Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.
What do you do and how long have you been doing it? I'm a general contractor and have been involved in the construction industry, one way or another, since 1976. In addition, I have a restoration company, Heritage Restoration, which came about because a lot of times I work on a house with a component that needs to be restored. I'm starting my ninth year doing this.
Business: Bradley S. Marsh Construction
Owner: Brad Marsh
How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? I've been here 14 years. I'm a native Oregonian, but prior to moving here I lived in a resort area called Pequot Lakes, Minn., about 150 miles north of the Twin Cities.
What inspired you to go into this line of work? It's what I've done all my life. If I had to nail it down to one thing, when I was 12 my father built our house in St. Helens. My brother helped, and I did whatever a 12-year-old could do. I realized then I really liked construction.
What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? When we first moved here to the valley from Minnesota, I was finishing a degree program in computer science at SOU. I was a college student with a family, and I had to forego finishing that degree and went back to work. If I could do it over, I would have started the construction company here when I first moved here. There was a construction boom going on, and I missed a third or more of that.
What's the toughest business decision you've made? Whether to go large or small. During the boom, my phone was ringing off the hook, and I was turning away at least a million dollars in business per year because I couldn't handle that much. The decision was between getting in over my head or to turn stuff down. In terms of quality, one of my biggest concerns is getting a call back for something I did wrong. In that vein, if you do something right to begin with, you can generally make money on a job. If you get called back, it can cost you two or three times as much as if you would have done it right in the first place. The reality is I would have gone larger if I could have found people who shared my philosophy
Who are your competitors? Anybody with a contractor's license and a truck load of tools. In reality, contractors are put in a big lump, and clients typically work one contractor against another. If it comes down to just putting a job out to bid, I won't get the job.
What are your goals? To grow my business. My oldest son, Zach, is finishing up his civil engineering degree at the University of Portland. I have a second son, Kyle, who is in his third year in mechanical engineering at Portland State. I want to bring them and their credentials into the company so I can take on much larger projects. As a residential contractor, I'm limited in the size of projects I can do. There are a lot of jobs I'd like to look at that I just can't right now.
What training or education did you need? I studied construction and architectural design at Portland Community College, and prior to that I was working for different contractors. Then I was hired by Interior Construction Specialties in Victorville, Calif. We were working on Spring Valley Lake Development, a large, man-made lake in the Mojave Desert. The company built expensive homes around the lake. In 1978, they sold for $300,000. From there I came back to Portland, worked for contractors and renovated my first house in 1982.
What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? The most important thing is to execute, execute, execute. Action is the key to success. You can talk all you want, but sooner or later you have to hit the bricks. You can hope that things will happen, but they won't until you take massive action.
To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org