Diamond Hugs

Diamond Hugs

When I first spoke with Rick, the founder of Diamond Heating & Cooling, I was not impressed when he told me, “Taking care of clients is our top priority.” You see, just about every HVAC website, ad, and mission statement will say something to that effect. Any cynical person would say that these claims of wholesome intent are hogwash.

Sprint’s “About Us” page says their focus is creating an amazing customer experience, yet year after year they rank among the most hated businesses, worst customer service, and worst places to work in America.

So how do you know when it’s not hogwash and the organization actually holds to the ideals that it claims? It’s simple — you ask their customers.
Let me share a story of Anne (name changed for privacy). She is 81 years old, wheelchair bound, lives alone, and receives palliative care. When her furnace stopped working on a cold December day, Anne couldn’t bare it.

Diamond Heating & Cooling not only provided fast and reliable service, they helped Anne on a whole new level. Despite receiving a new furnace, Anne’s invoice read a grand total of $0.00.

In the notes read the following: “No charge for this lady under any circumstances. We will be available 24/7 to help her and keep her comfortable.”
Anne had become a recipient of the famous “Diamond Hug”, a community program led by Diamond Heating & Cooling where they look for opportunities to give back to others in need.

As the cold season began last year, the team met because Rick had generously offered free furnaces with the requisite labor costs for two families in need. Problem was, they had actually found five families that needed furnaces.

They had a choice to make.

And choose they did! After one technician offered to cover a third furnace out of his own pocket, the rest of the team collaborated and pitched in so that each of the five families could keep their homes warm over the winter.

It doesn’t stop there either. The Diamond team sponsored an orphanage and teamed up with a non-profit to provide shoes for “their” kids. For 2020 they’ve already set aside time and money for veterans, the Boise Rescue Mission, the Garden City Police, and they’ll again partner with KTSY to provide furnaces for a few homes this year.

It’s acceptable if you have tears welling up in your eyes right now. These people are good, in the truest sense of the word.
Sue Ellen, Diamond Co-Owner and Rick’s number one gal, explained to me their philosophy. “When someone is in the field, we want our technicians to have the authority to make decisions for the best needs of the client without worrying about blow-back from management.”

Sue Ellen and Rick begin by setting the example from the very top. Then they hire and train highly-skilled HVAC technicians, emphasize the Diamond Hug philosophy, and then empower them to take care of clients.

No hogwash here, right?

Rocket Express Car Wash is Green and Clean

What’s the secret to a great car wash? My very first job was in a detail shop, so I thought I understood. After working with Rocket Express Car Wash owners Joe and Janet Russell, I’ve learned that the secret sauce isn’t magic soap or a spotless rinse — it’s people.

Don’t get me wrong; Rocket Express has all the special tools and toys that any auto aficionado could ever want. When you pull your car into that 240-foot conveyor, you’re about to be on the receiving end of the very best car-cleaning experience available anywhere.  But what stood out the most was not the neon lights, free vacuums, or free mat-cleaning machines, it was the people.

The Rocket Express Commitment

In fact, when I first spoke with Joe Russell, I asked him what made Rocket Express unique. He said, “We compensate our people well above others and we attract and retain exceptional people.” This is what impressed me about the Rocket team. They are committed to their team and their customers, and their team and customers are committed to them.

When I visited the Rocket Express Car Wash, located at Fairview and Cloverdale, the sense of loyalty from the staff was palpable. These exceptional people work diligently to deliver a great experience to each customer in the hopes that they will become a Rocket Express ambassador.

Co-founder Janet Russell, a marketing guru, also wears the hats of COO, HR rep, and trainer.  She expressed to me the importance of ecological responsibility in their operations.

Above the vacuum canopy sets is one of the largest solar panel arrays in the Treasure Valley, creating much of the Rocket’s energy needs.  “Rocket Express also reclaims the majority of the water used in its car washes, uses only earth-friendly products, and continually invests to improve sustainability”, Janet Russell said.

In the end, you might choose Rocket Express Car Wash because of the value, its commitment to the community, or simply because you’ll get an exceptionally clean, shiny, and dry car in four minutes or less. It might even be because they won the Best of Treasure Valley. Those are all valid reasons, but what will keep you going back is the overall experience provided by the people.


The fifth Rocket Express Mega Car Wash, second in the Treasure Valley, is currently under construction at the northwest corner of the intersection of Chinden Blvd. and Linder Road in Meridian.

Heritage Reflections: This is REAL Furniture

If you appreciate quality craftsmanship and interior design, then a visit to Heritage Reflections will be an experience you’ll never forget. It is completely different than most furniture stores. Heritage customers are getting American-made, quality hardwood furniture, made to order.

The showroom is so beautiful that people treat it like a Parade-of-Homes showcase, with hordes of smiling people visiting just to admire the store and its wares. Every room unveils a new treasure.

Co-owner Terri Anderson is the genius responsible for the design of the showroom, which gives off vibes of old-timey New England. I’ve even discovered that there are major companies with big marketing research budgets that send their people to Meridian to learn about interior design from Heritage Reflections.

But if you think custom-built hardwood furniture sounds expensive, you’ll be very surprised at just how reasonable it is to get handmade furniture. Heritage Reflections can go toe-to-toe with major furniture brands you’ll find in box stores.

heritage reflections furniture

How do they do it? Heritage Reflections works with about 100 Amish families in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. Each family focuses their skill in one area, becoming expert in handcrafting tables, chairs, or bedroom furniture. Nearly all the furniture you see in the store comes from these specialized Amish craftsmen, and Heritage Reflections passes the savings along to the customer.

What I learned from Bob and Terri is that “Amish” is not a furniture style, it’s a quality of build. The Amish builder is set apart by motivation and dedication, rather than the profits gained from the labor.

When you visit the Heritage Reflections showroom, you’ll see a collection of unique, quality furniture that you won’t find anywhere else in the Treasure Valley. Choose from a variety of hardwoods and stains, as well as a plethora of design options, to get custom furniture exactly how you want it, built from scratch.

My father spent most of his waking hours building furniture. My childhood memories are full of sawdust and the smell of wood stain, and I gained an appreciation for quality craftsmanship as a result. As I reviewed the notes I made about Heritage Reflections, one line was scribbled prominently across the top of the page — “This is real furniture.”

Whatever it Takes – A Real Life Comeback Story

Like millions of Americans, Bret Adams suffered due to significant back pain. And just like many of them, he had been down the medical rabbit hole, going through many doctors and physical therapists with no success. Their collective prognosis? “We’re sorry. You’re broken and there’s nothing we can do.”

Not satisfied with that response, the young accounting major changed courses to pursue physical therapy. He thought, “That can’t be the end of it. A musculoskeletal problem like this should be treatable with the right musculoskeletal approach.”

Bret understood a fundamental truth about the human body. His best chance to defeat chronic back pain was to set his body up to heal itself, and he was going to learn how to make that happen.

Years later, Bret Adams (PT, MPT, ATC, CSCS) shares his hard-won knowledge and finely tuned technique in his practice, Idaho Spine and Sports Physical Therapy (ISSPT). His troop of highly trained therapists operates out of three locations in the Treasure Valley.

I found a comrade in Bret Adams. Like him, I was a strength athlete whose path was altered by a significant back injury. I’ve also been through a quagmire of medical intervention that has only been minimally effective. I can describe Bret and the ISSPT team with one word: precision.

Precision is what makes a great physical therapist. The ISSPT team believes you should be perfect at what you do. Their ability to accurately diagnose an injury and follow through with hands-on techniques can give your body the re-education it needs to heal itself.

The skill of ISSPT has led to a tremendous success rate. Of patients that stick with their treatment plans, more than 9 of 10 are successful in treatment.

Whether it’s chronic pain or an acute injury affecting your life, Bret recommends seeing a therapist early. Most people wait far too long before seeking help.

A Reason to Swipe Right

You know… the dating app where if you like what you see, you swipe right? I’ve long compared real estate to online dating. Are those pictures real and recent? Does the description on the profile reflect reality? Am I about to meet a crazy person? Will I have regrets tomorrow?

The real estate market often feels like the Wild West, and I thought that’s just the way it was. Brokers often see their clients and customers as a number rather than people who are likely making the biggest purchase of their lives.

Outdated technology, bad photography, and rolling the dice on getting a decent real estate agent have all been accepted as normal. Even more than most businesses, real estate is an industry that leans heavily on the character of the people involved. When Nick Schlekeway formed the Boise real estate agency Amherst Madison in 2013, he wanted to do things differently.

The culture of any company starts at the top. If you know Nick and the values he holds, you’ll know what to expect from Amherst Madison. He’s a forward thinker who expects the best from himself, and the 70+ agents at his brokerage aim for the same standard.

Founder of Amherst Madison – Nick Schlekeway

At a glance, Nick is one of those high achievers who seem too good to be true, but I can attest that he is the real deal. We are the same age and attended the same high school and college, so I’ve been Nick-adjacent for around 20 years. He was a star athlete, valedictorian, and Hall of Famer in high school. In college he was an Academic All-American who graduated with honors, First Team All Conference selection, and a team captain the season Boise State won the famous 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. If you’re still not impressed, he was a top-notch Boise firefighter for several years, completed a master’s degree at Georgetown, and started a very successful company in competitive niche.

Oh, and he’s nice.

Despite his success, what makes Nick and his brokerage an inspiration is the focus on other people. To that point, the agency isn’t named after the founder, but after a brother-and-sister pair he knew who battled cancer and won. Their ability to persevere inspired him, and when it came time to put a name on the company’s founding documents, the team believed their names deserved the honor. So if you’re in the market for a new real estate agency, skip the online dating period and meet the Amherst Madison team in person. The pictures are real.

~Matthew Biss

Amherst Madison Boise

Amherst Madison is a client-centric brokerage that focuses on community involvement and building relationships. Customers appreciate the updated, cloud-based technology the firm uses, with standards of quality in photography and listings that won’t be found anywhere else in Idaho. The agents operate with the belief that clients deserve more from their realtor, realtors deserve more from their brokerage, and the community deserves more from us all.

Best of Treasure Valley 2019 Winners Announced


Meridian, ID — The Best of Treasure Valley™ introduces a new way of identifying and recognizing the best businesses in the community. Using a combination of online reviews and community votes, winners were determined across nine categories and 184 subcategories. In all, 104,210 votes were cast during the voting round by Treasure Valley residents.

Local businesses and attractions were nominated last fall, and the top 10 nominees in each subcategory moved on to the voting round in October. In addition to votes, online reviews from Google, Yelp, and Facebook were included in scoring. Overall ratings and the number of 5-star reviews from the previous 12 months helped determine the winners. Details about scoring can be found on our FAQ page.

The winners were announced at the Best of Treasure Valley Awards Banquet, held on December 4th, 2018, at the Zion’s Bank Ballroom. They will also be featured in the Best of Treasure Valley Magazine™ that is scheduled for publication this month. A complete list of all finalists and winners of each category can be found here.

The Best of Treasure Valley™ would like to thank the following local businesses for their support: Rocket Express Car Wash, winner of Best Car Wash; Paramount Childcare & Early Learning Center, winner of Best Child Care; Anesthesia Associates of Boise, a finalist for Best Specialty Doctor; and RevenueJump, an online review and referral software company.


Best of Treasure Valley™ is an awards contest that is owned and operated by Inbound Systems.