HR: Interviews #2: PABull

Blog entry by MsDebbieP posted 10-04-2010 11:36 AM 24444 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Todd Thomas Part 2 of HR: Interviews series Part 3: TenonTim »

_This interview is from the October 2010 issue of our CreativeHands Network Newsletter

This month i had the pleasure of interviewing PABull. What an honour – and I have to say that I had to get the tissues out. It is always powerful to read people’s life stories!

1. How did you first get interested in refurbishing rooms/ homes?
As a kid I tinkered with wood and as I got older I wanted to become an architect.

2. Tell us a bit of history of your journey from that beginning to where you are today
I was not the student to do the schooling for architect. I did go to trade school and became an architectural draftsman. This was all back in my home country; the Netherlands. But in 1980 I was drafted in the Dutch army and became sergeant in the Royal Engineers. 16 months later when I came out. The country was in a major recession.

I wrote 75 letters to ads for draftsmen, I got one interview and I was one in one hundred trying to get the job. So I started traveling. Greece, Turkey, Portugal, on the plane to New York (but my camera got stolen, so I was ready to move on real quick); I took a drive-away-car to New York in a Honda Civic from one of the actors of “Cheech and Chongs”; we (my friend and I) stayed on Sunset Blvd for a week or so and then moved to Visalia, where we went to work on my uncles 1400 milk-cow dairy.

After a year I moved to San Marcos (closer to San Diego) where I worked for my uncle’s brother trying to save money at $6/hr. But my visa ran out and I became a “wet-back” and could no longer work for these people. So I started my own cabinet shop. In 6 years it went from a garage operation to a 6000 sq ft shop with 16 employees making cabinet doors for the cabinet makers around. But in a major down turn in 1990 we had to sell all the equipment and liquidate the business.

By this time I was married, and became a citizen of the US. I started working for my father-in-law in a greenhouse operation, growing house plants, www.twinoaksgrowers.com. In 2001, we bought the place (3 acres of greenhouses and 17 acres of property with a mobile home ready to fall apart without permit). In the mean while our family grew, we adopted some, and with a family of 16 (including our us as parents) the mobile home was getting too small.

I added and added to the MH. But the main structure was so bad that I was afraid one day I would sit on the pot and it would drop about 3 feet (it never come to this). So I drew the plans and put on my nail apron, hired a crew, and built our new home on this same property. I built most of the cabinets myself, finished the floors myself, etc. It took its toll on the business. We moved into the house in November 2008.
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3. What are the inspirations that you use regarding refurbishing homes?
I love building and woodworking, my wife has the vision for the details, but the real drive is “necessity”, with a larger family.

4. What are the greatest challenges that you have met along the way? (and how did you overcome them)
I always tried to keep the mess to one room. Don’t take more apart than you can fix, it’s not fair to the rest of the family.

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5. What is the greatest reward that you have received from refurbishing homes? (personal or tangible)
The biggest reward is a one liner I get from my wife on a regular basis:” it is so sexy to have a handyman as husband”.


6. What is your favourite tool that you use for refurbishing homes?
My favorite tool is my 9 1/2 “Stanley block plane (see forum discussion)”: http://lumberjocks.com/topics/4409, I bought on a garage sale for $2.

7. What is your favourite creation in refurbishing homes?
My favorite creation is the little master bathroom vanity.
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8. What tips would you give to someone just starting out or currently struggling with refurbishing homes?
I think that the trade of HR for men is like knowing how to cook for a woman. (Don’t take me wrong, I realize this could be reversed too! And this could be very sexy too)

9. How did you find HomeRefurbers and what is it that keeps you coming back?
I have not been enough on HR, but it is nice to show off your work to your peers and get a compliment and, if you are looking for a solution or to ask others how they would solve it. And along the way helping others become better craftsmen.

A Project At LumberJocks.com
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A Project At GardenTenders.com
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-- ~ Debbie, Ontario Canada

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6 comments so far

View Todd Thomas's profile

Todd Thomas

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posted 10-04-2010 12:11 PM

Wow…great interview…thanks for taking the time to share….......ok 14000 cows? where they all milk cows I use to milks cows for some friends from time to time back in MN, I wasn’t very good at it, twice a day…...that would be allot of milking with 1400 ;-) and 16 in a MH how did you ever get to use the bathroom, LOL…

Well Done

Thanks again

-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN

View dustygirl's profile


321 posts in 5330 days

posted 10-04-2010 04:00 PM

Loved the interview PaBull.You’ve had a very interesting journey to get where you are today.I just love the new home you built and all the extra care you took on doing the inside too.Well done.

-- Dustygirl Hastings,Ont. Life is too short to sit around doing nothing

View PaBull's profile


694 posts in 5489 days

posted 10-04-2010 04:45 PM

Thanks Debbie, nice job!

Yes Todd, 1400 (not 14000) is a lot of cows. And yes the were all milked 2x a day. Just like the 14 kids all needed to be fed 3x a day. And the Mobile home had only one central bathroom, so pull your number if you want your turn.

Thanks DustyGirl, it is a great journey, with God at the helm.

View LeeJ's profile


48 posts in 5542 days

posted 10-04-2010 07:22 PM

Wow, I got tired just from reading this!

14 kids? Oh man, you must be a saint!


-- http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

121 posts in 5551 days

posted 10-05-2010 02:28 PM

Thank you for the brief, but amazing history of your life’s experiences.

I especially love the home you built.

-- ** Dick, & Barb Cain *************** http://lumberjocks.com/jocks/Chipncut

View PaBull's profile


694 posts in 5489 days

posted 10-05-2010 07:39 PM

Lee, no, i am not a saint, just have a saint for a wife.

Dick, the Lord has been good to us. The house is a big improvement from the mobile home we lived in before.

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