Jayson Waller has built multiple businesses, and at the beginning of 2022, his solar energy company Pink Energy was valued at $1 Billion. On his Business and Money podcast, he’s interviewed Kevin O’Leary, Barry Sanders, Grant Cardone, and hundreds of others on his way to being one of the top entrepreneurial podcasts in the world. His rags to riches story is legendary. Things were going very well.
Until a scandal, lawsuit, and bankruptcy has Jayson and Pink Energy fighting for survival. Today, Jayson shares his side of the story.
Today’s episode of Deal Closers is hosted by Izach Porter, brought to you by WebsiteClosers.com, and is produced by Earfluence.
Jayson Waller: We agreed as executives we’re gonna go off payroll, un until we’re hiring again. And it was a tough pill to swallow, but that’s what leaders do. Leaders give back to their company. Leaders don’t, you know, leaders invest everything they have. And that’s what we did. And my wife said it best to me the other day. It hurts my feelings. but she’s right. She said, you know, it’s sad, Jayson, because you thought till the last hour you were gonna win.
Izach Porter: You’re listening to the Deal Closers podcast, brought to you by websiteclosers.com, a show about how to build your e-commerce business to be profitable, scalable, and one day even sellable.
I’m Izach Porter, and on the show today, we talked to someone who has built multiple businesses, including one that was valued at over a billion dollars. On his business and Money podcast, he’s interviewed Kevin O’Leary, Barry Sanders, Grant Cardone, hundreds of others on his way to being one of the top entrepreneurial podcasts in the world.
His rags to riches story is legendary, and I’m so excited to have him on the show today. Jayson Waller, welcome to the show. Thanks for being on, man. Really excited to talk with you and, hear about your story.
Jayson: Hey, I’m excited to be on Izach. Appreciate good intro too, by the way. Good intro.
Izach: Yeah. Thanks. So, look, just as a preface, you know, we’ve, we’ve known each other for a long time. I first met you at PowerHome Solar in maybe 2016, somewhere around there. I was in banking. We were working on some banking stuff back then. you know, first day I met you, I thought, man, this guy’s got energy.
I, I felt your passion for the business that you were building, and I knew I wanted to be, you know, to work with you going forward. And so and so we did end up doing quite a bit of work in banking. Interestingly the predecessor to Business and Money Podcast, true Underdog. I started listening to when, when you came out with True Underdog and you know, that show really was a catalyst for me to change my life in a lot of ways. I, I, I ended up getting outta banking, starting up my own company, getting into this e-commerce business brokerage space. And it’s been a great move. And, you know, your message was basically one of, have confidence in yourself and don’t be afraid to take a risk and, and bet on yourself.
And so, you know, I wanted to say publicly thank you for that. Happy to answer any questions that come up about that, but I really wanna focus on your story.
Jayson: Well, hey, no, thank you for saying that. You’ve told me that before. And it, it always feels good when you feel like you can impact somebody. And we’ve known each other and, you know, we’re, we’re acquaintances and, and friends. But you know, it, it feels good. It’s flattering in a good way, saying, Hey, you know what, at least I’m putting something out there that helps people, right?
Because I have to listen to things to get me motivated and get inspired. And it’s all about taking risk. It’s all about taking that chance or taking that leap of faith, or like you said, believing in yourself and having confidence, and I think that that’s key. It’s hard to leave corporate America to do your own thing, and that’s what you did. So it’s, that’s, it’s cool. Thank you
Izach: it was, it was very hard. I mean, I was, I was nervous about it, but I, you know, obviously I had to, had to come from me wanting to do it, but I felt like your message was like a catalyst that kind of got me on that path and really started thinking through the options. And I was like, I’m gonna do this.
And it’s been, it’s been a really good situation for me. So, look, I, I wanna get into the, the PowerHome story. But I wanna start with a question about kind of the peak of that story. So, you grew this company up from zero, started it and last year got a billion-dollar valuation on the business.
How did that feel at that time? and then I guess the follow up question is we; we talk with a lot of entrepreneurs who are thinking about selling their business. You know, how did you at that point make the decision not to go through with that sale?
Jayson: Nope. Great questions. I think, you know, as the business was growing, it was growing faster than we could accept meaning like it was surreal, right? and it was drinking from a fire hydrant, trying to learn everything, getting all the coaching I can, trying to level up and grow with the business. And during that time, you’re super excited, super, super stressed too, right?
Like are other people able to drink from the same fire hydrant? Can they keep up? Are you outgrowing certain leaders? Do you need to find other people, bring them in? Cuz you don’t know what you don’t know, you’re dipping your toe in it. And it started with, we were looking to do a recap again in 2020 and COVID hit and then Generac approached us and was like, Hey, we’re the new thing in batteries and you guys are so awesome at marketing and you’ve done all this solar for NFL teams and you’re like the highest rated and you know, a plus with the BBB company out there.
We want to partner with you guys and all this stuff. And so we were like, Batteries and Generac’s got a big name we could co-brand with them. This would be cool. So we did that in 2020 and that we really grew then because more people were home. We doubled downed on TV where people could see how solar works, talk about battery technology, you know, when the power’s out having some kind of power in their home.
That was a time where the world was kind of like paused and scared. But, so I was in the right industry at the right time and we really grew, we grew, you know, COVID started, we were a little nervous what would happen if we were essential service or not. And we started covid with about 800 employees.
We finished that year with about 1500 employees and we doubled in size, which was crazy. and it wasn’t double in size based on territory or customers, it was really doubled in size based on top line gross revenue and bottom-line revenue because we were offering batteries. So same amount of customers, but now we had battery packages for everybody, which people wanted batteries. They still do.
Izach: And so your average order value grew basically.
Jayson: It did, yeah, it went up about 40 or 50%, adding a battery to the ticket, showing customers that Solar’s not about saving money, you’re reducing some of your electric bill, but it’s really about doing right by the, the environment providing, essential service for yourself without the power being out, having to buy propane tanks or hooked up to natural gas with generators like it was, it’s the future.
And so people were what we call future-proofing their home, right? They’re, they’re putting, battery technology in there to not pay higher rates on time of use when they charge their car or to be able to combat when the power goes off. So that’s really what, what the model was, and it grew. And we were excited about it.
And, you know, as 2020 was wrapping up, you know, we hired a company called Piper Jeffrey, which is a broker.
Jayson: and they were like, look, you know, forget the recap thing. You know, there’s private equity, Solar’s it, you guys are growing, you guys have this, you know, highly touted rated, you know, customer satisfaction business that’s out there.
And, and you know, even the NFL works with you, Major League Baseball works with you. we’re winning awards like crazy.
Izach: Tons of awards. You got like a list of awards you’ve won over the last few years.
Jayson: Yeah. So it’s crazy. And you know, the, and it, it, you’re flattered by it. You’re excited by it and it makes you feel good, but then it just, it just becomes the norm. I think we won like over 40 Stevie Awards and 25 other business awards and our executive team won several awards. I won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Like all these awards were stacking up. So I felt like we were like the Avengers. In fact, our holiday party was an Avengers holiday party. Like all the executives were the Avengers and we’re here to save the planet and go solar. And the employees were all excited and you know, we’re giving out money to the employees on the holiday parties and changing lives and you know, it
Izach: Now, I was at one of your holiday parties. It was, it was great, dude. We, it was not the Avengers party. It was like the, the Mariachi Mexican theme party, I think. But,
Jayson: Oh, and Barry Sanders was at that one.
Izach: Barry Sanders was there. Yeah, it was, it was an awesome party. I mean, those were epic, epic party.
Jayson: You know, it’s all about giving back to your employees cuz you’re nothing without your employees and you gotta build the right people and they’ve gotta be rowing the same way. But, but Piper Jeffrey came in and said, look, you know, we’ve got some private equity that would be involved.
So we pretty much went to market the end of 2020 and from the end of 2020 till August of 2022, I probably did north of 200 presentations to private and public companies, north of 200. And we had 54 companies or letters of interest or offers over that time. And they started coming in. Oh, it’s massive.
And, and, and you know, when you first get, whoa, like we’re 400 million, oh, the company’s worth 600 million. Just so the listeners know, that doesn’t mean we sell and we cash out four or 600 million, because that’s always the perception of people. What it means is that’s the value of the company and somebody infuses some cash, they get some equity, and they help you grow as well.
But a lot of people think that, oh, that means the owners are gonna get rich and leave. No, no, no, no, no. Not the case at all. But that’s what the company was valued at. We were
Izach: Matter of fact, I think most of those offers, they would not have let you leave.
Jayson: That’s correct.
Izach: They handcuff you in there.
Jayson: Right. Yeah. They lock you in and that’s okay. I didn’t want to go, none of us wanted to go anywhere, but we wanted the capital to be able to grow, maybe take some chips off the table, do some great things, you know, give back to our employees.
We had this whole thing, we were gonna give all these crazy bonuses, but then the, the private offers kept coming and all of the sudden during this time we talked to public companies too. You know, I’m talking, the sun runs the, like, other solar companies out there and just other public companies out there reaching out, doing presentations for. We get an offer from a company that has three SPACs, one already De-SPACed, and then they had a second one that they were trying to take as a SPAC.
And this is during summer of 2021.
Izach: Peak SPAC time,
Jayson: Yeah. Peak SPAC time. It was, it was, everybody was going SPAC. That was like the way to go. It was hot item be like, people were talking about it. Mad Money was up there. Oh my gosh, this next SPAC is great. You know, that was the, that was the jive right there. That was the jam.
And so the SPAC came in, you know, we were floating around five, $600 private equity. We were still keeping majority. So we weren’t leaving, we weren’t getting rich and bouncing, but we were keeping a lot of money in the business. And, and we were buying out our other minority partner. We have a 25% minority partner who’s gonna get bought out, which was an investment fund.
And we were, we were gonna, you know, bring somebody else on and have some more cash to really capitalize. Look at, microgrids, look at community solar, look at, you know, low-cost housing opportunities for solar, maybe some in-house financing. We had all these ideas. This SPAC company comes in and says, gives us 1,000,000,050 offer.
we’re like, what? They bring Citibank in, we sign. We’re like, now it’s like, go public. And I’m like, okay, hold on. I didn’t even envision going public, right? I mean, you have these goals as an entrepreneur, like, oh, that’d be great to go ring the bell. But to me, that’s a dream goal. You know? I try to live in the moment, the 30 to 60, the 90, the 180-day moment.
What’s next? What’s next? What’s next? I don’t try to live too far up because then I get discouraged just like anybody else would. And so it’s like the ring the bell, like we can go public? So now it’s a whole different conversation and we’re all like, is this legit? Like, how do we do this? So that’s immediately, we brought on a new chief legal officer.
During all this transaction time, you’re going through audits, you know, we’re trying to get audited financials. You’re go, you’re doing all these things to prepare for a transaction anyways, public or private. So the, the executives are like this, we’re all in, like, we’re putting 80 hours in a week.
Like it’s, it’s chaos, and running the company, growing the company. So, Fast forward a little bit. We take, we take their letter of return. I remember sitting in Myrtle Beach at one of our, directors events where we were doing training. We, we took sales and, and installations and customer service and took the leadership down to Myrtle Beach. And we rent a Hilton. We do a lot of training and, and it’s like a three-day event. And it’s fun. We’re there, we have guest speakers that do motivational speaking. And it’s exciting.
And I remember getting the call from, from this company and, you know, we’re all sitting around the table like, oh my gosh, is this crazy? So my heart’s bumping. It’s like, is this real? And I’m the type that’s like, I’m very positive. I’m very optimistic. But nothing’s real. Tilts real, right? Like, you don’t sell a deal till a deal is signed.
Like, it’s just hearsay, okay? you know, if, if you’re, I, I’ve been married a long time and you know, you’ve been married, but for single people out there, I’m trying to remember what it’s like. It’s like they say you can call them, but let’s see if they answer the phone and they’re actually gonna go out with you. It’s that kind of feeling like, like they’re just teasing.
So you just wanna make sure. But it was legit. And, and we had the offer and we’re going through due diligence. And as we’re going through the due diligence, we’re negotiating the board and we’re doing all these things, and we’re growing our company, and we’re like, I’m starting to take classes and, and coaching, to better myself.
I’m getting coached to be a public CEO I’m doing things that, you know, step up. Cause I was a little nervous, like, can I be a public Cee? O like, you know, I built these companies. I’m a little raw. I’m a little real. I dropped the F-bomb here and there, but I’m like, well, fuck it. You know, Elon Musk isn’t perfect.
And the Jeff, like, I could do this. Like, I, I could do this. Let’s, let’s go. So going through the process and then all of a sudden you start to see SPACs take a bath, like they’re taking a bath. The company starts changing some of their negotiation, not wanting to give us board control, things like this.
And I’m like, this isn’t gonna work. And we’re raising money for a pipe raise to do this as well. And we have Generac given us like, you know, 50 million in this, in the pipe raise and partnering with us and all of this. And we’re raising, you know, written, hitting investors to hit this pipe raise in order to do the SPAC.
And they had money on the balance sheet on this SPAC and they didn’t have a business yet. So we get closer to Christmas and I’m like, I don’t feel good about it. And we talk about it over the holidays and as we get into the new year, cause we’re supposed to close probably in March, they were still doing through due diligence.
We have a conversation with that company and we go, look, you guys keep changing some of the things. SPACs are taking a bath. We don’t want to go SPAC in the, just like, that would just be bad news. So January timeframe, January, February timeframe, we basically said, we’re not gonna do this deal. we’ll go back to the marketplace at the time, you know, we’re still growing.
Things are going okay. We’re starting to see a spike in service issues and we’re like, what’s going on? And all this is happening at the same time. We’re like, you know, why did we go from 800 phone calls in February timeframe to 30,000 phone calls in March? We’re like, What the hell’s going on? All of a sudden, bad press is coming out like we’ve done something wrong and I’m like scratching my head like, man, we’ve got an A plus with the BBB.
We’ve got all of these things in place to make sure, you know, integrity driven compliance, sign off by attorney, sign off by compliance training, you know, FTC sign, like you name it. We have all these things in place. We’re getting ready to be a public company. We’ve been working on this for over a year.
What is going on here? Let us investigate further of where these complaints are coming from and what’s going on with these, you know, salespeople doing things. So we saw this bad review in March, a news article that came out in Detroit where they had about 20 or 25 complaints, to the news station about their solar system not producing what it was supposed to.
Now, the way solar works is you have to accommodate shading. You have to accommodate where your roof faces. You have to do all of that. Well, we use the best software in the industry called Aurora, which is R none. You know, it, under promises and over-delivers. So our customers, when their system works, they actually produce more than what they’re anticipating in most cases, which is great.
And then, you know, it also allocates for any kind of shading, it has the lidar, the show, the time of the year. Like we have the best of the best. So we’re scratching our head like, how the hell is this happening? Right? Our sales reps don’t have access to change pricing or change asthma or any of that stuff.
We take it outta their hands. We’re very compliant. So the, we’re struggling to figure this out and they set up like this thing and they have a handful of reps out there
Izach: And this just, this just started like almost overnight, right? You went from normal to tidal wave.
Jayson: Yes. And while this is going on, the company that had the SPAC goes, listen, we still want to do a deal with you guys. and the company that that had the SPAC looked at us and they ended up doing a deal for ADT Solar with Sunpro, which was a competitor of ours and had half of our old management team.
Right. They had a handful of our people over there. We were a bigger, better company than them, right? We, ADT probably should have looked at us, but a d t couldn’t afford us at the time. So they were familiar with it and they were like, look, you guys are the same business as them, but better you have more battery attachment, you don’t have subcontract sales people.
All of these things that make us better. And so they said, look, you don’t wanna do the SPAC fine. We already have a company company’s called XL Fleet. They do something between, going from traditional gas cars to an, an in between software technology thing that you insert into the car to make it a hybrid.
So it’s in between electric and gas. and yeah. Yeah. And so they had this company that had like 300, give or take 300 million on the balance sheet and was only making, like, only doing 8 million in sales a year. It was a very small company. And so that team, MGG was like, look, we still want to do something with you guys.
We have this XL fleet deal. And I’m like, I don’t believe in that technology. I believe in electrical cars. I don’t believe in the hybrid. I think you’re wasting your time. And he goes, well, we’re struggling with sales here, so let’s, let’s talk about this. So we talked about it while we’re trying to figure out what the hell’s going on, like why are we getting all these calls and complaints?
And we’re talking to them, we’re transparent with them telling ’em what’s going on. Their asking us, what the hell is this? We’re like, we don’t know. So with their advice and conversating with them, we go and get an AM 100 investigation done, an AM 100 investigation, which is third party law firm, which we hired a law firm.
That’s all they do is investigate sales practices, marketing practices, you know, integrity, things like that, compliance, out there for companies. We hire them third party independent, Kramer and Levin. And we’re
Izach: It’s basically an audit for your ethics.
Jayson: Yes, an audit for our ethics to make sure we’re not missing something. Like is there something, we have all these parameters in here and we have seven plus years of almost, not perfect, we always have some customer service issues. You always have some sales; you always have some issues when you’re running a company. The bigger you are, the more issues you have. It should stay around the same percentage being very low, but you’re going to have these issues and we were always able to manage those.
We’re always able to fix any issues that we’ve created. We’re always able to satisfy the customer. That’s why we kept an A plus with the BBB in every location for seven years. And that’s why we had a 4.5 on Google with thousands of reviews and Facebook, and that’s why we had all that. all of a sudden there’s a lot of steam of hate, complaints.
This news article where they set up sales reps and sales reps went in, said wolf, all of Ford Field is, is got solar and that’s not true. It’s part of Ford Field, but is that really an issue to put on the news? The guy said all of Ford Field compared to parts of Ford Field, like, you know, the, I feel like the media was, was grasping for a great story cuz they had a lot of complaints and they were pissed.
So they were trying to pick and choose what they could do. that guy in, in Fox, in Detroit and so.
Izach: And you had, so you had solar at stadiums all over the country.
Jayson: We had solar at five NFL stadiums, one baseball stadium and NC State. and so while this is going on and we’re negotiating with XL Fleet/MGG, the AM 100 comes back and, and says, we’re flying colors and we’re scratching our head.
The calls are continuing to increase. The failing systems are continuing to increase. We have hold times now five and a half hours. Now think of this. We have north of 30,000 customers going into 2022. We’re taking 800 phone calls or so a month. We’re doing about five or 600 service tickets a month. We have 15 service teams.
We have 80 install teams. And install team is something that somebody that goes and installs new product, right? New installation, a service team, somebody serviced it. Because we didn’t have a ton of service, we only had like 15 service teams. It wasn’t a big deal.
Izach: yeah. Cuz your, your systems were all new, so
Jayson: Well, and not only all new, I mean, you know, we’ve installed them since 15, but our biggest growth was fairly new. And the way the system usually works is after you pass inspection, you get to work and like, it doesn’t have a lot of issues after that. You know, we’ve done our job, we put it in, we’ve passed inspection, we’re done.
Anything that fails after, that’s usually a manufacturer issue. But we still offer workmanship warranty. We’ve offered it for five years and recently switched when we did Pink Energy to 10. During this time, before, let me rewind. So we’re now, we’re sitting at March, April, 2022. In October of last year, 2021, when we were talking to the SPAC, we talked about changing our name.
The conversation was, look, PowerHome and Solar limits us. Let’s come up with something creative, sexy, appealing, warm, inviting, that covers everything.
Izach: These guys are thinking about hybrid and electric automobile technology. They’re thinking about more than just a home, right? They want, they want a full energy brand.
Jayson: So we came up with pink energy, right? You know, it, it was like, let’s do it. So we had that scheduled to go out in April anyways of 2022.
We’re gonna do a whole rebrand. We were supposed to announce we were going public, but then we changed the deal and ended up going with the same guys, but different company, if that makes sense. The same brokers with the different company. And we were going to, the XL fleet was gonna do a reverse merger with us. We were gonna have majority of the board, and we were supposed to close the deal sometime in June or July.
Well, they give us an offer in April for 1,000,000,050 to do basically the same deal while all this is going on. They saw the AM 100 compliance. They know we’re, we’re good folks. They know we’re good people. They’re trying to figure out what’s going on. We hire data engineers to go in and start looking at why are we getting these calls? What’s going on? And finally we start, our installers are like bringing back all of these parts right here. This is called a snap. R S 801. Okay. So every solar system, Izach, if you’ve got 24 panels on the back of those panels, you now you have 24 of these
Izach: like a, like a circuit breaker that connects every
Jayson: It’s like an ignition switch to turn your panel on, to send it down the wiring down to your inverter. Right? To convert it from, from DC to AC.
Jayson: the problem is, is, is media. most of the media and a lot of consumers, they don’t understand. They think if we say Generac, we’re talking batteries. No, no, no, no. We use Generac for our inverters. We use Generac for the ignition switch, this RS Snap, and we use Generac for the batteries. So everybody,
Izach: They’re one of the biggest kind of solar panel accessory businesses out there.
Jayson: yeah, so they, you know, they were the largest or one of the largest generator companies out there, and they bought a company in 2019 called pica. And then they approached us in early 2020 flashing, Hey, you can use the Generac name, we can partner, let’s do this. We want to offer batteries. We have the best technology in the world, blah, blah, blah. We believed them.
Izach: they got into solar through their acquisition of Pica.
Jayson: Correct. That’s correct. And I didn’t know much about Pica, but I trusted Generac, it’s a publicly traded company, good leadership, like number one in generators. I’m like, this is a no-brainer. They had this technology.
Izach: Huge Home Depot relationship.
Jayson: Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah. Yeah. So naturally you’re like, okay, yeah, this makes sense. This is a, this is a great partnership.
And so as we’re doing that, we’re starting to get tens of thousands of these. We’re pulling ’em off, they’re burnt, and these are the people’s systems who aren’t performing. And we’re scratching our heads. Now, I’m gonna rewind because I had to, we had to connect the dots. In April, 2021 we had a system that we removed that had a melting piece.
We called Generac about it. They’re like, oh, that’s a fluke. We’d never heard anything like it. They were done. In August, 2021, a fire occurred in a Pink Energy customer in Kentucky. The cause of the fire was to believe the overheating of the SnapRS. August 12th, 2021. Still August of last year, a conference call between Pink Energy and Generac was held to discuss the potential thermal events associated with this part.
Generac disclosed to Pink Energy for the first time that it was now investigating bulging and separation issues, and was developing a new model and a fix of the SnapRS called the 801A August 18th. Okay, so we didn’t know it was a major issue yet. We’ve seen a few of these and starting to pick up.
So six days later a fire takes place at a Pink Energy’s customer home in South Carolina. This is the second fire now in the same month, the cause is to believe, to be melting and exploding SnapRS, we lose it. We get on the phone with Generac and the next day Generac informs us that it developed a firmware update, which had the ability remotely identify the defective SnapRS units that were in danger of overheating, which presented the potential thermal event.
Pink Energy was assured that the firmware update applied by Generac remedy the issue of the overactive SnapRS turning on and off repeatedly. And we keep the unit signal constant in the on position until there was a forced rapid shutdown. Generac said firmware updates begin to be sent to customers’ homes on that date and more occurring over the next couple of days.
Jeff McAndrews of Generac, and all this is public information. It’s in our media package and in our lawsuit, Generac’s director of Salesforce East Region said to Pink Energy in an email. All good though. So glad this was resolved so quickly. The reason that’s important is we then got on calls with the executive team and said, should we be worried?
Our legal team was like, guys, what the hell is going on to their legal team? They said, we’ve got it fixed. We have a firmware that is preventing any of this happening. All is good. So we can put stuff in.
Izach: Let me just ask you a personal question, right? You hear, you hear there’s a fire, right? Like, how does that make you feel, and like how does that impact your discussions and, and what you’re doing when you’re talking to Generac?
Jayson: it’s a listen, it’s a problem. There were, he like, so you know, we installed, I don’t know, at that time it was August of 2021. I’m throwing a dart at it. Maybe we’re sitting at 25 or 27,000 customers total. Maybe, you know, may maybe almost 30. cuz I think we did like six or 7,000 in, in no, maybe about eight or 9,000 in 2021,
Izach: Just put some, put some perspective
Jayson: well, here’s what it is.
Before 2020. Before 2020, we had solarpro. In 2020, we switched to Generac. Okay. And we didn’t really, we started seeing these issues, but we didn’t have any fires. I mean, of course, you know, a fire may happen. We haven’t, not, not that I can remember of any. But a fire may happen and be blamed in many different ways.
Nobody was hurt, nothing happened. But the fire happened and it was really odd. Our legal team called them and they’re like, here’s money to give them for their fire. And like, no waiver. Our legal team was like, there’s a problem here. Like, that was the conversation turned like there’s something fishy here, that was in the August. When they came out and they said they had their firmware, their executive team assured us. They assured us. That made me feel better because in that month, when that happened, we saw two fires. I said, pull the plug. We were probably not gonna offer their shit. They came out and said, we have firmware to fix this.
We were on multiple calls with them. You’re, yes, this is all fixed. No problems. We quit seeing so many things burnt.
Jayson: We didn’t see them burnt, but what had happened? What had happened? We weren’t getting calls of, you know, we, we weren’t seeing these burnt. We’re just, you know, continuing to install. Last year is, we find out later, we don’t find out till April, May of this year that when they sent that firmware, so you’re sitting with your 24 panels.
They’re at a 41% fail rate as of June of this year. I don’t know where they’re at now. I would think probably 80%, but they were at a 41% fail rate. Think of that. 41% of these, which goes on every panel is failing. Okay,
Izach: So you’ve got, if you’ve got, your average system is 20 plus panels, you’ve got eight, eight or 10 of these
Jayson: Yes. Now, what I don’t wanna scare people is or scare you, is thinking Solar’s bad and, and 41% are, are able to catch fire. No, the firmware did stop the fires. That is correct. The firmware prevented; we didn’t see any more fires. That’s correct. To my knowledge, I, we haven’t seen any more.
Izach: Okay. So that’s a good, that’s a step in the right direction.
Jayson: Yeah. That’s why we’re like, okay, there’s no more fires. We’re installing this stuff. We’re thinking things are, it’s fixed. There’s no more issues. We’re not seeing issues. The problem is what we found out in April, May of this year is if you have the 24 panels, each array is eight panels. So you have three arrays.
You have eight here, eight here, eight here, max. If one of these fails on any array, that firmware shuts the entire array off. So one failing means eight panels are down. Two, failing on one on each array means 16 of your 24 panels are down. You don’t get an alert. Nobody calls you. They don’t send you a letter.
They don’t send you smoke signals, no pun intended. Nope, nope, nope. What they do is they literally shut your shit off, and here you
Izach: trying to do the math, right. So you got, you got eight panels. You have a, a one in a, a four outta 10 failure rate, on that, that component. So if you got eight panels, probably one, one of those SnapRS is gonna fail
Jayson: Yeah. In most cases, yeah. Well, let’s say you have 24 panels total. So you have three arrays. Let’s say 16 are failing, but none are failing in the third array, it’s all in the first two arrays. This is an example. Well, if you only have one in any array, just one, that whole array is shut down. So basically you could have two failing snaps.
One in two, you could have three failing snaps and have 0% production, cuz it’s in three different arrays. You could have three in like, so my, my whole point is as a third of your system is shut down if you have 24 panels, if they find one, two thirds, if they find two in another array, like so they would get my understanding, and I’m not a data scientist, my understanding is they would get a signal and they would send the firmware if it got hot and they would shut that array off.
They didn’t tell the consumer, they didn’t tell us, here’s the problem, the consumer’s paying a monthly fee thinking they’re producing x, y, Z power and they’re not, they’re not catching on fire, but they’re not producing the power that was intended. So when we were getting all these calls and go back to that March thing and we investigate, we go, holy snap.
We just, again, no pun intended, with the snap, we just figured out this is what’s going on. We got on a call with them in May of 2021 and started to unravel that yeah, that’s what happened. And we lost it. We’re like, are you serious? They’re like, well, we said, okay, so we have to replace all of these, right?
These are 41% failing. Like, do you have a different part? We have an 801 that, you know, but the, but the firmware shuts down the fires, but we still gotta go replace ’em cuz their system’s not working. So they’re not at, they’re not at risk of burned down, but their system’s not working. So we’re asking in May and June of this year, what about those that don’t have internet?
What’d you do about them? We have like a thousand customers don’t have internet. Oh, well, we’re getting to them fast with subcontractors. Are you fucking serious? We lose it, Izach. We lose it. We we’re yelling at them. You need to send a letter. You need to do something. We’re screaming, we’re getting legal involved.
I’m telling my team; you guys need to start freaking building a case. These guys are gonna play like, what’s going on? They’re like, guys, guys. So in June, their CEO during all this heated discussion, their Cee, Aaron Feld sends an email and says, Hey, I’m glad to announce our new 8 0 2. So you had the 801And you had the 801A
Neither worked. Firmware stopped the fires. Neither. All they, they still shut down and they, you, you weren’t producing power. They said the new 8 0 2 is the permanent fix. I’m glad that we got out of our temporary fix with the firmware in the 801A. We lost it cuz we took both emails and we set ’em side by side.
The email in April of 2020, I’m sorry, in August of 2021 said, This is a permanent fix. All is good. The email in June, 2022, that was never the permanent fix. Here’s the permanent fix. That was a temporary solution. They lied; we lost it in June. And so we’re having heated calls with them and we’re saying, give us all the 8 0 2 s you have cuz we’re 80% of 75, 80% of all their solar product production.
That was us. We were their biggest, that’s what they’re getting sued today, right now in a class action securities fraud case against Generac and Aaron Jagdfeld for not informing them multiple things. One, the snap failure that they’ve known for over a year and two, not being upfront with them about their channel partners. We’re their largest channel partner. They told their investors nobody was higher than six or eight or 10%. We were clearly like 75 or 80% of their stuff. We knew that they, they’ve discussed that with us. We were buying, you know, we’re the, we’re one of the biggest players out there. The rest were a couple small mom pops.
So we, during all this time, we also get an email from other installers saying they’re having issues with their consumers. Have we seen anything? So we knew there was a serious problem. This wasn’t a Pink Energy problem. This was definitely a Generac problem. They started to take blame. We had phone calls with them.
They finally sent out a letter to consumers. They hired a third-party company to help clean this up. We started to convert from 80 install teams down to 25 and from 15 service teams up to 80. And we were pounding these out. Over a hundred thousand of these, we were replacing, putting in the new 8 0 2 s thinking it would work.
Jayson: And this is in June, July, August. We’re still on this letter of intent for the, for the close. We’re upfront with XL Fleet. Here’s what’s going on. We’re being transparent with them, and then we’re investigating all this bad media out there, all these BBB,
Izach: Dude, how, how’s your stress level at this during this time?
Jayson: Well, I was, it’s like, you know, we’re we, I’m in my early forties. How old are you, Izach?
Izach: I’m 43, both born in 1979, I think.
Jayson: Okay. Great year. So it’s like, Hey, my triglycerides are, I just went to the doctor today. It’s funny, we talk about this to go get all my blood work. Like you haven’t had a physical in three years. I was like, all right, take care of it now. So you go in there and you think, okay, maybe I got high triglycerides.
Maybe I got this, maybe I got that. Like, you’re normal business functioning. You got your little issues here and there that you’re able to manage, that you’re able to, to, you know, handle in a timely manner and a profession to, to grow and, and, and to keep customer satisfied.
Jayson: And then all of a sudden you’re told you have stage four cancer. You have two weeks to live. Like, that’s the kind of feeling we had. Like you’re telling me we have 41% of these failing on almost 20,000 customers. You are telling me my, our calls with Generac, you’re telling me we have to replace all of these eventually? Well, they’re only a 41% failure. I’m like, no, no, no, no, no.
if I had an airbag that was 1% failure, I’d have done a national recall. Why the f didn’t you guys do a national recall? These were our conversations. Well, we, their words not mine and I’m okay sharing this with the world. It’s in the lawsuit. And I tell everybody, I, I sing the truth song, their words, not mine.
We should have done more due diligence when we bought pica. This is our fault, our problem. We will make it all right.
Jayson: They never took blame. We saw the, the reviews go from very little bad reviews to thousands. We saw no investigations from AGs to go to nine states investigating us. We saw our BBB rating being an A plus to shutting us down.
We eventually got it back after we shared with them and showed them all our commitment, what we’re doing. They cited in the BBB thing, the only reason we’re getting, I’m sorry. One of the reasons we’re getting our rating back is because we chose not to use Generac anymore because they were having other companies complain about Generac and things like that.
So fast forward, all this is going on in July, and we’re telling Generac, look, we’ll continue to fix this and we’ll be that partner that’s just getting stepped on in our brand. Now, XL Fleet backed out and said, dude, this is too hairy. Like we, we got, let us let, when this gets solved, we’ll figure it out.
They backed off, so we lost the deal. We had another private bank come in and offer 440 million. so you now you can see that over those three months, you know, April, may, June, we lost about 675 million in valuation. so we were at 440 million in June. Another company was gonna come in and they started their due diligence, but it just became like, we gotta figure this out.
So that came to a halt. we started talking to these newscasters, give us these customers that are complaining to you, and you’re just throwing stories out there and painting me to be this evil villain with the Lambeau and the blonde hair. And it’s like, people forget, I’ve built three companies, have a book, have a podcast, bought multiple houses over my 10, like, you know, I, I’ve done, okay.
They don’t realize I’ve had the same salary since 2018, minus the cost of living, you know, two or 3% a year increase that, you know, we haven’t pulled out any kind of distributions besides tax distributions that were, you know, sufficient since 2019. And so, you know, I made the same 1 million or so salary in 2018 as I did in 2020.
In 2018, the company was worth 55 million in 2022, I’m sorry, not 20 20, 20 2018 companies were 55 million. I was making same salary I’m making; I was making in 2022, but the company was worth a billion. I could have made 20 times more. I didn’t like all, everything
Izach: you were investing into your brand, you guys were rolling that money back in.
Jayson: But these newscasters, not all of them, but dude, I can tell you, I, I am surprised some of these people have jobs because they can’t, they can’t dot the I’s cross the T’s or add three plus three. That’s a fact. Cuz you would give them information and they’re like, it doesn’t make sense. They don’t have batteries.
Listen numb nuts, they didn’t have to have batteries. It’s on every system. Like I go through everything here talking to the media. And that was the other thing. We were directed by our PR team and legal team to stand down when all this came out. Like, and just don’t speak for two months. One of the biggest mistakes we ever made, because then the media painted their own picture, the consumers had their own picture.
So by the time I came out, started speaking about this, they were like, oh, it’s, it’s, he’s diverting. And it’s like, guys, that’s not the case. I fired my PR team and told my legal team, look, I’m gonna talk. This is ridiculous. I’m gonna have a voice. Generac needs to be accountable for this mess. They made the big, our biggest issue, like we have our own problems, but a vast majority of the issues came from failing parts.
And I’m not talking about a thousand customers. I’m talking almost 20,000 customer systems not performing the way they need to, all because of the firmware in this part. And we have to replace each one of those. That was the issue. So customers are paying a monthly fee for months and the system’s not working.
Long story short, Generac agrees to pay us for the services. We invoice ’em, I don’t know, north of 50 million. It’s in the bankruptcy thing, so it’s public information. and they pay a little bit like four. And then they strong arm us and we’re like, dude, you’re gonna have to pay more. Like we’re struggling here.
We’re putting all our resources to fix your problem. You know, we we’re not your bank. Pay us. They got very arrogant, made comments like, it’s David versus Goliath. Do what you gotta do. And I filed a suit. And so we sued ’em in the, in the state of Virginia, in federal court. At the time it was valued at about
Izach: what else could you do? Really though? I mean, you know what I mean? It, it’s,
Jayson: Our hands were tied. And look, at that time, they had their new product out. And so we sued them and we agreed in principle with them. We still believed them. I, I, I hate that we believed them so many times. It’s crazy that a public company and a CEO of a public company could lie and be this way, this much, and not be held accountable.
It’s crazy to me. But it did. It happened. We’re, we’re living proof. And when we talk to them, We, we filed the suit, the legal teams agreed that we would continue to service this because they didn’t have the resources to service this many. They would pay us for that. Well, they didn’t. So then in August, after we filed the lawsuit, we quit servicing customers like two or three weeks later.
Cause they again didn’t pay us. And so then we had to tell these customers, you’re a customer. Like, sorry, you’re gonna have to call Generac, and you’re upset. And we were giving customers refunds. Like Izach, if your system was down four months because of this issue, we were writing you a check for those four months rebate.
Generac told us they’d make that right and take care of that. Like we told them, we’re paying these customers their monthly loan payments when we need to. You need to reimburse us for that. Oh, we we’ll take care of. It’s our fault. Nothing. Nothing. So what did we do? We changed. And then here’s what’s crazy.
We started to gain momentum in a July was better than June. August was better than July, and September was on pace to be better than August. So sales started to pick up the BBB gave us our rating back. I thought like, we’re gonna fight out of this. We’re gonna Generac’s gonna be held accountable. They’re eventually gonna have to fix every one of those customers.
This lawsuit can help get all those customers right, and we’re gonna get out of this and continue to grow. But with the layoffs, with the lack of all the sales in April and May and June, that bid us for installs in August, in September and July,
Izach: Plus you’ve got, you’re, you’re fronting all this cost for the repair teams.
Jayson: That we never got from them, over 80 million plus that we never got from them. So all of a sudden we’re our resources shrink, our debt grew, and then we were looking at the barrel of, and then the finance companies froze what they were paying us. They were like, guys, like, you know, you got all, you have all this backlog of sales, but nothing’s installing. You’ve been too busy fixing these service things, you know?
So they weren’t paying us, they weren’t doing claw backs, they were holding the financing. It was an issue to where we dried up and we had to close September 21st. And when we closed, Kevin and me and Steve had to put in over 4 million between us to cover the last payroll and expenses, personally. And we haven’t even been on payroll since April.
People go, why’d you go off payroll in April? Because just like we did in Covid, anytime we’re laying people off, I don’t feel good getting a paycheck. And we laid people off in May and we laid people off in June, and then we closed in September. So in April, we, we agreed as executives we’re gonna go off payroll, un until we’re hiring again.
And it was a tough pill to swallow, but that’s what leaders do. Leaders give back to their company. Leaders don’t, you know, leaders invest everything they have. And that’s what we did. And my wife said it best to me the other day. It hurts my feelings. but she’s right. She said, you know, it’s sad, Jayson, because you thought till the last hour you were gonna win.
And we weren’t smart. We didn’t go get mortgages on our house, we didn’t go get credit cards, we didn’t do all that. Everything was in the business. She said, you believed in everything was gonna happen, like you believed no matter what you were gonna win. And that’s what true leaders do. But you lost. And I didn’t prepare.
I didn’t look at what else you could do. So personally, I stuck everything in, everything in to the business. And so it’s like losing a child. It’s, you have to grieve. And I’m not the, you know, grieving type, I’ve, you know, okay, next we gotta go. And so I’m invested into other things, but I still call for a national recall every day because It’s right for the customer.
Now that we filed, you know, we closed the doors, which was so hard. We had, Izach, we had about 40 directors on the call and everybody was bawling. And people been me. I mean, they’re bawling. We laid off all these people and these people are crying and they’re so upset that this happened. They’re so mad at Generac.
And I’m like, look, you don’t need to be a voice. You just need to, you know what’s right and you just need to know that, that I appreciate each and one of you. But it was so emotional, to let go of, you know, 2200 employees in a matter of six months after growing year, after year, after year, doubling. And, you know, then personally they were crying.
You know, thank you for paying the payroll because like we didn’t have to, like, we were talking to attorneys and they’re like, look, business doesn’t have it, business doesn’t have it. And we’re like, that’s not right. Like, we’re gonna put money in here and make sure that these people are paid. Cuz I believe when you do good, good things happen and.
You know this, it’s starting to turn, meaning people are starting to see and understand the Generac issues. There’s two consumer class action lawsuits against them. One in Florida, we’re not even in Florida. We don’t even have any customers in Florida. But yet Florida has enough customers that have this Generac SnapRS issue that they filed a class action lawsuit.
Then there’s one in Wisconsin and their home state that has some of our customers in there. there’s one coming out of California and then you got the securities fraud class against them. So it’s starting to open eyes of like, oh, maybe the pink guys and the guy with the blonde hair out there was telling the truth.
And, you know, I’ve learned a lot of lessons in this. It’s, you know, you gotta risk everything and put it in the business, but you gotta be smart. Like I, I put everything in and didn’t prepare myself for picking up the pieces I’m picking up. Not even on a personal level. On a business level. Like, you know, we did everything.
Like there were times we could have taken distributions. We didn’t, we left everything in the business. I won’t ever do that again. Like it’s just, it is just not worth it. Like, not, not when we can’t control something, and I say this and I’ll say it till, till I die. If Generac would’ve done a national recall, we would probably be sitting with 3000 employees and growing. Wouldn’t have laid people off.
They would’ve done what’s right. Customers would’ve understood, they wouldn’t have been stuck in the middle. I feel bad for these customers are stuck in the middle and not all of our Generac’s problems, he, huge percentage of them are the larger, like 90% or so. But the ones that aren’t, I feel bad for them, where we have a leaky roof or we broke this or we did that like, We didn’t get all the resources rate up.
We couldn’t fix them. It’s not right. The good news is they can put a claim in the bankruptcy and hopefully this trustee doesn’t settle early with Generac, where Generac gets off cheap. Now it’s a billion-dollar lawsuit, full enterprise value. It’s at a stay with the bankruptcy. If the bankruptcy trustee can get, you know, several hundred million, these customers can be made whole. And that’s a great thing.
That’s a lot to unfold. And it’s the first time I’m on public really telling the whole story. So kudos to you on that. But, there’s pieces everywhere, but the real story is, is, is right here.
Izach: Yeah. So, you know, we, we talk on this show mostly about mergers and acquisitions and things to get ready for selling. I think, you know, this to me, you know, and I, and I’ve known you for a long time and I’ve been following this story, but this was an example of a kind of an existential risk that you just could, you can’t prepare for, right?
I mean, I think I have a banking underwriting background and I was, I was thinking about, no, no bank could have seen this coming. No, you know, I think it’d be very hard as an executive to see this coming. You, you’re not anticipating a catastrophic failure in a component.
Jayson: And when you do, you, you would think there’s a recall, like there’s responsibility taken.
Izach: Especially with a, with a big publicly traded company as your partner. So, but, but my question is what are the lessons learned for you? You mentioned a couple with kind of, you know, preparing yourself, you know, what are the lessons learned, and, and then how do you, how do you take this Jayson and, you know, move forward and leverage these learnings?
Right. You, you, you went through this whole SPAC process, reverse merger. You know, I, I gotta imagine a ton of learning right?
Jayson: Oh my gosh. So, so truth be told, right? I didn’t even know what EBITDA was before 2017. Okay? True story. So, and I’m two or three years in the business, right? I’ve learned so much it’s, you can’t put a price on what I’ve learned. I’ve learned about EBITDA. I’ve learned to scale a business to a billion dollars, you know, in 700 million in revenue.
I’ve learned to be a leader for over 2000 employees. I’ve learned to manage an executive team where they’ve got MBAs from Harvard and everywhere else, certain folks. I’ve learned to inspire, encourage, and motivate people. I’ve learned how to overcome so much adversity, whether it be covid, whether it be, you know, bad markets, whether it be, what, whether, un until you meet your match, right?
And, you know, the ability, what I’ve learned is I’ve learned how to race capital. I mean, I did 200 pitches.
Jayson: in, in a few years. Two, I was doing three or four a day, Izach, lighten them up for an hour. Like I had it like this and I’m just, you know, I know our business. I love our business. I’m going through it, and they’re all just like, oh my gosh.
And the rest of the team just sit there and maybe answer a question or two, like, I’d put on a show. And I got so good at it and I loved it. I was like, man, like I loved talking about our business and, and our customers and the future and getting people excited. And I was like, you know, all the relationships I built over that and you know, how to raise.
So all these things that I learned in private equity and public companies and going to be public and how you gotta, you know, certain things gotta happen for you, do the transaction and I’m gonna take that knowledge and if, if I had half of this knowledge when I first opened, it’d been a billion-dollar company in three years, not eight.
So I’m excited about the new ventures because I’m like, I can do this and build something again in two or three years and be where I was at. But I’m not gonna make certain mistakes. I’m gonna have, you know, maybe some different leadership avenues, maybe, not co-dependent on a, equipment manufacturer so much.
You know, we diversified our portfolio, with finance companies, but we didn’t with the equipment manufacturer, we got popped, we did with panels, we had two, but we didn’t with everything else and we got popped. But I love solar and I wanna say Solar’s still a great thing. I think this was a black eye for solar and it’s unfortunate, and I know I took the blunt of that.
My family’s getting abused on this. I’m getting abused on this, because I had nice stuff, because I was on commercials, because I drove nice cars and I have a podcast and a book and I know I seem like an arrogant prick. And in some cases you have to be to run a business and be tough, but I am very kind and I am very honest and I am very integrity driven and I always try to do the right thing.
And I love people and I love to see people succeed. And I don’t ever wish hate on anybody. I don’t like the Generac folks very much. but I don’t wish hate on anybody. And you know, with that said, you know, the perception of a photo shoot of me wearing a jacket for Hour Magazine, where they want it best dressed on my Lambo, they painted me for the best dress to look that way.
I hated the picture. That’s kind of been the cover of, oh, look at this guy Wolf of Wall Street, and I’m nothing like that. Those that know me, those that work for me close to me, not employees, cuz I, I do run in 80/20. People are like, man, you know, I work there and that’s why, well, the guy probably wasn’t doing his job.
I’m a big believer of 80/20, 20% of your people do 80% of the work. The next 60% do the other 80. do the other 20% of work. You’re bottom 20. You need to churn and burn all the time. I’m always gonna be a believer in, that’s how I built my companies. That’s not a sales thing, that’s an everything.
Whether they’re in service, whether they’re in install, whether in accounting. You want to put a line there and you want everyone to aspire to be better. And when they don’t, they’re pointing fingers and they’re wasting time, you move on from those bottom too. Well, those are a lot of the people out there in the world today hating and saying mean stuff cause they didn’t know me and they probably got fired.
But for those that stayed till they couldn’t, till we couldn’t keep the doors open anymore. They know what we were about. They know our intentions were to do right by these customers and to, and to allow these customers to really own their power and really, you know, make an impact in this world. And, and it didn’t work out.
And so, you know, I would say, In learning these things. I don’t wanna run a billion-dollar business again. I’d rather run four or five, $200 million companies because when you stick all your chips in one giant monster, which is what I believed you were supposed to do, if it dies, you got nothing. And so I don’t wanna do that again.
And I would encourage people out there if you’ve got something, I’m not saying waste your energy cause I don’t believe in playing bees either. But diversify, diversify, diversify, diversify. Because there are things out of your control and you know, usually I don’t ever lose. And on this I lost for now.
Right. The truth is coming out, justice is starting to come out. I don’t know if I’ll ever see a dollar in this. I know we’ve given several million to the company and we lost several hundred million in valuation stock if we would’ve went public. Kind of bothers you. Like wow. You know, cause we were given a hundred million of this stock to our employees, when we went public a hundred million was assigned to our employees. So that all went away because of, you know, bad faulty equipment lies and they hid stuff. Now do I think they knew it was this big last year? No, I think they knew it was a problem. I think they thought they can contain it. I thought that they lied and hid from stuff and as it got bigger they really ran.
And I think that that’s what happened. and it’s sad because homes were affected, where they did catch on fire a handful and people bought systems that didn’t work. And that’s not right either. And so I, I, I hate that it’s that, you know, it’s, it’s painted as it’s us. Not saying we’re perfect, but damn we were close.
Seven, seven plus years of A plus with the BBB in an industry, where nobody has an A plus with the BBB in solar. And we did for seven plus years. They, people aren’t gonna take that away from us. And you know, I, I would advise people the best education is, is, is when you fail, you fail forward and you try to take that failure and you try to have something that you learn from it and you try to apply that.
And right now I want to give wisdom to people. I want to consult with people. I’m doing the new podcast. I’m investing in a couple companies here and there that hopefully can, can do some stuff. I’m gonna stay outta solar for a little bit, even though I, I love it. Maybe I’ll stay out for long. I don’t know.
I do love it, but I think it’s, I think it’s got a black eye and I think it’s got some, some bumps it’s gotta get through with the financing fees getting so high and stuff like that. you know, what I really am into, and I wish I could have access to find somebody to do it, is the concrete 3D homes.
Jayson: I would love to do affordable housing in North Carolina. If anybody with a concrete 3D machine wants to partner up, like,
Izach: Printed homes.
Jayson: Printed homes. They’re doing it in like, I think California and they’re doing it in other countries.
Izach: They’re definitely doing in other countries, for sure.
Jayson: You build like a $400,000 house for like 80 grand. You, you, it’s affordable housing all day. Huge home. Like, it’s great. I, I, I like that. I’m in, I’m into that. I’m looking at that. but I haven’t slowed down. I haven’t grieved. I’ve been go, go, go. That’s how I’m built.
Izach: One, one of the things that I was always fascinated with is the fact that you really, you really built PowerHome and Pink Energy on digital marketing. You, your, your, your company was a digital marketing, kind of a phenomenon. I mean, you guys were, were early, I don’t know if you were pioneers, but you were definitely early movers in Facebook marketing.
You were all over social media. You were using testimonials, you were using influencers, you know, so. Just tell us a little bit about like how big that got and how, how, how much you scaled that marketing. Cause I think that’s, that’s really directly applicable for a lot of our listeners.
Jayson: Absolutely. So I, you know, I started from the door knocking business and believe, believed in building door knocking teams. I think door knockings dead. Now. I know some people still do it. I, I think it’s a wasted cause. I think there’s a better way to do it than bother people while they’re cooking dinner.
The world has changed. People want information fast. They want it now. The world is different than it was 10, 15, 20 years ago. People want to access information now. You’re knock on a door, they’re not gonna get that. You’re bothering them. That’s my belief. Now. We did telemarketing back in the day, and that’s a nightmare.
Who wants to call people cold, like that doesn’t work. We did that in home security business. That’s dead and you should never do that. That’s also, nobody’s gonna answer their phone. So when we opened up PowerHome Solar, I said, look, I wanna do something different. I don’t wanna have to deal with door knockers where I’m handcuffed and held hostage to those guys going out, knocking a door.
And I don’t wanna deal with telemarketers. Cuz you get sued, you know, for the do not call list every time you turn around because everybody’s on the DNC And this person says, oh no, I’m only calling Clean. Like, like becomes a, it becomes a shit show. So I said, I wanna build this on digital market only, and I had to learn it.
So I was what doing Live? I mean, my Facebook’s with Jayson Waller here, PowerHome Solar. And I remember one of the girls in the office like, man, you’re, you’re a lot. And I’m like, yeah, yeah, it’s all right. And it had like 13 views and then I’d do it again. And it had like 14 views. I do it again. I like 40 views.
You gotta start somewhere. And so I just religiously was just doing it every. And I was online figuring out how to market in Facebook. All right, I’m gonna put this out in, it says, do this, figure this out. Okay. What kind of demographic? I’m looking, okay, let’s do this. Own your home. 40 grand plus a year.
Like you’re clicking different things. Okay. Okay. Let me test it. Ooh, I don’t like that. Lemme do this. Okay. And I figured it out. And I’m buying leads and, and you know, buying, leads from like the, the clean energies and the solar reviews back in the day when we first opened. And then I was like, I wanna make my own.
Like, these guys are selling ’em to eight other people. Like this is crazy. So I started to do it myself. And that’s really what we came up with is, is, is I would do the digital marketing and I would, you know, have a team help qualify and call and say, Hey Izach, you filled out a form. We started this very small.
And then we give those appointments to our salespeople. So we offer gold. So if we hired a salesperson or what we called a field energy consult, we didn’t need someone who was sales savvy. We actually didn’t want salespeople. We wanted someone that could educate a consumer about solar cuz this consumer already raised their hand on online and said, yes, I want to know more about solar.
So they’re already interested cuz we spent the money marketing and we’re sending people out. So we started to grow that, grow that, grow that to where at our peak we were spending around 10 million a month on digital marketing and advertisement. But you gotta build your brand. You gotta get out there on all platforms. You gotta share, you know, you have to do it so much that your family and friends are annoyed. They’re like, Izach, I’m sick of seeing you all the time. You gotta be like, well then I’m doing my job. Because if you just get that one person to see you, that calls in, you’re winning.
Like you, that’s how you do it. You try to gain one more every day and it just starts to take off. It’s the same thing with a podcast. It’s the same. You have to put content out there if you want people to watch it, you know, you, you, you have to. Either you’re, you wanna do it or you don’t. And when any business that I’m in is gonna have a lot of digital marketing, because I love digital marketing, I love when you can build your brand.
You can educate a consumer. You can give them access to be able to look at your products and let them be educated to make a decision. Because people in today’s world want information now. They don’t wanna be sold. They want to be empowered. And that’s what digital marketing allows them to do.
Izach: Yeah. I remember, in, in being, trying to explain your ad spend at one point to some of the bankers that had never seen anything like that, and
Jayson: We were a top 50 Facebook spender, like Facebook treated us like, like kings. We were in the top 50 worldwide what we were spending every month on Facebook and Instagram.
Izach: Yeah. No doubt. Yeah. And, and, and what was interesting is you were able to scale to that level profitably, right? And so you, what, what you do on Facebook is you, like you said, you, you are A/B testing, you’re testing these different strategies. And when you had a, a creative that was giving you good returns, scale it, invest in it.
Jayson: And, and the ponds that you’re fishing in, what, what the demographics are, what, what hits better, you know, we would, I remember doing it early, I’d be hitting people that, that don’t like utility companies and people that, you know, like to mow their lawns or like, like you, you pick different narratives of folks and it hits them and it’s like, oh, that works, that doesn’t, so you have to do the testing. And you know when you scale, when you’re building that and people are filling out forms, you’ve always gotta evolve it. The creative is so important to be refreshed, but it’s also the message. And you gotta be current. You can’t have the same offer all the time.
You know, people authority pages are important. Authority page isn’t a sales retail page. It’s an educational piece. When you allow people to read about something and then they click to learn more, that’s way more powerful than, hey, buy here now. Like, people don’t want to be had, people don’t wanna be sold, they wanna be empowered.
And when we, we continue to grow that, it is hard, but instead of paying a door knocker to go knock a door, you pay a lot less commission. They run an appointment, so you have gold, right? You’re feeding them, they don’t have to hunt, they get to farm. They like that. And then you are spending that money, you would’ve paid them on the digital marketing where you control when it comes in. You can control turning the lever up, turning the lever down.
Izach: And you have, you have great analytics on, on what your spend and return is throughout that entire, that entire cycle.
Jayson: Gotta be able to manage it though. You gotta know, Hey, I spent this, this is what’s converting, this is what isn’t. And you know, in, in, in any business, you could do that. Like, I do it in the podcast, like, you know, I, I read ads that help pay for the podcast now, but I also am buying ads, right? Where, if I’m investing in ad, are we getting more subscribers or are we not? And is it worth it?
Izach: Yeah. I, I heard your, I, I think I was, I was listening to one of your podcasts and heard the ad for Omaha Steaks, and I was like, man, that’s great. How do we get, you know,
Jayson: They sent me free steaks, by the way,
Izach: Yeah, I bet they did. Yeah.
Jayson: You know, and Manscape sent me some stuff. You know, and they look it, it’s cool. Yeah. My son’s like, dad, you’re like a sellout, like you’re doing ads. I said they do ads on ESPN. Like, I don’t wanna pay for the podcast. I want it to pay for itself and be able to give a message out there and build my brand.
I don’t want to have to pay for it. And
Izach: I gotta believe Joe Rogan’s getting paid for Alpha Brain. You know,
Jayson: Right, right. So, you know, it’s, look, I, I like it, like some, some of the ads and, you know, that they send, I’m, I’m laughing. Like, I’m like, this is great. The Manscape one, the Manscape one I had the most fun with for sure. But, but it was like, it’s, it’s, it’s fun and, you know, it’s entertaining and it helps the cause, meaning like, I don’t have to come out of pocket, to build the show up cuz it costs money.
You know, this, it costs money to have a producer. It costs money to cut things, it costs money to, you know, do the audio. I mean, everything costs money. And, you know, as the show has grown, the show, you know it with the BAM podcast, we’re actually up 112% in December than we were in November.
Izach: Wow. So tell, tell us about, tell us about BAM. Business and Money
Jayson: so the BAM podcast, I actually have a, I have a bam tattoo right there. I think maybe you can see it, maybe you can’t. Okay. Right, right there. Okay. So,
Izach: That’s, that’s been your motto, man. I mean, you’ve been, you’ve been, you’ve been bam for a
Jayson: I’ve been BAM for a while. So my son came up with a word many years ago, and was like, dad, you don’t need to say boom. You need to say bam. And so I was like, I need to come up with an acronym for our solar company that BAM was Building a Movement.
One panel, one customer, one employee at a time. And then the podcast, true Underdog previous podcast was Building a Moment. Bam. Like we’re, we’re a moment, we’re building, and it’s important, right? Every show, every episode, every, you know, sentence set is, is important. It’s a dime. And then with this, it was like, I wanna do something.
I love the word BAM. It’s like part of my mantra. So I was like, body in mind, let’s go. So it was gonna be like, bam, the Body and Mind podcast. And then it was like, well, I don’t know. You know, like I, I, I’ve only done yoga twice. I’ve done Pilates like eight times. I’m not really the expert on that. I like it.
Oh, I still care about my body and mind, especially my mind. Business and money. Business and money. Well, I, I, I know a little something about business and I know something about making money and losing money and making my like, okay, I like it. So I talked to the team and said, let’s go with the BAM podcast, the Business and Money podcast.
And it started as like an f cancel culture podcast. Like I’ve got some of the swag that was like, and I put some stuff out there, but it seemed a little too harsh. Like I got feedback. You gotta be open to feedback too. Like when you’re building a brand, like you may have something. Always be yourself.
Don’t not be you. That’s rule one, right? Because people aren’t gonna change who I am. But somebody was like, you gotta be like f cancel culture and this, and I’m like, all right. And I was do it and I felt a little too angry. Like I can naturally be somewhat angry, but I felt too angry and I was like, it’s not really me.
So in one of the episodes, Clinton Sparks actually coached me before then was like, dude, Like you’re f this f that man, you’re a kid. And I’m like, eh, he’s probably right. It’s a little too angry. So I’m okay with like, anytime I can get constructive criticism or knowledge from someone, like talking to someone, you always learn.
I want to peel back. I’m, I’m now in my, I’m in my element, so I’m still like,
Izach: That’s growth though, right? I mean, that’s growth. That’s you, you figuring out how to pre present and publicize who you are in a way that feels authentic and that, and that sometimes that takes some iterations.
Jayson: It does, because you know, you get people around you that have their own version of what it should look like and you’re like, ah, that sounds dope. Let’s do that. Ooh, that’s not really me. That doesn’t feel real. Let’s, I don’t like it. So it was a little too harsh for me. I think there’s a middle, right? I think there’s, there’s a David Goggins and Andy Frisella and Ed Mylett and ET and I wanna be in between ET and Andy Frisella not as soft as Ed Mylett. I like him not as hard as David Goggins, but you know, kind of in between. And I think that’s more my element. I, I feel natural there. You know, I throw the f-bomb when it, when it’s appropriate. I don’t need to f everything. you know, and, and it works.
And, but then I get to talk, I bring people on and we get to talk about, you know, real business and I get to talk about real things in life and how to better things. And I think, you know, the first few episodes has really been more personalized than, than business. But I’ve got a lot of business ones planned ahead.
You know, but just the basis back, meaning like, you know, the listeners are back, the subscribers are back. It’s starting to grow again. Cause I haven’t done new episodes in a long time, so, you know, I want to, I want to, you know, you, you gotta get back to swimming. All right. All right. I’m good. And you know, podcast sometimes is work.
You’re like, dude, I gotta go in there for an hour. And if you don’t talk to someone you like, it sucks. So I’m very strict. I’m like guys like, Who the, is this coming on my show? Like, why, who, who is that? And then when they tell me and I’m like, oh shit, that’s great. Or Oh, dude. but I’ll be honest, the last seven or eight months with everything going on with, with Pink slash PowerHome, I didn’t have the energy.
Dude. I did a couple shows that, that were some high-end celebrity guys that were booked that I really didn’t have a choice to do. But you could see my energy in there. Like, I’m, I’m, I’m, my mind is like, we gotta fix this. Right? And so it wasn’t, I didn’t do it justice. And so I, I feel refreshed. I feel like, you know, now my job, my gig is this podcast.
I do some investments, but the podcast is my gig and I’ve got time to do it and energy to do it, and I want to do it. It wasn’t like I’m so swamped in trying to save this company and save these employees, save these customers that, oh, that’s gonna pull an hour of my time on a Thursday. I ain’t got time to do.
Izach: Does that feel like a relief at this point? Are, have you gotten to the point where you feel like relieved to be able to turn your focus and your energy onto something to build something new?
Jayson: Yes and no. You know, it’s, it’s like a lingering scar, right? Like, cuz you know, when we closed it was like, what happens? I’ve never been in this position before, never been in business bankruptcy, none of this. So we closed and then it was like, okay, well we don’t have file bankruptcy. Well then lawsuits are coming.
It’s like, well, so then the bankruptcy attorney’s like, you probably need to file bankruptcy. So we’re like, okay, so we filed bankruptcy. Well then that’s a process, you know, I gotta go to these 3-41 meetings. Like, well, I’m trying to like grow a business to a podcast. I gotta go do this too. Like, so you have to go through these things.
So yes, the relief is there where eight hours a day, you know, I’m not grinding and overcoming and trying to figure out, you know, you know, this Generac issue, are they gonna pay us? Are we gonna be able to keep the employees today? Like, I don’t have to go through that, right? And that was exhausting or break people’s hearts.
We already had all that pain of everyone, you know, laying everyone off and you know, all of that. So, it says that relief is there, but it’s still lingering. Like yesterday I had to go to court, but yesterday was a great day because the trustee controlled it very well. There were people that were inappropriately shut down and I got to tell the timeline similar that I told you where a lot of these consumers needed to hear that.
And I started to hear the tide turn a little bit where they understand they gotta go after Generac for some things. And look, I’m an open book and you know, contrary to what some of the legal team says, and I don’t have a PR team anymore, but you know, I share that.
I share media kits; I share all this stuff with all these report. Like cuz they wanna write their own story. And I, my, the other thing I learned is you need to get in front of things and you need to write your own narrative. Meaning like, you need to tell your story immediately and any kind of issue or controversy and share it and not be scared to share it.
Because we were kind of put in a box like, ah, just no big deal. And. to get people to reverse their, their thoughts or what they’re thinking is so much harder than just telling them upfront what’s going on. And I think that that’s one of the biggest regrets is we fought with Generac for them to send a letter out and they wouldn’t allow us to send a letter out.
They threatened to sue us cuz we were wanting to send a letter out. So just create a lot of issues. And then to the media, we had to be careful because we signed all these NDAs with Generac and we didn’t want to get sued by them. And they were our pipe investor. I mean, it was manipulation at its finest.
And, you know, we, I figured all that out now and I’m like, now f that I’m gonna say what I want. I’m going out there. I’m stating the truth, right? It, when you tell the story the way it is, there’s nothing to change. Like this is what happened. Right, wrong or indifferent. Here it is. And so I just, I’ve been sharing that a lot and I would advise anything, any struggles you have, any issues you have in business or life, you gotta get out in front of it, not hide from it and you gotta be able to talk about it. My opinion.
Izach: Well man, I, Really appreciate you coming on to talk with us, business and Money Podcast for everyone who’s listening, what’s, what’s the best way to connect with you, Jayson?
Jayson: Well, you can, go on my Instagram at Jaysonwallerbam. Or you can go to, underscore the_bampodcast. also the BAM Podcast is on Google podcast, apple Podcast, Cast box, Spotify. So you just go to the BAM Podcast, business and Money Podcast, formerly True underdog. Again, BAM podcast.
Izach: Really appreciate you sharing, you know, very openly, honestly, with, you know, your successes and, and, and the challenges you’ve had. this is, I can imagine this is like a tough point in your personal history to come on and talk about this. But what I’m excited for is what you’re gonna do next. You know, I, I know you, you’ve been a friend of mine for a long time and I’ve got, you know, nothing but confidence that you got greatness ahead of you.
And I’m, I’m excited to see that that come, I know this will be, something that you kind of work through and it’ll be, it’ll be part of your history. So we’ll make an appointment to, to when, when you get to that next, that next peak. Let’s, let’s kind of revisit and tell that part of the story.
Jayson: I plan on that peak being early, sooner than later, just so you know. So put that on the calendar. Thank you, Izach, for all your kindness. Appreciate you bringing me on the show, the Deal Closers podcast. Love it. Thank you so much. Go out and crush it. BAM
Izach: Thanks everyone for listening to this episode of the Deal Closers podcast, brought to you by websiteclosers.com. If you like the show, be sure to rate us write a review, press the follow button and share it with your network. And of course, if you’re looking for help selling your e-commerce business, be sure to visit websiteclosers.com. This episode was edited and produced by Earfluence. I’m Izach Porter. Follow me on LinkedIn, and we’ll see you next time on the Deal Closers Podcast.