Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Start a Healthy Lifestyle!

January 28, 2011

Some people have trouble getting started on working out or eating right.  It is hard to break old habits, such as eating midnight snacks or sitting around watching television.  Keep in mind that you have control of the choices you make about your health.  For example, exercise is a great way to relieve stress and take some time for you to clear your mind.  There are many ways to begin a work out and eat healthy.  If you have trouble getting up to take a quick walk or have trouble picking out the right foods to eat, here are a few tips for you.  All you need is a little motivation.

Making changes in your life for the better does not mean making abrupt changes.  You can make little changes in your daily routine that, over time, add up to a healthier lifestyle.It’s very easy to be lazy after a long day at work or school.  Instead of turning on the TV, try taking a nice walk with a neighbor or family member.  If you take someone else with you, the walk will seem to go by smoother, especially when engaged in a pleasant conversation.  Also, when you get ready in the mornings, you can squeeze in a few jumping jacks and sit-ups to get your energy flowing before you leave the house.  Add more vegetables to your meals so that you can eat healthier.  Be sure to cook them right so all the nutrients don’t go away.  When you start to crave a snack, try eating some fruits.  You can also add fruit to your cereal, salad and even dinner.  For added motivation, get your family to eat healthier and take walks with you, too.  It would be easier to lead a healthy lifestyle if your family did it together.

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Taylor P.

Through the Troposphere, Stratosphere, Thermosphere and into Outer Space!

January 27, 2011

When someone brings up the topic of aerospace, what usually comes to mind?  It is not a commonly discussed subject for most people.  It’s understandable because, over the years, aerospace has waxed and waned in popularity.  Aerospace was a frequent topic of discussion as I was growing up since my father, president of Spacetron Metal Bellows, was in the Aerospace Industry.  Hearing about the shuttle launches, new launch vehicle ideas, and satellite landings were not out of the ordinary for me.  I find aerospace very interesting but misunderstood in its importance.  Many people think that investing time or money in aerospace is unnecessary.  They don’t see the benefits that result from years of research and development that scientists and engineers have put into it.  The truth is, there are many short- and long-term benefits that result from learning about aerospace.  For example, the people who have been able to obtain jobs in this field have conducted experiments such as growing vegetation in space or testing different vaccines.  They also discovered a new outlook on travel.

The popularity of and support for aerospace has waxed and waned over the years due to the economy and administration in the White House.  The discoveries made by going into space won't end with the Space Shuttle's final flight.Space travel has expanded greatly over the years.  It started off as a simple dream to, one day, fly into the open sky.  Before long, we pushed our limits and sought to go as high as possible.  Finally, we went past the sky and entered into a whole new world: outer space.  We achieved spaceflight by breaking it down into different phases.  Starting with spaceports, engineers were able to test space vehicles and come to conclusions about how they would be launched.  With the space vehicles completed, launch pads were prepared next.  After everything was ready, it was time for lift-off.  The space vehicle launched into the air, achieving very high velocities, and broke through the atmosphere.  With the development of a fleet of Space Shuttles, we were fortunate enough to go into space quite frequently.  According to the Associated Press article by Seth Borenstein, the 135th and last shuttle flight will take place this year.  Although it may be the last time the Space Shuttle takes flight, it doesn’t mean that space flight ends here.  Advances in technology will allow us to travel to space faster and cheaper than before, as well as make new discoveries, so get ready.  You could be the next one visiting outer space!

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Joie Montoya

The Travels of Your Dreams

January 24, 2011

Traveling is something most of us like to do, wish to do, or need to do.  This year, why not let the Cheap Travel Deals book a trip to someplace that’s unique?  You could enjoy time somewhere like Hawaii, France, or China.  However, you won’t have as unique an experience as you would in someplace like these great islands, the Azores, Madagascar, or Greece, where you can see a new culture, taste new foods and have new experiences.  It would be like visiting another world.

If you haven't planned your next vacation yet, consider an exotic trip to the Azores, Madagascar, or Santorini, Greece.The Azores is a collection of nine volcanic islands in the middle of the Western coast of Portugal in the North Atlantic.  The locals there speak Portuguese.  The weather varies throughout each island, but they range from 70°-80°F during the summer.  They have a food and culture that is very unique.  Some traditional meals are Shrimp Filling and Coscorões.  Those two meals are popular during their festivals or holidays.  If you visit the Azores you will have a wonderful experience.  One of their traditions is Carnaval, which includes pageants, lively music, colorful costumes, hand-made masks, floats, and a parade to showcase them all.  Another traditional event is bullfighting, an annual event that takes place throughout the island from March to October.  However, you are certain to catch a bullfight everyday somewhere in Terceira between May 1st and September 30th.

If you haven't planned your next vacation yet, consider an exotic trip to the Azores, Madagascar, or Santorini, Greece.Madagascar is an island nation 225 miles off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean.  The scenery is beautiful on the island and the beaches are never crowded.  If you are a nature lover, this is your spot.  About ninety percent of its animal and plant life are found nowhere else in the world.  The best time to visit Madagascar would be from April to October because in the Southern Hemisphere, it is winter in those months.  The weather can be pretty hot during the summer, which is during the months of November to March.  There are some wide climate changes, such as the heat getting too overwhelming for the animal life during the summer.

If you haven't planned your next vacation yet, consider an exotic trip to the Azores, Madagascar, or Santorini, Greece.Santorini, Greece is one of the most beautiful of Greece’s 1,400 islands, but only 227 are inhabited.  It is the world’s only inhabited volcanic caldera.  Here, you can try some of the best seafood in the Mediterranean at Sphinx Restaurant on Perissa Beach.  The Sphinx offers diners a great view of the sun setting over the Aegean, while the diners enjoy Mediterranean cuisine and fine wines.  If you only visit one archaeological site, make sure it is Ancient Akrotiri, where workmen discovered the remains of an ancient town in the 1860s.  Near the end of the day, don’t forget to watch the sunset with all the locals in the small town of Oia.

There are so many places in the world that you can visit that are unique in their own way.  All of these islands are beautiful places to see and try new things.  When you are traveling, make sure you travel in the right month that is best for that location, get translation books, and be prepared for something new.  The Azores would be a fun get away for the whole family, Madagascar would be a great experience for more mature people, and Santorini, Greece could be that romantic getaway you’ve been looking for.  The Cheap Travel Deals can make it happen for you.

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Taylor P.

From Piggy Bank to Union Bank

January 20, 2011

Please retweetUncertainty drifts into peoples’ minds when they think about how to keep their money safe.  You may think that keeping your money hidden somewhere in your bedroom is the best solution, but keep in mind that piggy banks can be easily broken into.  On the other hand, Union Bank promises they can be trusted to keep your money secure.

Life lessons applied in real life. Blogger Joie describes the life lessons she learned about saving money as a child, then applying those lessons when she opens a bank account at Union Bank.Since I was little, I’ve been taught that saving money, although it is overlooked, is a very valuable skill.  Whether it was in a piggy bank or lock box, I always figured out a way to keep my money stored in a safe place.  As I got older, though, I knew it was time to start looking for more appropriate and secure ways to keep track of my money.  Opening a bank account may not seem like such a big deal to most but it is, in fact, an important step towards sound money management.  Personally, I never put much thought into opening a bank account, figuring that things would fall into place.  Now that I’m older and starting to make my way into the business world, though, I realize it is a necessary initiative. More and more adults are finding that teaching their kids to save money is an essential lesson to learn.  Millions of people have gone through some financial struggles during the recent downturn in our economy.  Now with the economy slowly improving they would like to make things better for their kids.

My dad taught me a technique that can help weather any economic fluctuation.  He told me that when I got my paycheck, I should divide it three ways: 10% to the church, 50% to the bank, and 40% to live on.  To this day, I’m grateful to him for teaching me that valuable lesson.  Once I opened my first bank account at Union Bank I was able to manage my money and achieve the financial goals I set for myself.  For those who have not been taught similar financial lessons, Union Bank offers counseling on the importance of saving your money.  If you are not able to put as much as 40% of your earnings into your savings, Union Bank’s new policy can help.  With your permission, they authorize a monthly $25 transfer from your checking account to your savings account.  Keep all this in mind when you consider opening a bank account at Union Bank or teach your kids the importance of money management.  It is never too late to start saving.  In the long run, you are only helping yourself.

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Joie Montoya

Home Affordable Modification Program

September 22, 2010

Please retweetAs a realtor for EXIT Realty in Santa Clarita, Chris Gabledon not only provides traditional real estate services such as helping people buy or sell a home but, in the down economy, helps troubled homeowners by processing short sales and loan modifications, as well.  In troubled times, it is best that you turn to professionals like Mr. Gabledon, who can help go over your options with you and objectively figure out the best course of action for you to take, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

Chris Gabledon, realtor for EXIT Realty SCV of Santa Clarita, CA, can help you navigate through the unfamiliar territory of applying for a home loan modification if you fall behind on your mortgage payments.What is the Home Affordable Modification Program?  The U.S. government program “provides eligible homeowners the opportunity to modify their mortgages to make them more affordable” with the goal of lowering the monthly mortgage payment to less than 31 percent of the household’s total income.  In other words, homeowners that can no longer afford to make monthly loan payments may qualify for a loan modification.  Enacted in February 2009, the program has since been modified earlier this year with expanded flexibility:

for mortgage servicers and originators to assist more unemployed homeowners and to help more people who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth because their local markets saw large declines in home values.

In order to make the home loan modification permanent, struggling homeowners must take these steps:

  1. Find out if you qualify to participate in the free home loan modification program.  Complete this questionnaire on the Making Home Affordable website to determine whether you are eligible or not.
  2. Start the loan modification process by submitting an “Initial Package” to your lender, which includes the following:
    Request Form (Request for Modification and Affidavit)
    Tax Form (Form 4506T-EZ)
    Verification of income
  3. Follow up with your mortgage lender to make sure that they received the Initial Package and if additional paperwork is needed.
  4. Complete the trial period of the loan modification by following the payment requirements and providing any additional documentation in a timely manner.
  5. Once you successfully complete the trial period and all paperwork has been received on time, your home loan modification will become permanent.

During this down economy, millions of homeowners have suddenly found themselves behind on their mortgage payments and vulnerable to scam artists that make promises they cannot keep.  While the federal government did create the Home Affordable Modification Program to help these troubled homeowners, scam artists are doing their best to get to uninformed and desperate homeowners first.  The federal government has setup a toll-free number, the Homeowner’s HOPE™ Hotline, at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673), providing information about the Making Home Affordable Program.  They have created a video, “How You Can Avoid Foreclosure Scams“, providing a list of things to look out for so that you can avoid becoming prey to scam artists.

Tips to avoid scams

  1. Beware of anyone who asks you to pay a fee in exchange for a counseling service or modification of a delinquent loan.
  2. Scam artists often target homeowners who are struggling to meet their mortgage commitment or anxious to sell their homes.  Recognize and avoid common scams.
  3. Beware of people who pressure you to sign papers immediately, or who try to convince you that they can “save” your home if you sign or transfer over the deed to your house.
  4. Do not sign over the deed to your property to any organization or individual unless you are working directly with your mortgage company to forgive your debt.
  5. Never make a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage company without their approval.

Remember, even though you maybe months behind on your mortgage and are at risk for foreclosure, you are not without answers.  However, applying for a home loan modification maybe a daunting and overwhelming task for you to take on by yourself.  Chris Gabledon of EXIT Realty can help ease the application process for you, making sure you only have to go through it once.

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Francis M. Unson

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Staying sharp: Welders battle for supremacy

September 17, 2010

Please retweetWelding companies such as Valencia Welding in Santa Clarita, CA, compete with other companies in Southern California that provide similar services.  Not only can company president, Rick Montoya, and his team provide welding services in aluminum and copper but, as his “resume” shows, in more exotic materials like titanium, as well.  What can up-and-coming welders of today do to build a skill set and impressive clientele list as detailed as Mr. Montoya’s?

A good head start would be to take part in FABTECH 2010, North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, finishing and welding event, which takes place in Atlanta, GA, from November 2-4, 2010.  While around 22,000 attendees are expected to descend on Georgia World Congress Center and visit the 1,000 exhibiting companies during the three-day conference and trade show, the event that attendees should not miss is the American Welding Society-sponsored 2010 Weld-Off Competition.  Out of 24 student welders that competed in SkillsUSA Championships 2009 and 2010, six will face off in a series of contests and only three will advance to the WorldSkills Competition in 2011, in London.

Armed with contest drawings that conform with the latest editions of American Welding Society standards, student welders are tested on the following aspects of welding:

  • measuring weld replicas using weld measuring gauges
  • laying out a plate and using oxyacetylene equipment to cut several holes checked for accuracy and quality
  • gas metal arc welding on steel making welds in various positions using short circuiting transfers
  • flux cored arc welding using a shielding gas, making welds in various positions
  • using a combination machine capable of providing the correct welding current for shielded metal arc and gas tungsten arc welding.

Welding competitions and trade shows will make sure that North America remains competitive in the welding industry on a global scale, particularly by producing high-quality welders that can complement Valencia Welding.

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Francis M. Unson

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Cruises: Leave the booking to travel agents. Here’s why

September 3, 2010

Going on vacation is your chance to relax, have fun and, for a week or two, give you a vastly different schedule of activities that, unlike work, you actually look forward to.  Hanz and Hachelle Pena of the Cheap Travel Deals in Santa Clarita understand that and can help take care of planning your next cruise.  There are some parts of vacation planning that you would prefer leaving to travel agents.  Why, you ask?

Why should you leave booking your next cruise to travel agents? Because you have a list of things to bring and take care of before the trip, and a huge number of activities to choose from during the cruise.When you are planning a cruise, you are going to make a lot of choices:

  • The cruise line you’d like to go on and how long you’d like to be out to sea
  • The airline you are going to take to the departing city
  • Hotel accommodations or car rental at the departing city if you decide to make that city a tourist destination, as well

and so on.  You should leave much of this part of the planning to travel agents because you have your own list of pre-trip things to take care of, too.

You have even more decisions to make before you leave home for your cruise, such as:

  • How much clothes you are going to pack
  • How much spending money to set aside
  • How many memory sticks to bring for your digital camera
  • Calling a pet-sitter
  • Making a quick dash to the corner drugstore for motion sickness pills, just in case
  • Refilling prescription medication so you don’t run out during the trip
  • Making sure you have your plane tickets and passport on-hand

Sometime later when you have finally arrived at the cruise ship, you have an even longer list of things to choose from.  The list of on-board activities on a cruise ship is so vast that you will not get around to doing all of them on a single cruise.  Just ask any cruise director.  Sure, they could rattle off a list of activities (not exhaustive) that may include, but are not limited to:

  • Deck parties
  • Spas and salons
  • Fitness centers
  • Indoor and outdoor sports centers
  • Cartoon-themed, children, and adults-only swimming pools
  • Wave pools
  • Theaters for movie screenings and full-production plays or musicals
  • Interactive comedy shows
  • Ice skating rinks
  • Sports bars, pubs, and cocktail lounges
  • Cafés, buffets, fast food restaurants, and formal dining
  • Piano lounges
  • Pool bars
  • Shopping centers and promenades
  • Casinos

Remember, it’s not a practical goal to try to do everything that a cruise ship has to offer.  You will not make the most of your time if a good portion of your time is spent going from one activity to another.  Yes, time is a finite commodity on-board, so budget your time wisely, prioritize the activities that you want to do, and stick with those activities.  You will feel more accomplished devoting your energy to a handful of activities.  Furthermore, when you book your next cruise, you can begin where you left off with a new set of activities.  With all the activities to choose from during the cruise, you might as well leave booking the cruise to Hanz and Hachelle Pena of the Cheap Travel Deals so that you have one less set of things to worry about.

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Francis M. Unson

 

Cheap Travel Deals: Interview with Hanz and Hachelle Pena, Owners (part 3)

August 12, 2010
  1. Please retweetAre you looking to hire in the coming year?
    Hanz: Absolutely, especially when the Cheap Travel Deals begins to expand.
  2. What have you done to go the extra mile for your client?  Please explain.
    Hanz: This happened to me when I was still at the Santa Clarita location.  It was a Saturday.  We had 20 reservations for rental cars.  Our area manager did not provide us with enough cars.  I foresaw that this was going to be a problem as we were provided just 10 cars to cater to 20 reservations.  Sure enough, by around 11AM to 11:30, we ran out of cars, and there were still 10 people without cars.  What I did was call the area manager and location manager and asked them, “What do you want us to do?  We didn’t receive any more cars.”  I waited for a callback from them but did not receive one within 15 minutes, so I told my co-worker to get all the addresses of the still-carless customers.  We were forced to close early so I could find more cars for the customers.  Take note, there wasn’t even a company car that I could use to drive my colleague to get the cars from surrounding locations and deliver them to the customers.  Basically, despite a shift of 9AM-12PM, my colleague and I worked until 4 o’clock in the afternoon.  I was driving my own car, taking my colleague to North Hollywood and back to the customer and back to North Hollywood again.  North Hollywood only gave us with three cars, so I called Burbank Airport.  I begged them, “You know, I have gold members and they have advanced reservations.  I cannot say no because they have reservations.”  So from 11:45AM-4PM, that’s what I’ve been doing.  I didn’t even think about getting reimbursed for gas or getting paid for the mileage for my own personal vehicle.  On top of that, I was off the clock.  If that is something I would have done for somebody else’s business, what more would I do for my own business?
    Hachelle:  Two weeks ago, I had a customer who bought a plane ticket to Costa Rica.  She’s an elderly lady.  She called and said that she needed a plane ticket to Costa Rica, adding that she “was traveling on her own”.  I told her, “Do you have Internet access?”  She replied, “Umm, I’m too old for that.  I can’t do that.”  I told her, “Okay, I’ll do it for you.  I’ll book you online.  Just check your email and print your ticket.”  She said, “I don’t have a printer.”  I told her, “Okay, I’ll print the tickets for you and I’ll just mail them to you.”  She said, “No, I want the tickets now.”
    Hanz: Luckily, she was local.
    Hachelle: Yes, luckily, she lived here in Valencia, so I told her, “I’ll just drop the ticket off.  Give me your address, and my husband and I will go to your home, and we will drop off your ticket.”

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Francis M. Unson

Cheap Travel Deals: Interview with Hanz and Hachelle Pena, Owners (part 2)

August 11, 2010
  1. Please retweetWhat is the niche that makes you stand out above everybody else?
    Hachelle: I worked with Princess Cruises for about three years, so I have extensive knowledge about cruises and land tours.
    Hanz: I have been with Hertz Rental for over four years.  Being in customer service, I realized that the key to succeeding in customer service is to make your customers happy.  There is no better reward than to see that face on your customer.
    Hachelle: Both of us have customer service experience and backgrounds in my former job and his current job.
  2. What products and/or services do you offer?
    Hachelle: We offer lots of products such as 3- and 7-day cruise packages.  We also offer extensive land and sea tours throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia.  If you’re really adventurous, we even offer an African Safari.
  3. What kind of promotions do you have?
    Hachelle: We have lots of weekly and monthly promotions with cruise lines and special rates for flights and hotels through Montrose.
    Hanz: We also offer special discounts of 15% for rental cars.
  4. What do you like about working in the Santa Clarita Valley?
    Hanz: Compared to other cities or towns I have lived in, the Santa Clarita Valley is a very, very family-oriented town.  It’s the environment I want to raise a family in, especially with my two-year-old daughter.
    Hachelle: I love that this town is very family-oriented.
  5. In terms of your business, what are you looking forward to in the coming year?
    Hanz: We are looking to expand and grow the Cheap Travel Deals, providing travel services to the Santa Clarita Valley, nationwide and, eventually, worldwide.

    (to be continued…)

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Francis M. Unson

Cheap Travel Deals: Interview with Hanz and Hachelle Pena, Owners (part 1)

August 6, 2010
  1. Please retweetWhat are your names?
    Hanz and Hachelle Pena
  2. What is the name of your business?
    The Cheap Travel Deals
  3. What year did you establish your business?
    2010
  4. How did you go about getting your business started?
    Hachelle: We went through a host agency called Montrose Travel, so we are basically an independent contractor affiliated with them.

    (to be continued…)

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Francis M. Unson