Tag Archives: Lowe’s

The Ortons

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

While most homeowners—especially married couples—decide to downsize in their 40s, 50s, or even their 60s, newlyweds Lucas and Andrea Orton opted to do so much earlier.

The Omaha couple had only been married four months when they left their 850-square-foot rental in midtown and began building a 280-square-foot house on wheels. By today’s tiny house standards, that’s slightly larger than most.

Lucas, 33, and Andrea, 34, love the outdoors. They met near the Elkhorn River and married there in May 2015. While camping at Lake Cunningham one morning, they noticed a number of RVs parked outdoors. It was then they began discussing their dream of tiny house living.

Neither Lucas nor Andrea watch much TV. They were not aware of the tiny house trend until they began researching their next steps online.

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“We started looking into (tiny houses) and said, ‘Oh, wow. This is a thing,’” Andrea recalls.

Soon after, Lucas and Andrea hosted a garage sale at their midtown home. Organizing items for the garage sale was the first of what would be many eye-opening experiences of separating their stuff: what to keep and what to sell.

“We were literally pulling stuff out of the house for four hours,” Andrea explains. “And we’ve gotten rid of truckloads since the garage sale. One minute you’re saying, ‘I love this. I’m going to keep this.’ And eight months later, it’s ‘I don’t really love that.’”

In September of last year, construction of the Ortons’ tiny house began. Lucas quit his job as a sound engineer to pursue building the tiny house full-time. The couple moved in with Lucas’ father in northwest Omaha, first building the tiny house in the barn. Once the walls, roof, and windows were complete, they hitched the house to a truck and pulled it permanently outdoors. Friends and family unexpectedly showed up to witness the big (or should we say small?) move.

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“Pulling it out of the barn and dealing with centimeters of clearance, it was like giving birth,” Andrea says with a grin.

The tiny house now sits a few hundred feet from the barn. Lucas works on the house just about every day, with their spunky French Bulldog/Boston Terrier mix, Gus, by his side. Lucas used to remodel houses, so mastering the basics proved fairly easy. The rest—such as plumbing and electrical—he learned how to do from blogs, websites and online videos.

When it is finished, the house will feature contemporary interior design, with white walls, dark flooring, and natural woods. LED lighting has been installed throughout, but an abundance of windows allows natural light to stream in during the day.

They plan to add a modular front porch, which will provide additional seating outdoors (weather permitting). 

For Lucas (an Omaha native) and Andrea (a Louisiana transplant), building and living in a tiny house has two primary purposes: consolidating their lifestyles and living without debt. The couple has budgeted around $30,000 for the project, and they have been paying for supplies and materials as they go. Most items were purchased locally at The Home Depot and Lowe’s, while others have been ordered online (including windows and the air conditioner). The house has standard electrical but has been wired for solar energy.

And while more is continually added inside (and outside) the house, the purging continues, which Andrea describes as “one crazy ride.”

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She adds that getting rid of their belongings has been almost spiritual: “I like to shop, and I work in a retail environment. But even when I go to the store now, I don’t spend nearly as much or get nearly as much as I normally would because it’s not going to fit. We’ve been going through multiple stages of purge, just tapering, tapering, and it’s still too much.”

Lucas and Andrea’s worldly possessions now reside in eight large bins in their temporary bedroom.

At-Home-With-2“Well, that’s not completely true,” Andrea says after a brief pause. “There’s a little bit more spilling into another room, and I’m trying to reel that in. There’s a get-rid-of pile, and every day I’m adding to it.”

Lucas and Andrea continue to research other pieces of living in a (tiny) house on wheels, among them mail delivery and internet access. They eventually plan to purchase a large pick-up truck that will allow them to tow the house as needed, and even store larger items in the truck’s bed.

They expect to park their home at its current address, live in it through the winter, and move it elsewhere in 2017—likely on vacation while exploring parts of the United States.

For homeowners (and even apartment dwellers) intrigued by tiny house living, Lucas and Andrea have a bit of advice: Draft a lengthy list of pros and cons. Look at tiny houses online. Tour them if they’re nearby. Finally, minimalize and consolidate all belongings, and try to live in a single room. 

Visit tinyhouseswoon.com for more information. OmahaHomeAt-Home-With-3

Cosentry

January 5, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

From Target to Lowe’s to mom-and-pops, no company, large or small, is safe from a data breach.

When a company’s website is hacked or its customers’ financial information is stolen, it doesn’t just leave companies with angry comments in online posts—it opens up companies to lawsuits, layoffs, loss of revenue, and often irreconcilable damage to the brand.

When Target had personal information on 70 million of its customers stolen in 2013, the popular retailer experienced lawsuits from banks and lost over $200 million, which led to the resignation of CEO Gregg Steinhafel.

But there’s a solution for smaller businesses in the form of Cosentry, an IT solutions company headquartered in Omaha. Cosentry takes on the complex task of addressing its customers’ every IT problem, from data recovery after a lightning strike to preventing security hacks. Rather than just selling a software solution, the company independently manages its customers’ IT systems, freeing them up to focus on other areas of their business.

So far, its hands-on approach has paid off. Founded in 2001, Cosentry has more than doubled in size over the past three years alone and now operates nine data centers across the Midwest.

The critical role of IT infrastructure and managing those resources, Coesntry CEO Brad Hokamp says, has fueled the company’s explosive growth.

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“Let’s say you were running a website back in the late ’90s,” Hokamp says. “Your website was important to your business. It was kind of your brand image, but there wasn’t a lot of business being done there. The applications that we’re hosting or putting in our data center, on top of our cloud platforms, are today mission-critical to our customers’ business success.”

The way Cosentry’s services work is that the company can take on as much or as little of a customer’s IT management as the client desires. Cosentry can simply take over the day-to-day management of a business’ IT system, or it can replicate another version of a company’s data center in a different location so operations will continue seamlessly in case of a data center disaster.

Being in charge of other companies’ digital livelihoods means that Cosentry constantly has to stay up-to-date on possible security threats and performance issues with a customer’s IT system, according to Vice President of Product Management Craig Hurley.

By keeping up with the increasingly frequent stream of operating system updates, for example, Cosentry delivers value in an area that could otherwise be vexing and time-consuming in a smaller company’s IT department, which is often defined as “Joe, the guy who handles IT, accounting, payroll, and ordering office supplies.” Cosentry assumes end-to-end patch-management so the process is transparent to their client.

“We’re able to mitigate customer risk,” Hurley says, “and do it in a way that most organizations can’t do. They’re just not able to keep up with all of the potential breaches out there or employ and train individuals that are capable of really staying on top of this.”

“There’s a lot of companies that are focused on security-only issues,” Hokamp says, “but we aren’t seeing a lot of them that can provide the set of comprehensive capabilities that we offer.”

Visit cosentry.com to learn more.

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