Have you met Felix and Louie?

felixlouie

Meet two of my co-workers.  Felix and Louie.  They do A LOT of sleeping on the job…but the boss doesn’t seem to mind.  For some reason, they can get away with a lot!

Dog Days of Summer

The dog days of summer are here, and to make things a little more bearable, I’d like to introduce a couple of new friends from the warehouse.

Sky is a two year old yellow lab, and Willow is a one year old Havanese mix.  They have been coming to the office occasionally since they were puppies so they’ve learned that car trips don’t always mean shots and when the delivery folks come it means treats. What they have not mastered is relaxing.

Baxter, the resident Cockapoo is an 8 year veteran of the office and knows that when I walk into the warehouse to pack something up or check inventory, he can comfortably hang in his chair and be assured that mom will be back shortly.  Sky and Willow have not gotten this memo…they follow me constantly!

I must be in eyesight at all times; if I go to the bathroom, they lay outside the door with their noses pressed to the bottom crack to make sure I don’t escape through an escape hatch.  If I go behind the rock bins for too long, they come to check on me, even though they can hear me and see my feet!

But, when they came in with me this week, they had a new strategy – the middle!  That’s right, they laid in the middle of the warehouse so they could see and stare at me in any direction I went!  And, it worked…brilliant!  They actually laid still for 10 whole minutes while I was out there! Of course, they got some wrestling in with each other, as puppies do, but I know they still had their eyes on me.

I’m going to try to keep up with their warehouse antics and post more photos of their cute faces.  They make me smile, I hope they make you smile, too.

~Suzi

And Now Introducing…

Back in October, I wrote a post describing how a ‘Behind the Scenes’ day came to be.  You can read it here.  My talented photographer friend from Three Continents Photography came out to the warehouse and captured a ‘day in the life’ of CourageInStone.com.  I have to admit, it was kinda weird.  When you’re having your photo taken of your everyday actions, it’s terribly difficult to remember to act naturally.  But, all the dusting and cleaning and primping paid off and I think she created a perfect photo story of what life is like here at our offices.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy ‘meeting’ us and getting to know us a little bit better.

I will start by showing off a series of my favorites from the day.  These photos I think capture the essence of our business, personalities and philosophy.

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Come on in!
This is me, Brenda, looking through the glass window from my office into the front office. Suzi works at her desk in the background.
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A broader view of the pass through window in my office. Just to the right of me are several framed newspaper articles from 2002 and 2004 when the business was just getting going. I like that they remind me of how far we’ve come.  You can also see a few clues that my son spends time in the office with me!
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So lucky to work with these ladies everyday. We laugh. A lot.
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An integral part of the business. Both the truck and the dogs. Suzi’s Baxter is on the edge of the dock; my dog Louie is a cautious distance back.
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Beth is in charge of packing and shipping.
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Bins, bins, bins. We ship thousands of packages via the United States Postal Service.
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It took years to tweak a perfect packing station and this is the result. It’s roomy, efficient and custom built by my helpful hubby.
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I don’t get to do it much anymore, but I really enjoy pulling and packing the orders. There is a huge sense of satisfaction in seeing the order on paper, neatly packaging the items and sending them on their way. I know how much I enjoy getting packages delivered to me, so I like to think of how our customers will be excited when they see our package show up.
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Our entire staff. Some are squirmier than others.

Obviously, packing is a huge piece of our business.  Like the packing station, it took years of trial and error to fine tune our shipping methods.  Finding the right packaging materials and most efficient manner of shipping sounds easy, but it’s an oddly tedious undertaking.  Customers order all kinds of different combinations of items.  And the difference of a few ounces in weight or a day or two quicker in time in transit can mean a huge difference in shipping costs.  So over the years we’ve gotten pretty darn good at using each shipping method to our advantage.  So, while our shipping ‘department’ is only one person, it’s a very, very important and detailed part of the company.   Here’s Beth in action!

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One of the super fun parts of the job is bringing in or designing new merchandise.  It’s a tricky thing, though.  Even after years and years of practice, sometimes we just don’t get it right.  But, when we do, it’s super satisfying and exciting.  Once we decide on a new product, photos need to be taken and merchandising begins.  We have to think of descriptions, take measurements, and list them on 5 different websites.  It’s a process, for sure.  Here is Suzi and I working on a new project – these are our new Ceramic Stone Necklaces, which are only found in our Etsy shop.

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And what office is complete without a canine staff?  Surely we have the cutest and cuddliest 4-legged workers in all the east?!  Baxter is the worlds friendliest cockapoo and most definitely the favorite of the delivery folks.  He takes his job as dock door greeter very, very seriously.  Louie, on the other hand, is a mutt who is slightly suspicious of those loud trucks…but he serves as a great guard dog!  Of course, he can always be convinced to relax with a cookie or two.  The delivery people take great pride in winning him over!

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So, the next time you order, I hope it helps that we’ve ‘introduced’ ourselves.  Are we and this place what you imagined?

~Brenda, Suzi, Beth, Louie and Baxter

Google may be on to something

Cockapoo twins

“Like other Google offices…dogs are welcome, with a pet center complete with treats and toys near the coffee station.” 1/08, Seattlepi.com

Bynum and Max

Among other things, Google’s got this right.  Three of us in our office have dogs that we bring to work on a regular basis.  Our office is slightly smaller then the 60,000 square foot Google space, but I’m happy to say that our 200 square foot corporate center definitely boasts treats and toys near the coffee maker.

As a business owner, I’m constantly searching for ways to cut costs, increase productivity and maintain a safe environment for everyone.  Here’s how Bynum, Max and Baxter foster this philosophy on a daily basis.

1.  Security.  We know the exact moment the UPS, Fed Ex, Postal Carrier or freight truck turns the corner into our parking lot by the sound of Bynum’s frantic ‘they are coming to attack, they are coming to attack’ barking.  You never know when the delivery guy is going to kidnap you. It does not matter that this happens 3 times a day, everyday and not once has anyone ever been harmed by a delivery person.  Bynum is always looking out for our safety.

2.  Welcome committee.  I do not need to hire a receptionist, as Baxter is the front door greeter.  If someone should make it in the door without running screaming after hearing Bynum’s barking, Baxter is there as a small, wiggling ball of fur to lick and nuzzle the guest.  He is unfailingly polite as well, always offering a slobbered on, chewed up toy to share.

3.  Entertainment.  Max, on occasion, has been known to belt out a tune or two.  There is a certain ringer on one of the phone lines that he is particularly fond of and he will howl along with it.  We have been known to let the phone go just one more ring in order to enjoy his music.

4.  No time clocks required.  Our offices close promptly at 5PM.  Not because business is necessarily done for the day, or the phone isn’t ringing, or there’s no work to do.  But because it’s dinner time.

5.  Comic relief.  How can it not be funny when, in the middle of an accounting project, an email to a difficult customer or talking to a vendor, your co-worker says “Hey Brenda, Bynum left you a present in the warehouse and I think he stepped in it…I think you better get out here quick!”

We love our dogs.