Beyond the Basics with Kathy Dick

Kathy Dick, PresidentKathy Dick
President

You started working at Design Basics on a part-time basis, and now you are the President. Tell us a little bit about what that journey was like for you.

When I came to Design Basics, I was hired to do Accounts Payable; I quickly became more involved with helping in other areas of the Business Office. With the CFO living out of state, I was able to fill in with various tasks in the [Omaha] office and quickly took on more and more. Within just a few weeks I went from part-time to full-time. Soon, I had moved into the role of Assistant Controller; then, to Vice President of Operations. When the President of the company announced she would be retiring soon, I was approached by the owners about taking on the position. It just goes to show that you never know where life’s going to lead you next!

What do you enjoy most about working at Design Basics?

The staff at Design Basics truly cares about one another. Most have been here for several years – some 20-25+ years! – and, they made it easy for me to dive in and become part of their “family.” I love working with the great team of people that we have here!

What do you like to do outside of the office?

My husband and I enjoy camping (in our motorhome, not roughing it!), biking, hiking, walking, and spending time with our children and grandchildren.

Name three things someone might not know about you:

I was a cheerleader in high school.

I used to own and operate a coffee shop. Since I still have some supplies, I have my own little coffee bar at home so I can make specialty coffee any time. In fact, my husband and I just hosted a coffee bar for a friend’s daughter’s graduation and it was a big hit!

We have 10 grandchildren, the oldest of which is six, and two more on the way! We are a close-knit family and enjoy getting together often.

I went on a mission trip to Russia visiting orphanages where our group put on a variety of performances such as skits, songs, etc., spreading the love of Christ; we also visited a women’s prison and a boy’s prison. It was an unforgettable experience and a real eye-opener for me.

What’s your vision for Design Basics in the next 3-5 years?

To grow awareness of Design Basics’ home designs, services, and brands, both in our local market as well as across the United States. I am looking forward to our team designing more Woman-Centric homes and introducing plans that offer the most forward-thinking amenities. Most importantly, we want to help more builders sell more homes.

Learn more about Kathy.

Beyond the Basics with Carl

Design Basics - Carl CuozzoCarl Cuozzo
Senior Designer

What do you like best about working with Design Basics?

Design Basics has been a part of my life for a long time. I have met a lot of life-long friends over the years and we currently have a great group to be a part of.

What made you decide to become a designer?

I have been in drafting classes from 7th grade through high school. I felt this was what I was meant to do up until my senior year. I was very active with my church at that time and at the last minute I decided to go to a Bible College to become a youth minister. During my second year there, I really missed drafting and designing and made the decision to come back to Omaha to study at the University of Nebraska – Omaha.

What do you find is most fulfilling about working with our customers?

I love working with people and love designing houses. I am in a great position. I find that the excitement I see in my clients after I walk them through their final plans is the most fulfillment you can get out of a job well-done.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

What is spare time? Ha-ha! Every bit of spare time I find is spent with my family. I tend to work so much that I cherish the time I can get away with them. We enjoy going to the UNO Lancer hockey games and the Omaha Storm Chasers baseball games.

You hold a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. What do you enjoy most about it and do you still actively practice the discipline?

Unfortunately I don’t get to work out any more, but I still have a family in the martial arts that greet me with open arms when I get the chance to see them. The thing I liked most about training is teaching as I love being able share the tremendous information I have been taught.

Your son plays hockey and you host hockey players. What sparked your interest in the sport?

Jena [my wife] and I started going to Lancer games in the early 90’s. Neither of us had played the sport, but met a lot of great people at the games and got hooked. One game we were at in 2000, the staff announced they needed host families to house some of the players. Christian [my son] was 4 at the time and since we couldn’t have any more children, we thought we would open our home to these young men. That same year Christian started skating and enjoying playing the game. We have had 24 players, including 4 Europeans, over the years, and keep in touch with all but one. Christian is now playing for Missouri State and we enjoy getting down to watch his games whenever we can.

Name three things someone might not know about you:

  1. I was blessed to be born with two spleens! I got in a bike accident when younger and needed to have one removed; the second spleen grew, so I didn’t need shots.
  2. I met Jena’s kidney donor 30 years ago and didn’t realize it until two years after the transplant.
  3. In 30 years of martial arts, my only broken nose was when I won a light-weight title and had to fight the heavy champ for a Grand Champion title.

Learn more about our Team on our Contact Us page.

Beyond the Basics with Natalie

NatalieNatalie Wendling
Administrative Assistant

WHAT DREW YOU TO DESIGN BASICS?
I liked that was a new industry for me. I do not have experience in the construction/home plan industry, so working at Design Basics would allow me to use my talents and experience in new and interesting ways while learning about an entirely new industry.

SO FAR, WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT WORKING HERE?
I love that no two days are ever the same. There is always something new to learn and I am surrounded by professionals with decades of experience.

YOU RECENTLY GOT MARRIED. WHAT WAS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR WEDDING AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO DO THAT?
My husband and I love to go skiing in Colorado and we wanted to share our love of the mountains with our close friends and family. We decided have a small wedding at our favorite ski resort in Colorado, which allowed us to use a venue that was mid-mountain. It is not accessible by car (only by ski, snowmobile, or off the gondola), so our guests were treated to gondola rides up and down the mountain and the wedding party took a giant snow cat. We were able to take pictures all over the mountain. It was so beautiful and a memory I will never forget.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
I am currently completing my MBA, so free time isn’t something I get to experience very often. When I do have some time, I love to spend it with my husband, Ryan, and our two dogs, Winnie and Griffin. Ryan and I both love to cook and so you can usually find me in the kitchen if I am not studying. Ryan says that my favorite hobby is finding projects on Pinterest for him to complete.

FAVORITE PLACE YOU’VE EVER VISITED AND WHY?
I love to visit the mountains. For me, being in the mountains is the epitome of serene. Everything is so quiet and the air is crisp. I love to go skiing first thing in the morning after a night of constant snow. The world seems fresh and sparkling. On the other side of the spectrum, I absolutely love Manhattan. I love the energy of the city and that you can do anything there. You are only limited by your own imagination and work ethic. And, any place I can get an authentic gyro at 2 am is my kind of city!

PLACE YOU MOST WANT TO VISIT AND WHY?
I would love to visit Geneva. Geneva has the best of both worlds – unbelievable scenery while also being a global hub. It is a diplomacy magnet and houses cultures from around the world.

NAME THREE THINGS SOMEONE MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU:

  • I used to competitively ride/show quarter horses.
  • My previous work experience includes working on political campaigns.
  • I am big Led Zeppelin fan.

Learn more about our Team on our Contact Us page.

Beyond the Basics with Michele Weaver

Michele Weaver is Design Basics’ Brand Manager, helping spread Design Basics mantra that “Great Design Matters”!

Michele WeaverYou joined the Design Basics’ team about 18 months ago as the Brand Manager. What does that entail and how have your job responsibilities evolved?
Design Basics recognized the importance of protecting the company’s innovations with trademarks. In my role, I look to ensure those marks, such as Livability at a Glance™,
Woman-Centric Matters!®,  Her Home™, and Finally About Me®, are being used correctly. The company also knew social media is where homebuyers are, and as part of our mission is helping buyers make wise, informed decisions regarding their new home, Design Basics needed a stronger social media presence.

My role within marketing is expanding now to include overseeing our trade shows, such as the IBS, our newsletters, and launching a new blog. Additionally, while I have a graduate degree in marketing communications, my undergraduate is in accounting, so I help out in our business office as needed, such as managing our staff’s expense reporting.

What do you like best about working at Design Basics?
I know this sounds like a canned answer, but with our staff size [of 10], this is truly a team atmosphere. Everybody works together; everybody pitches in to help each other. I’ve worked other places where they say it’s a “team environment,” but at Design Basics it’s true!

Design Basics utilizes [Gallup] StrengthsFinder.  What are your top strengths?
[Gallup] labels my #1 strength as “individualization.” Recognizing others’ individuality – their own unique personalities, strengths, and differences – can go a long way in creating effective teams, whether that’s at work, in volunteer committees, or leading my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. Rounding out my top five strengths are Responsibility, Input, Includer, and Arranger, which I think work well with our team.

You also took Design Basics’ Finally About Me® quiz on our website and are closest to “Elise”?
Yes! My style is traditional in almost every sense of the word. Elise is also “practical” and “family-oriented,” which describes me pretty well.

Outside of work, what do you enjoy?
I like to read mysteries and comedic fiction, plus an occasional biography as I find people and history fascinating. And, I love live theater, musicals, movies, and music. As a family, we enjoy traveling – mostly to discover new places we’ve not been to before.

What are some of your favorite places you have been?
For our honeymoon, we took a 10-day Alaskan cruise tour – it was truly amazing! Two of our most memorable family vacations were to Michigan/Wisconsin and the northern Oregon coast. We really enjoy the beautiful scenery and being outdoors, and hope to visit Yellowstone and the Tetons for our next adventure!

Name three things someone might not know about you:

  • My husband and I have been together for 26 years; we’ve been married 18 years and have two children, ages 14 and 11.
  • I used to love going to amusement parks and would ride all the rides, several times if I could. I dreamed of parasailing and skydiving. But, now just looking at the merry-go-round makes my equilibrium swoon!
  • There’s something about 80’s pop music, not to mention anything from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, that can put me in a good mood no matter what. I openly admit to having seen Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond in concert (both excellent performers!). I also enjoy some country – Gary Allan, Kenny Chesney, Jo Dee Messina, George Strait…but, sometimes I just need to crank it up and put on some Led Zeppelin!

Learn more about Michele.

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