Gliedt Restorations

A.D. Gliedt    General Building Contractor     B-673088

 

 

 

 

 

About the owner:

For more than 30 years, I have owned and operated several small businesses.  Prior to venturing out on my own, I spent a few years working as an employee to three businesses, two small and one corporate.  I soon found that conforming to the business plans of others, wasn’t going to be a fit for me,  so in my mid twenties, I started off on my own and never looked back.

This background information below,  is an introduction to who I am, and the experiences that I draw on when designing, building, and interacting with my customers.  

 

self Taught and the School of Hard Knocks

I started out with a dream to be and architect and after graduating high school, I spent time between our state university system,  with some time mixed in at the local junior colleges.  Political and computer sciences were my initial temporary majors,  as I looked for an architectural school to transfer over to.  In hind sight these were good choices. 

While a full time student,  I was also working full time as a draftsman for a local engineering company, I didn’t know it at the time, but his blend of theory and practical experience at the same time, proved to be a key life lesson for me.  I soon realized, that there was a large disconnect, between the theory that was being taught to me in the class room, and the daily work on the job. The result was a decision to drop out of college and the conventional structured classroom studies, and head off in the self taught direction, blending my independent studies, with my own trials, errors and the hard knocks along the way. 

the  Drafting and Design Years

After dropping out of college, I continued work as a draftsmen on an old school drafting table,  pre Autocadd years.  One of my employers was a small engineering business,  and the other was a large corporate one, in the field of prefabricated truss manufacturing.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons hands on, from a variety of engineers and designers during those early years.  My design background was invaluable later on as my foundation,  when I branched out into construction and cabinetry work.  Working for businesses on opposite ends of the spectrum in size and structure, and seeing first hand how they interacted with their employees and customers, was another valuable lesson learned early on.

Design came naturally to me and Drafting as a means of communicating the design, was always a great interest to me.  Once I mastered the traditional drafting technics, I set off to teach myself the new medium of computer aided drafting. I feel grateful to be of the generation, that was the last to learn to draft old school with paper and pencils, and the first to learn and see it evolve to what it has become today.  It is an invaluable tool for me to this day, in everything I design and build.

As time went on, my interest in being a full time architect or residential building designer became less attractive. I knew I wanted to continue designing, but, I needed to be active in the building side of the industry as well, and not locked down in an office full time. This would bring me to my last employer prior to setting out on my own.

It was a small mom and pop remodeling contractor, and I was still in my early twenties. This was my first opportunity to take what I had learned so far on the drawing board and blend it with construction estimating, and direct interaction with the customers. It was also where I learned a valuable lesson about the politics of a family ran businesses, and where you rank in the structure, when you aren’t a relative.  After working as their estimator for about a year, I found myself laid off unexpectedly at the holidays.  Looking back, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and the last employer that I ever had.

Carpentry and General Contracting

I was that guy in high school that took all the wood shop and drafting classes. If design was my natural talent or first love, carpentry was always a tie or close second for me. During my recent layoff, I was fortunate to have friends in construction, and was able to find work easily in residential remodeling.  The carpentry trades within it, were a natural fit for me, and what I gravitated toward. Once again, it was learning on the job with talented craftsmen, and watching these people up close, as they we running their own small construction businesses.

It wasn’t long before, I was designing the projects for the people I was helping out part time on their construction jobs, and developing my own residential design business. It was that great blend of practical experiences, coming together once again, and what was the early days of my first business in residential design.  eventually It would expand into general contracting within the remodeling construction market.

Though my thirties, remodeling for me was a great time in business, with fantastic customers and subcontractors around our projects. For a portion of that time toward the end I took on a business partner. I was very fortunate to be able to say it was a positive experience, and an opportunity to see another form of business as a partnership in action. 

The First Cabinet shop

At the end of my time in residential remodeling and general contracting, when my business partner had decided to retire, I figured it was time to take a step back and have a fresh look at the path forward. I still had young kids at home that were getting big fast, so I decided to reorganize the business back to my home based woodshop, and setup a cabinet shop. This would allow me a chance to see the kids grow up, and at the same time refine my carpentry skills.

A good friend who is a cabinet maker,  taught me the basics of custom cabinetry layout. With my past experiences and his help, the birth of my custom cabinetry business had begun. I was able to call on past remodeling customers for their cabinetry needs as a place to start. I think I should have stayed in this niche, however, with the big box stores creeping into the cabinetry market with modular imports, it became difficult to compete with their pricing.  So, once again change came, and I adjusted.  Soon I would transition from the smallest of businesses as a one man band, to a business with a lot of  overhead, and a six man crew.

The Boatyard Years

I realized I was getting to an age that if I was going to create another “normal business”, I had better get started on it soon. I was torn, as my kids were still young and at home, and I didn’t want to miss out on seeing as much as I could of them growing up, but, when opportunity knocked for me to take a new chance in a new business, I jumped all in and signed the lease for a boatyard in the Delta region of the Northern California.

It was boatyard with decades of history, that had been ran down into a homeless camp on the water.  My goal was to enter into the traditional wooden boat market utilizing the modern carpentry skills I had learned over the years. I seemed to me that the local market was hungry for the services and a fair business, to take care of their prized wooden vessels. I had a lot of trade and small business skills, but no boatyard experiences, Idiot, ya maybe, but after four years in it, we had a lot of great successes with many great customers.  I had a great group of guys that made up my crew, which I am happy to have known and worked with, and look back on this time, as good times.

Unfortunately, in the end, breaking even, or taking small monthly losses in the winter is not a recipe for long term success.  Small incremental losses, eventually add up to big numbers, and to quote my landlord at the time, “going broke happens a little bit at a time and then suddenly, it happens all at once”.  Another lesson learned the hard way, and one I am happy to have made it through.  

Personal Curve Balls

Just as I was tearing down the boatyard and moving everything back to my home shop on the farm, and uncertain what next might look like, my personal life took a shot. What I thought was a normal family of four, quickly became just me and my dog and one of my sons in the blink of an eye. It wasn’t a welcome change at the time, but most of the time change isn’t.  Fortunately, for me over the years, I have learned to expect it on a regular basis.  So when it happens, I just deal with it, and try to turn it into something positive.

This time was different though, as I found myself having to rebuild my business life again, but, this time I had to rebuild my personal life as well at the same time. Starting over after 50 years on the planet gave me a whole new perspective on how to approach the new directions.   

The second unforeseen part of this story for me, was the reacquaintance of a high school friend from years before, that would soon become my wife, and partner in every since of the word. The reason I inject just a little personal history here in describing my background, is to illustrate that good things can come out of bad things.  Quitting is only a guaranteed loss.  You have to constantly adapt, learn from the losses and keep going no matter what.  Successes, ultimately is a blend of everything good and bad, and a chance to play another day with a true partner by your side. 

the Organic Farmer

Next on the business plate, was Zen Moon Organic Farm. It was born out of the new relationship between me and my soon to be new wife Lisa. She is white collar cooperate, with more degrees than my thermometer in the walk in cooler. I’m blue collar, self taught and a proud college dropout. We are two people that couldn’t be more different on paper, or a better balance and fit for each other, in reality.

Lisa was studying Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and I had 10 acres that needed a new usage besides my woodshop and a home. The blend of us as a couple, and our past combined business experiences is what we started out with to form Zen Moon Organic Farm. It began what turned out to be a seven year journey, establishing an organic farm with and emphasis in Traditional Chinese Medicinal Herbs, and the complete renovation of the property.   

Operating our small organic farm, and maintaining the 10 acre property, was a great experience as we started out in our new relationship together. We had some great accomplishments with this small business, and built great value into the property we made our home.  Both of us are natives of the east bay area and have never left it. At our current ages, we decided the time was right to relocate, and try a new region of the bay area while we still had the ambition for something new.  So, the decision was made to sell the farm, and look to the north bay area for our new home.        

Full Circle….and whats next

To take something from and idea, to a tangible plan, and then to also be able to build or restore it, is very rewarding to me.  Design, Fabrication, Restoration and Residential Remodeling are all at the core of who I am, and what I do.  These projects come along in many forms, and the variety is what keeps it fun, with a wide range of customers as well.

As Lisa and I relocate our home to the North Bay Area, so too, will I find a new location for my cabinet shop, the design office and a new place for my business to call home in our next chapter.  

More to come soon………… 

Tony Gliedt, owner  

Gliedt Restorations,    A.D. Gliedt  General Building Contractor  B-673088