A Tribute to my Best Client

Project by reedwood posted 04-10-2014 12:53 PM 2217 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
A Tribute to my Best Client
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I’m sure if we all look back, there is someone you can name that made a difference in your life.

For me, that would have to be Mike and Suzy Hoch.

I was maybe 24 yrs. old when I first met them. I had just moved to Lake Forest Illinois and was trying to promote my first short lived business name, The House Doctors, with a flyer that I drew myself.

It was a bit cartoonish, like something the lawn boy would pass out to the neighbors

But, .... it worked. I got several jobs from it and had to hire more people.

One day, while having lunch in town, I spotted a Real Estate office next door and thought,

Why not drop off some flyers there for the new home owners looking for a handy man? … what a great idea!

I walked in the front door which was propped wide open. It was a beautiful warm summer day and I can remember the sun coming through the door and shining on Mrs. Hoch’s desk like a beacon of light from the Almighty.

And there she was, hand extended, smiling at me with an air of genuine kindness.

When I look back, I think to myself….surely she must have thought I was just a dumb kid without a clue.

I wasn’t the typical Lake Forest type, well groomed and dressed in polo shirts and khakis, highly educated and surrounded by wealth.

I was a ski bum who’d just arrived from California on a skate board and had long curly hair and an earring. (left side – not gay)

But for some reason, she liked me enough to hire me to do some work on their house.

30 years later, I’ve built sunrooms and additions, decks, remodeled their kitchens, basements, bathrooms
and built entertainment centers, closet organizers and furniture for them.

The second floor bathroom and bedroom addition with TV cabinet – back in the 90s.

The Hoch’s moved four times but stayed in the same town.
Each time, they asked me to come in and help remodel their new home.

I wish I had half the pictures of all the projects we did together. Here are a few more.

Basement remodeling and cabinetry


Here is the last kitchen we remodeled:

new cabinets, counter tops, appliances, under mount sink and faucet, tile back splash and hood



I also built this simple little maple bookcase for her cook books.

We took the fridge and old kitchen cabinets and re arranged them in the remodeled basement.



Here is the last Master Bath remodel

New tile, plumbing fixtures, counter tops, heated floors, heat lamp



We worked for several of their friends as well. The references spread out from them like the roots of an old oak tree and made me who I am today. I am truly grateful to have them as friends and clients.

I stopped by the other day for a visit and he asked what I was up to lately. I told him all about my latest hobby – collecting and refurbishing antiques tools and hand planes.

That’s when he took me to the work bench area in the basement and pulled out his grandfather’s hand planes.

A Stanley # 5 type 15
a Stanley # 4 1/2 with a SW blade
and a sweet little Stanley SW # 18

I asked him if he would like me to refurbish them. At first, he said he didn’t use them so it wasn’t necessary.
I shared what I had learned about them and he was surprised when I told him what I thought they were worth.

We talked some more about the planes and then, he told me all about his German grandfather, Adolf Stauber.

He was a piano builder for the Starr Piano Company back in the early 1900s. The company also had the first recording studio and made pianos for several famous blues and jazz musicians like Louie Armstrong.

It was a great story that needed a great ending.

So, I brought the planes home to refurbish and went online and found the history of the company and their logos.


Note: Back then, you could buy a house for less than 950.00!

Now, I am in the process of building a nice walnut storage box for the 4 1/2 and the #18.

I haven’t done it yet – not sure which method – but I want to put the company logo on the lid
and his grandfather’s name on a small plate on the base inside.


I plan to draw up a one page letter on nice paper with the original Starr Company letterhead and a short paragraph about the tools and his grandfather. The planes sit on a base that can be removed. That’s where the letter in an envelope would be stored.

It will be a small way for me to show my appreciation for all they’ve done for me

.... and the planes will be saved from a dusty tool box drawer to be admired once again.


-- mark - Grayslake IL.

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posted 04-10-2014 10:26 PM

What a great way to display grandpa’s planes. Good on you!

-- Joe Cottonwood -- 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses

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101 posts in 2516 days

posted 04-11-2014 01:23 AM

Thanks Joe,

Now that I posted this, I have to finish it!
The homeowner should be home by the end of the month. I better get going.

I’ll post a picture after it’s done.

-- mark - Grayslake IL.

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posted 04-22-2014 05:01 PM

Nice story, really nice restore, good job.

Your projects are great as well, you do some nice work.

-- Love woodworking and fixing most anything

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posted 10-15-2014 02:27 AM

Have you presented these yet?

-- "Imagination is more important than knowledge" -- Albert Einstein

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