Category Archives: 3-Season Room

Memorial Day: Celebrating Life, Outdoors in Central Iowa

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend. Already. And, yet, it seemed so long in coming. A tough winter here in Des Moines…Central Iowa…and many places across this great country. And a tough spring (or was it winter?) followed.

Maybe moreso than any other holiday, there are many events, celebrations, milestones and memories associated with Memorial Day and the weekend(s) around it.

  • Memorial Day

    Memorial Day

    First and foremost, the “true meaning” of Memorial Day: Originally known as Decoration Day, it was a day set aside to remember soldiers who died in the Civil War. Unfortunately, more wars followed and so have the lives of (too) many American service men and women. So, the day has evolved to remember all Americans who have sacrificed their lives in military service for the freedoms the rest of us enjoy. The “decoration” part comes from the tradition of decorating soldiers’ graves with flags and flowers. That aspect of the tradition has further expanded to general maintenance and decoration – and memorials – of all family members’ graves sites, regardless of their military service. Cemeteries never look better than they do on Memorial Day.

  • Folks in the southern half of the country may not appreciate this as much as those of us in the Des Moines latitudes and above, but Memorial Day’s place on the calendar positions it at what has become the “unofficial” start of summer. Or, some might say, the “official” start of the outdoor living season…maybe the first weekend of full-blown outdoor parties or social gatherings on your deck or patio. Not to mention pool openings and pool parties. Technically, the summer solstice happens on June 21st (give or take a few hours), when the sun hits its peak. Technically, outdoor living season can be anytime…if you’re properly equipped with a 3-or-4-season room, a firepit or fireplace, a heated pool or hot tub…or skis and layers of Thinsulate.   But, why wait?
  • School’s Out For Summer! Going hand-in-hand with the start of summer, school years end around Memorial Day as well. And with that comes various graduation celebrations as our children and grandchildren pass from one education level to the next…ultimately into the “real world.” Many of these celebrations also occur outdoors on decks, porches and patios with outdoor kitchens as functional as the one next to your living room inside. But, with a better view of the big Iowa sky and landscape.
  • Two of auto racing’s biggest events dominate sports entertainment
    Indianapolis 500

    Indianapolis 500

    around Memorial Day weekend (Sunday). In Indianapolis, Indiana, its Indy Car’s crown jewel…maybe racing’s overall crown jewel…the Indianapolis 500. Later in the day, Charlotte, North Carolina (home of our largest Archadeck office), hosts NASCAR’s Coca Cola 600, its longest distance race. Good luck to Kurt Bush, who will try to become only the fourth driver in history to complete both races on the same day. Maybe you will catch many of his anticipated 2,400 left turns on the outdoor TV’s that are getting installed more frequently on the patios, porches and decks we’re designing and building here in the Des Moines area.

While all these activities may seem a bit disparate, a common theme here is all the opportunities that Memorial Day gives us to (finally – after a long winter) get outdoors…to live outdoors…to celebrate outdoors, eat and drink outdoors.

Archadeck of Central Iowa designs and builds spaces for these purposes year-round. Not just for uses around Memorial Day, but for year-round use (seasonally, depending on the space). This year, though, we had an exceptional number of projects that were started last fall and over the winter (a very tough winter for the building side of our business) that were specifically targeted for many of these activities associated with Memorial Day.

Clive  (Des Moines) Trex Transcends Deck

Clive (Des Moines) Trex Transcends Deck

A Clive family engaged us last fall for a new Trex Transcends deck with Westbury aluminum railing, to be completed in time for their Memorial Day weekend graduation party; started in early November, we completed it a couple of weeks ago. We actually had breathing room on this one.

Waukee (Des Moines) TimberTech Azek XLM Deck

A Waukee family considered several design options for the new TimberTech/Azek XLM deck space they wanted for their graduation party, ultimately settling on a curved deck with a hot tub and an outdoor kitchen. Stone columns were incorporated into the design to enhance the aesthetics of this space. This design effort was completed in December. But a surprise need for a variance with the City (resulting from a prior contractor’s oversight) delayed our construction start until mid-January; the cold and deep frost then slowed our efforts dramatically.   But, we had the project ready for their party held on May 3rd.

Trex Transcends over Elevations Steel Framing – Ankney (Des Moines)

We built a new Trex Transcends deck – structured with Trex’s Elevations steel framing system – for an Ankeny couple last fall. The deck leads to their in-ground pool and includes built-in seating and wide stairs book-ended by stone columns…which didn’t get fully installed before it got too cold last fall.   That stone went on this week – the same day they opened their pool. Their deck will make a big first splash this Memorial Day weekend.

TimberTech Earthwoods Open Porch – Des Moines

A Des Moines family (and a neighbor of mine) engaged us last December for a new open porch over a TimberTech Earthwoods Evolutions deck with Westbury aluminum railing. Their son serves in the military, stationed in Alaska, and was scheduled for a Memorial Day weekend leave to visit his family at home…and celebrate with them on their new porch and deck.  Stone column work was completed this week and the project was ready for this soldier’s return. I think I hear them celebrating now!

To be sure, Mother Nature’s harsh winter complicated our efforts to get these four Des Moines-area outdoor living projects completed in time for their various Memorial Day timeframe deadlines. But, we did complete them….by the skin of our teeth. Additionally, our delays in getting the Dream Backyard Makeover Contest-wining project in Huxley completed last fall was also a factor of the early, hard and long winter we had. That project was also completed earlier this month and the Bentrott’s have been enjoying the space the past couple of weekends.  But we’re waiting for the “grand reveal” of that project until the official “launch” party, currently targeted for mid-July (stay tuned).

On the flip side, two springs ago (2012) we were laying Belgard paver patios in March in 80-degrees in shorts and t-shirts.

Weather – particularly in spring – and its impact on our outdoor living space building capabilities, is a roll-of-the-dice anymore. All the more reason that if you want a new Central Iowa outdoor living space to enjoy early next year, you should be contacting us sooner than later. All the more reason to celebrate Memorial Day and all it has come to represent. All the more reason to…Go Outside and Play!

Happy Memorial Day!

Harold Cross, Archadeck of Central Iowa


Big Outdoor Living News: Porch and Patio Awards, Des Moines Home Show and…???

Des Moines Deck BuilderBig news coming this weekend.  Big as the great outdoors.

No, its not news that Archadeck of Central Iowa won two design awards at our recently-completed annual meeting.  But, we did…and thats pretty big, too.

Screen Porch, Patio and Outdoor Kitchen Project in Grinnell Wins Archadeck 2013 Design Contest (Combination Projects)

Screen Porch, Patio and Outdoor Kitchen Project in Grinnell Wins Archadeck 2013 Design Contest (Combination Projects – 1st Place)

These acknowledgements are big and humbling at the same time; we’ve got some great professionals in the Archadeck system.  Competition is fierce; bribes have been attempted…but not accepted.  Just kidding (sorta).

No, its not news that I will be on  Sherry Failor’s  Welcome Home Des Moines radio show this Saturday.  But, I will…and thats pretty big, too.  1040 WHO AM on your radio dial, noon to 1pm.  We’ll be talking decks, porches, patios and more…including, the big news!

No, its not that the Des Moines Home & Garden Show- The Big one! –  is coming up next week.  Starting Thursday, February 7th, running thru Sunday the 10th.  15th year running for Archadeck at the show.  You’ll find us in the lobby on the east side of Hy-Vee Hall.  Make us your first stop!  Or last.  Or both.  And be sure to ask us about the big news.

Patio in Johnston (Des Moines) Wins Archadeck 2013 Design Contest (Patio Projects - 3rd Place)

Patio in Johnston (Des Moines) Wins Archadeck 2013 Design Contest (Patio Projects – 3rd Place)

No…its bigger than all that…combined.  Thats all I can say now.  Other than…find us on Facebook.   Beyond that, I’m sworn to secrecy.  But, its big.  Stay tuned…


Boone Sunroom Goes Beyond Words

Carolyn doesn’t know this (yet), but I almost didn’t go to Boone.

Who’s Carolyn, you ask, and what was in Boone?

Check out the “Built With Love” feature in the January / February 2012 edition of Welcome Home Des Moines magazine for the answers.  Thanks to Sherry Failor and her Welcome Home Des Moines staff for the very fine coverage.  And, a very special thanks to Carolyn for allowing us to be a part of her project.

For reasons I can’t entirely explain, I almost declined Carolyn’s invitation to participate in her 4-season room project.  But once I got there, I couldn’t leave.  Literally.  Carolyn’s is the only yard I’ve had to “break out” of from a design consultation visit.  I was certain her neighbors were going to have me arrested as I scaled the 6’ privacy fence surrounding her back yard.  I was also certain I was going to be attacked by Carolyn’s two dogs and freeze to death if I didn’t risk that Great Escape.

Needless to say, Carolyn’s sunroom project had a tenuous beginning for me.  But, that paled in comparison to the beginning the project had for Carolyn.  Plus, I was joking about the dogs (they are nice…and were inside…which makes them nicer).  Not that we take any of our Des Moines-area outdoor living projects lightly, but I soon realized there was more riding on this project in Boone than most.  Not so much from complexity or scope or material or dollars or anything you’d normally associate with a project of this nature.  But rather…from emotion.  Gut-wrenching emotion.  From life-altering events that can make one question the very meaning of life.

And you want to build a room from that?

In the Welcome Home article, Carolyn was kind enough to say I understood that.  That took me back a bit and caused some reflection on my part.  Two things stood out:

  • From my vantage point, going into hundreds of homes every

    Home is Important

    year, I can’t help but see…in many different ways, for many different reasons…that homes are important. Like Carolyn, my wife calls “home” her “sanctuary.”  What you do and put into/around your home is important.  How you use your home and its surrounding spaces is important…to you, your family, your lifestyle.  My Archadeck experience has taught me many things, not the least of which is that what we, as Archadeck, are doing is important from that perspective.  I don’t take that responsibility lightly.

  • In my own family, we’ve seen a situation similar to Carolyn’s…a wife, a mother, a family…losing a husband, a father…to an uncontrollable illness…at an inexplicably early age…left to maintain a family…maintain a home.   Unfortunately, Carolyn and my sister-in-law, Julia, are just two of countless stories like this – I’m sure you have your own.  But, these stories often also highlight the strength of the human spirit – and that inspires me – and hopefully you, too.

As I told Carolyn recently, her project goes beyond words for me.  As shown in the photos below, Archadeck provided the sticks, glass, stone and the plan to put it together.  But, Carolyn made the room.   Carolyn provided the inspiration.

Of course, I want to build a room from that.

Before - During - After - Exterior Views of 4-Season Room

Before - During - After - Interior Views of 4-Season Room

Boone Sunroom with a View - During - After

Stone, Front Pergolas and Other Things We Should See More Of in Outdoor Spaces in Central Iowa

So much to talk about…so little time… …so many Des Moines area backyards to enhance.  And a couple of front ones as well.

Its been a busy spring here at Archadeck of Central Iowa.  Des Moines can’t  wait to get outside and play!  As a result, I am failing miserably at my New Year’s resolution of writing shorter posts, but more frequently.  If I had written shorter, more frequent posts over the course of the past month, they’d be the following…presented here in Archadeck Digest form:

Screen Porch, Hot Tub Deck and Patio with Firepit

Spaces, Rooms and Accessories for Outdoor Living:  We’re seeing more and more interest around the Des Moines area in “combination” projects…decks and patios, patios and pergolas, screen porches and decks, decks and 4-season rooms.  And more!  I’ve written often about Archadeck being more than a deck builder…much more.  And this is why:  you want more.  You want outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories.  You want a plan that brings those together.  You want a developer you trust to put it together.  You want to feel secure in your decision to invest in your home.  Archadeck makes that happen through our integrated processes for designing and building outdoor spaces and our warranty and guarantee provisions.

Better Building by Design:  As outdoor living projects grow in scope, design becomes more important.  We’ve always taken a “custom design” approach to our projects.  Sometimes folks are surprised by this…not expecting the detail necessary in developing your perfect space…not realizing how much of a difference it will make in the outcome and in the decision-making process.  All before a single board is ordered, cut or screwed!  To take that “surprise” effect away, we’ve developed a complimentary Design Guide to give you insight into the factors you should – and we do – consider for you project.  You can review the Design Guide before you even contact us for your complimentary design consultation and by doing so help facilitate the design process as you move forward with us with your project.  Our Design Guide is available for download via our web site.  Or, call or e-mail us and we’ll be glad to send you a copy directly.

Front Porch Pergola - Carolina Coast Style

Pergolas…not just for the backyard: I’ve long thought there aren’t enough pergolas on the fronts of homes here in Central Iowa.  A few years ago, I was on a business trip in North Carolina and noticed a fair number of front porch pergolas (that made it a business trip, right?).  I’ve apparently been on a one-man mission to bring that style to the Des Moines area.  And, I’m starting to make inroads!  It’s a style that doesn’t fit for every home, but where it does…you can’t beat the “curb appeal” and the welcoming nature it offers at your front door.  We completed our first front porch pergola over the winter…and I’ll have (nice) pictures up to show once things “green up” just a bit more.  We’ve also got another front porch pergola design committed for construction later this summer.  And a couple more on the drawing board!  Stay tuned!

Cultured Stone Bar and Planters

Lets Get Stoned! (legally):  Stone – vertically or horizontally – adds so much to your outdoor living spaces.  Its another “thing” I don’t think there is enough of here in Central Iowa.  Whether it’s a patio space (horizontal) or column wraps (vertical) or any number of other accessories (seat walls, firepits, fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, etc.) the textural addition stone – natural or man-made – adds to your space is very appealing.  Stone is becoming more prominent in many of our combination projects because stone is a more natural, intermediate transition (often in the form of a patio) from the yard to the wood and wood-alternative deck, porch and shade structures we build. Because of this, we’ve got a growing, national relationship with Belgard Hardscapes and are looking forward to the support and resources they can bring to the Archadeck system much like TimberTech, Azek, Fortress (railing and fence) and Feeney (cable rail) do for our deck spaces.  We’ve got a couple of projects we completed late last year and are about to be built this spring (as soon as the rain lets up) that we’ll post pictures of soon that exemplify this growing trend in outdoor living spaces.  Stay tuned!

TimberTech – Dare 2 Compare Road Show:  TimberTech brought their 2011 version of their Dare 2 Compare road show to Des Moines last week.  I had a little fun with this on our Facebook page, so rather than repeat that here…flip over to our Facebook page for that report.

A Weed Logo:  What do you think of this new logo?  Nike has their “swoosh.”  Starbucks has their “mermaid.”  I’m on a mission to have Archadeck | Outdoor Living have “a weed.”

See you outdoors!

Whats In A Name? A Deck by Any Other Name is still an Outdoor Living Space.

With a name like “Archadeck” or “Archadeck of Central Iowa”  its pretty apparent that we build decks in and around Des Moines, Iowa.  In fact, after doing this for over 30 years nationally and 13 years locally, our name has become so synonymous with decks and deck building that many folks think Archadeck is a deck board…a decking product…much like Trex, TimberTech, Azek and other prominent decking and railing manufacturers.  A common opening line of introduction I hear at home shows is “My neighbor has an Archadeck…”  (and that sentence usually ends with something like “…and they really like it.”).

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

All that is good, but its also a double-edged sword.  Many actors don’t like being stereotyped into similar roles or specific character types.  But, success breeds success so its easy to get caught up in that.  Even when actors do manage to avoid or break a stereotyped image, maybe one or two performances left such a lasting impact, that some movie goers (makers?) can’t see them as anything else…regardless of what “it” was.  Go ahead, without looking, try to name one other movie Judy Garland was in besides the Wizard of Oz.  To some extent, Archadeck battles this same issue.  We started as a deck building company.  We’ve become a darn good deck building company.  Our name says “deck.”  Therefore, we are a deck building company.  Whats in a name?

William Shakespeare

Actually, quite a bit more.  Archadeck is much more than a deck builder.    

For one, we don’t just build.  We design…and then build.  And manage the whole process for you.  The design aspect of our business lays the foundation for the success of our projects and the satisfaction of our clients.  A fair amount of design effort – custom design, in most cases – goes into our projects; our clients know what they’re getting and how much it will cost before a single spade is turned or board is cut…or even ordered. A fair amount of our time also goes into managing and coordinating the transition from a committed design to a completed project.     

For two, we don’t just design and build decks or manage just deck building projects. 

And that’s where our name lets us down a bit.  Over the years, we’ve published a lot of words and shown a lot of pictures

Spaces and Rooms and Accessories, Oh My!

that try to convey the broader scope of what we do.  Our product list gets quite lengthy these days…besides decks, we also design and build screen porches, open porches, front porches, 3-season rooms, 4-season rooms, sunrooms, pergolas, gazebos, patios, outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces…and more.  Yes, we – Archadeck – do all of those…and more.  Yes, we – Archadeck of Central Iowa – do all of those…and more…from Ames to Indianola, from Pella to Panora, all around the Des Moines area…and beyond.

We have recently started and will continue over the coming months to take steps to more succinctly present what it is we – Archadeck – do and who we – Archadeck of Central Iowa –  are.  “Outdoor Living” is certainly a phrase that broadens our span and it certainly is applicable to us.  But, its almost too broad…outdoor living what?  And, everybody has jumped on that bandwagon.  Walmart and Hy-Vee are two prime examples that come to mind; both now have “outdoor living” sections of their stores…or parking lots.  But, we’re used to folks riding our coattails so we’ll take that as a compliment! 

As for the “what,” try these for Archadeck’s answer to Outdoor Living:  Spaces, Rooms and Accessories.  Over the coming weeks and months, you’ll notice this subtle change.  We’re still Archadeck, still designing and building decks, porches, multi-season rooms, pergolas, patios and more.  But, its Outdoor Living by Archadeck.  Its Archadeck Outdoor Living.  Its our Spaces, Rooms and Accessories for Outdoor Living.  Our integrated, custom designs and managed processes bring it all together for you…from the foundation to the grill…from the deck boards to the windows.  To learn more about the Archadeck Difference and our role in developing your outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories, call us at 515-266-8844 to request a complimentary on-site or in-our-showroom consultation or visit our web site at and complete the online request form.

Who’s on your Deck, Porch or Patio for the Big Iowa-Iowa State Game?

Its Big Rivalry Game Weekend in Iowa with the Iowa Hawkeyes hosting their cross-state rivals, the Iowa State Cyclones, this afternoon.  Its a tough ticket to get, so if you’re tailigating at home this weekend, Archadeck of Central Iowa wants to know…which team is on your deck, porch or patio?

We know that Tim and Deb Ordal and their family in Ames have the Cyclones on their cedar screen porch we did for them in 2007.  This 16×16 screen porch features a TV mounted in the upper corner of the porch.  So, I’m sure the family – including the littler Cyclones – are gathered around cheering for their Iowa State Cyclones.  Safer there than at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City!

Further south in Ankeny, Craig and Terese Fruendt and their family have the Hawkeyes on the Azek, wood-alternative deck we did for them.  In 2008, this was one of the first, fully Azek-branded deck and railing projects in Iowa as we pushed Beisser Lumber in Grimes, their regional distributors and our national Azek partner to open up better Azek supply channels in to the Central Iowa area.  So, now the Fruendt’s have an ultra low-maintenance outdoor living space (a growing trend in outdoor living spaces) for enjoying their beautfiful Briarwood golf course setting…and the big games!

And, just so you know…we’re neutral on which team we’ll build for!  Go Iowa…State of.

Labor Day Celebrates “Labor” (not the end of summer); Deck Building Continues after the Celebration

Are you celebrating the Labor Day weekend outdoors?  It’s a beautiful weekend (though a light rain is falling from mostly blue skies as I write this…hmmm) here in the Des Moines area; your decks, patios, screen porches, outdoor kitchens and pools are calling:  “Come use me!”   

Labor Day weekend.  The Iowa State Fair is behind us.  School is back in session.  College football kicked off this last week.  And, with good showings by both the Iowa State University Cyclones and University of Iowa Hawkeyes,  the upcoming annual in-state rivalry game is sure to bring our state to a standstill this coming week.  As all these things unfold, “Where did the summer go?” is a common mindset this time of year. 

As one of your biggest promoters of outdoor living here in our wonderful state, I’m here to remind you:

  • Summer isn’t over yet.  Technically, its summer until the Autumnal Equinox which occurs September 21st.   Then its Fall.  And, then there’s that Indian Summer thing.
  • Labor Day is not a celebration of the end of summer.  It’s a celebration of laborers…what this country is built on.  Whether you’re a deck builder in Des Moines or Ames, a car builder in Detroit or St. Louis, a PC maker in Silicon Valley or Austin, this country was built on hard work.  Short of sounding like a Chevy truck commercial, I think you can see what I’m getting at.  We’ve worked hard to get where we are, lets celebrate that. 
  • Boys are still playing baseball…and they’re often referred to as the “Boys of Summer.” (Kudos to Don Henley for bringing his Eagle boys to town!)
  • Fall does not start when the Iowa State Fair ends.  Fall does not start when school starts (although in some parts of the country, its closer).  Fall does not start when the first football game is kicked off.
  • Even when Fall does start, it’s a beautiful time to enjoy your home by living outdoors.  Tailgate at home on your deck, porch or patio; no better time to put your grill or outdoor kitchen to use.  Enjoy views of the colorful foliage from your multi-season room or deck.  Flip on your natural gas outdoor fireplace to take the chill off the evening air while out on your deck, patio or porch.  Or, put an extra log in your firepit….roast a few marshmallows.

If you’ve got all those spaces and rooms and accessories to enjoy the Central Iowa outdoors with over the coming months – do it!  Go Outside and Play! 

If you don’t have those spaces, rooms or accessories for optimal outdoor living, I’m also here to remind you that fall and winter are great times to have those designed and built for you by Archadeck of Central Iowa.  We think “outdoors” year-round.  We do have some mid-late Fall building opportunities still available and we do build thru winter, depending on the project and Mother Nature’s mood.   In any case, we can have you out on your new deck for that first nice weekend next Spring…which starts with the Spring Equinox on March 21stOr, if it’s a sunroom or 3-season or 4-season room you desire, maybe you can watch the Iowa Hawkeyes’ and ISU Cyclone’s football bowl games in there.  Or, the Super Bowl.  Or the Daytona 500.  Or maybe just a nice, mid-winter movie-and-popcorn night.  And that outdoor kitchen…configured properly, it can be used year-round as well.

It’s still summer, Central Iowa!  Plenty of time left to enjoy our great outdoors…and to build (labor) outdoors.  Plenty of time to have your deck, porch, patio and other outdoor living spaces, rooms and accessories upgraded for more enjoyment and value.  Archadeck of Central Iowa, your custom outdoor living space developer, can show you how; contact us to learn more.    

Outdoor Living Perfected, Des Moines Style

Spring thru Fall is a great time to enjoy all that Des Moines and the Central Iowa area has to offer…particularly outdoors.  The Downtown Farmer’s Market.  Not to mention the Farmers Markets in West Des Moines, Urbandale and others.  Iowa Cubs baseball.   The Des Moines Arts FestivalThe 80/35 Music FestivalNitefall on the RiverIowa Speedway races.  The Iowa State Fair Iowa Hawkeye and ISU football and tailgating.  And much, much more…including your own backyard!  I mean, we always come home, right?  And often we’re coming home to continue the fun…outdoors, right?  Grilling, entertaining, relaxing.  Under the sun.  Under the stars.  Are your outdoor living spaces up to the occasion?

  • Would shade make your outdoor living perfect? How about a pergola or a porch?
  • Would eliminating staining and splinters make your outdoor living perfect? How about a wood-alternative deck? Less Work.  More Life.  According to TimberTech, anyway.
  • Would a grill and bar area fulfill your outdoor living dreams? How about an outdoor kitchen, customized to your grilling and entertaining style?
  • Would deck lighting make your outdoor living perfect?  How about a lighting system installed on your deck?
  • Would a room from which to view or transition to your outdoor spaces perfect your enjoyment of your home? How about a screen porch or sunroom or 3-or4 season room?  And while you’re at it, incorporate energy-efficient windows and doors in your 3-and-4-Season and Sunrooms and qualify for Federal Tax Credits.

As you’re enjoying the months ahead, if you find your outdoor living spaces less than perfect, keep in mind that Archadeck’s custom design and build services can bring these – and more – enhancements to life for you.  Our design process is geared to help you plan and design a project which will enhance your outdoor living lifestyle and increase the value of your property.  Our construction process and standards bring it to life for you.  Our reputation and integrity has made us an industry leader, both locally and nationally.  Our industry relationships and warranty and guarantee programs provide unsurpassed levels of safeguards and support in regards to you project. 

Outdoor living perfected.  That’s our goal.  Virtually anything under the sun, as individual as you are.