It feels sorta surreal. After six months of frantic building and troubleshooting, chasing down internet "service" providers, adjusting budgets and brainstorming all the little ways to make things better, we're in. Mostly. But let me back up.
When the lease on the building we were in for 29 years expired, I decided it was time to upgrade our space and do it right. After putting up with structures that really didn't fit our vision, having the ability to start over fresh was exciting and a little bit scary. But scary is sometimes good; it fosters growth.
The entire staff was involved in the design process. They live the retail life every day, specifically the retail life selling large, beautiful things. They know the best way to display boats. This involved many long discussions about ceiling height, lighting, doors of various types, and the logistics of moving boats onto our customer's vehicles. We wanted a dedicated place for rack installations, since we are heavily involved in providing that service to our customers.
Outside of the specific functions of the building, I wanted it to be beautiful, and I wanted it to be an environmental showpiece. The planet we live on needs all the help it can get, and we have the technology to make a difference. I decided the investments would be worth it. We did three major additions using both new and old technical features.
First, I wanted a solar array that would produce enough power not only to run the shop, but to offset the carbon emissions from the natural gas we will use in the winter. Every light in the shop will be LED, and the computers will be low-wattage, and we're using motion sensors to keep lights turned off when no one's around.
Second, we added huge light tubes that go through the ceiling and flood the area under them with defused, beautiful daylight. At 22" in diameter, they throw a lot of light and are spaced between the LED panels so they add a warm and pleasing light. There are 15 of them, both on the retail side and the back of the shop.
Third, we installed an oxygenating system that lives in the bottom of the pond. It is connected to a compressor system onshore that extracts oxygen and pumps it to the apparatus. The oxygenator pulls water off the bottom and infuses it with the oxygen, raising its dissolved oxygen from the current reading of 4.9% up to 15-20%. This will clean the pond by making it uninhabitable for anaerobic bacteria, and better water quality for fish.
There are other innovations we took advantage of, but this just gives you an idea of the investment we made to reduce our carbon footprint and build something we can be proud of.
Besides the environmental structures, we believe in voting with our dollars to send a social message as well. Rutabaga Paddlesports is a smallish family owned and operated business, so we didn't even consider the big guys. We selected a three-generation company, Bauer Builders, after meeting with founder Dennis Bauer. His grandson Jacob was our Project Manager and did an amazing job on this fast--paced building. They listened to us and were able to help us on the budget, and we were able to make changes on the fly when we wanted to add or subtract structures after seeing the building in person.
No one's perfect, and we certainly aren't. But I can tell you we did our best to get it as close as we can to perfect. People are involved, so that makes perfection impossible. But we tried, and we're pretty happy with the outcome. We think you will be too.