Gaines Group Architects

Living a life on purpose as an architect #VBKeynote recap

Valley Business Keynote (#VBKeynote) was an incredible event this year with a focus on living your life on purpose, doing what you love, and loving others in your life. 


Valley Business Keynote is an annual event that facilitates engaging ideas for local leaders to help fulfill the Valley’s vast potential. This year’s event featured Mark Fernandes, Chief Leadership Officer with the Luck Companies in Goochland, VA. He discussed how leaders should impact others in a positive way through igniting their potential. He said that leaders have to be intentional about their actions in order to set the culture they want – in every word spoken and action executed.

“Life is about choices, the culture of your business is a shadow of the leader.”

Mark says that leaders need to get up each day and think about how to build the environment they want in their company. Not only how they act and what they say, but how the company acts as a whole to make positive meaning in the lives of others. Mark told us that he believes everyone has a mission in life that they, given the right opportunities, will fulfill. As a leader it is your job to build the right environment to provide those opportunities for everyone encountered to fulfill the potential they have inside of them.


Three big rules to follow to be a great leader:

1. Love your associates with all your heart

2. Give them something to believe in

3. Obsess about their future

I believe we all struggle finding out voices, trusting our hearts, and fulfilling our potential. The encouragement that Mark shared with 400+ people in the room to “have the life you want by being present in the life you have” was a powerful message. If we took it to heart and extended grace to each other just imagine the beauty we would find in our valley! I am looking forward to seeing these ideas grow and spread throughout the valley and to next year’s #VBKeynote.


The Gaines Group, PLC adds depth and experience with James Halstead, Jr.

 For Immediate Release:  The Gaines Group, PLC adds depth and experience with James Halstead, Jr.

Press Inquiries: Charles Hendricks, AIA, CSI, CDT, CAPS, LEED AP


Charlottesville, VA – The Gaines Group, PLC is pleased to announce the addition of James Halstead, Jr. to our Charlottesville, VA design team. James brings 16 years of experience in Structural Engineering, along with extensive experience in project management and quality control. His work approach is known throughout the industry as being efficient, effective, responsive, and thoughtful.

photo (1)James grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia and graduated from Piedmont College. His family, wife Lynn and daughter Kendall, live in Fluvanna County.  James served on the Fluvanna County Planning Commission from 2008-2012, acting as Chairman in 2012. Before joining The Gaines Group, PLC, he worked for Moler and Associates, Consulting Structural Engineers, and The Earth Technology Group (EarthTech). Founding member of The Gaines Group, PLC, Raymond E. Gaines, FCSI, AIA, CCS says “adding James to our team brings even more depth and understanding to our already talented team. He has extensive knowledge of how we approach a project through our many team projects over the past 16 years. We believe he is going to add tremendously to the value we can deliver to our clients for many years to come.”IMG_0647

With a combined design experience of over 100 years, The Gaines Group, PLC is pleased to add James Halstead, Jr. to our team. The firm’s continued growth during difficult economic conditions can be attributed to a focus on sound design strategies that offer healthy, energy-efficient, and durable solutions for our clients. James’ brings a deep knowledge and understanding of fundamental structural design solutions and technologies that will further our ability to better serve our community.

About The Gaines Group, PLC

The Gaines Group, PLC is a Virginia based architecture firm with offices in Charlottesville and Harrisonburg. Established in 1987, the firm has a dedication to strong ideas, ecological stewardship, and client satisfaction. As an award winning residential and commercial building design firm, The Gaines Group, PLC has established a strong reputation of sophisticated design through addressing the specific needs and place for which a project is to be built. The firm’s work does not espouse any singular architectural style, but strives to find that which is unique and important within a given project and to express it architecturally. The firm offers a comprehensive range of integrated design services including architecture, LEED Consulting, Specification Consulting, Interior Design, Landscape planning, Master Planning, Site Planning, Graphic Design, and Marketing Design.


Get to know “Milton Matter of Ivy Tools” Friday Featured Local Business

 ivy_tools_logoGive us some background on your company. What do you do and why do you do it?

Ivy Tools supplies instruments to test and diagnose issues of building performance. These tools enable contractors, inspectors, energy auditors, HVAC technicians, and homeowners to answer tough questions about a building. Maybe it’s, “Why is this room so uncomfortable?”, or “How can I reduce my utility bills?”, or “Where is that persistent leak coming from?”. Building science has come a long way in understanding how a building and its systems interact to provide a space that is healthy, comfortable, and sustainable. At the same time, advances in technology have made it possible to scientifically quantify the condition of a building’s systems in a cost-effective manner, in many cases even as the building is being constructed. These developments are changing the way we build, and changing it for the better. Why do I do it? That part is probably obvious already–I do it because I love it. Building performance is just our little piece of a larger puzzle. From great design to building heath and comfort, the built environment shapes much of our lives, and I believe doing it well is important.

Do you have an ideal client? If so, what do they look like?

Someone who needs to answer a question about a building performance issue, and needs the diagnostic means to do so, makes a good client for Ivy Tools. We are happy to Missing-Insulationprovide our time and experience to help customers solve issues such as air leakage, moisture intrusion, duct performance, or energy usage. And of course we’re happy to provide any needed diagnostic instruments as well!

What is your favorite success story in the past few years?

Wow, it’s hard to choose just one. We love to see problems solved, or questions answered. That’s what good diagnostics is all about. Choosing a real world, day-to-day example, I recently received a call from a water restoration contractor who was working in a large commercial office space that had been flooded to a depth of about four inches. He was already using one of our moisture meters, a Delmhorst BD-2100. But the enormity of the job meant he needed to quickly locate and address the walls FLIR-E30bxMissing-Insualtion-2that had absorbed the most water. I suggested using a thermal camera to find the moisture patterns and locate the most affected areas. Since a thermal camera views heat patterns, and since wet walls absorb and release heat at a different rate than dry walls, it’s a great choice to quickly locate the worst water damage. The contractor was able to visualize the most critical areas and balance his remediation efforts accordingly. The building owner and insurance adjuster were impressed with the scientific approach to evaluating the problem, and happy that they didn’t need to completely gut the building. The contractor called me a week later to thanks us and report that the thermal camera had paid for itself in just that one job.

Favorite place to spend a Saturday afternoon?

Hiking with the family would probably top the list. Favorite spots include the High Knob fire tower on the West Virginia border, and Hogcamp Branch in Shenandoah National Park. A close second to hiking would have to be working on an old British car. My children all learned their fractions from handing me the right wrench while I’m under a car. I’m currently restoring a 1965 Triumph TR4.

What is your favorite book?

That would have to be A World Lost, by Wendell Berry. It’s a novel about being rooted in place and time, and understanding community and our place in it. I try to read it every couple of years, usually in the summer since that’s when the book takes place. To name a favorite from within our industry, it’s hard to beat Residential Energy, by John Krigger and Chris Dorsi. It’s the standard text on understanding the house as a system, and introduced me and many others to both the theories and best practices of home performance. Did I really just choose a textbook as a favorite book?Infrared-Moisture

Get to know “Jill Koeppen, Photographer Extraordinaire” Friday Featured Local Business

jill_picGive us some background on your company. What do you do and why do you do it?

Jill Koeppen Photography offers on-location portrait photography based on my clients’ photography needs. Living in the beautiful Shenandoah allows me to take advantage of the outdoors as my studio, using natural light for my photo sessions. I specialize in many types of portraits – from maternity photographs, to children, to families, to professionals looking for a great head and shoulders 13

While I offer my clients photos in both black and white and color, I admit I have a soft place in my heart for black and white. Portraits are so timeless and classic in black and white.

blog 10What I love about my business is that I can tailor the photo session to suit the personality of the client. If a client tells me that their favorite family activity is to go trout fishing, we head off to a gorgeous trout stream. I’ve done a mountain biking session in the woods with a very active family. Some clients prefer to stay in their back yard or on their front porch, and that is fine too. Photos from a session where the client is having a great time in a relaxed environment reflect an honest insight into that person.

I travel to my clients who live throughout the valley. Sometimes I even get to enjoy photo sessions on the beach where my family lives in the Tidewater area.

Give a brief summary of what your company does and who you are as a company.

I have been intrigued by photography since I was in my early teenage years. As a student at James Madison University, I studied photography and mentored under two amazing JMU staff photographers, Tommy Thompson and Diane Elliott. At the university, I photographed a wide range of university activities including sports events, ribbon cuttings, and even student life during the studies abroad program. Following college, I spent some years working in public relations and 11

blog8After years of photographic exploration, I discovered what I enjoyed most was capturing a portrait of a loved one that would be cherished for years to come.  In 2006, I opened Jill Koeppen Photography.

Getting to know my clients is one of my favorite aspects of my job. I feel very honored that they choose me to peer into their lives with my camera. I know sometimes it doesn’t feel so comfortable being in front of the lens, so I try to make the photo session fun and relaxed by talking and joking around. With kids, the joking around may even lead to some spastic dancing on my part to solicit a giggle or two. Parents, I apologize in advance if you witness that!blog 14

blog 3I work closely with my clients to get to know their personality and their goals before the photo shoot so that I am sure we all walk away feeling confident that we were able to achieve an end result the client will absolutely love. There is no feeling better than a client who gushes about the photos I took!

Do you have an ideal client? If so, what do they look like?

My ideal client has a goal in mind, but is also willing to try some different things and be flexible during a shoot in order to get a photo that pleases everyone. Working outside means that I have to constantly reassess if the light is tricky or the weather doesn’t cooperate. I love clients who don’t mind going to plan b if necessary. Who knows… plan b might even lead to an incredible photo.blog4

What is your favorite success story in the past few years?

The story that sticks out the most in my mind is a client who called me to say she had just been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.  Her future was uncertain and she wanted to have a family photo taken right away before she started her chemo treatments. We held her family photo session beside a small river and she was thrilled with the photos. I’m so happy to say that today she is cancer-free!

blog 12What do you like to do for fun? Favorite restaurant? Favorite place to spend a Saturday afternoon?

When I am not working, I spend my time with my husband, Jeff, and my daughters, Claire, 13, and Ellie, 10. We like to hike together at Big Meadows and other trails on Skyline Drive during the warmer months. Big Meadows has the most amazing light and I adore taking photos there in the tall summer grass.

We cook at home a lot since three of us are vegetarians. I love making homemade bread and homemade pizzas. As far as restaurants, my family loves ethnic food. When we go out, Thai Flavor and A Bowl of Good are favorites.

blog9What is on your (iPod, radio, phone) while you work?

When I edit my photos, I enjoy listening to Pandora because I can tune into some of my favorites like Mumford and Sons, Of Monsters and Men, or 5

What is your favorite book?

Historical fiction is always intriguing to me. I just finished reading World Without End by Ken Follett. Delving into medieval history gave me a keen appreciation of the modern conveniences we enjoy today.

 Where is your favorite place to vacation? 

Our favorite family vacation was to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. I’ve never seen water as turquoise blue as the water is on Grace Bay. It was so interesting to see the pirate treasure maps carved into the cliffs there.

Our vacation this year will be spent exploring Quebec where we hope to learn more about our Canadian neighbors while eating our fill of French pastries!blog 7

What historical figure would you most like to have dinner with and why?

Sitting down to an Italian dinner of pasta and red wine with Michelangelo would make for an incredible evening. It is fascinating that someone can bring a piece of marble to life like he did. I would love to hear about life during the Renaissance in Italy.

blog6You can find more information on Jill Koeppen Photography on facebook at Jill Koeppen Photography or online at Call 540-560-4591.

Get to know “Becky Bartells, Certified Massage Therapist” Friday Featured Local Business

Massage Profile PicWe are always looking for leaders, innovators, and spectacular people in our backyard. Get to know Becky Bartells, Certified Massage Therapist, one of our newest friends in Harrisonburg. Give her a call and schedule an appointment: 540-607-0932.

Give a brief summary of what your company does and who you are as a company.

I am a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist, practicing in and around Harrisonburg and focusing primarily on mobile “home delivery” massage.  I practice a variety of massage modalities, and often incorporate them all into a single massage session, based on the client’s individual needs.  These modalities include Swedish, Deep Tissue, and Relaxation massage, as well as Aromatherapy, Myofascial Release and Trigger Point Therapy.  I also incorporate some Shiatsu, Thai & Cranio-Sacral techniques.  My fee is $1/minute (so $60 for an hour plus a delivery fee of $15) and I offer a $15 introductory discount to all new clients.

Give us some background on your company. What do you do and why do you do it?

A year and a half ago, after spending some time in Central America, I decided that I needed a change.  I worked for a fantastic company and enjoyed what I did, but it was time to shake things up a bit.  I had considered massage many times over the previous 20 years and was Pre-PT as an undergrad at JMU for a couple of years (I eventually re-focused on the botanical side of my Bio major).  I found a school in Costa Rica that offered a 4 month, full immersion massage therapy training program.  I began to put the pieces into place to make the change.  I had to do some work on my house so that I could put it on the market, sell the house (in a tricky housing market to say the least), move back in to a house that I had bought in my 20’s and had been renting out for the past 10 years, find tenants for the house while I was away and slowly extract myself (with the help of my employer) from the company I was currently working for.  It was all very exciting… and terrifying… but mostly exciting.

The Costa Rica School of Massage Therapy is an American run school, located in Playa Samara, Costa Rica.  It was the opportunity and experience of a life-time.  Our professors were flown in from all over the United States to teach us their area of expertise.  It was an intense, terrifying, stressful, unbelievably beautiful, exciting, life altering time.001 copy

The result of this time in Costa Rica was a new and refreshed perspective on life and living that I hope to share with my clients.  My new career is one of helping people feel better in their bodies.  Keeping people mobile, reducing their anxiety, helping sooth their aches and pains, and preventing new aches and pains is a very special experience.  Helping to bring my clients to a space of calm and general well-being is extremely gratifying for me and I deeply appreciate every single person that welcomes me in to that sacred space.   I am relatively new to the profession and am working on building a client base, primarily through word of mouth.  My clients have written some very generous testimonials that can be seen on my FB page.

Do you have an ideal client? If so, what do they look like?

I can’t really say that I have an “ideal” client.  Massage is physically demanding work so I do try to keep my client base balanced.  My clients range in age from 10-75 and in size from 85-250+lbs.  I’m not a large person, but I hear that I have strong hands and I feel like I can deliver a fair amount of pressure when needed.  That said, I do try to keep my Defensive Line Coach clients to a minimum though I appreciate them tremendously as well… I just have to space them out on the schedule 🙂

I am offering a mobile massage service, so I do I feel like I could best serve some of the populations that may not be able to get around as well, such as the elderly, physically disabled, and people suffering from conditions such as MS, ALS, and HIV.  I also feel like I could be a great service to new mothers or fathers who are house bound and sleep deprived.  Basically, I am happy to have anyone as a client, and variety keeps my new career interesting.


What is your favorite success story in the past few years?

I would have to say everything that has happened over the past year and a half to bring this new dream to fruition would all be part of my success story.  The ease with which everything fell into place was consistent confirmation that I was on the right path.

What do you like to do for fun? Favorite restaurant? Favorite place to spend a Saturday afternoon?  

For fun, I enjoy spending time with friends, whether that time is spent just lounging about and catching up, exercising, making dinner, sitting around a fire, hiking, visiting new places, etc…

I struggle a little bit with “favorites” questions, because I appreciate variety, I LOVE to eat and I try to support downtown Harrisonburg as much as possible.  I love the Local Chop & Grill House for excellent everything, El Sol and every taco truck in town for sopes & tacos, Rick’s Cantina for nachos & margaritas, The Joshua Wilton House for wine on the porch, Clementine for great food & live music, Jack Brown’s & Billy Jack’s for their originality (and their burgers), The Artful Dodger for morning coffee and my new favorite activity… Thursday night Salsa Night J.  I love Earth and Tea for curry chicken salad or paninis and pots of tea, and I regularly crave the buffet at Blue Nile and Paneer Saag and Raita, specifically from Indian American Café.  Thai Flavor is my favorite for Green Curry or Pho and Mexi night at The Little Grill is pretty great though I don’t get there often enough.  I’m sure I have overlooked some great restaurant, but this was getting a little long.

Right now, I am trying to give massages on Saturday afternoon, so I’ll call Sunday my Saturday and I typically spend the afternoon with Leslie, my little sister through Big Brothers and Big Sisters.  We have been together for 4 years and though I try to come up with new things to do, she prefers to be at my house, watching a movie or cooking something, or both.  Warmer weather will mean parks and hiking and wandering around downtown which we enjoy as well.  I have also recently purchased a 1973 Argosy (white Airstream) travel trailer, and am enjoying slowly working on that in my free time.  This will keep me busy for a very long time…

What is on your (iPod, radio, phone) while you work?

I listen to instrumental massage music when I’m working… Anugama and Liquid Mind on Pandora during massages, Thievery Corporation and Cinematic Orchestra when doing office work.  Other favorites include Yarn, Mana, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Mumford & Sons and MC Yogi

What is your favorite book?

Again, I can’t say I have a favorite, but ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and ‘The Presence Process’ (as well as a pile of textbooks) did have a fairly significant influence over my life the past year or so.  The last book I finished was ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ which I enjoyed.  Mostly, right now, I am trying to stay on top of my massage trade journals.

What is your favorite app for your phone or iPod?

I have a small TempleRun addiction and I am not afraid to admit it… Other than that, I use Instagram and Google Translate a lot.  I don’t really have many apps…

Where is your favorite place to vacation? 

Nicaragua and Costa Rica are where I plan to return as soon as I can possibly get there, but I would also like to get to Guatemala and Panama… so for now, Central America.

What historical figure would you most like to have dinner with and why?

Jesus… I just have a few questions I would like to ask… 😉

Get to know “Elite Insulation” Friday Featured Local Business

Give a brief summary of what your company does and who you are as a company.

Elite Insulation & PolyPro LLC is a locally owned and operated family business established by Bob, Ken and Chris Wells. Being involved in the traditional fiberglass insulation for many years, we have witnessed changes in the insulation industry. Namely, the increasing cost of energy, consumer driven environmental awareness and a demand for more efficient homes.


Traditional insulation has its limits and in order to meet consumer needs, Elite Insulation & PolyPro set out to provide a range of insulation systems that would significantly improve the way homes and buildings are insulated. Spray Polyurethane foams (SPF) and their associated hybrid methods are those systems. We are the Valley’s leading full-service spray polyurethane foam insulation company.

Our many years of industry experience ensure that we provide valuable insight and offer solutions that keep projects on track and within budget. Customer satisfaction is our priority and we take pride in our commitment to quality and service. Our sales and operations staff are spray foam experts that have been properly educated in the building science concepts, with over 80 years combined industry experience. Polypro applicators are thoroughly trained professionals that specialize in installing SPF correctly and rapidly and have the benefit of using the newest and most up to date equipment.

Give us some background on your company. What do you do and why do you do it?  

I (and my brother Chris) have literally grown up in the insulation industry.  My Dad, Bob Wells, managed an insulation contracting branch while we were in school and we would work installing insulation in the summers.  He seemed to really like giving us the jobs that his installers would refuse, such as the really tight, dirty, crawl spaces.  At 22 years old I was made a branch manager for a that same large corporation in the Shenandoah Valley, and held that position for 6 years until myself and my family decided to branch out and start our own business.

Do you have an ideal client? If so, what do they look like?

An ideal client for me is just someone who will trust in our expertise and allow us to help them get the best possible job while remaining within their budget.  Good communication always helps too.

What is your favorite success story in the past few years?

I think for a contractor or anyone in the construction related industry these days, staying in business is the biggest success story.  Other than that, winning back to back (2011& 2012) SPFA National Excellence awards, as well as being a finalist this year for the same award (third place), speaks volumes about our company and has certainly been exciting for us.


What do you like to do for fun? Favorite restaurant? Favorite place to spend a Saturday afternoon?  

Anything that I can do with my kids or family, I consider fun.  Recently, with my kids becoming more involved with sports, I find myself really enjoying watching them play.  We also really enjoy tailgating at JMU football games, and “primative” family camping.  My favorite restaurant is any place that can prepare an excellent “Pittsburgh Rare” steak.  Hands down, my favorite place to spend a Saturday would be surf/pier fishing somewhere in the Outer Banks, while “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” plays in my head.

What is on your (iPod, radio, phone) while you work?

I usually don’t listen to music while I work, but in the gym you can find just about everything on my phone, from Pink Floyd to Hard Rock and Rap.  Classic Rock, Rock, and Country would be at the top of the list with Pink Floyd being my all-time favorite band.

What is your favorite book?

It has been a while since I have fully finished a book other than “The Cat in The Hat”, but as I remember, “The Sphere”, by Michael Criton was one of my favorites.  I am a big science and science fiction fan.  One thing that I do read cover to cover is Discover Magazine.

What is your favorite app for your phone or iPod?

All of my favorites have navigation in common.  Telenav is my general navigation app that has never failed me.  SageQuest is the app I use to locate our fleet trucks in real time, and RunKeeper is my personal trainer and record keeper for my exercise routines.

Where is your favorite place to vacation? 

I think that would be a toss-up, as I have extremely fond childhood memories of vacationing in Nags Head, but just recently was fortunate enough to go on a Disney Cruise (my wife is a travel agent) with my wife and kids.  One of the stops was Cozumel, and as a biology major in college, I could snorkel and look at ocean wildlife in crystal clear water for days on end.  Also, when I did get out of the water, I had the most wonderful Mexican food to snack on.  For me, snorkeling and good Mexican food is a tough combo to beat!

What historical figure would you most like to have dinner with and why?

I would thoroughly enjoy sitting and eating with one of the great Egyptian Pharaohs (take your pick).  There are so many unanswered questions from this time period, maybe we could learn a thing or two.