Tartino & Brother Lay Down a Solid Brick Foundation

Over the past couple of years, I have been meaning to do some tuckpointing on my chimney and on a few places on the side of my house. For those who don’t know, tuckpointing is the process whereby the cement cracks in between bricks are patched up in order to avoid any further damage to a home. Unfortunately, my chimney is located right alongside the brick wall beside a very slanted roof, which has led every bricklayer assessing my house to tell me two things; 1) scaffolding would be needed and 2) it was going to cost a lot.

Since I figured there had to be a better solution, I have been putting off the work until I recently received a recommendation for a guy named Tartino- an older Portuguese man who works with his brother. When they showed up at my house, I could barely understand them because of their thick accents, however I was able to understand that they were offering me a reasonable price for the job and that they could do it on the following weekend.

Even before they started the work, I was impressed by the way they prepared themselves- first by putting down drop cloths so as to not dirty the landscaping around the brick wall, and then by the way they set their tools down in a organized manner (in steep contrast to the way many other tradespeople just throw their tools, suggesting that if they don’t care about their own tools, they probably don’t care about your house).

In addition to working in an organized manner, perhaps the most impressive thing Tartino and his brother did involved the “scaffolding”. While every other bricklayer told me “scaffolding this” or “scaffolding that”, Tartino and his brother used a couple boards of wood as support and a ladder as a bridge to support another ladder against the chimney in order to reach my chimney safely and quickly. What other bricklayers would have taken extra time and a ridiculously large bill to do, Tartino and his brother were able to complete on my brick wall within a day and at a much cheaper cost.

Even when working on my chimney, Tartino and his brother showed the same care they had when setting up. Unlike other contractors who will just slap on more cement between the bricks, Tartino and his brother actually grinded down the existing cement, cleaned out the cracks, then added their own cement. This left a chimney that looked like they had built a new one for me.

They did such a great job, that I recommended them to one neighbour, who after completing his chimney, recommended them to one of our other neighbours. It was a testament to the quality of their work, how hard they worked to finish the job quickly, and offering reasonable prices for their services.

While it may have been hard to understand them at times, it’s well worth the great quality and service when doing business with Tartino and his brother.

Tartino & Brother

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Tim Horton’s Gives Me A Great Start To My Day

A couple of weeks ago, I took my daughter for breakfast at a Tim Horton’s located on Caledonia Road in Toronto. In addition to our two breakfast meals, my daughter asked if she could try their new yogurt smoothie.

After making the payment, we waited for a few minutes and the cashier handed us our order. We took our seats at the table and began to eat when my daughter took a sip of her Tim Horton’s smoothie. Although she normally devours such a beverage, I could tell that she didn’t like it because she only took a small sip, and didn’t touch it again.

Having worked in the restaurant industry, I didn’t want to throw out the smoothie due to the possibility of creating a big mess in the garbage container, so I handed it back to the cashier, and asked her to pour it down the drain instead. The Tim Horton’s cashier asked me if there was anything wrong with the smoothie, and when I told her my daughter just didn’t like it, Rather than simply taking the smoothie away, she asked if she could get my daughter something else to drink.

By asking that question, the Tim Horton’s cashier recognized there was a problem and went above and beyond the normal call of duty to ensure the guest experience was positive and that we left Tim Horton’s satisfied. Instead of simply completing the requested task of pouring the smoothie down the drain, she truly took care of us. My daughter asked for a chocolate milk which made her very happy, thus making me a happy Tim Horton’s customer.

Research shows that approximately 75% of customers who have a good experience will make repeat visits to a business. Surprisingly, when something goes wrong, but is rectified to the customer’s satisfaction, there is a 92% chance that the customer will return to the business. As such, this is a great example of service recovery because the Tim Horton’s cashier identified a problem and completely turned the experience from a negative one into an extremely positive one. Without a doubt, I will return to this Tim Horton’s location.

815 Caledonia Rd, Toronto, ON M6B 3X8

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Need A Contractor? Armindo Can Handle That!

About five years ago, I moved into my current house. It required some significant renovations, including a new kitchen and two washrooms.

At the time, I learned that many general contractors only want to take on the big jobs, which are jobs that will cost over $100,000. They also tend to brush you off if they feel your job isn’t worth their time. Fortunately, I was recommended to a contractor by the name of Armindo Rego, who was willing to take on smaller jobs, like the one I had.

The second thing that I learned about general contractors is that when you take them on a tour of your house, pointing out the things that need fixing or renovating, they will just nod or grunt their assertions before discussing a price quote. They may know what they’re doing, but it doesn’t fill me with a lot of confidence when they don’t take any notes and carry on with the task by memory. However, when Armindo showed up, the first thing I noticed was that he carried with him a little book, a pencil and a measuring tape. When we finally got down to the tour, Armindo looked like an eager student in a lecture when I showed him the tasks I needed done. He wrote down everything I said, made his own measurements, and asked questions to clarify everything that I wanted.

In addition to taking on smaller jobs and taking specific notes about the work, Armindo offered a great price, so I hired him. To make matters even better, he and his crew did a wonderful job.

After our first and main project was completed, Armindo demonstrated that he cared more about his clients than the bottom line when he helped me out as more of a friend than a contractor. In particular, my wife and I wanted to add a backyard deck and stairs to go with the newly renovated house, but really couldn’t afford it. I asked Armindo if he could show myself and a handy friend how to do the work, but instead he sent an out-of-work colleague of his over to my house to get things started. His colleague told me to “leave it with him” and by the time I got home, the majority of the work was complete. Top top that off, Armindo came over to work alongside his friend to build a flashy set of stairs so that the deck would look that much better. I certainly expected to pay Armindo’s colleague a few bucks for his time, but suffice to say that for those few bucks, a couple of burgers and a few beers got me quite the deal.

In more recent times, I needed some drywall plastered and painted. It was a very small job, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing it on my own so I called up Armindo. Despite his busy schedule, he and his son showed up over their lunch break a couple of days later. Unlike many workers who would just run in and out, Armindo and his son put down tarps and drop cloths over the floor so that nothing would get dirty, and when they needed to move furniture out of the room, they made sure to move it back exactly as how they found it. With the exception of my walls looking great, it was as if they were never there.

Another thing that I like about Armindo is how he acquires materials for the job that needs to be done. Traditionally, a general contractor will simply add a markup to the original bill if they need any supplies, while Armindo tells you which stores you can buy them from most cost effectively. By eliminating himself as the middleman, he allows you to purchase the materials and save money on the job.

Armindo is everything you want in a general contractor. Clean, tidy, quick, creative when offering design ideas, and very reasonably priced. His philosophy of putting the customer first and letting the money take care of itself always makes it a pleasure when he comes to do work for me, and I highly recommend his services to anyone who has construction jobs- small or large.

Armindo Rego

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“A Comedy of Errors” at The Container Store

Pill Capsules

Pill Capsules

For the past couple of years, I have been using a cool-looking pill capsule that was in the shape of a giant pill, but I recently lost it. I wanted to replace it, but the only places that seemed to sell them were all in the United States. After doing some research, I found a store that sold these capsule-like containers at a place called the Container Store, so I asked a friend of mine from New York if she could swing by one of the locations, purchase this pill container, and mail it across the border to me.

When my friend arrived at the Container Store, they explained to her that while they had 50 – 100 of the pill containers in stock, they were in the warehouse and not on the store floor. What they would do for her was charge her for the pill container and they have it for her when she came back in a week. When my friend came back to the Container Store the next week, they still didn’t have it on the store floor and then asked her to come back the following week!

Now my friend was very annoyed that her time was being wasted like this and so was I, so I called up the Container Store’s 1-800 number for an explanation. The call representative, who introduced himself as Murray, apologized profusely and offered to have the pill containers shipped directly to her in order to save her yet another trip to the Container Store. Happy at his offer, I requested the two pill containers, one of them was to be white and red, while the other was to be white and blue. Murray apologized to me again and told me that he would do his best.

When the pill containers arrived by mail, they were the wrong colours! The number of errors the Container Store were making was staggering at this point, but I called the 1-800 number again and Murray was on the other end. He apologized for the most recent blunder and said he would send me more pill containers, in the right colour this time, and all free of charge. Meanwhile, the Container Store had finally received the pill capsules my friend had originally purchased and had them delivered to her as well, so in the end, we paid for two pill containers and received a total of eight in various colours- including the colours I wanted.

While the Container Store began their relationship with me and my friend with a comedy of errors, they persisted to go above and beyond to get us the pill containers we ordered. As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, customer service recovery goes a long way in maintaining a positive customer relationship; something the Container Store understood when they made things right for me and my friend. On a happy note, the pill containers I now use are so cool that when some of my other friends see them they are so impressed and purchase them from where else but… the Container Store-bringing them even more business!

The Container Store


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The Toronto Blue Jays are customer service champions!

Last year, I decided to join many Torontonians by purchasing seasons tickets for the Toronto Blue Jays. Given the off-season acquisitions, I had high expectations, so when the Jay’s missed the playoffs I was left like many other Jays fans mumbling, “maybe next year”. Perhaps most importantly, I was left considering whether to renew my season tickets.

I don’t know if I said those words too loud, or if someone at the Blue Jays head office overheard me, but a few days later I received a package from none other than Mr. Paul Beeston- the President and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays. He sent a personally signed letter thanking me for my continued support of the team, apologized for the poor season, and indicated how he and the rest of management were committed to improving the team and continuing in the direction that they began last season. To top it all off, all season ticket holders received a baseball autographed by a member of the 2013 team!

This small gesture left me with the impression that Mr. Beeston and the entire Toronto Blue Jays organization genuinely care about those who support them, taking responsibility for not meeting certain expectations, and truly standing behind their product. You would think that a major league sports team, such as the Blue Jays, would make no added effort to assure their supporters that they were striving to do better, however, they made this added gesture. Unlike many other companies that don’t necessarily stand behind their product, but simply provide lip service, Mr. Beeston and the Blue Jays management team did the complete opposite. Perhaps their efforts can be a lesson to businesses in other industries- no matter what you are selling, when things go wrong, you have to stand behind your product with more than just words! Great customer service goes a long way.

But the story doesn’t end there. In an effort to thank Mr. Beeston for his kind words and wonderful gift, I put a call in to his office. When I called he was unfortunately out of the office so I left him a message. Not expecting to hear anything back, I was amazed when two hours later I received a return call- not from his secretary, nor his intern, but Mr. Beeston himself! We only spoke for five minutes, but he took the time to thank me for my call, and my continued support for the team. He then assured me that the organization is still very much committed to taking a run at the playoffs next season.

For me, it was remarkable to see the President of a large organization personally take the time to thank one of his many season ticket holders, his fan, and his customer! It truly demonstrates how much Mr. Beeston and the rest of the Blue Jays staff care about their customers and stand behind their organization both in good times and in bad. It was also nice to see the organization back up their words by offering me a little insight into what the team is planning to do to make improvements for the next season.

Going into 2014, I look forward to what the coming season has in store for the Blue Jays. If you want to find me, I’ll be in the same seats, beer and popcorn in hand, supporting Mr. Beeston and cheering on the home team!

Go Jays Go!

The Toronto Blue Jays
1 Blue Jays Way, Suite 3200
Toronto, ON M5V 1J1


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Hitting the Slopes at Brimacombe

Slogging through knee-high snow drifts and shivering in multiple layers of clothing has far too often been the norm these past few months. Of course, while I think we can all agree that this has been a rough winter in Canada, the skiing has never been better!

This past January, I made the trek up to Brimacombe, a ski resort in Orono, Ontario. A few of my daughter’s friends were enrolled in the ski school on the upcoming weekend (a two day, 9am-4pm service), so we called hoping to enroll our daughter as well (albeit, after the registration deadline). The people we spoke with were extremely accommodating, telling us to show up the morning of to complete some paperwork, and they’d have her on the slopes in no time. In fact, not only did they get her on the slopes, but by the end of the weekend she was skiing down the intermediate hills- a young girl who’d never skied before!

Home of the Oshawa Ski Club, Brimacombe has been around since the 1940s. Starting off as a small cabin at the base of the hill with only 137 members, it has now grown to 3,500 members and 130,000 annual visits. With well groomed, powder white hills generated by snow blowers (not that we’ve needed it this year), an ample number of chair lifts, a pro shop, rental shop, and two cafeterias to provide you with some heart warming hot chocolate, you’re getting your money’s worth. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful, particularly the snow school instructors, who are excellent with kids. In addition, there’s no fear of getting lost with signs directing you where to go and staff galore to answer any questions.

Whether you’re new to the sport or an avid skier, I highly recommend visiting Brimacombe. Only a 45 minute drive outside of Toronto, it’s a great way to take advantage of all the white stuff that’s fallen this winter.

4098 Regional 9 Road
Orono, ON LOB 1MO


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Customer Service- A Home Run at Play It Again Sports

Compromise and effective budgeting are the name of the game when it comes to kids. Recently, my daughter outgrew her baseball glove—which seems to be happening fairly regularly with all her clothing and sports equipment—so we decided to buy her a new one. There was one condition though, the glove had  to be pink or purple—her condition, not mine. Fair enough, girls will be girls, but I also wanted a good quality glove that would last her for a while, so I went to Canadian Tire and browsed through the Rawlings gloves. There were a few with pink and purple, but all were too large for my daughter’s hand. Our neighbour’s daughter had a pink Rawlings glove, but my neighbours seemed to think they weren’t manufacturing that kind anymore. Well, I called up Rawlings Canada’s Customer Service line to make sure and got some very helpful people on the line who directed me to a few Ontario stores that might carry the glove. I called the store closest to us and they were willing to order the glove from the States, but it’d take three weeks to get there and included shipping costs, so I turned to the next store on the list- a Play It Again Sports in Burlington.

Burlington is a little out of the way for me, but, as any of you fellow parents know, you’re willing to go the extra distance for your kid. I called the store and got the store owner/operator on the line, Gord, who told me they had the glove. This was just before the Easter Weekend, though, and his store was going to be closed on Good Friday. Just my luck, I would be driving right through Burlington on Good Friday and wasn’t sure when I’d be out that way next. Did Gord ever step up to the plate. He told me he only lived five minutes from the store and gave me his personal number in order to call him when I got to Burlington so he could swing by the store and open it up for us. I mean, it’s Easter weekend, his day off, and Gord was planning on taking his family out for breakfast that morning, but he still made time for us. That’s excellent customer service if I’ve ever seen it!

We pulled into the store parking lot around 10 am and there he was waiting. He brought us into the store and showed my daughter three different gloves. She ended up settling on the size 11 3/4 glove with some pink trim around the edges and a pink centre. It took a total of ten minutes, Gord locked up the store and we headed on our merry way. For a sale that totalled forty dollars, Gord was willing to take time out of his holiday to help my daughter and I out and give us a great experience at his shop. The Burlington store is a little out of my way, but the next time I have a sporting goods need I’ll be sure to make the trek out to see Gord. He definitely hit a customer service home run!
Play It Again Sports
3450 Dundas Street Unit B19
Burlington, ON L7M 4B8

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