Business & Economy
Federal Jury Convicts Former President of Iowa Association of Mortgage Brokers of 18 Mortgage Fraud Charges PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kevin VanderSchel   
Friday, 16 November 2012 10:10
Paul Kramer Placed Innocent Homeowners, Including an Iraqi Refugee, at Risk of Foreclosure by Failing to Pay Off Prior Mortgages When the Homeowners Bought or Refinanced Their Properties Through His Brokerage and Closing Companies.

DES MOINES, IA – Paul Kramer, age 42, of Granger, Iowa, was found guilty today by a federal jury of 18 counts of wire fraud and bank fraud in connection with multi-million dollar mortgage fraud schemes that resulted in innocent homeowners, including a refugee from Iraq and his family, nearly losing their homes to foreclosure. Kramer is the former President of the Iowa Association of Mortgage Brokers and owned a mortgage brokerage, Kramer Mortgage Company, and closing company, Iowa Closing & Escrow, at the time of the fraud. The jury did not acquit Kramer on any counts.

The same jury convicted Lane Anderson, age 38, of Altoona, Iowa, of two counts of conspiring with Kramer to commit bank and wire fraud. The wire fraud conspiracy involved Kramer and Anderson working together to obtain nearly $1.5 million in mortgage loans using the name and credit score of a contractor who did not actually qualify for the loans and who, in fact, had earned only about $2,000 per month the year prior to the loans. Anderson was not acquitted on any counts.

Trial evidence established that Anderson opened a development company in 2006 that planned to purchase, renovate, and re-sell homes. Kramer provided short-term loans to Anderson’s company to purchase the homes and pay for the renovation work. However, by late 2006, Anderson’s company was unable to find buyers for the homes and thus unable to repay the loans from Kramer. Anderson and Kramer therefore had one of Anderson’s business partners, a contractor, take out 13 long-term mortgage loans in his name from 8 different lenders totaling nearly $1.5 million. The loan applications for the 13 homes contained false statements regarding the contractor’s income, assets, liabilities, source of down payment, source of income, and other matters. Anderson and Kramer obtained the loans in rapid succession and used many different lenders so that no single lender would be aware of all the other loans being taken out at the same time. Kramer then had his closing company close the loans despite false notarizations and false closing documents.

Trial evidence further established that in April 2007 Anderson and Kramer began a check-kiting conspiracy in which they would trade checks of up to $75,000 from accounts that had less than $10,000 in real funds. One of the accounts had only $20.17 in it at the time a $75,000 check was written. However, by circling checks among numerous different accounts, Anderson and Kramer were able to falsely inflate the balances of the accounts, thus allowing checks from Kramer to third-parties to clear. In May 2007, a West Bank security officer noticed the check activity and closed Anderson’s account.

Following the closing of Anderson’s bank account, Kramer began to take funds from the Trust Account of the closing company he owned, Iowa Closing & Escrow, to use for business expenses of his mortgage brokerage, Kramer Mortgage Company. The funds in the Trust Account belonged to lenders and homeowners and should have been used to pay off mortgages in connection with real estate transactions. However, on numerous occasions from 2007 to 2009, Kramer transferred money to his brokerage from the Trust Account, sometimes in amounts of more than $250,000 in a single month.

At first, Kramer repaid the amounts he took out of the Trust Account relatively quickly.

Over time, however, the repayments became less frequent and thus a large deficit developed in the Trust Account. This put unwitting homeowners who used Kramer’s closing company at risk of having old mortgages on their properties not paid off.

Kramer tried to fill the deficit in the Trust Account with mortgage payoff money he was supposed to give to US Bank in connection with a line of credit. Those actions created a new set of problems, however, as the mortgage payoffs related to homes on which US Bank held liens.

By putting money into the Trust Account instead of paying off US Bank, Kramer put the families who owned those homes at risk of foreclosure from US Bank.

Kramer’s scheme culminated in September 2009 when Mohamed Rheem used Kramer’s closing company for the closing of his purchase of a home in West Des Moines. Rheem and his family lived in Baghdad, Iraq, until 2008 but left the country because of violence and threats from insurgents who were angry that Rheem had assisted the United States Army. The family arrived in Iowa in March 2008 as refugees, and Rheem quickly found employment with a dry cleaning company. Over the next year-and-a-half, he saved enough money to make a down payment on the purchase of the home – the first and only house he has ever purchased in the United States.

Kramer’s closing company was used to close Rheem’s purchase of the house. Due to the shortfall in the Trust Account, however, Kramer used the proceeds of Rheem’s new mortgage loan to pay off other mortgages that should have been paid off earlier in connection with other closings. The old mortgage on Rheem’s home was ultimately never paid off, resulting in Rheem spending approximately two years in foreclosure proceedings.

Kramer paid himself large sums of money from his brokerage throughout the year 2009,  including a $50,000 payment to himself the day before the Rheem closing. In total, Kramer misapplied millions of dollars in mortgage payoffs over the course of the scheme and his actions resulted in at least five families not having clean title to their homes.

Kramer and Anderson will be sentenced in March 2013. Each count of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $1 million. In addition, Kramer and Anderson will have to make restitution to the victims of their crimes.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

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Discount Grocer ALDI to Open New Silvis Store PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by ALDI Inc.   
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 14:03

Select Assortment Discount Grocer ALDI Opens New Silvis Store November 16

Grocer Keeps it Simple – Shoppers Save Big

Silvis, Ill. – Nov. 16, 2012 – Beginning Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, ALDI will offer grocery shoppers a smarter alternative as the select assortment discount grocer opens its newest Quad Cities-area store, located at 1210 18th Street in Silvis, Ill. The opening marks the addition of the Quad Cities’ 5th location, allowing more shoppers to discover the store’s premium ALDI exclusive brands and high-quality grocery items at unbeatable prices.

“As ALDI continues to grow in the Quad Cities area, we are pleased to open this new location to help more customers stretch their dollars even further,” said Heather Moore, Dwight division vice president for ALDI. “As important as price is, there’s only one way to attract and keep shoppers: You have to have quality products. When people try our ALDI exclusive brands, they are surprised by the savings and impressed by the quality.”

To celebrate the opening of the new Silvis store, ALDI will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 16, to which the public is invited to attend to sample ALDI exclusive brand products, tour the store and shop for their favorite grocery items. Additionally, guests can enter an on-site sweepstakes for a chance to be one of five winners of a Thanksgiving prize pack, including ALDI gift certificates.

ALDI challenges customers to switch from national brands to its exclusive brands and save up to 50 percent* on more than 1,400 items the store carries. To ensure its exclusive brands meet or exceed the national brands on taste and quality, ALDI conducts rigorous testing on all products. ALDI stands behind this quality with a Double Guarantee: If for any reason a customer is not 100 percent satisfied with a food product, ALDI will gladly replace the product and refund the customer’s money.

A model of efficiency, ALDI eliminates overhead costs by offering smart practices, such as a cart rental system through which shoppers insert a quarter to release a cart and receive the quarter back upon the cart’s return. Other cost-saving practices include a smaller store footprint, open carton displays and encouragement of customers to bring their own shopping bags.

ALDI also saves shoppers money by keeping stores open during prime shopping times. The Silvis location will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. ALDI accepts cash, debit and EBT cards.

The Silvis location showcases the “new look” of ALDI. With higher ceilings, improved natural lighting and environmentally friendly building materials – such as recycled materials and energy-saving refrigeration and light bulbs – the store will offer customers a simple and easy-to-navigate shopping experience.

A grocery retailer that has grown without merger or acquisition, ALDI opened 75 stores in the United States in 2011 and plans to open more than 80 stores in 2012. ALDI has more than 1,200 U.S. stores located in 32 states.

About ALDI Inc.

A leader in the grocery retailing industry, ALDI operates more than 1,200 US stores in 32 states, primarily from Kansas to the East Coast. More than 20 million customers each month save up to 50 percent* on their grocery bills, benefiting from the ALDI simple and streamlined approach to retailing. ALDI sells more than 1,400 of the most frequently purchased grocery and household items, primarily under its exclusive brands, which must meet or exceed the national name brands on taste and quality. ALDI is so confident in the quality of its products, the company offers a Double Guarantee: If for any reason a customer is not 100 percent satisfied with any ALDI food product, ALDI will gladly replace the product and refund the purchase price. For more information about ALDI, visit www.aldi.us.

 
Nov. 24th, 2012 - Corn Crib Marks Small Business Saturday With Holiday Open House PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Glenn Kass   
Tuesday, 13 November 2012 16:09

Locally-owned garden center’s annual event coincides with “Small Business Saturday”

Coal Valley, IL – Corn Crib Nursery, celebrating its 40th anniversary as a locally-owned, third generation family-owned garden center, welcomes area families to its annual holiday open house on Saturday, November 24th from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at 6924 Route 150, Coal Valley, IL, just two miles from Quad City International Airport.

The event coincides with the national movement “Small Business Saturday.” The full service garden center will have numerous opportunities for families to make new holiday memories while also thinking local.

For 30 years, a highlight of products available from the Corn Crib is its selection of in-house handmade wreaths. This year, the open house event will feature a children’s wreath-making area for families to add an original touch to their holiday décor. Santa will be there too!

Add to that a selection of Fraser Fir trees as well as a wide selection of fresh greens and plants with expert staff available for personal service. It’s all there at Corn Crib to make the holidays easy.

The Corn Crib Nursery began in 1972 as a seasonal, open-air market and sod farm. In 1980, the business constructed its first permanent buildings and became a year-round, full service garden center including design services.

Locally owned during its 40-year history, it now welcomes a third generation from the White family to the staff. The nursery is open Monday through Saturday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday. For more information, visit www.corncribnursery.com or “like” us on Facebook – Search: Corn Crib Nursery.

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Entrepreneurship: The ONLY Way to Make Sure You’re Better Off Four Years from Now PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Dottie DeHart   
Tuesday, 13 November 2012 11:52
If you’re agonizing over what Obama’s reelection will mean for your economic future, Greg Downing says you’re focused on the wrong issue. Who lives in the White House is almost irrelevant. What does matter is whether you continue to cling to the obsolete college-job-401(k) paradigm…or shift to a whole new way of thinking about work and wealth.

Lecanto, FL (November 2012)—November 6 has come and gone, and there’s a lot of anxiety around what happens next. This is true of any election. Many people are wondering, What will Obama’s reelection mean for job creation, Social Security, healthcare, college tuition, and other hot-button issues? Given the shaky state of the economy, some angst is unavoidable. But Greg Downing says it’s absurd to think that whoever occupies the White House for the next four years will seal your fate and make or break your future. “They” can’t save you. Only you can save you.

“Never has the phrase ‘If it’s to be, it’s up to me’ been more appropriate,” asserts Downing, author of Entrepreneur Unleashed: Wealth to Stand the Test of Time (Legacy Unleashed Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-1-938047-06-0, $29.95, www.GregoryDowning.com) as well as an upcoming book on providing a financial legacy for kids. “The blunt truth is that no American can afford to wait on salvation from any politician—or, for that matter, any employer or any teacher in any traditional school.

“The old formula that allowed people to build a comfy middle-class life is gone,” he adds. “Instead of obsessing over what you can’t control—like who’s in the Oval Office, for instance—it’s time to focus on what you can control. It’s time to make an about-face and learn how to think about work and wealth in a whole new way.”

Downing is referring to entrepreneurship. He knows firsthand how dramatically it can transform your life. Once a car dealership manager working grueling 80-hour weeks, he is now a millionaire many times over who takes four months of vacation a year. He made his wealth as a real estate investment business owner and motivational speaker, and he says regardless of the field you choose, entrepreneurship is the only logical path to financial freedom in a global economy where half of all college grads are moving back home jobless and saddled with debt.

First, let’s be clear: The entrepreneurship he espouses is NOT the “open your own restaurant and bust your butt working there seven days a week” variety. Rather, it centers on generating multiple streams of income (earned, passive, and portfolio) so that the money you make is not directly connected to the time you spend. (“Time is more valuable than money” is one of Downing’s favorite mantras.)

“A single paycheck, even two paychecks added together, is no longer enough to allow a family to live comfortably and provide for the future,” he states. “If you’re lucky enough to get a good job—and that’s a big if—you might be able to scrape by, but you’ll work yourself into an early grave. And, of course, if the job goes away, the money stops. It’s no way to live—and it’s no way to teach your children to live.”

Anyone can make the leap to entrepreneurship, and, subsequently, financial freedom, insists Downing. Sure, you may have to learn new practical skills—but mostly it’s a matter of changing your mindset. Once you break free of what he calls “middle-class programming,” half the battle is won. Here are some of his insights on how to do it:

Commit to changing your life—and don’t break that commitment. Most of us do keep our word to others, or at least try to. And of course being trustworthy is critical to your success. (How else will we find investors and get return customers and referrals?) But what about the promises and pacts you make with yourself? Downing says most people are far more likely to break agreements with themselves than they are with others. Yet since becoming an entrepreneur requires a dramatic change in both mindset and habits, you won’t get far if you keep letting yourself off the hook.

“It’s easy to justify breaking an agreement with yourself because no one will ever know,” he points out. “Sometimes we even do it unconsciously. But make no mistake: Your private decision has consequences for both your future and your family’s future.

“Breaking any kind of commitment—even those that may seem insignificant—hurts us because our subconscious gets accustomed to our ‘crying wolf,’” he adds. “Then, when we want to make a big change in our lives, our subconscious simply doesn’t believe us. It will actually work against our success. So when you don’t do what you say you are going to do, you are actually giving yourself permission to falter, to quit, and to fail.”

Take action now. Don’t wait. I’d like to build my wealth. I want to start my own business. It would be great to be in firm control of my financial future. These are nice, positive thoughts, but when they’re not paired with action, they are nothing but daydreams. Only action—not plans, not goals, and not ambition—gets results. Every day that you don’t take a concrete step forward is another day of the status quo, another day of accepting a mediocre, hum-drum life.

Downing teaches his students to take action toward their dreams each and every day. Even if it’s an imperfect action—even if it’s later revealed to be an out-and-out mistake—it’s still better than letting fear keep you stuck in an unsatisfying life.

“Life rewards action,” he asserts. “And yet, most people just keep going through their daily motions, procrastinating, thinking their ideas to death, and never moving forward on them. Every morning, ask yourself, What action can I take today to move toward my dream of financial independence and self-reliance? Then do it, for your own sake and for the sake of your family. Otherwise, one day you’ll look back at your life and realize that while you had good intentions, you did not create results.”

Remove all unconscious, negative, and scarcity-based programming. Downing says the middle class has been “programmed” with belief systems that weren’t designed to help us attain wealth and that, indeed, barely work at all anymore. But because everyone around us is buying into the formula, we assume it’s the “right” way. We all have an inner “sheep” that is afraid to go against the herd, that fears it will be punished if it goes against cultural norms. And that’s a shame, because while we’re staring at the hindquarters of the sheep in front of us, we’re ignoring a huge world filled with riches for the taking.

“Today and every day, consciously evaluate and reconsider what works for you as you strive toward a life of wealth and abundance,” instructs Downing. “First, think critically about risk and reward, and determine how to effectively balance the two. This involves looking closely at your emotions, your willingness to take action, and your desire to move forward when an opportunity to build wealth arises.

“Often, you’ll find that fear, not a rational reason, is holding you back,” he adds. “Through this process of evaluation, you’ll gradually reprogram your beliefs about the fear of investing, the availability of money, and the lack-mentality that is so common in our society. And as you begin to experience greater rewards, you’ll confirm the beliefs and actions that create wealth.”

Assume 100 percent responsibility for the results in your life. It’s easy to blame disappointments and failures on everything other than ourselves. For instance: “I could be a lot wealthier if the economy hadn’t tanked.” Or, “How was I supposed to know that there would be a storm and I’d have to clean out my savings to replace my roof?” While it’s true that you can’t always foresee or control what happens in your life, you can choose how you respond to those circumstances.

“I get it—life has a way of kicking in the door and derailing your plans,” admits Downing. “There are bills to pay, problems to solve, and circumstances that need attention. You need to deal with these issues, but you cannot allow them to stop you. Every day, you must make time to move toward the life of your dreams, no matter how small that step is. If you aren’t taking steps to change your reality, you forfeit the right to complain about it.”

Invest in a financial education program. For decades, American schools have taught (and are still teaching) students that they’ll need to give the best years of their lives to employers so that they can retire on 40 percent of their working salary. (That’s assuming they can get a good job at all in today’s economy, of course.) It stands to reason that if you want more out of life, you’ll need to seek some non-traditional education that will help you cultivate the skills that will enable you to generate multiple streams of income.

What those skills are specifically, of course, depends on the field you want to play on. Most likely they’ll have to do with acquiring credit, using debt wisely, seeking (and persuading) investors, and marketing your products or services to buyers. Downing’s main point is that you shouldn’t be afraid to pay for the expertise you need.

“Building wealth takes work, dedication, commitment, and an increased level of knowledge,” confirms Downing. “Unless you win the lottery, there is no such thing as getting rich quickly, without any effort, and without spending any money. This doesn’t mean getting your MBA. It does mean investing in a real-world education from others who have succeeded in doing what you want to do.”

Remain coachable. The annals of history are filled with the tragic downfalls of leaders who got “too big for their britches,” refused to consider the advice and expertise of others, and ran their organizations and empires into the ground. Entrepreneurs, by nature, are go-against-the-grain types. It’s easy for them to assume they know best and disregard good advice from those who’ve been there. Don’t fall into this trap. Not only should you carefully consider advice, you should actively seek it out.

“The greatest athletes in the world have coaches, and the president of the United States has advisors,” points out Downing. “Why would you or I be any different? Other people have done what you want to do and know things you probably haven’t even considered. If you seek those individuals out and actively learn from them, you’ll minimize mistakes while growing your business as effectively as possible.

“Keep in mind, though, that a true mentor won’t just tell you what you want to hear—he or she will tell you what you need to hear,” he adds. “Sometimes it’ll be uncomfortable, and you’ll be tempted to disregard the advice. Don’t. Leave your pride at the door and always remain open to learning new ways to approach business problems.”

Stop doing minimum wage activities. Our culture puts hard work on a pedestal. From sayings like “If you want the job done right, do it yourself” to the belief that the longer you stay at the office, the better employee you are, it’s clear that Americans think that spilling one’s blood, sweat, and tears is a noble calling. Not so, counters Downing. If you don’t separate yourself from the mundane and the nitty-gritty, you might just micromanage your business away from success.

“You must stop telling yourself to work harder, and learn to work smarter,” he says. “It’s crucial to understand that the work of an entrepreneur is the work of the mind: thinking, planning, creating, leading, and providing oversight. If you want to reach the highest level possible, you have to leave tasks that can be accomplished by others to those with the knowledge and skills to do them.”

Remember that time is more valuable than money. Chances are, you grew up being taught that the way to support yourself and to get ahead in life was to trade your time for money. In other words, if you spend 40 or more hours a week doing what your employer wants, you’ll be paid for 40 or more hours. But once those 40 hours are gone, they’re gone forever. You’ll never get back the time you could have spent playing with your kids or hiking in the woods or volunteering for your favorite charity.

Linking time and earning potential is middle-class thinking, asserts Downing. Of course, you probably can’t quit your job tomorrow. You will have to put in some long hours up-front. But eventually you’ll have systems set up that allow you to profit from time put in by others and to reinvest your earnings so that you can generate even more income.

“A true entrepreneur understands time is a precious commodity and must be used wisely and efficiently,” he explains. “You can and must devote your time to creating wealth, planning and building business systems, and leading your team. Once you have this foundation firmly in place, you’ll find you’re free of the obligation to work nine to five.”

Maintain a credit score of 760 or higher. Your credit score is the gate standing between you and the success you dream of. That’s because lenders use credit score ratings to control the amount of money in the marketplace. If they want to increase the flow, they lower qualifying scores. And if they want to decrease the flow, they raise those scores. As an entrepreneur, it’s crucial for you to be able to borrow money whenever you need it—regardless of what the market is doing.

“In 2011, the scoring for ‘A’ credit was raised to 730,” shares Downing. “Therefore, you should choose to have A+ credit with a score of 760 or higher. Not only will this score allow you to borrow money any time, it also means that you’ll qualify for lower interest rates. Overall, make it a priority to become a master at understanding, evaluating, and controlling your credit score and credit availability so that you’ll never find the gate to the resources you need closed and locked.”

Stop viewing debt as negative. We’ve all heard the horror stories: families so sunk in consumer debt they were forced to declare bankruptcy and individuals whose educational debt haunted them for the rest of their lives. In part because of these cautionary tales, we’ve been programmed to believe the only route to financial freedom is becoming debt-free. Downing says it’s time to reprogram that belief.

“It’s not that debt itself is bad—it’s that the way the average American uses it is destructive,” he clarifies. “From this day forward, commit to using debt to invest and build your wealth. Yes, debt can be financial quicksand. But used wisely, it can also give you leverage and make you rich.”

Seek to fulfill the unmet needs of others. You may love French pastries and open up a bakery, but if no one in your area craves croissants, your shop will flop. Yes, it’s a simplistic example, but the principle behind it holds true: If your business doesn’t address and fulfill an unmet need, it’s not going to be successful. Period. And in today’s highly competitive world with a business on every corner, it’s critical to identify what others aren’t doing (or aren’t willing to do!) so that you can compete and win customers.

“Unmet needs aren’t always readily apparent or visible,” points out Downing. “To identify them, you need to ask yourself questions like, What problems are keeping my potential customers awake at night? What do they want that they aren’t getting? What would make their lives easier? When you have some answers, work on creating a unique approach to delivering that product or service.”

Become a master at creating systems and processes. This is all about building a business that runs—and can continue to run—effectively and efficiently. Why? Because you don’t want to have to spend your oh-so-valuable time reinventing the wheel and micromanaging others.

“Becoming a master at creating duplicable systems and processes means that you’ll need to understand the steps that lead to success, clearly define them, write them down, and explain them to your team,” says Downing. “But once you’ve done all this work up-front, you’ll no longer have to run your day-to-day operations. You’ll be free!”

Build the right relationships with the right power team members. If you’re truly working toward creating wealth, you’re not going to be building one small business that you personally operate and run. Instead, you’ll be creating multiple, duplicable small businesses that are constantly creating new streams of income for you. You’ll need to be able to hand off tasks and duties to others. And that means you’ll need a strong team of the right people doing the hard work for you.

“Your power team is the power behind your skill as an entrepreneur,” explains Downing. “That’s why it’s critical to evaluate these people personally and make sure they’re right for the job.

“This is also why it’s so important to be respectful and helpful to everyone you meet,” he adds. “You never know when you’ll be making a connection that can benefit you next week, or next month, or next year. They may become power team members and they may also refer customers your way.”

Make it a family affair. As you’re transforming yourself into an entrepreneur, be sure to instill the same mindset and skills in your kids. This is actually not as hard as you might think. Not only can you narrate what it means to own a business—talking through issues like finding opportunity, understanding revenue and profits, differentiating yourself from competitors, and so forth—your kids can also learn from the best teacher: experience.

“I always advise parents to help their children take typical ‘kid jobs’ to the next level,” explains Downing. “Instead of just being a babysitter or a tutor, for example, kids might start a franchise where they hire out jobs to a database of subcontractors. Or they might invest in some gumball machines. The idea is to let them cut their teeth on critical business principles and see firsthand how they can make money that isn’t directly connected to their time.

“Teaching your kids to think about wealth-building in this way is the greatest gift you can give them,” he notes. “I believe entrepreneurship is the best way to live. But even if your kids grow up to work for someone else or enter a profession, employers will expect them to work and think like entrepreneurs. It’s just the way the world is headed.”

Downing acknowledges that some of these tips may seem deceptively simple. But it’s their very simplicity that gives them their power.

“Life is really just a series of choices,” he says. “We decide whether to watch TV after work or spend an hour on our action plan, whether to take the class or not take the class, whether to hold the cards or place the bet. Most people take the path of least resistance and go with the herd. Those who don’t are the ones who will create rich, full lives that are truly worth living.”

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About the Author:
Gregory S. Downing has dedicated his life to teaching his students that every family can truly control its financial future and create a generational legacy with profound, yet straightforward advice and guidance. As a nationally and highly respected author, speaker, family expert, and organizational consultant, his advice has been sought and put into practice by thousands of people from all walks of life. With over 20 years of experience in management, leadership, training, and business ownership, he has proven that his principles of legacy parenting, business promotion, entrepreneurship, and real estate investing both work and create bonds of relationship that go beyond the ordinary.

Prior to his writing and public speaking career, he served for 12 years as the general manager of four Chevrolet and Dodge Chrysler dealerships, managing over 130 employees and increasing production and sales without sacrificing quality and customer service while there. It was during his tenure in this position that he became increasingly aware that his gifts and talents were in motivating and leading others to achieve their goals and dreams. He made the transition to motivational and investment training so he could touch more lives and influence others to build wealth and prosperity for themselves and for their families.

To learn more, please visit www.GregoryDowning.com.

 
Building a Greener Future for the Quad-Cities PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Mark McLaughlin   
Tuesday, 13 November 2012 11:08

IA/IL QUAD-CITIES – Bush Construction of Davenport, IA, has begun work on the new MetroLINK Transit Maintenance Facility, a $33 million project in Rock Island, IL. The structure will be a green building, and A.J. Loss, President of Bush Construction, believes this project may inspire and encourage other area businesses to choose sustainable construction as an option for their future projects.

“Green buildings save money in heating, air-conditioning, electricity and water usage costs. They can offer incredible benefits for a building’s efficiency and for the environment,” said Loss. “They are also more comfortable and healthier for the people who use them.”
The new MetroLINK Transit Maintenance Facility is planned to be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certified Building. The 150,000-square-foot, one-story MetroLINK Transit Maintenance Facility will be located at 4501 4th Ave., Rock Island, Illinois, in Columbia Park, where a former Farmall plant used to stand.
Quad Cities MetroLINK is the primary public transportation system of the Illinois Quad-Cities, and has been a sustainable leader in the community for more than a decade, through the active use of clean technologies and infrastructure.
“We are happy to be working with Bush Construction on this project, since they have considerable expertise in sustainable construction,” said Jennifer Garrity, MetroLINK’s Manager of Administration. “Like MetroLINK, Bush Construction is dedicated to a greener future.” The new facility will be completed in early 2014.
According to Loss, the structure will incorporate cutting-edge green building elements, so that it saves energy and functions in harmony with the environment. “We have seven LEED Accredited Professionals on-staff, including myself,” he added, “and the rest of our staff is knowledgeable about sustainable construction. In addition to the green expertise that will go into the MetroLINK project, we will also incorporate an advanced safety regimen.”
MetroLINK’s current maintenance facility, built in 1983, is located near the new site at 2929 5th Ave., Rock Island. While the current facility can hold up to 57 buses, the new building will more than double that number, with a top capacity of 120 vehicles. The new building will feature a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station, since 70% of the MetroLINK fleet runs on natural gas. This will allow MetroLINK to maintain its fleet in one location while still allowing for growth well into the future.

According to Tom Quinn, Bush Construction’s Project Manager for the MetroLINK facility, their contract covers everything in the construction process except the building concrete, the structural steel, and the compressed natural-gas system. “Those will be covered by other contracts,” Quinn said.
Bush Construction will serve as the prime contractor for the general construction bid package, while the Weitz Company, Des Moines, Iowa, will act as the construction manager.
“Outstanding Green Features”

“The new building will include many outstanding green features,” said Quinn. “LEED Silver is the minimum rating for this project – we’re not accepting anything less.”
Throughout the project, Quinn noted, Bush Construction will recycle at least 75 percent of the construction waste. “Wood will go in one dumpster, cardboard in another, and on down the line with everything that can be reclaimed,” he said. “It means some additional work, but that’s to be expected. Green building isn’t the easiest route, but it’s well worth the effort.”
Quinn noted that the facility will include a bio-swale – a place for the storage of diverted storm water, so that it can be reabsorbed into the surrounding environment, as opposed to allowing it to gush into the sewer system. “Big rain-storms can overtax a city’s sewer system, and the bio-swale will make sure that the new MetroLINK facility won’t add to that concern,” he said. “Also, solar energy will be used to heat water for the facility’s bus-wash system.”
Other green elements of the structure will include:
  • Photovoltaic solar array – a linked collection of solar panels (funded by a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation)
  • Variable refrigerant flow system
  • White thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofing
  • High-efficiency window glazing
  • Lighting control strategies
No Fear of OSHA Here
“With this project, we expect to establish a partnership with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as we did with our recent St. Ambrose University residence project,” Quinn said. “Bush Construction will work closely with an OSHA representative who will make safety suggestions throughout the run of the project.”
Quinn observed that many construction companies might be hesitant to work this closely with OSHA. “Some firms might be afraid of what OSHA will find on their jobsites,” he said. “We see it as an opportunity to continue learning from their highly trained, experienced safety staff.”
In addition to Loss and Quinn, other members of the Bush Construction team who will serve on the MetroLINK project are Brian Olson, Construction Superintendent; Marlayna Millizer, Project Engineer; and Stacey Rensberger and Amy Simler, Project Coordinators.
“We look forward to collaborating with the staff members at MetroLINK on this project,” said Loss. “They are consummate professionals and together, we will create a facility that will benefit the Quad-Cities for decades.”
Recently, MetroLINK was named as the 2012 Outstanding Public Transportation System for all agencies in North America carrying between 1 million and 4 million passengers annually. MetroLINK carried 3.5 million trips in fiscal year 2011.

For more information on Bush Construction, call (563) 344-3791 or visit BushConstruct.com. To find out more about MetroLINK, call (309) 788-3360 or visit GoGreenMetro.com.

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