An Appreciation for Nature

Ernest Grotsky has witnessed many beautiful views in his travels.


The History of USO, Inc., by Ernest Grotsky

Dedicated to improving the spirits of America’s troops and their families, USO, Inc., has provided support to soldiers since 1941. During the start of World War II, a number of groups emerged to assist people fighting overseas. To supplement entities such as the Salvation Army, the Young Women’s Christian Association, and the National Jewish Welfare Board, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt formed the United Services Organization, more commonly known as the USO.

Concentrating on emotional support and entertainment, the USO conducted its first camp shows in 1941. Six years later, President Harry S. Truman ended the program and gave it an honorable discharge. In 1951, it was restarted to aid troops involved in the Korean War. Consistently active since then, the USO has adapted to meet soldiers’ evolving needs. During the 2000s, it developed programs such as USO Care Package, USO Operation Phone Home, and USO2GO to respond to those fighting in the War on Terror.

About the Author:

Involved in the construction industry for nearly three decades, Ernest Grotsky is a State of Florida Certified Building Inspector, a General Contractor for the State of Florida, and a Licensed Contractor for Palm Beach County. In charitable activities, Grotsky donates to the USO.

Hiring a General Contractor

By Ernest Grotsky

Hiring a general contractor for work on your home or business can be a difficult process, particularly if you wait until just before you need the work done, which can limit your options and compresses your selection timetable. If you allow yourself plenty of time to choose and follow the steps below, however, you should be able to find a great contractor and set your project in motion with confidence.

1. Gather Recommendations

Following the recommendations of people you know and trust is much more effective than relying on advertising or cold-calling contractors out of the phone book. Friends and family are a great place to start looking, but if after talking to them you still need ideas, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and your local lumberyard are good places to check for the names of reputable contractors.

2. Interview Potential Contractors

There is no better way to know whether you will enjoy working with someone than personal interaction. Start narrowing your list with phone calls and then meet your top choices face to face. Be sure to ask whether a contractor takes on projects like yours, what his or her availability is, and how long he or she has worked with his or her subcontractors. Do not be afraid to ask for work references from previous clients and financial references from banks and suppliers. Reputable contractors should be willing to accommodate you.

3. Check the Facts

Once you have found contractors you like, be sure to investigate them. Call their references. Check for complaints against them with the Better Business Bureau and your local Chamber of Commerce. Make sure they and their subcontractors are licensed, bonded, and have the permits they require.

4. Ask for Bids

Now that you know with whom you would like to work, ask the contractor for bids on your project. Make sure he or she itemizes labor, profit margin, materials, and other expenses so you can see where your money will go. Be sure to set up a payment schedule that stipulates complete payment only after you are satisfied, and do not make your decision based purely on price. Choose the contractor you will be most comfortable with, even if his or her bid is a little higher than another’s.

5. Sign the Contract

Finally, make sure you put everything you have discussed with your contractor in writing, including the payment schedule, start and completion dates, materials and products to be used, proof of insurance, and lien releases from subcontractors and suppliers. A clear contract is your best assurance of a successful project.

About the Author:

Ernest Grotsky is a licensed general contractor with more than 30 years of experience in the construction management field, and has worked with clients such as 3M, Eveready Battery Company, and Bloomingdale’s.

Jim Collins

By: Ernest Grotsky

As an entrepreneur and businessman, I maintain a great appreciation for the insightful written work of Jim Collins, an author who keenly delves into the complex topic of corporate success. Focusing his scholarly exploration on the qualities that set great companies apart from their mediocre counterparts, Collins applies his knowledge base in a truly unique manner. Recognized as one of the foremost experts in his field, Collins has invested over a decade into researching methodologies for establishing and running a successful business. Graduating from Stanford University with degrees in mathematical science and business administration, Jim Collins moved on to serve as a faculty member at Stanford Graduate School of Business, garnering the institution’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. Three years later, Collins took on a new challenge, establishing a think tank in Boulder, Colorado. Today, Collins utilizes this management laboratory as a research and teaching venue, educating the senior executives and CEOs of more than 100 corporations. In addition to his activities at the Boulder think tank, Collins lends his expertise to numerous other social and government organizations. The Girl Scouts of the USA, the Leadership Network of Churches, and the American Association of K-12 School Superintendents are among the many groups that have benefited from Collins’ innovative work. Additionally, Collins has provided Johns Hopkins University Medical School and the United States Marine Corps with tools and information to maximize resources and streamline organizational functions. Contributing articles to high profile publications such as BusinessWeek, the Harvard Business Review, Fortune magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company, Collins boasts distinction as a bestselling author with work translated into 29 languages. A few Jim Collins books that I recommend include Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t; Built to Last; and How the Mighty Fall: Why Some Companies Never Give In.