Tuesday, July 22, 2014

So "that everybody could have more fun"

Every once in a while we have the opportunity to work on a project that really makes us smile.  Today we had one of those projects.  Our story starts in the peaceful, quaint town of Tomales in Marin County.  The local preschool, Shoreline Acres shares a playground with the Tomales Elementary kindergarten class.  The playground has a lot of great things.  Swings, a play structure, tricycles, a sand box, hula hoops – all kinds of fun things.  But according to one kindergartener it was missing something.  

Enter Collin M.  a graduate of Shoreline Acres preschool and now Tomales Elementary kindergarten.  He saw the need for  more games on the shared playground and decided to do something about it. He decided to personally write a letter to the preschool and present it to their board members and request that some games get painted so “that everybody could have more fun.”   We don’t need to tell you how awesome it is that a kindergartener decided to do something to better the school he and his friends attended.  The preschool was so impressed with his initiative that they contacted us to see if we could help.  

Today we had a small break in our schedule and were able take a drive to Tomales.  We were even able to get Collin out to the playground to supervise our work.  Not only did Collin get the four square he requested but also a hopscotch, a two lane running/tricycle track and we repainted the basketball lines.  As the stripers were painting the playground a couple of more kids came by to see what we were up to.  They were so thrilled and excited to see fun changes happening to the playground.  The paint was barely dry and they were already chasing each other on the track and talking about their favorite ways to play four square.  And it’s all because one little boy saw the need for change and wasn’t afraid to try and make it happen.  This is a little boy we could all learn from.  Enjoy your new games Tomales and THANK YOU to Collin.  

Laying out the two lane track

Adding a couple "Stop"s

Collin checking the crews work on a hopscotch

Collin and completed hopscotch

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"Driven" by Surprise!

The employees of Stripe 'N' Seal were given a very special treat today.  We were all told to be here in the yard at 8 am for one of our annual required safety training sessions.  Safety training is a requirement and we usually find some pretty entertaining presenters, but lets face it the thought of getting out of bed in the morning knowing you have 4 hours of unknown safety training ahead of you, well its not that great.

After a 10 minute safety meeting about personal protection equipment (PPE) we were given the wonderful news that the rest of the morning would be spent having fun!  A surprise company party was going to be held at Driven Raceway in Rohnert Park.  Driven Raceway is an indoor go-kart track with an arcade, mini bowling and black light mini golf.  So fun - if you have never been do yourself a favor and go!  We were also treated to a yummy breakfast burrito bar provided by Sally Tomatoes Catering. 

PPE modeled by paving crew member Pete

 The food was great, the racing was FUN and the people were the BEST! All smiles, lots of laughs and more fun than I think any of us could have imagined we were in store for today.  Everyone got the opportunity to race around the track as many times as they wanted.  We played a couple games, one being "Speed Ball" which was anything but fast.  You are put on relay teams each with one colored ball and the go-karts are placed on the slowest speed setting.  The goal was to push the ball completely around the track using only your go-kart.  Sounds easy doesn't it.  Well, its not.  It was fun to play and fun to watch!  We also did a ladies only race, crew by crew race and then the big finale fastest time race.  For the finale race the go-karts speed setting went from a level 3 to a level 4! This extra level of speed definitely added to the excitement!  First place went to Brad Davis at 19.07.  At this moment he holds the best track time for the entire facility for the WEEK! Good job Brad!  Second place went to Gordon Fowler and third place went to Noah Grey. 
Three fastest employees - Gordon, Brad D and Noah

Getting ready to go
Speed Ball Race
Motley Crew
Black light mini golf

Arcade Fun

Learning how to race

We have a very diverse group working at Stripe 'N' Seal.  Its difficult to find an activity that everyone enjoys.  I think that today we found an activity to make everyone happy. If you are looking for ideas for a birthday party, a company party, corporate team building or just some place different to go on the weekend do yourself a favor and give Driven Raceway a shot.  I bet you will have a great time, I know we did! Lastly, a special thank you to our bookkeeper Laurie for suggesting Driven Raceway for a get together. Nice work!  Check out our facebook page for more photos from todays event.

The Whole Gang
http://www.drivenraceway.com/home.htm- Check out Driven Raceways website
http://www.sallytomatoes.com/  Check out Sally Tomatoes website

- Shaunda McCreary

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

End of the Eastenson Era

I have been trying for the last few weeks to write a blog about my fellow co-worker and estimator, Nancy Eastensons retirement.  For whatever reason every time I sit down to write about it I get writers block.  This is fairly unusual for me so I got to thinking about what the reason might be for this block and sheer unwillingness to write about this topic.

Could it be that I can't find a perfect way to begin Nancy's story at Stripe 'N' Seal.  I can't find the right words to describe how she started out here in 1984, a new mom, bringing her baby boy to work with her most days.  How she quickly won the hearts of everyone. How she started out as our bookkeeper and gradually worked her way into estimating. 

Could it be I can't find the words to describe the way she was always thinking of our customers needs above anything else. The way she would never make a promise she couldn't keep and never, well, say never. If a customer had a need Nancy had a way of figuring out how to help.  Her ideas and suggestions might not have always been the easiest or most conventional but she always found a way to make it work.

Could it be that I can't paint an appropriate picture of how Nancy could always make everyone feel at ease.  Whether dealing with our customers or other members of the Stripe 'N' Seal family, she had a way of making everyone feel special, everyone feel important and everyone feel like part of a team.  The compassion and caring she brought to each person she came in contact with was infectious.  Nancy's usual customers would wait weeks or months if they had to just to get to work with her again.  That says a lot.  She helped to make the face of Stripe 'N' Seal more than just that of another contractor. The way she interacted with people helped to paint the picture of this organization.  She helped make our mark on northern California as being a customer oriented, friendly, trust worthy place to do business with. 

Could it be that I can't effectively explain how above all Nancy was an educator. She was not just out there trying to sell work and close jobs.  It was important to her that her customers know the whys, whens and hows of asphalt maintenance.  As a person who was trained by Nancy I can say that this need to teach was natural to her and something she was darn good at.

Could it be its much more simple that any of these things.  Could it be that by writing about her retirement on June 1st I am finally admitting that she is gone. That she will no longer be just a few offices down to get advice from, and chat with and laugh with. By writing it down I am admitting that a major chapter of this company has come to a close.  After all a chapter that spans from 1984-2012 is not an easy one to close or get over.  Nancy spent a great, long 28 years with this company and we all hope that she spends the next 28+ doing whatever makes her happy and hope for nothing but smooth sailing and calm seas as she embarks on whatever the next chapters have to bring.

- Shaunda

Here's to more days like this one!

Casual, Quiet office "See You Later" Party for Nancy. Panda Express and Bijoux cupcakes - her faves

Red Velvet Cupcakes from Bijoux in Petaluma.  One of Nancys favorites

Nancy back in the day. 

What things were like in 1984, the year Nancy started at Stripe 'N' Seal

Opening her gifts

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Three Ladies and a Skid Steer

Think way back to the days when you were just a school-aged child.  Remember those days you woke up, fully expecting to go have a typical, normal day of school and then once you got there you learned you would be treated to a special movie, a special field day or a special presentation.  Suddenly this ordinary day is a little more extraordinary and a little more fun.  Well, the ladies in our office had one of these days today.

At the start of this season we acquired two new Caterpillar Skid Steer Loaders.  A Skid Steer is a small, front-end loader first developed in 1957.  It gets its name because it is steered by powering wheels on one side while breaking on the other so it can skid in a pivot around its own axis.  Hence the name "Skid Steer".  Many operators will attest that if it can't be done by a skid steer, it can't be done at all.  Being small and maneuverable these machines can easily get in and out of most places.  A wide range and variety of attachments are also available to get the job done.  This type of machine is used to push, carry and load materials.

Today, Laurie (Bookkeeper), Stephanie (Operations Administrator) and myself (Shaunda - Operations Manager) were given the opportunity to get a lesson and take a turn driving one of the new skid steers before they go out in the field.  Tio, our sealcoat/slurry foreman probably didn’t wake up this morning and think he was going to be teaching some ladies from the office how to do this but he sure was a good sport, a good teacher and I think he got a good laugh out of it too.

We each got a turn backing, turning, and driving the machine and then loading and unloading both sand and rock.  We were all hesitant at first but once we got on and started to figure it out it was nothing but smiles.  Laurie really got a hang of it and I think if she gets tired of being the bookkeeper she could probably move right on over to skid steer operator. It was interesting to get a little taste of what the crew goes through and how we get our jobs done.  Sitting in this machine really gives you perspective on how powerful it is and also how safety minded you must be when operating it.  Also – it was a fun break from the usual day-to-day work we are accustomed too.  Now if we can just convince Dan that Stripe 'N' Seal needs a race-car.  That’s a test drive I think we would all like to take! Check out our Facebook page for additional photos.

Stephanie, Laurie & Shaunda

Tio the Brave


Thursday, April 19, 2012

PDI gets our "Seal" of approval

Stripe 'N' Seal has been located in beautiful Sonoma County since 1971.  We take great pride in the work we do, the people we work with and the community we work for. Recently we came in contact with a wonderful group in our community called PDI. PDI is a non-profit community based organization and dental surgery center that treats children with severe tooth decay under general anesthesia.

Since their inception in 2008, PDI has treated more than 4,800 patients through out California.  Most of the children they treat are under age 7 and have more than 8 cavities. Treating kids is only half the battle.  Through preventative education and community outreach efforts they hope to reduce the needs for surgery in the first place.

As part of their strategy to create a comfortable environment for children, PDI lets each child pick a special stuffed friend to accompany them through surgery and recovery.  The child then gets to take the special friend home when its all over.  This week Stripe 'N' Seal donated a box of special stuffed seal friends to future patients of PDI.  The Center needs around 150 "special friends" for new patients each month.  Our donation was no where near that amount but we look forward to donating more to this great cause in the future. 

To learn more about this wonderful organization, visit them on the web at www.pedidental.org.  While you are there consider donating time, money or new stuffed animals for the patients.  Lets show this great community organization how much we appreciate and applaud what they do! 

Julie ( PDI Nurse Director), Gordon (Stripe 'N' Seal) and Viveka (PDI CEO)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Adventures in Playground Striping

I wear many hats here at Stripe 'N' Seal, one of which is that of an estimator.  Mostly I look at plans and bid jobs off of "The Builders Exchange" which is an online plan room.  I enjoy bidding jobs this way because it gives me the opportunity to look at jobs all over Northern California without ever having to leave my desk.  Earlier this year I began looking at a school project in Mill Valley.  This particular job really sparked an interest in me because of the extensive amount of colors and games they were proposing to paint on the playground.  I bid the job and we got it!  When I got the contract for Old Mill Elementary in the mail I remember feeling excited, anxious and nervous all at once.  This was going to be an interesting job!

Most playgrounds that we stripe have between one and three total colors used.  Old Mill had a grand total of 12 different colors.  It was up to me to pick out the colors for architects approval.  I must say, it felt pretty neat to be picking out the colors that the kids would be looking at and playing on for years to come.  We had to special order some stencils for the animal court which included an elk, raccoon, fox, squirrel, opossum and the footprints of each.  Last week the big day arrived and we started work at the school.  I decided to go with our striping crew one day so I could help out and hopefully learn a little something.

We worked at Old Mill a total of three days.  The first day was spent laying out the games off of the plans.  This is a very tedious task involving a calculator, a tape measure, some chalk and string line.  Victor - the striping foreman on the job would measure out the dimensions of the games on the asphalt and then snap in lines using the chalk and string line.  I only helped layout a couple of games but I could see how draining it could be, especially if the plans aren't great and the sizes don't match. After that Victor handed me a paint roller and a bucket of green paint and put me to work.  I spent 90 % of my time at the school that day painting.  I painted the first coat on everything that was green and got the second coat on everything except the compass and one four square.  In the process I also ruined a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt and a pair  of Converse, mine of course.  I had a great time helping, learning and seeing what its like for the striping crew.  I  must say I learned some interesting things and spending the day actually working in the field really made me feel even more proud of where I work and the quality job we do.

The day after my big adventure in playground striping my legs were killing me and my right arm was so sore that I had to use both hands to operate my stapler. I had a blast and it was fun to hear all the people and kids walking by and getting excited about what we were doing.  One little boy got so excited he stood at the fence jumping up and down and giggling about how he couldn't wait to get back to school so he could play on a green game - yes, I felt proud.  For me this was more than a day at the office, it was an opportunity to learn a little more about our company, a little more about our crew, a little more about what we do and even a little more about myself.  If the opportunity ever comes for me to help the striping crew again you can bet I'll take it!

PS - Check out our Facebook page for more photos

Written by:  Shaunda McCreary



Jump Rope Games laid out with chalk

Completed Jump Rope

Completed Compass
Four Square with Running Track going through
Maze Game
Number Circle
Shape Circle
8.5' tall Elk

3.5' tall Raccoon
3' tall Opposum
5' tall Coyote
5' tall Fox

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CALM DOWN! .....your traffic

There are many factors that contribute to a safe and highly functional parking lot.  Clearly marked stalls ensure drivers know where to go and how to park.  Well maintained asphalt free of potholes, protruding tree roots and other possible trip hazards prevent personal injury from trips and falls and minimizes possible damage to vehicles.  In parking lots with heavy pedestrian traffic - like shopping centers, and parking lots with children present - like at an apartment complex,  it might be necessary to install traffic calming devices to help protect those on foot.

The most common traffic calming device is called a speed bump. Speed bumps are raised features added to the existing asphalt in order to slow traffic and reduce through traffic.  Most commonly speed bumps are asphalt but in recent times recycled rubber bumps have become somewhat popular.

Asphalt speed bumps are durable, require very little maintenance and are very effective.  Asphalt speed bumps are more expensive than rubber ones because they require a trained crew, like ours, to install.  Recycled rubber bumps are relatively inexpensive, easy for any handy person to install, made from recycled materials and easily removed when they are no longer wanted.  An important downside to the recycled rubber bumps is that they do require maintenance.  They are not as durable as their asphalt counterparts and will break, crack and fade quickly.  The fact that they are so easily removed is also a potential problem because any annoyed tenant or resident could remove them if they wanted.

We recently began installing a new type of traffic calming device called rumble bars.  Rumble bars are made of  high performance thermoplastic material.  The material is placed on the asphalt in various patterns based on traffic and use of lot.  When a vehicle drives over the rumble bars they produce both an auditory and vibratory signal.  The driver both hears and feels the device.  These rumble strips easily conform to the surface and are flexible.  This added flexibility eliminates the breakage that can be associated with rigid types of traffic calming  devices like recycled rubber speed bumps.  These rumble bars can be cut to fit any size needed and come in a variety of colors.  They are lead free, contain no heavy metals and are non-hazardous.  Rumble bars require little maintenance.

If you  find that you need some type of traffic calming device to  help  improve safety and functionality of your parking lot, Stripe 'N' Seal, Inc can help.  We will help you find a solution based on your needs, conditions and budget.  Whether the appropriate solution is an asphalt speed bump, thermoplastic rumble bars or somewhere in between we are here to help!

Black Rumble Bars on a road

Black Rumble Bars installed on the asphalt

White Rumble Bars