ENTERPRISE — The high demand for construction work led one Enterprise-based company to create another: Viridian Construction.
Viridian Management, a full-service property management organization that specializes in multifamily affordable housing, needs construction workers to maintain and improve the properties it manages. Since many contractors are already busy with other projects, Viridian created its own construction company in July.
“We self-perform construction trade work minus electrical, plumbing and HVAC,” said Brad Emerson, president of Viridian Construction. “We self-perform projects on our properties, whether it be siding, roofing, window replacements, interior work, finish carpentry, flooring. We self-perform that work.”
Although based in Enterprise, Viridian is licensed to work all over Oregon and Washington. But its primary focus is Eastern Oregon.
In addition to Wallowa County, Viridian does projects in Baker, Gilliam, Grant, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union and Wasco counties.
“Right now, we’re doing a rehabilitation project over in Pendleton on the Indian Hills apartments, a 48-unit apartment complex,” Emerson said. “We’re re-siding it, doing some concrete work, seal coat, striping and asphalt repair. We also have a new construction project we’re doing over there where we’re doing interior work, installing interior doors, interior painting. We have a dedicated paint team with a paint superintendent who oversees our paint operations.”
He said Viridian doesn’t do heating, ventilation and air conditioning work since they require special certification. But they may consider adding such certifications in the future.
“It’s a possibility,” Emerson said. “You have to be a licensed electrician or a licensed plumber or a licensed HVAC technician to do those.”
While Viridian Construction operates under the umbrella of Viridian Management, it’s not automatic that the former will land the bid.
“We all receive the same (bidding) process,” Emerson said of Viridian Construction and its competitors. “We all receive the same invitation to bid. We all go out and conduct proposals and what it comes down to is what’s in the proposal and what are the provided numbers and then the (Viridian) management team decides who’s going to be conducting the work.”
He emphasized that Viridian Construction has to come up with the best numbers and service. In that respect, they’re in direct fair competition with other contractors. Of course, Viridian Management is well acquainted with the construction company’s quality of work.
Emerson said he doesn’t expect the company will branch out to projects unrelated to Viridian Management in the foreseeable future.
“Currently we have too many projects to do that,” he said.
Viridian employs 14 people on its Northeast Oregon jobs, and another three in Southern Oregon.
Viridian Management plans to work with the Wallowa County Education Service District to set up a dedicated training facility for both could come into play, too. The ESD and Viridian are considering entering into a public-private partnership to obtain a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Rural Innovation (for a) Stronger Economy grant.
The grant, which could be anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million, would be to purchase the former Chevrolet dealership building in Enterprise, into which the ESD would move. It now shares a building with Viridian. If the grant comes through, both buildings could become training facilities for workers.
“Right now, we’re providing on-the-job training for some of our construction laborers or interior work run through our current facility that we have here,” Emerson said. “Once the big facility’s final, we will be running all our staff through it … if it happens.”
Viridian’s leadership will take advantage of the training there, too, he said.
“We’ll run our construction staff through that same training program,” he said. “We have dedicated superintendents who part of their job is to train.”
He said the construction industry is going through high demand these days.
“It’s in very high demand,” Emerson said. “(With) the lack of materials and supplies, you’re planning six months and more ahead of time.”
While some have attributed the difficulty in obtaining materials and the high cost to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said its simpler.
“It’s just the high demand of construction right now,” he said. “I’ve seen, in the past six months, some products go up in price 25%, some more.”