LifeLoop: Integrating Tomorrow’s Technology with Senior Care Today

Whether we visit once a week or once a year, we all worry about the day-to-day lives of our senior family members. LifeLoop, winner of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Month Award for October, seeks to bridge the communication gap between family members and providers via technology, allowing seamless, centralized tracking to keep everyone in the “Loop.”
LifeLoop’s user-friendly interface allows calendar management, resident tracking and reporting with the ability to live stream and share photos, plus check transportation and home maintenance requests, with the convenience of a secure, online platform.
From skilled nursing to independent living, LifeLoop comes in handy for a wide variety of clientele. Family members who live out of town or want to be more involved in their family members’ daily lives are able to check in via smartphone or tablet. Independent residents can also make notes, send their own messages and communicate with their loved ones with just the click of a button.
Amy Johnson, CEO and cofounder of LifeLoop, started the business with her husband, Kent, and Phil Lee in 2015.
“We started LifeLoop out of a need for our family,” Amy Johnson said. “My father-in-law, in particular, was going through the process of moving his mom into a community. He had just experienced these gaps in communication. The community was great, but it was very much a question of, ‘How do you bridge that gap in the day?’”
This experience caused Johnson and her cofounders to explore the need for a comprehensive service for nurses, staff, residents and family. As time went on, it evolved into a “much better platform,” Johnson said.
Knowing there is a 45-percent turnover rate in skilled nursing staff, LifeLoop maintains all the resident records in one consolidated portal so everyone can remain in-the-know, regardless of staff turnover.
Currently in 28 states, LifeLoop’s goal is to expand their work to all 50. With three cofounders from vastly different backgrounds, LifeLoop strives to set itself apart with a philosophy of solution-driven excellence that provides the best result for each client. Johnson, who worked with Mutual of Omaha for eight years, used that experience to prepare for her current position as CEO. Kent, a commodity trader, and Phil Lee, an attorney, brought other complementary skills to the company.
“We all kind of go in our own lanes,” Amy Johnson said. “I’m more of the sales, client-focused, and Kent and Phil are more of the financial end.”
Currently managing a team of 10 full- and part-time staff, Johnson enthusiastically beamed that she has, “a great team.”
“Without them, none of this happens,” she said. “We’re like a small family. You’ve got to put all of those talents together to make it work.”
Seeing the value their program has added to seniors’ daily lives has been an enormously rewarding to Johnson and her team. She said that she is overjoyed to be, “doing this for a reason versus just spinning our wheels.”
Their mission is simple and pure: “To simplify things for all the staff, residents, and families by creating a platform to do so,” Johnson said.
Winning the Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Month Award has been an unexpected acknowledgement of all LifeLoop’s hard work.
“It was so exciting,” Johnson said. “I was not expecting that! I think it’s really cool because it’s acknowledging us as a business. I feel like sometimes I get all this recognition because I’m in that position (as CEO), whereas this is our whole team, and we’re doing this together.”
Having joined the startup community supported by the Chamber, LifeLoop received exposure to a wide variety of local organizations.
“I think the Chamber is a great staple in our community,” Johnson said, “and it’s something that we always want to support.”
After a time in the senior care community, Johnson has advice for fellow business owners.
“Trust your gut,” she said. “I don’t do anything that I have a bad gut feeling about. Find yourself with the right people, and don’t think you can do it all, because usually hiring the right people will take you a lot further.”
If you or a loved one need to be kept in the “Loop” with their relative, visit LifeLoop’s comprehensive service page at https://ourlifeloop.com/features/ or call 402-915-3860 to set up a consultation.

 

Written for the Daily Record – The Omaha Chamber’s Small Business of the Month: http://www.omahadailyrecord.com/index.cfm?show=10&mid=84&pid=43

 

Peitzmeier Demolishes Competition With Fair Prices and Clean Work

Even though it says demolition in its name, Peitzmeier Demolition and Concrete Cutting, Inc. does more than just blow up buildings.
Owner Mark Peitzmeier said his team approaches every project differently, based on the desired result.
Their website elaborates: “We specialize in Commercial and Industrial Demolition Services. Our company attempts to recycle, when possible, as much of the material we work with to reduce the economic and environmental impact within communities.”
Because of Peitzmeier’s stellar reputation and vast experience, the Omaha Chamber of Commerce has named his firm the September Small Business of the Month. They serve Omaha and surrounding areas in the Midwest.
Offering everything from gutting buildings to emergency response when structures become unstable, Peitzmeier and his team are dedicated to both quality work and giving back to their community.
Located at 1119 South 6th Street and a member of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce since the doors opened in 2012, Peitzmeier values the relationships and contacts made through the many member events.
“We always seem to meet a lot of people there,” he said. “We wear shirts with our name on them and, by the end of the night, we get one or two more pieces of business out of it so that part’s always been good to us.
“All it takes is one job to pay for the membership, so it’s definitely worth it.”
Bringing 40 years of construction experience into his business, Peitzmeier was motivated to venture out on his own once his children were out of college. As superintendent at Kiewit for 18 years, he hesitated to leave a construction powerhouse and go out on his own.
“After I started,” Peitzmeier said, “I wish I’d started 10 years earlier, but then I didn’t want to take the risk.”
Having experienced life in construction during his tenure at Kiewit, he now contracts with his former employer on various projects throughout the Midwest. In fact, he has even done deconstruction on some of the buildings he helped to build.
The job that launched Peitzmeier Demolition and Concrete Cutting’s contractor business was the complete demolition and dirt work of the 170,000 square-foot Nebraska Crossing shopping mall in Gretna. To Peitzmeier, it was a “make or break” job for the budding business. They completed the job six weeks ahead of schedule despite some difficult weather.
“That started us,” he said, “Kiewit was impressed.”

Another high-profile job elicited an emotional response from the Plattsmouth community. Peitzmeier took care of the emergency demolition of a historic building that housed three downtown businesses and residences at 4th and Main Street. A fire destroyed the structure despite the efforts of seven fire departments in the frigid January weather of 2014. A thick coat of ice covered the entire area, adding another dimension to the removal.
KETV Channel 7 has Peitzmeier to thank for clearing the way for a complete renovation of the historic Burlington Train Station into its new broadcast facility. The demolition work included an extensive salvage of historic and ornamental elements of the 1898 landmark building that was originally built in the Italianate style. Coordination with railroad authorities was necessary to facilitate removal of an elevated train platform without disturbing AMTRAK daily arrivals on the lower platform.
Peitzmeier Demolition and Concrete Cutting has been successful because of Peitzmeier’s unwavering standards and connection to the community.
Not only does he give back locally; when projects are commissioned in other states like Kentucky, Colorado, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois, Peitzmeier hires local workers to contribute to the local economy.
“It’s a win-win,” he said.
They also have a “green” mindset and recycle as much material as possible from every job site.
“All of our concrete gets recycled,” he said. “We’ll take it and get it crushed down for road bases. All the steel gets taken in and re-sent out and re-melded. Same with all the aluminum and copper, glass, the carpet (if it’s in good shape), we’ll bring it in and re-sell it or donate it.”
Partnering with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Ronald McDonald house, Peitzmeier Demolition and Concrete Cutting is consistently contributing in some way to the community.
From demolition to dirt work, Peitzmeier’s work is mainly comprised of what is referred to as “soft” demolition like the removal of ceilings, carpets, walls and other interior structures. Their focus is to provide a quick, but quality job.
Peitzmeier’s philosophy is to, “Finish strong. Clean it up when we’re done. Broom sweep it, get all the wires, make sure the walls are clean.”
By doing things the right way the first time, Peitzmeier Demolition and Concrete Cutting maintains a reputation of excellence and a philosophy of being detail oriented.
Not only are the company’s services top notch, Peitzmeier pays for half of its employees’ health insurance. Peitzmeier acknowledges that it’s “a huge cost.”
“In our industry, it’s amazing how many don’t have insurance,” he said.
However, the return is worth the investment because it guarantees quality employees stay. That’s reflected in their high quality of work.
Working with a variety of clientele, Peitzmeier has one simple motto.
“Price it right,” he said. “We’re not getting rich overnight. We want the customers to come back. We probably get half of our business from contractors. They just trust us, they know they’re going to get the right prices right off the bat.”
The biggest reward for Peitzmeier is coming to work every day.
“I love coming into work,” he said, “so that’s a reward. A lot of people don’t, so that right there is big. Loving what I do is what makes it fun.”

Written for the Omaha Daily Record Published 9/25/18: http://www.omahadailyrecord.com/index.cfm?show=10&mid=84

 

Don’t Shop—Adopt!: Shelter Dogs Bring Lots of Love

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, which means now is a great time to bring home a pup in need! Dog rescues and shelters are constantly tasked with finding homes for millions of animals who need a family. An astounding 6–8 million animals are taken into shelters each year, and only half of them will leave to another home because of sheer overpopulation and lack of resources. That’s barely a drop in the bucket of the approximately 70 million stray animals currently out there! Volunteering, fostering, and adopting these fur babies are great ways to get involved and save lives. Animal shelters are sometimes criticized because of their “kill” or “no kill” categorization, but such labels don’t fully explain the situation, and this emotionally charged language does nothing to serve the overall good. The bottom line is that adopting a dog from a shelter—any shelter—or a dog rescue saves a life, and it can greatly enhance yours!

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Dog rescues provide essentials to their residents every single day. From spaying and neutering services to microchipping and vaccinating, rescues across the country are essential to the well-being of animals and the battle against overpopulation. Not only do they perform these expensive services prior to adoption, they are often done at no cost to potential adopters! As an added bonus, adoption fees go straight back into helping other dogs find loving homes of their own. If only a purebred will do, there are plenty of rescues dedicated to specific breeds! In this case, you’ll get the dog of your dreams while saving another life.

Many of the dogs in rescues and shelters are older dogs (at least, they’re not puppies). Puppies are definitely cute, but there are a lot of advantages to adopting an adult dog. Are you looking for a dog that won’t take away your beauty rest or chew your shoes? An older rescue dog is the perfect solution! Many times, busy families don’t have the time to train a puppy. Shelter dogs are already trained and housebroken, so there are no messes to fret over. Older dogs also sleep through the night, contrary to their small-bladdered puppy compatriots, who are prone to waking at 2, 4, and 6 o’clock each morning for a potty break. Adult and senior dogs are also more likely to be done with their “chewing” phase. That said, if your heart is still set on a puppy, don’t worry—shelters are brimming with them!
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Some people may fear that a stray or a dog that has been “rescued” from a bad situation may not behave well, but most rescue dogs end up making excellent companions. They are known to blossom once they know they’re in a safe environment, and they seem to show their gratitude in happy cuddles and bonding with their rescuers. These sweet pups are often openly grateful to those who give them a second chance at life.

If you are a dog lover but aren’t ready for the commitment of adopting, consider volunteering a few hours at a local shelter. Why not spend a Saturday playing with dogs, helping clean up, or educating others about rescue dogs? There are so many ways to help pups in need, and every bit counts when every dollar means saving another life. Not only will you learn more about dogs, you’ll also achieve the satisfaction that comes from helping those who cannot help themselves. Short on time? Donations in all forms are always appreciated.

Fostering a dog or puppy is another great way to help. This process makes transitioning into a forever home much easier for young or abused dogs while simultaneously opening space for more pups in the shelters. Animals that particularly benefit from fostering include pregnant females and puppies that are too young to be weaned or spayed or neutered. By keeping these dogs a bit longer, shelters can be sure their animals are in the very best shape when they are put up for adoption.

If you are interested in adopting a furry family member, there is no better choice than a rescue dog. Typically, the older the dog, the smaller the adoption fee. Puppies who are six months and younger tend to be in the highest demand, so they tend to cost more. Remember, however, that these fees are directly re-invested into helping other pooches find their forever homes. To find out more about how you can help, contact your local dog rescue or animal shelter today!

 

Written for Women’s Edition October 2018: https://www.womensedition.com/insidethisedition

Good Planning Starts with Goals: Great Planning Starts with Blazek Estate Planning

With the mantra, “all good planning starts with goals,” Omaha native Jim Blazek knew from a young age that his goal was to become an attorney. His success, he says, can be attributed to some “happy accidents.” One of these was getting to know Creighton professor Barbara Pearlman, who pushed Jim to know all the ins and outs of estate and tax law by constantly calling on him for answers. In 1981, after Jim graduated from Creighton School of Law, he established Blazek Estate Planning.

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Another happy accident is Jim’s partner, Jared Gregg. An attorney from Ogallala, Jared has now been with the firm for nine years. According to Jim, he complements the firm because “he was doing estate planning for farmers and ranchers long before he met me.”

A unique aspect of Blazek Estate Planning is that they specialize in estate planning only. Rather than diversifying their services, the firm is dedicated to the production of quality documents to serve future generations. Offering estate planning creation, maintenance, and administration, Blazek Estate Planning specializes in only this area, ensuring that every “t” will be crossed and every “i” will be dotted.

 “Planning changes during the different seasons of our lives,” Jim notes. “A great tragedy is that people will start out with a plan and then never update it.” Large life events like marriage, parenthood, or significant accrual of wealth can change a person’s estate planning needs drastically. Being cognizant of life changes, of important updates, and of how your estate planning documents should grow with you is crucial to ensuring that you get precisely the protection that you need.

Many clients first come in for simple wills. This is what Jim refers to as the “starter will,” which makes sense for people who primarily want to name guardians for their minor children. However, for those with over $500,000 in assets, Jim recommends setting up a revocable living trust, rather than a will based plan, because it can better protect assets over time.

Unlike typical estate planning, which plans for the division of assets, putting assets in trust can protect the assets for future generations and protects them from anyone outside the intended beneficiaries. For example, Jim says, “if I die and my wife remarries, what can I do to make sure my assets go to my kids and not somebody else?” Living trusts and proper estate planning ensure the protection of assets, especially when a family member remarries. Trusts use a series of protective strategies that have an impact on succeeding generations. “That’s what’s really cool about better estate planning,” Jim says. “You can affect multiple generations.”

Jim tries to “foresee the main ways that people lose money and plan against those things.” When he initially sits down with clients, Jim stresses that all planning starts with goals. “It’s the attorney’s job to assess what the client’s goals are, because people have different goals. Some people want to come in and talk about disability or how to handle probate or capital gains tax planning. They’ll have multiple issues when they come in.” In some cases, he notes, clients need his help to discover what their goals really are. “It’s my job to identify those goals and figure out the best way of meeting them.”

“Everybody loves Monday” at Blazek Estate Planning, Jim shares. The three attorneys and five support staff members will be relocating to a larger space in the coming months. Their newest attorney is Jim’s son, Paul Blazek. Paul is pleased to be following in his father’s footsteps at a firm that innovates on traditional strategies, provides a personal paralegal for each trust client, and even conducts phone calls with clients at no extra charge. “When we give our clients good value, then we all win,” Jim says, and that supports his “everybody wins” mentality. He and his firm are proud to maintain relationships with families from one generation to the next.

The most rewarding aspect of Jim’s job is how his clients feel about the results they get from the firm. When clients walk out the door, saying, “This was so easy,” it makes the long days worthwhile. “It’s a lot of fun, and it’s very rewarding,” Jim concludes. “We have clients who we’ve enjoyed years of relationships with, and so it’s just a very fulfilling, rewarding career.”

Has your life changed recently? Has your estate plan changed with it? If you are newly married, have recently had children, are gathering wealth, or simply need to consult with an expert in tax law, contact Blazek Estate Planning today by calling 402-496-3432 or visiting blazekandgregg.com.

Written for Women’s Edition October 2018: https://www.womensedition.com/omahainsidelook

Dine at Spezia: Truly Great Service, Truly Local Steaks

Local Italian restaurant Spezia is home not only to some of the greatest cuisine in the Omaha area, but also to some of the best staff. Operated by managing partner and head chef Brian Reilly, Spezia has employed Heather Bagshaw as a professional server since 2007 (just three years after Spezia’s grand opening!). With over 15 years of serving and hotel experience prior to her current position, Heather knew right away that she wanted to work at a fine dining establishment like Spezia.

Heather appreciates the family environment that Spezia provides for its patrons and its employees. “I can’t imagine not working here,” she says. “The food is spectacular…my customers are so great, too.” Customers return the compliment by having nothing but fantastic things to say about Heather and her fellow staff. It’s no surprise that Heather is so popular—she knows her regular customers by name and even knows most of their favorite dishes!

Tom Dolan, a financial advisor, has been a regular at Spezia for 24 years, and his Thursday lunch group always asks for Heather. “She was our server for years,” says Tom. “She always makes a point to come say hi and catch up. She greets each one of us individually and makes sure we’ve enjoyed everything. She’s the reason we go there.” In addition to the outstanding service he receives each time he enters Spezia, the delicious food and the convenient location keep Tom coming back.

One of the reasons Heather is so proficient is her passion for her work. “Some people hate going to work,” Heather says. “I actually look forward to going to work. It’s my family.” Tom attests to her positive attitude and dedication, noting that “she’s very professional and works a lot of hours, and she seems never to be in a bad mood.”

As far as the food goes, Spezia’s dedication to quality is palpable. Brian starts every single morning preparing and caring for their signature wood-fire grill. “We build the fire in the morning, and it spreads out as the coals break down,” Brian says. “We’re constantly adding logs to the fire, so it’s constantly changing.” Because the heat is inconsistent, cooking on a wood-fire grill is a difficult skill to master, Brian explains. “It’s not like we turn the gas on and the cook knows exactly where to put the steak—there are a lot of variables. The smoke and flame come through and sear the meat, and the fire keeps changing.” Ultimately, you end up with a great steak.

The grill, which uses a variety of hardwoods like ash, oak, and cherry, is what truly sets Spezia apart from other steakhouses in Omaha. For example, Brian explains, “You might have a restaurant downtown that sells prime, but if they stick it in a gas grill, you don’t get that same flavor.” Having eaten at many other restaurants in town and sampled many steaks, Brian can honestly say that the best steak he has ever eaten “was cooked right here on this grill.”

Along with this artisan cooking, Brian points out that the source of any protein is just as important as the grill it’s cooked on. In 2017, Brian began a partnership with the Greater Omaha Packing Company. When Brian asked them where he could eat one of their steaks locally, they simply replied that no one had them—they ship their meat to New York for the large Manhattan steakhouses and even as far as China, Russia, and Indonesia. Brian worked hard to strike a deal with the massive distributor to acquire local meat in-house. “The big thing for me is building these local relationships,” Brian says. “When we first started this venture, they had no way of getting their meat to us; you had to buy 20,000 pounds.” Now, Spezia exclusively offers certified 1920 Omaha Angus beef from the Greater Omaha Packing Company.

After the best beef has been acquired, there’s still the aging to consider. Aging beef is an art form, developing tenderness over the course of 30 to 90 days. Once the meat has been aged to Brian’s liking, he slices it each morning to be offered on the day’s menu. This process not only gives the meat added flavor but also allows time for the muscle tissue to break down and tenderize, delivering a sumptuous experience for diners. “We just don’t get tired of hearing people say, ‘That’s the best steak I’ve ever had in my life!’” Brian concludes.

If you’re looking for a restaurant where the steaks slice like butter and the wait staff knows your name, look no further. Call Spezia at 402-391-2850 to book your table today!

 

Written for Women’s Edition October 2018: https://www.womensedition.com/omahaoutandabout