Saturday, October 7, 2017

Great Furniture Delivery Service- "J.C. Professional Delivery"

After spending many untold hours hand-crafting and carefully finishing each piece 
of my Custom-Designed-Furniture, the last thing I want, is a knucklehead-Gorilla....
Man-Handling my work, and not treating it with all the care, respect and LOVE 😍- 
that I put into each and every piece I make.

Often, if it's able to fit easily into a ZipVan - I can and will deliver things on my own.
But- when there's multiple items, to be picked up from a variety of WorkRooms
- or the Client's footing the Delivery Bill, I look to Professional White-Glove-Furniture Delivery Services.

In Chicago, and in Urban Areas with High-End-Interior Designers & Architects, there's a wide ranging selection that work in this realm.......from Nationwide Companies, like PLYCON (expensive- and I'm not so impressed when I've used them before...) 
to a well-known Chicago based company- called- 
"Affordable Moving"- that, well....ain't so affordable, + they've broken my 
items before-on Multiple occasions😡! 
to a Retired-Fireman + his Son + a truck get the picture.

This past week, I used a Company I now LOVE

My friend Andrew Mugnaini reccd these guys- 
he uses them a lot for Gary Lee's Furniture (which Andrew (ADM) Hand-Crafts expertly).

Not only were they in communication about their being late, 
Island Table-Base-in Steel-with brass finish

not only did they load my very large Steel Island Table Base and 
52" x 16" x 20" h. Steel+ Leather Bench(es) I expertly Hand-Crafted

(two) Leather + Steel benches so quickly, 
I couldn't believe it, 
they turned out to be the best pair of eyes at the next stop- 
a Quartz Stone Fabricator, who'd fabricated a 320-lb. black w/Gold-ish flecks 
Wislonart Table top- 96" x 42" with a 2" Edge.
I'd never seen the final product- 
as it was always upside down in the Stone Fabricators workroom.

Kris-"Marble Design"-owner, making adjustments to Quartz Top
Here's the TableTop Fabricator- Kris- fixing small imperfections that the main Delivery man spotted.
There was also a sort of haze- originally I thought it was dust- on the tables well as places that squeezed out epoxy used to glue the mitred edges- had not been scraped off carefully.
I'm not impressed by Marble Design's lack of attention to these details, and given it was my first time using his services-well.....we'll see, if there's a next time.

Wilsonart-Xcaret Q4006-Quartz-Table-Top - after a wax-on-and-a-buff-off.
Here's the Table Top, after a cleaning- a wax- and a buff-out.
Rather than standing around while Kris took care of making my expensive table Top- right-
they took off to Andrew-The-Woodworkers-Workroom, to pickup a several hundred pound Console table.
Awesome 12-ft.long-Wood-Console + Steel Modesty Panel

The 12-long Console Table was crafted to allow my expertly dimensioned 133.875" wide panel,
to PRECISELY inset-with no gaps, & no spaces.

138.125" by 33" Hot-Rolled Modesty Panel w/Bronze patina.
The laser-cut Hot-Rolled Steel panel I created (and finished) has a patinated bronze appearance.
really, looks RICH (if I don't say so myself!)
Off it all went- to a warehouse in Roselle,IL. for storage, until the Contractors are done building-out the Sales Office in The Vault of The Old Post Office that spans the Eisenhower Expwy.(I-290) coming into Chicago. Then my work will be on hand- for all who want to look into getting office space there....(unless- AMAZON moves in of course)

J.C.Professional Delivery @773.812.3186
So- for all of your Furniture Moving (they do Residential Moving too!) call John- at 773.812.3186-
and tell him Randall sent ya!

They are really- THAT GOOD!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

McNichols : How-I-Was-Made-(W)HOLE) > a Revised Opinion

In my efforts to steer, influence and provide Intelligent, "fully vetted" Resources to my readers,
I've set up this blog to identify excellent Resources for those in the fields related to Design & Architecture.

I'd posted in January 2017,  about a truly unsettling Customer Service experience in dealing with an Industrial Supplier, that I've purchased from for many years.

In the course of a very short period of time, after my encounter with McNichols- I was pleasantly shocked and amazed to receive an email, and a follow-up phone call from
someone with the same last name-McNichols-
as the Company that I'd had the Customer Service issue (or failure thereof) with.
The dialog that followed, provided me an insight, into how the 3rd generation President-
Scott McNichols, truly cares, about each and every Customer's experience.

To start, I have to say- I've met & talked to many CEO's and President's of Corporations,
both big and small, in my lifetime- yet- my conversations with Scott McNichols truly created
a whole-'nother-level-of-respect for him as an Owner, and the Company he leads.

It's not often that when someone- anyone-
is wrong- that they'll listen - not argue, & they'll acknowledge the concerns
that made you feel aggrieved enough to contact a Customer Service Sales Manager,
and later create a blog post ,
without ever defending their Company (or making any excuses).
With Scott McNichols - the Buck-Does-Stop -   There.
He "owned" the issues that screwed up my order-
and went above and beyond to rectify the situation.

I could go on to describe in full detail, all the things that Scott said (and did) to fix the problem-
( I won't bore you with the details....)
to make me a HAPPY CUSTOMER-
who will forever speak about McNichols- as a Company that
truly- "gets it".

BTW- any doubts, about my encounter with Scott McNichols.... just read the comment he left on my blog-

Holenole said...
Mr. Kramer,

I am truly sorry for your experience and sincerely apologize that we did not meet your service expectations. We certainly do strive to serve each customer with everything we have and that clearly did not happen according to your personal testimony. We are celebrating our 65th anniversary this year and are much better than you have truthfully described.

I will be sure to mark your account so that you do not receive the Scripture messages on your paperwork should you choose to give us another chance to serve you.

I want to thank you for your honesty. We will use it to improve because that is what all of our customers deserve.

Once again, I am truly sorry for the unfortunate experience you had with McNichols.


Scott McNichols

McNichols- a class act!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

McNichols -Truly The "Hole" Story......

I'm working on a new project- a really unique Custom Fireplace Screen for a home next to The Drake Hotel in Chicago's Gold Coast. 

The Architect (& his client) like the minimalism of Piet Mondrian's paintings- so the design of the Fireplace Screen's predicated on Mondrian's geometry.(see below)
Mondrian-esque Fireplace Screen Design
Of course- a Fireplace Screen- isn't a Fireplace Screen unless there's some "screen" involved...which in The Steel Industry is called-"Wire Cloth". Note, this please....for if you ever need to purchase any "mesh" or "screen"- you will not get what you want as easily if you specifically search for WIRECLOTH.
OK- Lesson in specifying is complete for today.

There used to be a plethora ($10.00-word meaning a whole bunch of sumpin') of WireCloth Distributors in and around Chicago. 
Sadly, one of my all-time favorite places to visit- F.P. Smith WireCloth is no more- they closed about 8 years ago- absorbed by a place I used to buy from called McNichols. Attentive readers will note I say- "used to buy from"- and if you know me, at all there's a reason for that....either poor customer-service, or a basic lack of respect from the Vendor, for accepting my hard earned dough in exchange for what they sell.....or smoother reason- in this case it was all of the above.

Now- I like Religion. I mean- as a inner-spiritual belief system, I'm all for any human "believing" in something- be it G_d, Budda, or Jesus or Mohammed or whatever- just like your snot and spit- keep it to yourself. So, when McNichols would send invoices with Scripture (from The New Testament- a knock-off of The Torah) and have a variety of Religious messages on their statements- I got annoyed.
Mentioning it to them, seemed to get me no-where.
Add in being treated as if my "small orders" didn't matter- making me wait- when I was told my materials would be cut wrapped and ready- left me feeling not so warm-and-fuzzy about these guys as a Vendor.
Which brings me to this past Tuesday in January.

I'd begun, by getting pricing via their website.
Seems easy enough- fill out the specifications > Wires per inch + wire diameter + material (Steel, Stainless, Copper, etc) and Square footage or size of the cut piece.
OK....waiting for a reply meant, that The Weekend + The Martin Luther King Holiday may delay my getting a Price Quote. Fair nuff. 
So, I call on Monday, anyway- and, they say "they have my Quote"?
That's nice that YOU DO- but how come I don't? 
So, after getting a Price-I chose to pass on the $ 28.00 Shipping charge- and asked to pick up my order from their suburban Chicago location.

OK- is the response- wait till tomorrow- after noon-and- your order will be ready for PICK-UP!

So- I drive the next day to their warehouse in the Chicago suburb of DesPlaines, on a road that's tough to get to- since they closed off the way own- from Route 83.
I pull up- where Id gone in the past to pick-up wire cloth for other Fireplace Screens, and, strangely- its dead.
No Trucks. No workers cars.
Looks like they closed up?
So- I call their 800# only to discover that they MOVED over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Funny- I never got that Memo.
Nor- did the order taker in Atlanta, GA.- think that I may need that information. 
So, now burnin'-up with the wasted time- 
I drove the 6 miles to their new spot in Elk Grove Village.
Went to Customer Service,  and was told she couldn't find my order.
Lots of waiting.
Finally- "Anna" comes out to tell me- Yes, they "have"my order- but- it's in PHOENIX ARIZONA- and in the Chicago location- they don't have what I want.
And- to make matters worse- don't offer me a viable substitute.

McNichols "new" warehouse in suburban Elk Grove Village,IL
So, my question is this- How Can a Vendor screw up any worse that these THREE errors in handling an order.......I'll tell ya- when I call top complain to a very nice Customer Service Manager @ McNichols- he agrees to supply my material for no charge- great.
Then, another person calls me- after I see that they've already "Charged" my Visa for the wire cloth- I didn't get to pick say- that the REFUND will take up to 14 Days!
So- if you are looking for a WireCloth Vendor- be sure- to do your best- NOT to use McNichols.

Over & Out.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

ReBuilding Exchange : a sustainable & educational Resource

Chicago has long been a great source for finding discarded building parts, given it's rich and varied Architectural heritage. 
Sadly- in today's Home Depot world, many of the great sources for rehabbers and remodelers have disappeared.
I used to find amazing Architectural Artifacts (Fireplace Mantels, Old TIles, Grates and Grills, etc. for sale at the "original" Maxwell Street Flea Market (the "new one" sucks for finding any such objects ) 
A store that was (I say "was" in the past tense - because IMHO - the store has sadly lost it's way...) Salvage One - used to carry many rebuilding finds and treasures - patiently waiting to be rePurposed
On the 3600 block of N. Southport, in Chicago, a small neighborhood storefront sold great -mostly wood Salvaged Parts for rehabbers. It's now a multi-unit Condo Building.
Jan's Antiques- a great resource that I've bought lots of Salvaged Painted Wood for Mirror Frames over the years ( in several locations) is now been relocated to a smaller space in Evanston.

An impromptu street spot on the 300 S. Sacramento Boulevard once randomly displayed "picks" that scrappers and salvage dogs had literally torn out of abandoned buildings on Chicago's Rough-and-Tough West Side- no longer around.

So it was with great pleasure that I stopped into the Rebuilding Exchange today and wanted to share what I discovered.

As you can see there are many "possibilities" here.....
some of the "raw materials"  are fairly priced-yet- 
I found other things, for example the Vintage Steel Storage Organizer(s) like the small dark gray one here- 
selling for prices equal to what you'd find at Architectural Artifacts Urban Remains- places that are known to Designers + Decorators + Architects for their UNcompetitively  priced "treasures"-they buy for pennies-on-the-dollar.

A cart-full of Amazing BURLAP COFFEE BEAN SACKS- waiting to be rePurposed!

Newel Posts? you're looking for Newel Posts are ya....?

Workshop that supports classes at The Rebuilding EXCHANGE
As you enter their extensive and multi-roomed warehouse you will discover a Rebuilding Workshop-available  for woodworking classes or other creative ways to incorporate salvaged materials into your next home improvement project.

Please visit this unique Chicago non-profit business and support their mission- to reuse and recycle-thereby creating not only a robust Green Economic business, but also creating jobs and keeping this material out of our already overcrowded landfills.

Rebuilding Exchange
1740 W. Webster Ave.
Chicago,IL. 60614

773. 252. 2234
Hours = Tues - Sunday @10-6pm

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Art Bars" © A Unique Method to Display Fine-Art + Photographs

Randall KRAMER © 2014 Kramer Design Studio

Hand-forged Cold-Rolled Steel Bars + Brackets & Straps combined to create a MODERN method of displaying ART!

 Against a Wenge-Wood clad wall(s) - these ART BARS really look elegant !

Randall KRAMER ©2014 Art Bars- Stacked atop each other

Order some today- from KRAMER DESIGN STUDIO- Chicago  
contact @

Knocked-Off! (and pissed-off as well!)

It's clear to me- that there are many, many folks - 
especially Interior Designers & Decorators- that do not respect Intellectual Property Rights.

Why is that? 

If as Designers- we are required to solve problems, and are paid for our creative problem- solving skills (and their execution- for an "idea" is meaningless- unless it's implemented, right?) do other Designers feel it's acceptable to STEAL someone else's ideas?
Cheating- yes....but more akin to STEALING, I'd say!

Knock-Offs - whether they are a Hermes Handbag- a Prada Purse or a Randall Kramer designed Interior Element- are amongst the lowest form of THEFT.

That's right- theft.

Know what they do in some countries when you are caught "thieving" ?
They'll chop off your hand.

OK- I'm not callin' for Sharia Law- in fact- I personally abhor that system of "Justice",
and find it Medieval and archaic at best.
But - I do know- that I am hired to create and execute ideas- and when someone else-
helps them-self- to MY ideas-and calls them his/her own- 
that's no different, than
Reaching-into-my-pocket-&-stealing-my-stash-o'-CA$H !!

When I was commissioned by Tracy Hickman to design these shelving brackets- all I was told was that I should make em out of Steel- and they should look "like-this" (holding her fingers apart to show the steel bars width) and I designed and drew several unique solutions- all of them different and striking- yet- this is the design that Tracy and her client selected for this home in Hinsdale.

There are ALWAYS- lots of design-solutions.

And- that is why I am always bothered- that a "designer" can be so unoriginal- that they COPY another persons Design(s)- and think- that it's OK?! Don't even call yourself a "designer" then- if that's the case- just call yourself an "assimilator" or a "idea-stealer-like-Pinterest", rather than a Professional Designer (or Decorator).

Please don't steal. It's unethical- UnProfessional - and if caught doing it in ISIS-controlled Syria / Iraq - you may find your "reach"...........shortened slightly !

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Finding a BRASS PLATER in The Greater Chicagoland area

112 inches long by 22" wide by 33" tall

This is how big of a part Imperial Plating Company 
of Chicago can accept to be Brass Plated.
Mid-Century-Modern Brass Plated Fireplace Screen © KRAMER DESIGN STUDIO 2014

There are fewer and fewer Metal Platers left in Chicago these days.
Chicago, at one time ("back-in-the-day") had so many Metal Finishing and Metal Fabrication Companies that it rivaled (and surpassed)  Detroit and Los Angeles.
Most of the business has gone to Asia and Mexico.
The remaining companies that do Brass Plating are so overwrought w/ Regulations- 
mainly from The EPA- that they can no longer afford to stay in business.

One of the more toxic chemicals known to man- Cyanide- is used in Brass Plating, 
so it is important that it be used and stored and disposed of properly.

Furthermore- the larger the "part" that needs to be plated- 
the larger the amount of liquid being held in a plating tank- 
and the larger the tank - 
the larger the Environmental "risk" incurred.

I've used Imperial Plating twice now- for Decorative Fireplace Screens, and both times the results have been superb. 
Not only the final product- but dealing with people as kind and thoughtful as 
John Griffin- the Sales Manager @ Imperial Plating Company.
John made sure to cover all his bases- understanding that the Fireplace Screen I was to have plated was NOT just some part- and truly "got" how much of my heart and soul went into the fabrication of this Fireplace Screen.

Brass Plated Fireplace Screen with demountable Screen + carved foot detail © Kramer Design Studio-2014
John and I discussed details as minute as the the direction of polishing after the part was plated, and how my client requested NO LACQUER to be sprayed after polishing- something they automatically do to a Brass-Plated part. We also discussed the risk of the plating filling in the holes in the the 10mesh screen I used- so I had to "engineer" a 
"demountable-screen-system" to make this work. 
None of these details seemed to ruffle John's feathers at all- 
a consummate Professional Businessman.
Brass Plated Fireplace Screen with demountable Screen © Kramer Design Studio-2014

So, remember these dimensions the next time you need to get sumpin' expertly 
BRASS PLATED in-and-around-Chicago- 112 inches long by 22" wide by 33" tall,
if it's smaller than that- they can take care of you !

Feel free to tell 'em "The Man of Steel" sent ya!

Imperial Plating Company
7030 West 60th Street