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The Grout Hog®
The Grout Hog®
January 28, 2015 7:00 AM CST

Don’t just think it, do it

Contractor tip of the month


“A vision without execution is hallucination.” I can’t tell you exactly who first coined that quote as some say it was Thomas Edison, but others say it was much more recent: Jeffery Garten.

I can relate to the statement when someone comes to me saying, “I have this great idea for this invention.” My thoughts are always, “Don’t just think it, do it!”

I have been told many times: “Damian, I have something I think you will be interested in; can we meet and talk about it?” Why do people come to me? I have a hunch it is because I have a long, not so pretty building on a dusty country road that churns out the blood, sweat, thoughts, and trials and errors of the inventions my people and I have created.

Notice I said created, not just thought of. Since I came out with the original invention, the Grout Hog grout delivery system, at least 100 people have stated that I stole their idea. It is likely I did, but by accident. While they were all thinking the same thing as I, my people and I were out executing the thought. In other words, we were doing it!

Beginning in 1988, we built many prototype machines and tested them on the jobsites. Finally, in 1998, our final version was a strange-looking machine that worked well. Stemming from an idea I had in the ‘80s, the Grout Hog would change the way many in the industry would install grout in block walls.

Have you ever pictured the way something should be made, only to find a few years later your idea displayed on TV or a store shelf? We all have thoughts and dreams. In order to make our dreams come true, we must do more than only think of them. We must take action to build them.

A friend recently called me with an invention he felt would change the way people do things in another industry. We met, and he asked if I would invest with him while we build his idea. I listened. It was similar to things many others had brought me in the past. A great idea was all it was. I shared with him that it isn’t an invention until you build it; use it yourself to prove it works; get others to try it; and then sell it to those who can benefit from it. Otherwise, it is just like the thoughts millions of other people have – an idea or, most likely, a hallucination. I told him he needed to create it.

He went on, “Do you have an engineer? Or, do you know of an engineer who will build my idea for me? I have the money to invest in it.”

I informed him that, first, the idea did not fit into our product line, or I may have considered going to work on it. Second, it takes all our energy, resources and time to build our own systems and ideas. We certainly can’t go to work attempting to build someone else’s dream. However, he could tinker with it, build it himself, prove it works, and encourage others to try it. If they like it, and he is convinced it is going to be a hit, he could take it to the right person or company that may purchase it. Keep in mind that during that journey, companies look for a finished product, not just an idea.

I don’t want to crush anyone’s dreams, but I also like to tell the person the truth about how I really feel about an idea and/or invention. If not, he may seek help from the next guy who may take his money, even if all he has is an idea, a hallucination, or non-creation.

Not many of us have the money it takes to have someone else build our dreams for us, nor will we ever find someone interested in doing so. Not to mention, the costs and energy of building your own dreams is small compared to having someone else attempt to build them for you. Therefore, you only have one option: Go to work building your own dreams.

The world doesn’t create you; you create your world. You have thoughts and dreams on the way you see your future becoming. Whether it is a computer system; safety, quality and production program; or a better mousetrap than what is on the market today, “Don’t just think it, do it.” Put your crazy ideas on paper today, and start building one by one, or at least part by part. Dreamers dream of how things should be, while creators go to work building their dreams.

About the Author

Damian Lang is a mason contractor in southeast Ohio and inventor of many labor saving masonry systems and products. Lang has served as the Marketing Committee Chairman for the Mason Contractors Association of America. He is also author of the book Rewarding and Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry. To network with Damian on contractor tips or tips you have and would like published, contact him at or 740-749-3512.


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