Thursday, February 14, 2019

David DuPont - Shure-Step - Episode 1002



Randy Ford: Welcome to SuccessInsight, where we tell the stories and successes of people you know and some people you may not know. My name is Randy Ford. Our guest today is David DuPont, who is the president of shure-step.com. David, thanks for being on SuccessInSight. 

David DuPont: Pleasure to be here. 

Randy Ford: First tell us what Sure Step is. 

David DuPont: Shure Step is a safety step stool that I designed back in 1992, was the first revision I guess, or the first step that I designed, and it's a safety step stool, originally designed to help mechanics work on larger trucks and vehicles because trucks come in all different shapes and sizes and so do the mechanics that work on them. And so I designed an adjustable step stool for mechanics to use to work on trucks, and it's adjustable by stacking one step on top of the other which is the most, I guess, unique design and efficient design that we could come up with. 

Randy Ford: You have been working on cars almost your whole life. 

David DuPont: Yes I have. 

Randy Ford: How old were you, you think, when you first started working on cars with your dad? 

David DuPont: I can't remember how old I was. That's how long ago it was. But my mom tells stories about me helping my dad working on the car when I was very, very young -- maybe four years old. He would be working on the car, and I would chase to get tools and so my mom said this one day it was almost like a Norman Rockwell picture. She looked out the front window, and the car was driven up on the curb and there's this big set of feet sticking out from underneath. And right next to us this little set of feet sticking out underneath it, which was me and my dad working working on the car;  actually him working on the car and me watching him work on the car. 

Randy Ford: You were helping out? 

David DuPont: Yeah, starting out, I was just waiting for my dad to say hey I need this next tool. And I went running to get it for him, but I learned just by watching, you learn a lot about how things were put together and I was always very intrigued with how things were put together from a very young age. My parents told me that I was taking things apart at three years old when I probably shouldn't have been. 

Randy Ford: And then you get the entrepreneurial bug, too, and you were telling me you started mowing lawns in the neighborhood. That was pretty young, too. 

David DuPont: Yes, I was probably in first or second grade and following my dad's lead we would we'd go around the neighborhood somebody would be throwing away an old lawn mower and we’d pick it up repair it, and I'd use it to mow yards. So you know I enjoyed most of the people I mowed were friends of our family, and they were much older and got to know them much better. They knew me, and so it was yeah, I think I charged four dollars a yard to mow the front in the backyard. That was big money for a kid. 

Randy Ford: What did you spend that on? Do you remember? 

David DuPont: Candy. Gum. You know, things I shouldn't have been spending it on. 

Randy Ford: The things that kids spend their money on. 

David DuPont: Correct. 

Randy Ford: You stayed in auto repair for a little while. You've gone into it enough that you you made that a job, right? 

David DuPont: Yes. I actually worked for several auto repair shops and tried my hand a couple of times at running my own shop. And when I moved back to Houston in 1990, I think it was 1990 or '91, I worked for a couple of other shops and then I said you know what, I think I can do it better. And so I think I'm going to open my own shop. I knew of a location and knew the owner that would let me come in and treat me right, and so I tried it, and you know you learn a lot of things like how to get your first customer. 

Randy Ford: Which is how? Tell us how do you get your first customer. 

David DuPont: 1993. June 3rd. I opened the doors for what was at the time Oak Forest Automotive and sat there at my desk and said, great I got a business. Where are the customers? So I took, I had some cards made up and I went to the local business park which was about a half mile away from the shop and walked to every business. I talked to whoever was sitting behind the desk at every single business in that park and handed out my card letting them know I was there, and I picked up my first three accounts for commercial business by doing that. 

Randy Ford: Do you remember how it felt when that first car pulled in? 

David DuPont: Well when it came in a couple hours later because of the cards I handed out, I thought I think I'm onto something here. So yeah, you know how can I get more customers like this. But I unfortunately I didn't learn that lesson until a few years later. 

Randy Ford: Where did the idea for Shure-Step come along? 

David DuPont: So the idea for Shure-Step came along in 1992. Just before I opened my shop, I was working at another shop tuning up a four wheel drive vehicle and got seven of the spark plugs out very easily. And the last spark plug was way in the back of the engine compartment and so I had to get a longer extension and with a longer extension I needed to get a longer handle on the extension so I could try and break that spark plug loose. So I pushed out and a couple of times. And mind you I'm standing on a plastic milk crate because it's a four wheel drive truck. I'm standing on plastic milk crate. I've gotten the other seven out very easily and I'm trying to break this last one loose and put some force on it now okay, that's not enough. I put some more force on, come on I really have to push hard on this. I pushed really hard on the bar, and it popped loose and sent me flying off of a milk crate. The milk crate went one way, I went the other. I cut myself up and I said, oh no, I don't ever want this to happen again. How do I fix this problem? And so that's where the idea for Shure-Step was born I decided that I was going to make the first Shure-Step it was an L shaped step that went down the engine compartment the side of one inch compartment across the front of the truck and the second one would do the same on the opposite side. I made them so you could stack them, because trucks and mechanics come in different shapes and sizes. And so once I did that, the next question was, how do I sell these things. 

Randy Ford: And that is a different approach than taking cards around to every business, right? 

David DuPont: Yeah. Taking cards and knowing exactly where you, you know okay this is a delivery company, they have trucks. Handing a card to these people may work. You've got a product and you know the mechanic can use it. How do you get them to buy your product. That was huge, and I knew nothing. So I was pretty scared. 

Randy Ford: What did you do? 

David DuPont: Started getting help. I started the corporation. I got this product and then I realized that nothing was going to happen if I didn't sell products. So I had to get some help figuring out how to sell products, because I've never sold before. So I went to the SBA, the Small Business Administration. Surely they can help a small business guy like me. So the University of Houston had a program where they had Small Business Development Centers around the community colleges around the Houston area. I got set up and went and visited with Mike Henry, who was my adviser back then, and I met with him once a month for probably two years. And so that one relationship led to another relationship, led to other relationships. And I just can't tell you enough about how none of this could have happened, if I hadn't said, hey I need to get help. 

Randy Ford: People sometimes though aren't willing to ask for help. 

David DuPont: And what a shame. What a shame. I see it all the time. I think the business, the the typical business person is too proud to ask for help. If I can't figure it, and I almost got caught in that trap had it not been for my wife for my auto repair shop. I thought my two businesses were very different. Really and truly every business is the same when it comes to marketing. You have a either product or service and then you're trying to get customers and you want to build a relationship with those customers and really that's what every business wants to do. So I couldn't have done it without the help that I got. And as I alluded to, after I met Mike Henry, he suggested that I join the Greater Houston Partnership because they had a program going on called the CEO Roundtable. And so in the CEO Roundtable, I met all these other business people. And one of those business people gave me a ticket to a Peter Lowe Success Seminar, and that's where I met my marketing mentor Dan Kennedy, and through Dan Kennedy and his group I've met you guys. And that was 20 years ago when I met Dan Kennedy in 1999. 

Randy Ford: Shure-Step helps a lot more people than just mechanics, right? Talk about some of the other people who -- I guess some of the other problems that Shure-Step helps solve for other people. 

David DuPont: So I started out as a mechanic. I designed a mechanic step stool through the Kennedy Inner Circle at the time. I went to one of their, a couple of times a year they had big conferences, this was a super conference, and I ran into a guy named Perry Marshall, and Perry Marshall was at the time like the guru of Google AdWords, and he understood more about it than anybody else. And so I bought his program and started using his tactics to advertise the Shure-Step mechanic step on Google AdWords. Well, I started getting a lot of orders from around the country from different businesses -- corporations. They were starting to use them for all different things for elevating employees on assembly lines and conveyor systems. And then over the course of about six months, I noticed that five or six retirement communities had ordered our product, but they had all shipped it back, because we get a 60-day, no-questions-asked guarantee. And so I was like, oh that's very interesting that five or six would order the same product and every single one of them would ship it back. So I got on the phone and I called them and I asked them why. And they said oh we found your product. We saw it, the pictures that look oh it's so bright and yellow that our seniors can see it. And I said okay. Oh it looks so safe and sturdy. It was heavy duty, so we knew that they weren't going to be scared to get on it. I said okay. And they said it didn't have any legs. Most of all the other steps would have legs, and I said well what's the problem with legs. Well if our seniors are using it sometimes they get their foot caught underneath the step thinking they have that they have their foot on top of it and they'll step forward and they'll fall; I've seen it happen several times. I said what are you trying to do? And he said well we're trying to elevate our senior residents to get on our transportation bus. I said, oh okay. And I said, what did you ship it back for. They said it was too tall. Really. That was all the problem? No, the no-legs thing was perfect because they can't get the leg caught underneath it. I was like ok, cool what were you using before? What didn't work? What's the distance, what are you trying to accomplish? And then I talked to a physical therapist at one of the retirement communities, and she said six inches. I said six inches because the distance from the ground to the first step on the bus was usually about 13 -- 12 to 13 inches. And I was kind of torn between six or seven inches. And she said six inches. And I said why? And she said that after hip or knee replacement, the very first physical therapy we want them to do is stair-stepping six inches. And I said, okay, six inches it is. So I created a step that was only six inches high. Same design as the mechanic step. And now it has become my best seller. It's called the Senior-Step. It's amazing what's happened. And so that kind of helps seniors, not only seniors but in the transportation industry, we've got aircraft and buses and trains, and so a lot of passengers use our products to get on those different types of transportation vehicles. 

Randy Ford: More seniors have falls than we think. 

David DuPont: Oh yeah. So my mom was 81 years old and took a fall, and I, I know she took the fall and she didn't have to. After I designed the Senior-Step I got interested very interested in senior life and what -- you know, especially since I have a mom that's in her 80s. What can you do to help seniors not fall? And so I wrote a book, because I was very passionate about it after my mom fell, and I didn't think this should happen to anybody else. And so I wrote a book that's called "Seniorology: The Ultimate Guide to Keep Seniors Safe from Slips, Trips and Falls," and it's all about using your senses if you're going to be around seniors to remove the trip hazards that are in your house or wherever the senior is. Well, these statistics are alarming. Seniors that are over the age of 71 that fall, 50 percent of them it usually leads to death. Injury that leads to death or death immediately. It's just staggering. So I said, okay, prevention is the key here. And so that's why I wrote my book, which is really just a guide to help people keep their senior safe from that slip or trip or fall that can change your life. 

Randy Ford: You mentioned Dan Kennedy and being a follower of his work. What have you gotten from that? 

David DuPont: Dan Kennedy is probably known in most marketing circles as the grandfather of Direct Marketing, and he believes that if you cannot measure a marketing dollar spent, don't spend it. And he teaches you and everybody that thinks that they have, that their business is different, because that's what everybody said: I can't do that, because my business is different and that's where he gets, he's given himself the moniker of the No B.S. Marketing Adviser. That's kind of who he is, the No B.S. guy. 

Randy Ford: One of the things we always ask on SuccessInSight is for you to give a recommendation something anything that maybe I don't know about or our listeners. 

David DuPont: I recently spent a lot of time in the hospital a year ago, and I learned a lot of things. And so I've been very passionate about learning why I got so sick, and the course of action has opened doors to me that previously I ignored, which is holistic health, as opposed to what we have in our health system today, which is a system of fixing the symptom and not fixing the problem. And so if I had one thing that I could share with everybody, it would be question every single drug that any doctor says you have to take, and do the research on the drug and find alternatives, because the information is out there. You just have to look for it. 

Randy Ford: Our guest today has been David DuPont from Shure-Step.com The book is "Seniorology: The Ultimate Guide to Keep Seniors Safe from Slips, Trips and Falls." How can people find you, David. 

David DuPont: They can reach out to me via LinkedIn -- David DuPont on LinkedIn. Or they can check out our Web site which is www.shure-step.com. That's spelled s-h-u-r-e hyphen step dot com. 

Randy Ford: David, thanks again. Hope we'll get to talk to you again down the road. We'll see everybody next time on SuccessInSight. 

NEXT STEPS

David DuPont is a business owner & entrepreneur, and inventor and best-selling author. David shares quite a few golden nuggets and some lessons he's learned along the way. His designs have helped hundreds of retirement communities, churches, and bus, truck & SUV owners to help their precious seniors board and disembark their vehicles.

David invites you to visit him at https://shure-step.com

Randy Ford is the Founder of First Story Strategies. For more than two decades, Randy has been using storytelling as the basis for his work as a communications strategist, writer, editor, journalist, political strategist, media relations professional and events specialist. Randy invites you to visit him at https://firststorystrategies.com

Howard Fox is the President of Fox Coaching, Inc. and the Founder of the SuccessInSight Podcast. Howard is inspired by great leaders, no matter where they are in the organization or on their personal and professional development journey. Howard works with Business Owners and their teams to learn to lead and to work and thrive together. Howard invites you to visit him at https://foxcoaching.com.

The SuccessInSight Podcast can be found at https://successinsightpodcast.com

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