Category: Facility

The little things in life! So often I hear about the importance of the “little things”. Yet, the “busy”ness  of business promptly ushers me away reminding me of a meeting, a proposal, a capital purchase, a new hire. You know..the “Big” things!  That’s what it’s about right?  Hitting your goals. Expanding market share. Increasing Profit.  But how do you get there?

I don’t really have an answer, but I do have an idea: it’s in the little things.  I was recently presented with a “junked” chainsaw by an employee. The dealership explained it would cost more to repair than the saw was worth.  How can this be, it’s only a few years old? Frustrated at the proposal of buying yet another $500 saw…wait they don’t make that anymore.  I’ll have to get the new model for $625. Ugh! I took a deep breath and started counting to $625…..1,2,3,…..   Before I made it to 50, my scowl turned into a grin…I’d just uncovered an opportunity. That’s right, I was going to learn how to rebuild a chainsaw.

I dug right in asking questions. Starting with parts: The dealership wanted $350, I found them for $125. I sort of knew there was some “special” stuff you needed to do with 2-cycle engines, so off to Youtube I went. A tachometer, a vacuum leak tester, a homemade crank case splitter and 30 Youtube videos later, I was ready!

I won’t bore you with the details and challenges I faced in the process. Just suffice it to say that it took waaaaylonger than I expected AND it was absolutely worth it! The fact that the saw works is testament to one of two things. 1) I was freakishly lucky or 2) I now understand what it takes to completely rebuild a 2-cycle engine from the ground up.   Since I’m the one writing this, I’ll choose #2!

Okay, great. The saw works…good for me. Whoo hooo!  So what? The difference for me was redirecting the energy that could have been wasted on being frustrated with the situation. Instead, the energy was excitedly focused on not just a solution to this singular broken saw, but to a body of information that allows me to tackle and teach others how to diagnose and repair this key tool of our business operations.

Like most things in life, it was about slowing down, being present and paying attention to the little things. So much can be avoided if one does that. In comparison to time lost and replacement costs, maintenance costs little when you take the time to truly understand the function of each piece of the whole. But I guess if the 3 loose exhaust nuts had been seen, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. My life is richer for it.


austin-Austin Birch CFO/CIO

One of the things we struggle with here at Hemlock Overlook is dampness and humidity. Especially when it comes to our gear. Anyone who has ever spent time in Virginia during the summer can relate.
One of our winter projects has been to create a storage and supply area for our paddling gear. This Personal Flotation Device (PFD) shed is a ventilated and lockable structure, and is like a normal shed, except for a few things.
As you can see the sides are made of lattice for increased airflow. We are able to hang up to 60 PFD’s on the rack system in the rear of the shed to allow them to air dry and not be exposed to the elements directly. After the vests are dunked into a microbial solution they are hung to dry for the next days use. The rack system allows for the vests to be hung according to size.


We used 1.5 inch PVC tubes that were cut to about 20 inches. The tubes are seated into a hole that was drilled with a hole saw. After applying adhesive on the end of the pvc tube, they were tapped into place using a rubber mallet. The floor area underneath the life vest was left open to allow the water from the PFD’s to drip off and not make the rest of the shed floor wet.
Installing the roof
Determining our cuts

danny-main-Danny Stevens | Facility and Fleet Director