#78: Find Your Power with Jayson Waller
#78: Find Your Power with Jayson Waller
The way to have power is to go out and take it! Today we’re chatting with Jayson Waller, the CEO of PowerHome Solar, America’s new superpower in home energy. Jayson is also the host of True Underdog Podcast, a top how to podcast on Apple Podcasts. Jayson has a remarkable life story. He’s true underdog, he grew up in a trailer park, suffered childhood abuse, dropped out of college, and to top it off he was a teen dad. But, he rose against all odds to become the award winning CEO of PowerHome Solar, a $300 million dollar company. In this episode we’ll: Talk about Jayson’s inspiring come up story and what led him too become an entrepreneur We’ll uncover why he risked it all – selling his house and all his assets to fund the turnaround of his business after a rocky year 1 And how he decided to pivot his home security business to solar power which led him to ultimately scale up to a $300 million dollar company in less than 5 years
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Jayson’s Info Website: www.powerhome.com/
#78: Find Your Power with Jayson Waller
[00:00:00] Hala Taha: Hey guys, it's Hala, as our loyal listeners know my absolute favorite way to kick off the show is to read the reviews we're getting on apple Castbox YouTube or any platform that lets you leave a review this week. I'm sharing a five-star review from Belinda Fang in Canada. If you haven't checked out young and profiting podcast, I highly recommend that you do Hala is a fantastic interviewer and an impressive conversation
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Today on the show. We're chatting with Jayson Waller, the CEO of power home solar America's new superpower in home energy. Jayson's also the host of true underdog podcast. A top how to podcast on apple. Jayson has had a remarkable life story. He's a true underdog growing up in a trailer park, suffering childhood abuse, dropping out of college and to top it all off, he was also a teen dad.
But he rose against all odds to become the award-winning CEO of power home solar, a $300 million company. In this episode, we'll talk about Jayson's inspiring come up story. And what led him to become an entrepreneur. We'll uncover why he risked it all selling his house and all his assets to fund the turnaround of his business after a
[00:03:00] Rocky year one, and how he decided to
pivot his home security business to solar power, which led him to ultimately scale up to a $300 million company in less than five years. Hey Jayson, welcome to young and profiting podcasts.
Jayson Waller: Hey, thanks for having me. Super excited!
Hala Taha: Me too. I love your story. I can't wait to get into this. You have had a remarkable life. You are the epitome of the American dream.
You're the CEO of power home solar America's new super power in home energy. And you launched in 2014 and now you have over 1000 employees. You operate in over 10 states. And you've also been named one of the top 100 fastest growing private companies in the U S by Inc magazine. And your company is the top number one, residential solar power provider in the Midwest and Southeast markets.
So that is super impressive. And I know it wasn't really a straight path to success for you. You grew up in a trailer
[00:04:00] park, you suffered from child abuse, you dropped out of college, you were a teen dad, and then you rose to become this like super powerful CEO at power home, solar. You are the true definition of an underdog, and I definitely wanna spend a lot of time uncovering your story, really unpacking that because I think there's so many gems for our listeners.
So let's start with your younger self. Let's start all the way back to. Your childhood, what was it like for you growing up? Did you have particular dreams or ambitions? And did you ever imagine yourself to become this super powerful CEO?
Jayson Waller: Yeah. No. Thank you. And thanks for all the kudos. I appreciate that.
You obviously did your research had a lot of information on the company, so super excited. You know growing up, my parents were blue collar workers. My dad married my mom when he was 18 and she was 16 and they moved to Arizona. He was from Michigan. She was from North Carolina and she had me at 18 and my dad was 20. So they were young parents.
Neither one of them went to college. Neither one of them finished high school.
[00:05:00] And my dad worked for AT&T blue collar America. My mom worked at Fry's, which was a bakery and she made bread worked in the deli and then she started decorating cakes. So that's what I grew up with. She also babysat on the weekends to make extra money.
I wouldn't say we were poor, but we were less than middle class. My parents worked hard, they worked a lot. So as I had a brother and sister I'd helped babysit a lot. I almost had to be their parent pretty much because my parents were working so much just to make sure that they can, put food on the table and we can, have decent clothes and have a roof over our head.
And, growing up, I saw my parents struggle and I, I always had goals to be a football player. Or a sports agent or an attorney or something. And I was really good at math. But, I had this knack of talking and ideas and vision early on trying to motivate the kids. What we can do.
We play a game called like Goonies. The movie Goonies came out when I was a kid. So we played Goonies and we'd set up how to get out of traps. But, as I grew older, I started to see my parents really struggled. My dad filed bankruptcy
[00:06:00] multiple times. He was bad with money when he made money.
And I saw that we'd move a lot. I. We moved a lot as a kid. And I think it finally got stable in fifth grade where I was there three years, and then we moved to North Carolina. My dad had an opportunity to be an entrepreneur if he wanted to be. He had a friend of his that opened up a video store and video stores were cool.
I think the last blockbuster still open, but back in the late eighties, early nineties video stores were booming and that was the VHS tapes. And my first job at 14 was working at that video store. Putting away movies and putting Rocky four on and getting paid six bucks or five bucks an hour, whatever it was part-time after school.
And it was cool, but my dad got, he worked corporate America with AT&T they were shutting the plant down. And my brother and sister had asthma. He was worried about benefits, his friend, Mike, the late rock, Mike Roberts, who owned video power store said, Hey, I'll open you a sub shop and Sherry a bakery right next to one of the video stores stay here.
My dad said, no, he went with a safe route.
[00:07:00] I'm not mad at him. He had two kids with asthma, and I remember him talking about it in the bedroom and I don't wanna do this. We're gonna, we're gonna move to North Carolina and figure things out. And we did. And that was a pivotal point for me.
I saw. And I lived through his decision and not that it was a bad decision, I don't ever believe there's a bad decision. You make the most out of whatever decision you make, as long as you make a decision. But I saw what I didn't wanna do. I saw an opportunity for him to take it to the next level and not be less than, or have to bust his butt all the time or things like that.
Miss out on his kids stuff. Cause he's working so much. I saw that opportunity when I moved, we moved North Carolina that I didn't wanna ever go through that, that if I could find a way in that horse drove by, I was gonna jump off.
Hala Taha: Yeah, that's so interesting. And so from my understanding, you have up to the 10th grade education in terms of formal education.
Why did you decide that school, wasn't really for you and how did you I know you just mentioned your first job at the video store, which was like a sales job, but then you ended up going to sales. So how did you end up going into sales after that?
Jayson Waller: On the
[00:08:00] school thing. When I moved to North Carolina, I didn't fit in.
I just, I'll just say it. I really did. I grew up in Arizona. A lot of my friends were Hispanic, from California and white and we didn't have a lot of African-American kids growing up in Arizona. There was a few in my school. Two of them were my best friends are on the basketball team and on the wrestling team with me.
When I moved to North Carolina, it was a different feeling. There was still a lot of racism going on. So when I came to that school, you had white kids at one table, black kids at another table. There was no Hispanics. And. I was like, where do I fit in? Because I thought I was a gangster. I came from Phoenix.
I, so I joined this little gang. I was a gang banger wanna be, the white kids were really redneck and country and the black kids were cool, but they really hang out with white kids. That's what it felt like when I moved to North Carolina. So I was an outsider. And alot of my friends that I ended up gaining in school, there were also outsiders that lived in the trailer park that came from other states.
A buddy of mine came from Louisiana. Another
[00:09:00] buddy came from California. Another buddy came from Kansas. We all lived in the trailer park together and was like us versus the world. You go to parties and they wouldn't want us there. And I had great grades. I won an award for math as a freshmen for the best scores on the test in the county.
And I did very well, very good at math. But I had a mouth on me. I didn't like authority figures. I struggled with listening to people when I thought it was wrong. And I got a lot of fights because I never started a fight. I never bullied anybody, but I was always like, oh so I got in a lot of fights and that got me in trouble out of school and
so I got kicked out and started working. And when I did that, as a young man, I got my girlfriend, who's now my wife pregnant. And we have four beautiful kids now we've been married 19 plus years on and off for 23. Cause we played house a lot when Hannah was first born, Hannah is my oldest.
She's 21. And. We went through a hard time where I get her pregnant. She's a teenager, I'm a teenager. Her family doesn't like me. They think I'm less than my parents. It was just a tough
[00:10:00] situation. And, we lived in a trailer park. People made fun of me at school. Like you live in a trailer.
Yeah. And I'd fake. Tommy Hilfiger says this was an issue for people. I wasn't used to that growing up in Phoenix, it wasn't about how many things you had or how much money you had. It was how tough you were, who your homeboys were, what sets you playing? It was different. When I moved to North Carolina, where do you live?
What do you drive? It was more of a measuring thing and I just didn't fit in that. And so it motivated me and I got into sales. When I went back to Arizona in 97, I went there and was gonna try to go back to school or figure things out. And I had my friend, Joey Costin, and yet his mom took custody of me for about three months.
And I decided to re-enroll into high school senior year. And it was a mess. But when I did. I got a job with Kevin Clinkers my business partner. Now he was selling credit card protection on telemarketing and he's 17 years old. He's making it four or 500 bucks a week. Part-time and this is a 97.
So I said, I can do that. I can hustle with the best of them. So I went meet him with compete for
[00:11:00] first and second, make great money. Then we started selling home security over the phone for about a month and we're making seven, 800 bucks. Part-time a week. Selling home security. And it was like, the pitch was pretty simple.
It was like, Hey y'all I see that you registered at the mall to win this brand new Dodge Durango. And you're like yeah, great news. You're still in the runnings for it. But do you hear that? You've actually been selected to receive a free home security system, free installation dollar a day, monitoring it, keep the bad guys away.
We'll get you the I fallen and can't get up medical monitor button that you hit in case something. The whole thing, all we got to do is schedule and install. It's a dollar a day, 30 bucks a month. And I would, I crushed that. And so I knew I could sell. I was like, wow, on the phone, I can be whoever I wanna be. I don't have to be this trailer park kid.
I don't have, on the phone. I can be an act as if I can empower myself to be something different and really use my voice and energy and passion to, to get somebody to buy what we're selling. And I saw that power. So when I went back, To North Carolina. I got a job at first junior and I wasn't supposed to get, I adjusted my resume, said I graduated college.
[00:12:00] didn't got a job there anyways. And then after I had the job, I was their top sales rep, got a job at AT&T doing sales. I just did lots of things like that. That made a difference and started to learn sales. I was about 17 when I first started doing officially says Why, I also mowed lawns at 15 or 16 knocking on doors if you count that.
Hala Taha: Yeah. That's incredible. It just shows the value of using your grit and getting that experience. It doesn't matter if you have a formal education, you probably learn so much just getting thrown into into the workforce so young, a lot of people, wait until they're 22 till their first job. And they lose out on all like the social skills, which you're so good at.
So you are the definition of a true underdog,
Jayson Waller: That's so kind
Hala Taha: Of course. I'm very impressed with you. So do you think that being an underdog gives you an advantage and do you think that not having that formal education has given you an advantage in life.
Jayson Waller: I will tell you Hala early on in my career of being an entrepreneur around 24, I had 21 plus jobs before I was 24.
So I had all this experience of
[00:13:00] tons of jobs. I just had a podcast that talks about my jobs. It was 25 plus jobs, all before I was like 24 years old. However, when I got jobs, when I first opened a business and I had people with college education working for me, I struggled with that. I struggled because I was insecure.
I struggled because I felt they're smarter than me and I'm telling them what to do, or they're looking at me like I'm some kind of child that doesn't know anything. And it was an insecurity I had to learn and evolve to overcome. I didn't take my ball and go home, but I would struggle and I would struggle and I'd have to get better and learn to take charge and be an authority figure and be a leader.
And it didn't happen overnight. It took some time it took some getting stuck in a corner where I felt like these guys would take advantage of me because they were smarter than me, or they could spell better than me, or they could speak better than me. And eventually enough had enough. And I snapped one day in a sales meeting.
And I said, who's gonna be here for training and a couple of guys, like I'm not gonna be here. And I told him to get the F out of the office. I lost my cool I'm like, get that, get your ass out of my office. I'm done. They were older. I didn't give a shit. I was like bounce. I'm writing the checks here,
And when I did that was a pivotal moment where it was like, wow! This is my show. I've got to act like it's my show. I've got to get my shit together. I can't be manipulated more because that person is so much educated and it took time and it continued to evolve where I would meet other business owners and they would have all this education.
And sometimes I would feel less then this guy went to Harvard or this guy went to Berkeley and he runs this company and maybe smarter than me and better than me. And really it's after more experience and more failure and then more success. I got to the point. I love meeting guys like that because I can dance circles around them.
They went to school and spend all this money to learn nothing that is doing what they're doing now, unless they're a doctor or a vet or an attorney, they've pissed their money away in my opinion. And I've got all this experience and this edge and this hunger and I've already failed. So I'm not scared of rejection where they're all at.
So now I just, I embrace and love that because they are way more intrigued by me than I am them over time. And that it just took time to learn and evolve that as with the experience in growing.
Hala Taha: Yeah, I
[00:15:00] can totally relate to that. I've had so many different jobs. I was working all through high school. I dropped out of college to work at a radio station and had a lot of pushback for that.
So can totally relate how experiences is, what really gives you the skills to level up and be in the real world. Education can only take you so far. It's so like conceptual, it's not really practical. And I think, that's really the new way to succeed. You're obviously a lot more successful than I am, but I can definitely relate.
Jayson Waller: I appreciate that.
Hala Taha: Yeah. So do you think that being an underdog helps you be like more nimble? So let's talk about you in the solar space. So you're a brand new company, or you were a brand new company at one point and you were an underdog at that point. It reminds me of a book I read by Malcolm Gladwell. It's called David and the Goliath.
And one of the main points he makes is that most people underestimate the importance of agility and speed. And that's why companies like yours, like the ability to be nimble and agile can really help you
[00:16:00] get ahead. So how has being an underdog being a new player in the space actually given you an advantage in the solar space?
Jayson Waller: I would say, and great question. I would say when I opened the home security business, I opened in that of my master bedroom with a shower. Tile wall. That was my schedule. So I bought like this thing at home Depot that they goes on tubs and I marked it with marker. Cause I had no money and I'm winging it. I'm still working at Verizon wireless and trying to sell home security at night.
And I built it out of my master bedroom. Wife's helping me get these contracts together to sell them. I'm learning as I go. Going from there to build the security company does very well and then join another security and building that when that does well, you gain experience of knowledge of what works and what does it, how to fail, how to get up, what to look for. Some of the things I learned was. I felt like I could sell anything if I believed it and I have to believe it, it's authentic. I've sold Kirby vacuum cleaners for a couple of weeks. And I said, this is a rip off. I can't do it. I've sold wireless cell phones and PDAs
When they first came out, I believed in that and I crushed it. So you got to believe in something. And with home security, I love that business. It saves lives and keeps the bad guys away. I loved it and I did well at it, but I had to the groom that when I did home security, we were getting into that business.
I said, I don't care for some water or ice or home security or solar, with solar. I can make this work. I just didn't understand solar. So I'd to hire a GC contract to educate us on the process. And then I realized real fast, how scary this is, because I can go out and sell it. But in solar it's like a construction business.
It's not like it's a home security where I sign you up and I sell the paper to ADT or Brinks and I get paid for it. And then I can pay my installer and the equipment vendor and everything that ain't like this is you sell a job. You don't get paid till it installs. And that could be two, three months later, you've got to pay your sales commission, your marketing, your interconnection, your permitting, everything, and it becomes a cash problem.
So we opened up the solar company and we went full blown. I had to take all the money I ever made in home security. Put it in there. I
[00:18:00] didn't go on payroll for 19 months opening up the solar company. So for 19 months I didn't get a paycheck. My wife's getting upset. This is crazy. It got so bad. We sold our house on the lake and reinvested that
into the company. And I really got some stink-eye on that and I'm like, trust me, I'm not gonna fail. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I've just got to get over this cashflow problem. And there was a time at the end of 15, cause we opened the name in 14, but we didn't really open the doors and starts selling till 15.
Cause I wrapped up and set up the sale of the home security company. And in 15 we did 3 million in sales. We lost a million bucks. Million bucks had to come from somewhere right. Came from me. With the money I made in the home security business, and I didn't get a paycheck. Then in 16, we did about 14 million in sales.
So we grew three plus times, almost four times the size, however or plus four times size, we still lost money and had to come from somewhere. And I started getting on payroll November of that year. But things started to turn because I almost shut down the end of 15. I was
[00:19:00] scared. And my business partner, Kevin was like, we need to close this down.
And he was running some call center stuff for us and I'm like, I can't, we argued about it. I said, if you want out and get out, I'm in. And so in June of 16, I brought him back full time and said, either you're in or out, you came and helped me grow because things were starting to turn. 17 we did really well.
We did. 40 million in sales, we were profitable 18. We did a hundred, five were profitable. Last year. We're at a 185 profit we'll break, 330 million in sales. This year, we have a thing called bam, building a movement where we plan on doing almost a billion in sales. Next year, we did 53 million last month. So you can do the math we're on the road, but it's because we're in an industry that you just have to learn.
And if you can be passionate, you believe in something you sell, that's what it was. And I wasn't scared to fail and learn. And what I built is it what I wanna do that was different in this company is I didn't want to depend on people. When we were doing home security, I depended on sales reps to knock a door or call somebody.
And if they didn't show up, we struggled. I wanted us to have the gold. So at our company, we do a lot of online marketing, digital marketing. We spend millions of dollars a month on lead gen and branding.
[00:20:00] Therefore the leads come to us and we give them out, which means we control the growth, not the sales folks.
And that's a whole different thing because now we don't have to hire sales folks. We can hire educators that teach people what solar is about because they raised their hand said they're interested. It's a whole different mindset that really allows us to be successful.
Hala Taha: Wow. That's really cool. You said so many things that I'm definitely gonna touch on.
I wanna just backtrack to you starting this power home solar business. So you were working a day job, you said, and you were running the security business. At night. So how did you decide that you were gonna like, take it full fledge and quit your nine to five? What was that process like?
Jayson Waller: Well, with when I opened home security in 2005, I was working Verizon for about 11 months and doing home security at night until I was making enough money.
I quit Verizon. In 2015, January, 2015, sold power home technologies. I was an owner in that. We built that up. There was a second home security company. I was a part of
[00:21:00] that. We built up and made a little bit of money with that money. I invested in power, home, solar to open and didn't pay myself for 19 months, but I was all in January 1st of 15, but I was hiring people in a new industry where I'm trusting them to do everything.
And really, I, that was against everything I've done before in security, I did everything. So nobody could be asked me of what the job consists of or how hard it is, or I wanted to do everything. So now I was like this is wrong. So come the end of 15, going in the 16, I started running the appointments. I started selling over the phone.
I started doing the proposals. I fired the sales manager. I would meet with these clients and all of a sudden my closing percentage was gonna be 80 or 90% because I'm aggressive. I am a passionate, I explained it. I'm not sending reps out on appointments and they're selling one in 10 and it's costing us a boatload of money with marketing.
I was closing these, so it allowed us to go, okay let me train a little me and then let me train another little me and then let them morph. And I can step back and start to scale. And that's what really happened. I
[00:22:00] decided in the home security business, when I made enough money, I could leave Verizon.
I did and went full time, home security. And in solar, I jumped all in, but I had this bubble of money that I was like, okay, I made a little bit of money on security. I don't need to get paid. I'll just, reinvest the money. It was so bad that I had to stick that money in. Right and reinvest any profits for almost 19 months until I went on payroll, then that broke deals were happening.
Things were happening, banks that we were financing customers through would pay us a little earlier. Things just started to evolve better, where it was like, this is working.
Hala Taha: Yeah, that's so interesting. So when you decided to turn into solar, from my understanding, you actually read about another competitor who transformed his security business into a solar businesses name, what was his name?
He was from Utah. Todd Peterson from Utah. Yeah. And tell us about that. Like, how did he motivate you to make the same switch and then now, how are you performing compared to his company?
Jayson Waller: So me and Todd don't personally know each other. We have some of the same friends, but he's always been
[00:23:00] the godfather of home security back in the day.
He had a thing called summer programs. He's out of Utah. He recruits a lot of Mormon kids out of BYU that go out and do summer programs. And they're so good because they knock on doors on some of their missions that when they go out and knock on doors, this is back in the day for home security. They crushed it because that's what they've always done.
Knocking on doors, get people to be part of the latter day saints, church, and community. They're used to doing that. So when they went out sold security, they were like, but like they weren't Goliath. Everybody else was David. It was crazy. We are everyone tried to duplicate that, building your own van teams and do stuff.
And it would be nobody can master completely. Then he morphed in to solar around 2012 ish, 2011 ish. And I wanted to get into, and about 13, I read about it and I'm like, man, this guy went from apex security to vivid security to vivid. That is where the future is. Everyone's doing home security now.
So motivated me to do that and be a part of something like that. And when I had the opportunity to get out of the security business at 15 and went full blown, I was excited and it was a tough road. I wouldn't use the construction part, But
[00:24:00] Todd's team now just vivid, just partnered with them.
We got bought by Sunrun about a month ago.
Hala Taha: Okay.
Jayson Waller: It was a major billion dollar deal, couple billion dollars and a Sunrun bottom up. And a, I think he's a consultant former doing some things wrapping up, but yeah, he was the godfather originally of security and really one of the pioneers and leaders in residential solar the last four or five years.
I'm a big believer when you see someone successful. You really wanna follow what they're doing and you want they're pathing the way you wanna be able to go down that help pathway for the next person too. And that's kinda what I did. I saw what he was doing. I was like, wow, we gotta do things.
Our market's a little different. We don't door knock. Ours is all online or TV customers want inquire about us. We go sign them up. So it's a different model. And then we do add a lot of energy efficiency. It's not just solar. We do blown installation, led lights, all the stuff, but it's the same concept.
And I saw how successful he transitioned that gave me hope. And I could do that as well. And we did really good there. They're a little bigger than us. They're publicly traded now, but we're on the path. I have a feeling that we we'll
[00:25:00] cross paths sooner than later.
Hala Taha: Yeah, that's really cool. And I think you bring up a great point that sometimes it's not about reinventing the wheel.
Sometimes it's about looking what's available to you. What has worked for other people, taking the best parts of their model and improving on other parts. And it looks like you did that really successfully. So congratulations. Let's take it back to when you had to basically sell your home re like you said, you didn't take it.
You and Kevin, I believe didn't take a check for 19 months, like you said. So what was that feeling like? And I know that you're a big proponent of training your mind to be calm in every situation. And, you've got some good advice in terms of dealing with anxiety. What did it feel like when you were in that moment and what was actually going on?
Tell us deeper in terms what was going on at that time and how you like decided you were gonna risk it all and how you dealt with that anxiety.
Jayson Waller: Great question. I, when I first I learned from the home security business that as long as I'm getting a paycheck from Verizon
[00:26:00] wireless, I can run this and reinvest.
And because I did that, the security business took off and I could leave Verizon in solar. I didn't have another job. I did have some money I made in the security business. It's no secret. I made $1.5 million selling the first facility, the security company. That's a lot of money to some people. It still is a lot of money.
But when you make that, and then you open a business and you've got to invest it and you're not getting a paycheck and you stick all that in there and still don't get a paycheck. It didn't matter what you made on the first thing. So I had a couple of things. I was battling one, everything I worked for 12 years, with 15 to actually was 10 years, 11 years, everything I ever worked for, I had now in a brand new company that was losing mine.
And I wasn't getting a paycheck. Me and my wife started from having nothing and built up this lifestyle that we were doing pretty good living on the lake and lake Norman. We got a boat, it was like, this life is pretty good too. We gotta sell the house. We've got a downgrade.
We're all, six of us are gonna be the smaller house where our oldest graduates high school, we're gonna back, I'm a big believer in not using credit. So everything, I usually buy cash
[00:27:00] anyways. Buy the small house cash, sell that house, whatever we got to reinvest in the business, I'm fighting that battle at home.
Of getting my wife and or family to trust me. Cause we've never been in waters like this, Jayson, you're not getting a paycheck and you're putting all the money in there. I have my business partner, Kevin, not trusting the situation. Kevin didn't have the money. He was a smaller owner in the security company.
So we only made 250 grand. He had no money to really, to put in. So here I am. We're equal partners. When we became partners as to look have, we're gonna be equal, even though he had nothing to really pony up. I didn't care. I'm not greedy. I said, I just got to call decisions, right? I'm the decision maker, that's it.
But we're ride or die. And he fits well, if I'm Batman, he's Robin, he makes me better. I make him better. But that's the way it works. So when things got real tough and we needed money, he didn't have it to give that. So I had to put this money yet, regardless. So I'm doing that. No paycheck, I'm struggling. I I was at a Disney trip at the end of 15 that I probably shouldn't have went on and I didn't have the money, but I already paid for it way ahead.
And I'm there with my family and I'm
[00:28:00] upset. I'm like tearing up, I don't like to cry and share my feelings. I don't like to show weakness. I like to be in control and I'm getting a little fired up. My wife's wrong. Kevin thinks we need to shut down. I'm arguing with them. I'm like, no, I've put all this money in this.
And this is right before I offered to put the house up to sell and put it in all Mike, all the money we put it. We're not get paid to the end of 15. And I said, I don't know what to do. I'm I'm in a tough spot. I don't know when to quit. Actually, you just need to pray about it, think about it and do what's best.
I trust you. You always make the right decision. And so that kind of gave me a little bit more confidence that you need, you always need someone in your corner.
Hala Taha: Yeah.
Jayson Waller: And so I was like, all so I prayed about it and I thought about it. And I was like, I'm not gonna go down like this, I'm a fighter, if it's fight or flight, I fight every single time.
I'm never scared. So I'm like, I've got to go swimming. What's the worst thing. I lose everything. I start over, I got to do this. So I went in and that's when I cleaned house, I fired like 70% of the people. If they weren't making the company money or they weren't doing their job, I was, we didn't have a lot of employees.
Maybe like 35. I fired like 20 of them. I was on a mission. I was like, they're gone. You're not doing your job. And juggling a lot of balls and that's where it started to
[00:29:00] turn about four or five, six months. In all of a sudden the numbers are starting to turn and we're doing a lot better, still lost money.
And that's when I brought Kevin on full-time. I said, dude, I've got this under control. I need you here. I need you to close the calls to get down here. And so he did, and he could take over the marketing part and I could still grow the sales and the operations. That got me through that time, but that whole time struggling, not getting a paycheck and me and Kevin worried, we were using personal Amex's and, pay this to borrow from this.
And, you gotta be creative and we wouldn't go home and talk about it. Cause we didn't wanna stress our families out, but we would be late nights, midnight, one in the morning, stressing, strategize. What are we gonna do? Kevin's always been cool and calm and collective. Kevin is the type. If his house was on fire, he's gonna smile ear to ear and go, sorry, man.
That's how he is. But he was broken just like I was, he was freaking, so that was freaking me out more. Cause I'm always freaking and I'm always edging. I'm like, ah, like the Tasmanian, he's not and that's why we're good partners. He's freaking out and I'm like, holy shit, I've got to get this under control.
So I'm like, I've got, I got a plan. Trust me, we'll get it. And it worked. And we
[00:30:00] just, we stayed investing in back into the company, not paying ourselves. We stayed on the grind. He fixed the marketing. I started selling, I trained the sales reps. We came up with a system, we'd negotiated better. Payments for equipment.
As we grew a little bit, I was aggressive on that aggressive on the financing and it finally came to fruition, but it was a lot of sleepless nights. It was hard, almost broken. We were bent, not broken and we've been in tough spots and home security before. I know he has, he had to shut down before and then came to work for me and then became a partner.
The second one I've never failed. I've never experienced. Failure. Like I've opened a business, a group from the ground up once and then joined a company that was doing okay. And made it a monster and was a partner in that second time. So as an entrepreneur, I've never failed. This was like failure.
And I didn't know how to, we had failure days, but I had to look at look, this is chess, not checkers. I can't just shut the doors. I'm having a bad week or a bad day or bad month. That doesn't mean it's the end of me. Let me continue to focus and stay on this. And we did, we had each other Kevin and I, we had our families
[00:31:00] support, but we tried not to share too much with them because they would've freaked out and we got through it.
And as we did, and we grew the light at the tunnel things start going good then. Then it was, wow! Look at what we're doing now. Now we're in waters. We're not used to it. I had to bring smarter educated people around me that knew what EBITDA meant. Bring a president. That's done a private equity deal before. Bring a real CFO things that when you evolved a 30, 40, $50 million company, you've got to do it.
And I'm, that's not my bread and butter. My bread and butter is passion. Vision culture. Motivation and work ethic and streamlining becoming scalable on costs.
Hala Taha: Yeah. There's so many cool things that you brought up in such interesting points. I love the fact that you fired 70. I think you said 70% of your staff.
I just had Brian Scudamore on and he's the CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK. It's also like a $300 million company, huge company. And he did the same thing right before his company got really huge. He fired nine of his 11 employees and cleaned house and did it all over again. He obviously a really big point. If you don't have the right
[00:32:00] people, you won't be able to scale.
And so when things are going wrong, you have to see like what who's around you are these people as passionate as I am, and it's not necessarily about their talents or their resume. It's more about their passion. And if they're willing to learn, and if they're willing to give it all the same way that you are to make this company work.
So I think that's very interesting.
Jayson Waller: Hala, one of the things too on that, when I'm going through this, that one of the problems I had to evolve and get better on that people should probably take notice too, is when you're small and you're building a business, it becomes like a personal relationship. He worked for me.
We got 12 employees. It's hard for me to fire .
Hala Taha: Yeah.
Jayson Waller: I have learned over time. I can't have relationships with employees, only direct reports. And I hate that because I wanna be the cool boss that talks to everybody, but most people have a shelf life, unfortunately, and I've learned the hard way of letting people stay three months, two years, eight months too long, costing the company money, where I had to develop a mindset that if it's not helping the brand.
Forget them. Forget me. If it's not helping the brand that affects everybody, I'm doing the wrong
[00:33:00] thing. And you have to train yourself to where it's white and black. There is no, I feel bad for them. That's not life. That's not how this works. It's not your job to feel bad, their scores, their score. If they're doing it great.
If they're not, you need to move on. And that mindset, when my back's against the wall and my house is on the line and all the money's in here, you're like, you know what? I can't be your friends anymore. You're out. And I think that's what your guy did. And then what a motto we have at power home is an 80 20 rule.
And a lot of other companies follow it. But what I do is I hold all of our executives and directors accountable to make sure they're replacing 20% of their staff every month. And if they don't, I'm like, you're not doing your job because I assure you if we were GE or Microsoft and we wanted to stay the same.
It's about retention. When you're a growing company, that's doing this and you're going up, you need to be replacing the bottom 20% because your top 20% do 80% of the work, your next 60% of your 20%. And that bottom 20%, they don't do shit. They hold everybody down. They're negative, they're clowns. They're pessimists.
They do everything wrong. And you've
[00:34:00] got to find those and train your leaders to find those and replace them for new blood that wanna do that. That's how you grow. That's how companies grow. If you don't do that, you don't put KPIs and do that. You won't grow. And that's something I've learned with businesses that you've got to replace.
You keep the ones that are performing and want to be there, but get rid of the ones that it's just a job.
Hala Taha: Yeah, totally. I think that is exceptional advice. Okay. So you pivoted this business and so many other businesses today with coronavirus and COVID, they are thinking about pivoting their business if they haven't already.
And what would you say to a company that is getting ready to switch their business model? What are some of the blind spots that they should look out for? What's your guidance to them?
Jayson Waller: We were scared. We almost shut down. We had exact, we have executive meetings every day on a call, which is cool.
And so we're very connected, the five executives, but we, when all this came out, we were scared and there were, I don't name names, but a couple of the executives that wanted to shut the doors. Hey, it's safe. If we furlough everybody and close the doors early in March and call it a day, like some of these other companies in
[00:35:00] that smart, and it was the day after GE executives took a pay cut to keep their employees working.
Not GE was GM in Michigan. I saw it on the news and I started to feel bad because at the time we were sitting with around 800 employees in March, we're almost 1300 now. So I thought about Lucy who works in our call center and makes 14 bucks an hour. And she's a single mom. This is before they came out with any of those packages for the government, which we got none because we're over 500 employees.
So government gave us nothing. And this is before they came out with the unemployment, right? None of this was out there. So I was like, look, our biggest assets, our employees, that's what it is, their passion, what we built. My fear was as if we closed down than Lucy couldn't pay for her diapers or she couldn't get her formula for kid or John.
Who's our installer. That's the only income at their house. They can't pay their car payment or the cargo. These are the things that were haunting me. And when you're a CEO or you're the leader of a company or leaders, That weights on you and the more people, the more pressure now I have a
[00:36:00] weird sickness.
I love pressure. I don't know why golf the other day. And my partner messed up on a hit and I'm like, look, I got this. I love the pressure. For some reason I do. It's like riding a roller coaster. I love it. But it was nerve wracking because it's look, if what's the worst was gonna happen. We're gonna negotiate with our vendors to move cash payments to the end of the summer, we're gonna negotiate with the NFL teams to take the payments then as well.
And we are going to come out of this great because we're going to people that wanna work. We're gonna allow them to work. People wanna stay home. They're scared. We're gonna allow them to stay home. Take some vacation time after that, go inactive. We'll figure it out. So we put those in place.
And the best part is we took ourselves off payroll. For almost three months, all the executives. And that was a tough pill to swallow for a couple of them. I said, guys, this is the right thing to do. When we did that, we announced it to our team. A lot of our team members exec, directors, managers, all the sales leaders, they all started taking pay cuts to, to volunteer, to stay open, to pay people.
And it came in good benefit because we had a case in Chesterfield Michigan, where someone caught COVID
[00:37:00] and we had to shut that office down for two weeks. And a lot of those guys that have vacation, we paid them like, we're like, that's the right thing to do. We had to purposely close down. We took care. And that happened twice, two or three times, we made sure because of the extra funds that people don't know, the employees only had to do it.
I think for three payrolls, we didn't want them to do it, but they did. And we're like, guys, we're good. Now things have turned around. But when we did that and we did a deal with Generac. Around the same time, which was crazy as our battery and storage in Generac is a generator company. And we came out with the message all over TV.
We doubled down on TV saying, now's the time that power matters. You can't be without power for medical supplies, your medicine, or your food source. So we were trying to be kind but real to the consumers out there. It took off. So we, our largest month ever was 22 million in sales in March. We did 33 million in April 43 million in may 46 million in June and 53 million last month in July.
Hala Taha: Yeah
Jayson Waller: We doubled in size during COVID doubled the employees.
[00:38:00] It's wild. And what it is my advice is you gotta fight through it and be adaptive. You can't just take your ball and go home. We allowed some people to work from home. That remote, that made sense. We spent tens hundreds of thousands of dollars on plexiglass to be safe.
We got masks. We were paying attention to the CDC and the state organizations, the health organizations to see what was required at different counties. We did everything we were supposed to do. But we won't gonna shut down. As long as a customer wanted to buy an employee one to work, it was our job to stay open.
And then we did that and the executives just got back on payroll recently, which is good, you invest in your team, you invest back into the company and that's what it's about. We're always like hashtag power home strong, right? What can we do for each other? And there's nothing like knowing that you helped families out that worked for you.
That goes, you can't replace that feeling. That's what it's about during this, cause everyone's scared. And whether you have a small business or big business, you got to figure out to do the right thing. I had Dr. Glenn Valon. Who's one of the doctors that created the antibodies. They did the same thing. They were told to shut down.
[00:39:00] He had people volunteer their time to create that. There's just one of the three companies in the antibody stuff. He was on the show pandemic. He was on my podcast. Great guy. He was telling me the story. It's all emotional. He had 12 people volunteer their time during this to come to these studies and tests for free so they can find a cure.
That's what it is. It's about us all coming together and figuring this out and yeah, we're a business and yeah, we make money, but our employees make money. We create jobs. We do all these things that we need to do to make sure life's are better customers save money. They wanna keep their power on.
So we love what we do. And we got through that. Okay. But it's really about teamwork and solution solving what's best for the brand and the company. Not yourself. And not an individual, but the company.
Hala Taha: Yeah. There's so many takeaways from that. One of the things that I heard in there is that you really focused on the company culture.
You led from the top, you set an example from the top, with you guys not taking a paycheck for awhile. And that trickle down where the employees also felt like they needed to step up and they felt like you guys actually cared about them, that they weren't just cogs in a wheel.
[00:40:00] And it sounds like you were really transparent, really communicative, and that's really important in terms of
leading in a pandemic and leading in a crisis like this. And the second thing I heard is that in your messaging to your customers, you altered your messaging to fit the current scenario. You didn't just keep talking about what you always talking about in terms of selling solar, you changed your messaging and your value proposition to your customers so that you would be more relevant, more relatable in this situation.
So really awesome stuff. I've heard you talking in the past that you have a passion for purpose and your people, and that's what really drives you. It's not really the money. It's not really the success. It's more about the people and your purpose. So tell us more about it.
Jayson Waller: When I got into this business, it's no secret.
I jumped in it because I thought it was cool. When I got into the cell phone business, it was 30% penetrated. Nobody thought cell phones were the future. Everyone has landlines, bell and AT & T and that was the world we lived in. And so I would have to meet with business owners, and be like, Hey, this is the future.
And you're not gonna use your
[00:41:00] fax machine or your landline. And it was tough, but I believed in it. I feel the same thing about solar. It's very, the traditional way of power is gonna go away. Eventually we're gonna have renewable sources everywhere that the utility companies are distributor.
They are moving power along. You can choose to own and have your own power pad at home, or you can buy into one. All of that's coming. We've seen it Europe. We see it in California. We see all these things coming. And I loved that. I thought it was cool and it was technology driven and it was the American dream.
People can have their own power, nobody, and nobody likes the utility companies. They provide a service with power, but they overcharged the grids always down. They're very reckless with their cleanup efforts where people are getting poisoned from coal ash. There's just some problems there.
And we look at that as an opportunity for people to stand up and have their own power and electric cars are the future and people are gonna charge their cars at night. They don't wanna pay an arm and a leg to do that. Having solar allows them to all these things I was excited about in 14 and 15, we first opened are really starting to come to fruition now.
And I was excited about it. And I said, when we did the
[00:42:00] culture, we're trying to find the reason why I did it because I was excited after I was in. It was about changing the planet at first. I wasn't the go green guy, I wasn't, I don't drive a Prius. When I first opened, I drove a monster truck like legit.
Okay. So I had to change that, but after I was in it, I'm like, wow, this is a problem. Look at the coal Ash spill here at lake Norman. Look at what's going on. Look at all of the issues with the way they produce power. Like this is an issue with climate change. I became a believer hardcore, and it's just.
Our culture is, bam build a movement, one panel, one customer, one employee at a time they're behind that. They want to give people choice of power. They wanna be at the forefront of technology. They want people to be able to have a backup battery with storage to where they are not powerless, and they can have the things they need, their AC their, their wifi, the refrigeration, whatever it is
And we wanna be a part of that. And it's technology driven and it's cutting edge and it's exciting. And our culture, we try to stay fresh. We try to be cutting edge right now. We're at 77%
[00:43:00] battery attachment rate means 77 out of every customer gets solar gets a battery. You don't save money.
When you get a battery cost you money, you can save money getting solar, but it costs you money. That means, people are buying our product because they know that it's important for the world. They know it's important for the environment. They know that long-term, they're gonna save money. They're not gonna be without power.
And they're a part of that. They wanna get electric cars are coming up. Thinking about the cars, yeah Mustang sold out, they won Camaro, sold out. They won I'm in line to get a electric Hummer. All these electric cars, they're just coming in the next 10, 12 years. I'm a big believer.
We're gonna be like 80% electric cars. What are we gonna do to change them? People need to have other power sources. That's where solar and wind come in. And so that passion kind of shares. And I'm an open book. I share my feelings. I'm raw. I do all the sales meetings for our company. I do all the install meetings for our company.
It's once a month on each and then our Christmas parties and they get to hear me go out there. I'm raw. And I say some bad words. I'm not for, I don't, I'm real. I'm like, this is how I feel. Screw the power company. This is what we're in it for. I think are employees appreciate that it's not
[00:44:00] fake corporate America, just trying to lace our pocketbooks, that we're all in this together.
We all wanna change the world together. We have a mission for our employees. I'm not done. I, they could offer me a billion dollars tomorrow for the business. And I would say no, because unless they would give a lot of that to our employees. I wanna either go public or I wanna have a lucrative transaction to where all our employees have a life-changing event.
We saw Google do it. We've seen Amazon somewhat do it. We've seen Microsoft do it back in the day. I'm like, why not power home? Why can't all our employees that have busted their butt and grind every day for a bigger thing than just the job. Be part of something that's life changing. And that's what I wanna help give them.
That is when I feel like we've hit goals. Yeah. We can do a hundred million a month in sales. That's not the point when we get to that point, I'll feel like, wow, we've really done something because we're also changing the world with the customers. But the employees for them to have that event is life changing I want that for them.
Hala Taha: Totally. Totally. I love the fact that you're saying that the environment is really important to you. I'm just gonna read a few stats in terms of
[00:45:00] what an average American home going to solar for a year is if somebody goes and switches to solar for one year, it's avoiding adding more than 12,500 pounds of CO2 in the atmosphere.
It's like growing 122 tree seedlings for 10 years. It's like not burning over 8,000 pounds of coal driving, 18,000 miles, less and so on. So it's a huge impact. And I know you guys are one of the biggest buyers for residential solar, so that's huge. That's amazing.
Jayson Waller: And it's usually look, we're bigger than the environment.
We're big in the military. We've been on military makeup or twice where we donate a system. We did three water, solar farms for give power foundation where we're creating these solar farms that produce 35,000 glasses of water per day for people in third world countries. We're big in all of this.
It all ties together, water, air power, it all ties together. And we got to take care of this world and.
[00:46:00] I hate that people are naive. And I won't talk politics on here, but I will say that both sides of the fence are guilty of not understanding and both sides of the fence, the younger ones totally get it.
And they're pro this and that's what it's about is everybody coming together because people don't know this, but more Republicans buy solar from us than Democrats. That's a fact we've done surveys. People don't realize that they think Democrats are the only ones Pro-Green and Republicans aren't really the issue you have is you have a lot of Republicans who are pro coal and they just don't get it in the wrong for that.
You have a lot of Democrats that are pro solar, but, they don't want people to like there's just, there's a blend there that I wish in today's world, somebody would come out of the woodwork that would. We already have enough problems to disagree on, with everything else in politics, they all need to align themselves with our planet and renewable energy.
That is what I would like to see as a group effort to really, that's a no brainer. Let's do this, that they need to align themselves with.
Hala Taha: Yeah, I totally agree. So last question, before we wrap this up, I know that
[00:47:00] you're a proponent of small wins. You say that you don't need to win big all the time.
Small wins can equal success. There's no elevator to life. You've got to take a step each day. So tell us more about that philosophy, because I think it's really important for my listeners to hear.
Jayson Waller: Yeah. I think look, I, we didn't expect to be a $300 million solar company overnight. We paced ourselves and there was a day, five years ago, we thought we're gonna close down and you have to, I think when you set your goals unrealistic to the top of the staircase and you think it's gonna happen overnight, you're setting yourself up for failure.
I don't care who you are. Athletes, geniuses, anybody you can't overnight get to the top. They, it just doesn't work that way. And what you learn from taking the stairs or little wins is you learn. If I set a 30 day plan and my ultimate goal, my dream goal is to have a $50 million company.
What do I do in the first 30 days? Let me find some good employees that make this work. And then the next 90 days let's get some sales and maybe get a hundred sales. And then the next day let me get to 50,000 is that
[00:48:00] you have to set realistic. Checkpoints, realistic steps that you take to feel good and be confident to take the next step.
And you're gonna fall down a little bit, but that's better than falling all the way from the top because that's not recoverable, but falling down a little bit, working your way on there, you learn every time you fail, you learn and that you take another step. And then when you start to get these small winds, you go up the stairs a little faster, cause it only takes one to take off and it really starts to move.
But people too many times like I'm gonna try to lose weight. And when they don't lose eight pounds a week, one day, quit Or I'm gonna open a business. I'm gonna be the best sales guy ever. No, they don't sell something. The first two weeks they quit and they can't set unrealistic goals. That don't happen overnight.
You've got to pace yourself and get to that point. Small wins, small steps, cause there is no button to go in the elevator. I've lived it in three companies. I can tell you, I built it from the sellers of a small bedroom that was 300 square feet and a tile board. And I did that in two of the three companies, even power on solar.
We had no money. We had to roll carts over Manila folders of customers, things and give it to the other person in the computer and put it on there. We had a
[00:49:00] tile board from a shower at Lowe's. Like we did the same thing in solar. You have to start somewhere and evolve and move up slowly until you get there.
And then when you get there. You got to make sure you find another staircase to go up because when you're there, if you just sit, you will fall, you gotta keep going up.
Hala Taha: Yeah, there's a risk in being successful. I think that's totally true. You can hear the energy and the fire inside of you. You're so inspirational and motivational you've really achieved so much against all odds.
You are a true underdog. A question that I ask all my guests is what is your secret to profiting in life?
Jayson Waller: Finding fulfillness inside my soul. Like everyone says, success, how much money you make, which drive to me. It's not, I was judged that in high school. My wife likes nice cars I don't, right.
I'm more simple. When you get nice stuff, you, of course you liked nice stuff. I'm human, but that's not what drives me. I've never chased the money. I've obviously you've seen I go off payroll. Money's never been my thing.
[00:50:00] Making a difference. Watching my kids grow, watching them learn from me or admire me or be proud of me or the wife being proud of me that fulfills me.
My parents being proud of me. That's fulfilling making the employees proud of themselves and them getting their spouses and families proud of them, them getting to buy houses and cars. There's nothing like you get an employee or a manager or director. It's Hey man, I just love being here.
And I got to buy my first house. So I got to upgrade my house or one of them got their kids back. He was going through a divorce and he got his kids back. When you hear that stuff, you can't pay for that success feeling, not kind of stuff drives me is making a difference in helping people. And I feel like we get to do that.
Not only for customers, which we love that, but our employees and we get to hear their story and share them and they just, it makes everything worth it. And that's the point is you can't be greedy and you got to find what fills you in here, everybody is different. Some is title. Some is money. You don't ever chase money, chase success, chase the why you can, there's teachers out there.
Teachers are so underpaid. It's not funny. It is ridiculous. And
[00:51:00] that's why we don't have great. We have a lot of great teachers, but that's why we don't have a lot of great teachers, because the pay is not fair. You could have been the best teacher in the planet, but you can't afford sometimes to put food on the table.
So you go do another job. And that's the future of our kids. I'm giving an example as a teacher. Is successful. They're teaching kids. They don't have to be millionaires. They don't have to run a business. They're successful because they're impacting our world and they feel good about teaching our future, firemen, they don't make killer money.
They're saving lives. They love what they do. They're fulfilled. This is what it's about. You got to fulfill yourself in here. Otherwise it's nothing worth it.
Hala Taha: Yeah, you are such a good guy, Jayson, like you really are. I'm really happy that somebody is like, as powerful as you and still so humble and still cares so much about his employees in the world.
So that makes me feel like a lot of confidence in, our world in general to, to have like powerful people like you with that kind of an attitude. Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and everything that you.
Jayson Waller: Hey go to powerhome.com. If you're one of our 11 states, we can get you a free proposal and send somebody out to make
[00:52:00] sure we can get you to own your power, not run it and save money and save the planet.
We have a new podcast out where you know, it's called true underdog. You go to trueunderdog.com or you can go to iHeart radio, Spotify. We're apple podcasts also got a YouTube channel, true underdog, where I share a lot of my stories. I bring people on Hala here to talk about their stories, share underdog stories, overcoming adversity, how we can really better the earth and planet and people cause people sometimes need a kick in the butt.
I know I do. I listen to stuff. I need help sometimes. We're all human. So I just like to share that anything that I can help people get ahead on, maybe they're like, oh, I'm in that situation. I've been in that where people we bring on the show where people can relate, they get it. They're like, oh, I don't wanna quit.
I wanna do this. That kind of stuff's inspired me my whole life. And I just wanna give that back.
Hala Taha: Awesome. Yeah, I'll put all those links in the show notes. So you guys can find Jason easily and I would highly recommend his podcast again. That's true underdog. You can find it on all the regular podcast channels, apple, Spotify.
I've been binging it. So definitely go check it out. Thank you so much, Jayson. It was such a pleasure.
Jayson Waller: Thank you Hala. Be good. Be
Hala Taha: Thanks for listening to young and profiting podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider leaving a review on apple podcasts or comment on YouTube SoundCloud or your favorite platform. Reviews make all the hard work worth it. They're the ultimate thank you to me and the YAP team. The other way to support us is by word of mouth. Share this podcast with a friend or family member who may find it valuable. Follow YAP on instagram @youngandprofiting and check us out at youngandprofiting.com. You can find me on Instagram @yapwithhala or LinkedIn, just search for my name Hala Taha until next time, this is Hala, signing off.
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