Friday, March 18, 2011

Two step Technology Slide

Have you ever had one of those days--when everything you start moves you one step forward and two steps backwards?

I will confess right now that part of the issue is technology. We're upgrading to a new server and in the process we will also be implementing 2 replacement work stations. Which means we need to upgrade software . . . which means we have to convert old data files . . .which means those files don't talk to the website anymore . . . which means we need to fix the translation . . . which means . . . .

I am learning way more about software and hardware than I truly ever wanted to.

On the plus side--this transition has been much easier thanks to the expertise of chamber members. Knowing I have great go-to resources to ask questions, get advice and help implementing has made this so much easier.

Jackie Kopp, ATD Solutions is helping us upgrade our Quickbooks software and in the process helping us categorize classes to improve the ease of event program and project reports. She and Steve Hyer, IGD Solutions are helping us coordinate the newest release of Quickbooks with our online registration system.

The end result will be very nice for our members and reduce the bookkeeping time required to re-enter registrations. A direct sync with the online payments will save a lot of time!

It will also allow us to go to online invoicing and statements--saving postage. And we are looking into ACH processing as an option in addition to credit cards.

As part of this upgrade--we're also replacing our server. It's nearly 10 years old and has performed well. Periodic piecemeal upgrades have extended it's life--but it's time is done. It needs to be retired.

PC Miracles (who does our off site back ups) is taking care of the server and also the two new workstations. The computer workstations will replace our oldest machines . . . which . . . we got used from Clarkston Schools 5 years ago. These two units have had major failures this winter--and were recovered enough to limp along while we coordinated the replacement plan.

The new hardware, means we will be upgrading operating systems and therefore upgrading our database management systems. Which is where I learned that the upgraded software doesn't talk to our website . . . yet . . . but it will.

This black hole of interrelated technology woes could have been avoided with a regular technology upgrade plan.

I will admit to being, at times, too thrifty. If there's a mile left in that baby--I'm going to run it that mile! The motivation has been simple--out of necessity, I've needed to get the biggest bang for every dollar. The budget has been squeaky tight.

The thrill of dancing close to total technology failure, though, is not in the best interest of the Chamber--or you--our members. While I don't care for the adage "penny wise, pound foolish" it does apply here.

The board of directors supports and is funding a technology plan that includes regular upgrades and replacements--before we have catastrophic failures.

So if you're reading this . . . (thanks, by the way) . . . consider what you're doing to keep your data safe, your productivity high and your future clear.
  1. Invest in offsite back up services for your data. It will help you sleep at night. Trust me.
  2. Take time to inventory what your technology status is right now--today. And pay special attention to how old your hardware is and whether or not your software has the latest updated version.
  3. Make a plan for your recommended replacement schedule.
  4. Include in that plan an annual check up--where you update your technology audit.

And just do it.

Saving a few pennies today will be of little comfort when your technology decides to die.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

History of Clarkston--An Interview with Buck & Joan Kopietz

Interview with Buck & Joan Kopietz:
March 2005—interviewed by Geri Batt

Buck and Joan moved to Clarkston in 1973 opening their first business, Tierra Arts and Design at 3 S. Washington Street.

In 1975, they moved their business to 20 N. Main Street.
They recall the downtown area doubling in retail businesses between 1975 and 1980, hitting its peak in the early 1980’s. The current Prudential Building, the apartment building across from the current Tierra, and Mill Street Mall housed a number of small shops and a large restaurant. Clarkston was booming!

The Kopietz’s referred to this time frame as the “Camelot Era”. There were approximately 45 stores in downtown during that time frame and visitors came from all around including Birmingham to shop in Clarkston. The business district at this time was primarily between Washington and Church Street.

Some examples of stores included: Clarkston Auto Parts in the Clarkston Travel Building, Reekwald Realty where the Village Grill is, Hallman Apothecary in the Essence on Main space, Yea Coffee Shop, Pam’s Sewing Basket, Pat’s Beauty Salon, and the Clarkston Bar, where the Clarkston CafĂ© is today. Across the street there was a clothing store owned by Fred and Sheila Ritter.

The Kopietz’s described this era as a time when the resident primary shopping needs could be met in downtown Clarkston. It was a busy small town atmosphere with the streets filled with local walking traffic and visitors. The current Summit Place Mall, then known as Pontiac Mall, was available for more extensive shopping. During this time frame, Concerts in the Park were sponsored by BAIT (Business Association of Independence Township), which later started the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce. Joan Kopietz, a BAIT member, was responsible for Concerts in the Park for 10 years before they were taken over by the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce.

Business changed drastically in the early 80’s due to a financial crunch in the United States and local government. Interest rates soared and small businesses in the Clarkston area folded. Retail buildings were sold and converted to office space, primarily Real Estate. The morale of the business community suffered and the draw of residents and visitors to Clarkston for shopping decreased dramatically. Tierra Arts and Crafts moved to 64 N. Main in 1982 upon the closing of one of the towns hardware stores. Buck recalls town folks thinking he was crazy for moving south of Church Street. However, in time this extended the downtown area of Clarkston. The building across Main from the new Tierra which was mini mall was sold and converted to apartments. The Mill Street Mall building on Washington also gradually changed from a restaurant and retail shops to offices.

The Clarkston Union Bar and Kitchen was opened in 1996 when the Catallo Family converted an old church into the current restaurant. The Kopietz closed their art and office supply in the late 90’s and concentrated their efforts on the Tierra Fine Jewelry portion of their store renting additional space out to other small businesses. The Hallman’s Apothecary also closed in the early 90’s and after remaining vacant for awhile became a gift store and is now Essence on Main. The Kopietz opened the Millpond Bed and Breakfast at 155 N. Main Street in the 90’s.