million dollar man, 500+ custom cabinet drawings per year
build to suit restaurants, up to 10,000 square feet, 3 kitchens, and an elevator
TurboCAD, MegaCAD, SilverScreen Solid Modeler, CabinetVision Solid
Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, FrontPage, Custom Style Sheets (css)
There isn't anything more exciting then having your work on a stage for everyone to see. When you finish
residential work, your done and in most cases never see it again. But with a restaurant there is an emotional
attachment created by public critique and the fact that 9 out of 10 restaurants fail. Your work is part of
an uncontrollable process that decides between success and failure. I never worked on a chain or cookie-cutter
concept. Everything was unique, the goal was to beat the odds, and I was part of it.
Hedging the bet...
The people I worked for are entrepreneurs. In most cases they acted as their own general contractors without
any experience in construction. Their talent is risk taking and being the contractor was part of the gamble.
To hedge their bet they hired a guy like me. Why me? I grew up in restaurants and in construction, which
familiarized me with health codes and what the health department was looking for. I was a good carpenter who
took pride in my work, and because I know the trades, I could organize labor and subs. Ultimately, it was my
track record and word of mouth that saw the jobs getting larger and more complicated. One of the last jobs I
did was 10,000 square feet, on 3 levels, with 3 kitchens and an elevator.
Nowhere to go but out...
After 2 year of building restaurants it became evident to me that I would have to make a choice of what to do next.
I had no consistency. Most of the time I had a 28-hour schedule in a 24-hour day, but then there were
times when I had to fill a month waiting for a job to start. It drove me crazy and I faced burnout. Finally I had to
ask myself if I wanted to do this the rest of my life. It was obvious to me the answer was no. I have a liberal arts degree,
but it didn't offer a career choice. Clearly I needed to have more practical schooling. Living
close to Truman College, my first step was to take a typing class, aaabbbcccddd...
Typecast, and caste...
I continued to build restaurants and to take classes at Truman. Besides the computer classes in Word and Excel, I
took business and economics. In spite of this I couldn't get considered for a job with a construction company any higher
than the position of superintendent, and I was already doing that. Then I was offered a complete break. A friend who
did much the same work as me was going home to the Czech Republic and starting a business. He believed I could help
and asked me to come along. It turned out to be a life changing experience.