- A Bold Beginning
- Drawing about 50 plans per year
- Because of my background of drawing plans on the side for over twenty four years, starting a business was not so difficult. (Paying for my own insurance was a new thing!) I made a few phone calls and quickly got to work.
- Through the years I never stopped developing programs to automate the designing and drawing process.
- The beginning of our company database to store information about contacts and house plans and plan data.
- Worked for six months developing the color art work for front elevations. Finally complete, we developed the process to generate water color looking front elevations in the computer in only a few hours.
Sometime in 1999 to 2001
- E-Mail and Web Sites
- Drawing about 200 plans per year
- I was very intrigued with the whole Internet thing from the very beginning. In 1999 I got a hold of my first modem with a speed of 300 bits. (For those who don't know, today we have connection speeds over 4mb or 4,000,000 bits.) I watched the whole thing develop from black DOS screens with blinking cursors to what we have today.
- It was time to get connected and use E-Mail as a form of communication. While I did have my own E-Mail account, there wasn't much to do with it because very few people I knew had E-Mail.
- I was also hit up for a web site which I really wanted but didn't know how to make effective. Back then, web designers were just getting into web site templates, but the web designers still needed to add the content. I have always been the type that can do things myself so I purchased a web development program and setup our first company web site. (Which has been altered to what it is today.)
Sometime in 2002 to 2004
- Interactive Web Sites
- Drawing about 350 plans per year
- After learning web program development, we plunged right in and designed our own interactive database driven web site templates specifically designed for builders.
- Taking what we were learning about databases and web sites, we quickly applied what we were learning to our own on line services. The first thing we worked toward was an on line plan library with search capabilities. Today we have over 600 plans on line for builders and customers to search from.
- We then took what we learned from the plan search database and connected it to the builders web sites so their customers could search for house plans from the builders site and not ours, keeping the customer from roaming. We continued to develop the database filters to where our web sites know what web site a person is browsing.
- I began to see how databases and programming could effectively automate many of our day to day tasks. The next project was to upload the working plans to the web site so our builders and customers could access their plans from home. This system grew into what is called the Plan Center, where most of our customers spend their time reviewing and printing their plans. Customers can now order their plans on line and pick up full sets the next day. Builders can E-Mail small copies of the plans to their sub-contractors and save on printing costs.
- Developed home sales software for big builders marketing housing developments. The software is designed to organize all aspects from developments, phases, lots, drawing detail, pricing and options. An upload utility connects to the builders web site and displays very user friendly web pages and printable brochures.
Early in 2005
- Starting the Construction Division
- Projecting over 400 plans this year
- Stop developing the home sales software for consumer use to continue it's development for our own use. Added the scheduling module to the database and implemented a visual web page that displays the schedule to our customer and all our sub-contractors.
- Added a community Forum to our personal builders web site so our customers and sub-contractors can log the process of the building project. This was later hacked by an unknown source who then deleted months of archive data. We then added a simple Project News system to help keep our customers informed of the days events.
- Added a small user friendly web site for our long distant customers with a picture gallery, so they can watch the process of their home being built from any web browser - even while on vacation.
- Added our specifications to the web site so prospects can see what exactly is included and what our options are in new home construction. This is linked to our sub-contractors, vendors and suppliers.
- I am having just way too much fun creating one of the most interactive and informative builders web sites in the industry. Come back now and then to learn more about the services we will be providing to help prospects and our customers stay in touch with the building process from start to finish.
July of 2006
- Running along in low gear
- Projecting about 250 plans this year
- Took the summer off to paint cars. Made a new company called Involved Painting where I get the owner involved with the work so I don't have to do so much. So far, I have done most of the work. I can't even get my sons to help. I painted a 1935 Ford Sedan with 4 different pearl paints in the flame job. It's amazing. I setup my third stall with lighting and an air system for spraying. Through the years I had painted about 20 cars. Worked on my 1959 Chevy Pickup and got that running. Did some fishing. Went to car shows and won a few trophies. Painted flames with an air brush on a Harley Davidson motor cycle.
- Finished the homes I was building at the end of July. I was still working on a big remodel on Lake Michigan which we did get and broke ground on August 28. I made a web site for the owner to help promote her rental property.
- Started an Internet Search Engine Marketing company called Leading Site Ranking after learning how to promote my own company web sites.
- Finally learned how to make Flash presentation videos that finally work after trying for over a year with various software. Found some cool text to speech programs.
- Starting to develop the Task Manager for our builders web sites. This will allow builders to better communicate the items that need to be done and by specific dates. Coming soon.
March through summer of 2007
- Design business doing well
- Projecting about 200 plans this year
- Well, I think we are in it for the long hall. The Michigan economy is very slow. So far this year we have drawn only a few speculation homes.
- Large custom homes and remodel jobs is what is still moving today.
- The large remodel job we did on Lake Michigan is done and beautiful. Completed on time and has kept me very busy.
- I have become an Internet and book junky and have decided it was time to get back into programming as the new systems I wanted to build will require the latest coding... PHP and MySQL databases and languages.
- Took this time to really work hard on the builders web sites and add a few more services. To begin with, we set the task manager aside to concentrate on two new great web interfaces. The Home Listing page and the House Plans page. These are database driven systems that are easily setup and maintained.
- Worked on the Plan Center plot interface. Our system now uploads plot files to a builders local print house server. That mean that builders will now be able to order their house plans online and pick them up the same day just down the road. No more shipping costs.
- On the drawing board so to speak is a new interface that will allow builders to take and include plans from our database and add them seamlessly to their database of house plans. If you are a builder and do not have many plans your self, but would like to use a search-able plan system and offer plans, you will be able to select the plans you want or have the system choose for you by criteria.
All of 2008
May of 2009 - Another new beginning
- Still running along in low gear
- Employees all gone - Yeah!, costly insurance nightmare
- The need for house plans continue to come in, more remodeling than I have seen in years, and as I continue to reach out to builders across America through our home builder websites, I continue to pick up a new builder client and drew their house plans.
- However, with the slow down in the economy and not looking any better for a long time, it was time to look for something in a field I have been dabbling in for a long time, Internet Marketing. Marketing has always intrigued me, and the Internet has been my friend for almost ten years, sense it's inception.
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