The WC Press Home Improvement Issue - March 2016

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as SEEN on TV

meet HGTV personality and DIY star Jeff Devlin

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understanding eco-friendly construction 41

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Noting 13 21 35 37 41 53 55 57 61

Our no-nonsense table of contents

LOCAL TALENT Carpenter and TV personality Jeff Devlin RETURN ON INVESTMENT Advice on how to earn the most equity for your effort LOCAL PERSONALITY A chat with Denise Wroten of Market Street Sales & Realty THE MAKEOVER Balance Hair Spa Studio styles a hardworking mom PREVAILING WINDS The direction of sustainable home construction and design BARTENDER OF THE MONTH Anita Carrasquillo talks up Split Rail Tavern’s brunch PHOTO HUNT Can you find the seven differences in these two photos? THE LOOK Tish Boutique offers up two great looks OWNER OF THE MONTH Christina Davis of Tristate Forestry Equipment



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From the


“Real men don’t use instructions, son. Besides, this is just the manufacturer’s opinion on how to put this together.” –Tim ‘The Tool Man’ Taylor

I’m not a particularly masculine man. My athletic abilities are average at best, it takes me a few weeks to grow enough facial hair to visibly darken my jawline, and my hands are soft, small and callus-free. My daily driver is a silver hatchback. My dad, on the other hand, is a man’s man. He’s in his fifties now, but he still plays on multiple fast-pitch softball teams, and while he shaves his graying stubble like clockwork, I’ve seen him sport a legitimate goatee. His hands wouldn’t seem out of place on a silverback gorilla, and he drives a black pickup. And yet—while I’ve taken many of my traits and inclinations from my mother—my dad saw to it that I knew what a man should. He coached me through a decade of baseball. He taught me how to mow the lawn and make pancakes. He showed me how to fell a tree, split wood and build a roaring bonfire. When I bought my first car, my dad guided me through fixing a flat tire, replacing brake pads and changing my own oil. Last year he took me hunting, and I killed my first deer, an eightpoint buck. He was proud. Most importantly, my father’s a general contractor, so he saw to it that I knew how to repair and renovate my own home. I think he knew early on that I was destined for a job where my hands worked a keyboard and not a hammer, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t gonna learn the right way to swing one. From a young age my dad took me with him to job sites, and from the time I was old enough to drive a nail into a two-by-four, he put me to work. I hauled lumber and trash and equipment until I grew old enough to be trusted with a circular saw and a nail gun. Thanks to my dad, I know how to properly frame a door or window, how to install hardwood and tile flooring, and the right way to hang drywall or plaster a hole. Spring break of my senior year at Penn State, my friends headed off to southern beaches; I headed to Middle-of-Nowhere, New York, where my dad and I spent a week on the edge of a wickedsteep, three-story roof laying shingles. My dad also taught me how to man up, overcome my fears, and get the job done. As I enter a new stage of life, that of a homeowner, the lessons I learned from my father will serve me well. On the house hunt I was able to see fixer-uppers for their potential and effectively gauge the time, effort and money needed to make that happen. I have big plans for a renovated kitchen, a master suite and a finished garage, and thanks to my dad I know exactly how to go about earning that sweat equity. (Our story on page 21 is also a great resource.) I might not look especially tough, I’m no baseball star, and the home improvements I’m making are more likely to blister these girly hands than deliver my first set of calluses, but I think the real test of a man is in the depth of his knowledge. In that regard, my father made sure I’d always measure up.







He may be a television p e r s o n a l i t y, b u t J e f f D e v l i n i s first and foremost a carpenter story Dan Mathers photos Andrew Hutchins


ome renovation television shows have undergone a massive evolution over the past decade, starting out catering to niche markets of contractors and hardcore DIY enthusiasts and eventually broadening their reach all the way to stayat-home moms. That evolution has been deliberate, shifting from deeply substantive descriptions of properly installing a jack stud and header when framing a door, to focusing on more superficial tasks, like choosing the proper color of granite countertop for your new kitchen. It’s not just the content of the shows that’s become more superficial. The audience for Property Brothers wouldn’t be half what it is if comely, Canadian twins Drew and Jonathan Scott looked more like This Old House’s Bob Vila. Now, I have to admit I’m a fan of a lot of the home improvement shows on television today. I make fun of the attractive-yetdweebish Property Brothers, but man, they

really make me wanna buy a house way under my budget and make it awesome. And, while I stand by my assertion that the main characters of Flip or Flop—Tarek and Christina El Moussa—are insufferable (especially Christina, I mean, c’mon! She does nothing!), I’m always super excited to see the transformation. What’s best about this trend in television is that it’s created entire networks of interesting shows that I can flip on at the end of a long day and enjoy watching with my girlfriend, and I have people like Jeff Devlin to thank for that. Jeff has been the carpenter on a variety of home improvement shows that have aired on HGTV, A&E and the DIY network for the last 10 years, and he’s well aware of the complex he’s feeding into. “Oh, I know there’s a stereotype,” he says. “And I definitely I fit it: we’re all tall, strong guys who crack jokes.” Since Jeff never actually says, “I’m handsome,” I’ll say it for him: the man

is good-looking in that rugged kind of way that makes women swoon and men envious. Despite fitting in with the stereotype, Jeff does his best to break from the mold, which is what makes his shows so interesting. “I try not to just be there only for entertainment, but to give our viewers good information,” he says. “For me, what’s happening behind the walls is more important than what’s going on them, and while we may shoot hours of footage of me working, after editing I’ve only got about 35 seconds to teach my audience. That’s hard, but I try to make it happen.” Jeff is currently filming right here in Chester County for Stone House Revival, the pilot for which aired on HGTV and DIY, and he took a break from his production schedule on a cold day in February to shoot some photos in his barn/workshop and chat about his life and career.



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How did you get into the trade? When I was younger, I got into breaking stuff, and then trying to fix it. I was horrible at it—I just ended up breaking things. I progressed to making crafts for church when I was 15 or 16— things for garage sales, church fairs—and the old women who came out to the events would buy my bird houses made out of pallets. That’s sort of how I got into it. Did anything in particular inspire you? I was a huge This Old House fan. I watched all those guys do their thing, and I got sucked in—I wanted to do that. People started paying me to come into their houses and work, and I had knowledge from watching This Old House, and I learned on the job, but was I a carpenter at 16? Probably not.

Jeff Devlin Where are you originally from? I was born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia and grew up the majority of my life in Bucks County—Langhorne. About 17 years ago I moved out to Chester County, and I currently live in West Chester. What brought you here? At the time, it was my ex, but really I loved it. It was quiet, especially 20 years ago, and I loved these old farmhouses and the history here. Every house I’ve purchased has been an old home. How would you classify your profession? I guess I started as a carpenter, and when people ask me that question, I say carpenter, but I am a licensed contractor. What I love doing most is building furniture, building custom cabinets, but I still do everything: bathrooms, basements, kitchens. Carpenter is where I started and what I stick with—it’s a noble trade.

When would you say you became a carpenter? I started making furniture and tables and stuff when I was about 20. Then, when I was about 23, a good friend Bill Bundy, and his wife Tammy, offered me a chance to work on a house they were flipping. The houses they flipped were 200 years and older. The first one I got a taste of was 300 years old, and we gutted it all the way down to the studs. The guy who hired me, I thought he was crazy, because we had all these power tools, but he had us doing the job by hand to make it look original. At that point, he was paying me by the hour, so what did I care? But that experience got me to slow down a bit and appreciate the things I built like I hadn’t before.

And so you went into the business for yourself? Yeah. I started my own business, but I’ve got to be honest: I’m a horrible businessman. I’ll propose something great, and people will say, “It’s not in the budget,” and I say, “I’ll make it work,” because I really want to do the job right. But then I look back on it, and I’m like, “I didn’t make any money on that.” Around this time, I saw my friends coming back from college, getting jobs, and I had to figure out how to make money—figure out whether or not this was going to be a sustainable career or just a hobby. Is that how you got into television? I got into television through Jim Mundel, who was a friend of a friend. It was actually at a funeral that he casually said to me, “I heard you snowboard and ski. Would you wanna help me carry a camera crane up and down a mountain for a snowboarding tour?” I thought he was joking, but I said, “Sure.” He called me a week later and said, “I got your tickets; you’re going to Colorado next week.” That was how I started working in television, as a laborer. From there I started messing with the camera, until I got hired as an operator, and I filmed wakeboarding, drag racing, all kinds of stuff. I’d be away for three days—a day to get there, day shooting, day back—then the rest of the time I could spend in my shop, doing what I loved, making built-ins and cabinets and furniture. How’d you end up in front of the camera? Well, one day, a guy I worked with, Bud McHugh, came by my house to drop off a camera, and I was working in my shop. He said, “You’re still doing the carpentry stuff, huh? I forgot that you did that stuff.” The next day he showed up unannounced at my house, lied and said he had a new camera he needed to test, and he had me look at him, say some things, talk on camera, and two weeks later I got a call to be on TV. Apparently he sent the tape to a production company and they liked it. Were you excited? At first, I thought, “This isn’t really for me.” At the time Trading Spaces was huge, and I watched these shows, and I thought, “I don’t wanna be another wisecracking carpenter. I wanna be another Tommy Silva and take my time and be methodical.” In the end I decided, if I was going to do it, I was going to be different from the rest of the carpenters on television.





Résumé A few of the places you may have seen Jeff...

Jeff gives homeowners hope with amazing designs and the latest products that won’t break the bank. Watch and learn as he utilizes the coolest tools and techniques to transform truly outdated into state-ofthe-art bathrooms!

How’d you try to be different? Well, it was tough, because I can be a wiseass; on the surface I can be exactly like every other carpenter on TV. My real issue was that a lot of the carpenters couldn’t back up what they were saying—they didn’t get dirty and do the job, but they were representing contractors and misinforming the world. I wanted to still be me and keep my personality, but I wanted people to take me seriously and take the job seriously. It wasn’t as much as This Old House, but I was able to give something. What was your first show? Spice up My Kitchen on HGTV. It scared the piss out of me at first, because I didn’t know what I was doing or what I was there for. I mean, I knew the work that had to be done, but it took me a while to get comfortable in front of the camera and crew. And what are you currently working on? I’m currently shooting in and around Chester County for a show called Stone House Revival. We find these old, historic homes, and we renovate two or three rooms, expose some stones, make it look pretty and keep with the history of the property. I real-

ly like it because I get to talk about the historic techniques. One thing I’ve learned is that some of the tools I’ve always reached to first—a huge power planer or sander— you use them for a big job, but you can be just as efficient at a smaller task with a hand tool and you get the feel of being involved with the product. You put your name on it.

Jeff demystifies the renovation process by helping homeowners choose the best design plan and contractor for their space. He guides them through the selection of materials and products, given their particular budget and style.

Sounds like you take pride in your work. My dad always said, “Sign everything you do.” He didn’t mean physically; what he meant was that you should make sure people know you built it, take ownership of it, and 100 years from now, it’ll still be standing there, and hopefully people will say, “Jeff built that.” You initially referred to carpentry as a ‘noble trade.’ I think I’m beginning to understand why. My hope is that one day my kids will look at me and say, “Dad, I wanna be a carpenter.” Not because I want them working hard, getting bloody hands and calluses, but because I want them to appreciate where they live and what they have, and I don’t think you can really appreciate that until you get in there, get your hands dirty and build something.

Jeff, along with fellow carpenter Brandon Russell and designer Lauren Makk, comes to the aid of homeowners in need. Whether rebuilding after a fire or flood, or if they’ve simply gotten in over their heads during construction, the Drill Team transforms homeowners’ unbearable situations into unbelievable realities in record-setting time!





Tell Me something


Kate Chadwick takes a moment to spotlight local citizens for doing something swell.

Who she is: Dr. Allison Turner What she does: Allison is an associate professor at the Department of Public Policy at West Chester University, and a volunteer at United Way of Chester County. Why she’s on this page: Barbara Mancill, Agency and Community Relations Manager at the United Way of Chester County, nominated Allison, who is a graduate of Leadership Chester County, a program that educates people interested in serving on non-profit boards. “Allison showed such leadership and knowledge on that team that she now co-chairs the Education team and represents that team on our Impact Council,” Barbara said. “Since her time in that program, she’s joined the board of the Maternal and Child Health Consortium and become a volunteer on UWCC’s Community Investment team, which determines where UWCC dollars are allocated." The Community Impact Teams also evaluate the needs, effectiveness and fiscal responsibility of organizations funded by UWCC. “Seeing how individual organizations work alone and understanding their shared struggles has been eye-opening and rewarding,” Allison said. “I volunteer for the United Way of Chester County because the values of the organization are consistent with my own personal and professional values, because my work with them helps keep me connected to my community and because I’m impressed with their ability to make a significant impact with limited resources. And the leadership and staff are caring, determined and passionate about their work—I’m glad to have the opportunity to contribute to their efforts.” What we like about her: She’s serving as a role model. Allison connects the dots and uses what she's doing in the community to serve as an example to her students. “My work with UWCC also helps me to be a more effective advocate and teacher for my students in the MPA and DPA programs,” Allison told us. “I’m able to practice what I preach, and facilitate connections between my students and the community nonprofits.” What she likes about West Chester: Allison has been living in Chester County since 2010, and she and her husband moved into the borough in October 2014. She likes “the bustle,” as she puts it: “Living so close to where I work, the diversity in my neighborhood, the availability and access to a variety of local businesses, and the proximity of friends and colleagues.” Moral of the story: Take the ball and run with it. Allison has not only taken the steps to educate herself, she’s then taken what she’s learned and implemented it within her job and by extension, her community. Sometimes saving the world starts in your very own neighborhood. The United Way of Chester County is located at 210 Walnut Street. For more information on services, volunteering, or donating, visit, or call 610-429-9400.






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curb appeal


Ah, owning a home— it's a huge component of the American dream. There are fewer occasions when signing a bunch of paperwork can be so exciting as when you’re handed the keys to your very own home afterwards. And it’s easy to feel like that will be the place where you’ll live happily ever after for the rest of your life, forever and ever, amen. But ask anyone who’s been there: life has a way of rearranging our best-laid plans, and homes are listed for sale every day for a variety of reasons: people pass away, jobs are transferred or lost, marriages and partnerships end, parents downsize after the nest has emptied, or one hits the lottery and buys a vineyard in Tuscany. (Okay. Maybe that last one doesn’t happen quite as often.)

realtors for their thoughts on the subject. R e a l t o r Alison Maguire, of Maguire Moore Group at Keller Williams, offers suggestions for both inside and outside the house. “In our local market, exterior enhancements are



So, in the event you’re faced with listing the old homestead for sale someday, what improvements can you make now for the best return on what’s likely the biggest financial investment you’ll ever make? We checked in with some local contractors, designers, and


AS WELL AS LANDSCAPING the best way to invest your real estate dollars. Exterior curb appeal brings the most value for the cost—exterior doors, siding, and garage doors, as well as landscaping,” she said. “Giving your house a ‘face lift’ will put 90% of the cost back in your pocket by increasing your home’s value.” As for the inside?

“Furniture placement, or ‘staging’ a home is huge for increasing the value and decreasing time on market,” Alison told us. (And decreasing market time is key—time is money, after all.) “A staged home sells faster and for more money every time. The staging doesn't have to cost a lot—or any, money. You'd be






bath remodel,” he said. “And if that’s the case, the best thing to do is to just paint the entire place an antique white color—something neutral that creates a new palette, and also, if you’re selling, to have the same color throughout the house. When you have lots of different colors, it gets confusing to a buyer. The same with a crazy wallpaper, nobody wants to tackle that.” Dave also suggests—strongly—the removal of wall to wall carpet. “Even if the floor underneath is banged up and you don’t want to refinish it, you can just paint it a dark color,” he said. As for something homeowners should avoid d o i n g themselves? “Painting k i tc h e n c a b i n e t s ,” Dave said. “If it’s not done co r re c t l y, it just looks s h a b b y. And hanging w a l l p a p e r. Have that done by a professional, too.” As for staging? “Become a minimalist. Get rid of all your junk. The more negative space you have, the bigger your home looks."


surprised what you can do with what you already have. Organize your house so it’s clutter-free, move furniture into cozy groupings in the center of each room (no couches pushed up against walls!), add a fresh coat of neutral paint and tons of extra lighting, and you'll give your old house new life.” Local interior designer Dave Jones, who’s built his 30-year business solely by word of mouth, agrees. “It’s not as if people aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do when it comes to making good resale home improvement

decisions,” he told us. “It’s that they don’t know what they’re supposed to do.” That’s where he comes in. “Some people might not have the money to tackle a full kitchen or

As for something homeowners should avoid doing themselves?


Gary Subers, owner of S&S Remodeling, offers a contractor's perspective. The company was started by Gary’s grandfather, Walt, some 62 years ago, and, rounding out the family business, Gary’s son Gavin started working there five years ago. “We've had the privilege of working for thousands of homeowners and businesses, including realtors and home inspection agencies,” Gary said. He acknowledges that kitchens and baths are the most often-cited instances of remodeling suggestions, but cautions against just focusing there. “While kitchens and





Architectural shingles...


baths are the ‘bling’ of your home, you can't lose sight of the ‘bones.’ In my opinion, it's the basics—like roofing, windows, and doors—that can have the greatest return on your investment.” The dimensional or architectural shingles offered by the leading manufacturers today are rated for 50 years, according to Gary. “They’re offered in many styles and colors, and they can dramatically improve curb appeal, which is important. But even more importantly, they’re the first line in protecting your home, family, and possessions. And you also want to make sure that your windows and doors are both functioning properly and energy efficient.” Fellow contractor Phil DeMarco, owner of Dynamic Home Remodel, echoes that sentiment. “I focus primarily on exteriors—roofing, siding, windows,

doors, and some kitchens and baths,” Phil said. “No one wants to walk into a house and see a kitchen that needs to be redone. But as a seller, you may not have to do a total overhaul to gain equity if you don’t have the money,” he said. “You can do updates: paint cabinets, upgrade the appliances or countertops.” Phil said he recently worked with a homeowner whose budget allowed her to remodel either her kitchen or two baths. “I suggested she do the kitchen,” Phil said. “You spend way more time there and it matters more to buyers.” But Phil’s most interesting tip for return on investment was this one: “This is going to sound crazy, and no one ever tells you this, but you should never underestimate the importance of your front entry door. It’s the first thing anybody looks

at, and as far as bang for your buck, it’s a relatively inexpensive project. Most good doors will run you upwards of $2,000 dollars, but will give you a great insulation value, and up to a 90% recoup in cost. It’s a fairly small-ticket item that adds a lot of value.” He also suggest sellers make sure their roof is in good shape. “People don’t like to hear that, because return on investment is only about 60%,” Phil said. “BUT, buyers will use an older roof before anything else when they make an offer, because that’s the first thing a home inspector looks at. Buyers don’t like the idea of replacing a roof, but sometimes a smaller, qualified contracting company can come in at a lower price.”


front entry door MARCH 2016 THEWCPRESS.COM






Kit Anstey, of Kit Anstey Real Estate Team, would offer this advice to his sellers for the interior of their homes: “The best returns would be the remodeling of kitchens and their counter tops, followed by updating of the master bath, and finally, the finishing of lower levels,” he said. As for the exterior, Kit says, “Many homeowners receive no return—and in many cases a decrease—in the value of their property with extensive landscaping— the kind that requires professional care— and little or no return is received on the installation of an in-ground swimming pool.” Kit says that sometimes DIY homeowners may have the right idea when it comes to remodels, but he’s seen his fair share of mistakes over his years in the industry, too. “Attention to quality and appointments are absolutely key,” he said. “If you can, you want things

such a s hardwood flooring, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, and keeping the home’s colors neutral. Excessive wallpaper is out, and the more sunlight entering the home, the better.” Speaking of staging, we checked with designer Krystal Reinhard of Old Soul Décor. “Staging a home prior to listing it is one of the most important

components to getting it sold quickly and for top dollar,” she said. “Staging is a strategic marketing tool designed to show a property in its best possible light. It’s a fact that only ten percent of home buyers can visualize a home’s potential—this is why staging is so critical.” And it doesn’t need to break the bank, according to Krystal. “Most designers and stagers can work with all budgets, and will try to use or re-purpose items the homeowner already has,” she said. “Having an objective professional will transform your home effectively, creating an environment where potential buyers feel like ‘I could live here.’” Krystal also suggests using a designer to build equity whether you’re looking to sell or not. “Kitchens and baths are where you’ll see you highest return, and while we all have our own personal styles, it’s important to be objective and make smart decisions when choosing color palettes, finishes, and appliances,” she said. “This is where hiring a designer is crucial! Again, it doesn’t need to be expensive. Most designers offer lowcost consultations and guidance, or you can make a bigger investment in ongoing project management services to ensure you get a good return on a renovation investment. Unless you plan on living in your home until retirement, or are gifted in visual design, hiring a designer for any home renovation will save you time and money in the long run.”





be giving you the equity that you think you’ve put in.” In other words, they make it look easy on TV, but for professional jobs, stick with professional people. “For instance, we’ve got three projects lined up for today, which is 10-12 hours of work, and which will be whittled down to a minute, minute-and-a-half of footage for each TV segment.” So, Jeff says, just like we tell our kids, “DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Education is key, not only in making sure you don’t rip out your bathroom and then say ‘Now what?’ It’s key in helping you to decide even where to make the improvements in your particular house.”

Which parallels the thoughts of our final contributor, contractor Jeff Devlin. Because if you can’t believe everything you read, maybe you’ll believe a guy from TV. Jeff is not only a contractor, he’s the host of not one but two television shows on the DIY Network (see Dan’s interview with him in “Local Talent” on page 13). As for his thoughts on the best sweat equity projects for return on investment? “I get asked that question A LOT,” Jeff laughed. “But it’s a great question and kind of a tricky one to answer. “Of course, the stand-by items of kitchens and bathrooms, and tidy landscaping with green grass, overall – that’s easy.” But for Jeff, and he says, for buyers, whether they’re even consciously aware of it or not, one thing jumps out: “Quality and craftsmanship, even over the materials used,” Jeff said. “Okay, yes – everyone has replaced their laminate countertops these days with granite or some other stone, but HOW it’s installed matters just as much.” In other words, Jeff says, quality and craftsmanship win the day. “You CAN put in a less expensive kitchen – IKEA is usually the typical example—but if you don’t put it in correctly, it will show. People will spend thousands of dollars on cabinets, and then they’ll complain about the cost of having them properly installed. You

Jeff’s synopsis of the equity game summed the whole concept up neatly: use your head. “Educate yourself, and focus on quality and craftsmanship,” he said. “When I think ‘equity,’ I think ‘sweat,’ I think ‘work,’ and I think ‘thought.’”

Quality & craftsmanship,

can buy a highend cabinet and have it installed by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and get a shabby result. OR, you can take a mediocre cabinet and have it installed by a professional and get a great result.”



So….is he saying no DIY projects?? “We contractors have kind of shot ourselves in the foot by inspiring people to run out and tackle DIY projects, with sites like Pinterest and Houzz—and it’s true that we make it look easy on TV. But I’ll tell you what: every day I run into a problem. Every. Day,” Jeff said. “As a professional, I’ve learned to deal with those problems and manage my stress level. But as a homeowner, you really need to check your skills and know your limits.” Oh, and pull your permits, people. “If I’m looking to buy your house, and you’re telling me you’ve remodeled your kitchen, I’m going to go to the township and make sure permits were pulled, and, if they weren’t, I won’t










some of the bigger franchise places. We keep the “There are no stupid questions” approach, and we pride ourselves on catering to individual needs. So you’re the anti-“big-box” realtors, PHOTO Andrew Hutchins in other words? We’re not ‘anti’ anything, INTERVIEW Kate Chadwick but we also don’t believe bigger means better; I’ve been a licensed agent focused A chat with Denise Wroten of on this market for more than 10 years. Market Street Sales & Rentals Realty How did you get into the business? My husband and I both have our own inWere you born and raised in West vestment properties, so we’ve each been Chester? Yes, and now I have my own business here. We’re a family-owned, full- through the whole process of buying and service realty office. We opened in 2013, selling before. I got my license because I and we call ourselves “the real estate bou- wanted to help people to not feel the way tique” of the borough. We help buyers, I did that first time around. I want to give sellers, renters, and property owners, and my clients as much information and share offer different seminars and classes here as much of my experience as I can. What surprised you most about openat the office. What types of classes? We offer edu- ing your business? The welcome that I cational seminars for first-time buyers, or got from other businesses in town. It was staging your home for sale, things like that. wonderful how supportive people are. Is your husband in the real estate We have a very experienced and knowledgeable staff, but a relaxed and friendly business? No, Tom owns Wroten Renovaenvironment. For most people, buying or tion. He’s a third-generation West Chesselling a home is something they only do ter business owner; his grandfather sold once, so it can be intimidating. Since we’re coal in West Chester. We came across a small and local, we’re not as off-putting as newspaper from the 1930s, and his grand-


father’s coal business on South Matlack Street was advertised in it. In the same newspaper, actually, was an ad for my office location, 123 Market Street, where they sold fresh dog food, of all things. It’s nice when people who’ve been around West Chester for years stop into the office with memories of things that used to be. So do you and Tom get to have lunch together since you both work in town? We work together almost every day, and have lunch together almost every day— sometimes breakfast, too. If you weren’t in the real estate business, what would you be doing? I can’t imagine doing anything else. I think this is my life’s calling. We eat, sleep, and breathe real estate. It’s a nice that we do it not because we have to, but because we enjoy it. And when you take a break from West Chester, where do you like to go? We go to Ocean City, Maryland. I’m licensed there as well, so even when I’m there, I’m probably working. But it doesn’t feel like work if you enjoy it. So… retirement plans? [laughs] I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure retirement will still include working in real estate.





story Whitney Mousseau photo Nick Vecchio

Before: Megan's hair had an unintentional ombré look


egan Murphy came into Balance ready to spruce it up for spring. She hadn't had her color done in a year and her previously highlighted hair transformed into the once-popular "hombre" look. Meg, like a lot of our clients, is a very busy woman: she is a mother to three little ones, wife, business owner and an autism advocate. Her days are extremely full, which means she needs a lowmaintenance style, with emphasis on the word "style" (the lady has a lot of it). Here, stylist Whitney Mousseau explains how she transformed Megan's look...

I love that the trend right now involves women embracing their natural beauty. I wanted to enhance her natural color without hiding it. I didn't want to compromise the condition of her hair with an average foil application, so I weaved fine babylights around the sides of her head using Olaplex in the lightener. Olaplex is a bond multiplier that conditions the hair as it is processing. Throughout the rest of her hair, I used a hand painting technique to gradually lighten the surface because I know Meg likes to wear her hair both straight and curled—when you surface paint the hair, it's like having two hairstyles. The curls bring out the blonde drastically, but if you wear it straight, you enjoy the “natural” lightening effect. We then added a pearly glaze in the shampoo bowl to counteract any

unwanted tones. The glaze also prevents brassiness from interrupting her blonde for a good six weeks. She’s currently in the unpleasant stages of growing her hair out, so we gave her an undercut to prevent excess "flipping" around the neck and shoulders. We finished her look by curling with a 1.5-inch barrel, and then spraying with Colorproof TextureCharge for that tousled look. The plan is to see Meg one more time before summer and do this same process. After that, she won't have to come in for a color process again until next year. We will maintain her look with a few quick glazes and hair shaping cuts. I love brilliant, busy women like Meg, and it's important to me to give them hair that fits their lifestyle and reminds them of how beautiful they are.






Becca Boyd has a passion for good food


Since moving this past summer I’ve come to appreciate the true undertaking that is home-ownership; watching a lot more HGTV is just the tip of the iceberg. There exists a constant battle of wants and needs, checks and balances that keeps us in a spending limbo. Renovating a home is a mental and emotional drain as much as a financial one; what better way to help alleviate that drain than with some homemade snacks? Home improvers will likely enjoy giving you the tour while holding a container of still warm soup for dinner that night or better yet, a sweet treat reminiscent of a 1950s school lunch box. Kielbasa, Kale and White Bean Soup 8-10 servings 2 tbsp. olive oil; 1 large onion, or 2 small, diced; 4 carrots, diced; 4 stalks celery, diced; 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes; 1 (28 oz) can petite diced tomatoes; 3-4 inch Parmesan rind; 12 c. chicken broth; 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme; 1 tsp. kosher salt; 26 oz. turkey kielbasa, sliced into half moons 1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium high heat. 2. Add onion, carrot, celery, salt and crushed red pepper. SautÊ until softened, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. 3. Add tomatoes with their juices and scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir to combine. 4. Add broth, thyme and Parmesan rind and increase heat to high. Heat until boiling and reduce heat to medium. 5. Add kielbasa, beans and kale and simmer until kale is tender, about five minutes. Remove Parmesan rind and thyme stems. Serve, topped with cheese. Whole Wheat Strawberry Jam Bars Makes 16 1 c. white whole wheat flour; 1/2 tsp. baking powder; 1/4 heaping tsp. kosher salt; 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened; 1/3 c. sugar; 1 egg; 1/2 tsp. vanilla; 1/2 c. strawberry jam; 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with a foil sling. Spray pan and foil with nonstick spray. 2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. 3. Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes on medium speed. 4. Add egg and vanilla. Scrape sides and beat to combine. 5. Add flour mixture and beat on low until just combined. 6. Scoop about half of the batter into the pan and spread with a small spatula or butter knife flat across the bottom of the pan. 7. Place the pan and the mixing bowl in the fridge for about twenty minutes. 8. Remove from fridge and spread batter with strawberry jam. Top with dollops of remaining batter. 9. Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove and let cool, about twenty minutes. Using sling, remove bars from pan and slice into 16 bars. Store at room temp (in airtight container) for two to three days.





The Direction of Sustainable Home Design by

Jesse Piersol



John Muir was a bit of a romantic when it came to wind... In his 1894 book, The Mountains of California, the naturalist famously describes how he climbed into the top of a 100-foot Douglas Spruce during a storm to experience what it was like for the tree. Architect Matthew Moger of Moger Mehrhof Architects can relate. Before he started the design for Barney and Nancy Leonard’s home on Bragg Hill Road in West Chester, he camped out on the 10-acre site for 24 hours, intent on absorbing everything. “The bells of the cattle at the bottom of the hill, the arc of the sun throughout the day. I watched the fireflies emerge,” he rhapsodizes. “That night there was a big storm that went through and branches came down all around. That pushed us not to build this house out of sticks, since they were falling out of the sky.” It’s more than a coincidence that today, this house mirrors the landscape it inhabits. Its form and style, and most importantly—its ecological footprint— reflect today’s focus on sustainable building practices. Whether designing a

Bragg Hill photo Barney Leonard home from scratch, undertaking a complete remodel, or just updating a bathroom, it’s hard to escape the barrage of eco-friendly products. But the sustainability impulse springs from a place much deeper than low-flow toilets and geothermal wells.

Finding the Path “Barney and Nancy Leonard wanted a home that reflected what it means to be part of the environment,” says Matthew. “I look at the site as the third member of the team. It’s the architect, the client, and then we ask the site what it wants.” The glow of those fireflies at dusk during his campout inspired the design of the powder room. “When the sun sets, LED lights automatically go on and then go off at midnight, regulated by the celestial clock,” he says. The direction of the prevailing winds in the area helped him orient the house for optimal air flow. With three years in development, Barney Leonard had time to get to know the site of his future home. A professional photographer, he’d go out at winter solstice and shoot time lapse photos to study how the sun moved through the sky. “Orientation is everything,” he explains. “This house faces due south, so we follow the sun during the day. Living in a house with no curtains, we wake up earlier in the day and go to bed earlier. We’re more in tune with the rhythm of nature.” “We wanted a practical, sustainable, energy-tight home,” he continues. “But we also wanted something very feng shui, romantic and rustic. A place where you can sit back and pet your dog.” The house boasts countless passive energy savers. Overhangs on the roof block the harshness of the sun in the summer and let in the light in the winter. A 2,500-gallon underground cistern collects rainwater used to flush the toilets





and water the garden. Twelve-inch thick insulated concrete panels form the walls, with a cupola on the roof that sucks air through the 7,000 square foot house. Combined with a solar array on the roof, the heating and air conditioning bills are nearly non-existent. Bragg Hill is a masterpiece of green living for today, but it’s built for tomorrow too.

Building for 100+ Years

Jonathan Scholl has no patience for shoddy workmanship. “My frustration is seeing the lousy work that gets done, either because people don’t know or they don’t care,” says the founder of West Chester’s Dovetail Group. “Green benefits people and your pocketbook. Americans tend to say, ‘I’m not gonna pay another $10K for insulation because I’m going to move at some point.’ Well, everyone who lives in that house after you will never have to pay for that insulation again.”

Bragg Hill's LED lighting mimcs the srrounding landscape. photos Barney Leonard

Jonathan chose mechanical engineering as his focus at Boston University, but he never lost touch with his woodworking roots, a combination that influences his approach to sustainable design. “I build a thing for generations. I have no interest in building things quickly to satisfy a client’s need for a low-budget price. I’m never the low bidder. If you hire me, I’m going to do the right job for you and the next owner too.” When he lived in Germany for three years, he got a taste of German engineering. “In Germany, people don’t look over their nose at you if you’re a cabinet maker. They have a much bigger appreciation for the trades, and their woodworking and cabinetry are top of the line.” He designed and built the farm-style house on Strasburg Road in which he and wife now live. When they purchased the property, only the crumbling stone walls of the original barn still stood. “This was the biggest barn in Chester County when it was built in 1906,” he says. Wanting to pay homage to the site’s history, his design incorporated the stone walls, with the remnants of the front walls framing a garden area that expands off the front porch. It’s easy to miss the high-tech underpinnings of the charmingly rustic home. That’s because much of what makes it green is sealed up within the walls. “Air sealing and insulation is the best investment you can make on any home. There are pressure differentials between the inside and the outside of the house. As the inside is pressing out, the outside is trying to suck air out of the house. All the holes we have in construction, from plumbing pipes to laundry dryer ducts, add up to on average, a five-foot hole in your house. It’s like opening a window and leaving it open all the time.” Jonathan is also obsessive about proper ventilation. “Too many builders don’t do ventilation correctly. In a bathroom, for example, it is a critical component. The reason people get mold and mildew is because they don’t have good enough ventilation, and because the space above the bathroom doesn’t have enough insulation.” As the cold surface of the

All the holes we have in construction, from plumbing pipes to laundry dryer ducts, add up to on average, a fi5foot hole in your house. ceiling in winter meets the warm air from the shower, moisture condenses onto the surface, where it sits. “There’s not enough ventilation, so over time it becomes a mold condition,” he says. So although picking out new bamboo flooring or low-flow showerhead seems like a reasonable

green mini-renovation, Jonathan encourages the focus to be on controlling air flow instead. “Something as simple as ventilation in your bathroom is essential to green design. With healthy air, you eliminate mold growth, and proper insulation is good for the rest of the house too.”





Out With the Old Sustainability is about what happens to cast-off materials as well. “When a foundation needs to be demolished, we always propose that the masonry be crushed and reused,” says Doug Hertsenberg, a principal of Bernardon, the architectural firm responsible for the design of West Chester’s Chestnut Square and the Justice Center. “Whether it goes under the slab or under the driveway, that material doesn’t leave the site. We’ve had a number of historic projects where we keep components, such as the wood, to re-use. Or when you do demolish the wood, all those fibers can be repurposed into engineered lumber for other projects.” Repurposing can also be incredibly simple. “In a kitchen renovation, for instance, those old cabinets from the kitchen can become additional storage in the garage.” Jonathan Scholl extols the green virtues of the local Habitat for Humanity store too. “Donate your old fixtures there. They might not be right for you aesthetically, but keeping materials out of the landfill is the best green recycling thing you can do—appliances, windows, doors, even building materials.” Before you go diving into any DIY green renovation project, realize that there are safety considerations. Jonathan has cautionary words about

This was the biggest barn in Chester County when it was built in 1906. . This house on Strasburg Road incorporated the stone walls of the site's original building. photo Terry Scholl asbestos. “If a contractor doesn’t come in and do abatement the right way, those asbestos fibers get everywhere and lay dormant until someone stirs them up.” And don’t get him started on Vermiculite, that fluffy metallic material used for attic insulation. “It was popular from the 1940s through the 1970s, and people don’t realize a lot of it was tainted with asbestos. I wasn’t aware of that fact. Vermiculite needs to be treated like asbestos and removed properly. If there’s one thing about which I could raise a red flag, it’s Vermiculite.” Doug adds, “With asbestos, even a tiny bump could create dust in the air, so floor tiles or other asbestos-containing materials are things I recommend having professionally removed. Also, old wood is often coated with lead paint and has to be properly abated. If it’s encapsulated, there’s generally no harm in leaving it there, unless you’re planning on cutting through it or otherwise disturbing it during renovation.”

Bringing the Outside In

Matthew Moger strives to create what he calls “architecture of the site, a house that is ‘of the land’ and not ‘on the land.’ “It’s really all about trying to find ways to connect to the outside. French doors that lead out a patio, or a cupola that moves air through the house so you can smell the outside.” At Bragg Hill, everything is done to animal scale, not human scale. As Matthew describes it, “the design relates more to the barns than the farmhouses. When you look out into the landscape in the wintertime,





Overhangs on the roof at Bragg Hill block the harshness of the sun in the summer and let in the light in the winter photos Barney Leonard

you see barns.” From the extra-wide doorways to the assortment of reclaimed barn timbers used throughout the house, there is a sense of belonging to the landscape. He adds, “The outside is metal and untreated cypress, all of which can be recycled again.” “Good architecture is about solving problems, but do a great job and it gets spiritual,” Matthew reflects. “You’re creating openings to nature. A building reacquaints you with nature and becomes an opportunity to reengage with the outside, like kids.” Doug Hertsenberg concurs. “Outdoor living is a major design element. In new home projects, we position the house accordingly, so we capture the sun at appropriate times, and shield the house from it at inappropriate times. We tout ourselves as harmonizing with the site. We are very sensitive to the existing vegetation as well. Sustainability is no longer a separate word—it’s part of what we do.” Long-term vision is critical. As Doug says, “Sometimes clients will want some type of vegetation with instant growth for immediate privacy, but that might not look as good in 10 years. We work with them, from soup to nuts, from design to landscape components, to make sure there are no regrets down the line.” On a bleak winter afternoon, there are no regrets at Bragg Hill. From his vantage point nestled into the hillside, Barney Leonard can watch the eagles and turkey vultures float on the thermals as the prevailing winds from Marshalton circulate. John Muir wrote that, “Most people like to look at mountain rivers, and bear them in mind; but few care to look at the winds, though far more beautiful and sublime, and though they become at times about as visible as flowing water.” Those winds affected Matthew Moger so deeply that he created a three-legged table made from reclaimed wood that now sits in Bragg Hill’s dining room. “Matthew saw the trees leaning into each other after the storm. He saw how strong a tripod is, and said he wanted to make a table like that,” Barney recalls. “He said, ‘If you’re going to build a house on the top of the hill, it needs to be strong.’” The table is a metaphor for sustainability itself. By crafting our living spaces with the future in mind, our own individual vulnerabilities disappear into a stronger collective purpose. By considering the site as an equal participant in the plan dreamed up by the property owner and the architect, that tenuous future becomes a little more certain.






Diane LeBold and the West Chester Food Co-Op examine local food production and bring eaters closer to the source of their food.


Spring is here, and gardeners (and eaters!) are beginning to dream of a table full of fresh, local food. It’s been slim pickings for local grub the past few months—some potatoes, some apples, and a bit of winter squash, but that’s about it. So, it's exciting to start planning for a healthier, tastier, more local and sustainable approach to eating for the rest of the year. One thing you’ll want to consider: looking for the organic label. There are lots of reasons to incorporate organic food into your diet. As we learn more about the hazards of common agricultural practices, the benefits of organic alternatives that don’t put human health or the environment at risk become increasingly clear. We’re lucky to have the National Organic Program, which issues the USDA Certified Organic label. This certification system prohibits use of harmful substances in the production of the food it certifies. But the system does even more than prevent harm: it also insures that farmers are building soil health for future generations, which is a huge long-term benefit. There are many benefits to supporting local producers, organic or otherwise: fresher, better-quality food, support for local farms and open space, a smaller carbon footprint, building the local economy, and building a community around food. Happily, Chester County is the second-largest agricultural producer in Pennsylvania, so we have lots of local food options all around us! So here are some tips to start planning that better, healthier, tastier, more local and sustainable diet in 2016: • Learn what USDA Certified Organic means: Go to the USDA website and check Programs and Services/National Organic Program to learn about standards and certification. Become a smarter food shopper! •Support your local USDA Certified Organic farmers: To help ensure more local organic food in Chester County, let’s support the farmers who are producing it. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service maintains a database of certified producers, which is a good starting point. •Plan to eat with the seasons—the essence of local! For ideas on what to shop for and what to eat, check out the Chester County Agricultural Development Council’s Farm Product Calendar, which shows what’s in season in our area. It’s available on the Chester County website, chesco. org. Look for the Agricultural Development Council under Government. There are economic benefits to eating seasonally also—what’s in season is normally the most economical thing you can buy! There are about 30 USDA-certified organic farms in Chester County. You can find more information about local farms and USDA-certified organic producers by signing up for the West Chester Food Co-op’s newsletter at, or go to –





Bartender of the


PHOTO Andrew Hutchins

INTERVIEW Kate Chadwick

If you’re looking for a reason to visit The Split Rail Tavern, Anita Carrasquillo can give you a bunch of them. How long have you been with The Split Rail? We opened last July, and I’ve been working here since September. What’s your schedule? Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday nights, and Saturday brunch. Oooh—you have brunch on Saturdays? We serve brunch from 11am-3pm on Saturdays and Sundays, but I believe we’re the only place in town that serves brunch on Saturdays. We make our own Bloody Mary mix, we have an awesome menu with fresh juices, shrimp and grits, brioche French toast—so many great things. Do you have a preference for working during day or night? I enjoy my weekday

nights— you tend to become a bit nocturnal in this industry—but I love working Saturday. Tuesday nights are my favorite night to work, because we have Drag Queen Karaoke. There’s music and dancing, karaoke, and then a drag show at midnight. It’s so fun. And it’s great for the LGBT community, because there are no gay bars in town. And then on Wednesday nights, we do an Open Mic Night, which is great for local singer-songwriters, and there’s spoken word and poetry, too. Tell me something about The Split Rail that you thinks sets it apart. We pride ourselves on a super-eclectic draft list and cocktail menu. We focus on European ales. We have stouts, sours, ciders, everything. We also pride ourselves on our classic cocktails. We make our own in-house shrubs, and only use fresh juices. We have a lot of cocktails that are stirred, and we're getting into post-Prohibition classics, and things like barrel-aged Manhattans. Did you say that you make your own shrubs? And can you define that term? It’s a fermented fruit syrup, and we use that in a drink called the Roman Holiday. How long have you been in the bartending game? Since I was 18, and I’ll be 31 in March, so a long time.

Is this your lifelong vocation, do you think? I do love it—you always seem to come back to it. You’re constantly meeting new people, and building relationships, the money is great and it’s just a really fun job. I’m also a freelance makeup artist, though, so I’d love to have my own shop someday. That’s my real passion. What do you like to drink? I’m a beer girl. It’s simple, but there are so many different kinds of beers these days, literally thousands to choose from. I like all kinds, from stouts to sours, which is probably my favorite kind of beer. It’s never boring. Do you keep a little bar at home, or just beer in the fridge? Pretty much just beer in the fridge. Lots of places have "create your own" six-packs, and that’s what I like to do. Okay, enough about drinks—tell me about the food. Our chefs are amazing, and they come up with great specials on a daily basis; absolutely everything here is made from scratch. We have classic cuisine, and you can do anything from a burger to Cioppino (seafood stew). When I come in to see you, can I sit at the bar and eat? Yes, the full menus are all available at the bar.



Excite all of your senses

at West Chester’s most alternative & unique boutique! A vast array of “one-of-a-kind” products, including...

Hip Clothing • Bags & Accessories • Jewelry Galore • Incense/Oils/Candles • Tapestries/Blankets • Eclectic home/Dorm décor • Hemp products • Grateful Dead, Bob Marley & ‘60s Memorabilia • Tie Dyes & Cool T-shirts • Hand-blown glass & local artwork • Tobacco accessories • Groovy Gifts Gift Certificates Available

130 W. Gay Street 610-431-6607 A portion of our proceeds go to environmental and pro-peace charities! All major credit cards accepted. Open 7 Days A Week

10% off purchase with student ID! SINCE 1992



Do we have the rights to use this image? Absolutely not. Do we think there’s any chance we’ll get in trouble for it? Eh, it’s a small chance, but it’s a risk worth taking because we cannot pass up a Home Improvement reference this issue. What time is it? It’s time to find the seven differences between these images and email your answer to for your chance to win.





photo Andrew Hutchins story Ashley Tischler

Tish Boutique offers up two great looks that you’ll love wearing all spring (and through the summer and fall) You may recognize our model Beth Larkin if you’ve ever eaten at Market Street Grill (and who hasn’t?) But, when she’s not serving up the best Brunos and Bennys, she always looks amazing, and that’s because she shops the latest trends at Tish Boutique. In her first outfit, Beth is wearing a white body-con dress from BCBG Max Azria. From a cocktail party to a weekend at the beach it is a spring/summer essential!

The second look is all about the coldshoulder top. It’s sexy without being overt, and adds something different to a top. This style is making a serious comeback, and sticking around through most of the year. It’s definitely worth giving a try! It can be denim, silk, cotton, or even a knit. What makes this trend cool is that it’s universal. We paired it with our forever favorite AG jeans. White denim is always in for spring,and investing in a pair is a must!

look one white lace body-con dress BCBG Max Azria $298 look two cold-shoulder top skies are blue $68 skinny distressed white denim AG Jeans $238 gold flip flops Lilly Pulitzer $88 gold handbag Urban Expressions $58




Hit List

DJ Romeo curates a list of the hottest songs you’ll hear this month

The following is a list of songs that will take over the radio stations in the next few months. You’ll soon know them by heart and play them ‘til they’re tired. But, good news: you can download them first and look like the cool musical genius to all of your friends. | @DJRomeo24

Twenty One Pilots - “Ride” Elle King - “American Sweetheart” Zendaya f./ Chris Brown - “Something New” Rihanna f./ Drake - “Work” Zayn - “Pillow Talk” One Direction - “History” Shakira - “Try Everything” A Great Big World - “Oasis” BUNT - “Old Guitar” The Lumineers - “Ophelia” Nicole Millar - “Tremble” FEin - “#Grownupz” Dierks Bentley - “Somewhere On A Beach” Gwen Stefani - “Make Me Like You” 99 Souls f./ Destiny’s Child & Brandy - “Boy is Mine” Alessia Cara - “Wild Things” 5 Seconds of Summer - “Jet Black Heart” Alan Walker - “Faded” Bobby Green f./ Whitney Phillips - “Lights” City and Colour - “Lover Come Back” Luke Potter - “Should I Stay?” Addison Scott - “I Came Alive” Highly Suspect - “Lydia” Coldplay - “Hymn For The Weekend” Charlie Puth - “We Don’t Talk Anymore” Giovanni James - “Whutcha Want” Billy Currington - “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” Haywyre - “Do You Don’t You” Jack Garratt - “Fire” The Chemical Brothers f./ Beck - “Wide Open”





Owner of the


PHOTO Andrew Hutchins

INTERVIEW Kate Chadwick

Christina Davis of Tristate Forestry Equipment gives new meaning to “working mom.” Let’s address the elephant in the room right off the bat: how unusual is it for a woman to own and run a truck company? I get asked that all the time! I’ll bet. How did you get into this business? I have to thank my fiancé, Joseph Ward, for that. He was always into trucks and trucking, and got me involved. I started out by helping him, and this is what we’ve turned it into today. How long have you been at it? We’re going on four years now. And you specialize in forestry equipment and truck servicing, but other services, too, correct? Absolutely. We do a little bit of everything: anything related to trucks and heavy equipment, as well as smaller stuff like sandblasting and repainting services for things like patio furniture and house radiators. People will bring us their older, not-so-pretty things, and we’ll sandblast, prime and paint them to make them look like new again. And do you just deal with big commercial trucks, or do you also work on garden-variety pick-up trucks? We do quite a lot of work with them, actually— primarily relining the beds, re-coating them for durability. We do refinishing, fabrication, re-decking on a trailer. If the bottom of a trailer is rusted, we redo it, we do the welding—all of it. We are a one-stop shop for trucks, we like to say. Is your business a Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 operation, would you say? It is non-stop. The office calls go straight to our cell phones when we’re not there, and there’s someone on hand usually six or seven days a week. Give me an idea of the size of the operation, besides the office. We have a six-bay paint area, and there’s a second sandblasting area. That’s where the trucks are taken down to bare metal and prepped for the painters.

What was your previous line of work? I was a stay-at-home mom. Our children are eight and four years old, both girls, Mackenzie and Madison. I’ve always said the term “working mom” is redundant. Yes, they’re a handful—definitely a full-time job of their own, but they’re with us here every day after school. People love coming in and seeing little kids here. What do the girls think of all of this? They love it—they love being at the shop and they love climbing around the trucks and “helping out.”

Were you into trucks at all when you were little? No, I was definitely a girlygirl—Barbies and all that. It sounds like you’ve taken to this business. Was there a big learning curve for you? I handle everything well, but I still also learn something new every day. Do you drive a truck as your personal vehicle? Ha! No, I drive a mom-mobile. How big is your staff? We have 10 employees and couldn’t do without them. Are any of them women? It’s just me. So you are the queen? I guess so, but they just call me Boss Lady.