Musician and Owner of Essential Systems Solutions and The Logo Shack
Y’all know me – Entrepreneur, business owner, musician, and now covid-forced-home-based basement painter.
The music for this episode is original music of Michael’s band – The Bad Influence Band!
Learn more about Michael
weTHRIVE Episode 5 Transcript
Casey Clark (00:00):
Hi everyone. And thank you for joining us on the, we thrive podcast, where we share stories from entrepreneurs around the world about how they’re creating an impactful legacy. I’m your host, Casey Clark founder and chief growth officer of C Clark consulting. And today I’ll be interviewing Michael tach who owns the logo shack essential system solutions and as a member of the bad influence band. So welcome, Michael, thank you for joining us.
Michael Tash (00:29):
Thanks for having me.
Casey Clark (00:30):
Absolutely. So tell us a little about yourself.
Michael Tash (00:35):
Well, I am from Maryland. I was born in silver spring. I live right down the street in Germantown now, and I own a couple of businesses in Frederick. Like you said, essential systems solutions. We that one we sell and service point of sale systems, credit card processing, any kind of technology, basically that involves money processing, any kind of transactional stuff in restaurants and retail. Other company is called the logo shack where we’d basically make any kind of crap with your name on it. Shirts, pens doing a lot of hand sanitizers and masks right now. And then prior to March 13th, I used to fly around the country, playing a guitar and not so much anymore more stuck home spending way too much time, not playing a guitar, not flying around.
Casey Clark (01:39):
I definitely can understand that. So how long have you been playing the guitar?
Michael Tash (01:46):
Over 40 years go I formed the band hard to believe. I formed the band in 1988 and it’s been the same four of us since 1993. Bad influence, bad.com pick up shit.
Casey Clark (02:01):
That is awesome. I love it. I’m a music lover so I can definitely appreciate it. Awesome. So as you, now, our podcast is called week thrive. So I’m curious to know what does thriving mean to you?
Michael Tash (02:17):
To me it basically means looking forward to whatever comes your way. Just waking up in the morning and thinking, you know, it’s going to be a great day, no matter what happens. Whether it’s, you know, a zoom meeting, whether it’s playing a gig, whether it’s meeting with customers or just doing whatever it is that you do, it’s, it’s, it’s kinda like an attitude. You know, I think about it, my partner this guy named Jason Thompson, he and I have been working together for well over 25 years now. And, you know, he’s my business partner in all the companies and with us, it’s just kind of an attitude of, we want to make sure everybody we are working with that they’re taken care of whether it’s an employee, whether it’s a customer, whatever that relationship is.
Casey Clark (03:14):
That’s awesome. And I know earlier in a little chit chat, you had shared that you have not laid off anyone during this whole pandemic. So it sounds like you’re really making sure people are taken care of
Michael Tash (03:26):
We’ve actually, I think right now we are one employee ahead of where we were in March. So that was the goal. When this, when this whole mess first started, we talked about it’s like, we’re going to do whatever we can to not lose any employees over this.
Casey Clark (03:48):
That’s awesome. Yeah, definitely glad to hear that. So outside of COVID-19, what obstacles have you faced just in your lifetime that have kind of prevented you from thriving?
Michael Tash (04:01):
Probably the same as most people really, you know, financial obstacles and then people just saying, well, you, you can’t do that. And you know, I had this conversation, it’s funny because I was asked this a different way, but I had this conversation with a friend of mine not too long ago. And some of us are really good when I don’t know if it’s competition or spite or what, but when someone says, well, you can’t do that. I’m like, well, you know, maybe we can. And with us, the company, one of the biggest obstacles that we really came up against with Jason and I, we were working for another company. This goes back years. And in 2011, I was at playing a show in Chicago and got a message that our company that we work for is closing next month. And we’re all fired.
Michael Tash (05:07):
And I would call that an obstacle and he had a couple conversations. Jason and I decided to start a new company. We were both vice presidents of this previous company. And we’re like, you know what? We can’t let at that time, it was, I think 28 employees, we can’t let 28 employees lose their job. So we are gonna start a new company. We’re going to hire all the employees and we’re going to go for it. And that was December of 2011. Keep in mind we had zero money, none. We have, I had the relationships with the customers and Jason was the operations guy. So we went and talked to the existing customers, told them what was happening and got two of the customers to basically prepay us for three months of services. And that made our first payroll and the rest is history. And we still have, I would say 80% of those people are still with us from, from day one.
Casey Clark (06:13):
Wow. Wow. And that was back in 2011.
Michael Tash (06:17):
That was 2011. And the other company, the logo Shaq really started because we were working for this other company and we saw the writing on the wall that things might not go that well when we started the logo shack as a plan B and basically the office of the logo shack and the warehouse was the front porch of my house at that time. And then we would we would get boxes and, you know, would show up. And I remember at the time my wife would be pissed because she’d get home from work and there would be, you know, piles of boxes blocking the door. That being said we moved to the new location and well, I’ll put it this way. Next week is the 10 year anniversary of the leather jacket. So it went from a plan B and now you have it.
Casey Clark (07:20):
That is awesome. And I’ll have to give you a little plug. I just ordered something from you guys for the first time last week. And Katie was amazing. Just very efficient, fast response. Yeah. So definitely glad to be a customer of yours.
Michael Tash (07:35):
Casey Clark (07:38):
Yeah. So tell us a little bit more about some of the resources that you’ve used to help you and your business thrive.
Michael Tash (07:47):
I would say the, the biggest resource really is just growing a network and it’s not one person in particular. It’s really just talking to everybody and something that I kind of learned a long time ago, that I keep in mind is, you know, having some sort of plan, whatever your, whatever it is you’re trying to do, might not. It might be, you know, growing a business, it might be landscaping your property, whatever, having a plan and talking to other people about it. The more people you talk to, two things happen, you know, you learn about them. They learn about you are you grow a network and those people will want to help you. It’s crazy that everybody is kind of working on a plan, whether they know it or not, and it’s either their own or yours and there’s really no other option. So that being said, the more you talk to people and ask for help and tell them what you’re trying to do, most people are going to help you. You’d be surprised.
Casey Clark (08:52):
Yeah, absolutely. Can you share with the,
Michael Tash (08:56):
Is that like the valleys?
Casey Clark (08:58):
Exactly. It’s not really loud. I can hear them slightly, but it’s not an interruption. Yeah. It must be Wednesday one day.
Michael Tash (09:07):
Yeah. It’s going to get louder in a minute or two, probably. So let me know if you if you need to stop and we can pause it cause I can see them on the mower.
Casey Clark (09:17):
Okay. Sounds good. Thank you. All right. So let’s see. Let’s see. I forgotten what you said that I was going to use the lead in.
Michael Tash (09:27):
We were talking about resources that helped me thrive.
Casey Clark (09:31):
Yes. And you have mentioned people helping you. Alright, go for it.
Michael Tash (09:39):
As far as resources go. The other thing too, that, that I’ve learned over the years is always, you know, we work with a lot of local professionals, so we try to keep, you know, our accountant, lawyer banking any of the professional stuff that we do, we like to do local because you have the personal relationship with someone, you have someone to call. There’s a huge value in being able to call a banker versus calling an 800 number for a bank. And I mean, that’s probably one of the best resources that’s out there.
Casey Clark (10:25):
Yeah. I would absolutely agree with that. Awesome. So do you have any plans for creating something bigger than what you’ve already created? Do you have a particular type of legacy that you’d like to leave for people?
Michael Tash (10:43):
You know, it’s funny, I hadn’t really, I hadn’t really thought about that till you sent me that question. And you know, I look at it a couple of different ways on the business side. You know, want to make sure our people are taken care of, you know, our employees. We always try to promote people within and you know, I’d love to have it where our company is big enough that basically, you know, someone else’s running it with the same love and attention that, that we have. And that, that cares the same way. And, you know, judging by the fact that we have people who have, who we’ve been working together for, you know, 20 years, that kind of, that kind of shows. Katie, who you mentioned is, you know, she fits in, she’s been there for years already and she’s just part of the family.
Michael Tash (11:38):
And she’ll tell you, I told her when we hired her people either stayed for a couple months or they never leave. And, and it’s kinda true with our company. I’m proud of that culture. I’m proud that when we have a company picnic or something like that, almost everybody goes, you know how that no one wants to go to their company picnic, no one wants to bring their family, but I’ve got, I’ve got people who come to the picnic and they bring, you know, seven people from their family. I mean, to me that pulls me away. I’m on the customer side, you know, one of the things that, that we do and that we want to make sure, you know, we want to be known for and, and have the customers talk about is how we help them make their lives easier and better. We show them ways of being more efficient through technology and, you know, when it comes down to it, we’re in business to help them with their business.
Michael Tash (12:33):
So we show them how to make more profit, not just make more money. And, you know, I like to educate some of our customers that way, because it’s not always making more money or making more sales that does it. You can make the same or less, but if you’re more profitable that that changes their lives and that, and then on the music side one of the things that, that I did a long time ago was I learned about endorsement deals. So if you look at our band website, it kind of looks like NASCAR because we have a relationship with the companies for everything that we play. And we actually play the gear that we have the endorsement deals with. And one of the things that’s really cool. I played Epiphone guitars, which are relatively inexpensive in the scheme of things and the guitar that I play.
Michael Tash (13:29):
You know, you can go to guitar center and buy for $500. And the thing I love about that is inspiring people. If they come out to one of our shows and they like what I’m doing, or you bring your kid, who’s a teenager who wants to play music and they like what we’re doing for 500 bucks, they can play and get the same guitar that I’m playing. Not that it’s me as some guitar hero or anything like that, but I’m playing professionally, I’m up on stage getting paid to do it. And it’s not a $3,000 piece of equipment. It’s very attainable for people. And I take a lot of pride in that, that you can, you know, come see what I do and just get encouraged to play music. I mean, there are so many people who are younger, who I just don’t understand it. Cause when I was a kid, all I ever wanted to do was play a guitar. But there’s a lot of kids who don’t understand that part and they think music is free and it just comes out of a computer. And it’s, it’s pretty cool to be able to play a show somewhere where it’s an all ages show and you see little kids dancing and you see teenagers who are like, wow, you know, I can do that.
Casey Clark (14:39):
Yeah. That’s awesome. Very inspiring. Pretty cool. Yeah, absolutely. So tell me about some nuggets that you have, or maybe musicians or people who are in business that can help them, you know, keep thriving and to create a legacy of their own.
Michael Tash (14:58):
I will tell you one of the things I don’t know where, who told me this might’ve been my grandparents, but the number one thing spend less than you make. It sounds simple, but you know, that’s, that’s a good one. I, I kind of believe, you know, do what you like to do and it will drive you where you’re supposed to be. For me, I started off in this whole POS world back in the late eighties and I started off going into McDonald’s restaurants to install POS systems. And I learned, I wasn’t very good at that. I was much better at the talking part than I was at the installing part. And, you know, I learned, you know, just talking to people and the more people I talked to, the more business I get and it just, it just kinda works that way.
Michael Tash (15:56):
And I use an example all the time, if you’re a sales person and all you do is look at your commissions, you’re never going to make any money and you’re never going to make any sales. But if you don’t look at the commission and just do what you’re supposed to do and talk to people that that commission number will go up. So, you know, there, there are my nuggets on the, on the music side. One of the things I remember hearing, I don’t listen to said it. I think it was Johnny winter, who, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Johnny winter, but he started off, he used to play guitar with muddy waters and old blues guy. And one of the things they said was never turned anything down and it’s different now, because there, there are a lot of bands that are out there that will just go out and, you know, they’ll, they’ll tell a club at our, what we’ll play, you know, just give us beer and that, you know, I don’t, I don’t agree with that. That kind of undervalues, the, the value of live music. That being said, the more you play, the more music you play, the more you play with other people, the better you get, the more experience you get. And it’s the same with business. The more you do it, the more you talk to people, the more you share stuff. And the more you get in business situations where you’re not always comfortable, the more you learn in the more you grow.
Casey Clark (17:30):
Yeah, absolutely. I can definitely agree with that.
Michael Tash (17:36):
I laugh now because, you know, when I was in my early twenties, I never thought I would, you know, live in a house alone or have a car, or know, never even imagined owning a business or anything else. I thought, you know, I would live in a house with roommates or in a van just driving around the country, playing music. And it’s just funny where, you know, where life takes you and how you just naturally go certain ways. And it’s, it’s just it’s interesting.
Casey Clark (18:17):
It is, but it seems like you really enjoy everything that you do.
Michael Tash (18:22):
I tried to, I mean, you know, it’s a little bit, it’s a little bit challenging now with just with the, the constraints that are out there and business wise, it’s been really tough because most of our customers are restaurants. And, you know, since March restaurants that really suffered and really had to adapt and really had a change. And, you know, I I’m proud because we were able to help. And we were able to help transform restaurants who were, you know, a, a sit down type of restaurant where you come in for lunch, or you’re coming with a family for dinner to being able to order their food online and come out to the curb and hand it to you. And they, they weren’t able to do that and never thought they could do that before. And, you know, we’ve shown people how to do that.
Michael Tash (19:18):
We’ve shown people how to be more efficient and then really what’s, what’s amazing on the logo shop side, because again, literally it is just it’s crap with your name on it. You don’t think about it too much, but it’s really important on the branding side, because no matter what it is, if you’re the kind of business that uses a pen, you should have your name on the parents. I use guitar kids. And one of my businesses, I have my name on the guitar picks. But one of the things that Katie did, that’s been really successful is showing hand sanitizer and other things for weddings and people are committing. So instead of doing other types of favors, you know, she has little hand sanitizer bottles that have the bride and the groom and the date, and it says, spread love, not germs.
Michael Tash (20:18):
Who would have thought that you would be giving guests at a wedding, personalized bottles for hand sanitizer. If I told you a year ago, you’d be like, that’s the craziest thing I ever heard. Yeah, absolutely. And it’s just, that’s a great way to adapt and, and turn it into a positive situation because not only, you know, from our business point of view, it’s, it’s nice, but on the wedding guests, that’s a pretty cool thing to get. It’s, it’s something that your actual you, your actual years.
Casey Clark (20:58):
Yeah, absolutely. I love how your businesses, like you said, you would never have thought a year ago, but then too, it’s like they have this ripple effect and it’s creating lasting memories for everyone, not just your direct customer.
Michael Tash (21:13):
It is. And, and it’s changed because we’re doing like masks for, you know, right now in production. I have masks for a family for a bar mitzvah. I have masks or a restaurant. I have bandanas that we’re doing for another band. And now it’s just a thing. And, you know, you can buy masks everywhere and it’s just part of daily life. And, you know, I, would’ve never imagined that in the past. It’s just, I wouldn’t have thought we would be, you know, making face masks, but it, if that’s what the customer wants, that’s what we’ll do.
Casey Clark (22:02):
I love it. I love it. Well, would you like to leave us with any other burning thoughts that you might have?
Michael Tash (22:13):
I think this is pretty cool what you’re doing, interviewing people, and it’s, it’s always great talking to other business owners. I mean, you and I could have talked for another hour before we started recording, because even though business wise, our, our product for lack of a better word, has nothing to do with each other. It’s the same process. And we have the same challenges. We have the same problems. A lot of times we don’t even realize it, but we have the same solution. You just change a word or two and you, you can always learn. I like being the middle guy in the room. I don’t want to have the biggest business. I don’t want to have the smallest business. I want to be kind of the guy in the middle because a lot of times the ideas are coming from, well, a lot of times the ideas are coming from the little guys. It’s not the big guys. And it’s like, wow, that was, that was a pretty good idea. And, you know, you just kind of share it and collaborate. And the best part about it is most of the time, there’s no reason to be threatened or, or anything is just, you know, my success can be your success or vice versa.
Casey Clark (23:35):
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah.
Michael Tash (23:39):
That’s the, that’s the beauty of it. Plus with zoom, you know, we can be doing this any time you don’t, you know, you don’t have to schedule that drive somewhere to talk. And I think that’s changed things for me and for our business a little bit, just being able to talk to people and where before you were on the phone or it was via email now, when you’re looking at someone face to face, it’s a little bit better.
Casey Clark (24:11):
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think you bring up some great points about, you know, attitude being kind of the base for everything. And it sounds like you’ve had a great attitude through all of this and that you’ve really adjusted and acclimated to things and that things are still thriving well for you. Well, I’m happy to have you as a part of the Frederick community and to see you help others thrive in the area as well. So thank you for being our guest and I look forward to seeing you around when we’re able to be in person.
Michael Tash (24:54):
That sounds good. Thanks so much.