The Protectors® Podcast

#452 | Donnie Ng | Veterans Support | Starting A Small Business

September 16, 2023 Dr. Jason Piccolo Episode 452
#452 | Donnie Ng | Veterans Support | Starting A Small Business
The Protectors® Podcast
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The Protectors® Podcast
#452 | Donnie Ng | Veterans Support | Starting A Small Business
Sep 16, 2023 Episode 452
Dr. Jason Piccolo

Do you want to uncover the inspiring and crucial work carried out by non-profit organizations for our brave veterans and first responders? If so, you're in for a treat. Our guest for today's episode is Donnie, a dedicated representative from Upstate Warrior Solutions. They provide a haven of resources and support, partnering with various entities such as the VA, to offer comprehensive assistance ranging from legal help to mental health support. The heartening mission of this organization not only caters to the needs of veterans but also takes significant steps in suicide prevention, offering a tranquil space for those in need of solace.


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Make sure to check out Jason on IG @drjasonpiccolo


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Do you want to uncover the inspiring and crucial work carried out by non-profit organizations for our brave veterans and first responders? If so, you're in for a treat. Our guest for today's episode is Donnie, a dedicated representative from Upstate Warrior Solutions. They provide a haven of resources and support, partnering with various entities such as the VA, to offer comprehensive assistance ranging from legal help to mental health support. The heartening mission of this organization not only caters to the needs of veterans but also takes significant steps in suicide prevention, offering a tranquil space for those in need of solace.


Support the Show.

Make sure to check out Jason on IG @drjasonpiccolo


Speaker 1:

We are the Protectors podcast. We're back. This is the third on the road interview this week in South Carolina. I'm here with Donnie, and Donnie is with the Upstate Warrior Solutions, but he also has his own business and he's a veteran, so lots of things to talk about today. Welcome to the show, donnie. What's going on?

Speaker 2:

Thank you, I'd be here. So just to start off, yes, upstate Warrior Solutions. We're a non-profit organization to help veterans and first responders and their families, starting off as helping veterans, but we've, as we move forward, we found the need for first responders also, one of the big things about first responders whenever they leave the job or retire from the job, there are really no resources for first responders, unlike the military. At least there's something. There's a lot of support groups and organizations out there, but you can tell my first responders there's really nothing. So now we're moving forward into the first responders slash, veteran direction and the family members.

Speaker 1:

You know, this is your first podcast.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

Coming in the doors today. You know, when I come in the nonprofits and especially with the veteran community and stuff like that, I'm not used to what to expect and I wasn't really. I didn't know what to expect from you and what to expect from the facility and I'm trying to explain what I see here today. And it's something I've never seen before, ever in the veteran community. It truly is a one-stop shop for a veteran and there's still.

Speaker 1:

there's a sense of community here. You know that word gets thrown out a lot community but here's, when you walk in the door, a crisp, clean atmosphere, the artwork, the aesthetic, everything is very welcoming, everybody meets, welcoming. But when you're talking about like a one-stop shop for veterans, you're really talking about you go upstairs, there's a place to talk to someone about mortgages. There's lawyers, there's realtors here there's a chiropractor, there's employment there's. You have so many different partners. I mean, trying to explain this to someone, is it's really? It's pretty, pretty interesting.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and it's not an it's not an easy thing to do, because you got to get, you got to get buying from the community. You have to get, you know, have different partners, different sponsorships, especially in the nonprofit organization. Well, this place cannot exist without the help of different organizations and businesses and partnerships that we have.

Speaker 1:

Now, you were a veteran, you were a desert storm and we were talking and when it really cool thing is like you're walking down the downstairs area and it's two floors, three floors. It says two, fours, two fours. There's a humongous map and on that map is like the world and you can put poke pins on where you've been and where you've served and to look at that map and see how many people have come in through this building and served, including yourself. It's a neat experience.

Speaker 2:

Oh yes, when you visually get to see the map and see the pins on there and each pin has different colors, represent different branches it's pretty cool to see it.

Speaker 1:

I keep bringing this up about this building. It's because it kind of gives me like a weird chill factor. It's because when I got out of the service the first time, it was 96. And the thing about getting out of the service back then was it was like hey, you know what, here's two weeks out of process and good luck, no resources, no internet. Back then this was like I remember getting a certificate for I could do Windows 95 and I could do email and I was like, oh, this is the best thing ever, but there was no resources like this. Even when I got back from the war in 06, there was no resources like this. This is truly one of the first things I've ever seen like this, and coming from the DC area, if someone knows something like this in the DC area, feel free to tell me. But I've never seen anything like this. And here I am in Greenville, south Carolina.

Speaker 2:

It just takes a lot of partnership, even through the VA. We partner with the VA, we have a lot of inside connection with the VA and that makes a big difference too and to guide, because there's a lot of information that people don't receive and by being connected to the VA we can help push those information to the individuals, especially when they need assistance. We know who to contact, we know who to guide them through and we know each step that they need to take to get whatever stuff they need through the VA.

Speaker 1:

One thing I expected when I came in here was just to be able. I really assumed wrongfully that it would be like oh you know what, if someone's going to be talking about a disability, they're going to come in here and you're going to help with the claim. But it's well beyond that.

Speaker 2:

It is well beyond that. Of course, we are now trying to help with veteran suicide. So we do ask the tough questions to some of the veterans that come through about veteran suicide because we want to prevent veteran suicides. We don't want to ask the questions when it's too late. We have to ask them upfront. Especially when someone's coming to us now, it's a good time to talk about it.

Speaker 1:

And that's the cool thing about having the faculty you have here, the people here, the administrative staff, the staff is being able to ask the tough questions and to get to these points. Before it gets to that critical point, there are areas here that are very different than I expected to and I keep saying different than I expected because I really didn't know. But you have a library area, you have areas where you could break out rooms. You have areas that if you want to come here and you work on something, it's really like to me. It's quiet, it's peaceful, it's not a lot of hustle and bustle. There's a place to go here to clear your mind.

Speaker 2:

Yes, very true, and it's comfortable. You want to feel comfortable when you're sitting somewhere, especially when you're trying to think you're reading a book. You've got some work to do. You've got to feel comfortable.

Speaker 1:

And Donnie, seeing, this is your first podcast I keep saying it because I love the third person I've interviewed, maybe the fourth person I've interviewed this week. That's their first podcast and getting into an area. We're right now in a breakout room and if anybody knows anything about podcasts, you need quiet and right now you could drop a pin and you can't hear anything. I mean, it's just, there are areas in this building where you can clear your mind, you can read a book, you could write, there's an art area and I'm believe me, I'm not getting paid for this, but I could sell this building all day long and I want people to understand that Something like this should be in every, every state, at least Over the states, multiple facilities like this, because how many millions of people have served in a g-wad alone?

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

You know the g-wad alone is what 2.5 million people served. And then you know you backtrack into the Obviously the world war, two generations, it's pretty pretty much out there Korea, vietnam, and you have so many people have served since that could still use a facility like this. You don't necessarily have to have served in war, you could have served anywhere peacetime, wartime, cold War time, anytime and so use a facility.

Speaker 2:

You're a better, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So, donnie, the other reason I want to talk to you today is very important to me.

Speaker 1:

It's firearms and just like I know. I know we're randomly going from from, you know, veterans resources type Center to firearms. But the reason I want to talk about that too is because what you did was you started a small business and selling firearms and the thing is, a lot of people want to do the same type of thing. Yeah, you don't necessarily need to have a storefront, you really just need to have some place that's secure and you can have your FFL and you can work out of. So I mean, obviously you've been in a fire for a while. You and I both enjoy building, especially the arrow, precision platforms and everything. When did you take that next step and say, hey, you know what, I'm gonna start my own small business.

Speaker 2:

So while working for upstate war resolution, I'm always talking to all my co-workers about firearms and they see some of the stuff that I built. So one of my co-workers one day and say you know what? You should just get an FFL and start your own business. Now that bulb went off, like you know, that's not bad idea. I'm looking into it Next day. I know, is our platform FFL? Then you know, once you start doing that, you got to look at other things. You know, I got to get your you know federal ID and then you got, let's go really intricate in here.

Speaker 1:

Let's see this, let's go. Did you start in LLC first?

Speaker 2:

Yes, actually that's right. I it's, and it's fairly easy to the state of South Carolina. You just jump online, fill out the information, I submit it paid, pay the money and literally within 10 minutes I'll receive a LLC certification. Yeah, once I do that, then I think I got an EIN. After that, mm-hmm and any.

Speaker 1:

I ends are really easy because I have my own small business. I mean, and you really, you're just, you're going to the IRS and you're going to the website and you're filling in. You're saying I got an LLC and the next thing you know, you have any. I am yeah, everything done online. You don't have to leave your house.

Speaker 2:

You know it's just really quick Get the I in and then I start having to look at your local city. If you live in the city, your local city business license, your state of South Carolina retailer resellers license to. So I look at those file for those and came about May of this year when so when everything came, came to, and because the FFO won't get approved until I have a Occupancy permit from the city that I live in and with the city business license. So once I got that information they actually emailed ATF agent at the time say, hey, you know he's gonna be approved. Then he submitted the paperwork and and then my FFL came.

Speaker 1:

Now you have to look as you could do this out of your home with a secure location. Are you gonna save for?

Speaker 2:

yes, I'm not sure whether that's required, but when the ATF agent come to sit down and ask doing kind of do an interview and talk about how to do the process, they ask you a bunch of questions and some of the questions is for security reason. And then you got cameras. Do you have a long system? Do you have a save? Those kind of things.

Speaker 1:

How long do you think the process took all together?

Speaker 2:

I Didn't. Ffl took less than three months. So the ATF agent came to the house probably in about at a two-month point maybe, and the interview and the process going over the process part took about an hour and a half and then once he's, he or she is done, then You'll probably see FFL in the next three weeks. Oh wow.

Speaker 1:

I was thinking like a year.

Speaker 2:

No, it's, it's really quick.

Speaker 1:

Now, the other thing too, when it comes to this is marketing. You know this is your. The second person I talked to you today. We talked to Ken Brock from Brock knives and we're you know your background is military and law enforcement. We're not really salespeople, no. So marketing is, it's a tough thing. Any lessons learned so far?

Speaker 2:

I know you're, you're kind of new into it, but it is tough and I have really, I guess, trying to build a website right. Well, a couple of things fall in line. You can't really have a website and this, your products and Working out a house. You don't have a whole lot of products and especially, you know if you are really working off the budget that you have and money that you have in your account. I didn't go out and get a huge loan and all this is just kind of starting off with just a little bit of money and you can do it with just a little bit of money and and just work your way there. I think the biggest thing is really having the connection what, once you get to FFL gets a business license, you start connecting to wholesalers so that way you can bring products in and that's when you you can sell stuff.

Speaker 1:

How hard is it to contact the wholesalers? That's the other thing, too, is like. So if I go onto your website and I've done this, so I have another couple friends that do FFLs too you have to drop down menus and you have a ton of different weapons, ton of different firearms. Are you going? Do you have to go to each individual maker like a tourist a Smith Wesson, a SIG or do you go to like a? A main Wholesale is a main wholesaler.

Speaker 2:

So there's there's a lot of them out there that actually would Connect to a home-based business. There are some that said you that won't do it unless you have a storefront, and you got to be, you got to submit a picture of your storefront to them. But there are a lot that would do it for home base. So in they and you will, just once you get connected to them just me, like paperwork, your business license, your FFL, your resellers certificate Now, then they'll give you your login information and everything to that wholesaler site and then you can go in there and be able to see what Products you can get and how much you can get it for. Of course there will be a manufacturer price that you can't sell below, obviously, because if you start Undercutting one another, then their product, the manufacturer products, not gonna be good, you know. Then it's will be on the market for very cheap. So there is a cutoff point that you can't go below.

Speaker 1:

What is your driving factor behind this is it's like cuz, like we all need something else. Won't we retire? And you had a law enforcement career before this right. Yes, 26 years, 26 years, and then, like the transition and finding an X mission, you come over here to To Say warrior solution. I'm sorry guys, I'm tired.

Speaker 1:

I keep wanting to say, whenever I see you, w, I always want to think ultimate warrior you know, but now you come over here to do this mission and you're working on it, but then you want something for yourself to start that business. I mean, it's pretty cool.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, driving factor is uh well, when you retire you gotta try to find your happy place and and I think most people exiting out of you know first in the first responder, for whether the fire fireman, ems or Law enforcement, it's hard to find your happy place. Once you even in that line of work for so long, you just kind of feel out of place and then come in here to update warrior solution. Everyone I work with are either maximum mostly when I work about either veteran or law enforcement, or my manager. He's a veteran and a fireman, all right. So we all have this kind of same mindset. We all get along, we all cut up, we all mess with one another, you know. So I feel like at home here. And then, you know, with my law enforcement background I was also on a swat thing for nine years I really love playing firearms and that's my happy place. So it's both. You know, dealing with the people here it's my happy place and then dealing firearms is my happy place.

Speaker 1:

Let's talk about your happy place. You can have a pistol rifle and a shotgun. What's your pistol?

Speaker 2:

Oh man, you didn't know you were going to talk about it.

Speaker 2:

No, I didn't know, I would say a 6226 would be my pistol Carried out for most of my career. A rifle, that's a good question. I recently built an aerial precision 300 blackout, 16-inch barrel and, like a black camel, that would probably be my rifle. I loved that thing. Shotgun I like old school Remington X-70. Carried out for many years and it's just like the feel of it. I carried them all spurred too for a little while, but out of the two I think I like the Remington better.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Aerial precision builds and I you know, I don't know what it is about it. It's just such an easy rifle to build.

Speaker 2:

It is.

Speaker 1:

Like I did the 300 blackout, but I think that was it the 10-1 5-inch barrel and the pistol. It is yeah. And then I built the 308 AR-10 and then also two of the nine millimeters. What are the AR-9s? What are they called?

Speaker 2:

PCC yeah, they're like PCC. The Aero has like a different name for them, but Aero's is.

Speaker 1:

They're such an easy build man. They're smooth too.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah. What kind of triggers did you put in Rise armament? Yeah me too Rise armament Incredible triggers yeah, good triggers, very good, smooth, and that's in most of my ARs. I've been dropping them in there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, same here. Have you thought about competition shooting yet? I have not, and you're probably going to have to this next year.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Let's talk about competition shooting. I'm going to tell everybody about this. When I got out of law enforcement, when I was getting out, I'm like I need to find something that's going to be fun. So I started doing pistol competitions and I tell everybody right now. I'm like, if you're prior, current or whatever law enforcement, it's just a great sport.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 1:

So in that 226 would be perfect for it. I wouldn't suggest pistol competitions, and if you want me to, I'll come down here. We'll shoot some pistol competitions. That'd be great.

Speaker 2:

So what is your choice between the pistol life ones I got?

Speaker 1:

Well, lately I've kind of been all over the place when it comes to pistols. My primary gun for 20 something years in the feds was mostly Glock 19. Glock 19 is, you know, nice. I mean it's good for work to work on. But when I got out I got a 6 320 Legion X5, started doing competition with that because it's a nice, solid gun. Then I went to a Walther PDP. But now I'm going old school. I got a SIG 1911 Scorpion 45. Nice, that's my pistol.

Speaker 1:

I love that pistol. You can shoot it just as good with your left or right hand or whatever with that gun Rifle I would go with. So I got a Geisle super duty. I love that rifle. Ar, it's a 556. And then for shotgun I'm going to have a Mossberg 930 JM tactical and I love that gun man. And I grew up with a Mossberg 500 riot gun back in the day when I was a kid. And then, you know, duty was always ramming 188, 70s when I was in a BP and stuff like that. We had the shortened scatter gun technology. I can't remember, so we'll have to correct me with that one. I love 870s. I have one at home for my pump gun. But that semi auto. You know, mossberg is just incredible man.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I haven't done what. I guess they call it a L 12. I haven't shot any of the L 12s yet, so I can you know. I would like to try that out, just to see what it's like.

Speaker 1:

I would too. Yeah, I've seen her everywhere, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, they're fairly cheap too. What's your next build? You know I was just talking earlier. I actually have a binary trigger at home. That's been sitting there For a year now, still brand new. You ever shot a binary trigger? Yeah, love it, it's a blast. I have one in my AR9. So if you pull the trigger fires, you release the trigger fires, so it's almost like a two-round burst. It's a blast to shoot and it's not illegal. So you know, I have a Franklin Armory binary trigger for AR. So I'm thinking I was just talking earlier. Man, I need to do something on that trigger. Maybe I need to build another AR and drop the trigger into it. I just don't know what caliber yet I've got about. Personally. I've got about three, three hundred blacks and maybe about four, five, five, six. So I'm not sure.

Speaker 1:

I keep looking at six five and I'm like hmm.

Speaker 2:

I have a sick crawl six five.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm kind of because I have a Remington 700 308 and then I've got the AR10 and I'm like I kind of want something different. Maybe I should just concentrate on something other than buying guns right now. But yeah, yeah, so obviously we could purchase local from Greenville from you. Do you ship?

Speaker 2:

I do, obviously if it's, if it's FFL or FFL yeah. So if you're up in DC, I'll ship it up to DC to you. Okay, how To?

Speaker 1:

another FFL. There we go. How do we, how do we find you?

Speaker 2:

You can actually search for mental dear arms, man, todea, and they'll have my contact information online. You can just shoot me an email and I will. You just tell me what you're looking for. I will look up, give you a quote to see what I can get it for.

Speaker 1:

Perfect. Well, I appreciate you coming on the show man. Yes, sir, thank you for coming here. And everybody, make sure you check out Upsate Warrior Solutions. I said it right for once, because I'm looking at my notepad and definitely check out Donnie Shoppe and Donnie. I'm looking forward to talking to you more in the future.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely Same here, thank you.

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