Pizza Expo Podcast Episode 7- Joe Leroux

September 20, 2021

Pizza Expo Podcast Episode 7- Joe Leroux - Incredible Bags

[00:00:00.000] - Rev and Eric
Got it going. All right.

[00:00:00.880] - Rev and Eric
We are back with another exciting episode of "Who's at Pizza Expo". Right? And we're in the Marqii booth. This guy right here, Perfect Crust pizza legend, Joe Leroux.

[00:00:13.120] - Rev and Eric
You've got a lot of adornment here.

[00:00:14.590] - Rev and Eric
Oh, yeah.

[00:00:15.040] - Rev and Eric
That's a lot of flare.

[00:00:16.470] - Joe

[00:00:17.230] - Rev and Eric
I kind of love to ask some of you guys that I think have done this a long time. How many expos have you been to?

[00:00:21.830] - Joe
Um, I've been coming steadily since 2008.

[00:00:25.710] - Rev and Eric
Yeah. What are you seeing that's different today?

[00:00:29.940] - Joe
Today? This is definitely a COVID show. The aisles are wider because there's more, there's more space between booths but you have, it fills more area. And you know, there's not padded carpeting in between, you're walking on concrete. Well, it's called an expense. They know how to cost out things and everything else. It's just like, what you have to do in business. You can't drive a Cadillac if you can only make enough for an old Chevelle. Or a Chevy Vega that's 20 years old. So, yeah. Speaking of something old, one of the things I like to talk to is you know, what an exciting time it is to get into this industry. Because a) what you got to do? You got to do your homework and doing your homework now is so much easier than it was 30-35 years ago.

[00:01:25.990] - Joe
30-35 years ago, you had to go be a pizza driver to learn about the pizzeria. Where can you get a manual for your dough mixer? Written out online, you can go online and get a manual for your dough mixer and you can see the size of the spark, et cetera, in the gear box. You can see that the main shaft is only an inch and a half instead of two inches. Those kind of things just were not available 30 years ago.

[00:01:53.440] - Rev and Eric
How did you navigate those waters then? What did you do? How did you learn?

[00:01:57.930] - Joe
Ah, hard knocks, burning your fingers? Like, really, seriously.

[00:02:02.650] - Rev and Eric

[00:02:03.010] - Joe
I had $100,000 in the bank, I burned through that. Borrowed another $100,000 from mom and burned through that and said, "Oh, s***. I better make this work."

[00:02:16.530] - Rev and Eric
Oh, s***. I better make this work.

[00:02:18.700] - Joe
Because you have no choice. You can't go bankrupt on mom's money.

[00:02:21.903] - Rev and Eric
Right, right.

[00:02:21.930] - Rev and Eric
That's why I don't have a bar anymore because nobody else was willing to loan me money.

[00:02:25.980] - Rev and Eric
Were you at Mike Bauschs' keynote this morning?

[00:02:28.240] - Joe
No, I was actually here talking to the TV reporter.

[00:02:32.170] - Rev and Eric
Gotcha. Well, he talked about...

[00:02:34.200] - Joe
At about 5 o'clock this morning, I went for a power nap after because I'm old.

[00:02:35.700] - Rev and Eric
Oh did you? I need a power nap at this point. But he talked about community and how if you're here and you're not meeting other pizza operators and you don't pick up the phone and rely on like, "hey, I got a question, help me". This, the pizza industry and community is interesting to me that everyone wants to help everybody. You could walk away with 1000 recipes and 1000 tech ideas like Marqii. But probably more beneficial is to walk away with five phone numbers of five guys or five women, and you call and say, "hey, I got a question. You know the answer to this?" That's what's huge about this.

[00:03:09.240] - Joe
That's one of the things that John Arena and a whole bunch of people, Big Dave Ostrander, bless his soul, he's passed on. A lot of these guys, Tom Lehmann, would sit there and talk to you for hours about your dough problem. Even after hours, if you were buying the Margaritas. You know like, I've been through those seminars and those are the best seminars because there's no hold bars.

[00:03:34.490] - Rev and Eric
Right. There's a lot of plant based stuff here. Is there a market for that for you?

[00:03:39.150] - Joe
Listen, I don't know if my store, but guess what? All the big guys are pushing it. It's, we'll have to see. Okay. Do you remember the low carb crust? Well, yeah, that worked for about six months. Do you remember a whole wheat dough? Well, yeah, "do you got whole wheat dough?", "you got whole wheat dough?". Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. "Oh, well just give me the regular pepperoni."

[00:04:05.470] - Rev and Eric
Right, the still want a regular pepperoni.

[00:04:05.990] - Joe
Because it's healthy, because you sell whole wheat.

[00:04:11.920] - Rev and Eric
Yeah. I kind of liked whole what dough.

[00:04:12.060] - Joe
Eh. Depends on how whole wheat it was.

[00:04:12.060] - Rev and Eric
Amen. I'm saying I liked the taste of it.

[00:04:12.060] - Rev and Eric
So, Covid is kind of up and down. How did you adapt at your restaurant?

[00:04:20.250] - Joe
Well, I was a Del-CO from day one. So my sales just went like this (points up).

[00:04:21.390] - Rev and Eric
Oh so, you loved it. You're like, keep on keeping on Covid. Well, not really, but kind of.

[00:04:32.500] - Joe
Covid really kicked in. Ahhh, so 2018, September 16th, I decided to hell with this, I'm not working six days, seven days a week anymore and I went down to four days a week being opened, went down to 34 hours a week. And within two weeks, my sales were back the same as they were.

[00:04:48.680] - Rev and Eric
Really? Wow.

[00:04:48.680] - Joe
But then all of a sudden, Covid hit and they went even higher and they're staying even higher, even though the restaurants opened up because just more people found us that much better. And they like the fact that I'm a pizza Nazi, so on Sunday, no pizza for you. Monday, no pizza for you. Tuesday, no pizza for you but on Wednesday, if you're good, I'll let you have pizza.

[00:05:17.340] - Rev and Eric
Do you find that, uh, so you made a bunch of operational changes, did you also have to make changes to the marketing and the messaging and how you get all that out there?

[00:05:24.570] - Joe
We've had an issue. A very bad, tough problem. It's called, you can't get staff. We've had this since 2008 because in Canada we didn't have the downturn that you guys had in the States. I've been begging, looking for refining, building my business and changing my business so that I can take anybody off the street and turn, make them productive within 15 minutes. If they can wash their hands and read black and white. This is the along the lines, we got think, you got to streamline your business and look at it. So that it's dummy proof. Like, we've all been through, we've all made mistakes, anyone can do it.

[00:06:08.460] - Rev and Eric
So I could do it? Me?

[00:06:08.790] - Joe
Well, if you call're not quite the dummy you think you are.

[00:06:10.000] - Rev and Eric
Borderline but maybe

[00:06:10.650] - Rev and Eric
I can point and critique.

[00:06:14.300] - Joe
So you have to do that, especially at a $15 minimum wage. Like who got smart that have never had their jobs, 15 years old. They're coming in and we're teaching them how to wash dishes and were teaching them how to wipe a counter, teaching them to rinse a cloth out after you use it. You don't just take it and throw it in the dirty laundry. You don't just take it and let it dry with all the dirt on it. You've got to rinse it out. You got to teach them all those things, it's so but slowly, surely they become productive. So you have to make your pizza line so that when the rush comes, they can jump in and do something.

[00:06:53.521] - Rev and Eric
Just be ready.

[00:06:53.920] - Joe
Whether it's five minutes every hour and then the 55 minutes that's left in the hour they're washing dishes or doing something. Like, if there's time for leaning, there's time for cleaning.

[00:07:03.660] - Rev and Eric
Love it. That never goes out of style.

[00:07:06.070] - Joe
Never. Those are words from my friend, who actually shows up every once in a when the hair on my arms stands like this, that's because Big Dave is around.

[00:07:18.970] - Rev and Eric
Oh, I was looking all around, like who? Who's here?

[00:07:19.780] - Joe
As soon as I said his name, the hair on my head just stood up, too.

[00:07:22.860] - Rev and Eric
That's awesome.

[00:07:23.940] - Rev and Eric
Yeah, that was a core principle when I, at one of my first jobs was McDonald's and like burned in your head, "you got time to lean, you got time to clean."

[00:07:30.420] - Rev and Eric
We don't want to take a bunch of your time. Thank you for hanging out. Thank you for being a Perfect Crust customer. I appreciate you very much. Good luck to you. You going to be around tomorrow, too?

[00:07:38.730] - Joe
Oh yes. I'll be here til Sunday.

[00:07:40.480] - Rev and Eric
Oh, great.

[00:07:41.010] - Rev and Eric
What are you doing after this?

[00:07:43.275] - Joe
After this, I don't know.

[00:07:43.680] - Rev and Eric
You don't have to pay us anything.

[00:07:47.260] - Joe
Oh no, I'm not paying anything. Oh you know what it is? I have my American wallet with me.

[00:07:51.440] - Rev and Eric
Your, wait, hold on. You have two wallets?

[00:07:53.580] - Rev and Eric
Your American wallet?

[00:07:55.830] - Joe
Yeah because see, it's got American s*** in it. Like dollar bills.

[00:07:58.960] - Rev and Eric
He's rolling with some hundos over here.

[00:08:00.440] - Rev and Eric
What's in the non American wallet?

[00:08:02.880] - Joe
Euros and Canadian dollars and the number of boxes that I went through last year, so I can actually. But see what I'm going to be doing with that going is I'm to place an order because I've got storage. And I'll be, you tell me that you've got somebody that's 5 miles away from me. I'll bring up a case.

[00:08:25.020] - Rev and Eric
Yeah, I like that.

[00:08:25.740] - Joe
I'm also, did you see the computers that are in the pizza baker over there. The robot pizza maker. You got to go over and look at it, it's over by the stage over there. I made myself known that I'm going to be the Canadian rep.

[00:08:42.450] - Rev and Eric
Love it.

[00:08:42.960] - Joe
I went over and told them, says look, you guys aren't in Canada, yet but I want to be your Canadian rep, I am your Canadian rep.

[00:08:49.450] - Rev and Eric
"I am". He's just speaking it into existence.

[00:08:51.540] - Rev and Eric
To the rest of the industry, there's your Canadian conduit. There's your Canadian rep.

[00:08:57.560] - Joe
Well it's for Picnic and what it is, is it's a subscription based robotics. You buy the ingredients from their suppliers, suppliers certified in ingredients that are going to work with this robot. You put the pizza dough hand stretched in here and it comes out and it's got all the toppings on it you want. You critique it, put it in the oven awesome. It shows up for work seven days a week.

[00:09:19.620] - Rev and Eric
Every day, every day.

[00:09:21.510] - Joe
And it costs you $3500 a month.

[00:09:25.620] - Rev and Eric
That's awesome.

[00:09:26.410] - Joe
Okay, in Canada, $3500 a month gets you somebody that shows up once every two days.

[00:09:33.870] - Rev and Eric
Half the time they show up for 3500 Bucks a month. So, Joe, you're the man that. Legend. Thank you so much.

[00:09:40.520] - Joe