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The decision to renovate your home can be a costly one but, as with other financial decisions, should be based on the careful answers to several key questions.

What is your motivation? Perhaps your family has outgrown your present home, you plan on staying for years to come, or there is excessive wear and tear on floors, walls or carpeting. Any of these might be good reasons favoring renovations.

What is the cost? Brainstorm with your family what your ideal renovations would be, then get estimates from several reputable contractors. Do you have the cash in hand or will you need to secure a home improvement loan? The cost might be too much for your budget or you could selectively choose one or two specific areas for renovation. Also consider the type of renovations you do — some have a higher return on investment (kitchens and bathrooms) than others (sunrooms and pools).

What will be the effect on the marketability or asking price on a future home sale? Updating is a common way to boost a seller’s asking price, but you must consider what the average value in the neighborhood is and whether renovations could potentially price you out of the market.

Will renovating cost less than moving? Moving can be a substantial expense so it’s worth factoring into your decision.

The answers to these questions should help you make a more informed decision on whether to take the renovation plunge or stick with the status quo.

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Armstrong Relocation Dallas President Michael Gonzales was honored today along with other minority business leaders by the Dallas Business Journal, which presented them with a glass plaque and a biographical article in the publication’s online and special print editions. The group was honored for their hard work, business acumen, vision and entrepreneurship. We’ve included the entire write-up, as well as a video, about our fearless leader. Congrats, Mike!

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Michael Gonzales – Minority Business Leader Awards

Premium content from Dallas Business Journal

Date: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 9:15am CST

Mike Gonzales grew up in a household in Little Mexico — where English was the only language spoken. His war-bride mother only spoke German, so for her to learn the language, Gonzales and his four siblings never spoke Spanish. He never did learn the language. Now 55 and president of Armstrong Relocation Dallas, Gonzales credits his success to working hard and helping others.

Where were you born? Dallas

Describe your family: I married my high school sweetheart, had three wonderful children and have more recently been blessed with two grandchildren.

Tell us about growing up: Growing up with four siblings and being the smallest does not make for an easy childhood. We lived quite modestly in a small house and our father, who worked in the restaurant business, had to work very long hours to keep our family fed. My mother was a war bride from Germany and came to live in America, but she always did a lot of funny things because of the cultural differences. I also remember spending a lot of time at our grandparents’, who lived in Little Mexico before it was eaten up by Uptown. We would travel all over Dallas riding the Dallas bus system because my grandfather had retired as a mechanic and was given a lifetime bus pass. They never did own a car. Although we didn’t have a lot of money, I don’t ever remember feeling like we wanted for anything. It seemed like a week never went by where one of us was not in some kind of trouble, but with four boys what would you expect? And through it all, we turned out alright.

Describe an experience that shaped your future: A few years before I purchased part of this company, I was questioning where I was and what I was doing. I happened to listen to a motivational tape that told a sto

ry called the “River of Diamonds” which briefly explains that you don’t have to go looking everywhere to find happiness/fortune because many times they are right there in your own backyard.

Education: BBA, University of North Texas    University of North Texas

Describe your first “real” job: My first real job was as bus boy for a small restaurant in Irving, and I immediately got promoted to cook.

How did you get into your industry? Believe it or not, as a sophomore in college I was looking for a summer job and just opened the Yellow Pages. I started at ‘A’ and cold-called companies, asking if anyone needed summer help. I reached this company and they said come on down and we’ll put you to work on the moving trucks. The rest is history.

How did you become an owner? After 12 years of working at Armstrong, one of the partners was considering leaving the business and we met one evening. We passed a napkin back and forth with each of us writing our price and in five minutes we had a deal. I got the best end of the deal.

Describe the greatest challenge you’ve faced: I have been truly blessed most of my life so I haven’t had too many things to test me, but one thing that sticks with me happened during high school after I had been dating a particular girl in my class for a few weeks. Our home phone rang one day, my oldest brother answered it and the woman on the other end was the mother of the girl I was dating. She proceeded to yell at my brother that I was not going to date her daughter because I was not good enough. She thought she was talking to my father but she never asked, and we both decided it was best not to tell our dad as he had a healthy temper. That stuck with me for a long time, and I still don’t know whether she didn’t like me, my family, our last name or what. I then decided that I would never let that bother me again and that I would work hard to make sure no one ever had reason to question whether I was good enough for anything or anyone. I also hoped that my kids would never be subject to anything like that in their lives. That seems so long ago.

How have you overcome it? By working harder and helping others, I hope I have earned the respect to prevent me from being judged by anyone or anybody.

What is the secret to your success? Treat others with respect and always give more than what people expect. And never quit smiling.

What community service are you involved in? Catholic Charities, Holy Family Catholic School,United Way, Toastmasters, Knights of Columbus, Small World Charity, Turtle Creek Recovery Center and Carter Blood Bank.

What drives you to give back? We are only on this earth for a very short time, some more and some less, but I feel we are all here to help others in some kind of way. By giving back I think it’s my small way of using the time I’m here to make it a better place for others.

How do you mentor others? I have never considered myself a good teacher because, in some ways, I don’t always have the patience. My mentoring style is to put that person in the seat and allow them to just do it while pointing out and discussing how to handle particular situations.

What are your goals for 2012? To become a better public speaker, make a difference for a cause, and grow my business 10 percent.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In 10 years? I don’t see too much changing in five years as I love where I am and what I am doing. In 10 years, I hope I am able to spend a little less time working and more time helping other organizations that help people.

What are you most known for? I believe I am most known for my dependability and loyalty to my friends, family, coworkers and customers.

Describe something others would be surprised to find out about you: Others might be surprised to find I am an avid motivational tape enthusiast; I used to own hot dog stands in downtown Dallas and sold hot chocolate up and down the aisles in the old Texas Stadium — anything for a buck!

Armstrong Relocation – Dallas

  • Industry: Relocation
  • Headquarters: Memphis, Tenn.
  • Local address: 1405 Crescent Drive, Carrollton 75006
  • Top executive: Jeff Watson, CEO
  • Annual revenue: $22,500,000
  • Number of employees: 200
  • Phone: 972-242-0511
  • Website: http://www.armstrongrelocationdallas.com

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Many people load up on high-end electronics around this time of year — LED HD TVs, Blu Ray DVD Players, Home Theater Surround Sound Systems etc. All of those electronics are very well packed, padded and protected by the manufacturers. After all, it’s in their best interest to ensure that this delicate web of microchips, optical readers and digital circuitry makes it from the plant to the retailer and, ultimately, under your Christmas tree in good working order.

It’s also in our best interest to make sure that these self-same electronics are packed and protected as well as possible so that they reach their new home in as good a shape as the day they were unwrapped. Of course, we’re happy to provide our own sturdy boxes, bubble wrap etc. to accomplish this, but what if you had saved those original boxes? Especially in the case of a flat-screen TV, it could save you upwards of $100. The flat screen boxes we buy to properly protect these lovely TVs cost about that much or more.

So, if you’ve got the space in the attic or garage, sock away those boxes so that when it comes time to pull up stakes and move, you’ll save those hard-earned dollars!

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We at Armstrong Relocation’s Dallas agency were  informed this morning that we are the winner of one of our industry’s most-coveted accolades — United Van Lines’ 2011 Customer Choice Award. This is the third Customer Choice Award for the Dallas office, which also won in 2006 and 2008.

Only one agent in each size category wins this award each year. There are several criteria used when selecting a winner, but the most important are customer survey results and claims frequency and resolution. Our agency consistently ranks among the top performers in customer feedback scores.

Thanks to everyone at our office — customer service, operations, claims, drivers and  packers — for truly making us the Best of the Best.

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In an effort to be more sociable and socially networked, Armstrong Relocation Dallas has made the switch to a new social network-enabled Website!

This will allow for much more interaction with our customers and partners. You also can access our Facebook page, Twitter feed, blog and YouTube channel from links on the new site. In fact, our blogs now will automatically post to the front page of the new site!

We recommend doing three things after reading this blog:

1.  Go to the Website immediately! Here is what you can expect (click on the screen shot below):

2. Bookmark the Website or, better yet, make it your homepage.

3. Visit the Website frequently – We are updating it daily with new content.

And finally, give us feedback. We want to hear from you about what you like, what you don’t and what you’d like to see on the site or out in the field, moving you or partnering with you to move a customer.

Thanks, y’all!

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1. Check out this fun idea over at Pure and Noble that could easily be turned into a “moving” project.  Create a map with your kids from your old house to your new house and let them hang onto it during your travels.

{image via Pure and Noble}

2. Host a going away party for your kids and invite their closest friends.  Check out these pictures for some inspiration!

{image via Stanton and Rubi}

{image via Best Madison Realestate}

3.  Create a scrapbook to help your child document their old home, old room, moving day, and finally the new house and their new room.

4.  In preparation for the move, let your child know that they are your “special helper” and give them tasks to do to help your family get organized before the move.  You could even make them a special badge to wear during all of this.  Perhaps one similar to this over at papernstitch:

image via papernstitch

5.  Get a custom stamp from here or stickers from here made for your child that they can use when sending letters and cards back home to friends!

6.  Buy the Berenstain Bears Moving Day book before the move and read it a few times before the real moving day.  

7.  Suggest to your children that they can be pen pals with friends from back home and write letters, draw pictures, and send emails to them after they’ve moved.

8.  Find creative DIY projects that you and the kids can work on together to help decorate the new home…such as a front door wreath like this one from Pure and Noble!

9.  If you have large trees at your old home, help your child make a small and inconspicuous (for the new buyers’ sakes) carving that says something like SMITH FAMILY 1999 – 2011.  This will be exciting for your kiddo…and feel a little exciting and scandalous to you also! {grin}

10.  And finally, once the move is over and done with, find some creative and crafty things to do with all those used moving boxes.  Here’s some inspiration for you!

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When you move with Armstrong Relocation, you will be given a High Value Inventory form to complete.  This form allows you to add all of your “pricey” and precious items.  It also lets the driver and crew know to pay close attention to these and show them some extra love {grin}.

For your protection, you should use our High Value Inventory form to list all of the items of extraordinary value that you plan to ship with us.  High Value items are defined as items that have a replacement cost of more than $100 per pound per article.

Ideas for what to add onto your High Value Inventory Form!

When in doubt though – just go ahead and list it!

Here’s what it looks like!

High Value Inventory Form

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