Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Campbell.
Justin, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have always had a passion for building and design. As a child, in my free time I would work on projects in my parent’s garage in Bradenton, FL where I grew up. One time, I even tried to carve a dugout canoe from a block of wood. I would drive my parent’s crazy making a mess of their garage, but learning how things work and how to create was constantly on my mind. Some of my first construction projects were working on and remodeling large boats.
After high school, I started culinary school, which was a perfect fit for me because of the fast pace and the use of my hands. I worked in high-end restaurants for 5 years before moving to Los Angeles and I am well experienced on the line. During my years working as a chef, I started my first mobile food business “The Pickled Sausage.” I bought the shell of a used food cart for $300 from some guys in central Florida. I completely gutted the cart and remodeled it in my garage. On the cart, we served a menu of creative sausages and hot dogs. The business was a success, but I ultimately sold the Pickled Sausage to follow a girl to Los Angeles.
Arriving in Los Angeles was a bit of a culture shock moving from Florida. There was no ocean to fish in and no garage to work on projects. My life took an interesting turn when I was hired at Roaming Hunger, an experiential marketing company. Roaming Hunger brought me on as the chef consultant to run a food truck used to market a line of frozen foods, which I ultimately helped develop. Working for Roaming Hunger allowed me to marry my culinary and building skill set with essential business knowledge. During my time there, I worked with companies like Spike TV, ConAgra Foods, Miracle Grow, and Clinique Cosmetics. After several years, I branched off to start Firefly Fabrication and became a food truck builder.
Has it been a smooth road?
Every entrepreneur encounters similar struggles. For example, locking down my commercial warehouse space was may more complicated than I expected. Another struggle is finding dedicated employees. This is my business and I pour everything I have into it. Finding employees who do the same isn’t always easy.
Besides the usual struggles, I am facing some others that affect me more personally as a business owner. I started this business because I love fabrication and building. Now that I am a business owner, I spend the majority of my time training my employees to do what I love while I am glued to my desk taking phone calls and thinking about taxes and accounting. Also, accepting that I am tied to this geographical location for a very long time is difficult to wrap my head around. When you work for someone else, you can imagine moving anywhere if you want. All you have to do is leave the job. Now, I have a commercial building, major equipment, and a lot of responsibility tying me to LA.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Firefly Fabrication – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
During my career at Roaming Hunger, I traveled all over the country and even Canada to trouble shoot and help oversee marketing activations on food trucks. During my travels, I had the opportunity to work on food trucks built by many different builders and became an expert in the functionality and design of trucks. I meticulously documented what worked and didn’t work on each truck. This experience gave me the knowledge to build the best possible food trucks. The quality of the work at Firefly is our more important goal. We not only want our customers to feel happy when they purchase a truck, but also to count on the reliability of our work for years to come.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
When it comes to food trucks, Los Angeles is the place to be! Being located here allows us the opportunity to collaborate with large & trendy companies and the individuals we build trucks for have an endless array of events, caterings, and food truck lots to keep them profitable. However, LA county Health Dept. requires many (expensive) things that other counties in the US do not which drives the startup costs for trucks up.
- Address: 12457 Gladstone Ave Unit G
Sylmar, CA 91342
- Website: www.fireflyfabrication.com
- Phone: 941-524-4981
- Email: Justin@fireflyfabrication.com
Firefly staff. The employee using the “sawzall” is named Andriy. The person welding the gantry crane is myself.