Innovations and Insights with Lainie Sleppin

April Edwards 0:00 All right everybody welcome back to we love deck builders your go to podcast for mastering the business side of decking. I’m April Edwards CEO and growth strategist at deck builder marketers and I’m here to guide you on building the business that you deserve. Today we’re thrilled to have Lainie Sleppin here and National Director of contractor development and Moisture Shield joining us. She is also still on the board with NADRA. She is a renowned, now guys, I’m reading this because I feel like I owe so much respect to Lainie that I don’t want to get this intro wrong. So Lainie is a renowned figure in the decking Industry known for her extensive knowledge and hands on approach that has profoundly impacted many of you listeners. Her dedication to this industry is unparalleled in her ability to connect with builders nationwide and provide tailored solutions, is nothing short of remarkable. In today’s episode, we’re going to dive deep into exploring the latest trends, business strategies and the future of the industry. So whether you are a seasoned deck builder, or just starting out, you’re in for a treat with Lainie. And might I add before we get started. Lainie also was highly recognized at this year’s Deck awards ceremony in Clearwater, she received a standing ovation. And so I hope that all of that gets you guys excited for today’s episode, there are going to be a lot of juicy nuggets coming from this lady. So I’m very pleased to introduce Lainie today, as I hope I’ve done a good job with the introduction, we’re very honored to have you here.

Lainie 1:47 And I am and I am very humbled by the introduction April and I certainly appreciate the opportunity to be here, you know, to talk about a growing and awesome category of building products. So I’m super excited to dive into this with you, have some dialogue about it, you know, what we’re seeing, you know, what the trends have been, and so forth. So,

April 2:08 yeah, definitely. So I want to start out by just, you know, for anybody that doesn’t know you, and actually let me nerd out here for a minute, because there are not that many women in the industry. Now. There certainly are. And you’ve been in industry for a while. So I’m sure you’ve seen a lot more women, you know, come about right? Over the course of the years,

Lainie 2:32 very, not a ton. Not. I mean, although we’re progressive world, it’s still, you know, there’s not a lot of women that I meet out there, right. So it was a pleasure to connect with you as another female in the business, in the industry, right to connect some of those dots. So,

April Edwards 2:49 Yeah, so all that to say that, you know, you’re kind of like a career crush, you know, for for me, and probably a lot of other women, you know, in the industry, I hope that one day I can have, you know, as much experience under my belt and have touched as many people as you have. So you’ve got a wonderful name in the industry and I look forward to to be in the same one day, hopefully. So there you go. The secret’s out career crush.

Lainie 3:17 I like it. I like it. So that’s cool.

April Edwards 3:24 Um, so for for our listeners that maybe haven’t met you before or don’t know anything about you. Can you just, you know, tell us a little bit more about yourself and your experience in the industry and where you’re at today?

Lainie 3:38 Sure. So I started in the industry actually, I started and most people don’t know this about me. I started with a company called Improvenet. That was a lead referral business, similar to that of service magic that was selling contractor leads to the contractors. And from there, that company kind of just extinguished over time, because the lead fees were not supportive enough of the business. So I went from there into decking manufacturing. And it was actually on a back in the day monster was a big ad placement for career opportunity. So, I applied as a, you know, representative for one of the major manufacturers and so the career began. And so I worked for this manufacturer for quite a number of years. And during that time, what I can tell you is, again, you mentioned that April, being a woman in the business, right, I really had to create some credibility behind my name. I was in my mid 20s, just a few years younger than now. I was in my mid 20s. And I had to prove that I knew a thing or two about deck building. So I got my hands dirty. I spent a lot of time in the fields. You know, I devoted a part of myself to just learning everything I could up down left right about Deck Building because if somebody asked me a question, I wanted to be able to answer it, and create value behind my name. So that started early on, in between there worked in distribution for two different distribution companies as a deck specialist. Then I got back into manufacturing and I joined Oldcastle, about four and a half years ago. And you know, what attracted me to this company is unlike any other decking manufacturer, we really own the backyard by having a plethora of products, whether tying in the paver products, the outdoor kitchens, the decking, the railing, the fencing, it’s, you know, you name it, we have it for that backyard. Right. And so it’s kind of a unique position to be in and very exciting. So, yeah, so 2020 plus years experience. And, you know, I am sort of I call myself the walking encyclopedia of decking, because like, there’s a whole lot of information in my, in between my ears that unless you’re asking me it, I don’t even know it’s there. Yeah. And, you know, I’ve lived through the generational changes of decking that, that were complicated in the beginning. I mean, you know, people thought composite decking was maintenance free, they never had to do anything. It’s like, oh, I’m never going to take my car to the carwash. They didn’t realize they had to wash their deck, keep it nice, keep it clean. You know, and through the generational changes, you know, kept composites came out with fade and stain warranties, PVCs, With advancements, and so forth. So the industry has changed a lot from the 20 plus years ago when I started. Yeah, right. The generations have changed.

April Edwards 6:44 That’s a good segway. But before I get there, for any of the listeners, I think that we all have to team up and we have to come up with a better tagline for Lainie like, deck guru or queen of decking or something like that. So hit me up on on Instagram or Facebook and let me know what you would you would we should crown her as? Well. So the segway would be, where do you really see the industry going? Maybe talk a little bit more about how things have changed since perhaps COVID. And really, where you see things going this year.

Lainie 7:20 So I mean, COVID brought decking out of the shadows, like no, no other building product, right. Everybody wanted to be outside. Our new tagline for Brett this year is live well outside, right? Everybody kind of wants to congregate on an outdoor living deck, patio, whatever that might look like. So the opportunity of being outside with your friends with your families, it just continues to grow with great momentum. The the other part of that is so interestingly enough, we have a fairly large substantial show called The mots show, John Leaf from Deck South and I did a presentation about the Biophilic Design of deck building and how that improves people’s health. And people today are talking a lot more about health aspects than they are ever than ever before. So it’s a totally different way of looking at it. And I think as those trends continue to increase, we will see increased momentum and outdoor living, you know, across the board.

April Edwards 8:28 I couldn’t read. I’m not familiar with that term. And I just heard that term for the first time at the Deck Awards. So it was really great this year. Now, look, I’m not gonna lie. I mean, I wish that they had the beach Olympics, but the roundtables were awesome. And did you participate in the roundtables? I did, Yes. Okay. So that was, it was really great. It was awesome to be paired with different builders at different levels in their career. And then also manufacturers at the same table, just having topics presented that we all just kind of got to shoot the shit about, you know, and one of them was just innovation and really where you see things going. And that was a term I learned that day. I wasn’t I didn’t know about it, like I’ve heard about forest bathing and these types of things. And I know I personally am an outdoor enthusiast. So it’s just very natural for me to know that if I’m going to stay sane, I need to be outside. But I think that it was a really great conversation to have. And for me as a marketer, I’m always thinking of creative ways to position things and inspire and engage people to want to, you know, build an outdoor living space and invest you know, 50 to $200,000 in a space outdoors and you know, I’d like to challenge the listeners here today to to come up like you guys don’t just build decks you build experiences. And if you can kind of have the space in the mindset to think a little bit more creatively. In the way that you position your business, you know, I think that you’ll be able to A.) help a lot more people have a healthier life being outside and of course, you know, increase your business. So, anyway, a little bit of a tangent there, but I just wanted to share that experience that I had the deck awards.

Lainie 10:18 And it’s interesting, right, I used to laugh and say, you know, it’s decking, we’re not saving lives. But I kind of retracted that statement when I started looking into the biophilic. Design. And it kind of is, right. And that is just a very unique way of looking at this. Right, people spending more time together more time, outside more time in the elements. You know, I’m a person, I’m an outdoor enthusiast as well, where if I can ground myself, of course, outside, I want to try to do those things. Right. And this is what promotes that type of environment. Right? Is the the outdoor living space. So live well, outside? I was I was totally aligned with, you know, Brett, when we came out with that. Yeah, that strikes a chord for me. Yeah,

April Edwards 11:06 no, that’s good. I love it. And that’s, you know, this is the passion that, you know, we all bring to the industry as being able to think of things not at surface level, but you know, the deeper impact that it makes. And so I love that, and, yep, really, really good stuff. What, what I’ve just, were there any other takeaways that you got from those roundtables since that came up?

Lainie 11:27 I mean, we know that there’s no secret in the fact that people are struggling with labor. Yeah. And and that seemed to resonate with everybody at the roundtable, I was at that, you know, labor is complicated these days, they can’t find people that kind of want to work and or if they do, they want absorbent amounts of money. They stay for a short period of time, they try to go out and build, you know, do their own business. So that seems to be one thing that I heard from everybody was, you know, the labor issue. And, and I think, you know, I mean, there are vocational opportunities to go to some of the VO tech schools, you know, but I mean, life has changed, right? Everything is, it’s not what it used to be right? Where people are more hands, people were more hands on. I think now everything is, you know, computer, it’s more text, it’s more email. So getting those people to work in the field is not as easy. Yeah. And I think that we’ll continue to see that trend with the generational changes as we move forward. You know, and I think it’s a struggle, right. You know, I talked to a lot of deck builders, like, what is your succession plan? Like, if they don’t have any, you know, children in the business? It’s like, wow, yeah, I I don’t know. And I haven’t thought about it. Right. And it’s kind of a scary place to be right. And yeah, where do you go from there? Right. But, yeah, the labor point was probably one of the biggest, you know, topics of conversation at the round table I was at.

April Edwards 13:07 Yeah, well, I’ve got a couple of things to say about that. And the first is, you know, I think it’s, it’s hard growing a business and you know, that you can do things faster than anybody or better than anybody, and then to have to, like, slow down and create standard operating procedures and teach train other people up. It’s a frustrating thing. I know. You know, my uncle, he’s an amazing, he’s, he’s good at anything. He can build you whatever you want. He has absolutely no desire to train anybody to take over and he’s getting sore. You know, I mean, his knees are. I don’t know how much longer he’s going to do it. I’m always asking him like, Uncle Jarrow. What do you do, man? You know,

Lainie 13:50 right? succesion plan, right? Yeah.

April Edwards 13:52 But yeah, and then as far as, you know, building up a team. I mean, this is a conversation that I definitely find myself having a lot more frequently. My philosophy is, you know, always be recruiting. And, you know, that’s because I want to have the best talent in my team to produce the best product. And I know, that’s the same with everyone else. So, of course, I’m biased. You know, like, I believe in marketing, we do all this nerdy digital stuff, but really promoting and I think really understanding what your culture is your mission and your core values, and then promoting that in a way like don’t just promote your deck projects online, but promote, like the awesome things that you guys do as a community that will make people want to be a part of that. And I think that a lot of kids these days, you know, they’re really looking for, you know, not like a pension plan, but to really enjoy their life now. And so if you can position things in a way that will attract people to want to be a part of that now, then, you know, a easier said than done, but you know, definitely worth considering.

Lainie 15:03 Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, it’s a hard pivot point for these guys to work on the business and not work in the business. Right? I have that. That is, one thing I’m always talking to these contractors about is, you know, at some point, you’re, if you want to grow your business, you need to work on the business, not in the business, right, which means to your point, April, delegating, you know, being able to do that sort of, you know, positioning of your crews.

April Edwards 15:34 Yeah, yep. And you need to space. I mean, I’m, I went to art school, and, you know, like, I couldn’t do a painting or drawing anything unless, you know, I was in the right mindset. And it’s really hard to be in the right mindset to think high level and creatively when, like, you’re wearing eight hats, you know, I mean, I went through this myself, I needed to move some people around in my team last year, and I had to take over doing some strategy for the company, and, you know, for our clients, and it was a lot. Right, you know, like, I wasn’t able to focus on growing the business and building relationships and things like that, because I had my head down. And, man, it feels really good to be back in the right seat. Again, I’ll tell you that.

Lainie 16:16 100% percent. Totally agree.

April Edwards 16:19 So apart from the labor shortage, from a business perspective, what are there any other challenges that you see a lot of these guys face? By the way, Laney travels the country she meets with a ton of people in person, she’s got a million relationships. That’s why I was like, if you guys don’t know who she is, I’m gonna give you the pitch. But definitely make sure that you follow her. And I’m sure a lot of you guys have shook her hand. So yeah, in all of your travels and conversations that, is there anything else seating out that you think would be important to our listeners to just kind of hear, you know, not that misery loves company, but it is kind of nice to know what other people are going through.

Lainie 16:59 But I think so the one thing I do is when I meet with deck builders, a lot of times I will go to their website, I’m noticing that not everybody updates their websites, right. And so keeping that current, super important, right? The way people shop today is they are going to go to your website, right? They’re gonna look at your social media page. They’re gonna dig out content, they want to know who they’re doing business with. And not everybody. Number one keeps their websites current. And number two is even on social media. Yeah, and some of that I can appreciate from a personal standpoint, but I think from a business standpoint, it’s super important in today’s world, right to have that market presence out there. Yeah. And I’m not sure that unless they have somebody kind of segregated to do that type of content. They don’t know how to do it. Yeah. So I do see those struggles, those are real struggles by a lot of people. And listen, if it’s a picture of yourself and a Decker bill, I mean, get anything out, there is my suggestion, right? Just to start to build your own brand. I mean, you know, why am I in the position I’m in because I worked really hard on building my own brand over the last, you know, 20 plus years? Yeah, and the same would be true of any Deck Deck builder, you know, outdoor living expert, you know, to build their brand. Right. But, but I think some of these guys, do they do struggle with it, you know, and I can appreciate that.

April Edwards 18:41 Yeah, I think maybe what you’re trying to say, too, is like, there’s, there’s kind of a level of pride and having a business built off of referrals alone, it really is, and you should be proud of that. Because you freaking work your butt off, you know, blood, sweat, and tears to always provide the best, you know, product and service out there and just stay innovative with your materials and all of those things. But, you know, there comes a point where the smaller guys are coming in. And I think that in different markets that happened during COVID, where General you know, contractors started doing decks or new people came in, and they were under bidding. And so, you know, you kind of want to be one step ahead of everyone. And if you’re showcasing your amazing work on a regular basis, you’re you’re providing you’re you’re building a brand and you’re positioning yourself as the expert and the go to person versus somebody that’s just, you know, going for price and referrals aren’t consistent. They’re just not and so if you have bigger goals and your business like you need to work towards that, and what are those goals? I mean, obviously everyone wants to make money. It could be not wearing eight hats and building up a crew so that you know in a team or project manager sales, rep all of these things so that you could actually be a busy you know, an investor in your business, you know, or it could be Building a legacy for yourself and, you know, handing things off to your kiddos or building a business. You know, that’s got multiple locations that you end up selling, and you know, having a retirement from that. So it’s good to kind of know what your end end goal is, and start working on that now. And I always leave this podcast. And I think I even say it in my column in the deck specialist magazine, you know, just keep moving forward. So to piggyback off of what you said, like, Don’t overthink it, like, just do something and get it out there and be consistent. Sometimes I feel like I’m a Marketing motivator. I used to have that on my old website, you know, like, we’re here to do all this stuff for you. But sometimes we just motivate you too

Lainie 20:46 Maybe buy a new title. Maybe I’m a decking motivator.

April Edwards 20:50 Yeah, here we go, guys. I hope that everyone’s coming up with some creative ideas.

Lainie 20:56 I mean, so many of these guys, like you said, April, I mean, they just, they’re like, oh, I have referrals until whatever. But you still have to be like you said, One Step Ahead and filling that pipeline, right. Don’t rest on your laurels. I mean, that’s like, no matter how hard it is, you got to keep going. Right? You gotta keep marketing, you gotta keep branding.

April Edwards 21:17 Yeah, for sure. What do you have, I guess any advice for a newcomer in the industry?

Lainie 21:27 So listen, you brought it up before NADRA, great networking opportunity to surround yourself with seasoned veterans in the business. I don’t think that anybody would be shy and sharing their successes and how they’ve gotten there. And nobody needs to recreate the wheel, nor feel like they’re alone on an island. When we have great communities within NADRA, right, where I’m one of the things that I do is I’m a big facilitator, right, I connect the dots, right? So somebody I was talking to earlier said, hey, you know, can you give me some advice on a showroom, and I connected him with another person that has another showroom. So I do a lot of that in my career, right, like, I connect this one to that one. And that’s what I would say, for anybody new in the industry is, you know, get connected with some of the natural people, you know, come to any events that are available. Like you said, April, we just had the one in January down in Florida. But they’re there, there’s the leaderboard that they have, right, the community board. There are many, many groups on Facebook. These guys, I mean, again, there’s no reason to feel we have so many tools and advantages at our fingertips. You know, to feel alone would be, you know, playing a victim role, in my opinion, without reaching out to make yourself better.

April Edwards 22:58 Yeah, so good. And what a difference to I mean, I could speak to that just in my career. I mean, I used to do everything, I used to wear all the hats. And if there was, I mean, being in a technical type of field like ours, where we’re not in control of Google and Facebook, and I used to do flashy animation, all this stuff, like, you get to a point where like, you don’t really know what to do, you’re banging your head on the table. And boys, it’s so nice if you have a problem with something to just post something on faith and a Facebook group and you know, a million other people have been through that before and can help you through that problem. And I mean, I’m just really I’ll continue to say I’m, I’m really impressed with this industry. I mean, I went all in, nobody knew who I was, I didn’t have anything to do with any of this. I just really liked my deck builder clients. And it was a leap of faith and I just continue to be really impressed and amazed with the community. So great recommendation tap into your resources you’re not alone. There’s definitely join NADRA. It’s you know, N, A, D, R, A, did I say that right And, and they have a Connect platform and basically kind of like their own social media platform, which is really nice, because it’s only members of the community. And then there’s so many Facebook groups, you guys, of course, we have one deck builder, marketing mastermind, but there’s a ton of groups on there for people that are just starting out. You know, and learning how to build decks to seasoned vets and everything in between. So so many resources to take advantage of I think it’s that’s a positive with the internet, right?

Lainie 24:39 100% I mean, we didn’t have that 20 plus years ago, right? I mean, it was I had the old I want to say it was a random map that I used to have to flip the pages open and create my routes. Yeah, right. Because we didn’t have GPS is when the first Garmin came out. I was ecstatic. I was is like, oh my god, this is like, unbelievable. Yeah, the internet developed, it was so cool, right. And we have so many of these opportunities, right to reach out to each other, to be better as an industry, you know, to continue to grow. And I think everybody is like, everybody’s carrying in. And I think, you know, it’s, it’s really it’s a great industry to be a part of, in my opinion.

April Edwards 25:28 Yeah. And I mean, shoot, if you have any type of an idea, you know, you could shoot it off to the team at NADRA, you know, and they’ll definitely look into it. You know, it’s, it’s pretty cool. So do you. What about for the old timers? People that have been in the industry for a while? Do you Would you have any advice for, for them to, you know, take their business to the next level? Or? Lainie 25:59 I mean, I always say get involved, right, and giving back, right? You’ve had a healthy career, you know, off the industry. And I think it’s really nice to lend a hand to other people that might be starting out. You know, so just depends where they are in their career path, I guess, right. And a lot of those guys do that. Right? I see them offering suggestions, lending a hand, you know, they’re all very happy to get a phone call and discuss different topics, right? Nobody’s ever picked up the phone on the other end with me and said, Hey, go away. I’m not interested in talking to you. Right. And these are very seasoned veterans in the business. Yeah. Right. So so I think they’re, you know, and I don’t know, old timers, I mean, the business is not, you know, when I think back 20 something years ago, deck builders, the whole deck and category was just emerging, right? It wasn’t like, you know, electricians, plumbers, all those different segments of the industry, you know, have been out for for I don’t know, as long as I’ve been around, but you know, that whole decking specific industry kind of cultivated over the last, you know, 20 plus years. Right, you look at when I first started, there was a handful of Deck Builders. Now, there’s a lot more deck builders, right, because they’re industry specific. Because everybody said, Oh, you, you can’t be just a deck builder, because you’ll never survive. Right. And that was something that I heard a lot of when I first came into the business. You know, I can only build decks in the summer. Because that’s when I can, you know, generate some income. And realizing, wow, this is more than just a seasonal business. Yeah. And that continued to grow. Right. And so today, you know, so when we talk about old timers, I mean, it’s really, it’s still, it’s not that old, no matter what, right? Because, again, deck builders only kind of, you know, emerged over the last, you know, 20-25 years, you know, and, you know, like, we used to say, like, if you have an eye problem, you go to an eye doctor, right? If you want a deck done, you go to a deck builder. I mean, that’s kind of makes sense. Right? Yeah. It’s, it’s, you know, it’s made a, you know, a great industry path for a lot of people. And that’s, that’s wonderful, you know

April Edwards 28:33 yeah, I love it given back and I think that we all owe, we owe it to each and every one of I mean, I say us, I mean, we’re, we’re, you’re more on the inside of the industry. I mean, I’m, you know, why I deckbuilder marketers helps from a business standpoint, but in terms of like setting standards, you know, I think it’s important that you do continue to build those relationships and connect with other people and share ideas to set those standards. I know that in my field and marketing, I mean, there are so many people that it’s pretty wild. I mean, my industry is still pretty new, honestly. And it’s pretty crazy when somebody comes in and they’re like, oh, yeah, I mean, you know, we’ll do all this SEO stuff for you for you know, $250 a month and it’s like, guys, like you can’t do anything for that, you know, like you’re setting the wrong expectation. And so, you know, same same with the old timers out there in terms of like, you know, really taking some time to educate some people that have questions you know, about how to approach things is important to set the right expectation because then what was the term that came up at Deck Expo it was De-educating prospects. Wow, right in that good, like, spend less time de-educating people that come to you about misconceptions that they learned in there, right?

Lainie 30:02 Right. That’s true. It’s very true. It’s a good term. I might use that.

April Edwards 30:07 Yeah. Yeah, no, of course, again, I’m biased on that if say, be the authority talk about these things that people are asking have content on your site that talks about, you know, why you want to hire a deck builder instead of a general contractor, and why the price of your project shouldn’t be $10,000. And it should be $30,000. And, you know, things like that, so that they’re already primed. You know, de-educated.

Lainie 30:32 like that. De-educated. Might have to use that.

April Edwards 30:37 Yeah, it’s good. Um, okay. Well, tell us a little bit more about just working with manufacturers in general, I know that a lot of manufacturers have great partnerships, VIP programs and contractor programs, I have the luxury of speaking with all kinds of different manufacturers whenever I go to any of these events. And I know that everybody does things a little bit differently. But I do know that you guys have some great resources and stuff available to really help these guys be more successful. I mean, it’s really a win win for everybody. So yeah, I’m just kind of interested to know, your take on that as a whole. And then, you know, if you want to kind of educate our listeners on what moisture shield has happened in, that’d be amazing.

Lainie 31:27 Well, thank you. So yeah, I mean, I think being visible on the manufacturers websites is super important. You know, I think that it gives the builder credibility, right, with that product. And that’s what I’ll say, generically. So on the moisture shield side, we have what’s called our MVP, Partner Program. And that, again, gives them access to getting listed on our website, things like labor warranties, and such. We will be pivoting from a contractor rewards program, which will be an MVP contractor rewards program, that will be pretty enticing, because it will include all those backyard products. So it will be inclusive of products like bell guard, Beretta outdoor living, shield, their life, and so forth. So be the first time that really, somebody’s really captured that whole outdoor living space and putting together a rewards program for that. And that’s, that’s the uniqueness of Oldcastle APG, right is is is owning that backyard.

April Edwards 32:35 Yeah, that’s really cool. And definitely promote, you know, promote the different materials and manufacturers that you use on your website. Because sometimes be you know, people search, in their research, they’re searching for a particular product, you know, and if you are somebody that carries that, you know, they’re going to be more up to give you a call versus someone else.

Lainie 33:01 The other, you know, the other opportunity that exists with manufacturers, like, we’re always looking to utilize PR opportunities, right? Where selling deck specialists, we talked about, you know, our cool deck product around pools. And so, you know, we’ve talked to a number of different deck builders, that’s, you know, support our products around pools. And so we’re always looking for different opportunities to capture with any type of PR, that creates some uniqueness and create some educational opportunities out in the marketplace. So that’s another place you can, you know, really utilize your manufacturers, right. Like if you’re doing something that’s really over the top, I mean, you should let them know, right, so they can capitalize on that. I mean, that’s everybody’s benefit. And that’s great advertising for everybody.

April Edwards 33:56 Yeah, what awards did you guys win this year? You’ve got a handful. I know.

Lainie 34:00 We did. We did. I don’t have them written down here in front of me, but we did have I know. We won one with John Lee from Deck south. We won one with Charles Chad from Decks Unlimited. There were a handful that we were recognized for.

April Edwards 34:17 So you got your workout going up on stage.

Lainie 34:21 I did and I was tripped the one time going. I wore a higher heel than normal. Know anything about me. I don’t really wear many high heels. So yeah, yeah, that was quite quite interesting. But uh, but always great to be recognized among our peers.

April Edwards 34:37 Yeah, it was a good time. Yeah, I’m a flip flops, vans, you know, tennis shoe type of gal myself.

Lainie 34:45 Yeah, exactly. I was like the normal gal they’d be fine to me. They were a little bit steep.

April Edwards 34:54 But I will I did not catch that. Okay, Lainie 34:56 good. I’m glad glad there was there’s no bloopers right Oh, that everyone should have that for sure. Yeah, great. Yeah. Don’t give me any ideas.

April Edwards 35:09 Um, all right, well, is there anything you’d like to share that, I mean, you’ve already kind of shared a lot, I think it’s so exciting to really be tackling the whole outdoor living space with the breadth of products that you guys offer. Is there anything else in store for you guys this year?

Lainie 35:26 Oh, there’s always a ton in store for us. And, you know, we’ll be launching an Insta deck board that will be marrying up with the same millimeter of pavers. So it’ll be so you can interchange pavers and decking, as one solution. So that’ll be visible at the IBS show, as well as our Stratus board, which will be a PVC one inch profile that will span 24 inches on center. That’ll be launched since specific markets in the Northeast, and I believe Michigan. So we do have some new innovative things coming to market. And that PVC board will be a cool deck technology board in great colors. So, you know, we continue to innovate outside the box, which is always exciting. You know, the instant deck, I think, you know, for for applications, such as rooftop decks and or, you know, we were, we were talking about it the other day, we said, you know, so if somebody has a camper, and they want to go out and they want to create a little deck outside their camper, they can put down the Insta deck, put down some deck and create a little area for themselves and then pull it up when they leave. Yeah. Kind of cool. I was like, very,

April Edwards 36:41 I mean, I would use that.

Lainie 36:42 Right. Right. Like, yeah, I mean, like if I if I go to the park, and I want to create like a little Larry, for myself. I mean, so yeah, it’s, you know, it’s outside the box. And that’s what we keep doing is we’re, we’re innovating, right, we’re looking at things a little bit differently, which is exciting.

April Edwards 37:00 Yeah, man, you’re getting me excited for camping. When you go, so we’ve got this big rug that we use when we go camping and our motorhome. And it’s just it’s such a pain in the ass to use because you got to clean it on both sides. Like, if I just could put up some decking real quick. Oh, I’ll tell you that.

Lainie 37:20 Yeah, so these are going to be two by two panels that are going to snap together and the decking snaps right on top of it. You’re pulling out with your camper, you pull it up and put back back in your camper and you move on.

April Edwards 37:32 Yeah, pretty cool.

Lainie 37:34 Yeah, yeah. So we have a lot of exciting things happening happening.

April Edwards 37:39 So make sure that you go to the shows guys, stay active in the community, make sure that you’re, you know, seeing the latest and greatest at these things. It’s there’s definitely some energy that happens when you go to these in person events. And I know it could seem you know, like an expense. But I think that in a lot of ways, even if you could bring your team to some of these different shows that really increases morale. And it’s just nice to see the innovations that are happening. And you know, as with any business, continue to build those relationships. Lainie is a really great model of that. And I think yeah, you’ll be able to just kind of stay in tune with what’s going on and keep innovative, innovating, and moving forward. So it’s been so nice having you today, I do want to leave it open, if you had any words of wisdom, or any last thoughts for our audience before we part ways.

Lainie 38:35 So I would say if I can help anybody out there in the business, please feel free to reach out to me. I’m on LinkedIn under Lainie Sleppin. You know, I’m always happy to help. Right? And you can’t keep it if you don’t give it away. Right. So I’ve devoted my, a lot of care into this business, right? And everybody knows that about myself, right? Like, I’m here to help people, right? I successful people want other people to surround themselves with success, right? So I want to create success with anybody that I can help, right. And so I’ve always positioned myself like that, and, and people will continue to I get calls about products that I might have sold 10 years ago, but people know that like, I’m going to pick up the phone. And if I don’t have the answer, I’m going to work real hard to get them the answer. Right. And I am a resource for people. So what I would say is if I can be a resource to anybody and help anybody out there, you know, feel free to hit me up on LinkedIn. You know, and I’m very responsive to making sure I take the time to, you know, devote some attention to people that that need the help. Right and I appreciate that opportunity always right because we help one another

April Edwards 40:00 Yep, spread spread the love everyone. So you’re in New Jersey, right?

Lainie 40:05 I’m in North Jersey, correct.

April Edwards 40:09 Okay. And you actually started, you had something to do with starting the chapter out there, right?

Lainie 40:14 Correct. Correct, right, which is a handful of us and starting the natural chapter is. And that was not an easy task by any stretch. I can tell you, some of the builders looked at me and said, I’m not going there. And I’m not sharing any secrets with anybody. Until they realize that these guys are my friends. And if we’re all kind of competing at that higher level, it makes a lot of sense, right? They’re competing with people that are people similar to themselves. And that raises the bar overall in the industry. And that’s what we’re all looking to do, right? Is it fair to lose a project to somebody that doesn’t have insurance? Or, you know, is not, you know, at that same level? That’s, that’s not really fair. Right. And, and look, Life is not fair. So I’m not saying that stretch of the imagination. But, you know, I think at least NADRA gives us the platform to try to achieve those things in the market. And so to your point, yes, I started the New Jersey chapter took a lot of work. And, you know, as it was, thanks to many wonderful people that, you know, are in the, in the industry today. People like us, Robert, Shawn, you know, the steadfast Gary, my, my good friend, Jen Sheridan, so we all banded together and really made it happen. And it became kind of a competitive landscape between us in Atlanta and who was the better chapter. So we’d always say

April Edwards 41:52 Matt drives forward motion.

Lainie 41:56 Exactly. New Jersey in the house. Right. So we’d all be pumped up. But it was, it’s great. And we still have regional agent meetings in New Jersey. So we still are active, right? Yeah. So I always tell everybody, like, Look, if you can make it to a meeting, it’s well worth it. Right? Yeah. Just for the camaraderie and the community of of getting everybody in one. One spot. And the energy is like, I’m very sensitive to energy, right? What it’s like, really, it’s great energy from everybody. Right? Yeah. And its competitors all in the same room, like, listen, we’re all here to better the industry. It’s not about, you know, hey, I’m not going to sit next to XYZ manufacturer. I mean, I don’t think any of that happens at an agile meeting, you know, for the greater good, you know,

April Edwards 42:46 awesome, and you guys are so active there, I think more so than in the rest of the country.

Lainie 42:52 And look at it, I would love to, it would be great to see other regional markets develop, but it takes it takes a handful of people, right to really band together to do it. So we’ll see, you know, see what emerges over the next year and where we go. Yeah. But I, you know, when I’m out there, like I was up in New England over the last couple days talking all about NADRA. Right. And so there’s definitely an opportunity to create more awareness all over the place with with NADRA. And, you know, it’s, again, it’s a it’s a great platform. Yep.

April Edwards 43:35 So North American deck and railing Association. If you’re not on the end, get on the end. I love it. Well, Lainie thank you again, it was really great to have you please do connect with her. LinkedIn primarily is the best you said,

Lainie 43:51 LinkedIn is the best and you know, I am out in the market. Obviously, I’m a big decking guru. But you know, I do represent moisture shield RDI, breath outdoor living products. So if I can help anybody out there with any of those products, you know, please let me know. And or any other questions you might have about the industry.

April Edwards 44:13 Sure. So great. And that’s what makes you so beautiful. I love it. Thank you. So yeah, for sure. So yep, thanks for sharing your insights with us and to all of our listeners. Make sure to tune in for the next episode. And as always, keep moving forward. Thanks so much.


April Edwards

Owner & Lead Marketing Strategist
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