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Ken Rusk is owner and founder of Rusk construction and author of “Blue Collar Cash”. We asked Ken to come and chat about something he is passionate about, making a living doing what you love. We were listening to the The Art of Manliness podcast, and we knew we wanted to bring on Ken to talk to parents and mentors of youth, the college graduates who have lost their passion, and business owners looking to create a healthy culture. Ken opens up strong talking about the wrong reasons to go to college.
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Ken is the author of a book called Blue Collar Cash. And we heard him on the art of Manliness podcast, kind of like we did with Charlie Gilkey and we just loved what he had to say. You know, he has a lot of similar messaging as Mike Rowe does. Which Mike calls back, man, dude, what the heck? Anyways, So, you know, yeah there's a lot of similar messaging there, but I stepped away from that wanting to go back out in the field, put my boots on, like, let's go build something right now. I'm done with this BIM stuff. Let's get back out there and get our boots muddy again. You know what I mean?
Okay. So that is definitely an aspect of this, but interviewing you for just a moment. Did you feel somewhat vindicated in the career path that you have traveled?
Because Ken is talking about apprenticeship and about not doing the college path. And so I'm kind of curious, like, where'd you go with that?
You know, for me it resonated because I mean, I'm sure some of you guys have heard this, is that I didn't go to college. It means and it's not really what it is. You know, I think there's kind of a stigma around people who haven't gone to college. I chose a different path because I had that option and I get it. If you don't have the option. We have a family business. I was able to fall into that. I've been very blessed in that regard to fall into an apprenticeship.
So I started at 19 learning the family trade and you know, now I'm here and I've learned so much along the way, but you know, Ken is kind of an advocate for that. And it's saying that, you know, college isn't or everybody, but just because, you know, you don't want to go to college. Doesn't mean you can't have a good living. And I, I, I can agree. I can attest to that. You know, you can have a good living by not going to college. You just gotta be a little bit more creative and kind of create some other avenues for yourself.
Well, let's face facts. I mean, yeah. At some point, even when you get out of college, so many do not travel the career path that they began down when they started their, um, their major, how's
Your history degree, by the way. Correct? Right.
Yeah. I mean, it's, it's kind of a running joke around here. You know, I can teach you history while I'm detailing steel. Um, our other brother, Andy, he can opera, he can sing opera music while he's detailing steel.
I can play the violin, but I didn't go to college for that. So
At some point, um, I don't know that that builder, that innate builder that we had in us kind of it flourished in this. And I, I think if it hadn't flourished, we wouldn't have stuck, but something about it just kind of resonated. So it became more than just kind of like this career path or a way to make money. It became something we were passionate about
Passionate and, and we had a lot of pride in too, you know, like, and that's what I'm hearing from Ken, you know, the dude is, is passionate about what he gets to do every day. And, you know, he, he is able to enable a lot of other people around him to do amazing stuff and encourage them. And it just, it, it resonated with me just really encouragement. You know, I did, I felt very validated in my life decisions, talking to Ken selfishly. I did. So, yeah, just, I love this. I love this conversation.
Well, this is an episode that, you know, for parents, this is an episode for the young person that is just in their career and as looking around and looking at the potential of entrepreneurship. Yeah. This is absolutely an episode for the entrepreneur. Yeah. And I just, there are so many other ways I could frame the value, but listen to what Ken has to say, it's practical, it's pragmatic. It makes some sense of, I think a system that has become very confused and has just become this rote path that we all feel like we need to walk down, we need to stop, give it time. And, and he already has to say, yeah. Um, and it looks book up because I, I, you know, don't just stop here, like listen, but also go, uh, go pick that book up and, and see what else he has to say that maybe we didn't cover here.
Yeah, no, he's got a lot of wisdom that he can share and, uh, just to honor to sit down with them and have a good conversation. So let's get right into it. Here's our conversation with Ken Ross.
All right, Ken, thanks for joining us today. Why don't you tell us who you are and what you do?
Well, my name is Ken Rusk and I own a company called Rusk Industries. And one of the things we're involved in is several different areas of construction, whether it's foundation work or it's, um, you know, rehabbing old buildings and houses and whatnot. We also do, uh, construction, chemicals, fire retardants, and, uh, we get into development, which is, you know, housing developments and office buildings and that kind of thing. So we stay pretty busy,
I guess. So that's a, that's a lot going on for you there, man, and turn for a book.
Yeah. You know, and that was something that, um, it was kind of born out of necessity. You know, we started with six people in our company and we're up to around 200 now and that required us to hire a lot of people. And a lot of these, um, the people that joined our company, it might've been their first, second or third job because again, we do a lot of things we're in, in the construction world. It was, really over the last 20, 30 years we've hired, you know, probably a couple thousand people. It was really interesting to see all the stories that came out of them when they were leaving high school and trying to figure out what they want to do in the world. And the more I would talk to them and see how prepared they were for what, you know, life was going to throw at them. It just a, this book just kind of wrote itself because it really talks about, you know, how to think properly, how to make better decisions and then how to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there. So,
All right. Well, we'll, we, we brought you on after hearing you on Art of Manliness and you got on there and you were, you were talking about your book, so who is your message for?
Well, you know, that's a great question. It's when I get asked a lot, I think there's basically three categories that I can talk about really quickly. You know, first off, if you're, um, a father or a mother, a grandparent, a auntie and uncle, or some type of mentor to a younger person, it's a really good book to read. But it's in a way it's a book that you should read yourself and then have them read it and then talk about it afterwards. I've had some amazing feedback from people saying, I would have never gotten into these conversations with my son or daughter, had we not had this time to kind of read this book and think differently.
So that's number one, number two, if you're someone who went through the college route and you're in some, maybe you're in some, a white collar job in an office building on the fifth floor, somewhere in a cubicle. And you're like, you know, this just isn't for me. I really wish I could build furniture or do something. You know, I'm more passionate about them. This book can help you connect, transition into that world, um, through, you know, through side gigs and all that kind of stuff.
Then again, if you're a business owner, who's trying to build a really loyal long-term staff that kind of self manages and is self-motivated and help your company grow. Then this is a great book to kind of read and have them kind of go along, maybe do a little book club thing with it, and you'll see your employees improve tremendously. That's that's been our experience here.
Well, I kind of wanted to pick your brain a little bit and ask you what's wrong with a college education and get your thoughts on that.
Well, you know, there there's really nothing wrong with a college education, as long as it's targeted and you you're going for a reason. You know, I always say "I'm not an anti college guy. I'm just an anti colleges for everybody guy." And I'll give you a couple of examples, you know, if you're going to operate on my shoulders so I can go back and hit the golf bomb, I'm probably going to want you to know everything there is to know about taking a knife and, you know, cutting into the human body. If you're going to teach people, if you're going to manage money, if you're going to maybe engineer a building. Yeah, you're going to want to know all the things that there is to know about that particular occupation. But if you're just going to school, because somebody told you that you had to, if you're going to go after one of those rather bland, you know, business degrees that aren't really targeted towards any occupation, and when you come out the other side, you have a whole bunch of debt and no real direction. You definitely want to think differently about, about that path.
One of the things that we talk about in the book is, you know, let's, let's position you to think in a broad way, in a way that maybe you haven't learned from your parents or your teachers or your counselors, let's teach you about what life has to offer. And then when you're armed with those proper thinking skills, then you can make a decision whether it's college or the trades or technical school, or an apprenticeship, or just working right out of high school. So, our goal is not to say, "We know what's best for you. "Our goal is to say, "Let's have you look at all your options," but in a much more learned way,
I feel like most of the time, and I see this with our interns here in the office, um, a lot of their friends just came into college just because they were told they had to, they needed to, and they're spending that time and spending money on figuring out their life when the reality of it is, and what you're advocating for is, you know, go out in the field and learn something and then decide whether or not you want to go to school for a specific thing like engineering or being a doctor.
Yeah. I mean, th this, the, these statistics bear that out. You know, they say that up to 40% of kids go to college without any idea why they're going that's, that's pretty serious. They also say that 25% of kids that go to college change their degree in the first two years, which means did they waste some money or waste some time, or, you know, that's an inefficient system. The other thing is 31% of people that have a college degree, never use it in the field they studied for. So if you add all that up, it's a pretty inefficient system, at least as it sits today. And you know, I look at it this way, you know, let's assume that you spend $40,000 a year all in on college, and you do that for four or five years. You know, that could be $200,000 of investment. And you know, that is a negative on your personal balance sheet, because if you owe that money that can take forever to pay off obviously.
Now, conversely, if you're going into a trader a skill where you're actually learning, but you're getting paid to learn while you're learning, you could make 40 or $50,000 a year. And in that same four year swing, you're talking about a $200,000 plus side on your asset base. So put those two together. That's a $400,000 swing from one side to the other. So I just think that again, you know, parents and kids ought to get together and think, "Is this really the best path for me?" If in fact, they're not sure exactly what they want to do going forward.
You know, I, I get into this highly philosophical thing. It's called the Game of Life. I play, I play it with my kids at home. And in the game of life, I'm always a muse at the beginning, cause it's, "Do you want a college path or a career path?" It actually in the new game, it has that. And then on the cards, it's very motivating. Well, I'm going to go college path. It takes you a little longer to the end of the game. But once you start getting those paychecks, man, they're fat because you're always a doctor or a lawyer. I can't help, but think of how this is drumming it into the kids' heads, but sure. The thought I'm having while you're talking is, well, yeah, that's a $400,000 swing. That's a lot of swing, but for many it's like, well, I'll make that up. What kind of reputation or what kind of a counterpoint would you have to that?
Well, again, if you look at, the whole reason that you're going to get an education is not so that you can hang that plaque on your garage wall it's so that you can, uh, make something happen for your life. So you can gain the life that you want for yourself, the life that you see yourself living, your, your best comfort, peace and freedom kind of triangle that we talk about in the book. So I look at it this way. If I'm someone that's going to w to spend that much time, I might want to think about how, what they call "young money" works in a different way. For example, most people don't realize that if you take your first $60 off your paycheck and put it into a 401k program, when you're 21, by the time you're 31, which is 10 years later, you can stop saving that money. And when you retire, you'll have over a million dollars in your 401k account.
So how would you like to have your retirement set done and handled by the time you're 21? I think that's a pretty powerful statement. So yeah, you can make that up, but you have to look at it this way. Is that $400,000 swing? Is that a house? Is that a car? Is that a, is that a fully funded 401k program? And, especially, these are the people that I'm talking to are, are the, you know, the 70 million Americans out of the 160 million that work with their hands.
I mean, half the jobs we have in this country don't require a college degree. So why are we trying to shove a 100% of our kids into college? If that statistic bears true? And it still does. If, if everybody goes to school, who's gonna build our bridges. Who's gonna, you know, build our houses. Who's gonna, uh, do carpentry plumbing and electricians and, and, and, and millwrights and machinists and hairdressers and bakers, and, restaurant owners and small business owners. Who's going to do all those things. So you just have to put, all I'm asking is that we look at putting balance into this whole thing and just kind of work, work straight from that point of view.
I'm interested in this whole thought of, I mean, college as an employer, when I'm looking at a bunch of resumes, it's supposed to be some sort of differentiating factor for the people that are potential hires. And it's not as much a differentiating factor as it once was, particularly if you have a plain vanilla business degree. So then we go to, well, it's supposed to be some sort of tell about their trainability. It's not even now that great of a tale about trainability. And so where we're at now is kind of, unless you have this highly specific thing that you're going into, would I be better off? And maybe if there are half of the jobs in the country that require a degree, should there be half of them there required degree? Should we have better apprenticing programs and some of these other things?
Well, yeah, I mean, if you look at it this way, you would think that Apple computer as a company, okay. You would think that that would be a, a place where you'd have to have a degree and you'd have to have a really highfalutin degree in order to get in there. And yet it, according to Tim cook, the CEO, half of the people they hired in the last couple of years were hired without a college degree. And it's because they realize they need specialized people in their, in their offices, just like anybody else does. So what these companies are now doing is they're saying, "You know what, let's give the kids our own college degree. Let's have them come in and apprentice within our four walls and we'll give them what they need to learn within our company, and then nurture them and talk about their futures and talk about their own personal visions and goals for themselves, and try to create a culture where they want to stay there."
And I think that's the big difference is companies today are starting to realize they're starting to get smart, and they're saying, look it, "I can grab somebody, I can mold them in the shape and the form that both of us want them to be in, not, not only us as the employer, but the employee as well. I can show them the opportunity and the culture for them to say, 'Wow, I can build a life for myself within, through this organization.' So why wouldn't I just go do that?" And I think that you're going to see that trend going more and more and more and more, I mean, you know, you're getting these large, big box stores that are now going right into high schools and setting up booths. Well, why? Because they recognize that we need to catch some of these kids before they may be accidentally indoctrinated into colleges, the only path.
You know, there's a lot of reasons for that. I don't believe that it was anyone's particular fault. Um, you know, we got rid of shop class in the seventies and eighties that eliminated millions of kids from picking up a hammer or, you know, a wrench or a frying pan or whatever, you know, they were due back then. We also got rid of, um, you know, kids going out into the backyard to make a tree Fort with hammers and nails and lumber. Now they do it on a little game called Minecraft.
Okay, well, that's not real living. Okay. And, um, the more kids spend on those, uh, those pieces of equipment, the less time they have those skills that just naturally occur when you're outside doing your thing. And that is, what's creating this crisis guys, it's, it's, what's creating this black hole where supply is so low for blue collar workers, skilled trades, people and demand is so high that obviously that's where the money goes. I mean, it's just a natural economic theorem and we're just trying to get that message out. So people realize they have other options.
There are more people retiring than there are coming into these industries too. So that supply and demand thing that you talk about even in your book is that floored me to see how many people are retiring versus new people coming into specific industries like being electricians or plumbers, or, you know, welders
To your point. Yes. I mean, for every five electricians that are in their late fifties, early sixties and are retiring, there's only one coming on line. That automatically should tell you something about supply and demand and where it's headed. Right. And it's not just electricians. A lot of trades are, are facing that same situation. So all I do is try to point this out. So if everybody's going this way, that contrarian thinker might say, I should go that way. And if that way is underserved, I will get to dictate a few things. I'll get to dictate my time, my schedule, my input, my output, my income I'll get to be any in, in a huge control situation for what I want my life and career to look like. And I don't see this going away anytime soon, guys. I mean, this problem is probably only going to get worse.
So, you know, when I mentioned to, you know, moms that I see out there, Hey, you know, you got finished carpenters making $52 an hour. I mean, that's more than a lawyer makes we're coming right out of law school. So when I think of what those opportunities are, you know, the stigma guys begins to go away from being a finished carpenter or being a plumber and having three or four employees and making a killing, doing it. That stigma begins to go away. Because again, this is very controversial, but I always say sometimes it isn't so important what you do for a living as it is what you do with what you do for a living. And you've got to let that kind of sink in for a second. But man, there is honor in, in creating things, building things, things that stand the test of time. And by the way, if you make a killing doing it, aren't you winning the game of life at that point?
Absolutely. And I remember this mantra, it was baked into me. I wanted to come out and be kind of like history teacher, baseball coach. And here I am working in the construction industry somewhere along the way though. And I can really kind of point back to our, our dad for really kind of encouraging us in this way. It's when you become good at something, you learn to love it. And somewhere along the way, I would have never, in a million years thought that it would be this passionate about construction, but you know, being in and being good at something has bred this passion. I just want to be good at what I do is the bottom line. And so in many ways, I thank the good Lord that I'm not in baseball anymore. Like I like this lifestyle because of the things you mentioned,
There's also this thing called a stand back moment. I think you don't often get in a job where you don't see the beginning to the end. And I think that's really important for small business owners to make sure that all of the people on their team see their mission from beginning to end, meaning the beginning of how they get a job all the way through to the successful completion of that job and happy customer. But I think it's challenging because for me, we get to step back at the end of the day and say, "Wow, look what we created. Look at what we built. Look at that beautiful home that we framed up or look at that... that beautiful area that we made down by the lake with boat docks and whatnot that we developed for, for kids to come for years and years and years to enjoy and make memories with their families."
I mean, those are the kinds of things that I don't think you see when you're in the 77th floor of a financial company and you don't really get the beginning and the end. So I think there's another intrinsic value to that, that, that some people could, they make a few more dollars. Yeah. Probably. But do they get that feeling of real satisfaction? Like I'm contributing to, to something? I think that's a question you have to ask yourself.
Yeah. I mean the stand back moment is something that I, I think of just here in general in our office, you know, we work on these 3D models and so often we'll, you know, we'll move on down the road, but we don't actually go visit the site and have that moment of like, "Hey, we did that. We contributed in this way." And so, you know, being up on the seventh floor in a cubicle somewhere, you don't get to see the fruits of your labor. That's something that I've been kind of going back to. I was telling my
wife the other day, I've got to have a woodworking project over the next couple of weeks or else I'm going to go insane. I've got to do something with my hands. I need to do something because I can have that stand back moment. There's that sense of pride that comes with it. And I love that.
I don't ever want to give advice where it's not asked for, but again, I would say that if, if you're working in an organization where you feel, you don't get to see the end game, that organization needs to provide you a vehicle where you can see the beginning, the middle and the end game, because then you feel a little more connected to what you've done. As you said, there are people that are probably in these design centers or whatever, that, that go forever designing, you know, parking garages and, and they never, they probably walked by the parking garage and didn't even know they designed it. So it's just one of those things where you have to really kind of.. if you're going to create a culture of, you know, long-term again, self managing employees who are motivated to do their own thing for themselves, which is good. I'd probably want them to see the whole picture, what your mission is in your company.
Hmm. I gotta be honest, man, that, that lands in the backyard here a little bit. So point taken in, heard we got some work to do there. Going back to a point you made a moment ago, it strikes me major league baseball is doing exactly what you're talking about with, um, people going to college in many ways. They're incentivizing players to go ahead and come in to the major leagues early. And it's for the exact reason you talked about they, they don't want the brainwashing to happen outside of their umbrella. They've been doing this for quite some time. They answered the question of, well, we'll pay for your college later, if you want to do that thing. Um, but there is something to be said for this laser focused apprenticeship that you can give somebody and, um, and who you get in four to five years. And we can attest to that here. Um, just through the process, we've been through a few times now.
Well, I think there's something else that. It's really important and that is, it used to be that, you know, you would have a demand for work such that you would go in and in you're maybe you're interviewing and there's a bunch of other people that, um, you're competing against to get that job. Well, now it's a little different now, you know, kids in people that are younger, you're just starting out. They can job shop you all day long. I mean, there's 25 for help wanted signs okay. Between here and the freeway. And that's only a couple of miles. So there's this competition for people to, to find good people. So it's funny because if somebody shows up at your door looking for a job and they look you in the eye and they have a bright smile and they have a furniture from handshake, you're like grab onto that guy.
You know, I wear a gal... I'm not letting these people go. And, and what's great about that is that that owner of that company, they tend to put you under their wing and they give you every single thing they got because they realize, wow, I've got somebody good here. I have somebody that's, you know, came early and looks good and, and wants to work. I'm going to give this person every single thing. I got all my experiences on my knowledge, on my skills, all my training. And so you're probably going to move up a lot quicker than you would in a normal scenario where, you know, you're just working wheel barrels for, for years, I have seen the mobility upward increase much quickly and on a much shorter period of time. I think that's good because, Lord knows, you might want to start your own company someday. And they say, people work about 2000 hours a year, right? 40 hours a week, 50 weeks, whatever, if you can get that same four or five, six, 7,000 hours of really intense high quality training, you're going to be way better off by the time you're 25 or 26, and maybe even experienced enough to go launch your own company the way it's so easy to run your own company these days with technology and whatnot. So I just think that's another point people need to think about,
Yeah, the heart of this book, I feel like ends and almost like entrepreneurship. So, I mean, talk about that a little bit.
I think there's, there's kind of a misnomer when it comes to the word entrepreneurship, you know, people think, okay, well that guy's an entrepreneur well, or that gals are an entrepreneur. Well, well, what makes them that it's not just some label that they have, you know, it's not just something they were born with. I think there's about nine qualities. And we talk about them in the book. And these nine qualities I believe are inherent in every one of us. What, what wakes them up or what wakes those qualities up within us? You know, I liken it like these, these qualities are just, they're in your closet, hiding behind the shoes you haven't worn in a long time. They're there. You just got to find a way to get them out. And what makes that happen is a perfectly clear vision of what you want for yourself and your life.
So our exercise here is we have people actually draw out on a big piece of paper with Crayons, what they want their life to look like. I mean, are you a house person or are you a condo person? Are you apartment in the city person or a farmhouse person? Are you a, a minivan person or a pickup truck person or a motorcycle person, or are you an electric car person? Are you a dog or a cat? And what kind and what would you name it? You know, we get really, really specific at what kind of hobbies are you into? What's your give back moment to charity look like for you? You know, are you married? Are you single? Are you big family, small family. And we get them really specific and honed in on what they want for themselves. Because if I can get someone to see very clearly what they want their life to look like, then all these little characteristics of entrepreneurship just kind of awaken up inside of them because now they feel like they have the power to go after what they want for themselves.
And that level is different for everybody guys. I mean, we're not all going to chase mega yachts and mansions and 15 cars. Some people are just going to want to a very compact, simple, beautiful, calm, comfortable life. And those are the things that we try to expose. And once they see that, then they feel like they can control their own input and therefore their own output. And you can create entrepreneurial employees who work like that within your company or entrepreneurs that just go start their own thing. And your company's better off for having had them for a while. So don't be afraid of it either way.
I love that I really do. And you know, it took a lot of time for that sort of thing to wake up and me, and, and you don't have to determine that overnight. I think it takes a lot of time sometimes to figure out what you want your life to look like. The fault that I see so many people making is they, they dive head in and start paying a bunch of money to a college. And they think that that's going to help them figure it out. And it might to a point, but once you get out of college, you start figuring things out, even more so not to continue to knock college, but this is kind of one of my soap boxes in a way, because I'm not a product of college. I'm a product of apprenticeship. I'm a product of sitting next to this guy next to me for eight plus years and him just absolutely having at me whenever I would ruin something or mess something.
And so I see the benefit out of just putting your head down and working hard at something for a long period of time. That's why I resonated with your message so much to kind of bring it back around. There was a question that I wanted to ask, and it was more specific for our audience because, you know, we talked to a lot of general contractors and people that are project managers within general, contractors and engineers, and a bunch of other skilled kind of trades in that. Would you advocate if somebody wanted to get out in the field, would you advocate them actually dropping back, going, becoming an apprentice, even though they have a college degree and pursuing a career as a, as an electrician or a plumber, do you think that they can ultimately get further ahead by doing that than staying where they're at as a project manager?
Well, you know, again, it, it, it all goes back to what do they want for themselves? What kind of life do they want for themselves? And do they feel that they can get that life within, through their current situation? So if the answer to that is no, if they'd like to have some more control, then why wouldn't they pursue a path that gives them more control over their, again, their input in their output, because you know, one of the secrets is this because there's such a demand for this type of work. I mean, I waited six months for an outdoor kitchen to be built behind my house out of stone, because there's not many guys doing it anymore. And the guys that are doing it are making a killing. So people are waiting and they're charging money and they're doing what they do. But I look at it this way because the demand is so high and it's going to be that way, okay?
This is not, this is not like a small time thing. Your learning curve will probably be much shorter than it would be normally. And you know, if you go out and you do a good job for someone, again, you come on, come on time and you look them in the eye, you give them a fair price and you do a great job. You're going to be so busy that you're going to need to hire people to come along with you. And within no time at all, you're going to have maybe half a dozen people on your staff that now you've got a company. And, and you're way beyond where you were as a project manager, working for somebody else, it all depends on what your tolerance level is and how much control you want over your own life. You know, some people are fine working in that situation.
Other people say, you know what, that's not for me. I want to do my own thing. Well, then go do that. Um, you know, you have 90 some years on this planet. Uh, don't waste any of them. Okay? Trust me. I I'm 57 years old. I dug my first ditch when I was 15 and I still work for the same company. The only differences I own a couple of them. And now I've started other construction things as well. But I had the ability to do that because I could control my own destiny. You know, ditch digging might not have been the, the first thing on my list of a hundred things I wanted to do, but I knew I could find a means to an end that way. And like you said earlier, I knew that the harder I worked, the more income I could make, and I knew that way I could control the things I wanted out of my lifetime. And therefore I just went for it. So I say, absolutely, yes. If you want to control your own world, if you got to take a step back, it won't be that long.
Yeah. Can we talk kind of financial too? Cause you have a better idea than I think the internet probably does have the ability to make money in this, uh, for a person who owns their own company, say I'm a plumber or an electrician. And I start my own company within 10 years. If I'm consistent, if I'm showing up on time, if I'm looking people in the eye, putting out a good product, what is my earning capacity look like?
Well, I can tell you that that happened when I was building my house, there was the, the stories in the book. Um, there's a gentleman there who was working for a plumbing company. He was running all the rough plumbing in the house and he had been there for a while and we would get to talking and whatnot. And he asked me a lot of questions about how I started and how I got my first employee and then my fifth and then my 10th and all the way up. And the more he asked me, the more I would say, well, "What do you, what, what, why are you asking here? Is there something I should know?" And he's like, well, yeah, I think I want to start my own thing. And I said, okay, well I think you should do that. So let's just, let's just take a typical, scenario.
So, let's assume that you're a plumber and, and you're charging 40 or $50 an okay. Okay. So if you're working full time, $50 an hour, times, 40 hours, $2,000 a week, or 100,000 a year, right now you get busy enough and you will so hire one or two people. And maybe they're those apprentices. You can only charge $20 an hour for, or maybe $30 an hour for it, but you're paying them $15 or $18. There's more money that you're making for your business in your company on top of your own particular thing. And that's, that's the beauty of having your own company. You know, you can be somewhere making money, generating an income, and you can have others generating an income for you at the same time, even though you're not involved in that particular task. So, I look at it that way. If you're any good at what you do, it'll be really hard for you to remain a one man band for very long. And therein lies the beauty of the American economy, because we all have the ability again, to become these little entrepreneurs, but it all starts with what we want our life to look like. And that is, that will always remain the most important driving force.
Well, I think this is probably a great moment for our famous megaphone question. Ken, if you, if you had a megaphone that you could speak to the whole construction industry with and 60 seconds, what would you tell him?
I would tell him this. I would say, be, be very proud of, of what you do and be very proud of, of what you've accomplished, you know, live your best life. I mean, a lot of times when people come to my house and they see what I've been able to accomplish, you know, I've had people the question isn't, you know, where did you go to school? I mean, look at what you've done. Where'd you go to school? It's always, man. How did you grind out this life?
Okay. So for me, it's all about being proud of what you do. There is a secret of the fact that while sometimes there's a stamina put on someone who wears jeans and work boots to work every day, that there is this hidden, amazing life that you have. And you need to be very, very comfortable and very blessed and very grateful that you chose that path because everybody has their time. You know, and this is your time. So take full advantage of that. Again, be grateful and be proud and be happy for what you're doing. You're building things that people can't do. You're creating things that other people can't do. And, um, you know, as long as you have a strong vision for your life, I guarantee you your best days are ahead of you.
Well, thanks for joining us today, man. This has been an encouragement and an education all at one time. We really appreciate your sharing.
Oh, thanks for having me guys. Anytime