Our First 10 Years

Brian wasn’t as optimistic as the rest of us and only bought in for a minor share. At the time, Tom and I did the stove sales, Dave the management and Brian the stove and chimney installations. It was a great working relationship between the four of us and we had fun getting together after work with a bunch of Tom’s friends. DJ and Missy, who ran the Grants Pass store, made it six total partners in our new venture. Lastly, I grew up in Eugene and had only been in Medford for a couple of years. After graduating from OSU in Corvallis, I dabbled in lumber and plywood sales with Weyerhauser in the Bay area for 2 years and even sold cars for a year in Medford. Even I would admit, I was the least qualified to run this venture and to understand log home construction. But, I believed at the time I was one heck of a salesman and a quick study. None of us had anything to lose and were all excited to be a part of a new adventure… pre-cut log home kits.

Immediately, Tom and I began setting up a log corner display the factory had given us as part of our dealership investment, plus pictures and blueprints on the wall. This was all we had to show our future customers, we didn’t even have a home in the area, but what the heck. The log home company in Anderson was only a few years old and was fledgling, but had a very pushy and convincing owner. He was older and fatherly to us and he reminded me of the snake oil salesman from those old black and white westerns I used to watch on Saturday mornings with my brother. “Drink this bottle kid and all your pain and afflictions will disappear.” Actually, both Dennis and this guy were very much alike, living beyond their means and totally full of themselves. But, how could this not be the next big thing? Waterbeds were huge, now woodstoves and next.. pre-cut log home kits. Dennis and his wife were each driving brand new BMW’s and had just bought a big ranch near the Rogue River, so the four of us were impressed with their lifestyle and wanted to follow in their wake. We were all looking forward to trading in our old Toyota pickups for something with German engineering and of course, required very expensive tune ups. 1979 was happening fast and we were right in the middle of it all. Plus, everyone was in their early twenties and ripe for adventure and personal economic gain. “Watch out Bill Gates, grab me a latte cause here I come!”

The Anderson log yard was totally unorganized, but there were guys cutting and peeling logs and assembling log home shells. A couple of log trucks were being unloaded when we pulled up for the first time. I have to admit; I was intrigued with their process and took in as much as I could. Homestead’s plan-book/brochure was somewhat disappointing to me and Mickey Mouse, in that it featured black and white hand-drawn exteriors and floor plans of around twelve models. It was printed on six stapled 11 by 17 white papers and didn’t show one color picture of a house that had been built. Looking back, I’m sure none of his customer’s would allow him in or near their finished log homes. The pricing page was by the square foot and completely incomprehensible to me or anyone else on what was included in his kit. But, I think that’s the way he wanted it. We were charged three dollars a piece for each brochure and told to sell them for six. This should have been an indication of what was to come, but we were all blind with ambition and young. Once we returned to Medford, we immediately ran an ad in the Oregonian newspaper, based in Portland. Low and behold the six dollar checks started rolling in the mailbox. “Hey, this brochure business wasn’t so bad. At least we were making a profit.” Things got even more lucrative after we ran out of the first batch of brochures and had a local print shop duplicate them for a dollar each.