The restaurant industry has been one of the toughest hit over the last 6 months. Fire suppression and the distributors / contractors that service them have also been affected. Jamie Knowles of Amerex Corporation is one of the leaders in the suppression industry focusing on the restaurant sector.

In this episode, Jamie gives some extraordinary facts about how Americans eat and what the impacts of the pandemic did to the prepared food industry.

Listen to the Audio


Intro (4:15)
Data about COVID times (6:55)
Faster Food vs Dining (9:50)
City vs Suburb vs Rural (14:20)
Ghost Kitchens (15:30)
NFPA and Food Trucks (21:30)
More Ghost Kitchens (24:40)
Electronic Detection Fire Suppression (27:55)
Internet of Things (32:15)
Industrial Chemical / Paint Booths (38:00)
Gas Station / Pemall Exit (42:20)
NAFED / How are the Fire Equipment Distributors doing? (45:10)
Incentives for techs (47:50)
Quick Response Round (50:40)
Contact Info (54:50)

Discussed in this Episode:

About Amerex Corporation

Beginning in 1971, Amerex Corporation has grown to become the world’s largest and most innovative manufacturer of hand portable and wheeled extinguishers for commercial and industrial applications. With the introduction of state-of the-art gas detection systems along with pre-engineered fire suppression systems for vehicles, commercial cooking operations and paint spray booths, Amerex has earned a reputation for excellence in the fire protection industry. view website

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Full Transcript

Drew Slocum: (00:09):

This is episode 24 of the Fire Protection Podcast, powered by Inspect Point. Today my guest is Jamie Knowles of the Amerex Corporation. Jamie’s the sales manager, uh, for the restaurant and industrial chemical side of the of their business. Uh, Amex is a big manufacturer in the fire protection space for anything from, uh, extinguishers to suppression to a wide variety of fire protection, um, systems. Jamie has a lot of knowledge. I knew him from the past, from my, from our Tyco days. He has a lot of knowledge in the restaurant space, and, you know, over the last six months, the restaurant space has been quite affected by the pandemic. So he was, he was gracious to come on and talk a talk a bunch about the restaurant industry and some stats there. Uh, pretty eye-opening, um, and kind of before the pandemic, during the pandemic and what he sees after the pandemic coming in the restaurant industry.

So, um, great to chat about that. We get into some industrial dry chem with paint booth suppression and some other protection schemes as well. Gas station suppression, we did highlight in our conversation was to really support your local restaurants, cuz those are gonna be the ones that are affected the most. Um, through all this, uh, Amarex is partnering with the National Restaurant Association and the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to give some, to give something back to the restaurant community. And it helps, uh, different, uh, business owners and workers in the restaurant industry, uh, through these troublesome times. So please get out there, buy local, support your local restaurants, and enjoy the podcast. We’re off. Thanks Jamie for, uh, joining me on today’s podcast. Um, yeah, we, we’ve got Jamie Knowles from the Amarex, uh, Amarex Corporation. I don’t, I don’t know what the full title is.

Jamie Knowles: (02:09):

Yeah, Amex Corporation.

Drew Slocum: (02:11):

I got it. Yeah, yeah. Uh, Jamie’s the, uh, sales manager for, uh, uh, kitchen and Industrial Chem Systems. So, uh, yeah, thanks for joining me today. It’s been, it’s, it’s been a long time coming.

Jamie Knowles: (02:23):

It has, it has, uh, we worked together some years ago and it’s kind of stayed in touch and, uh, it’s been nice to see you and inspect points kind of start from nothing and grow a little bit and get a foothold in the market. That’s been kind of, uh, fun to watch over the years.

Drew Slocum: (02:36):

Yeah, it’s, uh, I, you know, I, I, I had to, I had to attempt it. I thought the idea was great and it, it kind of stuck and we’re, we’re, we’re really getting out there now. So, especially with, uh, you know, kind of the, the change in the market over the last six months, so.

Jamie Knowles: (02:55):

Sure, sure. I imagine that, uh, I imagine that, uh, a lot of the distributors are struggling with their day to day, and you’ve got tools within your platform that can help ’em do that.

Drew Slocum: (03:04):

Yeah, it’s funny. Uh, we had a, I was at the F S S A, I think Amex was there, somebody from from from Amex was there. Yeah, yeah. F S S A, it was, uh, it was the show in, uh, in Florida in like the LA the last weekend in February. And literally the week, the week, you know, we, and we were discussing how to get through, you know, troublesome times in the economy and all that. And there they had a, a keynote speaker talk about it. And I may have said, said something on a previous podcast about this, but yeah, essentially it’s, you know, improving your workflow, driving more service and inspection, and literally a week later, you know, everything got shut down. And then <laugh> obviously we’re at, we’re at. So

Jamie Knowles: (03:48):

Yeah, we are. Yeah, it’s been an interesting time, hasn’t it? Uh, in my career, I certainly haven’t seen anything like this. I’m normally a traveler, uh, like you are, and on the road. And I haven’t left Spokane in, uh, uh, since the first week in March. In fact, NAED in, in, uh, Vegas was my last stop.

Drew Slocum: (04:03):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I, uh, we were, we were there in, in, in Vegas, and that was our, I wasn’t there, but my, my team was, so, yeah. Um, pretty cool. Well, let me, uh, give, give a quick, uh, introduction of who you are, where you came from, kinda what you’re doing now, anything about Amax.

Jamie Knowles: (04:20):

Sure, sure. So, I’m, uh, I’m Jamie Noles. Uh, uh, I’ve been in the restaurant, uh, fire suppression business, uh, and fire extinguisher, pre-engineered, uh, I should say the pre-engineered fire business since about 93 when I got out of the Navy. I worked in distribution up in the northwest where I’m from, uh, up until 2010, having several different jobs. Uh, I, I like to tell technicians I crawled in and outta hoods for 15 years, which is about true. Um, and then in 2010, I left distribution and went over to Ansel, worked for Ansel until 2015. And then I’ve been at Amarex since 2015. Uh, so I’ve made my way around the industry. Uh, I seem to have connected with a lot of people, and I hope I’m doing some good here, so,

Drew Slocum: (05:04):

No, that’s great. We, we actually have similar, I keep, I think I went to Tyco, Ansel in 2009 and left in 13. So

Jamie Knowles: (05:12):

Yeah, we were real close to the same time together, for sure.

Drew Slocum: (05:14):

Yeah, definitely. Yeah.

Jamie Knowles: (05:15):

So, yeah, and it’s been, uh, it’s been a good run here at Amarex as well. I, uh, I genuinely enjoy working for a, uh, privately held company that’s, uh, innovative and, and they move quickly and, and allow me to kind of do what I do versus putting a bunch of constraints on things they, they allow ideas to, to bubble to the top, which I like quite a bit.

Drew Slocum: (05:36):

That’s good. That’s, you don’t see that a lot in a, you know, a higher echelon manufacturer takes, takes a while to get ideas and product out sometimes. So that’s, that’s great to hear.

Jamie Knowles: (05:48):

Yeah, it, it certainly fits me. I’m, I’m an idea guy. I’m not an engineer. Uh, I’m, I’m certainly a salesperson with a lot of ideas. So having a team to be able to pass those ideas off to the, where they can run with them and implement them and get those innovations going, but it, it sure does make my day-to day a lot better.

Drew Slocum: (06:05):

No, that’s good. Yeah, I, I’ve been, I’ve been after you for about, I don’t know, since last N F P A, I think, uh, yeah,

Jamie Knowles: (06:12):


Drew Slocum: (06:12):

Wanna say last, last June. Yeah, last June out in San Antonio. But, um, no, we’re, we’re, you know, the restaurant suppression market, um, and even getting into the industrial dry cam, we’ll get into that later, but I wanna really focus, you know, starting off the podcast on the, the restaurant market because I, you know, you see, you see the data, you see all the headlines and everything out there of, you know, just the restaurant industry just in this, in this downward trend. I, and obviously it looked like it popped back up a little bit, um, you know, after things opened up. But, um, I guess what, do you have any data to share before, you know, yeah. After and, and kind of what companies are doing during, and obviously whatever the restaurants are doing is gonna probably translate to what the fire equipment distributors are doing too. Yeah,

Jamie Knowles: (07:09):

Absolutely. Absolutely. So, you know, we, it’s a, it’s a tale of two worlds before Covid. And, and since Covid started and prior to Covid, the restaurant industry in the United States and globally was in pretty good shape. Uh, it was running at about a two to 3% growth rate across the board on a pretty consistent basis. Uh, and it was doing well. Uh, one of the stats that I like to throw out to everybody that people really don’t know, is that well over 50% of the food in the United States is pre-prepared and served hot.

Drew Slocum: (07:41):


Jamie Knowles: (07:42):

So that means it’s coming out of restaurants, right? And yeah, have seen different percentages from 55% all the way up to 70%. But, uh, the bottom line is a whole bunch of people in this country rely on restaurants for their food, and a bunch of them don’t cook <laugh>. Um, so no matter how dire the, the predictions are, and they are, and I’ll get into ’em in a minute, we should understand that there is a real want in the United States for pre-prepared food. So, uh, as long as we can keep people working and, uh, keep them getting paid, I think that the restaurant market will come back. Uh, so I try to be as optimistic as I can with it. Um, so, but post Covid, since we’ve started, the thing that everybody should really know is all of these half measures where you have restaurants that are partially open with partially, uh, populated dining rooms, or they’re just working with, uh, a delivery system of some kind or a drive through, uh, whatever they pivoted and innovated to the, it’s likely that they’re running at a loss right now. Right. Wow. Uh, um, and it’s likely that if, even if they’re not running at a loss, they’re running at a very, very tight margin of maybe one or 2%. And the longer that goes, the more restaurants we’re gonna lose. Uh, right. And, and, uh, the, the outlook in the market right now that is honestly, the closest I can come up with is we’re gonna lose probably 30% of the population, uh, of the restaurants in the United States. And there’s about a million restaurants to start. So we’re talking about losing 300,000 restaurants.

Drew Slocum: (09:12):


Jamie Knowles: (09:13):

Yeah. That’s crazy. It’s, uh, it’s a very big deal. Um, burger King has four to 500 restaurants shut down right now that are on, uh, kitchen, um, food courts, college campuses, places like that, where they just can’t operate because the campus isn’t open or hasn’t been open. Right. And, uh, they’re opening some of those back up as colleges come back, but we’re also hearing that they’re shutting them down. Right. So, um, McDonald’s is permanently closing a couple hundred restaurants, uh, wow. McDonald’s is a juggernaut. Sure. Right. And for them to shut down 200 stores is, uh, is a big, uh, uh, has a lot of ripple effects in the market for sure. Um, well,

Drew Slocum: (09:50):

You would think, think with those bigger, you would think with those bigger chains, you know, on a food court and all that, I, I, I get that, but you’d think they can, those fast food chains, and this is one of my questions for you is, you know, is there a shift to more of that faster food, the takeout delivery model? Obviously you see that, but, and those maybe fine dining might, might be more of a fact, but if you’re seeing that in the big box chain or the, the big chains, then obviously you’re gonna see that down the line. Right?

Jamie Knowles: (10:23):

Well, well, I guess I would say this, the McDonald’s and the Burger King of the world, those impacts that I just said are the minimal impacts, right? Those are, those are the guys that have the cash flow, that have the wherewithal to, uh, to let things idle or shut down and then bring them back to, to continue to expand in a troubling market. Right? Right. So, what we expect to happen is most of those 30% of the restaurants, most of those restaurants are gonna be independents that we lose. Gotcha. So we’re gonna lose the mom and pops, we’re gonna use lose the, the, the startups. We’re gonna lose those kinds of businesses. And, and I think to a certain degree we’re, they’re gonna be replaced by expansion of chain stores. So you’re, you’re gonna see places like Chick-fil-A, they have not taken their foot off the gas, they’re continuing to build stores every day.

You’re gonna see Burger King and different fast food stores built new stores because they are, um, they’re more effective. You can turn more revenue out of the new stores with less labor than you can with the old stores. So there’s a, a real motivation to get those stores up and running. Um, so we’re definitely going to see more national brands and less local independent brands. And that’s, uh, kind of a sad statement. Yeah, it is. Um, uh, so we’ll see the consolidation in the restaurant market, like we’ve seen in the fire protection market a little bit, this is gonna accelerate that process. Um, and partially because, you know, the small independents, they don’t have, um, the wherewithal, they don’t have the, uh, ability to go out and get a $500,000 loan to re uh, to rebuild a business. Right. So, so some of them we’re gonna see pivot to other locations, uh, or ever other strategies. Instead of going and getting a loan for 500 grand to start a restaurant, maybe they get a loan for, uh, $50,000 to buy a food truck.

Drew Slocum: (12:10):


Jamie Knowles: (12:11):

Right. Uh, yep. And, and I think we’re gonna see things like that for sure. Uh, the fast casual dining, I think is going to be the, it’s gonna reap the rewards, the Panera breads, uh, places like that across the country where you can get good, healthy food in a drive through or walk in, get it, and go out. Uh, I think those places will be, uh, will, will, will be at the top of the heap after this. Um, so the fine dining is gonna take the biggest hit. Yeah. Because as you can imagine, everybody’s in close proximity. Most of the population is still, uh, leery about going into restaurants. Right. Uh, and wearing masks and sitting in close proximity to other people. Um, and, you know, only in a half the country do we have weather warm enough all year to, to serve food outside. I know. So we’re coming into the fall where the northern hemis, the northern part of the country, they’ve been doing outdoor dining to get by, but that’s about to end. Right. As soon as we move into the winter, that’s gonna be a tougher equation for them.

Drew Slocum: (13:09):

Yeah. It’s, uh, and you know, I, I see it. I’m in, I’m, I’m kind of insulated up here on, on, on the water in or near the ocean in Connecticut. So it’s, it’s beautiful. In summertime, there was always the outdoor dining anyway, they have, uh, 50% capacity inside. So they’re, you know, they’re getting through it. They’re probably gonna have a decent summer cuz people are still getting out, but Yeah. Yeah. What happens when that transitions and, um, you know, you mentioned, you know, I, I moved from up here about a year and a half ago from New York City, and I just, it, it, it’s painful for me and, you know, for me to communicate with some of my friends on, on what restaurants are shutting down and yeah. Honestly, I, a lot of them are, are still getting through it honestly, um, what I’ve seen and like the Brooklyn and, and Manhattan. But I think, you know, as whether it’s P p P or whatever starting to run out or, you know, like you said, as as outdoor dining, you know, goes away, it, uh, it’s gonna affect. So is the city versus suburb versus rural, is that a, is that a thing as well?

Jamie Knowles: (14:23):

Oh, uh, yeah, absolutely. In the cities, uh, I think the restaurants are having a little bit of a harder go, um, in the rural areas they tend to be more conservative based ideologies and people are still dining more there. Right. Uh, uh, plus in the rural areas, there’s more likely to be outdoor dining. There’s, uh, uh, they’ve got more space to deal with. Whereas if you are a little Vietnamese faux restaurant in Brooklyn, you probably have a tiny slot and a tiny, uh, you know, a tiny piece of sidewalk to serve people on maybe. Right? Sure. So you don’t have near the options that somebody in a rural area does. I, I expect, um, everything’s gonna become just a little more local and everything’s gonna become just a little more rural. We’re seeing, uh, uh, a pretty decent sized movement from the big cities to the rural areas. Uh, so I think that’ll help the rural part for sure. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I, I think the cities are gonna get hurt. Um, uh, I think there are varying articles out there saying that at this point, but, uh, I think that just living in that close proximity during a pandemic is just problematic. It’s just hard. Uh, yeah. So, uh, you know, the innovative restaurants, they’re gonna pivot to new technology, to automation. Right. Um, one of the big trends is ghost kitchens where,

Uh, um, where they have a warehouse full of kitchens and each one of the kitchens is different restaurant. And Sure. Uh, you jump on a platform of some kind, order your, uh, food and it comes from this ghost kitchen and a warehouse, not a restaurant necessarily. Um, so we’re seeing that trend quite a bit in the market. And I think that, you know, anything that is a lower cost startup for a restaurant owner, you’re gonna see more of, you’re gonna see bars using countertop, recirculating fryers, you’re gonna see food trucks, you’re going to see, uh, people opening a bar with just a parking lot and then they’ll have like five food trucks Right. In the parking lot. Right, right. Uh, we’re gonna see more and more of that kind of dining, and we’re also gonna see more visible dining where, uh, the patrons can see how the food is being prepared cuz they’re all very skeptical, skeptical about cleanliness in this environment.

Drew Slocum: (16:30):


Jamie Knowles: (16:31):

Sure, sure. Um, so, so they wanna see the people that are handling their food and how they’re handling their food. So we’re gonna see a lot more visible kitchens as well.

Drew Slocum: (16:38):

Yeah, I see. That was our, that seemed to be trending that way anyway. It felt like it was. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Jamie Knowles: (16:44):

It definitely was. Yeah. And this’ll continue that for sure. We’re gonna see convenience stores take a big, uh, uh, leap in the market because, uh, if you can drive up, get gas, go in there, get lunch and get out, uh, boy, that might be very attractive to a lot of the population.

Drew Slocum: (17:00):

Sure. I’ve never thought of that. You know, you just see thero, the roller hotdog, you know, that’s what I think of convenience, you know, but yeah,

Jamie Knowles: (17:09):

We’re, we’re see, and, and that’s still true. You get the roller hotdog and the deep fried burritos and, you know, the, the convenience for st the convenience store food. But I think you’ll see an upgrade. I think you’ll see, uh, those bigger, uh, convenience store chains move to some, what I would call higher quality food. Right, okay. Uh, um, so, uh, so that a guy who’s getting gas can get a decent lunch while he is getting gas and then move on. Right? Sure. Uh, so, so we’ll see. One thing I know for certain is that there’s a lot of people saying a lot of things, and I don’t think anyone is certain about what the restaurant will mar market will look like in 12 months or 24 months. Uh, we know it’s gonna take a dip, uh, a big dip. But the rebuild, I don’t think anybody knows the exact pace of that rebuild when it will start and how long it will last and where it will take us. So, um, it’s an uncertain time for sure, for, for restaurants, uh, and therefore, uh, restaurant technicians and companies that service restaurant systems, it’s a awful tough for them too.

Drew Slocum: (18:10):

Sure. Yeah. And that, that’s what I was gonna transition into is, you know, talking about restaurants and I like how you go ghost kitchens. I I was calling ’em Cloud kitchens, which Yeah, I was trying to, I was gonna try to stump you, but you’re already ahead of me,

Jamie Knowles: (18:23):

So Yeah. I think that’s a, in fact, I know that’s a brand within the cloud kitchens market.

Drew Slocum: (18:28):

Oh, okay. Interesting. Uh, but I guess how does, obviously it’s a direct effect if the restaurant’s shutting down, there’s no fire protection system to, to be serviced or installed or whatever.

Jamie Knowles: (18:40):

Exactly. So we’re gonna take a million restaurants in the United States and we’re gonna pair ’em back to about 700,000. Wow. So that’s gonna squeeze every distributor that’s in the restaurant fire suppression market across the country. They’re gonna need to get efficient, they’re gonna need to, uh, manage their talent mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which in this market’s hard because talent is, is scarce these days. It

Drew Slocum: (19:01):

Is. It is.

Jamie Knowles: (19:01):

Um, uh, so they’re gonna have to manage their talent and retain their talent when, where they can, but keep everybody working. Uh, uh, you know, I think we’ve both seen that naed, uh, survey and, and, and the three things that really stood out to me where the, the challenges for the distributors are receivables. They might be doing the work, but it doesn’t look like they’re always getting paid for the work. Right. So that, that’s, that’s an awful tough thing for a small business when you’re trying to manage cash flow and you’ve done work, but you’re not getting paid for it. Cuz a lot of your restaurants are going outta business. Sure. Uh, and then hand in hand, you’re trying to do work and they’re not going outta business. So at least in that situation, you haven’t completed the work and not are not getting paid.

Right. Um, but that, those receivables and that cash flow is a huge deal for our small distributors or even our larger distributors. Right. So, um, and the other two were scheduling and, and long range planning. So, I mean, scheduling has got to be tough cuz you don’t know whether the restaurant is open. You don’t know whether they’re gonna reopen. Uh, the contacts might not be in the building, so do you have a cell phone or something for the contact that owns the place but isn’t in the building? Um, so getting that schedule is, is sounds to be awful tough. Every distributor I’ve talked to has really struggled in this area. Um, and they’ve got a whole list of accounts that they may get back or may reopen or may not. So it’s, it’s, uh, it’s a tough place for them to be in and long range planning, I can’t even imagine right now.

Drew Slocum: (20:23):

Right, <laugh>. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah,

Jamie Knowles: (20:26):

Yeah. So

Drew Slocum: (20:27):

You almost have to, scheduling

Jamie Knowles: (20:29):

Is what they need, right?

Drew Slocum: (20:30):

Yeah. I mean, I mean, obviously inspect points, got the, you know, tools from either getting payment in the field to, uh, you know, the scheduling, uh, and all that. But it’s, I I think they have to start looking at their business model and maybe, I don’t know, trying to diversify it or, or figure out a, a better workflow, um, to drive more Sure. Drive more dollars, uh, whether,

Jamie Knowles: (20:54):

So those distributors that are really heavy in the restaurant market Yeah. They, they definitely need to diversify into, extinguishers into the industrial drag chem, whether they’re doing inspections on the sprinkler side or whatever, but they need to diversify with some other services, maybe Backflows, uh, or whatever, but something that separates them from restaurants a little bit so that they can have a a a, an even sort of, uh, receivables, right. Where if the restaurant market is down, they’ve got other areas that are up.

Drew Slocum: (21:22):

Right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It makes sense for, um, for that to happen. Now what, when you mentioned cloud kitchens and, and, and food trucks, those are, you know, two new kind of, I mean, food trucks have been around for a bit, but they’re obviously gaining in popularity and, uh, a bunch of areas of the country now. Is there, I should have dove into it. Is there N F P A regulation? I know, yeah, I know in New York City it is been a big thing with the F D N Y on regulating food trucks and making sure they have Right. Fire suppression. And I guess with those ghosts and cloud kitchens, that’s a whole other thing because you’re just putting ’em in a warehouse, you know? Yeah. Who, who’s regulating that is, is, is N F P A have something around that?

Jamie Knowles: (22:06):

Yeah. So let’s talk about, uh, food trucks first, or, uh, mobile food kitchens, mobile cooking operations first, and then we’ll go into the, the ghost type kitchens. Um, the, uh, the food trucks space I is interesting because it does present a lot of different challenges. So NFPA 96, I think two additions ago created a, a, a standard or a standalone standard that they put in the annex that, um, regulates that can regulate food trucks and it’s, it’s, uh, comprehensive in that they went to all the different N F P A standards, collected all the different points they needed to put it together in a comprehensive standard with enforceable language and stuck it in the annex. So the last couple additions of NFPA 96 that’s been there, okay. The newest version of NFPA A 96, which I believe hits the streets this fall, uh, should have the, um, that annex moved into the body of the document. Oh. So now it’s enforceable within N F P A. Wow. Right. Prior to this, you could lift it out if you were an, a HJ in a town or a state someplace around the country, you could lift it out, put it in your fire code, and it was enforceable cause it was written that way. Right. But, but now it’s gonna be formally part of N NFPA a 96, which I think is a good improvement.

Drew Slocum: (23:19):

No, that’s great.

Jamie Knowles: (23:19):

Um, yeah. And you know, the, the biggest hazard in food trucks is not necessarily the cooking appliances, it’s the propane gas that supplies the cooking gas, the, the cooking appliances. Oh. Um, and, and so I would expect to see, uh, right now that NFPA 96, uh, document requires a, uh, gas detector and, and I would expect to see an expansion of that over time, because most of the accidents that you’ve seen on YouTube and the internet surrounding food trucks have been propane explosions. So, right. Uh, I expect that to get tighter and tighter all the time. Uh, and most of the time that’s not normal building officials that are inspecting these, uh, like in Washington state where I live, uh, it’s labor and industries that does all of the inspections of the food trucks because they’re in charge of all the electricians in the in state.

Oh, okay. Um, so, and, and, and it’s a mobile operation. It fits under d o t and all that stuff. So it’s, uh, it’s done differently than a, a building, uh, like a cloud kitchen or like a, uh, a, a ghost kitchen. Yep. In that situation, you’re just talking about a, a warehouse with, you know, between 20 and 50 kitchens in it or something. And, and each of those is tested just like they would be in a normal restaurant. Okay. So it’s really not out of the norm, it’s just a, uh, it’s just multiplied. Right. Instead of going in and testing one or two systems, you’re testing 20 or 40.

Drew Slocum: (24:39):

Yeah. Uh, yeah. It kind of makes sense. There. Have, have you, uh, have you seen one of those ghost kitchens? I’ve, I’ve, yeah.

Jamie Knowles: (24:47):

We have, uh, we have our amarex systems in a couple of them. Oh, really? Uh, yeah. Uh, specifically the one in Atlanta for Cloud kitchens, that brand, we’ve got our, uh, our systems in that they’re building, uh, many hundreds of these locations around the country. So we’ve some of that business, but not all of it.

Drew Slocum: (25:03):

Yeah. I’d be interested to see, uh, with the, you know, the quality there. It seems like an interesting concept, especially with what’s going on. So it’s probably helped them out. Right?

Jamie Knowles: (25:12):

Yeah. And, and, and it, it addresses something that the food service providers need, which is the technology piece. Right. Not only do they get this kitchen with a set hood and all the appliances and everything they need to, to, for their menu to make their menu, but, um, they can sign up with DoorDash or Uber Eats or whatever, and that interfaces with the, with the Cloud kitchens people, and then they can, uh, receive the person coming in to pick it up. Right. Yeah. The person making it in the, in the cloud kitchen then delivers it to this front office and they interface with the delivery drivers. Yeah. Um, and, and through the, through the apps and through the maps and, uh, through all of that dispatching software. So, uh, so it, it really takes the sales portion of this outta the hands of the, of the cook. And a lot of times, you know, chef wants to be a chef, he wants to make food. Right. He doesn’t necessarily, he doesn’t have a marketing degree necessarily, or <laugh> Yeah. Or anything like that. So it really assists them where they need to be assisted. So I think we’re gonna see that as a trend for the next several years.

Drew Slocum: (26:14):

Interesting. Yeah. It’s, uh, I, I, the funny part, our, our CEO of Inspect Point, um, was in the business of, of restaurant, uh, apps. You know, like, uh, uh, he, he was that, so he brought it up to me the other day. He’s like, you gotta talk about Cloud, cloud Kitchens on the podcast <laugh> or Ghost Kitchen, sorry. Yeah.

Jamie Knowles: (26:35):

Yeah. It, it is certainly something that is new in the business and something that’s changing the restaurant landscape, there’s no doubt. Uh, um, so, uh, so look for it. I mean, and, and you know, I think all of us have been at home. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t Oh, yeah. Left Spokane since the first week of March. Oh, yeah. And, and my wife and I we’re, we’re trying to do everything we can to support the restaurant industry. Cause we know they’re in, in in trouble. Right. Amex, we’ve donated to the, to the National Restaurant Association Fund. Oh, that’s great. Uh, fund, and lemme just say, I encourage everyone to do that. I mean, we all eat, we all buy food, we all go to restaurants. And all of these workers that make minimum wage plus tips haven’t been working since March in a lot of cases. So anything we can do to help that, uh, that group of people, I think is a real good thing.

Drew Slocum: (27:22):

No, it is. You gotta support your local restaurants, whether, you know, whether it’s your favorite one or you know, the one down the street from it. But, um,

Jamie Knowles: (27:30):

Yeah. Well, well, the bottom line is we’ll support ’em or they won’t be there.

Drew Slocum: (27:33):

Right. All right. Yeah. You’re not gonna, you, you’ll be cooking at home <laugh>. Yeah, that’s true. I don’t wanna be doing that every night.

Jamie Knowles: (27:41):

Yeah. We’re gonna have a whole lot of people that are gonna need to learn to cook

Drew Slocum: (27:44):

<laugh>. I know, I know. I know. Um, speaking of new technology, uh, you know, I know, uh, when we met a couple, uh, year and a half ago or so in, in San Antonio, you guys come out with the, the strike product, you know, with electric detection and all that. And I, I’ve been waiting for a while for somebody to come out with some sort of electric detection, at least being able to communicate, you know, being able to, being able to communicate there that there is an issue with this system, whether it’s a fire or some, some type of maintenance. That’s really key, I think, for the next wave of, you know, restaurant fire suppression.

Jamie Knowles: (28:26):

So, absolutely, absolutely. You know, thi this change in restaurant fire suppression has been needed for a while. So we, you know, we come from a place where restaurant fire suppression since the sixties up till now, has been a very mechanical space. Right. All the systems on the market are mechanical in nature. Um, and they do a very reliable job at suppressing fire and doing what they do, uh, detecting a fire and then suppressing. But what they don’t do is exactly what you said is communication. It, it doesn’t, uh, log any information for you. It doesn’t tell you what happened. It doesn’t monitor anything. It doesn’t notify, it just sends a dub signal from a micro switch. Right? Sure. So, uh, so getting electric, uh, um, technology into that space has been important. And the people that are driving it are the hood manufacturers, hood manufacturers really want the fire system that’s installed in their hood to integrate with their systems, and all their systems are electric. Um, so the more that, uh, the fire system can talk to the, the ventilation controls, uh, and, and all the controls of the interlocks for the appliances and things like that, the more you can do.

Drew Slocum: (29:35):


Jamie Knowles: (29:35):

Uh, so I think it’s been, uh, I think it’s been needed for a long time. Uh, plus, uh, the detection type is much more advanced. Yeah. Uh, we’ve been using fusible links Sure. In kitchen hoods for 150 years or something. Sure, sure. <laugh> like I should say, we’ve been using fusible links in sprinkler systems for that long, but we’ve been using ’em in restaurant systems since the sixties. So, uh, there are, there’s definitely new technology out there that’s better, faster responding, and I think that’s the key, right? The longer you let a fire go, the bigger it becomes. So, um, uh, so getting it detected earlier and suppressing the fire early is very key. So we’ve moved to linear heat detection.

Drew Slocum: (30:19):

That’s great. It’s not just us that’s,

Jamie Knowles: (30:20):

Yep. Our strike product’s been on the market for about a year and a half now and done quite well. Um, but we have some company, right. Um, captive Air has their core system that’s electric. Yep. Um, and Ansel just, uh, recently launched their Ansel red system onto the market, so Sure. Uh, I told both parties, look, I need the company. Thank you. Uh, yes,

Drew Slocum: (30:40):

Exactly. You need the competition, right?

Jamie Knowles: (30:42):

Absolutely. And, and going electric is the future. And I really wanna say this to make sure that anybody who might be listening hears this. If you run a fire protection company and you’re in the kitchen fire suppression space, please get a low voltage department. Please get some low voltage talent. If you haven’t already, you’re gonna need it. Yep. Uh, and I’ve, those of you who listen and know me, know, I’ve been preaching this for a while, but, uh, but I need to say it more and more because I, I really care about fire distribution. Uh, I have a passion for those little companies and, uh, I want them to be prepared for the future. And this definitely is the future. Um, it may look small now, but it’s going to be in five to 10 years, most of the systems will be electric.

Drew Slocum: (31:24):

Wow. Really? Five to 10 years.

Jamie Knowles: (31:26):

Yeah. It’s coming, it’s coming quick. If you look at the specifications that are coming out on the market, captive air’s driving electric specs, now Ansel’s driving electric specs. We’ve been trying to do it for a little bit now. Um, and there’s more and more, um, a a and the major drivers are the hood manufacturers. Right. So their, their price of their product going into a restaurant is a lot bigger than the, the fire system. So they hold a lot more weight. And if they say electric, a lot of people listen. So Yeah,

Drew Slocum: (31:54):


Jamie Knowles: (31:54):

True. Um, and I just don’t want our fire distribution to be left behind. No. Right. Uh, there’s a lot of talent there, and they can transition to electric if they take the time and, and build that, uh, talent base now.

Drew Slocum: (32:06):

And I think there’s, there’s, there’s benefit to it too. And I was kind of, um, uh, telling you some ideas earlier, and hopefully nobody takes these ideas and, and runs with it, but, you know, our, our, our platform kind of runs that service piece for, for that, um, F e D or the contractor there. So why can’t I connect our system with that system to immediately get somebody on the road at the, that it seems to be, you know, a few years down the road. But,

Jamie Knowles: (32:36):

Um, yeah, that’s certainly the next step though. Right. Right. Is, uh, is an interface, a monitoring interface that can instantly dispatch Sure. Right now what you have is a signal that goes to the fire alarm control

Drew Slocum: (32:46):

Panel. Fire panel

Jamie Knowles: (32:47):

Yeah. Signal from the fire alarm panel to the monitoring company they call whoever. Right. And then that person calls a, a company to dispatch. Right. So there’s like five steps, right. That we can remove.

Drew Slocum: (32:56):

Yep. No, totally. And, uh, we’ll have to take this offline afterward and, uh, figure out how we’re gonna take over the world, so

Jamie Knowles: (33:03):

Sure, sure. Well, I’ll tell you, it’s a big innovation because if you think about it from a restaurant owner’s standpoint, if you discharge a fire system, it’s say mid-morning after the breakfast ru lunch, uh, rush, you are out of business for lunch.

Drew Slocum: (33:17):


Jamie Knowles: (33:17):

So, yep. So if you can cut that down and get one meal back, right. That’s a really big deal for, for that huge end, for that end user. Sure. Right. Uh, I mean, these guys are running on really tight margins and, uh, one meal missing, one meal is a big deal for their business.

Drew Slocum: (33:33):

Oh yeah. Even if it’s lunch, I could, yeah, I could definitely see that.

Jamie Knowles: (33:37):

Um, yeah. Yeah. So, uh, anyway, that’s the new technology for sure into that space. And quick response detection is part of it because we want to get, uh, there’s all sorts of new appliances out there, uh, and pollution control units, which are a large fire hazard, and the sooner Sure. So you can detect that fire and get agent on it, the, the quicker you can get it secured. Uh, and that’s the, the bottom line here. So, uh, you’ll see a lot of new technology coming out in the next few years.

Drew Slocum: (34:04):

That’s good. It’s, it’s, uh, it’s definitely needed. It, you know, it’s, you know, link mechanical, you know, it seems to be, uh, a little bit antiquated, but I’m glad you guys are heading up the forefront there.

Jamie Knowles: (34:16):

So, yeah. And the major reason that distributors want to embrace electric is because all those mechanical pieces, uh, they essentially boil down to a mechanical spring loaded mouse trap. Right? Yeah.

Drew Slocum: (34:27):


Jamie Knowles: (34:27):

And, and those are all up in a very, very greasy environment and they all have surface area to collect a ton of grease. Yeah. Which will ultimately disable or slow down the system. You know, if you compare that to a linear heat detector, uh, which runs the length of the hood and is just a wire that’s set up and clips all, all you have to do with that is, is go through and wipe it down and make sure it’s good to go test the circuitry and you’re set. And it doesn’t collect nearly as much grease or can be disabled nearly as easy as a fusible link line.

Drew Slocum: (34:58):

It could probably be easier, easier to clean, I would think too. You know,

Jamie Knowles: (35:02):

Easier to clean, easier to replace, easier to install. Uh, you can install linear heat detection in a hood in a quarter of the time, you can do fusible links. Wow. Wow. Yeah. It’s, it’s good technology. And it monitors we’ve, uh, our system, and I know Ansel’s does too, has a history log. So one of the big shortcomings in the restaurant, fire suppression, and I’m about to say something that every guy in restaurant knows when you get a call on Saturday night and the owner of the restaurant says, your fire system just went off for no reason,

Drew Slocum: (35:32):

Ah, uh,

Jamie Knowles: (35:34):

<laugh>. And, and now we have to got the history log with your system, you can, you know, connect to that fire system, look at the history log and say to that customer, you know, it didn’t go off for no reason. It went off just like it was supposed to when your employee pulled the pull station at 1 37 in the morning

Drew Slocum: (35:50):

<laugh>. Exactly. You got, and that’s gotta be big on the insurance side. You’ve, if you think about that too, right?

Jamie Knowles: (35:56):

It is. It’s, it’s big from a docu documentation standpoint. So that can be used with insurance to document your services. It can be used with AHJs to document your services. It can be used against your competition. If you sent a guy in and you did all the work and your competition says you didn’t,

Drew Slocum: (36:11):

Ah, you can now prove it. There you go.

Jamie Knowles: (36:13):

You can now prove it. Right. Uh, so anytime you would need to prove that your guy was in a space working, doing what he was supposed to be doing and testing that system in a proper way, you can now document that.

Drew Slocum: (36:23):

Yeah. Yeah. I’m excited to see it. Yeah. Yeah,

Jamie Knowles: (36:26):

Definitely. So a lot of nice innovations, uh, and, and that’s really what we’re focused on at Amarex in this, this, this downturn of the restaurant market is we feel like the best thing we can do for the restaurant market is to support them now through donations and whatever efforts we can make with restaurant owners, um, and then get our house in order. Like make sure all of our systems are as innovative as they can be. We’ve got all the literature out there that we can to support our distributors, and any end users might want to use the product, make it more competitive. Yep. Get some cost out so that we can keep the price down so that we can help these people with, with inexpensive quality product when they need to get it put into their hoods. Right. Whenever they rebuild. Right. Yeah. And, and we’re not sure what that looks like, but we know it’s gonna happen cuz we know Yeah. You can’t just take away 30% of the restaurants and then leave ’em. Right. <laugh> that’s

Drew Slocum: (37:16):

Gonna created back. Well, your, your your, your number of 50% of, of food is prepared. So right there, you know, it’s gonna bounce back. It’s just when and how it’s gonna Yeah.

Jamie Knowles: (37:26):

Yeah. And how much pain is there between here and there,

Drew Slocum: (37:29):

Right. Yeah. Yep. Yeah.

Jamie Knowles: (37:31):

So I really feel for these small independent restaurant owners, uh, I really do. It’s a, it’s probably the most difficult position to be in right now. Uh, so anything anybody can do to support them and order from them and, and maybe donate to their causes would be a very big thing in these days. So

Drew Slocum: (37:47):

No, no, I, I pull everybody do that. I, I do it as much as I can cuz you wanna see those restaurants open, so.

Jamie Knowles: (37:53):

Yeah, for sure.

Drew Slocum: (37:54):

Um, now I know you, um, you know, obviously kitchen’s the, the big piece of, of, of your position, but you, you also ha handle the industrial chem side and does that include paint booths and all that? Or is that a sense, sense

Jamie Knowles: (38:09):

And separate? Yeah. Yeah. So really that, that is, uh, industrial dry chem, pre-engineered systems are designed for paint booths predominantly. Okay. Uh, but there are many different shapes and sizes of paint booths and that market’s going quite well because most big cities now have an air quality, um, sure. Uh, regulatory branch of some kind. And they’re driving to make sure that anybody who’s spraying paint is doing it in an environment where you’re filtering it and getting it. Uh, so, uh, so they’re driving fire systems when they drive these new paint booth installs mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So that market seems to be doing quite well. Uh, um, we’re hooked up with different paint booth manufacturers around the country. Uh, they all seem to be weathering this storm a lot better than the restaurant market. Um, and my message to fire equipment distribution is that’s the, that’s the business you want. Yeah. Body shops Body shops are amazing. They’re used to,

Drew Slocum: (39:03):

The margins are higher <laugh>

Jamie Knowles: (39:05):

Well, the margins are higher and the best thing about body shops is they’re not gonna give you your car until you, they get paid. So they’re very, uh, they expect you to give them a bill and they expect to pay you when you’re done. Yep. So you don’t have to wait for your money with body shops a lot of the time. Sure. So, uh, it’s good business. Um, and, you know, cars are going nowhere. Uh, we’re, we’re seeing transitions from, uh, from uh, regular internal combustions engine engines to electric, but that’s not affecting the paint booth market. No. Uh, so that’s happening a lot. The other thing we’re seeing is a lot more paint booths in the industrial space. Uh, and these are fun because they’re doing things like, uh, painting rail cars. So you’ve got a giant booth in the middle of the desert that you’ve gotta slide rail cards into and it creates for a challenging, uh, fire system design.

Uh, you see that, we see big places where they’re, um, have an open front paint booth where they’ll have I-beams, uh, one I saw in Seattle recently, they were doing, um, pile drivers. So they take an entire pile driver, lay it on its side, slide it into this open front paint booth. Right. And, uh, and then paint it and then slide it back out. Oh, wow. Uh, that’s a, that’s a great opportunity for our distributors because that’s a, a good size buyer system that should have decent margin to it. And the serviceability of it is long term with a manufacturer that he, he pays his bills on time and is doing bigger work than this. So it, it’s really good business. Um, and it fills in between restaurants. Sure. You can’t do restaurants in the middle of the day, but you can do paint booths.

Drew Slocum: (40:32):

Yeah. No, no, no. Totally. Now what’s the competition is obviously there, I know sprinklers have, you know, I, you know, sprinklers a thing, but is there a clean agent too or is that just, is it just sprinkler?

Jamie Knowles: (40:47):

Well, it, I think it depends. So the first of all, uh, end users have the option of putting in a sprinkler system or an industrial drag chem system to cover their pan boots. Oh, okay. So if they’ve already got a sprinkler system in the, in the business and there’s enough water to support that, that, that addition then going with sprinklers is probably the least expensive way for them to go. Um, but in a lot of cases they either don’t have the water or they have to bring in an underground to have the water Sure. To do this. Sure. So that’s way too expensive. Yeah. And in that case, you can just put in an industrial dry chem system, this pre-engineered standalone, and it works really well for that, that that paint booth and it is listed for that application. Gotcha. Um, so really, uh, good.

We also do flammable liquid storage, uh, um, as well. Um, and that’s, uh, that’s something that we do quite a bit of in the industrial space where they’ll have a, uh, a room set up for all of their flammable liquid storage. We, we’ll protect rooms like that as well. Yep. Um, so, but I like that business. It’s a much smaller market than restaurants. Um, and, and we share it with pyro camm on the dry chem side. Yep. We share it with Badger Kitta on the, on the, this side. But, uh, but to be honest, we do very well in that market and, uh, and enjoy that market. So, uh, it breaks up the monotony of kitchens.

Drew Slocum: (42:03):

Oh yeah. Yeah. I, and I remember just being involved, you know, being involved with New York, New York City and, and the F D N Y a little bit. Um, there’s a lot of jurisdictions that they’re, they’re probably just coming around to regulating that. So there’s a lot, I think there’s, it’s kind of like a more of an untapped market where, you know, depending on the city, these paint booths don’t have fire protection. They may have a sprinkler system

Jamie Knowles: (42:27):

In the building. Yeah. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Right. But what we know is, is that, uh, the AHDs are catching up on the ones that don’t have

Drew Slocum: (42:35):

Fire systems. Yeah, yeah.

Jamie Knowles: (42:36):

So the other dynamic in that market for the our friends in the Northeast is that peal went out of business some years ago and now all of those systems are not viable in the market. So, uh, there’s a lot of business right now where distributors are replacing old <inaudible> systems with the whatever brand they happen to be repping at that point. But, uh, I’m glad so that’s driving some new business in that

Drew Slocum: (42:58):

Market. Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up cuz I know there’s certain states and New York state I think just got rid of it. Vermont still has a Massachusetts, so is that, is this, this includes gas stations systems too, right? Well,

Jamie Knowles: (43:11):

Um, the <inaudible> discussion does, they were one of two players in the market, them in pyro chem that provided gas station systems. So when they went out, it, the market kind of defaulted to, to pyro chem. Oh. Uh, but yeah, but there’s only, there’s only a few jurisdictions in the country that require gas station fire systems. So I think they’re PR and I don’t have this Perfect. This is in the northeast, somebody also correct me, but yeah, Northeastern Florida are the two places. Okay. Uh, so, but, but yeah, that’s true. It’s abso it’s a similar type system and, uh, and this point, the only viable option on the market is pyro chem that I know of.

Drew Slocum: (43:45):

Yeah. I remember, uh, you know, still when I was at at Tyco, the, uh, somebody called up because they, they knew PAMA was going out of business and they wanted distributorship and I had to afforded onto the Ansel folks. But, um, yeah, that, that was, that’s a

Jamie Knowles: (44:00):

Really long niche product. Yeah. That’s a very niche thing for sure.

Drew Slocum: (44:04):

But I know New York State, uh, it got pulled out of their state requirements. New York City still has it, but New York State doesn’t anymore. And I

Jamie Knowles: (44:12):

Think, yeah, I think New Jersey does though.

Drew Slocum: (44:14):

New Jersey maybe. And then Vermont, I know it has it, but then Yeah. Uh, anyway, it’s local. Yeah,

Jamie Knowles: (44:20):

Yeah, yeah. It is. So it’d be interesting if they expanded that, but, uh, um, but, uh, uh, I don’t see a big push for that in the market at this point. So,

Drew Slocum: (44:28):

Well pet the petroleum and gas were the ones that fought it in New York State, you know. Yeah, they were, they had and they got more money than anybody, so Sure. They’re gonna fight that tooth and nail saying their, their gas stations are, you know, safe enough. But

Jamie Knowles: (44:46):

I don’t know exactly. Yeah. Well, uh, who, who, who knows where that’ll go, but my guess is it’ll probably stay about where it is. Uh, uh, the jurisdictions that require a gas station system are probably fairly entrenched and don’t plan on chaining changing. And the ones that don’t require it probably don’t have any plans to add it. So I, I would think that’s a static market from here on out.

Drew Slocum: (45:06):

Yeah. Yeah. Totally.

Jamie Knowles: (45:08):

Um, so

Drew Slocum: (45:10):

I know, uh, you mentioned the, the Nafe article a little bit earlier. Um-huh <affirmative>, I guess what, what’s your experience like personally on how the eds are doing in your customer base? You know?

Jamie Knowles: (45:21):

Yeah. You know, I, I talked to a fair amount of them and I, I’d like to ask the questions, you know, how, how is your business doing? How is, how is the market that you’re working in, that kind of thing. And, and the, the answers I’m getting back are, are frankly more positive than I would’ve expected. Sure. Uh, our, our distributors, and I’ll call ’em Fuds, right. Fire equipment distributors in the country are very resilient group. Uh, and they are, they understand how to get the job done difficult times. So, uh, I, I think you’re seeing a lot of them being in very innovative with their scheduling and trying to be, uh, really the, the Johnny on the spot for their customers. So I think they’ve done a very admirable job of, of getting as much business, or maybe I say it, soaking up as much businesses as available to them.

Um, but having said that, if the restaurant closed, there’s nothing they can do. Uh, and, and I think they’re all really struggling with receivables where, you know, they’ve got all these technicians, they’re trying to keep busy, trying to keep ’em working, trying to get ’em bringing in revenue, and they go out and they do the work and they, they bill the, the, for the service or the installation and then it takes 120 days to get, uh, to get paid. You know? Wow. Or maybe not at all. And, and, and I think that is creating a real cashflow problem for a lot of smaller distributors. Right. And bigger ones, to be honest. Uh, the bigger ones have more wherewithal and ability to go get loans. Um, uh, there were a lot of distributors that went out and got that P p P program right out of the gate.

Sure. Um, and that’s about to run out. And if they don’t give some relief or extend that somehow it’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna be painful for a lot of these businesses that used it and really genuinely needed it. So, uh, but if I’m honest, the f e d business seems to be surviving better than I expected. Uh, and I’m really encouraged by that. I mean, this, we just got some very good business owners in our business and I think that they are busting their butt to maintain the margins and keep their people paid and on the road. A a and I gotta think that’s a, that’s a monumental task. Uh, and I got respect for it. I wish I could help ’em more, to be honest.

Drew Slocum: (47:33):

Yeah, yeah. I know. It’s, it’s, uh, it’s a lot. You’re right. The, the, you know, especially the service and the inspection side, I think that’s gonna, that’s gonna stay strong or it’s gonna stay, you know, flat or going a little bit and that’s what’s gonna get through, through the tough times and Sure.

Jamie Knowles: (47:49):

Well, and think about this from a technician standpoint, there’s a really high percentage of technicians that are, uh, based on commission.

Drew Slocum: (47:59):

Is there really? Is it?

Jamie Knowles: (48:01):

Yeah, I, there’s a lot of that. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t put a number on it, but there’s a significant amount in our F E D community, they’re, they’re definitely paid on some sort of commission program. So if it’s salary plus commission they’re using, they’re losing their commission cuz the business is down. If they’re heavily incentivized by commission, their business is really down. And if they’re an hourly employee, then frankly the business is soaking up that loss. Sure. Right. Sure, sure, sure. So, so there’s pain no matter what their pay structure is. Yeah. Uh, and uh, and not only that, think about, uh, the environment that they’re working in. These guys now have to wear wear masks and gloves and, and they’re working in high heat in some cases Yeah. And above appliances. And, and, and they’ve been out as essential workers since day one. Sure. Battling, battling through this whole endeavor. Yep. And, uh, and that can’t have been easy. Yeah. And I think some of them have done really well. I think some of them have struggled, uh, but, uh, but boy, they’ve all fought through or really tried to fight through. Um, I haven’t heard of any that just flat out went out of business. Honestly. The F D D seemed to be surviving that portion of it, uh, better than uh, uh, well, as good as we can hope.

Drew Slocum: (49:11):

Oh yeah, no, totally. I didn’t, I never knew about that commission thing. I I would love to. We, and we have some new stuff in our platform that, that actually helps out with, um, you know, helping the technician sell. So Yeah, sure. I would love to. Sure. Yeah. I I didn’t know that. I thought that was more, uh, um, I have heard of it and it, there’s some successes that I have heard, but, um, I’m glad, I’m glad to see that it’s, it kind of puts the onus back on the technician a little bit, so.

Jamie Knowles: (49:37):

Little bit. Yeah. I mean, and if you’re an employer with the, you know, and you’ve got a lot of technicians on the road, it Sure. It sort of helps self-motivate them, right? Yeah. Uh, versus when you just had hourly employees, maybe it’s easier for them to wander, wander off on their concentration. Yeah,

Drew Slocum: (49:52):

No, I know. I know. Yeah. Drag and tag. Sorry about that. No, no worries. Um, so no, I appreciate this is, uh, this is, this has gone well. I’m, I’m gonna have to have, uh, I, I’ll probably have to have you on again, Jamie in another,

Jamie Knowles: (50:07):

You know, I’d be happy to do it, you know, six months or a year. Uh, I am just the smallest division at Amex. Uh, uh, our vehicle fire suppression market, uh, uh, division and our fire extinguisher division are quite a bit bigger than I am to be honest. Uh, uh, we’re a small little scrappy unit trying to gain market share. Uh, but, uh, but yeah, we, I’d love to do this again and we could bring on some of our people from the other departments.

Drew Slocum: (50:30):

Yeah, definitely. Um, so last, last, uh, uh, kind of little segment, we have this quick response round. If you’ve, if you’ve heard the podcast before, I toss some questions out. You, you, you, you know, you don’t, you don’t know what’s coming, so it kinda Okay. Leaves it off. Uh, <laugh> a little fun at the end, so,

Jamie Knowles: (50:49):

Well, it should be enjoyable. Let’s try it.

Drew Slocum: (50:50):

All right. So, um, beer, whiskey, or wine?

Jamie Knowles: (50:56):

I am a Jack Daniels guy. Okay. Uh, <laugh>. Yeah, sir. All right. Gentleman, gentleman. Jack would be my go-to gentleman Jack, uh, with, with probably the backup being Kettle One. Vodka. <laugh>.

Drew Slocum: (51:07):

Okay. All right. So you, you, you answered my second question. What, what, you know, what brand, so, all right. Yeah. Um, they probably need some fire, new fire protection down there. I know. They’re all <laugh>. All those whiskey distilleries are, you know, they had that big fire last year. Right. That’s crazy.

Jamie Knowles: (51:24):

Even if they don’t, I’m happy to go visit,

Drew Slocum: (51:26):

Explore <laugh>. Right. Uh, that’s great. Um, uh, out of the conferences, would you rather go to NFPA or naed

Jamie Knowles: (51:39):

Naed? Uh, NA Fed’s very targeted towards fire extinguisher and pre-engineered systems business. So it, it’s, it’s the most effective trade show that Amarex participates in, and there’s three of ’em. So they’re regional. Yep. Um, it really is spot on for us. And N F P A is good as well. It’s better for international business. Sure. And it’s much broader, so it’s harder to target the, the exact customers we need. Right. But most of our international customers play in the N F P A show.

Drew Slocum: (52:07):

Yeah. Yeah. I, I see the same. You get, you get more, uh, I, you see more technicians at the, at the, at the Na Fed and the contractor shows, you know? Um, yeah.

Jamie Knowles: (52:17):

You know, I should have said N fpa a because last time I went I got a pair of socks and I liked those a lot,

Drew Slocum: (52:22):

So I didn’t get socks. How’d you get <laugh>?

Jamie Knowles: (52:25):

You had to answer a, uh, questionnaire and then they gave you a pair of NFPA

Drew Slocum: (52:28):

A socks. Oh, man.

Jamie Knowles: (52:29):

And I’m definitely that big of a nerd

Drew Slocum: (52:32):

<laugh>. That’s funny. That’s funny. All right, last question. I know we were at Ansel and Tyco together. What was your favorite sales meeting?

Jamie Knowles: (52:42):

Oh, Puerto Rico <laugh>.

Drew Slocum: (52:43):


Jamie Knowles: (52:44):

Without a doubt. Uh, uh, the Puerto Rico one in 2010 that we went to. And I think that’s frankly where I met you. Yeah. Uh, w w was definitely an epic sales meeting. And, uh, nothing in my life as far as sales meetings go has reached the level of that. Uh, unfortunately, most of those stories cannot be told in public

Drew Slocum: (53:05):

<laugh>. I know, I’m, I’m sure we have some old, uh, colleagues that are listening in there. They’ll comment with one of my stories that, you know, you know, yeah.

Jamie Knowles: (53:15):

That was def you know, it was my initiation in the sales meetings and, and, and, uh, I don’t mind saying it was really enjoyable. Uh, you know, and I’ll just throw that name out. Carmen Chevone did a good job of getting that hap making that happen. He did. Like, uh, uh, getting that out of the country was, was tough to do. And, uh, uh, I’m appreciative of it.

Drew Slocum: (53:35):

No, no, that was, uh, that was one of the highlights of, uh, my career at Tyco is that trip. Um,

Jamie Knowles: (53:41):

Yeah, it was definitely good. Definitely good. So, uh, that’s the best sales meeting I’ve been to. I’ve been to a couple other, uh, company trips that were better, but they weren’t sales meetings. <laugh>.

Drew Slocum: (53:51):

Yeah. Right, right. Well, Jamie, uh, I do appreciate, uh, you, you popping on the podcast here and giving us some analysis on the restaurant and other industrial chem systems, so, um,

Jamie Knowles: (54:03):

Sure. Well, I appreciate you having me. Honestly, I, I, I genuinely have a passion for this business, and I’d like to see new innovation. Uh, and honestly, I really have been tracking what you’re doing with Inspect Point. And the, not only does the market need it, but the market needs leaders like you to do this sort of stuff and kind of push the envelope. So I got a lot of appreciation for what you’re attempting to do, ah, what you’re getting done in the market.

Drew Slocum: (54:25):

Yeah. Thanks, man. I, I, yeah, try my best the podcast. Uh, get some, get some info out there. So, uh,

Jamie Knowles: (54:32):

Oh, this is the best part. I love this thing. I, I’ve listened to all the episodes and really, frankly, I tell, I tell everybody about this podcast. Yeah, well, you’ll have

Drew Slocum: (54:40):

To, you’ll have to share it out <laugh>.

Jamie Knowles: (54:42):

Yeah, because cuz ultimately I’m just a fire protection geek, so. Yeah,

Drew Slocum: (54:45):

Yeah, yeah. Well, where, where can everybody find you? Um, you wanna give your contact information.

Jamie Knowles: (54:51):

Yeah, so, um, I, I’m on all the social media platforms. You can find me in the Fire Suppression Kitchen group on Facebook. That’s kind of the best place there. But, um, I’m on LinkedIn, uh, just look for Jamie Noles with Amarex. Uh, um, uh, you, my email is, uh, is is ja james dot noles So reach out to me if you’ve got some questions. And, uh, um, and it’s amarex I’m sorry I had that wrong. Uh, but, uh, uh, anyway, I have a passion for the business and if anybody needs anything, I’m happy to help.

Drew Slocum: (55:23):

No, thank thanks, thanks again. And I’ll, I’ll put all the stuff in the, in the podcast notes so they can get in touch with you.

Jamie Knowles: (55:30):

You bet. All right. Take care of yourself, drew, I appreciate this.

Drew Slocum: (55:33):

Thanks, Jamie. All right,

Jamie Knowles: (55:34):


Drew Slocum: (55:35):

Thanks again for Jamie Knowles joining me on today’s Fire Protection Podcast, discussing the restaurant industry. I thought it was a very pertinent topic with what’s happening, uh, in the restaurant industry, and again, the fire suppression, uh, distributors that are affected there and, and even the manufacturers. So, uh, Jamie was able to provide some good light, uh, at the end of the tunnel here. And, uh, hopefully we’re out of this here soon, but there’s some ideas to, to kind of come out of it on, on the positive side. So, um, again, thank him from coming on and, uh, thanks for Amex for supporting the restaurant industry the way they do. And, uh, get out there and support your local restaurants, cuz that’s, that’s how we’re gonna get through this. So please subscribe and we’ll see you here again next time. Take care.