Category: Profile

Designer Profile: Sarah Nelson

Monogram has the pleasure of working with so many talented and impressive designers across the country. Sarah Nelson, kitchen and bath designer with Kowalske Kitchen & Bath, is a true design professional we enjoy partnering with, and wanted to learn a little more about her background and experiences.

Monogram showroom at Kowalske Kitchen & Bath

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Sarah: My passion for design started very young. As a child, I would insist my parents “re-decorate” my room every six months … from the pillows to the paint color. It was always changing – thankfully, they embraced my hobby! Even as a child I knew that a room was not just a space. It was a place where memories were made. A room should not only be aesthetically pleasing, but also functional, inspire an emotion, and give off a feeling that makes you want to stay awhile. I use that motto everyday while working with my clients.

I have been specializing in kitchen and bath design for nine years. At Kowalske Kitchen & Bath, we are a full-service design build company. From the design phase to execution of work. In addition, we cater to numerous other projects that include whole house transformations.

Monogram showroom at Kowalske Kitchen & Bath

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project.

Sarah: Currently, I am working on renovating a 1940’s lakeside cottage. I wanted to keep a lot of the details that would have been original such as the hardwood floors throughout (which were in great shape), arched doorways, and moldings. We kept finishes cohesive due to a smaller, cozy floorplan. However, we did not skimp on any details! Painted cabinets with mullion glass doors, Brazilian quartzite countertops, bead board throughout, made-to-order etched chandeliers, custom iron railings, and a collection of items from the clients’ European travels. It will truly be the charming cottage it once was.

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Sarah: I am excited to see the use of stained cabinets again instead of painted. I will say, a painted white kitchen is SO timeless and classic. Of course it’s always beautiful! BUT I am loving the look of lighter wood tones paired with a printed bold tile. It tends to look more livable and unique. Another trend I look forward to is more metals-gold/brass, rose gold, etc.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

Sarah: The porcelain wood plank. It seems to be overused. It was once a specialty item and now it’s everywhere.  I get it…the look of wood with all the low maintenance factors of a porcelain tile. I still recommend as needed 🙂

SRFD: Tell us about your experience with Monogram.

Sarah: We had worked with Monogram to create a working showroom display. The goal was to design a kitchen that could appeal to many different tastes. It was a blank space and we wanted to showcase our products with an emphasis on the appliances. It includes a 36” dual fuel range with matching vent hood, the integrated fridge and freezer columns (which have a surprising amount of storage) and the 30” Advantium convection/micro. The microwave convection oven has been most popular as it has many functions, whether it may be heating up a cup of coffee quickly or cooking a full meal. We have enjoyed every aspect!

Monogram showroom at Kowalske Kitchen & Bath

Monogram as a whole appeals to our clientele based off their ability to provide innovative products, transitional sleek designs that accommodate any desired style, and a strong customer service team with a lot of knowledge.

Monogram showroom at Kowalske Kitchen & Bath

Designer Profile: Nicole Ellis Semple

Monogram has the pleasure of working with so many talented and impressive designers across the country. Nicole Ellis Semple with Kuklinski + Rappe Architects in the Chicago area is a true design professional we enjoy partnering with, and wanted to learn a little more about her background and experiences.

Photo credit: Leslie Schwartz Photography

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Nicole: Even as a child I was always specific about the aesthetics of my environment: the colors, the placement of furniture, finding practical objects that were beautiful. My mother is a pretty serious seamstress and crafty gal so I grew up around textiles, color, woodworking, and painting. My father is handy and took up woodworking and remodeling our house, and several of my uncles are in the construction trades. Design and construction were always a part of my life.

In my seventh grade shop class we had to design and draw a house floor plan and something clicked for me. I came home that night and told my parents that I wanted to be an architect.

SRFD: Tell us about your recent projects.

Nicole: We worked on two projects recently that involved subtle plan changes with a big impact on the spaces: one is a very contemporary design, the other quite traditional.

Photo credit: Leslie Schwartz Photography

Our Little Green Kitchen is a bold renovation of a small condo kitchen that previously had bland finishes and a poorly planned layout. The client wanted a colorful geometric backsplash with coordinating cabinets. We created a color blocked space with a much better work flow. Despite the bold pattern and color, the space is bright, fresh, and well-proportioned now.

Inversely, we recently completed a very traditional English cottage style kitchen on the North Shore. We reconfigured a winding floorplan in a small home to create a generous galley kitchen, a butler’s pantry that doubles as a laundry room, relocate a basement stair, and improve a bathroom. The house is small, but by cleaning up the plan and lightening the color palette, we were able to make a dramatic improvement.

And I’m excited about a third project that will be complete this summer: we moved the kitchen in a project we completed 15 years ago from one side of the house to the other. This is our third project for this client, and as her tastes and times have evolved, she decided she wanted something completely different. She put total trust in us to turn the house upside down and I’m not sure who’s more excited about it – her or us!

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Nicole: I appreciate the increasing desire to live simply in small spaces. Our best innovations come from serious space or budget constraints. I love exploring how to use the existing envelope of a home to make it work better without an addition. Subtle changes can have a much higher impact in small spaces. And when clients decide to pare down their belongings, those improved spaces feel so much lighter and brighter!

SRFD: A trend you are over?

Nicole: As classic as it may be, I’m really over standard white Shaker cabinets and basic white subway tile. I’d much prefer to see a similar rhythm and clean lines achieved in other ways. At the very least, we like to play with the edge profile or panel to give it a little oomph. If you’re already paying for a designer’s expertise and/or custom cabinetry, why select something so ubiquitous? Make it personal!

SRFD: Tell us about your engagement with Monogram

Nicole: We’ve been using Monogram for years now. They are a go-to for solving space problems and innovative technology: a 48” wide range with an oven cavity large enough for the heftiest of Thanksgiving turkeys, or a just-right sized built-in refrigerator for a small condo. We appreciate the consistent pace of innovation and that Monogram seems to have a perfect product for every client. They were a joy to work with for our Little Green Kitchen, which is fully equipped with Monogram appliances.

Designer Profile: Jean Stoffer

Monogram has the pleasure of working with so many talented and impressive designers across the country. Jean Stoffer with Jean Stoffer Design in the Chicago area is a true design professional we enjoy partnering with, and wanted to learn a little more about her background and experiences.

Kitchen in 1902 Victorian Home designed by Jean Stoffer Design. Photography: John Stoffer

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Jean: I became interested in design soon after graduating from college in 1982. After getting a business degree I went to work for a small interior design firm as the business manager. I was fascinated by what they were doing. The principle designer was very kind to me and informally apprenticed me when she observed my interest. I’ve never looked back.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project.

Jean: Our firm has been given the opportunity to do design work in many older homes with fabulous architectural details. We find it particularly gratifying to embrace this architecture as a gift and work with it to modernize the homes in a way that compliments how we live and work in our homes today. One such project we completed recently was in a 1902 Victorian in West Michigan. Very little had changed in the home over the decades. Although it was in rough shape, all the original moldings and some very special doors and windows were still there. Score! To agree with how the family lives we moved the kitchen into the original dining room, the family room into the original back parlor, and the dining room into the original front parlor. We made the old kitchen into a mud room, laundry room and powder room. Upstairs we converted one of the bedrooms into a bathroom. We kept the character, and whenever possible highlighted it. It was a triumph! Both we and the clients are delighted with the results.

Kitchen in 1902 Victorian home designed by Jean Stoffer Design. Photography: John Stoffer

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Jean: I’m excited about the trend embracing more color. Particularly in wall paint and accessory items like pillows.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

Jean: A trend I’m over is recessed can lights proliferated in every single ceiling of an entire home.

Kitchen in 1902 Victorian home designed by Jean Stoffer Design. Photography: John Stoffer

SRFD: Tell us about your relationship with Monogram.

Jean: I have had the good fortune of attending a designer training event with Monogram at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. Since that training I have felt confident to spec Monogram in projects and educated enough to explain to the client why Monogram is a wise choice.

Designer Profile: Natalie Officer

We recently came across a beautiful kitchen designed by Natalie O Design on Instagram. We were so entranced, we asked if Natalie Officer, the creative force behind the company, would tell us a little more about herself … and share some additional photos. Take a look!

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?
Natalie: It started so long ago, the memory of exactly when is foggy. What I have always loved is the ability to make an impact and positive outcome in such a short amount of time. To truly affect a space, a design, a person in only a couple of days is motivating. It inspires.

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?
Natalie: I am always excited by new collaborations or iterations, and love the fresh impact of colors. As far as trends, I try to stay clear of them.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?
Natalie: Excess. In any form (natural light excluded)

SRFD: Tell us about this kitchen.

Natalie: This kitchen belongs to a local Louisville-area family. It was a renovation from awhile back, but their matriarch, Nicole, is a busy yet wonderful mom and realtor who prefers tackling a little at a time! We’ve been fortunate to help her select vibrant wallpapers and fabrics to work throughout other rooms in her home, and to this day we’re still in touch! We’re currently adding some custom touches to her entry way. This kitchen renovation was a true mix of traditional style and modern functionality. Cabinetry and hardware selections were key here, using paneling on appliances such as the refrigerator. Nicole didn’t shy from mixing metals, using brass, stainless and even rose gold touches on her serving ware. The result is a warm, calming and inviting space for family and guests to gather.

Learn more about the Natalie O Design team here and explore this home and story exemplifying their true nature as a design company.

 

Designer Profile: Mary Jo Peterson

We have the privilege of partnering with impressive designers from across the country, including Mary Jo Peterson, President of Mary Jo Peterson, Inc., and a columnist with Kitchen and Bath Design News. Learn more about Mary Jo in our interview with her.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Mary Jo: Having started in education, I was crazy about design and anything to do with the kitchen when I headed to the showroom with the best reputation in Connecticut for my own kitchen renovation. There I met Lorey Cavanaugh, a phenomenal designer who not only saw me through to my new kitchen, but also brought me into the world of kitchen and bath design. Early on, I became interested in universal or inclusive design, and this became my professional passion.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project

Mary Jo: We recently completed the combining of two adjacent condos into one, a three story space, and incorporating client-specific access for a couple, one of whom has a degenerative condition, so sort-of a moving target. The overall space included kitchens on two floors, multiple bathrooms and the need to provide ease of movement throughout. It was what I call a reverse universal design project in that we started with specific access and then expanded to include spaces that will work for both members of the household and guests.

SRFD: A trend you are excited about?

Mary Jo: The growing availability of modular appliance options- cooking modules that let one have it all, some induction, some gas, and more, as well as refrigerator/freezer/beverage storage columns that allow one to plan multiple units in multiple locations and of various sizes. This all does so much to allow us to personalize the space for each particular client. This is obviously great in large kitchens, but it also allows us to make the absolute most of small spaces.

SRFD: A trend you are over?

Mary Jo: Stacked oven cabinets. I really appreciate the design aesthetic and the function of the horizontal line in appliance installation, particularly when this can be accomplished in mid-height cabinetry. It gets easier and better as our appliance manufacturers create a variety of appliances at the same height.

SRFD: Tell us about your relationship with Monogram

Mary Jo: My relationships with GE and Monogram go back many years and includes some of my favorite people and experiences. One project that stands out is the Real Life Design Kitchen, which we created for GE to tell their universal design story and to promote the concept within the design/build community. This was back in 1995 (or about then), showing GE and Monogram to be ahead of the curve, and in fact, the newest version of that same kitchen anchors the Real Life Design Lab at VA Tech today. Design innovation is a reason I continue to keep up with what’s new at Monogram.

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Designer Profile: Wendy Franz

Through our activities in the Chicago area, we came across Wendy Franz, owner and lead designer with Studio 912. We were so impressed we had to learn a bit more about her.

Kitchen space in Studio 912 Chicago studio

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Wendy: I have had a remodeling business with my husband since 1995. We operated our business out of our home, which was the perfect setup for me as it allowed me to be home and flexible for our kids as they were growing up. About 15 years ago, we remodeled our own kitchen and it was fun being able to plan every single spot in the kitchen for maximum use and efficiency according to how we use each area of the kitchen. It sparked my creativity and gave me a desire to be more than the person in the background handling operations and office matters. I wanted to be more involved with the customers and in the design process of our projects. In 2010, I investigated whether any of the local colleges had a specific degree or program specifically for kitchen and bath design and was so excited to find that Harper College in Palatine did. It was a certificate portion of their Interior Design Degree. I went in two different shifts, taking a 2 1/2 year break from school and being in business for myself due to the recession, but when I was able to return to the industry, I picked right back up where I left off school wise. So thankful that I did. It is truly a passion of mine, creating beautiful spaces for my clients that they love to wake up and come home to – a space that gives them a place of peace, comfort and refuse from the world around them.

Now that I have my own design studio/cabinet and countertop dealership (two of them actually, one near our home in Crystal Lake and one that I partner in with a fellow Harper student) and having the suburban location be in front of my husband’s woodworking workshop has given us a business that we can employ both of our daughters in. It’s nice to be working side by side with my hubby again and it’s such a huge plus to be able to offer woodworking piece in my designs to our clients, such as barn doors, tables, countertops and now, we’re starting to offer custom hoods too. Down the road, I hope to have time to create custom vanities too.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project

Wendy: We just wrapped up project for a repeat customer who we had done woodworking for in the past. This time, she came to us to design her kitchen, using two of our three cabinet lines. We did the perimeter in a white transitional door style and the island/hood/cooktop cabinetry along with the butler’s pantry and a bar wall in a dark stained rustic cherry. We used three different Cambria countertop patterns along with a reclaimed wood table extension off of the island and reclaimed shelves. She put in eight different zones of lighting and very interesting backsplash tile. Can’t wait to get in for the photo shoot.

SRFD: A trend you are excited about?

Wendy: The combination of wood grain cabinets with painted. Or the use of different colors throughout a space. We’re about to have a kitchen installed that we designed in a sleek white Acrylux door style on the uppers and a lined dark Acrylux door style on the lowers with a couple of aluminum/glass door cabinets mixed in. Should be very elegant and classy.

Kitchen designed by Studio 912. As Wendy said, “I of course LOVE any design I can incorporate my husband’s handiwork in like this beautiful, reclaimed island top.”

SRFD: A trend you are over?

Wendy: There have been so many white shaker kitchens, but we like to do them with touches of uniqueness that make them anything but the typical cookie cutter kitchen (as can be seen in the kitchen above).

SRFD: Tell us about your relationship with Monogram.

Wendy: We have a Monogram Advantium Speed Cooker/Microwave along with refrigerator drawers at our Chicago studio and LOVE using them and showing them off. We are recommending Monogram to all of our clients and will be meeting with the Monogram folks to talk about how we can have a more involved relationship with them. Can’t wait!

Designer Profile: Laura Umansky

Following our exciting partnership announcement with designer Laura Umansky, we wanted to learn a little more about Laura and her design background.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Laura: Creating beautiful environments has been important to me for as long as I can recall. As a child, I would draw home plans, sketch my room layout, and design my personal space from top to bottom. Luckily, my mother let me have control of this from a very young age. Most likely because she was not interested in interior design at all!

In undergraduate school, I studied Art and didn’t hone in on the profession of Interior Design until late in my college career. After graduation, I knew that I wanted to dive head first into interior design and I started working for a fantastic designer who showed me the ropes. After a year, I enrolled in graduate school and, in 2005, received my Master of Architecture Degree. Studying Architecture definitely had a huge impact on the way that I approach interior design and how I structured my firm.

I started Laura U Interior Design in 2007 and we are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year. It is such an incredible milestone and I couldn’t be prouder of our team. I am so excited to see what we can all accomplish in the next 10 years!

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project.

Laura: Currently, I am working on my own home: a 1925 Tudor Revival in a Historic District of Houston. It is a fantastic home and I love the neighborhood. Being a historic home, it has had it’s share of challenges: foundation issues, termites, etc… All things you may expect with a home that is nearly a century old, but none of them are really fun to deal with.

What is fun to deal with is the design of the home and bringing it back to it’s original glory. It will be a gorgeous and stately home when it’s finish; perfect for the Monogram appliances that are going in our new kitchen and butler’s pantry!

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Laura: As I write, I am at High Point Market in North Carolina. I love market because I get to see all of the brand new introductions from the best design houses and manufacturers in the business. Right now, I am very excited to see the classic contrast of Black and White everywhere! I love the crispness of this pairing and you will see plenty of this in my new home when it is unveiled in the Spring.

SRFD: A trend you are over?

Laura: I am never really completely over any trend because it always comes back around at the right time. For example, who saw macramé being 2017s go-to wall art? For this very moment, I can do without large scale floral wallpaper. It is gorgeous but I think I have seen it implemented just enough to get me through the next decade!

SRFD: Why are you partnering with Monogram?

Laura: Monogram is everything my Classically Current design philosophy is grounded in: it is synonymous with luxury and livability. My Monogram appliances are timeless in look yet are modern in performance. As a mother of 5-year-old twin girls, my home must be beautiful, warm and welcoming to our friends and family, and it has to support our busy (aka crazy) daily lives. Monogram appliances easily check each of these boxes!

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Designer Profile: Mary Kathryn Strong

The Louisville Monogram Experience Center (MEC) brings designers to Louisville, Kentucky, for two-day experiences to learn about Monogram, the design process, our appliances – and even cook with them! We interviewed each designer to learn a little more about their background and design experiences. Today we’re featuring Mary Kathryn Strong with Trey Strong Custom Homes and MK Strong Design based in Lubbock, Texas.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Mary Kathryn: I have always paid attention to design even before I knew it would be my job. I used to listen to my grandmother talk about antiques and how she was always planning her next decorating scheme. She had an interior designer that she loved for many years and they would talk about different textiles, colors and interior styles. She taught me that if you love something like a piece of furniture or color, you can make it work for you and the rules are there aren’t any rules!

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project.

Mary Kathryn: One of my recent customers built a beautiful, traditional, two-story home. My style is probably a little more sleek than ornate, but they had huge, rare pieces of Baroque artwork they wanted all over the house. It was fun to incorporate them and have them against such clean and spacious backgrounds.

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Mary Kathryn: New trends that aren’t really new … I’m glad color is coming back. I love a neutral house, but I need a little “pop’ here and there.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

Mary Kathryn: I’m over all or nothing. I don’t like all grey or all taupe. Or all white. I like to mix and match the grey and tan. I think of it like jewelry. Gold and silver can be mixed and be timeless. I feel the same about a house.

SRFD: What did you learn during your Monogram experience.

Mary Kathryn: First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed my Monogram experience. I learned more than I could ever imagine about how a dishwasher works 🙂 I thought it was really cool to understand the technology behind refrigeration. The cooking experience with the chefs was a great lesson in heating your oven and pans before cooking. Most important, I am using Monogram on my next kitchen design project!

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Designer Profile: Katie Reece

We came across this stunning kitchen designed by Louisville, Kentucky-based Katie Reece with Century Entertainment and Furnishings and were so impressed we had to learn more.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Katie: I grew up with art always being my first love and design just fell perfectly into that love. I still hand draw all of my plans and elevations for clients. This is my true passion and it affords me the opportunity to impart this passion into their design. It feels more personal and makes each and every project truly custom.

SRFD: Tell us about this project.

Katie: This particular project was very special as the client is a builder, Leo Thieneman & Son’s Fine Homes, which I’ve worked with for years. His vision was a modern farmhouse that would serve their family of six while still maintaining a unique space he could bring clients into. He enlisted the services of Karista Hannah with Set the Stage Interior Design & Home Decor as well as myself to help bring this vision to life.

SRFD: What’s a design trend you love?

Katie: I have always loved using the color white on walls, cabinets, furniture, artwork … really anything having to do with design. I love that so many are seeing it as a color these days and not just a backdrop. Whites can be warm or cool. They can impart energy or keep a mood very subdued. It’s all in how you use it and what undertone you choose. This particular kitchen is painted Sherwin- Williams Pure White. Snowbound is another excellent Sherwin-Williams white that I use frequently.

SRFD: What’s a design trend you’re over?

Katie: I could really do without brushed nickel right now. I know it’s most people’s safe place, their go to choice for metals, but it’s so predictable. I want to see spaces that feel collected and eclectic and you just can’t get that without mixing finishes.

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Interview with Olga Odeide

Recently we interviewed Olga Odeide, Vice President of Industry Partnerships with the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), to learn about her role with the organization and its’ focus on helping designers.

SRFD: Tell us about your background.

Olga: I’ve had an interesting, non-traditional career arc. I started out in design of a different sort – electrical engineering, circuits and high tech system design. I eventually led a diverse global sales team, but was drawn to more creative pursuits. I pivoted into Interiors and studied at The Art Institutes (where I originally connected with ASID as a student member). After some time at a leading firm working multi-million dollar installations, I combined my design knowledge with my background in business development into a consulting position, working with Design and Architecture firms nationwide to refine growth strategies, streamline operations and maximize profitability. It was during this time that I also enhanced my ASID experience with a Chapter Board role. I’m now at ASID National Headquarters as Vice President of Industry Partnerships, where I work with manufacturers and service providers at a national level to connect them into all that ASID does on behalf of the industry.

SRFD: Why should designers be an ASID member?

Olga: ASID is a community of designers, industry representatives, educators and students who believe that design impacts lives. When you become an ASID member, you are immediately connected to a distinguished network of peers, thought leaders and luminaries. Members have access to the Society’s leading-edge industry research, it’s bi-monthly international magazine, i+D, and a vast array of in-person and online professional development opportunities. ASID offers members a robust chapter experience and the chance to lead at the volunteer, local and national levels. And the Society provides members with a collection of business solutions – contracts, business insurance, health insurance, the ASID job bank, exclusive discounts and more – to help them develop successful careers in the design industry. ASID membership is an invaluable tool in propelling designers to the top of their game.

SRFD: What have you learned from being on the ASID team?

Olga: First and foremost, I’ve learned that the team at ASID headquarters is a committed, high-performing group of talented individuals. I look forward to working with my colleagues every day. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and engage with individual members, Industry Partner members, and leadership at both the local and national level. I’ve formed a new appreciation for the dedication of the designers and representatives I’ve met, and for the vastness of design. There are so many established and emerging areas of specialization – biophilic design, universal design, aging-in-place considerations, workplace and healthcare design – that substantiate the ASID belief that Design Impacts Lives.

SRFD: Favorite ASID experience?

Olga: I’ve had so many great experiences during my tenure with ASID. But if I had to choose just one, I would have to pick The Leadership Experience: Presented by ASID (EXP) which took place in July 2017 in San Diego. EXP was the Society’s most inclusive event ever and featured content for everyone, from emerging professionals to seasoned designers. Interactive workshops, tours, networking events and more were centered around three topic areas – Lead Yourself, Lead Your Team, and Lead Your Firm. ASID is committed to encouraging and training our members to become leaders in the design industry, and that commitment is the driving force behind EXP. Speakers, including Nancy Giordano, founder and CEO of Play Big, Inc.;  Andrew Dent, Ph.D. of Material ConneXion; and several design industry luminaries; offered attendees a fresh perspective on the world of business, leading in the 21st century, and how to lead with authenticity. It was a career-changing experience for all who attended.

SRFD: Tell us a little bit about your partnership with Monogram Appliances.

Olga: It’s been great! Monogram is a National Industry Partner with ASID, supporting the mission to showcase the Impact of Design. National Industry Partner membership provides Monogram access to the broad ASID Chapter network to get brand visibility, participate in various activities, and build relationships with designers at the local level. In addition, we work closely with Monogram designer engagement leader Alex Skobel to better understand Monogram’s overall goals and objectives to augment efforts with sponsorship at the national level. We’ve had great success with both exposure and engagement with designers, and look forward to continuing to grow our partnership for many years to come.