Archive for October, 2014

Meet our spirited Senior Interior Designer : Janie Bartee

janie mexicoJanie  1998

janie-bartee1  janie royals

And by,  “spirited,” we mean that in both personality and as a passionate sports & NASCAR fan kind of way!  She’s got the team/favorite driver bling, swag wear and feverishly follows and supports her KC Royals, KSU Wildcats, Denver Broncos and her favorite NASCAR drivers!

Janie has been at BA Designs for the past 16 years, she obtained her NCIDQ certification in 2008 and considers her knack for space –planning a byproduct of her years committed to the health, safety and well being of occupants within any space.

She says a favorite Sales Award trip sponsored by National Office, to Rivera Maya, Mexico in 2011 was amazing for a couple of reasons:   top-notch service, hospitality, the resort itself…and that National Office really knows how to throw a party to make you feel appreciated!

Her “creepiest” professional experience was when called upon to inventory a clients existing furniture in the basement of a funeral home. Ever the professional, Janie dismissed the dimly lit basement, cobwebs, dead rodents and started the task. However, as she worked she couldn’t help but notice the surrounding “funeral equipment” and other paraphernalia; she was quickly distracted and found herself sprinting to the nearest exit to escape, er, leave. She never did complete the inventory.

Being that Janie is so impassioned about NASCAR and her sports teams, it’s no surprise that her favorite junk food is corn dogs. Janie says “a) they are AWESOME, b) it brings back memories of my childhood and c) it’s the perfect concession meal at any fair, game or race!”


Tank Retriever, a professional precursor to the role of Director of Business Development: Meet Dwight Zwiener

Dwight KS Army National Guard dwight-zwiener1 Dwight Photo At MTC Desk

Dwight Zwiener was in the Kansas Army National Guard as a Tank Retriever, his job was to remove the tanks embedded in the muck and mud and tow back to the Armory. Often times, the soldiers themselves were all but emerged in the mud and muck attaching the tow line to the tank; if a tank got stuck in the morning, you were in for a long, wet, mud dried all over you kinda day.  Somehow getting muddy later in the day, made the job more palatable, I’m told.

After his service in the Kansas Army National Guard, and his first civilian job, Dwight found his way to Martin Tractor, a Caterpillar Dealer in Topeka, where he worked for almost 25 years, most recently as VP of Corporate Interaction. Martin Tractor was a family business, one with ties to BA Designs, through familial ownership, so Dwight was quite knowledgeable about BA Designs when he took on the role 4 ½ years ago of Director of Business Development.

Dwight points to all his various roles contributing to his strength in forecasting and strategic planning, as well as marketing skills and credit’s his year of teaching Imagine 21 (a personal development course) classes at Martin Tractor as one of his best professional endeavors.

When not cheering on his Pitt State Gorillas (which is quite often, he’s a diehard Gorilla), honing his Photoshop skills, or indulging in his guilty pleasure of eating Lays Potato chips and endlessly channel surfing, Dwight can be found spending time with his wife of 45 years, Nancy.

Say What??????

No really, what did you say?  I didn’t hear you.   Sound.  If you aren’t talking about it in your home regarding earbuds/volume, you’re bound to be talking about it at work.  From exterior noise pollution (that construction going on next door, traffic, etc…) to the coworker that is far too loud on the phone in your open office workspace.  There are some serious conversations going on in the world about sound and noise pollution; along with those conversations, some staggering statistics are being dropped regarding youth with hearing damage and how our threshold of, “what is loud?” has changed.

Have you heard of the “Lombard Effect?”  It’s the phenomena similar to that of speaking to a foreign language speaker, in your native tongue, only LOUDER (and typically  s l o w e r, for that matter),           “H I,   W  H A T  I S   Y O U R

N A M E?”  The “Lombard Effect”  is how we raise our voice to be heard in a noisy environment.   Noise distractions account for a multitude of issues and aliments related to our concentration, state of mind, stress level, and physical auditory health.

Julian Treasure with, The Sound Agency, talks about noise pollution and ways to combat it frequently in his TED talks.  One way to combat noise pollution is one of the perpetrators of hearing damage itself, earphones.  But covering up noise with more or louder, “noise” isn’t the fix. Sound is a pretty complex topic;  one must consider frequency and decibels, as well as content when exploring non-polluting noise.  For instance, listening to music at an appropriate decibel and via quality earphones, can help reduce stress levels, measurable reductions in blood pressure, etc… In fact, if you really want to de-stress and do your ears and concentration a favor, listen to bird calls, or so the data says.

What if you don’t work in a role or place that you can don earbuds most of your day for heads-down concentration?  If you are in an office space, and certainly an OPEN office concept, there is a solution to noise pollution, both exterior and internally produced – it’s sound masking. Sound masking in one study was found to increase employee concentration up to 46% more and increase short term accuracy by 10% to their non-sound masked counterparts.  Sound masking isn’t the same as, “white noise” – there is a science behind it,  a vocal range and calibrating that is adjusted based on the space, the users preference,  and the type of business establishment. Sound masking can be as progressive / tech forward or as fundamental as the end user deems appropriate.  In an age of competitive recruitment and “selling” company culture as part of the package,  as well as HIPAA and other mandated standards/practices, conversations about sound masking and the benefits it brings with it, is something every company should be listening to.


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The Black List-addict and our Director of Design: Meet Stacey Utech

BA Designs has been in business almost 20 years and Stacey Utech, Director of Design, has been working here almost the entire time. Stacey graduated from KSU with a degree in Interior Design and started working for a Topeka furniture dealer, about 27 years ago (quite amazing considering she is only 29!) It was there that she met her future employer, Beth Ann Branden – BA Designs owner, and coworker, Janie Bartee. (That’s right, this trio has been working together and building a friendship for some 27 years, imagine the stories they could tell (and tell they do – the ones from our annual “roast” being most entertaining!)

Stacey credits that first job for the steep learning curve to the nuances’ and attention to detail required to successfully and accurately specify furniture and finishes that she continues to use daily in her space planning and interior projects. She has seen a lot of trends come and go, and return again in the industry, as well as had many opportunities to celebrate her Design and Sales successes! Her favorite celebration to date was a one week, trip for two to Prague that she earned through Kimball Office last year. It was her first time to Europe and she proclaims Prague to be, “the most romantic and beautiful city I’ve ever seen!”

When Stacey isn’t traveling Europe, catching the latest episode of, The Voice or The Black List, or planning spaces & specifying furniture, she likes to create jewelry and décor items out of fused glass and copper, her wares can be found at, check it out!

stacey-utech1 Janie Beth Anne Stacey 1998 Photo Stacey Prague SU - Copper Snob



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