Josh Kennedy founded First Coast Home Pros, a comprehensive cleaning company in Northeast Florida, known for its exceptional service and customer satisfaction. The company, which started with window cleaning, has expanded to include a wide range of services, including exterior cleaning, maid services, and IICRC certified interior cleaning. Under Kennedy's leadership, the business also offers handyman services as a Florida Certified Residential Contractor and has been recognized as one of the 50 Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in NE Florida by the Jacksonville Business Journal. When he is not building his business, Josh loves spending time with his family and coaching baseball - a long time passion of his. Learn everything about running a service business from Josh's decades of experience.
Be sure to check out the episode and let us know in the comments of the youtube video something Josh said that resonates with you. Enjoy!
Intro: Welcome to the Grit-org Podcast with Colby Harris and Brian Harbin!
In these episodes, they speak to top achievers in athletics and business to understand the habits and mindset they apply in order to build more grit.
Colby Harris: All right. Welcome back to the Grit-org Podcast. My name is Colby Harris. Alongside me is Brian Harbin, and we're here with today's guest, Josh Kennedy. Josh, thanks for coming on the show today.
Josh Kennedy: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it!
Colby Harris: Absolutely. So Josh is a local entrepreneur father here in Jacksonville, and he founded first coast home pros exterior and interior cleaning services. So we're super fascinated to have you here today. Josh, talk about how you piece together your business, because there's a bunch of different legs you have, a bunch of different things you do. So we're excited to talk about your journey through sports to becoming a father, an entrepreneur, and really a lot about the life you've built down here in Jacksonville. So take us back to the beginning. I know you're not from Jacksonville originally, so tell us about your upbringing, where you're from.
Josh Kennedy: Sure. Thanks for having me, first of all. So from Columbus, Ohio, went to Miami University, but my athletic allegiance still lies with the Buckeyes. So we're having a good season. It's interesting in the big ten right now. So, yeah, I grew up Buckeye fan, was actually home schooled through the fourth grade. And then I went to Worthing and Christian schools from there on. Graduated from Worthing and Christian in 2001. Grew up sort of rural, suburban, kind of right in between. Live out in the country a little bit. I was one of those when I took the bus to school. I was first one on in the morning, bright and early, last one off in the long bus. But I have an older brother, younger brother.
And, yeah, it's interesting being down here. And Columbus is a great town. Other than the weather. I mean, weather's a lot better down here. But although the last week it's been gray almost constantly, which reminded me a lot of back home.
Colby Harris: We were just talking about that on the way over here. We're like, gosh, I'm just glad the sun is out again.
Josh Kennedy: Right.
Colby Harris: That November December area is when it just gets like, it's either going to be pretty sunny, a little warm outside, or dark, gloomy, rainy. Gross. Don't want to go outside in it.
Josh Kennedy: Yeah. I was thinking this is what I was trying to get away.
Brian Harbin: Yeah. So it's funny because I actually know Worthington Springs pretty well. I had a college summer job selling educational books and sold books in Worthington and actually lived in Lancaster. It's funny because when I first got to Lancaster, I was calling it Lancaster because that's how it's spelled. Sure, but you're not from around here. I'm like, it's Lancaster. But yeah, no, just great people.
And Worthington is a really. It's a big suburb right outside of Columbus and just tons of families. And I'm always curious, too, especially knowing now we'll get into this a little bit later on. Kind of your passion for coaching, but where did your passion for sports start? Any particular sports that kind of stood out for you, or what got you interested in sports early on?
Josh Kennedy: So my dad, he's a baseball guy, and so really, when I was a little kid, that was the first sport that I got into. He got injured playing football, so I was never allowed to play football, unfortunately. But that was really my first love and in a lot of ways, my favorite sport. I love the team sport aspect of it from the time I was a little kid, although I remember the first time I got on a good team, I'd been on a few mediocre to bad teams, and the first time as a kid, I got on a good team.
On the way home from practice, I was like, dad, I don't know if I like these guys. I don't know. This is going to be tough. And that was the first time I got the we don't quit. Once you sign up for things, this is what you do. And that was a great experience. We won the league that year, won the championship. And so that was my first taste of gets a little tough. That was the rule. If you sign up for something, you don't quit, you show up. So that was definitely a big part of it.
And I think the fact that I learned that a little bit of tough coaching and the teammates that had a little bit more of a competitive edge that maybe I wasn't used to, and I saw the value in that. I think it was useful that it came to fruition, where we had a really successful, fun season. Golf, I got into, actually, quite a bit later. In fact, I got into caddying first.
So my bus driver, I told you, first one on, last one off. We became friends. Mrs. Hess was her name, and she was into golf. Her husband was retired and she'd bring me golf balls once I eventually got into playing, because he'd go hunt golf balls down. But I was twelve and I got to find a way to make some money. We were just talking and we'd talk after the second to last kid got off. We'd talk.
Colby Harris: It's like a school friend.
Josh Kennedy: We were friends. Yeah. And she's like, well, you know, there's that golf course right down the road. Why don't you check that out? So that was sort of my introduction to golf. Nobody in my family played, and then I got into it after that. Somehow when I tried out in 6th grade, I don't even know how I made the team. I might have played nine holes of golf before that, but there weren't that many kids that came out. I think they only cut a handful of kids that season.
Colby Harris: Similar mechanics to baseball, in a sense.
Josh Kennedy: Yeah, well, that's one of the things maybe we'll touch on later. But that's one of the things. The baseball swing and the golf swing, they really are. Some argue about some similarities. I don't see it. That was one of my youngest, Jacob, played golf for a while. I mean, he played pretty competitively. He was a pretty good player. And then he started getting into baseball. And that was sort of my one piece of advice. I was play any sports you want, but I'm not sure that these two. So, you know, I'm sure he'll pick golf back up later.
Colby Harris: When you get into the intricacies of it, I would say, like, if you're trying to perfect both of them at the same time, it's like almost too much going on. And that was actually what I was going to ask you next. So those were really your two main sports, correct? Golf, baseball, as you're going through into high school and things like that. So tell us more about that right there. Talking about what you kind of recommend now for your son, Jacob, and combining the two, tell us about your time as a golfer and playing baseball as well while you're going through school.
Josh Kennedy: Sure. Baseball, I love the team sport aspect of it. Being with the guys, we always had just so much fun. And golf is definitely very different. You're on an island. Right? But I came to love the game, golf. I came to love the game pretty quickly. I mean, I really fell in love with it. And there's a lot you can learn from both sports. But I always tell people, my dad gets irritated when I say this because he's like, you were a pretty good baseball player, but I always tell people I wasn't a great baseball player, but I was a good pitcher.
And the similarities between golf and pitching, there's a lot of similarities there because both of those are as much or more mental than physical, really. It's golf, pitching, field goal, kicking, I view those as they're similar personality types. Right? And that definitely fits my personality. I mean, I had one home run in high school, so I just wasn't a great hitter. But pitching was sort of my thing. I love getting guys out, so growing up and learning that, and again with my youngest, he's a good hitter in baseball, but it's like the swings just don't. They really are different. They're rotational, and the similarities kind of end there. I'd say it's really just like having.
Colby Harris: The basic muscles because just saying anybody that used to die hard play baseball in high school that now has picked up golf, that I hang out with, the big drivers, they're hitting, pitch and wedge, 160 yards, 170 yards. They're the guys that just go up and deshambo every ball, hit it as far as they can. And they might not have the highest success rate, but they're always 50, 60 yards ahead of me.
Josh Kennedy: It's funny, I'm sort of a geek when it comes to swing mechanics. With both swings coaching youth baseball, I've had to really dive into that. And as I pursued golf as an amateur, I really kind of went on a mission to figure out how good I could be because I felt like in part because of playing the two sports together, I didn't really have that opportunity and also in part financial growing up. I mean, golf is an expensive sport, but I really dove into the swing, the mechanics.
And it's amazing to me when you watch a former baseball player, excluding pitchers, if you notice, when you watch the celebrity golf tournaments, usually the former baseball players that are playing, they're usually pitchers. And I think that's in part because if they're just pitching every however many days, they've got time off in between. But it's also in part because they're not focused on hitting in baseball. Right? I don't know. There are similarities, I'd say, but more differences than similarities.
Brian Harbin: Yeah. And with baseball, you really need that level swing. I think I'd heard, too. Some of the middle schools are having the boys play softball, and I'm like, man, if you really want to screw up a baseball swing, start getting these kids into softball where you have to undercut right in softball to get that angle. But baseball is different. So tell us about kind of your pathway then from high school and that decision to go to Miami of Ohio.
Josh Kennedy: Sure. I wanted to go to the best school I could get into, and I had a plan to go to a school out east, and my sort of grand scheme was, well, I'll stay in state and save some money. I was beyond scholarships and stuff. I had to figure out college sort of on my own. And so I thought I'd save some money, go in state. And I didn't realize how important that the social framework as you get started, how important that is. And so once I got plugged in there and made a bunch of friends at Miami, it was time to stay.
But went to Miami. Miami just was a good school. Some people say, why didn't you go to Ohio State? And Miami was just far enough ways to two and a half hour drive from Columbus. So that was, to me, appealing. And it was a great school. So we visited tons of schools, of course, and that was a good process for anybody that's in high school and considering where to go, I mean, I would highly suggest take advantage of it, go visit lots of schools, get a feel for not just what the campus looks like and all that, but just get a feel for the culture at the school that's important with our kids. We've even done that here in town. Went to almost every school to consider. Just feel it out.
Yeah. And I think for young people considering where to go to college, they should do that. It was fun. My mom and I went around to all kinds of different colleges. And for athletes getting recruited, it's even better. You're going to get to go check out all these places on a different level and sort of get taken care of while you're doing that.
So I would highly encourage to explore and for me, both where I went to school and with our kids going to school here in town, once you've kind of visited lots of places. To me, the right fit was pretty obvious. That really helped. So Miami was a great fit for me. I think the undergrad there, maybe it's like 15,000 or something like that. So it wasn't huge, but it also wasn't so small that you'd have class with all the same.
Colby Harris: Yeah, yeah. My sister's a senior in high school this year, and they just went to Georgia Southern and it was like, honestly, it's more about writing off your nose than figuring out if you're dead set on one or not. Because it was like as soon as she went and she came back, I was like, oh, what'd you think about? She was no, like, I'm definitely not going there. So you can kind of get that feel pretty quick. If you can just get boots on the ground, go check it out. We were talking earlier about when your time is a caddy. I kind of want to revisit that because you said you didn't really know much about golf. Feel like maybe back then, it's really just like caddies were less like the Masters as much as they're like, hey, carry my bag, do all that stuff.
But it is one of those industries being someone. I was a cart boy for a while. You really get to meet a lot of cool people, have a lot of cool conversations, and golf is always compared to life. It seems like a lot of the golfers I know are kind of like philosophical guys. Deep, whatever. So tell us a little bit about your career as a caddy. And I know you also were a caddy a little bit when you were going to school as well, but just some key takeaways from that experience as really, like, your first job or career path experience.
Josh Kennedy: Yeah, sure. So when my bus driver suggested I go down there, this is elite private. I mean, I think when I was there, I think they had around 80, 90 members, local members at the time. So I rode my bike down there. It's like 3, 2, 3 miles from the house, rode my bike over there. Gates closed. Just went around the gate, and the head pro found my way to the pro shop, and the head pro looked at me because it's like, place like that, it's professional loopers who are working there. They're not having kids. It's not Caddyshack. It's professionals, guys who go down to south Florida in the winter kind of thing.
So he looked at me, and he's like, hey, I'll take down your number in case we have an outing or something where we need some extra help, but you should go get some experience somewhere else. And when I got home, there was a message, hey, come back. And the owner had seen me either coming in or leaving. John McConnell, the guy who, he's Worthington Industries big, big company, Columbus Blue Jackets. He's sort of a legend philanthropically in Columbus. And he saw me, and what's that kid doing? And guy told him he's like, hire that kid.
So I ended up caddying for him and usually his wife, almost exclusively. That summer, he sort of took me under his wing and really sort of showed me the ins and outs, and his whole thing was hustle. That's all he wanted to see, is just work your tail off. And along the way, he taught me a ton. So from there, to me, I would say the biggest thing that I learned caddying was, again, I came from a middle class family. Money was always tight and sort of earn your way mentality.
And frankly, I was intimidated. I mean, the people that I was working for were the elite, big time. Yeah, but I learned we're all just guys. We're looking to have a good time. And I learned how to treat people with respect and how to take care of people. You mentioned your perception of caddying, and that's not how I experienced it, and I know what you mean, but that's not how I experienced it. I learned it as identifying different personalities, how to make them have a great day. That was really my job, was to make sure that they had a great experience, because a lot of times it would be a member and a few guests, and they're trying to entertain their guests and make sure they have a great time.
And so that was my job, was to make sure that the guys that were out there to play had an unbelievable experience. Learning how to interact with people from different walks of life, coming from my background was so valuable. My first loop for somebody other than Mr. Mac, I was like, it's nerve wracking as a kid, but I learned so quickly that these guys are just cutting up just like anybody else. I mean, they're just out there to have fun and just help them have a good time and work hard for them, and they're going to take good care of you. And that, to me, was so valuable and carried me through so many different things moving forward, because I'm not intimidated by we all want the same things, right?
So to me, that was an unbelievable experience. The caddy thing has sort of. It's changed a lot. Even some of the clubs in town that do have caddies, they're run through, you know, a management program that organizes it like a third party service. It's totally different than it used to be. And honestly, it's a bummer because I think it's a perfect job for a young kid to learn so many different skills, the people skills people talk about, the networking and stuff. That's probably true, that's probably true. But to me, that wasn't the real value. As a young man growing up, learning how to interface with these guys was key.
Colby Harris: I was going to say, you have to learn how to start a conversation before you can build a relationship. Getting through that first little hump and conversating with these guys, and like you said, making sure that they have a good time, you're like the front line of defense for the whole day.
Josh Kennedy: Sure. And I'll tell you, it's different from group to group. That's the other key. You have to learn to be dynamic because there are some guys that you speak when spoken to, and that's it. And there are other guys that they want you to entertain them. And if you're a one trick pony, you're going to bother about half the guys that you're working for. Right? You have to be dynamic. So the ability to perceive where people are and meet them where they are, it's a skill, frankly, that a lot of people don't have. So that's why I think it's such a useful thing.
Brian Harbin: It really is. And just being able to read the room and read people's body language and what they're giving you. And I love the fact, too, that what opened that door was just ambition. You going around the gate and being noticed for your ambition and him obviously rewarding and encouraging that. I mean, what a great foundation and great mentor, for sure.
Josh Kennedy: Well, and I would circle back on that even further and say, the ambition, sure. But being willing to listen to an adult, my bus driver, of all people, say, like, yeah, give this a shot. Whereas it seems like some kids just, they're not interested in hearing what. And I think that's key is being willing to listen to experienced people. I had never even seen the place. I didn't know it existed. So that was key.
Brian Harbin: Yeah. And I know we'll get into this in a little bit. When it comes to coaching is like, that's such, the unique piece and value of being a coach is like you make these little small recommendations that you really don't know. I mean, look at the butterfly effect of her making that recommendation on the bus and giving you golf balls and the inspiration and everything that led to for you.
So kind of taking that to Miami, kind of your experience with golf and catting, when did you kind of figure out what you wanted to do? Did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur or get into business or tell us about kind of your journey of figuring out what the heck you wanted to do?
Josh Kennedy: That's a great question. I'm not sure I ever really knew what I wanted to do, but I was sort of always hustling my mom. She'd pay me a penny for every weed I pulled. Very early on. I have to give her credit for a lot because I had to learn to type. I was home schooled, like I said, I had to learn to type. And so as the typing project was make a neighborhood newspaper, so I'd go door to door. And this is another people skill thing, right? I went door to door down our street, and I'd ask everybody on the street, hey, what kind of news you got? What's going on in your family? Take my notes down. I'd type it up when I got home. Here's the news for every family.
And then my dad would take it to work, copy it, bring it back, and then I'd go door to door, and I'd sell it. I forget what I sold it for. A quarter or don't remember, but then I'd sell them the news. And of course, everybody thought that was so cute, little kid doing that. But really, I would say that was the start, honestly, was learning. Like, oh, wow, I just made $10 doing that. All I had to do was something I had to do for school anyway and learn to monetize it, and that was her idea.
But in college, I was in the business school, studied stats, and they had a capstone requirement, and that was an entrepreneurship. I chose an entrepreneurship path, and we did a consulting project for two or three other students, and I, we did a consulting project for a manufacturing company outside of Cincinnati, and that went through the SBA. And we actually placed.
I don't remember what it was, whether we won or second or third or what, but we placed in a national competition for our consulting project, there again, that was a great opportunity to get into a business, sort of identify what changes we would recommend, because they were looking for help. They had financial issues and got to get plugged in and sort of make recommendations and learn a little bit about how their business worked and what they were struggling with.
One of the most interesting parts of that experience was that they didn't listen to anything that we said. And so I learned, it's like the studies that show the more you pay for a diet supplement or a regimen, the better it works. It's the same thing. It's like, the more you pay for consulting, the more they listen. And when the consulting is free, because that's the deal, we get to do it, but they don't have to pay. So they're sort of hoping they're getting a faculty member's recommendation, really. Right? But it didn't cost them anything, so they were free to blow it off.
Colby Harris: Right. And that's what they did.
Josh Kennedy: Even though, like I said, we won a national award for it, they didn't listen to what we had to say.
Colby Harris: Is that company still around?
Josh Kennedy: That's a great question.
Colby Harris: I thought that's where the story was going.
Josh Kennedy: That's a great question. So I remember I looked them up probably about five years after, and their website hadn't changed, which that was. One of our recommendations was for your market and what you're doing, you need to upgrade. Hadn't changed. And then the last time I looked for them was probably about ten years ago. I couldn't find them.
Colby Harris: Maybe should have taken a few things into account.
Josh Kennedy: Right.
Colby Harris: So topping off on that, something else I want to ask you about is I know you spent a decent amount of time also working for a cleaning company while being in college. So at that time, you still were starting to dabble into entrepreneurship. While you were finishing school, did you start getting the gears going? Maybe a little bit through that experience of working for a cleaning company that might make you think you wanted to run one of your own, but just tell us a little bit more about that experience.
Josh Kennedy: Yeah, definitely. I had caddied for so long and decided I was ready for a change. And I responded to a newspaper ad that was something along the lines of love the great outdoors, looking for athletic minded individual, something along those lines. I was like, oh, that's interesting.
So I went to interview for the job, which I had no idea what it was, and it was sort of an OD interview. Like, they had me do, like a puzzle. And the whole point of the puzzle was, are you willing to ask for help? And turns out, and I didn't realize this at the time, my older brother's quite a bit older. It was one of my older brother's best childhood friends. It was his company, two brothers, actually. And so I took the job as a window cleaner, learned how to clean windows. My first day was cleaning one of the owner's house's windows the entire day, over and over and over and over and over again.
Brian Harbin: Your wax on, wax off moment.
Josh Kennedy: Right. That was it.
Brian Harbin: How good this guy is.
Josh Kennedy: Yeah, that was it. And it was a great summer job, great company. I really learned the skills to do the actual work and became a team leader later on, which, as a younger guy, college age kid, my first day out on my own, I was working with two middle aged guys that were the guys on my team. So that was sort of another challenge. But those guys, they really gave me a chance.
After college, I decided to go ahead and work with them, which I did for about two years after college. And they gave me the opportunity to do a lot of different things in their business. I helped with recruiting, help with some it type stuff, database stuff, and I was able to get my hands into a lot of different aspects of the company. Fast forward. Later, they started opening locations in other cities. And one summer, I went and worked at one of their upstart locations. So then I got to see what it looks like when it's real small.
Colby Harris: Startup phase.
Josh Kennedy: Yeah.
Colby Harris: Where?
Josh Kennedy: Okay, we don't have any work to do. Here's a list of all our customers from last year. Start calling them, see if they need us. I have a lot of people to thank, and those guys are one of them, because they not only gave me a chance and all that kind of stuff, but they really gave me a chance to do more and see different parts of their business, learn different aspects of it. And certainly by the time my time was done there, I knew a lot of what I needed to know as far as how to run that type of business.
Brian Harbin: Yeah. So how many years with them? And then when did you kind of make that decision to, or how did you make that decision to move on? And did you already have a plan of what you wanted to do?
Josh Kennedy: No. In fact, when I wrapped up there, I really had no idea what I wanted to do.
Brian Harbin: Why did you end up leaving? Just knew it was time to kind of move on.
Josh Kennedy: Yeah. It was less work related, more personal, and it was time to get out of Columbus. And I really didn't know what I wanted to do. I just knew I needed a hiatus. The gap year, really, as they call it. And that's sort of what I did. I found a -- this was actually in the winter, but this is when I found a job as a camp counselor in Maine. And normally it's all filled up, but they had an opening sort of last minute. I interviewed for the job, I got it, and not long after that, drove up to Maine for my first summer as a camp counselor, which was another experience that being from the mid-west, camp's not big there, east coast, really big here. Some kids do it. They'll go to North Carolina or whatever in the. I mean, it's huge. And that was an incredible experience.
And I think that was sort of the genesis for my interest in coaching now, which is probably one of my favorite things that I do is coaching these kids. And that really started at the director of that camp. I've been fortunate to have a lot of great mentors, and he was one. I had this kid that summer. I had this kid who, he was a challenge. And when I saw the director, hey, I got this going on. What do we do with this kid? And the three of us get together? And when I saw the way he was able to reach him, it was magical. I mean, it really was. And not only did I have a great time. I mean, the camp culture is just a blast. Not only did I have a great time, it was very fulfilling.
So I thought, well, I should keep this going. So I found a job working that fall with this organization in the southwest that did work on public lands with at risk youth. So I did a crew lead job for them, and they asked me to come back to the camp the following season to run the boys campus, be the boys campus head. So I did that and yet again had a great experience. So it was sort of an untraditional path. And as I mentioned, I think before we started this, I was planning to take, the following year, January 1st, I was planning to take the assistant director role. And I had just said, hey, there's not going to be any money in this lifestyle, but I love it.
So I was planning to take it on and live in Maine year round and see what that was all about, and came down here to visit my parents, who had moved here and met my wife and who's now my wife, and just decided I couldn't leave. I had to call and say about that job. I could just hear the air go out of them. And I hated doing that to him because he was a great mentor to, um. But he understood.
Brian Harbin: And so you said your parents had just moved to Jacksonville, I guess, right?
Colby Harris: Yeah.
Brian Harbin: So let me ask. I wanted to ask you a follow up question on that. So in your time, how many years would you say you worked in the camp culture?
Josh Kennedy: Two years.
Brian Harbin: Two years. Okay. So looking back on that experience, what were some things that you learned? And I'm guessing these are like, middle school, high school age kids that you're working with.
Josh Kennedy: I want to say the youngest is eight, and then it goes up to 16, and then they become like junior counselors from that point.
Brian Harbin: Okay, so what were some of the key things that you learned about connecting with the younger generation and kind of getting through? You mentioned you saw him being able to connect with that student on that level. What were some of the things that you learned from that in terms of working with kids and young people so much?
Josh Kennedy: Immediately, what comes to mind is the things that we thought the kids loved the most weren't necessarily the things that they actually loved the most. The kids would report things like their favorite day of the year was the day that it rained all day, and we were locked in our cabin. We played crazy games, and we go outside and do puddle jumping and things like that. It's important to understand that as a leader, you set the narrative.
So if you are down in the dumps because it's raining all day. The kids are going to be down in the dumps, too. They're going to have a bad day. Or you can say, all right, we got rain. All the activities are canceled. We can do whatever we want and make it a blast. And the kids would report that. I remember during our training, they had a consultant come in and he gave a line that I'll never forget, that as camp counselors, you have the opportunity to reach kids in a way that their parents can't.
For example, a parent might be frustrated and say, you're so stubborn, but as a camp counselor, you can say, gosh, I love how persistent you are. And I thought that that ability, and it's similar as a coach, you know, they, they understand you're in a position of authority, sort of, but they, you're not, you're not their parent. And so you have a different opportunity. As I got to the boys campus head, we had a problem with a counselor. He was a problem. And so that was the first time I learned how to fire somebody as well. Honestly, it was a good experience because he showed me how to do it, how to be professional about it and learned so much, really.
Colby Harris: And as a follow up to Brian's question, you've mentioned you've had a lot of mentors. All of the businesses you've really worked in were like service based businesses, all about the people. And I've noticed from your website and from your LinkedIn, things like that, that's one thing you really pride yourself on with your company. It's very customer centric. We want to serve the people. That's what we're about. All these mentors and people you've interacted with throughout that process of these first jobs you had, what would you say is one of the best piece of advice you got about being in a service based business or just working with people in general that you've kind of incorporated now into your business.
Josh Kennedy: I would say, honestly, simple things. For example, accountability with respect to scheduling. I'll never forget when I was going door to door passing out flyers for window cleaning when I was first here. And guys like, yeah, that's great. Let's go ahead and get. Let's do that. And I said, looked at my planner and said, okay, we'll be here next Tuesday at eight. Anytime you come, whenever you want, I'm here. Anytime. No, next Tuesday at eight, I'll be here. And that mentality has carried us a long way of just say what you mean. Mean what you say?
Colby Harris: Nothing makes my mom angrier than that if they don't show up, right. I think that's like most moms or people of authority in the household. It's like I had all these other plans to do today, and this guy was supposed to be here 30 minutes ago, and now he's thrown off my next 10 hours of plans.
Josh Kennedy: And we're not perfect. Sometimes things do come up, but it is amazing how the attitudes in, I'll say, the south are different, and that has definitely been a competitive advantage for us because we sort of operate by a different maximum. And as far as how mentors have, I mean, I've, again, I've been so fortunate from an entrepreneurial standpoint.
One of my high school baseball coaches, he really helped me with a lot. And in fact, post college; I really didn't know what I wanted to do. And he's a very successful guy and asked if we go to lunch and talk about it. His message was really pretty simple, and I still have the email he sent me afterwards. I asked him, hey, remind me of these points.
And I still have the email, but his message was pretty simple. You got to figure out what you want, how you're going to get it, and who can help you. And he made the comment, and this is true. Business really is a battle, and you need people with you who will have your back in the battle. The other piece is sometimes you find yourself in a hole and you look around and you're the only one holding a shovel. Right?
And so that sort of mentality right there with respect to entrepreneurship, I don't mean there's anything more valuable than that is understanding that, you know. Okay, maybe I'm the one who got myself into it, maybe not. But I'm the one who's got to get myself out of it, whatever it is.
Brian Harbin: Yeah, I love that. Okay, so you came down to Jacksonville to see your know, the plan was to know a camp counselor, but then obviously Rachel, your future wife, kept you. I mean, at this point, you're down here, you don't know anybody, you've got some experience and a couple different things. How did you figure out that's what you wanted to do and kind of paint that picture for those first few months getting started?
Josh Kennedy: Well, I was a stats major, which with a bachelor's degree is pretty useless. So you need at least a master's if you want to be an actuary or something boring like that or a PhD, really. So my resume was like camp counselor, window cleaner, Caddy, and it was 2008, 2009, I had had it in with a commercial real estate company in Ohio. Hiring freeze. We've kind of been in a weird spot economically for so many years now, post-COVID, that people kind of forget what that time was like. It was rough, 2008 for sure, especially for somebody with my resume, which basically said, I'll hustle. There wasn't much out there.
So I really leaned on, okay, well, what do I know how to do? Okay, I'm going to do that. I mean, it really was by necessity. I'd love to say I had a grand plan, a business plan, all that kind of stuff. That wasn't it. It was. This is what I know how to do, and I'm going to see if this will work. And I basically walked, and I didn't know Jacksonville, so I walked Riverside, San Marco, Ortega, you know, just basically the urban core, I mean, I flired all those houses for two weeks, and we've been busy since. That's really what happened.
Colby Harris: And one thing I want to ask you about. Sorry, were you about to….
Brian Harbin: No, go ahead.
Colby Harris: I was just going to ask. Starting out, the first business I ever saw was a pressure washing business my senior year of high school, just because I was a kayaking tour guide, and we did a lot of service based businesses as well. And what I just thought was so cool is I spent like $1,000 on t shirts, cards, flyers, gear. And we made it back in the first 48 hours that we were out doing jobs. And I was so stoked. And that's what's, like, booming businesses for younger people. Like the cleaning opportunity because it's kind of low entry cost.
But I just want to ask you, were you bootstrapping the whole thing from the get go, like, buying the gear and then what you needed to clean all this stuff, were you just kind of like, all right, well, I'm here. Not only did I just move here and I'm comforting out where I'm living, I've now got this girlfriend, and now I'm going to launch my business, too. Just kind of tell us about that. Just the realities of starting a business and kind of what that was like getting off the ground.
Josh Kennedy: Yeah, it was tough. It was really tough. The camp counselor seasonal job position that I track, that I was on for two years, was not very lucrative. I think my adjusted gross income was about $13,000 a year for those two years. And unfortunately, I made the mistake, really through college and then a little bit post college, I'd say had an entitlement mindset where I thought, hey, I'm going to a good school. I'm getting good grades.
Colby Harris: This money is going to come back.
Josh Kennedy: This money is going to come. It's funny, when you're a kid, you think, if I could just make 100 grand a year, everything be great, right? That seemed like that was everybody's. Gilbert, back in the day.
Colby Harris: Still is -- [Crosstalk] -- Still it, yeah.
Josh Kennedy: I racked up a lot of credit card debt, and that was sort of the other impetus behind, like, I can't fail because the juice is running and just to keep up. And that was a huge mistake that I made as a young adult, was my first credit card was I got a free sub at a sub place. My second credit card was, I got a free pizza. Those two meals, what they cost me.
Colby Harris: Most expensive sandwich ever.
Josh Kennedy: Ordinary. Yeah, extraordinary. So I'll never forget the first mailer I sent out. It was probably about $500, and it was pretty much all the money I had. I sent that mailer out, and it was like, man, I hope this comes back, but get a few calls and do a few jobs. And it worked. The first time I put an ad in a print publication, I was working out of the house at the time, and the sales rep, we must have been sitting at my kitchen table for 2 hours while I was sweating out whether to sign this advertisement agreement or not. And we still advertise with it. I mean, this is 15 years later.
We still advertise with that publication and have every month since. But at the time, it's extremely nerve wracking and circling back to golf, specifically pitching, things like that, you have to learn how to stay calm, make decisions for rational reasons. Of course, you want to look at what the challenges or obstacles are, but you got to press forward. Nobody's there. In golf, it's different than team sports. Right? It's different even than pitching because you have a bad outing, you'll get pulled, somebody else will come in. Right? In golf, there's no out, there's no relief valve. You're playing a tournament, you got five or six guys on the team, depending on the tournament. You're playing four. Scores count like your guys need you. You can't melt down. Right?
Really starting a business the way I did, it was exactly that. I was on my own, and nobody was going to come save me. I say that, but when I decided to buy my first actual work vehicle, I did borrow $10,000 from my uncle, which I paid back before I paid back my credit card debt. Really? Because I think that stuff like that's important. But he helped me buy a used van, and he helped me buy a software package, and that was key right there. But that's really for better or worse.
And I talked to a lot of people that run businesses far more complex than I about financing and all that kind of stuff, and it's not something that we've ever really done. I mean, I think in part informed by my very bad experience with revolving debt. I've really tried to stay away from that, other than a $10,000 loan that I got maybe three months in.
Brian Harbin: Yeah, well, and one of the challenges, too, it's like, especially with a young business, you got to spend money to make money. And that constant decision of like, okay, well, is this equipment good enough to get me through three months, or should I invest, or should I hire somebody, or should I outsource this particular thing so I can focus on bringing more business? You're always kind of going through that mentality.
So tell us, early on or even into the years of the business, was there a particular time where you hit a wall and then how you overcame that, or anytime that you hit a really tough decision and how you overcame that?
Josh Kennedy: Wow! We've been fortunate, really, along the way. I would say that the toughest part of the last 15 years from a business and personal, likely personal perspective, was the onset of COVID and dealing with an employee centric business where no one knew what was going on. People were afraid to come to work. People were afraid to have us in their homes. We had portions of our business that just basically vanished overnight, and there was a lot of uncertainty about just what the financial picture looked like at a macro level.
And in my business, that was time to get in there early every morning, and we put in place all these different protocols, and the fact that we're not a large corporation, it's the same mentality where nobody else is going to do it. You have to step up and make sure that things get done. Your bills are getting paid, your people are getting paid, they're getting taken care of, all that kind of stuff. That, to me, was by far the toughest time. To me, what gets you through situations like that is I look at it like, you know, just put your nose down and, you know, look up in a year or two and see where you're at.
Brian Harbin: Yeah, I was going to ask, too, because you guys have sense and maybe kind of explain to our listeners the different services that you guys offer, and I'm guessing it kind of naturally evolves over the course of time. You're there to do one service, and they're like, hey, can you do this? And you're like, part of you is like, no, but I can figure out how to. Right? And you just launched another business inside of it. So kind of walk us through all the different services you got.