Here’s an interview Ben Ricciardi (Ironclad) did with Jason Gilstrap (Core Group) at the recent Collective23 “A Property Restoration and Insurance Festival” in Austin, TX.

About Core Group: 
CORE Group is one of the largest collectives of Restoration Contractors in the US. With an eye on education, culture, and excellence in the industry, they’re mission is to provide outstanding service and industry leading support for all of their members.
Ben: And this is Jason Gillstrap from CORE, and he’s one of the men that’s put this together. He actually put me in a leg lock and made me come here this weekend, but I’m glad he did. This has been a great event. Jason, welcome to the podcast. I know I had him and Diane on episode, if you guys listened to it, that aired last week.

So listen, I’ve been just bragging. I’ve spent the last nine minutes or so live bragging about your event, how great it’s been. I’m blown away. I’m really happy to be out here but the one thing I was just talking about to myself. I’m glad you showed up right at the right time was core university.

I wanted to tell us a little bit more about that. You had a breakout session yesterday. You went through a lot and I was really impressed with what you guys have going on. So for people that don’t know what it is and really missed out on this event, why don’t you walk us through what you guys have going on?

Jason: Well, what we did when we decided to build a platform, right? What are CORE’s core values? It’s to really practice, continuous improvement. Well, how do you do that? Education is usually the key to doing that. So when we knew we wanted to build this platform, we didn’t really know how we wanted to do it.

Then we started thinking, it’s like, look, we have all these amazing relationships in the industry and outside the industry. They have certain levels of training already available. Let’s create a hub. Let’s make it easy to find. You know, now all this information is available as it is, but you have to go a million different places to find it.

Let’s locate it centrally, but let’s even go further than that. Let’s create exclusive content that is specifically designed for our industry. Let’s give them onboarding platforms. Let’s give them career paths. Let’s do more. Let’s not just educate it. Let’s give people the opportunity to really change their lives. And that’s what we’ve done with core you.

Ben: Yeah! And I like, you know, and you keep saying that like, we want to have a hub and aggregation of all this content out there, but, you know, as well as I do, there’s a lot of bad information out there. So what, how hard has it been to kind of, find the right stuff and get that right there? Because I’m sure they’re getting a lot of back and forth when it comes to that.

Jason: Well, look. We, everyone in this industry already knows, you have your acronyms, everybody uses them on their emails and on their LinkedIn profiles, and those are important, and that’s fine. But there’s also tons of other stuff out there that’s relevant, whether it’s the job management software you use, or the estimating software you use, all that stuff is pretty commonplace.

Now, when you get into some other issues, you know, HR, and because where we want to expand, because all this stuff’s traditionally not offered in a lot of places in our industry, you know, then you really have to be careful. Because you can, but the way we decided to do it is, we’ve had people say, “Okay. We want to be the only safety provider.”

No, not gonna happen, right? We want more providers. It’s true. Capitalism at its best. We want the end user to have the option to fit what I mean pick what fits them the best.

Ben: Yeah. I’m sure that vetting process is pretty astringent.

Jason: It is. Yeah.

Ben: I know I can only speak for my industry in marketing. There’s a lot of BS out there so, you know, I really appreciate, again, it just attests to what you have going on. When is it actually officially launching?

Jason: So you can actually go now, register now. We have about 130 courses that are active right now. By the end of September, we’ll have over. 400 by the end of the year, we’ll have over 1000.

Ben: What’s the URL? I’m going to put it in on the banner here for anybody.

Jason: Oh, I’m sorry.

Ben: I’m going here excuse we’re live and I don’t have a big team to do this. I’m going to scroll the url here on the bottom. You can check it out I had a chance to pour through the website a little bit yesterday during the breakout session. It’s impressive.

The amount of information is just there now and you’re barely scratching the surfaces so it’s a kudos to you about that. So there’s a couple things I’ve run across since I’ve been here. One of the things being the Core Perks. And I wanted to learn a little bit more I know there’s some people that have asked me about it before. Can you tell me a little bit more about Core Perks and what it is to be part of that?

Jason: So that’s our fine program. And Core Perks is really our way of allowing that independent restorer to have the buying power of a major franchise. You know, levels of playing field. You know, your small, Mom and Pop shop can’t always get the same pricing as your larger franchise models because they just don’t have a buyer.

So Core Perks is our effort to alleviate that level of playing field and I think we have over a hundred vendors now and it’s you have names and we’re here from Home Depot Lowe’s to Sure. Whims or Rams code up, you name it they’re involved. And they guarantee us that they’re, you know, our providers are going to get best industry, best price, pricing across the board.

So, you know, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing a billion dollars a year for revenue or a million, you’re getting the same price from all these.

Ben: Wow. That’s tough to do. So that’s awesome. How do people get involved with the Core Perks?

Jason: I think it’s

Ben: But everything I’m sure they can reach from on your main website.

Jason: They can have all access there.

Ben: So we’re on day three of the Collective. This is, again, I’m talking about this event like it’s all blue in the face. It’s great. You know, kudos to you and your team. I mean, it’s very impressive. I had no idea what to expect. Maybe that’s why I’m so blown away, but I have a hard time. There’s a meditation room, guys.

I mean, breakfast this morning. I mean, there’s not a lot of events that do it like you guys do at the event last night. We’re all kind of dragging a** a little bit this morning because of the music festival that they actually put on. And we thought, yeah, just a theme, you know, I’m thinking theme. Okay. Yeah, whatever. We’re going to have some music playing in a hall somewhere.

No, before rented out this entire park, an entire, what is, I guess, a food fairground, Austin. I walked in, I hadn’t eaten, so I’m going to go check this event out for a little bit. I walked in and it was everything you could think of you want to eat. So what I did, obviously in my nature is I gorged myself until I fell asleep at 10 and missed out on all the fun.

But I’m kind of, glad I did because I’m able to come on here live today and not be a drooling on myself and slurring my speech too much. Maybe in another hour or so when I crashed.

Jason: It’s a great event.

Ben: Jason, anything else coming up today that people, if they’re here and watching this, are they checking on LinkedIn that they have to attend to go check out?

Jason: So, we’ll do a Battling Bias Roundtable, which is gonna include some, diversity, equity, and inclusion stuff in our industry. And then I won’t be hosting another breakout session on core university.

Ben: So if you’re here at the collective and you’re up in your room, and you’re nursing a hangover from the music festival last night, make sure you don’t miss that. I saw the breakout session on the core. It’s definitely worth a watch. And then check out everything they got going on.

Now, I’m going to get a little bit granular with you about the restoration industry in general. I want to know, and I asked everybody this all the time. I may have asked you this the other day on the podcast, but what do you see the biggest issue this industry is facing today?

Jason: So it’s funny. We were asked this question first of the year by our CEO, Dane DeSera. It’s like, you know, what do you think our biggest issue is? To me, it is our reputation as an industry.

Ben: Yeah, okay.

Jason: That’s one of the things I think we have to overcome is whether it be carriers, whether it be just bad press, whatever. Contractors in general don’t always have the best image, the restoration contractors. Because we often work directly with insurance.

We have somewhat of a negative image and you know, core, that’s the main part of us is to be, we, you know, reinvent that image and recreate it. And put some pride back in people’s step when they say they’re an administration contract.

Ben: Yeah! That’s incredible. And you know what, I can see what the path you guys have taken that so far, even just with this event. You know, another big industry is this labor shortage and reaching these younger generations and everybody I know that’s a contract, I have a contracting company as well. It’s tough. It’s tough to hire. It’s just people don’t know about this industry.

Jason: They only know number two.

Ben: Number two. Number one and number two, they’re pretty much, and they go hand in hand because… If you’re not educating the industry and they have a bad why would anybody want to go into something that’s got a bad name?

So I think again, patting you guys on the back some more you guys are really doing the right thing. Not a lot of people are doing what you guys are doing here at core. So that’s incredible.

Jason: Yeah, the labor shortage is something we’re all going to feel really soon. So…

Ben: Worse and worse.

Jason: Really, Core University will help alleviate some of that. We have some packages built into the platform. Some solutions in the program itself, but we’re all going to feel that pressure really soon.

Ben: Yeah, I think you had some numbers up yesterday. I think we’re going to need another half a million people to complete the work. That’s already come up just this year.

Jason: That’s current demand.

Ben: And we’ve got three months left in a year, I guess now. September already. Yeah, it’s crazy. And then what was the 41 percent of the people that retire? I mean, so there’s a everybody out there is listening as restorers getting involved with core, getting involved with your industry associations, getting involved politically in your community.

Let’s set a good name for this industry because it did have a bad name in the past and that’s why, you know, Florida is dealing with what we’re dealing with with the AOB stuff and there’s two extremes going on right now.

Hopefully they meet somewhere in the middle again and we really need to work on doing a good job. But again, that’s why core and Dan and the team, Diane, you, everybody I’ve met here is like, I’m looking at the next generation. You know, some of the younger people you have here running the event.

I’m looking at the next gen and you guys are doing a good job. I mean, I’ve never been to, I’m going to be 40 in a couple of days. I’ve never been to a music festival. The yesterday was my first one and it was a restoration event. So you guys definitely are reaching out and trying to solve both those problems.

It does make you look good. I think even some of the restoration contractors that are new, this is their first time speaking to them throughout the week. They’re, they’re blown away. Yeah, they’re, it looks, they’ve got to reset their, that old knuckle dragon contractor mentality.

It works sometimes, you know, you get the apprentice here and there, but if you really want to reach out and you want to step away from your business and continue, then you need to be involved in things like this. All right, man. Well, what else you got going on today?

You got the core thing coming up We’ve got a couple of the bias sessions starting in about five minutes. So if you’re here up in your room get down now, it’s starting in actually 10 minutes from now I’m gonna keep going live. I’m gonna start to drag everybody in here.

So if you see dan tell dan to come stop by we’ll talk about core I’d love to have him on I know everybody wants to get to know him a little bit.

Jason: Last day, He was, he’s running around with his hair on fire. Everybody is, you know, one thing we try to do is keep the energy up. Day three is real. It’s really easy to kind of be, you know, cause we’re 16 hours a day.

So it’s really easy to kind of, lose that energy. And, you know, Chris, Brandon, Floodlight just gave me amazing speech. He energized everybody this morning. So, and it’s going to be a strong finish. We’re looking forward to it. We’re just glad everybody’s here.

Ben: Awesome, man. Well, thanks for stopping by now. You said you walked like, eight miles already the last couple days or more.

Jason: Eight miles a day.

Ben: Eight miles a day. So he was at maybe a 25 at the hotels. Well, if you ever want to pop back in and talk come on over you can stay.

Jason: Sounds good.

Ben: All right, man. Thanks for coming in!

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