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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – Contractors – Design & Build CATEGORY

Luis Baldenebro is a 19-year veteran of the construction industry and owner of Baldenebro Construction, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 484-5042 or by email.

Luis Baldenebro

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Luis Baldenebro: The Big Finish

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

After commencing his building career, Luis Baldenebro continued to advance his abilities until he reached his goal of becoming a finish carpenter. However, his greatest accomplishment was still to come. “I started out building redwood fences but I was really interested in carpentry, especially fine finish work,” he explains. “I started taking classes and joined a company in Sonoma, where I worked my way to the level of journeyman. After gaining further experience, I began to think about starting my own business. The only thing I was hesitant about was the test I had to take to get licensed; since my English wasn’t very good, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to pass it. With a lot of motivation from my wife, I started taking English classes and got to a place where I felt confident enough to take the test. I passed, got my license and soon after started my business.”

Today, as owner of Baldenebro Construction, Luis says his favorite part of his job is wowing customers with his work. “I enjoy the entire process of remodeling, but the most exciting part for me is showing the finished product to the client. I love seeing the big smile on their face when they see their newly remodeled space.”

A resident of San Rafael (where he lives with his wife, Leticia, and daughter, Nicole), Luis expresses his appreciation for life and work in the Bay Area. “I really like the environment here. We have access to so much, from the beach to the mountains to the big city. Plus, there are a lot of good opportunities for businesses.”

Outside of work, Luis engages in a variety of pastimes, from outdoor activities to reading. “I enjoy hiking and mountain biking around Marin, as well as kayaking in the bay,” he affirms. “I’m also a big reader—I read everything from Charles Dickens to modern classics like Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist.” Additionally, Luis likes volunteering his time to various ministries and causes in his community. “I enjoy serving and helping those in need. My wife and I are active in our church and volunteer with a youth ministry called Young Life.”

In regard to his professional career, Luis espouses the importance of building customer relationships. “Remodeling projects can be stressful for some people, especially if they don’t understand all the steps involved,” he says. “Sometimes I have to hold their hand through the process. That’s why communication and customer service are so crucial to what I do. It’s not just about building the structure—it’s about building a relationship.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Luis says he’d take a vacation. “I would go somewhere with a warm, sandy beach—maybe the Bahamas. I’d spend a couple of weeks just relaxing, reading and exploring the area.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird.

Q: What’s your favorite book?
A: The Bible.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: It depends on what type of food I’m in the mood for. I like Los Moles for Mexican food, Café Arrivederci for Italian food and Bay Thai Cuisine for Asian food, all of which are in San Rafael.

Q: Would you rather live in the city or the country?
A: The country.

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco Giants.

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Advantages of Screws over Nails

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SAN RAFAEL — There are two main types of fasteners used in building and remodeling: nails and screws. While each has its uses, screws offer a couple of significant advantages that make them preferable for many applications. First, screws create… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Advantages of Screws

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SAN RAFAEL — Host, Sarah Rutan: When it comes to fastening wood materials, there are many instances where screws are preferable to nails. Today we’re in San Rafael… Read more

Kevin Oliva is a 31-year veteran of the construction industry and owner of California Dreaming Construction, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 200-7469 or by email.

Kevin Oliva

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Kevin Oliva: Building a Dream

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

PETALUMA — Given his natural love of building, when Kevin Oliva got a chance to do it professionally, it was practically a dream come true. “During my mid-20s, I was doing landscaping work, and even though I enjoyed the building parts like constructing decks and fences, I wasn’t really into the planting and gardening aspects,” he recounts. “So, when my friend asked if I wanted to work for his new construction company, I didn’t hesitate. After working for a couple of different contractors over the next few years, I got my license in 1992 and started my own company.”

Today, as owner of California Dreaming Construction, Kevin says his two favorite parts of his job are customer interaction and industry innovation. “I really enjoy working with and getting to know my clients. The other thing I like is the fact that I’m constantly learning. There are always new products coming out and new ways of doing things, so I enjoy staying up-to-date with the ongoing developments.”

A lifetime resident of the North Bay Area, Kevin expresses his appreciation for the temperate local climate. “I love the weather here—I don’t know how people live in areas where it’s always raining or where there’s extreme heat or cold. Also, we have a pretty good economy in the Bay Area, so it keeps us busy as a business.”

Outside of work, Kevin is a self-described car nut and can often be found in his garage, tinkering with his latest project. “I’m really into muscle cars, primarily Pontiac GTOs,” he says. “After working on one, I’ll drive it around for a while before selling it and starting on a new one. I’ve been working my way up to a special edition GTO called The Judge, which I had when I was younger.” In addition to working on cars, Kevin enjoys watching sports (“I love local teams like the 49ers, Giants, Warriors and Sharks.”) and hanging out with his sons, Nick and Daniel. “My boys are really into computers and film, and they’re always working on some new film project. It’s kind of like how I am with cars.”

In his life and career, Kevin espouses the importance of maintaining high standards of quality. “I never have and never will cut a corner when doing a job for someone,” he affirms. “I always go the extra mile to make sure things are done right, because I never want to get a call back. Of course, there will always be minor issues that need to be addressed, but I’ve never had a major complaint about my workmanship, which I think is a direct result of keeping things at a high standard.”

When asked what his life might look like if he were to retire tomorrow, Kevin says he’d spend more time on his automotive avocation. “I’d be at my shop, working on cars. Currently, I wake up early every morning for work, so I guess instead of heading to the jobsite, I’d head to the garage.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Do you have a favorite TV show?
A: I have a couple, both car-related: “Graveyard Carz” and “Street Outlaws.”

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Finnegan’s Marin in Novato. My boys love it, so that’s where we always go.

Q: What kind of music do you like?
A: Classic rock—I’m always listening to 97.7 The River.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Being into cars and motorcycles. I actually used to do motocross racing.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Car parts.

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Advice for a Remodeling Project

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PETALUMA — If you’re planning your first home remodeling project, there are a couple of steps you can take to be more prepared. One is to gain insight from others who have been through the process before. Talking to friends… Read more

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Video: Getting Insight for a Remodeling Project

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Complete Video Transcription:

PETALUMA — Host, Sarah Rutan: One of the best ways to prepare for a home remodeling project is to gain insight from those who have already been… Read more

Jim Kabel is president of Case Design/Remodeling, a Diamond Certified company since 2005. He can be reached at (408) 256-1949 or by email.

Jim Kabel

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Jim Kabel: A Successful Case

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — Jim Kabel started his career in the high-tech field, but after 25 years in the industry, he was ready for a change. “I was running service and support for a major business group when I decided I wanted to do something completely different—specifically to own and manage a business in an entirely new industry,” he explains. After considering his options, Jim decided his professional abilities would be best utilized in the field of home improvement. “As a homeowner, I’d had both good and bad experiences with home improvement, and I felt there was an overall shortage of quality, customer satisfaction-focused companies to address the needs of others like myself.”

When he came across an East Coast-based company that was offering franchise opportunities, Jim knew he’d found a perfect match. “Case Design/Remodeling had a process for remodeling and construction that made a tremendous amount of sense to me, and I ultimately decided to partner with them, which has worked out very well.” Since founding Case’s Santa Clara franchise in 2004, Jim says he’s enjoyed applying his prior professional experience to another industry. “I like taking the things I learned working for a large company, applying them to a small business and seeing how they work. By identifying the skills that are crucial for this industry and tapping the expertise of high-quality professionals, I’ve been able to take things to the next level.”

Originally from Southern California, Jim eventually migrated to the Bay Area and currently resides in San Jose, where he says he enjoys the city’s characteristic diversity. “In addition to the variety of things to do—from sports and entertainment to outdoor activities—I also appreciate the diversity of the people, as well as the professional opportunities available here. It’s just a very fun place to be.”

Outside of work, Jim enjoys partaking in the many things San Jose has to offer. “As a fan of music, movies and sports, there’s always something for me to do here,” he says. “I like going to see live music, and I’m also a San Jose Sharks season ticket holder.” In addition to local entertainment, Jim enjoys playing the keyboard and participating on his company’s softball team.

When asked what his future retirement might look like, Jim says he’d continue to do things that keep him active. “I don’t know if I’ll ever fully retire, but even in semi-retirement, I hope to teach or consult in some capacity—whatever allows me to stay active and relevant.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite musical group?
A: Chicago.

Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: “The Shawshank Redemption.”

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: Probably the past, just so I could become more educated about certain things that happened in our history.

Q: Do you have a favorite local winery?
A: Duckhorn Vineyards in Saint Helena.

Q: What’s one website you visit on a daily basis?
A: Remodeling Magazine’s website.

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Considerations for Remodeling

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SAN JOSE — When planning for a large remodeling project (or any project that’s design-intensive), consider the following points: Define the scope of the project. Before you begin interviewing designers and contractors, have a clear idea of what you want.… Read more

Kitchen Planner Checklist

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SAN JOSE — Planning a new kitchen is no easy task, especially if it’s your first major home remodeling project. Use the following checklist to address the various aspects of your new kitchen. Floorplan: Your kitchen is the hardest working room… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Five Steps Before Remodeling

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SAN JOSE — Host, Sarah Rutan: When remodeling your home, its important to plan ahead. Today, we’re in San Jose with Diamond Certified Expert Contributor… Read more

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