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146. Benjamin Bunn | Cigar City CrossFit

146. Benjamin Bunn | Cigar City CrossFit

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⁣ This picture was taken December 21st, 2015. Just over 4 years ago. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Me, my former business partner and my sister paced around an empty warehouse wondering, “What if?”⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ The space seemed too big…⁣ ⁣ How would we fill it? ⁣ ⁣ How could we afford it? ⁣ ⁣ What if we failed? ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ How would we fill it…With CrossFit athletes, specialty classes, aerialists and weightlifters…all working in concert with one another, a veritable Petri dish for success. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ How could we afford it…by working hard and refusing to give up. By doubling down on the most valuable assets we had, our athletes and coaches. By realizing that an investment in community has returns that are immeasurable and ultimately priceless. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ What if we fail…So the fuck what? It Just meant we’d have to get a day job. The hardest part of failing is being seen doing it, and buddy, that has everything to do with you and nothing to do with the task at hand.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Do yourself a favor. Stop asking what if, and start asking why not. We did, and it’s paid off. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ See for yourself:⁣⁣ @cigarcitycrossfit⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ #veteran #veterans #Veteranowned #veteranmade #veteranownedbusiness #veteransupport #veterandad #veteranownedandoperated #VeteranLife #veteranfitness #entrepreneur #entrepreneurcommunity #entrepreneurmindset #entrepreneuring101 #entrepreneursofinsta #entrepreneurlyfestyle

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On this episode, the focused on is Affiliate owners and how to grow your box. Even more helpful to people wanting to open their own affiliate and how you can still run a successful box. – Even if there are 15 others open in your local area. Ackerman sits down with Benjamin Bunn aka Coach Bunny owner of Cigar City Crossfit. He began back in 2016 after spent 17 years in the United States Army. To be exact, he opened it 72 hours after he left. This man doesn’t understand the idea of downtime. They talk about what Bunn learn from the military that makes his business successful, how to look after your staff so that they want to stay. How to ensure your athletes are getting the best our of their day. Just a hint – Make class fun. 

Timestamps:

(0:46) Leaving the Amry and opening and AffiliateAffiliate. 
(3:14) How Benjamin found Crossfit. 
(6:13) What motivated you to open your box? 
(7:44) First Crossfit workout? 
(8:19) Is the market too saturated? 
(11:51) Work ethic – making it work? 
(14:53) What did the military teach you to help you grow your business?
(17:11) Showing up for your box
(21:29) The class has to be fun! 
(23:06) Too much volume in-class program, good or bad?
(26:55) Facebook Affiliate Owner Groups – a pet peeve of Ackerman’s. (when to continuing education)
(29:39) Box Owner – hardest parts
(34:24) How to develop staff.
(36:47) Pay for coaches.
(42:13) Biggest pet peeve – members 
(46:13) Biggest pet peeve- coaching staff
(54:11) Biggest takeaway.

Social media 

@Coach_bunny
@cigarcitycrossfit

Recommend Book:

Chirs Copper. – first one 

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Jason Ackerman :
All right. We're here with coach Benjamin Bunn. Welcome.

Benjamin Bunn:
Happy to be here. I feel like I said I feel underqualified to be on the podcast, considering who's on previous

Jason Ackerman :
Well, you certainly are underqualified, but that's no reason not to be on here. Now you've got plenty of experience, and that's what I want to talk about. I've kind of met over the years, but I think recently I've seen you your boxes at a level one and then you came through and did your level to crush it. But I want to talk to you just about owning a box. You know, we get a lot of listeners that are box owners and our coaches that are athletes. And I always enjoy talking with successful box owners, which you are.

Benjamin Bunn:
I appreciate you saying so.

Jason Ackerman :
So let's talk about it. Cigar City Crossfit,. When did you guys open?

Benjamin Bunn:
So we opened in April of 2016. I literally I retired from the military on the 2016. I spent 17 years in the army. I spent a little bit of time as an enlisted guy and held various jobs. But the ones that were the most important to me at the time were in the Special Forces, a Green Beret for for a period of time. And then later on went back to school, got my my undergrad completed and went on to become an officer. And I was an infantry officer for a while. And then I retired in 2016. And I mean, I was out of the army on March thirty first. And I literally opened my gym, rather grand opening 72 hours later. So, you know, I had a very quick turnaround and I essentially was planning for the opening of the gym like about really six months to a year actively before we actually opened the doors. And if you kind of talk to anybody that's ever known me, opening a gym was something I always wanted to do, something I always talked about. And it was kind of like one of these like sort of nebulous dreams that were kind of off in the distance. But as far as my time in the army, it came to a close. It became much, much more of a reality. And. And lo and behold, I mean, seventy two hours after I got to the army, I opened the gym. But I also ran a club affiliate when I was in college.

Benjamin Bunn:
I had a little bit of experience,. I guess.

Jason Ackerman :
What makes someone 17 years and not stay for three more?

Benjamin Bunn:
Oh, what? Weren't a choice am. I'm right. It wasn't a choice. So I will. I retired early. I had a couple of pretty rough medical issues that kind of caught up to me. You know, a year or something, years of a pretty demanding jobs in the military took a toll on me. And. And I exited out at 17 years. But I have a pretty comfortable retirement nonetheless.

Jason Ackerman :
Ok. When retire from the military and collect a pension. Oh, yeah. That's kind of what I was getting at. Really, really cool. So for one, thank you for your service. We always appreciate, you know, having military as you know, ferne military guy himself said it. It's awesome to have the honor. And let's talk about that. What? At what point when you were in the military did you stumble upon Crossfit,?

Benjamin Bunn:
So when I was when I first joined the special forces, like I was not an athletic guy. So I have no athletic background whatsoever. And that that becomes really obvious as soon as you watch me throw a ball or try to like Sprint for 100 meters. I look like a total dude and I'm very uncoordinated. I didn't play sports as a young person, but once I joined the military, I found that I liked it, OK. I was in the initial invasion in Iraq and I had a pretty good knack for just soldiering in general. But I was terrible at the athletic stuff. Like when you first joined basic training, before you can even start basic, you have to be able to run a mile in under eight and a half minutes. And I barely did it. Like when I did, I like I literally threw up and passed out. You know what I mean? Like I was just not conditioned at all in terrible shape. And so I started kind of like navigating things on my own. This is circa 2000 is when I first joined. And, you know, after my first couple of deployments, you know, and I realized that, you know, it wasn't necessarily like I liked war or anything like that, but I was like having a better time of this than everybody else. I should I should focus on this in some way. And I decided to join special forces. And because of that, I started getting into like what looked like me shot Lennox at the time. And no joke. I found Crossfit, tachometer was still kind of like the scrolling WordPress kind of, you know, Web page surfing 2004/2005. And like everybody first starts Crossfit,. You know, I was just cherry picking workouts. I think I you know, I was in to Jim Jones at one point and like RossFit, I call it like.

Benjamin Bunn:
Kind of stuff and kinda was looking all over the place, but I always gravitated back to Crossfit, because it seemed like it had a very interesting approach to athletics. They have this idea of general physical preparedness and they had much love for the military, law enforcement, first responder community because they had this reputation for ensuring that those individuals could condition themselves in such a way that would make them elite performers in a profession that absolutely demands. So I gravitated it towards it the same way a lot of young men and women did at that time.

And that's kind of how I found it. I didn't really buy it until I went to my first level one or two thousand eight, which no joke was GenY or second level one seminar where she was actually teaching. So I was like her patchier with Mike G. You know, Jeff tensioner and like all these kind of like Crossfit,. Oh, geez. We're teaching high level one. So it's pretty amazing. So, you know, I was definitely an early adopter. And then after I went to my first level one in 2008, that was a direct lid, opened up a club affiliate's, started coaching groups and individuals. And that was all she wrote.

Benjamin Bunn:
Yeah, that's OG there. I mean, most of them, with the exception of Jenny, aren't even touching seminars anymore. So that's a long time ago. Now, you made it through, you know, another eight years in the military. What? Kept you motivated to open your old box as you were kind of leaving your past and moving on to the future.

Benjamin Bunn:
You know, for me, I always found that's the reason I stuck with Crossfit, for so long. This particularly as a kid in the military. You know, I was always kind of moving around, find my finding myself in new places, new homes, having to make new friends. And Crossfit, always provided me with this bedrock.

Benjamin Bunn:
You know, I always knew that if I walked into a box, you know, I was going to find a bunch of like minded individuals whose hobbies were exactly the same. And, you know, I enjoyed coaching a great deal and found that to be a great passion of mine when I was in college and I ran my club affiliate. And I wanted to be able to continue kind of. I mean, I had an inkling that I might open a Crossfit, gym.

Benjamin Bunn:
But coaching groups and individuals was something that was just fun and interesting for me. And I enjoyed it. I enjoyed standing in front of people. And, you know, taking them through the same journey when I was doing it. I was just like in some weird dingy locker room trying to figure it out by myself, you know, because it was it was so niche that you couldn't even find.

Jason Ackerman :
Crossfit, Jem's there was like, do you remember your first workout?

Benjamin Bunn:
My first workout was Cindi for sure. That absolutely my first Crossfit, workout. I was terrible at Pull-Ups. I probably like maintained a crook in my my elbow the entire time. Definitely did not go down a full extension. Just awful, terrible at it. My squats were probably like a total bag of shit, but it was, you know, heralding 20 minutes. It was difficult. And I, you know, rarely found a way to kind of recreate that same feeling like I could during Crossfit, workouts. So I just continually sort it out for that reason.

Jason Ackerman :
So from 2008 to 2016, clearly Crossfit, is morphing, it's growing, you know, and you have this desire helping your own box by the time you get out of the military and you're ready to do it. Did you have any belief that, you know, you hear this out there, it's like, well, it's saturated. I mean, you're in Tampa. There's plenty of boxes in the Tampa area. What kept you motivated and what were some of the thoughts you have? You know, to the people listening, you know, they they had that idea saturated. There's no room for more in my town. What went through your mind knowing you were gonna open somewhere that there's probably not ten or fifteen boxes already?

Benjamin Bunn:
This is what this is what I'll say to anybody that's listening to this that has an idea that they're gonna open up across the gym. You think the market is saturated right now? You've never walked through the bread aisle in the grocery store. You're saying the market's not saturated? Not at not even in the slightest. I mean, I think 14 percent of all Americans have ever had a gym membership ever. I mean, eighty six per cent of the people are running around there.

Benjamin Bunn:
Now, what I did to quote my individual fears was I just ran the Census Bureau. I mean, there was June and forty thousand people in Tampa, an additional hundred thirty thousand St. Petersburg in another hundred and ten. And Brandon, you know, I was what I was looking at like four hundred thousand people collectively. And at the most, maybe I would get three to five hundred people at any given point in time. And you know, my cup overflowing. I get it. If you're like in Decatur, Georgia or some weird shit like that and you had like a town of 600, I understand that there could be some demographic issues in terms of your ability to open a gym and maintain a livelihood of some variety. And maybe it's just going to be a side hustle. But if you live in a big city, the only thing that's deterring you right now is your self doubt that's rooted in complete bullshit. Makes no sense whatsoever. More people need this stuff than they need it right now. And meanwhile, the entire as far as I can tell, Western culture is moving towards this idea that physical fitness and nutrition has to be an integrated part of our lifestyle. So everybody should be striking while the iron is hot. Now, I also get that we're in a period of reconsolidation and if your garbage business provide terrible customer service, don't hold your individual's skills as a coach or just a lazy business owner. You're going to have a really tough time and you will fall prey to a market that does have competition present. But if you work hard, have the right business practices, continue to try and improve your individual ability to coach as well as your employees. You'll absolutely crucial. You know, when I came in to market with there's like twelve gyms inside of, you know, five square miles of me. Four years later, I've watched a lot of those ones closed down. Meanwhile, I'm still standing.

Jason Ackerman :
Well I always like to remind our we have a nice admen girl. Her name is Cydnee and Cydnee. She listens to this episode before the rest of you. But Cydnee right there. Go ahead and cut that our Instagram post, because that was a great statement from Coach Bun. You know, you now that I tell people the same thing, it's like if you're fighting over one hundred people that already do crossfit. In your town, you're doing it wrong. And I think that's a great mentality. I like your analogy. I've never heard that. But yeah, the bread aisle. That's a good place to put some business cards.

Benjamin Bunn:
I'm stole it I stole it, so I stole it for sure. I didn't come up with that little thing. I think I was listening to another podcast and heard that. But yeah, it's you know, there's there's so much opportunity out there. And all you need is a good work ethic and a little bit acumen. And you're good to go.

Jason Ackerman :
So tell me about that. Let's talk about work ethic. That might not be something we've touched upon too often on this show. You come out of the military, like you said, 72 hours later, you open a box. How much work goes into that? How much work truly went into you? Opening the doors of Cigar City Crossfit,.

Benjamin Bunn:
You know, the idea that that I was so what I never did was I never coach like nine classes a day for two years straight or anything like that. There was never kind of any of this goofy stuff where I was like, I mean, I for sure worked 16 hour days, never for sure, like weeks where I was napping in my office. Like, I, you know, lived in my mom's house for the first six months.

Benjamin Bunn:
So where I got out of the army and had a very comfortable savings and could have easily, you know, lived off of the additional moneys that I was getting from the military. And just like not rush for employment instead, you know, spent almost every dime that I had in savings and invested it into the gym, just like straight liquid cash, racked up a ton of debt. And then additionally, you know, you know, open this gym and which was fifteen thousand square feet. I did not start small as one of these guys to like how to walk in closet rooms training like ten or twelve people at a time.

Benjamin Bunn:
I mean, I went big right out the gate. But even though it was a lot of work, I still don't think sometimes. Sometimes I feel like I did it or didn't work hard enough. Does that make sense? And I feel kind of bad about that. And I'm like, damn, I could have done more. But what I did do was I planned for months and months in advance. And I really took a professional approach to the organization. I wasn't just like, I'm going to open the doors and figure it out like I created a budget. I spoke with veteran representatives from the Small Business Administration. I got free templates online that help you create a business plan. I sought out SBA lending before I decided that I was just going to tap into my own liquid assets. I searched for and groomed a business partner who I knew would be very helpful on the way that I later on bought out. So I had a very professional approach to opening a gym that I think a lot of people don't necessarily have. I just think they don't have it because they don't know any better.

Benjamin Bunn:
I like this. A lot of kids are just like, yo, I was working at Orange Theory for a while as a coach got burnt out, thought it was B.S., found Crossfit, and did my own thing. Not having had a lot of experience where, as you know, I had spent 17 years as a professional soldier, had managed groups and individuals in that capacity, knew how to create results that were both qualitative and quantitative in nature, so that a lot of professional experience. So I had a bit of a leg up on float's so I wasn't necessarily burning myself out. But the planning that went into it before, during and after I think was more significant than what you see with most gyms that opened up.

Jason Ackerman :
What was something that the military taught you that you were able to then use to grow the business?

Benjamin Bunn:
I think the one that really was helpful then and it's helpful now is radical accountability. Right. And and that's a that's a hard concept to wrap your head around in it.

Jason Ackerman :
And a lot of people are very comfortable about the idea that, you know, everything that happens inside your organization is a result of something that you've you done or failed to do. And everything that happens inside my gym, whether we lose a single member, we have a payroll issue that cost us nineteen thousand dollars or, you know, sucks, whatever goofy trials and tribulations we've run through this business. I understand that. Generally speaking, it has happened or failed to happen because of me. I mean, I'm the master and commander. If if I'm less involved, I see the effects almost immediately when I'm very involved. I also see the effects immediately. Like when coach fun as in is taking group class and having a good time and gladhanding as members on a regular basis, getting to know people, you know, sharing small expectations about this personal life. The gym is going great. If all of a sudden that's not the case and that's the case with a couple of the coaches, your retention is going to suffer that much guaranteed. You know,.

Jason Ackerman :
It sounds a lot like Jarkko, right extreme on your ship. I know it's not a Green Beret, a seal there, man, but I still said.

Benjamin Bunn:
I do not wake up at 4:30. He can have that. I'm not going to get you. I did that for too too long. I get up at like 8:30 every morning.

Jason Ackerman :
You've earned it. So. What are some of the things you mentioned now? Like, hey, when I'm around? What are some of the things that you see and I do want to touch upon this, something else that is really cool in Tampa. You guys get together as box owners. At least that's what I heard when I was when you were taking your level to write a bunch of your Tampa affiliate owners get together. But before we touch on that, what are some things that you notice happen when you show up regularly and there's absentee box owners out there and they want this business to grow? What are they missing out on by not showing up and taking classes and doing other things?

Benjamin Bunn:
So yesterday I got on Instagram and I we have a class false slap, which is like an aerobic capacity class. Right. And it's you know, we have like a lot of folks to do OCR and this concept, they love running. And I saw it as, oh, for sure doing that. I'm doing sweat today. I'm all about that workout I'm going to get after that big 30 minute grinder that's like right right up my alley. I got an Instagram and I was talking about Slatin. I was like, oh, who's gonna jump in on class with me and tag a couple of my friends that I compete with in the gym. And when I showed up to that class, a bunch of people showed up thinking that that was the group class not realizing that was our specialty class. And it kind of was topsy turvy and it's the holidays. So it's kind of dead in the gym right now, particularly like later on in the evening. It's dark and they're probably only in like one or two people in that class. But instead, like the class kind of got packed out because people saw what I was talking about. I saw my excitement. And we're just like, yeah, I just I just want to work out with coach. But I can you know, there's things inside that there's. I told my my my staff that people on my team all the time. There's both official and unofficial leadership. And I told my coaches, like, if the flat you know, if the facility had a banner year, faces would be on.

Benjamin Bunn:
You know, you guys are leaders and people respect and adore the things that you've helped them do personally, but also respect and adore the things that you guys accomplish individually in terms of athletics. And even though it might not feel that way to you, the fact that, you know, Mitch can clean and jerk two hundred seventy five pounds or that I can jump into class and and really throw down and beat everybody despite having been injured, beauteous all the shit. People respect that and they think that's incredible and they aspire to be part of. Of, you know, that feeling that you get when you know you're achieving these things that are difficult to do. And it takes years to get there. But they see that you're just like a regular person working out next June. That's like a huge deal.

Benjamin Bunn:
And I think your members and their athletes want to be part of that. They want to touch the magic. They understand it. You've been doing this for a long time. And that and a lot of ways to them, you embody all these values that are really important inside the gym. And they want to be there, you know, and the more that you can show face, the more that you can be part of their lives and show that you're just a regular ass person. That's a really powerful thing. And I think a lot of coaches and gym owners miss out on that. A good friend of mine, Jason McCarthy, once said, you know, presence implies interest. And boy, that stuck with me. And I think that is a big deal. You know that the second you're not present just seems like you're not interested.

Jason Ackerman :
How do you make your coaches take classes? I know that's a big thing in this day and age. Coaches are less likely to be in class because they're doing their own programming. I think they need to do more. What's what's your stance on that as a box on that?

Benjamin Bunn:
All staff as required attend class once a week.

Jason Ackerman :
Once a week. And then the other days they can not train or do anything else they want, but at least one class a week.

Benjamin Bunn:
Yeah. And you know, we had a staff that was that was pretty varied at one point where we had one that was a nationally competitive weightlifter, another one who was competing and grind. Mitchell at the time was like rule into like Will'm often like hyperventilating in the mornings and all this kind of weird stuff. And we had another guys like a power lifter. So it was not unreasonable for them to just be pursuing different things, you know? I mean, I was like injured. So I was like doing just a P.T. regime that was like so lame and so boring, just like Tempo's squar, farmers carries all the time, essentially. But recently, all of our coaches have kind of renewed their love for Crossfit, and all of us who are exceptionally fit and, you know, regularly dominate the whiteboard like a 10. Most of us attend class four or five times a week. And even though it's a bit of a directive inside the gym, like if the pro staff for full time, you have to attend class because you need to show face, you know, what's happening. You'd interact with the athlete base. But now it's even though it's a directive, I don't have to tell them. They're just there all the time. It's fun.

Jason Ackerman :
Your class has fun. And you it's the same thing I've told people about other stuff when it's like, well, I've got this programming in that program. It doesn't matter how smart or how good you think your programming is. If it's not fun, you don't want to do it.

Benjamin Bunn:
That not at all. And you know, I was listening to the park. I was listening to a couple of podcasts for your day. And I listen to Fern when he was you guys were talking to Coach Glassman, you know, and essentially he had said this thing at the affiliates summit. We said, hey, just because, you know, you're your found, you found something that does Crossfit, better does not mean that you're still not doing Crossfit,, you know? And then I remember also when you were talking about, you know, there was a point where your gym is simply lightning in a bottle. Are you guys like five hundred members who are absolutely crushing it? And your explanation was kind of nebulous. Like, I don't have a laundry list. These 10 things that accomplish you go that way. We were just all having a really good time. And that's kind of the magic of class. And like we have open gym now you're free to go pursue programming. But I can tell you right now, whomever is like in the corner by themselves, like a monk, you know, doing Invictus or something like that, they're gonna see people start writing those times on the whiteboard on that little slice, you know, the whiteboard route. We put our times every day they're gonna see it and the competitor in them is gonna want to come over. And then when the competitor comes over and does well, make it the wave their fists in the air and say, oh, yeah, I'm a chip in. It's going to dawn on them that whether they really had a good time, is it because they they won because they were just doing it with other people. And that's kind of the magic behind it all.

Jason Ackerman :
Were you able to see kind of that shift while you were in the military? You know, you found Crossfit, early on 2008. Definitely an early adopter and probably within a couple of years. It was when everybody went crazy with doing too much too much volume. Did you what did you witness that? And do you think that it's almost rectified itself at this point?

Benjamin Bunn:
Yeah. And, you know, guilty as charged. I was the same person, you know, like, you know, I'm out there, you know, two and triple grace or whatever and lifting before. And meanwhile, the thing I needed the most was just like virtuosity in the most simple of movements. Right. I just I needed a better air swap as as was evidenced at my level to certification or actually where I was always fall to the center because I got a terrible looking slot, you know. But I think the pendulum is starting to swing the other direction. You know, there's a lot of different, you know, programming that's kind of like. They're in the periphery and, you know, there's all different kind of things that you can subscribe to and it seems like everybody's got their their own version of Crossfit,. But, you know, the ones that are doing the best are the ones that just look like dot com. And, you know, I found, particularly as a 38 year old man like do in one workout a day and maybe a little bit of accessory work. That's been no joke. Push that to me by a coach of active life or X is like, that's the ticket. I feel great. I'm moving well and not like horrific pain or anything like that. It's kind of a win for me. And I think the community is probably starting to gravitate in that direction as well.

Jason Ackerman :
I didn't realize you're working with active life. Sean is a good friend of mine and of the show he's been on a couple of times. Are you finding benefit with working with them,.

Benjamin Bunn:
Oh, One hundred percent. So, you know, I had a laundry list of of crazy injuries that I acquired while I was in the army. And they finally caught up to me after I was training sexually. Ah, you know, I was. Well, it's neither here nor there is programming that was on, but whatever the case may have been, I I very quickly burnt the candle at both ends until there was nothing left to burn.

Benjamin Bunn:
I had degenerative tendonitis in my knee. I had back issues that were so bad that I was at a V.A. hospital. Every 72 hours getting shots of Toradol like a pro ball player or somethin. I mean, it was bananas. I was messed up. And I finally was like, this isn't sustainable. And the V.A. was like, no problem. You're just gonna have to go to Peaty like essentially five days a week. And I to the calculus, I mean, that took me away from work and everything else else in flux. Three hours a day, I was in there, I was like geriatrics.

Benjamin Bunn:
There's like some 60, 70 year old lady doing the hand bike, the lady who's essentially giving me coaching or essentially giving me physical therapy, little like, you know, Jacqueline's ex wife or something like that where you're shallow, just like a Romanian drug dealer. And this weird Adidas that was a little bit too excitable for me. It just like wasn't good for me. And I'd been using the bullet proof that program through wife Rapson had a lot of good luck with it. And I was like to get this man to resell, individualise, design and the gym got like OpEx trying to think tank coaches and all kinds of stuff running around, you know, helping people out. And so I was like, I'd be a bit of a hypocrite if I didn't seek out a coach for my specific issue skills like screw it. And I got on the phone with active life accident. And a young lady named Pam hooked me up with Kate down on the West Coast. And, you know, I'm squatting without pain for the first time in years. So I swear by it. If you've got acute issues, you got specific problems and you're not finding a coach, you're bonkers,.

Jason Ackerman :
You know. Well, you and I. We seen each other recently. But again, I saw you at your level two. One Are you in either the or any of the Facebook affiliate owner groups? Oh, yeah.

Benjamin Bunn:
A couple of them.

Jason Ackerman :
One of my biggest issues in those groups is when someone kind of posts something like, hey, what should I do my level to or should I just do my level one again? You've come back, you know, as someone who's been around for a long time and I'm sure you were revalidated.

Benjamin Bunn:
Yupe

Jason Ackerman :
Right. But it was still a level to. What motivates you to go on for that continuing ad and why is it important for box owners and all coaches to move towards that Level 2, level 3 and ultimately the level for when it comes out?

Benjamin Bunn:
You know, I don't know how else how to say it. Other than I have never, ever signed up for a Crossfit, course and not felt good about it after the fact. Ever, ever. I never showed up to the course and was like, Oh my God. I walked away from this and I'm not a better coach.

Benjamin Bunn:
And I remember the first time I took my level to in 2014, it was like an Padovano. Italy was top like some British dudes and couple of guys from Australia. Oh had Cool, accents way better looking than me. I hated it. And but I remember my coaching changed so dramatically over the course of 48 hours that not only was I in disbelief, everybody else was in disbelief. And after that, I was like, this is nuts, right? Like, you're foolish. Not like ten out of ten. Economists will tell you the best, best investment you can make is in your education. I mean, like, what the heck? Like, do it. It's the same reason I signed up with two great business, you know, around the year and a half mark. It's the same reason. Anytime there's a subject that I find that it is, it's interesting mirror. I can't get to the bottom of it on my own. I sign up for a course. You know, if I can't figure the issue out on my own, I go find a coach. You know, it's when I was going to open up my own gym, the first thing I did was talk to other gym owners. You know, I mean, we live in an era where we have access to any information that we could ever want to or ever, ever want or, you know, ever want or ever need. And you can get the best information if you're willing to pay a little bit for it. That's what's known as, you know, essentially those people, you know, are what's the word I'm looking for a consultant. You're paying for consulting.

Benjamin Bunn:
And there's a reason that that's a business is because those individuals know best. So you get what you pay for.

Jason Ackerman :
You you you you have this kind of group going I in the Tampa area. Was there pushback from any of the box owners?

Benjamin Bunn:
No, not always. You know, and I think for us, you know, we have a I guess you could call it like a mastermind. You know, I don't want to say mastermind, though, because everybody's like, oh, shit, he's going to try and sell me monad or like central oils or something. That's not a pyramid scheme. Definitely not. Like we just get together and and we talk like best practices. And I think, you know, when we have a really big turn out, we'll have like ten or eleven gyms and studios. Seven of them are Crossfit, gyms. We regularly co-promote. We have a lot of gyms that were we're great friends with. Don't get me wrong. Like, you know for sure, things get prickly. Like there will be times when, like the school year starts back up or something weird and like, you know, like we didn't have a 9/30 class and we lost a couple numbers in the gym down the road out of 30 class. And I'm like, damn, got my members. I cared about that person. But at the end of the day. Right. Like you said, no, nobody should be out there fighting for those. That same 100 people we should be fighting for. Eighty six percent out there that I've never had a gym membership in my child's life.

Jason Ackerman :
You know, as you say that I think and to this day, the hardest part for me about being a box owner was when people leave, you do take it personally. What to you is the hardest part about owning a box?

Benjamin Bunn:
It's it's dual pronged, right? Number one is is probably understanding that I am I am for sure in a customer service position. You know, you are and sometimes I ask my coaches, I'm like, hey, what do you think is the most things what you think is most important as a coach? You think it's just being knowledgeable, just the ability to coach on the floor to teach in their slot. Do you think it's customer service or do you think it's sales? That's a trick question. It's all three. You should be good at all three if you think that being a good coach means coaching in your air squat, your your banana . I mean, there's so much more to it than that. You know, there's showing up 15 minutes early with a plan. There's being friendly and approachable. There is the willingness to participate in difficult conversations, which presents itself every single day. When maybe athletes say something to Roberts or to another on the ice breaker or somebody tosses their jump rope across the room. How do we handle that? What do we say? That's what makes you can be a good coach and just like show up 10 minutes early, coach a class and then, as you say, sign on it. Everybody get the hell out of there. But great coaches are the ones that are doing all that other stuff that I talked about. And, you know, for me, that was the hardest part, was realizing that, you know, if I'm frustrated with somebody or if I've had a bad day or if I think somebody somebodies opinion about our programming is ridiculous or whatever the case may be, I can't say I can't be like you don't like our program. And we'll tell you what each shit you don't know anything about coaching.

Benjamin Bunn:
You've got to get out of here. Hit the road, Jack. You know, because, listen, I run a good business and you're also not serving that personal alone. Like, don't be empathetic. Understand, they aren't a coach. They don't know what's going on. They don't know program design. So like what you would be better suited to do and what's more difficult and bright. You know. Hart, take the hard drive and be like, invite them to sit down and explain the program. And it is why we do what we do. Man, I'll give you 50 minutes of my time. Show you what it's all about. That's difficult to do.

Benjamin Bunn:
The other thing, the other challenge has been figuring out how to. Motivate and retain my staff, coaches. Coaches like you got to figure it out. It was easy when I was in the army. Everybody was motivated by the exact same thing. Everybody's wearing the same shit, speaks the same language. You know, we all eat, sleep and do whatever in the same place, like roll exactly the same. It was easy. It's like if you had asked somebody why you do what you do and they're like, Yo, I'm a patriot. I love my country. I like kill terrorists. And I'm proud to be an American. Paycheck is pretty OK, too. But if you can't do this, you can't make those same assumptions about your coaches or the people that work with you. You know, all of them are motivated by completely different things. And it has everything to do with who they are as a person, their background, whether they want to go. And it's up to you as a coach, so you as an owner to figure it out, all those things so that your one, you're giving them what they need. Right. You're getting close to the perfect day as you can. And to you know, if you know that they don't have longevity in the organization, you're going to do them the kindness of father you either up or out, you know what I mean? And that can be painful. And it losing athletes is hard. Losing coaches is ten times harder. Oh, my God, it's the worst.

Jason Ackerman :
Well, not everyone has the luxury of having served 17 years in the military and having been a Green Beret. So for those other fourteen thousand nine hundred and ninety nine box owners, what should they be doing to help develop the staff and to make sure their staff is as solid as yours?

Benjamin Bunn:
They need to. And it's it's gonna be difficult. But even if they don't believe that the organization is indeed a professional organization, they need to stop pretending that it is immediately right. Systemized as many things and sedge organization as humanly possible. Make sure that you're making your expectations clear and professional as well and compensate your coaches for what they do. Look, if you pay your coaches $15 a class and like, you know, slide them an extra like 20 bucks a week because they're like cleaning the towels. They're not long for this world, you know, and it's only a matter of time before them. And about 40 of your athletes are going to pack up, shop and open up a place down the road where they're going to do the exact since then.

Benjamin Bunn:
It's like it's a vicious cycle. My my recommendation to the owners out there is to invest in much. It is as much as you can and your coaches as humanly possible, pay them as much as you can. Send them to go get professional education. Ask them regularly what they hate doing in the gym and ask them regularly what they love doing the. If they hate it, try and get it off their plate and give it to somebody else delegated to some other joker, whether it's cleaning bathrooms or hanging shirts. And if you find out that they love something like, Yo, I love gymnastics, it's my passion to teach it. You know, create an environment where they can diversify the revenue stream by during a gymnastics seminar or selling gymnastic programming or start a regular gymnastic class, whatever you can to ensure that that individual is being compensated the right way. They're enjoying their time in the organization and they're continuing to grow and learn all the time.

Benjamin Bunn:
You're good to go. They're going nowhere. Second, somebody is like not having a good time or stagnating. They're not growing young. They are not long for this world. They're camping out. They're either going to go find a 9 to 5 that they hate or they're going to go open up a gym on their own.

Jason Ackerman :
Do you mind divulging you don't have to give specifics, but for the box owners and coaches listening, what hey looks like at the box level?

Benjamin Bunn:
No, not at all. We're extremely transparent about our pay inside the organization. So first and foremost, we talk. Everybody talks about their pants at the gym. Any time you get like organization where they don't talk about it because somebody is somebody is getting screwed. I'm not sure who, but somebody is not having a good time. You know, it's usually the person at the bottom of the totem pole. So we talk openly about pay period start at eighteen dollars an hour ago, all the way up to thirty two dollars an hour, depending on the level of certifications or experience that you have. We have varied adim hours, low skill Ammann hours or around like $12 an hour. High skill can go all the way up to 18. Once again, it depends on the task. You know, if you're folding towels, that looks a lot like Schwalbe Bello's or $12 an hour. If you're creating a comprehensive like social media strategy that you're implementing on a regular basis, that's probably like $18 an hour. We also give our coaches the opportunity to personal training and individualize design. So for premium, athletes can get programming that's tailored to them and their goals.

Benjamin Bunn:
You can be personally trained. We have nutrition counselling inside the gym. We have regular seminars inside the gym that lasts anywhere from one day to six weeks. And our coaches one hundred percent good to eat what they kill, so they get forty four percent of that. That number comes directly from two brand businesses. Anybody out there somewhere Chris Copper.

Jason Ackerman :
The four nights model.

Benjamin Bunn:
And it compensates in that way in order to take care of both the coaches and the organization. And it works very well for us. We have several coach. I have one coach that's making an upwards of 60 thousand dollars a year. She's getting right in that way more than that. And then I have two others that are making well over thirty thousand dollars a year. My goal personally is by two thousand twenty one to have four coaches that are making close to fifty thousand dollars a year. Of course, I know some are going to make much more than that, but the struggle is to get those four up to around 50.

Jason Ackerman :
And you mentioned that you also contribute to continuing education. What does that look like?

Benjamin Bunn:
So it really depends. Back on the day we we were kind of lockstep about it. Like I would just say, you get one certification a year and that just like didn't make sense. Like, I was like, you know, there are no exceptions. And I'm like, I guess there is. Right. You know, and I'm a big believer in like, you shouldn't make rules that you don't follow. I hope ingen. Like if you're like. Yeah. But meanwhile, there's like a guy in the corner doing cop training, like you might need to revisit your rules. It does seem like you're following. So if it's OK, it's a case by case basis. I prefer that my coaches pick up skills and seminars. It's educations that I know are going to benefit not only them but also the organization. But I've paid for multiple certifications like our coach Mitch getting ready to take his all three just registered. We'refor that 100 percent. I can see no way in which the organization will suffer as a result of having an L-3 to represent in the jump, so. I'll pay for that. I had a coach that I sent to PCN Precision Nutrition and she's now participating in the incubation process for healthy stuff nutrition. So I'm helping pay for that. I paid for her PND and I can to just pay for any certification that I think is going to reach those labs and my coaches more as the athletes in the gym. Now, that being said, that piano moves to swing both ways. I'll put their ass on a on a contract in a heartbeat. So I put a contract in front of them and I let them know what they owe me and I let them know what's owed. If they leave early and I lock them down for an amount of time in exchange for me paying for their education. And everybody is fine with.

Jason Ackerman :
Yeah, I think that's important. You don't want to just. This is so great that you help your coaches learn and get further advance, but at the same time, you don't want them going on your dime and then coaching at the box down the road.

Benjamin Bunn:
No, not at all. And I think and you know, people like expectations. You know, nobody likes it when they're just, you know, I had a big problem with the gym and then I get mad at my coaches. I would like to bring out a back in. I'd be vacuuming. And that's like, I can't believe you guys are all just going to watch the owner vacuum heathens. Right. But like meanwhile, at no point time has where it was like, hey, guys, you should really pick up a vacuum cleaner and help me. You know what I mean? I've never made that expectation clear. This is ridiculous for me to get that out. And that's what contracts are, just like a formal way of saying, like, you have some expectations of me. I've got some expectations of you. Let's read them black and white. Let's talk about them out loud. Walls sign some stuff. And later on down the road, if either side gets a little weird or goes off road a little bit, yeah, we could just revisit it and have a conversation. That's real easy. Meanwhile, if you made some weird drug deal in your office where you're like, I'll let you coach X number of classes and you know, or I'll wash your car or your girlfriend can whatever later on down the road there's going to be some bad blood because of those expectations are not clear. You know, they're not contractual in nature.

Jason Ackerman :
Yeah, you're you're rarely going to find putting things down on paper. Came back to bite you in the ass.

Benjamin Bunn:
Tell me about it.

Jason Ackerman :
So as as as this box owner. Give me your biggest pet peeve. What's your biggest pet peeve that the members do.

Benjamin Bunn:
That the members do?

Jason Ackerman :
Yeah.

Benjamin Bunn:
Oh, man.

Jason Ackerman :
And if we have more than one, we'd love to hear it.

Benjamin Bunn:
Yeah,.

Jason Ackerman :
I'm sure as you're saying and everyone listening is gonna be like. I know that person.

Benjamin Bunn:
Yeah. Probably number one is is when I hate this because I know my athletes are for sure going to listen to this and they're for sure. I'm talking about them.

Jason Ackerman :
You're not talking about the person that thiks. You're talking about them.

Benjamin Bunn:
It's for sure when people complain about programming. That's for sure. When people complain about programming.

Jason Ackerman :
And that's still been right now.

Benjamin Bunn:
Yes. Not as often as it used to.

Jason Ackerman :
But I was having that conversation this past weekend. And I said that to somebody. I said it seems like that kind of has passed. But is it still happening?

Benjamin Bunn:
It is. It has passed a little bit. And I remember a long time ago another gym that had been opened like eight years and closed down very suddenly. Same thing that I compensated their coaches very poorly. And then like everybody was real shocked when they all, like, picked up and opened up a new gym down the road. I mean, I wasn't shocked, but, you know, that was disruptive is disruptive. And the community was disrupted for those athletes. So you had like all these like weird groups of athletes that were searching for a new home. And I remember one of the athletes from that gym asked me. It was like, I have a couple of questions about problems. You know, they're like, how often do you do barbell work? And I was like I was like, what are you like apprenticing with Chad Von? You know, like, I was like often like, I mean, it's a Crossfit,. We pick up barbells. Absolutely. I don't like dude. It's like a like a number like you. I will guarantee you'll cycle a barbell and it'll be a power play. It will happen three times a week. You know, I it's like that is the most uninformed question I ever received.

Benjamin Bunn:
You know, like what about a better question would be like, hey, you know, how do you make sure that there's various prescence or how do you make sure we're not overtraining or, you know, do offer nutrition guidance. So that can help maximize how it perform in the gym, according to the programming that you're producing, all those I would have. Oh my. I would probably offer him a job. I do. I do have a resume. I would like I would like to offer you jobs, coach. But but, yeah. You people like, hey, my body needs to do strength. And then a metcon, I've heard that, you know, I got I need to do is strengthen then metcon or else I didn't get enough. And I think a lot of times that's people who believe that fatigue and or soreness equals efficacy, which is not the case. It's a biomarker of sorts for sure. It's indicating something, but it doesn't always indicate that your programming is effective. It could in some facts or in some cases indicate that you're about to be injured grievously.

Jason Ackerman :
Yeah. I just you know, it's funny. I think that like you were saying earlier, I think the trend is finally caught up. There's not too many people still trying to do too much. People are realizing, hey, hey. Classes get into one workout a day and you do that with 10 saying you're going to get results.

Jason Ackerman :
Yeah. And I think that's the direction those people go. And right now we subscribe to NCF that it's it's put together very well. I know previously it could sometimes be tough to fit everything that they had on that schedule into an hour long class. But I think they've really dialed it in and they have a lot of great options and it's great programming. We've had a we never get complaints. We regularly survey our athlete base. We kind of shoot out surveys once a quarter to like get answers on specialty classes, hours and apparel. God forbid we don't carry enough crop tops and this kind of stuff. And we very rarely get complaints about programming ever.

Jason Ackerman :
I personally love the NC Fit programming as well with the last box I was at Naples. They did it. I think it's got great stuff going on there. Yeah, I think there are definitely times where I'm like, does Khalifa realize this is not possible to create in one hour? I'm like, they clearly did not. Does this glass. But it's it. It's good to see. What about for your coaches? What's what's one of your biggest pet peeves when it comes to the coaching staff?

Benjamin Bunn:
I'm sure they're all listening that we're for sure going to listen this. So one of the things I used to hate that my coaches would do so much so that I had to like explain to them how to communicate is they would always. So I'd like a guilty conscience. So somebody says, like, since we in Texas, I can't talk to you and you get a chance. I'm like I'm like, awesome. I know this is bad news. Clearly,.

Jason Ackerman :
It's the worst.

Benjamin Bunn:
Yeah, I hate it. Right. And like my head coach. Like a system manager. Like my right hand man. You know, it's like second charge of the gym. Mitch used to be so bad about. He's gonna hate that. I'm calling them out. All right.

Jason Ackerman :
He's probably like, did someone die? Is he quitting? Like, what's going on now?

Benjamin Bunn:
He's probably going to talk about this on the best hour of your day. Mentorship group chat like this will probably come up .

Jason Ackerman :
All right.We'll tell he's is wrong. Just all you have to do is if you're gonna do that, just like, hey, everything's OK.

Benjamin Bunn:
So that's what we did. I was like I broke. So I tested out. I was like, all right, guys. And I brought everybody in and I was like. Check it out. I want you to pretend that I sent you a text that says this. Hey, call me when you get a chance. I need to speak with you. I wrote it on the board. And they were like, oh, that's bad news for sure. Well, it's like it's not, though, right? And I was like, so here's the thing. This is what I told the most. Like the time you text me ever for anything, I need you to tell me what it's about. I was like, I need you. Tell me if it's serious or not. And I'd like you to classify the level of urgency associated with whatever the request is. So I was like, hey, I need to talk to you. I've got a cool idea for Instagram. It is not urgent.

Jason Ackerman :
Hey, if you're listening, this is a great tip right here. Not just for boxes, but for life. I mean, my wife texted me Saturday night when I was out at the train or dinner and she's like, call me when you get to the hotel. And I'm like, what in my mind? I just started thinking about what I did wrong.

Benjamin Bunn:
What have I done?

Jason Ackerman :
How am I in trouble? I've been gone for two days. No. Everything was fine. I'm like, please don't do that.

Benjamin Bunn:
Yeah, that's so. But I. We had that. We had a coaches meeting where I talked about that. I was like, hey, let's talk about how we communicate. We communicate. We communicate in general slack via email. Like we have a staff playbook that everybody reads off of that it's in itself as a form of passive communication. I mean, it's a victim initiated. They've got to read it in order to to know that it's been communicated. But it's required. And, you know, and of course, we text each other when things are acute in nature. But but it's important because like little did they know they would send me into an absolute. Like, I was just like a ball of anxiety. Oh, my God. What could it possibly do? Meanwhile, they just wanted to, like, you know, told me about an innocuous billing issue. We need more protein. You know, some goofy like some.

Jason Ackerman :
When you when you're thinking about owning a box, I like to try to give tangible ideas and things that box owners or coaches can start doing right away. Like, what's one thing if someone's listening that they can do as a box owner to improve their box right now?

Benjamin Bunn:
Oh God, I know this sounds like so sales funnel. But you should get professional coaching from somebody about how to systemized your gym better, right?

Jason Ackerman :
You use two brain. You said,.

Benjamin Bunn:
Yeah. I used two brain business, so. So I take that back. You don't have to get up interest. Chris Cooper sells well right this second. Go buy his book. Go buy his book. I'm actually re listening to his book right now an audible.

Jason Ackerman :
Which one are talking about? The founder, farmer, tinker thief.

Benjamin Bunn:
No, no. I went through that one the one time, but I'm revisiting his initial his initial book to Two Brain Business Revives. So really like you had a new one that came out, were it? I'd like some additional stuff that was blown out and I've been kind of reworking through that New Year. So like I know I knew that we were going to change some things in terms of culture, classes, staff shakeup. A couple of things were changing inside the gym. So it just kind of like wanted to revisit that because, you know, when I went through the incubation, the incubation process back in the day, I mean, that was like a six month process. I was on weekly calls and I had tons of take home work and it was exceptionally valuable to me. But, you know, it's you know, you kind of get your own echo chamber when you're around, you know, your employees and your staff and your athletes, and you forget about some of those very simple lessons that they're taught. And like just things as simple as like having sued, trancelike, identify the 10 people in your gym that spend the most money, had been there the longest and attend the most and just sit them down once a quarter. I am coffee and talk to them. And I mean, because those individuals at the most value inside your organization and they've got their finger on the pulse, they know what the hell's going on.

Benjamin Bunn:
Probably better than you do. You know what I mean? They're on the group chat. They're sitting around means they're about all this kind of goofy stuff, but they can provide significant insight. It's not just strategic issues. It's tactical stuff, stuff that can change today. You know what I mean? Like, you know, everybody hates the fact that you don't put foaming soap inside the damn bathroom. And you change it and you immediately make ever. But like all of a sudden, 30 people are having a fantastic time and are so happy. Dan, Ben listens to me. I mean, like, I have a voice inside this organization. So I would really, you know, don't try and recreate the wheel. There's a bunch of people out there who have done a better job at this than you did. So 10 years ago, you know, so I would get coaching, let let you know professionals kind of guide you along the way. And even like I said, even if it takes a little bit of money and you have to invest in it. Look, you know, 10 out of 10 economist will tell you that investment in their education is never wasted. So if you're not like seeking out professional education, particularly when it comes to how you run your business, you've got to get on that.

Benjamin Bunn:
You know, I don't like your proof positive. I'm going through the healthy steps. Nutrition incubation process was one of my coaches because as an owner, I just can't afford to not know what they're teaching or and see how it's going to change the face of my business. So here I am again with another two Ray graduate going through more professional coaching and training because I care about my organization, I care about the direction that coaches are going. So investing in your education. It's like if you're not doing it, you're wild.

Jason Ackerman :
I think that's a great point. And it sounds like that's something that you really hold a value to you as a person, but then also at the box level. So I think that's great. Yeah. Yeah. Box owner, you know, take college coaches advice here and it's. Either B B signing up for something you like, you've said active life, you've talked about to brain, but at least get a book, read something, you know how many box owners I am too busy. I can't do that. Fern's mentioned it numerous times. And, you know, I don't like to give Fern any credit. But yes, there's ten pages a day. Ten pages a day. That's it. Educate yourself.

Benjamin Bunn:
Yeah. What would someone say if you don't have ten minutes a day to meditate and you should do it twice a day for 30? You know what I mean?

Jason Ackerman :
Yeah, exactly. Well, it's been great chatting with you. What are what are some places that people can hear from you? We know you have. Yeah, you have a tremendous Instagram coach. Underscore, Bunny, Cigar City, Crossfit,. If you want to learn more, is there anything else that you're doing or want to share with our audience while you're on your here.

Benjamin Bunn:
That's that's a big highlights, right? If you want to keep your finger on the coals for what we have going on, I try and do my best to give away free information and add value as much as possible when I'm on Instagram. Sometimes it's just like videos of me and my dog or me or my son or something goofy like that. But more often than not, I talk a lot about what it's like to be a business owner. A lot of what it's like to be, you know, a veteran Crossfit, athlete and a lot of what it's like to just like, you know, exist in this space.

Benjamin Bunn:
You know, in the fitness industry, specifically Crossfit,. So, you know, if this is the kind of stuff that interests you. That's the kind of content we're going to catch on those Cigar City Crossfit, spurge, which is at Cigar City Crossfit,. And then also on my regular Instagram page. And I also have absolutely outstanding coaches. I am absolutely convinced there are no better coaches and all champions than the ones that are in my gym. I've been very lucky to have them in it. You should absolutely follow this progression across the page. Just because you regularly see shout outs to them, you'll regularly see them posting content on the same page. There's a lot of value to be out there. It's free chicken.

Jason Ackerman :
Yeah. I love it. Well, it's been a pleasure catching up with you. I appreciate you coming on and look forward to seeing all the great stuff happening there. I truly think you're doing things the right way of everything that Fern and I talk about regularly. You're doing, you know, if not more and if not better. But it's really good to see that, you know, there's box owners that are just doing things for the right reason. You know, in twenty nineteen in twenty twenty.

Benjamin Bunn:
Yeah. I'm super honored to be on the podcast. And I really appreciate what you guys do. Like I said, you know, it's it's hard to find new sources of. Up there where you're getting both kind of this tactical and strategic information, which you guys constantly or added value to the community. It's not unnoticed since you really appreciate it.

Jason Ackerman :
Well, thank you very much. And hopefully sometime in the near future, you take your level three. You don't get to yell when I want to see it to level two again. Want to see level three. I'm sure that's something you have somewhere on your radar.

Benjamin Bunn:
I do.

Jason Ackerman :
All right, well, I'm going to let you go. We appreciate you coming on the show. And we will certainly be in touch and talk to you again in the future.

Benjamin Bunn:
Thanks for you time brothers good having ya.

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