mariela, todd, biometrics, business, honduras, damon, life, work, started, grew, figure, people, good, cfo, love, accounting, daymond, incredible, today, fear
Curt Anderson, Mariela Miller, Todd Churchill, Damon Pistulka
Damon Pistulka 00:03
All right, everyone, it is Friday. And what does that mean? It means it’s time for manufacturing ecommerce success. I’m one of your co hosts Damon Pistulka. And with me in this guy right over there, Kurt Anderson, we got a show today we’re gonna be talking about natural. I came to see the title, right natural sluit is enhanced animal performance. We’re gonna be talking with biometrics. We’re gonna be talking with Todd, and Mariela, and we’re just gonna have some fun, because, you know, Todd is an atypical CFO, fractional CFO, I just say his his story is cool. The biometrics story is cool. So, Kurt, take it away. We’re gonna get going here.
Curt Anderson 00:46
Daymond Happy Friday, my friend and welcome, everybody to the program. drop us a note. Let us know that you’re out there. We have an extremely exciting, juicy story for you today. Damon, I just do it. Are you sitting down for this one? This is gonna be Yeah, this is gonna be heavy. So there’s a couple of intros here. So Mariela Miller, happy Friday, my friend, how are you? Thank you for joining us.
Mariela Miller 01:10
Good morning, Kurt. Happy Friday to you too. Thank you for inviting me. Well, it’s such a
Curt Anderson 01:16
it’s an honor privilege to have you here today. And so I’ve had a great time getting to know you, your team. And then I want to slide over to my dear friend, Todd Churchill. Todd, happy Friday. Thank you for joining us. How are you my friend?
Todd Churchill 01:28
Thank you doing well. It’s gorgeous day in Minnesota. Well,
Curt Anderson 01:32
it’s a gorgeous day. No, it’s just a gorgeous day everywhere. Regardless of what it is outside. It’s just It’s good to be alive. We’re going to have just a great vibrant conversation and Damien, I should probably gotten with a little different title, we’re going to dig into like, entrepreneurial ship, we’re going to talk about like, you know, there’s you know, I don’t know if you know about this entrepreneurial shift is sometimes its entrepreneurship is sometimes a little challenging. Daymond Did you know that this is a little bit thoughtless in a while, once in a while, it’s a little bit you know, like, that’s, it’s I don’t have any hair loss. Right. So let’s dig in. So Mary, I have a little question that I’d like to ask you before we get things kicked off started. So I go, You know what, Todd Mariela, I go a little personal. I have two different questions that I’m going to ask you guys to start the program with? Oh, Mariela every go. It’s a little bit of a curveball. You didn’t know that this one was common. I’m not going to get technical, though. Okay. Now, as a little girl growing up as a little girl growing up, who was your hero? Who did you look up to? Who did you admire? Who was your hero as a little girl growing up? Hmm. My mother, I will say, Okay, perfect. Let’s let’s hear about Mom. Why was mom your hero growing up?
Mariela Miller 02:47
It’s funny, because your question has so many angles that I can look at it from. I grew up without a mother figure. And without a mom figure. My mom was there with us on a monthly basis, would visit us because I grew up with some relatives. So every time my mom came to visit us, she came with all kinds of things for me, you know, so she was my hero, because I knew that no matter what, she was far away, but she will come to me, she will come back from me. And she will provide and she’ll give me some love. And you know, so? I don’t know. I think that she she will be my model
Curt Anderson 03:25
or hero. That’s wonderful. And what’s mom’s name, please?
Mariela Miller 03:29
Rosa Margarita, Rosa. Maria. i
Curt Anderson 03:32
Well, God bless Rosa Maria. And so she’s our hero. And so love hearing that and when she might come up through the conversation today, because what we want to dig into is like your tenacity, your relentlessness, coming into, you know, very difficult situations. And we want to dig into like your entrepreneurial journey. Todd, my friend, I’m going to slide over to you I understand you come from a background of maybe farmers and attorneys. What a combination my close. So I have that cops.
Todd Churchill 03:57
That works. Yes. All right. So David,
Curt Anderson 04:00
attorneys and farmers, of course, they go hand in hand. So yeah. Todd, I have a little I have a little different question for you. Actually, I don’t have a different question. I know like your grandfather was a hero. Maybe. Who was your heroes? A little guy, little guy growing up in the great state of Illinois. Who is your hero?
Todd Churchill 04:18
Yeah, I would say both of my grandfather’s. My maternal grandfather lost several farms in the Depression. He tells a story of of being of going to work in, in Chicago, he grew up in what are now the Chicago suburbs, Crystal Lake, Illinois. And he and his brother, were in the crowd of probably 600 people. And they were trying to get hired at the Ford plant in Chicago. And nearly everybody else in the crowd was from the city. And the plant foreman was standing up on a on a box and pointing at people to interview and he interviewed four people that day and two of them were my grandfather and his brother and he You he was able to select the farm kids. He wanted. First and foremost, he wanted to hire the farm kids because they they knew how to work with equipment. As opposed to he could teach anybody but it was much easier if he could hire the farm kids. So my grandfather lost a couple of farms in the depression and ended up out of necessity, started to haul milk cans from from the local farmers into boards and dairy in Chicago. And he was he was very visionary. He was the first person in Chicago or Illinois to get a bulk milk truck and the move from hauling milk cans to a milk milk truck. So for most of his adult life, he got up at four in the morning and went and hauled milk, seven days a week, 365 days a year. My My paternal grandfather went to law school. He actually cut he was going to a Christian school in Rock Island, Illinois. And he put himself through school playing jazz music. He was a fantastic trombone player. In fact, from the time he was 14, he had a job on the river boats going from Dubuque to New Orleans every summer and playing with adults. And one night, he got back to his door, his dorm room at about one of the morning and the Dean of Students was waiting for him and said, You’re expelled. You cannot be playing the devil’s music and go to school here. And he said, Come on, man. I got I got half a semester and then I’m accepted to law school at the time, you can go to law school with two years of undergrad. And so they worked out a deal and said, Okay, fine, I’ll you know, I’ll let I’ll let it as long as you’re out of here by the end of the semester. So I went to law school at Michigan ended up playing in the first first radio broadcast of of live music at a Detroit radio station came back to Moline, Illinois started a law practice. And then in the in the 30s. He he had a premonition that the stock market was over overvalued so he sold all of his stocks in late 1928. And in the 30s, he had plenty of cash and no work. And so he and my grandmother traveled around the world twice in the 30s by boat by land, literally circumnavigated the globe, and came back with stories and, and Oriental Art and Antique Persian rugs. And so their house was filled with the the the art and the artifacts that they’d collected on their travels. Just a fascinating, fascinating person. So I grew up, he bought a farm in the 1950s. Because he even though he didn’t like the farm at all, and he never spent any time out there, but my dad did. And my dad was befriended by the neighboring cowboy, who got him, got him a pony got him a saddle and got him a job at the sale barn, helping to move the cattle in and out of the pens on the weekends. And my dad fell in love with horses and became a farm kid. And when he was 16, his dad said, you know, we’ve built this farm for a while it’s always lost money, so I’m going to sell it. And my dad said, Ken, will you give me a chance to run it for a year and see if I can make money with it at 16. And they did and it made money. And it is he’s grown and expanded ever since. He went to law school join his dad and in a law practice and my little brother went to law school. So somehow I managed to sidestep the law, Gene, but I didn’t get very far away from it. Really?
Curt Anderson 08:51
Oh my God, dude. All right. Round of applause right there waiting early in our conversation, Todd, that was absolutely great story. What are what are the two grandpa’s? What are their names, please.
Todd Churchill 09:03
Cyrus was my as my paternal grandfather, he’s the the trombone player that that I’m the attorney and art is my was my paternal grandmother or grandfather.
Curt Anderson 09:15
Okay, all right. That was that was a great story.
Todd Churchill 09:18
I come from a very entrepreneurial family. It’s just it’s just kind of in there somewhere. Yeah. And I’ve always known that I would, I would figure out how to I like taking things. If I have a vision for something that doesn’t really exist today. I’m just compelled at times to go create it.
Curt Anderson 09:37
Well, I absolutely love that. So thank you both for sharing personal stories there. That was just wonderful, delightful. I love hearing about both sides. So let’s dig into a little bit on both of you. So let’s Marielle Let’s go here. So it’s my understanding. Born in Honduras, you end up working came to the States you had a government job if I’m not mistaken. Do I have that correct? Did you get a little bit of a government job? Talk a little bit like, what was that government job? Just let’s hear about little bit of your early career and what were goals inspiration streams as like, say, fresh out of school 20 something What did your young What did that look like back at that time?
Mariela Miller 10:15
Okay, um, so like I said, you know, I grew up without a family support system, I grew up with some relatives, and I didn’t have like, you know, that father figure four to look for, for guidance, or a mother figure for to look for love. So, since I was a child, I learned to stand up for myself. I, you know, I applied myself at school. And I was a very good student, you know, I had good grades now that in us growing up, my mom sent my sister and I, and we lived in a home for girls, ran by Nance. And then, you know, in Honduras, school, the education system is different, you go from first grade to sixth grade. And then three more years of middle school in after those three years of middle school, you decide if you take two more years to get like an accounting type of bachelor degree, or, or four years, like if you want to become a bilingual secretary, or in other options, I chose the bilingual Secretary path after ninth grade. And so being bilingual, my my opportunities were more, you know, like if I wanted to work in a bilingual environment, that that was a privilege back then. And so after three years of, after graduating and working with a Honduran government and with private, private company, I applied to for a job at the American Embassy slash USAID, Honduras, USAID, it’s, you know, US government, institution, or or agency that is present in poor countries or under development countries. Honduras is one of those, of course. So I started working there back in 1995. And I loved it, I loved my job, because I was able to practice my English, you know, when you learn English, if you don’t practice it, or any other language, if you don’t practice it, you simply lose it. And so being able to work in that environment allowed me to just enhance my my language skills in in learn so many different things. So I worked as a secretary there, for many years, then I was promoted to, you know, admin assistant, and then as a payroll, in in I escalated, I was working there for 14 plus years, close to 15, it was a good opportunity for professional growth, you know, and, and a good opportunity to meet other people. And I was, you know, at the same time, I was, I went to college, and I was studying business administration. I, in my mind, I thought of just building a career within the embassy and become an expert in either human resources or payroll, or accounting or anything, you know, the possibilities were were many. But because of the lack of that father figure, you know, in a way, I took responsibility of my family. So as as soon as I graduated from school, I started supporting my family economically. So that was my main joy to be able to provide for my family, you know, in that in the absence of that father figure, I thought, you know, I have to be that father figure for my younger sister. At that point, my older sister had left home and started his own life. So I had a good life, I can say, you know, in terms of job, career, friends, social life, religious life or spiritual life, I better say spiritual life, because that has been the core of my life. And so, I’m working there, you know, during my vacation time, I also did some part time jobs, like as an interpreter. So I started doing that job, actually, with a group coming from Minnesota. They were a large group coming to do some theological training, Medical Brigades and construction work. So it was a new experience for me being able to interpret for them you know, for that theological training part as well as the construction or Medical Brigade. So I started doing that and I will leave it there because something happened there.
Curt Anderson 15:06
Perfect. And we’re in. We’re gonna leave everybody on the edge of their seat. Yeah, we’ll come back to that in a minute. But so much unpack there, you know, you come to another country. Just the the adventure, the excitement, the inspiration of you know what you did with your early career just in so admirable that you you’re taking care of your family economically. So again, we applaud you for that Mariela. So if you guys, if you’re just joining us, we’re here with Mariela Miller, the CEO of biometrics International. We’re here with Todd Churchill, Todd, I want to slide over to my friend. So we got wonderful background and Cyrus and art and just you know, League of Legal Eagles in your background, lot of farming, you take your talents, your superpowers, and you do a combo, you do a combo of like you’ve dedicated yourself to sustainment and just thoughtful eating is a word that you’ve taught me or a phrase that you’ve taught me. And you’re kind of like that hired CFO that hired gun, right? So you’ve got that combination of accounting, with farming, take us through, like, you know, college, post college, and like, what’s been your journey going through there?
Todd Churchill 16:14
Sure. You know, I’m a, I was a reluctant accountant, I, I actually have a speech communication degree. Not not an accounting degree. Because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, but every single job, the second thing, the first thing that they always ask for is whatever the technical skills are for that position. But the second thing is always excellent oral and written communication skills. So I figured I knocked that one out. And then I figured out what I wanted to do for a living later, my dad had probably said 1000 times that if you want to be in business, accounting is the Language of Business. And if you’re, if you’re a native speaker, it’s a tremendous advantage. And so I decided reluctantly, that maybe I take that advice, and figured out how to take enough advanced accounting courses at the U of M, to sit for the CPA exam in Montana, where they don’t have a prerequisite for an accounting degree. But if you pass the CPA exam in Montana, Minnesota has to recognize you because they have reciprocity. So I was able to kind of find a little loophole, that’s a little shortcut. And then that little shortcut, then went to work for a CPA firm in 93, right out of college, and spent a couple years learning really learning tax law and doing a lot of tax returns. But I was, you know, I was in a cube, I never met a single client, it was, I was, I was not, I was pretty miserable. Was it for you, right? It wasn’t for me. And but when all my life changed one day, when when one of the partners came in and dumped a whole stack of files on my desk and said, these are all the small business clients that I charge them a lot of money, and I don’t know why they’re still here. Because I don’t I don’t ever answer their phone calls, I don’t really, really respond to them. Go go out there, find out what they need, and see if you can figure it out. And I went out there and what they what they wanted help with was practical operational things. I need a sales, I need a better sales compensation plan for my salespeople. I printed my balance sheet out to QuickBooks, and I gave it to my bank and he said it doesn’t balance and I don’t really know what I don’t know what to do with that. You know, I’m, I’ve got an opportunity to quote on a on a huge project that could double the size of my business, but I’m not totally sure that I really know what it costs me to make this, can you help me with my cost accounting and, and I was I finally found my calling, using my, my, the, the childhood, I had the back family back then I had about about business in general. And then using my accounting skills to solve specific operational problems for entrepreneurs, was what I love to do. So I, I, I started my own practice and doing that in Minneapolis in 97 as a part time CFO. And that is, although that’s very common now. It wasn’t very common man. And I ended up with a portfolio of a whole bunch of food and egg clients. Which, of course, is part of my passion. I grew up around cattle. I’ve always loved cattle. I’ve always loved farming. And in the late 90s, I had a client in Cannon Falls, which is where I live now that had a little custom Walker plant like every small town in the Midwest has had 20 years ago. So they had a deli and a catering business and they were really visionary they they saw that there was going to be this tremendous demand in the future for specialty high integrity beats grass fed organic, pastured pork. And nobody had nobody really built a processing plant that was big enough. To have all the best equipment, so you can package stuff really nicely. So it would look good on a shelf. But but small enough that it was accessible for those smaller, like niche meat brands. And so I helped them a little bit in the early 90s. With that, learn the niche Meat, meat lords, the dish niche meat business very well there. And then Michael Pollan, who at the time was the food writer for the New York Times Magazine wrote an article about comparing a steer through a feedlot to a seer that was grasping. And I read that article and realize that I just had a hunch that grass fed beef was going to become a huge trend. And I already had access to the what I consider to be the best processor in the country for niche beef processing. And I grew up with cattle. And so I figured how hard could it be just don’t feed him any grain, right? I mean, that’s, that’s easy. Turned out to be so easy. But I started a company called 1000 Hills Cattle Company back in 2003. Where we were, you know, we were processing two animals a week, when we started, for a handful of the health food co ops to Twin Cities is a great place to start a health food company, because we have more health food stores per capita than any place in the country probably. And it just grew, we built a brand, I learned how to build a brand and how to bring a product to market I learned how to build a team. And my original business plan was to sell a product for twice as much money to customers who didn’t know why it was better. And it was a product that I really didn’t know how to make. So we didn’t win any business plan competition. And it took us a long time to figure out how to make any money from it. But But I was just I was just consumed. I was just obsessed with figuring out how to deliver grass fed beef. That was a really great eating experience. And so the other thing that prompted me there was a physician in town that had a very successful specialty integrative practice. And he was prescribing grass fed beef to his heart patients. But what they can find in the grocery store wasn’t very good, it was frozen, not fresh. And so he said, you know, if you can come up, if you can figure out a way to get fresh beef in the grocery stores, I have literally hundreds and hundreds of clients in the Twin Cities that will that will go by it. And so we did. And I, I learned, you know, obviously, you know, I knew how to do the accounting, I knew how to do the finance, but I didn’t really know until I started that business, how to do marketing, how to build a brand, how to do digital marketing, how to how to create a cause and a mission instead of just a company that sells products. Alright, big,
Curt Anderson 23:06
lots of x rayed there and I know we got so much to cover. So again guys, we’re here with Mariela Miller from biometrics International. We’re here with Todd Churchill, the Hired Gun CFO and Todd what I love is I actually I stumbled on an article about you in in reading that article, it refers to the article that you read, you know about and it was called The Power steer, and how like you it really led you to being a pioneer in grass fed, you know, the grass fed cattle industry, if you will. And I love you know, so for folks out there, wherever you’re at in your life, your journey of like, listen to Todd, you know, could have stayed in a cubicle could have made a great living doing the accounting thing, but also had like that, that I have pursued his passion helping those small businesses those entrepreneurs that really just a little bit lost needed some extra guidance you dug into you know, bring in your accounting superpowers. Absolutely love it, you know, a couple of terms that you’ve taught me in tight I’ve had just man my respect and admiration for both of you. I’ve had such a it’s been such a joy working with you guys past few months, but like, at the goal environment, stewardship, you know, thoughtful eating, you know, virtuous profit, Todd, I just I absolutely love how you practice what you preach. Let’s slide into this. I’m Damon. I’m going to go when you’re the farmer, I’m going to pull up I’m going to pull up a little video for us right now. But Damon, you grew up on a farm like would like I know, you’re totally geeking out right now. Like, what do you think this conversation so far?
Damon Pistulka 24:30
is great. It’s great. Because I mean, there is there I mean, there is something about farming that calls you and when you’re called you don’t do it for the money anymore,
Curt Anderson 24:40
right? You don’t do it for the money. So I Mariela what I’m going to do is I’m going to my share in that that’s a little fear
Damon Pistulka 24:47
Sharon, you got the Infinity screen there we go. Do we got it now we got it. Let’s make it flip make that fullscreen to when you do it. So Mariela, I’m gonna
Curt Anderson 24:55
go if you can tee up this 2008 If I have the Here’s a little goes something happened to your life. Do I have the right year? Am I close?
Mariela Miller 25:03
2008? Yes. Okay,
Curt Anderson 25:07
I’m going to play this little video for everybody. So everybody sit back, relax and enjoy this video. Here we go.
Damon Pistulka 25:16
Oh, we’re not hearing it. We’re not hearing it. Kurt, you can’t hear it. No.
Curt Anderson 25:21
How about we’ve had this happen before Damon, why is it not? Why? What’s the sound? Is there a setting that I’m doing wrong? Yeah. How about, you know what? I’m going to do this? I’m going to stop sharing for a second. You know what that setting is? Let me see here, jump into jump on their website. Mary, I’m going to, we’re going to Damon, we’ll get this figured out. I apologize about that. I thought I had the sound all worked out with my settings. But Damon, if you could take a look on that, I’m gonna do Arial and 2000. In 2008, you were you were working at your government job. And just can you take us up a little bit into like, we’re going to segue into this video. What what that something happened? What happened in 2008? And your world? I know that the economy had took a little hiccup what was going on in your world?
Mariela Miller 26:05
Yes, no. Well, in 2007, actually, when I met this person, you know, when I was doing the in the part time job as an interpreter, I met one person who was part of that vision group in Honduras. And then in 2008, you know, I’m gonna go very fast in time in the on the timeline. In 2008, we got married, we got married. And then in 2009, I quit my job with with the US government. You know, when you marry an American people will think, oh, you know, she wants to move to the US. She wants to get a green card. That was not my my thing. I actually had a very good job and nice life in Honduras. And I married my husband, because I just thought he was the most wonderful man in the world. And we got married in Honduras. And the idea was to stay and live in Honduras. It happened, that guy had this small business here in Minnesota. And when you have a business, you have to run the business, either you run it by yourself, or you hire someone, someone else to run the business for you. I think guy understood that even though he wanted to be in Honduras with his wife, his business needed it needed him here in Minnesota. So he had to stay here. And at that point, Mariela had to make a decision, you cannot have a marriage, virtually Right? Or by remote control. No, you need to move your husband be with your husband. So I quit my job in 2009. And in 2010 11, I moved to Minnesota, I’m gonna go very fast. And it turns out that in 2013, my husband got diagnosed with cancer, it was a hormonal cancer that is not common here in the United States, actually, they said that only 3% of the population in the United States software, this type of cancer, so and they said, there’s no cure for it. So guy had to start trial treatment with Mayo Clinic. And that’s when another journey started for us as a family. And for me as a wife, you know, as a mother, in 2017, my husband passed away. I’m going super fast on this because I know we are sharing the story with with with Todd in, you know, but um, guy passed away. The business was a very good business guy was a scientist. He was a microbiologist, and an entrepreneur. And like, Todd was saying, you know, Todd has a vision, or you know, he works in that way where he knows he can do something, and he goes for it. That was my husband, guy, several years ago, back in 1997, actually, is when he founded biometrics. And back then, you know, being a scientist, and being a visionary being an entrepreneur, he knew that there were natural solutions for animal feed. And back then it was not a thing in the United States. It was not something that the industry would talk about or say yes, this is the route you have to go actually he was called the fulfil das man because he said, You know, nobody believed that his ideas would actually work out. He believed in those ideas he knew, and he’s stuck with that plan. And he went for it and he developed great technologies for for natural solutions for animal feed. And so 1987 Guy builds biometrics. 2017 guy dies, Marya, Allah who does not have an entrepreneurial path doesn’t is not a business person is not a scientist, nothing to do with the business whatever I knew if you play that video when you play that video, you will hear from me saying I did not know anything about the business whatever I knew I learned it from guide through guy because he was a Great Communicator and I like to listen and talk more talking that least fortunately, but I used to listen to Guy stories every single day he will come home and share about his day and challenges and decisions and everything about the business. And you know, he would talk technical items with me that I would not understand at all scientific information that I will not understand anything that he was talking about. And he was so patient, you know, talking with me, sharing all that knowledge with me, and I was learning from him. So 2017 he dies, he had a team in place, I hired a CEO to help me run the business because obviously I realized I do not have the experience the knowledge or anything that the credentials that allow me to run this business, therefore, I need to hire people in trust that people are going to do what they need to do. So that’s what happened in 2017. And I don’t know how far you want me to go or if you’re ready to play the video,
Damon Pistulka 31:09
ready to play the video and you are but this is awesome.
Curt Anderson 31:11
This is awesome. So let’s try it again. Damon if you
Damon Pistulka 31:14
can, I’m gonna I’m gonna do it right now. Okay. We’ll do it right here. Share let’s see if we got it this time.
Mariela Miller 31:23
Yeah, I come from a very small family
Curt Anderson 31:31
cut out again. But we’re having a little little technical. Well, you know what? That is? What happened when you go live? You know what this? Mariela you did an amazing job telling the stories even let’s
Damon Pistulka 31:46
we’ll just leave this where it’s not working. Let’s just keep going Mariela keep
Curt Anderson 31:49
rolling. So Mariela, let’s go here. Who is biometrics International? Can you please share like how you make the world a better place and then tied, I want to pull you in how you came into onto the scene and your relationship with Mariela. But Muriel, shared with us, who is biometrics? And how do you guys make the world a better place?
Mariela Miller 32:06
Yes. So like I said, guy, founded this company. And biometrics focuses on providing natural solutions that enhance enhance animal feed, we believe that I believe that what you are what you eat, and if you feed animals, right, therefore, that meet those eggs, that milk that we intake, you know, get into our body and help us to perform better as well to enhance our lives as human beings. And guy was very concerned about making sure that animals were fit correctly, were fit right, and that animals will be healthy. And so that the technologies that he developed, actually, the main focus was to help with the god health of the animal. God health was the priority, in turn, that helps the animal to perform better and to produce more. So for poultry, you know, to to produce more X to have a better quality of meat for for broilers for swine, you know. So, biometrics has focused on making sure back then biometrics was a pioneer. Nowadays, of course, with so much competition, we have strong competition out there in the industry. And yet, after 2526 years, biometric continue being relevant in the industry, because not only those technologies that guy created with are the core of the business today, we continue investing in research and development to come up with new products, new solutions that help us you know, making sure that those livestock animals are well fed to use and enhance and perform better and not only for livestock, but for pet too. So we provide technologies for for for pet and like I said, don’t ask me too much technical information because when it comes to technical, I get really excited because the the level of knowledge that have I have acquired through my science, technical team, you know, it’s it’s, it’s good, but it’s not as high as obviously not being a science scientist to be able to provide you with the information that you might need right now, you know, but um, that’s what we did.
Damon Pistulka 34:30
But you if this is I’ve I’ve heard this before biometrics too, because I’ve had people talk to me in the past about feeding the animals the right product, so that like you said, the eggs and the meat that they produced from them is healthier, has better, more nutrients and more of the things that we really want them to have in them.
Mariela Miller 34:52
Correct and without antibiotics. Yeah, without antibiotics, beauty of of business, you know, we’ve been doing something For so many years without antibiotics, in proving that those solutions really work in our day, we have more data that that shows that our products actually perform at the level of an antibiotic, you know that a chicken would perform great with our, with our additives and ingredients. The same as if they were being added antibiotics in their feed.
Curt Anderson 35:33
That’s incredible. I love it. And so in summary, I’m going to come back to you in a minute because I want to talk about you know, like, you know, Peter Drucker, one of the greatest consultants of the 20th century, he talks about the accidental entrepreneur. And you know, certainly what, you know, a lot of us find ourselves as the accidental entrepreneur, whether it’s something beyond our control, or in your situation, you know, very difficult challenging loss. But I’m gonna, you’ve built you have an amazing, incredible team. So if the team is out there listening or they catch us on replay, give a shout out to Chris, Chris, Kevin, Dr. Ella Manda, Dr. Meg, Dane Daymond. They have just really the Hall of Fame team that they put together. And of course, you have Todd on the team, Todd, share with us, you know, again, pioneer in the grass fed industry. you’ve dedicated your entire career to this thoughtful eating farm kid, you know, everything about what your career represents? How did biometrics come on your radar, and like just a roll here?
Todd Churchill 36:32
It’s an add to Great question. So after selling 1000 hills in 2015, I kind of restarted my consulting practice and focused exclusively on on specialty food, what I’ll call natural organic food and egg industries. But the things have gotten so complicated, it’s very hard to be a soloist consultant. I don’t know everything about everything. And so one of one of the the other families and businesses that sort of grew their business alongside of mine was cedar summit farms, which had they had a glass bottle, non homogenized milk business out of new pregnant a soda, and it was the menar family. Well, I happen to see an ad for Clifton Larson, Allen was looking for someone to lead their, what they call Biz Ops, which is part time CFO controller and bookkeeper work in southern Minnesota. And I was skeptical. I mean, I haven’t worked for anybody else since 1997. So but for some reason that I still don’t can’t really explain. Something compelled me to check this out. So I ended up talking with Mark Mallory, who, who runs that outsourced accounting group for the upper Midwest. And I was like, Yeah, you know, maybe it’s kind of interesting. And he said, well, before you decide that, I want you to talk to Linda menar. Who, who works also works very closely with me. I said, Wait a minute, like, like, the dairy family. It’s like, Yeah, I think I think I think her family was in dairy. So I knew Linda and I knew her family really well and had tremendous respect for them. And so I decided to take a chance and take this position and actually go to work for a very large organization, Clifton Larson, Allen CLA, the eighth largest CPA firm in the country, we have 9000 employees, 120 offices. And the thing that makes us different, I mean, CPAs do all the same stuff. We do taxes, we do audits, what makes CLA different is we’re really focused on hiring people that have done other than have direct industry experience. And so So I told them when they hired me, you know, this probably isn’t gonna work because I don’t I don’t do well in large organizations and a lot of micromanaging
Curt Anderson 39:02
time. Can I Can I interject? What? I want people to just digest what I guess I’m using digest as a pawn, but you know, here’s a guy that started pioneer started, you started 1000 hills. You know what? Damon Todd is just an amazing father of six man of deep faith and so 1000 Hills, I have the story curricula. It comes from a Bible verse, and you built just a wonderful powerful company, and you were on the Inc 5000 So like anybody out there that’s an entrepreneur and tries to go to work for somebody let alone a big firm. Yeah, that’s not the easiest and so it sounds like it was almost like another calling. You went with your gut instinct was kind of when it gets your brain and I apologize the inner right No, no, that’s I wanted to set the tone of like, this is an inc 5000 guy going to accompany but please, please continue, please continue.
Todd Churchill 39:51
So I merged my consulting practice and Clifton Larson Allen and and took over the management of the wall. Linda and I co manage our outsourced accounting group for southern Minnesota. We didn’t talk a lot when I got hired about my, my background in the cattle industry. So over time, as word kind of got out about that I ended up getting referred other projects, anything that relates to meat processing, and cattle and livestock. Oftentimes, I ended up hearing about those things. And it’s been two and a half years. And I still cannot believe how much I love working for this massive organization that has all these incredible resources, I get to focus on what I’m really good at. And when somebody has a question about a tax thing, I said, Well, I don’t know. But I’ll find the tax person. You know, somebody just asked me this morning for what’s the best software for Job Costing for a construction company? Well, I don’t know. But it literally in four minutes, I had the answer because I sent an email out to 600 people. And I had 12 people that got back to me and said, Here’s the software to use. That kind of power is just, it’s just incredible to have that kind of resources. So, guy had worked with CLA for many, many years. And at some point, somebody at CLA said, Hey, there’s this guide to this Todd guy that seems to know a lot about cattle and livestock. And, you know, I don’t I don’t, I don’t think we don’t quite have the right person. We have some great people that are helping Mariela, but none of them really know anything about AG. Let’s, let’s introduce some and see see where it goes. And so I’ll let Mariela tell the rest of it from her perspective.
Mariela Miller 41:44
Take it from there, Mariela. Okay, so, um, after die died, you know, there have been several transitions within the company. It’s been six years since he died. And Biometrics is still standing. In that we all we all die to the fact that guy built a very strong foundation. It’s It’s incredible, all the things, you know, I could spend time here talking to you about all the things that has happened within the business. And so I have transitioned into, you know, from different sort of a support system, I’ve been trying to find the right person to work with, from a CFO perspective, advisors perspective, financial advisors perspective. And in and I, we had three different CFO, part time CFO, one to Teresa, third one, in, we see a layoff, obviously, it’s easier because CLA finds out or helps you identify the type of the right fit for you. So when they sent Todd, you know, we started talking with him, January last year. And since that first meeting, we knew Yes, he’s the one we need. Because like he said, Not only he knows the industry, he understands numbers. He’s a great human being with values that are very consistent with the values that we run the business of biometrics, and, and he coaches us in a way that he doesn’t tell us what to do, he always tells me, Maria, I’m not going to tell you what to do, I will just give you the guidance or the resources that you need, that will help you to make decisions, wise decisions. The thing is, the funny thing is, I hired Todd to help me identify the right person that biometrics would need to continue operating. Because in my mind, we needed another CEO, CEO, President, whatever you call it, we needed another person to run biometrics. In my mind, I was not a person because like I tell you back in 2017, I came up with that come to that conclusion myself. And so it’s funny because as we talk with Todd, the more we talk, the more he told me in different ways in different times, Mariela, you’re eight. You don’t have to hire anybody to run your own business. You’re it. And it was like, Is he crazy? Or what? He doesn’t understand that. Experience. I’m not an intrapreneur. I’m here by the circumstances of life, but the company needs someone else. And he gave me the reasons why he thought I had to be the one to face the responsibility and it’s not about responsibility. It was not about me avoiding that responsibility. I embrace that responsibility from the moment my husband died, because I promised him that I was not going to sell biometrics, he asked me to promise him not to sell biometrics. So I promised and I thought I will do whatever it takes to keep biometrics. And so I know the responsibility it entails, but because I know the responsibility. I knew it will not be responsible for me to say, Hey, I’m going to lead this company, you know, without having the credentials without having the knowledge to do it. But after so many years is guided up to two years ago, I thought, okay, it makes sense. I have acquired some knowledge, I have acquired some experience. But I was afraid. I was really afraid. And I always say, if you know what fear smells, feels like. Put that to the 100 percentage. That’s how Kinugawa Yeah, I knew I had to embrace that challenge. Because with people like Todd coaching me, with people like that, once you have mentioned Kurt, in whom you have talked with all the team that I have behind me, I know it’s not about me. And it’s not me, no one was going to run this company. It takes a team. It takes a village with my people here, and coaches like Todd
Curt Anderson 46:04
that we are incredible. Okay, incredible. Todd Marriott. On our little program, we have these things called moments of silence. And so we just want to take a moment and just savor what you just shared right there. That was just so amazing. That was so powerful. Todd, curious minds want to know. What on earth did you see in Mariela? Where you felt like you are it take us there?
Todd Churchill 46:33
Well, biometrics for Mariela was a foster child. It wasn’t something she chose, it wasn’t her own. And she was she was managing it as a steward and trying hard to be a good steward for the memory and the honor to honor guy’s memory and honor what he created. And what I what I recognized was that the biometrics was never going to be successful, and it was never going to be satisfying to own. And it was never going to be satisfying as an employer for other people. Until Mario Allah decided if she was if she was going to adopt, and truly make it hers, not not because out of an obligation to guide not out of not out of a desire to honor guy but because it’s what she wants to do with her life. And so, over over a course of about a year, we talked about this. And I think most of the other people that she brought into either as employees or as advisors, looked at her and immediately came to the same conclusion that she did is that you have, there’s a huge need to sell this thing before before it completely disappears, you’re gonna either run it into the ground, or you’re going to sell it because you have no chance of of running this. And that’s not my call to make, that’s not my responsibility that the greatest danger of a good consultant is to take over the vision of your client. I and it would be it would, it would have been so easy for me to do that. And I was very conscious that that that was not my job. That was not my role. If biometrics failed, because Morial, it wasn’t up to the task of running it. So be it my job was to make sure that Maryellen didn’t go through the rest of her life unsatisfied trying in a frustrated way to honor something that she didn’t really own. And so when we talk I would just you know, at the end of the day, you have to decide do you want to do you want to own this business or do you want to run it and if you do you don’t need anything that’s all you need. You just need to claim it and make it clear to everybody that this belongs to you and that you’re no longer if your bike by by circumstance you are here by choice
Curt Anderson 49:15
dropped a mic man that oh my god incredible. So Ty just we take like little video clip replays and so guys if please if you’re hit the rewind button, I don’t I can’t quote you but you didn’t want to take over the vision that was just said as a powerful statement. Mariela that if you’re comfortable going there, you use the word fear and I can I’m probably Captain Obvious asking this question but what what was the fear? What did you What were you know, again, I unders fully understand your background, you know, you’re a government employee. But you know, you’re the accidental entrepreneur you’re trying to carry guys legacy. Just share with us just again, I don’t because I don’t want to make assumptions but I don’t mean to be captain obvious, but like, what, what were some of the fears that you had of like you becoming a president of the company,
Mariela Miller 50:02
many fears, I feel that the first one was feeling inadequate for the job, you know, the lack of experience credentials, the fear of not being accepted by my team because my team was used to other leaders. So the fear of not being accepted the fear of not knowing what to do, what decisions to make, because I felt that the whole responsibility will be on me to know what decisions to make, where to go, you know, the fear of my customers not recognizing me because they knew guy they knew the former leaders. In some of them knew me because I participated in several meetings with guy I met them but they knew a guy’s wife, they didn’t know the business owner, they didn’t. They didn’t know Mariela as a as the leader, right, or biometrics. So the fear of not having the same credibility of die, of course, in the former leaders, after a guy with a fear of just failing, the fear of, you know, having the responsibility and like said, you know, what, if everything fails, it will be because of me. So the feeling the fear of failing all of that,
Curt Anderson 51:17
just like so just a real heavy responsibility. Now you’re six years in and again, I’ve had a front row seat of watching you, your leadership, your you know, I’ve interacted with this, also our Hall of Fame team that you’ve put together. How about for entrepreneurs, you know, let’s take Mariela, there’s a Marielle out there, of 2016 17. Like, right in your shoes, walking into like the unknown, where you are facing that fear. What advice what suggestions would you give that person, maybe a spouse could be a child to take it over mom and dad’s business? Whatever that circumstance might be? What advice would you I’m just getting chills thinking about this. David? Yeah. What What? What advice would you give to that person? That was you six years ago?
Mariela Miller 52:01
Yeah. So I came from the perspective of fulfilling a promise to my husband, I promised him not to sell the business. At that point, there were several offers to buy biometrics, the easiest way out was for Mariela to sell and walk away with all the money. Not always, the easiest way out is the better believe in your convictions. If you believe in something, and if you’re committed to something, just take committed, just stay strong in your beliefs, never lose faith. I did not trust myself. And I didn’t have that self confidence that I could do it. But I trusted that if God brought me to this point, if God put me in this position, he would be with me, he would provide whatever tools whatever support whatever help I needed to carry it out. So I trusted in him. And I have not lost that faith and that trust in him. Every day it’s a it’s a, it’s a step towards that the goal that you want, where you want to go. And when you’re not certain of where to go, how to do it. Always find the right people to help you to work with. Find the right support that you need. But don’t lose, don’t lose track of where you want to go. Just keep focused. Believe in yourself. Believe in something believe in God. If you don’t believe in God, then find something to believe in. What don’t lose track of what do you want to do? And if you don’t know how to do it with this gun, provide the help that you need. Just don’t don’t don’t don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Stay strong. Yeah. Thanks. Thank you.
Curt Anderson 53:58
I just want to take a moment just just that. Okay, the theme and this may be the best interview. I hope I don’t offend out there. This may be the best interview that we’ve ever had. So I would love for this one for another three hours. We’re coming to the bottom of the hour. I want to be respectful of time, my goodness that I want to unpack a couple other couple of things real quick. Yeah. First off, thank you both for just an amazing, incredible powerful experience. Todd, thank you. Your grandfather’s you finding your aha finding your faith, your faith, your voice, your path, your journey, and you bring in superpowers to help in folks, entrepreneurs, you know, minutes, whether in Minnesota or surrounding states, like Mariela sold. My hat’s off. I commend you, I applaud you I salute you for everything that you’re doing. And Daymond you know, his business 1000 Hills was if I have this correctly, it was Psalm 5010. Do I have that right time right? Yeah. So I mean, my goodness, I don’t know a guy have greater integrity. admire respect and admiration for you. I just it’s been an honor working with you, Mariela. My goodness gracious that you know in Damon you don’t know what it’s like she’s super shy. She’s like camera shy. And she was very reluctant. She was the total reluctant guest today. And honest to goodness, like I know we don’t have like a crazy big audience Daymond but like, this conversation changed my life. I know a che i can. I can just see the motion on your face. Change your life and Mariela as I, as I shared with you, you have such a powerful story that in sometimes when you’re working, as you know what we’re all people of faith are just retiring, be humble servants, and you don’t realize the impact you have on others. But just think of like one widow that heard your story today that needed to hear today that was with where you were at years ago. And how about eight Whitney Houston is here. I talked with it. And you know, you both did amazing. So I’m gonna I’m gonna keep my mouth quiet for a minute. Todd, parting thoughts. I wanted to ask you, how do you measure abundance? I found that in an article of yours, how do you close this out with your parting thoughts, Mary on when it comes to you? How do you measure abundance or any parting words of wisdom in our conversation today?
Todd Churchill 56:12
A life of abundance is one where, where you’re just leaving every interaction as as much as possible better than you found it every every person, every interaction in a business context. It’s just going out into the world and improving other people’s lives.
Curt Anderson 56:33
So good. So good. We need to savor that one. Yeah, first moment.
Todd Churchill 56:38
And growth growth is really simple. Growth is simply a consequence, if you do good work. Growth is the reward for the reward for doing good work is the opportunity to do more good work. And you can, you can for you can spend a bunch of money on digital advertising you can you can convince people to try your products or services for a while. But it’s if you’re truly, if your customers are truly benefiting, if their life is enriched, because of your product or your service, you’re inevitably going to grow. And what what CLA is really good at is is bringing the business systems that support that growth so that you don’t have to simultaneously get good at delivering the product and service and building the all the business, the back end business systems to support that growth.
Curt Anderson 57:37
Okay, thank you, Todd. as we wind down, please, please, please connect with Todd on LinkedIn he’s in. He’s in the thread. He’s in the chat. So Todd Churchill, Todd, thank you. Hey, I want a big round of applause for Todd Churchill for just bringing this mastermind class today. Awesome of entrepreneurship of inspiration. Mariela my friend, by the way, I love the puppy the little picture on your shoulder. But there you go, Mariela. Take us home, any parting thoughts, words of wisdom that you want to share as we close out our conversation today.
Mariela Miller 58:13
For me, it’s important to know that the people that surround me, like Todd, you know, that their lives are better, that I am contributing and making an impact for the betterment of the people that surround me. So my immediate neighbor, my son at home, my team at biometrics, making sure that I respect them, and treat them with dignity and value them and recognize all the contributions that they bring to biometrics our customers making sure that we serve them in the most in the best way that I can and that the animals that consume our our products or ingredients are better animals better like you know, creatures because of we are contributing to that so in the end everything that’s around us that it’s it’s it’s improving that it grows a lot along with me because that’s what helps me gives me satisfaction to know that I’m contributing to this world. I get better if I help others getting better get better.
Curt Anderson 59:22
I hope by helping others get better so I firstly this was this was truly a privilege. Just an honor. Anybody catching this live catching this on replay please check out biometrics international connect with Todd connect with Mariela follow these guys, you just virtual virtuous profits, we’ve talked about doing business with integrity, just sustainability. There’s so much good please go back and touch this again. Damon, your your parting thoughts, words of wisdom here. I know you’re probably speechless right.
Damon Pistulka 59:58
Yeah, just let you And I’ll close this out. Go ahead, man.
Curt Anderson 1:00:03
Thank you, Todd. Thank you Mirella guys, as we
Todd Churchill 1:00:06
are having us. Oh, thank
Curt Anderson 1:00:07
you. The privilege was 100% on us. Thank you for sharing your passion, your energy your expertise today. And guys as we’d like to close out, thank you for joining us, Damon night. We’ve learned it’s such a privilege for us to do this every week, but this really took it to a whole new level. This was like a masterclass on steroids. And as we’d love to share, just go out and be someone’s inspiration just like Todd just like Mariela did for us today. Go out and be someone’s inspiration. We have another Mariela you’ll love we have a great guests on Monday we’re going to be talking about we’re celebrating women in manufacturing on our One Day episode. So God bless everybody out there have an amazing, incredible weekend. Damon closes out brother take us away.
Damon Pistulka 1:00:53
Wow, this is a good one. I mean, and that’s an understatement because I can’t even put the words together right now. Because Mariela your approach, humility, in in the it’s just, it’s just incredible. You are far more powerful than you realize, in your presence in what you do for people around you. And want you just thank you, Todd, a your ability to see as that helpful adviser alongside of her You said not taking over her vision. But you empowered her with the the confidence to be able to do this. It’s just so incredible. I just, it’s, it’s amazing. I just want to say thank you both for being here today.
Mariela Miller 1:01:41
Thank you. Cool. Thank you. Thank you, Damon. Thank you.
Damon Pistulka 1:01:46
We’re gonna close it out today because this is an awesome one. And if you haven’t listened to this, everybody that hasn’t commented, get back, go to the beginning. Start over because it is incredible. But we’ll be back again with another episode later. Hang out with us for a minute Todd and Mary Allah