Before You Know It

Does anyone else feel like their life is a blur right now?  No?  Just me?  Nah.  I didn’t think so.  This is a busy season.  Suddenly, the weather is changing, the morning air crisp and bright, enough to send you back into grab a hoodie (or a sweater, whatever).  The kids are in school.  I was speaking with a friend who commented that the energy as you walk through town when the kids are in school is entirely different.  I think he’s right.

If you have kiddos like several of us here at Stilly River Mechanical, the season suddenly becomes tense with stacked up kids’ appointments—soccer practices and games (check out Coffey Co in the Heritage Park parking lot for your morning fix), swimming lessons, and homework.  Trying to enforce chores and bedtimes and healthy dinners, and being friendly instead of drill sergeant-esque, and sometimes just pausing in the whirlwind, and—in what should be a moment of peace, inner reflection, prayer, something along the lines of self-care—you notice that your home may or may not look like a bomb of kids’ stuff exploded everywhere.

You may also be trying to squeeze in the last quick trips before winter.  Camping in the Cascades this time of year is beautiful, and so many of my friends are dashing off to the coast for a couple days.

Seahawks fans are suddenly trying to squeeze weekend tasks like grocery shopping around the games.  If you’ve ever been to QFC during a game, it’s a bit eery, almost post-apocalyptic, how dead it is in there.

And the “sudden”-ness of fall will continue to get us—have you seen the Halloween displays everywhere?  Hunting season is just about to get underway.  Then somewhere along the way, we remember that we should winterize the house—eek!  With the threat of frozen pipes looming, we hit the Ace—say hi to the manager Terri; she’s lovely—and stock up on faucet covers, batteries, and bottled water.  One other thing that should be on your busy fall list: service your furnace so that it will perform for you reliably this winter.  Fortunately, that’s a lot easier than remembering which days which kids have to bring snacks to the soccer game.  Just give us a call (360) 387-3788.  We’ll take care of the rest.  Except the soccer snacks.  You gotta handle that yourself.

The Fair is Coming! The Fair is Coming!

This morning in town, I watched a local firetruck help hang the banner for the Stanwood-Camano Community Fair over the road near Viking Village.  Each little reminder that the fair is coming is thrilling to me.  Taking my kids on rides, watching their little faces light up, walking through every animal display again and again throughout the weekend.  Oh, the food!  Mmmm…  The fair is something I’ve doing my whole life in this little town.  There’s a reason that it is called The Best Li’l Fair in the West—IT IS!Fair

I mean, there was the time that my older brother, 15 at the time, carried my 5 year-old self around on his shoulders while he hung out with his friends, the year that I worked at the fair for the entire weekend, working parking lots by day and babysitting cows by night to earn funds to pay for National FFA Convention, watching our son Leo start walking at our booth, the list of fair memories is awesome and long.

But the best part of the fair?  The people!  Everyone comes out, and we get to see all our favorite locals.  It’ll be the teachers from high school, and the long-lost friends bringing their kids to experience the fair, the folks who run all our favorite businesses.  These are the faces of our town.  It’s the chance to connect with the forces that makes us a community—each other.

We’ll be at the fair.  We have a booth right where you can see us.  Stop by, say hi, connect.  Stand in the comfort of our air-conditioned booth (yes, that unit is running—it’s just that quiet).  Snag a bottle of free, cold water.  If you want, ask us some questions about your system, schedule a Clean & Service, or sign-up for our Oldest Furnace Contest.  I can’t wait to see you at the fair!Fair


Growing up, as my dad would drive us around, he would be pointing out various places, and telling us that he remembered when it was a farm, or a field, or a cool little drive-in.  Part of my kid-self was fascinated by the cool places that used to be, saddened when I started to witness the changes myself: my friend’s old farmhouse home torn down to build a Haggen’s, the Farmette replaced by McDonalds, the goats in the middle of town ousted by the QFC.  The other part of my kid-self rolled my eyes at him.

Today I was reminded of this as I drove by the Second Chance, someone’s home bequeathed to the Camano Center in the owner’s will, because that’s what we do on the Island, take care of each other (to learn more about the Second Chance, check them out here, and please support this local organization).  In their parking lot is being erected a new building.  I imagine that when that new beautiful building is done, the Second Chance’s building’s second chance will be done, and it will be demolished to become a parking lot.  It made me kind of sad.  That building is quirky.  I love hunting through its nooks and crannies looking for treasure, the way the floors creak, and how stepping in is really stepping through the front door.  It feels homey.  I always imagined a family living in the house, seeing the rooms as a bedroom, the kitchen, the dining, etc.  I’m sure that I’m not the only wistful one about this change.  The folks who make Second Chance and the Camano Center happen on the daily must be wistful, too—and excited.  Who wouldn’t be?  A new beautiful facility, one that will be big enough to house everything, even level floors that aren’t a tripping hazard.  I was thinking about how it takes a special kind of leadership to know when it’s time to let go of the way it’s always been and try something new—exciting, better—to facilitate growth.  I’m grateful that there are people in the world with good leadership, because maybe I’m just too old-fashioned to be good at facilitating change.

But driving past that Second Chance building today and thinking about big changes reminded me of some of my own.  Some of you may know that after 10 amazing years of working as a middle school teacher at LaVenture Middle School in Mount Vernon, I resigned my position there in June.  It was time.  Splitting life between teaching, 3 kids, and helping Mike to run Stilly River Mechanical was not fitting into 24 hours.  Resigning was like setting off a domino chain.  Once I started picking up more at Stilly, Mike and I realized that something had to give, because this just isn’t a baby company any more.

I so value being a small town company.  I know that people like to be able to call Mike, to talk to him.  But if you’ve ever called Mike more than once, then you know that when you’re calling the guy who does all the repairs, scheduling, sales, ordering, inventory, account receivable and payable, and answers the phone that you’re likely to get a voicemail.  And, honestly, it’s more than one person should be doing. 

So…changes.  We got a landline.  The phone rings in the office, and we have people who work in the office (Me and Nicki).  Now, you can be fairly certain you’ll get to talk to someone.  We also went digital the rest of the way, which is facilitates our techs getting out to our customers much easier.  These have been huge changes in our company, on par with knocking down the building and erecting something new.  And you know what?  It’s awesome.  Today I spoke with a customer who told me that I should be proud of my husband because of his strong ethics and customer service.  He just couldn’t say enough good things.  There is nothing to brighten my day like talking to happy customers.  And if we’d never made these changes, I wouldn’t get to do that.  And with these changes, I get to have even more happy customers.  Maybe even the old-fashioned can facilitate change.

In the meantime, I’m here in the office, waiting to talk to you.  Give me a call, and we’ll get you fixed up. (

360) 387-3788.

And the Award Goes To…!

This has been a busy week for us.  Tuesday was an annual industry update meeting with our suppliers.  At the end of the meeting, Stilly River Mechanical was recognized for excellence in the industry.

Yesterday was the annual Snohomish County PUD Registered Contractor meeting.  Now that the PUD’s programs are running well, they are focusing on refining the programs.  They eliminated many contractors from their list this year as  a consequence for not meeting the PUD’s standards.  Not us, don’t worry.  On the contrary, Stilly River Mechanical was one of only two contractors to have a 100% pass rate on the installation inspections!  That means that every single system that we installed last year not only passed the inspections of L&I, but also from the PUD inspectors.  We’re so proud to be giving our customers the very best.


Ahem, well, we’d like to thank our parents, and the coffee girl, and… no?  No acceptance speech necessary?  Well, at least we would like to say thank you to our two awesome employees, Brycen and Devan for delivering quality every day.

Just give us a call if you want us to bring the awesome to your house!  (360) 387-3788.