• From eBay to Greatness - The DL S3E09

    From eBay to Greatness - The DL S3E09 is now available on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, IGTV, and YouTube.

    In this episode of The DL, Diesel Laptops’ Founder and CEO, Tyler Robertson, is joined by Ed Edwards, President at Circuit Board Medics during HDAW to talk about ECM and component solutions. Circuit Board Medics is a circuit board repair resource, offering remanufactured exchanges, providing quality repairs, and fast turnaround to save customers time and money.

    As always thank you for watching and listening!

    CONNECT WITH ED EDWARDS AND CIRCUIT BOARD MEDICS:

    LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/ed-edwards-pe-7190085/

    Websitehttps://circuitboardmedics.com

    Phone – (800) 547-2049

    Transcript for From eBay to Greatness - The DL S3E09:

    Tyler Robertson:

    Welcome to The DL. I am your host, Tyler Robertson, the CEO and Founder of Diesel Laptops. And if you're watching the video portion, I'm coming to you live from the floor of Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week here in Grapevine, Texas at the Gaylord Texan. So absolutely monstrous building here. They do this thing here every year, it's actually just very incredible, and it's great to be back in person. Ironically, I'm walking around and there's a company I got with me here today that I've met virtually, we've met here in Texas, and ironically, it's only about an hour and a half from me in South Carolina.

    Ed Edwards:

    That's right.

    Tyler Robertson:

    So, welcome to the show. Why don't you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your company?

    Ed Edwards:

    Yeah, absolutely. I'm Ed Edwards with Circuit Board Medics. We're in Greenville, South Carolina, just like Tyler said, not too far from you guys. Circuit Board Medics repairs circuit boards, obviously, across multiple industries. So we're not just in the automotive world, certainly not just in the heavy duty aftermarket world. We service the appliance industry, we service the industrial industry. Circuit boards are everywhere. We have a great team of guys in Greenville, South Carolina, everything's done in-house there, and just have a great time with it.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Okay. So let's talk about circuit boards on trucks for a second.

    Ed Edwards:

    Right.

    Tyler Robertson:

    All right. People look at this black, silver...

    Ed Edwards:

    Box.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Whatever color box.

    Ed Edwards:

    That's right.

    Tyler Robertson:

    And they're like, "The computer. That's surely my problem." And obviously it sounds like you guys are prying those things open and doing things, but what do you do? Who's your customers and what problems are they bringing you, and what problem are you solving for people?

    Ed Edwards:

    Right, we have customers in every area of the supply chain. So we service the end user a lot, we have a lot of do-it-yourselfers that will bring us circuit boards. We do a lot of B2B work, where there's a common problem in the industry. It may be an actuator for a turbo, VGT actuators are a hot item right now for turbos across the diesel industry. So it may be volume, it may be just one for a customer, it could be anything. On the appliance side of things, we have people that are just taking the lids off of their washing machines and troubleshooting it down to a control board. Now, they're doing that with our help. We have instructional videos, tutorial videos that help people troubleshoot, to ensure that it is the actual circuit board that's a problem and not just a sensor or a pump or something upstream.

    Tyler Robertson:

    So let's talk about VGT actuators.

    Ed Edwards:

    Sure.

    Tyler Robertson:

    I was a service manager.

    Ed Edwards:

    Oh yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Right, and we were a Cummins dealer, and we would order VGT actuators by the pallet-load. Literally the pallet-load, and they would go out the door on warranties by the pallet-load.

    Ed Edwards:

    Right.

    Tyler Robertson:

    And they never told us to take them apart. They're just, "Hey, replace the VGT." Are you telling me it's like circuit boards inside those things that are causing the problems, or is it mechanical stuff? I've never cracked one open. What's going on there?

    Ed Edwards:

    On the Cummins actuator, it's a great example of a way that we were able to adapt, a way that we were able to be agile at our size and say, "Hey, we are Circuit Board Medics, but this is an electro mechanical park." It's got bushings, it's got bearings, it has grease seals, it has gaskets. It has all these things inside of it that we had to learn to repair, because it's not just a circuit board that causes a problem. Circuit boards do cause a majority of the problems, but if we're going to remanufacture something, we want it to be better than new. If it's going to be better than new, we had to learn a lot of mechanical things. We went out and hired mechanical engineers to help us with that. My background's in mechanical engineering. So it was exciting to learn how to do that. But we strip everything down to a housing, everything's replaced, the circuit board's fully rebuilt, and it comes out better than new.

    Tyler Robertson:

    So break this down for a little bit.

    Ed Edwards:

    Sure.

    Tyler Robertson:

    A VGT actuator, it's a closed thing.

    Ed Edwards:

    It's closed.

    Tyler Robertson:

    And you're saying, "Hey, the circuit board's failing." Well, how is something that's not mechanical failing, right?

    Ed Edwards:

    Right.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Is it grounding issues, voltage issues, over use, heating? Why do circuit boards fail inside closed components that nobody even knows probably even have a circuit board?

    Ed Edwards:

    Yeah, great question. The electronic world is full of things that work great on paper, things that work great in a clean room environment, and then you bolt them to a turbo that starts to get worn over time, it gets soot on the inside. The turbos are designed to be worked. You got a lot of trucks on the road that aren't really working those turbos the way they need to, so now something that is designed and built to open and close the veins on a turbo, to move things around, when those things that move around have a lot more resistance, a lot more friction, that control board's not built to handle that heavy of a load, right?

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yeah.

    Ed Edwards:

    So when we go and remanufacture some things, we make it a little bit stronger. Like I said, our motto around the office is we have to make it better than new.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yeah, and that's been a growing trend as I talk to aftermarket companies, and obviously I want to hear your founding story here in a second, but it's really interesting, because when you talk to people, like I just talked to a company that was a hundred years old, and I'm like, "How'd you get started?" "Well, one guy, he had a problem and they didn't make a part and he made it, and then he sold one to his buddy, and now we're a billion dollar company publicly traded." You're like, "Wow, that's amazing." So what's your founding story?

    Ed Edwards:

    Oh, man.

    Tyler Robertson:

    This is something people just don't pick up and be like, "I'm going to figure out how to fix circuit boards," right? Where did it come from?

    Ed Edwards:

    What a great story too. I love telling our founding story. I was working in manufacturing engineering. I graduated from Clemson University in mechanical engineering, as I'd mentioned, and I was working in manufacturing. So we were focused much on the process, making it better. I loved my job. I loved the company I work for, but in 2009, I found myself with two small children at home. I had a three year old and a one year old at the time, and I had a washing machine that failed. Trouble-shot it down to the control board for the washing machine, only to find that the control board was 80% of the cost of an entire machine.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Right. I've been there with stuff. Yeah. You're like, "It's not worth it."

    Ed Edwards:

    I had a background, I've always loved electronics. When you go back, I'm dating myself when I say this, but when I was young I had a CB radio and a soldering iron, and I would learn how to make that CB radio talk much farther than it was intended to talk, and do those type things. I always loved electronics. I pursued a career in more of the mechanical side of things, but I loved electronics. So I knew my way around electronics enough to look at that circuit board and realize there was not $400 worth of parts in 2009 in that circuit board. It was very simple. Washing machines are very simple, right? So I took it upon myself to figure out what was wrong. We did some troubleshooting. It certainly wasn't fast, but I had enough stubbornness to stick with it. My wife had enough patience to endure some.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Not have a washing machine for a while.

    Ed Edwards:

    To not have a washing machine for a little while, right. And I fixed it, and it worked, and after I thought about that for a little while, I realized there's other people that are struggling with the same thing. So I listed that service on eBay for that part number and just said, "Hey, if you have this part number that's broken, send it to me. I'll fix it for 80 bucks. If I can't fix it, you get your money back." I had a lot of people take the risk and trust me with that. So as that turned into more and more and more of this just hobby kind of side work, little side hustle gig going on, at the time I was also driving a Power Stroke six liter, a 6.0.

    Ed Edwards:

    Granted, once again, this is 2009 and I had some work done on it, the mechanic left off an important part when he put things back together. I picked it up, it was one of these deals where I went by his shop after work and he left the keys under the mat. As soon as I started the truck, I realized something wasn't quite right, but it was drivable, so I went ahead and drove it home for the night. Called the mechanic, he realized that he had left off an important part. He decided to come by my house the next day to put it on. When he came by my house to put that part on, my garage door was open and he sees a washing machine that at that point I'd bought a second washing machine to do testing with, plumbed it into the garage. I had a couple desks set up. Oscilloscopes, all this crazy stuff.

    Ed Edwards:

    The mechanic asked me, he says, "What's going on in your garage?" So I explained to him that there was these appliance boards that I was repairing and learning more and more, and more about them. It's not always the same thing. So he scratches his head for a minute and he points to the fuel injection control module on that 6.0 and he says, "You think you could fix one of those?"

    Tyler Robertson:

    The FICM, yeah.

    Ed Edwards:

    Exactly, the FICM. And at that point, I didn't even know what a fuel injection control module was.

    Tyler Robertson:

    What's it do? Yeah.

    Ed Edwards:

    Right, so I told him, I said, "I'd love to try." He was serious. The very next day he brought five faulty fuel injection control modules by my house.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Oh, it's a horrible problem with those things. Yeah.

    Ed Edwards:

    Left them with me, and kind of my claim to fame at that point is, I really do feel like I know everyone repairs FICMs now. I mean, 2022, there's tons of guys repairing them, but I felt like I was the first person to actually offer a service publicly to do that. So I added that as my second eBay listing, and things just exploded from there.

    Tyler Robertson:

    So I'm going to give a couple questions.

    Ed Edwards:

    Sure.

    Tyler Robertson:

    You don't even know the answer, but you do.

    Ed Edwards:

    No, I got you.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Guess how old my kids were when I quit my job to do my business?

    Ed Edwards:

    Three and one.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Exactly. And guess where I sold my first product?

    Ed Edwards:

    In your garage.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yeah, and guess what platform I sold my first product on?

    Ed Edwards:

    eBay.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Yes.

    Ed Edwards:

    There you go. Absolutely.

    Tyler Robertson:

    So people always kind of dog eBay a little bit. I'm like, "I started a business there," and I know now someone else that has, and actually there's another person in South Carolina, the neighborhood I lived on, very similar story. Electrical engineer, he was unemployed, he had some medical stuff going on and he had a problem with his Toyota Tundra. A check engine light came on, dealer wanted like $2,000 to fix it, and he's like, "Forget that." He wired up a thing and fixed it and put it on eBay.

    Ed Edwards:

    Right.

    Tyler Robertson:

    So if people are listening to this, the big takeaway is there's opportunity everywhere, and there's very few people such as yourself that say, "Look, I'm going to go find a better solution than just doing this." And I can tell you what you're doing is great, because I've gone through three washing machines in 10 years, dishwashers, that stuff just doesn't last. And I just know, I don't even bother calling my [inaudible 00:09:43]. Like, you know what? He's going to come here, and he's going to tell me it costs more to fix it than actually it's worth replacing, just buy a new one.

    Ed Edwards:

    Well, that's the important part, is the drive for me never came from making money in the beginning at all. It was because I had a solution to a problem that was better than anything else that I saw. I could solve people's problems, I could protect them from what was monopolizing them as their only option to repair it. It was great for the environment, I mean, that wasn't my sole drive, but just being able to serve people with a better solution, because I couldn't just keep it to myself. It was too good.

    Tyler Robertson:

    So, 2009, you're getting your first sales. We're in 2022. How long before did you, I'm assuming you had a job and you had to quit eventually?

    Ed Edwards:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    How long did it take to get to that?

    Ed Edwards:

    That was in 2009. 14 months after I fixed my own washing machine, I was convinced that this was something that I could put some effort into. I love business. I've always been entrepreneurial. I mean, I was the kid, the cliche story of making money in high school cutting everyone's grass. In a small town, I was buying more lawn mowers and having people help me cut grass. So I loved that side of the business, and in 2010, I left my job, my full-time role on a Friday. On Monday, I started in my own office that I'd rented. That was in October of 2010. December of 2010, I hired our first employee, a great friend of mine from college, and together we really just set things on fire the next year.

    Ed Edwards:

    There was never really this plan to grow as much as we did. Kind of some milestone events, two years later in January of 2012, we bought our first office building that gave us really the space we needed to grow. 12,000 square foot office. And then five years after that, we bought the office that we currently occupy now, which is about 60,000 square feet, and a couple of months ago, we just bought another building across the road. So it's just continuing to reinvest into the resources. In the circuit board world, in the electronics world, it's always evolving, it's always a challenge. So it's just completely reinvesting into the talent that we need. I don't understand half of what we do anymore. I mean, it's just...

    Tyler Robertson:

    You know, you're sounding more and more like me. Someone was asking me today, so there's a product we sell, we're the largest distributor in the world, I go by their booth and I'm like, "What's that?" They're like, "Dude, you've been selling that for like nine months." I'm like, "Dude, I don't even..."

    Ed Edwards:

    Yeah, as long as it solves somebody's problems, there we go.

    Tyler Robertson:

    I'm not in the sales department, I'm not even involved in that anymore, right?

    Ed Edwards:

    Yeah.

    Tyler Robertson:

    But this is great. I mean, everyone loves hearing stories like this, because it just shows one small thing leads to the next, and I'm sure you're like us, you solve one problem and it's like eight more doors open up.

    Ed Edwards:

    Right.

    Tyler Robertson:

    And you start having the problem of like, oh man, now I got a hundred paths to choose from, which one do I go down, and what do I do? And these things. That is a tremendous story that hopefully inspires a lot of people listening to this. I know it's, again, very similar to our story. Glad we're able to kind of share that with the world and get that out there a little bit. So, I mean, what's next? Is it just growth and more people, and just keep blowing this thing up?

    Ed Edwards:

    It is. Yeah, I mean, we're just in scaling mode at this point. We really are scaling rapidly. What we're trying to decide right now is where that next level is, where we need to just kind of slow down a little bit, because you're either scaling or you're operating and improving efficiencies. It's hard to do both at the same time. It really is.

    Tyler Robertson:

    I struggled with that too. Our company was just like, you're growing, doubling revenue every year, and then we eventually hit kind of a plateau, and it was it growing pains. It was I'm spending all day putting out fires and it's chaos, and we're not answering the phones. You can just tell like, okay, not enough hours and there's not enough days for me to work to do this.

    Ed Edwards:

    Right.

    Tyler Robertson:

    And it took us a little bit to figure out like, okay, we're focusing on the wrong things. We need to focus on the right things and bring the right people in and the right processes. Have you guys gone through those growing pains as well through that?

    Ed Edwards:

    We have. I think a key part of that is just to make sure that your suppliers and your customers are partners, because just about everything that has been a challenge for our growth, there's been a supplier or a customer that's already experienced it. We can ask their advice, they want to see us succeed, and we just learn from each other. It's the collaboration that makes things great. Just as soon as you think that you know something, and you're trying to start protecting that, someone else is going to figure it out. I mean, just share information. I don't mean share all of your trade secrets, right? We all have trade secrets, we all have intellectual property, but know what the difference between intellectual property and trade secrets are and what just common sense partnership business growth should be.

    Tyler Robertson:

    We've been struggling with that too, because we sell these, $8,000, $10,000 tools that do a thing, and now we sell a $350 tool that does the same thing.

    Ed Edwards:

    Right.

    Tyler Robertson:

    We're like, well, that sucks we're doing that, because I'm obviously giving up a lot of revenue over here and we're still growing, and we're not doing it here, but in the long term, if I don't do it, someone else is going to do it and I'm going to end up with nothing.

    Ed Edwards:

    Right.

    Tyler Robertson:

    So it's the best thing to do, and it's better for the customer too. So it's all the evolution of business. I know we've talked before, man, now I got to get up there. Now I got to get up there, see the facility, do all those things. We have a lot of customers that have things that are breaking all the time. I know they're looking for solutions. It sounds like you have them. Anytime we can help people get their trucks back on the road more efficiently, it's better for everybody involved.

    Ed Edwards:

    Right.

    Tyler Robertson:

    So we'll get up there. We'll make some things happen.

    Ed Edwards:

    That sounds real good.

    Tyler Robertson:

    So if, hey, people want to get a hold of you or your website, whatever it is.

    Ed Edwards:

    Yeah, circuitboardmedics.com. Our phones are +1 800-547-2049. If you can find it on our website, typically that's guaranteed a standard one business day turnaround for repair and return type stuff. We do have a lot of our more popular items on a remanufactured exchange basis as well. But we are here, the reason we come to shows like this is to hear what people are struggling with. That's how we learn what our new products should be to develop. I like to shiny objects to a fault, so I come here to hear what are the big problems? That's the ones we want to solve.

    Tyler Robertson:

    Similar thing at our side. Once in a while, we're like, "Okay, stop chasing shiny objects. Let's go clear the board a little bit, then we'll put somewhere shiny objects on." Great having you on, thank you for taking time. I know we just kind of randomly grab you like, "Hey, we'll do podcast real quick."

    Ed Edwards:

    That's fine, that's fine.

    Tyler Robertson:

    So great job, thank you for coming on. And as we end every episode, it's not just diagnostics, it's diagnostics done right. And part of that involves Circuit Board Medics. They have some solutions, they can probably save you some time, save you some money. I know it's hard finding ECMs and certain components. I've got a feeling these guys can probably help you in that situation.

    Ed Edwards:

    Yeah, hopefully we can.

    Tyler Robertson:

    All right. So thank you for watching, thank you for listening. Like, subscribe, comment, share. Those all help us tremendously. And we'll catch you on the next episode.

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