Archive for August, 2020

Discipline makes it happen
Structure. A mundane word that lies at the heart of successfully working from home. Without the “quality of being organized,” laboring in the confines of mi casa can become a stressful and less-than-productive experience.

How do we know this? Because virtually every aspect of successful living is centered on self-control and motivation. The ancient Greek philosophers taught us that 2,500 years ago. But achieving those timeless goals in an environment that were previously the heart of relaxation and ease is a challenge.

Yesterday’s castle has, for many, become today’s office.

One impressive example of home office motivation is Jack London, the American novelist, journalist, and author of Call of the Wild. The man penned 50 books and hundreds of articles. Almost every day of his adult life, London wrote 1,500 words; a goal any professional writer today would be pleased to achieve.

What makes his literary achievements even more impressive is that London died at the age of 40 of kidney disease. His famous quote: “I would rather my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot,” sums up his grab-life-by-the-collar philosophy.

With COVID-19 placing the Nation in lockdown, millions of office workers are attempting to convert their corporate office into a home-based one. To succeed, it’s helpful to seek out how it’s done.

But rather than pull research from the wealth of literature on the subject of hearthside productivity, let’s visit with three area residents who’ve been working from home before the world changed six weeks ago.

The Hagarty Real Estate Team
Brian Hagarty, 52, lives just north of Warrenton. He and his wife Diane have been selling real estate for over two decades, the last five of which have been out of their home. Sales are generated by hours of work in the home office and consummated when showing properties that have been digitally previewed by buyers.

“The first thing to establish is a daily schedule and stick to it,” said Brian Hagarty. “I get up at 6:30 a.m., Monday through Friday. If you sleep till 9, it’s going to result in lost business. If you worked in a typical office, would the boss allow you to show up in mid-morning? I doubt it. When working at home, you are the boss.”

He cautions the benefits—no commutes, for example—will be countered by the difficultly of staying focused. He thinks more intensity and mental focus is demanded working inside the home. Establishing that discipline will initially be a tough challenge.

He muses that there is a temptation to act like every day is the weekend. The urge to do yard work, surf the web, stream a good movie, or drop by the fridge is ever constant. Good habits take time to create. Invest the time.

After discipline, distractions are the next snake lying in the weeds to derail work. Hagarty shared that recently he was on the phone with an important client when one of his two dogs began aggressively barking outside, likely in pursuit of a raccoon.

“That triggered my inside dachshund to start barking loudly too. Through experience, I quickly muted my iPhone so that I could hear the client, but he couldn’t hear the racket. It permitted the conversation to proceed while I was calming the dogs down.”

On video conferencing calls, he makes certain he’s dressed appropriately and has no unkempt household items lying in the background. Professionalism prevails in the home just as in the office.

Video conferencing using apps like Zoom and Skype are a productive and enjoyable way to conduct business today. “But be sure the lightening is good on your monitor, and the background is free of distractions.”

He closes by sharing that real estate listings are down 49 percent from the same period last year. “That’s huge. It’s a great time for sellers.”

Rex Cooper, consultant
Rex Cooper, 55, is a lifelong Warrenton resident who sold his sensor instrument company in 2018 and subsequently sold his office space last October. Given his experience, he continued to work for the firm as a consultant. He’s been working for seven months now out of a small, comfortable, home office, located above his garage.

Fortunately, he installed high-speed internet about a year ago. Hence, his work on writing contracts and generating new business mirrors his former work life.

“I typically arrive in my office around 8:30 a.m. and work till about four in the afternoon. My mornings are the busiest times. It quiets down in the afternoon. During those times, I do research on the internet, prospect, and help write contracts.”

He augments his computer work by regularly checking his cell phone since business flows on both devices. If he is away from the home office, he uses his eveready laptop to engage clients or business colleagues.

Cooper advises new homebound office workers to be on alert for distractions. “I think it’s easy to get distracted by things like a leaky sink that you’ve wanted to fix for weeks and not gotten around to it. You need to keep a normal business schedule.

“Each morning I tell the family, ‘I’m going to work,’ as I head for the home office. So, I’m kind of leaving the house. I go into the office and close the door.” He echoes Hagarty’s thoughts on eliminating as many distractions as possible.

“I tell my wife and kids please don’t pop in and start asking me questions every five minutes. Secondly, keep a set routine. It’s important.”

Colleen Rathgeber, account executive
Colleen Rathgeber, 43, lives in Haymarket and holds an MBA degree and is a mother of three. She has worked for several nationally known firms, including AOL, the Los Angeles Times, Yahoo, RealtyTrac, First Data, and more.

Like many executives today, when an opportunity for advancement presents itself, she springs.

“As long as there is not a decrease in productivity, I think the pandemic is going to increase home office jobs when it’s over. The cost to firms offering work at home can be significantly lower than operating a traditional office.

“But if a person has worked for an on-site company that was highly social, with a lot of interacting among colleagues, it’s going to be hard to adjust. A lot of people don’t understand that and don’t plan for that adjustment period.

“To deal with the problem, homebound employees need to have interaction with people via the computer, phone, and teleconferencing.”
The upside is it can increase your productivity because you do not have to deal with a commute. “Also, after putting my kids to bed, if necessary, I can go back and log on for an hour or two of more work. The flexibility is great.”

Rathgeber also thinks work-life balance is critical. It can include midday work breaks for exercise like walking or jogging. As is often heard, rising at the same time each day, grabbing a shower and getting dressed sets the stage for a successful workday. “How you look and feel can seep into your online and phone business demeanor.”

Rathgeber has a walking treadmill desk, a stand-up desk, and a conventional desk. Some people question how much work can be accomplished when walking and typing at the same time, but she adapted very quickly. “I love the exercise options these kinds of desks provide.”

Published in April 2020 in the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES

Cider Lab gains strong following

Posted on Aug 03 2020 | By

Summerduck father and son team generating fans with tasty craft cider

The plan was to open the Cider Lab and sell 200 gallons in the first ten weeks of launch. But a friendly visit from the owner of nearby Rogers Ford Farm Winery changed the plans just a tad.

“Johnny Puckett stopped by and tasted the ciders. He asked how much we were going produce, and we told him. He said, ‘No way. You’ll need a lot more than that.’” said A.J. Rasure, co-owner, along with his father James Rasure of the Cider Lab.

With a bit of scrambling, the nascent cider factory boosted its production from 200 to 500 gallons and unlocked its doors on July 11. The first day’s sales were 110 gallons. Good advice from the wine guy.

Since its opening, it has sold 400 gallons of cider in 15 days of operation. And consider they’re open on just Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Word gets around fast.

The two “cider scientists” behind the success story are a father-son team having a lot of fun. Both are employed full-time in worlds far removed cider.

James Rasure, 55, is a retired naval officer with five years’ experience in submarine nuclear engineering and 15 years in meteorology and oceanography. Today, he works as a satellite scientist at the National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly.

A.J. Rasure, 32, was in the Marine Corps band for 12 years retiring to start a photography business focused on weddings and commercial real estate. He returned to college and degreed in physics and mathematics.

Currently, he is a physicist at the Dahlgren Naval Base. He is also assistant band director at Chancellor High School.

So, the question arises, when do these guys find the time to make cider?

“Between the hours of 5:30 and 11 every night,” said James Rasure. It would likely be seven days a week, but they take a break to sell their libations the rest of the time.

In the beginning
Enthusiasm and passion are hallmarks of these two energized cider guys. The sharp turn into cider started with an overproductive tomato garden. Years ago, James Rasure’s father told him you could make anything into wine.

“So, I made a tomato wine. It wasn’t very good. My wife thought we needed some help and brought a winemaking class for A.J. and me,” said the elder Rasure. The course, held at the Bacchus Winery in Fredericksburg, was seven weeks long, one day each week.

“We enjoyed making wine together so much we continued to go in every week after the course was over to make different kinds of wine,” said James Rasure. As can often happen in the world of fermentation, they were hooked.

Their inquisitiveness led to making apple cider for a friend. The guy decided he didn’t want to buy six gallons of the beverage. Since cider wasn’t the Rasure’s thing at the time, they decided to spice it up with Habanero.

It made the cider too hot, so some mango syrup was blended in. “It turned out so good we took our third batch to Red, White and Bleu Brew in Locust Grove to taste. They ended up purchasing five gallons a week for sale at the brewery,” said James Rasure.

The offering has been further refined since its inception and is today one of Cider Lab’s customer favorites.

Word of the unique flavors available at its laid back cidery dictated a soon-to-be production increase to 1,100 gallons, featuring six ciders in their tasting room.

“With the equipment we now have, we can push production to 2,200 gallons at some point,” explains A. J. Rasure. “But we like cider to age because it creates better flavors, especially with darker fruits like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. We don’t want to push production too fast.”

Given the number of customers coming through the front door, the pressure will build to balance quantity with quality, with the latter taking the lead.

Because of the newness of the cidery, there is a synergy developing between Rogers Ford Farm Winery and the Cider Lab. “They send people our way, and we send people to the winery. Together we’re trying to make the linkage between the two consumer groups,” said A.J. Rasure.

The lineup
When you enter the comfy Cider Lab directly ahead, behind a glass wall, is a view of its production facility. To the right is the tasting bar. They sell six selections ranging in sweetness from dry to five percent residual sugar. Alcohol hovers around five percent.

The offerings are:
Mango Habanero
Raspberry Cider
Pineapple Perry
Blackberry Jerk’m
Summerduck Cider

The tastings are $3 each or $15 for the six. Currently, they are not bottling any of the ciders. Purchases can be made by the glass or in two sizes of growlers. Picnic tables under tents offer a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy the beverages.

James Rasure sums up the new enterprise by saying, “I am having so much fun reconnecting with my son and making cider. It’s just great seeing the community coming out here and having a picnic in our yard and drinking our cider. I could do this for the rest of my life.”

The Cider Lab, located at 5344 Summerduck Road, is opened Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Check out its website at


Published in an August 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES

Shaved ice generating shared smiles

Five months ago, two entrepreneurs, who also happened to be cousins, were poised to launch a unique business that was happiness on four wheels. Their colorful Kona Ice truck is a state-of-the-art vehicle whose sole purpose is selling shaved ice treats second to none.

Then in a blink of a COVID-19 eye, their dreams melted as quickly as their ice delights. After spending a half-a-year buying their franchise and graduating from “Kona Kollege” as certified owners on one of the fastest-growing franchises in the country, their vision evaporated.

Today, things are back on track. The business is growing at a blistering pace in time to ease the blistering heat of Virginia’s summer. A central feature of Kona Ice’s corporate business strategy centers on fundraising for worthy causes. In the past ten years, its franchisees have donated over $82 million to thousands of organizations.

Maria Lischak and Tania Terleckyj are the figurative and literal drivers behind the business. The franchise is supportive of women, veterans, and law enforcement owners.

“In March, we were ready to go. We had schools, non-profits, youth sports, churches, and more lined up. We were booked through the end of October. We had our very first school event in early March, and then everything came to a halt,” said Lischak.

The company’s more than 1,200 franchisees faced the same crippling halt of business. With group gatherings shut down, the corporation quickly pivoted to save their owners.

“What Kona corporate did was enable us to offer curbside call and delivery in neighborhoods,” said Lischak. “The company created an app called Kurbside Kona so customers can go online to order their frozen treats. It’s similar to other restaurant and pizza delivery businesses.”

“When you order online, you set a specific time for delivery and what products you want. We call five minutes before arrival to let you know we are on the way,” said Terleckyj.

There are five different sizes of cups from the nine-ounce Kiddie for $3 up to the 22-ounce Kowabunga for $6.

The company also works with homeowner associations to provide service. The South Wales community located in northern Culpeper County arranged to have the Kona Ice truck available for its residents. It used the community’s basketball court’s parking lot, and its website announced the times and location of service.

“We’ve served South Wales on three occasions,” said Lischak.

When the truck arrives on location, it is easy to spot. It is a colorful blast of tropical colors and graphics playing calypso music. It triggers a “wow” reaction, signaling the tasty treats produced therein. Kona is a popular name for Hawaiian children.

The formal name of the business is Kona Ice of Culpeper, Locust Grove, and Warrenton. Its territory includes part of Orange County and most of Fauquier and Culpeper counties.

Shaved ice dates to the Roman Emperor Nero in 27 B.C. Nero had snow transported from the mountains and then flavored with fruit and honey. Today, shaved ice differs from a slushie. Shaving enables the flavorings to soak more deeply into the ice and create a smooth consistency that other ice products lack.

Squeaky clean
“Kona Ice has outfitted all its trucks to be compliant with the highest standards required by any state regulations,” said Terleckyj. “We have contactless payment and change our gloves and masks regularly.”

Temperature checks are taken at the beginning of each work shift. The inside and outside of the truck are applied with MircoShield 360, an FDA and EPA approved product kills viruses on any surface.

Given the importance of cleanliness today, the truck is continually cleaned. It’s compliant with the National Sanitation Foundation International requirements, whose charter is helping to standardize sanitation and food safety in more than 170 countries.

On August 1, the Kona Ice truck will participate in the upcoming fundraising drive-in movie night with the Salem volunteer fire and rescue department. “We want to have more of these events in our service areas,” said Lischak. “We ask any worthy organization to reach out to us to make it happen.

“We are thrilled to be able to be doing this work. The smiles we see on people’s faces when we come out is wonderful. They are thankful and welcoming. It’s been overwhelming for us.

“The kids have been especially sweet. We drove up to one house, and one of the kids came running up and shouted, ‘This is the best day ever. Even better than Christmas!’.”

For information on the Kona Ice schedule, visit its Facebook page at


Published in a July 2020 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES