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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

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Evan wade photo

Tonus Homes owner Jeff Michalic waves goodbye to employees of the company before his six-day stay.

By EVAN WADE

evnwade@yahoo.com

At 7:45 Monday morning, Jeff Michalic was talking to an associate about a golfing trip he took over the weekend. Fifteen minutes later, he was using a scissor lift to hoist himself into a house on top of a 42-foot pole.

Michalic, owner and vice president of Tonus Home Sales in Brazil, was trying to think of ways to creatively market his company. After reading a book on guerrilla marketing, an idea struck him -- he would put his brother, Tom, in a house on a pole for six days.

Unfortunately, that scheme didn't completely pan out.

"Tom doesn't have a wife or kids," Michalic said. "I thought he could go up there, but he wouldn't. In fact, we got him about 35 feet up earlier and he wanted to go back down."

But it was too good of an idea to let go, Michalic said. Instead of his brother, he decided he would live in the house, located on the Tonus Homes lot at the intersection of 1-70 and SR 59.

The house is 6-by-8-foot with a 2-foot porch, leaving Michalic with little room to move. The house, which was created on site, contains a toilet, a couch, a television, a VCR, a refrigerator and other basic features. Additionally, an air conditioning unit is mounted in a window. Michalic brought several movies, magazines, and his cell phone to keep himself entertained during his "vacation." He will also do his daily paperwork from the perch. He will come back down at 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

"I've been up there getting stuff ready, so I'm used to the house," he said. "I'm just worried about (how long I will be) up there."

Besides his weekend golf trip, Michalic said he didn't do much to get ready for the stay.

"I ate well, slept well, and spent time with my wife," he said. "Basically, all the stuff I won't be able to do up there."

After his six days are up, Michalic said the company plans to keep the house on the pole.

"It's a good billboard," he said.

The house faces I-70 and is visible a half-mile away from the site. Michalic encourages visitors to stop by, or at least honk if they drive past the site.



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