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Category Archives: Business Matters

The Cavalry Has Arrived

It’s been about two months since we finalized the purchase of our project home in Upsala.  Since that time my husband and I have done a lot of small and big projects.  We have been busy building new stairways, removing old stairways and entirely gutting the upstairs down to the studs in preparation for this day.

This is the old stairway that we removed from the center of the home. It was ladder-like in its steepness. We are leaving the door on this end to make a new closet area. The back half of the old stairwell will have drawers in the bottom half and on the top of the drawers will be a place to leave your keys and other miscellaneous items as you enter the back door.

New stairway located on the North wall of home. The photo below shows our plans for the stairway. The basement stairs are directly below the upper stairs. Both the upstairs and basement can be accessed from the garage. We also opened a wall from the kitchen to this new entry way. Improving the overall flow of the house.

We spent a lot of time measuring and mapping out the new location of the stairs before we cut any openings and started building the stairs. We measured and remeasured to make sure we had enough room. Its hard to picture but this old bedroom has become an entryway with stairs to go up or down and out to the garage and out to the backyard. We added another bedroom upstairs to compensate for the loss of one of the two main floor bedrooms.

We gutted the upstairs to get ready for the carpenters to come and add dormers and windows to the second floor. There was very little usable space upstairs due to the low ceiling height and the stairway cutting the space in half due to its location in the center of the home.
The new upstairs will contain a Master Suite complete with walk-in closet, bathroom and office or sitting area at the top of the stairs.

Today our carpenters arrived to start putting our dreams for the property into reality.  Yesterday we finalized the color choices and the floor plans.

I love watching the trucks arrive, unloading  the lumber and the smell of freshly cut wood.  I had a hard time concentrating at work today know that things were happening just up the hill but not within my sight.  At lunchtime we joined the carpenters on the front lawn for  lunch.  They all sat in their lawn chairs with their coolers sitting in front of them and we with our sandwiches and coffee from the convenience store in town.  It was a wonderful place to eat lunch today admiring the work that they had accomplished this morning.

It might not look like much of a change so far but here it is.  They changed the roof line on the garage and framed for the new part of the roof with the car port.  I’m excited to see the roof on the house opened up next week and see all the new roof lines, windows and shingles upstairs.  The new upstairs will have much more room and light than before we started as well as additional bathroom in the home.

The plan with the garage was to change the present lean to style attached garage to a hip roof.  The garage door opening in the background will be moved one stud space to the left and the windows to the top panel and grids placed in the glass.  We are working on plans to make the garage door look more like a set of carriage doors rather than a conventional door.

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Out of My Element

This week is an exercise in stretching myself. My husband will be out of the office most of the week and I will be fielding most of his calls and handling whatever comes my way.

It’s exciting to try new things. Most days I see how he does his job but ultimately he does it without much advice from others. I watch and listen to how he evaluates vehicles, how he interacts with the customers, how he tries to put out fires without losing a customer when problems arise. Until you are actually in the position without someone else to consult you really don’t know difficult the job is on a daily basis.

He brings approximately 35 years of experience to his job in buying and selling vehicles as well as being a  mechanic which doesn’t hurt if you are going to sell cars. I’ve done bookkeeping for the business for many years and do the paperwork with the customers for buying and financing vehicles. It’s a whole different ballgame giving enough information to the customer and putting them at ease in the car buying experience. He is definitely better at his job than I am and I will be happy to have him back. I’ve got just enough information to be dangerous.

One of the most difficult areas is determining the trade-in value of a vehicle. If you give the customer too much for their trade in you may lose money on the car you are selling and not make any on the trade when you sell it depending on what work it may need to get it ready for the lot.

If you give the customer too little they may feel you are stealing their vehicle from them and are insulting them. The key is to have enough trustworthy evaluation information available to back your dollar amount for the trade. We always give the customer the option of trying to sell their own vehicle and buy our vehicle without a trade.

Most of what I planned to accomplish on my own to do list didn’t get done but phone calls were answered, appointments were made, warranty work was done, and cars were sold so I guess it was a good day.

Tomorrow is another day with the opportunity to grow and learn.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Business Matters, Photography

 

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Back home again but not without more trouble!

We finally drove into our small town of 400 at 3:00 pm. Everything looked pretty much the way we left it which was not what we were expecting when we got home. We had lined up some deals and work to be done while we were gone but they still looked undone when we got home.

After leaving our motel this morning at 8:30 we planned on being home by 1:30 but about an hour into our last leg of our trip we blew another tire on the truck. Unfortunately more damage was done to the truck only on the passenger side this time instead of the driver’s side.

My poor husband had to change yet another tire along the freeway. Note to self…If you plan on driving a vehicle all the way from Florida to Minnesota make sure it is on good tires with no bad wheel bearings.

After we dropped off our suitcase and unpacked the car we headed into work to catch up on our messages and got home at 6:30pm tonight exhausted. We went for a walk with our grandson and then collapsed in our chairs.

It’s good to be home!  Hopefully I won’t be driving in my sleep. 🙂

 

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Fortunately, Unfortunately: Adventures in travel with a used car dealer.

Fortunately my husband got a good deal on a 3/4 ton truck in Florida he needed for a customer and a Corvette in Birmingham, Alabama. Unfortunately the auto transport company could not pick either of them up until the third week in May due a combination of the high gas prices, high car prices, and snowbirds wanting to get their cars back to Minnesota.

Fortunately we were able to get a good price on one way tickets but unfortunately we needed to leave for the airport at 4:00am on a Sunday morning.

Fortunately our flight arrived on time and we were able to catch the city bus that would take us from the Orlando airport north to the Sanford Auto Auction. Unfortunately it took us nearly two hours to go the thirty miles but only cost us $2.00 each for our bus tickets. We did get to observe a lot while on the bus and as we traveled from the airport to the auction. A bit of local flavor for sure.

Fortunately when we arrived at the auto auction we were able to pick up our truck after a mile and a half walk from the bus stop to the auction. Unfortunately the truck had a dead battery and a noisy wheel bearing. They were able to jump start the truck and we were on our way.

Fortunately we found an Auto Zone store open nearby and purchased some Murphy’s insurance for our trip home. We bought a tool set, hammer, chisel, flashlight and a wheel bearing. Unfortunately we needed to use all of the above later in our trip.

Fortunately we were able to resume our trip west to Birmingham to pick up the Corvette after staying in Quincy, Floriday overnight. Unfortunately while stopping to get some pictures of the sunset and pink flowers I picked up some poison ivy and a woodtick.

Fortunately when we arrived at Adessa Birmingham we were able to pick up an undamaged Corvette. There we some cars there that had been damaged by the recent tornadoes. Unfortunately the Corvette had a dead battery and one flat tire. Also the two front tires were in far worse condition than reported and needed to be replaced before we could continue our travels.

Fortunately the lot guys directed us to a nearby tire dealer who was able to replace the two tires at a very reasonable price and short order. Unfortunately it put us a little behind schedule wanting to be out of the Birmingham area before rush hour traffic.

Fortunately we were able to leave after getting the tires replaced and headed out of town. Unfortunately the left rear tire on the truck I was driving blew out in the middle of Birmingham in rush hour traffic.

Fortunately I am married to a mechanic and he was able to change the tire on the truck. He was able to drop the spare tire down from under the truck and put it on the truck safely on the roadside during rush hour traffic. Unfortunately when the tire blew it did some damage to the truck around the area of the tire. Nothing that would prevent us from driving it.

Fortunately we were once again on the road heading north of Birmingham when stopped two purchase four new tires for the truck. Unfortunately they only had two of the four that we needed and it took two and a half hours to have them put on the truck. The guys that put the new tires on the Corvette did it in fifteen minutes. The guys that put the tires on the Corvette operated like a pit crew and the guys that put the tires on the truck like the three stooges.

Fortunately while they were putting the tires on the truck we were able to sit down for some supper and once again get back on the road. Unfortunately about an hour later the wheel bearing on the truck decided that it had gone about as far as it wanted to go and we changed the wheel bearing in a truck stop parking lot in Athens, Alabama.

Fortunately the rest of our trip to Nashville was uneventful. Unfortunately all the day’s events put us behind schedule and didn’t leave any time for any fun stuff like sightseeing or many photographs. 

Fortunately as I write this post I am tucked into bed in a motel in Tomah, Wisconsin after thirteen hours of driving today with only stopping for gas and food. Unfortunately we need to be up early to finish our last five hours of driving back home tomorrow morning and back to work tomorrow afternoon. Sleep tight!

 

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Another Cup of Coffee Anyone?

 

This past week has been crazy busy at work. We’ve tried to get cars serviced and detailed for the car lot.

 I have drunk massive amounts of coffee this week just trying to stay on top of things. The above picture is a photo of a Caribou Coffee shop in St. Cloud, Minnesota I took and then used Photoshop to add the effect and the frame around the photo.

There are so many things I would like to with my free time but there just doesn’t seem to be any outside of work except for a few minutes in the morning before work or a few minutes before bed.

I’ve looked forward to spring this year so I could finally get outside and enjoy some warmer weather but tonight we are forecast to have one to three inches of snow once again and the ice is still on the lake. This is the latest the ice has gone off the lake since we moved here in 1992.

If I sound negative, I apologize,  it’s just exhaustion speaking but there are so many good things happening around me. My grandson is growing everyday and jabbering about everything in sight. My oldest son has lived at home for the past year saving for a down-payment for a home. Last week he made an offer on a home that was accepted and we are excited for this next phase in his life.

Our second son has been busy with the home he bought last year and we are gearing up to help him wire & insulate his garage so he can turn it into a workshop for his gunsmith sideline job. When he’s not working his day job or or as a gunsmith, he is working as a pitcrew member for a race team that will begin their touring season soon on weekends.

Our daughters are nearing the end of another year of college in the next two weeks so they are busy with final projects, papers and preparing for finals the first week of May. It is hard to believe that our oldest daughter only has one more year left in her special education degree and our youngest is already halfway through her early childhood education degree.

I hope to get some flying time in this next week as I celebrate my one year anniversary of earning my private pilot’s certificate. Hopefully the weather will cooperate 🙂

UPDATED! THE VIEW OUT MY WINDOW THIS BEAUTIFUL SATURDAY MORNING

Can you believe this? April 16, 2011 and snow. The photo looks dark because it is dark and overcast this morning. We didn’t get 3 inches but we got an inch.

 
 

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Taxes Are Done and I Think I Have My Life Back…

Every year I walk around with a feeling of dread until I have our taxes done. My first task after the new year is to gather all the necessary information for our accountant for our business so he can get started on our business taxes.

Before I can begin on the taxes I have to finish all the 4th quarter payroll reports and pay the quarter taxes for the business and get all the W-2’s out in the mail before the end of January.  “Happy New Year to Me”  for the past 26 years between my former job as city clerk for ten years and now the bookkeeping for our business.

This past week I finished giving the accountant the rest of the information on the phone that he needed to finish up the business taxes. When we finished discussing the business taxes he asked me “By the way have you sent me your personal taxes yet?” This was on Tuesday afternoon. I promised him that I would indeed mail them to him before the end of the day on Wednesday.

I already had everything gathered for the supporting information for our forms but hadn’t filled out our tax organizer that he emails me each year about any changes in our status since the previous year and predictions for possible changes for the next tax year. The organizer is 28 pages long. On Wednesday of this week I spent my lunch hour filling out the organizer and getting everything packaged for mailing to our accountant. I was definitely walking lighter as I left that load at the local post office. Yay! Something else off my to-do list.

The taxes are done and now I realized we have arrived at the end of the first quarter and it’s time to do quarterly reports again. Only nine more months until it is tax time again. Each year I vow I will do things differently and get things done sooner but the reality is that when you work in a small business such as ours you still have all your regular work to do  and have to somehow manage to fit all the tax stuff into an already full schedule.

This afternoon after work my husband and I bought our fishing licenses for the year. It has been three years since we went fishing. When we got home we put on our boots, jackets and gathered our supplies and walked out on the lake for some ice fishing. It has been about twelve years since we last went ice fishing. Our luck has not changed but we were able to enjoy a beautiful afternoon on the lake.

This summer I’m looking forward to more time on the lake and less time at work. Perhaps that will happen since we made the effort to buy the licenses today. I can always read a book while fishing if the fish aren’t biting.

 

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If there had been cream in our bags it should have turned into butter.

 This evening after work my husband and I went on a service call to a town about two hours away. We both love to drink coffee while we drive but it is a nearly impossible task in our flatbed truck even with covers on our cups.

We try to talk as we travel but we find ourselves constantly bracing for the next bump in the road and leave sentences half-finished which is okay because we’ve been married long enough that we each know how the other would finish the sentence if they could get the words out between bumps.

Each expansion joint in the road is felt as you pass over it along with every pothole. In Minnesota you can tell that spring is just around the corner with the appearance of little orange flags to mark particularly bad spots in the roads.

Some spots contain signs like “Dip” to let you know that a bump larger than usual is ahead. Some spots haven’t been marked yet and you find them as you fly over them with your usual speed and the bump sends you up towards the truck ceiling and anything not anchored down in the cab goes flying.

Tonight was a bad night for bumpy roads. The back roads are worse than the highways but some of those are just as bad. After a week of traveling in the car all we wanted to do this evening was sit in our comfortable chairs with our feet up to relax. We were instead treated to four hours of a makeshift roller coaster ride.

Before we started our two-hour trip home we stopped at the local grocery store. We decided to pick up a few things we needed since our grocery store is out of commission for a couple of months. We put the four bags of groceries in the back seat of the car we were hauling so we wouldn’t have to have them in the cab of the truck with us.

When we got back to the shop to drop off the truck we went to retrieve our grocery bags only to find the contents scattered over the backseat of the vehicle. Thankfully nothing spilled or broke. I was happy I had bought some eggs last evening instead of tonight.

I told my husband that if we would have had cream in our bags tonight  it should have turned to butter.

Maybe next time just for an experiment…

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2011 in Business Matters, Humor, Life Happens

 

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