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Going green in 2020? Many of us are. The trend towards environmental responsibility continues to grow, and many hope it becomes the standard way of life in this country. Until that day, you can exercise environmental responsibility by making small changes in your personal life and business. With new improvements in technology constantly emerging and research on environmental issues regularly revealing new data, those changes are getting easier to make without sacrificing your lifestyle.

Beyond recycling, how can you transition towards a green way of life?

Going Green at Home

  • Install faucet aerators. Inexpensive and easy to install, faucet aerators reduce the flow of water out of your sink faucet, resulting in savings on your water bill.
  • Install low-flow shower heads. A low-flow showerhead will significantly reduce the amount of water dispersed from your shower head without reducing water pressure.
  • Install a low-flow, dual flush toilet or put a brick in your toilet tank. You can turn your old toilet into a low-flow version by putting a brick (wrapped in a waterproof plastic bag) into your tank. This will displace and reduce the amount of water wasted on every flush.
  • Wait till you have a full load of laundry to wash and wash in cold water. This saves both water and energy on washing your clothes. Clothes get just as clean and you save the energy that would be spent on unnecessary washing or heating the water.
  • Line dry your clothes or rack dry your clothes. This saves energy and reduces air and water pollution from power plants.
  • Install a programmable thermostat for savings on your utility bills while also saving energy and reducing pollution.
  • Replace your light bulbs with LED lights. (Tip for the budget: purchase on sale and change out bulbs over time.) Although a small investment initially, this change can save you a great deal of money and energy over the lifespan of the LED bulbs.
  • Replace the weatherstripping on your doors and windows to prevent cold air from escaping during the summer and heat from leaking out during the winter.
  • Insulate your hot water heater and your water pipes. Your water heater won’t have to work as hard if you have pipe insulation and water heater blankets, resulting in savings on electricity.
  • Run your dishwasher only when it is full to reduce unnecessary use of water and energy needed to clean your dishes.
  • Use washable rags instead of paper towels. By using rags to clean around the house, you’ll save money as well as trees.
  • Don’t buy bottled water! Bottled water contains plastic toxins and has a hugely detrimental impact on the entire planet. Purchase a faucet water filter and a reusable water bottle to save money and help the environment.
  • Put a stop to junk mail coming to your mailbox. Junk mail is not just annoying. Producing it destroys trees and its delivery requires gasoline. Approximately 44% of junk mail goes to landfills unopened, where it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. State and local governments spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year to collect and dispose of all the bulk mail that does not get recycled.

OptOutPrescreen.com – opt out of preapproved credit card and insurance offers online or by phone: 1-888-5-OPTOUT.

DirectMail.com – free, quick way to get your name off commercial mailing lists.

YellowPagesGoesGreen – remove your name and address from phonebook mailing lists.

YellowPagesOptOut – remove yourself from phonebook deliveries.

PaperKarma – this amazing smartphone app lets you take photos of unwanted mail and submit them. The service then contacts the mailer to request they remove you from their distribution list.

Catalog Choice – This free service stops unwanted store catalogs from being delivered to your mailbox.

  • Recycle unneeded and outdated records, files, and paperwork. How can you do this and keep confidential information secure? Sierra Shred can responsibly destroy and recycle your sensitive documents. Did you know?  Each ton of shredded and recycled paper saves:

17 trees

7000 gallons of water

3.3 cubic yards of landfill space

380 gallons-of-oil

4000 kilowatts of energy

60 pounds of air pollutants

Going Green in the Yard

  • Install a rain barrel. Rain barrels collect rainwater from your downspouts and the water saved can then be used to water all your outdoor plants.
  • Compost your food scraps. Composting save waste from going to the landfill and can be done even in an apartment.
  • Use native plants for your landscaping, especially trees. Trees not only help keep your home cooler by providing shade, but also help to absorb CO2 in the air. They also look beautiful and add to your property value.
  • Install outdoor solar lights. Instead of lighting the exterior of your home using electricity at night, install some solar path lights that charge during the day. You can even get a solar-powered motion detecting light for increased security in the evenings!

Going Green in the Car

  • Reduce your commute. If it is available, use public transportation to get to work or carpool with others.
  • Consolidate your errands to reduce the number of individual car trips and save gas as well as wear and tear on your car. It also helps improve air quality in your area.
  • Avoid idling your car. It contributes to the area’s smog and unless you are sitting in traffic, it uses more gas to idle your vehicle for 30 seconds than it does to turn it off and restart it.
  • Rotate your car tires and keep them filled. Keeping your tires inflated to the right PSI and rotated regularly saves fuel.
  • If possible, use a bicycle to get to school, work, or to run errands instead of driving.

Going Green at Work

  • Use reusable water bottles and mugs at work. Our landfills and oceans are filling up with disposable plastic water bottles. With reusable water bottles, you save money and won’t ingest the plastic residue contained in disposable plastic bottles. Drink coffee from your own mug instead of disposable cups that end up in landfills, too.
  • Use reusable dishes and silverware in the office kitchen or break room. Replacing disposable utensils with reusable products that simply require washing is a very effective way to reduce the amount of disposable products that have to be discarded.
  • Use non-toxic cleaning products to tidy up. Switch to cleaning products created from natural substances instead of hazardous chemicals that are dangerous to the environment.
  • Send files and documents electronically whenever possible and be conscious of your printing habits. It’s best to print using the double-sided printing option that comes with many of today’s printers. If that’s not an option, then print what you must and reuse the sheet of paper by writing on the blank side if you can.
  • Buy re-manufactured ink. Re-manufactured ink is affordable and producers of manufactured ink help to keep excess metals and disposables out of the environment.
  • Designate an area for the office’s recyclables and make sure they are put out for collection regularly.
  • To dispose of old records and paperwork in an environmentally-responsible way, use a professional shredding service. All material is securely shredded and then recycled.
  • Use LED lights. LED lights conserve energy and last much longer than standard light bulbs while brightly illuminating your workspace.
  • Buy eco-friendly office supplies. When you buy recycled products, you are supporting initiatives that preserve trees and natural resources.
  • Use refillable pens. Reusable pens simply require cartridge changes and can be used for a long period of time.
  • Telecommute whenever possible. Many companies are seeing the benefit in allowing staff to work remotely when possible. Telecommuting increased by 159% from 2005 to 2017.  Working remotely increases productivity by allowing the time traditionally used for a commute to be used on actual work endeavors and is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Recycle old office furniture and equipment. Although it’s common practice to throw away the old items, many may be recyclable or composed of parts that can be recycled instead of going to the landfill.

Sustainability starts at home, in your household, and in your place of business. Going green doesn’t have to be overwhelming; you can transition to environmentally-responsible habits gradually. Getting started is the hardest part. You can help save the environment and save yourself some money by adopting these practices in 2020.

 

Jamie Spence | Content Manager

Seota Digital Marketing 972.737.2830

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Going green in 2020? Many of us are. The trend towards environmental responsibility continues to grow, and many hope it becomes the standard way of life in this country. Until that day, you can exercise environmental responsibility by making small changes in your personal life and business. With new improvements in technology constantly emerging and research on environmental issues regularly revealing new data, those changes are getting easier to make without sacrificing your lifestyle.

Beyond recycling, how can you transition towards a green way of life?

Going Green at Home

  • Install faucet aerators. Inexpensive and easy to install, faucet aerators reduce the flow of water out of your sink faucet, resulting in savings on your water bill.
  • Install low-flow shower heads. A low-flow showerhead will significantly reduce the amount of water dispersed from your shower head without reducing water pressure.
  • Install a low-flow, dual flush toilet or put a brick in your toilet tank. You can turn your old toilet into a low-flow version by putting a brick (wrapped in a waterproof plastic bag) into your tank. This will displace and reduce the amount of water wasted on every flush.
  • Wait till you have a full load of laundry to wash and wash in cold water. This saves both water and energy on washing your clothes. Clothes get just as clean and you save the energy that would be spent on unnecessary washing or heating the water.
  • Line dry your clothes or rack dry your clothes. This saves energy and reduces air and water pollution from power plants.
  • Install a programmable thermostat for savings on your utility bills while also saving energy and reducing pollution.
  • Replace your light bulbs with LED lights. (Tip for the budget: purchase on sale and change out bulbs over time.) Although a small investment initially, this change can save you a great deal of money and energy over the lifespan of the LED bulbs.
  • Replace the weatherstripping on your doors and windows to prevent cold air from escaping during the summer and heat from leaking out during the winter.
  • Insulate your hot water heater and your water pipes. Your water heater won’t have to work as hard if you have pipe insulation and water heater blankets, resulting in savings on electricity.
  • Run your dishwasher only when it is full to reduce unnecessary use of water and energy needed to clean your dishes.
  • Use washable rags instead of paper towels. By using rags to clean around the house, you’ll save money as well as trees.
  • Don’t buy bottled water! Bottled water contains plastic toxins and has a hugely detrimental impact on the entire planet. Purchase a faucet water filter and a reusable water bottle to save money and help the environment.
  • Put a stop to junk mail coming to your mailbox. Junk mail is not just annoying. Producing it destroys trees and its delivery requires gasoline. Approximately 44% of junk mail goes to landfills unopened, where it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. State and local governments spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year to collect and dispose of all the bulk mail that does not get recycled.

OptOutPrescreen.com – opt out of preapproved credit card and insurance offers online or by phone: 1-888-5-OPTOUT.

DirectMail.com – free, quick way to get your name off commercial mailing lists.

YellowPagesGoesGreen – remove your name and address from phonebook mailing lists.

YellowPagesOptOut – remove yourself from phonebook deliveries.

PaperKarma – this amazing smartphone app lets you take photos of unwanted mail and submit them. The service then contacts the mailer to request they remove you from their distribution list.

Catalog Choice – This free service stops unwanted store catalogs from being delivered to your mailbox.

  • Recycle unneeded and outdated records, files, and paperwork. How can you do this and keep confidential information secure? Sierra Shred can responsibly destroy and recycle your sensitive documents. Did you know?  Each ton of shredded and recycled paper saves:

17 trees

7000 gallons of water

3.3 cubic yards of landfill space

380 gallons-of-oil

4000 kilowatts of energy

60 pounds of air pollutants

Going Green in the Yard

  • Install a rain barrel. Rain barrels collect rainwater from your downspouts and the water saved can then be used to water all your outdoor plants.
  • Compost your food scraps. Composting save waste from going to the landfill and can be done even in an apartment.
  • Use native plants for your landscaping, especially trees. Trees not only help keep your home cooler by providing shade, but also help to absorb CO2 in the air. They also look beautiful and add to your property value.
  • Install outdoor solar lights. Instead of lighting the exterior of your home using electricity at night, install some solar path lights that charge during the day. You can even get a solar-powered motion detecting light for increased security in the evenings!

 

Going Green in the Car

  • Reduce your commute. If it is available, use public transportation to get to work or carpool with others.
  • Consolidate your errands to reduce the number of individual car trips and save gas as well as wear and tear on your car. It also helps improve air quality in your area.
  • Avoid idling your car. It contributes to the area’s smog and unless you are sitting in traffic, it uses more gas to idle your vehicle for 30 seconds than it does to turn it off and restart it.
  • Rotate your car tires and keep them filled. Keeping your tires inflated to the right PSI and rotated regularly saves fuel.
  • If possible, use a bicycle to get to school, work, or to run errands instead of driving.

Going Green at Work

  • Use reusable water bottles and mugs at work. Our landfills and oceans are filling up with disposable plastic water bottles. With reusable water bottles, you save money and won’t ingest the plastic residue contained in disposable plastic bottles. Drink coffee from your own mug instead of disposable cups that end up in landfills, too.
  • Use reusable dishes and silverware in the office kitchen or break room. Replacing disposable utensils with reusable products that simply require washing is a very effective way to reduce the amount of disposable products that have to be discarded.
  • Use non-toxic cleaning products to tidy up. Switch to cleaning products created from natural substances instead of hazardous chemicals that are dangerous to the environment.
  • Send files and documents electronically whenever possible and be conscious of your printing habits. It’s best to print using the double-sided printing option that comes with many of today’s printers. If that’s not an option, then print what you must and reuse the sheet of paper by writing on the blank side if you can.
  • Buy re-manufactured ink. Re-manufactured ink is affordable and producers of manufactured ink help to keep excess metals and disposables out of the environment.
  • Designate an area for the office’s recyclables and make sure they are put out for collection regularly.
  • To dispose of old records and paperwork in an environmentally-responsible way, use a professional shredding service such as Sierra Shred. All material is securely shredded and then recycled.
  • Use LED lights. LED lights conserve energy and last much longer than standard light bulbs while brightly illuminating your workspace.
  • Buy eco-friendly office supplies. When you buy recycled products, you are supporting initiatives that preserve trees and natural resources.
  • Use refillable pens. Reusable pens simply require cartridge changes and can be used for a long period of time.
  • Telecommute whenever possible. Many companies are seeing the benefit in allowing staff to work remotely when possible. Telecommuting increased by 159% from 2005 to 2017.  Working remotely increases productivity by allowing the time traditionally used for a commute to be used on actual work endeavors and is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Recycle old office furniture and equipment. Although it’s common practice to throw away the old items, many may be recyclable or composed of parts that can be recycled instead of going to the landfill.

Sustainability starts at home, in your household, and in your place of business. Going green doesn’t have to be overwhelming; you can transition to environmentally-responsible habits gradually. Getting started is the hardest part. You can help save the environment and save yourself some money by adopting these practices in 2020.

 

Jamie Spence | Content Manager

Seota Digital Marketing 972.737.2830

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Arizona’s tech industry is a “rising star,” Todd Sanders, the CEO of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, wrote this fall. The Phoenix Business Journal published a similar observation in December’s “Arizona tech industry hitting the fast lane,” essay by guest contributor Steve Zylstra, and there are many others. With the rise of our tech industry comes the challenge of staffing these companies with the best talent.

All companies do their best to hire technical staff who are capable in the technology they need.  Many attempt to locate qualified candidates through their human resources department initially. However, the typical HR department has many other responsibilities and not necessarily a solid understanding of the specifics required when dealing with technology hires.  Human Resource departments focus on the corporate culture, dealing with conflicts in employee relationships, payroll, employee benefits, and training in addition to managing hiring and retention.  When a hiring manager sends in a job request for a network engineer, does the department have a thorough understanding of what knowledge that position requires? What about a software engineer dealing with a specific stack of technology?

When dealing with technology positions and corporate culture, it becomes a little more difficult to find the right person for the job.  What are the baseline skills needed to perform the job?  Is it a mature environment with more maintenance than support and troubleshooting?  Is the business growing rapidly and does the person need to be able to think on their feet or are they dealing with general day-to-day support working with business users, physical devices, and applications?  Will the developers be adding functionality to the existing application landscape or will they be handling a new application build?

Why AI Isn’t Very Effective in Locating Great Candidates

When looking at resumes, companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) more and scanning resumes for keywords.  One job posting may have hundreds to thousands of applicants depending on the market, location, and posting.  Glassdoor conducted a survey and from 250 resumes, four to six candidates will be interviewed and one will be hired.

While AI will be able to search for specific keywords in a resume, can they truly help with getting the best candidates?  "AI speeds up the process but lacks the human contact needed to flush out actual understanding of the skill sets of the candidate," according to Timothy Derrickson, Director of Operations at Derrico Computers. AI may miss a qualified candidate because some technical candidates may not have the corresponding keywords in their resume, in spite of doing that job day-in and day-out.  For example, when looking for a network engineer, you may need someone experienced in working with a specific vendor’s device. If you look for candidates only with “Juniper” experience, you may miss all the candidates experienced with similar devices. Companies may be overlooking candidates that could perform well in their corporate culture, though they may need a small amount of time to get up to speed supporting the environment.

Why Technical Screening is Better

It’s important to speak with candidates in detail regarding specific technologies in order to help the hiring manager understand their true skill set. This is the reason technical screeners employed by Derrico Computers are all technology specialists working in the IT field. Only by examining the technical expertise of an applicant can you really get a comprehensive assessment of the overall knowledge of the candidate.  Without a thorough assessment, a human resources manager may hire a candidate who ticks all the boxes in the initial interview, but once in the job can’t learn fast enough or handle the specifics of the job. It can save your company time and money to use a technical screener to help find a qualified candidate who is able to ramp up quickly and provide the support your company needs.IT staff performing system checks

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Your face looks tired. You look at yourself in the mirror and wonder when your skin lost volume. What can you do to restore your skin?

It’s winter-time in North Texas, which means…well, it means the temperatures in Frisco and the surrounding areas may be in the 70s…or in the 30s. We see a wide range of temperatures this time of year, and those fluctuations can wreak havoc on your skin. Cold weather and central heating may leave your skin feeling dry and looking dull. 

Many women are turning to Juvéderm™ products to rejuvenate their skin and freshen their appearance. But what is Juvéderm™? What does it do for you?

Juvéderm™ is the brand name of a collection of injectable hyaluronic acid dermal fillers used to provide nine months to one year of correction for moderate to severe facial wrinkles and folds. Hyaluronic acid, or HA, is a natural substance in the body imparting volume to the skin. Modified HA is the main ingredient behind JUVÉDERM™®. JUVÉDERM™® helps restore volume to different areas of the face without surgery while also temporarily restoring the volume loss beneath the surface.

If you’re reading this, you’re getting older. And unfortunately, production of hyaluronic acid decreases as we age. Older skin is thus prone to dryness. Hydrated skin is plumper skin, and while dermal fillers can’t turn back the clock, they can smooth out your skin and even out facial depressions. You won’t look like you are suddenly 25 years old again; fillers serve to help you look great for your age.

Juvéderm™

Juvéderm™ has fine-tuned their product into three different versions. Juvéderm™ Ultra, Juvéderm™ Ultra Plus and Juvéderm™ Voluma are formulated slightly differently to target specific areas on the face. They’re all in the same family of all natural hyaluronic acid fillers used to treat wrinkles of the face, but the size of the particles differ.

Juvéderm™ Ultra is a smaller particle size and is used to treat mild to moderate lines, mild to moderate wrinkles. and some scars. It’s “smoother” and used in more superficial applications, such to enhance the lips. Because of its thinner consistency, this version has the shortest duration: approximately 9 months.

Juvéderm™ Ultra Plus is a medium-sized particle and is used to fill deeper wrinkles and to add volume. It’s primarily used to fill nasolabial folds and to treat jowls. Ultra Plus has a duration of approximately 9 – 12 months.

Juvéderm™ Voluma has the largest particle size and is injected deeper into the skin for an overall increase in volume. It’s used to lift and fill cheeks, and to replace volume in the midface. Voluma has a duration of up to 2 years.

Dermal fillers are administered via tiny needle injections. It requires a skilled hand for natural-looking results, so do your homework regarding technicians. Dr. Kathryn White of the Azure MedSpa in Frisco has been treating patients with Juvéderm™ for years and has a reputation as one of Frisco’s best injectors. She has a “less is more” approach and her patients report feeling pleased with their natural-looking results.

Who Should Skip It

If you’re afraid of needles or injections, this treatment is not for you! Juvéderm™ should also be avoided by those who have a history of excessive scarring, keloid formation, pigment disorders, and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. With any injection, there is some risk of infection.

Dermal fillers are minimally invasive and require no downtime. If improving your appearance for 2020 is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, look into Juvéderm™ products. In addition to using quality cosmeceuticals, drinking enough water, and consuming a healthy diet, Juvéderm™ fillers can boost hydration in your skin, restoring luster and radiance.

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Picking out a gift for any man in your life could be considered “extreme shopping.” Like extreme sports, shopping for men involves a high degree of risk. You can play it safe by getting your husband, boyfriend, father, brother, or friend another shirt or cologne set, but finding a gift they will truly love? It’s not unlike rock or mountain climbing. Or possibly searching for the Holy Grail.

Men tend to approach purchasing anything in a very goal-oriented way:

“I’m cold.”

[walks into store, buys jacket]

“I’m not cold anymore.”

Because of this direct way of thinking, finding a desired item that your guy hasn’t already purchased for himself can be a challenge. Walking through store after store, or spending hours clicking and scrolling online, looking at the endless gadgets, tools, and hobby equipment available, can leave you with a sense of overwhelming futility. How many times have you just purchased something in desperation and hoped for the best, knowing he could return it?

We can help! Here are three unique gift ideas that your man likely won’t have thought of for himself and are definitely a cut above another gift set of slippers!

The Gents Place

The Gents Place is an ultra-premium and membership-based men's grooming and lifestyle club founded out of Frisco, Texas, in 2008. The combination barbershop, spa, and salon offers services including haircuts, coloring, shaves, hand and foot repairs (a.k.a. men’s manicures and pedicures), and shoe shine services. The franchise now operates thirteen locations in Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, and Texas.

“So?” you may be thinking. “There are tons of barbershops that offer similar services. What’s so special about The Gents Place?” We’ll tell you: it’s the company’s vision and level of service. The Gents Place brand vision is to empower gentlemen with the confidence needed to achieve their goals. With a culture of servant leadership and dedication to delivering world-class service to their guests, The Gents Place team helps men look and feel their best, empowering them to perform at their best.

The man for whom you’re buying may not seem like the “fancy haircut” type. And that’s just as well, because this company is not simply offering grooming services. The Gents Place is providing a first-class experience. By delivering premium grooming services in an atmosphere of like-minded men, complimentary top-shelf beverages, and curated advice, The Gents Place experience is unlike any other. In essence, your gift is an exceptional experience designed to imbue confidence, polish, and relaxation.

How many gifts can you say that about?

Visit The Gents Place at 1201 E. State Hwy 114, Suite 130, Southlake, Texas 76092.

Malouf’s Fine Apparel

John Malouf opened Malouf’s Fine Apparel in August of 1949, following his graduation from Texas Tech University. After working part-time at Durham-Burdine, a men’s shop in Lubbock, during his college years, he’d developed a love of the retail business and saw a market for luxury clothing for businessmen. The product line has expanded to offer fine apparel for both men and women, ranging in styles suitable for the boardroom to casual sportswear.

From the store’s opening, Malouf functioned as the manager, buyer, and merchandiser at the original location in Lubbock, Texas. Malouf’s Southlake Town Square location opened in 2009. The company principles of quality, value, service, innovation and trust are the standards on which the business was founded. Offering one-on-one consultations at your home, office or in the store, Malouf stylists will provide your gift’s recipient with expert advice and make the shopping experience effortless. Expert on-site tailoring will ensure that his selections are specifically fitted for his build and style preference. The result is fine clothing items that will last.

A lot of men are interested in dressing more stylishly, but don’t have the time needed to improve their wardrobe. If the man you’re buying for is interested in dressing well, or simply needs high-quality staples that will last for years, Malouf’s is a first-class option. Although John Malouf passed away in 2015, the Malouf family retains management of the company and its commitment to exceptional quality and service. Malouf’s Fine Apparel’s Southlake location can be found at 190 State St, Southlake, TX 76092.

Orvis of Southlake

Is your man an outdoor sports enthusiast? Charles F. Orvis founded the Orvis Company in Manchester, Vermont in 1856. Offering superior fly-fishing equipment, Orvis also offers a wide assortment of men’s and women’s sportswear, fine gifts, and home furnishings, luggage, and travel accessories. In addition, fine shotguns, gear, and technical apparel for wingshooting and sporting clays are offered. Orvis sporting services include fishing and shooting schools, an international sporting and eco-travel agency, and the Orvis-endorsed network of lodges, outfitters, and guides. Each Orvis product and the services presented is rooted in the company’s heritage, inspired by love of the wild, and backed by superior customer service and a 100% guarantee of satisfaction.

Is the man you’re buying for a dog lover? As if all of the above weren’t enough, Orvis is also an industry leader in dog beds and innovative dog products. The company’s culture of “We Love Dogs” has led the retailer to be a central source of education and information for all dog lovers. If your recipient is in need of a new hunting companion, Orvis can help. Orvis-endorsed hunting dog trainers and breeders must meet their high standards for the best bird dog breeders. Whether your new dog is strictly for hunting or to be a good companion at home, you can find an excellent fit among the Orvis-endorsed dog breeders.

Everything at Orvis is about inspiring and empowering adventure and wonder in nature. The company’s goals to design and develop products and experiences, and provide the knowledge and expertise to enable more adventurous moments and connections in the outdoors. If your man is in need of some quality outdoor time, Orvis is the ideal place to start. Orvis is located at 1101 E Southlake Blvd, Southlake, TX 76092.

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Identity theft is frequently a hot topic on television news and online. Criminals are constantly expanding their reach and skills in efforts to obtain confidential information, while businesses and individuals are working to prevent such breaches. You likely know at least one person who has been the victim of identity theft, but what you may not know about this crime may surprise you.

The Majority of Identity Theft Doesn’t Occur in Cyberspace

Residential shredding image

In recent years, over half of identity theft and fraud originated from paper information. A lost or stolen wallet or checkbook, stolen paper mail, fraudulent changes of address, or documents taken from your trash are all ways criminals can obtain your private information. Medical and insurance information is also valuable to identity thieves, so even a carelessly discarded “Explanation of Benefits” statement from your insurance company can leave you at risk.

The Majority of Perpetrators Know Their Victims

It is a sad but accurate fact: family members, friends, and co-workers are frequently the perpetrators of identity fraud. A 2018 Javelin Strategy & Research report estimated 60 percent of child victims and 7 percent of adult victims personally knew the perpetrator. A family member or friend may be able to easily access a child’s social security card and birth certificate if these documents are not properly secured, and then they can obtain credit cards and loans in the child’s name.

The Majority of Identity Fraud is Self-Detected

Those who are reviewing their credit card and bank account transactions online will discover insufficient funds and spot unauthorized transactions faster than those who simply review their monthly paper statements when they arrive. Opting in for text or email alerts from your bank or credit card companies regarding large purchases or account changes also helps notify users faster of a potential breach.

Identity Protection Services Are Not Miracle Workers

Many people mistakenly believe identity theft services can stop their information from being fraudulently used. These services can be helpful by alerting you about possible fraudulent use of your personal information, but no service can erase information already released on the dark web. These companies often provide support in disputing fraudulent charges on your credit report, freezing your credit, and offer some insurance benefits towards the costs of dealing with identity theft.

How Can I Protect Myself?

shredded papers

In addition to following safe online security practices, be sure to make security a priority at home. The more paper records you keep, the greater the need for a secure method to store and discard them. The following tips can help protect you against financial identity fraud:

  • Manage and monitor your accounts online.
  • Keep confidential paper records in a secured location.
  • Collect your mail promptly. Shred unwanted credit card applications and insurance offers before discarding them. 
  • Sign up for automatic payroll deposits.
  • Perform a background check on all service providers who will have access to your home.
  • Keep passwords hidden (including at home) and change them frequently.
  • Arrange for hard drive destruction of any computer before discarding it.
  • Password protect your cell phone and other mobile devices. Your cell phone can be accessed to commit identity theft via the apps and other information it stores.
  • Use and regularly update firewalls and anti-virus software.
  • Review your credit report for accuracy a minimum of once per year.
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In North Texas, we’re no strangers to severe weather. Strong thunderstorms, straight-line winds, and tornadoes make fairly regular appearances here, and these storms can be scary. What can be even scarier? Trying to deal with your insurance company to get a claim for a new roof paid.

After a big storm in our area, insurance companies are bombarded with claims. Not all of these claims are legitimately needed and your claim may get inadvertently lumped in with questionable ones, making the process of getting approval take longer and be more complicated. How do you get your insurance company to pay for a roof replacement? Is there anything you can do to make the approval process go more smoothly? Yes, there is, but you’ll need to be armed with the right information and take specific steps.

What Information Do I Need?

You need to review your insurance policy carefully and understand what kind of coverage you have: repair coverage or replacement coverage.

 Replacement policies are common, but more expensive than repair coverage policies. Replacement coverage provides for returning the roof to new condition when an event that is covered by the insurance policy occurs.

  • Repair coverage generally factors in any depreciation of the roof and your settlement will be a percentage of the replacement cost based on what kind of roof you have and its age. If your roof is nearing the end of its expected lifespan, it could be as low as 15%.

Don’t have a copy of your policy handy? Request an emailed copy from your insurance agent. If you find the language of the policy confusing, talk to your agent. It’s their job to help you understand the coverage of your policy.

How Do I Prepare to File a Claim?

Do your homework and find an experienced, reputable roofing contractor.  Check online reviews and ask for references. You’re looking for a licensed contractor with a strong reputation and experience in dealing with insurance claims. Your roofer will be your partner in getting your roof repaired or replaced. They’ll also guide you in preventing further damage to your roof in the meantime. Severe storms can damage thousands of homes in an affected area, and it may take some time before your claim is processed and your repairs are made. Experienced roofing contractors will help you prevent further storm damage to your roof because they are aware that claims for secondary damage can often be denied if appropriate measures to protect the roof have not been taken.

The Claim Process

Most states require a homeowner to make a claim within 30-60 days. Failure to make a timely claim is justification for claim denial. Other reasons for claim denial can include:

  • The roof wasn’t installed properly by the roofer

  • The roofing material is faulty

  • The roof wasn’t maintained by the homeowner

  • The attic isn’t properly vented by the builder, so the shingles were cupped and susceptible to wind damage

  • The damage is only cosmetic and the roof is still functional

  • The roof is simply old

 

Your insurance company will send out its own adjuster. If the storm damage is widespread, “independent inspectors” are brought in to help process the large number of claims. Because these adjusters are employed by the insurance company, their objective is to find justification for claim denial.

This is where your partnership with a reputable, licensed roofer comes into play. Your roofer can provide documentation for that roofing materials on the undamaged part of the roof are correctly installed and not defective. Therefore, there are no problems with installation or the materials used. They can also often provide documentation that the roof was maintained appropriately, the attic is properly vented, that the damage is more than cosmetic, and that the roof was within its expected lifespan. If it you have to fight with your insurance company, or if you end up in litigation, the report of the inspector working for the insurance company will be compared with the documentation provided by your roofer contractor. 

Acceptance or Denial of Your Claim

When an insurer accepts a claim, it offers the homeowner a sum of money. Some insurance companies will offer a settlement that will not cover the full cost of professional installation of a new roof with materials of the same quality as your original roof.

 


Again, this is why it’s important to select a roofing contractor who will be your ally in this process. If the insurance company’s settlement won’t pay for a replacement roof of the same quality, a reputable roofer will contact your insurer and explain why a larger amount is needed to properly and fully replace your roof. While this response is not always successful, it often is, and you’ll be glad to have contracted with a roofer who would fight for you.

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The holidays are almost here. Do you have guests coming to stay with you this year? Much of Collin County's housing was built in the last twenty to thirty years, and the area's builders have largely stuck to a guest bath scenario that included a small room, a bathtub without a surrounding enclosure, and a small window. While practical for some homeowners, this setup is lacking for many others. How can you update your guest bathroom to feel larger and more inviting to your family and visiting friends? Here are some tips:

Ditch the Shower Curtain

There are several advantages to upgrading your guest bathroom shower enclosure. If there is only one window, you don’t want to block its light. Also, a shower curtain visually cuts off the space in the room and closes it in, making a small room feel even smaller. The transparency of glass enclosures doesn’t take up any visual space. The eye can travel the full length and width of the room and the bathroom feels much larger as a result.Another advantage of updating your bathroom with a glass shower surround is to showcase beautiful tile and fixtures. The appeal of attractive tile and elegant fixtures is all but lost if they are hidden behind a shower curtain. Glass enclosures and doors put your tile design and fixtures on display.

The seamless look of a floor-to-ceiling glass enclosure on your shower is stunning, or you can customize your enclosure to compliment whatever style you have in mind for the guest bath. However, it's important to ask questions and get references from any potential glass installer. "Cutting corners is unacceptable especially when it is a safety hazard," states Chrissy Hood of Liberty Glass and Mirror in Frisco. "Frameless shower enclosures must be measured accurately and professionally installed with the correct hardware. These are not just cosmetic issues - these can be safety hazards." Be sure to play it safe and choose a reputable company. 

Consider Converting

It’s worth considering whether you really require a bathtub in your guest bathroom. If you have multiple bathtubs in your home, another may not be necessary. You could choose to go with a larger shower or utilize some of the space for built-in towel storage. Converting to a shower only will give your bathroom more visual space and give your guests more physical space to change and get ready for their activities.

Cabinet Re-configuration

In many of the homes built in the last thirty years, the guest bathroom has a large vanity or cabinet under the sink (or sinks) as well as another directly over the toilet. These take up a lot of visual real estate, especially if they are a medium to dark color. While white cabinetry can help make the space feel more open, re-organizing your bathroom items and reconfiguring the cabinet arrangement might be a better solution for you.

Streamline Your Supplies

Over-the-showerhead or corner organizers take up shower space and make your shower look cluttered. Adding a recessed cubby in a tub or shower surround is much more visually appealing. If kids will be using this bathroom, you may want to consider adding another recess at a lower height for their use. If adding a cubby isn't an option, check The Container Store in Plano, across from Stonebriar Mall. With thousands of space-saving solutions, The Container Store may have a budget-friendly option that can give you all the extra shower room you need.

Although guest bathrooms are smaller than most master bathrooms, renovating them involves the same kind of changes: plumbing, fixtures, tile work, etc. so renovation costs are still a significant expense. You want to be sure to get the most bang for your buck. Some smart planning will help you transform your guest bathroom from a dark, constrained space to an open and welcoming oasis for family and friends this holiday season.

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The Gents Place

Picking out a gift for any man in your life could be considered “extreme shopping.” Like extreme sports, shopping for men involves a high degree of risk. You can play it safe by getting your husband, boyfriend, father, brother, or friend another shirt or cologne set, but finding a gift they will truly love? It’s not unlike rock or mountain climbing. Or possibly searching for the Holy Grail.

Men tend to approach purchasing anything in a very goal-oriented way:

“I’m cold.”

[walks into store, buys jacket]

“I’m not cold anymore.”

Because of this direct way of thinking, finding a desirable item that your guy hasn’t already purchased for himself can be a challenge. Walking through store after store, or spending hours clicking and scrolling online, looking at the endless gadgets, tools, and hobby equipment available, can leave you with a sense of overwhelming futility. How many times have you just purchased something in desperation and hoped for the best, knowing he could return it?

We can help! The following is a list of unique gift ideas that your man likely won’t have thought of for himself and are definitely a cut above another gift set of slippers!

The Gents Place

The Gents Place is an ultra-premium and membership-based men's grooming and lifestyle club based out of Frisco, Texas, in 2008. The combination barbershop, spa, and salon offers services including haircuts, coloring, shaves, hand and foot repairs (a.k.a. men’s manicures and pedicures), and shoe shine services. The franchise now operates thirteen locations in Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, and Texas.

“So?” you may be thinking. “There are tons of barber shops that offer similar services. What’s so special about The Gents Place?” We’ll tell you: it’s the company’s vision and level of service. The Gents Place brand vision is to empower gentlemen with the confidence needed to achieve their goals. With a culture of servant leadership and dedication to delivering world-class service to their guests, The Gents Place team helps men look and feel their best, empowering them to perform at their best.

The man for whom you’re buying may not seem like the “fancy haircut” type. And that’s just as well, because this company is not simply offering grooming services. The Gents Place is providing a first-class experience. By delivering premium grooming services in an atmosphere of like-minded men, complimentary top-shelf beverages, and curated advice, The Gents Place experience is unlike any other. In essence, your gift is an exceptional experience designed to imbue confidence, polish, and relaxation.

How many gifts can you say that about?

The Gents Place Frisco location can be found at 6975 Lebanon Rd #303, Frisco, TX 75034 or online at www.thegentsplace.com.

J. Hilburn Custom Clothing

How about giving the gift of custom fit? J. Hilburn provides a man with custom-made clothing that fits not only his body, but his personality and lifestyle. Their clothing fabrics are sourced from some of the most prestigious mills in Italy, including: Vitale Barberis, Tessitura Monti, Guabello, Cotonificio Albini, Loro Piana, and Reda. A gift card from J. Hilburn is redeemable with a personal stylist, online, or at J. Hilburn locations.

How does it work? A personal stylist will meet with your recipient at his convenience (at no charge and with no obligation) to take his measurements and guide him through the entire customization process.  His J. Hilburn stylist will handle everything, including any exchanges and returns. Expertly trained and equipped to handle any inquiries or concerns, his stylist will help create clothing that is fit and styled uniquely for your man. This process ensures that the company understands exactly what he wants, not just what his measurements are. The result is clothing items that are more than made-to-fit — they’re made to last.

Great personal style begins with great-fitting clothes. A lot of men are interested in dressing better, but don’t have the time needed to take their wardrobes up a level. If the man you’re buying for is interested in dressing with style, or simply needs high-quality staples that will last for years, J. Hilburn is a first-class option. The Dallas area studio location is 5350 W. Lovers Lane, Suite 122, Dallas, TX 75209 or you can locate a local stylist online by visiting www.jhilburn.com/partnerlocator.

Garages of Texas

Is someone you love a motor enthusiast? If so, this gift is a showstopper. At Garages of Texas, you don’t rent space for your show car(s). You buy it. When you buy a garage suite, you receive a deed, title insurance, and all the privileges of commercial real estate ownership: your space builds equity and you have financial control.

If you’re pressed for space in the family garage, this gift solves the problem. You would like to be able to park in the garage again and he can stop storing his baby under the boxes of Christmas lights. Or maybe you’d both like to stop wasting money renting storage that comes with restrictions for use. Garages of Texas offers 24-hour access so you can come and go as you please.

Garages of Texas offers the additional perk of being part of a motor enthusiast community. Your recipient can enjoy a place designed specifically for car lovers and be surrounded by others who share his interests. Each space is plumbed, heated, and wired for phone, cable and Internet. You can install lifts, build a loft, or deck out your walls with memorabilia and a huge TV. It’s an optimal platform to build the ultimate man-cave and the perfect get-away close to home. And what car lover wouldn’t love that? The Garages of Texas Frisco location is 6644 All Stars Ave, Frisco, TX 75033 or you can visit them online at www.garagesoftexas.com.

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Fall has finally arrived in North Texas and everyone is enjoying the cooler weather. As they said on “Game of Thrones,” however: “Winter is coming.” For those of us in the DFW area, this can mean colder (occasionally freezing) temperatures, cold winds, and every now and then - even a snow storm. Is your pool equipped to handle the season? If you don’t plan to use your pool during the winter, a pool cover is essential. Which cover is right for you?

Winter Covers

Winter covers are a great way to keep your pool clean and balanced during the winter months while your pool is not in use. They protect your pool from the accumulation of dirt and debris. They also conserve your winter chemicals and reduce sunlight, a contributing factor in algae growth. Winter covers protect your pool from poor water balance that could cause staining or damage pool surfaces. Pool covers come in various shapes and sizes, with warranties ranging from 8 to 20 years.

Safety Covers

Safety covers provide security while reducing pool maintenance needs during the winter. They're tightly secured by anchors that have been mounted to the pavement or decking surrounding your pool, preventing accidental entrance. Mesh covers allow water to pass through, preventing water buildup on the cover. Solid pool covers protect your pool from contaminants and sunlight, which reduces bacteria and algae growth, resulting in less maintenance and a reduced need for pool chemicals. Pool safety cover warranties range from 8 to 30 years.

If your pool is heated or our North Texas winter turns out to be an extremely mild one, you may be able to use your pool throughout the winter months. If you decide to keep your pool open, you will need to maintain your pool throughout the season. This includes balancing your water, cleaning your filter, and maintaining your pool equipment.

Solar Covers

A solar cover can raise the temperature of your inground or above ground pool, reduce your energy costs, minimize water loss, and sometimes decrease pool chemical needs. Solar covers are not intended for use as the main source of heat for a pool. They help maintain heat that is provided by an external pool heater. Because evaporation is the main cause of heat loss in a pool, a solar cover provides a barrier between the water and the air. All solar pool covers are made from a strong UV resistant material and are backed by a warranty ranging from 3 - 7 years.

Solar Sun Rings

Although not technically a pool cover, solar sun rings insulate and prevent the evaporation of water in your pool and help prevent the loss of pool chemicals. Solar sun rings are made of heavy-duty, UV resistant vinyl that bind together with magnets. The rings absorb UV rays from the sun and convert it to heat helping to raise the temperature of a chlorine or salt water pool. These rings function in a similar fashion to a solar blanket, and can be used in pools of all shapes and sizes.