Every month we feature a contractor, business, or success story. After all, learning from each other is one of the best ways to grow. Up this month: John Schmitz with Alpine Log & Timber Finishes in Golden, CO. Keep reading for more details on how he got started and what helped him succeed.
Every month we feature a contractor, business, or success story. After all, learning from each other is one of the best ways to grow. Up this month: Nicole Carr with 888-Log-Guys in Ozark, MI. Nicole is managing 10+ log home finishing and restoration crews across 15 states, all while maintaining a customer-first mindset. Keep reading for more details on how she got started and what’s helped make 888-Log-Guys successful.
Every month we feature a contractor, business, or success story. After all, learning from each other is one of the best ways to grow. Up this month: David Lynch with Stoney Ridge Log Homes in Kitnersville, PA. David knows his stuff and is one of the best log homeowner educators out there. Keep reading for more details on how he got started and what’s helped make him successful.
Every month we feature a contractor, business, or success story. Learning from others in the biz is the best kind of learning. Today, Mike Bellevue shares a few of the inside secrets to Chewelah Painting’s success.
This month, we are featuring Mike Bellevue. Mike owns Chewelah Painting in Washington and has recently brought his log home finishing knowledge to Roe Paint in Idaho. Summer busyness is in full swing, so we’re grateful for the insights that Mike was willing to share about his business in the Pacific Northwest.
How’d you get started in the log home finishing business?
I am a carpenter by trade. I had every intention of working as a carpenter in Washington but was pulled into paint. We work in an area with a large number of log homes, and it wasn’t long before we worked on our first log home. The home came out great, but refinishing it was extremely tedious. Fortunately, I stumbled across Zero Failures and was blown away. Hands down the best training out there. I immediately bought a blaster and started marketing log home services. Three years later log homes became the majority of our work.
How big is your crew now?
We have five crews putting on coatings and working with several subcontractors. Our sub-contractors are vetted and are a part of the team.
What advice would you give to a newbie?
Attend Zero Failures training and pay attention…then go back the next year and learn more. Pay attention in the classroom, but also pay attention to your work. You will learn something on every job and refine your process.
What do you love most about log home refinishing?
We are artists, but not in the traditional sense. We take a work of art and make it beautiful again. Each log blasts and stains differently depending on species, exposure, and a number of other factors. We learn something on every job.
Mike, thanks for sharing a bit about your business. Feel free to look him up and pick his brain!
Rustic Park City feature
Can you tell us about your background?
I started Rustic Park City in 2022 after working as the lead project manager for a prominent Park City general contractor for 6+ years. While working as a lead project manager, I learned rather quickly that my skills as a problem solver were well suited for this business. I also learned that I cared about meeting timeline commitments and budgets much more than most others in the business.
How did you get started in log home finishing?
I bought a log home in the mountains near Park City and decided to take the restoration job on myself. I quickly realized that despite being a general contractor, I had a lot to learn. A local distributor, Wasatch Timber, helped me learn each step of log home restoration and muster the courage to point a blaster at my own home. As I restored the home, I fell in love with the details: the depth of the wood grain, the way the sun highlights the curvature of each log, the living character, and the rustic feel. I am standing here looking at it now. Sashco products made the home stunning. Living in a log home high in the mountains is the dream.
Our slogan at Rustic Park City is “Locals Building Locals.” We are protective of Park City, but we want others to have the opportunity to live the dream as well.
What advice would you give to a newbie?
Don’t devalue yourself. We don’t lower our prices. If at the end of a project you can walk away proud of your work, then the homeowner will be proud of it too. Work with dignity and integrity. You are an artisan.
We are builders by trade, not business owners. To start a business, you have to go out there and face your fears. Do one thing each day that moves your business forward. Face one fear each day.
What does the future look like for Rustic Park City?
I am legitimately scared by how quickly we are growing. I have built a team around me to support our growth. I have hired multiple accountants, business managements, and legal counsel. Without the team around me I am nothing more than a guy with a truck.
Michael, thanks for sharing a bit about your business. Feel free to look Michael up and pick his brain!
How’d you get started in the log home finishing business?
I fell in love with log homes when I was in fourth grade. I had always wanted to own a log home and bought one outside of Bozeman a few years ago. When the home needed work, I struggled to find a contractor.
After this experience, I slowly transitioned DKS from general contracting to log home restoration and maintenance. We were working on log homes full-time by the end of 2021.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced running DKS and how have you overcome it?
The biggest challenge has been finding quality employees that mesh with our team. We have overcome this by including DKS employees in the interview process. We treat employees like family which is especially important when we travel for jobs. I worked in the oil fields for 17 years before starting DKS, which taught me a lot about team comradery.
I fell in love with log homes when I was in fourth grade. I enjoy preserving the natural beauty and history of our area’s log homes, while also ensuring their longevity for generations to come.
What do you dislike most about log home refinishing?
Sanding. Ensuring you have removed all the dead wood cells on a log can be very time-consuming. It’s an important process and a labor of love. We take the time to teach our employees the importance of proper prep.
What’s the future hold for your business?
We have grown substantially over the last year and are currently booked through 2023. We are planning to add a second crew soon.
Donnie, thanks for sharing a bit about your business. Feel free to look Donnie up and pick his brain!
Every month we feature a contractor, business, or success story. Learning from others in the biz is the best kind of learning. This month, we’re featuring Tony Christensen with Kbartee Renovations.
Spring is upon us, which usually means business picks up. Tony with Kbartee Renovations has been in full swing through the winter, too. We’re grateful for the time he spent with us, sharing more about his business here in Sashco’s home state of Colorado.
How did you get started in Log home finishing?
I graduated college with a degree I wasn’t going to do anything with and was looking for work. Scott Stropko (Sashco’s Western Territory Manager) was a good family friend and he asked if I liked working outside. I said yes. He hooked me up with Jim Davis out of Wyoming and I started four days later. I worked with Jim for 3½ years and decided that I didn’t want to travel as much anymore, so another business partner and I broke off on our own. I worked with my business partner here in Colorado for 11½ years. Then, about 18 months ago, I decided to split off on my own. Life. is. great! Every day I pinch myself to make sure it’s real. I have an incredible job and I get to work in some incredible places. When I decided to be sole proprietor, it was a little scary. I never thought I’d be this busy. It’s mind blowing. I’m so grateful. There wasn’t a day during COVID that I didn’t work.
What is your favorite part of this work?
Restoration. I like working on older homes. I like it when homeowners haven’t liked their home for a while, but didn’t know they could get it the way they wanted. I simply apply expertise and elbow grease. I love taking a home, transforming it, and seeing how happy the homeowner is at the end. We’re restoring their dream. Their smiles make it all worth it.
What is your least favorite part?
Weather: It’s hard to work around the weather. But then, I had more working days in January and February of this year than I have in March and April because of spring snows. It’s also difficult to manage expectations for people who don’t know that we’re booked so far ahead. They call in June wanting their home done by end of the summer.
What is your advice to a newbie?
I wish Sashco offered the Zero Failures Business Focus class when I started out 13 years ago. I’d be so much further ahead. I would tell people that your word and your reputation are everything in this industry. You better have an incredibly good work ethic and be able to work with lots of different personalities. Be willing to learn. Soak up everything. It’s paramount to do good work and maintain high-quality relationships in this industry. If you get a bad rep with homeowners, that’s also a bad rep with distributors and others in the industry. When you screw up (not if, because it will happen), be willing to fix things and learn from it. Don’t just cut and run. You learn who you don’t want to be before you learn who you do want to be.
What does the future look like?
I’ve had opportunities recently to merge with another company or purchase another company, but I really like where I am now. I like having the smaller crew. It’s part of the appeal with homeowners, too. I’m the owner, I will be on the jobsite 85-90% of the time, they’re dealing with me from A to Z. I’ve gotten really good at selling that. There are people who I know want to grow. That was me at first. I have two guys working for me and they’ve caught on really fast. Eventually, I know I will need to ease back and let those guys take some things over. In 5 to 10 years, maybe they’ll want to buy me out and I can go buy my cattle ranch.
Speaking of cattle ranching, what is the meaning of Kbartee?
Kbartee is a brand my wife’s grandmother sewed into her wedding dress. It’s a K, a Bar, and a T. As a gift for our first wedding anniversary, my wife registered it. I wanted something different for a company name and this just fit. It will be the brand for our cattle ranch someday.
Thanks again, Tony, for the time. Hit Tony up to talk shop!
Have you ever tried to run a cloth or duster over wood with no clear coat on it? It’s horrible! It catches on the wood, doesn’t remove the dust, and ultimately makes a bigger mess. Even worse is trying to clean wood that is permanently yellow from UV exposure and oxidization. Follow these 3 steps to create an easy-to-clean, won’t-get-discolored constant warm glow in your log or wood home. BONUS: Interior finishing needs to be done only once. Routine cleaning — wiping down cobwebs, dust that settles, fingerprints, etc. — is all that’s needed to maintain the finish and keep the wood looking like new.
Every month we feature a contractor, business, or success story. Learning from others in the biz is the best kind of learning. This month, discover why WoodTeks is one of the best in log home finishing.
Meet Jason Benge with WoodTeks, LLC out of Jonesville, NC. Summer busy-ness is in full swing, so we’re grateful for the time that Jason with WoodTeks, LLC spent with us, sharing more about his business in North Carolina.
What is secondary prep? After you’ve gotten down to clean sound wood it’s time to clean up and remove wood fuzz media blasting another methods left behind.
When properly done, most blasting methods create at least some “felting”, AKA “wood fuzz.” Prior to applying any finishing products you must remove wood fuzz. Eventually all of that fuzz will fall off, so any stain applied to it will leave a mottled appearance and leave those areas exposed to weather. Additionally, blasting can sometimes raise the grain too much, making the wood too coarse. Even though the coarse texture is beneficial for stain adhesion, it makes the stain look darker and rougher.
Logs are in constant dynamic motion. That's why there's Log Builder®, the sealant made for log structures. Stretches up to 500% of original size, while still maintaining tenacious adhesion to the wood.
It's Music to the Eyes Symphony works in harmony with the unique character of your logs and wood to reflect an atmosphere or cozy warmth and elegance while creating and scuff-resistant and durable surface that's easy to dust.
Maintenance Made Easy Now that Capture® Log Stain is applied, it’s time for Cascade® Clear Topcoat to bring out the depth and character of your unique woodgrain while protecting it against moisture, mildew, and algae. Predictable and affordable routine maintenance with Cascade throughout the years means your home stays protected and beautiful. Easy!
Rot, weather, insects, fungi all pose a serious threat to your logs. Protect your investment—treat your logs first to make them last. Tim-bor® helps protect your home from the costly damage caused by rot and insect infestation.
Bugs don't stand a chance
Easy to mix and apply
Prevents decay fungi
Costs 5 times less than glycol-based borate products