LeDUC & Dexter Inc. - The Premier Plumbing Contractor In The North Bay

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The Ice Cream Queen



When recently asked if she was aspiring to become "the ice cream queen," Trudy Grabenauer replied, "I'm trying!" So far she's off to a good start. Grabenauer, who resides in Santa Rosa, owns and operates Cold Stone Creamery retail ice cream stores in Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa, Washington Square in East Petaluma and the Shiloh Shopping Center in Windsor. Grabenauer is working on the construction of the fourth Sonoma County store in Rohnert Park off Rohnert Park Expressway near Target and Pacific Theaters.

Tom LeDuc visits with Cold Stone Creamery owner, Trudy Grabenauer, in her Windsor store.

Tom LeDuc visits with Cold Stone Creamery owner,
Trudy Grabenauer, in her Windsor store.
(click photo to enlarge)

It all started a few years ago when Grabenauer was visiting her daughter at college and the two went out for ice cream. They went to a Cold Stone Creamery, the latest purveyor of luxury-priced, custom-mixed ice cream and one of the hottest new franchises in the United States. "I knew the minute I saw it, I wanted to bring it to Sonoma County,'' Grabenauer said.

Billed as a 10-minute vacation, the Cold Stone concept goes like this: Use fresh ingredients to make ice cream. Blend that with mix-ins such as m&m candies or chopped berries on a chilled granite slab in front of the customer. Then scoop the creation into a waffle cone that was baked on site. There are over 800 Cold Stone Creamery franchise stores across all 50 states plus Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

Cold Stone Creamery makes ice cream on-site and then blends the mix-in items like nuts, candies, fruits and toppings on a frosted granite counter top.

Cold Stone Creamery makes ice cream on-site and then blends the mix-in items like nuts, candies, fruits and toppings on a frosted
granite counter top.
(click photo to enlarge)



Sales have been good for Grabenauer's three Sonoma County stores. One small problem has been finding a good plumbing contractor to work with in construction of the stores. "Let's just call it poor customer service, not listening to the customer's needs," explains Grabenauer. "We started asking around and LeDuc & Dexter's name came up from a number of people. They have a great reputation, people said they were the top of the line."

Grabenauer sat down with LeDuc & Dexter's commercial manager Bill Zeeb and commercial superintendent John Dunn to discuss the new construction of the Rohnert Park store and presented them with a list of plumbing do's and don'ts based on her less than satisfactory experience with previous plumbers. After the meeting, Dunn posted the list back at the offices of LeDuc & Dexter.

"There's a lot of plumbing in these stores," says Grabenauer, "4 hand sinks, a 2-compartment sink, a 3-compartment sink, 2 dip wells, 6 floor drains, a hose bib, a bathroom and 2 counter top frost units."

LeDuc & Dexter have completed the under slab plumbing for the Rohnert Park store and the slab has been poured. When this store is completed Grabenauer has plans to open three more. Store number 5 will be near Sonoma State University, store number 6 will be at Mendocino and Steele Lane in the old Safeway location and store number 7 will be somewhere near the square in Healdsburg. It's good to be "the ice cream queen".

Kohler, Zurier & John Thane



Kohler plumbing products for the kitchen and bath have been a big part of LeDuc & Dexter's residential business for the past 10 or 12 years. "We did the Adobe Creek project in Petaluma with Christopherson Homes when another brand had been big in Sonoma County," remembers Tom LeDuc , "We helped introduce the Kohler design line at Adobe Creek and it really caught on. Since then Kohler has been very popular with our customers." Kohler products can be found in many of the projects that LeDuc & Dexter have contracted for in Fountaingrove and other upscale custom homes they have plumbed.

LeDuc & Dexter has this Kohler product display in their office reception area.

 LeDuc & Dexter has this Kohler product display
in their office reception area.
(click photo to enlarge)

John Thane recently came on board with the Zurier Company, the only manufacturers representative firm that represents Kohler. Zurier Company also represents other builder lines such as State Water Heaters, Broan-Nutone, and Sea Gull Lighting. Thane resides in Sebastopol and represents Kohler in the North Bay area. "I work hand and hand with LeDuc & Dexter and I also solicit the builders," explains Thane, who started in the construction business in the seventies and has known Art Dexter and Tom LeDuc since they started in 1982.

"LeDuc & Dexter have always been the most progressive plumbing contractor in the industry. I have a symbiotic relationship with LeDuc & Dexter, pursuing builder's specifications together and independently. Many times they write the specifications for a project and I assist them with Kohler's suite of products. The Kohler brand has unequaled market presence which helps our builder clients differentiate their product offering and sell their homes quickly."

Product support and supply chain efficiency are areas that the Zurier company can enhance for Kohler, "instead of 5 Kohler reps in a given area Zurier has 30 sales people," says Thane, "We are readily available to assist customers and homeowners with product questions and problems." The motto of the Zurier Company is "Where People Make the Difference"; John Thane seems determined to exemplify that statement.

NCBE: Involvement is the Key



"We have over 1800 members, we're the largest business group in Sonoma County," states Tom LeDuc, newly appointed President of the North Coast Builders Exchange, "we've gained 70 new members this past year." LeDuc sees the NCBE as a vehicle of opportunity and change for its members and the construction industry. "You have to get involved to get the real benefits of the organization," says the second-time President, who has been a NCBE member since his first month in business 21 years ago.

Tom LeDuc is looking forward to a productive year as President of the NCBE.

Tom LeDuc is looking forward to
a productive year as
President of the NCBE.

"It's really neat to watch the evolution of members who get involved and grow from the experience. Jerry Minton is a perfect example." Minton is the Past President who preceded LeDuc and will remain on the Board of Directors during LeDuc's presidency. LeDuc knows the growing process from his own experience, "I gain because I learn so much, for instance we interview political candidates at election time, it's not only political, it's very educational."

"I'm really excited to be working with a great Board of Directors and I'm really excited to be working with Keith Woods," says LeDuc. Woods, who previously headed the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce as President, is in his third year as CEO of the North Coast Builders Exchange. "He's really good at what he does," says LeDuc, referring to Woods, "he's got the experience, he knows how to get us the press and the recognition of who we are, he knows how to get our message to the community. Keith also has excellent management skills and he's good at running our meetings. He has a passion for all of this, he's very happy to be here."

LeDuc sees these keys as his requirements for being a good leader as NCBE President, "You have to have a real passion for this organization, which I do, you have to able to get along with the people you work with and you have to be able to commit the time that is required."

Some of the NCBE programs that LeDuc would like to see further developed during his tenure include the Workforce Development Committee, which hosted the Careers in Construction Expo the past two years. The NCBE Scholarship program and ESL (English as a Second Language) classes are also part of LeDuc's focus during his presidency.

Industry and business issues such as Worker's Compensation and insurances rates and premiums will also be of paramount importance over the next year for the NCBE and must be addressed. To meet these challenges during the next year Tom LeDuc, Keith Woods, Jerry Minton and the rest of the Board of Directors along with the 1800 NCBE members all need to get involved.



Featured Stories

The Ice Cream Queen

Kohler, Zurier & John Thane

Trade Associations
NCBE: Involvement is the Key

Newsletter Archives


Editorial Credits

Cold Stone Creamery
Trudy Grabenauer, Owner
LeDuc & Dexter Inc.
Bill Zeeb, Commercial Mgr.

Zurier Company
John Thane, Manufacturer
LeDuc & Dexter Inc.
Jim Kempers, Residential Mgr.

Trade Associations
LeDuc & Dexter Inc.
Tom LeDuc, President

Mark Dommer
Dommer & Associates

Tom LeDuc
LeDuc & Dexter Inc.

Contact Us

LeDuc & Dexter Inc.
2833A Dowd Drive
P.O. Box 11157
Santa Rosa, CA  95406
TEL (707) 575-1500
FAX (707) 575-1276
CL 548129

Tom LeDuc



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