All posts by Bryan Donovan

I am an entrepreneur working to build my empire and help others in their journey along the way.

The Lebanon Community Responds

I asked and the Lebanon City residents answered. In an earlier blog, Lebanon Paper Box: Day 40, I asked for feedback from the community of Lebanon on their ideas of what they would like to see incorporated in the the old Lebanon Paper Box building. Here is a recap of some of the responses that I have received so far. 

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It has been a little over a week since I published the blog post, Lebanon Paper Box: Day 40, and hit social media to solicit some suggestions and ideas about what the community would like to see at this predominant landmark in Lebanon City. The suggestions have been enlightening and has provided a glimpse of what is on the minds of the community, albeit only a small segment was sampled. I have received feedback from over 50 residents thus far.

Below is a consolidated recap of the suggestions that I have received. They are not listed in any particular order. Some of the ideas come as no surprise, while others were very unexpected…

  1. Homeless shelter
  2. Veteran shelter
  3. Roller skating rink
  4. Something tech related and interesting
  5. Recreation center
  6. Retail stores
  7. Apartment building with affordable housing
  8. Ballerina school
  9. Art gallery and studios
  10. Karate school
  11. Public clinic
  12. Go karts
  13. Something similar to the GoggleWorks in Reading
  14. Trampoline park
  15. Museum of the history of Lebanon
  16. Grocery store
  17. Skate park
  18. Chick-Fil-A
  19. Place for kids to play
  20. Community center
  21. Lebanon annex of the Spooky Nook Sports complex
  22. Connect with the Lebanon county Career and Technology Center during renovation
  23. Great location with a bike trail. I’d be so happy just to see it restored

A common thread, throughout a majority of the suggestions, is that Lebanon City is in need of community events and affordable things for residents to do. Primarily for the younger residents. It’s also clear to see that there is a lot of pride for the city and residents are passionate about providing programs for the homeless and our Veterans.

Based on all of this information, I have some research to do to better understand what programs already exist and where there may be some gaps to fill. Perhaps there are already some things in place that may require some public education, or perhaps not. Ultimately, the extent of feedback is motivating in that there is a community that cares. In time, there will be the a call for participation and action to help bring opportunities to fruition, this will be the true test of the community spirit.

The call for suggestions has not only spawned a list of ideas, but it has also created some dialogue between residents on the official Facebook page of the Lebanon Paper Box building. The conversations have been a mixture of constructive and destructive criticism. I have not been moderating the conversation as I want everyone’s voice to be heard. After all, criticism is a sign of doing something and making a contribution.

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
– Aristotle

In the meantime, keep the ideas and suggestions coming! Also, give some thought to how some of these ideas can be accomplished though other initiatives. This is just one building in the City of Lebanon, but it can be a part of a bigger movement to help bring life into the surrounding community. This is bigger than one person or one building and it is going to require the effort of many.

If you want to become more involved in the Lebanon community, but don’t know where to start, feel free to reach out and I can help.

 

 

Sharing my Love for LED Light Bulbs

Never in my life would I have expected to get so excited about light bulbs!

It didn’t take me long after settlement on the Lebanon Paper Box warehouse to develop a passion for converting old ballast powered light strips to work with LED bulbs. Although there is a significant cost savings to switching over to LED, the primary motivation for me was to be able to see the building that I just purchased!

Over the years of prior ownership, all of the windows have been bricked over on the first floor and a majority of them have been bricked over on remaining floors. This was done to improve security since the building had previously been a target of vandalism in years past. The building is now locked up tight, but it is also awfully dark inside. I’m not quite ready to reopen the windows, so I needed to find another solution.

workshop light strip

Fluorescent Light Fixture

The lights that are in the building are of various ages. I’m not a lighting professional, but some are probably from the early iterations of fluorescent lights. The fixtures that are really old are salvageable, but I prefer to retire them when possible. Besides the fixtures being old and ballasts failing, fluorescent lights tend to mind the cold. The Lebanon Paper Box building does not have an HVAC system and it is often much colder inside the building than it is outside. The fluorescent lights take a while to start up in the bone chilling months of winter, and sometimes they just won’t turn on at all.

So between the failing ballasts and cold temperatures, converting the fixtures from fluorescent to LED was the most logical and economic option to solve my lighting issue. An expensive ballast replacement is not necessary when converting to LED and bypassing the need for a ballast. It took me a while to research how to retrofit a fluorescent light ballast to LED and I wasn’t sure which LED light bulbs to purchase. Most of the YouTube videos that I watched made the rewiring look easy since the fixture was laying on a table. It is actually pretty easy, but I was retrofitting the fixture while it was still hanging over my head. If possible, I highly recommend taking down the fixtures. It ends up being about 2000% easier. Also, if you’re not 100% sure what you are doing, speak with a certified electrician before attempting to do this yourself.

After a ton of research and trying multiple brands and styles of LED bulbs, for the 4′ fixture retrofits, I very highly recommend the Diva Light Plug and Play & Bypass Tube Lamp. I don’t get royalties for you clicking that link and purchasing the bulbs. I just love them that much! They are also very inexpensive compared to some of the other LED bulbs out there. I have spent as much as $30 for an LED bulb that performs no differently than this Diva bulb. I have also done a few 8′ fixture retrofits and have been very happy with this 8ft 40W LED (bypass) by GreenLightDepot.

One of the options that you will notice when choosing a light is the color. They typically range between 3000K – 6000K. The 3000K side of the spectrum is your typical office lighting scenario which is very similar to the traditional Soft White incandescent bulb. It is explained as a warm light that tends to have a bit of a yellow coloration. The 6000K end of the spectrum is a very bright, almost blueish, light. This level of light is supposed to be more along the lines of daylight. I have tried the different colors of light and prefer 5000K for my application.

Color Temperature Chart (Kelvin)

The afterthought of all of this for me is the cost savings. I have been able to cut the cost of energy for each light fixture by over 50%. In some cases, even more because one bulb is a sufficient light source in certain parts of the warehouse. Going from two fluorescent bulbs to one LED is over a 75% energy savings!

Making Morning Me Time

In a prior blog post, Routines: The Struggle is Real, I briefly discussed the difficulty of establishing a routine. Although establishing a routine can be difficult, the feedback that I received from that post indicates that it is certainly worth the effort.

I was having dinner with a friend last night and I brought up the fact that my Fiancee has started waking up at 5:30AM to make sure that she has enough time for breakfast, meditation and exercise before getting ready for work. This is a new habit that she has been working on since the start of the year and she has been very dedicated. I, on the other-hand, remain in bed sleeping until the last possible minute before having to get moving for the day. This usually involves hitting the snooze button on my phone several times.

“Why don’t you just wake up when she does?”, my friend asked. He went on to say that my sleep is being disrupted anyway and the extra rest that I think that I’m getting may just be an illusion. The same goes for the false sense of rest that hitting snooze provides. Instead of hitting that snooze button repeatedly, just get up. You’re really not getting more rested. You’re just shoveling on the anxiety feeling like you’re not getting enough sleep and condensing the amount of time between getting out of bed and when you need to hit the ground running for the day.

I went on to explain to my friend that I feel like I am running full throttle all day and by waking up early I will simply be extending my work day. Extending my day even further could push me into over exhaustion long-term, and I cannot afford a shutdown due to being overwhelmed. It’s important to maintain a balance of emotional, physical, and mental health. I have already been struggling with finding me time to give my mind a rest. My friend had some really good recommendations on this as well. Things that I already knew, but sometimes it helps to hear it from someone else.

The first step to getting out of bed early in the morning is to get to sleep at the right time the night before. Everyone has a slightly different sleep pattern and the amount of sleep that is right for you could be different. My friend said that he needs only 5 hours of sleep, but I need a solid 8 hours or my day will result in a zombie-like version of me just going through the motions. With that said, I would need to be in bed and ready to be asleep by 9:30PM in order to wake up, rested, at 5:30AM.

Below are some tips to help get to sleep at your ideal time:

  • Try to avoid caffeine after 2:00PM. If you are someone that is heavily impacted by caffeine, you may want to avoid it even earlier in the day or avoid it completely.
  • Plan your evening around your predetermined bedtime and commit to it. Everything that you do should help drive you towards climbing in bed on the time that you committed to. This is not necessarily easy and will likely take practice. Try not to get frustrated if you don’t master this right away.
  • Disengage from electronic devices at least one hour before going to sleep (ie. phones, tablets, laptops, television, etc…) I’ve read that the light from the screen could inhibit the creation of melatonin; which is a bodily chemical that helps to promote sleep.
  • Use a pen and paper to write down anything that is one your mind that you want to accomplish tomorrow or things that you don’t want to forget. It’s not necessarily a journal. It’s just a scratch pad to dump your thoughts onto so that your mind can let them go.
  • Listen to sleep mediation. This can be really helpful if you have a lot on your mind. The meditation helps you to focus on your breathing and clear your thoughts and anxiety.
  • Relax and let it happen.

So now that you’ve got a restful night of sleep, now what? My first meetings of the day usually begin promptly at 8:00AM. Waking up at 5:30AM gives me an additional one and a half hours to fill in the morning. The goal is not to start working an hour and a half sooner. This additional time in the morning is meant to be personal time and therapeutic. If used properly, it should be a time of day that you look forward to.

My fear is that by waking up early, I am just extending my work day. My friend gave me some ideas to fill the time productively and ways to ensure that I don’t do myself a disservice by getting straight to work.

Below are some tips to get your day start off on the right foot:

  • Don’t open your email right away. Wait as long as you reasonably can. In my case, I will not log into email until 8:00AM. It’s probably best to find a way to completely leave your cell phone behind until you’re ready to officially start your day.
  • Prepare yourself coffee and breakfast.
  • Write down 10 things about the day using a pen and paper. This could be things that you wish to accomplish or simply things that you’re grateful for. This will help to get you in the mindset to navigate your day and everything that you do consciously and subconsciously will comeback to this list that you created in the morning.
  • Get some form of exercise to get your heart pumping and juices flowing. It’s wonderful how much a little bit of cardio exercise can improve your mood and clear your head (I guess that I should mention that you should reach out to your doctor before starting a workout routine or making a significant change in your physical activity).
  • Read something for 15 minutes that gets you motivated or educates you on a specific initiative that you’re looking to achieve.

The next step is to put this practice in place! The morning me time could be what I have been missing to help maintain better work / life balance. What are some other suggestions on what do with available personal time in the mornings? What are the things that you do which work for you?

Lebanon Paper Box: Day 40

40 days have gone by so fast! Beginning to think about the future life and renewed spirit of the Lebanon Paper Box building.

As I arrived in Lebanon City this morning, it dawned on me that today marks the 40th day since taking ownership of the Lebanon Paper Box Co building. Time certainly flies, and although I have been busy working tirelessly on nights and weekends at the warehouse, it wouldn’t appear to be any different to someone walking by on the outside of the building.

The only changes that a local resident may notice is that there are a few more lights on and some security cameras are spontaneously popping up on the corners of the building. The iconic Lebanon Paper Box building is situated between Cumberland, Jones, and Willow streets on the edge of the Western gateway into Lebanon City, Pennsylvania. This magnificent building has valiantly stood the test of time. Sure, there have been a few leaks, vandalism, and the appearance of being an abandoned warehouse, but I can assure you that there is life beyond those exterior walls.

Believe it or not, this building has been the home of BOXIE for over 40 years! BOXIE is primarily in the business of storing patterns, which is why there appears to be limited activity in and around the building. BOXIE is actually a part of a very important foundry industry that is thriving in the Lebanon area.

Lebanon_BolognaOn a quick side note: Lebanon, Pennsylvania is the home of Lebanon Bologna. I know! It was so obvious, that I was shocked too! Seriously though. If you like Lebanon Bologna (even if you don’t) then this is a city that you must visit. Many restaurants, brewery’s, and the vendors in the farmers market have a ton of bologna related foods and beverages to try. Check it out!

Now back to BOXIE and the Lebanon Paper Box building. Admittedly, I didn’t know a single thing about this industry before I got involved with this real estate deal. So I can’t blame anyone else for not knowing what a foundry is or a pattern for that matter. Let’s just say that the Lebanon area is supposedly a hot spot and this is the area where the patterns come to stay. More information about foundry’s can be found here on Wikipedia.

While the building has been storing patterns for many years, I believe that there is an opportunity to bring something new to the community. There is currently perfectly located space in the portion of the building that faces Cumberland Street. This is a major road straight through the heart of Lebanon City and is easily accessible to the surrounding suburbs. With over 16,000 vehicles passing this building everyday, it could be a great opportunity for some small businesses, artisans, and at least one restaurant. Personally, I would love to see some life in and around this 217,000+ square foot building and a renewed spirit.

What do you say Lebanon City? What would you like to see this space turned into to bring something special into the city limits?

I will be continuously following up on this project and will post the feedback that I receive for further discussion.


I’m an entrepreneur looking to help others achieve their dreams. What are your ideas? How can I help? Please feel free to comment or send me a message about this post at info@lebanonpaperbox.com

Routines: The Struggle is Real

I never quite appreciated the power of having a routine until now. Simple things seem to become overwhelming without having some kind of structure in place.

Throughout my life, I’ve been told about the power of having a routine. This is a skill that I have taken for granted and haven’t given much thought to for so much of my life. Although I have been successful, it turns out that I’m not really great with maintaining a routine and I need quite a bit of improvement in this area. I have always had a predetermined structure and really never gave defining a routine much thought.

My early introduction to routines in my life were based around school. Every day started and ended at the same time. I did not control the day or have any say in when I got started. There was no room for error or I would be waiting outside for a bus that I had already missed.

In today’s work environment with varying work locations and telecommuting, maintaining a consistent routine feels like it can be quite a challenge. How are you helping your associates create routines and personal accountability? How are you keeping yourself accountable to your routine? If you don’t currently have a routine, where do you start?

The book The Compound Effect, written by Darren Hardy, may help provide motivation to make the changes necessary to live the life that you desire. Getting into a routine, like honing any kind of habit, takes baby steps. It’s the little everyday decisions that will give you the life that you desire or lead you to disaster. If you’re feeling that your life is spiraling into chaos and you’re overwhelmed by the thought of how to move forward, I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Compound Effect. I have read it several times and also have the audio book to listen to whenever I need a boost in personal motivation. I’ve even purchased copies of this book to give to friends.

I am curious about whether or not you have a routine. If you have a routine, what do you do and what part of your routine seems to work the best? Do you wake up at the same time every day? Do you do anything differently on weekends or days off? How has your routine evolved throughout your life?

Could you keep up a routine like Elon Musk? Here’s Elon Musk’s morning routine—and his top productivity tip

If you haven’t developed some kind of daily routine, give it a try. You may be surprised by how much your life can change. Don’t miss the bus.

Finding a Little Inspiration

Depending on my current space emotionally or related to a business deal, I seek inspiration…
Currently, my inspirational need is a trip to New York City. There is simply no matching the energy that pulses through the city streets. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about the city that really gets me excited. I’m not sure if it’s the lights, food, people, architecture, arts, or advertising. I’m absolutely certain that it’s a special combination of things.
I’m about to close on a big real estate deal next week that, I feel, will be a catalyst to my future real estate endeavors (hence the need for big city inspiration). Even though the property is not located in a large city, it’s certainly unique and offers some interesting learning and development opportunities. I like to get out and see what other real estate developers have done with similar spaces to make buildings come to life.

IMG_5808

As I type this entry, in the rear of an Uber, I take in the views of the city skyline… and traffic. It’s all part of the experience…
How are you currently feeling and where would you go for some needed inspiration?

Campus Skooters: The Seed That Started The Company

Like writer’s block, trying to come up with an idea for a business seemed nearly impossible for me. All that it took was a weekend of partying in State College and an idea took hold. Four years later, the business remains profitable and has helped me launch other business initiatives.

It was another football weekend for the Penn State Nittany Lions and I was in State College looking forward to the fun and debauchery leading up to the next morning’s tailgate prior to the game. Basically, it amounted to a bar crawl from one place to another hanging out with friends and enjoying the entertainment. While making our way downtown to the hotel, we noticed the bus stops packed with students. One of my friends suggested that there has to be a better way to get around and that there’s so much time wasted just standing and waiting on the bus. Not to mention, it doesn’t always get you to exactly where you want to go. From this conversation was born the idea that scooters could provide a transportation alternative.

At this point, I had been trying to come up with an idea for a business for a long time, Campus Skooters Seal - Black & whiteand this seemed like viable opportunity to me. On the drive home from State College, I began drawing up my business plan. There would be quite a bit of overhead for rent, insurance, vehicles, maintenance, and employees but I was able to make it financially viable through a tiered pricing rental model. My target market would be the college students at Penn State University that are seeking flexibility in transportation around town and did not have the financial means to own a car (the worst part about owning a car in State College is finding a place to park it).

The concept around the tiered pricing model is that the longer that someone rented a scooter, the less expensive it was on a per day average. This would help to ensure that the scooters remained rented an providing income. It also reduced the amount of time that it would take to check in and check out a scooter rental. Of course there were countless other details that needed to be explored, but I was excited and hit the ground running!

This was the initial concept which lead to launching Campus Skooters into the business that it is today. Follow my blog for more stories on the opening and growth of Campus Skooters as well as the other business ventures that I am exploring on my path of entrepreneurship.

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