Nick Shucet (00:18)

Welcome to the Million Dollar Sellers Podcast. I'm your host, Nick Shucet. Today I've got some special guests, Miles and Maurice Huffman, on the show. 

I'm excited to bring these guys on and share their stories with the audience. I think they've got a great thing going on and I love the father-son duo. I think that's like every dad's dream really. 

I have four kids, three boys, and one girl and it's just great to do stuff with your kids. It's so cool to see you guys doing that. 

Maurice, I think I'll let you kick it off, man, with how you got into this and how you brought Miles, your son in, and what you guys do now.

Maurice Huffman (00:50)


Maurice Huffman (01:08)

I moved, I was living in Germany and met my wife there and we came to the States. I hadn't really been here before, even though I'm American because my father's American, but we lived in Germany. 

To get into something to make a living here, because I was a musician and a dive instructor, there wasn't that much work here. I didn't know anybody in the music business. 

I started off, believe it or not, I got a job. My first job was selling cars. I learned about car sales in America. It's totally different than it was in Germany. I had a lot of fun doing that. 

One of my customers was actually a person who had a company similar to what we have now. 

He was looking for a multilingual person who could help him build his vendor base in Europe and also put together a sales team because he liked the way I was selling.

I grew up in a furniture store, so I had a little bit of an idea on how to treat people who spent a lot of money on cool stuff and learned from my parents. 

I took the job and it was a great education to get into this military surplus business and learn about what's out there. 

Then the best part was that he sent me to Germany four or five times a year to work on his contacts in France also and Italy.

I got to go home and see my family. It was an ideal job. The only not-so-ideal job was that it wasn't really a good person to work for. 

I had to figure out how I could get out of that and still survive. So I did, I quit there because really the person I was working for wasn't that honest of a person. 

I don't like that kind of stuff so next thing you know I get calls from all the vendors and all the people that I was the liaison with working for the other company. 

They're all saying, gosh we really don't like your former boss. 

We'd really like to work with you. Why don't we set something up with you? 

Maurice Huffman (03:14)

Long story short, I said, yeah, sure. Started out in my garage. Then we were starting to bring stuff into the garage. 

Next thing you know, I needed a warehouse and some employees. This was about 1994 when this all started. I just had so much fun doing it. 

Of course, I continued my trips over to Europe to go to all these different military bases. This was when I first started this, soon after the wall came down in Europe, Germany.

I would be visiting these East German army bases if I had been there as an American, just a little time before that, they would have shot me on sight. 

Now I'm dealing with these same people with a suitcase full of money because they didn't take anything else to try to buy the blankets and clothing that I was after.

At first, they wanted to show me their tanks, their MiGs, and their guns, which I was not after. I have to deal with those kinds of people just to get to the soft goods that I was after. 

There were some adventures I could talk about for the next three days that involved these people in some very undescribable drink that they all drank after every sentence.

An old person couldn't walk away after things like that. That got me into that and it was a lot of fun. And I started stocking up, getting bigger warehouses, and getting a sales staff. 

I really enjoyed basically being a recycler almost. These are all military goods that would have ended up who knows where. 

I bought them for a penny on the dollar and brought them over in a container. 

Then learned how to sort through it and find customers that would like this, all the way from military stores to fashion stores. 

We ended up selling to pretty much every kind of store you can imagine. Then that's when we also found gas cans from the militaries, from Switzerland.

Maurice Huffman (05:17)

For example in Germany I said, wow, these are some really awesome gas cans. Over the years we bought pretty much every gas can that came in from Europe. 

That's how we got into the gas can business when they ran out. My son was born through all this and to go into school, he went and got a degree in graphic arts. 

Miles Huffman (05:39)

Yeah, I got a degree in graphic design. I really have a background in the arts and in design is where my passions lie. I was working freelance. 

I did some work in the newspaper industry as well. Before we had a really big fire that came, ripped through our town, and burnt everything down. 

That's the whole story in itself, which I'm sure we can get into in a bit. After that happened, it was time to reset the business for my dad. 

He was thinking about whether I should even keep this thing going, should I be calling it quits? Where do we go from here? I thought, what the heck? 

I was already working for my dad, helping with the website, taking photographs, doing that sort of thing, part-time. I thought, if not now, when? 

I might as well just jump in and see if we can do this thing together. We really got a chance to start from zero. 

Start fresh, which is a unique opportunity for business really because everybody says if I had to start over, I would do it this way that way. He basically got to do that. We did that together. 

Since then the business has grown like crazy, and we're doing a lot better than ever before. We're in a new space now, which is working really well for the business too. 

As you know, the gas can business has been booming. We've got other lines of products. We're doing a lot of wool blankets now that I design, which is really fun. 

Those are doing really well too. That's how I got involved.

Maurice Huffman (07:19)

He made it sound so simple and played it down a little bit, but it was an amazing thing for him to say, I'm going to give up what I'm doing to help you and your business, Dad. 

I can't tell you how much that means to me. You can't express something like that. It's just like you mentioned earlier, it's a great thing to work with your family. 

I'm just extremely fortunate, even though it's at the point now where he tells me what to do. I'm putting up with it.

Nick Shucet (07:46)

Miles, was he always trying to reel you into the business? I feel like I already do that to my 11-year-old.

Miles Huffman (07:52)

He never did. He always said, this business is tough and it's better that you do something that you love and care about. Basically, I never even suggested that I come work in the business. 

Miles Huffman (08:04)

With the exception of he needs help with photographs and stuff like that.

Maurice Huffman (08:07)

Yeah, he was such, he's such an artist. He has incredible talents. He was really doing well with his art. We had a gallery with his actual paintings. Sadly we lost all of his paintings in the fire. 

He was doing really well. I'm from the background of being a musician and an artist know how sometimes business can suck your soul out of the art when you go fully into the business world.

There is also a way to do both, and I've been doing both. I'm sure once his kid gets a little up there in age, he'll have some time to get back into his art. 

I hope I didn't take that away from him.

Nick Shucet (08:52)

Miles, I know you guys are pretty talented. Maurice, I know you sing. I think you also play an instrument, is that right?

Maurice Huffman (09:01)

Yeah, I play guitar and I have a nine-piece blues funk band that we perform a lot with and a bunch of CDs out. It's been my passion for over 40 years. 

Miles Huffman (09:11)

Most people know him as Big Mo. 

Nick Shucet (9:13)

Big Mo.

Maurice Huffman (09:15)

Big Mo and the Full Moon Band is my band.

Nick Shucet (09:17)

Very cool. Did you say that was punk blues?

Maurice Huffman (09:20)

No, it's funk and blues, blues funk. It's all originals. I write all the songs. We got a bunch of rewards and did a lot of gigs. 

It's something I could have done just full-time too, but I always was of the sound mind.

I don't know if that's a way to say it. To keep a foot in the business world, music is not always a guarantee. When you get older, especially, it's like, huh, hope I have something to fall back on. 

I always did both. While the guys after the show would party all night, I went to bed early so I could get up and go to work.

Nick Shucet (10:00)

Man, that's tough. It took me a while to figure that out, man. When I was younger, it was hard for me to slide out and miss out on the parties and all the fun and stuff like that. 

You don't realize what you're missing because you probably feel pretty accomplished, looking back on that. You're like, man, I made the right choice.

Maurice Huffman (10:25)

I think so. Some of my friends have made it much further in music, but a lot of them really haven't, and at their age now it's tough for them as a musician to survive and everything. 

I'm glad that I did both. I don't believe in regrets, just have to have fun. I never went to work one single day. I was always doing what I like, and my gosh, how much better can that get?

Nick Shucet (10:51)

That's great, man. I love your story. I loved hearing it in Vegas when we were at that, what was the name? The Hofbräuhaus. Yes. Yeah, that was good, man. 

I think you got to tell the audience your car salesman story, about the price, man. I thought that was good.

Maurice Huffman (10:58)

“Hofbräuhaus”, they say it in German.

Maurice Huffman (11:15)

First of all, when we first moved to this area where we are now, we were in a motor home and it was the day before Christmas, our first wedding anniversary. 

Maybe we had run out of money and so we had to check for this trip moving to this country that when we're out of money, we're going to take this check and we're going to start a new life. 

Get an apartment and all this kind of stuff, and find a job.

I take the motor home and this little puppy, my wife's walking in the park to go to the bank because I wanted to buy a little present for our first anniversary. 

I talked her into walking in the park while I and the little puppy went to the bank. I go to the bank and I walk in the bank and I'm pretty excited. 

We're going to live in this place now because we're out of money and I had to cash this check. I couldn't find the check. I go, where's my check? I left it in the motor home. 

I went back out and the dog had eaten the check while I was trying to go into the bank to cash the check. There was just a little corner piece left in his mouth. 

I went in with that to the bank manager and said, this is the story. I still had a pretty heavy accent with my English, German, and stuff. I said, can you give us a credit card? 

This happened. My dog ate the check, and he's looking at me. What story is he trying to tell? He says, what do you do? What brings you here? I didn't know English well enough. 

I thought that was a word that I said, I'm a transient. Translated that somehow I'm just moving here. It's new, but I didn't know that means you're a hobo. He kicked me out of the bank. 

We had no food, and no money, and our motorhome ran out of gas right in front of a car dealership.

Maurice Huffman (12:53)

I said I'm gonna go in there and get a job. This dog food doesn't taste that good. That's all we had left in the motor home. The dog was looking tasty itself. Okay, I'm getting the job. 

I walked in and there was this manager, there weren't that many people there. I said, I helped my parents sell furniture and I like talking to people and I wanna sell some cars for you. 

He says, go out, look out there. There's a lady, I go out there looking at this truck, go out and sell it. 

Okay, so I walked out, and in Germany, you don't discuss the price of a car, you just order it and you get treated like a king because it's your biggest investment besides your house. 

You gotta treat them like, wow. I went out there and I talked to them and just made them feel so happy that they're gonna be getting a new car.

They said, what's the deal we can make? I said the price is on the car. What are they talking about? They just talked about how happy they must be to be able to get a new car. 

Anyway, they bought the car, it was full price, they were very happy. I walked into the owner, the manager, and I said, listen, they're taking the car. He said, so what kind of deal do they want? 

I said, what do you mean, deal? The price is on the sticker. He said, and that's what they're paying? I said, yeah. Then he calls in the other managers. 

They had just finally shown up to work and he said, I want you guys to know something. If anybody tries to teach this kid here how to sell cars, you're fired. That started my car sales.

Nick Shucet (14:32)

Oh man, I love that, man. It's such a good story. What a journey, man, from a dream, coming to the States, tearing up a check, being kicked out of the bank, and eating dog food. 

Now you're with your son, you grew this business. Where are you guys now? 

What have you guys been able to accomplish together as you look back, business-wise as far as how big the business is now?

Maurice Huffman (15:12)

When Miles came on board, he brought us into this new century. 

I basically developed all of our sales methods bookkeeping methods and marketing methods, just organically as we went along with pretty old technology. 

Miles came in, he just was so great about branding things, getting the brands going more than just my military surplus.

We have a bunch of brands now that we are really doing well, like the Wavian Fuel Cans and the Swiss Link Classic Blankets, the StormBag that happened there. 

Then, of course, being on the Shark Tank with the StormBag with that invention, was a huge unexpected bonus. 

I have to say that bringing us into the new world here of how business is done now, Miles really was the instigator for that. That really helped hugely.

Miles Huffman (16:08)

When I came into the business in a more serious way after the fire, first of all, I realized how incredibly good my dad is at math, just like in his head. 

I think sometimes when you have a natural talent for things that makes you work less hard on that particular aspect because you're just good at it. 

His instinct on where the business is in terms of the books and the profits and the numbers and everything is so good that he never really dug into the numbers.

When I came aboard, I was like, Okay, let me spend a month talking every day to the bookkeeper to really understand everything. 

She's like, Wow, you're asking all the questions that nobody ever gave a crap about before in the business. I just took it from a completely different perspective, which I think is good. 

Which meant that we're not butting heads because we're not doing the same thing.

Miles Huffman (17:06)

He's got really good instincts and he knows everything about the business on a really deep level. 

I'm like, okay, let me dig into the actual numbers and see where we can tweak things, make things a little bit better. 

By the numbers, in terms of revenue, we're double where we were at, where he was at before the fire, which I think is a heck of a thing to say. 

Going from being somewhere and then going all the way down to zero and then being double where you were, I consider that to be a pretty good accomplishment. 

We've had ups and downs since then. There was the fire, obviously, and then there was the pandemic, which affected us negatively in some ways, but positively in other ways. 

Some of the stuff we sell goes to preppers, survivalists, that sort of thing. 

The sales went up, but also shipping costs went up and the whole supply chain was problematic from end to end, but we got through that pretty well. 

Then there was the sort of, I would almost consider it a random lucky windfall that we were on Shark Tank.

I was looking at the business and all the different brands. He was talking about developing the brands. 

I had always known about the StormBag, which is something that he invented when I was a kid, which is an automatic sandbag that uses no sand. 

Essentially it absorbs water and becomes a fully usable sandbag. I thought, man, that's really, really cool. We should really do something with it.

Basically, he just kept making it for the few customers that really wanted them. Every year we'd send a bunch of them down to the Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii. They use those there. 

A couple of hotel chains, some different, local municipalities, government agencies, and stuff would buy these. We just keep making them. 

Why stop a part of the business that's working, but also didn't really put any energy into making something out of it?

Miles Huffman (19:14)

We went to a natural disaster trade show down in LA. We were lucky that the weekend that we went there for that show was a torrential downpour. 

There was a crazy freak, super rare flooding happening that same weekend of that trade show that was there promoting these bags. It was going so well for us there. 

Everybody was super interested in the product. We made a lot of great contacts there. Just from a standard trade show, it went as well as you could do in a trade show. 

Got a lot of good, a lot of good new customers and interests in the bags, but he'd been doing the sales pitch all day long, which I thought was pretty cool. 

I thought, why don't I just film this and put it on TikTok? I had just recently created a TikTok account for Swiss Link. 

There was nothing to post, so I thought, hey, there's something I could post on there.

Then I'm looking at my phone later that night and it's blowing up. It's going over and over and every time I check, it's another 10,000 views, another 10,000 views. 

Suddenly we're at a hundred thousand views. I'm like, can you believe we have a hundred thousand views? 

By the end of that night, we were at 2 million views of that video on TikTok, which was for us, mind-blowing. I'd never had anything with more than 200 likes in my life on any social media. 

Miles Huffman (20:33)

Thousands of comments, just tons and tons of interaction there. I put it onto Facebook as well, and on Instagram, it got a couple million views on basically every platform. 

All said and done, it was seven million views or something like that, which had a huge boost in just retail sales on our retail website for the StormBags. 

Also, it meant that it was gaining attention from news publications and then ultimately Shark Tank. 

That's flash forward a few months and where we're on Shark Tank promoting the product, which was really fun, really interesting.

Nick Shucet (21:10)

That's amazing. It's so cool to hear. In our group at MDS, everyone's talking about TikTok. How do I make more sales? How do I make connections and get people to talk about my product?

You guys obviously cut through all of that just by having a really cool product. 

A unique product that adds value, and then just the energy that you guys bring to the table, just being in your presence. 

Obviously, your dad has some good vibes that were sent out. That sales presentation, I imagine it's pretty good. 

Boom, you're on Shark Tank, your sales are going up, you're getting views, you're getting brand recognition. 

Some people work, they do so much work to try and get that stuff, but maybe the product's not that great, or they don't have the personality type to be on TV or on social media. 

That's so cool. I didn't know about that piece.

Miles Huffman (22:18)

I feel like we were really lucky. If I wanted to try to manufacture that again, I don't think I could. 

I've been trying, I mean, I've been filming videos and trying to do some stuff on social media because I recognize the power of it now. 

It's been working and we just recently hired a videographer to help out with that and how to get more presence online because that's definitely valuable. 

Did I make another viral video at the snap of my fingers? No, I don't know. I don't know how that stuff happens. 

Maurice Huffman (22:48)

We all know what luck stands for, right? Labor under correct knowledge. That's what luck stands for.

Nick Shucet (22:54)

I have a feeling I know what you're gonna say, but I'll let you say it. What's that? I did not know that. I did not know that. No, I didn't. I'd never heard that. That's a good one. 

I'd always heard the harder you work, the luckier you get. Yeah, man, it's so true. 

Obviously, people see that, they hear that story or they see that video, but there's years of history that goes into that being a possibility.

Maurice Huffman (23:08)

Oh, yeah, that's similar.

Nick Shucet (23:28)

That's so cool that happened to you guys. I didn't know about that piece. Miles, I know you're a pretty talented individual as well. I think your current role is CFO, is that right? 

How do you go from design and arts to now being a numbers guy? To me, those are two opposing personality types, but obviously, you do it well. How do you manage those things?

Miles Huffman (24:01)

It really is just born out of necessity, because that was a void in the business, in my opinion, I don't want to sound like that's a mean thing to say. 

No, it was just, that there was a need and I filled it. Luckily I find it fascinating. I'm really privileged and lucky to be able to have this position.

Miles Huffman (24:28)

Not everybody has a dad with a cool business that just lets you jump in and handle everything. A lot of hard work has happened since then, but I'm not sure that I necessarily earned that right. 

You know what I mean? 

Maurice Huffman (24:42)

Well, no. I gotta say, his mother is a very smart person. She's an anthropologist and one of the smartest people I've ever met. 

With all the fortunes that shone upon us having this kid, all that went to him, not my side. He's a very, very smart kid that learns things extremely fast. 

For example, when he wanted to play guitar, he just one day, all these years, he never wanted to play guitar when he was a little kid. I tried to teach him stuff. 

One day he said, Dad, I like to learn guitar. I want to learn all your songs. I've written 80 songs, and some are more complicated than others. 

He wanted to learn the most complicated one right away, chord-wise. He'd never played guitar before. Some people struggle. 

To put it short, in a matter of the next three hours, he knew every one of my songs by heart. That's how fast this kid can learn anything. 

When the bookkeeper who didn't have much faith in me ever understanding what she was doing, he was totally right. That's a whole world that's very complicated. 

I did away with everything in my head, but you can't print out what I do in my head or figure out what you really need for the CPA at the end of the year. All this stuff. 

Miles just learned it from her in days. 

When we had this building that we bought and we had to get a new building after the fire, he had in his mind what he wanted this building to look like and the two-story office building. 

He got an architecture program. He drew it himself and the architect just said, Oh, I can just sign this one. That's my Miles. 

He's not the exaggerating type or the type that wants to admit, but he's an extremely smart kid. 

I'm very fortunate, very fortunate to have him, as a CFO or managing this place because I could have never found somebody that's smart or afforded somebody that's smart. 

You have the pennies on the dollar.

Nick Shucet (26:48)

Oh, man. Well, you guys are clearly tapped into something. 

I often get a little spiritual or metaphysical on these podcasts. 

Maurice, I've heard you talk about your songs and how they just come to you, and how you don't necessarily sit down and write them. Well, you don't do that at all.

Maurice Huffman (27:11)

It just comes. No, it just comes. I get nervous. I walk around. Something's not right. What the heck's going on? 

I grab my guitar, and the whole song, to say it in weird terms, just poops out. It's just weird. It's not me writing it. Somebody else is doing it.

Nick Shucet (27:21)

That's amazing.

Miles Huffman (27:24)

Growing up, I've witnessed that happen quite a few times. We had a small house. Everything he played on the guitar ever was heard by everybody. 

Every once in a while, he would just sit down and suddenly play some totally brand new thing, which feels like a complete, wholly written, put-together song with words and everything. 

He's just singing it, belching it out. I'm like, what is that? Some cover of something I never heard before or something? He's like, I don't know. I just started playing it. 

I think a lot of artists talk about that, though. That there's some sort of a muse or that they channel things from other places. I don't know where that comes from. 

Maurice Huffman (28:06)

I don't know either but it's a pretty amazing place. Tell you that.

Nick Shucet (28:11)

Miles, do you feel like any of that goes on with you, man, when you're trying to learn some of these new things? 

Do you feel like you're tapped into something or are you just putting in the work?

Miles Huffman (28:22)

I don't know. I used to play in some bands. I played death metal. I was in a power violence band, which is a very unique subgenre of hardcore punk, sort of, called Mom and Dad. 

That was really fun. I was a vocalist there, basically just screaming. 

I gotta say, holding a microphone and screaming at a bunch of kids in some pizza shop for a couple of hours every weekend is pretty fun. 

It's a very cathartic experience, especially when they like it. Then otherwise I played guitar in a couple of other bands and it was always, we would write these really complicated riffs that I could barely play. 

Then I would just have to force myself to get good enough to play the stuff that we had written.

If you asked me to sit around a campfire and play some songs, I'm not that guy. I can't entertain people with the guitar, I don't really know music. 

I just write stuff that I think sounds cool and then work hard to memorize it and play it.

Even though I don't really know ever what I was actually playing, it was just stuff that sounded good. If somebody would just come to the show and look, they'd be like, wow, he's really good. 

Good at playing exactly the thing that I wrote, and that's it. 

Maurice Huffman (29:48)

He was so good at it, he was way beyond what I could ever imagine being able to do on a guitar and literally did that in a couple of months. I'm so jealous.

Nick Shucet (29:59)

That's so cool. I grew up watching him play guitar and he always talked about how he wasn't a natural at it, how hard it was for him. 

He had to learn to read music and then he had to learn how to use his fingers to play the music that he was reading and just how much effort he put into it. 

I ended up trying to pick it up eventually and I did, I could play some songs that I liked. 

I learned a couple of Carlos Santana songs, Jimmy Hendrix, Sublime, stuff that I enjoyed listening to, but man it was hard. 

It's interesting. I feel like I have stuff come to me too. It's big ideas, and possibilities, especially if I see like a problem in front of my face, what the solution is to that problem. 

Those things will come to me and I love working on that stuff. I think everyone has a little bit of that in us. Maybe everyone has a lot of it and things just get in the way. I don't know.

Maurice Huffman (31:03)

I think that's exactly it. I think that everybody, I think there's some kind of, without getting strange or anything, but I believe there's a whole channel that we're just blocking. 

If you can just let a little bit of that in once in a while, it should be surprising to what can happen. 

Miles Huffman (31:19)

I think you have to sometimes just do nothing and listen to yourself, which nowadays is less and less frequent. 

You used to have time to think when you were going to the bathroom or in the shower. Now you've got podcasts and a cell phone to listen to and play with. 

You drown out the noise of your own thoughts. If you just stop and sit and try not to think for a long time, stuff will start coming up. First, it's stressful stuff. 

All the to-do lists pop up first, but if you think through them or push them aside, you'll realize where your passions are. 

If you just give yourself room to breathe and exist for a while, which is harder and harder to do these days. 

Maurice Huffman (32:06)

That's one of the reasons I like diving so much. Diving did that for me. Whenever I went underwater, and I spent a lot of time underwater, that's exactly what happens because all you hear is your breath. 

That's the most important thing when you're down there and you hear it. It's the most meditative, most incredible state that I could be in when I was underwater.

Miles Huffman (32:26)

No books, no phone, no talking to anybody. Just looking at fish. Just breathing.

Nick Shucet (32:34)

It's so important, man. I feel like I'm lucky with my age, my age was when I was born in 1988 and I was young through the nineties. I didn't have a phone. 

We weren't tapped into the internet all the time. Those features of convenience we didn't have. 

I remember being a kid just out in the woods, clearing paths with a stick that I found with my buddies until we either found a street or an old house that was abandoned. 

Now we're going to go check this out. Then we make our way back and I hear my mom yelling at me to come in for dinner.

Maurice Huffman (33:14)

That's right. I wrote a song called, Fried Bologna Sandwich. It's one of my CDs. That's what that talks about. 

Coming home to your mom, making a fried bologna sandwich because the streetlights came on. That's the life a lot of kids don't have these days.

Nick Shucet (33:31)

You're right, Miles, there is something special about having that alone time. I get that when I go surfing. I go to some pretty remote places and there's no cell service, no television. 

Then when you surf all day or you do something you love all day, you're just so satisfied. You don't need any more entertainment. 

Then you're just talking with the people you surfed with about, did you see this wave? Did you see that one wave? Did you see me? Did you see me eat it on that one? 

That's all it is. Those are the best moments, man. Those are good times.

Miles Huffman (34:12)

Nick, you and I are about the same age. I was born in ‘91. I feel like I'm right on the threshold of going through high school without social media. 

Anybody even just two, or three years younger than me went to school on Facebook or Instagram. Anybody my age or just older didn't.

Everybody likes to talk about how different the younger generation is these days or whatever. 

It's an old trope, but I feel like we're right on the precipice there of learning our social skills in real life versus digital versions of ourselves. 

I don't know what our kids are going to be like socially when they grow up or if maybe it's not a big deal. I don't know. 

I don't know what the difference is going to be, but I'm certainly happy that I got to experience both.

Nick Shucet (35:09)

Me too, man. I think just like in most things in life, nothing's really truly good or bad. If you're on Facebook all day, well, that's bad. If you're on there for 30 minutes or an hour, probably not bad. 

Could be good. The MDS group is on Facebook. It brings together great people. Now they can network and know each other.

Whereas before you probably wouldn't have known each other. None of these people that I network are in Virginia. 

I would have never known some of these people whom I consider friends. 

I might not even know you guys. That's how I met my business partner, David, through a Facebook group. We were involved in the same business back in 2015. 

We're going to events and just hanging out in person and always stay in touch. There's a lot of good that can come from that stuff as well.

Miles Huffman (36:09)

It's definitely not all bad. 

It's a wonderful tool to be able to have these groups and find the net with which you cast to find your tribe, so to speak, is much greater than it would be otherwise. 

Nick Shucet (36:23)

It’s a great resource.

Miles Huffman (36:24)

You might have some really bizarre interests. 

If you're just asking around with your friends, you'd think you're the only one in the world, but if you go online, there's a whole community probably that you just need to tap into.

You'll find your people one way or another, which is great.

Nick Shucet (36:40)

I want to jump back into some business stuff before we wrap up. 

I would like to know, well actually, would you guys mind sharing, at MDS, we like numbers, million-dollar sellers. What are you guys doing revenue-wise in your business? 

I think it would be great to know just from where you guys started and where you're at now and maybe touch on the fire portion as well, what that did, where you guys brought it to.

Miles Huffman (37:10)

If you don't mind me talking about it. The business fluctuated between $2 and $3 million in annual revenue for a really long time before the fire. 

That was the sweet spot where you kept things afloat and kept things going. I had 12 to 15 employees roundabout, keeping everybody paid and happy. 

Now we're pushing up on six and I've got plans to go, obviously take that as far as I can.

Maurice Huffman (37:45)

There was always a certain amount before Miles was in the business that I always had set as a goal. 

I said, okay, we got to sell, let's say $200,000 a month, $150,000 a month, or whatever to be paying everybody. We got to make it there and then we made it there. 

I think the biggest mistake you can make is to rest on your laurels per se. 

Whenever we got there, I knew for some reason my stomach would just say, Maurice, you can't be happy with that. Don't stop. 

I had this little, I know it's silly, but I had a little post-it that I would put on my computer screen for what my goal was for our sales for the next month, up $5,000. 

I had to put that post-it on everybody's, just to ask the universe to help us work harder on this. It always worked.

I don't know, I don't think there are any limits. You limit yourself, you're the only thing that's gonna limit yourself, is when you get too comfortable. 

The nice thing about getting up to six, seven million dollars right now is to really do. Okay, we need another good item. We need another thing that's gonna get to the next. 

You can't stop and hope that, oh, we made it to where we can actually feel a little bit more comfortable. Man, that's the most dangerous thing you can do.

Miles Huffman (39:11)

As soon as you achieve one thing, it's on to the next. You can sit there and tweak that one thing into oblivion and try to make it as good as you possibly can. 

I'm the kind of person who's always got another new project for the last, I hate to admit how long, almost a year. 

We're over a year now. I've been working on getting a whole new set of websites, getting us into Salesforce as a CRM, also redoing our entire ERP. 

Our bookkeeping software, our inventory management software, our CRM, and our website, are all new. 

Maurice Huffman (39:48)

All brand new, which was last week. 

Miles Huffman (39:50)

Finally, we're living in the new system. A lot of bugs and things that need to be fixed. Yes, and the COO and the GM, everything. We are 15 people total here so basically I wear all hats.

Nick Shucet (39:55)

Well, you're also the CTO.

Nick Shucet (40:09)

It's a good feeling though, man. Me and David are going through it too. This hadn't happened when I saw you guys in Vegas just 30, 40-ish days ago or something. It just feels so good, man. 

I told David, we let go of a couple of people. I was like, man, me and you just working on whatever it is in the business is so rewarding. 

We can figure out anything and sometimes you get people in the business and they're just not that great.

That sucks the energy out of me. We paid someone all this money, to do some CFO stuff. Now I look back at it. It was just a bad idea, fractional CFO. 

You just can't be involved at the level where you really need someone if you're fractional and working with all these other companies. I think there was just miscommunication,

There's strategic stuff, but then you need someone to actually open up the computer and work through some problems. This guy just didn't want to do that. 

He just hyped us up with a bunch of good strategy stuff.

Maurice Huffman (41:24)

It's that consultant thing. I hate the word consultants. I've never understood the consultant thing. 

All they do is spend a lot of money to throw around possible ideas that you would have thought about a long time ago, but actually hold the computer and do it now, give me that guy. 

I'll pay him. What's with this consultant thing? I never, I'm sorry, consulting people out there. I don't want to take your job and tell you that you're not needed.

I think if you went consultant slash, let's get it done. You might do much better. 

Miles Huffman (41:57)

I don't remember. I don't know who came up with this. It’s just something that me and my buddies talk about, but there are these categories of people and how they work. 

Widget is the acronym for it. There's wonderment. Oh, I wonder if this could be fixed, is the W. Then the I is ideation. I've come up with an idea.

Miles Huffman (46:51)

It works all the way through. Then the very end is the T is tenacity to get it done. Between that wonderment and the tenacity, there are a bunch of different personality types.

Me and Mo are both ideal people. For somebody to come in and say, I've got all these great ideas, it's like, great, ideas are cheap. 

I've got a million great ideas, we need to focus on one and actually work on it. Where we need help is sometimes, actually digging in and doing the stuff.

I can imagine there are folks out there though that are just on the other end of that acronym. 

They can galvanize people, they have the energy to do stuff, they're tenacious, they can get in and do the work, but maybe they don't have the big ideas. 

Those people can benefit for sure from some consulting. From my perspective, I think ideas are I don't want any more ideas. I need to get some stuff done.

Nick Shucet (43:14)

Right. I've been in that same boat, man. No more. I've got enough of those in my head. Me and David both.

Miles Huffman (43:22)

That's fun. I could live in an “ideal world” forever, but it doesn't really get you anywhere.

Nick Shucet (43:27)

Then it can burn you out a little bit. You get a little anxious because then you don't know which way to go. 

I think that's where a consultant could potentially add value, but it would really need to be someone with a lot of experience. 

You sit down with Tony Robbins for an hour and he's like, you need to do this one thing. That might be useful.

Most of the time people don't really have that experience. 

Then you get into the world of marketing and stuff and maybe you got fooled a little bit or sucked in or excited about something. It's hard, man. I even struggle with it. 

There's something that my mind will trick me. My mind will trick me at least sometimes.

Where you get roped in by someone saying a lot of good things. You're like, Oh man, this is great. He's got so much great information and yadayadayada. 

None of it matters if you don't execute it.

Maurice Huffman (44:31)

None of it matters. That’s where usually when somebody gives me all these exciting ideas, what I learned over the years is sometimes I don't want to sound rude to people. 

I just say, okay, are you going to be here doing this and show me how it's done? Do the first calls, and show me how it translates into action. 

A lot of times. I don't know how many calls or emails you get from people trying to sell you how they're going to make your business twice as big. They've done it with everybody. 

Whenever I call them and ask them what I want to know, it's always the same thing. I don't even call them back anymore.

Well, that's all ideas, but can you come into my office and do it? I'll pay you whatever you want. If it brings me more business, you can charge whatever you want, but you gotta do it.

Nick Shucet (45:30)

Exactly. Well, I think one thing that comes to mind for me, man, just hearing your story and Miles, I know you're going to have some value to add. 

What strikes me about your dad is just the confidence to do what you did and end up where you are. I think a lot of people listening could potentially want to hear that. 

Maybe were you scared, but you did it anyway, or did you not have the fear of what might happen when you got here or the check scenario and what happened with that? 

What was that internal dialogue for you? What would you recommend to someone going through something or thinking, Hey, here's this idea I have, and I want to take this risk.

Maurice Huffman (46:23)

I think a lot of it was when I was a rescue diver when I was doing some serious underwater work where it was life or death. 

The one thing that I learned there really quickly was you that have to do your absolute best right now. 

No matter how stressful the situation is, no matter how scary the situation is, no matter what's going on, if you don't do your best right now, it's all gonna go to hell.

I think that's something that is really important especially when you get afraid about something. 

I know this sounds silly too, but it's one of the sayings that I have. 

It's some TV show that I saw once, but I always say this when things get a little scary and pressured, I said, I'm the fear factor. 

There was a T-shirt that I had once that said that, and somebody at the airport stopped me one time, a tourist.

I think it was a German tourist at the San Francisco airport. He says, what does your t-shirt mean? Why does it say I'm the fear factor? 

I said, oh, it's just some TV show. Then later I thought about it in the airplane because the trip was actually a scary trip. 

I had to solve some problems that seemed impossible and I had to go. I said, you know what, from now on, I'm the fear factor. I don't have to be afraid of anything. 

I'd have to be the one that goes out and not cause fear, but face anything that might make you fearful and just turn it around. 

That's a little bit of the attitude that I have when it comes to things. 

In other words, to actually translate that into action, if a customer suddenly there's some problem with an item. 

Or there's a problem with the reaction you have with one of our salespeople, and he is in this mood of just hey, I don't want to work with you guys anymore. 

You could be losing this deal or that deal or something's going on with freight or this or that.

I have to get on top of it right away and fix it right away. I don't delay things. It's really important to get it done now. I can't even sleep if I don't fix it right away. 

I can't sit on something that could create a fear factor.

Nick Shucet (48:41)

Great. I like it. You took the power away from the fear is what I hear from that.

Maurice Huffman (48:44)

Yeah, I took the power from the fear and I turned it into an energy of we can fix this. Everything is fixable and everything is sellable. 

When I was a little kid, my dad had a furniture store, as I mentioned. 

I remember looking at his warehouse one day and there might've been 50 chairs in there or something and it seemed to me like a mountain of chairs. 

I said to my dad, oh, how can he sell so many chairs? He looked at me and said, I'll never forget this. I hope it's okay to say the word. 

He said, Maurice, you gotta remember this, there's an ass for every seat. I 100% took that seriously.

Everything that I've ever wanted to sell at one point it sells. It's just the way it is. You just can never leave, never lose hope in it and just work on it. That's it.

Nick Shucet (49:38)

That's amazing. Oh man, I love that. I'm sure your parents were interesting people as well, I imagine. Miles, how about you, man? What is your area of expertise right now in the business? 

What has your journey looked like? What are some things that are working for you guys that are moving the needle, getting you guys where you want to go?

Miles Huffman (50:04)

I'm just trying to find ways, unique ways to get our brands and our products in front of more people. 

Right now I'm just focusing a lot actually right now on videos, other than that other mega project I've been talking to you about, but any spare time I have is going into trying to produce videos. 

That's just an example of something that I would call an experiment, just always try something new. 

I'm a big fan of throwing spaghetti on the wall until something sticks. You could try a hundred things. Really? 

The problem is when you try to force a noodle to stick to the wall that won't stick, and you get fixated on that one. 

I try to cast a broad net of ideas and see what works and hopefully pull back the reins quickly on the ones that don't before they get out of hand.

Maurice Huffman (51:03)


Miles Huffman (51:06)

Expensive is the real word for that.

Nick Shucet (51:09)

How are you keeping tabs on that stuff? How are you getting good feedback to see what's working, and what's not working and make those good decisions? 

I think that's really important as well. It's how convenient is it for you to see what the spaghetti that did stick.

Miles Huffman (51:28)

Right, well with something like videos, it's easy to tell because either they're getting a lot of traction online or they're not. 

Or when I send those out like an email blast to customers, is it converting into sales or not? 

That's just direct feedback, which is the reason why I would prefer online advertising to say a billboard or a magazine, because you know when you're making a sale. 

Versus just wondering, Oh, my sales went up. Was it because of the billboard? I don't know. Not everything is that black and white. Sometimes you just have to go with instinct. 

Does it feel like we're moving the needle in the right direction because of this or not?

Part of the impetus for this whole project of revamping our tech stack was so that I could track KPIs better for everybody. Particularly for the sales crew. 

I was thinking one day, how many of our customers have not been contacted in the last six months, let's say. There was no clear way to answer that question.

The answer was we don't know. Unless you just go ask a sales rep, like, Hey, have you talked to all your customers? I'm like, yeah, of course, definitely. I don't actually know that. 

That's what got me down the rabbit hole of where we are today. I'll be able to see everything, who's been called, who's not been called, and customers who bought in this category.

Haven't bought from this other new category in X amount of days. 

The next phase of this project is now to build out all that reporting and keep track of that stuff and then hopefully use that data to spend our limited resources where it would be best suited. 

We have a small sales crew. They can only make so many calls a day. We want to make sure they're calling the right people with the right things. 

Nick Shucet (53:34)

Then you guys are doing mostly B2B stuff with those sales agents.

Miles Huffman (53:39)

Yeah. When I talk about sales folks, that's just on the B2B side. We do both. We do a significant chunk of our revenue is from DTC sales on our retail websites. 

We have customer support on that side, but we're not doing sales on that end.

Nick Shucet (53:59)

Is there anything that's worked well for you guys on that B2B side? I know a lot of sellers, that's not something there in our group that they're very savvy with. 

We've been on Faire, I think Tundra was another one, some of those wholesale marketplaces, but it sounds like you guys are doing it a little differently.

Maurice Huffman (54:18)

Yeah, there's the RangeMe and all those things that people sign up for. 

I've traditionally, started the business with a little card system that I came up with and would buy leads of businesses around the country that might be somebody that would do so. 

I believe in the calling.

I tell you, I don't care if it's digital, but you have to, for a salesperson, B2B, you have to call 80 people a day to a hundred a day. That means you've talked to them all. 

You have to make that many dials to get five to six worthy sales out of it.

To find new B2B customers, you have to call 100 to get one person out of it. There's a little thing about the Shark Tank. This is the math that just won't go away. 

That is a statistic that just always works. And you have to put that time in. The people have to contact these people that many times. Otherwise, you don't get the sale. 

When I was talking to Mark Cuban, for example, at the Shark Tank, he said, this many bags after this airs today, and I'm like, oh, I don't know why he said that. 

Well, he doesn't just say stuff, he's got experience. It's exactly how many bags we sold. 

He knows also you have to reach this many people with an item that's worthy, this many people to get this many sales. 

It was the same math later when I went through it in my head, it said, it's the same math, it's the same ratio.

That's never going to go away. You have to contact that many people and you have to do that much work. 

Of course, you have to be savvy on how to contact people and what to say, which buyer to get on the phone. 

It's harder these days to do it on the phone because a lot of people want to go through some AI program or a RangeMe or some of those kinds of things. 

You still have to put that, you have to have a sales crew. Or if you're doing it yourself, you have to call that many to get sales.

It’s just the way it is. That's one thing you can't skimp on. It's an eight-hour day calling or contacting the customer. That's just the way it is. 

Miles Huffman (56:40)

You were talking about wholesale marketplaces. We really don't use any of those. We've got contacts and we reach out to them in old school sense.

One thing and this is just a basic of sales. One nice thing about our business is when you're calling somebody because you have these unique items for sale. 

You're calling a business that wants those things, that needs those things, that could use an easy vendor to deal with to buy small quantities with low MOQs. 

Or no MOQs in most cases of just good goods for their store so they can make money. It's not like we're trying to sell some unnecessary insurance to somebody during dinner time. 

You know what I mean?

You got to get past the like, okay, these people once they realize what we're talking about, they probably actually want this phone call. 

Maurice Huffman (57:35)

Yeah, you have to get past it. I always call it the cement ring around their head. That's always how I'd imagine it. What's that creature called with the cement body in the comic books? 

I'll remember it anyway, you have to get through that.

I always imagine that the buyer that I'm talking to has this big concrete helmet on. He gets called all day long. Somebody wants to sell him something all day long. 

You have to find a way to crack that cement to let him understand that this is something they actually could use that'll make money that's good for them. 

There are different methods of doing that. You have to, for example, “persistence overcomes resistance”. If you look at Grand Canyon, it didn't just happen.

You have to be persistent. You have to call back until that ring cracks. I have that ring around my head. I get some people calling me all day long who want to sell me something. 

The ones that crack through it, I'm their slave. I will do whatever they want. Okay. I'll take a sample. Yeah. Here's my credit card, whatever you need. Let's get going. 

You have to find a way through that cement helmet.

Nick Shucet (58:48)

Out with the icebreakers in with the cement breakers. I love that, man.

Maurice Huffman (58:54)

Yeah, you just have to work on that. Juggernaut. That's what that's what I was going for. The Juggernaut, with that cement thing on. You have to crack through that.

Nick Shucet (58:58)

Yes, the juggernaut, yes. Man. I love it, man. You guys are such a great duo. Maurice, I just love your old-school, hard-working way of doing business coupled with you just being a great guy. 

Then Miles comes in with the trendy stuff and what's working now. What a great combination, man. Both of you guys are so talented.

I'm glad that we get to do business with you guys. I'm glad that I get to have dinner with you guys. I look forward to sitting down with you guys again in person. 

I'm grateful that we get to work together and thanks for coming on the podcast.

Maurice Huffman (59:42)

Same here, we're so glad I found you. Working with you is really fun. Looking forward to more. 

Miles Huffman (59:49)

Yeah. We got a lot of, a lot of big things coming our way. That's good.

Nick Shucet (59:52)

We do. I look forward to chatting about following up on some of the things we talked about. I think we had a meeting a week or a week or two ago. 

Looking forward to what's to come and thanks so much for coming on guys. Thank you. You got it.

Maurice Huffman (01:00:08)

Thanks for having us. Really appreciate it and have a great weekend.

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