This month, we’re talking with Alexa Calio of Roche Jaune Chinking and Log Home Restoration. She’s based in Bozeman, MT, but does work all over the country.
How did you get started in chinking and log home finishing?
I built a log home — we cut down the trees, poured the foundation, peeled the logs, notched the logs, chinked them with a hand gun (3,000 linear feet!) — and I swore I would never touch chinking again. Next thing I knew, a friend called and asked for help with their cabin. She introduced me to a contractor and word got out. That was 21 years ago. The rest, they say, is history.
What do you like most about log home chinking & restoration? What do you like least about it?
Most: The pride of being able to walk away and know that my customer is bubbling over with happiness. I’m always in a beautiful place. I love the people I work with and for, the camaraderie on the job site with other subs, the homeowners, the designers. It’s very satisfying. I love my job.
Least: Being on ladders or, even worse, being on my knees. Oh — and tenting.
What’s a favorite job you’ve done?
Man — there’ve been so many cool ones. One that immediately comes to mind is Switchback Ranch at the back of the Beartooth Mountains. We had to load everything on four wheelers — 20 pails of chinking, our chink pump, all our tools — everything. Then we had to 4-wheel up switchbacks so tight that the four wheelers wanted to tip over. That’s pretty memorable.
What is your advice to someone starting out?
You have to learn your trade and be proficient at it and understand how the products work before going out and promising that you can do it. One thing I’ve learned, the instructions on the pail are there for your benefit. The manufacturer isn’t trying to make things more difficult. Everyone wants their product to work. They’re telling you the best practices. Listen! (Sashco over here and we’re nodding our heads up and down. She’s right!)
Tell us about your family and how they’re involved with your business.
I have two little boys — 11 and 15 — and they love to come and help me. They’ll install backer rod for me, put pails in the machine, and I’m starting to teach them how to trowel. Then they get their construction toys out and start collecting nails and screws off the job site.
Be sure to check out Alexa and crew on their Facebook page. We’re humbled to call Alexa a great contractor partner.
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This month's training tip comes directly from a question we received recently.