Building Clients' Dreams
by Patricia Mertz

Those companies who succeed in the design and construction industry understand that they do more than create and construct buildings - they build dreams as well. The owners and employees at Colamette Construction have never lost sight of that fact and throughout the company's 18-year history, they have helped clients with an impressive range of dreams.

For example, when Colamette was selected to build the new Nike retail store at the bustling Portland International Airport, the construction crew never forgot that founder Phil Knight had a dream he's grown into a worldwide success. Hired to build the challenging expansion of Rex Hill Vineyards' harvesting and bottling operation, Colamette knew of owner Paul Hart''s dream to produce award-winning wine. When Colamette was hired to restore the circa 1871 Campbell Hall at Western Oregon State College, the State System for Higher Education realized their dream of restoring the oldest campus structure in Oregon. And, just as important to the team of Colamette, is the building of first-time office and manufacturing facilities for numerous Oregon entrepreneurs, each pursuing their own dreams.

Established in 1979, Colamette Construction is lead by founder Jim Hirte, PE., and his management team. Today Colamette is consistently among the Top 25 Contractors in the Portland-Metro area, and in 1996 was named one of Oregon's 100 fastest growing companies. With revenues exceeding $21 million for 1996, Colamette has earned a reputation for quality, skilled workmanship and satisfied clients.
"Our program involved a lot of logistics, and Colamette executed each one perfectly. The making of wine is our number one priority and keeping the winery's operations ongoing whale under a construction project of this site was very challenging."

-Paul Hart
Rex Hill Vineyards
Cover Photo: Campbell Hall (circa 1871) located at Western Oregon State College, is the oldest building in operation by the State System of Higher Education. Colamette served as CM/GC on all three phases, and saved WOSC over $1 million on the restoration.
Working around 25 employees and numerous meeting and events, Colamette completed a 27,000 sq. ft. remodel and addition for Rolling Hills Community Church. All photography by Strode-Eckert.
Colamette worked with brick and mortar 122 years old to construct a new foundation system in Campbell Hall.

Diversity as a Driving Force

"We believe that diverse projects are not only good for business, but also for our clients and construction crews," noted Jim. While office and industrial design/build projects are a vital part of their annual work load, Colamette is projects also represent clients from the education, retail, and corporate markets, as well as serving the needs of several churches. "Regardless of whether the building is a flagship retail store or a 325,000 square foot renovation for a large corporation, our construction teams deliver the same consistent quality, craftsmanship and superior service," he explained.

"This was our first time using a new contractor – we interviewed several and Colamette quickly filtered to the top. Throughout the project they were very responsive and helpful, and top-notch on coordinating the numerous subs involved."

–Ken Bernard
Property Manager, A-dec Corporation
In keeping with the A-dec's existing campus buildings, the new 45,000 sq. ft. facility has an exposed concrete aggregate exterior with a glu-lam and wood roof system.

When US West decided to form a strategic alliance, Colamette was selected from among several Portland-area contractors to be their contractor team member until at least the year 1999. Teaming with Miller Cook Architects, their first project was the 8 story, $7 million dollar renovation to US West's 4th & Oak Corporate Offices. They also have ongoing projects for US West from Centralia, Washington to Eugene, Oregon and from the coast to Baker City, Oregon.

Adding an Advantage

In addition to providing traditional construction services, Colamette offers the owner and design team the benefit of their strong experience with a design-build projects, most recently completing their fourth project for Allied Systems, an international manufacturer of material handling equipment for the wood products industry. Other recent design-build projects include buildings for Climax Portable Machine Tools, Bonneville Power Administration, Rex Hill Winery and Cascade Auto Auction.

"Colamette's communication skills are excellent and they consistently meet or beat their schedule and budget commitments."

– Howard Brune
President, Allied Systems
Allied Systems' new addition includes a formal lobby, executive offices and space for engineering.

It is worth noting that Colamette, unlike many general contractors, does not subcontract their concrete or framing work, but provides these services in-house. This saves owners time and money and assures the highest quality where it often counts the most. In addition, by performing this major work themselves, Colamette is able to maintain better control over all the project elements, subcontractors and overall schedule.

Building for the Future

Although Colamette may be enjoying today's hot construction market, Jim has kept his sights on the future. A thoughtful leadership transition has been planned at Colamette to ensure that the company's legacy lives on into the next century. The senior management trio of Greg Whitaker, Bill Ellis and Don Peck, Jr., bring a combined 45 years of construction experience to the team, each responsible for their own projects and working closely with Jim on management issues.
Attention to finishes and details were key to the success of Nikes retail store at the Portland International Airport.
As Jim reaches his dreams of travel and serving his community and church, Colamette's clients can be assured that they will always have a highly motivated and effective management team. "It is the long-term friendships developed, and seeing our clients realize the dreams of their own businesses that bring our team the greatest satisfaction."

Article provided courtesy of American Contractor / Oregon & SW Washington
Colamette Construction's management team from left to right: Don Peck,Jr, Bill Ellis, Jim Hirte and Greg Whitaker
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