Salt of the Earth

We talk with gritty, hilarious people who run successful small businesses.
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Salt of the Earth


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Now displaying: 2015
Dec 17, 2015

Brad's an electrician in Dorset, Vermont. He employs 10 people, has 1600 customers, and has a masterful command of the English language when it comes to backwoods slang.

We caught up with him in his barn for this interview. Brad shared what is was like to buy a business from his father, how he keeps business flowing in a "little hick town", and what he thinks the upcoming workforce could learn from the old guys.

We're taking a break to record more interviews but we'll be back online soon. Thanks so much for listening!

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Dec 10, 2015

Will's a rancher from Bluffton, Georgia. He's the fourth generation owner of White Oak Pastures. Will transitioned White Oak from a traditional cattle ranch to an exemplar of sustainable agriculture. He now raises and slaughters cattle and poultry right on the farm in addition to running a vigorous produce business.

Will speaks with the conviction of someone who's spent years considering the purpose of his work. In our interview he shared his thoughts on the nature of raising and slaughtering animals, finding dedicated workers, and how he polishes off a bottle and a half of wine each night.

Nov 26, 2015

Audra grew up changing oil and swapping tires. She's a fourth generation mechanic and owner of Great Bear Auto Repair in Queens, NY. Since taking the reins at Great Bear she's also started, a site that teaches people how to properly maintain their cars and helps them understand what to expect when taking them to a mechanic.

Listen to this episode to hear Audra's perspective on running her business in a mostly male industry, dealing with the preconceptions that mechanics are crooks, and quadrupling her revenue since the recession.

Nov 19, 2015

Joe Ray thought he was pretty tough at 18. So tough, he thought, that he might have a career as a boxer. He hired a boxing coach and quickly found himself with plenty of black eyes and no wins. But Joe’s coach still gave him a chance–a chance selling fish. He thrived at his coach’s fish market and so begins the story of Joe Ray, owner of Free Range Fish & Lobster, a $15M fish distributor and retailer.

Joe cut his teeth working boats in Maine and Alaska before settling down in Portland, Maine. He spent nearly a decade learning the ropes from other distributors in Portland before setting off on his own with one business partner. Free Range Fish & Lobster now consists of a large wholesale business, a restaurant sales division, and retail shops in Portland and Wakefield, NH.

We met Joe the old fashioned way–we walked into Free Range and asked to talk to the owner. Joe waved us in and within two minutes asked if we were ready to do the interview. We grabbed our stuff from the car and started. Joe’s full of hilarious anecdotes and sharp insights, especially on sales. We couldn’t have asked for a better interview with a nicer guy. We had a blast recording this one and think you’ll really enjoy it.

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Nov 12, 2015

After being fired from her corporate job and with a new six-month old, Harriet Mills needed to find work, fast. So she did the logical thing: headed for the local "paint-and-sip" studio, had a few glasses of wine, and took a painting class. At the end of the class, she had a pretty decent painting and the inspiration for a new business: Wine & Design.

Today, Wine & Design is one of the largest paint-and-sip franchisors in the country, with 62 locations and plans to get to 100 by next year. They started out small, in 2010, with one location and an $8,000 loan. Through Groupon, Facebook, and some local media coverage, they gained immediate interest, and in 2011 they opened their second store. From there, they started franchising and have continued to grow. Hear about Harriet's first job (a lemonade stand), how she used to find artists, and what she is doing to ensure the long term success of Wine & Design. 

Also, check out our website at and sign up for the newsletter to see Harriet's first painting, the one that inspired her to start her own business. 

Nov 5, 2015

Luke Holden & Ben Conniff started a restaurant in the East Village with $30,000 and one product in 2009. Since then, they've expanded into Boston, Chicago and even locations in Japan. And the focus is still on serving a fresh, simple lobster without the high price tag. 

In 2009, Luke was leaving a job in finance and Ben was looking for a job in the food industry. "Entry level kitchen jobs" is how Ben describes the job he was looking for. They ended up finding each other through Craigslist and opened the doors to their first inglorious shop in October. With 8 seats, no restroom, and no air conditioning, they earned a profit on their small investment within the first month. We talk to them about sketchy NYC handymen, marketing their first shops, and managing a growing workforce.

Luke's Lobster is probably our most interesting "blueprint", as an episode, so far. Two guys with a simple idea and $30,000 enter one of the more challenging industries in NYC, and come out with a $10M/year+ business. 

Oct 29, 2015

Nonpoint is a heavy metal band that originated in Fort Lauderdale,  Florida. Robb Rivera is the drummer and founded the band in 1996 when he heard Elias Soriano singing "happy birthday" at a restaurant and convinced him to join his fledgling band. Almost 20 years later, Nonpoint is still going strong.

We met up with Nonpoint before one of their shows and talked about how their first record deal ended with them owing money to their label, how much revenue a band makes from Spotify (not much), and how they steadily grew a metal band into a multi-million dollar business. Robb even gives us some of his highly secretive Facebook tricks.

Nonpoint is no stranger to the work it takes to build and run a successful band. They've survived the big record labels, the Napster years, and the iTunes era by managing their band like the business that it is, and never losing sight of their product: the music.  

Check out our newsletter for extra stuff from each episode. This week we've got a clip from their show John attended. 

Many thanks to MailChimp for sponsoring this episode. 

Oct 22, 2015

Amy Simmons is the founder and president of Amy's Ice Creams in Austin, Texas.

She opened her first store in 1984, picking the location after seeing a croissant shop next door stay busy all day. Amy now does over $10M in revenue across her 15 locations.

We talked with Amy about her evolving view on success, how she chooses locations, and the janitor who was her first investor. Check out Amy's old name tag from her first job at Arby's!

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This week's episode is sponsored by our friends at MailChimp.


Oct 15, 2015

Fred Forsley is the co-founder of Shipyard Brewing Company, which in 2014 sold over 18 million bottles of their Pumpkinhead Ale. His story starts at a brewpub in Kennebunk, Maine. Fred was managing the restaurant, booking bands, and bouncing people at the door when he and Alan Pugsley began making beer together in 1992.

As Shipyard grew it caught Miller Brewing Co.'s eye and they purchased part of the company in 1995. Miller's capital and distribution helped for a while though when Miller slowed their promotion of Shipyard, Fred decided to purchase Miller's shares back. He's since expanded Shipyard rapidly with the help of a growing craft beer market and hits such as Pumpkinhead.

We had fun talking with Fred about getting on tap lines at bars (pro tip: send friends to repeatedly order your beer) and how he racked up over $400K in credit card debt (!!!) while starting Shipyard.

Check out our newsletter for extra stuff from each interview.

This week's episode is sponsored by our friends at MailChimp.

Music: Lady Luck by Richard Swift

Oct 8, 2015

Jim Andaloro is the owner and CEO of Metal Tronics in Georgetown, Massachusetts. They make sheet metal products and generate over $10M annually.

He started the company in the 80s and operated out of an old middle school before eventually taking a small business loan to build his own manufacturing facility. In 1994 he sold the company then went on to work odd jobs for fun, including a part-time position as a CD and TV salesman.

In 2010 Jim purchased the company back and has since quadrupled its revenue. We talked with him about sales strategy, hiring, and selling the same company multiple times.

Check out our newsletter for extra stuff from each interview.

This week's episode is sponsored by our friends at MailChimp.

Music: Lady Luck by Richard Swift

Oct 8, 2015

Joe De Sena is the co-founder of Spartan Race, a military-inspired obstacle race series. At 13 he started a pool cleaning and construction company in Queens, NY. After selling that company he went to work in finance, spending his free time training and competing in adventure races. In 2007 Joe moved to Pittsfield, Vermont and created Spartan with Andy Weinberg.

Craig met up with Joe in Pittsfield during the trial run of Spartan's Agoge, a 60 hour endurance challenge that included a segment where participants were chased up a mountain by dogs. In addition to explaining his rationale behind the Agoge, Joe talks about how he's grown Spartan to reach over 20 countries and 1M participants in 2015.

Check out our newsletter for extra stuff from each interview.

This week's episode is sponsored by our friends at MailChimp.

Music: Lady Luck by Richard Swift

Oct 1, 2015

We talk with gritty, hilarious people who run successful small businesses.

Season one will feature conversations with loggers, ranchers, electricians, manufacturers, musicians, brewers, and more.

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