Peninsula Small Business Talk

from the Peninsula Executives Association


Erik Jacobsen, Threestory Studio Shares a Recent Project with PEA

Erik Jacobsen, Threestory Studio specializes in the design of information. Erik explains more on his website:

“Information design: The communication of data, systems and concepts by visual means. Good information design fosters understanding, making the complex approachable and prompting new insights.

Threestory Studio designs custom information graphics for presenters in science & medicine, for marketing communications professionals in the technology industry and for journalists and publishers of news and books.

Our information graphics (or “infographics”) are custom designs that fit your purpose and extend your brand.”

Erik recently finished a project for the Palo Alto Networks Research Center Blog.  His beautiful design can be seen HERE!  Spend some time clicking on the ‘Key Questions’ on the left hand side of the screen and watch his design shift to show you the answers.

Great job Erik!

(Full link:

Congrats to PEA Members Recently Voted People’s Choice Winners by The Daily News

The Palo Alto Daily News recently asked their readers who the best businesses were in Palo Alto, and they recognized 11 PEA businesses!

Congratulations to the following PEA businesses for being voted the 2013 People’s Choice winners:

Best Auto Body Shop (Paint and Body work): Yeaman Auto Body

Best Florist: Stanford Floral Design

Best Jewelry Store AND Best Watch Repair: Gleim the Jeweler

Best Auto Mechanic Shop: Larry’s Autoworks

Best Home Contractor: GR8WORK Builders Inc.

Best Optometrist: Mountain View Optometry

Best House Painter: Pro-Staff Painting

Best Plumber: A&A Plumbing

Best Realtor AND Best Real Estate Broker: John W. King, Keller Williams Realty (check out John’s blog UNreal Estate here!)

Best Mortgage Banker: Julie Fukuhara, Wells Fargo Private Bank

2nd Place for Best Local Market: Mollie Stone’s Palo Alto

Congratulations again to all of our PEA businesses! Click HERE to read the article and see a full list of winners.

Larry and Laurie Moore, Larry’s Autoworks were recently featured in Shop Owner Magazine!

Long time PEA members Larry and Laurie Moore, Larry’s Autoworks was recently featured in a nationwide magazine, Shop Owner Magazine!

In the article, Larry describes how he first got into the auto repair business and the ways he adapts to the changes in his industry.  He emphasizes in the article how important networking has been for him over the last 30 years.

Being a member of local business groups has helped me stay on top of what is going on locally and also make ­adjustments. Business is constantly changing, so it’s important to stay in touch with others in the same boat. Some of my most effective business practices have come from discussions with other business owners.

Their article can be found in the featured articles section on Shop Owner Magazine’s home page, or you can click to read the full article here!

Congratulations Larry, Laurie, and the whole team at Larry’s Autoworks!

PEA Member John W. King, Keller Williams Realty is Blogging about UNreal Estate in the Bay Area

PEA member John W. King, Keller Williams Realty has recently started blogging (with the help of Neal Coogler and Melanie Maxwell of All About Business Services)! He already has two great posts up on his blog, UNreal Estate Blog.

John talks about interesting and unusual things happening in the real estate market on the Peninsula and in Silicon Valley.  With topics like “Bad Appraisal Nets Seller Big Dollars!?” and “Crazy Bidding Wars! Back to the Future, Again?“, John brings his 30 years of Bay Area real estate experience and his intimate knowledge of the market together in fun articles.

He is posting regularly at UNreal Estate Blog, so check out his posts and subscribe to stay updated!

Palo Alto Small Business Resource Fair, hosted by PEA member The San Mateo Daily Journal

The San Mateo Daily Journal will be hosting the “Small Business Resource Fair” in Palo Alto on April 30, 2013.

The Daily Journal continues its high profile series of community Business Events with the Small Business Resource Fair, designed to help local small business owners and self-employed professionals thrive in today’s ever changing marketplace.  Small business means big business in the Bay Area.  If your company or organization markets to owners, C-level execs and self-employed professionals, then this event is vital for your success.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto

PEA member Skip Gould, San Mateo Daily Journal shared information about attending and sponsoring this event with PEA at last week’s meeting.  For more information on how to attend the seminar or how to become a sponsor, contact Skip!

A California Property Tax Reminder from John W. King, Keller Williams Realty

PEA member John W. King, Keller Williams Realty wanted to send everyone this quick reminder!

This is just a gentle reminder that today, Monday, December 10th is date that the 1st installment of property taxes are due for fiscal year 2012-2013 for California property owners, before they become deliquent and you incur a 10% penalty.  You need to have your payment postmarked today.  As an option, you can go directly to the assessor’s website to pay your bill online but you might incur a processing fee depending on how your payment is made.

Santa Clara County is

These links were obtained from a Google Search so please make certain for yourselves that these are valid sites.  Hope this is helpful for you.

If you don’t own a home, did you know that property taxes are deductible?

Thanks John! Don’t forget to check out John’s current listings and get more information at!

Large or Small, Peggy Calhoun, Garden ANew Can Help Design your Garden Space

Peggy Calhoun, Garden ANew has been designing gardens for 26 years.  She began her talk by suggesting everyone visit her website, since she typically sends all her clients there to view the pictures she has posted.

The most basic service Peggy provides is a one-hour consultation.  This consists of a walk-through and a discussion of what you have, what the possibilities are of making minor or major changes, and any concerns about budget or construction.  An example Peggy shared was her recent design the small area in Judy Johnson, Unexpected Treasures backyard.  Judy had a small area that needed some attention.  Peggy looked at the light that the area gets and other design elements in the garden to help her design this area. Next Peggy used a picture of Judy’s neighbor to share ideas for improvement with all levels of budget.  A lower budget could make changes as simple as adding large pots with trees.  The largest budget could make larger changes like adding an arbor and replacing some not very exciting plants with something more interesting.

If a garden is established but looking tired, Peggy can go through and suggest changes for each individual bed.   This redo of just the plant beds is the second level of service Peggy can provide. These changes are things like what plants to leave, what plants to replace, ideas for replacement, and quick sketches of ideas.  She types up her notes and lists and sends them to the homeowner so they can order the plants themselves, or you can hire Peggy on to pick out the plants personally and supervise the placement and planting.

Finally, the third level is a full garden design.  This is a three-hour on site design, including everything from paving, planting, beds, and even fireplaces or outdoor kitchens.  Peggy brings her grafting table onsite and the goal is that at the end of the three hours that they have a full sketch of the garden plan.  Peggy shared an example of one of these jobs where she started with an oddly shaped yard with nothing but a few trees.  She ended with a plan that included the front entry, driveway, side yard, raised plant beds, a vegetable garden, patio, sitting area, and an outdoor living room.  From there, you can execute the plan yourself or hire Peggy at an hourly rate to choose the plants and supervise the gardeners to implement her plans.  Peggy loves what she does and loves coming to your home to be a problem solver.  She is always looking to find ways to make your home more comfortable and enjoyable.

A Day in the Life at Arborwell Professional Tree Management

Jon Maystrik, Arborwell Professional Tree Management explained that he wanted to give PEA members a basic idea of a day in the life of an Arborwell tree care field employee.  Jon knows he is the face of Arborwell, but there are 25 other guys who put their lives on the line every day.  At 6 am, the employees all meet in the Arborwell yard.  Everything is done with their cell phones, including clocking in and out.  They call a number, enter their employee id and that clocks them in.

Every morning, they begin by gathering to go over new jobs, any incomplete jobs from the previous day, time off needs, tool and equipment needs, and ‘near misses’ which are accidents that could have happened but didn’t.  After going through all their old and new business, the account managers distribute work orders.  Jon handed out a work order for members to look at.  This order is for a landscape company that provides landscaping but no tree services.  Arborwell often subcontracts with these landscaping companies, which works well for both parties since Arborwell is adding value to their services, and Arborwell gets jobs through them.  The second page of the work order lists the service request – how many trees and what they will be doing.  Jon explained that for this job, a crown reduction, he suggested they bring a ladder.  Crown reduction is a pruning technique that reduces the tops of the trees to control the size of the tree.  These olive trees are being reduced partly because they get sprayed annually to reduce the amount of fruit, and this is more effective on a smaller tree.

Jon gives the guys an idea what their day will look like, including when they can expect to take breaks, and any extra tools they might need.  He explained that all of their trucks have chippers, hard hats, chainsaws, climbing gear, hand saws, gas, oil, and all the basics needed for tree work like cones, caution tape, etc.  Trucks also have a type of alcohol used to disinfect the saws to reduce the amount of pathogens transferred between trees.

Back on the first page, there is a checklist for the workers to go through in the yard, on-site, an inspection, things to do during the job, and a completion checklist.  These checklists get turned in the next morning before they receive a new work order.  Arborwell offers monthly bonuses for employees who turn in the most of these, signed by all team members, by the end of the month.

One of the first things on the checklists is stretching.  Jon explained that this significantly reduces injuries, especially in the morning.  Another thing the guys look for is different hazards.  If cars are parked under trees, they can’t trim them unless the cars are moved.  They also try to protect landscaping and anything else that might be damaged below the trees with tarps and plywood.

Jon then took PEA members on a field trip to see Arborwell at work at the Sheraton.  They were doing a crown reduction on trees by the pool, and were going to be trimming more trees by the parking lot when they were done.

All new Arborwell employees spend two days doing classroom training and need to pass safety quizzes before going into the field.  After this, they are on a 90 day probation period where they are paired up with a mentor.  If they will be trained to climb trees, they go through another year of training.

Walking in their Shoes with Avi Safar, Footwear, Etc.

Avi Safar, Footwear, Etc. began by giving a quick overview of his company.  They have seven locations in the area and two in San Diego.  At Footwear, Etc. they sell comfort shoes- everything from athletic shoes to sandals, to supplies for people with foot problems.  They work with a lot of podiatrists.  Avi brought two of his managers to speak from the stores PEA members frequent most often.  He brought Michell Ramos the manager of the Los Altos store, and Caree Oller, the manager of the Palo Alto store.

Michell has been with Footwear, Etc. for 10 years, starting at the age of 19 in Los Altos.  She moved to Palo Alto and was mentored by Avi for about a year and a half before moving back to Los Altos in 2007.  One of many lessons she learned from Avi is the importance of paying attention to the details.  Since Michell took over the Los Altos location, their profits have gone up every year.  She feels that the most important aspect of running a store is the human aspect.  It is important to connect with customers on an emotional level and showing that they are not just dollars to you.  Customer service is something Michell always focuses on.  She tries to create a positive and helpful experience to create returning business.  Michell also tries to keep a clean and organized environment.  Most importantly, Michell thinks it is important to manage personalities.  She is always working to keep her employees happy, and they will bring that warm and positive attitude to the floor and the customers.

Caree has been in the shoe industry for 38 years, beginning in her father’s shoe store at the age of 12.  Caree opened her own shoe store in Portland in her 20s and ran that store successfully for 20 years.  After the recession, she moved back home to the Bay Area and looked for the best shoe store in the area.  Footwear, Etc. mimicked her shoe store in their focus on customer service, their philosophy and the focus on the anatomy of the foot. In Portland, Caree was the president of a marketing group, belonged to a business association, and worked very closely with the Mayor.  She has only been with Footwear, Etc. for six months and manager for one week, but she brings in a lot of experience and has a great team.

The selection of shoes does vary from store to store, but Avi says the inventory is 90-95% the same.  The Sunnyvale location is a little different because it is their value center, so they have a small section of current merchandise, but the rest is discounted (past seasons, one of the last few pairs, etc).  Michelle commented that the most common shoe size for women tends to be 8 – 8 ½, and for men it is 10 – 10 ½. Avi says these average sizes have gone up over the last 30 years or so.  Some of the things Michell can tell by the shoes you are wearing when you come into their stores are if you are a value shopper, if they care about their feet or not, and whether they are willing to invest in their feet or not.  Caree added that you can tell how a customer stands and what insole to recommend by the wear pattern on the bottom of the shoe.

Fall Gardening Checklist with Susan Hamilton, VTF Services

Susan Hamilton, VTF Services recently shared with PEA a list of things you should do to get your garden ready for winter.

  • Now is the time to clean up “crud” that has accumulated over the summer, while it is still dry.  This is the stuff that collects in corners and at the base of plants like leaves and other plant materials.
  • Re-pot any potted plants that need it.  After re-potting, some plants may need to be fed.  This is a good time to check for “critters and crud” that may have collected in the pot.
  • Dethatch and aerate your lawn.  Lawn builds up a network of fallen grass blades that can form a waterproof barrier.  Dethatching breaks up the barrier.  Lawn aerators pull plugs of dirt out of the lawn.  Leave them to dissolve and top dress the soil.  This is good time to use a weed and feed product.
  • If you have lantana growing in your yard, now is the time to prune it.  Don’t touch it later on – if you do it will take years to come back.
  • Keep your irrigation running.