Thursday, November 4- On this special AGA episode, we have Mark Fiorita, Steve Allen, and Jeff Kotcamp join the show to catch up with the guys.
[0:00] [background music]
Jim Schauer: [0:20] That was quick. We are back already.
James Cross: [0:22] Woo.
Jim: [0:22] Whoa, whoa, whoa.
James: [0:23] We’re fine.
Jim: [0:24] Hold on.
Jim: [0:25] Let’s keep that down. As we were scouring the floor, I noticed somebody practicing safety.
Jim: [0:33] I said to myself, “You’ve got to…
James: [0:36] That man needs to come on our show.
Jim: [0:37] I looked and I said…
Mark Fiorita: [0:38] Warning.
Jim: [0:38] Is that with Mark Fiorita, my friend from years and years and years?” I looked, and it was him. Mark, welcome. Not only have you been on the show, but now you’re a repeat guest, so please…
James: [0:49] We’ve never had a repeat guest.
Mark: [0:51] Really?
James: [0:51] I’m just kidding.
Mark: [0:52] I’m going to have to…
James: [0:53] We’ve had a lot of them. Everybody else we’ve had on has been on four or five times by now. Just kidding.
Mark: [0:58] I’m a repeat. I’m not a repeat offender.
Jim: [1:01] That’s a whole another story, and we’ll keep this on the down‑low until it airs.
Mark: [1:05] That’s after the fact.
James: [1:06] Mark has been a friend of ours since I’ve been in the industry.
Jim: [1:10] I feel like I met Mark five years ago.
Mark: [1:14] That’s right.
James: [1:14] We’ve been best friends ever since.
Mark: [1:16] Texas Motor Speedway.
James: [1:18] That was the first event that I’ve planned to put on. Was that one 2017?
Mark: [1:24] I believe that’s right.
Jim: [1:27] Yeah.
James: [1:27] myself. You came to Big Ben.
Jim: [1:28] I came. Big Ben. Yeah. When I see you all there…
James: [1:31] Talked to them. They were responsive.
Mark: [1:34] Yep.
Jim: [1:33] Yeah. We brought an LNG tanker in. Mark and I have known each other since New Orleans, 2014. We’ll never speak of that again.
Mark: [1:40] Glad he remembered. [laughs]
Jim: [1:42] Mark is with Trimble. Tell a little bit about AGA. We want folks to go to your website to learn all about Trimble being one of the pioneers of GPS in the world. All those great things you guys bring to the table.
James: [1:57] They did not invent it?
Jim: [1:59] They did.
Mark: [2:00] Technically, we didn’t invent it, but we did acquire the rights.
James: [2:04] It’s even better.
Mark: [2:05] Charlie Trimble acquired the rights from Hewlett‑Packard.
Jim: [2:08] In what year, though? That was like…
Mark: [2:10] Oh, that would have been, probably, ’78. 40 years from…
Jim: [2:16] Before James was born.
Mark: [2:18] [laughs] I was two.
James: [2:19] I was two also.
James: [2:25] I turn 42 on Sunday.
Jim: [2:25] I won’t tell you what I was doing in 1978. We’ll do that for another time.
James: [2:28] Another time.
Jim: [2:30] That’s why [inaudible].
James: [2:32] Head of home runs. I love it.
Jim: [2:34] AGA. We’re getting back together. We have not seen each other live in over two years.
Mark: [2:40] Yep. That’s right.
James: [2:41] I’ll tell on a few Zooms with me.
Jim: [2:42] We have. We’ve seen each other on Zoom, and that Zoom has been a lifesaver for all of us, but tell us what you’re feeling about being here. Some of the emotions that you’re feeling, let’s give us…
Mark: [2:52] That’s a really good question and we actually had a conversation earlier in the year to another association about going back, right? What was it going to be like and this is kind of what it is?
James: [3:05] We’re figuring it out.
Mark: [3:06] In some ways, there was apprehension now because my traveling came to an abrupt stop, February 27th, 2020. I’ve had periodic trips this year, but this is my first four‑day trip.
[3:18] So there was the impact on me. You had a great post because of the family, right? A family learning to live without Dad, when Dad’s been there and we’re Dads, so there’s also the mothers that this is happening to so.
Jim: [3:31] I’m a grandfather.
James: [3:32] I saw the same different kind of thing.
Jim: [3:34] And a dad to dogs.
Mark: [3:36] So there was a lot of apprehensions there, just kind of getting back into that groove, but it’s almost like when you hit the ground, there was this big breath of exhale. It was like, “This is like riding a bicycle” and I think the thing for me was the social interaction, this, right?
Jim: [3:55] Yeah, Absolutely.
Mark: [3:55] Dinner, I just talking with people being able to have that face‑to‑face interaction. I am an extrovert. Really, I had no idea.
James: [4:05] Listen, you’re starting at the wrong table.
Mark: [4:08] I’m sitting in a table of introverted extroverts.
Mark: [4:13] So this has been really good. It’s been good for the heart, soul, mind, body, spirit, all of that. Professionally, absolutely had to get out and get going and doing it. Stopping it, pleased with the turnout. I think it’s probably exceeded AGA’s expectations. If I had to guess.
James: [4:27] I’ve talked to a few of them, that are involved on the AGA side, and I think they were worried, like all of us. What’s the operator to vendor ratio? You know what we always do, we look at it, but I talked to him today and they were like, everybody’s been so positive about it.
[4:49] We were talking with Russell Treat earlier, just down the hall and he said, “It’s nice to get out here.” I said it’s nice for AGA to set the tone for other associates. We love all the associates, AGA was just first.
Mark: [5:06] Yeah, that’s right.
James: [5:07] They stepped out and I think it’s going to set a tone with SGA. I don’t know if you’re going to be at SGA. See you in Charlotte, in 10 days.
Jim: [5:16] Wow, Wow that’s right.
James: [5:23] Knowing SGA is coming up and APG.
Jim: [5:27] LGA, APGA.
James: [5:28] We’re dipping our toe in the water and we’re like, we can do this safely.
Mark: [5:34] I think that’s the key.
James: [5:35] Obviously, we’re in the best.
Mark: [5:37] Safety first. Not only did we do what we were supposed to do based off for the precautions and everything else from AGA. Safety first although this is a lot easier wear than my long sleeve oxford.
[5:51] Sometimes you got to do a little something different and outside the box to have brand awareness, but also just going to get out there. I think AGA doing it in October, we have SGA, and then we get back into our normal routine, which is what we hope. We met normal routine.
James: [6:08] We hope.
Jim: [6:09] Hope and pray absolutely.
Mark: [6:10] Absolutely agree.
James: [6:12] Mark, good to see you, brother.
Mark: [6:14] Likewise.
Mark: [6:15] I know we’ll see you later.
Mark: [6:20] We’ll see you later tonight.
James: [6:21] We are live at our reception.
Jim: [6:23] Allegedly.
James: [6:23] Supposedly drinking coffee.
Mark: [6:25] Five o’clock Eastern could be a [inaudible].
James: [6:27] It’s been a great [inaudible], Mark.
Jim: [6:29] Thank you.
Mark: [6:30] Take care.
Jim: [6:31] Absolutely.
Mark: [6:31] See you real shortly.
Jim: [6:38] Sounds good. Bye.
James: [6:39] Mark Trimble. What else is it?
Jim: [6:45] No.
James: [6:45] Mark Fiorita. He has the fanciest last name of all time.
Jim: [6:49] Fiorita.
James: [6:50] Fiorita.
Jim: [6:50] Jeff, come in here.
James: [6:52] Come on.
Jim: [6:52] Come on.
James: [6:53] Steve Allen.
James: [6:58] We’re just going to go right into the next one. No breaks.
Jim: [7:00] No [inaudible].
James: [7:01] Perfect. Everybody, Steve Allen.
Jim: [7:05] Come on in, Steve.
James: [7:06] Executive Director of the Pipeline Safety Division for Energy Worldnet.
Jim: [7:11] The Steve Allen.
Steve Allen: [7:13] Do you believe? I’m here, man.
Jim: [7:15] We can’t believe it.
Steve: [7:16] It’s been awesome. It’s been a year and a half since I was on Jim and James with Kelsey.
James: [7:23] We weren’t sure if we were going to have you back, but you stood awkwardly on the other side of the camera…
Jim: [7:28] and went like this.
James: [7:29] Please, let us. We’re just kidding. We begged Steve to come on all week.
Jim: [7:37] We have Steve.
James: [7:38] It’s been two years straight.
Jim: [7:39] Steve has been busy here. He’s been running around pulling every different way.
James: [7:43] Tell us your highlights from AGA so you’ve been a lot of sessions, committee work and speaking, tell us…
Steve: [7:50] I want to preface it by saying that the last two days have been the best two months in the last two years that I’ve had. It’s really good.
James: [8:01] Say that again.
Jim: [8:02] Yes, say that again.
Steve: [8:02] Last two days have been the best two months of the last two years.
Jim: [8:07] The last two days have felt like two months, right?
Steve: [8:10] No, whatever.
James: [8:12] I like it.
Steve: [8:13] [inaudible] in the day.
Jim: [8:14] I think I got it.
Steve: [8:15] Highlights the committee work, the AGA quality committee.
James: [8:21] Who did we have on earlier from the quality committee from consumers?
Steve: [8:25] Stephanie.
James: [8:28] She was great.
Steve: [8:29] She [inaudible] I feel stupid.
James: [8:31] She killed us at our own podcast.
James: [8:34] We thought we were troubling because she’d be the boring ASMS person and she came and whooped us at her own part.
Steve: [8:54] She’s good. The committee work was very good. I had two full days of it. I gave a presentation on contractors on PSMS. I had 45 minutes scheduled, but the person before me only took half of their time, so now I have an hour and 15 minutes.
James: [9:06] which is a perfect setup for Steve.
Steve: [9:08] For me. I can just [inaudible].
James: [9:11] If Steve doesn’t have an hour and 50 minutes, he gets a little anxious.
Steve: [9:17] My wife says it’s a personality flaw.
James: [9:20] I think it’s a personality trait.
Jim: [9:22] I think it’s, I think it’s a personality benefit unless it’s six o’clock at night.
James: [9:27] It does have a marketing degree. I mean, they called it communications back then.
Jim: [9:32] How was it a different century than we are now.
Steve: [9:36] Ask me what time it is and I’ll tell you how to build a watch.
James: [9:38] I like that. What else? You spoke?
Steve: [9:42] I spoke. I had a nice presentation and I got another presentation tomorrow, Robert Dorden, on the contractor PSMS, so that’ll be fun. I’m glad to help out, that’s a real important topic.
James: [9:58] So important, listen.
Steve: [9:58] Contractor PSMS, it’s important. There’s the camera. I didn’t know where it was.
James: [10:03] He keeps looking at the ring light like, “These cameras are weird.” Yeah.
Steve: [10:09] That was good, just walking around and seeing people. The excitement. Everybody, I think they’re was stir crazy. They were just glad to get out of the house.
James: [10:19] I’ve [inaudible] so many new, and hugged, so many nights.
Jim: [10:22] Lots of, what’s that called? Hand sanitizer.
James: [10:25] Yeah, I’ve been just drinking it straight from the bottle. I’m just kidding
Steve: [10:29] Kissed a lot of hands, shook a lot of babies. I tell you, It’s been a great [inaudible]. It’s been a good week.
James: [10:38] You talked about the fellowship. You’ve been in this industry a long time. I mean in a good way.
Steve: [10:44] Yeah.
James: [10:44] A really good way. Is this the longest break you’ve had from the industry?
Steve: [10:53] I was involved with [inaudible]. This was when the America Gas Association and Edison Electric Institute were together. I mean, all their [inaudible] together.
[11:04] I was involved with internal auditing committees, information and technology committees, customer [?] accounting committees, sustainable management committees…
James: [11:13] You sound like a Baptist Church.
Jim: [11:15] Yeah, he does.
James: [11:16] The committee of committees.
Steve: [11:19] I did that from the mid ’80s, up until about 2004 when I left the industry. I did not engage with another AGA committee until 2018 when I came onboard with [inaudible].
James: [11:35] Wow. I don’t think you told us that. You didn’t disclose that to us in the interview. I’m just kidding.
Jim: [11:41] He had a big discussion.
James: [11:43] Steve’s amazing.
Jim: [11:44] Yes he is.
Steve: [11:46] It’s nice, and the thing is, there’s still people doing this that I was involved with 20 years ago.
James: [11:55] Yeah.
Jim: [11:55] I saw a person last night that I had started working with 13 years ago and just ran into them, it was like old times.
Steve: [12:06] You asked me what was one of the highlights. You have committee work, all the people, and so on and so forth. [inaudible] patting myself on the back, I guess, a little bit.
[12:14] Just walking down the hall with [?] aisles and someone said, “Steve,” and I was like, I recognized them but I don’t remember your name. Well anyway, they know all about me. We’re talking, and I wind up, lots of calls that I have to make when we get back to the office.
Jim: [12:39] Let me remind our audience, too, that Steve loves as a passion SMS, PSMS.
Steve: [12:46] That’s me.
Jim: [12:47] Easy way to get hold of him is on LinkedIn, I would say, would probably be the easiest, one of the easier ways.
James: [12:51] If you don’t already have his phone number. He’s pretty popular. Just ask a friend, they probably have it.
Steve: [12:56] I’ll tell you my telephone number.
James: [12:57] Look at him.
Steve: [12:58] 317‑523‑7437. I aim to please. Give me a call.
Jim: [13:03] There we go. Thank you, Steve, for joining us.
Jim: [13:06] we’ll see you later.
Steve: [13:08] Sounds good.
Jim: [13:10] The icon. The guru.
James: [13:11] The guru of the gurus.
Jim: [13:13] That guy.
James: [13:14] He’s taught me everything I know about PSMS. I didn’t know anything about PSMS before this industry, but Steve, seriously, Steve would have a speaking topic about every week. He still does, but every week he’d say “James, I’ve got a PowerPoint I need you to look at.”
[13:36] James. I’d go, “OK, Steve.” What was awesome about it, Jimmy, was I learned PSMS because the way I would work on a PowerPoint is I would learn it.
[13:49] I got to talk to Steve and say, “Steve, so the other day I slapped the big red button,” and he was like, “Holy cow.” Continuous Improvement is all things, right. I’ve learned so much from Steve.
Jim: [14:04] I agree. When he came on board, I had an opportunity at Western Regional Conference out in Vegas to give a presentation on PSMS and she couldn’t and so we were… he wasn’t even officially an employee yet. He was just a…
Jim: [14:19] yeah, he was helping me with this, because I had to give a presentation. That’s where Steve and I first connected. That was in, I’m going to say 2018, early…
James: [14:33] and do nothing to lose.
Jim: [14:34] No.
James: [14:35] Steve, we’re blessed that [inaudible].
Jim: [14:38] Yeah, we are. That’s it.
James: [14:41] All he does is bring people to the [inaudible] and he’s like,” James, I just need you to meet.” I’m like, “Damn, I’m in the right job.”
Jim: [14:57] He’s like a funnel. Chad Cuvo calls me the switchboard. Steve Allen is the switchboard too.
James: [15:03] He’s the funnel.
Jim: [15:00] James. Let’s go get another guest. Another guest coming right up.
Jeff: [15:05] It’s good to meet you, Jim Schauer.
Jeff Kotcamp: [15:09] Jeff Kotcamp, nice to meet you. Thank you.
Jeff: [15:11] Nice to meet you. Now, we have a few connections with the TRC company. Lay Miller and I will back verify that we’ve been friends for years back to our New Orleans, Royal Sonesta days. I won’t admit that OK. We’ll never be going admit that.
James: [15:25] Never. We’ll never going to admit that one.
Jeff: [15:26] Then James has gotten involved with and I have too, but James brought [inaudible] into our fold. We’ve had a bond, talking to Jim and James and…
Jim: [15:36] I said a few times…
James: [15:37] You’re the person?
Jim: [15:38] yeah.
James: [15:38] You’re the [inaudible]…
James: [15:38] I know we just started but…
Jim: [15:40] Well, it’s [inaudible] started right now. As far as getting to meet people, seeing people, and getting out as opposed to being sequestered for the last two years.
James: [16:01] My goodness. Yeah
Jim: [16:04] Yeah. I haven’t traveled 120,000 miles a year but I haven’t done 30,000 miles in two years.
James: [16:13] Now I just looked 13,000 I thought…
Jim: [16:57] I was one k for…
Jim: [16:58] I’m very at platinum for life. Thank goodness it just got there.
Jim: [17:03] James is very unique.
James: [17:04] I’ve never heard of Colbert [inaudible]…
Jim: [17:06] Yeah, he’s very unique. he’s our brand guru. He comes up and he and his team come up with all these wonderful decorations.
James: [17:10] We got to do Amy, Scott, and Antonio.
Jim: [17:14] Amy, Scott, and Antonio. Yeah. He’s also over HR, believe it or not. Now imagine…
James: [17:20] I had to put together a backup to yourself and say, hey [inaudible]…
Jim: [17:25] but the [inaudible] loves culture. That’s why it’s at the root part that tries to bring culture into it. Getting back to what you were talking about just being here, this, and interacting with everybody. It’s a feel, it’s an intangible tangible intangible…
Jeff: [17:42] This whole industry is built on relationships.
James: [17:20] That sounds familiar.
Jeff: [17:21] If you’re not connected with relationships, or you’re not able to be able to press the flesh with each individual, you’re going nowhere. So it’s it’s nice to see. It’s also nice to see that people are breaking down some of the barriers they’ve been having, not worried about certain things.
[18:09] I mean, life’s too short, right? To be sequestered inside of a little room for the next two or three years doesn’t make any sense.
James: [18:17] Well we’re seeing the results of it. AGA has put on a great, if they’re not, it already looks great. We saw the numbers charged up at the end, which is nice.
[18:28] I was saying it earlier, I think getting out here will kind of pave the way for the next series of events coming up. We got SJ in a couple weeks and a few others, LTA, coming up. I think this will set a tone and hopefully by next year we’ll get back in there.
Jim: [18:47] I hope so, too.
Jeff: [18:48] I totally agree with you guys. It’s one of those things that somebody has to pave the way. Once they break the tape, once you do it, somebody pulled their finger out of the dike. The way we’re going now, we’re back to reality again. It’s starting to be business as usual.
Jim: [19:07] I like it.
James: [19:08] Jeff, appreciate you coming by.
Jeff: [19:10] Appreciate it. Take care. Good luck.
James: [19:12] Have a good rest of the week.
Jim: [18:55] Absolutely. That was fantastic.
Tech: [19:17] Thank you, guys.
James: [19:19] Thank you. We’re going to come back.
Jim: [19:22] We’ll be right back after this moment from our sponsors, brought to you by Ashley Jesko…
James: [19:26] and Energy Worldnet.
Jim: [19:28] powered by Energy Worldnet.
Jim: [19:31] James, the time has come. We are wrapping this unbelievable conference, AGA biannual Ops Conference, to an end. It has been a action‑packed three days. There’s still a little bit more going on tomorrow, to be honest with you. The exhibit hall will be done, but we do have some more networking and other items to do.
James: [19:51] like the pool, cannot confirm or deny.
Jim: [19:55] We will see what happens.
James: [19:56] If we get this booth knocked down, I may be at the pool tomorrow.
Jim: [19:59] I like it.
James: [20:00] I ain’t going to lie, we deserve it.
Jim: [20:02] It was an incredible three days, long days.
James: [20:05] I met people today that I would consider an icon in the industry, several. Not even like, “Oh, we’ve got somebody.” We got tons of bodies.
Jim: [20:19] It was nonstop. It was absolutely nonstop.
James: [20:22] Let’s think about it.
Jim: [20:23] Kevin Miller.
James: [20:24] Phil Wiegers.
Jim: [20:26] Mary Palkovich.
James: [20:27] Holy cow. We had Jill on, some of our best champions, Mark Fiorita, ClockSpring|NRI.
Jim: [20:36] Steve Allen.
James: [20:39] Steve Allen…
Jim: [20:39] Our own Steve Allen.
James: [20:40] seven hours long. I’m just kidding, Steve.
Jim: [20:43] [laughs]
James: [20:43] We love you, Steve. Steve was a rock star. Steve is so connected.
Jim: [20:48] He is.
James: [20:49] He just walks by, and people are like, “Can we be on a podcast?” He brought so many people. Everyone did.
Jim: [20:56] Everybody did. It’s all a blur right now, to be honest with you.
James: [21:01] It really is. I can’t wait to go back and parse through it all. I still can’t even believe that this was all in a day and a half.
Jim: [21:09] I know.
Jim: [21:11] It’s almost a blur. You almost have to think about what day it is.
James: [21:14] I have no clue.
Jim: [21:16] The event we just held here at the booth, at one point, I walked around to the other areas to see how the crowds were. We had a majority of the crowds here, at this area.
James: [21:26] I counted. At one point, we had 42 people around our booth. I don’t even know if that was the peak because we were over here hustling.
Jim: [21:33] We were here.
James: [21:34] We were working. I just went over there to get a beer, and all of a sudden…or a coffee, a coffee…
Jim: [21:39] got a coffee, yep.
James: [21:38] and 42 people were standing there. We were over here on another side, oblivious to it all.
Jim: [21:46] It was amazing.
James: [21:49] We are blessed, Jimmy.
Jim: [21:51] Oh, we are. Again, I’m not being prideful, but to walk through here the last three days and have people that we know, and even those that we don’t know, come up to us and say, “Aren’t you guys the Coffee guys?” it makes it all worthwhile. It makes us understand that we are…
James: [22:05] Making a difference.
Jim: [22:07] making some positive differences in the industry, and that is what I thrive on.
James: [22:13] I had high expectations for this event, but it blew those away.
Jim: [22:21] Agreed.
Jim: [22:23] Without a doubt, without a doubt.
James: [22:24] So good. Jeff said something the other day in a comment. He said, “Y’all started interviewing industry icons, and now y’all are.”
Jim: [22:37] He did say that.
James: [22:37] This week felt like that. Again, I’m not tooting our horn. It’s more of realizing how powerful what we’ve done is.
Jim: [22:48] It was fulfilling a need in the industry. Through your brains and…
James: [22:55] Pure luck and happenstance.
Jim: [22:57] It was great. It’s been great.
James: [22:59] Hey, guys, AGA week shutting down. We got one more day, but, man, such a success, such a great event, glad to do it safely, glad to do with all these people. Win, win, win.
Jim: [23:12] Absolutely.
James: [23:13] Glad to do with you, man.
Jim: [23:15] You, brother.
James: [23:15] This is the greatest.
Jim: [23:16] Wouldn’t do it with anybody else.
James: [23:18] I don’t even have a voice anymore, man.
Jim: [23:19] I’m getting hoarse.
James: [23:21] I feel like I’ve talked for 27 hours straight.
Jim: [23:24] When I get hoarse, you know it. I could talk ’til the cows come home. The cows must have came home. We got to to put a fork in this bad boy.
James: [23:30] Listen to that. They’re shutting us down as we’re talking. People are shutting down around us. Jimmy, let’s get out of here, brother.
Jim: [23:39] Let’s do it, brother.
James: [23:20] Love you.
Jim: [23:39] Love ya’.
James: [23:40] Love ya’.
Jim: [23:40] Love ya’.