Mr. Dave Lakin with Acacia Business Solutions talks about Restoring Honor, Truth and Integrity

In this week's Industrial Talk Podcast we're talking to Dave Lakin, CEO at Acacia Business Solutions about “Returning to the Workplace with a Focus on Honor, Truth and Integrity”.  Get the answers to your “Integrity Leadership” questions along with Dave's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

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Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's get all right. Once again, thank you very much for joining the industrial talk podcast, the number one industrial related podcast in the universe. You know what came to mind as I was thinking over the weekend, you are the miracle, you are the hope. You are creators of dream you industrial, you know, hero, because you are bold, you're brave, you dare greatly. you innovate. You're changing lives, and you're changing the world. I don't think I'm overselling that one bit. All right. Dave Lakin is in the industrial talk hot seat. He is the CEO of Acacia business solutions. And we're going to be talking about honor, truth and integrity. bringing that back into your business, let's get cracking. Yeah, I was just thinking over the weekend. It's like, it's, if you're not, if you don't think that you're a hero, if you don't think that you're what you do is important. I want you to just recognize that you are the creator of miracles. It's because of your innovative thinking that you create miracles. It's because of your innovative thinking that you're creating hope. And it is because of your innovative thinking that you're creating dreams. And again, I yeah, I might be the biggest Gomer, for all things industrial. But I truly believe it, you need to believe it as well, because it's that important. And especially now, holy cow, there's a lot going on a lot of great stuff happening. pencil and paper time. Let's get cracking on that pencil and paper time. This is in Barcelona, this is a great event. Let's get back to normal. That's what I want to do. This is October 5 through the seventh. It is the IoT solutions World Congress been broadcasting there for the past couple of years, except for last year. And I'm just telling you IoT solutions World Congress, the industrial internet Consortium, they put on a fabulous, fabulous event. And of course, it's Barcelona, what can you say about that town? A lot, because it's great. All right, put that out there. That's October 5 through the seventh. The next event that I want you to put out there is the manufacturing and technology show. And this is in Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio, and this is November 9, through the 11th. And again, we were very fortunate last year to be able to go up to Cleveland. And it is a wonderful place with wonderful people. And I'm just excited that I'll be broadcasting from this particular event. And just, I don't know, man, it gets itchy to get like back into sort of the swing of things and start truly, truly celebrating the wonderful women and men of manufacturing the women of men of industry, the women of men of innovation, it doesn't really matter. Let's just begin that celebration because you deserve it. All right. Again, we are going to have a great conversation. Good, good interview, Keisha business solutions of the company, Dave like and that's L a k i n is the CEO. And I really enjoy the conversation about honoring, bring an honor and truth and integrity back into the workplace as we start to open doors back up. I think that that is a really wonderful thing. So enjoy this interview. Dave, welcome to the industrial talk podcast. Thank you very much for finding time in your busy schedule. Calling all the way from Huntsville, Alabama, got to share with us some great coaching insights wisdoms, for you listeners out there. So I am going to be absolutely jacked about this interview. As you know, I will Dave, background, give us a little 411 on who you are.


On March Scott, appreciate you inviting me to be here. I'm an executive coach. And I work with medium sized businesses to make them better, stronger, faster, more profitable, more efficient, and and to be more competitive and successful in the market.


How did you get into business coaching?


Well, I'm a licensed program manager and I'm a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer. And I finished up at never headquarters and went from there and the program management got burned out and decided that I really loved helping people like I did back in the Navy and transitioned into into coaching and been down for about eight years and I love every minute of it. So it's my full time gig.


Acacia is the business name, which is great. And you've been at it for what? eight plus years? You said? Eight years? Yes. Login. Alright. listeners, we're going to talk a little bit about a number of things. And so stay tuned state, like, state the issue here. What are you? What are we trying to solve with this conversation there? Dave? What are we trying to highlight? What is this, this this topic that we want to drive into, and I see it, but I want you to tell me about it.


The short Cliff's notes version is returning to the workplace from now everybody's been kind of sheltered in place. And we're, we're slowly getting back out there now. And in, you know, out of our home offices into the workplace. And you know, one of the things that the across the country we've been suffering with, for the last several years is, we're getting pretty hot and loose with the idea of truth and honesty and integrity. And, you know, that may work at home, but it doesn't work so well in the workplace, and especially with customers and vendors and things.


So it's been about a year, over a year, it just seems like it's dragging on, it seems like 10 years, FYI. But all of a sudden, you're right, that this is an interesting change that's taking place in the workplace. Companies have if they made it through the year, they're surviving, and they're trying to rebuild, and they're trying to prosper in this, whatever that next normal is. But you've identified this whole principle of honor, truth and integrity, why what's what's taken place to where that has to be identified and highlighted. I don't


know, we all want to, we always want to put our best foot forward, right? And, and make ourselves look good to prospective hires, and to vendors and partners in the marketplace. And particularly to our customers, right, the people we're working with, even you know, in the contracts world, we want our customers to just love us. And so that takes us into exaggerating our capabilities, not performance, you know, where we've worked, what we've done, you know, in the, in the whole safety world, you know, we're just as safe as we can be, you know, and, but the reality of it is, maybe not so much. And, and so that's a, that's what we're struggling with. And we take it beyond that, you know, we call it exaggerating white lies, and business ethics, things like that. But at the end of the day, it's just not true. And so where do you draw the line on it? Right? Where do you Where do you say, that's just not true? We can't, we can't say that to our customers, because we have to be able to back it up with performance, right? You know, if we, if this is our safety record, then then that means nobody's gotten hurt, you know, nobody's smashed the foot, now, nobody's lost a hand, we got to be able to say that our capabilities of our product, you know, are great up to this point. But that, but that's where they drop off. We're working on it. But that's, that's our limit. And if that means you lose a contract, I would I would much rather lose a contract. Because it would have forced me to exceed our capabilities and put our future work in jeopardy. But also, you know, maybe potentially put lives in jeopardy, too, right? So yeah, but


here's the here's the dirty little secret, right? If I submit a RFP, me to you not to say, view you, but let's say business out there, and, and I'm looking for, I'm looking for price, right? I just don't because I'm still in a in a position of I'm trying to survive, I'm trying to keep my doors open. I'm trying to rebuild, I'm trying to figure out the way of being able to prosper in this next normal. And on both sides, I'm looking for cheap and on your, their, their side, they're looking for doing it, right. So there's this mutual and, and the other thing that is a dirty little secret, if I am truthful, like everybody should be, if I'm supposed to be driven by integrity. I'm going to I am going to, unfortunately, maybe reveal a little my dirty laundry and and, and lose, like you said lose opportunities, and I can't afford to do that. What do we do? How do we change that? What are what are some actionable items that we can sort of leverage?


Well, that's that's a real problem. Right? You know, yeah, absolutely. So so what happens is, you read the you read the requirements of the contract, and then you build a proposal that that absolutely, at the very minimum, if I'm just barely meeting the requirements, this contract, then it's going to cost this much. Right. But But you know, and I know and the contractor knows the sponsor knows that that this can be 100 change orders, you know, so so this is what change orders cost, it's what you know, you usually have to put up, this is what man hours cost at these different levels. This is what materials cost, this is what research and development costs. And, and so you have to lay out all these other things. And they're going to compare you against the reality of the people they're used to working with. But I would much rather come in on on truth and integrity, because, you know, you're fighting against somebody, they might have three other guys lined up who have done this work for them before. But those three other guys also have a reputation they carry with them. Right. So yeah, they do good work. Yeah, they get done on time. But, you know, we get eaten alive and change orders, and things like that. So, you know, even if you're the new guy, if you come in with a spirit of honesty and truth and integrity, and say, This is what it's going to cost a minimum meet the, this RFP. But this is my, you know, my ala carte set of fees, that, you know, we're likely to walk into, if change orders occur, and they always occur. You know, most contractors know that the the real money's in the change orders, right?




yeah, that is the case. So a couple of analogies here, one. Here in Louisiana, we have the causeway bridge, and there was a big project that was awarded to a particular contractor. I don't know the details of it, but that particular contract is in dispute. And the reason it's in dispute is that we naturally, we, the majority of people gravitate to the it's a commoditized market out there to a certain extent. So I'm going to gravitate to the cheapest provider, unfortunately, it's just a commoditized market. Well, that is a problem they use. From what I understand pour equipment they're trying to cut around, they're trying to make their margins are doing everything they can. It is a failure on both parts. Right. So with that said, I hear what you're saying day, Dave, and I and I'm all just like, Yeah, he's right. It's got to be about honor and truth and integrity. How do I, how do I communicate that with perspectives, prospects that I'm a, I'm a good person, my company's a good company, and we're going to, might be a little bit more but man, we're gonna deliver what do we do?


Yeah, everybody says that, though, right? So it's not like you're coming up with a new concept. No. Everybody wants to project this, this image of Look, man, you can you can trust this business is built on, on truth and trust and, you know, know, like, and trust, right? Yeah. And so, so we all go in with that position. But it's, it's the, you know, how did you end up at the end of the project, right? Normally, you're gonna have a meeting at the end of the project that wraps it all up, and says that you met all the requirements of the project. And, and, and you, that's where you get to ask the customer. So how did we do? Right? You get that customer feedback. And, you know, unless you're a brand new company, you have you have a history of that customer feedback, good and bad, you know, not every project is just going to go swimmingly, right? So you're going to have that history of feedback. So you can you can show this new customer that you've never worked for before. Look, I've worked for these 10 other companies and the Closeout project, we got these kinds of statements, loved working with them, you know, they did everything they said they were going to do which, just that right there would be amazing, right? They did everything they said they were gonna do they did on time on budget. And, and, and the project turned out great, just like we had hoped it would. So you know, so that's one thing is, is being able to show that history of great performance, right. But also in your day to day dealings, you know, when people can smell fear, they can smell desperation, they can smell I often, you know, we have we have these physical cues when we're lying, you know, tend to touch your face and look away from somebody and, and you stammer over the response to a question because, you know, the truth is too painful to tell you. Even if we even if we can't put our finger on what what a lie looks like, instinctively. Intuitively, we know what a lie looks like. We can tell when someone's lying to us. So we're fudge truth. Well, much in the plain, white lies, white lies, right? You your boss has been, you know, two days a week he's been stepping out of the office, right is don't tell his wife that he's been stepping out of the office. Right. And and you know, the reality is he's taking dance lessons so you can surprise her on her 25th anniversary, but we don't want her to know that he's been stabbed But out of the office, right? So she calls and says, where's Henry? And you say, Well, he's at the worksite. I can't I can't get him right now. Well, it's a lie. Right? So those kinds of lies, nobody gets hurt, it's not a big deal. Fine. Could you come up with something else you haven't got put on the spot. So white lies, whatever. The truth can be painful, right? The customer calls and says, hey, how come you guys weren't out on site yesterday. And the truth is, because we overbooked ourselves, and we didn't have enough manpower to be out on site there. So we were on the other side, even though said we were going to be, but the answer that you give the customer as well, our foreman was out sick, we had two other guys had COVID. And we just weren't able to get up there. You know, when when did the lies stop. And we get back to truth and honesty with our customers. We just weren't able to get out there yesterday, we're planning on putting on extra hours or whatever the response is. But, you know, at some point, we got to draw the line and say, how far we're willing to go. When you make mission vision, core value statements for your business. It's all about who we are, what we do, and what we're willing to do for business and what we're not willing to do for business. And, and integrity has to be taken into account. They're in the military, when, you know, when I was growing up in the Navy integrity was one of our core values. And they, you know, early on in my career, they the Navy redid their core values, and it just want to honor courage and commitment. And I thought it was a real failing, they took out integrity. But you know, you have to have core values in your business, you have to, you know, you have to know what they are how you define them, your people have to know what they are. And your customers have to know. They have to see it in your day to day work, even if they don't know the words.


I believe and correct me if I'm wrong, Dave, I think there is a level of desperation out there that we want to stay alive, that the market is tight. There's a lot of factors impacting the economy got it. Understand. I think COVID as a whole has given us the approval to be vulnerable, to a certain extent. I'm not perfect. I'm not, you know, a superhero. In a sense, I have challenges. And to your point, I think it's, it's more beneficial. To be truthful in saying, I don't have the people I don't have I have people that are missing just because of XYZ, whatever it is, I think your customers can understand it today. Maybe pre virus, no. Post virus, yes, they can understand it. And, you know, put your adult pants on and we want to succeed. I don't think the statistics with these projects are ideal. I think that every project to a certain extent, has suboptimal results, whatever that looks like, but it happens all the time. But, but I think, to your point, if we, if we're driven by that, we can have these conversations, we can eat that Humble Pie a little bit better. And and yeah, it's not fun, but it has to happen. If we're truly wanting to succeed and flourish into the future. I think we have to do that. That's just my my two cents.


I agree with you. 100%. But you know, look at your, your, your Scott MacKenzie from the clan, MacKenzie, your type looking guy, you know, I'm, I'm retired Navy chief and, and, you know, we just, you know, we don't want to admit our weaknesses and failings and stuff to everybody. You don't want to wear him when you sleep. But, you know, I agree with you absolutely. Just got a man up sometimes and, and be able to go and say, you know, we didn't get it, we didn't get it done. We were supposed to yesterday, we're gonna go back and do a little redo. We're gonna get it right. You can count on us for that might take a little bit longer, but it'll be right when we hand project over to you.


It's interesting in industry, unfortunately, we always have all the answers, whether we have the answers or not. But we have all the answers, right? We have the solutions. We have the direction we have the you know, the golden goose, you know, and we just, it's it was just baked into the culture. Nobody. Nobody was vulnerable. Nobody said, that's, that's a job. Yeah, I could do it. I could do that job. And so I like that, but here we are. We're trying to survive. We're trying to rebuild. What are the roadblocks, you're preaching to me? It's good. I want to survive. What are the roadblocks?


Well, let's look at the other way. What are the roadblocks to continuing the lies right? We lose trust, confidence and credibility across across the line people who sit across the table negotiating with us. They don't know if we're negotiating in good faith, because we've lied to them before and they just don't know. So number one, it makes it harder to get them to the table. So you lose customers, you lose employees, you give them all those expectations, when they're going to come to your company, they're going to be treated, you know, with dignity and respect or, or, or like a ditch digger, who knows, but you know, they're going to be treated in a certain way. And then when they're not treated, at least that well, then then they get upset. And sometimes they leave, they say, you know, 90 plus percent of the reason people leave a job is because they don't get along with their boss, because often, that's because the boss wasn't truthful with them. And of course, you lose revenue over all of it. So the roadblocks for continuing down the road of a lack of honesty and integrity could be greater than the roadblocks to just, you know, to being on a strike. Yet, if you're, if you're honest about it, you may not get the contract. But you may not end up over your head and performing badly in the project either. So, you know, which, which is more preferable, you know, from the time that you that you get awarded the contract until the start date of the of the work, can you make up that last ground for where you need to be to be able to do the work? Maybe. But in that time, we try to make up that last ground, you could be out there trying to get five other contracts that you are capable of doing.


It's an edge, I look at it. Of course, it's a people challenge, but it's also an education challenge. We don't talk about that we don't talk about the necessity in business. We do. Say we do. But do we mean it about integrity truth on are all those those? Well want to think that we're that way, right, though, don't want it all thinking, we've talked about it, we talk about it. But really, when the rubber meets the road, you're going to say yes, we can do it and try to figure out how to do it. And then during the process during the project during the whatever the work, you figure something else out, it's now, and I would imagine now is the time for bold leadership. And I think that what you're talking about is this is necessary for a vibrant business in the future. I don't have luxury of taking chances, I need to have it done right done right now. And if I have, if I have trust in what you're talking about, I feel better. I will always recognize that sure. Things happen within projects, you didn't know that you could, you couldn't remove that bolt or whatever, whatever it is, you can only say so much course. But still, if we take that position, take that level of vulnerability. I want to have that conversation that truthful, integrity driven conversation. It's great that I leave anything out there. Because I love it. I do I love what you're trying to do. And I love what it's all about. And I agree with you 100%. All right, listeners, we got a couple of things out there. We've got adding zeros, the five disciplines of online training, which is pretty cool. And then another one from adding zeros of five discipline assessments. So Dave, where do I go to get that?


Well, the The only condition on those is I would love to have a conversation with you about your business and, and where you are and where you're trying to get to, just to make sure that those things are appropriate for what it is you're trying to accomplish. And then I will send you a link. If I think on your on your show notes, you'll have my email address. They get in touch with me and we will set it all up. Looking forward to it.


All right, listeners, we're all about that education, collaboration and innovation. We got to be driven to that we've got to create a business of resiliency. And we've got to do it with a sense of integrity, honor, and truth. We just have got to do it. Dave is preaching to the choir right here. I love what you are doing and what you are talking about from a coaching perspective. Dave, thank you very much for being on the industrial talk podcast. It's been a pleasure. I really, really appreciate it. All right, listeners, we're gonna wrap it up on the other side. Remember, we're gonna have all the contact information for a day. Acacia Business Solutions is the business. He is the CEO got mad skills, his team out there. They want to make sure that you succeed. And again, it's all about education, collaboration, can't do it on your own. You need people like Dave, and innovation, you got to look at business from an innovative perspective. All right, thank you very much for joining. We're gonna wrap it up on the Other side you were listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network. Again, thank you Dave for being on the industrial talk podcast and sharing your insights and wisdom into you know, the, the need to bring back that honor, truth and integrity back into the workplace can love it. Everything will be out there at industrial all his contact information and take him up on that free stuff that he offered. All right, to recap, we've got the IoT solutions World Congress, October 5, through the seventh, Barcelona is a great location, love the location, as well as we've got the manufacturing and technology shown that is November 9, through the 11th. Those are must attend events, let's get best worlds back to sort of back to normal, whatever that might be. Let's make it happen. All right, you are the miracle. You are the dream makers. You are the light of hope. That's what an industrial heroes all about. And that's what you are all about. Thank you very much for what you're doing. hanging out with people who are bold, brave and daring greatly. I guarantee you're gonna have a wonderful time changing the world because that's where it's at industry is where it's at. All right, thank you. We're gonna have another great interview right around the corner. So stay tuned.

Scott MacKenzie

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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