Thursday, August 30, 2012 | return to: supplement, readers' choice awards


Readers’ Choice: House & Home

by kaomi kosman-wiener

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Readers say Nadav Adary is their favorite electrician for two main reasons: His friendly personality and his exceptional skills. “Nadav is a real people-person, a really likeable, honest and easygoing guy,” says Marcie Adary, his wife and business co-owner. Not only does he treat clients like friends and family, she says, but he also works quickly while maintaining quality.

His love of solving puzzles also has made him a great troubleshooter, she adds, helping him to locate the source of many problems within an hour. And Adary doesn’t stop working after he’s found a solution: “He’s very persnickety about keeping the job site extremely clean,” his wife says. “He has never failed a single inspection.” These talents, combined with rave reviews on Yelp, have helped build a loyal and ever-expanding clientele.


South Bay/Peninsula

Nadav Adary

Adary Electric

Foster City

(650) 577-1100 •



When you discover water dripping from the ceiling, a clogged sink, a leaking water heater or worse, these plumbers are the professionals our readers recommend to do the job.

The plumbing business represents the best of three worlds for Eric Brand in San Francisco: working with his hands, helping people solve their problems, and moving around every day. Given that nearly all of his commissions are in the city, Brand is proud to be one of the few independent local plumbers in San Francisco. Moreover, he says, “I have a small business — it’s a one-man shop — so the service is very personal.”

Plumbing has been in Steve Lipton’s family since the late ’70s and early ’80s, when his father was a plumbing contractor in the East Bay. However, it wasn’t until 2010 that Lipton got his own license, and he’s been working in Oakland ever since. What sets Lipton apart is not only his solid work, readers agree, but also that he sees his job as a way to meet people he wouldn’t have known otherwise. “A lot of times clients will share their lives with you while you’re working, and I think that having community awareness is important and is something that gives me pleasure,” says Lipton.

Although it moved its location once, in 1988, Guy Plumbing and Heating in Menlo Park has been in business since 1948, as three generations of the Guy family have taken over the business. Dave Guy is the current owner, and his children already work under his supervision, with his daughter running the showroom and his son working with the other plumbers. “There are not a lot of family businesses left,” says Dave Guy. “There are customers who have been with us for 30, 40, 50 years who respect our opinions and trust us.” The company also distributes parts to manufacturers all over the country.


San Francisco

Eric Brand Plumbing

(415) 572-5991

East Bay

Steve Lipton

Oakland • (510) 316-4765


South Bay/Peninsula

Dave Guy

Guy Plumbing and Heating

Menlo Park

(650) 323-8415 •


Furniture Store

Whenever you’re moving into a new place, or just remodeling or redecorating, it’s fun to put personal touches on your living space. These furniture stores promise to help you find just the right wall decorations, lamps, rugs and sofas to create the perfect ambiance.

Room & Board, which opened its San Francisco location seven years ago, is known for selling primarily American-made furniture. “It’s nice that we deal with small, family-owned manufacturers rather than sending wood to China,” says Jeffrey Houston, part of the leadership team. “It’s both an ecological issue and about celebrating American craftsmanship.”

Though Ethan Allen began as a manufacturing company in Vermont during the Depression, the chain migrated to the West Coast in the 1970s and established itself as one of the area’s most successful furniture stores. The company prides itself on the quality and affordability of its products. “We’ve always had free delivery,” says Richard Bloomfield, president of the San Jose location. “Moreover, if you are working with a designer here and you move, you will be able to be served virtually anywhere in the country at the exact same price.”

When Scandinavian Designs opened in San Rafael in 1963, it sold mostly Scandinavian giftware and Danish-designed furniture, but today it has modern furnishings from all over the world. It features finely crafted furniture and prides itself on its customer service. Moreover, because it stocks items at varying price levels, the store has been able to build a diverse clientele. There is one thing, however, that unites all customers: “[They] love good quality, contemporary designs,” says Kate Blakeslee, advertising manager.


San Francisco

Room & Board

(415) 252-9280 •

South Bay/Peninsula

Ethan Allen

San Jose

(408) 227-4900  •


North Bay

Scandinavian Designs

San Rafael

(415) 457-5500 •


Real Estate Agent

At the end of the day, it’s nice to return home to a place you are proud of and excited to live in. According to our readers, these real estate agents excel at helping clients find property that fits their dreams.

With 30 years experience working in San Francisco, Debbie Herzfeld has become a master at helping people make one of the most important transitions in their lives: buying or selling a home. Her approach to real estate is somewhat different, she says, because she limits the number of clients so she can ensure individualized attention and service. To avoid a flood of potential clients, she doesn’t do commercial advertising; instead, they find her through word of mouth, repeats and referrals.

Another San Francisco reader favorite is Deborah Lopez, who got her real estate license in 1976 and has been helping locals ever since. “My motto is to leave no stone unturned,” she says. “I’m really good at the details, and I like to make sure that everything is nailed down, not only during the real estate transaction but also for the rest of their lives.” Lopez also has a specific interest in helping women learn to become independent real estate investors. “I am — and always have been — about empowering women, and having been a single mom for 20 years, it is very important to me to make sure that women have financial expertise.”

David Gluck in Oakland and Piedmont got into the real estate business about eight years ago, when he decided that he wanted to help people in his synagogue sell and buy homes. His clientele has since expanded to the greater community. Like Herzfeld, Gluck works by referral to keep his business at a manageable level. “I don’t really like to promote myself,” he says. “I like to work behind the scenes, get the job done and make my client proud.”

In the East Bay, readers also favor Vince Perpetuo, a real estate agent in Contra Costa and Alameda counties for 24 years. From the beginning he has loved being in charge of his own schedule. “There’s no clock to punch, no 9-to-5 routine and no commute; you can work out of your house if you want,” he says. Perpetuo’s ability to speak several languages helps him attract a diverse client base. He also has a good understanding of world economies because he worked at an international bank and frequently traveled overseas.

Susan Sims started selling real estate nine years ago when she moved to Los Altos and had a difficult time finding a house for herself. She wanted to help others relocating to the area, and has continued to work mostly on the Peninsula. Sims has all the skills of a successful agent: the ability to negotiate for the best prices, the flexibility to help people from all walks of life, and the knack for navigating the complex process of buying or selling a house. Sims also has deep knowledge of local schools, an important asset for her many clients with school-age children.

Marsha Harris in Petaluma has always enjoyed helping people achieve their residential investment goals. Harris works with people of all ages, from those entering the real estate market for the first time to seniors looking to downsize. And as a Petaluma resident for 42 years, she has been able to provide her clients with extensive information about the local area.


San Francisco

Debbie Herzfeld

Paragon Real Estate Group

(415) 338-0118


Deborah Lopez

Paragon Real Estate Group

(415) 738-7084


East Bay

David Gluck

Marcus Realty • Piedmont

(510) 839-6969


Vince Perpetuo

J. Rockcliff Realtors  • Danville

(925) 855-4096


South Bay/Peninsula

Susan Sims

Alain Pinel Realtors • Los Altos

(650) 209-1607 •


North Bay

Marsha Harris

Century 21/ Bundesen Real Estate


(707) 769-7126 •


Mortgage Broker

Borrowing money can be a daunting process, and it is especially nerve-wracking when you’re dealing with a large amount of it. Mortgage brokers can help you take a deep breath and find the right mortgage for your home with confidence.

Jessica Lanning in San Francisco has been a mortgage broker since 1997, but past experience as an attorney and continuing work as a financial planner put her in good stead for helping clients make decisions about money matters. “I have clients who I’ve been working with for over a decade,” she says.

Bob Routt has been a mortgage broker at Diversified Mortgage Group in Pleasanton for 27 years, and believes the company’s success comes from its business practices: “We show our clients what the entire market has to offer, which gives them a wider variety of products and prices, as opposed to companies that only present what they’re hoping to sell,” he says. Routt says he loves working with numbers and real estate, solving problems and getting people from point A to point B.

Sheryl Klein, the South Bay/Peninsula favorite, says she has been more successful than ever at navigating clients through the current financial climate. “There have been a lot of good opportunities recently for people to save money by refinancing and to take advantage of the low-interest rates in order to buy property,” she says. Klein, who is active in the Palo Alto Jewish community, adds that although the mortgage process has become more transparent in the past five years, there is also a lot more paperwork involved in transactions. “What I try to do is educate people about all of their options,” she says.

In 1998, when Jehoshua Shapiro opened Emortgages in Petaluma, it was one of the first mortgage-broker firms with an Internet-based presence, he says. “I pursued this arena gradually so that now we have a website that is generating the majority of our business throughout California,” he says. Shapiro, who attended Tel Aviv University, attributes his company’s success to its small profit margin, which allows it to offer low-interest rate mortgages at low cost.


San Francisco

Jessica Lanning

(415) 354-5699


East Bay

Bob Routt

Diversified Mortgage Group


(925) 426-8383


South Bay/Peninsula

Sheryl Klein

Crescent Capital

Palo Alto

(650) 255-2671


North Bay

Jehoshua Shapiro


(707) 763-6290


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