Episode 83 – Brian Marzka on The Military Millionaire Podcast

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Episode 83 – Brian Marzka on The Military Millionaire Podcast

 

00:00 - 05:00

David:

Hey, what's up military millionaires today we have a little bit of a different episode with Brian Marzka, who is the owner of natural elevations natural office. And he essentially builds really, really high quality standing desks and not like the thing that goes on top of a desk that you can stand up, but like desks that go up and down at the push of a button, and they're really cool.

I'm looking at buying one myself. And we got connected on vetra partner tribe and started talking about maybe doing a podcast. So this is actually a really cool episode because we talk about everything from getting into sales to getting into the furniture business to building a business to developing a product.

But then at the end, we also talk about things like confirmation bias and why watching the news or sports might be hurting you a little bit in your career. So we talk about some really interesting mindset things, too, that will help you out and it's just really cool to see someone who's in a completely different industry than real estate. And we agree on so many entrepreneurial and business related topics.

So definitely stay tuned and check out this entire episode. You'll get a lot of value out of it. As always show notes are found at Frommilitarytomillionaire.com/podcast.
Now relax and enjoy the show.

Intro:

You're listening to the military millionaire podcast, a show about real estate investing for the working class. Stay tuned as we explore ways to help you improve your finances, build wealth through real estate and become a person that is worth knowing.

David:

Hey, listen up guys and girls, active duty and veterans. I have an important announcement to make.

May 29 and 30th in St. Louis. It's going to be the first ever veterans live conference. Now what this is, is it is a military real estate investor conference hosted by military real estate investors spoken at by military real estate investors and attended by military real estate investors. Obviously if you are not military, you are welcome to attend. However, it will be geared towards veterans and service members helping them veterans and service members, myself, the military millionaire community, Stuart Grazer, the military investor network, and Bill Allen of seven figure flipping, are all going to be putting this on together. And this is going to be an awesome event.

So it's gonna be at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the arch, may 29, and 30th. Check out below for a link to register and I look forward to seeing you there.

David:

Hey, what's up everybody? It's Dave from the military millionaire community. And I am here with Brian Marzka, who was a marine infantry veteran with two out of five out here in Camp Pendleton. And now he is a business owner with two different entity suits, natural office and natural elevations, which I've actually been looking at one of his products for a little while we got connected on Facebook, and I thought this would be a lot of fun to bring you guys.

So Brian, welcome to the show.

Brian:

Thanks for having me. I appreciate you taking the time.

David:

Yeah, absolutely. Why don't you tell my audience a little bit about yourself?

Brian:

Oh, so I as you said I was in the flock company two five I was a scout swimmer in the infantry and going through that process, I'd always thought that I'd end up being an attorney.

And then through a little bit of education and talking to some people, I found out that there were attorneys out there at the time making 25 grand a year and I just never knew in my head that would ever be possible to have a Juris Doctor and make like 25 grand a year.

So I just thought it was an automatic rich button. So kind of went another way. So I got out became a bartender because I thought I was going to go back to school, and I could make quick money, work nights, that kind of thing and kind of decompress from the Marine Corps and kind of found myself rudderless and not sure what I really wanted to do.

And in this whole time my family had always owned small businesses. When I say small businesses, they were very small businesses. My father was a drain cleaner. And it was just him. And then eventually, when my brother graduated from school, it was him and my brother, and he just kind of had this in, he didn't trust anyone to hire employees. So he never wanted to expand. Those, you know, he was of that mindset that he was kind of making his own living. So with that, you know, in high school, I worked for him when I was like 12 years old, I would work for him. It was a kind of work where it was like, hey, your hands are small, dig in that drain. to it, you can pull out and if you can imagine everything that goes into a drain. I knew I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life.

05:00 - 10:00

Brian:

So it was kind of everything I kind of did was running from that and a guy came into the bar and he told me I'd be good at sales and he got me to, to selling carpet and eventually work at a radio station, did a couple of other things and then found myself in the office furniture business.

So I wouldn't have known about the industry. Then you think about office furniture, somebody buys something and then they're done. How much office furniture Can people need? But there's all these entities out there. You have every major hospital every, you know, they're constantly buying furniture, they buy, you know, like UPMC around here buys about seven to $8 million a year just in furniture.

So, yeah, it's a big industry. So I I went from working at a dealership, a small dealership in Erie, Pennsylvania and then eventually wanted to get a bigger market. So I moved to Pittsburgh, and I worked in a bigger dealership and always had my idea of how things should be done, as I think we all do. And, you know, of course, you think you can invent a better wheel. And at some point, you know, working in a dealership and I worked as a consultant for different manufacturers, I kind of felt like it was time to put that to the test and call myself on my own bowl and go, can I actually do this and I and I felt confident in my abilities.

So fast forward to 2010 and started a company called natural office. So once I started a national office, it was working as a standard dealer, so an office furniture dealer, if you're familiar with Herman Miller and Steelcase in Hayworth now, those guys are the big five. So it's basically like being a Chevy dealer or, you know, Kia, whatever brand you can think of, and when you're new, starting out there's not, there's not a lot. There's not a lot of interest on those guys' part unless you can come in with a big account. You know something that's multi million and you kind of have to come to the table with that, which nobody's going to give you if you don't have the product and that kind of thing. So you're kind of you're in this catch 22 right?

David:

Yeah, trying to play chicken or egg.

Brian:

Exactly. Yeah. So it played around in that mix for a little bit and ended up getting a contract with the VA because I am a service disabled vet. So I got certified.

Talk to someone I used to work with who was an interior designer at the VA. I called them on day one. I probably called her and said, I think I just started my own business. And I'm not sure where to go. Is there anything you need? She said, Give me two weeks and and and let's have a conversation.

So we had this meeting in two weeks and she first signed the contract for 800 bucks. They had some Heyworth workstations and they said, can you break these now and move them down the hall and put them in another room? And it was, of course it so there's a sub subcontractor company, I got one of them. And then it was me. Just different classes. And I have been in the industry for like 12 years, but I didn't really know how to take the stuff apart and put it back together.

I had an idea I'd seen it a bunch of times, I'd never actually done it. So I was kind of using this installer to figure out how to do this, and kind of pretending that I knew what I was doing. So we moved it down. It went successful, it was fine. It's not really that hard.

And then little by little I really learned that end of the business and then saw this gap in the industry, which was kind of like this facility solutions business. So my business is I get lumped in with Office Furniture dealers, and we do sell plenty of office furniture, but it was really the service. And then as Amazon and those guys grew, and companies, especially in the tech world, were buying all of their office furniture on Amazon, they didn't need somebody to install it. So, what happened was, you called a big furniture dealer, and you would ask, they would ask them if they would install form and they said, well, you didn't buy from us. So good luck, buddy. You know, we're not, we're not going to help you out. And he was foolish because it would be a $50,000 installation.

To me, it was passing up a sale. So I said, I have no real ethics, I need more money than I need anything else. So of course we'll install it and then you'd sell supplemental products. They would say, hey, we need garbage cans. Can I sell those to you? How about this and become a price, that kind of thing. So we basically the best way to describe it is we took that into and instead of approaching a broad base and a lot of coppers because as small as I was, I couldn't get in front of as many customers as my competitors could. We really launched vertically within that business.

10:00 - 15:00

David:

I've heard nothing but good things about going vertical. I think that's a brilliant strategy as far as, you know, building out process, but, man, that's a crazy story. I really like it so there's a friend of mine who calls it the BMW phase, the below minimum wage phase of business. And he says, The reason a lot of people fail is they're not willing to, you know, do work for less than what they were making or do work that they didn't want to do before. So I think it's kind of cool that you tell your story, and one of the first deal you do is, oh, well, I've actually never touched the furniture but yeah, sure, I'll change clothes and tear that apart for 800 bucks, you know, and part of that goes into subcontractors or whatever I think that's I think that's kind of cool. That kind of tells a little bit about your character. And all of this is that yeah, it wasn't.

A lot of people think like, Oh, you know, building the business on the side is Yeah, you just, it's just one day it just blows up and you're, you're rich and you go solo, it's not necessarily.

Brian:

Is that is that kind of how you approach it? I mean, I know you have real estate and things like that you're still in the Marine Corps. So I mean, are you really hands on at hands on that way with your property? or.

David:

So I'm trying to do as much of it virtually as possible. So I hired a virtual property manager, I have a really good agent. So I built a good team back in where I invest. And so my goal in theory is that I should be able to find a property. So it's my agent, my property manager. They can do the walkthrough with the inspector. They can send me pictures, videos, and I mean, realistically, I can purchase a property sight unseen for me personally, about one or two that I've been in now, but at the time of closing, I was stationed in Hawaii.
Negotiated my biggest deal actually in a training evolution in Hawaii.

So it's, I've tried to spend as little time as possible on it, while just building a really good team just because I don't necessarily have the time. But as far as the, like below minimum wage side, I mean, the podcasts, the YouTube channel and all of that I've operated in the red for the last year and a half. I've only just recently like finally, okay, we're not spending money to operate this anymore.

So it's, I kind of have that mentality there. But all of it seems to kind of be structured as how can I get the most done in the least amount of time with it? Whether that means I'm spending a couple bucks to hire someone to do it or not, but.

Brian:

Well, that makes sense. Well, and you know, it's we we met in a veteran entrepreneur or a Facebook page, and the content that I see on there is exactly what you just said the below minimum wage thing where somebody was talking about dog training or something like that. And they said, How much should I charge? And people were saying, Oh, this isn't worth your time, if they're not going to pay you x. It's like, there's this vague advice because if you're in Southern California, that charge is different than if you live in Arkansas. It's just going to be different. And nobody knows who you are. Nobody knows that you're good at this. It was, you know, they're free. If you actually at least get something out of it. I mean, there's jobs that I've done where it's okay, but you're gonna give me a testimonial.

And it's been a while, you know, assuming I'm doing a good job, yeah, better be a really good testimonial because I'm doing this for next to nothing. And that's okay. It's your building that reputation and it's supply and demand, and I always viewed it as how much time do I have and how much money I have, and that dictates the price it just, if I'm overwhelmingly busy, and there's a job that I'm not that interested in, and we're giving a quote, I, it's going to be a little bit higher, because it's got to be worth it. And if I have nothing going on, I'm gonna be really aggressive because I have to be, I have to stay in business and I have to keep things moving.

David:

Yeah, that dynamic pricing. It's just, I mean, it's the same concept with Airbnb or car rentals or everything else, right, as you get two or three days out, the price is way higher than if you'd booked it three months in advance when they had nothing on the schedule.

Brian:

Exactly. Yeah. It's, it's crazy. And it's not about what you're worth. It's not about what you deserve. I mean, everybody deserves to make millionaires you know, whatever. There's a nurse out there that saves lives that doesn't make enough money to feed her kids and she deserves millions of dollars but the market doesn't bear it. Yeah.

15:00 - 20:00

David:

Yep, yep the markets the markets reality check, which is I think a lot of people woke up to that the last like two days where they're like, Hey, wait a minute, what happened to the Dow? Which,whatever a it is what it is I think it's that's kind of been out about long overdue but I mean you see where we're at over GDP on the Dow and it's kind of crazy so whatever.

Anyway before we ramble down the wall street road so what so now you're can you tell us a little bit about your product actually, maybe the development phase and then actually what you're specifically the product that I'm looking at buying?

Brian:

Oh, sure. Yeah, that's my like, baby project. It's the thing I'm obsessed about. You know, I do all my work for the day and then I go home and work on the website and that kind of thing.

So as we go through this guy's like me are going to be out of business. Standard furniture dealers, right. So most My competitors in my belief, it used to be this thing where you bought system furniture. So you needed a guy like me to come in and tell you how is this going to go together? What is the space plan? How many stations can I fit? Because there were all these, like, kind of booby traps if you try to do it yourself.

And like I'd mentioned, if you don't buy someone's product, they don't want to install it. And then that affects the warranty on who installed it all those things. Well, people aren't in cubicles anymore. So we would see it. The tech or the trend always follows tech. Whenever tech companies are doing not what your company is going to be doing in 10 years, and I don't mean, their products, I mean, their office space. I mean, you know, 10 years ago, when Google was providing people with breakfast, everybody was like they're crazy. Well, now insurance companies are providing people with breakfast. It's just gonna happen. So we're seeing that trend and not wanting to be always wanting to evolve and change standing desks where, you know, becoming a big part of the market. And about five years ago, I ended up in a coworking space. And I had all these, these tech guys or, you know, nerds, whatever you want to call found out I was in office furniture and they would come to me and ask me for a quote on us.

And so I was pumping out these quotes for 800,000 bucks for this desk and I would never hear from them and I knew it was the price. You know, there you got a guy that's working in a co-working space. He's trying to start a start off, he's on a shoestring budget using his own money. He doesn't have the money for that. That's a luxury.

So being in the furniture as long as I have been in furniture. I thought this thing isn't that complicated. It goes up and down. How expensive. Why is this my coffee with seven or 800 bucks just to the base. So I have to get at least 800 bucks, if it's fun paying 700. And that's not enough really to sustain your business. So that kind of always felt in the back of my head. And then I don't remember what clicked for me, I would see customers that were buying these online, because they didn't, they thought it's just a simple thing. I need 400 units. It's one line item. And so I decided that I was going to come up with my own and that I could do a better job. I could provide a better product than what was out there.
Not necessarily a better product, I can provide that same product at a much better price. And I knew it had to be the case.

So I started doing a ton of research. I looked at my competitors and the pricing and all that stuff. Who are the players in the market? I kind of found a model that, like specifically, technically, the technical specs on a model that I felt was the best overall value. So that's 300 pound lift capacity, 1.5 inches per second of lift speed, dual motor three stage, it gives you the widest range, right?

So I set that as my goal. And then I started talking to manufacturers, I quickly found out that you're not going to get a building in the United States. Nobody's gonna nobody can make the motors. Being veterans, we get caught in this trap, right? I get more crap from the veteran community or like or hear the conversation about working with companies overseas. But the problem is, is when you're talking to American companies, as I did, they literally laughed at me and said, well, how many units do you need? I said, I don't know yet. How much volume are you gonna buy either? I don't know. I'm not an investor with millions of dollars. That's like, Hey, I'm going to start a production line and I need these parts from you. And we're going to commit to Buying a lot of 50,000 pieces but I can't. I can't do that.

20:00 - 25:00

David:

Yeah.

Brian:

So I don't know if you have experiences like that, but it's demoralizing. So people like the OEM manufacturer and it's so I had to go overseas and do some trial and error. I figured out Alibaba, which I'm sure a lot of people out there are very familiar with.

David:

Yeah

Brian:

So I started there and searched through products and then I found a few closest to what I wanted and I started ordering samples and you're going to pay a fortune because they're going to airfreight it and each of these bases are 65 pounds.

So I think the ballpark is about $7 a kilo to have something air freighted. So you're paying more for the airframe than you are for the product but it's worth it. In the beginning, because like I just did one one product at a time, I will bring one in. It took me about a year. And I found a company that had a product that I liked. And I felt like the quality was there, that actually the decibel level was it for me, it was quieter than everybody else is. And I just kind of never, like who cares? It goes up and down, right? But it's a factor of 40 people in one area. And you're listening to all these, these deaths going up and down. It's, you know, but yeah.

So that's kind of how it started. I went back to them, we went back and forth. And I said, Okay, here's what I don't like about your product. And honestly, the customer service was amazing. They were very, very easy to respond. You do have to work basically the opposite. I'm on East Coast time and essentially, when it's noon here, it's midnight. There. If, if all your sponsors paid 24 hours because you're sending an email during the day, they're responding to it overnight, you get up in the morning, so you're getting one. So you're gonna have to just stay up and have conversations with them. Because if not, it will take forever.

David:

What country is this?

Brian:

China.

David:

Okay

Brian:

Yeah, yeah. China.

David:

You said Alibaba, I should have known that.

Brian:

And now well, yeah, but that's not necessarily because there's a lot of, you know, Pakistan, India, there's some American companies on there, too. So it's, I mean, it's not the norm. And I think American manufacturers have to kind of get with the times and start putting their product on there.

But that's going to be because there's people in India looking for products. And if you're a US manufacturer, it isn't impossible for you to there's some things we do very well here. That could be somebody, just a company could be doing more exporting and they're just not up, but..

Yeah so we did that and we kind of came with the final product I had, I was lucky enough that I had a distribution channel in a natural office. So national elevations being a brand in desk and in other entities, but I was selling natural elevations products through natural office.

So I knew I had to keep the products local, because I'm expecting these motors are going to start smoking and who knows what's going to happen and I was afraid to sell a lot of them. You know, I didn't want to sell 100 of them because I thought if there's an issue, I know that I'm going to maintain my reputation by replacing the product or doing whatever I need to do. And I thought I could be stranded with bad tables, no way to replace them and I couldn't have to go to just one of these manufacturers.

What should I say channel here to buy them in paying 700 bucks a unit to replace somebody's product. I was afraid of that. So I kept it to like 10 units at a time. And as a result, it's they've been in the more I have the oldest product I have. It's been in the market for three years. And the only calls I've had about our user error. So the worst one was somebody called me out of control, block smoking. And I went and I rushed out there thinking, Oh, no, I'm gonna burn this place down and they're gonna, I'm gonna get sued.

And I talked to the guy and he said, the user, and he said, Oh, he goes, Yeah, I stretch my feet and I big kicking the power cord, and it bent the prongs and he goes, like, kind of straighten them out. And I just put it back in there and it started working again. And I'm like, dude, you can't, you can't do that to your broken electrical connection, so obviously it was shorting out and then it caused so we replaced that box and There was no other no other issue.

25:00 - 30:00

Brian:

Yeah, so that's kind of how we develop the product. And then going back to the kind of US thing, our plan long term is now that we have an online presence, which launched a week ago, and right now, I think as you saw, there's only the basis available online.

We do have work surfaces that'll be up this week. But our main, most of our clients in the commercial realm want that base. They have their own work surfaces or they're matching something.

The other thing I look at is with home users we're trying to focus on you can go online and buy an institutional looking desk anywhere for about the same price and fine. So there's about three companies that are really good at it.

We are price comparable to those companies, commercial office furniture dealers were about 30 to 40%, less than. So in the world that I'm used to distributing, we're crushing it. We just had a conversation with the Pennsylvania a, an entity within Pennsylvania.

I mean, within the state, a state facility, and we talked about it, he said no Brian. He said, done, I'll just start ordering them. If we have problems with them, then you're gonna have to take them back and we won't use you anymore. Like, that's kind of how they do it. But it was we were saving them $300 a unit. And we're talking about five of our units 495 so if that gives you perspective.

David:

Yeah. Does that mean that's a huge price cut for them. So that's especially when you scale? I mean, that adds up very quickly.

Brian:

Oh, yeah. And we're, you know, we're talking about the healthcare industry which is having a huge problem with profits right now because they can't charge the patient any more money, but their costs are rising and they've hit this at this point of no return on their pricing, and they can't figure out profitability. So I think the average hospital profit is 2.3%.

So if you, if you imagine, I well, let me go back to primary care 2.3%. The other, you know, surgeries and catastrophic health care is around 6%. So that primary care is a loss leader for them.

So, when we go and talk to people like these major hospitals, and you're taking one line item, which will be the biggest line item that you have to buy over the next few years, that's not replacing another item. So you have an ADA conversion, do you have reasonable accommodations, people are coming in with back injuries. And then on top of it, they've gone from having to buy a $5,000 workstation, that now they need a table because they're paper lists and it's an open environment. It's all these things so these companies that said, well, instead of paying 300 bucks for a table, we can spend 800 bucks for standing.

And, you know, so they're willing to do that, well, we're saving them 300 bucks a unit. And now they're buying hundreds of years, which even if you're just using them on reasonable combinations alone, a reason reasonable, I should probably explain that reasonable accommodations is I have an injury, I go to my employer and I go, Hey, this might work conditions technically are unreasonable. I can't sit for this long because I have a back injury. And and so they'll decide that it's reasonable to modify their workstation to make it healthier.

So they kind of have to do it, if that makes sense.

David:

Yeah, actually, it's not that your infantry world would have entertained this however, I had to go through I became a like a safety rep for the Marine Corps like a year and a half ago. And that's one of the things they talked about: you can get a man. What do they call it? There's an official name for it. But basically the same thing like a survey done for your worksite. And they can basically tell you like, Hey, you need to provide better chairs, better desks, better keyboards, or what I can't remember the official term right now, ironically, I've heard this now for years and I seem to always come in on the back end of like, Oh yeah, we did that. But now we created an extra workstation for you and you don't have any of that stuff.

But there's just probably 20 people in my little section. And there's three different sections in that little office. And one of the sections they use Navy Navy dollars for a lot of their funding every single one of them as a stand up desk. But my section is just the motor T guys so they're like Daaaa, you're fine. I'm like, okay. A desk like sitting in this desk in my broken slumped back chair for eight hours a day is not helping me out here.

And which is why we were joking before we recorded that I'm looking at buying my own even though the military is like yeah, we could buy one for you just might have to wait like I've been waiting for like seven months.

30:00 - 35:00

Brian:

Yeah.

David:

So I completely understand the reasonable accommodations. I think that's, I mean, it makes perfect sense because maybe, maybe not in the fact that an employee should be able to say, Oh, no, you're you're doing this to me. But in the idea that like, yes, sitting at a desk definitely takes a toll over time. Just in the same way that carrying 100 pound rock around the mountain doesn't help you feel any better about your back.

Brian:

It's, it's Yeah, it's um, and actually, you could argue that the guy carrying the rock around is healthier. I mean, like they're, I mean, it's, it's I don't envy what you have to do.

I mean, just sit. I've never had to sit at a desk all day. I've always been in sales. So I'm always out on the road. I'm always I, I can't, I really can't do it. And so all those things, you know, standing desks and being able to move around is all it's all helpful. You know, yeah, it's uh, but yeah, I can't imagine you're right. I can't imagine going, Hey, Gunny. I need a reasonable accommodation. Just shut up and get back to work. But yeah, that is it. You're not in the Navy. Get out of here. Like, Go back. Go back to your corner.

David:

I mean, and that's the reality, but if you push it far enough, they're supposed to do that they're supposed to make sure you have those, which makes sense because I mean, we're supposed to, you know, they're trying to keep us from claiming 100% disability. So.

Brian:

Absolutely. What do you do, they have P cards? Isn't there anybody like with a P card there? That can just be kind of on the fly that has accompanied like a kind of a credit card. Oh, just kind of go hey, yeah, I kind of slid this in there.

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David:

So they've gotten a lot stricter about the serve mark purchases. I know back in I'm sure was probably even better. It's probably been getting stricter as we go. But like when I first joined, I joined to nowait and when I first joined, you know, a lance corporal could sign off on what was needed in the office Marines are getting, you know, the benchmade knives for deployments and vocalese. And, and nice boots and all kinds of crazy things that you're like, we got to shoot one Yeah, but we want this one and just write stuff off right.

And it's like over time it's gone from the Lance Corporal being able to prove stuff to the sergeant to the staff and CEO to now it's like an officer has to sign off on whatever you buy, and because of that, the end because of budget restrictions, there's much less Hey, we're just going to buy this and you know, hey, just purchases with the budget.

So we have been ordering these things now for I don't know three months like the varidesk or whatever. Just a stick on top of a desk.

Brian:

Yeah.

It it's been like three or four months so they've been like Yeah, yeah, we we got those on order but what happens is as soon as something like paper comes up, that's a necessity than the desk is pushed and and so it's like a continual like, yeah, they're they're on the list. Yep, they're on the bottom of the list, but they're on the list and one day we'll get to do the rest of the list and.

Brian:

It always gets kicked down.

David:

Yeah, and and I'm the same like what you said like I never four years ago, you told me I was going to be sitting at a desk for hours a day, I would have told you that I wouldn't realize Just a motor t guy. I've spent my first few years hanging out with camp platoons and you know rolling around in the desert and living the dream and then I was a recruit. I was walking around all the time. And then now it's like I've gone from motor pool to you know, King of my castle at the highest level, you can go and motor T but king of the castle means sitting in a windowless ball. So it's like yeah, this doesn't feel very kingly here. Yeah.

So it's weird, and I've been wrestling with it. In fact, I was talking with my wife earlier today, like I don't get it like, I'm eating right. I've finally had knee surgery, but I'm finally back to PT. And yet, I feel worse than I felt in a long time. And I've realized that's, that's what it is. It's just being stagnant at work.

35:00 - 40:00

Brian:

It's real. It's, you know, and then and especially if it's like, there's all these statistics you about, like some of them almost unhealthy, calm, it's that and it's working at night.

So like if you work sedentary and you work at night, you're in by far the worst category. And I'm talking in comparison to coal miners. I mean, really, it's like they're saying, Hey, this is really unhealthy because when you're working at night when there's not good food available, you know, during the day, you can go to a healthier place for lunch. Now you can do all this stuff, but they're basically sedentary. I mean, they do move around like nurses are 911 operators. Unhealthiest profession. I mean not, I mean, bless them for doing it because it needs to be done. If you want to talk about somebody that deserves to make a million dollars a year and they don't 911 operators if you have ever been in one of those facilities.

Very little sunlight.

David:

No organic food.

Brian:

Yeah, no, no organic foods, like sometimes 12 hours a day because they can't just leave if their replacements are not there, they can't take you, they have to stay. And you know they're eating out of a vending machine, essentially.

You know, it's one of the most unhealthiest places I've ever seen. They are like call centers, especially like 911 centers, because they just can't be, you know, and it's a good job. I mean, it's a well paying job. So I think a lot of people don't want to quit because they don't want to replace that pay. But it's it's a real struggle now in the office and where it used to be, especially in a Marine Corps, it used to be kind of like, haha, you know, it's like, no, it's, it's, I'm with you, I wouldn't be able to sit and especially if you're in a bad chair or something like that.

David:

Yeah, I mean, I'm, like I said, I'm seriously considering buying my own desk for the office and just be like, alright, I'm good, guys.

Brian:

Yeah, and as long as you can take it with you, you know, it's a it's a it's a thing and yeah, that's varidesk It's funny, like you mentioned that it's that's a prime that was one of the, that price point is who I pursued is the reason ours is 495 is I think their their medium model is like 499 or something like that, but, but it definitely provides a solution in certain circumstances, you know.

David:

Yeah, but I like yours like the idea of being able to just like push a button and the desk rises and the desk lowers rather than, like, the those things you like reaching across the desk and try to reach underneath and like pull it up to stay up and then you're like, Okay, I think that's the right height. You're trying to know that. I've seen one. One or two people like to slam it down, all their stuff goes.

Brian:

Yeah, yeah. Well, in a flip, if you lean, you're not paying attention. you lean on it, it can tip. The other thing is where do you put your coffee? So you have this big contraption, one, it's always on your desk. So even when you're sitting, it's on your desk. It's not out of the way, and then it's fine. I mean, it serves a purpose. I think the theory is it's cheaper because people have seen the standing desk is 8 - 900 bucks and then this thing is for 500, and now you can get them for you can buy one on Amazon for 100 bucks. I mean, obviously, it's not as sophisticated, but it does go up and down. And if that's what you want, and I definitely think there's a market for that.

But yeah, I mean in going back to product development and things like that if you find those niches and find those, that was the hardest part for me as I thought I wanted to, I wanted to do a product for a long time. But it's like, Where's the whole like, what am I and then you kind of think of am I that smart to be able to come up with the new wheel and that kind of thing, which I don't think we've done that. But it's, I kind of got into a market some people are already in and then we're just marketing it differently.

You know, the online companies have been telling me about home users, I basically took that online model and took it to heart. You know, commercial marketplace, you know.

David:

Man, so it's just a cool story. I mean, everything that you've done, but it just flows together really well. And it, it's, I mean, it's just, it's cool to me to be able to, you know, there's something cool about being able to say like, Oh, yeah, I've kind of building this online presence and, you know, but it's totally different when it's like, yeah, I built this product is this tangible thing that you can like, go click, and I think that's really cool. And the fact that you didn't let it stop you that American manufacturers were kind of telling you to eff you and which, you know, I see that and I you mentioned that earlier, I wanted to touch on the veteran community busting chops about not working with veterans and I get it right. You know, there's definitely something about being American made. And that's like something we walk around and say, Yeah, but, man, sometimes the veteran community is just way too focused on tearing each other down. But anyway, the reality is like, that's great. But if you can't

afford to cut your teeth in a business because you're going with an American manufacturer whose like, Is it really? Is it more noble to die? Because you went with a more expensive manufacturer? Or is it more noble to provide a better service and a better product because you were willing to look outside the US and I, I think, hey, look, you know, at the end of the day, I think building a business that actually succeeds as a veteran is way more noble than saying, Yeah, I bought from American manufacturers, but I never got off the ground.

40:00 - 45:00

Brian:

Right. Well, and I think the very, very important part of this that I've kinda neglected, is that when you think you're buying one, so if you're buying one of these debts, if not being made here, they're being sold everywhere. So you can go to these manufacturers and I don't want to name them. Because if you know, don't yeah, I guess evidence of exactly where it comes from. But I've been dealing with the office furniture industry for 22 years, and I've even been a call consultant for these manufacturers for four or five years. And this is what they do.

So you have a major office furniture manufacturer and they essentially assemble things, right? So they go to an OEM manufacturer, they get parts so if it's a panel, they'll spot welded together, and then they cover it with the fabric but that you know, they're not bending steel and they're not doing and that's great. That's still manufacturing.

David:

Yep

Brian:

With a product like this. This is how it works. They make the panels, they make the work surfaces, they make all these things that's, that's great. It's good American jobs with a product like this. They order it from China. And this is how they do it. So they go through a go to an importer who then either is their own broker or works with another broker.
Who works with the company in China. So it's usually a guy that speaks the language. He's from there. He knows American business and Chinese business is a broker, he negotiates the deal, they sell it to this importer, they pay that importer to bring the product in. So there's three or four people taking that money. Before it even hits a dealer, then the dealer is expected to pay 700 bucks a unit, because all those people had to get paid, then they need to sell it to the consumer. So now you have a product that's 1000 bucks that you could buy for 500.

So what we've done is we just went directly to that manufacturer, so we're not doing anything that anyone else is doing and I defy you. I've seen all these products. There's the same markers on them. There's the same identifiers when I'm having a conversation with a manufacturer, because when we're negotiating products, well, I asked these questions and it's not a secret they go of course Yeah, like we're not making like you crazy. You know how much it would cost if we made it? Like, you know, I mean, this isn't a secret. It's not. And I think that a lot of people when they have that argument, like, why aren't you making this in the US? So when you bought it and made me, you know.

David:

It'd maybe assembled.

Brian:

Maybe it's that well, so by that matter, we assemble it in the US. So, I mean.

David:

True.

Brian:

You know, I mean, it's, it's, it's kind of a fruitless argument. And I think a lot of the people that I've encountered that are very passionate about that argument, they just don't understand how it's done today, and it's, I hate to call anybody naive, but it's, it's just not how it works.

David:

Sounds like half the conversations I have with people about things going on in the political realm or the world or current events or anything like so which media outlet did you listen to? Oh, would you consider them to be objective because I don't think they are.

Brian:

Absolutely.

David:

Probably do some homework. Or the people who read the headline. That's my favorite. They read a headline. And then they have all these great thoughts. And you're like, did you read the article?

No.

Well, yeah, probably wouldn't realize this, this and this, had you read the article.

Brian:

Absolutely. Yeah. And then there's all these added things. It's like, well, if I'm hiring 40 people to assemble these themselves, like that's 40 American jobs, like, why isn't that I believe me, I want everything to be made here.

I think it can be done. And we eventually we're going to have some of the parts and start inserting some of the parts we use and be able to have it done. But I can't do it until we have volume.

And to your point, like with the confirmation bias is my favorite. Within that with the articles where they go now there was a study done by you know, MIT or whoever, Harvard did a study and it's, well I can find your three studies that I think too when.

45:00 - 50:00

David:

You're my new favorite person.

I royally pissed off somebody that I work with about a year ago and I'm not gonna name names or specific situations because you know but it was it was exactly that he was just going off about science and studies and I was like look man you realize you can find a study to prove any theory you have if you look hard enough somebody did is for for for all that is holy there are there's just an exorbitant amount of not even information but like fasting right we'll use fasting is one of my favorites. Yeah, fasting is extremely healthy. You do a 24 hour fast 48 hour fast cleanse your body there's all kinds of research but you'll never see it anywhere because guess who pays for studies not people that make money off you not buying products?

Brian:

Food companies? Yeah.

David:

Yeah, so Oh fats bad. Why? Well, because I saw this study Oh, sugars are bad. Why? Because it's all this sugar free company doing a study. And so it's funny to me because I'm like, you You know, have you ever fasted like? Yeah. Did you feel okay? Yeah, I felt amazing.

Brian:

Yeah.

David:

You don't see any studies on that? Oh, that's because nobody makes money off that study.

Brian:

Right. Yeah. And yeah, it's, it's, uh, I got in the discussion with the vegan thing is, is, I think it's a I think it is a healthy thing. I don't I'm not against it, but it tends to be that people think it's the only way and that's where I don't believe in absolute.

David:

No.

Brian:

I think that different things work for different people. And of course, there's some common sense things right if I'm on the McDonald's diet.

You know, that well, of course, but is that the meat that you're comparing? Is it McDonald's meat that you're comparing? Or is it like, grass fed, you know, farm raised beef that you know, that you have access to?

So it's it's I don't know different Thanks for different people, and especially us as business people, I don't have the luxury of caring, I mean, I care who is going to be president. And all I can do is vote and do that thing. And then whoever's president, I'm going to go, you know, you're the commander in chief and I need to operate my business. I'm more worried about that. So I need to now develop strategies based on who's in office and it affects me in that way. But I'm probably gonna get a lot of flack, but I don't really care.

You know what I mean, I vote and I do that and I move on. If I'm not upset by it, I think if we get mired down in it, what are we going to, you know, I need to operate my business.

David:

We we recently installed cable TVs one or two in the office just I don't know the nice gesture from the CEO because we have 24 hour watch no cell phones, you know, so I guess that's part of it is like, there are definitely nights where I'm sure my night watch is sitting there with a book like oh my god, this is the moment miserable thing I've ever done in my life because the internet's down half the time you know how it goes, was like, I don't know, internet. I got no phone. I have no windows. I have no you know, like, at some point, it's just you go crazy.

So, installing a TV's great. But I keep getting flat because I turned it off during the day. Like, what are you doing? Like? Well, for one, I don't like people. It's right behind me. Like I don't like people hovering around my desk watching the news for two. I don't like watching the news. It's just like, what, the two strongest emotions and I explained it to everyone. I'm like the two strongest emotions that the news panders to anger and fear. Neither of those is gonna do you any good in life, but that's what you're watching. And you watch the news. So like, find it not Fox, not CNN, not, you know, like, no matter where you watch, like, you gotta get to find an objective outlet. And the beautiful thing is, and I try to tell them all this is like if something really matters, you guys will tell me. I'll know if something really bad happens. I promise I won't be in the dark. But as far as who said what at the debate, I can read the highlight reel in five minutes instead of watching three hours of people just griping at each other.

Brian:

Right. Yeah, I mean, and the other side of that is I do the same exact thing, by the way, and I don't know if you're aware of this. That's a Tim Ferriss philosophy. Before the four hour work week

David:

I love Tim Ferriss.

Brian:

What’s that?

David:

That's probably where I got it originally.

Brian:

Yeah, yeah, that's, um, it's definitely where I got it. And I don't. My life is exponentially better. I'm not missing out on anything. I don't think I still permeate my life. And like Tim Ferriss had said, if he hasn't heard anything in a while, he'll ask a waiter, like, if he's in a restaurant, okay, what's the biggest thing in the news today? And they'll tell him and go, I'm gonna read about that. And then he'll, you know, look up an article read and then he moves on.

And I noticed that I, I just feel better, you know, and I just, I'm happier.

50:00 - 55:00

David:

Absolutely.

Brian:

That's like Facebook, our viewers and all that, like getting caught up and that's so negative. You know.

David:

I just unfollow people like, I don't want to unfriend you. I don't dislike you, but I don't want to see the negativity that you're spreading across my feed right now.

Brian:

Oh, that's smart. Yeah.

David:

Yeah. If you unfollow them they have no idea. And it's great. My newsfeed is so much better now.

Brian:

And then you didn't offend them. You know.

And for everyone who's listening to this, who's about to make some comment. I unfollow you whether you are Republican, Democrat, straight, gay, white, black or whatever. If you are a Yeah, Nancy, on my feet.

Brian:

Are you guys seeing that in the Marine Corps, like how it's divided. And, you know, my experience, my Marine Corps experience, especially when you're in the infantry is you're not really mixed with other ages. It's 18 to 22. That's who you're with, essentially. And if there's this, you have a 25 year old sergeant, and that's it. That's my experience.

So from your perspective, I haven't been in a while. And then today's climate, is it the same as you think is other workplaces are what you're like, wait, this guy's a Democrat, this guy's a Republican, and.

David:

Man, so far I'm in a weird office right now because you know, I'm in 11 and a half years and I'm one of the youngest permanent personnel there. We have some TD Marines that do six months shifts. But you know, I work in an office where it's like, Master guns, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Captain, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, you know, whatever.

And so there's a very big age. I mean, we've got everything from I think, like 52, or 50, threes, our oldest marine down to like a couple, you know, 20 year olds, so it's a very much more diverse age range.

I think we still do a very good job of remaining objective. I mean, obviously, there's, you can tell by talking with people kind of what their beliefs are, but there's still a very good job of keeping politics out of things. And you know, I think that's great. I think it's incredible. I think one of the greatest things the military does is by areas of putting that off limits because those discussions are often so unproductive and so negative and such a deterrent to a workspace.

And so we're able to, I mean, I was in a discussion yesterday with a gentleman. He's a retired GS position, civilian. And he was one of the guys, you know, hanging out around the watercooler, which is not my TV. And a very smart guy very clearly has completely different belief systems than I do. But we were able to have a conversation about it where you can tell we were having a conversation and we both did not agree with the other but it was very professional. And it was based on the discussion hovering around how the media spins, things and that side of things, but it didn't realm into beliefs or attacks, or he said, she said, and I think as long as you can keep it to that you're still being at least somewhat productive.

So military stuff, it still does a good job of keeping it professional in that realm, which I'm very glad for.

Brian:

Well, that's great.

Yeah, my favorite responses. Yeah, maybe. And I don't mean that in a dismissive way, if somebody tells me I've just been around long enough that I know that I've been wrong, you know, I've had complete beliefs that I was, you know, immersed in that I was like, there's no way that this is wrong. And then I'm like, What was it? Tell me. So I don't really commit to anything. I mean, there's certain things that I believe to be the right thing to do.

There are certain things that, you know, obviously, we all have our ethics and morals and those kinds of things. But as far as the opinion that somebody's giving me could sound outlandish, but that could be my opinion in five years, and I'll go, why am I gonna argue with you? And that's why I don't like what I said, I don't believe in absolute. If it's a subjective thing and go, yeah, maybe I don't. Where do we go when we die? I don't if you're not saying I don't know, at some point. We all have a theory, right. You lay out your theory and go but I don't know. I've never died. No, I don't. You know, I know what I believe. And that's it.

David:

Yeah, I think that's a really good way to Look, I always tell people like if you're in a debate with someone a heated debate, especially if you can't pause and say, What is one part of their argument that I agree with, and you can't think of anything, then you just step away from the argument because you're not thinking rationally because no matter what debate we're having, there is something like not to get into the political realm, but we'll use abortion which everybody loves or hates. And I'm not going to speak on viewpoints, but whether you agree with it or disagree with it, there are things that about it that are pros, and there are things about it that are cons and if you can't find one thing about any argument, guns or whatever, that you agree with on the opposing spectrum, then you're it's not because there isn't anything, it's because you're emotionally invested, rather than logically invested. And you're not going to be able to make any progress in this argument anyway, so you might as well just walk away. People hate that, but it's like, yeah, you know, I mean, it is what it is. That's like debate one on one, you have to be civil and you can't do that if you're emotionally involved.

55:00 - 60:00

Brian:

Yeah, well, and plus, you have to be hearing the other person right. I mean, if you're If you're not, it's, it's, you know, people seem to have these canned arguments where they're gonna you, you respond, and then they have this canned argument that is closest related to what you just said. But it's not exactly related to what you just said, in a way and I say that I maybe I, you know, I had a, I was in a, in a bar and I was with a friend of mine and we were trying to have a conversation and somehow we got into, I don't know if, you know, Pittsburgh's like on the the the tipping point the tip of the spear with autonomous vehicles.

So Uber ACC is killing it here. I mean, they're they're like I shouldn't have said that but because there was a person entered, but they they're I mean they're but they're, they're doing great things are go with here auto has a presence here and these are you know, they're they're this three, right off top my head autonomous vehicle companies right here in Pittsburgh. So we got this discussion in which this guy is arguing against eponymous vehicles, like, he's like mad. And we were saying, hey, in 10 years, that's how it's going to be. I mean, you're your tractor trailers, right. That's the way it's going.

I don't know exactly how that's going to happen. But it's going to, it's going to happen. And this was a guy that worked for a major car company, who works there on autonomous vehicles, who was kind of arguing against. He was making these weird arguments. And then finally, I was starting to ask him, don't you work in the industry? Why would you work in an industry that you think is going to fail? Like you don't believe in it if you don't, and we came down to him just like the argument. He doesn't even believe what he was saying. And when I started dissecting, and I'm like, yeah, but you're saying this and what, why? And he goes, I said, you just like to argue and he said, I've been told that before.

So it's like, why I don't want to talk to you anymore. It's like you're trying to get me frustrated and that's a hobby for you. I don't want to be around you. Like I'm sure he's a good guy, right? Who knows why he does what he does. But.

David:

That's funny.

Brian:

I'm always trying to be aware of that.

David:

Yeah, definitely a lot of that out there these days people just stirring the pot. Yeah to try to watch out.

Alright, so if an 18-19 year old was to come up to you asking you for advice about trying to build a business or get started in sales or you know, one of those worlds that you have expertise in what do you think you would tell them?

Brian:

I would say obviously, like take in all the information around you, you know, I mean, it's like listen, definitely listen to the people that have been there. But don't take that as the only truth.

You know, we need to have respect for people that have been around. You have to calculate that I kind of came up with this belief that the end all be all was with people who came before me. And then when I had ideas, they were those people that were the naysayers, that this won't work, that won't work, this won't work. And I found that I was a smart person. I didn't know what I was talking about. But you have to be very careful with that path.

So I would say Believe in yourself, have faith in yourself, but be humble about it.

David:

I like that. I think that's good, because I think a lot of people give too much weight to advice they hear and they let it stop them. And then where would people like Elon Musk be if they listened to all the people who said, oh, maybe you should keep your feet on the floor.

Brian:

Absolutely, yeah. Just accept that maybe you think differently than other people do. I struggled with that. And you know, I wish I hadn't. I wish I embraced it more.

David:

Awesome. What is a resource, a book course, website or whatever that you would recommend for anybody getting started in business?

Brian:

Listen, listen, it's all Gary Vaynerchuk

If anything, he's just telling you to do it. He's telling you, you have time you have I got a ton of advice, social, I wouldn't be doing anything in social media. Over the last three years, I've really hyped up my social media presence, all that kind of thing, which has helped me tremendously. And I don't, you know, so, so he's the guy. For me right now.

David:

I'm a huge fan. I just don't sugarcoat stuff, which is as a Marine, you know, it's really refreshing to hear somebody tell me that I'm being a frickin moron.

Brian:

Right? Yeah. And, he has predictions. I mean, he has if you watch him, maybe that's confirmation bias because I follow him and he tells me that he had predictions but, but some of the things are undeniable. I know the latest, he said his LinkedIn is the next thing.

That kind of thing. So Todd Hammond, Tim Ferriss.

David:

Yeah, I like Tim Ferriss a lot for four hour workweeks. Probably, probably one of the most read books that I have on my audible list. So.

Brian:

yeah, that's great. And yeah, it's, it's, I was surprised that it wasn't exactly what I saw. It's not like you know, it's just about being smart about how you do things instead of, it's not just like, get rich quick kind of book that I thought it was.

David:

Perfect. I needed it to remind me that I needed to.

I've listened to it on Audible a million times. I need to buy the hard copy of that book. And put that one up behind me on my little wall of three or four books that I like because it's a good one.

Alright, so before we wrap this up, where can people get a hold of you if they have questions or they want to check out your product?

Brian:

Okay, so the newest thing is so naturalelevations.com is where the product is.

And now like, I think I'd mentioned right now it's only the base that we do have work surfaces. And there'll be some work surfaces up this week. But right now now naturalinnovations.com if you just want to reach out our standard informational pages naturaloffice.net, hit me up on LinkedIn, Brian Marzka, natural office on Instagram, Facebook, Brian Marzka just reach out message me DM me, whatever you want for I'm always up to talk about anything too. So even if you just have ergonomic questions, how do I get healthier and you're not trying to buy products, I'm happy to give any information that anybody wants.

David:

Awesome. Well, this is a lot of fun. I really appreciate you coming on the show. And I'll make sure that I put all that stuff down in the show notes for all my listeners. So you can go check this out. There's a Pretty decent chance you'll see me with one of these desks in the near future. So, Brian, I really appreciate you coming on and talking to me.

Brian:

I appreciate it, Dave. Thanks a lot for having me on.

David:

Yeah, absolutely. Have a great day.

All right, you too man.

End

Thank you for listening to another episode about my journey From military to millionaire. If you liked it, be sure to visit From military to millionaire comm slash podcast to subscribe to future podcasts. While you're there, we'd love for you to rate the show. Give us a review on iTunes. Now get out there and take action

Brian Marzka on The Military Millionaire Podcast

Episode: 83

Brian Marzka

Join David Pere (The Military Millionaire Podcast) and Brian Marzka (Natural Office Furniture and Natural Elevations) as they chat about his approach to business and his learnings from being an office furniture dealer. Brian shares how he ran from a life of being a drain cleaner by transitioning through multiple jobs and eventually stepped into the office furniture business. They touch on important values like being willing to work below minimum wage and some points to be concerned about regarding unhealthy ergonomics in the workplace.

By the end of this episode, you will learn the importance of scaling your business, ways to deal with differing opinions, and to have faith in yourself while being humble. Enjoy!

~

About Brian Marzka:

Brian Marzka is a service-disabled veteran with 22 years of experience in the interiors industry. Brian served in the U.S. Marine Corps studying counter terrorism and working at MCSF Cecil Field and MCSF Yorkstown. He later served as an infantry rifleman and scout swimmer with a special operations capable raid company, Fox Co. 2nd Battalion 5th Marines.

Brian Marzka is a Marine infantry veteran turned office furniture and design consultant. After being in business for almost 10 years as a dealer and facility solutions provider, Brian developed and sells his own brand of standing desk.

Brian started Natural Office believing clients should have a wider breadth of services available from a single vendor.

About Natural Office:

Natural Office Furniture is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business certified by the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Verification and Evaluation. Natural Office is a facility solutions provider for your entire office. We provide office furniture, related design & space plans, installation, reconfiguration, and move services. We will even hang your pictures for you!

~

You can find Brian Marzka on…

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-marzka-0b589ab

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brian_marzka

Instagram: http://instagram.com/natural_office

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTEwkeOkuYPpXfaMT8nZyaw

Natural Office Website: https://www.naturaloffice.net/

Natural Elevations: https://naturalelevations.com/

Advice to an 18-20-year old:

Listen to the people who have been there, but don’t take that as the only truth!

Recommended resource(s):

Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferriss

Sponsor: Veteran’s Live: https://veteransrei.com/home

Audible: https://www.frommilitarytomillioinaire.com/audible

Real Estate Investing Course: https://military-millionaire-academy.teachable.com/p/from-zero-to-one-real-estate-investing-101

Recommended books and tools: https://www.frommilitarytomillionaire.com/kit/

SUBSCRIBE: https://bit.ly/2Q3EvfE

Website: https://www.frommilitarytomillionaire.com/start-here/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/frommilitarytomillionaire/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/militarymillionaire/

My name is David Pere, I am an active duty Marine, and have realized that service members and the working class use the phrase “I don’t get paid enough” entirely too often. The reality is that most often our financial situation is self-inflicted. After having success with real estate investing, I started From Military to Millionaire to teach personal finance and real estate investing to service members and the working class. As a result, I have helped many of my readers increase their savings gap, and increase their chances of achieving financial freedom! – Click here to SUBSCRIBE: https://bit.ly/2Q3EvfE to the channel for more awesome videos!

THIS SITE IS INDEPENDENTLY OWNED AND OPERATED. ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED HEREIN ARE MY OWN. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS SITE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR OR THE AUTHOR’S INVITED GUEST POSTERS, AND MAY NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE US GOVERNMENT, THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, OR THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS.

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David Pere

David Pere

David is an active duty Marine, who devotes his free time to teaching personal finance and real estate investing for service members, and the working class!

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