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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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.


  • 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.

Beyond the Basics with Delores Ames

Delores Ames, Business Office Manger at Design Basics, LLCAs the business office manager, Delores oversees operational and administrative functions, provides customer service, and manages the shipping department.

What do you like best about working at Design Basics?
The people I have worked with at Design Basics have been my second family. We work hard, get along great as a team, very family-oriented, and flexible. I’ve had the privilege to work in several different departments over the 22 years I’ve been here, which has given me the opportunity to learn more facets as to how the company is run.

You have been with Design Basics for over 20 years. What attracted you to the company and what has kept you here?
I have known [a past president of Design Basics] for over 50 years, and we had taught preschool together for 17 years. She began working at Design Basics part time, and when I decided to quit the preschool, she encouraged me to come in for an interview–I was hired on the spot. There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t looked forward to coming to work. God has really blessed me with a wonderful job and people.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I enjoy walking, reading, baking, play cards, and spending time with friends. Someday I hope to spend more time with my kids and grandkids.

Favorite place you’ve ever visited and why?
One of my favorite trips was a 10-day Caribbean cruise with my six siblings and their spouses. We had a great time and it was fun to get off on the six different islands and do some sightseeing. Seeing the massive ocean was incredible, the food was amazing, and we took in a lot of shows. At the end of 10 days none of us were ready to get off!

Place you most want to visit and why?
The one place I would love to visit is the land of Israel. It would be so neat to see so many of the Biblical places talked about in the Bible, plus areas where Jesus walked and taught. With Israel being in the news so much, it would also help to know where the different areas are geographically.

You recently went white water rafting and zip lining (and, you enjoy amusement parks). Out of everything you have done, what was your favorite adventure? And, is there something you haven’t done yet that you’d like to try?
Zip lining was so much fun. We went on eight different lines and there’s just something so free feeling as you go flying through the air. I love that sensation! I have always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride and also parachute out of a plane.

What genre(s) of books do you enjoy reading?
The books I generally read are non-fiction; biographies and autobiographies. I’m not a history buff but I love reading about people’s lives and the experiences they have had. I do read some fiction, mostly suspense or mysteries. But, I’m not into cheesy romance books.

You enjoy live theater. What types of performances have you enjoyed most?
Broadway musicals at the Orpheum and shows at the Holland Center [both in Omaha, NE] are my favorites. Some of the ones I enjoyed most were Fiddler on the Roof, Les Miserables, Oklahoma, and Beauty and the Beast.

Tell us something that we might not know about you:
I do not know how to swim but I love the water. Just make sure I have a life jacket, floaty, or some other life saving device, just in case.

Learn more about Delores on our Contact page.

Beyond the Basics with Greg Dodge

Greg Dodge, VP of Records Management & Data IntegrityAs VP of Records Management & Data Integrity, Greg Dodge is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of plan specifications and maintaining the plan database.

You’ve been with Design Basics for over 25 years! How did you end up at DB?
I started as an intern. Design Basics was looking for someone with Paradox [database program] experience. After the project was completed, I was offered to stay on part time, which later turned into a full time job.

How has your position evolved since you started?
I was hired to create a system to integrate the three computers Design Basics used and to create a database for tracking our clients (the previous system was a card file box!). As Design Basics grew, the IT requirements of the company also grew. In September of 1996, I and my fellow IT associate presented a project to launch a website; it was approved and launched in October of that same year. In addition to managing the IT department, I also became the Electronic Commerce Manager overseeing the evolution and development of the company’s website.

What do you find is most fulfilling about working at Design Basics and with our customers?
Working with and finding solutions for our clients, many of whom have been loyal to Design Basics since its inception.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy wood-working and remodeling projects. I recently completed our home bathroom remodel, and my youngest daughter and I created a custom wood-framed mirror.

It’s well-known around the office that you are a Disney fan. When/how did this begin? And, how many times have you visited a Disney park?
It began in 1966 with my first visit to Disneyland when I was six. There was this ride called The Mine Train, and I thought it was so cool, I was hooked! Total visits to any Disney property (including just this last month) would be at least 15, and counting…

I hear you like to go to the movies. What types of movies do you enjoy?
Mostly I like science fiction, thriller, and action movies. I also enjoying Mama Mia, Legally Blonde, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, but I might deny it.

And, are you a Star-Trek or Star Wars fan? Both?
Both, but I lean towards Star Trek.

Tell us three things someone might not know about you:
I lean to the right politically, I love history, and I love visiting our national parks!

Learn more about Greg by visiting our Contact page.

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