Pro Comp Auto Body

January 2, 2011

Pro Comp

Pro Comp's Mark Amrozewicz stands by his customized silver Suburban, with a lowered body and the grill of a Denali. He takes it drag racing at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Grove, Wis. ~photo Michael Timm

Pro Comp Auto Body Inc.

3045 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Mark Amrozewicz
(414) 747-0436

1. What range of services do you offer? Do you do more repair and bodywork or custom paint design?

We offer expert collision repair along with custom painting. In the beginning we did more custom work but recently it has been mostly collision repair. Our complete paint jobs are a higher-end paint job, so with the declining economy, complete paint and custom work is not as common.

2. What’s the most bizarre design a client has had you paint on their vehicle?

We used to airbrush wolves, the Milwaukee skyline, and even loved ones’ faces on motorcycles and cars but the call for these items has lessened, so we no longer do airbrushing. Recently we just completed a complete paint job along with custom stripes on a motor home for Crabby’s Bar & Grill on KK & Oklahoma.

3. What is the history of your building? How long has Pro Comp been there?

I believe the building was built in the ’50s as Jim King Chevrolet and was open until about 1982 or ’83. From about 1984-95 it was various mechanical, transmission, and body shops. In 1995 it was open as Pro Comp Auto Body, where I worked for three years and bought it in 1998. Pro Comp started on Packard Avenue near Morris Avenue, across from Cudahy’s Ladish Co., in 1992.

4. What is the biggest challenge of your line of work?

Finding capable trained employees. It seems that since cars are not that interesting (all cars being the same basic types) younger people don’t have the interest they once had in cars, so they don’t seem to take up this trade.

5. What percentage of your customers come from Bay View? How do you market your business outside Bay View?

About 75 percent of my business is from Bay View. Everything is word of mouth. We do care about each customer’s car even more than our own and we take pride in knowing that we do an excellent job. I believe that is how we get referrals from all over the city.

6. Describe some of your specialized equipment.

We have a frame machine for the bigger-hit cars (which pulls a damaged vehicle’s frame with incredible force to undo accident damage) and a spray booth to keep the refinishing process as clean as possible. (Inside the spray booth, painters wear respirators.) All the employees also have their own assortment of specialized tools.

7. How has bodywork and repair changed over the years as cars have evolved from metal toward plastic and fiberglass?

Most of the cars are still steel. Even the plastic-paneled cars still have a high-strength steel unibody under all of the plastic panels. With the closing of Saturn I don’t see a lot of cars that are using plastic panels. Aluminum is more prominent, however.

8. How many people does Pro Comp employ?

We employ seven people at Pro Comp. Most of them have been with us for over 10 years.

9. Why is Bay View a good fit for your business? What could make the business environment better?

The people of Bay View are loyal to their area. They seem happy to give us their business over leaving the neighborhood. It seems anytime I am outside near the street someone is honking the horn and waving. The property taxes continue to rise. We have to deal with the same property tax problems that all our neighbors have with the Bay View area getting more attractive to others. When we have had other issues with the city we have also felt comfortable asking our alderman, Tony Zielinski, for help, which he has never denied.

10. What are your three favorite vehicles of all time? What color(s) should they be painted?

My dream car is a ’70 Trans Am, original white with blue stripes. I own a silver Suburban with some modifications. I got into the body work business at Pulaski High School because I loved cars. After working on them daily for 28 years I really don’t love the cars as much as working with the people to make sure they are comfortable in trusting us to work on their cars and make them 100-percent happy with their experience at Pro Comp.

Custom Designed Lighting, Sound & Video

October 31, 2010

Q10 Nov 2010

Tony Aiello and Rich Blaske of Custom Designed Lighting, Sound & Video. ~photo Michael Timm

2273 S. Howell Ave.

(414) 744-0782

Open 12-5pm, Monday-Friday1. What is Custom Designed Lighting, Sound & Video?

CDLSV is part retail, part contractor business that focuses on the music and lighting industry, but also has its hands in surveillance systems and video applications. CDLSV is an established business in the Bay View community and has served the greater Milwaukee area for over 20 years. Mobile DJs and business owners are our main type of customer as well as the occasional band. We supply everything from cords to complete sound and lighting systems as well as everything in between, i.e. lighting effects, fog machines, lasers, and bubble machines.

2. Do you install sound systems in cars and homes?


3. What kind of equipment and services do you sell?

We sell many different items ranging from safety cables and halogen bulbs to amplifiers, speakers, and rack equipment (including racks) to mobile DJ systems to surveillance systems to lighting equipment, intelligent DMX lighting, and standalone lighting like par cans, lasers, color wash, pin spots, black lights, stands, etc. We are a distributor for numerous manufacturers.

4. What is your rental service?

We rent sound and lighting packages for most any sized crowd. We have systems that are perfect for bands and live DJs, and we also have a very popular system for the not-so-technical DJ. This system is rented out mostly for smaller parties and wedding receptions. Our lighting packages are inexpensive and easy to set up on your own. Lighting packages can be standard par cans, which are solid colored lights, or you can choose from our array of special effects lighting, which can include fog machines, laser lights, or the new LED lights that have been hitting the market lately. Some of those lights can be really fun to watch, and setup is a cinch.

5. Why is one of your websites called the DJ Store?

We have a few sites out there right now. The DJ Store is our e-commerce site…Currently, our web developer is designing a new site that will merge all of our sites together. This new site will not only contain a shopping cart, but also a message board for local musicians and DJs who have services available, and those who need to hire a band or DJ can search our site for available musicians.

6. How has your area of the Bay View business district changed since you’ve been in your store on Howell & Lincoln?

It has been said that Bay View is the up-and-coming East Side. Unfortunately, there are some individuals who put this statement to the test. Since CDLSV has established itself in the community, we have helped to reduce crime by working with the local police district and the alderman. We have helped to put people behind bars for committing crimes against other individuals. CDLSV has a standard that we adhere to very closely: Crime in our neighborhood is not welcome here. Our own surveillance systems have caught many people in the acts of wrongdoing, and it is directly because of this that the crime rate has been reduced and some of the remaining riffraff have moved on to other places. Our surveillance systems have also helped to protect our customers’ businesses.

7. What are some other services you provide besides renting equipment?

We provide service calls and quotes on what an installation would cost for a business owner looking to add/upgrade a new or existing sound, lighting, or video display/security system.

8. What is the most interesting show/act that you’ve provided sound for?

All of the shows/acts that we have provided sound for are unique and interesting in one way or another. We do a lot of sound for local acts and for some famous acts.

9. What is the most challenging aspect of your business?

The most challenging part of this business is the number crunching. Our goal is to meet or beat our competitor’s price. It takes time to investigate products our distributors have, compare prices, and compile quotes.

10. What is a mobile DJ?

A mobile DJ is someone who DJs at small parties or nightclubs/bars. Mobile DJs are the fabric of local music in dance clubs, bars, and nightclubs you find throughout our great city.

Refinishing & Plating Company

October 1, 2010

Refinishing & Plating Company

Anton, Clarice, and Ruth Nagel

(414) 481-2222

305 E. Lincoln Ave.

(replies by Ruth Nagel)

Q10 Nagels

From Left: Ruth Nagel, Anton Nagel, Clarice Nagel ~photo Michael Timm

1. Who started your business in 1971? When and why did the business move to Milwaukee?

My father Anton studied metal finishing as a tradesman in Augsburg, Germany. He moved here for a better life and a dream to start his own business. Originally, the business started in Madison, Wis., but in 1973 they decided to move to a bigger location in Milwaukee.

2. How long does it take to learn your craft? What are the most challenging components?

It takes years to learn this craft because we specialize in many different types of metals and finishes. Each metal has a different process and new set of challenges.

3. What types of objects do you replate and refinish? What is the difference between replating and refinishing?

We replate and refinish antiques, door hardware, floor and table lamps, light fixtures, stained glass, artwork, shower and kitchen fixtures, religious items, boat parts, and small car parts. If it is metal we can probably help you. Refinishing is polishing on solid copper, brass, and sterling. Some examples are wash boilers, candlesticks, brass beds, etc. Plating is done when customers want to change the finish they have. An example is plating a steel doorknob and changing it to satin nickel.

4. What is the largest object you have replated? The most memorable?

The largest object we replated is a fireplace. The most memorable was when we helped to refinish religious items for the Basilica of St. Josaphat.

5. Why do you recommend that an object be waxed or lacquered after refinishing?

Because it protects your piece(s) from the environment and daily wear and tear on the piece(s). We want to give our customers a long-lasting finish so they can enjoy it for years to come.

6. In our culture, where we tend to toss-out-and-buy-new rather than repair or restore, does your work mostly entail working on antiques or religious objects? What other projects do people bring to you?

Our business specializes in metal. We do all kinds of remodeling projects for our customers. People bring us old and new items for refinishing. Many of our customers want special finishes that they cannot find, are not offered, or they just like their piece(s). Why buy new if you like what you have already?

7. Do you refinish silverware? Is that an expensive process?

Yes, we refinish silverware. Silver is a precious metal so our price depends on the market price. Plating silver can be expensive but a lot of parents/grandparents fix up their old sets so they can give them away to their family as a family heirloom.

8. Why did you decide to locate on Lincoln Avenue?

We located on Lincoln Avenue because it is a good location for our business and it is a main street easy to find for our customers.

9. Are your clients mainly owners of objects or do you also work with decorators and restoration firms? Any local examples?

Our customers range from a private customer to small commercial jobs. For example, we did business for Brass Light Gallery before they put in their own plating.

10. How do you protect yourself and the environment from any hazardous chemicals used in your craft?

Education is the best way to protect oneself. By belonging to NASF (National Association of Surface Finishers) we have guest speakers who keep us informed with regulations, new products, and technologies in our field. The environment is our top concern and we are recognized for diligent compliance to the environmental standards set by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

Vintageous Vintage Boutique

August 30, 2010

1. When did you fall in love with the objects of yesteryear?

From a young age I’ve always had a love for old things. I attribute this to my late grandmother, a Bay View resident who loved to rummage and thrift shop and who was a typical Wisconsin pack rat! People who know me always say I was born in the wrong era.

2. When and how did you begin selling collectibles and antiques?

I’ve always been a collector, but years ago I started selling to some friends in Chicago who had an antique shop. Then I started selling on eBay when it was just starting out. It just gradually progressed from there.

3. What items do you specialize in?

I specialize in vintage clothing and apparel from the 1920s to 1960s as well as costume jewelry, shoes, and accessories from the same eras.

4. What is your favorite fashion era? Who are your favorite designers?

I love the 1940s World War II era. The clothing is so timeless and classic. Designers are always going back to the 1940s for inspiration. I tend to go for beauty and style of design more than designer labels. My love for the 1920s flapper era is just as great, although that clothing can be very hard to find.

5. How do you acquire your merchandise?

I can’t give away all of my secrets! My customers always ask me that question because I have such an immense and amazing collection of vintage. Let’s just say it is a lot of hard work and searching it out can be difficult. There is no place I would rather be than in a dusty old attic full of vintage clothing.

6. Do you think there is a movement back to brick-and-mortar shopping after the initial explosion of online retailing?

I think people like to touch and see what they are buying. It can be tricky buying online, especially clothing, because you cannot try it on.

7. Why is Bay View a good place to do business?

Bay View has a diverse mix of people of all ages and interests, and it is an artsy community. The items I sell are unique, and my customers appreciate that and enjoy going green with recycled items and fashion.

8. What would make Bay View a better environment for your business?

I always say we need more interesting and unique retail shops in the area to draw in more traffic from outside of Bay View. The community needs to support these small businesses because they seem to come and go. Losing Chartreuse and Sweet Kicks to the East Side was disappointing.

9. Is parking a problem for your customers or suppliers?

Parking is really not a problem until after 5pm and on weekends. There are several free parking lots as well as street parking.

10. What do you like most about the antique and collectible business?

The thrill of the hunt!

Vintageous Vintage Boutique
Owner: Christine W.

The Natural Path

August 1, 2010

John Miksa     — photo Michael Timm

1. What is a naturopath? Are there schools of naturopathy?

A naturopath is a practitioner of naturopathy-a system or method of nourishing the body back into health that employs no surgery or synthetic drugs but uses foods, vitamins, herbs, and other modalities like massage to assist the body in healing itself. There are several naturopathic schools in the country. I received my Doctor of Naturopathy certification from Trinity School of Natural Health in Warsaw, Indiana.

2. What services do you offer?

At The Natural Path we offer massage; natural health consultations, which incorporate a mind, body, and spirit approach by utilizing highly nutritious foods; supplementation using herbs and vitamins; as well as getting at emotional roots to any health issue the person is dealing with. The body is an amazing thing and responds well to changes in diet as well as thinking patterns.

John Miksa owns The Natural Path LLC with his aunt and co-owner Claudia Bird.   ~photo Michael Timm

3. What are some common herb-based remedies that you find especially effective, and for what?

I find nervines very helpful. A nervine is a remedy that strengthens the nervous system. We are a stressed-out bunch, and when we are in constant stress-mode we need extra support, whether it is valerian root or black cohosh or even bee pollen, which is rich in B-vitamins-great at nourishing the nervous system. There are many nervine herbs but these just came to mind.

4. Are there any insurance plans that cover your services?

There are some that cover massage through the savings plans of certain insurance policies. I am not sure if it covers naturopathic care.

5. How do your clients find you?

Most of my clients have found us by word of mouth. Most people have exhausted the Western medicine route and want another and oftentimes less invasive way to feel better. We are all about nourishing the body back to health as the body has a great propensity to heal itself.

6. What is the range of maladies that you are able to treat?

As a naturopath I don’t diagnose or treat anything. Usually people come in with a diagnosis from their MD. What I do is evaluate through a lengthy questionnaire as well as about an hour of chatting with my client-this is when the person opens up and we get a better view inside and find out what may be inhibiting their natural healing process. It is not always a big traumatic issue but something that has just been festering under the surface for a long time and needs to be identified and then let go. Then I make nutrient and/or herbal recommendations to assist the body in healing the tissue in need of repair.

7. How has your clientele changed since you first started practicing 10 years ago?

I get more serious issues coming in. Also, since we’ve been here for 10 years some of the same customers who started with us at the beginning are getting older and we work more on aging issues-aches and pains, etc. I also do a lot more with spiritual and emotional issues now than I did when we first started. I’ve always believed in the mind-body-spirit concept but it makes more sense today to work more closely with all three at the same time-if there is a spiritual or emotional block then it usually manifests into a physical symptom.

I’ve also seen women who came in expecting babies and then had the privilege of working with these children over the years. It’s great to have new moms and dads who choose to do natural things to keep their families healthy.

8. What do you treat with enzymes?

I use enzymes for people who need some digesting assistance.

9. What do you like most about having your business on Delaware Avenue?

The thing I like most about being on Delaware is that it is a quiet and peaceful location. We are nestled in a residential area with easy street parking-no meters being a bonus. We have a true sense of being part of the neighborhood.

10. How would you characterize the market for your business over the past five years and what trends do you anticipate?

The market for our business over the past five years has increased greatly. More and more people are researching and finding the benefits of natural health and are more eager and willing to follow programs. We are trending right now with sustainable local food systems, which fit in perfectly with what we do as we need highly nutritious foods as well as a sense of community right now and people are doing it.

The Natural Path LLC
2910 S. Delaware Ave.
Claudia Bird & John Miksa, ND
(414) 483-9402

Canfora Bakery

July 7, 2010

Q10 May 2010 Canfora

Rosa and Carl Canfora have operated their bakery in Bay View since moving from their 25th and Burnham location 16 years ago. ~photo Michael Timm

Canfora Bakery and Deli
1100 E. Oklahoma Ave.
Carl & Rosa Canfora
(414) 486-7747

1. How long has your family been in the baking business? How did you come to be in the baking business? What’s your family’s history in the baking business?

We have been in business 29 years. I started working in a bakery when I was 10 years old washing cookie trays. That’s when I came from Italy.

2. Who are some of your major customers and what do you specialize in?

We have various caterers, area restaurants. We also deliver to some Sentry and Sendik’s stores.

3. Have you noticed an increased demand for gluten-free baked goods? Do you offer gluten-free, vegan, or other specialty items?

Not many people ask for gluten-free products. Most of our customers are pretty familiar with our products. But most of our pastry products are gluten-free.

4. Do you work and live in Bay View? What brought the bakery to this location?

I don’t live in Bay View. When I started looking for a new location I drove on Oklahoma Avenue and noticed the old Lakeside Bakery was temporarily closed and that’s what brought us to Bay View.

5. How could Bay View be better for your business?

We are pleased with our current business. Actually we wish we had a larger location.

6. Do you have plans to expand or change your business? How has it changed over time?

Not at the present time. We have some older people moving away.

7. Describe an average day at
Canfora bakery.

Most of our crew comes in at 4am. The bakers come at 9pm. We have a night crew that bakes all bread and rolls at night. Donuts and cakes are made during day hours.

8. What do you particularly enjoy making from scratch?

All of our breads and other [products].

9. What is the most challenging aspect of your business? What brings you the greatest joy?

The most challenging is to have a good working environment and then bake all products in a consistent form.

10. What percentage of your business is walk-in/called-in vs. wholesale?


Q10: True Wind Engineering

July 2, 2010

True Wind
2897 S. Delaware Ave.
Dave Gerow, P.E.
(414) 481-1662

Q10 July 2010

1. What does True Wind Engineering specialize in?

True Wind Engineering does mechanical engineering consulting. This includes things like product and structural design. Much of our work relates to engineering analysis, which is the application of math and science principles to parts.

2. What is the accident reconstruction and analysis service you provide?

We are often called upon by insurance companies or attorneys to do accident reconstruction work. This may be for traffic accidents where we examine the damaged cars and get information from the scene to determine speeds and other issues related to the cause of an accident. We may also look at situations where a machine part has failed in order to determine the cause.

3. What is FEA stress analysis?

One of the tools we use is called FEA, which stands for finite element analysis. This is a computerized method to find stress and deflections of parts and structures. It lets us find answers to complex stress situations that we would not be able to by hand. In a way it’s like having an X-ray image of a part to see the stress inside.

4. Are your principals in Bay View? What made you select your Delaware Avenue site?

I lived in Bay View for 13 years and found the storefront for rent on a neighborhood walk one day. The location is generally quiet but still easy to get around from. I have been told it reminds people of Seattle with its peppering of small businesses in a genteel setting.

5. What’s the next or new frontier
for your business?

Frontiers for True Wind have always been to adapt to the changing business nature of the area. Manufacturing makes for a strong economy and our services are aimed to support that.

6. What interested you in engineering?

I have always been interested in designing and creating things. Engineering is one of the best ways to do that.

7. Why did you name your business True Wind?

The name True Wind does not come from us designing wind turbines (although we have), but from a common term within sailing and flying, which were hobbies of the partners who started the company.

8. Has the economic downturn affected you? Have you been positively or otherwise impacted by the federal recovery act?

The economy has affected us a lot. The biggest influence seems to be the continued loss of manufacturing strength of the area. The federal recovery act has shown to be no help so far in the things we do. Development and expansion appear to be a bit frozen by uncertainties with the government’s direction.

9. How many people do you employ and what tools do you routinely use?

True Wind has generally had two to four people working here. Our main tool is computer drafting software.

10. What training or education do you recommend for young persons who are interested in becoming engineers in today’s economy?

Engineering is a good field for those interested in math and science and how to use them to solve practical problems. The best thing to do is get a four-year degree from a school that is known for its engineering program. There are also some good two-year programs that relate to design and drafting that are good starting points.

Q10: PT Plus

June 2, 2010

Carol Dusold 2

Carol Dusold operates the Bay View PT Plus in the offices above Café Centraal. ~photo Michael Timm

PT Plus
437 E. Lincoln Ave.
Carol Dusold
(414) 292-3275

1. What kind of injuries are best suited for physical therapy (PT) treatment? What’s the “plus” in your business?

Muscle and soft tissue injuries, joint problems, limitations following surgery, headaches, many neurological problems including post-stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. The “plus” in PT Plus represents the premium care we provide our clients. The “above and beyond,” if you will. We pride ourselves on the personal touch we offer, which includes one-on-one contact with the patient throughout the time they are in the clinic. We cater our treatment to the individual person and what their specific injury and problems require. We do not have a “cookie cutter” approach to their treatment.

2. Can you help someone with scoliosis? How?

Yes. Scoliosis can be treated through therapeutic exercises to increase the strength of muscles that are weak and increase the flexibility of the muscles that are shortened and tight. We can also help to decrease the pain associated with the changes in posture and tightness in the soft tissue.

3. How is what you do different than chiropractic work or neuromuscular massage?

PTs will generally use a variety of treatment techniques to assess and treat the whole person and their functional limitations. We will also prescribe exercises to help maintain the functional improvements gained in the clinic and allow the patient to have an active part in their recovery and healing. Often we will incorporate techniques similar to what a chiropractor would use to mobilize joints and the spine and other approaches that a massage therapist would use to address tightness in the soft tissue. Overall, I believe physical therapy encompasses many techniques and offers a multifaceted approach to healing.

4. How can people who don’t have insurance afford physical therapy?

At PT Plus we will create a payment plan that takes the patient’s financial situation into consideration while providing the quality care they require.

5. What are some of your favorite success stories (how you really helped someone)?

There are several stories that come to mind. I worked with a woman with Parkinson’s disease who was having trouble with her balance and wanted to be able to go on a seniors trip that included hiking and walking in Yellowstone National Park. Following several weeks of treatment, not only was she able to participate without fear of falling or losing her balance, but she was also able to engage in more activities than she thought possible. Then there is the story of a woman who required a hip replacement and had several complications along the way which nearly cost her her life. Through her therapy, self healing, and pure determination she is now teaching Nia (a movement class which combines martial arts and dance) a few times a week and is truly dancing through life.

6. What do you think is most misunderstood by the public about PT?

First of all, people always associate PT with causing pain. Truthfully, PTs really have no desire to cause their patients pain. Secondly, I believe people think that going to PT means being in a gym with lots of other people simply doing exercises, when in reality there is much more hands-on treatment, especially at PT Plus.

7. How long has PT been offered in the United States?

PT has been around since the early 1900s.

8. What is the most rewarding part of your work?

Having people leave my office feeling so much better than when they first walked through my door.

9. What is the most challenging?

Dealing with the health insurance companies.

10. Are you optimistic that more people will be able to receive PT once the federal health reform measures take effect?

That is definitely my hope.

Q10: A.K. Food Mart

April 1, 2010

A.K. Food Mart

Parshotam “Jesse” Singh’s A.K. Food Mart was established in 1988. ~photo Michael Timm

A.K. Food Mart
2305 S. Howell Ave.
Parshotam “Jesse” Singh
(414) 483-1120

1. How did you learn to operate a quick mart business?

Working at grocery store three years.

2. Do you own your building? Do you think there is adequate parking in your area of Bay View?

Yes, I own the building. No, there is not enough parking.

3. Do you feel development pressure as the Howell/Lincoln/KK intersection has bloomed?

No, I don’t.

4. What services do you offer your customers?

Fresh produce. Pay electric, gas bill. Free money order. Cash checks. Fresh sandwiches. Cigarettes. Soda. All kinds of frozen stuff.

5.What do you like most about your business? What is most challenging?

I like to work. Coming to work every day.

6. How safe is the AK neighborhood in Bay View? What kind of crime are you aware of?

Very safe. Been here 20 years. No problem. Not crime at all.

7. What sort of business or other development do you think would be a good fit for the empty Maritime Bank on Lincoln and KK?

Night clubs so they can get licensed to make more money.

8. How has your business changed over time? What would make Bay View a better environment for your business?

Very changed. Because everybody is looking for beer and liquor.

9. What should people know about your business that they might not know from the outside?

Fresh sandwiches. Money order. Cash. Check. Accept food stamps. Accept WIC checks.

10. Do you think you were treated fairly when AK was denied a liquor license last year?

It was not treated fairly. Because I’ve been here 20 years. Nobody listens at City Hall. It is a one-man show.

Gary’s Pet Jungle

February 28, 2010


—photo © 2010Ken Mobile

Gary’s Pet Jungle
2857 S. Howell Ave.
Owner: Gary Johnson
(414) 744-3338

1. What advantages do you offer your customers over chain pet stores?

We try to educate them on the animal to help them be able to be more successful in taking care of them. I’ve been in the industry for over 25 years, both retail and wholesale, so can therefore help people more with their questions.

2. What advice do you give people when they are looking for a pet?

How old is the person the pet is for? Then, what do you actually want? Some animals take more time and care, so fish or reptiles are easier for someone with more time restrictions.

3. What are the economic indicators that things are trending up or down in terms of what people buy or don’t buy at a pet store?

Normally people tend to spend more on pets in a poor economy because they don’t have the money for vacations and going out, so they are more apt to set up a fish tank or something else they can do at home.

4. Why did you decide to open a pet store?

My former boss at another store told me it wasn’t working out after 12 years of working for her, and fired me. Another employee of the store had previously suggested to me that I open a store in her storefront on Howell Avenue, so I did.


— photo © 2010 Ken Mobile

I like more different things myself, so I will sometimes order things just to see what it looks like. We will occasionally have things like freshwater lionfish, African butterflies, ropefish, and Goliath bird-eater tarantulas.

6. With so many types of animals, how do you keep your shop sanitary?

We spend a lot of the day cleaning and feeding. Bleach is used in cleaning all tanks, cages, and toys.

7. How long is an animal typically in your shop before it’s sold?

This is hard to say. Some have been sold within an hour of being here and some have been here a year or more.

8. Can customers return an animal to you if they find they can’t maintain it?

That is why we try to educate people before they take it home, so that that decision is made before taking the animal home. It is stressful for an animal, just like for a person, going to a new home, so we try not to practice this.

9. What are your favorite animals to
keep as pets?

I’ve had everything from ducks and chickens to horses, goats, fish, and snakes. I like animals, in general. They are good companions. I don’t think I could pick a favorite.

10. What is the most challenging aspect
of your business?

Remaining competitive with internet business.

Q10: The Cabinet Maker

January 31, 2010

Q10 Cabinet Maker

John Phillips started The Cabinet Maker, LLC in January 2006. ~photo Adam Morris

The Cabinet Maker, LLC
9401 S. 13th St. Suite 200, Oak Creek, Wis.
John Phillips
(414) 238-7766

1. What kind of cabinets do you make with what sorts of materials?

Custom designed and built kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. The materials vary widely depending on customer desires. We work with common woods like red oak to exotics like Brazilian cherry. We also work with reclaimed materials as well as sustainable materials such as bamboo.

2. Do you only make cabinets? What spectrum of services do you provide?

We design and fabricate bars, built-in pieces like bookcases, fireplace mantels, and furniture from coffee and end tables to entertainment centers. We are also working on designs with retractable lift systems for large screen televisions that will lower the screen into a cabinet so it is out of the way when not in use.

3. How did you learn your craft?

Hanging out in my dad’s workshop as a kid and watching him work and shop classes in middle and high school. Many years of watching The New Yankee Workshop and a lot of trial and error learning about what not to do when building something. Various woodworking seminars and visiting many larger cabinet shops around the country and learning from their operations. Being an active member in the Cabinet Makers Association (CMA) has been a huge help for the business side.

4. What made you decide to make a career and business in woodworking?

I have been an avid woodworker for many years and always felt it would be impossible to pursue this passion and be profitable. After approximately 17 years in the mortgage business I realized I needed to do something more tangible and wanted to be able to use my creativity. Prior to starting The Cabinet Maker, officially in 2006, I was building rec room bars for friends and it just seemed to be a natural fit to make this a full-time business.

5. Do your customers know what they want? Do they make drawings for you? Show you photos? Do you work with their designer or decorator?

We are flexible to any situation. We can start from “I need a change” through “I have plans drawn-up.” I work directly with the consumer and with other professionals, including designers and architects, who have a plan in mind. We start out by making a list of likes and dislikes and develop a plan from there. Visuals from magazines or other sources help get us started.

6. What sustainable materials or practices do you utilize?

We offer sustainable product options like FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) materials, bamboo, and beech, and we work with reclaimed materials as well as manufactured products. Our finishing process can be completed with low environmental impact or low VOC (volatile organic compound) materials. We also offer many options in waterborne finishes. Almost all of our cutting boards are made using recycled materials from prior jobs.

7. What are your favorite woods to work with? Why?

Cherry is one of my favorite woods because it machines well and has a beautiful grain. We are starting to work with German beech because of its versatility in machining and finishing. It has the ability to be finished to look like almost any wood.

8. How has your business changed over time?

Last year we rolled out our Express Cabinets line. This line allows us to help homeowners upgrade their kitchens and baths on a smaller budget. Our consultation and design process is the same for both product lines. We are opening a new showroom this month.

9. Do you think public middle and high school students are still being exposed to woodworking through shop classes? Do you think they’re still being introduced to your craft/trade as a possible vocation?

There is concern in the industry about a shortage of real craftsmanship being passed on to the next generation. Wood Links ( is a great program that is promoted through the manufacturing industry. It works with local high schools by outlining curriculum and sponsoring intern programs.

10. What advice would you give those who are considering purchasing custom cabinetry?

Custom cabinets and any home renovation can be a major investment. You will be looking at the finished project for a long time. It is critical that you choose the right contractor, someone you can trust, who listens to your needs, and who will deliver what is promised. They should also have the contacts with other reputable local contractors for a seamless job. Taking the time to plan properly at the beginning of the job saves money in the long run and ensures that communication and expectations from all parties are met.

Q10: The Soup Market

January 3, 2010

The Soup Market


Steam curls through the air Dec. 9 as The Soup Market employee Jim Krawczyk of Bay View pours chicken soup into bags, which are then immersed in cold water to cool. The bags will go to local sellers and wholesale accounts, said co-owner Dave Jurena. ~photo Adam Morris

1. How did you fall in love with soup?

As a child, it was the only way I’d eat vegetables. Unfortunately, it all came out of a red can back then. It’s very comforting, especially when you’re sick. It’s the perfect meal.

2. What made you decide to open a soup restaurant in Bay View? Why did you think it would succeed?

Bay View was an area that we’ve always liked, and we actually looked at several spaces before deciding on our current location. We like this space because it’s really wide and has big windows, so we can see what’s happening outside. Honestly, when we started, our success was based on the rent being affordable, which it continues to be.

3. Do you make all your own soup? If so, where did you get your recipes?

All the soup is made in Bay View from scratch. Some of our stocks are made at our store downtown and our dumplings, wheat bread, and cookies are made at our Hales Corners location, but we make all of our own food. The recipes have been developed over the last dozen years or so, and the ideas come from everywhere. My grandmother’s meatloaf recipe is the inspiration behind our meatloaf-and-mashed-potato soup. I really love roasted vegetables as a snack, so I created the Vegan Roasted Vegetable Chili as a result.

4. What are some of your favorite cooking shows?

The only one I watch regularly is Good Eats with Alton Brown. I think he’s very interesting to watch and he’s very scientific, which I like. I’m more interested in his techniques, but he has great recipes, too. Giada De Laurentiis isn’t hard to look at, so I’ll watch her occasionally too.

5. What would you advise home cooks about making soup? What is the secret to making great soup?

Start with great stock, use the best products that you can afford, and take your time. It takes time to develop the proper flavor for many soups, and you can’t hurry that. Also, season things properly. It’s amazing what a little salt, pepper, hot sauce, or herbs can do for something.

6. What are the challenges of being primarily wholesale and catering? What percentage of your business is direct sales/retail?

Actually, it’s not really challenging at all. We designed this business on purpose to do both. Wholesale is like a great backbone for us. It gives us stability. Catering and boxed lunches are a great avenue. They provide us with great marketing and the ability to get our products in front of new people all the time. About 40 percent of our business is retail and the other 60 percent is split between wholesale, catering, farmers markets, and corporate events. We have several office buildings that we get to go into and set up a table over the lunch hour.


Dave Jurena, who co-owns The Soup Market with Tim Talsky. ~photo Adam Morris

Other than getting bigger and adding more stores, the concept of fresh soup has remained pretty constant. I’d like to think we’ve evolved/matured/aged well over the last six years, but I really hope that we’ve satisfied our customers and given them a reason to continue to support us.

8. What would make Bay View a better environment for your business?

That’s tough question. I can’t think of anything. It’s been very supportive. Maybe just having more businesses in the area would bring us more customers, but that’s more a circumstance of the current economy.

9. When did you open the Public Market store? The new one in Hales Corners? Bay View?

The downtown location opened in October 2006, and we’ve been open in Hales Corners for just over a year. Bay View was established in February 2004; prior to us, the building housed the old Big Beer Bar. We’ll be opening more in 2010.

10. What do you like best about the work you do/your business?

I love the fact that I can have a restaurant career but still have a normal life. Because I can do our production during the day, I’m able to go to all my kids’ school events, plays, concerts, etc. That would be impossible if I worked at a restaurant that had late night hours. Balance is very important to me. I also really like our customers and our employees. They really make it worthwhile.

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