Jason Earle is a man on a mission. An adoring father, incurable entrepreneur and indoor air quality crusader, he is founder & CEO of 1-800-GOT-MOLD? and MycoLab USA, and the creator of the GOT MOLD?® Test Kit.
Jason Earle is a man on a mission. An adoring father, incurable entrepreneur and indoor air quality crusader, he is founder & CEO of 1-800-GOT-MOLD? and MycoLab USA, and the creator of the GOT MOLD?® Test Kit.
Joe Evangelisti 00:14
All right. Welcome to the show, Jason. Man, it’s good to have you, man. I’m going through your bio, what an amazing background, amazing business you built. And I’m really looking forward to chopping it up and getting in getting in deep and talking about it.
Jason Earle 00:25
Thank you, Joe. It’s good to be here.
Joe Evangelisti 00:26
Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, give our guests a little bit of a background look, I’m reading featured on Extreme Home Makeover, the Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America. I mean dude you’ve obviously climbed throught the ranks. But take me back to a little bit back to the beginning, where it all started with this entire process first, before we get to that.
Jason Earle 00:45
Yeah, well, thanks again for having me on on the show. I’m excited to be here. I got a chance to listen to some of your other podcasts and a very interesting conversation. So yeah, I’m excited. So this story, my story, the mold story. So I’m the founder of 1-800-GOT-MOLD?, The Mold Inspection business, and also the creator of the Got Mold? Test Kit. And so those businesses came out of an awareness or awakening, about my own childhood issues with respiratory illness. So really does go back to the beginning. As you said, it all started really, when I was about four years old, I suddenly lost about 30% of my body weight in a three week period. And my parents obviously, were very concerned, they brought me to the pediatrician.
He said, no, they need to go to… you need to go to Children’s Hospital. And the initial diagnosis was cystic fibrosis, which was a death sentence at the time. And also it was, it’s a hereditary disease in my family and my father had lost four of his cousins before the age of 14 to CF. So they spent the next six weeks crying before the second opinion, which was thankfully that I had asthma compounded by pneumonia. And when they tested me for allergies, I was literally allergic to every single thing that they tested me for. My dad said, I looked like a ladybug, they wrapped me on a papoose when you’re a little kid… It was my first child… one of my formative memories is like a straitjacket and they leave your back exposed, they draw a grid on your back and test you for the antigens. My dad said I looked at the ladybug, just big red, swollen with dots all over it. And so but the interesting part about it was that I was… I grew up on a small non working farm. I was allergic to grass, wheat, corn, eggs, dogs, cat, even cotton that was surrounded by all those things were surrounded by soybean fields and cornfields. I was allergic both of them. Grass, yeah, cotton, and like clothing and sheets. So needless to say it was a rather uncomfortable childhood.
And my parents will smoke, you know, the awareness about that stuff was like zero back then so and so mold was certainly not on the radar cigarettes were still you know, it’s still this, this is funny. But anyway, I moved out…my folks split when I was about 12, moved out of the house, all my symptoms went away. I never thought anything about it again, because my grandfather had grown out of his asthma when he was adolescent, which is not uncommon. And so, so I just, you know, move through the world, but I had a really interesting childhood right around this, right around the age of 13. My mom died suddenly and then… by suicide, which turned out to be a very formative experience, it actually taught me optimism. And then shortly thereafter got Lyme disease, which put me on a round of thermonuclear antibiotics, which wiped up my gut, so caused me the chemical sensitivities and all sorts of other things. So it’s kind of like mold, suicide, Lyme bum, bum bum. And that was basically forced to drop at high school and, and so through a series of sort of incredible accidents, ended up meeting a guy at the gas station and recruited me to come work for him on Wall Street. So it’s total fairytale. And I did that starting at age 16, literally gas station for Wall Street, jeans to suit and tie in a matter of a week.
And I did that for about nine years, and I had a really great career. And it just happened to be something that was suitable for my personality. It just happened to be that this gas station that happened to work for me, and I really enjoyed it, but I lacked purpose. That was my big thing is that my mom had raised me to be to contribute to the greater good, and she did so to a fault. That’s actually one of her on doings. But the positive part of that was something that really made an impression on me, which is if you improve the quality of other people’s lives, that natural byproduct of that is the quality of your life improves. And so that was embedded in me as a child. And yet on Wall Street, I struggled deeply with this, this country, there’s just the only people that benefited from my success on Wall Street were the people who were in the stores where I worked.
Joe Evangelisti 04:41
It’s kind of counterintuitive to what you do on Wall Street, right?
Jason Earle 04:44
Exactly. And so I had been frustrated with all of that and finally, you know, after the dot-com bubble burst, I decided I wanted to do something meaningful with my life and I went backpacking for a while. This is right around September 11. And so I kept it pretty domestic and why was in Hawaii, I was living on the beach and in youth hostels. I was still young, I had a little bit of money, but I was, you know, really enjoying some time off. I didn’t do the college thing, like a lot of my friends did. So I was taking my time reading a lot of local newspapers and stuff.
And I read about a guy who’d gotten sick from working in a hotel where there was a major mold problem. I didn’t realize at the time, but it was the biggest mold problem in modern history. There was the Hilton Kalia tower, which is the flagship property in a lot of big building on Waikiki Beach with the rainbow on it, everybody, you know, it’s an postcards that had been shut down for a mold problem that they initially thought was pretty localized to a small area. But as they began opening the walls, it’s like Pandora’s box, I’m going from a half million dollar problem, to a $5 million problem, to a $55 million mold problem. And while I was there, this was big news. It was big international news. In the real estate world. It was also big news locally, because people were talking about how it affected them. And this one guy who was in his 40s was interviewed and he had developed adult onset asthma and sensitivities, all these foods and things that he had never been sensitive to before.
And, and it was like a light bulb went on for me. It was like deja vu moment, in a way where I suddenly was brought back to my childhood, and I felt I had the kind of opposite where, you know, I wonder if mold was the issue for me. I wonder if if we had a problem. So I went to a payphone which is probably there anymore, and called my father and said, hey, do you think we had a mold problem? And he laughed at me. He said, of course we had mold, we had mushrooms in the basement, you know? And he was so flippin, like, it’s just of course we, you know, like, and and I said, Well, do you think that that was the underlying you think that that was why I was sick? And he said, well that cerrtainly didn’t help. You know, like, again, it’s just this… basements have mold. That’s just the way people think that you know, what is this? What does it smell like? It smells like a basement. That’s that’s the way people used to talk about this subject. It’s different now. And so this is 20 years ago, right? So this is this is I got into this before, people were really talking before it was in the headlines, for sure. Hurricane Katrina and some other things, certainly, you know, cemented it into our, you know, our collective mindsets, but I got immediately interested in that. And what I got interested in was not mold, per se, but actually how buildings impact people’s health.
And I started looking at this thing we spent so much of our time indoors. And you know, I’ve reasoned statistics, or we’ve spent 90% of our time, at least indoors, if you include transportation, sometimes more. And we worry so much about the outdoor environment and outdoor air pollution, but take very little consideration into our indoor environment where we have a lot of control, we have zero control of the outdoor environment, in our very infinitesimal way. But indoors, we truly have control over these environmental factors, the quality of the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, shelter being a basic human need is, well, that’s where we have a locus of control. And the fact that we don’t exert that control, I think is a bit of a travesty. And so so my job is, through Got Mold? And I’ll tell you how we got here. But my… our job is to give people the tools and knowledge they need to make better decisions about the air they breathe. And so I got interested in this space from Hawaii, flew back from New York, New Jersey, armed with curiosity, took a job working for a mold remediation company. From Wall Street to mold, right?
And took a job for remediation company trying to understand what they were actually doing and quickly saw what they were doing was ineffective and oftentimes harmful. They were using chemicals for treatments for mold cleanup, instead of actually cleaning the mold. Oftentimes using that as a substitute instead. So leaving behind a house with mold and chemicals. And so I saw an opportunity to create a company that would protect the consumer from that kind of that kind of stuff, lead paint, asbestos, all these environmental hazards have a have a Chinese wall, if you will, where there’s an inspector, and mediator. And these two things are in many cases legally separated. What we did was we went in and said, Okay, well, I’m going to create an inspection company, because eventually there’ll be legislation about this. And sure enough, there is and in every state where there’s legislation, and they divide those two. So we created a Mold Inspection Company to guide the consumer through this process to protect them from the contractors, do the testing at the end, make sure they got what they paid for before they pay for it. And through that company actually began using mold sniffing dogs, which is which is really what put us on the map.
We had specially trained Labrador Retrievers trained to sniff out the hidden mold and buildings. And that’s actually what got us on to Good Morning America, and Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and 1000s of newspapers and magazines. I mean, really, it’s just it was it’s incredible. We’ve never advertised, and our phone has been ringing and ringing and ringing. And really, it’s based upon the fact that we have there’s no conflict of interest. We go into homes, we figure out what’s going on, we get most of our referrals from doctors for wanting to target mold. And then we guide them through the process and the stories of healing had been profound, but they’re to wrap it up where we are today. We over the years realized that our inspection business as satisfying as it is and it’s in it’s it’s afforded me a comfortable lifestyle. It’s also I realized that we had created a high end service business, which was cost prohibitive for…. my parents could not have afforded to hire my company, right? So I created this to help parents and families avoid having to go through what my family went through. And yeah, I created something that was out of reach in terms of costs. And so that always bothered me.
And so a number of years ago, we began putting the pieces of the puzzle together to create a very high quality, do it yourself test kit, which would use the same device the professionals use, but without any of the costs or hassle associated with finding and hiring a qualified professional. And so that’s what we did. So at gotmold.com, we’ve just made them available to the public, you can now test the air in up to three rooms, using the same devices the professionals use for a fraction of the cost. And so it’s a very exciting time. And so the best part is my parents could have afforded this…my parents could have afforded this, and they probably would have purchased this, if they had thought mold might be an issue, my kid is sick, what’s the first step? And I kept thinking about them in that in the creation of it and making what how can I close this loop? And so that’s, that’s what brought me here today.
Joe Evangelisti 11:06
Man, well, you give a podcast host a lot to work with, let’s say that I mean, a page full of notes. First of all, I got this one sheet in front of me your bio, and man, they got to update this because the background you gave me, you know, doesn’t exactly match up with what my notes say in front of me, we go from, you know, being being poked and prodded as a kid with massive allergies. And I’m not even gonna try to guess your age, but I feel like we’re pretty similar in age. And the interesting thing is, like, nobody had allergies when we were kids, like nobody had allergies, you know, and for you to have out… be allergic to everything.
You know, it’s pretty telling, obviously, that you were in some kind of environment that was obviously, you know, sparking up something for you. And you’re right, you know, when we were kids, like everything had mold on it, like they remember, you know, you’d walk into your bathroom and you had mold around the top of the shower and nobody cared. Your kids, like everyone just had mold everywhere your basement was covered mold. I remember my grandmother’s basement when I grew up was that type of basement that you’re talking about. It was like a cellar.
You know, you’d only walk down there to, you know, whatever. I mean, it was just, it was gross. It was moldy, it was you know, it’s just what it is what it was, and I’m sure it made us all sick. She had one of those houses in Jersey, it was 150 years old. And it was wet basement, right? But you’re right, we don’t we don’t think about these things. Now, the way we thought about them 30 40 years ago, when we were growning up as kids.
Jason Earle 12:24
Different levels of awareness about all these things. Think about tap water, right? Or just thing about water in general, when people are used to, or quality of food. There wasn’t an organic grocery store at all, when we were…
Joe Evangelisti 12:34
Jason Earle 12:36
Organic, but it’s organic. And then really, the term is even fairly new. So we’ve gone through our society has gone through this really interesting, I think I’m thinking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you know, where the top is this act of self actualization. And what’s cool about this, the industry that we’re in is that we tend to serve people they’re thinking, they’re, they’re, they’re optimizing their lives. And they’re finally taking action on something like air, which is this thing that’s, that’s, it’s literally hiding right under the tip of your nose. But yet you don’t think about it, you realize you just…. you breathe 22,000 times a day. How many of those are conscious?
How many of those are you thinking about? Are you aware of very few, if any, unless you’re having a difficult time, unless you’ve touched a… you taste or smell something that you don’t want, or that you don’t have enough air, then you just think about it a lot. And so it’s a tricky thing, selling air awareness, which is, which is what we do. But I think we’re doing this at a time when people are becoming more aware of this COVID has certainly brought a lot of attention to air quality. And also the indoor environments for so many of us, will since we’re all locked up for so long. But there’s also this funny thing, it’s just this kind of last frontier of environmental awareness because toilets is where it starts. All developed nations start with toilets, undeveloped, no toilets, develop toilets.
Joe Evangelisti 13:51
Jason Earle 13:52
And then you got food. Food awareness is the first thing and then water, right clean water, and then and then the fresher the net more natural water. Air is the last one, right? It’s the thing that you need the most but you think about the least, and…but yet that our society has, is waking up to that. And if you follow hierarchy, if you follow that hierarchy of youth all the way up at the top and get the air you realize when you have a problem with air, you go right back to the bottom because it’s survival. It’s an amazing dynamic around environmental awareness, air in particular. And the timing for this. It’s very exciting. It’s a it’s a great time to be in this space.
Joe Evangelisti 14:29
One of the things that you said that really resonated with me big time because you know, I grew up in the construction industry, we develop self storage now but I mean for over a decade, we flipped houses, we flipped 1000 properties and you know, we had our hands in the in the residential space development space for a very long time. And when what you said that really hit home for me was that we cannot control any percentage of the exterior of the outside environment, right, but when we’re inside, people don’t realize we have 100% control.
Now we might not have the technology. We might not have the resources or you know the abundance of money to do whatever we want with the inside but what are some things that just about anybody can do aside from you know just going and changing your air filters obviously but like what are some things I mean… Obviously I love the idea of this Got Mold? Test Kit, right? You know so what it may be some let’s let’s start out with this what are some obvious ideas where people probably need to test for and then you know what are the next steps that you need to go into if the test comes back and what does the test tell us I guess, basically.
Jason Earle 15:25
Well so we’re not when I think about you know we’re in the Healthy Home Business as much as we are in the mold business and I look at this much more holistically in the sense that you know, there’s there’s there’s evidence that respiratory illness and in America is actually down. I’m sorry, the all causes respiratory ills are down for example smoking and things like that, but yet morbidity associated with respiratory illnesses up 30% since 1965 And so you have to wonder if all the contributors that respiratory ailments are down, why are we getting more sick and more severely sick? And my friends who are in this space, in fact, I had this conversation last night at nine o’clock with the former president of the Indoor Air Quality Association, we believe that there’s chronic VOC exposure so the the the gases that come off of building materials and finishes and furnishings and things like that are predominantly of course, you know, anything that’s made quickly, which almost everything is these days, anything with a veneer on it is made with glue, and anything I shouldn’t say any of the pressboard products right? These things are all anyway they are off gassing.
Joe Evangelisti 16:31
But to be fair, new construction, everything is made that way now, right. We used to have solid wood floors. Now we have laminate hardwood floors, we used to have solid hardwood cabinets and we have laminate cabinets, everything is laminated pressed, quick, it’s fake. Yeah, exact.
Jason Earle 16:44
Fake! Right! So we’ve gone away from all this stuff. And what we’ve done is we’ve created chemical house and we by the way, we tighten up our buildings for energy efficiency. And we also pack our insulated walls with insulation with formaldehyde in it. This is a class one carcinogen why it’s legal in our great nation to build buildings out of cancer at the amount of materials that off gas carcinogens is beyond me. It’s one of my missions in life is to get that… there’s no reason to comment since then you can put anybody on the street and they’ll say what, why? And it’s because there’s a proof that you’re innocent until proven guilty even if you’re a corporation in America. And so unless you want to spend the money to prove that they’re guilty, guess what it’s going to happen until it happens until someone steps up.
So mold is is something that’s highly actionable because it’s an acute thing it’s something you have a moisture issue, you have a smell. So, I always say is you use your senses first thing you do is the see something, smell something, or feel something? Do you see something blistering paint, you’re looking for anything that any indication of moisture staining, the trim pulling away from walls, these are the dead giveaways, right? If you smell something that musty odor or any chemical odor, by the way, this is a really important issue. The new house smell is the beautiful smell cancer.
Joe Evangelisti 17:59
Jason Earle 18:00
I can be as blunt as you can be. But that’s the bottom line the new car smell similarly like Pavlov’s dogs, we’ve associated success to the smells. But that’s a function of neurological trance, we’ve trained ourselves to do this that is not it’s just like the gasoline, the smell of gasoline, the gas station smells good. But we all know that’s not it’s a same kind of thing. There’s an allure to like VOCs are very like perfume VOCs. I just read an article today about about, they did a really interesting study on on moisturizers and the VOCs. From the scent of skin products causes incredible amounts of exposure. So your face is off gas, right? So the bottom line is, is that fragrances, whether they’re artificial or natural, in many cases, are concentrating indoors causing problems, moisture issues are the first thing you want to look for.
Because you can take action on that right away. You have 24 to 48 hours to react to a moisture problem before it becomes a mold problem. And a moisture problem is cheap, or free to deal with, a mold problem is expensive. And so we want to do is we want to be very vigilant about about moisture problems. That’s the first thing in terms, so see something, smells something, or feel something. Feels something is symptoms, right? So headaches are that giveaway, fatigue, difficulty concentrating any upper respiratory thing, anything that goes away when you leave the house. That’s a big, right? So if you see something else out there, feel something, do something. And and I always say trust your instincts, but then get the facts. So you want to do things like test, you want to do things like collect air samples using that Mold Test Kit.
There’s another great sample collection device or a test kit made by a company called PRISM analytical homeaircheck.com, and they do they do VOC testing. So if you’re concerned about chemicals in your house, that’s a great test too. You want to get humidity gauges in your house. Ideally, they’ve got remote sensors, you can put them in places like crawl spaces in and out, places they’re out of sight out of mind. You want to keep humidity above 40% but below 60%. This is very important above 60% You get condensation, and mold and dust mites and all sorts of allergens start to start to proliferate. Below 40%, you get dried sinuses dry mucous membranes and critters can get into that way. That’s why people get sick in the winter. It’s not so much because there’s more bugs is because they’re susceptible to to dry mucous membranes.
And so the bottom line is when when you’ve identified when you start to quantify this around your house, and you’ve got your senses engaged, then you start looking at what you can do in terms of mechanical things that will improve air quality. You’ve mentioned furnace filters, which are truly designed to keep the mechanical equipment clean to keep the fan and the blower clean the coils, things like that. What you want to do is get air purifiers. And there’s a big difference between a filter and a purifier. And specifically, you want to get the standalone air units. There’s some great companies out there, Healthway’s great one. Medify is another great one. We used to recommend IQ Air units but lately the company has kind of done a turn.
So great units but I don’t necessarily support some of their some of their other things. But but there’s some great air purifiers out there. And what you want to look for is a true HEPA, which means it’s a sealed unit. And that removes 99 and three quarters percent of all particles point three microns and up. And what that means is it takes all the little tiny stuff out. Ideally you want to get something that’s also got activated carbon. The problem is that gets saturated, so you have the changes out on a regular basis, but the activated carbon will remove odors and VOCs. A good air purifier will take out particles and gases. If you’re just taking out the particles, you’re missing half or more of the of the pollutants. And the other thing is ventilation, you know, open your windows, you know, obviously you can’t do it when it’s hot, or super humid or super cold but you want to get ventilation in your house. You know, what I’m really encouraging people to do, and this is sort of a summary is to recognize that your building is a function of your immune system.
Think about this, it’s an exoskin and exoskeleton, if you will, it’s a filter, it’s to protect you from all these things. And we actually, in many ways, have kind of a symbiotic relationship with our buildings, if you don’t take care of your building, it will develop aches and pains, it will develop moisture problems will develop mold, it will make you sick. That you fix the building, the building gets better, you get better. It’s a symbiotic relationship. It’s a mutualism, if you will. And so I’m really encouraging people to consider that this building, which is a basic human need is not just a box that we store our stuff in and that we live and work in, it’s actually truly a relationship that you have to have the structure. And if you do that, then you really make your house your home and you make your home your health. And if you do that, then you’ve done something really great for yourself and for your family, and for the next people who live in your house. Because that tends to be the legacy of a legacy builder. You leave behind a legacy for the for the next people that have your home, to take care of as well.
Joe Evangelisti 22:52
I love it. Love it, Jason. I you know, I don’t think there’s a better way to cap it off. Besides that, I mean, what, what’s your big goal? What are you… What is… What do you want to see this? Where do you want to see Got Mold? go, what’s the big goal in the next you know, three to five years?
Jason Earle 23:03
we’re working on a couple of devices, that would actually be early. That would be that would basically mold sensor that would send alerts to your email or to your to your phone, if the conditions that are conducive to mold growth are detected. So what we’re really trying to do here, Joe is this.
We live on a water planet. We all live in buildings, we all breathe air, everyone always asked me you know who is your demographic, the people who live on a water planet that live in buildings up there, that’s who we serve, right? It just so happens that many people happen to, you know, have an event that brings their awareness to mold. My goal is to enable is to is to wake up the population to realize that mold is a fact of life.
You’re never going to… if you don’t… if you haven’t had a mold problem yet. It’s just wait. It’s inevitable. It’s up there with death and taxes. I just want people to be prepared about it. Because all of the diseases that are caused by or aggravated by mold are preventable. That’s the reality, unlike so many of these other diseases that that you may be genetic or what have you. This is an environmental exposure issue that you can both prevent, and also correct quickly if you have the wherewithal. And if you stop looking on Facebook for your answers, which isn’t… So you have to know where to ask. But the bottom line is we’re about raising awareness. So in next three to five years, I want… if Got Mold? is a national brand name, a recognizable brand name, then I think we will have done our job to raise awareness about the subject matter.
Joe Evangelisti 24:38
Yeah, I mean, it’s a no brainer to me. I mean, you got smart homes now we got everything connected to Bluetooth, if you create a device like that, I mean, I already have the the humidistat that you’re talking about for water, you know, seepage in the basement I mean all these things I can imagine a mold sensor plug and right in, you know the way people care about their health nowadays and everyone’s wearing a smartwatch and a tracker there, there’s really no reason why that doesn’t tap into the whole ecosystem. So, I wish you luck with it. I see it happening. So what’s the best way for our listeners to get a hold of you? Jason, I know you were talking about creating some, some ability for them to get the kit for them to actually tap into the Got Mold? system and be able to service their homes with this as well.
Jason Earle 25:14
Yeah, so actually, for your listeners, we created a special welcome page at gotmold.com. It’s slash legacy builder. So it’s gotmold.com/legacybuilder. And there we have a special discounted link for 10% off of any of our test kits, and also a copy of an e book. I don’t even know if so do people still say it feels so in 1999… But it’s a 45 page guide that we put together. No strings attached. No… it’s not a sales document in any way. It’s actually filled with inspection checklists, and all sorts of really good practical stuff, some FAQs. And we get a lot of positive feedback on that. So we always suggest that if people have questions about mold, check that first before Facebook.
Joe Evangelisti 25:59
There you go. There you have it. So keep your family safe. Go in there and get the FAQ. Get yourself a Mold Test Kit if you have any questions whatsoever about whether or not your home has mold, and I’m sure the website, learn on how to take it the next step. Jason Earle, thanks for being on show brother. Appreciate it. Great show.
Jason Earle 26:17
Thank you Joe.