Josh Smith Talks Clutch Fabrication

clutch fabrication

Your Business Is a Reflection of You

This holds true whether you intend it to or not.  As the owner, your identity is embedded in every aspect of your business– the procedures you use, the finished product, and your customers’ experience.  This is a non-negotiable part of running a business, and any owner who’s uncomfortable with it should run for the hills.

The metaphor that says ‘owning a business is like having a child’ might be a bit overused, but important truths still remain in it.  Anything we create is a reflection of us.

But running a healthy, profitable business exhausts the parenting metaphor pretty quickly.  Parenting a child is something we mostly do all by ourselves.  As parents, we take tragic missteps and achieve the occasional much sought after success.  But these are all hidden from view, at least until they emerge years later as our children grow up.

The Parenting Analogy Works as a Foundation, But It Won’t Build a House

It doesn’t take long for a business owner to transition from the parent figure to a role that’s closer to an architect– the designer whose blueprint will lead to failure or success.  But wait.  Once the design is finished, the architect hands the  the design over to the builders and that’s about it.

So maybe the architect analogy is a little off base too.  Owning a business is probably more like being an Orchestra Conductor, an artist who masterfully blends distinct musical parts into a unified and beautiful whole.  And yet the conductor doesn’t write the symphony– the road map has already been drawn by the composer.  This doesn’t happen when you own a business– most of us have never had a road map and probably wouldn’t follow it if we did.

The reality is that no analogy works perfectly, largely because owning a business is a lot more complicated than anyone likes to admit.  We’re the parents, the architect, and the conductor in the metaphors we mentioned above.  We’ll probably also spend time playing every role you can imagine, from the secretary and the banker to the backhoe operator and everything in between.

And as we learn to wear all these hats properly, little pieces of ourselves are grafted onto the business and become its fingerprint.  Even as we’re training employees or hiring contractors, we continue to the authors of our business’s story.  That’s how our brand ultimately becomes a reflection of ourselves.  The best business owners look into the mirror often and, more often than not, they’re proud of what they see staring back at them.

Our guest today isn’t particularly interested in mirrors.  He’s most comfortable in a world of flying sparks and heavy sheets of metal.  His love of building began when he was still a kid.  It continued to grow as he built low rider cars and motorcycles in his days as part of the DIY Punk scene.  This week’s podcast features Josh Smith. He’s the owner of Clutch Fabrication, and here he’ll be talking about growing up, the reasons he loves working with metal, and how he’s matured as a business owner.

We’re glad you joined us.

Here are some highlights of this week’s podcast:

podcast about metalsmith

 

What was Josh’s childhood like?

 

Josh grew up in the woods of Green County, Indiana.  His dad built their rustic cabin home and was constantly adding to it or working on it in one way or another.  His mom was an artist who worked with stained glass. So Josh was surrounded by a fascinating combination of building and creativity.

How did Clutch Fabrication start?

Josh was already into working on cars and motorcycles.  Then a chance meeting established a connection between him a local blacksmith.  After that, it just went on from there.  He worked for the blacksmith, then for another metal shop, and he finally decided to go out on his own.

What does he love about metal? Does he enjoy the more artistic projects or ones with specific requirements? 

Mostly, he just loves taking something that’s impossible to move and being able to heat and manipulate it.  He sees the combination of building and creativity ­­­in the medium and appreciates dabbling in both. Both kinds of projects have their pros and cons.

Josh loves building efficient systems, which is kind of weird considering that every project Clutch Fabrication does is very different.  He definitely enjoys jobs where he can build efficiencies into the system, but he loves creative projects just as much. Take his furniture building, for instance.  This allows him a lot more freedom and he sees both the process and the outcome in an artistic way.

 

clutch fabrication

 

 

What made Josh such a good problem solver?

Josh hasn’t been diagnosed, but he thinks he’s probably dyslexic.  He’s been dealing with this since he was a kid, and this forced him to work around his persistent reading struggles in creative ways. By constantly navigating this issue as a school kid, he learned to find quick solutions to all kinds of problems.

What are some of the struggles Josh has experienced as a business owner?

Really, it’s been the pressure of his business growing.  Employee turnover, jobs stacked on top of each other, and a tough contractor– these are all things that have definitely made him sweat.

What are some of his favorite moments?

Josh loves to step back and appreciate Clutch Fabrication for what it is– this wonderful thing that he built.  He loves the people too.  Connecting with people is his favorite part of owning a business.

What does Josh love about owning a business that he didn’t think he would?

Really it’s the nerdy planning and organizing stuff.  Building a business plan, analyzing statistics, evolving the employee benefits plan, and things like that.  Josh continues to love doing the metal work, but now he loves the higher level aspects of owning a business as well.

Where does Josh see Clutch Fabrication in 5 years?

Really it’s about slow growth.  He’s not out to make a million dollars.  He wants to continue doing good work and growing a healthy business.

Special thanks to Josh Smith for taking the time to share the Clutch Fabrication story with us.

The show was hosted, produced & edited by Jeremy Goodrich.

The music is by Mark Vinten.

If you enjoyed this podcast, there’s a couple of things we need you to do right now.  First, subscribe to Scratch Entrepreneur on itunes, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you listen to podcasts so you can hear future episodes as soon as we release them.  While you’re there, please give the show a review.  We’d love to know what you liked, what you didn’t, and what you want to hear next.

Until the next time, We truly appreciate you listening.

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