Welcome to the Content Machine Podcast. This is our first ever guest, cannon Johnson canon. Welcome to the show.
Cannon and I met years ago and co starters at the Co, and since then, both of our business has grown, but I think yours has grown a little bit more than mine has.
We’re Wiley Parker homeboys.
That’s right. Way back in the day. Tell us about Jackson Fencing Company or Jackson Fencing Company. Sorry.
Put me on the spot here, man. So, in a nutshell, Kevin, we have a belief that your backyard and people spend more money. Like, the largest investment that people make in their lifetime is generally a home. And we want people to enjoy and feel safe and protected in their own space. And so what we’re trying to do, Kevin, is build fences that truly make people’s backyards and their own escape, their own vacation, their own getaway. So we build fence, I guess is the short answer to that. But we think that we build the best fence. We often say your backyard deserves the best. That’s our little tagline. So we’re building fence, but we’re taking the same to a whole another level. We’re traveling the country looking for the best methods, the best techniques, the best people, and really just not copying what the guy down the road is doing or what West Tennessee has been exposed to for years and years and years. We’re looking far and abroad and bringing in new products and all kinds of neat stuff. On the surface, it’s just a fence, right? But we don’t see it that way. We see it as something that adds value to your home, protects your family, keeps your dog in the backyard, all that kind of stuff.
What’s an example of something that you’ve brought back recently?
Man so, we call those golden nuggets. All right. So anytime we travel and we pick up information, we bring it back, and we try to not everything fits. It’s not like, hey, we find the circle, let’s put in the circle hole, we get, right? So we got to figure out how to make things fit into what we’re doing, or we have to do a lot of work behind the scenes that make it fit. But one of the big things that we’ve recently brought back more than once, like, recently, meaning, like, the last three times that I’ve left town to go talk to defense people, this keeps getting brought up. It’s like, dan, this is a clue. The FBI calls that a clue. People keep telling you it’s a clue. So driving post and so what’s going on, Kevin, is we’re digging holes in people’s yards, and digging holes is not fun. How many holes you’ve ever done?
But it’s not fun.
It’s the hardest thing we do. Even with equipment, it’s the hardest thing we do, and we call it owning your hole, because we got to dig the perfect hole. We take pride on digging the deepest, the widest, and not just the absolute biggest hole, but the perfect hole. It’s exactly the size that it’s supposed to be and it’s exactly where it’s supposed to be. We don’t have to shave it, we don’t have to move it. We dig it and bam. We know that post is get it.
Right the first time.
That’s right. We take pride in trying to do that, but even doing that is hard and it’s exhausting. So the newest thing that’s coming to the fence industry and that we’re planning on bringing it to the West Tennessee industry is driving fence post. And so we’re hoping the next two years we stop digging hose, like using.
Almost like a hammer and smashing the.
Post into the ground, pounding, guess what? We tally.
Interesting. Okay, well, and you are clearly passionate about the fence and we’ll talk more about that, but how did you get started in the fence business?
Man, this is a great story. So I work for Lowe’s Home Improvement and I like to say Lowe’s Home Improvement because that’s what it is. A lot of people just say Lowe’s. I’m like, no, the company presidents and the board, they caught it. Home improvements.
It’s Lowe’s home improvement. So there we began to build fence through Lowe’s, the company back in 2011. And I worked for Lowe’s from 2006 to 2015. And in that time frame, I became an assistant manager of the stores. And in 2011, Loew said, hey, we want to build fences. It wasn’t just fences. It was roofs and windows and all this other stuff.
All the people they sell stuff to.
Yeah, exactly. Yes. And so we want to compete with all those people, basically. And who are we going to find to help us compete? Well, we’re going to find the people that are already doing business with us. And it was really weird, kind of. But Lowe’s took on this general contract model of will it, sell it and then we’ll find somebody else to install it. And through that process, I kind of became the liaison between the store, the customer, the installed sales team, all the different people. And what I really learned is they say, hey, can we want you to be the liaison? That’s the go between the salesperson, the install sales team and the customer. And the installer. Well, liaison evidently is just a fancy word for like, hey, we want to put you out in the middle where all the bullets are flying because the salesperson is going to screw up and the customer is going to be mad and you’re going to be right there between the shots. And then the install sales office is going to miss schedule and the installer is going to get upset or he’s not going to show up when he said he was and they’re going to be right between the two of those that gun fight.
And so after about four years of being in between gunfights. That’s a liaison, evidently. I was like, I think I can do better. And honestly, I’m not a contractor by trade. I’m not a builder by trade. I’m not a handyman or nothing like that. And so when I looked at all these things that we were doing at Lowe’s, we built decks, roofs, windows, and fences. I’m going to say, Kevin, that I didn’t know. I don’t know what’s really going on between the wall. So do I want to start a window company? Not really, because I can see the outside of the wall and the inside of the wall, but I’m still not really sure what’s going on between the wall. You know what I mean? But I was like, you know what? That fence thing, I’m dumb enough to dig a big hole. I can see most of that. I think I understand what’s going on here. And so fencing, it was there you go.
That’s awesome. And so when was that? When did you start?
This was 2016, September of 16. So we’re at six years and four months ish five months.
So six years we went from you to tell us about the company today.
Oh, man. So six and a half years ago, we sold our first fence. It was this ugly green chain link fence out in Beach Bluff, Tennessee. And I went to this lady’s house and sold this fence. And I couldn’t believe it. She bought it on the spot. I was like, wow. And I remember telling her, lady, hey, look, this one will probably take us two weeks to get to your job. You want to sound busy, right? But honestly, when I said two weeks, I didn’t tell her why, just, hey, I don’t know the next step myself, but I’ll take your deposit check and we’ll figure it out. But I need about two weeks to get to your job, period.
I love it.
And so we began to subcontract just exactly what I learned from my previous employer, sell it and subcontract it. And because I had that previous employer, I already had a lot of connections, already knew kind of who could do this and who couldn’t do this. And so we began to subcontract. And like, the first five or six jobs that we sold, we subcontracted. And then I began to realize they don’t know what they’re doing. The problem is bigger than what I was seeing at my previous employer. The problem is we really need to bring something better to West Tennessee. This is not just a hustle. This is not just a way to survive. There’s a real market here, and there’s a real need. And I think that if we put our hearts and minds to it, we can fulfill that need. And so we said, hey, look, we’re going to take over the whole operation, the sales, the ordering, the warehousing, the building, the whole nine yards. And to summarize all of that, I said, hey, look, let’s build a company that we’ve always wanted to work for. I’m tired of people lying to me.
I’m tired of people being wrong. I’m tired of people being mediocre and half hearted and just crappy, you know what I mean? Making excuses. I hate that stuff. So let’s just put it all on paper together. Let’s bring in a bunch of people to help us do it, and let’s build something that we want to work for as well. And when I say bringing in a bunch of people, we couldn’t afford anybody. So a bunch of people was just me. I was a sales guy, the builder and all of that, you know?
So it’s not just you anymore, though?
No. We get like 20 people, man. It’s nuts. It’s absolutely, like, stupid.
Now, in your world, that really works out to cruise, right? So how many crews you have going building fences? Every day.
So every day we run four. Four crews every day. These guys are better. They build a fence better than I do. It took a while, but I feel more confident in saying, hey, I’m going to send Core to your house, Kevin. I feel more confident in saying, hey, I’m going to let Mike and his team come out there and handle this because they’re going to do a lot better job than I could ever do. But they show up, man, 20 of them every day, 630 in the morning, and they fight for me, it doesn’t matter if it’s raining, if it’s muddy, if it’s hot, they show up and they fight. And sometimes we fight internally, but it’s because I always say, hey, we love what we’re doing. We all have the same mission, that we want to give the best product that we can possibly give and the best service, and we want to do what he’s efficiently and all this stuff. And when you got everybody that wants to do the absolute best that they can, well, sometimes you have friction. But it’s all about love. Just like when you love your wife, sometimes you argue.
And if you don’t argue with your wife, I say, hey, you’re not really in love, you know what I’m saying? But sometimes we have those bro fights, you know what I mean? But at the end of the day, we always hug it out and we always say, Man, I love you and I appreciate you bringing that to the table. And salespeople my wife by far outsells me and fence. And then we got another guy who works with this, brian by far out sales me. They have patience, they have charisma, they’re smart, they’re good looking, they’re on time. I’m the guy you tell me to be here at 02:00 to a freaking podcast and I’m walking in at 206. Hey, where’s Kevin at? I’m late. I’m not the guy. I’ve had to learn, like, I don’t really know what my role is, Kevin, but I can hype some people up. I think that might be my role, man.
Hype people? Yeah, professional hype, man. You’ve told us a lot about the fence industry and kind of some of the struggles, but what else do we need to know about the fence industry to help us appreciate what Jackson Fence is doing?
Oh, man, I love the fence industry. Like, a whole lot. Like, too much, probably. It’s really not just a job to me. It’s a pretty small industry. So I think, I don’t know, 50 states. I’d say there’s probably 500 to 1000 fence companies in every state. Maybe a little bit more, give or take. But it’s not a huge industry. By no means. It’s not like insurance, where there’s 15 different options.
Hit an insurance agent.
Yeah, exactly. It’s not church, it’s not grocery stores. It’s fence. And we cover bigger areas. We do hard work, we take pride in our work. But the fence industry as a whole, I’m on this whole mindset. Of course I do a podcast. It’s called My Fence Life, and it’s an industry facing podcast, so it’s not even customer specific. And in fact, a lot of the times I hope customers don’t see it. Yeah.
Because you’re talking about the real nitty.
Gritty behind yeah, we’re talking about yeah, what’s really going on, how do we grow our business, how do we scale it, how do we improve profit margins, stuff like that. But it’s reality. Sometimes we think profit margin is a bad word, but it’s not. That’s how we survive. That’s how I can tell you, hey, I’m going to be here in ten years to honor my warranty.
It’s the report card of business.
It is. But that’s the stuff we talk about. It’s not always glamorous or it’s not always marketing, you know what I mean? But it’s fence industry specific. And so what I’ve learned is there’s a lot of fencing has a pretty low barrier to entry, and that’s a big thing. So if you own a pickup truck, you can go to lows, get a postal digger, a hammer and a drill, and then, hey, next thing you know, you got a fence company. Yeah, you can compete with me. And so because there’s a low barrier to entry, what we also see is the fencing industry as a whole is kind of inundated with people who are very talented and good at their craft. Not always, but they need help on. Okay, so we’re building expenses. How do we turn that into a business? And what’s the legal side of this? What’s the accounting side of it? How do we bring people in and make this whole thing go? And I’ve always had a heart for consulting and coaching and stuff like that, so having a podcast talking to fence people is kind of my outlet to connect with other people and not just talk about what I’m doing, but talk about what they’re doing.
And I learned just as much as I give away. Probably way more than I give away, because I’m not that smart, you know what I mean? But I make myself available to people and they call me and they talk to me. They give me their ideas, and then I take their ideas and I make them a little bit better. I plot them to my business.
So the podcast is also a networking tool for you because you have a passion to see more people be better at fencing.
Yeah, exactly. It’s fun too. So on the microphone and talk just like this yeah.
One of the cool things about the world that I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older is everything is a world unto itself. There is a whole universe of fence people that are passionate about fencing, like there is for marketing or football or accounting. I have a style cup here. There’s a whole universe behind the people that make this right. And most of us never see it. But the more you get into it, the more interesting it gets. I think I’m a naturally curious person.
So I guess it could be a Styrofoam cup trade shop. I guarantee there’s a paper products disposable. Paper consumables.
There’s probably a podcast for it too, right?
You’re probably right.
The second half of our interview, View with Cannon Johnson will come out in a few weeks. Stay tuned.