JOHNNY DONOVAN: It’s a special edition of Open Line Friday with the guide host Ken Matthews and special guest Kathryn Limbaugh and a celebration of great American businesses.
KEN: Thank you so much for joining us today. It’s great to be here with you. You know, every Open Line Friday is special, and that’s been the way it has been for 30-plus years: Your chance once a week an opportunity to determine what we talk about. That’s how Rush defined it.
Today’s Open Line Friday is an extension of that, but it’s even extra special. As you just heard our announcer, we not only will hear from many of you today, we have part of the inspiration of the Great American Business Award, Kathryn Limbaugh. It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the show. I feel blessed to be here with you, Kathryn.
KATHRYN: Thank you, Ken. It’s great to be back. I’m thrilled to be here.
KEN: Well, I know this is an exciting moment ’cause this is the kickoff, and I know these are the first round of nominees and we’re actually gonna be hearing from them. And how did you…? How did all this start? I mean, I know you’d mentioned it in passing. I hear it on the show. But how did it all start with you and Rush?
KATHRYN: Sure. I’m happy to give you a little background on how it all of a sudden came to be. So many of you know that Rush started shining shoes in a barbershop in his home state of Missouri when he was very young. And then he went on to the radio station at 15. Ironically, at 15 I started teaching English in West Africa where our family lived at the time.
So, both Rush and I understood from a very young age the value of a dollar and the importance of hard work, as well as how fortunate we are to be Americans. So, not too long ago, Rush and I were talking about work ethic in general, which led to a discussion about small businesses here in the United States, and how great it was to see President Trump at the time fighting for small business owners and bringing manufacturing and jobs back to the United States.
But, unfortunately, covid hit and really wreaked havoc on all of us Americans in one way or another. So we were seeing small businesses — and large businesses, for that matter — close for absolutely no fault of their own. This, along with previous presidents saying that you didn’t build your business (chuckles), we would just sit there and say, “This is driving us crazy.”
Rush was going bananas, as I’m sure all of you were as well. So, Rush and I talked about it, and he said, “You know, it’s time to recognize and support the people who really make this country work,” which is all of you. He actually planned this late last year, but planned to announce in February. But, unfortunately, of course, that didn’t come to be.
So, you have a very distant second to Rush here to announce on his behalf that today we are going to award the first-ever Rush Limbaugh Great American Business Award to small businesses and owners who are very, very deserving and were also inspired by Rush, his positivity, and conservative values in general.
KEN: And, more importantly, you will be talking to these men and women that worked so hard for the businesses. I’ve often said that the president and Rush, to me, I sometimes even get their names confused because I always felt that Mr. Trump and Rush were kindred spirits as far as entrepreneurial ideology and work ethic. They just seem like two peas in a pod.
KATHRYN: That’s right. And their connection to the American people. I often said that to Rush as well, that both President Trump and Rush had a personal connection with the American people like nowhere else and nothing that’s ever been seen before. So, yes, that’s certainly a comparison that we drew quite a bit.
KEN: Well, we are thrilled that you’re here. Are you ready to start meeting some of the first round of nominees on the Rush Limbaugh Show?
KATHRYN: I am.
KATHRYN: And in fact, these are finalists, I should say.
KEN: Oh, my goodness!
KATHRYN: These are actually finalists. We received a lot of entries from the first time that we mentioned this. There were a lot of submissions, nominations, and wonderful businesses coming in to us through the phone lines and through that website. So I should say that these are actually finalists to potentially win the first-ever Rush Limbaugh Great American Business Award.
KEN: And by the end of your visit here, we will know who the winner is, but no one here knows, no one in the audience does?
KATHRYN: That’s right.
KEN: Nor do I.
KATHRYN: Nobody knows, and we are going to hold everyone over in complete expense.
KEN: Excellent. This is Andres Diaz from a company, PMI Summit, in Cedar Hills, Utah. Andres, this is Kathryn Limbaugh — on the phone with you right now — welcome.
ANDRES: Oh, my gosh. What an honor, Kathryn, Ken. Thank you for having me.
KATHRYN: Hello, Andres! It’s great to hear from you. I actually have you right here on my Stack of Stuff that is (chuckles) inspired by Rush, but you’re on the top of the Stack here, and your story is so interesting I really wanted to talk to you first.
ANDRES: All right.
KATHRYN: Tell us a little bit about moving from Venezuela and coming to the United States to flee socialism, as you put it.
ANDRES: Well, yes. So, I came here in 1990. So, this is pre-Chavez and his revolution, right? However, the writing was on the wall. I could see Venezuela had been drifting to socialism for a while now, and, I mean, I was stuck. I did not have a future. I was already married, and I had a child and another on the way.
And I had a sister here, and she said, “You ought to come over to the United States. You have a future here. You don’t have one there,” and that’s really all it took. And I convinced my wife, and we moved over here, and I’ve been here for almost 31 years now. So this is home. This is my adopted country. (chuckles)
KATHRYN: And you started listening to Rush, you said, and he inspired you to start a small business. Tell us about that.
ANDRES: Yes. So, the way that I started listening to Rush — or the reason — was because of the Clarence Thomas hearings. It was my first experience, let’s call it that (chuckles), with American politics. And a friend of mine saw me how perplexed I was while watching this, and he told me, “Hey, you ought to listen to this guy on the radio, Rush Limbaugh.”
I said, “Why?” And he said, “Oh, you’ll see why. Just listen to him.” (chuckles) And I listened to him, and it just made sense. To this guy that came from another country, that, I’ll tell you — I’ll be honest right now with you — I was a liberal without knowing, right? Not a hardcore, but, you know, I had some things that I carried over from my childhood and my experience in Venezuela.
And then I started listening to Rush, and it just made sense. It made… What he was saying made sense. The way he explained things to me personally made sense. And, of course, I heard about the way that he always said you need to make your own path, you need to make your own way. And I always looked for things. I always looked for ideas. I had an idea about a card that now is known as a debit card.
ANDRES: (laughing) But the investors that I looked for didn’t think there was a future in that, and they (laughs) —
KATHRYN: They’re upset about that now. (laughing)
ANDRES: Exactly! I mean, you go to Walmart, and everybody, you know, offers one. So —
KATHRYN: Right. And so from there, how did Rush specifically inspire you to start your property management business?
ANDRES: Yes, and that’s what I was going to say. I was in the corporate game, you know, for a while, and I was fired from my last job in September of 2013. I was listening to Rush when I got out of my old job, and I thought, “I need to do something about it.” I called… For some reason, my good friend Matt Stoker’s name came to my mind. I called him, and I was working on property management.
So I started digging with him into his brain, picking his brain, trying to see what he was doing. The idea resonated with me, and something Rush said came to my mind, and that is if I have an idea and I put my head down and I just work at it, it’ll come true. And I just did that. The one thing… The one thing that stuck in my brain from what Matt said to me was it was recession-proof. (laughs)
ANDRES: And so that, you know, together with Rush’s words about, you know, what was coming — because we were still in Obama’s years then — I just said, “Oh, this is what I need to explore,” and that’s how I came to this. I started seven years ago, and it’s been wonderful and it’s been great. And Rush is one of the reasons why I’m here.
KATHRYN: That is incredible. And, honestly, you are one of the people who make this country work. And I know if Rush was sitting here right now, he would say to you, you are really an inspiration for this award. He wanted to rally the American people to say that it’s not time to give up. It’s time to actually try harder and to start more small businesses despite the long odds that we’re currently facing. So it’s a great story, and I really appreciate you submitting your story and telling us about your business.
ANDRES: Yes — and if I may add one final thing, it is this: When Rush says, “Only in America,” it is absolutely true. I could have not done this in my native country of Venezuela, and I have said this to many people that tell me, America is bad, America is racist, America is this, America is that. My question is: How can a “brown,” quote-unquote (laughing), guy with an accent like me have his own business, successful business, seven years now in a country that you describe the way that you’re describing it? That is not correct. That is not true. I am proof of it.
KATHRYN: That’s right. And we need more people like you. So, hopefully we’ll inspire some of that today.
KEN: Congratulations again, Andres, for being one of the finalists and your beautiful words of inspiration. In a moment, we’ll be back with Kathryn Limbaugh live from the EIB Network Southern Command behind Rush’s desk as we recognize great American businesses. And don’t forget, before the end of the show today, we’ll have the first great American business recognition award.
KEN: It’s a very special Open Line Friday because it’s my pleasure to have Kathryn Limbaugh live from the Southern Command, and, Kathryn, are you ready to take our next finalist on the phone?
KATHRYN: Absolutely! Absolutely. This is fun.
KEN: I know.
KATHRYN: I’m ready to go.
KEN: Here we go. This is Raul Bonilla from Salsa Revolution in Northlake, Texas. Welcome, Raul, to the show.
RAUL: I’m glad to be here. I appreciate y’all welcoming me to the show and it’s gonna be a hard thing to follow with all the other businesses. I want to wish them good luck.
KATHRYN: Well, Raul, I have all of your information right here. What you submitted was great and it really stood out. One of the things that stood out most actually is the name. I love Salsa Revolution. (laughs) How did you come up with the name Salsa Revolution?
RAUL: Well, we just thought about America and the great values of our country, you know, the opportunity we have in this country. And we wanted to name our business pretty close to the values that we hold close, which is America in itself, the opportunity that it has to offer to anybody that’s willing to open up a small business.
I encourage them to go for it, and I know it’s gonna be a struggle. But as long as they do the work — and I know it’s gonna be a lot of sleepless nights and days — to become a successful company like Salsa Revolution. I really am grateful. I mean, I put God as first in our company, and that’s what kind of helped us through —
KATHRYN: That’s right.
RAUL: — and then the name, Salsa Revolution.
KATHRYN: And that’s exactly right. In the United States we have endless opportunities, and we can never lose sight of that regardless of the challenging as Rush would always inspire us to do. So I see that you were in the Army and you were in Desert Storm for a period of time.
KATHRYN: And after that you started your small business. How did Rush specifically help you and inspire you to start Salsa Revolution?
RAUL: Well, you know, just knowing his background and how he, as a child, would cut lawns and started his own tea company and knowing that he struggled throughout his life, even in radio. Knowing that he, as a 19-year-old, started in the radio business. And it’s awesome to know that he’s like the greatest of all time. I mean, what can you say?
RAUL: He grew up as a hardworking kid and knew that he had some challenges in life, and that’s pretty much what all small businesses do. They have challenges and they persevere, and they just reach a goal and just don’t give up. Just continue to do what you have to do to run a small, respectful business, like Salsa Revolution.
KATHRYN: That’s right. Rush was fired seven times and certainly understood hard work right up until the absolute very end, and he’s still working with us now. So you started your company with a hundred-dollar bill. If you can do that, anyone can do it.
RAUL: Yes, ma’am. We just didn’t know it was gonna grow into the business that it is today, and it’s awesome. Like I say, we… My wife, Angelica, is a forefront in our business. She has got some talents, I’ll tell you, behind that kitchen and making that salsa, and I’m the laborer pretty much.
I get all the supplies and do what I have to do, and it’s a husband-and-wife team, and we have people that have helped us throughout our time at that we’ve spent growing our business and we really appreciate all their help as well.
KATHRYN: Well, thank you for what you do for our country in terms of a small business, but also for your service and for being on today to hopefully inspire others, that we can keep going forward with Rush in our minds and hearts. So thank you very much, Raul. And your entry’s great. You are a finalist, and hope to be speaking to you again soon.
RAUL: Thank you so much.
KEN: God bless, Raul, thank you again — and I don’t know about you, but I’m salivating for salsa now.
KATHRYN: Right. (laughing)
KEN: That’s all I could think of is, “Man, that would hit the spot right now,” just during the break.
KATHRYN: (laughing) That’s right.
KEN: Kathryn, we have a hard break coming up. So I wanted to know, I think maybe we should wait for the next call. But if you have a moment, this is kind of a personal thing.
KEN: Unplanned. Are you still gonna be doing the books? Because, you know, I got the set for my sons. They’re now 16 and 19.
KEN: One of the neatest things when I was blessed to meet Rush two years ago, about two years ago, I got to thank him for his impact on me, but more importantly, for the opportunity to guest host this incredible enterprise that he created. I just wanted to thank you for being a part of all that.
KATHRYN: Thank you. You’re welcome. And yes, we absolutely are gonna continue writing the books, especially now when there’s all of these attacks on accurate American history going on. We want to push back against that. So, yes, you can anticipate that Rush Revere and Liberty will be riding on again soon. We’re not sure where they’ll go. Maybe they’ll go to the border and see what’s happening there. (laughing)
KATHRYN: Or maybe we’ll have our first press conference and try to tell us the accurate side. (laughing)
KEN: Exactly. Exactly. We’ll be right back with the Great American Business Recognition Awards.
JOHNNY DONOVAN: Returning now to guest host Ken Matthews and special guest Kathryn Limbaugh, recognizing the men and women behind some great American businesses.
KEN: This is exciting, and we are feeling and seeing the impact of Rush Limbaugh throughout the land and the impact of radio. And we’re now gonna talk with Sheri Nielsen of Twisted Beeswax Candles in Peoria, Arizona. Sheri, welcome to the show and allow me to introduce to you Kathryn Limbaugh.
KATHRYN: Hello, Sheri!
SHERI: Hello, Kathryn. (chuckles) What an honor. Thank you so much. I enjoy those stories. They’re so inspiring.
KATHRYN: Oh, it’s great to talk to you — and truthfully, when Rush first came up with this idea not too long ago, I knew that you were the type of person that he had in mind. He said, “Kathryn, we have to do something. We have to award the people,” like yourself, “who are making a difference out there and aren’t often heard about.” So tell us a little bit about how Rush inspired you and your small business and how you first started with Twisted Beeswax Candles — which is a great name, by the way.
SHERI: Yeah. (chuckles) Thank you. Actually, I had the honor to meet Rush briefly when he was in Sacramento working at KFBK. I had just gotten out of college and I was a very young, impressionable young professional working in marketing, and I happened to just be working across the hall from the KFBK radio station.
I actually could see some of the broadcasts from my window, so I had the opportunity to bump into Rush a couple times, little funny things like in the parking lot. We shared the parking lot; I’d see him and Tom Sullivan out there kibitzing. He had such infectious humor.
KATHRYN: Did you see him or were you stalking him? (laughing)
SHERI: Oh! (laughing) I know. I’m sure he had quite a few of those.
SHERI: Just really enjoyed his program. My dad was the one who, like, “You’ve got to listen to this man. He’s very wise,” and what drew me to him was his sense of humor. He just always had these little zingers that he would say like in the parking lot or if I saw him or just was always smiling, always hopeful.
So I was listening to him at my desk for many, many years. Fast-forward to 2008 and, like a lot of people, I lost my job in the Great Recession, and jobs were very scarce. So my husband and I, we had a growing family, and we wanted to do something, and we wanted to take that entrepreneurial spirit that America is so great for as well as Rush’s influence and talking about working hard and being the best.
So we opened up a small business out of our garage, Twisted Beeswax Candles. We learned the trade from some dear friends in Northern California. And we started working around the clock long hours where many times we were wondering what had we gotten ourselves into. We started signing up for fine art festivals and gift shows and selling our product that way.
KATHRYN: That’s wonderful. You know, that’s often the story: The long hours that are put into these small businesses that you all have started. That’s one thing that is true. It seems to go across the board. Small businesses start in the back rooms or in garages or with a small gem of an idea.
SHERI: Yes. (chuckling)
KATHRYN: So congratulations to you for starting it and taking the risk and going out there following Rush’s inspiration.
SHERI: Thank you! Yes. (laughs)
KEN: Well, thank you again, Sheri. Are you still there?
SHERI: I am. Yes!
KEN: I want to wish you luck. I just wanted to wish you luck. My neighbor just texted me and said, “Do you know who the winner is?”
SHERI: Oh. (laughs)
KEN: Like, first of all, I do not, but do you think (laughing) for one second I would say it, sitting next to Kathryn on the show?
KATHRYN: No. No, but, Sheri, you are a finalist —
KATHRYN: — which we’re very happy to tell you —
KATHRYN: — which means all finalists are going to receive something great from Rush’s stash.
KEN: Mmm-hmm, yes.
KATHRYN: As you know, Rush always had some goodies, and he had some special ones set aside for you all. So regardless, everyone is going to receive a special prize pack, as finalists.
KEN: So yes. It’s gonna be someone that you hear on the show today.
In fact, we’re gonna take another finalist now, if you’d like, Kathryn.
KEN: From Stillwater, Minnesota, it’s Jason Bast, and the company is Forever Barnwood.
KEN: Welcome to the show, Jason.
JASON: I’m here. I’m here.
KATHRYN: Hi, Jason. Great to talk to you.
JASON: Hi, Kathryn.
KATHRYN: Hi there. I have all your information right here on the Stack and I see you are in the Navy or you were in the Navy?
JASON: I was in the Navy, yes, 1988 to 1993. During the first Gulf War, I served on the USS Carl Vinson, which is a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
KATHRYN: Sure. Well, thank you for your service. How did you start Forever Barnwood? These names are great, by the way. I think we also need an award for creativity on names.
JASON: (chuckles) Well, Forever Barnwood is a direct result of the big desire or the big demand for reclaimed barnwood. And reclaimed barnwood is really hard to source. It’s full of contaminates. You can never get the same product over and over again. So Forever Barnwood was really created as an alternative to reclaimed barnwood.
We make our product out of brand-new, circle sawn white pine, and we use the part of the tree that’s normally discarded, left in the woods; so it’s kind of a green company from that respect. But strictly born out of necessity. And we offer a full range of products — floor-to-ceiling beams, doors, flooring, shiplap. And it’s all available at ForeverBarnwood.com.
KATHRYN: That’s great.
JASON: So that’s basically how it started. It was necessity.
KATHRYN: Right, and now you employ 15 people.
JASON: We do, approximately 15. Sometimes it’s more. Sometimes it’s less.
JASON: I know you’re gonna ask me how I was inspired by Rush. And I know, Kathryn, you read my paragraph that I wrote. Rush and I go way back. I discovered Rush in the summer of 1993 right after I got out of the military. And, you know, I recognized… I was actually channel surfing and I heard this guy’s voice and then I heard him say his name when I went to a commercial breaker. I thought, “‘Rush’? That is a weird name. I gotta listen to this guy,” and the rest is history.
JASON: Basically for me it boils down to this, with Rush is to start a small business, I think the biggest fear is failure.
JASON: And you mentioned it earlier, Kathryn, about Rush being fired seven times in his life. I always enjoyed how he made light of that But at the same time, the overall lesson there was that you can’t be afraid to fail or you’ll never succeed. So I think once somebody overcomes that base fear, the ability to allow themselves the possibility to succeed is there.
KATHRYN: That’s right.
JASON: And so really, for me, it boils down to that.
KEN: And that’s absolutely true. And I know Rush would certainly say that, that there are gonna be obstacles. There are certainly gonna be trying days, long hours, and oftentimes things won’t work as originally planned.
KATHRYN: But if you keep going and if you go after your dreams, something will work one way or another, and you just have to keep that passion and inspiration that Rush taught us along the way.
JASON: Right. I’d just like to say to Andres that he emigrated from Venezuela, and I know that’s difficult, but I emigrated from Wisconsin to Minnesota —
JASON: — and if anybody’s familiar with the border battle up here, I think that’s almost as difficult.
KATHRYN: (laughing) Jason, you might get an extra point for comedy.
KEN: Yeah, you’re actually gonna be asked back to open the show.
JASON: Rush always said my job is to make the host look great, right?
KATHRYN: (laughing) That’s exactly right. You know, I was gonna throw that in earlier and I didn’t get to, is so thank you. You did make us look much better.
KEN: Well, congratulations on being a finalist, and you’re killing it so far. So I think because of the commercial break, Kathryn we… Let me ask Mike. Mike, this is live radio. Should we…? Do you think we have room for another call or should we take a break? Okay, Kathryn, we’re gonna take a break, and we’ll be right back with you live and our next finalist right here.
KEN: Our next caller is Sheila Blue of the Victory Pie Company in Magnolia, Texas. Welcome to the EIB Network, Sheila. Here’s Kathryn.
SHEILA: Thank you. It’s an honor to be here. Thank you.
KATHRYN: Hello, Sheila. I know that Rush would be particularly interested in your company. He was a big pie guy (laughing), as a matter of fact. Probably apple pie was his favorite.
SHEILA: Love it.
KATHRYN: But your company is Victory Pie Company. How did you start your company?
SHEILA: Yes, ma’am. Well, I actually started in my farmers market. My brother was killed actually serving in Afghanistan. I was Army, EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), and he left behind a wife and two children. And I wanted to find something to do to give back and to honor the sacrifice he made for freedom and so many other things. And one of the things prior to that I was a stay-at-home mom who homeschooled my kids for 18 years.
And one thing my brother and I loved to do together was cook. And his favorite thing that I made was my chicken potpies. And so I took what I do and what he loved and took those potpies to a farmers market and began selling them and sold out week after week, and one year later to the day was able to open my little cafe and expand our pie menu and doing breakfast and lunch as well, and we give back a portion of everything we do to veterans and widows and children of veterans.
KATHRYN: Oh, that’s… It’s so interesting to hear how your small business and all small businesses start. It’s usually for a reason that some of us don’t know right off the bat why it’s gonna go a certain way.
KATHRYN: But this is so interesting. And now how many employees do you have?
SHEILA: We actually have 13 right now.
SHEILA: I never saw coming here from being, you know, in that farmers market staying by myself out there. So it’s pretty neat to watch the growth. And just to even lead into, I think one of the things that inspire me listening to Rush is, I think, some of the things are patriotism, legacy, hard work. No matter when I tuned in, there was always a nugget to take away that inspired me, ’cause it’s not easy, and I love that he was real about it. And it’s not gonna be easy, and I think failures are… You find ways around them, if your “why” is big enough. And, you know, it’s for a cause bigger than yourself —
KATHRYN: That’s right.
SHEILA: — and I discovered that.
KATHRYN: That’s exactly right. He was always very honest with us.
KATHRYN: He didn’t ever lead us down a trail of saying it was gonna be just roses. He said it would be difficult, and it is, but seeing stories like yours where you went after an idea for a rather sad reason, but you did go after your idea, and now you’re successful. This is really the definition of what can be done in the United States. And it’s wonderful to hear about. Congratulations to you as well, and thank you for submitting this information about your company.
SHEILA: Thank you. Yeah, I appreciate the opportunity. And I’d like to say, too, I think one thing that inspires me, just yourself and Rush and everything that y’all have accomplished is just continuing to see what you can do, just that sky’s the limit, you know, the only limit on any of it is myself. And now we’ve had the opportunity to grow again a little bit, and we’re shipping our pies nationally, which —
SHEILA: — not only would I never have thought —
SHEILA: I would have never seen that coming, but it’s just one more thing. We just happen to have had our first grandson and it just makes me think of, you know, again legacy, and what can I leave him and my children to say about being an entrepreneur and about what this great country and the sacrifice my brother made has all been for.
KATHRYN: Absolutely. And what is your top-selling pie, I gotta ask?
SHEILA: Okay. So Rush would love it. It’s our apple crumb.
KATHRYN: Well, there you go. I’m gonna be ordering. As soon as I get off the phone here, I think I’m gonna order (chuckles) a caseload.
KEN: Well, congratulations, Sheila. Can I ask you one more thing? Can I have pie for every meal there?
SHEILA: Absolutely! My take on it is, it’s fruit and that’s one of the food groups. So as long as you’ve got fruit, you’re good.
KEN: I think Reagan would have agreed. Thank you so much, Sheila.
KATHRYN: Good for you, Sheila.
KEN: I think we should try to squeeze in another call. What do you think, Mike? Kathryn, would you like to take…? Let’s see.
Joey Norris, RJ Transportation from Aiken,South Carolina. Joey, welcome to the show. Here’s Kathryn.
KATHRYN: Hello, Joey.
KATHRYN: I have you right here as well, and I love your story. Like I said, I was able to go through many, many, many nominations with our small team, and yours really stood out. Tell us about when you were working at Augusta National. I love this story.
JOEY: Yeah. I worked at Augusta National over 15 years ago, and I had the privilege of… I was a student at the time, and I was working as a chauffeur, and I was picked to pick up Mr. Limbaugh from the airport. When I saw his name on the slip, I couldn’t believe it, ’cause I’ve been listening to Mr. Limbaugh since 1992. I was 14 years old. I was watching him on TV.
Obviously, I couldn’t listen to him during the day because I was in school, but every summer he was on every day. When I woke up in the summer, I listened to Rush Limbaugh. So by the time I picked him up from the airport, I was on cloud 9. We had a great conversation going to the Augusta National Golf Club, and he was just so nice and so generous. He even gave me a subscription to the Rush Limbaugh website so I could watch him on Dittocam whenever I could from 2008 to 2014. So it was an honor to meet him.
So, yeah. It just came from how he preached freedom. He preached… He just inspired me to do it. After being laid off from my construction union job, I decided, “Well, the people in the rural areas of South Carolina don’t have access to Uber and Lyft sometimes, because they don’t show up.” So I decided to start the business and been very successful since December.
KATHRYN: Oh, that’s fantastic — and, see, that’s exactly what Rush would love. You found a need, and you filled it. Uber and Lyft weren’t picking anybody up. So you decided you would have your own taxi service to fill the void, and that was exactly a smart business idea. How are things going now?
JOEY: It’s going real well. I have six employees so far (chuckles), and it’s going very well. We’re doing very well in the business, especially during the weekends. Weekends, everybody wants to go out and —
KEN: Joey, I just want to congratulate you, and I hate to be the one to have to do this but we’re up against a hard break, and I don’t want to cut time into the next hour for some of the other finalists. We’ll be right back.
KEN: As we were wrapping up the last segment of the last hour, Joey Norris was having a great conversation with Kathryn. He’s from RJ Transportation from South Carolina. And we want to let you wrap up, Joey. Thanks again. Here’s Kathryn.
KATHRYN: Hello, Joey. I’m sorry we had to go to break there, but I did just want to ask you just another question —
KATHRYN: — in terms of your business and how Rush specifically inspired you and what you would say to other Americans out there that are considering starting a business like yours or any business.
JOEY: Well, I will say that if you’re gonna start a business, just know that failure could happen. But the way Mr. Limbaugh inspired me and others for the last 30-plus years, he said, “Never quit.” So I never quit. I always wanted to start a business, but I finally took the initiative to start this business, and I’m very happy that I did.
KATHRYN: Good for you, Joey. And, you know, after yesterday’s first press conference (laughing) we really need a little bit of a mood lifter. So this was working out perfectly. The timing is just right.
KATHRYN: (laughing) I know that Rush would be very pleased with our time.
KEN: And in addition to that, Kathryn, we have a Biden montage that Rush is gonna love.
KEN: That’s coming up in the next hour.
But in the meantime, Pure Harmoni is a company in Columbia, North Carolina. Bob Waters is on the phone. Bob, welcome to the EIB Network. Here’s Kathryn Limbaugh.
KATHRYN: Hello, Bob!
BOB: Hello, Kathryn. It’s wonderful to be here.
KATHRYN: Well, it’s great to have you on.
BOB: Well, thank you. It’s a real honor to be here, and before anything else I just want to thank you and I want to thank Ken Matthews for this opportunity and also for carrying on Rush’s legacy.
KATHRYN: You’re absolutely welcome, and we know that we need to rally together and continue all of what he taught us over so many years. So it’s great to have you on. And I see that you were a former Army captain and then you did a transition into music. Tell us about how that happened.
BOB: Well, music has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. My parents had a little Magnus chord organ and that I was able to play, I think before I was even 5 years old. But, anyway, one thing led to another. I’d have to say that music became a passion to a large extent because of the wonderful music teachers I had starting in elementary school all the way through college.
I got out of college and actually managed to get a job in a symphony orchestra, and an opera house orchestra. But I had a friend in the Marine Corps that told me about the military, and I felt an obligation to serve; so I went that route. I never put music away, but I served 20 years in the military and the last eight was in an Army National Guard band in Raleigh, North Carolina.
KATHRYN: Oh, that’s fantastic. So what is your business now, specifically?
BOB: Well, my business now is I’m a solo act, and I try to be versatile enough to provide music for everything from a community event to an arts festival. I do a fair amount of weddings, memorial services. Just anything where music would add a little bit to the occasion. It’s one of the bonds I felt that I had with Rush, even though I never met him. I could tell how special music was to Rush.
And that usually happened around the Christmas season. He could have played any Christmas music, but he played Mannheim Steamroller, and I think it was evident — it was evident to me, anyway — that that touched him in a place that just very few things can do. The same being said for I’ll never forget after the first time he heard the Army chorus sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
BOB: I thought maybe he was gonna play that for the entire show.
KATHRYN: Absolutely. He loved music and in fact when he got his second cochlear implant, he was able to hear music again, at least songs that he had once known. So it was a huge deal when he got his second cochlear implant that he could be back involved with music that he loved, he grew up loving.
So your company is called Pure Harmoni, and you are a solo musician who goes to various events and so forth. And that’s wonderful, especially now during covid, that must be a bit risky. But good for you for getting out there and trying something different and having a great idea. It’s super.
KEN: Bob, congratulations again for being a finalist. What is your instrument, or do you play multiple instruments?
BOB: Well, I play multiple instruments, and right now I focus mainly on folk instruments — the Celtic harp, autoharp, banjo, and the hammer dulcimer — and those instruments aren’t sometimes instruments people hear very frequently. But after they hear them a lot of times it just catches on and people are many times fascinated by the sound that can come out. A lot of folks wouldn’t think you can play classical music on an autoharp but it’s very possible.
KEN: Wow. Very cool. I think more people are exposed to it now, don’t you think, Kathryn?
KATHRYN: Absolutely. That’s great. That’s great.
KEN: I think you need to add a cowbell —
KEN: — just for parties and stuff like that. But thank you, Bob, and good luck ’cause we’re gonna have a grand prize winner before Kathryn leaves today. Let’s take another call, Kathryn. Let’s go to Franklinton, North Carolina, and this is called, the company, Back the Blue NC, Lindsay LiCausi. Hi, Lindsay, you’re on with Kathryn Limbaugh.
LINDSAY: Hello, Kathryn.
KATHRYN: Hi, Lindsay. Your entry really stood out to us. I know that you know that Rush and I are huge supporters of the police and started a campaign last year called Support Our Police, and this is something that really resonated with us. So tell us. Tell us a little bit about how you started your business and specifically how Rush inspired you to do so.
LINDSAY: Absolutely. First and foremost, I want to thank you for having me on the show today. My husband, Anthony, and I extend or deepest condolences to you and your family.
KATHRYN: Thank you.
LINDSAY: But the way I got started was, I am former law enforcement. I served as a child abuse and sex crimes detective for the Carroll County sheriff’s office in Maryland.
LINDSAY: A few years ago, my husband and I and our daughter, we moved down to North Carolina, and since then I have been raising my family. We now have three young children. So, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get back into the law enforcement field yet. But when the defund-the-police movement started, I knew that there was something that I needed to do.
And listening to Rush as often as I could, he really helped inspire me and drive me to push for defending what is right, and I know that that is standing up for law enforcement, honoring their commitments and their sacrifices, and so that’s what gave me the idea to start Back the Blue NC. I thought the best way to start was name own backyard here in North Carolina. And it really all began as a Facebook support group but quickly grew.
LINDSAY: We now have over 50,000 members online.
LINDSAY: So we started hosting rallies so that we, the silent majority, could go out there and peacefully demonstrate our support for the police and the fact that we oppose defunding and dismantling the police. And with that came a lot of fundraising. So I knew with the funds raised through our efforts that I wanted to give back into the law enforcement community, and that’s when I decided to incorporate and apply for nonprofit status.
KATHRYN: Good for you.
LINDSAY: We were granted our 501(c)(3) status back in December, and since then we have been able to assist the families of fallen officers here in North Carolina. We focused on the families where there are children left behind. Being a mother myself, I know how important it is for a child to have that parent in their life. And I wanted to make sure that they are taken care of at least financially. Even if we can’t help lighten the loss of their mother or their father in the line of duty.
KATHRYN: Good for you, Lindsay. I know that this is one in particular that would really resonate with Rush. I know he loves pies, he loves salsa. (laughing)
KATHRYN: But he definitely loves our police and so much so that the defunding the police was just something that really bothered him greatly.
We know there are people like you who are standing up for, as you say, the silent majority. That’s fantastic and encouraging and I encourage others, if you can grow this over 50,000 members in a short period of time, it shows there is a lot of support out there for our police and we can continue to support people like you who are doing great work.
KEN: Congrats again, Lindsay, and we’re gonna continue with the Great American Business Award finalist in just a moment, and when you’re not getting pied and candles and all the other things, all the way it’s great products on the show today.
KEN: You’re listening to a very special Open Line Friday on the EIB Network with Kathryn Limbaugh, and we are recognizing the finalists in the Great American Business Award, and this is Round 1. There will be more. We now go to Christine Price. Laser Life Outdoors is the name of her company, Alapaha, Georgia, and here is Kathryn. Welcome.
CHRISTINE: Hi, Kathryn. It’s great to be here. It’s a great day to be an American in spite of our current administration — and it’s Alapaha.
KATHRYN: (chuckling) Absolutely. It’s great to talk to you, and I know this was Rush’s idea originally. He wanted to both motivate and inspire and congratulate people who are out there making the country work like yourself. So I’m glad that I can be here to talk to you today in his honor. Tell us a little bit about how you started Laser Life Outdoors and any of the inspiration that you might have received from Rush.
CHRISTINE: Well, Rush and I have a lot of the same core beliefs. The business was actually started by accident. I lost my little brother back in 2016. I bought a laser machine just to keep my mind distracted from things. I started making gifts for people, worked that around, and now I have a shop full of equipment, a few employees.
I am getting ready to expand again into the apparel market. But everything in our company and our business that we sell is 100% made in America. We only buy our materials from other small businesses in America. We do not shop from big box stores — and we try to pay it forward to our military.
KATHRYN: Good for you, and what are some of the main challenges that you’ve faced starting a small business?
CHRISTINE: The biggest challenges are really marketing. That’s another thing with the Rush Limbaugh Show. That’s my core audience.
KATHRYN: You’ve turned to the right place, Christine. (laughing)
CHRISTINE: That’s the patriotic people, the people that have the same American beliefs.
KATHRYN: Great. Well, you really stood out. I’ve read a lot about your entry, and one of the things that stands out that I really think is very much the same as many small businesses is that you don’t take a salary personally so that you can pay your employees. Tell us about that.
CHRISTINE: Well, in any small business you work 60, 70 hours a week, but it’s with you 24/7. And, you know, to keep the employees paid, I haven’t taken a salary yet. I will, hopefully, eventually. (laughing) But you just have to keep putting it back into the business. You have to keep your head down and keeping moving. You run into pitfalls.
This is a retail e-commerce business. So you never know what your sales are gonna be from one day to the next. And so, you know, you just don’t take a salary. I’ve been fortunate enough and blessed enough that I don’t have to take a salary just yet, but hopefully in the coming months and years we’re expanding into the apparel market, like I said, making only Made in the USA patriotic T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies in about two weeks.
KATHRYN: Good for you, Christine. That’s great message, and good for you for starting something unique and different and going after a small business dream. Good for you.
KEN: Christine, can you pronounce the name of the city that I mispronounced again?
KEN: Alapaha. What did I say, “Alfalfa”?
KATHRYN: Alfalfa like the vegetable. (laughing)
KEN: What a dumb Yankee I am. (laughing) Sorry about that. Well, congrats for being a finalist.
I think we have time to grab another finalist here, Mark Menendez, Menendez Art Studios. Zephyrhills, Florida?
KATHRYN: “Zephyr Hills.” (laughing) That one I know because it’s nearby.
KEN: You need to look at the call screen that says Zephyrhills —
KEN: — which I think is a plant.
MARK: Could be. Hey, good afternoon. What a pleasure to speak with you, Kathryn. I kind of feel like the act that followed The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1963, because these have been some great calls.
KATHRYN: Well, it’s great to have you. I know you’re gonna do great as well because we really had so many entries that were so diverse. You know, we had salsa, we have pies, we have Support Our Heroes. So tell us about how you started your small business specifically and how it ties back to Rush’s inspiration.
MARK: Well, I’ve been drawing for a long time — since I was a child — and I took some lessons, and my art teacher, Mrs. Austin Angle, she gave me a taste of teaching at age 16. She allowed me to be her assistant. Well, I went into sales and management in the art materials field. And I started calling on art materials stores. And I noticed something in the stores is that a lot of them had space allotted for a classroom.
But every time I visited, the classrooms were empty, and they wound up becoming filled with orders coming in and other debris. So I said, “You know, that is a good place to start a business.” I always wanted to teach. And so I said, “Let me try that out.” So I did. And I focused on color pencil. I really was targeting an audience of people that had never tried art before. And I figured with a few pencils, sheets of paper, and an eraser, with a low investment, they could get invited to come in and find out they had talent that they never knew they had.
KATHRYN: Oh, that is great, and I know you were nominated by your wife so she must be impressed with your efforts as well.
MARK: Well, yes, we’re partners in the business together. I do all the artwork, and she handles the business end. We’re quite a team. And I’ve gotta tell you, I have a lot in common with Rush. I was especially delighted when he married a girl named Kathryn, because my wife’s name is Katherine.
MARK: So I said, “He did the right thing here!”
KATHRYN: Well, that’s great to hear. And, you know, I know what Rush would say about this. He would say, “To find a small business, fill a void, and find something that can be marketed,” and you’re doing that. It’s wonderful.
KEN: We’ll be right back with our winner.