we're you know, we're just so beaten down or something that we feel like we could never really step out. We don't have what it takes or whatever to go to another level with things. But I think if people you know, start to discipline themselves every day more and more, you know, you may start working out, start reading positive information and maintaining a positive attitude. People got to realize that your attitude and your thoughts, you're in control of them, that being a victim, it doesn't get you anywhere. The second you take complete responsibility for every aspect of your life, the good, the bad, the ugly, all of it, then you can really start to shift the course of your life because then you can you can start to make changes. 


Michael Peatrowsky  14:09

Wow, I love it. I think, I think for me, I would summarize everything you just said if if someone said, Hey, summarize cliff notes, I would say all of that is take responsibility for where you are, where you want to be, and what you want to become. And I think all of what you just said for me is, is so real, that all of us end up in situations in life or in situations professionally or personally, that we can look at, point blame or shift. But taking responsibility is crucial for our attitude, for our skills, for our demeanor, for our discipline. And I think, you know, that's something that all of us can apply to our lives, is just take that responsibility for who you are today and change it if that's not who you want to be. 


Dan Shoemaker  14:48

Yeah, cuz I mean, it feels good to be a victim sometimes and play the blame game, and all this other stuff. But it doesn't, it doesn't get you anywhere. You know, it's like I just, the more you can just be like, "I'm just, I'm gonna own it, I'm gonna own it, because now I can change it now I can see what I'm going to do and make it happen." But I mean, I get like, excited, you know, to try to give people advice, they want to do something or step out and do more, because I know what the, the answer is, you know the answer, you have to seek knowledge every single day, and you got to apply it, and the answer's right there, you know, and it's the way we think and the way we act, that's what's going to determine where you're going. So you have to change your thoughts. You have to start thinking like the person, the person that you want to be, you know, and so kind of stuff.


Michael Peatrowsky  15:36

It's great. I love it. And I think, again, whatever that whether you're a business owner, or a skilled worker in the field, or work in manufacturing, that principle applies to all of us, is no matter what, that principle applies.


Dan Shoemaker  15:48

Exactly. It's the same thing. If you want to go in your company and rise through the ranks and everything, it's the exact same principles.


Michael Peatrowsky  15:55

Yeah. So huge. Moving into that, I think I'm gonna ask you, you know, that's, that's what you want out of people, that's how you would give people advice is, what are you seeing as the most concerning trend in the industry, and it could be your industry, it can be all of skilled trades. I'm not sure how much you're tracking the rest of the industry, or trades on the great resignation, on the huge migration of job shift, all of those things, but what is what are you seeing as the most concerning trend in the industry as a whole? 


Dan Shoemaker  16:24

Well, I mean, obviously, the inflation and everything like that is, is you can see it, you know, you can see the cost of materials, like doubling and stuff like that, and fuel prices and all that. So it's, it's just, but it's just new challenges, it's new, new situations that everybody has to deal with, everybody has to navigate through. You know, I feel like there's always been problems, always going to be solutions as well, you know, and so I just, I think that people would be best to just try to focus on the solutions, you know, and just just recognize all the different things that you're gonna have to deal with and encounter. And that it's a gnarly time, where you how it's, you know, you got to be really focused, or else you can lose big on jobs, you know, with materials keep going up and things like that. I think it's the best of times, it's the worst of times, it's, I would think it's best to focus on solutions and get really practical about what is in your control. "What can I control today?", not what the world and what's happening, and what the trends are, and everything like that. I mean, just be aware of it. But, "what can I do today to to make it happen?"


Michael Peatrowsky  17:33

And then on an optimistic note, because we'd like to finish things here on a positive note, what are you most excited about? Like, what's happening in the industry? What's happening that you're just like, hey, this is the greatest thing.


Dan Shoemaker  17:43

Yeah, it seems like things are really booming. You know, it's just right now everything is, you know, there's all kinds of opportunities. I'm just so excited to be here in Southern California working and be right, right, right here at this time right now. It's just, there's, there's so much opportunity, there's, there's so much, there's so many things going on. And I'm just so excited to be here. And I want to I just want to make the most of it, you know, to try to really do something big.


Michael Peatrowsky  18:11

I love it. I appreciate you taking time to answer some of the questions from some of the skilled workers in the field and skilled laborers in the field who responded and reached out this is the part of the show where I open it up to you, I want to give you basically an opportunity, a platform to speak out any wisdom you have, any any real genuine feelings you have about, hey, I want to tell this to everyone in the industry, every time, I every chance I get to talk, to this is what I say. I'm going to open this up to you and just give you 5, 10, 45 minutes...hopefully not...about just what's something you want to say to everybody in the industry who's listening to this, who's watching this online? 


Dan Shoemaker  18:45

Just that the sky's the limit, and that we set our own barriers, we set our own walls up, like we set our own limits, and that there's no limit, You know, if you want to be running jobs and having multiple crews or starting your own business, or whatever it is, you could do it, you know, you can do it. It's just you just start working on it every day, and you fix your sights on where you want to go. And you start to make it happen. And that if you if you feel like you want to do it, then go do it. Go start to make that happen. Just step out and make that happen. And because the thing is, is whether a lot of guys I feel like they think about, they're working for somebody else, they think about becoming a contractor on their own and doing on their own and you know. Whether they do it this year or five years from now, you're gonna encounter the same headaches, the same setbacks, the same failures, so you might as well just get it over with and do it now. I don't know, you know, it's like, I just, I'd like to hope I could say something that would encourage people to just do the best they can and do a really good job and shoot for the stars. You know, and just go for it, make it happen and realize that you know, like a lot of times a lot of people though, to make things more complicated than they are, like a lot of contractors or sometimes people you know what I mean, though, it's really not that complicated. You know? You just got to go out there, find the jobs, and then you go get the jobs done, you know? And so anybody who was wanting to become a contractor, I'd say just just go do it. And do you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Give me advice or whatever else, you know.


Michael Peatrowsky  20:15

I love it. Dan, thank you so much again for being on the show everybody. Dan Shoemaker, President of Shoemaker Demolition, Inc, out of Ventura County, California. For everybody on the show, thank you so much for watching, for listening, for downloading on Spotify, YouTube, Apple podcasts, anywhere you're watching. Continue to ask all of you to reach out, comment. If you want to be a guest on the show, please reach out, leave us a comment, drop us a line. And we'd love to have you on to talk about trends in the industry, what you're seeing as the struggles are, and just hear your voice. So thank you, everybody, for continuing to listen, continue to be a part of what we're doing here and have a wonderful day.

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