Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Valuing Expertise - Let's Blog Off

Every two weeks Bloggers unite for a day to write about a communal topic. This week LetsBlogOff asks the question How do we accommodate the Ikeas and the Wal-Marts of the world while at the same time making a living? Where does price stop and value start?

I am going to start this Lets Blog Off with a story that happened to me several years ago.  I was in a Home Depot trying to find something specific and was trying to decide between several varieties of some thingamabob.  Somewhere nearby someone mentioned doors and my brain started paying attention.  It turned out I was standing near the door department and a woman was trying to order a door.  The HD associate was asking her which way the door swung.  Unfortunately he couldn't convey his question in a way she understood.  After listening (basically eavesdropping) for a few minutes I walked over and asked if I could help since I was in the door business.  The HD associate was less than thrilled.  All I did was take a piece of paper and write exterior and interior on it, drew two lines that represented walls and one line that represented the door.  I was able to ask the woman, while showing her the crude drawing, when standing on the exterior side of the door which side were the hinges on and did the door swing into the room or out of the room?  She answered quickly and easily.  I looked at the HD associate and said there you go. He stilled looked less than thrilled but the woman thanked me profusely and I continued on my way.  

While this story proves that my expertise in the door business is valuable I still have to make a living which to be honest is very tough in Florida.  It is all about the bottom line versus quality here.  In order to be competitive I no longer put a dollar line item in my quotes for my time and knowledge to create submittals, key schedules, tag hardware, and all the other many small services that come up on a project.  If I did I would never close a job.  My hope is that because my service and expertise are given willingly the general contractor or end user will come back to me for the next project.  So far it has worked.

Please read the other contributors point of view below as they are much wiser than me :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Building a Team of Trades

Being a door & hardware supplier I think my scope is 1% of the total building process.  Yet that 1% is often complicated and confusing.  I work hard to make sure my material shows up on the jobsite tagged with door numbers and anything else I can think of to do to make it easy on the GC and installer.  Building a building is a team process and each trade can make or break the job. 

To that end I thought it would be interesting to start a series of guest blog posts inviting all facets of the building industry to write about what they feel could be done to make the process of building a building easier at the jobsite? 

Todd Vendituoli was the first person I emailed about this new series and he was gracious enough to say yes. Todd has been a builder for many years and currently owns two construction companies.   Todd Vendituoli Construction L.L.C. is based out of West Burke, VT and also Eleuthera, Bahamas, KV Construction Company LTD.  You can find his blog about all things building here: http://thebuildingblox.blogspot.com/   Todd is also expanding into the Social Media industry and recently started a brand new blog:  http://thebuildingblox.blogspot.com/p/social-media-4-you.html

By Todd Vendituoli
Over the years I have had many roles in the construction field but in all of them I was the one that had to make sure that every aspect of the project flowed smoothly. The entire process of making sure that the pieces and parts of that project had to be all aligned so that there were no glitches or delays.
This is even more evident as the projects get larger in scope and you are dealing with many different trades people and suppliers. The carpenters need to be aware of the needs of the electricians and plumbers as well as others to make sure that what they build will work smoothly into the needs of the others. This process operates through the entire project so that each of the different trades and suppliers know what is needed of them and also what will be required by the others. This is how it works when I do it but..
I had occasion to be part of a large project a few years ago and was asked to do the remodeling of a ski lodge. There was a hitch though. I was there to do carpentry, not act as the general contractor. The man that had been put in charge was not a GC and it was his role to oversee all the carpenters, electricians, plumbers, suppliers etc.. It was not working well at all as no one knew what the overall plan was and what their roles and responsibilities were. As my frustration grew, I asked if he wouldn’t mind if I helped try to co-ordinate everything so that we got back on schedule. He agreed and I now had  to learn all the parts that were needed to be done such as where the wiring was to go, what plumbing was to be repaired or changed, what each supplier had on order and when it was scheduled for delivery and on and on.
The chain had been broken. Each of the links in the chain barely knew it was part of the same chain so a new plan had to be implemented. My solution was to have morning and evening meetings with the head of each trade.
We would all get together before any work started and discuss what they would be doing and how it worked into the other trades schedules. For example: if the electricians were going to wire a certain section, had the carpenters done what was needed, did the IT people need to run anything there, was there any plumbing work that was required there etc. We also discussed what was happening with their suppliers. Were they getting what they needed when and how they needed them? Was there any way to increase the rate and efficiency of what was happening on any end?
Then come the end of the day we met again to discuss how and what had been accomplished even though I had been checking throughout the day.
The area that was consistently in need of assistance was the supplier end. Without the needed supplies things couldn't progress on schedule. So my next step was to discuss with the suppliers what they could do to make things better and they were more than willing to help do whatever they could to simplify and expand their role. The solutions they came up with was for us and each of the trades involved to notify them as to when products would be needed. The trades would also notify them as to any scheduling changes. The suppliers would also add any addition installation requirements and needed hardware so that there would be no slowdowns.
The process was in sync. Every trade and supplier was working together to help each other as well as themselves. The system was flowing smoothly because each of the links in the chain knew what was expected of them and what the other person, trade or supplier needed and when. It had started as individual players and turned into a team that all worked and co-ordinated their efforts for the success of the project.

Thank you very much Todd for taking the time to write this post.  If anyone else would like to chime in please contact me at acrackeddoor@gmail.com.  Thank you. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Every two weeks Bloggers unite for a day to write about a communal topic. This week LetsBlogOff asks the question so what’s a good Thanksgiving food memory for you? 

Honestly - and this goes against tradition I know - the best food Thanksgiving I ever had was the first year I moved back to Florida.  I lived in an apartment complex and had made a couple of friends through walking my dog.  Dog owners know - when you know the dogs name but not the humans :)  Anyway most people left for Thanksgiving but another woman also had no plans to visit family so we decided to get together. 

We met early Thanksgiving afternoon and took our two respective dogs to the dog beach where the pooches had the run of the beach.  After a few hours we packed up and drove back to the apartment complex and started our Thanksgiving dinner.  We threw some zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers on the grill to get them toasty.  Then we placed our main dish - swordfish steaks - on the grill.  Everything was perfect and tasty.  Our only concession to tradition was a pumpkin pie which we were eating by the pool as the sun set.  

For a Thanksgiving that I had thought was going to be pretty pitiful after deciding not to visit my family, it turned out to be a beautiful day.  

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with the joy of being on this beautiful earth.

Knowing our group of bloggers you will find great recipes and more Thanksgiving food by reading their LetsBlogOff posts: 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Doors and Door Pulls of New York City

Some (most) people would find it strange that when I travel I look for interesting doors and hardware.  Thankfully my BFF and I are a lot alike in that regard.  While walking the streets of New York City here are a few of the more interesting doors and hardware we found.  I have to say I had you, JB @BuildingMoxie , in my mind with each snap.

Curved door pull built into the door

Arched Door at St. Thomas

Interesting door pull

A Door +

Large sliding doors

Beehive doors - unequal pair

Double Acting door

I guess you "wrench" the door open!

Guess what building this pull is on!

A gothic comedy club door pull

Park Plaza Doors

Door Pull at St. Thomas

Wrought Iron Gates at St. Thomas Church

Not a standard 1 3/4" Thick Door!

Beautiful hardware at St. Thomas Church

Very old hinges (see next photo)

Small door maybe just 6' tall St. Thomas Church

Chelsea Market Gate

Elevator Doors at Chelsea Market

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New York City Part 2 - Kind of

In order to get to New York City from Florida quickly one must fly on an airplane.  I can tell you I am a terrible flyer so though I was very excited by visiting NYC and going to the Door & Hardware Institute Convention flying there had me shaking in my boots.  Really.

I have never been a good flyer and only when I was flying every two weeks to visit a long ago boyfriend did I become decent at it.  Not comfortable mind you but not gripping the armrests with white knuckles either.

With the economy the way it is I haven't flown in several years but I really wanted to go to New York so I knew I had to suck it up.  My flight was at 7:00 am which didn't give me a lot of the day to worry.  It did however leave the night before.  I think I actually slept a total of 2 hours.  I haven't had to use the little white bag in the pocket in front of the seat yet so I kept the meal before the flight simple.  Just a few sips of coffee and a few bites of dry toast.  Then the tears started along with shaking and all I wanted to do was cancel the trip.

I know this is a mental issue and I feel like a failure that I can't get my nerves under control.  That control word is the issue.  I don't like not having any.  Logically I know I am safer in a plane than driving to work.  Logically I know all the flight staff really want to get home to their families.  Logical doesn't somehow penetrate my fear.

The car I had scheduled showed up at 5:30 am thankfully.  I thought, excellent I will be at the airport on time!  Then the driver ran the stop sign at the end of my block and though we didn't hit the car driving on the cross street we came close.  The shaking started again.  In my head I just kept repeating in 4 hours this will be over and I will be in NYC, just 4 hours.  I arrived at the airport without further incident - breathing again.  Airport security at TIA was much simpler than I expected.  Everyone was very kind and helpful.  No long lines either.

Finally at the gate and everything was on time.  Breathing a little easier but still a large knot was tightly wound in my chest.  Board the airplane and was seated next to a guy with his head in his Kindle.  Perfect because I am not a chatter.  I am too busy flying the plane in my head to say hello unfortunately.  I am sure I miss meeting a lot of great people.

Let me also say that on the few occasions I have chatted with fellow passengers as soon as they find out I am afraid to fly I am told the most horrendous stories about planes crashing and emergency landings.  That doesn't help at all. If  you find yourself talking to someone who is afraid to fly tell them lighthearted stories about life please.

The plane started to taxi and the tears roll down my cheeks.  Thankfully it was the quiet tears and not the break out the ugly cry tears.  I gripped the armrests very very tight and held my breath pretty much for the entire 3 hours of the flight.  The flight was very smooth and we actually landed almost 30 minutes early.  I just wanted to kiss the ground but I didn't cause it must be really dirty.  I did send a silent thank you up to the universe.

I was meeting my BFF at the airport and had made a car reservation to pick us up.  My BFF had found another passenger on her plane also traveling to the DHI Convention and the same hotel so the three of us piled into the car and the driver did  a great non crazy drive to midtown Manhattan.

Before heading to the convention I desperately needed about an hour to just sit and work on unraveling the knot in my chest.  After checking into the hotel and storing our bags my BFF suggested lunch.  Oh thank goodness I thought!  It was only 11:00 but her flight was earlier than mine so she was hungry and now that I was safely on the ground I was ravenous.   It also gave me a chance to mentally talk myself down from a ridiculous set of nerves.

The return flight was basically the same except I was working hard to get an earlier flight out due to the incoming Nor'easter.

I would love to visit London, Rome & Edinburgh someday but I have no idea how the heck I would fly across the ocean but I know I can not let fear of flying ruin my love of exploring new places.

Next the DHI Convention.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New York City - Part 1 of probably many~

Chelsea Market

New York City is truly iconic.  It is THE place where a lot of the world’s population wants to visit.   How I never visited in the first 49 years of my life is beyond me.  After 4 days visiting all I want to do is go back. 

How I finally was able to visit!  My BFF was debating about going to the Door and Hardware Convention which was being held in NYC and we had many conversations about it.  The day after my BFF and I had been discussing it my boss happened to ask about her.  I shared the dilemma and he said why don’t you go?  Not enough in the budget I said.  It is work related, I need to support you, put a budget together of what you feel it will cost, he said.  Really???  Holy cow I never even thought to ask because like many companies in the building industry afabco is financially conservative right now.  I found direct roundtrip flights on Delta for a very reasonable price.  DHI had negotiated 2008 room rates at The Sheraton Hotel & Towers in Midtown Manhattan, which I would be halving with my BFF.  Finally transportation and food, which is a bit more expensive in NYC than FL, but I felt pretty confident I wouldn’t spend a lot.  I hate to admit this but it took me a week to decide to take my boss up on his generous offer.  I knew I would need to spend personal money for clothes and travel supplies.  Plus I had planter factitious in my right foot how would I get around?  New York City is a walking city and of course there was walking the trade show floor!  Finally I decided this was an incredible gift and I needed to accept it. New York City baby!!

I am not a shopper, especially with such a limited budget, but I shopped and shopped finding the best deals. I insisted on buying clothes that I could wear in Florida too which was no small feat.   Coldwater Creek (online) and Sims (local) had the best finds! Shoes were very important since I had issues already so I paid full price for two pairs of very comfortable Clark’s shoes, one pair of heels and one pair of walking shoes.  What a difference a comfortable shoe makes!  Friends were also a wonderful source of generosity.  One friend let me borrow the perfect jacket – reversible – waterproof with a hood!  I wore that coat a lot!  Another friend had a great black cross body purse that would work wonderfully. 

Another wonderful part of visiting NYC was getting to finally meet a friend I knew from Twitter, Saxon Henry!  Thankfully she was available to have dinner during one of the nights we would be there. 

Like most exciting plans it seem to take forever to get here and then, bam!, it was time to pack!!  I laid out my clothes on the spare bedroom’s futon and put the 4 day wardrobe together.  I wrote each day’s clothes on post it notes so I would remember.  I really wanted to pack smart as I didn’t want to check luggage and after a lot of work ended up only taking two pairs of shoes.  Whoohoo! 

I made reservations for a car to pick me up at 5:30 am to get me to Tampa International Airport and another car to pick up my BFF and I at LaGuardia as that is where we would join up to start this incredible adventure. 

Next:  how much I really hate to fly but do it anyway because it gets me to incredible places like NYC!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


 It had been 4 years since I had an actual vacation.  You know the type where you plan, buy, pack and drive/fly and stay someplace other than your house. .  This one ended up being a mixer of sorts.    

After working at my current job for 2 years I finally had two week’s vacation and wanted to do something.  It had to be very inexpensive too. My BFF mentioned she was heading to St. Louis for NAWIC’s National Convention I sent her an email saying I had a wild ass idea – what if I come?  We discussed it and it wasn’t a good fit.  Then she mentioned she had been thinking about signing up for the AIA GA Design in Athens Georgia in October.  If I could figure out how to support her products with a-fab’s then I could participate at the show.  That was plausible.  What would we do from there?  Could we take a couple of days to run over to my dad’s just over the South Carolina line?  Thankfully my BFF and I are well versed in our respective family dynamics so that would be ok.  What then?  October, North Georgia well my BFF loves to hike and I could hang in a cabin and get my creativity on.  Hmm a plan of sorts started to swirl.
My BFF has hiked several times in the Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains so she started researching.  There had to be a compromise because she and I have very different ideas of what vacation means.  I need a roof over my head, walls, floor, electricity and a real bathroom.  She doesn’t need any of that.  After a lot of research she emailed me two different locations to choose from.  One was Fontana Village and the other Amicalola State Park. Fontana was a few hours further north and would add time to our return drive. Amicalola had a lodge, rental cottages and camp sites.  Well camp sites were automatically out but I liked the cottage idea.  Further discussion and we both agreed on Amicalola, now to decide whether we stay at the lodge or in a cottage.  BFF checked and only one cottage was available for the dates we wanted in October and this was June!  We had to make a fast decision and boom it was booked. 

For you Bob Borson!
Like with all fun events it seem to take forever to get here and then it is moving by fast.  We had a great time at the show and my dad’s was actually ok too.  Now here I sit in a cottage with the sun streaming through the windows listening to music while my BFF hikes today. I wrote this morning, practiced some yoga and meditation, walked around taking a lot of pictures, read outside, answered a few emails but only a few because reception is spotty, napped and am writing again. 

This isn’t my element so I am trying to relax with all the different noises going on. It is a busy place with lots of people even for a Monday. I am hoping I do better tonight about relaxing to actually sleep. 
But that is a minor inconvenience in the total picture.  My BFF is getting to do something she loves and so am I.  Isn’t that what vacation is all about?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Every two weeks Bloggers unite for a day to write about a communal topic.  This week LetsBlogOff asks the question: What is home to you?

In almost a half of century of life I have never lived in a neighborhood like Seminole Heights.  I grew up in south Florida and the area was just big to feel homey.  I followed my heart to New Hampshire when I was 25 and wow was it hard to make friends up there.  Thankfully my former husband had a great family and a few close friends because that made up my family.  When we went our separate ways I lived in a sub division for two years, walking my dog three times a day and no matter how many times I said hello to people I never got more than a nod back. 

When I moved to Tampa I rented for a while to get the lay of the land.  I knew I wanted a neighborhood without deed restrictions, with mature trees and central to the city.  I found Seminole Heights and loved loved loved the houses.  1920 bungalows were the norm.  I moved in 9 years ago and a place has never felt more like home to me than this neighborhood.  

Neighbors actually dropped in to say hello and brought bake goods.  I joined a local yoga group where 6 out of 8 of us plus our instructor live in the neighborhood.  All of us live within minutes of one another.  Pick up the phone for an impromptu yappy hour and people and dogs will be there.  Call to say I have a heavy piece of furniture I need help moving and someone will be there before you have hung up the phone.  Whenever I go to our little grocery store I always run into friends.  This past trip I saw a friend who belonged to the same book club as I did a few years back.  We hadn't seen each other for a year or so and gosh I realized how much I missed her.  

We watch out for each other here in the 'hood.  We have a very strong sense of community.  One of the original owners on my block passed away a few years ago.  Most of the block went to the funeral.  She was in her early 80's and I loved listening to her stories from 50 years ago. Mrs. Linderman was the one that told me about why my living room isn't square, it has a strange little nook in it.  The builder's wife played the organ. She was so talented other churches asked her to play for them too.  The nook in the living room is where the organ resided.  It had to be close to the front door because most of the other churches were too poor to have their own organ, Mrs. Hudson had to bring her own!

Several years ago my brother and sister in law and my two nephews visited for the first time and I decided to throw a party in my backyard.  I invited neighbors, friends, yoga chickees, my boss and his wife who lived in the 'hood.  All these wonderful different mixes of people and my BFF drove 2 1/2 hours to be here too!  I had a blast but what made me feel really good was the next morning my brother and I were drinking coffee in the backyard and he turned to me and said what a special place I had found.  He felt it too.

Please take some time and read the other participants talented writing in Lets Blog Off

Sunday, October 23, 2011

AIA Georgia Design Conference

Living in FL I thought I was familiar with southern hospitality.  I was wrong.  The AIA GA members made an incredible impression on me with their warmth and sincerity.

The show was located in the Foundry Classic Center which was a mix of beautiful old brick and modern conveniences.  The AIA GA Board of Directors has done a great job at educating their members to the importance of making the exhibitors feel welcome.   Having attended many trade shows in the past two years I have never had so many conference attendees come up and thank me for spending the effort, time and money to exhibit.  They spent time at each booth to really learn what each exhibitor had to offer. 

I was part of the a-fabco team that exhibited at the National AIA show in Miami and I can honestly say I was disappointed.  I know my boss will probably never spend the money to exhibit at the national level again.  The GA Design Conference was entirely differently.  It provided a more intimate setting to allow the architects to discuss their specific needs.  Points made to us were interest in more Grade 1 lever designs and the need to met government specifications. 

This experience has lead me to express interest in exhibiting at the AIA Florida Annual Convention being held at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach July 19-22, 2012.  As an aside I used to work at The Breakers many years ago so this would be a nostalgic experience for me. 

The AIA South Atlantic Regional Conference will be another possible opportunity to exhibit.  It is being held September 19-22 at the Loews Atlanta Hotel in Atlanta, GA.  It brings together architect membership from Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

All in all this was an excellent show and I greatly appreciate the generous and kind hospitality shown by the GA AIA membership.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Let me start this post by saying I like Orlando, the city has a lot to offer beyond the mouse.  There is nice hiking and canoeing in the Little Big Econ State Forest.  What seems to be lacking in Orlando are street signs at major intersections.  You know those nice big street signs that are nowinstalled on the same lines as the stop lights.  The road name is readable from a distance and you even know what street number you are at.

Add caption
I drove over to Orlando for a trade show and got lost twice.  I am pretty good with maps but it's hard to read one while driving.  The first issue was though the Goggle map called a road  by a name all the signs said Hwy ....  Well how the heck am I supposed to know Highway ... is also named ---?   It must be a local thing.  But I was able to get to the hotel before the show started and even had time to help set up the booth.  Breathing normally.

Big sign where is the # block?
The second lost episode (no not that one) was from the trade show to the hotel.  It was dark and raining which makes for fun times anyway.  It should have taken me 15 minutes to get to the hotel from the trade show.  At 30 mins. I called my BFF and begged her to please get on her computer and figure out where the heck I was.  I hadn't run into the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf or even Georgia so how lost could I be?  Turns out I wasn't too far off the beaten track I just turned right when I should have turned left.  Of course if there had been a street sign and the street sign had the street numbers by block on it I would have realized my mistake 20 minutes before.  Thankfully my BFF stayed on the phone with me and directed me to the hotel.  How can I not love cell phones and the internet!

Living in the Sunshine State I love tourists!  I want to keep tourists happy so they keep coming back and spending their hard earn dollars in my state.  Orlando is a city that tourists flock to - in droves.  Most rent cars since Florida isn't known for any transit system.  My plea to the City of Orlando is get your DOT to work and make some readable road signs and install them at every major intersection.  Please!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lets Blog Off - Privacy - right......

Every two weeks Bloggers unite for a day to write about a communal topic. This week LetsBlogOff asks the question what is this thing called privacy? 

I think there is a definite line that was drawn between my generation and the next youngest.  Social media wasn't prevalent when I was growing up.  If I took a picture I had to wait to have it developed before being able to see it.  I mailed checks to pay my bills.  I never completed an application, for anything, on line.  

I love the internet and most of what it offers but I am also wary of it.  I know anything I type, on any forum including this blog, is out in the universe forever.  I have a friend, age 38, who doesn't seem to mind and posts all kinds of things to her Facebook page.  Things I would NEVER post.   Personally I am not a fan of Facebook and only have a page because so many of my friends who don't live near me post pictures of their kids.  I rarely update my wall.  I am very careful with Twitter, LinkedIn and now Google +.  Potential employers, mortgage lenders, apartment complexes, credit card companies, insurance companies are all now searching social media before approving applicants.  

It scares me that since I have been shopping on line for a pair of boots for the past few weeks  I now see ads pop up on websites I visit that are all about shoes and boots.  

Other parts of my life also have less privacy.  I remember when I applied and was hired for a job at a dentist office on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, FL.  I was 20.  In order to work in Palm Beach I had to have an ID card to get on the island.  I was fingerprinted for the first time in my life to work for a DENTIST.  These days most of us are subject to a urine test at anytime by our employers.  When I walk down a street I now assume that I am on film.  Either a business with security cameras or a person with a cell phone camera for whatever reason.  

I do feel that my privacy rights are slowly being stripped away and it concerns me.  I wonder what the United States will be like in 20 years.  Will the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights still be in effect?  Will I be able to peacefully protest for my beliefs?  Yes I wonder. 

Please take a moment to read what the other participants in Lets Blog Off feel about Privacy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bridge the Gap

I have a meeting today with a general contractor and the goal is to help bridge the gap between the budgetary number on a project and what the hardware specifications are calling for.  In this case the architect was hired by the GC and I am pretty sure the spec writing was farmed out to a manufacturer's spec writer.  There must of been a lack of communication somewhere because the hardware specs are so over the top to what was budgeted there is a $100,000.00 gap.

I understand that a manufactures spec writer's job is to spec the products of their employer.  I just don't understand why it sometimes seems as if only the most expensive line of those products are included.  These days most manufacturers offer both a Grade 1 and Grade 2 line of products.  Depending on the building I can appreciate utilizing Grade 1 at the openings that will get the most use but on those openings that don't, bring it down a notch.

Just my opinion.  Feel free to offer yours in the comment section below.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Winthrop Charter School

I am very particular about which projects I bid.  I am an A-Z type of salesperson, meaning I develop the relationships, bid, close, submit, order, tag material, project manage and if pay applications are involved I do the billing.  Yes I am very particular about the jobs I bid because I always want to make sure that both myself and the a-fabco team can provide the level of service I demand.  75 door openings or less is my typical comfort zone. 

So when one of my favorite customers, Ryan Companies US Inc, called me and asked me to bid a 116 opening I actually paused for a moment.  The thought that finally sifted out of the 100's in that 60 second span was this is a really good customer who always performs spectacularly so I said sure! (gulp)   There were actually two charter schools.  Both very fast track since they wanted to be open for the first day of school August 23rd.  I bid both projects and held my breath.  a-fabco was awarded the charter school located in Riverview!!  I was excited in that nervous, holy cow I hope I do a great job, sort of way.  My boss was ecstatic. 

The job was very fast track but with great communication from the GC's project managers Brian Smith and Eric Overgard and job superintendent, Jeff Lawler,  all material was at the jobsite when requested with only 1 incorrect door.  a-fabco was able to get a new door out to the jobsite in a few days.  Of course with any construction project there were changes and adds but all were able to be processed in a timely manner.  This is why I used the word spectacular in the first paragraph when describing Ryan Companies.  They run their projects so incredibly well it is a pleasure to be part of their team.

I received an email from Eric when the project was almost complete and let me say it made my day.  "Also, I wanted to let you know that you are by far the best door and hardware supply company I have ever worked with, and I have work with many.  Thank you very much for all of your hard work and again, excellent work all the way through this project.  I look forward to working with you again in the future."  Wow!  How awesome on so many levels not the least of which he took the time to write.  

Thanks to the entire Ryan Companies team for such a great project.  I also want to give a special shout out to Joe Gray with Ryan.  Though he wasn't part of this project I wouldn't have been a part of it without him.  It was his recommendation that got me in the door.  I have done many many projects with him through out the years, with current employment and previous.   His level of professionalism, organization and support is outstanding.  Joe is truly an exceptional human being.  

I will continue to be particular on which jobs I pursue but I feel a lot more comfortable having broken the 100 opening mark.  

Below please find a few pictures of Winthrop Charter School.  The photographer on noted pictures is Richard Steinmetz.  Ryan Companies - Tampa has been using him for 6 years to photograph all of their projects.  Richard's contact information is: Tel: 813-935-3293 and email: richardsteinmetz@hotmail.com.  Thanks to Jody Byler with Ryan for putting up with my constant requests and getting me these great pictures. 

Photo by Richard Steinmetz - Exterior  HM Frame installed

Photo by a-fabco.  Exterior HM Transom Frame x HM Doors

Photo by a-fabco.  Exterior hm doors rim x rim x removable mullion

Photo by Richard Steinmetz  Exterior HM Opening - finished

Photo by Richard Steinmetz  Exterior of school

Photo by a-fabco  Interior Rotary Natural Birch Door

Photo by a-fabco  Pair of interior rotary natural birch doors

Photo by a-fabco  Interior hallway of doors

Photo by Richard Steinmetz  Interior

Photo by Richard Steinmetz  Office

Photo by Richard Steinmetz  Cafeteria

Photo by Richard Steinmetz  Exterior Shot


Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Every two weeks Bloggers unite for a day to write about a communal topic. This week LetsBlogOff asks the question would our followers actually read a blog about thumbtacks? 

I looked at the subject for this week’s Lets Blog Off and said what the heck? So I did what has now become the norm when I am not sure of a subject…I Googled it.  Google does not differentiate between push pins and thumbtacks.  There were some cool sites that people used push pins to create art but I am pretty sure someone will write a blog post about the difference between push pins and thumbtacks so I didn’t go there.

What I did fine was a very interesting Thumbtack Experiment  where teachers actually allow the kids to play with thumbtacks.  The students keep track of how many times the tacks land point up versus point down.  I wondered how many land in the ceiling (maybe Fox Mulder conducted this experiment in school hence the pencils).  Anyway the students have to report on it.  It was pretty interesting so please check it out.

I also found an article about the most stupid and cruel use of thumbtacks and was very dishearten by the human race.  Apparently some idiot(s) felt inconvenience by a large group of bike riders and left a BUNCH of thumbtacks on the road.  Won’t hurt a car’s tires but will puncture bicycle tires.  Stupid.

Further searching found a business named Thumbtacks.  It is a web directory listing service.  Apparently it also has some intrigued attached to it.

If the thumbtack has a magnet on it is it still a thumbtack?  See this is why I love LBO – for the philosophical questions.

Who said to always leave your audience wanting more?  Well here you go.  I know you will want more of this thumbtacks jewelry!   Hey it would stay in place!!!

Feel free to leave your thumbtack story in the comment section.

The best part about this week’s LBO is that Rufus’s corporation will be donating $10.00 for every LetsBlogOff post published today to Jane Devin’s Kickstarter fund.  If you don’t know who Jane Devin is she wrote a phenomenal book called Elephant Girl.  I know because I read it.  In 2 days.  Yes it really is that good. 

There are many other participants in LetsBlogOff that are much more creative than I.  Please check out their blog posts also:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Social Media Relationships

I am asked all the time from my friends why I tweet.  In my local sphere of friends only my BFF uses social media.  My yoga chickees nor my co-workers or anyone else that I hang with uses social media.  They can't imagine any real relationships being formed without the face to face time put in.

This week, more than ever before, has shown how important social relationships are. Two people, both very important in the social media world, passed away.  The shock and sadness is very real.

I didn't know Trey Pennington but from all the tributes he was a kind and generous soul.  He embraced social media to the fullest.  Trey's website is full of tips and suggestions on how to get the most out of your social relationships. Shock and sadness filled the Twitter stream on Sunday and Monday as word of his passing spread.  Hopefully some important dialogue will follow.

Imad Naffa was part of my world, the AEC world: Architects, Engineer and Construction.  Imad was an engineer who's specialty was building codes and breaking down the lingo so a person could actually understand it.  He was available and generous with his time and knowledge.  The man rocked all of social media and on his website he used the word Twitterologist.  You know what?  Imad was just that.  He mentored so many.  Again the Twitter stream filled with shock and sadness as news of his death spread on Wednesday and Thursday.  I didn't interact with him a lot but my heart was heavy...for his family, for his friends and yes for the social media world.

I consider my tweeps my friends.  They cheer me on when I tweet something good and cheer me up when I tweet something not so good.  Friday mornings I know the first tweet with a mention will be from Sean with SLS Construction.  It always makes me smile.

It isn't just 140 characters.  It is the first 140 characters of a conversation.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Historic Shed

The cool thing about writing a blog is being able to toot a horn when you come across a great company.  So this is me tooting about Historic Shed.

I met Historic Shed on Twitter.  I am not sure how our tweets crossed but I am glad they did.  I do remember seeing a tweet with a picture attached and given the name of the business was intrigued. Once the picture came up I drooled.  I am sure I have mentioned I have a large backyard and in my vision a cute shed with a little porch, and a couple of chairs out front sits on the southeast corner.  I could pick any shed from their website and be happy.  I told my BFF about it, she checked it out and drooled. Seriously some incredible workmanship.

Months past and @HistoricShed became Jo-Anne as we got to know one another.  What was funny is how we hadn't crossed paths before.  Jo-Anne is very involved in preservation and since I live in Seminole Heights with 1920's bungalows all around that word carries importance here in the 'hood. We know some of the same people.  Heck they have even  advertised in previous Seminole Heights Home Tours.

We finally ended up meeting a few months ago when a day trip came up between Jo-Anne, Amanda (BFF) and myself.  We went to Lakeridge Winery in Fl but that is for another day.   We decided to meet at Historic Shed in Brooksville since that was a good middle spot and it meant Amanda and I were able to take a tour!

I had never been to Brooksville so naturally I got lost.  Once I was on the right road I was able to find their shop quickly because out front is the cutest little shed!  Isn't it nice to meet people for the first time and yet feel like you have known them forever!  Jo-Anne, with her husband Craig, gave us a tour and luckily for us they were in the middle of two projects.  The first will be a guest cottage for a client in Ybor.   The quality of material and craftsmanship is just superb.
Front Door to Guest Cottage

Side of guest cottage
The second project was born knowing how challenged homeowners are these days. Jo-Anne and Craig wanted to come up with a shed that was more economical without giving up the quality.  A few tweaks here and there and here it is!
Great details
Another aspect of working with a customized company is if you want to make modifications Historic Shed is willing to work with you.  You can't get that from the box stores.  All the sheds are Florida Wind Load approved.  Also offered are some delightful garden accessories (think Christmas and Birthdays people).

Someday I will own a shed from Historic Sheds and until then I will continue to dream.