Jerry and guest Matt Mair

CVC Succcess Group coach Jerry and guest Matt Mair

Join Jerry as he interviews Matt Mair, Vice President of the National Chimney Sweep Guild on today’s episode of The Chimney & Fireplace Success Network. Learn about the changes underway at the NCSG and also an update on the certification accreditation process the NCSG is undergoing with their CCP Certification. 

The Chimney and Fireplace Success Network is a weekly podcast brought to you by the CVC Success Group and hosted by industry expert, Jerry Isenhour. Each week you will find new presentations to assist business owners and managers in turning their business dreams into their business realities.

Video Transcript

Jerry Isenhour.: Well, good afternoon; I want to welcome you to today’s broadcast of the chimney and fireplace success network. And today, we have a special guest as always. And I’ll be introducing when he comes on in just a minute.

And what we are going to be talking about is the national Chimney Sweep Guild and some of the changes that they are going through currently as they transition into what I am going to call the new national chimney sweep guild.

So stick around with us, we’re going to be back in just a minute, and we’ll get started with the show today. So, appreciate you being here; hang on, we will be right back.

Jerry I.: So good afternoon again, I see that is with the music played, and we did our intro, we have got people that are now coming on. And today’s guest is a gentleman I’ve known for a couple of years. And he is the vice president of the national chimney sweep guild.

He also owns a company in New Hampshire by the name of black moose. He is a practicing chimney sweep. Has a really great company there in New Hampshire, and we’ll get to him in just a minute, and we’ll find out a little bit about. His name is Matt Mayer, and like I said, I’ve known him for quite a few years. And he was recently elected as the vice president of the national chimney sweep guild.

So today, we want to talk about some of the changes that the guild’s gone through. So Matt, how are you doing, brother? Glad to see you with me today.

Matt Mair.: Yes, thanks for having me, it is my pleasure. We’re doing okay here, it’s kind of a hot day, and I’m just glad to be inside my office right now doing this and not outside.

Jerry I.: Well, that’s great, brother. And like I said, we’re going through, and the reason for doing this broadcast today, which is also going to be the monthly webinar for the NCSG that will come out, the recording of this will come out on news link next month and be uploaded as our podcast.

Is one talk about the changes that the national chimney sweep guild has been going through in the last few months? If you’re on here with us, I want to welcome you to ask questions during this; Matt’s going to give you his best hit and give you the answers.

If he doesn’t know the answers, I’m sure he will share that he’ll get back with you on that. So Matt, let’s give them a little back background of how long you’ve been in business up there at black moose.

Matt M.: Yes. You know, not a lot of people know me; I actually kind of try to keep kind of a low profile. My wife and I started black moose in 2009; that’s when we entered the industries, right after the big housing crash in 08.

We started in the midst of a really bad recession, and business in the industry have been really good to us. We’ve had very careful, calculated growth since then. It’ll be our, what is that? Our 12th year in business, which boy, time flies.

Jerry I.: Yes, it does. So let me ask you this, a couple of years ago, you decided to get involved and run for the board of directors for the national guild, and I believe you’re a regional director there. So what drove you to give time? Because this does take a lot of time commitment from you, I’m sure. What was the driving force for you to get involved, to work with the industry, to represent and make the industry better?

This is a great industry.

Matt M.: Well, the industry’s been really, this is a great industry. I’ve worked in a couple of different industries; you know, I’m educated in something completely different and irrelevant. This is a really cool industry; it’s a great industry to be involved with.

There aren’t many places where you can call up your competition and borrow a tool, or I actually still need to, actually build one of my competitions for a bucket at a heat shield product I got from this recently. And I was just talking to another one just down the road there; I mean, that’s a really special thing.

The industry’s been really great to my family and I; we’ve had very good success in it. And this is my chance to give back to an organization that I really enjoy, I love, and I appreciate.

Jerry I.: Okay, man, that’s fantastic. And look at there, Dino Martinelli, he says Matt’s been a very helpful and responsive board member for my experience with him, thanks a lot, Matt.

Matt M.: You’re welcome, I try.

The NCSG has went through a lot of change in the last six months.

Jerry I.: That’s a good compliment for you. So Matt, as you and I both know, most of the industry knows the NCSG has went through a lot of change in the last six months this year. And one of the things that you’ve done is you all have relocated and have secured the services of a management company out in Des Moines, Iowa.

You know this provides you strengths that you didn’t have before, and it provides you a lot of tools that you didn’t have before. What does this new management company bring to the table for NCSG, the industry and for the membership of NCSG?

I did not know that companies like Amplify existed.

Matt M.: Yes. Amplify, man; I didn’t know companies like Amplify existed before we got on board with them. And I forget whether they were referrals to us, or I forget exactly how we found them at this point; a lot has been happening over the last six months. But they’re basically like the equivalent of a virtual office for a business.

They’re sort of a management company; they’re a company that specializes in managing non-profit organizations; instead of having your own staff, you basically outsource that whole staff aspect to them. You get like a core group of people that work for you. We have East and Britany, Casey’s new cover, and I know; I apologize there’s probably one or two that I’m forgetting there.

So you get like a core group of dedicated people working out of that amplify headquarters, working on your organization. But then, in addition to that, I’m a mechanic, so I think of it like a giant tool chest filled with every possible tool and the best ones that you could ever need.

And you may only need that tool once every two years, but boy, when you need it, that’s the right one for the job, and you’re glad you spent the money on it. Well, Amplify is kind of like that; they are a giant tool chest.

So in addition to that core group that you have, you have this; I mean, they have dozens of employees out there, everybody I think people specialize in financial stuff, graphic design, whatever you can think of. They’ve got that person, and when you need that person, they have it. It’s a really good strength that we have through them, and that’s kind of a neat thing that they bring.

Jerry I.: Yes. And with this, you have got a gentleman. And I really hope I pronounce his last name correctly. His name is Easton Kuboushek. Maybe you can correct that if I am wrong. But are you seeing that Easton has the right stuff, and he’s the guy to help manage this association and take it to the level that your board is ascribing to go to?

Matt M.: Yes. Easton is probably one of the most organized and disciplined managers that I’ve ever interacted with. The NCSG board is made roughly a dozen business owners, people who want to be involved with every little thing, and he is incredibly disciplined, incredibly organized, he keeps us on task.

He’s bought into the mission, he understands where we want to take this, and he’s basically the implementer to make it all happen. I sort of want to get him after he’s through the new father stage of life; I want to get him up on some roofs and get him dropping liners and sweeping chimneys and give him a proper baptism by soot. But he is that integration manager personality that we need right now.


Jerry I.: Great. And then you’ve also like I said, you’ve got a lady there her name is Heather, I believe, that is leading your accreditation program. That’s highly experienced in getting certification programs. Brittany came over and stayed with the NCSG, was an employee of NCSG when you were based in Indianapolis, and she’s still working with the guild.

So anyway, you know, every time I see Tom Hunkel, the President of NCSG, making the statement as president. He’s using the phrase that your mission is servicing those that service America’s chimneys. So here’s my question, how are you? And when I say you, the board of directors, the leadership of the guild.

Planning to up the game as you flow forward with what I am going to call the new NCSG. That you and the remainder of the leadership is working on out there. What’s your plan? What are you going to be doing?


Matt M.: Yes. We’re going to be focusing a lot on member benefits. We are a lot more free now to kind of focus on our members, and you got to remember we will always be accountable to our members. We’re an elected board, so we have to serve them, and we’re going to be focusing more on education, trying to balance the national convention and the chimney expo.

Having more events locally, a lot of these hot events, these hands-on training events are something that people have really been craving and yelling for over the past few years. How can we have more hands-on training? Well, we’re doing that now; we’re trying to make that happen for you guys. I also, I don’t want to forget advocacy and the government affairs aspect of the national guild has always been there; it’s something that we’re going to continue to focus on.

And it’s one of those underappreciated but very vital wings, I think, something that doesn’t get a lot of publicity because it’s not very glamorous. But advocacy is huge; we’re trying to wrap up a couple of projects right now that have taken several years. And we’re just trying to fight and trying to keep our members best interests in mind.


Jerry I.: Yes. And that’s what I think a lot of people don’t know that your association represents people to various aspects of the national fire protection association, with representation on the 211, the 54, the 31 committees.

You’re also heavily involved working with safety regulations through the occupational safety and health administration. Is there any, is those things coming along? Is that how part of what the mission is to stay on those tracks, representing the industry?

We need volunteers to sit on a lot of those committees.

Matt M.: Yes, absolutely. I mean, we need volunteers to sit on a lot of those committees right now. The safety aspect, we’re actually trying to wrap something up right now that we’ve been working on for several years; we’re going to continue plugging away that.

Jerry I.: Yes. And you know probably the hottest topic of industry discussion involves the next one. Because your leadership, the NCSG recognized there was really a void, that there was no present certifications for the industry were actually accredited.

Which was probably a shock to some of your leadership when you actually started finding this out. So now, your association is working to get your CCP, certified chimney professional certification, which you purchased some months ago, and getting it certified by ANSI.

Is this a really involved process? Can you share with the people listening to us, what is the steps that must be gone through to accomplish this accreditation under ANSI Matt?

Matt M.: Yes. I can give you a basic overview of it. I’m not a subject matter expert, but anything you need to know, I mean, I can definitely find out. It is a very financially involved in terms of time commitment, a very involved, very time heavy undertaking to have something accredited.

In a nutshell, the process for doing it, basically we have to study the industry, we’re trying to gather a bunch of volunteers, dozens of volunteer, companies, owners, employees things like that to sit in a few meetings or we’re going to do basically an industry study. What is the basic core knowledge that we need to look for? What is the basic sort of plan blueprint that we need to follow?

After we kind of get that kind of pool of things that we need to know, we start kind of looking at what we have, the test questions that we have, the current study materials. Okay, what do we have? And what are we missing in terms of what we need?

We try to make kind of a road map of where to go from there. And then we start putting all that stuff together. We kind of build that new test, build that new certification and something that’s going to be accepted by this accreditation agency. And then after that, we can finally launch the exam and start giving people the new test and that sort of thing.

This is going to involve three different groups.

Jerry I.: Right. It’s my understanding Matt that this is going to involve three different groups of what we were called subject matter experts. And subject matter experts, and correct me again if I’m wrong, are people that work in the field.

They’re not people in a leadership position; they’re not instructors. In fact, as you said on the board of directors, I don’t believe you’re even qualified to be a subject matter expert, are you?

Matt M.: No.

Jerry I.: Yes. And the same thing for me I can’t be a subject matter expert, because I’ve trained for many years. And that’s not what this program is all about. It is all about getting the feelings from people that work in the industry of what should a skilled technician need to know.

It is going to take three different groups.

And so, there is like a three-step process, it is going to take three different groups, and it takes 15 people in each group to put together what is the basis for this certification. From that point, you’ve got to come up with testing, and then there’s going to be a test running by subject matters.

And then even after that, even after you’ve got this developed, there’s an ongoing challenge in that, you have to submit and have your results of testing analyzed by what’s called a Psychometrician that’s going to study the data, each and every year of what goes on.

So testing may change as you find out test questions may have to be rewritten and other things; it’s a pretty involved process, isn’t it?

Matt M.: Yes. And they change their standards at any time, too; you have to make sure that your program complies with those new standards. So you may need to make changes or adjustments.

Jerry I.: That’s it. So Matt, is the guild looking for volunteers to step up to the plate to be these subject matter experts?

Matt M.: Yes, please. I, as a board member, can’t do it; I mean, I’m a sweep; I sweep chimneys. I fix pellet stoves all that stuff, but I’m not qualified, you know, in their eyes. They’re looking for the boots on the ground; they want the guys going out there and doing this day in and day out, who know what you need to know to do this job.

And we need, you know we need a few dozen people to make this happen. Company owners, employees, whoever it is, if you’re involved with the industry, and you can commit a couple of days of your time, reach out

We’d love to talk to you and set up a time to make this happen. But you have to actually physically be able to go to a place and do that. It’s a big need that we have right now.

Jerry I.: Yes. Someone just posted if it wasn’t on my son’s first birthday, I’d be there. Hopefully, you guys get plenty of people. Well, let me make you aware this, this is only the first meeting. We’re going to need two more groups of subject matter experts, correct Matt?

Matt M.: Correct, yes. There’s going to be more than one group. So celebrate your son’s birthday, but if you still want to get involved, please do; we can use the help.

Send an email to

Jerry I.: Yes. So send an email to Tell them that you can’t participate in the first one because you’ve got another commitment. But I’m sure that they would love to have you on these follow-up subject matter meetings.

Now Matt, he just posted I’ll call you later on, Matt, certainly someone you know that can serve in this capacity. But let’s do this, when they serve as a subject matter expert, it is going to involve some travel to go to these meetings? But is the guild going to pick up the cost for their travel? They’re lodging? Those types of things, Matt.

Matt M.: Yes. It’s going to be similar to traveling for any board meeting. I mean, we, as board members, I don’t personally do it.

But if you sit on the board, you have the option of submitting your expenses, having the guild of reimburse you for hotel rooms, things like that. You know things that should be paid for like that. But yes, your travel expenses, hotel things like that are going to be reimbursed.

Jerry I.: Right. Now one thing about this, they’re not really looking for all these people to have 40 years of experience. Naturally, they would love to have some people with 40 years’ experience.

And let’s put this further, they’re also not looking for all of these people to be your traditional technician, which is male. There’s a lot of females in this industry that could serve very well. Would you agree with that, Matt?

Matt M.: Oh sure, absolutely.

Jerry I.: Yes, so there’s a lot of openings. And as Matt mentioned earlier, you may have an employee that contributes to this. And in fact, Matt and I were talking about this, that he has an employee that works for him.

And we were talking if that employee would be someone that could be qualified; I thought certainly he needs to apply if it does. So, it is going to take a little time, but here is something, and I saw Brandi Biswell’s post this earlier today.

You can look back later if you participate in this process. And you can know that you had a weight that you actually helped things to go on. So, Matt, it’s more than just taking, doing the basic, the subject matter. It’s an ongoing process because the test results, my understanding again, is going to have to be analyzed and submitted to ANSI on a regular basis to make sure that this testing is factual and shows what real life skilled tradesmen are.

Not what Matt considers them to be, and not what Jerry considers will be, but rather, it’s what does the subject matter group come up as what are the requirements of this.

Matt M.: Yes. Well, it’s not unlike maintaining any credential, whether it’s CCP, CSI, fire or any of those. I mean, you need to do recurring training or recurring testing in order to make sure that you’re current and up to date. I mean, that’s why it exists.

Jerry I.: Right. Now another thing matt was that the NCSG, recently you all just released an entire new logo as part of your rebranding.

Can you tell us what the thought processes are on the rebranding? Because you still got the traditional sweep with the umbrella layers, we have for years. So what was the thought in rebranding?

Matt M.: You know you’re dealing with, there are groups of people who want to see traditionalist, groups of people that want to see toss the traditional out, let’s go completely modern and mainstream. We wanted to find a good balance between everybody; we wanted to honor our past, where we have been, the origins of the industry.

And we wanted to make it more streamlined and something that is going to support the newer certification levels that we have, and the professional and the re-aligner and such. She wanted to take the old logo and kind of, like I said, honor that past, but bring it into kind of the next phase of our being as an organization.

Jerry I.: Okay. So also, what does it take to be a board member, Matt? Because I said you’re going to be on that board for a certain number of years, and you’ll be moving off. I was on that board for many years.

So maybe we got somebody to listen that could be a future leader here. What’s required to sit in a seat like you do as a board member? Now, I know the last six months have probably been the most active you’ve ever had since you’ve been on the board. But as a rule, what’s required of a board member?

Desire to help, desire to want to throw your hat in.

Matt M.: Desire to help, desire to want to throw your hat in. I, you know, coming from a, I mean any sort of volunteer organization needs people to actually throw their hat in like cub scouts. I mean, I had a few kids in cub scouts at one point, and well everybody loves the program.

They all want their kids to be in it; they all want to take advantage of it. But when it comes time to volunteer, you know you get crickets. If you love this industry, you want to see it continue to move forward.

This organization see it continue to move forward; you need to volunteer, I mean throw your hat in. Just the desire to help it’s probably the number one thing that you need to have. You need to be willing to travel once or twice a year.

Whether it’s out to Des Moines, Iowa, or the national convention, you need to be able to show up to some of the regional events if you can. We’re all busy; I mean, we all have businesses to run, we’re all busy. I have six kids and a wife at home too, you know, family life. But you need to be able to find time to do it and travel.

The guild, I mean you know if you need to be reimbursed from your travel expenses, the guild will do that. But like I said, before most importantly is the desire to want to throw your hat in and see something that you love continue.

Jerry I.: Yes. So another question, you all have purchased CCP, which also meant you all now own the CCP show, which is held in Valley Forge. What’s the plans for the CCP show going forward, Matt? Will this show continue and go forth? Is it over with? What’s the deal with the CCP show?

We have the national convention on one hand.

Matt M.: Oh no, we are good, that is going to continue, that is a great show. I mean, obviously, we have the national convention on one hand, and we’ve got the CCP show in the other, so we have two events that we need to juggle now.

They’re both going to continue; we don’t want to make major changes to them. I mean, they both have their sort of their feel and their culture. And what’s going to happen, kind of the current thinking is the national convention, what you know is the national convention, you know took place in Norfolk a couple of years ago, that show that’s been to Orlando all kinds of different places.

That’s going to continue to bounce around the country like it should. We’re going to hit the different regions like we should. And then the expo will continue to happen in the Valley Forge area, King of Prussia area every year.

Now in those years where the national convention bounces to the northeast, then we’re going to have one show. We’ll hold off on one of them and just have the one show there. Because it’d be silly to have expo, and then two weeks later have, I don’t know, something happening in Connecticut or something like that, that’s kind of impractical.

But we’re going to try to find a nice balancing act between the two of them, and where they overlap, we’ll hold the one show and then we’ll go back to having two. So there will always be a show in the northeast, just because we have a TV show there. We’ll continue to do the national convention.

Jerry I.: Yes. Where is it, in Las Vegas?

Matt M.: It is., it is in Las Vegas, yes. My wife and I are actually already making plans about what we want to go see and do.

Jerry I.: So let me ask you, are you going to fly to that one or you drive? I know you’re not a big flying fan. You plan on driving up to Las Vegas?

Matt M.: No, we’re driving. We’re just trying to figure out how and what that looks like. Yes, I’d rather just drive, thank you very much.

Jerry I.: I know. So you think you’re going to take that motor home on that cross-country trip then?

Matt M.: Yes, possibly. I don’t know, and then my pickup truck gets like three times the mileage. So I don’t know, maybe we’ll be one of those.

Jerry I.: Yes. Okay, so here’s a good comment for you. This is by Tom Hunkel, who is the president; he just posted Matt’s a terrific board member.

His insight and leadership, and commitment to the industry is unmatched. So I hope that makes you feel pretty good. But Tom’s doing a super job, you know.

Matt M.: That’s a long drive.

Jerry I.: Yes, that’s a long drive, man. If you’re going from New Hampshire all the way. But I know you did drive to, you drove to Des Moines for the recent board meeting.

Matt M.: I did. I have a bit of a disease; I like to drive everywhere, yes that’s kind of a thing. But I did; I drove to Des Moines, I just broke it up into two different days.

Jerry I.: Yes, that’s it. So I know how you are, that’s why I asked the question. I know that getting on airplanes is not your thing. And you know what surprised me, you may ride a motorcycle out there, but I don’t know if your wife’s going to be crazy about sitting on the motorcycle that long.

Matt M.: Oh yes, that’s not going to happen.

Jerry I.: No, it’s not going to happen, okay. Well, Matt, is there anything else you would share with our listeners about what the NCSG is doing? And if they’re not a member of NCSG, why should they be?

We want to build something that serves, and we want to focus on serving our membership.

Matt M.: We want to build something that serves, and we want to focus on serving our membership. We want to build a better mousetrap, basically. It’s kind of the same; you know, like a lot of business owners, you’ll look at a situation, you’ll see a void or a need, some way that you can differentiate yourself and be different.

We want to build an educational platform, an educational system that is different and member-focused. We want to give you accessible tools to build your business and kind of build the industry with it.

Jerry I.: Yes. And I’ll be honest, do you feel that your board of directors are good listeners and are listening to what people want in the industry?

Matt M.: Yes, I mean, that’s our job. I mean, we have to, absolutely. I mean, we keep our ears to the ground; we want to hear people who agree with us, disagree with us, do not be shy.

Jerry I.: Got you covered. Well, brother, I appreciate you being on here today. It is good; I didn’t see a lot of questions come up. We had anticipated some people would ask some questions; maybe we got all answered.

But to be honest with you, I want to say this, Matt. I was president NCSG for six years, and I am really proud to see you guys the way you’re stepping up to the plate, the way you’re making progressive changes. You seem like a very open group, you’re very open, and you’re listening to your membership.

And I think you’re all doing a great job of what you’re doing, and it seems like you really got a great team of players there in these leadership roles. Would you agree with what I’m saying?

Matt M.: Yes, absolutely. Everybody on the board wants to build and make the guild stronger.

Jerry I.: Yes, okay, man. Well, Matt, I appreciate you taking your time out of a busy, hot day up in New Hampshire. It’s a hot day down here in North Carolina. Probably a pretty good day to get in the office where it’s cool and all that, isn’t it?

Matt M.: Yes, it’s kind of nice. It’s actually getting a little warm in here; it’s pretty warm outside even with the air conditioner going.

Jerry I.: Okay, man. Well, listen, we’ll see you later, and again I appreciate your time being with us.

Matt M.: Thank you.

Jerry I.: And we will see you on the next broadcast of the chimney and fireplaces success network; talk to you later.