CCU’s Early Beginnings, Struggles, Porta-Johns, and More with Cren and AJ

CCU's Early Beginnings, Struggles, Porta-Johns, and More with Cren and AJ
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[00:00:00] Who do you want to thank first karen about allowing you to be on this podcast today? Oh, man. I gotta thank aj vargas with Custom canine limited the best ceo the best of the best company not only in the southeast but Not only in the nation, but worldwide because they’re a global canine provider global.

That’s pretty good. That’s pretty good. Keep that in there. Yeah, not a sponsor. Not a sponsor. Maya is somewhere towards the North Pole. Yeah, I’m on his background.

My Crenium makeup looks good. Glad to see that. Oh, yeah. Yeah. I like the gray. It’s, peppered inside of there. Or is that, did you do that? No, that’s, that’s all natural. Okay. It’s all [00:01:00] natural. I do have my phone propped up against the laptop. So I do have some light hitting me in the face. So, which accentuates the grayness of my beard.

Yeah, it looks very good. especially this time of year. Just it pops. Yeah, it does. It makes me feel joyous and jolly. Well, jolly is not because of the beard. I can assure you that. No, it’s it’s the belly. , well, we’re certainly glad to have you. you know, we tried a couple of times, but your secretary hasn’t been able to get us on the right page. So I’m glad that we made it to this point because we actually have you on and you were early. So that’s that’s an awesome.

Yep, I was definitely early. Yeah, I was actually early the last time we tried to So I’m turning over a new [00:02:00] leaf AJ. I like it Maya keeps us all on the same page.

So She just happened to be Late today, right? My not, not late per se. We had to reschedule. My nephew had his little , Christmas program at church. So he was a camel. He was a cute camel.

 YEah. Did, Pigpen go? No, Pigpen acted like he wanted to go, but it wasn’t. In reality, he was saying that, but in the same time wishing somebody would say no, please. Don’t go. You stink.

You can’t go. You can’t go. There’s no way. You got to get prepared a week ahead of time and start taking baths first. Yeah, I mean, you’ve, yeah, are you talking about Simon? They’re a different person. Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, big fan. Yeah, you can’t. We went nameless for a reason, now we’ve released his name to the masses No, we’ll [00:03:00] just cut his name out. . I want you to go beep Yeah, every time we say Simon just beep it,

hey, can we get to the show? The last time this happened, Crene got nervous. So nervous. At the last meeting that he choked. And, we had to pull out two pounds of cheese from his throat, , I get nervous doing these kind of things, you know,

What sign would one give if they were choking? How would they tell others that they were choking? You know, I’ve never thought much about that. Maybe grab the throat? I don’t know. Okay. That’s the only thing I can think of. Wrong. The correct answer is slap the table and look crazy. Because that’s what I did. No, I thought he was giving a laugh as a mime would. And so I thought he enjoyed all the jokes. No, apparently not. I was just dying. And at what point did they realize. What was happening when I reached down my [00:04:00] own throat and grabbed about four pounds of cheese and started pulling it out?

The proverbial choke at the meeting. Yeah, we didn’t get that contrast No, I’ve messed up a quite a few I think

Yeah, it didn’t go well, but anyway it did teach us a lot Apparently, there’s two universal forms of jump choking, but now that we know that we’ll run to your rescue. So uH, Cren, welcome to the source, everything working dogs. And now that I’ve gotten you thoroughly loosened up and Maya understanding the reasons why, there’s so many stories , I think we’re going to enjoy ourselves for this next hour or two or three. Okay.

Well, or as long as my phone holds out, that’s right.

Kind of going back to the beginning, [00:05:00] right? Crene, like, there’s, there’s a lot of things that people don’t know about us, you know, especially if they haven’t been around us for a while. In a period of time, right?

And you’ve been kind of gone for two years. So like, a couple of the other guys are lost at times when we joke and play around, , so it’s good. It’s good in the sense that, they get brought in at the most opportune times to hear stories and things of that nature. So you have about 22 seconds to tell your life story and, to introduce yourself.

Okay. Well,, I guess first I’ll introduce, how I come to know you, AJ. I guess it was back in 2004 or

five. I, for whatever reason, got hired on it at a police department that you were already working at, and, , began a career there. And, You know, through that time, unfortunately got assigned to your shift where not only was I going to meet one of my best friends, but, , one of the people that I love to plot on the most, [00:06:00] so, , you know, I remember, probably one of the very first, , times that I ever, I guess, got to know you , was basically a hazing, when you, called me up.

I’m out. It’s not a hazing. Okay, that’s a word that other people have given it. Okay, amazing. Alright, when I earned when I earned the right to be a part of the shift, we’ll say that they, was worthy. Yeah. Yeah.

We were on night shift. I had just finished a shadow phase, off FTO. So I was brand spanking new. And I remember you called you. And , we met, , somewhere in town, you said, hey, come meet with me over here. So I met you and there was like two or three other guys there.

 and I got out of my patrol car and you asked me if I wanted to take a bite from your dog. You don’t remember this? Of course I remember that. [00:07:00] All right. Yeah. There are certain things you can’t admit. Oh, yeah. Yeah. I remember it was a hazing. Oh, that’s right. That’s right. Yeah. Well, statute of limitations is up, I’m sure.

Okay. All right. But yeah, you asked if I want to take a bike from your dog and and I’m there to impress so I said And the instruction that you gave me was put this coat on and run that way. That was it Straight to the point. Yep. It was not to give you a lot to think about because your world was going to change So yeah, I want you to give you a lot to think about and you would Yeah, I was brand new.

So I put the coat on and I don’t know why it never crossed my mind, you know, like so many new decoys and new handlers are getting in a suit Well, what if he bites my legs? I I guess I was so new or so dumb that I didn’t even think about that I didn’t even know, bike pants were a thing. So I put on the coat and I take off running [00:08:00] into the dark and then probably about, , five seconds later, my whole world turned upside down as I ate grass.

 I gotta say when I stood up, I had nothing to compare it to and. The only thing I could hear through the night, , was your laughter and everybody else’s laughter as , I can’t even stand up. So y’all came down, helped me stand up and, it was so dumb that I decided to do it again because you said, Hey, you want to do it again?

And I said, sure. And we just kept going., I guess I thought. Man, , that’s pretty cool. The rest is, I mean, well, you see it, rest of it is, has been good history, so.

Yeah, we think back on all these stories, and that’s what’s crazy as you go through, and I said this even at the memorial for Obie,, you began to recollect all these, stories, right, and they’re so clear. Like, I can’t remember what I did last week, but I can tell you what we did in training [00:09:00] 18 years ago,

so the great thing about us being on now is that we’re going to tell a lot of stories and a lot of stories that probably the only ones that are going to really remember what these stories are about are us. We fast forward a couple years and we’re sitting in a restaurant on Sunday morning, which we always did when we had to work the weekend and we just happen to be on day shift at the time. And, I went to you and I said, Hey man, I’m about to go pro all you down.

And, what did you say? I said, let’s do it. Right. Which was the beginning of what we thought was a CCU, right? Little did we know. Well, you know, our thing was we were going to get prepared for this. Like we were going to get our stuff together. All right, we got to work towards getting ready to leave the PD and it took about six months from that point to the time that I actually left and , we went through a lot of [00:10:00] planning when you say, oh, yeah.

Yeah. I remember we had a probably a pretty nice size notebook full of of plans. I remember I’d go meet with you when I was off and, we would sit down and we would basically. Dissect the world, we would dissect the business, and we would do a lot of planning, you know, really not even knowing what to plan for, but just.

 had some big dreams. I think one of the funniest things, , coming from that was when we had our, basically a price list of, of everything we’re going to have at our facility. And we’re looking at opening a multi million dollar facility with, basically. Your checkbook and mine.

I don’t know where all the rest of the money is going to come from, but hey, we’re about to blow this thing up. And, we’re going to have the nicest, [00:11:00] facility in the world. And it ended up being an outdoor kennel and an outbuilding. Yeah. And we were really struggling to have that.

Oh, don’t forget the Porta John. That’s right, but that didn’t come until later because we had to get money to get it moved onto the property as well. When we first broke ground, which was probably one of the most exciting days, of my life was when we broke ground and actually saw things that we had been planning for and hoping for.

Have a beginning like, , the, the first. A little bit of dirt that was moved was like groundbreaking, literally groundbreaking. you know, I remember when we put a little driveway in on that dirt road and we were like, man, we got a driveway. We got a mailbox. I think it’s funny that it all began with pushing a little dirt and maybe pooping in a five gallon bucket when we had to, but [00:12:00] just, I mean, to me, that was one of the coolest things was when all of our planning, even though it didn’t equal out to what all we had hoped for, but we’re now we’re in a place where we’re pushing some dirt.

 Well, you know, that’s crazy. Cause we look back at it now and like, you have so many people that we have an opportunity to talk with, or, try to help that are trying to start out in this industry and everybody wants to make these big plans and how much do I need to have in my checking account or what kind of loan do I need to get?

We literally started with nothing. Like, we literally, like, we’re, prayer. And just trying to stay focused on just taking one step forward each day and just knowing what we wanted to do. And at the end of the day, that’s where this all started, with nothing. [00:13:00] We can talk about a bunch of adversity, which I don’t think we really need to get into now, at least not on this episode, but I think it’s important that people know is like.

If you’re going to follow your dream, do it no matter what, like, don’t allow finances, don’t allow yourself to talk yourself out of it, just stay focused and I’ve said this a couple of times on another episode, but if it wasn’t for my family and them,

believing in me, especially my wife, that would have been a big hindrance. And that’s the same thing with you. Right. Yeah. Yeah. So I remember coming to my wife with the idea, and, I wasn’t met with, but what if this, and, we are had our first child and then we were about to have our second, from the day I resigned, turning my resignation letter, we found out we were pregnant with kid number two, but my wife never batted an eye. She was like, yeah, well, let’s do it. As you were talking a minute ago, it kind of reminded me,[00:14:00] , I think people think that if they get started and are met with a little bit of resistance, that all of a sudden it’s a bad idea and, I’ve used the analogy many times before, but.

But I’ll use it in this because I think it, it made the difference for us. It made us appreciate, what we had started and what it is today. At CCU, but, you know, I heard about a study that was done. , in the poultry industry where they took, a dozen eggs here and a dozen eggs here, they had a control group, and then the control group, they did not assist the hatching of the eggs, in any way.

 They incubated the eggs and let the natural process take place. And the other group, they pretty much assisted. the hatching of eggs. So when the chick went to break through, they went ahead and started peeling the egg back and all those things and help the bird out. what was kind of interesting is the eggs [00:15:00] that the chicks had to struggle to get out.

were healthier and lived longer than the ones that had all of the assistance, the ones that had it done for them. because what the scientists had figured out was them struggling, helped , pump their blood, help them clear their lungs, help them, do all these things naturally that they needed to do survive when the other group.

Because it was done for them, didn’t have that opportunity and they were unhealthy or died. And I think for us, starting in a recession, we built a business in the middle of a recession, , we did face some naysayers. I know that there were some people that would love to have seen us fail, , It was that struggle that really made it what it is today.

 If we had just inherited, , already a great facility, already a great business plan, , I don’t know if we would still be here today. At least I don’t know if we would have appreciated the process. that that is now,[00:16:00] what it is today.

 We both had support, with our families and we got to struggle through some things. And I think it not only made us better individually, but made the business better. Yeah, that’s 100%. I mean, wow, I couldn’t even believe that came out of your mouth right now. That was really profound.

Absolutely. Right. And a great analogy, especially for those that are listening, that. Or about to go through that or teetering on that line or whether they’re going to take that step or not. I often say, if I know, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have never done it. Like ever, because it’s darn hard, man.

And so, when you think back to that time and I know it’s a while ago, but it’s like, I can remember my first day not having a job and being at the kennel with nothing like, okay, what do I do? I own a business now and I’m supposed to be doing this and I [00:17:00] don’t have a job to go to. So I have no choice.

I’ve got to do something, looking back at that moment, when you decided that you were going to leave law enforcement to start CCU, can you give us some insight on like, what were you thinking? Did you really truly understand what you were getting into?

No, not at all. Not at all. There was definitely ideas. And maybe, I was a lot younger than, maybe I was naive to think that failure could be an option for us. But it never crossed my mind, , I had a lot of faith in, in you and in your leadership.

So I mean, I was like, well, if AJ thinks we can do it, we can do it. You know? It never crossed my mind that we would fail. But, again, being young and dumb may have saved it

 I was like man, this is gonna be great. I’m just gonna train dogs all day Well when we started we didn’t even have any dogs to train[00:18:00] I know one of the things that we had talked about was looking at the industry and where the industry was failing law enforcement.

 Where the industry was failing, handlers and we just thought we can do it better. And, that was enough to motivate me. To say, let’s do it because I thought the same thing. . I had no idea what I was getting into. My idea was we’re going to train dogs. We’re going to have a good time and we’re going to make it work.

Yeah. It’s funny that you say that because I had that field of dreams attitude where if we build it, they will come right. We quickly found out that wasn’t the truth. Talk about what Google did to us.

That’s a whole nother episode. How to get off the Google blacklist. We were spamming everybody. We were scraping for [00:19:00] a program. Like I scraped up 10 bucks to pay for a program that would scrape email addresses for me. , And then me and Crenn we had a thing that we had to contact 10 people a day each.

And on Friday, we would be sitting there and contacting people and I’m like, we’re not leaving until we contact these people. Call your wife, tell her you’re not going home. We got to work late tonight. Yeah. But we were doing that seven days a week, man, like kennels. Training spamming like we were doing it seven days a week just trying to kickstart this thing.

 We had, we had no clue at all what we were doing. , when it became real for me. Was when our first shipment of dogs came, when we were able to, to get that first shipment of dogs, I think what we have six dogs or seven dogs.

I’m like that to come in. We had like a PH one on [00:20:00] the our very first. what was that dog’s name? Renzo Renzo, you know, so we had a great dog coming out the gate. A title dog coming out the gate. We had a, some really good dogs coming in and I was like, man, this is awesome. Now we can actually do some because I’m not good at sitting in front of the computer spamming folks.

I remember letting Renzo run around as we were building the kennel and run around with us and hang out with us all day and he was like the coolest dog because he didn’t go anywhere. He was social, but yet we could put the bite suit on and catch some hellacious bites from them and go right back to work if we had to and he’d be fine just hanging out with us.

I’ve got a lot of fond memories of that dog. He was a heck of a dog. Yeah, he was Those listening, they’re thinking about, well, and I get this question all the time.

Chambers, one of the students that just graduated a couple of weeks ago, he was talking about that, like, where do I start? The [00:21:00] thing was, I was just a researcher. Like I had no idea we had no money we had, I couldn’t pay anybody to do it for us.

So we just had to research. And back then internet was scarce . It’s not like it is now. we just figured it out and we just navigated the best way we could. It’s crazy to know where we came from through that. Like it’s so crazy. And the crazy thing is that the one thing that I never told you was, was it was just as assuring to me that you were coming on and willing to take this leap with me and that’s what kind of motivated me to continue to push and strive to be better.

That’s what gave me the motivation to make sure that we didn’t fail, beyond anything else. Like, I can’t because Kareem believes in me. ,

 You know, we had each other we kept things like, , we always were playing pranks on each other and, making that work environment fun,

 And so now when you look when you look back at all that [00:22:00] or is there anything that you wish that we would have done differently coming up?

Yeah. So just just thinking about that I don’t know if there’s anything we could have done differently, even if I wanted to. I feel like we utilize what we had, which was not a lot. We both worked in our strengths and had to grow in some weaknesses starting out. You know, how we struggled to build a business was probably one of the greatest struggles, and I’m sure you’ve heard people say, there isn’t a success story without a struggle that precedes it, and we made what we had worked work, I think is part of the story that I wouldn’t want to change.

 I mean, I’m just thinking about things that we used to get excited about that people don’t get excited about.

I remember when we first got those lockers, you know, We found somebody giving away these lockers and we were just like, this is great, man. [00:23:00] Now we can search dope on lockers and it was lockers, but for us it was an extension of more training that we can provide, another avenue of service that we could provide.

Just something as simple as lockers, and I think the excitement we got out of going and picking those up and setting those up and just as simple as they were. Made it a better experience. I don’t think there’s anything that I would change. You know, I often think the same thing.

Yes, we could have wanted a whole lot more, but I think about the potential of so many failures. As an example, what if we had an abundance of money in a budget? We would have blown that arbitrarily and really not invested in our business.

And it would have taught us to be a good steward to what we had and to invest that money. Then I think about, you remember when we met with Morsock and we had the [00:24:00] potential to get this huge contract and we were in the final runnings to that.

I look back now, we didn’t even have proper project management set up. We would have failed the first month at that project because we had none of the resources that we really needed. I’m glad we grew the way that we grew and through the struggles and the successes that we had, because every opportunity was an opportunity for us to learn from, and we did it at a pace that we could keep up without being a detriment to quality. when we did start taking on some of those little by little, like when we did a deal for, a series of, concerts where, A dog was donated to a veteran. I think that that fell at just the right time. , but, I think those smaller things. Teaches you how to manage something else that could come up that that may be a little heftier. And, you’re right. If we would have taken on [00:25:00] something huge in the beginning, we probably would have fell flat on our face.

Just to have a little bit of restraint early on when we were starting things, some restraint. You know, fire is great. It offers warmth. It offers light. But if fire is not controlled. Then it’s dangerous. It’s the same thing with our passion. we were passionate about the industry, passionate about our dogs, passionate about putting out a good product.

 If we weren’t protecting that, we could have burned ourselves down to the ground. We had a lot of good ideas, and I think things came up at just the right time that let us kind of show some restraint, protect our passion a little bit, and as things little by little came in stretching us a little bit, those were well timed, and I think it gave us some positive exposure,

 Everybody wants that huge contract and I hear it all the time. I had a student just a couple of months ago that was telling me that, Oh, I’m going to do this, my partner [00:26:00] knows this person and that person, and I had to finally tell them, Hey man, believe me, I’m not trying to kill your dreams. One thing I’m going to tell you is. That’s not reality, right? . I think too, a lot of these new trainers that are coming out and have dreams of building a successful business in the canine world. One of the things that we teach them is we won’t put a baby at the top of the stairs and expect the baby to make it down safely.

 Because there’s a process to everything, baby’s got to learn how to crawl, then they got to learn how to stand, then they got to learn how to walk. And even when they learn how to walk, they’re not ready for stairs yet. There’s a process in place, a natural process that has to take place before you’re ready for certain things, and so having a great idea, like I can look at a baby and say, one day this kid’s gonna, , run around and play outside, but it would be insane for me to expect that baby to just go out there [00:27:00] and do it at that time,

 Know when you should take that step and when you should just learn how to stand up the Lord must have been watching after us when, certain things came about that, , if we would have stepped into.

Would have fallen on our face, but, we got to see the process.

And some of that we didn’t do on purpose. So, yeah, you wouldn’t hear and be like, oh, look at us. Absolutely not. I’m, I’m telling you some things. Was done by accident. However, looking back now and being able to give advice and allow people to learn from our experience, which is something we pride ourselves on.

 We’re telling you take those baby steps and learn and get comfortable and then grow a little bit more and more and more. And to AJ, not to cut you off, but. Just because one business does it doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. Early on, we had to do some things to [00:28:00] survive.

And one of those things I don’t know if you remember was when we did like little group obedience sessions on Saturday mornings, and a lot of places were doing that already. And we thought, well, if it works for them, it works for us. And it was really more headache than, than what it was worth, we found out.

And so, , when you have your idea and your model, it doesn’t mean you have to make it what someone else’s idea and model is. You can do your own thing. You just got to be ready for it.

There’s a lot of things that came about later that we pushed off and said, no, we’re not going to do them. And then later on, I think, dang, why didn’t we come up with this idea? So many years ago, like we had everything in place, but it just wasn’t the right timing.

 As we navigated through things, , definitely the Lord looked after us in more ways than we could ever count or even appreciate. however,[00:29:00] those things that you’re mentioning and giving these new, trainers this advice early on, because I wish somebody would have told us the reality of it.

Of course, we didn’t have anybody doing that. However, it really puts in perspective the fact that, like you said, it takes time to grow. It just doesn’t happen overnight and taking it slow and not rushing it, not trying to be where we are today. I hope one day somebody surpasses us, especially if it’s one of our students.

That’s the biggest joy that anybody could ever, I want to go to their facility and learn from them. I want to see what they’re doing and how many dogs and how many teams they’re teaching and training and the magnificent things they’re doing. And we have a lot of students that are doing that already.

Right. But I love to see that. Yeah, no, I think of people like Riggs who’s, killing it in his area. I mean, he’s putting out, teams, , people like that who’ve who found their own [00:30:00] way, , in the industry and , who are doing a great job with it in their area. Now, I’m like you , I would love to see.

 More students once they leave school, , with these big ideas, find a place, plant themselves in that place and become successful. , whether they maybe they only put out, , 2 or 3 teams a year, but that’s that could be huge. iF they’re putting out quality teams and that was really the mindset we have when we started was we can do it better.

We can put out quality teams. We can give quality training with a quality dog, give quality knowledge and put them out back out there in their department and let them just blow people’s minds. And we’ve got people that we’ve trained that, that are out there doing a business right now, that they’re doing that in their area.


If We look at the core and why we started what we’re doing, yeah, even though we said, okay, it’s a canine team, it’s a dog, it’s a handler. [00:31:00] We still take that same principle and we can put it with a trainer. We can put it with a kennel master. Now we can put it with this type of handler, that type of handler, not just with a law enforcement agency.

Now it’s with these other markets that we now have an opportunity to touch. And, but, but the real focus and the core of that was to never, ever take any shortcuts on what we were doing and how we were doing it, no matter what. And live up to that in every sense of the word. Yes. We understand nobody’s perfect.

And I say that all the time, but we should try darn well to be as perfect as we can and put ourselves in the client’s shoes., To provide the services that they expect. And we still today strive to do that every single day. And now we just have a bigger reach. We have more opportunity to help those.

Yeah, you’re right. It’s quite lonely, but, it was a lot of fun. Now I’m going to ask you [00:32:00] this and I’m going to tell everybody to plug their ears when you answer this because I’m going to ask you for one thing that you’re glad that we didn’t know when we first started that we now know, because that would have hindered us from probably even starting.


That’s a tough one for me like I think one thing was that there’s some crummy people out there, I think we had a little bit of an idea that we were just going to be supported so much, but the people that we heard the most were those who wanted to see us fail.

 We had far more many people cheering us on, but the ones that wanted to see us fail spoke louder than the multitudes of people that wanted to see us succeed. , you and I both went through some personal struggles , during that time early on. A lot of that had to deal with, we [00:33:00] knew there were people that that wanted to see us fail, I think the answer that I would have to say, I wish that, people who suck and want to see you fail.

I wish you didn’t hear them. Yeah, that’s, that’s great for someone that’s opening up a new business or just starting out, we’ve had some opportunity to work with some pretty famous people throughout our time, but it’s all the same sound, even with them, like there’s so many people that are doing well.

But there is so many people that want to see them fail as well, for no reason at all, other than, you know, people hate to see other people succeed, I guess, right? And, you know, telling these new trainers,, for me, the biggest thing was I gravitated more towards the Lord, and I kept my focus forward.

I didn’t look around me. I didn’t look behind me. Anybody can say anything they want to say about me. but I know my heart, I knew your heart and I knew that we were always doing the best [00:34:00] for that. And no matter what anybody else would say, I always knew that 100 percent of the time, we were always going to do what was in our heart and do the right thing as best we could.

Right. But you’re absolutely right. I told a trainer this, just last week, don’t worry about what’s going on around you.

Stay focused on where you’re heading and you’ll be all right. I promise you. Well, my grandfather, he was old school. He ran a farm and, you remember him? Old hardhead. And, up until the day he broke, he would plow with a mule, he had a He could plow a garden with, but he preferred to plow with mule and, what you said is, is exactly what he did, , and it makes a lot of sense, , if you want to plow straight rows, well, , you got to keep focused ahead of yourself, his rows were straight, and it was because he didn’t get distracted with things, , [00:35:00] he had that Pull pulling that plow.

He had both his hands on that plow and and he stayed focused and was able to have beautiful gardens, growing all sorts of things. tHat’s hard and in business to stay focused to keep looking at your goal and working toward that when you’ve got so many things that can distract you.

I mean, it’s funny that, that what we do in training, we don’t do in our life because we will put distractors out there for adult to get them over. But Lord, help us if a distraction comes our way we don’t want it. We wish there was never a distractor. But it’s just like with a dog.

It makes that dog better out there on the street. It makes that dog better in in their work because they’ve. Work through it. They’ve had to train through it. Distractions are going to come, but stay in focused is a great key. [00:36:00] Yeah, absolutely. Man, I’m going to say this now, if those that are listening right now or not, and haven’t been taking notes, I’m going to encourage you to go back and listen to these, these key things.

Cause now that I’ve vocalized those, as I hear the wisdom coming from Ukraine, I didn’t even know you were this wise, like, we’ve been together all this time and all this stuff was trapped inside that noggin all this time, and, it’s crazy to hear us vocalize this because we never have in the past.

We’ve never had these. types of conversations. Well, you know, I’ve never been accused of being very smart. You know, I have shining moments every once in a while. Well, you know, you did have a little bit of time to prep since you counseled three or four times . Well, I’m Going to get into just two other things and and kind of on the personal level because you did mention that we dealt with some things [00:37:00] personally, right?

Yeah. I’ve been a master through my time to separate my personal stuff, my personal life, and all that. With what I do in the business front. And a lot of that is the, the help I get from my wife. Like , she’s wonderful in that she’s actually paying me to say these kinds of things. But, at the same time, we’re not beyond being touched personally with this things going on in our lives and still having to deal with. The business side of it. So I’m going to ask you this and you can answer however you want to, but you should just speak a couple of moments. Because we all deal with personal stuff, but that may be going through some personal stuff or just may need some encouragement to, to really know that we all go through it.

Like it, that doesn’t change. And it’s how we deal with it in order to continue to push forward. We don’t quit. Again, we never had these conversations,

and some of it is [00:38:00] because I’ve avoided them like literally, I’m like, I’m not going to talk about this because it’s probably going to hurt me more than anything. But if we don’t talk about it, we can just slap each other with a leash, laugh, tell some jokes and push on. But if we talk about it, then we got to address it.

Right? So, if you don’t mind, just give us a little bit of insight. Well, I guess one thing that I would that I would share, even though I had 100 percent full support from my wife, I struggled a lot, early on when, you know, I’m, I’m draining my retirement to pay myself, because everything we made when it right back into the business.

And so I’m draining my retirement, because I wanted it to work. But when that retirement dwindled down. and we still weren’t really making anything. [00:39:00] Um, you know, it, it, it did bother me. Because as a husband, as a dad, I want to provide, you know, and, feeling like I’m not doing. I mean, I felt whatever I felt at work.

I knew I was doing it. a good job, you know, my, my dogs always look better than yours. Okay. Um, always I’ll, , so I knew I was doing a great job at work, but I felt like I was failing at home. And, you know, that’s one of the things that, that I tell people all the time, you can be successful everywhere else in life, but if you fail at home, you fail period.

If you, Because, you know, that’s where it matters. you know, you can, you can give your best at work, but if your house gets your leftovers, [00:40:00] You’re wrong. And I felt like early on, because I was, I think maybe because I was young, because I was, you know, driven to, to do this thing, whether I was making any money at it or not, there was a time where I realized I’m failing at home.

 I Remember kind of that day when Sandy came to me and says, we’ve gotta have some income. And I was like. I don’t know when that’s coming, like, you know, you and I both were still not, to a place where we could pay ourselves and, um, I remember that day, you know, and I remember, I was like, man, I said, Sandy, all right, I’ll talk to AJ when, when I get to work and I was like, dreadnought, I mean, how’s it going to pay me?

I mean, you know, and I remember having a conversation like, hey, uh, [00:41:00] When we gonna get paid, but, eventually things work to where there was some relief and we had some really good things. And like I said, I think those things were timed really well for us. Both. I think what I took out of that is, you know, personally, I was striving so much to make what we were doing.

Great that I forgot about my house. Yeah. Okay. And my wife got my leftovers. my baby got my leftovers. I was just depleted when, when I got home and I had nothing left to give. And, you know, I would encourage anybody who is venturing out on a task like, like maybe what we did in starting your own business and, and doing those things, just kind of keep in your back pocket.

If you fail at home, [00:42:00] you fail. You can run a multimillion dollar facility, you can put out, you know, 1200 dogs a year, um, you can have contracts with, all these government entities and, and do all these service dogs or do all these things, but when you get home, if your family does not know who you are, then you’ve lost.

And. You know, I think, I think that’s probably the biggest struggle that I had during the whole thing was realizing that I was giving so much at home, giving so little, you know, that’s, it’s crazy that you say that Kareem, because, from my perspective, just to kind of pull off what you’re saying.

And, and, and it’s going to sound like I disagree with you, but just hear me out first. Right. Okay. and I [00:43:00] said this earlier in this conversation, you know, I had a duty. I had a duty to do whatever it took to make sure that we were successful because I had an obligation and I felt like I had an obligation.

Like, I still do to my family, to those families that work with us. Now, and for those that I have an opportunity to touch , and I remember these conversations vividly with my wife. I remember these conversations vividly with the Lord when I’m sitting on the couch and I’m depressed and I had nothing and then it hits me like a ton of bricks and I realize it’s because I haven’t been doing enough.

And what I mean by that is, you know, early on, we didn’t take on any civilian clients at all. Matter of fact, we said we wouldn’t ever take on civilian clients. [00:44:00] And I remember that first Christmas, I’m literally curled up in the bed, in the couch, and you don’t see none of this, but I’m, I’m like, literally depressed.

Like, I don’t know what I’m going to do, you know. And it was like a revelation, man. It was like the Lord spoke so clearly to me. Well, if you’re so proud that you won’t take the skills that I’ve given you to apply those and work with your hands and do the things that I’ve entrusted you to do, the skills that I’ve given you to use.

Don’t sit here and cry to me. And it like, it hit me. So it was like, he was speaking straight to like, I could hear him. And from them that point forward, I said, and matter of fact, it was that same week. We picked up our first client for one month important train. I’ll never forget it was a German shepherd and it came out of nowhere.

And I’m like, we don’t even do civilian dogs. And all of a sudden she’s like that she [00:45:00] wanted us to train at all. But I say that because contrary to what you’re saying. As an owner and me and Nadine have had this conversation and you remember at times when I’d be gone for 8 10 months at a time while you were there by yourself basically while I traveled and that was one of the things that we spoke about was this is what we signed up for.

We can’t go back and and cry about what’s been given to us because you’re giving us too much or because we have to have a little bit of adversity or because I got to be away from you for a little bit. Like, we need to find out how to make this work in a way that we do what we signed up to do. And that was to make sure that Crenn’s taken care of.

That’s to make sure that we make this a success. That’s to make sure that bills are paid. That’s to make sure, and that’s not to sit there and turn our back on things because we’re a little bit uncomfortable. As a family, because as a family, we made this [00:46:00] decision because I didn’t do this on my own. but what I am saying, Corinne, that’s not what you signed up for.

That wasn’t the deal that me and you had. And so I’m not disagreeing with what you say because that’s absolutely necessary. I had to find out ways to do it. another way, you know, but it was important that I put 125 percent into what we were doing. Because that’s what we signed up for. And, and the biggest thing for me, man, was we asked the Lord to bless this.

And for me to then turn my back and go, well, you blessed this, but you blessed it in a way that I didn’t really want you to, but I said, right. So now I get to pick and choose what I want to do. And I just always felt like, um, and I remember cram. We had a conversation when I was overseas. One time we were texting back and forth and [00:47:00] we hadn’t even talked for a while.

And I remember I was sitting there having a drink of coke and water and having something to eat. And I remember exactly where I was when me and you were talking. And, , I said, , that I missed you. And then I hadn’t seen you. And, you know, it was just something that I’ve been gone.

I’ve been traveling and da, da, da, da, da, the list goes on. But at the end of the day, I had to realize that that’s what I signed up for. And Nadine and I have had these conversations in the past, like we can’t cry about this because this is what we signed up for. And this is where our obligation is right now.

Well, and to some of the things that I think knowing. You know, sometimes things affect people in the same similar position differently. I mean, you being the owner and and, , I know you always hated me calling you a boss. Um, you say, [00:48:00] man, don’t ever call me boss. Yes, boss, you know, but, you know, taking on different responsibilities, , in something there’s, there’s different weight that are given to that person, , the things that you’re built to do, I’m not necessarily built to do, you know, and I think that’s why we work so well together is because.

Your creativities and your strengths aren’t mine and my creativities and strengths aren’t yours. And so we kind of make up a lot of it for each other. So, um, yeah, you’re absolutely right. I there, there is some differences, , some lines that are drawn depending on where you stand within what you’re creating.

Um, you know, I, I, as much as I hated the idea when it was, when you first, , came up and said that we’re going to take some civilian dogs, I hated that idea. Oh, my God, he did it. But but there’s some great things that came out [00:49:00] of it. You know, I think about missing into what probably one of the best clients we ever had.

 People like that who, um, helped our business grow because I mean, she loved us. Miss Vento loved us. We love them. We love their dogs. it just goes to show that, you know, sometimes, things that you may have put out there that I was resistant to was better for us, but, but I couldn’t have come up with that on my own.

And, and really, I don’t guess you came up with it on your own. You know, you had to have your eyes opened up to, to the possibilities, but, , I think for people , to approach, , what they’re about to embark on , with some, with some realities in check of, yes, it’s going to take some, some Um, it’s gonna take some, some extra heartache.

I mean, literally blood, sweat and tears went into this thing. Like, literally those things checked off our box, blood, sweat and [00:50:00] tears. Yeah, and, you know, just to just to touch back real quick on a point I made earlier, you know, uh, we can, you can have all the success in the world, but if you don’t have the things that matter the most taking care of and in order.

It’s all for nothing. Um, you know, I think the support that that you and I both had from our wives was probably unlike any other. I mean, I’m sure there’s plenty of people that have attempted to do what we did and have fallen short because They didn’t have that support, their wife or their husband or whoever their, their parents, whatever the case was for them, they didn’t have the support that they needed.

The drive, you know, it killed the job. We had [00:51:00] that. I mean, we had, you know, so

man, good stuff, strikes chords, right? It really does resonate and I’m sure it’s going to resonate with a lot of people. It’s not, it’s not easy. There’s tough decisions that are made and there’s things that, I think it’s come from both perspectives. 100%. If somebody can manage, grow a business and start a business and all that, and still make sure that they keep their home life, then that is most important.

Would I have ever sacrificed my house for this? I would not have. I was just blessed to be able to manage it and have a partner, family, my girls that were there to say, dad, we got you. Yeah, I think I think that’s probably the best way to look at it. You’re going to have to sacrifice time. You’re going to have to sacrifice some energy.

You may have to [00:52:00] sacrifice some finances, but it should never come to a point where you sacrifice your family. I think I think you hit the nail on the head. That’s that’s the perfect way to look at it. If you, if you have to sacrifice your family to achieve something great, it’s not that great. No, not at all.

And you know, every family dynamic is different too, right? There’s times in my career that my family’s needed me more than what I could give to my business and I’ve had to take a step back or adjust things or say, I’m not doing that. You know, and that’s one of the hardest things for me. And I mentioned this to Nadine was, , sometimes I got to say no.

And that’s, that’s hard for me and that’s something that I’m learning, but it’s necessary. And, you know, it, it’s something that’s taken me a lot of years to come to, to say, I can’t take on everything anymore. I can’t, expect to be at everything anymore. [00:53:00] And it’s something that through growth.

That we’ve had to do. But at the same time, I would never sacrifice my family comes first before anything, bar none. Absolutely. All right. Last one, Cren. You know, looking back, we’ve covered a lot, but looking back over the years, what a bird’s eye view, of the years that we spent together. What do you see? Number 1, you can’t do anything worthwhile alone. You’ve got to have people around you. that that encourage you, but sometimes push you and correct you, and to get you to a place.

I think , looking back over all the years, , it, it, it shows me that, um, that everything does happen for a reason. I, I get to thinking back to. You know, the, the department we both worked for was not the only [00:54:00] department on the list for me. in fact, it was kind of an accident that I even applied there.

So I thought, because, you know, um, it just so happened that a department that I was interviewing with said, we don’t have a spot for you, but I know their chief, so, I’ll put in a good word and that good word carried some weight and, , I think it was accident that, that I was put on the shift I was on.

I don’t think it was an accident that, um, that at my own expense, you called me to say, hey, you want to take a bite from my dog? Um, I don’t think it was accident that after you saw after about the fifth or sixth time that your dog ate me, when you said, hey, how about I show you actually how to do this and you spent some time with me and kind of shaped me.

 to be a decent decoy. Um, I don’t think it’s an accident. the connections that we made along the way, you know, we’ve got a great team, [00:55:00] um, that that helps us find these awesome dogs. And, um, those connections that we had made . I don’t think any of those things were were by chance.

 I think, um, That these things were were planned out long before, , we had an idea or a concept. What ccu might be like, , you know, it’s just, , it’s interesting to see how everything played an intricate part into what ccu is today, , from just the day I signed, , a contract to work at a pd that just so happened to have an aj that work there, , you know, yeah.

So, it just, it blows my mind that all of those things work together, , for, for a purpose of, of creating this thing that I think has grown beyond what you or I would have even [00:56:00] imagined that It would become, I mean, I think there’s times where, if I stop and think about it, I’m a little shocked that we’re still not on a small five acre plot, , that we’re leasing and we, we’ve got a portage on with little, , makeshift outbuilding as a classroom, as a store, as a, this, as a, that, you know, , but, but all the things, as I said, Has has happened for a reason and now the impact that that it has, um, for for agencies and and and even for people, you know, that that come in just want to obedient dog as as a pet, you know, those, those contacts that we have, um, are all because, one day we got assigned to shift together.

It’s just, it’s crazy. It’s crazy to think that, that all of this has happened just [00:57:00] because we just happened to like making fun of each other and, you know, and we’re on shift. That’s right. That’s right. That is remarkable to think back of all the stories and all the things that we’ve done together and to, to see this thing unfold in front of us and how we, you know, looking back now.

The craziest ideas that we had on our off duty jobs that we were planning for, and to see where we are today, it is absolutely remarkable. It takes my breath away a lot of times. I’ll sit up on the gazebo now, as the sun comes up, and I see the, , steam coming off the ground, and I’m just like, man, never would have imagined this whatsoever.

The people we have the opportunity to meet now the connections were able to have it’s remarkable man. I would never change it for the world. But most importantly, man, I would never change your [00:58:00] friendship and your help. And there’s things that I know that you went through. I know there’s things that you sacrificed and that.

Although we don’t often talk about it never has been unnoticed. Yeah. Likewise. , I think, like I said earlier. The things that you’re strong and I’m not the things I’m strong in, you’re not, , we just made a great team. And I, I think for anybody starting anything needs to have that kind of support of a great team. , and then, you know, we’ve made it because we just, I think, because our relationship.

, , we’ve had a good time together and, um, you know, and we, we needed each other. That’s, I mean, I had to have you, you had to have me and, , it’s what it took so yeah, it’s been, it’s been a wild ride, it’s been a blast. It [00:59:00] has

We need to do this more often. Yeah, it’s great. Good stuff. We’ll talk decoy and tracking next time. All right. That’ll work. Well, Voice of Reason, Crenn, Skinny Crenn, Not So Skinny Crenn, wherever you’re going by nowadays.

Uh, man, it was wonderful. Great time. And, uh, we’re gonna do this again. Perfect. Looking forward to it. I appreciate it. Love you, man. Love you, man. See y’all.

Interested in making a guest appearance? Have a topic you want us to discuss? Send us a message!

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