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Friday, August 7, 2020

Jumping the Hurdles - No New Clients Moratorium.

 I could start this blog post with reporting new sales we booked this week, but that just seems boring at this point.  A better way to describe the Catskill Farms sales activity is to reflect on the announcement of no new clients - A Sales Moratorium.  So congratulations to those who made it in under the bell, before the avalanche sealed off the Indian Jones like cave escape.  For the time being, no more people through the velvet ropes of our door.

This is a first in our 20 year history, the first time we couldn't accommodate the families who wanted to build with us.  We expect this to continue through early October.

Though, like I said earlier, for every fantastic event, we seem to be having an equal not so terrific event.  Family illness in one of important employees, production delays in unexpected corners (like kitchens now taking 13 weeks instead of 3), website got deleted, my contact in my phone got corrupted, and now the hurricane knocked out power to many, diverting the attention of the electric utility company who was days away from installing electric at 6 of our home sites.  Oh, and my new Garmin for my bike refuses to sync with my phone, if that doesn't beat all.


Friday, July 31, 2020

Deals Galore

Besides 'the troubles', we have a lot of positive news to report on the sales front.  That doesn't change the fact that the corrupted website continues to reveal its tragic dimensions - every blog post I had that linked to it is now link corrupted, pictures not showing up, etc...  Keep in mind I've been writing the blog since 2004.

Mini Ranch on Kratz Road is now in contract - 


The New Farmhouse on Kratz Road, Callicoon NY, contract signed today - 


A new deal on a house in Saugerties NY (a version of this fancy shaker style)


Another Ranch going into contract, not started, in Saugerties NY.

And on the lazy meadows real estate side, we put two purchase offers together.

Oh, and we are building 14 homes.

I see a pool in my future.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

A very hard day.



Just a quick reminder - Our main website was lost on Thursday.  Gone into the ether world of non-retrievability due to an unheard of human failing at our server company, which deleted my life's work with a click of a button.  Let me add a quick insult to injury - when we went to redirect the url to a different location, we didn't have the security pin number (we had the password and ID), so they wouldn't let us do it, and we now thus far spent 45 hours on the phone with GoDaddy online chat trying to resolve, so when the AP article that just came out and the NYTimes article that will come out on Sunday searches of me and my company don't reach a broken link.  Seriously stressful.

It wasn't the fanciest website.  It was without debate out of date.  But it functioned well, had a ton of content, and in a way, really represented us in a true fashion.  Not too fancy, not perfect, not entirely convinced of our own authenticity, not over-branded, not too slick.  Violated some basis website rules like too much narrative, undersized script.  It got 10,000 visitors a month, month after month, year after year.  Hundreds of thousands of page views.  It was a tank.  It never went down.


It had a pic of my son when he was 6 months old; he is now nearly 12 (I love the semi-colon use when possible).   The brand, logo, color, fonts haven't really changed since 2001 when I first created it.  Of all the things that have changed in my life, it's fascinating that the look and the feel of the company that I created when the company was more an idea than a reality had been right on.  The concept, the original idea remains unchanged.

The website was familiar.  A millennial client a few weeks ago gave me the compliment, "I love how out of date your website it!.  Its retro".  Now, in a testament to my growth as a person, I did still sell them a house.  And it was 'out of date', but it functioned fine, and was a tool that hundreds of thousands of people and families have used to not only get a flavor of what we do, but a flavor of the Catskills.

And not some perfect filtered instagramed version of makers, and farmers and chair makers and morning dew off the grass - that's for other people's make believe version of the New Catskills.   Us, we remained linked to the soil, the Catskills unbranded, a getaway, familiar, approachable.  Affordable.

So I mourn, though the efforts of recovery that were undertaken over the last 40 hours has been remarkable and bring me to my point of this post.

In the building industry especially, as I'm sure is true in most creative/service/production industries, most clients are awesome, thankful, respectful.  But there's always that one a year that is just awful, unthankful, unrepentant.  And those suck.  My favorite example was two guys we built a house for, found land for, designed a house for, then built it quickly, even though the whole area was hit by a windstorm that knocked out power for 5 weeks - meaning people working on their home had no electric when they went home, couldn't shower, couldn't refrigerate their food, couldn't turn on a light, get water, etc...  These guys were so awful, so mean, so publically intent on soiling us as they floated in their swimming pool and broadcast cooking shows and entertained wildly from the house that 'was so bad', that I had to come up with a coping mechanism.   Spending 8 months bringing someone's dream to life, only to be rejected in the end, is not a small issue for a professional who takes pride in what they do - that end of the job relief in a 'job well-done' is replaced with tired anxiety.

Anyone who achieves has been there.  At the moment you think you get respite, you don't, and you have find the reserves you thought you would get from a job well-done, you have to get it from somewhere else, typically from within.

I mean, I was hurt by it, but I felt awful for my team, my designers, my cleaners, painters, carpenters and others.  Out of a need for a mental health tool, it occurred to me what might be a surprisingly more effective tool of response was to try and keep it at arm's length.  So, a failproof tool I know use in these situations is to pivot and find someone who has done something great for me, and show them the gratitude that was missing from the other experience.