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A Beaver Lost in the Woods

Friday, September 14, 2018

This edition of the Hamilton Minute comes from a friend and former client, Bill Rulien of Beaver Creek Golf Carts in Braidwood, Joliet, Watseka and Peru (the town in Illinois, not the country!).  He has new and used equipment, custom carts, some cool stuff, rentals, and can fix anything that’s fixable – visit his website for more info

When Bill became Mayor of Braidwood several years ago he needed advice on some engineering issues and we spent most of a Saturday driving around town and looking at projects.  The Mayor expressed concerns and I defended the engineering that had been performed by three different engineering firms (not us).  I learned later that I had frustrated him.  He wanted a sales pitch, and confirmation that the City was not being well served.  Instead I had given him advice of how to get the best work for the least cost and that oftentimes means keeping the engineer you have but communicating your needs in more detail.  Dad taught me ethics in business and in the profession of engineering. Rotary, the National Society of Professional Engineers and life have furthered that education.  Bill and I learned later that we share those ideals for our very different companies.

A couple months later Bill called me again, this time to referee a disagreement between one of the engineering firms and three of the contractors on a wastewater treatment plant expansion project.  He got to see me in action, slow to criticize but quick to find solutions that balanced long-term and short-term cost effectiveness, the needs of the operator, the needs of the client, the needs of the citizens, and protection of the environment.  I thought I was there to help, Bill saw it as an interview.  Bill and I went to lunch afterward and he asked me to serve as the City Engineer.  I accepted, and over the coming years we became friends and we learned from each other as we together embraced the challenges of doing as much as possible for as little as possible.  Bill’s term as Mayor ended about 3½ years ago, so I was not reappointed, but we stay in touch through a mutual friend.

I hope you enjoy his story and his goofy picture.  He’s a great guy!


The Beaver Lost in the Woods

About a year ago, I decided to build a new house. After the frustrations of getting the permit; another story, we were moving ahead. The foundation was backfilled and it was ready for carpentry, which I fully intended to do by myself. I sat down with my blueprint and came up with a lumber list of eighteen items.

I made my list on a sheet of notebook paper with the quantity and description. Example: 206 pcs 2x6x92 5/8". I like to buy local, so at about 11:00 a.m. I arrived at the local lumber yard. I had an estimate based on an online app from one of the big box stores. My budget was based upon that. When I got to the local store, I walked up to the counter inside the store and saw three workers. Like magic, two of them promptly disappeared.

After a few minutes, the third salesman acknowledged my existence "help ya?" I explained that I was building a house and had a list of materials that I needed a quote on as I laid my sheet of notebook paper on the counter. He said, "I'll get to it tomorrow".  It was Thursday morning and I wanted to start framing on Monday. So I asked can you deliver by Monday and he replied, "Tuesday, maybe next Friday, I don't know". I asked him when will he know and he responded with "when I get the quote done". I took my notebook paper, thanked him for his time. In other words, I voted with my feet and left. I drove to the big box store, walked up to the counter, and handed the young man my list. He started typing in the computer and about two minutes later he handed me the quote, which included the pricing and quantity. My timing was great because they also had an 11% rebate going on and they could deliver the next day. I was framing on Monday.

That was great customer service. I know that as much as I try to make sure that my company, Beaver Creek Golf Carts, delivers fantastic service, we may fall short. If we do, please say something and we will try our best to make it right.

Bill Rulien is the owner of Beaver Creek Trailers and Golf Carts and the former Mayor of Braidwood. He can be reached at or 815-723-9455 when he is not lost in the woods.