Replay of my interview with Army Veteran Justen Garrity, founder of Veteran Compost. "I don’t think other people out there would be as willing to live as low to the ground and as sleep deprived as I did, but to a regular military person you just make some strong coffee and drive on …"

United States


00:00:01when so that it took 6 months to find that first customer it took another 4 months to find a second customer but once we hit those two customers they were pretty noteworthy businesses in this area after that it's just all starting to fall into place so I just stay positive continue to motor on and just dug deep in it and I don't think other people out there would be willing to live is low to the ground in a sleep-deprived as I did but don't regular military person you just make some strong coffee and and and drive on
00:00:55welcome to the podcast for the military community
00:01:08what's going to come back in and bring some stuff out of your guys this is a great interview from back early in 2014 from Justin Garrity mini of you maybe haven't listen to to Justin story inspiring worthless and it's probably worth a listen again so it's going to be more about the military journey to Justin journey and Entrepreneurship so enjoy from the commander business archives guest is Justin Garrity Justin is a former United States Army officer who served on active duty and is currently in the National Guard he's also the president and founder of Veteran compost thank you for your service I know that you have served
00:02:08our country for over 15 months being deployed to Iraq thank you for what you're doing for the country for an employee better and soon and I want to cast here so I really I gave a real high level 50000 foot how did you tell what was your journey into the army sure so I'm from Maryland. South Baltimore as a hard to see you know what the college up outside of Boston and did our to see all through that so the day I graduated you know I raise my right hand and became a second Lieutenant so my background wasn't computers so obviously I went into the army as a combat engineer
00:02:59make a lot of sense to know if someone offers to give you a heads up for you want to be so I volunteered for I want the Airborne School in Safford school I went to Korea the platoon leader did my XO time out of Fort Leonard Wood and then got to serve in an Engineer Battalion over in Iraq and we did try to have all kinds of stuff I was responsible for it for his all that the assured Mobility so they're out clearance and Robert xtian drop repairs in counter-ied counterinsurgency operations up there in Northern Iraq so it was a good time busy there 50 months and then when I came home
00:03:44I kind of made up my mind that I wanted to go to the Army and that's why I decide to stay the National Guard after 5 years just want to come back and get a regular civilian had had trouble finding employment, longest was a necessity since there is no job opportunities that had significant amounts of of responsibility that that just really dry and they have it a tough time you'll find in that that job that that fits into the army little bit
00:04:44so what what is what is sapper school and tell people from the early you know Ranger school for 10 years for years it was just something that the engineer branch of the army I want to say either 2004-2005 so it is a tab presenting school just like if you were to go to Ranger school or you were to go through the Special Forces program and it's probably the last time I checked at the hot one of the highest if not the highest fail read it because it's such a small school you know classes are only 40 or 60 candidates probably the least prominent tab I mean everywhere I've been other than engineering only person wearing that the sapper tab this is just a small community but it's open
00:05:44best 28 days of your life when you look back at it so it was a great school for learning leadership and also learning a lot of engineering schools everything mountaineering explosives improvised explosives Urban breaching operations water-borne operations controlling anything you can think of I mean they really squeeze it into 28 days there
00:06:06from a leadership standpoint and just the standpoint of business I think everyone was in the military are you had a crappy day at training or anywhere in the military you can. I've been tested so I think a lot of that transitions for any military person is you've gone through more physically and mentally than a 90% of this country that's why I was people signed up for the Warrior Dash is cuz they wish they had spent a week in the army
00:06:56yeah it's it's it's amazing
00:07:06absolutely it's it's it's pretty amazing so you got out of my first I graduated college and got commission it and I spend my first 6 months in the Army is a recruiter where can I find a Boston and then I got sent finally to Fort Leonard Wood to do my officer basic course which was a rude awakening out there so I went to my graduation ceremony for officer basic course we actually two weeks before the end went crossed over this walk across the street and enrolled in cyber school so that was ever born School previously so when I showed my first unit as a as a platoon leader United I was a year out of the I spent a year in the training pipeline before I ended up with my first unit
00:08:04that's how it's always a you know taking over as a platoon leader that's always an interesting taking over year old supposed to lead is always funny I don't know how you how your experience was bi was the third youngest guy that showed up one of those so it's like being the only person with a college degree I mean that's a that's a second World War II so it was a great time I showed up I learned a lot from them and then applied that I knew in and we had a really successful year there in Korea I'm at the crazy environment facts
00:09:04oh 40506. Everyone has been over yet and they're still a very interesting Italian Korea but it was a great experience that to visit. Country had to adjust train I mean really days off you just train all the time so it's soldier in every day which which is cool but I kind of going back to the platoon leader thing I feel sorry for some of the lieutenants honestly going in today in commission right out of the ROTC program was a green second lieutenant and let you know I was fortunate I had maybe two guys in my platoon Splatoon combat patch
00:10:04stop to that you know that one of the best things are worse things is having combat experience you know you look at everyone who had Iraq combat patches go up that wants to go to Afghanistan and Iraq last three different vice versa and then as we look at you know we're going to go back to facing conventional fighting regular army o Insurgent Army's we need to not fall into that trap thinking so I think one of the best things you can have his combat experience but also one of the worst because you only ever think of everything as roadside bombs Iraq and Afghanistan lose sight of you know where your baby not open to other ideas business starting your own business
00:11:04you don't have any preconceived notions of what you should or shouldn't do
00:11:09exactly I think if you come without the business background that can be really good because you look at things you know from a different perspective and maybe you bring some new ideas in your you're not in that trap of thinking and everything like a business problem but at some point there is good to have that educational to have those Concepts so that you can succeed
00:11:30so you went so you did your platoon leader time to Fort Leonard Wood what was the count of the transitioned over to Iraq what were you doing during that time
00:11:51just the way the sessions for all of your officer course of your basic training go to use it at Fort Hood or wherever it's coming in from Germany so I came into a 700 I think it one for me a 30 soldiers so we we had wow you were going to deploy it's always a unit we had to transform it fraud to a modular unit a monster engineer unit we had to ramp up at 700 bodies and we went from bring it into the Bill Dance from Germany to you know she likes to cheat Note 2 years later back out the door is a Deployable you know fighting unit so I was an axle for a while and then as we got our deployment order I went up to Battalion staff
00:12:51I took over as the plans officer I'll one of the two plant operations officer with a three-person S3 shop at the officer sides are really planning all the unit of force try to get ready to wrap up for deployment and a face that doesn't really project forces I mean everyone goes to Fort Leonard Wood for basic and AIT there they're not like a deployment or Fort Campbell where they're used to it so it was it was it was a busy work you weren't right now borders for parades and and and picking up trash the southern Italian
00:13:38I can see the parallels of it up from nothing and I can definitely see how it is when when you're starting your own business
00:13:50yeah I think you know that the armies of real fairies really good at teaching everyone kind of the structure of a plaque backwards planning of pci's you know checking in and having the right materials and resourcing in understand kind of the basics of the border and Logistics and yes One S for you know so there's a lot of good things about the same time is really good about people in the business World about military leaders are or military job is being adaptive I mean how often is anyone in the military I mean that something that's that's common place and I think that the same thing happens in the business for all the time I mean I would love to have a half-million-dollar machine to get done ready to get done in my business but hey you know what I don't have to have no weed are machine so how am I
00:14:50accomplish that yeah you know I just actually got the option to go to a conference Expo and in Las Vegas which is kind of a blocking podcasting conference there and I I spoke him when I wasn't exactly what I said is that there's this executing orders and very wrote that I can go from A to B if someone tells me too and that's it and you know the other people Everyone that I especially like the definition of an entrepreneur entrepreneur entrepreneur real working within within the army
00:15:34I agree if you made a list of who was the least like the first idea that we're all just foot soldiers following orders that they've always been ever spent a week or a day around of military an 18 year old kid and he doesn't just drive around and shoot people in the point at amusement he's responsible for dealing with the media dealing with foreign Nationals helping to distribute helping to identify threats in a complicated environment I mean discount how complicated at and non-sequential the job is that the military have this days
00:16:34it's all the other intangible skills that be respectful employee tax is not good enough the specific part of his job it's technical you know they're missing out on an opportunity to to hire or partner with with some great people
00:17:28some things that are good to come out because we're seeing yourself that are that are starting their own business initiatives that they learned in the in the military and and they're applying all those principles to starting something for yourself and creating jobs for themselves but you're not ready Battalion which is my blowing in and of itself and then you deployed over to over to a rat can you talk about the kind of the time frame and what was going on at a rackets
00:18:17search and we went over as a Construction Construction unit with with horizontal vertical ass that's the Weaver earth move in we are building structures all that but we kind of knew when we got there that we would maybe have to do more than that is our mission so I went over initially it's just a I'll give you a battle captain and I have plans officer operate Operation Center for the Battalion and I we got over there and shopping different than you realized it true that we were assigned to support Northern Iraq at that time and obviously every everything there was very different year to year based on which rotation people have their in our rotation we were there
00:19:04near the majority of apostle actions were going on north of Baghdad in his in M&D North which is why we are signed so we continue to to move north and support the task force and we had kind of the unit was doing construction there were putting in a Jay copsey and a checkpoint for the Iraqi the Americans were building structures for all the teams to live out their work supporting everything construction wise and then I was assigned to figure out how to do you know route clearance in this kind of concept of assured mobility and we took over all the route and in Northern crater repairs all the terrain denial he was putting an IV would go along with bulldozers and knock over those houses or where where bulldozed out any forms they said they couldn't hide with trigger we were doing combined-arms operations are there strikes and and and helicopters are doing round clock route clearance we got a bunch of clearance companies attached to it so you know know know two days are certainly alike
00:20:04we were busy and I think one in for one and for explosive devices in the country at that time where it was in our Battalion Al so we were we were busy and aqua Philly mission for us that we went from some of the routes in our territory days a week 24/7 and by the time we left some of those Ralph showing them and do construction and you get there a completely different situation on the doors the situation
00:20:53yeah. That's exactly what I was going to use them in the business world is that we can do construction and we could build no extra Hesco barriers at the shop over here. Let's get out there and insecurities neighborhoods in pain and get out in the nastiest parts of the the cities and let's put some Iraqis out there in these in Vinings these to you also be able to realize opportunity to read and react to him is crucial is a lot of things about we were going to offer for products and services and will be recharged and then you know that's a great historical document this point if are different than what I division
00:21:52list list so you came back from miraculous let's kind of late into what was your transition like and what were some of your thoughts in and how did how did you end up starting veteran compost I want to move on to some other stuff I decided to switch to a National Guard contract December of 2008 so I got you know my inventory warden in December 2018 you know we got back right right couple days before Christmas at next quickly began my paperwork I waved a lot of stuff to do to speed up the process I waved a cap and in a lot of the replacement stuff and all that and I have a job lined up that that because of the economy ended up going away
00:22:52six months after I was standing in Iraq getting my Micron * 6 months later I'm getting unemployment card my hand so The Humbling thing that's why the most embarrassed her she really had ever been in my life was to file for that and to collect that check because you know 6 months earlier I was in Iraq call in an airstrike you know I was making a rock clearance plan for for you to 200 soldiers I was supervising and intelligence section in it and I construction section and then the other I am just at some some lazy slob collecting unemployment so it was it was a big you can either get angry angry and yeah I got to get over that you got to move on
00:23:52happy sad angry and pissed off at the situation or you know in my case I decided that you know I'm I'm valuable I'm not an idiot I can figure out something to do with other people that I know have businesses you know what can I do to be be positive and maybe start something on my own
00:24:10so it's a how did you get the idea you didn't know but you could have had worse
00:24:31so how did you actually come up with you did you come up with the idea for a composter or what where were some of your initial ideas about you know when I was looking at a business I had saved songs like number one up to my first idea is I don't want to go in and take out in any loans not that anyone was loaning money back now and I don't want to go to my friends are family
00:25:24I'm a little bit you know risk-adverse I hate to go to Christmas in five years and say sorry grandmother the business and work out and I'll get you that 20 grand back Sunday so you know what it what's the next big thing I mean I can go open a Subway franchise like a million other people work you know what's the next opportunities that are out there that happened in the 90s what's the next there's like TOMS Shoes there's environmentally sustainable business is like solar power which is something I looked at it looked at wind power I don't know what the recycling
00:26:11as I stated recycling I thought about being a scrap metal guy and he knows are a lot of people doing that and I thought about all recycle electronics that's not all there's a lot of people in the big scheme of things very small piece of the pie of what's trash in America so when I looked at that pie chart of what's out there two thirds of anything that gets thrown away in the country anywhere in the country is compostable food waste your yard waste Ur untreated wood waste or paper waste 2/3 of the pie this huge chunk of the pie is compostable in there very few people that are for profit that are commercial dancers that are attacking the problem so you know he was huge opportunity at a little competition self-talk recession at this stage in the field so there is no licensing in most places there is no graduate degree program you get out there and you learn the profession in and you do it so I was like
00:27:11very attractive
00:27:182/3 I mean you know my local garbage dump in Baltimore City. Not that far away and I'm taking holy cow to you know if compostable that's that's unbelievable environmental you're financially motivated or whether you believe in climate change or not it's getting really hard in 50 years to explain to our grandkids why we thought it was a good idea to bury stuff in the ground and walk away like this idea there was no trash when the Pioneers Century thing so wasted resources we could take all that material and we can make compost out of it which can help plants grow and grow food and you can make
00:28:18Sombrero KP I want to make myself a little You Came Upon the composting what what are some of the kind of those first steps that you did after you to get your business off the ground
00:28:41yeah I just decided okay this is a good opportunity I continue to kind of just do the sanity check you know just continue to look at what other people were doing does this make sense I kind of shocked the idea around to some friends that I have family members and you know the field and the industry is I could have read all the magazines I can find a facility near me to get my eyeballs on them and then by and can I get 5 minutes your time do you mind if I come by and take a look at it as I could so I can really be smart on the industry as I started to kind of think about all right now that I know composting how would I make a business out of this
00:29:41Splat discount back to the seeing what's out there what the the competition are the enemies doing starting to talk to people thinking about you kind of got started getting smart on on on composting on own kind of the business side of it kind of some of your next steps after that
00:30:16you know the great thing is it'll for me I I use my GI Bill benefits to grad school so I figured I've been out of the game of civilian life for 5 years so I'm going to I'm going to try to get my MBA so I had a 50% GI bill that I acquired from being in Iraq and I are going to grad school which is really helpful people don't want to go to the full grad program at community college class but that was really helpful for me starting to kinda get that business which is a free resource to anyone that wants to start a business and they teach classes on how to start a small business the offer free business plan help when you want to write something out for free coaching and Advising
00:31:16everywhere across the country so the sbvc was was a huge resource for me it's out there it's also free so you know there's no need to pay for a business plan writing help is no need to pay for business coaching or any of those are two free resources I have a highly recommend the one the one thing I really have really helped me that I always I always pitch and I don't get any money at all I wish I did I don't get Commission on this by Guy Kawasaki guy Kawasaki is a venture capital guy that used to work at Apple he's a pretty smart dude pretty cool dude Heroes is very easy to read book is this whole concept to start a business but I think resonates well with military people love don't sit around and write a 70-page business
00:32:16write a tent a 10-page feasibility analysis on an MRE boxes of yours or the service of yours if anyone wants to buy it and before it has all the bells and whistles try to sell it and see if anyone will even buy the first generation so the artist art is the one book that I definitely recommend because it simplifies everything and is really inspirational verses the typical business thing of rate of 70 page business plan and do your 5-year financial analysis and at some point that's useful but man have to press the first thing you can do that
00:32:55so you got you got you know you're graduating you started going to graduate school and then you can kind of what kind of you put your plan get that first customer to get started I've been sick for so long that it took me in this industry so hard to find a site then to get a permit at so it took me 6 months to find a site I looked all over the Mid-Atlantic and I found one you know here in Maryland is actually a farm and I did all the right things I contacted real estate brokers and I contacted Economic Development people and no one would return my calls you know here I am this new no business experience and I ended up finding a farm on Craigslist of all the places of and and sign a lease and got started and bought a shovel and I was
00:33:55I was an accomplice to you build it they will come
00:34:05so in hindsight I have price a lined up a little bit more friends I'll just leave it at that point so it was it was six months before I signed up my first customer
00:34:16track me if I'm wrong but I'm doing a little research to you talking about the importance of getting started your operation how many how many other composters were there in the entire state of Maryland I was the Bronze metal guy just the day open so it was really good for years ago I think this idea of composting that is is much more mainstream people understand what compost is me because it's in the news or it's an easy see it and Gardens more now than it was for years ago so people like all compost soil I get that kind of restaurants and supermarkets
00:35:16into the soil and we're going to pay you for that okay that makes sense we got that I should every mistake you can make it took me 6 months to find my first customer so believe me I made made every mistake you can make but no here we are now you know growing and healthy
00:36:01I think your point of of growing and healthy and the importance of a figuring out your financing you know just don't investors if you don't have to I guess you were talking about the the benefits of being self-funded I'm a real or let us try and stop coming up through the military had this idea of that will get that done we'll figure out how to do that you know there's a lot of stuff so me and you have a great idea we go we like to some lunches out Silicon Valley and someone gets a $61 and then we figure out how to spend that $60 versus someone is a bootstrap with it says I need to do
00:37:01how am I going to accomplish that with with the limited resources and so I don't have any investors I don't have anyone else tell me how to run this place the only thing that I have is some equipment I don't have a huge bank loan and stuff financing on some of the loaders and screeners that we bought but it's not like John Deere's coming down here tell me how to run things so you know there's a lot of benefits that obviously if we were better capitalize on a little bit faster Sue's advantages to it but I think people just need to throw away those advantages and disadvantages need to know what your risk tolerance is the you wanted me to know
00:37:48what the feasibility is flat because I honestly those guys aren't that you see on late night TV they're offering it SBA grant money there is no where there is no collateral needed to bad even on a VA small business SBA loan are you willing to risk the house if you work so hard to her when you in the Army are you willing to risk that for this business venture so you got to think about that you got to know what your risk is because there isn't free money and anything that you're going to get has to be collateralized that great great great points so 6 months to get your first customer then how does how does the business go from there
00:38:34yeah but that was tough I mean you know that without being too boo hoo what was me I opened up his first couple months and and the customers really weren't coming on the first 6 months out of business I made $350. I spent thousands of dollars cuz I was paying rent I was buying equipment I was looking at my finances and I ended up taking on a night job so I would have to drive 2 hours to grad school and go to grad school in the evening drive back and then work a midnight shift job at a hotel I was the night out of there from 11 to 7 at night till the next morning so for like 8 months they're like I said I had guard on the weekends
00:39:34you know you got a deer that other people don't have and I'm going to keep on rolling to customers they are pretty noteworthy businesses in this area after that it just all star to fall into place so I just stay positive and I don't think there's people out there would be willing to live is low to the ground and a sleep-deprived as I did but don't regular military person you just make some strong coffee and and drive on the road going up to the grad school
00:40:34yeah a single guy with no kid minimal bills so what's your acceptable level of comfort and live in in and budget you know because you know for me I don't mind Ramen. Sleep in and cut back on my food budget you know if I had kids and if I had a wife you know my decisions by would have been a lot different
00:41:15yeah I think that's something that doubt I think a lot of us learned in the military as well and something about talked about for you can mitigate sucking and getting an extra what's a risk versus what's a gamble I'm in and make your decision off of that cuz there's a big difference between the two how does the business kind of take off and what are some things you have to do next
00:41:56it's funny to trade all the problems that you have oh my gosh how we're going to pay the bills this month now that you trade those problems in for the new problems which are you know how are we going to meet this demand how are we going to what's the next things I need to buy what's the next person I'm going to hire and you know all those are we going to make it problems are now gross problems which I always tell people those are good problem to have to drink so much and I wish they have all these stupid orders where I've been at the last year to is really now it's time to the immediate things you have going on you know where we going to be in 3 years you know where is the industry going where is that my customers
00:42:56who are they where will they be in the future so you know more and more of my time I try to spend on the you know the kind of knots the Tactical but more of the
00:43:07not the everyday stuff with the future self business-to-business still do way more than I should just cuz you know we're busy but you know the opportunity cost it is huge opportunity cost is talking to someone at a luncheon and closing the deal is a better use my times and then doing something I driving a truck that I could hire someone to do so that's where you really have to weigh how you spend your time how you allocate you know what you do everyday
00:43:46so what's your where is veteran compost today where you at today and where do you say it going sure so we've been profitable now for for 2 years I stop putting money in the business two years ago they refunded South pretty aggressively Andrea ventry reinvesting the money into the business you know what the one one of the side benefits of X challenging data balance schedule with no business schedule one of the great things that I've been able to essentially you know live off my National Guard pay is my salary and not take a salary from the business so I can invest more in the company and then I'll suffer My Health Care comes from and how to look at a veteran or being retired offer yeah that's a huge leg up on on an entrepreneur because it's specially in the field that I operate in you know we're out there operating heavy equipment working it out in an agriculture manufacturing environment
00:44:46no it's not no it's not uncommon for someone to get injured and break something or cut something I'm always convinced that he has a bad day at the farm to be really bad so I need to get my arms. You're broken so you know for me if it's been nice to be able to instead of paying additional equipment for hiring additional people were looking at adding additional sites and starting to cover more territory so for us it's just been it's been awesome it's been it's been really a great experience this point at end Anita Street over in it is starting to take off a hockey stick curve
00:45:32yeah just for me when you said earlier in the interview that is is compostable and it how much more there is out there about things we can do holy cow I can see the other thing taking off like a rocket state of Illinois stuff that in this is really now become a common place and then even at a more basic or more important level is financially getting more and more expensive to throw things away and composting for a lot of our customers actually less expensive than throwing away their trash so it's cheaper to compost your waist and they throw it away so I very rarely sell on the green aspect
00:46:32that's that's paying to take away whatever it is inside and I can charge you a lot less to the landfill versus the the five or six that you know they also get that Market Restaurant say hey we compost you have one more feather in your cap in a compost cuz that's something that I can identify with and I want to spend my money there so it's been a huge market for our customers
00:47:33yeah and I can only see that you know upset today but that's upset is only going to grow I think about just myself personally recycling what do you mean you don't recycle this the kind of just wrap this up for veteran this out there maybe maybe they're getting ready to get out maybe the getting-ready TS or maybe they're there if they've already gotten out and they're sitting in a cubicle somewhere today what would advice would you give for that better in this thinking about going out and starting their own business
00:48:26sure I think the first off when you said earlier about you don't people underestimate veterans and what they're capable of I agree that that you know I think a lot of it. Or opportunities within all of us I think that sell yourself short. You know you can't cross over a lot of the skills that we have can cross over Teddy sector and I think you know just be gone and then start small start with it within your means you don't have to go out and open a hundred customers you on the side and starts out small and you grow it every year and after a couple years becomes full-time job so you know I'm a big fan of we start a very small with this and very humbly because I really know compost
00:49:26mistakes when I was really big so we we learned a lot now that I've been doing it for a couple years and then look at those free resources they're out there that's that's PVC score some of the books in the library to local community colleges in a lot of great resources out there that that are free to just any citizen and especially to veterans that and I I totally support you going to look at all the you know just search veteran entrepreneurship programs and depending on where you're located at on of people that want to help veterans start their own business
00:50:14Justin again the day of an entrepreneur never end so I don't to take anymore you're forgetting on the podcast I think people are going to lot of time from what you had to say thank you for your service how can people find out more about the compost in and how can people connect with you
00:50:40we have a website if you go to veteran compost. Com you can find all the stuff on our website we also pretty good Facebook page that's facebook.com veteran compost to that are our Twitter feed is at veteran compost going to get started in an air bed is pretty well out there on the internet service number

Transcribed by algorithms. Report Errata
Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from For the Veteran/Active Duty/Milspouse Entrepreneur, Veteran Business Owner, & anyone who wants to start. Featuring John Lee Dumas, Kelly Perdew, Rorke Denver, Rob Dyer, and many others..., which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.


Thank you for helping to keep the podcast database up to date.