ENTERPRISE — Having just passed a year in business — and a pandemic-ladened one at that — Marty Weber is hoping to expand the BLH Custom Builders in Enterprise.
Weber bought the former Bronson Log Homes from Dean Himes in January 2020. Himes had incorporated it as dba (doing business as) BLH Custom Builders before the sale, and Weber is expanding into conventional-style homebuilding, while continuing the construction of log homes and custom furniture.
“I didn’t want to change it too much from what it was; it’s been here for 26 years,” Weber said. “I wanted to keep that familiar feel, to try to make a new, fresh face with a new logo.”
That new logo will closely resemble the old one, he said, with the coloring and design largely the same so customers will feel they’re doing business with a familiar firm.
“We’re trying to broaden our horizons,” he said. “We’re not exclusively log-home builders. If someone wants a log home, we’ll build it, but they’re getting few and far between. We’re just trying to broaden our market and customer base.”
Having worked in construction for 24 years, Weber and his wife, Chelsea, are co-owners of the business. With their 12-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son, they have a 10-acre farm at the top of Minam Grade. Although they live just outside of Wallowa County, this is where their business is.
“Eventually, we want to expand into Union County, but right now we’re keeping plenty busy here,” he said.
In fact, BLH builds homes — both rural and urban — all over the county. At present, they just finished a log house at Flora, are working on another at Wallowa Lake and are working on a 1920-30s-style one on First Street in Enterprise. They also have a project at the lake awaiting permitting, another at Lostine and Weber’s staining/chinking crew has five or six projects in the works.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t hurt BLH much, Weber said.
“Construction’s booming everywhere,” he said, although he is seeing some difficulty in obtaining materials.
“The price is ridiculous, whether it’s supply and demand or what. I heard they’ve shut some places down in the supply chain last year and now they’re trying to catch up,” he said. “Whether that’s reason or what, I’m not sure, but demand is still high.”
As a result, he didn’t have to lay off any of the nine-man crew — including himself — because of any shutdowns.
Although the work is generally seasonal, “We were able to keep everybody busy. In fact, we hired another guy last summer,” he said.
While BLH has expanded into conventional-style homes, log homes remain Weber’s first love.
“I’d like to do log homes exclusively, but the number of jobs and clientele is limited on what we can do here in the valley,” he said.
Log homes are built on a similar type of foundation to a conventional home and are heated in a similar fashion. Like most in Wallowa County, that means wood, propane and/or oil. As for insulation, the logs provide much that conventional homes require synthetic insulation for.
Weber noted that the log homes require making each log uniform because they don’t grow that way and then notched to form the corners, a feature that makes them unique.
“They’re one of a kind. There are no two logs exactly the same,” he said.
Weber said they are naturally well insulated.
“Once they get to temperature, they’ll hold a lot more of the heat, he said. “The outside’s not going to affect the inside as rapidly.”
However, conventional homes do have their advantages.
“Conventional homes are tighter … but each one has its advantages and disadvantages,” he said. “It’s about personal preference.”
But Weber just wants to keep at it.
“I like building with my hands. It’s fun,” he said. “It takes imagination.”
BLH Custom Builders is located at 704 Depot St. in Enterprise. Phone: 541-426-6072 or 398-1017. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Bradshaw is a reporter for the Wallowa County Chieftain. Have a business tip? Contact him at 541-398-5503 or email@example.com.