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!
Outdoor hand rails and spindles, especially those not protected by overhangs, require specialized and more frequent care because of their extreme exposure to weather. A few easy tips are all it take to to prevent rot on log railings.
You’re ready to restore a historic log home? It’s exciting but requires special knowledge. Therefore, before you dive into any historical preservation or log home restoration project, here’s what you need to know from a restoration expert.
Recently, Mark Nelson of Nelson Restoration worked on a Grand Teton National Park project. Mark partnered with Sashco to provide key decision makers with the best information regarding log structures preservation. A report by Sashco contrasted traditional preservation methods such as mortar and linseed oil with modern products.
Both approaches were discussed in the report, which was compiled with Mark’s input. Modern products are often easier to use and cost less in the long run, even though traditional methods require more maintenance. Also discussed were the environmental impacts of each approach, noting that modern products are typically more sustainable.
The rest of the story…
The report concluded that using modern products to preserve log structures is a viable option. Above all, it gave stakeholders the information they needed to make an informed decision .
One of our most frequently asked questions is if painting or staining a log home is best. Read on to find out what we recommend.
Technical Report | The Role of Coating Breathability in Preventing Rot in Log and Timber Structures
It’s common knowledge that moisture trapped in wood will, over time, lead to rot. Because significant rot can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in repairs, it’s imperative to use a coating (stain, paint, varnish, etc.) that will both prevent most moisture from getting into wood in the first place, and also provide an escape route for moisture that does get into the wood. Voices on the internet and elsewhere would tell you that this has more to do with the breathability of the coating itself. Breathability is important, because no matter how carefully built, properly stained, or well-maintained a structure is, some liquid water will eventually get past the outer defenses and into a building. But the breathability of a coating is not the primary factor in preventing rot.
So, what is?
A discussion about the breathability of water-based stains and paints, as well as certain types of oil-based stains
Why breathability of stain or paint is not the primary factor in prevention of rot — elasticity is
Visibility of the wood underneath stain or paint is necessary in order to inspect and catch potential problems early on
Review of the general breathability of different types of coatings (paint, stain, urethane, etc.)
“When it comes to log home design and maintenance principles, I have developed a few rules by which I live…Understanding this will help you sleep well at night.” What are these peace-proven principles? Our very own log home expert and Southeast Territory Rep extraordinaire, Paul Peebles shares his experience.
Transforming your wood requires proper application of stain, stain color sampling, and proper preparation (see related articles). With the wood grain highlighted and protected, your dull, gray, or unfinished yellow wood will become the home or deck your neighbor’s envy.
Whether you’re building a new log home or simply restoring your existing log home, these wood staining tips will have you on your way to proper substrate preparation and application which mean greater longevity, better color, and better long-term performance.
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