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Shortly after my wife and I married in 1989, we attended a log building school in Canada (kind of a different honeymoon). Six weeks later, in the dead of winter with all our possessions in the back of a pickup truck, we arrived in Alaska and established a business constructing custom handcrafted log furniture. Towards the end of the eight year life of that business, I was installing a log handrail for a customer. He asked me if I could refinish two walls of his log house. That was 1997 and my first experience refinishing logs. It was also the birth of our log home refinishing and chinking business.

Manfred Family Photomanfred and son photo

The Family Business

Here I am, 17 years later. The whole family has been involved with the family business in one way or another. Running a family-operated business has allowed me to earn a living while spending time with my family, a privilege few enjoy. In fact, my oldest son, Hans, works full time with me. Hans, like his older sister before him, started out in log restoration as a little guy, pulling plastic and tape from windows, vacuuming decks, cleaning windows, etc. Since most of our work season occurs during the summer months, our kids have helped me on the job since they were very young. (Olivia actually started out in a pack on my wife’s back during our log furniture days, and has since moved on to other things.) Hans started working with me full time when he was fifteen, finally strong enough to operate a disc grinder safely. Now barely twenty, he is fully capable of handling by himself any restoration project we might take on. At a time when good help is hard to find, it’s great to have a co-worker like Hans who has the same standard of quality as I do.

Our two oldest have been a tremendous asset to the business and we are blessed with two more, Josef and Noah, who are up and coming. I am especially thankful there are aspects of this work that our son Josef, who has Downs Syndrome, can do.

Tough Alaskan Environment

Here in Alaska, we have a very short season for doing exterior work. In late September, as the snow is about the fly, I can’t afford to use products that will not look better-than-great or will fail, resulting in an unhappy customer. And I sure don’t want to spend any time re-doing something for free. Every time I use it, Sashco’s Capture/Cascade staining system exceeds both my and my customers’ requirements and expectations. They’re happy and I’m happy. Sashco’s products hold up remarkably well under some of the most extreme conditions imaginable. I have refinished and chinked some very beautiful log homes up on the hillside in Anchorage overlooking Cook Inlet. These homes are exposed to winds in excess of 100 mph throwing salty rain and silt right at the house. Then there are the long Alaska summer days with around-the-clock UV exposure. It’s an extremely tough environment. I revisited one of these homes about eleven years after I did the original refinish work. The Cascade clear coat was still intact and beading up water. That was the moment I decided that the best choice for all of my customers was Sashco’s Capture/Cascade system.

Delighting Customers

My customers are, understandably, very particular about their homes. A log home is a considerable investment and the homeowner usually wants only the best products and services.They know the aesthetic they’re after and the performance they need. They want to see the grain of the wood, achieve a natural look and do it all with water-based products that don’t require toxic solvents for clean-up. Sashco’s Capture/Cascade system fits the bill. It always lives up to the buildup I give it during the bidding process. One customer was so happy that she said I could put my name on her house. (I didn’t.) It’s very satisfying to get such a positive reaction from a customer and to make an already good-looking house look stunning. There is no better advertising than that in this business

Many of my first-time customers have applied maintenance coats of inferior products nearly every summer for years. They assume they’ll have to hire me every year to keep their house looking good. When I explain the ease of maintenance using Cascade clear coat and that they won’t need me for perhaps 8-10 years, they react with mild astonishment. Sometimes I think they don’t believe me, but time always tells.

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www.northwoodsenterprises.com

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