The Distance is a podcast by Basecamp about longevity in business, featuring the stories of businesses that have endured for at least 25 years and the people who got them there. Listen to our recent episodes below and don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Google Play Music.


The Rubbish Boy

Brian Scudamore was 19 when he set up his junk-hauling business with a used pick-up truck and a stack of business cards. But his ambitions were always greater than being a one-man junk operation. Brian Scudamore wanted his company to have a brand as polished as FedEx or Starbucks, and he wanted it to be big. Today, 1-800-GOT-JUNK is in three countries, and Brian is using what he learned about franchising to take other unglamorous home services and make them into big businesses.

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Swan Song

In the ice sculpture world of the 70s and 80s, swans ruled the roost. Jim Nadeau carved a swan every Sunday for the brunch service of the hotel where he worked. He doesn’t make too many swans anymore, but the shape is still taught in culinary schools. In this mini episode, find out how swans became standard in ice sculptures and what rookie carvers can learn from making them.

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Mr. Freeze

In the 1970s, ice carving was the province of chefs at high-end hotels that made the sculptures part of their decor for Sunday brunch. Jim Nadeau came out of this tradition. Then, in 1980, he got the idea to start his own ice carving business in the Chicago area. Nadeau’s Ice Sculptures was among the first specialty carving shops to open and helped take the craft out of upscale hotel kitchens and into the mass market.

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Code TH

The Nedra Matteucci Galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico draws many visitors looking to admire or buy fine artwork. Then there are the treasure hunters, who come to the gallery looking for clues about a chest of valuables reportedly buried in the Rocky Mountains by the gallery’s previous owner, retired art dealer Forrest Fenn. The Nedra Matteucci Galleries’ rich history and unique architecture only add to the institution’s mystique, making it a magnet for fortune seekers.

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Humble Adobe

Santa Fe, New Mexico is home to around 200 art galleries. Even in this thriving art scene, Nedra Matteucci’s gallery stands out. The 44-year-old gallery, which she bought in 1988, is housed in an adobe compound spanning two acres, and the business takes a grounded approach to fine art. If visiting the Nedra Matteucci Galleries feels like you’re stepping into someone’s home, it’s because Nedra, a New Mexico native who got her start selling paintings on the road, has made approachability part of the overall experience.

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A Lively Conversation, Part 2

In the second half of the conversation between Paul McKenna of Starship restaurant and Anne Pezalla and Kate Pezalla Marlin of Lively Athletics, the business owners talk social media, the dark side of coupons and what’s next.

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A Lively Conversation, Part 1

We’re trying something new with this episode. It’s a conversation between business owners on different ends of the experience spectrum. Sisters Anne Pezalla and Kate Pezalla Marlin opened their women’s athletic apparel and running shoe boutique, Lively Athletics, in 2014. They’re at the start of their entrepreneurial journey and wanted to get some advice from Paul McKenna, who’s been running a sandwich shop and catering business called Starship since 1977. You’ll hear Anne, Kate and Paul discuss growth, competition, burnout and other issues facing small business owners.

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Resurrection Mary

With 95 years of history behind it, the Willowbrook Ballroom in Willow Springs, Ill. has seen many generations of dancers come and go. One dancer in particular has stuck around: Resurrection Mary, the ghost of a young woman who’s reputed to haunt the ballroom and the area around it. She’s one of the region’s most well-known spooky legends.

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Save the Last Dance

When Birute and Gediminas Jodwalis bought the Willowbrook Ballroom from the business’ founding family nearly 20 years ago, they inherited an intensely loyal but shrinking customer base of Sunday afternoon dancers. The 95-year-old Willowbrook is one of the area’s last remaining traditional ballrooms, and while the pastime continues to slowly fade away, the Jodwalis’ commitment to their legacy customers hasn’t wavered. They have adapted the event space for a modern clientele while honoring a promise they made to the founding family to keep the Sunday dancers on their feet and the big bands on stage.

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Children of the Corn

The primary business at the Funk family farm is maple syrup production. But the farm also grows corn and soybeans to supplement the income from maple syrup. Mike and Debby Funk, the fifth generation to farm on the family land in central Illinois, met de-tasseling corn as teenagers. In this mini episode, Debby remembers those days of meeting her future husband and tasting his family’s maple syrup for the first time.

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Funk Yeah!

Central Illinois is a long way from Vermont or Canada, but that hasn’t stopped the Funk family of Funks Grove, Ill., from building a multi-generational maple syrup business. Every year, the Funks collect sap from thousands of trees that have been passed down in their family and boil it into pure maple syrup. The acres of maple trees, along with syrup-making expertise and the love of a business that’s unpredictable and laborious, are family assets that have sustained generations of Funks.

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Keeping Those Refrigerators Running

In the early 80s, long before he became the CEO of LION, his family-owned manufacturing company, Steve Schwartz ran his college fraternity’s refrigerator rental business. Fridges are a far cry from LION’s core business of making protective gear for firefighters, but that early experience gave Steve his first taste of entrepreneurism.

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