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Interview: Demetris Ford Talks Fitness, Entrepreneurship, And Fatherhood

Demetris Ford is an entrepreneur with confidence that is so contagious. The Magnolia, Arkansas native and now Dallas, Texas resident flexes his versatility in various industries from fitness to roofing.

“I’ve always been in the leadership position from football to off the field. People like being around me. I feel like I give a lot of energy to people’s lives and make them smile, make them laugh. I feel like I help them in other ways and in ways that I don’t ever really speak on, which I’m trying to do more as far as motivational purposes,” Demetris Ford explains at the start of our interview. He continues with, “I’m super old-school when it comes to that, meaning that I like to lead by example rather than me telling you the things that I do.” His qualities as a leader helped to propel him on his journey as an entrepreneur. Demetris was raised in Magnolia, Arkansas—a small town with a population of about 11,500.

One quality about Demetris is his confidence and motivation to always be one step ahead of the competition. His versatility is undeniable from fitness to learning a trade. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Demetris owns and operates Ford Tough Training, his personal training business and is also flourishing as a roofer at Linear Roofing. When speaking on the negative feedback he received once he decided to leave his corporate job he says, “I work my hardest and my best under pressure, so whenever I have doubt from people, I get a different motivation that a lot of people don’t understand. You don’t have a lot of people who were raised on constructive criticism.” He used the negativity as fuel to continue following what he knew in his heart he wanted.

Give me a quick rundown of your background!

I happen to be Demetris Donell Ford Jr. I am originally from Magnolia, Arkansas—born and raised. Country boy at heart [laughing] a little small town didn’t have much at all. Just a couple gas stations, one piece of a Wal-Mart. I was raised old-school strict style military. My dad’s military and he’s also a preacher at that. He has his own church so I’m a P.K. as well. I’ll let that flow in your mind, seeing how I was raised as a young child, which you’ll see come into play in my later adult life. It’s like a subconscious thing that kicked in that was already instilled into me; but it’s more so me maturing into in the mind, and me developing myself into an actual adult by applying those basic standards that they taught me growing up.

As far as talents and skills, I like to dabble in a lot of different things. I involve myself in a lot of different alleyways as far as different people and different personalities. I would like to say that I’m a really versatile person. I always quote the famous Bruce Lee quote: “Be water, my friend.” So, I feel like that’s helped me develop myself as far as in the business career, especially and personal development relationships with other people. When I first meet them, I naturally tend to shape and morph myself so that they feel more comfortable being around me and doing business with me, and even just for holding small time conversations.

I’ve always been in the leadership position from football to off the field. People like being around me. I feel like I give a lot of energy to people’s lives and make them smile, make them laugh. I feel like I help them in other ways and in ways that I don’t ever really speak on, which I’m trying to do more as far as motivational purposes. I’m super old-school when it comes to that, meaning that I like to lead by example rather than me telling you the things that I do.

You said versatile. That’s a perfect word, I feel to describe you and it shift right into the things that you’re doing. You’re an entrepreneur—that’s how I view you, an entrepreneur. Multifaceted! You have a business, Ford Tough Training and you’re also a roofer. I’m eager to learn about how you got started in both of those areas because they’re completely different. So, let’s begin with your fitness journey, though.

Okay, so fitness [laughing]. Believe it or not, I used to hate working out whenever it all started. I’m human too, so I had my struggles that I had to overcome to develop myself into making working out a natural thing for me. When I first started, even when I was in college, I trained real hard. I like to be strong. I always like to be the strongest person in the room, so I felt like I had the upper-up on people. I was like okay, well I know I got a strong bench press let me see what I can develop in these other areas. I got All-American in football in college—that’s when I started doing the extra work that nobody saw. I started doing drills outside. I was doing sports rehab and recovery because I played football and dealt with different injuries. So, that kind of developed my love and passion for fitness overall. Even with rehabilitation, a lot of older people need it and a lot of personal trainers just go get that certification like, ‘oh I’m a trainer’—but you don’t know how to honestly feel a person out, like creating workouts to their needs and where they are in their life and fitness journey.

I fully got into personal training when I moved to Dallas and I got cut from the LA Rams. I needed a quick job. I knew I was good at working out, I just needed to teach other people how to truly workout. I used to walk around the gym just randomly before I even declared myself as a personal trainer. I used to help people if I saw their form was bad or if they could potentially injure themselves. I had been injured before from lifting improperly before I actually learned from rehabilitation. I started off doing that and was like man what the heck, let me go on and get a certification. I had already studied kinesiology and things like that in college and with an all sports background, I was familiar with the body and how things worked. I went and got my certification and passed the test. Didn’t even study for it because it was just basic knowledge that I had already knew. I went into training for Old Gold’s Gym out here in Garland, Texas, which is now Impact Fitness. I don’t know if they’re up and running right now, but I was the youngest trainer there. Highly motivated, still had that shine bright personality when I walked in. It’s kind of hard to be mad or sad around me or unmotivated.

I feel like I truly bring that out of people naturally and I took my personal training skills just like I do with my roofing skills. I studied and studied the things that other people were doing, as far as the trainers in the gym. I was like okay everyone has their niche. I have mine already which is the all sports training. You’ve got body building training there, you’ve got a rehabilitation training person there, you’ve got someone who is all about form, you’ve got the big body builder guys that’s going hard, then you’ve got CrossFit people who want more of a HIIT style workout. I already had those qualities because I got trained. I bought a session from all the personal trainers to see how they trained, so took everything that they had and I one-upped it and I had started to offer. So, that’s how I developed myself into being a successful personal trainer.

That’s awesome and it sounds like all these things come naturally to you. You were saying how you would see people whose form wasn’t the best and you’d help them. Like, it comes naturally for you. You’re like okay, this is light work. One thing that I do want your take on—health and wellness are taboo topics when it comes to the Black community. Why do you think that is?

I feel like it’s a lot of confusion. It’s a lot of people who are truly unknowledgeable. They have great work ethic, but you’re essentially working for no reason because you eat bad. You see a lot of African Americans go out there and work hard at the gym every day, but their diets not consistent. Yeah, you get in shape and you feel better internally, but externally you’re not hitting your goals that you want to look like. And then some people got their diet together, but they don’t want to go out to the gym or even have the knowledge to properly do lifts. I’ve personally noticed a lot of Black women don’t know how to do the exact form in lifts and things like that. And of course, I feel like us—Black people period, we’re very powerful people. We’re a very powerful culture and we hate asking people for help because it feels like it lowers us inside. So, I feel like the fall to that would be the fall to the African American culture as a whole—we’re scared to ask for resources, help, and things that we need because we’re too prideful.

Definitely what you said about people wanting change. They see the vision, but the diets don’t—it’s like something’s out of line. You’re doing all this work and it’s dismissing all the other stuff because it’s inconsistent and it’s not aligning. One thing I do want to know is at what point did you shift your mindset to say, you know what… I’m about to be serious about this. My health is important. What triggered your mindset because you said at the beginning you didn’t like working out, but something had to change.

It actually happened when I got a temporary job with FEMA as a disaster coordinator and I was working Hurricane Irma and Harvey. They moved me out to Miami for three months and I was like man, I’m on the beach. I look good, but I ain’t looking like these guys out here. It’s a whole different level! It’s what they do. They work on their body, they go to the beach! People take their body and physique more serious because you show it more. I ended up talking to a guy in the gym and he was like do you do body building competitions? I was like, no why? Like, I don’t even like y’all guys. He’s like man, your frame is incredible you should really think about it one day. I was trying to do my workout. I thought I knew everything, I’m the strongest in here, blahzay blahzay. And I started to watch him because I was going to the gym training out there every day and I was like man, these guys are doing things that I’ve never done before. I feel like they’ve got a secret on me, so that’s when I involved myself in the body building realm and that’s when I started going about fitness one hundred and ten percent. All the way from the dieting, all the way to the training, the sleep, everything that’s involved in developing your body to the point where you’ve never developed it before. I came back home to Texas and of course I was still in the gym working out and I’m like man, if spend all this time in the gym every day I might as well do a competition to show it to everybody, so that’s whenever I hired a prep coach and he was the same guy that came up to me in Miami. I just listened to everything that he said. I was like man, let me give this a try! He said if I eat right and do this and that I’ll look like this, so I’m curious. Let me see if it works. [laughing] So, I did it and it worked.

I remember seeing that journey and having seen you in college and then bam! It’s like this completely different you, physically. I was like oh, shoot! What! That is awesome and it’s really inspiring and motivating.

Yeah, and that’s the reason being behind fitness. My whole drive to it is to show people that even me, myself—I played sports and stuff but I wasn’t in shape. You’ve seen the transformation pics. I was eating McDonald’s and pizzas in college, you know. The problem, I would workout hard and stuff and get in good shape, but my body just didn’t show it. I never had abs before so I was like let me see what this look like and then it just all transpired into being how I got to where I am today. It’s pretty crazy. I look back on it sometimes, too.

Don’t even want to go back though! Even me, I’ve changed my diet and I’ve had a physical transformation and I’m just like dang, I used to eat this this way? I used to do these things? I feel so much better where I’m at right now. I wish everybody could experience it.

Yeah, I wish everybody could and that’s why I continue to do what I do. I want to add more muscle due to competition purposes, but I’m 280 pounds right now. I’m about to run a diet again for sixteen weeks just to show people like hey, I can climb up and I can come back down. I’ve done it numerous times, so why can’t you at least do it once? If an average person in general health does it once they’re not going to go back up! It was a heck of a ride. I learned a lot of things though just from personal experience.

Definitely keep at it because like I said it is definitely inspiring and even for the people that tell themselves that they’re not ready—they’re seeing you. Even if they don’t tell you that, they’re inspired. They want to change. I’m sure you’ve had people hit you up like, what you doing? Or, just inquiring. Them asking the question alone is enough—I sparked your interest. That makes me proud.

I’m putting my time into you. I’m feeding you and I’m helping you.

On social media you go by ‘Your Favorite Roofer’. I thought that was a really creative tag you started there. It’s a catch tagline, easy to remember for the work that you do with Linear Roofing. What inspired you to learn this trade?

Whenever I stopped doing personal training full-time I worked corporate for a year. Eight to five every day, waking up in the morning, same thing. I was getting up at five am just to workout, so once I got off work I could come home. I had a dog and of course you know I had a baby on the way and everything. I was a set schedule guy and me being the way that I am, it drove me crazy mentally. I was I a cubicle on a computer the whole time. It was kind of like I was in a classroom again and I can’t even get up and do the things that I want to do, especially having that entrepreneurship personality already. I did start my own moving and delivery company whenever I came back from Miami as well. I ran that for the span of a year as well, as I personal trained at the same time. I was everywhere. I used all my money that I got from FEMA and invested in that and got a truck and all the equipment and stuff, so that was actually my first real deal being a CEO of a company. Learned a lot of things as far as do’s and do nots when dealing with personal belongings and customer service, period.

I was working at JP Morgan and I was like man, this is cool and everything and my dad was like man you got a good job, you got good insurance, you’re living the dream. I was making $21/hour and $31/hour overtime once I hit forty. People out here, that’s a great job for some people and I don’t knock it at all. No disrespect or anything, but it just didn’t fit me. I wanted to be out. I wanted to be seen. I wanted to be more hands-on helping people do amazing things with their lives, whether it be from just giving them a whole new remodel paid by their insurance so they don’t have to come out of no money at all and even just doing a free service like my inspections. Older home owners can’t climb on top of roofs that are steep, so hey I’m young, I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to help people out.

My buddy had been talking to me for two years about, the owner. His name is Tony Nevares and I shook him off for the first year. He actually ended up stepping into a mentor position with me and we started getting close. We both did our first body building competition together and that’s how we developed the relationship that we have. I had already knew he was big money. He had a Lambo and everything, but I’m like dude you’re the boss of course you’re making money off people. It’s probably like a big pyramid scheme or something y’all running over there. [laughing] Like, I’m not about to climb no roof, what are you talking about? People don’t just buy roofs like that every day. I’m hitting him with everything like bro, get out my face. Nope, it’s a scam! I hit him with everything and he just stayed persistent with me.

He made me read a book, which I highly recommend for a lot of people as far as the entrepreneurship and self-development—it’s called The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone. An amazing book! This guy hit every nail on the head as far as me questioning myself of why I’m not where I want to be, why I’m not where I need to be, and why I’m not doing what I need to do to get to where I actually want to be. All the things you tell yourself why you’re failing or why something isn’t going to work out for you. I read the book and that lit a different fire in me and now I made the full transition from my job. My dad was calling me telling me I’m the dumbest person ever going into sales. I’m taking a lot of negativity from a lot of people and the only one that was positive about it was Tony. So, he took me under his wing. He trained me and everything and it took me almost six months to get my first sale in roofing. It was a struggle. I spent up all my savings I had at JP Morgan—was on my last. Once I hit that first sale, it hit me and then my son came and it all transpired for me when I held my son. Like, okay it’s time to get serious about this life thing, especially your career.

If I involve myself in any field that’s competitive in nature—I want to be the better than anybody in the room. I want to be better than anybody in the company, so of course I exalt myself out in that way and I ended up walking the walk and talking the talk. Ended up being number one in the company, selling over $200,000 a month for them, bringing in some good take home cash value. I originally came up with Your Favorite Roofer out of my first big signing. I was always scared to knock big houses. They have some nice big houses out here in Texas, like $3Million houses, plus. So, that’s typically what I aim for. I like big beautiful homes. I ended up knocking and he was like, “this roofer has already been here and he said it ain’t got enough damage.” I’m like are you sure he climbed that roof? Because it’s like a steep roof. I actually got a rope tied around his chimney and I climbed it and it was a whole bunch of damage. I came down and showed him all the pictures and stuff and he was like “yeah, I guess the guy was too scared to do it.” He was like “man, you’re like everybody’s favorite roofer or something aren’t you?” [laughing] I was like, that’s it!

I want to go back to something you said. You said your dad was calling you crazy for making this decision and I feel like a lot of things that require you to step out of the box or create your own way, it’s deemed as oh, what the hell you doing? But you trusted yourself to know like, one—I want more. And two—I know what I’m doing now isn’t working and I need something that fits my lifestyle. Seeing you do that is amazing. It’s very motivating and I feel like a lot of people, regardless of what field they’re in can get something from that.

Oh, most definitely and that can go from being a parent to your career to fitness. That’s why I feel like I’m very versatile because the things I’m giving, I’m giving to anybody in any situation and in any environment. I feel like that’s what truly separates me and I tend to progress a little bit better. I like to work under pressure. I work my hardest and my best under pressure. So whenever I have doubt from people, I get a different motivation that a lot of people don’t understand. You don’t have a lot of people who were raised on constructive criticism, which my dad did. It was hard to get a good job or anything out of him, or like a party from him as far as doing something right. It was kind of like, oh you’re supposed to do that. I want to change his mind about everything he thinks about the old-school way and what I’ve got to bring as far as the new school way—working smarter and not harder, and self-development.

That’s a major statement, but like you said, I could show you better than I can tell you. It’s like I love you and I respect you, but let me show you that I can do this my way. Let me show you that I can be a man my way. That’s powerful! That’s very powerful. Now, I want to pick your brain a little bit. What tidbit of information do you have for homeowners, or just anyone looking to make cosmetic upgrades to their properties?

Always, always, always—rule number one—if you have someone inspecting your home like in every field, you have people that don’t know what they’re talking about or what they’re doing. If someone comes and knock your door or before you call someone out to do an inspection, do some research on the company and then whatever individual they sent out. Make sure that you have someone of great expertise as far as moving forward to not only to get your roof cosmetically replaced at the pre-storm condition, but also other items around your home like your window beading and things like that.

Having an eye and the knowledge that I have now, I can pick out anything on a person’s home even from their siding or even stucco on their brick that can get replaced by insurance. Homeowners really need to do their own diligence and learn the policies they have with their insurance companies and the things that can get replaced.

I feel like it’s a whole bunch of attention to detail. It’s definitely a hidden gem as far as the benefits that you can get with your insurance when you’re a homeowner because whenever your agent comes out there and signs you up, it’s a whole lot of blambo blambo and you’re not really paying attention so you’re just signing off on something. You have to understand that there are a lot of things unwritten in that policy that you need to pay attention to, so that’s step number one. You have to understand your policy and the person that you’re working with.

And how long did it take you to get up to speed with all this roofing knowledge and being able to spot certain things?

To the point I’m at now—it took me a solid eight months for me to get comfortable as far as knowledge that I have and what I provide and if someone even challenged me on my knowledge, I can prove to you why it’s that. It took me a strong eight months, basically almost a year to really put my big boy shoes on and be able to do this comfortably and by myself without having to ask many questions. And a lot of questions that homeowners ask me—right now I’m probably at the point where 95% of the questions that you as a homeowner with insurance and replacing your roof and stuff—I feel like I have a 95% “I know it” rate.

Like, look you can be a roofer, sell some real estate—I can see it! What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?

It’s most definitely the lifestyle. You’re free! I schedule my appointments when I want to schedule them. I work it the way I want to work it. I don’t have somebody over my neck telling me what to do, when to do it. It’s definitely the freedom. But also freedom can be the downfall of an entrepreneur, especially somebody young because once you get into it you’re making good money, you get complacent. You get lazy, you fall back, and then you put yourself back in that hole that you were in before you came up. It’s definitely the freedom.

That’s awesome. I’m glad you get to live a lifestyle that works for you. I see you thriving and it’s the perfect thing to do for your personality, as you were saying—and your versatility. The work that you do is a great example of not limiting your abilities. What advice do you have for anyone who wants to try out multiple avenues just like you’re doing?

I would say never go into an avenue with the mindset of you failing. Before you get into any situation, you’re going to think about it, that’s natural human nature. You don’t want to be defeated before you even walk into the battlefield of war. It’s going to be an easy victory for the world, as I would say. It’s going to be a lot of things that’s not going to happen smoothly when you want to branch out and try different things. And one, because it’s something new. You don’t know! It’s like jumping off a cliff—like yeah, I got my parachute ready, but is it going to malfunction? Does it have a hole in it that you don’t know about? It’s a scary thing, which is why many people don’t do it. Don’t grow older and have to tell your kids and grandkids, I wish I would have, could have, or should have. Don’t be that person because then you’ll die with regret, rather than have regret in the moment of you trying something and you failing.

I love that message. Just give it a shot and like you said, don’t go into it already with failure on your mind. Give yourself the time to figure it out, and if it doesn’t work out for you then you can move on to the next thing.

Hey, it’s a million ways to be a millionaire. You just have to give it a try.

What has fatherhood been like for you and has it impacted your work in any way?

As I stated before, it impacted my work in a very positive way. It taught me how to be selfless. I have another person that I have to provide for now, provide for their life. One being that it’s a baby, and second that it’s my son. That’s my blood, so I don’t want him to ever have to grow up saying hey, I wish my dad could have did this, I wish my dad this. Like, no. I want to be everything that you want plus more. I want to be able to do the things that I wasn’t able to do as a kid with my child. It really didn’t change the way that I live.

I feel like a lot of people have a misconception of how parenting really is. A lot of people probably look at it as a job, which you’ve got responsibilities and you need to tend to your responsibilities, but that doesn’t stop you from living. I can take my son with me anywhere I want to go. If I want to go to the park, I go to the park. If I want to go walk, I take my son. If I want to go to the store, I take my son. If I want to go to the mall, I take my son. You just have to have a good mindset about it and I’ll continue to say that about anything you choose to involve yourself with in life. Your mindset is everything and once you control those thoughts and the actions that you put out with it, you’ll really shape yourself into a person that lives life like, man I’m loving this.

I’m glad that I got to sit down with you and pick your brain. Clearly, we know each other, but it’s different having these types of conversations and really just asking these questions.

Oh yeah, this is much more of a mature basis of me.

That part, too. There’s growth! My final question for you is how can we stay connected with you?

Of course, Instagram. I made a separate training page on Instagram. You can also find me on LinkedIn as well was Facebook. I have all the social media avenues as far as doing business covered, so you can find me on all those social sites.

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