10 Business Building Lessons – From My Dad’s Legacy

My knowledge on property construction and management comes from my late father (Elimon Tagwireyi Mapuranga) who was a handyman, an architect and construction manager. My father had not been to university but he single handedly built most of the classrooms and dormitories at the school that his own children attended High School. Of his twenty four children, only one son (David) caught the vision of construction and vocational work and to this day, even with no formal education on construction, David built has his own house in South Africa. I am among the twenty three who became more inclined towards academics. However, as I observed my dad doing his work, even as he built all the houses in my rural homestead, I noticed in greater detail how property management is as important as its construction detail. The advice I received, directly and indirectly is valuable for both a home owner and even one who is renting another person’s property. The goal of property management is to ensure the asset you have keep appreciating in value.

1. Build you property with the future in mind – I have watched how the structures my dad put together over thirty years ago still stand strong to this day. He would tell me the amount of cement and other input that would go into the construction process without compromise. I have watched house that have developed major cracks or where walls have actually come down owing to shortcuts by builders. If you are building a temporary shelter then you are exempt from investing in building strong and lasting buildings. If you are going to have someone else build for you then ensure that all the material you provide is used on the building.

Lesson – Businesses are not built just to meet today’s need but with generations in mind. Pay attention to all the critical elements of business and not “cut corners”.

2. Build according to the plan – every meaningful structure or building has to have a plan. A builder who sets out to build from him/her head is not only dangerous to those who will occupy the building but he/she will always be frustrated by what he/she comes up with. A plan must make sense and it must certainly answer beyond doubt any questions the owner of the house has. Based on the purpose of the building, an architect is able to emphasize parts of the structure that define the purpose of the building. My dad had plans of each dormitory and classroom block. This is how he managed to make them identical. He made simplified diagrams that any builder could interpret. He would say “Son, I know I may not have attained the highest level of education but I appreciate the importance of having a plan. No plan, no building”.

Lesson – A business is as strong as the business plan. If it does not make sense on paper, it may not be worth pursuing.

3. The Finishing touches are as crucial as the super structure – It is quite sad that sometimes a lot of investment is put into the super structure, the main pillars, foundation etc such that when the building is complete, there is not enough energy to “touch up” the building and make it look good. Wrong choice of paint, wrong quality of flooring, a shoddy quality of plastering are all reasons why one building would outshine the other even with the design being identical. My dad always emphasized that whilst the start was important, it is the finish that bring a “wow” effect hence the importance of that detail.

Lesson – the things that look insignificant in business are as crucial as the overtly big things. The color scheme of your logo may seem insignificant but it affects a whole lot more than you think.

4. Property Management is about managing risks – Buildings require safeguards from vandalism (theft), flooding and fire. When the building is put together, the thoughts which should be processed and questions seeking answers are “what is the worst thing that could ever bring the building’s value down? What are the major threats to the building’s value?” I noticed with great interest how my dad always emphasized that every building carry a fire extinguisher, drainage around each building was meticulously put in place to reduce the risk of flooding, To reduce the risk of thefts, every window had burglar bars. The building was put in place with the knowledge that the contents were at risk from intruders right from the onset.

Lesson – Building a business also entails managing the risk of losing it. You should always look at the threats that seek to decimate life out of your business and build the relevant safeguards. It is risky to be in business but there are rewards if one can only step out and do.

5. The garden makes the property even more valuable – My dad always emphasized the fact that the buildings were supposed to leave enough space for proper gardening and landscaping where water features and other garden enhancements would be put. He didn’t use to do the landscaping himself but he has an appreciation of it. Whenever I now look at a building, I don’t stop on observing the walls and roof strength; I am now cognizant of the way the garden is looked after. When you have neighbors’ who throw trash in the garden and leaving grass to grow tall, this actually affects the value of your properties around. When all neighbors look after their gardens including the area that people can see from outside, value is added to the houses.

Lesson – The seemingly small things in business do matter. Your business is probably not known for the big things it does but for the small things you do not do well

6. The way to build the first model is very important to your expansion – Each building is different in the sense that you encounter different soils, different obstacles, different slopes etc. When you are building a series of buildings which are identical, you use lessons from your first building as you duplicate or propagate the buildings. You will know what to avoid. It will actually get better as you build more similar buildings. As the contractor, you have to develop a learning culture such that experiences from one site are recorded as learning points for future projects. All the successes and even failures should be recorded to make the history of building. You will be able to tell a “before” and “after” on the sites you have built.

Lesson – How you build your first business has a bearing on your branch network. Your first project therefore becomes pilot project showing you how identical each of the new branches will be to the prototype created.

7. Consider safety and waste management of each building – The reason shelter is created is for the safety of the occupants. With each brick being laid, the builder must be focusing on the safety of the workers and of the ones to occupy the house in the future. Each building must have a sewerage management system as well as water and other sanitation issues hence it addresses hygiene and health issues as well. Each building has ablution facilities and bathing facilities.

Lesson – You cannot ignore the Safety, Health and Environment issues of your business. In what way is your business taking care of it employees’ welfare in this regard as well as that of the beneficiaries (your customers).

8. Make the best building within the budget given – My dad would tell me of the fact that sometimes he would be asked to stretch himself in as far as making excellent buildings even under budgetary constraints and challenges. His approach was to find means and ways of achieving excellence while managing the capital employed by the school effectively. In some instances I remember him having to use a strategy of focusing on one building a time than spread himself too thinly. He would find it hard to run the construction of 4 similar projects at the same time but considered running them in succession.

Lesson – Your excellence in building your business must not be compromised by the capital at hand. Managing costs does not entail compromising on the crucial matters of the business. You can be excellent without over spending. A firm grip on finances is important. Build one branch at a time following the pattern and lessons from the main building.

9. Maintain the buildings as appreciating asset – One thing my dad would do is maintenance of each of the structures that were there. Sometimes it meant bringing a fresh look with another coat of paint. In other instances he would take out pipes that were rusty and put new ones, he would attend to leaking tapes, blocked sewer pipes just to mention a few. The goal was to ensure that each building he had made was always looking new, fresh and valuable. The gardeners would bring different kinds of new flowers to decorate the exterior part of the building. Inside each building all broken glass would be replaced and old doors would be removed and replaced with new ones. You could always feel the school had a fresh valuable look and feel making it exciting and a marvel for parents who sent their children to receive education from there.

Lesson – Your business image is important; you must always re-look at the things that need maintenance or total removal from your business to keep it looking valuable to investors and customers. Your fresh paint can be re-branding which is necessary from time to time to ensure that you appeal to the market as an appreciating, more focused business.

10. Building efficiency relies on the construction procedures and systems – Every process that my dad’s team was following was documented. From the proportions of cement to sand for the mortar to painting guidelines. He had a construction booklet, written in not so complicated steps but something that was easy for his team to follow. My dad’s literacy was up to “Standard 3” which was almost primary school level and yet he could create and document systems centered on construction and property care. His thinking was that it would be easier to induct a new builder if the systems were in place.

Lesson – A business is as strong as the systems and procedures it creates and relies on.

The Art of John Brady – An Irish Artist Producing Abstract and Landscape Art

The first 25 years of John Brady’s contribution to the art world was in the capacity of a Graphic Designer. In the early days of computers, as an Apple/Mac technology enthusiast, John, designed anything creative that came his way: marketing pieces for local businesses, corporate identity branding, logo designs– he was even commissioned to design the emblem for Bill Gates’ commemoration of Microsoft’s 10-year anniversary in Ireland. A remarkable achievement in itself, however his crowning glory and his more ever-lasting legacy takes place in the next 25 years of his life. As an artist! And not only that, but an educator of art, as his website reveals.

For anyone lacking the imagination to know what kind of art to buy, or where to hang it once you’ve bought it, Dublin-born artist John Brady has created a website that might be entitled, ‘ How to Become an Art Connoisseur.’ The site shows photographs of his art displayed in every room in his villa. Using every available inch of wall space, paintings are hung in every niche, every hallway, every nook and cranny. His entire residence has become a showcase for his art. As if that weren’t enough, John includes on his website, a step-by-step video showing how he paints one of his favorite subjects, a field of poppies. Starting with a white canvas, and using nothing but palette knives, John applies paint directly from the tubes. Wielding his knives like a slight of hand magician, with a few deft strokes a sky emerges, a few more dabs of color and a field of poppy plants appear. Then, the coup de grace as John twirls in the barest essentials of crimson red poppy leaves petal by petal. Never one to overwork his canvasses, what details John omits from his poppy fields landscape, the viewer’s imagination fills in. John Brady’s works are so predominant and energizing that instead of people buying them as paintings to match their decor – the paintings are the decor! And rooms are decorated and centered around the artwork. In fact, some paintings are dynamic enough to set the theme for an entire residence. Many of his works appear to divide the canvas diagonally one section in contrasting opposition to the other. Ethereally, his paintings have the essence of the yin and the yang, the spiritual versus the material. Symbolically, one section plays against the other as if they were the tectonic plates of the earth’s crust advancing towards each other, volatile with the potential of massive amounts of energy. It is this maneuver of spatial energies that give his art the power.

Vibrant landscapes, vivid florals, brilliant abstract studies of nature– all with such dynamic movement, they’re about to explode off the canvas. ” When I finish a piece,” says John, ” I know that it will brighten the most mundane wall.” He is a deeply spiritual being and seeks to enlighten people with his art. As he explains, ” I feel dramatic colour can lift your senses and energize your mind, and stimulating the senses is what I try to achieve.”

In the true spirit of the disciplined Italian masters Caravaggio, Raphael, Michelangelo and daVinci; and the freedom of expression of the Impressionists Monet, Constable and Van Gogh– who were all “teachers” of this fine student– very few artists have the ability to excite the senses to this extent with just the power of the paint and brush. John Brady is one of them.

You can visit Johns website at http://www.johnbradyart.com

Bring Home the Joy of Illumination With Kichler Lighting

A house, even with an excellent decor, is considered incomplete without a proper lighting system. Whether naturally or artificially lit, a well lit house creates an ambiance conducive to happiness and peace. A well designed house, with huge windows strategically placed, provides ample natural light. But, it is the quest for the right indoor lighting that raises many questions and doubts. Kichler Lighting, with its wide range of indoor products, eliminates all worries regarding selection of light and its fixture.

ABOUT KICHLER LIGHTING

Kichler, a company manufacturing decorative lights and fixtures since 1938, is committed to excellence and consumer satisfaction. What sets its product above others is the quality of its products and the loyalty towards its customers. That is why Kichler has earned the ARTS Manufacturer Award for four times. The quality and performance of this company’s products is impeccable. Innovation, to increase the range of products, without any compromise to the quality, is the trade mark of Kichler.

FEATURES OF KICHLER LIGHTING

1. Manufactured keeping in mind the varied needs and requirements of the ultimate users, all the products boast the latest trend, exclusive style, superb designs and beautiful colors.
2. The product range comes in varied sizes and includes different styles like classical, transitional, periodical and also the simple functional style.
3. The lighting fixtures guarantee a good fit and are available in various finishes such as rubbed bronze, legacy bronze and old bronze finish, rubbed nickel finish, black and white gold finish, white finish, steel finish, unpainted black material finish and distressed copper finish, to add to the style and elegance of the user’s home.
4. Kichler offers a warranty of one year for defects in material and workmanship.

The Kichler range of products and fixtures include Kichler outdoor lighting, Kichler under cabinet lighting, Kichler bathroom lighting, Kichler Chandeliers, Pendant lighting and Ceiling lights.

KICHLER OUTDOOR LIGHTING

For a beautiful home, a good lighted indoor setting alone is not sufficient. A well lit exterior that brightens up you neighborhood is also required. Kichler Outdoor Lighting and fixtures transform the outdoor space around the homes with a style and design, unique to Kichler.

Kichler outdoor lighting and fixtures include the Outdoor post lanterns, the Landscape lighting system (in-ground lights, water proof lights, deck lights, and path lights), the Outdoor chandeliers, Dark sky panel sets and the simple, fluorescent and LED outdoor wall brackets.

KICHLER BATHROOM LIGHTING

A bathroom is the place where time is spent grooming oneself to look the best and hence, must have the right light and a good fixture. Kichler Bathroom Lighting offers a selection of modern bath and bar lights that add to the style of the bathroom.

Collections of Kichler Bathroom Lighting include

1. The Hendrick Collections, suitable for aesthetic environment, offer fixtures with a clean look. The style adopted in these fixtures is an intermediary between the modern and traditional style.
2. The Wharton Collections, a two-light bath fixture, adopts a design that is neither contemporary nor fully traditional.
3. The Structures Collection offers versatility in style and design. It has a Structures motif, has a clean look and fits in any decor.
4. The Ansonia Collection, linear and futuristic in its design, offers a range of delicate and ultra modern fixtures. It can also match with any decor.
5. A fixture with an innovative curvilinear design and dual etched linear textured glass panel, The Freeport Collection, gives a dramatic effect to light.

Another great way to provide a full bathroom lighting system is to use Kichler’s Beauty Wraps with a variety of light pendants along with the customary bath bar.

KICHLER UNDER CABINET LIGHTING

The places where lighting is difficult to reach, such as under the cabinet areas, Kichler under cabinet lighting provides a solution. The Design Pro LED Under cabinet Light and the Design Pro LED Under cabinet Disc are innovative products of Kichler Lighting. They provide gentle accent lighting under the cabinets. These under cabinet lights can be linked together and the illumination level can be adjusted. This helps to create the right mood in the room.

The Design Pro LED Under cabinet Light and the Design Pro LED Under cabinet Disc has to be configured according to the user needs. The user can opt between the LED light or the Disc and then select between dimmer switch or nightlight, the quantity and size of the inter-connect cables and the mode of power supply. Once done, the perfect Kichler under cabinet lighting system is ready.

CONCLUSION

Kichler has brought about a revolution in the lighting industry. Dedicated to customer approval, great product value and excellence in design, Kichler has emerged as one of the best companies in decorative lighting.