Expert Reports From Local, Top Rated Companies

DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT REPORTS HUB
Diamond Certified Expert Contributors

Ron Kiesel is president of Fireplace Door Guy LLC, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (408) 692-5980 or by email.

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Ron Kiesel: A Door of Opportunity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

NOVATO — After losing his livelihood to an economic downturn, Ron Kiesel was fortunate to come across a brand-new door of opportunity. “In the early 2000s, I was a project manager for a housing developer based in Mexico,” he recalls. “Living part-time in Mexico and part-time in Truckee, I had the best of both worlds. However, when the economy crashed in 2008, it all ended. The Mexican economy is very dependent on the U.S. economy, so, not surprisingly, the housing market took a big hit, which put me out of a job. While figuring out what to do next, Read more

Expert tip
2 Ways to Update Your Fireplace
NOVATO — Even if your home has been remodeled to today’s style and standards, one aspect may still be obsolete: your fireplace. Here are a couple of ways to bring an outmoded fireplace up to date: 1. Aesthetics Whether they… Read more

Jason Stergion is partner at Just Hardwood Floors, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 484-5469 or by email.

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Jason Stergion: More Than a Career

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CAMERON PARK — For Jason Stergion, getting into the hardwood floor business was more than just a career choice—it was a decision to continue a family legacy. “My dad started Just Hardwood Floors in 1989,” he recounts. “I started working there during the summers in high school. I liked the industry a lot—the craft, the challenges, the camaraderie on the jobsites. I also liked the idea of one day owning a business and having the freedom to decide my own schedule. With that in mind, I figured there was no better opportunity than to stay with the family business. Read more

Expert tip
Repairing Hardwood Floor Damage
CAMERON PARK — Has an area of your hardwood floor been damaged by moisture or scratching? You’ll be glad to know this damage can likely be repaired with refinishing. However, the challenge will be getting the refinished area to match… Read more

Carlos Barbosa is sales manager of Brasmerica Pavers System, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 879-8949 or by email.

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Carlos Barbosa: Paver Protégé

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

PINOLE — When asked about the origin of his career in the paver industry, Carlos Barbosa says it all started with a casual friendship. “Before I started working with pavers, I worked for my dad doing excavation and debris hauling. In 2009, I met Alberto Lisboa, who was installing pavers as a subcontractor on a jobsite I was on, and we became friends. A few years later, Alberto started his own paver business and told me I should come work for him—an opportunity I gladly accepted. He thought I’d be good at sales but felt I first needed to get an education in the industry. Read more

Expert tip
An Important Credential for Paver Contractors
PINOLE — One of the most important steps of hiring a contractor is verifying their credentials, including proper licensing and insurance. If you’re hiring for a paver project, one important credential to look for is certification with the Interlocking Concrete… Read more

Harvey Weil is sales and marketing specialist at Advanced Auto Body & Collision Repair Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 388-6936 or by email.

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Harvey Weil: Service Savant

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

PITTSBURG — With a professional background in hotel management, Harvey Weil knows a thing or two about customer service. “I was a general manager for Marriott for 25 years, first in Chicago and then later in San Jose,” he recounts. “At one point, I managed a kitchen that employed 200 people and put out thousands of meals each day. Later, I went to work for Hertz, where I met a lot of professionals in the auto body industry. After retiring from Hertz, the owner of a body shop asked me if I would help him with marketing. I figured it would be a good way to keep busy, Read more

Expert tip
Choosing an Auto Body Shop
PITTSBURG — If you need to file an auto insurance claim, your provider will recommend using an auto body shop that’s part of its direct repair program. However, it’s important to realize that you aren’t limited to the options presented… Read more

Sheila Deignan is a Realtor with Better Homes and Garden Real Estate | Wine Country Group, a Diamond Certified company. She can be reached at (707) 520-0129 or by email.

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Sheila Deignan: A Passionate Profession

By James Florence, Senior Writer

SONOMA — For Sheila Deignan, a career in real estate represents the culmination of professional expertise and a passion for helping others. “Before I got into real estate, I was a paralegal involved in negotiations and venture capital marketing coordination,” she recounts. “At a certain point, a broker I knew told me I would make a great real estate agent. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Because of my professional background, I had a lot of relevant skills, and the idea of helping people buy and sell homes really appealed to me. I eventually decided to pursue a career in real estate, Read more

Expert tip
4 Tips for Your Home Search
SONOMA — Buying a new home is a big decision, to say the least, so you should do everything in your power to ensure a wise choice. Here are some tips to keep in mind: Know what you want. Don’t… Read more

Vladimir Galant is president of 911 PC Help, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 523-6060 or by email.

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Vladimir Galant: A Hi-Tech Career

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CASTRO VALLEY — After more than two decades working with computer technology, Vladimir Galant is still going strong. “I started out by running an internet service provider in my home country of Lithuania,” he remembers. “It was a completely different scene in that time and place—a lot of people didn’t even know what the internet was, so it took quite a bit of courage and effort to build a company there.” In 2000, Vladimir moved to the United States to take a management position at an internet service provider in California. However, when the dot-com bubble burst just a year later, Read more

Expert tip
What to Do When Liquid Spills on Your Laptop
CASTRO VALLEY — When liquid spills on your laptop, knowing how to react can make all the difference. If the computer is asleep/turned off, your initial instinct may be to wake it up/turn it on to see if it still… Read more

Nick Neira is president of NIC Plumbing Co., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (650) 288-6749 or by email.

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Nick Neira: Filling the Void

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CAMPBELL — Originally a general contractor by trade, Nick Neira started a plumbing business to fill a void he saw in the industry. “While working as a general contractor, I had a hard time finding reliable plumbers,” he explains. “It seemed like the industry needed more good plumbers, so instead of continuing to depend on unreliable contractors, I decided to start my own plumbing business.”

Today, as owner of NIC Plumbing Co., Nick says his favorite thing about plumbing is the swift gratification. “Large building projects often last for several months, which can get a little repetitive. Read more

Expert tip
How to Flush a Tankless Water Heater
CAMPBELL — While more technologically advanced than conventional water heaters, tankless water heaters still require ongoing maintenance. One crucial step is flushing your water heater one or two times per year, which removes sediment buildup in its heat exchanger to… Read more

Robert Kaljian is owner of Kaljian Construction Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 243-7706 or by email.

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Robert Kaljian: A Natural Builder

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CONCORD — For Robert Kaljian, a career in the construction industry was a natural fit. “I started doing construction work back in high school,” he remembers. “It came pretty naturally to me. I particularly enjoyed the process of diagnosing and solving problems.” Later, Robert ran a cabinet shop where he designed, built and sold custom cabinetry. However, as time went on, he began to think bigger. “I started to get more interested in trades like electrical and plumbing. In 2002, I got my contractor’s license and started doing home remodeling. In recent years, I’ve pared down the business to focus more on bathroom and kitchen remodeling, Read more

Expert tip
The Best Place to Get Home Remodeling Products
CONCORD — When buying products and materials for a home remodeling project, most homeowners assume they should go to their local home improvement stores. In reality, when it comes to remodeling, home improvement stores are more like convenience stores. Since… Read more

Lamar Spalding is president of All In One Home Services, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 938-6251 or by email.

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Lamar Spalding: An Unlikely Inspiration

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

DUBLIN — With a background in product management, Lamar Spalding never expected to one day own a home repair business. However, in the course of renovating his own home, he was struck by an unlikely inspiration. “In 1989, I purchased a ‘fixer upper’ and spent the next seven years working on it,” he remembers. “During this time, I worked with a lot of contractors and was quite amazed at the inconsistency of my experiences. Some contractors were really organized and on top of things while others seemed like they were just winging it. This made it challenging to find the right professionals for the job, Read more

Expert tip
How to Choose a Quality Contractor
DUBLIN — A successful home improvement project starts and ends with the choice of a quality contractor. So, how can you be sure to choose one? Follow these steps: Find a few good candidates. There are several different starting points… Read more

Michal Johnson is owner of Grout Works Bay Area, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 385-8936 or by email.

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Michal Johnson: A Hands-On Career

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ANTIOCH — After working in the petrochemical industry for nearly three decades, Michal Johnson decided to pursue a more hands-on career. “During my 28 years in the petrochemical industry, I traveled a lot and worked in oil refineries all over the nation,” he recounts. “After being transferred to Northern California in the early 2000s, I began thinking seriously about starting my own business. I love working with my hands and had accumulated a lot of home improvement experience from flipping investment properties. I particularly enjoyed working with tile, so that seemed like a good thing to specialize in. I started my own tiling business in 2011 and have been doing it ever since.”

Today, Read more

Expert tip
How to Prevent Soap Scum in Your Shower
ANTIOCH — One of the biggest problems with showers is keeping them clean. Over time, shower tiles accumulate soap scum, which can be hard to remove. What makes soap scum so difficult to deal with is the fact that it… Read more