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Episode 062

Michal Bay

Owner and Developer of Merino Mill in Mooresville

by | Jul 9, 2021

Show Notes:

In this episode, I sit down with Michal Bay, the owner of the amazing Merino Mill in Mooresville. This is a conversation that I’ve really been looking forward to sharing, because Michal has such a great story. Born in a small Mesopotamian village along the Euphrates River, Michal’s entrepreneurial journey has taken him across Asia to Europe and to the United States. 

Michal tells the story of how he started selling furniture wholesale practically door-to-door back in the 1990’s, traveling in his van from city to city throughout the Southeast, and logging more that 100,000 miles per year. It was during that time that he had a chance meeting with a furniture market in a small Georgia town. That meeting would set him on a course for entrepreneurial success. Little by little, brick by brick, Michal would build a highly successful business, and come to own not one mill, but three mill buildings in separate cities here in the Southeast.

Merino Mill is an especially exciting story. Michal has reimagined the potential for the million-square-foot complex, and it’s now home to two of his restaurants – the Barcelona Burger and Beer Garden and Alino Pizzeria – and also home to dozens of high-tech businesses, a huge antique mall, artisans and craftspeople, and that’s just the beginning. Michal and his team have their sights set on growing Merino Mill as a hub for small and large companies, startups, creatives, hospitality, and retail.

Friends, I think you’re going to love getting to know Michal and listening to him tell the story of his entrepreneurial journey. Thanks for joining us – enjoy the episode!

Merino Mill
500 S. Main Street
Mooresville, NC 28115

Barcelona Burger and Beer Garden

Alino Pizzeria

Recommended books:

A Promised Land
by Barack Obama

The Art of Happiness
by 14th Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler

Transcript:

Narrator
Welcome to The Best of LKN, a podcast featuring the best small businesses and the most influential professionals around Lake Norman, North Carolina. Each week, we spotlight those businesses and individuals that are making a positive impact here in the Lake Norman area. Thanks for joining us. Enjoy the show.

Jeff
Hello, friends and welcome back to The Best of LKN podcast. In this episode, I sit down with Michal Bay, the owner of the amazing Merino Mill in Mooresville. This is a conversation that I’ve been really looking forward to sharing because Michal has such a great story. Born in a small Mesopotamian village along the Euphrates River, Michal’s entrepreneurial journey has taken him across Asia to Europe and to the United States. Michal tells a story of how he started selling furniture wholesale practically door to door back in the 1990s. Traveling in his van from city to city throughout the southeast and logging more than 100,000 miles per year. It was during that time that he had the chance meeting with the furniture market in a small Georgia town. That meeting would set him on a course for entrepreneurial success. Little by little, brick by brick, Michal would build a highly successful business and come to own not only one mill but three mill buildings in separate cities here in the southeast. Merino Mill is an especially exciting story. Michal has reimagined the potential for the million square foot complex and it’s now home to two of its restaurants, the Barcelona Burger & Beer Garden and Alino Pizzeria, and also home to dozens of high-tech businesses, huge antique mall, artisans and craftspeople, and that’s just the beginning. Michal and his team have set their sights on growing Merino Mill as a hub for small and large companies, startups, creatives, hospitality, and retail. Friends, I think you’re going to love getting to know Michal and listening to him tell the story of his entrepreneurial journey. Thanks for joining us, enjoy the episode.

Jeff
I’m super pleased to be at Merino Mill joined by Michal Bay. Michal, thank you so much for joining the podcast.

Michal
Thank you for coming. And thank you for having us. Thank you very much.

Jeff
It’s a pleasure. I’ve been keeping up with the progress, all of the things that you’re accomplishing here at Merino Mill in Mooresville. Of course, we’re big fans of Barcelona Burger Bar and Alino Pizza, but there’s so much more going on here that I can’t wait to share with the listeners and discuss some more. But if you would please, before we get into Merino Mill and the work that’s going on here, share with the listeners a little bit of your background, a little bio on you and your career and what led you to Merino Mill.

Michal
Sure. I was born in, the year we’re not sure, but on my passport is 1961 in Mesopotamia, in a small village called Bellick it’s right on your frontier River. And it was two dozen of people. The population of the village and in those days, it was not important at all to know the birthday of somebody because you’re born at home anyway. And I was one of the nine children from one mother and one father. So that’s why whenever your father goes to town, they will register you and the date, whatever they like to put it there is that. So, I was born there and then at age of 16, I had to do something, my family was very low income. And I thought that if I go somewhere and work, maybe I could help them somehow. So, I went to London. And the reason I went to London, I read in an article in a very old, a few pages of old book, London is beautiful, foggy, always raining, because where I come from doesn’t rain much, is dry. So, I thought that London will be a good place to go. So, then I was lucky enough to get some money from friends and family, go to London, and start working immediately next day, getting a job in a dishwashing in a cafe and start working, and at the meantime going to language school learning English. And I lived in London 16 years and then I went back to Istanbul. I lived in London and Istanbul about seven years. And when I was living in London, in that 16 years, I lived in quite a few other places because I was working for an American computer company. So, I lived in Japan, South Africa, Cape Town, Holland, Paris, a few places. Then I was involved in a frozen beef business, importing from Holland, Germany, Moldavia, Ucrania, quite a lot of Eastern European countries to Turkey. And I was doing quite well, living in Istanbul and London, then mad cow disease happened. So, I lost everything. So, I said, let’s go to America, follow American dream. So, I came to US about 23 years ago. That’s how I ended up in America.

Jeff
You came to America 23 years ago after a terrible financial loss during the Mad Cow crisis.

Michal
Mad Cow Disease, yeah.

Jeff
How did you begin to rebuild?

Michal
It was, sure very tough, very difficult because I already had a taste of good things. Like a good home, good car, good life. So, it was very difficult. But I start selling furniture, metal furniture, in a cargo van. And from like, New York to Atlanta, Atlanta to Miami, Miami to Houston, Dallas, back to Atlanta, and sell furniture, metal furniture, to antique dealers, interior designers, garden and flower shops, those kinds of places, door to door, and then building customers. But my promise to myself, I will not go back home until I finish the products. So that’s what I was doing. And it was very tough. Probably was the toughest job I have ever done. And I was doing about 120,000 miles a year, every year.

Jeff
So, you were traveling?

Michal
Yeah.

Jeff
Driving between these cities, between these markets, and cold calling on these businesses.

Michal
Yeah, exactly. Garden centers, antique dealers, I will stop by and say I have I have some you know, furniture, and like consoles, benches, all kinds of things for the garden and home. And I will show them one on one. And is heavy, solid. And then if they like it, they buy it. If they don’t like it, they don’t. And my deal to them was you buy it and if you don’t sell it, I will take it back and pay you your money, exactly your money, or I will exchange it for you. So, people will buy it without hesitating too much. Although they don’t trust people walking in from the street. But I had a van with the name on it, with business cards, phone, you build a trust after a while.

Jeff
Sure.

Michal
So, it was very difficult. Because you sleep in the van sometime. Because you travel all day, and you can sell zero. And your daily expenses is about $100. Because you have to eat, you have to have a drink or two. I mean, soft drinks, I’m talking about. And then also you have to use gas because nonstop you’re going from point to point, point to point. So, you’re doing average tons of miles and the gas. So, if you don’t sell anything, you feel that you don’t deserve to stay in even a cheap hotel that is $25-$35.

Jeff
Or two or three or 400 miles a day in a cargo van. That’ll eat up a lot of that $100 per diem. Yeah, yeah. Wow. So how long did you do that?

Michal
Two years. Then I supply to this, actually the one day, it was Saturday, I had a check to pay on Monday. And I didn’t have enough money in my bank account. So, I was in Atlanta, and I was so tired. But I filled up the van and went to Gainesville, Georgia and went to see this customer to see if I could sell some so that I could pay that check on Monday. I was short, a few $1,000. So, I stopped by this wonderful lady, and she was my customer in Gainesville, Georgia. And then she said, oh my god, good to see you. Because I was looking for you. I said, okay, good. She said, I couldn’t sell your products, so I want to give it to you back, can you pay my money? So, I said, yeah, okay. So, I took her furniture and wrote her a check so now I’m even more minus. So, then she was telling me she said, have you been to Jefferson, Georgia down the road? I said no. She said, there’s a big place. If you go there, maybe they will buy from you. So, I said okay, but I told her keep the check, I’m gonna call you next week. Then you can take it to the bank. She said okay. So, I took the furniture, I didn’t even have space to take it. I told her I’ll take two, three small pieces, the rest, I’ll come and pick it. And she said, fine. So, I went from Gainesville, it’s about 20 miles, Jefferson, in those days, we didn’t have GPS. So, you’re just stopping at gas station asking people, excuse me, how do I get here or A to Zed, the map, and I’m not very good with those things. So, I got lost, but I insist going to that place. And it was called Real Deals. So, I go there Saturday afternoon, in August, boiling hot, and the place is packed. So, I asked if I could see the manager. And this lady, her name was Carrie. She said, my boss doesn’t see people from the street out of the van. So, I said, but I have beautiful things you really don’t want to miss. Please ask your boss again. So, she said, okay. Then she goes, and she comes back with this beautiful lady, and she said, take your things, let me see it. So, I took it out. It takes like half an hour to take all the furniture because it’s metal, and it gets into each other. So, it’s tough it’s not like boxes, it’s not like Lego Land. So, long story short, I took everything out and she bought about $8,280. So now I was not minus. And then she said, do you mind if I pay you cash? I thought she was joking. She said, no, I can pay you cash. So, cash was better, because I could put in the bank 9am on Monday morning, so it’s there. So, I said, okay. And then she said, let me introduce you, my neighbor, she will buy a lot of things from you as well. So, we go to neighbor, and she looks at it. And then she said, what about if I buy all the rest? So, there I had another like $8,000 sale. And she said, I’ll give you a check. So, I said okay, so this was actually incredibly good day for me because selling like $16-$17,000 in one shot is almost the exit, my normal sales were $1,000 or $2,000. So, I was completely out of product, but I got the money. So, I went from there to home. And then they would keep selling my things, calling me saying, hey, we sold your things would you like to bring some more, so I will get more and more. And then they offer me to open a shop there because there was a lot of space. This is a small town in Jefferson, Jefferson is a small town, middle of nowhere. So, then they leave me a space. And so, we open the shop. And we did quite well with difficulty here because you don’t have much money.

Jeff
Yeah.

Michal
So, with difficulty with credit card, with interest rate of 31.99% from I don’t know whether I can mention the name of the credit card, Citibank, yeah.

Jeff
When was this in the 80s?

Michal
No, this was 23 years ago, 23 to 24 years ago.

Jeff
Okay. Yeah.

Michal
So, 1997-98.

Jeff
Yeah, that was a high rate even for the late 90’s.

Michal
Because I called them to reduce the rate, they said, no, you’re welcome to pay it off. And I said, do you have higher than this rate, at least let me have the worst rate in the world. She said, no, this is the worst rate we have. And exactly it was 31.99%.

Jeff
You’ll never forget that.

Michal
No, Citibank. Now I use Citibank credit cards. But before he clicks into interest, I pay all of it.

Jeff
How far is Jefferson from Atlanta?

Michal
It’s about a one-hour drive. Exactly, one-hour drive north of Atlanta, it’s on 85.

Jeff
An hour north, off of 85?

Michal
Right close to 85, like five miles away from 85. And it’s one hour north of Atlanta, so it’s like between Atlanta and South Carolina.

Jeff
Not far from Atlanta. But there was a market there for that furniture. That seems unlikely.

Michal
Yeah, there was this place and it’s called Real Deals. And it’s huge, a big mill just like this. And you have everything rugs, furniture, home decor, garden, everything. So, people go there to get good deals. And also, the expenses of the shops are very low because the rent is so low, middle of nowhere.

Jeff
Well, that makes sense.

Michal
So, people look for deals, and that’s where we started it.

Jeff
So, you were in the furniture business, and when did you get into developing real estate? How did that happen?

Michal
Oh, yeah, it’s a good question, thank you. So, when I was leasing that space in Jefferson, Georgia, and everybody there, we were four tenants, everybody was getting bigger. And I was the smallest one, and I was getting bigger as well. And there was another mill cross the street. And it was in a terrible condition. And I knew I could fix it. And the owner one day told me if I want to buy it, so with a small bank loan, small business loan, we got it, fixed it, of course, it took a long time. So, I moved there. Instead of paying rent, I was paying mortgage, and we started to put more furniture, more home decor, more area rugs, and that’s where first building and first construction. First renovation, I got involved in Jefferson, Georgia.

Jeff
And you were building equity. Do you still own that property?

Michal
Yes, we do still. Yeah. Well, actually, after this conversation, I’m going there.

Jeff
Heading there after this conversation?

Michal
Yeah. Yeah.

Jeff
Well, you let me know when you need to go. I don’t want to hold you up.

Michal
No, I don’t have a set time. Yeah, we have plenty of time.

Jeff
I’m enjoying the La Colombe coffee.

Michal
Yeah, La Colombe is out of New York and it’s French and American guy and a Turkish investor. And it’s called La Colombe. I personally think there’s two best coffees in the world.

Jeff
It’s amazing.

Michal
One of them is La Colombe, one of them is Blue Bottle Coffee, which I don’t know the owners so I’m not…

Jeff
You’re not endorsing it?

Michal
No, but they’re good coffee, yeah.

Jeff
I had Main Street Coffee & Coworking in Huntersville on the podcast about a year ago, and I think that’s the brand that they brew in their coffee shop, is La Colombe.

Michal
Oh, really? Wow.

Jeff
I believe so, I’ll have to go back. I’ll double check. But I’ll have links for that in the show notes. How did you come to own Merino Mill? And I know that it’s changed a lot.

Michal
This building?

Jeff
Yeah, this building.

Michal
Okay, after Jefferson, Georgia, there was one mill owned by Spring family, Spring Industry in Fort Mill, Lancaster. And the mill was manufacturing sheets, pillowcases, things like that owned by Spring, that came on the market. And so, we bought that with a friend. And then we’d renovate that. And we start sell furniture. And same thing, home decor, and area rugs, hardwood floor, laminate floor, this and that. And that was doing well. Jefferson, Georgia was doing well. At the meantime, we were using as a warehouse as well as a showroom. And then after that, I was in Europe, a real estate company offered us this mill in Mooresville, North Carolina, but I never even heard the name of Mooresville in my life before. I knew North Carolina. But I didn’t know Mooresville, so they said it’s an incredible building but it’s in terrible, terrible shape. It has to be a cash deal and it has to be quick within two to three weeks. This was 2008-2009 when people were jumping from windows.

Jeff
Yeah.

Michal
And the guy was keep insisting and saying, you know, make an offer. So, this is a public record. I mean, it’s well known. So, we made a small offer and I thought they will never accept it, but they did. So, we ended up having this mill without seeing it. So, then we came to see it. It was leaking 248 spots; I would have preferred to have no roof than having that type of roof. Because taking the old roof out is a very costly project, it’s very expensive. So that’s how we ended up here.

Jeff
Was it this entire complex?

Michal
Yeah, all this and the back buildings. All together like eight buildings. And it was $500,000 cash, but we didn’t have cash because we had to raise the money. But within three weeks.

Jeff
That’s amazing. But you had the leverage, ’08-’09, it was a buyer’s market for sure.

Michal
Yeah, but it was really, the bones of the building was really good. It’s just, you need to work a lot and do a lot of major things. But the bones were excellent just like this. Like if you see this wall, we just pressure washed it, cleaned it, and we’ll put a seal on it. That’s all we didn’t do anything. As it is, it was beautiful. And we did not change anything construction. Like a major thing, the windows were bricked up. All the windows were bricked up, because the old owner said their production is going down. People are watching outside, so he bricked it up. So, we broke it down and we put the window in it, that’s all.

Jeff
We’re in the office, one of the offices here at a conference table, and the walls are, the original exposed brick, and like Michal said, they’ve been pressure washed and sealed, and it’s just gorgeous.

Michal
And there was like, seven types of paint on the wall I could count.

Jeff
Really?

Michal
Yeah.

Jeff
I can see. Yeah, there’s still a lot of it left over, but it looks, it’s so pretty though. It looks great.

Michal
Yeah. And the beams are 130 years old.

Jeff
Wow.

Michal
130 years old, because this building was built in 1893.

Jeff
Wow.

Michal
And the funny story about it is, it was built to manufacture Turkish towels.

Jeff
Really?

Michal
Yeah. If you look at the logo of Mooresville, it’s a Turkish man on a horse, he has a towel in his arm, even today. So, this mill was set to manufacture towels, and they were supplying about 30% of the American market for the towels.

Jeff
Yeah, huge textile area.

Michal
This is what I heard from historians. This was the only mill in America that was cut and coming in, and a finished product was going out, that’s how it was.

Jeff
So, 100% from start to finish it was all done here.

Michal
Yeah, exactly.

Jeff
What was the inspiration behind revitalizing the mill and turning it into this amazing complex of wonderful small businesses, restaurants, hospitality? There’s a lot going on here that we’ll talk some more about but what inspired you to do that?

Michal
But the building itself, it was amazing. Big, huge, big spaces, beautiful hardwood flooring, beautiful beams, high ceiling, and good parking at the front and the back. So, I didn’t have this, what we built as a vision then, my goal was step by step to do the furniture, because with furniture, you need a lot of space. And that was the business I knew in US. So, we start to build the first building, clean it up, because there was not even lights, even the plumbing was gone.

Jeff
Yeah.

Michal
So, we start with the first building. And we filled it up with furniture, and we were selling furniture before even we open. We became one of the greatest furniture stores in US. And customers were happy, everything was good. We were happy because we were not making a lot of money on item. But we were making money overall. And because of, we were selling it very reasonable, people were coming from all over the place. So, then we said, what else can we do? We put the antique market, and that was a big success. Within 60 days, we were almost full. And that was bringing in a lot of traffic because we had old furniture, new furniture, and antique, so it was really good. Then there was not a really good, authentic food. So, we said if we put here a burger or pizza, something, it will be really well, because all customers were asking us, where can we eat? Where can we eat? And we were recommending the restaurants around here. But it was nothing fast, casual, and good quality. At least in those days.

Jeff
Yeah.

Michal
So, I offered 11 different friends to open a pizzeria here. But they didn’t accept it. They said no, it will not work. So, I went to Italy, learned how to make pizza, bring all the equipment from there, open the pizzeria, and pizzeria was a big success before even we open it, because we were practicing, and it was a big success. Even before we opened it people were coming in and saying, can I take two? Can I take three? Can I take one? So, it was successful day one.

Jeff
And the pizzeria, of course is Alino Pizzeria?

Michal
Yeah, Alino Pizzeria in Mooresville. And it was a big success. And we are getting about average 28,000 people to pizzeria a month. So then, people look for office space to rent after the pizzeria. Before the pizzeria, we did not have even one tenant. But after the pizzeria, we rent all the spaces we had ready between here to Barcelona, and it’s about 120,000 square feet. Within a few months it was all gone.

Jeff
Really?

Michal
Yeah.

Jeff
And was that from the traffic?

Michal
Yeah, I think just by the traffic and also people coming and having pizza said, wow, this is not a bad place to come. And it’s easy to get in and out, lots of parking.

Jeff
It’s a good location. It’s actually close to the highway, it’s not a long drive from Charlotte, but it’s obviously close to everything in Lake Norman.

Michal
Yeah. So, we filled it up within like, no time. So now we have multi-billion-dollar companies as a tenants like Greenworks, Mohawk, Hitachi, Ove, Samsung is coming, Kohler, you know, the bathroom company is coming, pets.com is here, coffee shop, Defined Coffee shop is coming.

Jeff
Defined Coffee?

Michal
Yeah. A new restaurant is opening, sushi and then a taqueria. And then a Mediterranean grill is opening. A brewery is coming. Event Center is here. So, it’s like, the whole project will finish within two years.

Jeff
That’s amazing. Now I’m a huge fan of Barcelona Burger Bar & Beer Garden. And that’s had so much positive press lately.

Michal
Yeah, we were chosen as best burger in North Carolina. And it was, we knew we were, you know, reasonably good, but it’s just nice to be recognized. And it was very, very nice news.

Jeff
Great story. That’s how my first experience with Barcelona Burger & Beer Garden was when we wrote an article for the blog and I had the opportunity to stop by and have a burger and it is amazing, well deserved. Charlotte Observer picked up the story, MSN, really cool.

Michal
Thank you.

Jeff
So, you also have, in addition to office spaces here, and a lot of commercial tenants, there’s a coworking space going in, share a little bit about that.

Michal
Coworking space came up like this, because a lot of startup companies, they’re financially tight, because we were one of them, anyway, I know the feeling of not being able to live comfortably, very, very much. And so, we thought if we put in beautiful offices like this one, with very reasonable rent, and also help them, help the startups and maybe get them some kind of mentors, or share the experience we had with them, and help them first, some kind of free rent, so that they could have a good chance to go forward. So that’s why we started it, and now the construction is going with full speed. And I believe we will be ready within 60 to 90 days. And we already have big interests here and in Europe as well. We got about 37 European young companies, they’d like to come as soon as it’s ready, and we will do our best to help them. And I believe maybe we could get a few companies from Mooresville to be making headlines, I hope.

Jeff
Yeah, absolutely. Obviously, the pandemic has kind of changed the landscape, the office, the remote working concept. So having a flexible workspace for not only big companies for employees that work remotely, but also for small businesses and startups is great because it’s hard to afford when you’re a startup or a small business.

Michal
Yeah, but we’re gonna make it very affordable. As long as these days you have a good idea. Believe me, it’s much easier than 20, 30, 40 years ago. And we’re going to make it hopefully even easier. It’s like we will have every Saturday lunch to discuss anybody wants to discuss their business problem and then get some experienced person to help them. And then it will be free internet, free furniture, free computer, all that or people can use their own computer. So, it will be a really, really good place to be because there will be a lot of expert people as well.

Jeff
How much space is in the coworking space that you’re constructing?

Michal
It’s about 50, close to 50,000 square feet and it will be 60 to 70 different offices, it will be like 500 square feet, 1000 square feet, 1500 square feet spaces, and we will be like comfortably, it will not be like square boxes that you feel you’re in a cage. It will be very, very, high ceiling, comfortable. You have your kitchen there and soft drinks and coffee all day, all night. And we have two good restaurants here. They will, by that time, hopefully will be a few more and then we have a good coffee shop coming, Defined Coffee. So, it will be fun place to work.

Jeff
Yeah, absolutely.

Michal
And open also 24 hours.

Jeff
Oh really? Members will have access 24 hours; they can work at night or early in the morning if they want?

Michal
Exactly.

Jeff
I’ve had Defined Coffee on the podcast as well. The owners of Defined Coffee join me a few months ago and announced at that time that they were opening another location here at Merino Mill so really excited for them to get that completed. And it’s a great company, great founders, and great team that they have there.

Michal
Yeah, good people, and it’s almost ready. We will walk later on, I’ll show you. It’s almost ready.

Jeff
I look forward to that.

Michal
Yeah, we’re putting the equipment together.

Jeff
I’d love to see it. And I also heard a rumor that there might be a podcast studio going in the coworking space.

Michal
Yeah, yeah. We have a couple of people are, have interest in, but it’s nothing done for sure. And we have a Susie Films here, producing films.

Jeff
Yeah.

Michal
So, we got Cavotec, which is a Swiss company that deals with technology for airports and the ports. And then we have an Italian company called LE Industry, we got so many companies really, so many tenants.

Jeff
Well, the complex is enormous. And I was amazed at how many tenants you already have here. It’s just super cool. Now, I’m biased, but I think that the podcast studio would be a really great investment and something worth considering so we can talk some more about that.

Michal
Yeah, I’m open. Maybe you could help us.

Jeff
I would love to; I’d be happy to.

Michal
Ok, that’s a good idea.

Jeff
We’ve talked about some future plans for Merino Mill and development. A question I like to ask entrepreneurs that come on to the podcast would be, any book recommendations, any that you would recommend for small business owners or anyone in like the personal development space or business?

Michal
A Promised Land by Obama and The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama.

Jeff
A good one. Yeah, absolutely. I love those choices.

Michal
But mainly, I’d recommend, really get some good advice from positive people. And follow your dream, and never give up. The typical things. But unfortunately, or fortunately, it works. And also think about it. Like, if you think about it, as so many people that have made it, I don’t want to give names because it’s just not necessary. But if you look at, even Jeff Bezos, or Obama, or Clinton, or Bush. Bush family was wealthy already, but if you look at these very successful people, they don’t always come from a wealthy family. Either they work so hard and intelligent and smart, and they don’t give up. So, it’s possible you can do it.

Jeff
I love the Jeff Bezos story.

Michal
Yeah. See, he didn’t even have father almost.

Jeff
I’m not going to go into details. But I would recommend to listeners that you look up some of the keynote speeches that Jeff has given or some of his interviews. It’s a remarkable story. And I think that the more you learn about him, the more you’ll understand.

Michal
Exactly, even just look at the owner of Alibaba, he applied to work for Kentucky Fried Chicken, out of 23 people, he was the only one they refused. They got the job. And look at him now. So, there are so much material out there that you can learn and you can study and you can use it in your own business. And today’s information is available with just a click.

Jeff
There’s so much opportunity. So important.

Michal
Is it easy? No.

Jeff
Right, it’s not easy.

Michal
Do you think is gonna happen to you just itself? No. You just have to go and find it and get it.

Jeff
Yeah, it’s accessible but it’s still hard work. Overnight successes usually take about 10 years.

Michal
Yeah, but it’s not harder than working for someone.

Jeff
Yeah. Right.

Michal
It’s not harder than working for someone. So, you’re working for someone, actually, you’re doing harder than working for yourself already.

Jeff
How important is it to find a good mentor?

Michal
Oh, my God it’s very important, especially at young age. If you have a good mentor, it is just like, keep holding the light in front of you at dark night. So, you’re not going to fall. It’s just like that, very important.

Jeff
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I appreciate that. I’m glad you said that.

Michal
That’s why we’re gonna have quite a few mentors. If you need them. They will help to start-up people.

Jeff
And surround yourself, you mentioned, with positive people, and with smart people and there’s that saying you are the company that you keep, you’re the average of the five people that you spend your time with.

Michal
If you want to tell somebody’s character, look at two of their friends and you can tell that person’s character. Your friends are your character, you can choose your friends, but you don’t choose your family. So, the people you choose to be friends with is your character.

Jeff
That’s a wonderful byproduct of this podcast is the getting to meet some remarkable people like yourself, who I have a lot of respect for, and I admire.

Michal
I don’t agree with you. I’m not. I’m just the normal, not even normal, below average. But thank you.

Jeff
You’re very humble, but I admire that too. That’s a great quality. Finally, what advice would you have for someone who is seeking to get into a small business or start a venture on their own, we mentioned the importance of a mentor to connect with and create a circle of positive friends and hardworking people.

Michal
Start today. Start now. Don’t say, oh, I’ll start next week, next month, tomorrow. There’s no tomorrow, start now. Start now, immediately.

Jeff
The time will never be perfect to start.

Michal
No. There’s no there’s no such thing, perfect timing. So start now.

Jeff
Yeah, I definitely agree with that mindset. Don’t wait for everything to line up perfectly. Start and fix the problems as they come up.

Michal
As you go. Yeah, exactly.

Jeff
Michal, before we close, share with the listeners how they can learn more about Merino Mill and how can they follow up with any information on any opportunities for office space.

Michal
Go to our website. And then when they’re here, they can always see me or they can check it and we have a full-time real estate, Bob Race. They can check it with Mr. Bob or me directly. Or they can just come to pizzeria, Main Street Antiques, Alino Pizzeria Barcelona Burger Bar & Beer Garden. So, this is easy. Yeah, they just ask. And we’re always around here. And we work here. We live here. So, we’re here. Or just stop by for a coffee. We’ll give them all the information and show them.

Jeff
There’s plenty to see and do here. So, there are plenty of reasons to stop by anyway. But yeah, I’ll have all the links in the show notes for this episode and Michal Bay at Merino Mill. Michal, I just want to say thank you again, so much.

Michal
Thank you for coming. No, thank you for your time. Thank you for coming.

Jeff
Many thanks again to Michal Bay for joining the podcast and sharing the story of his entrepreneurial journey. You can learn more about Merino Mill and the businesses located there at www.merinomill.com. There’s so much more that Merino Mill has to offer that we didn’t talk about in this episode, so be sure to check out the website. I’ll have that link along with the links to the other businesses we discussed in the show notes for this episode. As always, the complete show notes for all of our episodes can be found at the home for Lake Norman’s number one small business podcast www.thebestoflkn.com. Be sure to put Merino Mill on your list of places to visit soon. It is amazing. If you’re a freelancer or own a business, I recommend you consider making Merino Mill your new headquarters. It’s definitely something we’re taking a close look at here at The Best of LKN. We can’t wait to see the development of the Millworks Coworking and Entrepreneurial Center. So, I think that just about wraps up this episode. Friends, thanks so much for joining us. Be sure to shop a few local Lake Norman small businesses this week. We’ll be back next week with another episode. So until then, cheers Lake Norman. Bye for now.

Narrator
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Best of LKN. For more information about this podcast, show notes, video episodes, and links to our featured businesses, please visit www.thebestoflkn.com. We publish episodes weekly, so be sure to subscribe and stay up to date. Until next time, cheers Lake Norman.