I had the chance to sit down with my long-time friend Devin Kulka back in July and learn about his journey to becoming CEO of Kulka Group. We discuss how to stay positive during uncertain times, meditating and what kind of legacy we want to leave behind.
Devin and his team launched Kulka Interactive at the end of July. Kulka Interactive is a business media platform that helps likeminded business people discover new information, feel a part of a community and connect with notable leaders.
Watch the full video below to learn about Kulka Interactive and a bit more about Devin Kulka.
Dave: Hey Dave from Pine Aire Truck Service here. And I’m with Devin Kulka of the Kulka Group, CEO. You know the other day I was not feeling great like a lot of people are not feeling great right now. And I started thinking who can I talk to that might inspire me or might have some great advice on getting me back on track and making me feel better.
Devin: There you go, I’m the guy.
Dave: And there ya are, baby. There ya are.
Devin: Thank you.
Dave: Devin is about to launch Kulka
Dave: A media platform that we’re all gonna contribute to to inspire people to be the best people they can and to surround themselves with the best people that they can surround themselves with. And the reason that I wanted to speak to you today, was really besides sharing some of the things that keep you uplifted. Also wanted to talk about why would a construction person launch a media platform like that.
Devin: Yeah It’s a question we’re getting a lot. Really its, first off we wanna connect people and we wanna bring in likeminded people. We want to be able to get people in the same room. We wanna help people. Second, is, we wanna be a construction real-estate development company that is powered by technology. It’s giving us a platform to allow our contributors to get their voices out there. You know, I like to say it’s a media platform by business people, for business people.
Dave: Very cool, so do you think that anybody that might see some of my stuff, might go, I wanna deal with that guy.
Devin: I think so, I think either that or they’re gonna run away and say I don’t want nothing to do with that guy.
Dave: I think they’re probably gonna run away and go “what is this truck repair shop guy doing, doing this type of stuff.” But you could read anything- any type of advertisement or any type of literature that people give out and everybody’s gonna tell that their company is the greatest one. So what really is the difference. It really comes down to, do you really trust the principles of that company.
Devin: And that’s how business is done. It’s done on trust. You have to feel comfortable with people. You know this platform is gonna allow people to create content, let you know who they are. People aren’t just writing about their business. They’re writing about culture, technology, real-estate, politics. On the other side of the screen, everyone’s staring at their cellphone all day. Everyone’s staring at their computer all day. This is a media outlet for business people to get heard. And we wanna deliver that in a different way because we believe that personal branding and content is the most powerful thing out there right now.
Dave: So, basically, you work for a company that was founded by your dad.
Dave: Who I go back, before you, I have history with your dad. Your dad probably won’t watch this but if he did and if he ever wanted to tell the story –
Devin: I’ll show it to him, I’ll show it to him.
Dave: So your dad starts this company and you graduate college and immediately you become CEO of the company, right?
Devin: Not so much immediately, but we can get into that-
Dave: Give us your story, ok. Give us the- you know, because I know you really worked your way up through the system. I’m just really breaking your arms a little bit.
Devin: I appreciate it, I appreciate it. So growing up, I didn’t want to get into the company. My father was a very demanding man, had a lot of stress, always yelling on the phone. I was like thats not the life I wanna live. He actually had a project manager who came to me when I was just about finishing college and said “You should join the company, you don’t have to manage like him, you can put your own spin on it.” And I said, you know I do have a great opportunity so I asked my father “can i come work for you,” and he said “no you can’t.” So he shot me down, but he said I’m gonna get you a job working for one of the subs that we’re working with right now. So I started doing some carpentry work and after some time, one of my fathers supers went to him and said I’d love to take Devin under my wing. I’d love to train him and he should come work for us. He’s gonna learn more there. From there I became a super. And then one day out of nowhere, my father had a medical condition. He had a bacterial spine infection. He was rushed to the emergency room and right after that, he actually had a stroke. And I went from being a superintendent running a large job at the time to being the chief and running a large company. It was a learning experience. It was one of those sink or swim moments. There’s no failing moments. And you know, it really- you grow up fast in those moments. I was young. I was 26 at the time. Listen- I had to prove myself and I think that I did. People trust me now and I like to tell them, its not just me- its the company. We have project managers, assistant project managers, supers, admins, accounting, etc.. It takes a team to make a good company and thats what we have.
Dave: One of the things I’ve noticed from knowing you and from reading about Kulka Construction and from being a Hopauge person for so many years, is that Kulka Construction has always been an innovative construction company.
Dave: You know so your dad originally had different idea’s about how he wanted to run the company. And now that you’re in charge of the company, besides the media things that you’re trying to do and stuff like that. You’ve also branched the construction company out into more innovative construction projects and stuff.
Devin: We like to stay on the forefront of things so we’re doing that in construction means and methods, in materials, from pre-fab systems, modular construction, we’re trying to stay ahead of the curve and be innovative in that front. And then we’re doing it on technology. We have software that we use for every little thing. We implement them together. It streamlines the process and we’re trying to be a very efficient construction company.
Dave: You talk about surrounding yourself with great people which to me, is the success story at Pine Aire Truck. Is, really work hard to surround yourself with good people and then to find a way to keep them involved and to keep the company not growing through the owner but through the different people that are involved because they care and they want the company to do better. So what do you look for in your people? Now I know Robmany pretty well, he’s an amazing guy. Like what do you look for? How do you?
Devin: I look for honest people, trustworthy people. I look for people that hold themselves accountable. I tell anybody I hire, you know I expect you to hold yourself accountable and you to want to get it done. If I have to ask you “Is this done,” I already know it’s not and you know it shouldn’t get to that point. Hard working, honest people. People that are collaborative. People that communicate. Communication is one of the most important things to a company. If you can’t communicate clearly, it’s a problem. Honest people, man, honest hardworking people that you enjoy to be around. My people are around me and the rest of the company more than they’re with their family and if they don’t enjoy work, and if they don’t enjoy the people they’re working with, its a recipe for disaster.
Dave: You want to hire people that work hard, and there are people that work hard but there are also people that work hard and are enjoyable to be around. Ok. They’re upbeat and part of why we do this with our videos and stuff like that is to try and help other people lift up their spirits because when your spirits are lifted you’re more productive. I went through a period of time and over the lsat couple of months with AJ, who is our Marketing Director and helps us with all these great things that we do and we sat at my desk a couple of weeks ago and I said “AJ, I don’t know what to tell you man, I’m not in to it. I’m not feeling it, I don’t feel good, Im sick of the world, I’m sick of all the bullshit on social media, I’m sick of pandemics, I’m sick of everything thats going on right now.” And it’s so funny and we talked a little bit about this before the cameras were on but one of the people that I look to that seems to be able to keep that high tone without ever seeming like they’re miserable is you.
Devin: Thank you.
Dave: So I called you up and I said hey lets sit down and talk about some of these things and that’s what actually turned into this. Do you ever get down? I mean do you ever get miserable.
Devin: Absolutely. Anybody who says they don’t have downs is lying, you know. I have bad days but I really put life into perspective. You know, I’m blessed. People around me are blessed and things are good. One of the reasons I get involved in leukemia lymphoma society and some of the other non-profits is- there are people that are going through real serious problems and you know they didn’t choose that. I think that being in those environments brings me back to earth a little bit and I realize I’m blessed. But absolutely i have bad days, I just shake it off, put my smile on and get through. And the next day is going to be a better one. Thats it.
Dave: What kinda actions do you take, when you go, alright I gotta snap out of this?
Devin: When I go home at night, I have an amazing girlfriend, Danielle. And she’s- you know I could talk to her about anything. If I have to open up. We’re on the same wavelength. She’s amazing and she could cheer me up any day of the week but aside from that, I love music. I pop my headphones in and disappear from the world. Put on a song that really gets me going and you know, three minutes later, five minutes later, I’m ready to go. I do meditate. I go floating in salt deprivation tanks and I lay there floating in saltwater in a confined area for ninety minutes and there is nothing more relaxing than that. There is nothing more clearheaded than that.
Dave: It’s a form of meditation. We talk about meditation. I meditate. You know. And it’s true, if you could just really calm yourself down. I struggle with it. One of your friends and somebody I know pretty well- my daughter Jhene. I’d say a couple of years ago whatever I was facing a week that I was not really thrilled about facing and I made the comment in front of her that I can’t wait until this week is over. And she freaked out on me. She said “Dad, you can’t wish for your weeks to just be gone, you have to find something in each day that is good.” The only thing that I’ve found that busts me out of it is to find a way to constructively help other people. That’s my go to. You know. That’s my kind of sweet spot when I gotta break out of something. I just think of something that distracts me from me. And then like you said, look at somebody else that maybe doesn’t have things so well right now. And what can I do to help those people. What is not really a secret is that when you’re in better state of mind, you’re more productive, you’re clearer minded. You’re getting more things done. It becomes a trap. So the more miserable you feel, the less you accomplish, the less you accomplish the more miserable you feel. One of the things that I’ve found when I’m also trying to get out of that rut a little bit is to read. Some of the people that I’ve done classwork with, seminars, Tony Robbins people and stuff like that- they pretty much say that you should be reading every single day, you know. And, I think that a lot of people now have other sources other than books, you know between, the audio, you know YouTube, and all these different things and now Kulka Interactive and I think it’s an amazing way for people who are stuck to get unstuck.
Devin: I’m reading a book right now “Think Rich, Grow Rich,” and it really is all about your mindset and envisioning where you wanna go, envisioning what you wanna do, cause you can do it.
Dave: I’ve read “Think and Grow Rich” and I’m actually gonna read it again and start doing what they tell you to do. I’m going to actually start writing out the things that you’re supposed to do and its supposed to be pretty amazing.
Devin: It’s one thing to just think it and let that thought go away, it’s another thing to think it and actually transcribe it onto paper and then look at that and envision it and believe it. It’s a powerful thing, it’s a great book as you know. Get your mind right, its the most powerful thing in the world- your mind. If you tell yourself you can do something and you believe it, it’s reachable.
Dave: You’re doing all these things and you’re putting yourself out there. How do you want to be remembered?
Devin: I want to be remembered as an honest, hardworking businessman, a great husband. I want to leave a legacy here on this earth where people remember who Devin Kulka was.
Dave: The people that I see that you’ve invited to contributed to this are an amazing group of people. Amazing group of people.
Devin: They’re great. They’re really great.
Dave: You know and from all different industries and walks of life. And I think that if you can’t find something uplifting in that group that you have there, like I don’t know, I don’t know what you’re gonna do.
Devin: I’m lucky to have good people around me. I’m lucky to have people that wanna be involved in Kulka Interactive. It takes time out of their day to sit there and think of how they’re gonna contribute, what they’re gonna contribute. I believe because they are of that type of person that see’s it and understands the value to contributing- they are those great people that I want to surround myself with. They are those people that want to help others. Anybody whose watching whose interested KulkaInteractive.com. You could also get there through our website thekulkagroup.com. Check us out on all social media platforms. If there’s anybody interested in contributing, reach out. Message Dave, he can get you with me. You could reach out to me. It’s a flower that we just planted and what this thing blooms into, you know we’re not even too sure yet, but its gonna be beautiful.
Dave: I’m excited. Let’s get it started man.