Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Remodeler laid foundation for success amid housing crisis

Cathie Anderson
Cathie Anderson

Construction businesses were shuttering their doors back in 2008 when Nar Bustamante opened a showroom for his business in Carmichael and started offering his high-end home-remodeling services.

He recently opened a second showroom for Nar Fine Carpentry at El Dorado Town Center, 4420 Town Center Blvd., Suite 130, in El Dorado Hills.

“Winter of 2008 was a pretty dark hour for the construction industry,” Bustamante said. “I set up shop and hired a designer against everyone’s advice. It was basically my wife’s advice to do it. She was the only one truly in support of me. We haven’t missed a beat.”

Bustamante’s uncles started taking him along on construction jobs when he was 14 years old. He worked in the construction of custom homes for years, but then he decided that he really loved kitchen and bathroom remodeling jobs.

He started out all by himself as a cabinet installer and then moved into kitchen makeovers. Now Nar Fine Carpentry employs seven people and provides business to numerous local contractors. He’s won numerous awards from local chapters of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and the National Kitchen & Bath Association. He’s also received national awards from NKBA and Crystal Cabinet Works.

Bustamante has done kitchen remodels starting at $80,000 and bathrooms starting at $40,000, he said, but he doesn’t really look at numbers as he’s designing. In his El Dorado Hills showroom, Poggenpohl cabinet doors fly up and out of the way as if by magic, and they close with a wave of Bustamante’s hand. Quizzed about it, he points out the sensors and motorized arms that make it all work.

“Every project that we do, we try to create something that’s different, something that’s artistic and something that is an art piece in itself,” Bustamante said. “People want everything personalized – our clothing, our cars, our phones. Why not a kitchen?”

Upbeat about DownBeat

Sacramento State’s vocal jazz performers scored a student award from DownBeat magazine in the first school year that graduate student Gaw Vang served as director.

Last fall, Vang took took the reins from composer and arranger Kerry Marsh, who took a position as a jazz studies faculty member at The University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. He now leads student ensembles there. Vang had served as Marsh’s assistant, so she felt prepared to take the reins. The responsibility, however, really hit her after Marsh departed.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Vang told me, “because Kerry, over 10 years leading the jazz ensembles at Sac State, won seven DownBeat Awards, but those seven were for just the vocal jazz students. He also won several with individual students for arranging and solo singing, so I think it was about 12 DownBeats he won with Sac State. I had big shoes to fill.”

Vang doesn’t survive on the wages she earns as director. She receives a stipend of only $200 a month. Besides working with students 10 hours a week, she also manages email, books tours and applies for funding. Vang’s main income comes from private lessons she gives vocal students, ranging from preschoolers to senior citizens, and many of them find her at Vang will make a bit more as leader of Sac State’s jazz ensemble next year when she becomes an adjunct faculty member in the Music Department.

Money, however, is only one of the rewards of being director, Vang said. The position has also elevated her in the eyes of her peers nationally. This year, she was invited to adjudicate at two jazz festivals.

Getting their Ficks

Sacramento native Ron Alvarado Jr. said his Ficks Cocktail Fortifier started selling at Urban Outfitters stores in the Bay Area about a week ago.

Alvarado, a Sacramento native and 2006 graduate of Jesuit High School, thought up the idea for Ficks with his college roommates, Matt McDonald and Mike Williamson. A half-ounce serving of Ficks puts a dose of vitamins, nutrients, electrolytes and antioxidants into alcoholic beverages. Consumers can add it themselves, Alvarado said, but the three Santa Clara University graduates also are hoping bartenders will embrace the concoction. They’re also selling it at

The partners got their start with an IndieGoGo campaign that raised more than $40,000, easily surpassing their goal of $28,000.

“That was pretty all-consuming for a few months,” Alvarado said. “We shipped 700 orders to 18 different countries, which was no small feat for the small crew we have here. We’re just coming out of that, and now we’re actively pursuing bars, restaurants and stores to carry Ficks. That’s the next phase we’re working on right now.”

Alvarado said that he plans to lead the charge on that campaign in the Sacramento region, and he and his three partners also will be seeking investors.