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Home Builders Association

Benchmarking your company’s benefits program

M&GAn attractive benefits program is vital for your recruiting and retention efforts, but is also a significant expense. To ensure you are providing a package that is both competitive and economical, you need to know how your offerings compare to others in your industry. Benchmark data can provide valuable insight for evaluating your benefits package, something that is more important than ever in light of health care reform.

Employer interest in benchmark data has grown over the past decade, as the cost of providing health care benefits continues to skyrocket and companies look for new ways to manage costs. Analyzing how other companies are structuring their plans and the strategies they are using to cut costs may make your own benefit plan decisions a bit easier.

What data can you benchmark?

There is information available for almost any aspect of a benefits program, including total costs, cost-sharing measures, plan design, voluntary offerings, workers’ compensation and paid leave.

Whether you are curious to know how your voluntary disability benefits stack up or are wondering if your paid leave program is comparable to competitors, there is likely benchmark data available. We at Montgomery & Graham would be happy to provide you with a variety of benchmark data—simply let us know what you are interested in learning.

Health care reform implications:

Interest in benefits benchmark data has grown since the introduction and ongoing implementation of health care reform. With the Supreme Court ruling health care reform constitutional and President Obama’s re-election, it is now clear that the law is here to stay.

The regulations and provisions of health care reform require significant changes to benefit plans, and in many cases, tough decisions for employers. How are you handling the expansion of dependent coverage for children or the impact of removing annual limits? How is your company planning to manage the increased costs associated with the auto-enrollment provision that will take effect?

Knowing how other employers are approaching these issues could be beneficial in helping you reshape your benefit program for this new health care landscape.

Employers are responsible for implementing many new rules and absorbing their costs, which will likely mean cutting or shifting costs elsewhere. These decisions can make the difference between maintaining a competitive benefits package and seeing a decline in recruiting and retention of quality employees.

Knowing how other employers plan to address these benefits decisions can be incredibly advantageous for your company. Contact Brian Leong, Employee Benefits Consultant with Montgomery & Graham at (971) 327-5785 or brianl@mgbenefits.com for more information on benefit plan benchmark data.

 

Is Metro ‘Stack and Pack’ housing plan going to work?

Asa_Apartments_Portland_300_cropDoes recent Residential Preference Study impact Metro’s growth plans?

Our regional government, Metro, is responsible for planning for job and housing growth in our region and managing our Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). Every five years, they are required to produce an Urban Growth Report and make necessary decisions to accommodate planned growth. This report looks ahead 20 years, plans on ways to efficiently use lands to accommodate jobs and housing growth, and ultimately gives the Metro Council guidance on whether or not any expansion of the UGB is necessary.

Below are some resources related to this work and HBA’s efforts to engage in the process.

Residential Preference Study: click here to access the press release from Metro, as well as the Executive Summary and full Study

Urban Growth Report: click here to link to the full report, including all of the appendices. See also our recent post “Metro’s draft Urban Growth Report sees things differently from builders

Various local newspaper stories run on Residential Housing Preference Study:

www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/real-estate-daily/2014/09/houses-condos-or-apartments-new-study-shows-where.html

portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/232720-96765-where-do-most-want-to-live-in-the-suburbs

www.oregonlive.com/front-porch/index.ssf/2014/09/how_do_portlanders_want_to_liv.html

www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/09/preserving_housing_choices_in.html

Residential preference presentation for the HBMP summarizing the Residential Preference Study and some highlights of the UGR as well as HBAMP’s work on these issues (given by HBAMP CEO Dave Nielsen at the HBAMP Lunch.Learn.Link on September 11, 2014)

Metro’s draft urban growth report sees it differently from builders

house-development_194_600x450This article appears courtesy of Jon Bell in September’s Home Building News

Between 1990 and 2010, the population of the seven-county Portland Metro region grew by about 700,000 people. According to Metro, and depending on how circumstances unfold in the next 20 years, the region could add anywhere from 470,000 to 725,000 more people. If the number falls about mid-range — 600,000 — it would be like adding a whole other Portland, people-wise, to the metro region.

Whether or not the Metro urban growth boundary has enough space to accommodate that kind of an increase is the central question in the “2014 Urban Growth Report,” which Metro released in July. Subtitled “Investing in our communities: 2015-2035,” the report is required by state law every five years as a way to gauge how much the region is growing, whether or not the Metro council needs to add land to the urban growth boundary and, if so, how much and where.

“It’s an effort to look forward at what kind of growth we should anticipate and how to accommodate it,” said Ted Reid, a senior regional planner with Metro.

While the report is not necessarily the law of the land, nor is it even finalized yet, it is meant to help inform the Metro council when it makes its growth management decision by the end of 2015. Among other repercussions, that decision will determine whether or not any new land is added to the UGB in the coming years. Should the council base its decision on the mid- to low-range population forecast numbers, the Metro report shows that there would be no need to expand the UGB; only if the higher-end of the range were considered would more land need to be added.

There are some good things laid out in the report, said Dave Nielsen, CEO of the HBAMP, but also some problematic areas.

“For the first time ever, Metro staff have issued a draft report that lays out some of the real challenges our region faces,” he said. “Things like housing preferences, voter annexation requirements, resistance to infill density, Damascus build-out potential and affordability concerns.  However, the study also makes it appear that the safe and easy route is to not expand the boundary, which gives policy makers an out.  It does that by making some huge assumptions for multi-family housing capacity in Portland that are off the charts.”

Reid noted that the midpoint is the “most likely result if our assumptions are correct,” though nothing is for certain.

“We are looking 20 years out; there are going to be some things we get wrong,” he said. “But we are trying to lay out the information for policymakers so they can have those discussions.”

Another issue pertinent for builders in the draft Metro report deals with density, which some say gets a little over-emphasized in the report.

“The report is a well-rounded approach to looking at the growth both economically and population-wise in the region,” said Andrew Tull, a principal planner with 3J Consulting and the current chair of the HBAMP’s Government Affairs Committee. “We were a little surprised by the amount of density that some of the interior suburbs claim to have available though.”

In addition, Tull said that some of the projections in the report don’t take into account everything that goes into development projects. For example, one projection in the report suggests that the city of Portland has existing capacity for more than 170,000 residences over the next 20 years. Nielsen said that assumes an annual rate of new residences that Portland has never come close to, and Tull said that such a rate discounts the fact that so few proposed developments ever actually make it to fruition.

“As consultants, we look at a lot of development projects, and it’s not exaggerating to say that we’ll analyze 50 deals before one becomes an actual project,” he said. “There’s not a high connection rate between builders, developers and property owners. So much has to go right for that to happen, so I think a projection like that discounts how hard it is to make a deal go.”

As far as density goes, Nielsen said the projections assume that much of the growth can be absorbed in high density, multifamily housing units and that a disproportionate number of new residents, particularly in Portland, are going to want to live in that kind of housing. That may be a faulty assumption, especially considering a forthcoming study that should be out this month that shows just the opposite: that more people prefer single family residences over apartments, condominiums and other multifamily options.

“We’re not sure (high density) matches the preference of everyone in the market,” Tull said. “There is a portion of people who want the multifamily life and experience, but as you settle down and start to have a family, a more suburban lifestyle makes a lot of sense for a lot of people.”

Reid said the main takeaway from the draft is that the quality of life in the metro region is fuelling growth. A big part of accommodating that growth, he said, will be making the most of the land within the UGB.

“We need to start talking more about land readiness than supply,” he said. That means looking into investments in infrastructure, annexing lands that have already been added to the UGB and other measures. “The land available to build on is scarce, but it’s not because it’s in the UGB or not in the UGB.”

The Metro report cites developments like Villebois in Wilsonville and Witch Hazel in Hillsboro as successful examples of projects that came to be on lands added to the UGB in the past. At the other end of the spectrum are areas such as Damascus, which was added 10 years ago but that has since been bogged down in all kinds of political morass. Metro expects at least another decade of wrangling and notes in the report that “If Damascus’ capacity is not available, it may become somewhat more difficult to provide new single-family housing inside the existing urban growth boundary.”

Since the report won’t be finalized until the end of the year, Tull said he anticipates more discussions with Metro councilors to tweak it before then. One thing builders would like to see more of is greater focus on land that may be outside the boundary but that can be easily served by nearby infrastructure and existing transportation amenities. The Stafford area, for one, is on everybody’s mind, Tull said, but in general “the region’s focus should be on providing housing near to where future employment is being contemplated.”

Though there are some points of contention in the draft report, Reid said that Metro planners and staff “had a close relationship with builders and HBAMP members this time around.”

“We worked hard to get the perspectives of the people in the business in this report,” he said. “We really valued the input the builders brought to the process. They have lent a lot of expertise to that, and we appreciate it.”

To view the draft report, visit www.oregonmetro.gov/public-projects and click on “2015 Growth Management Decision.”

From the Top: September 2014

Jan LewisFrom HBAMP President, Jan Lewis in September’s edition of the Home Building News.

As September gets started, I look back on the wonderful NW Natural Street of Dreams that we just completed – a beautiful site and lovely homes made for a fantastic show! It was our 39th annual show and many thank-yous are in order. A special thank you to our major sponsors–NW Natural, Banner Bank/Community Financial, and Standard TV & Appliance–as well as all of the other sponsors who participated in this years’ show. We could not have done it without you.

Also, thank you to the four builders who participated in this year’s show. Thank you for stepping forward and taking the risk to build a show home. It appears that risk has paid off as four of the five homes sold before the Street opened. Please extend our thanks to your subcontractors and suppliers, too.

Another thank you goes to the City of Happy Valley. They welcomed the NW Natural Street of Dreams with open arms and worked with the HBAMP every step of the way to make this show successful. Truly a bright spot in our show planning!

Kudos also go to our wonderful HBAMP staff as well as the staff of the Home Builders Foundation. What a lot of hard work, but you pulled it off. The Street kicked off with the successful Block Party before the show opened. This year’s Block Party beneficiary was the Home Builders Foundation and specifically the Clackamas Women’s Service Domestic Violence Shelter. Besides the proceeds from the Block Party, visitors to the Street of Dreams were asked to contribute a dollar toward HBF and CWS, and that solicitation was very successful, too. In addition to viewing the homes in the show, our visitors to the Street were treated to live music on Wednesday nights, as well as two new features–Style in the Street and a special day honoring our Veterans.

I hope you all had a chance to visit this year’s show. If you didn’t, you definitely missed out; but it’s not too late to mark your calendar for next year. It will be our 40th year, and the show returns to Lake Oswego in the new Highlands development. It promises to be a great show.

As we head into fall, I’d like to share with you an update on the Professional Women in Building (PWB) group. Just before I was installed as your President, the officers became aware of the Atlanta HBA’s very successful PWB Council. Having been a woman in the construction industry for 37 years, PWB piqued my interest. This past winter, Dave Nielsen, Carol Eisenlohr of Legend Homes, and I met to discuss the idea. We took it a step further by having a phone conference call with leaders of the Atlanta PWB as well as NAHB’s PWB Council leaders. In late July, we held our first informational meeting of those women interested in exploring the idea. Eighteen members attended the first meeting, and the majority of them had never attended an HBA event. We came away from the meeting realizing that there is a need for a way for women in the building industry to improve their skills, network, and be mentored. If you missed the informational meeting, stay tuned for additional developments this fall. I’m really excited about where this is going!

HBAMP Member Spotlight: Master Woodworks

Alex ZukowskiBackground Information

Title/Company:  Alex Zukowski, President, MW Design & Mfg (dba Master Woodworks, Inc) Custom staircases, cabinetry etc.

Years with the HBAMP:  2014 is my first year.

Activities involved in with the HBAMP:  Home & Garden Show exhibitor, and NW Natural Street of Dreams participant.

Why are you a member of the HBAMP/what value do you find in HBAMP membership: I joined for the opportunity to network with other professionals in the industry. The HBAMP is a great way to build more relationships and see how we can help one another serve our customers better.

Business Basics

Training and education:  I apprenticed woodworking under my father growing up, and learned stair-building along the way. I see the shop floor as being the most valuable classroom I have had for my business. Building staircases has taught me the skills to design and build all sorts of other products, from cabinets, to millwork, custom doors, ironwork, and custom furniture.

How’d you get started with your current business:  I worked in various parts of the building industry early in my career and decided to specialize in complex millwork and staircases about 25 years ago. The constant drive to expand our capabilities has led to our current form as a custom wood and metal shop, where we can create custom pieces in many materials, all in-house.

What advice would you give others starting out in the industry:  Be professional, follow through with clients and colleagues, always close the loops and learn from your mistakes.

How do you measure “success”:  Our most valuable measure of success is a glowing client review (and our most valuable marketing).

What’s your most useful business “tool”: The willingness to take on challenging projects that test the limits of our skills and equipment. That tenacity is what has made us the go-to for many customers looking for something special or unique to make their project pop.

Business mentors or heroes:  While not necessarily ‘business’ heroes, I have always looked up to those individuals who stood up for what was right in the face of adversity or evil such as Sir Thomas Moore and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Making the Call

Business decision you’re most proud of:  Making the jump to computer aided design (CAD) earlier than most in the industry. It has proved to be hugely powerful for us to control our production, and in aiding our client communications.

One you’d like to have back: Expanding too quickly and too early.

Principals you use for big decisions:  Always go upstream for wisdom (way upstream !!).

The best business advice you’ve received:  It’s never as bad as it seems, it’s never as good as it seems.

Where I’ve Been, Where I am Going

First “career” job:  I was a missionary, traveling throughout Mexico and Central America.

As a kid, I wanted to be:  An American. Growing up in South America I always yearned for the freedoms and opportunities available here.

If I weren’t doing this, I’d be:  I honestly have no idea, I feel like I was made for this.

Insider Information

People would be surprised to know:  I was born in Buenos Aires, to Argentinian and Ukrainian immigrant parents, and English is my second language.

If I could work for free for any cause/charity, it would be:  Medical Teams International (as a grunt).

Words I live by/my motto:  Life is hard but God is good.

I need more time on weekends for:  Working on my own house!

Building trades weigh in on post-recession business

This article appears courtesy of Jon Bell in August’s edition of the Home Building News

paint contractorWith the recession squarely behind us, though still visible in the rearview mirror, the Home Building News reached out to several HBA members in the trades to see how they’re doing, what trends they’re seeing and what information they could share with builders to help keep jobs running smoothly.

From hiring challenges and the return of referral business to keeping the lines of communication open, here’s what they told us.

Sky Heating & Air Conditioning

A couple years ago, before the housing market started to rebound, builders could call on Sky Heating & Air Conditioning and have a crew on-site within a week.

Those days are gone.

“I think some builders are still in the mindset that you can call up and have us out a week later,” said Travis Smith, owner of Sky Heating & Air Conditioning. “We’re booked three weeks out now.”

Part of that is simply because there’s more business now than there was during the downturn a few years ago. But Smith said Sky has also had a difficult time hiring new people to help meet the demand, despite the fact that the company is offering more than $20 an hour, paid vacation, company vehicles and uniforms, training and even a sign-on bonus to applicants who have a year of experience.

“I think a lot of the people who were doing it left the trade or even left the country when the economy was bad,” Smith said. “Now, we just can’t hire fast enough.”

In recent years, the efficiency of homes has increased so much that, where once a 3,500-square-foot home needed two furnaces, now a 5,000-square-foot home can be covered with just one. That increase in efficiency requires very detailed information and spec sheets from builders so that contractors like Sky can install the right kind of system.

“It’s not one size fits all anymore,” Smith said.

Another trend Smith is seeing in the heating and cooling world is the rise of both ground source heat pumps and ductless heat pumps. The latter are mounted inside a home and provide very efficient heating and cooling. Smith said some folks might not like the way the units look — ones he’s used are 31 inches wide, 11 inches tall and 10 inches deep — but he said there’s no denying their effectiveness or efficiency.

“The ductless heat pump is coming whether you like it or not,” he said.

Pepiot Painting

The improved homebuilding and remodeling market has been good for Jamie Pepiot, owner of the residential and commercial painting company Pepiot Painting. When it dropped off a few years ago, Pepiot really had to step up his advertising and marketing, and even then, there were plenty of painters out there who’d underbid just so they had some work coming in.

“People would just go in and underbid,” said Pepiot, the HBAMP’s Trade Contractor of the Year in 2009. “It was hard to survive.”

Fast-forward a few years, however, and Pepiot’s referral business has picked up steam again, and fair bids are again winning the day. He said he’s had great luck working with a few local builders, but even more so with designers around the region. Not only have they given him lots of referrals, but they have also been including Pepiot early in the process with homeowners.

“I like meeting with the homeowners, so it’s been great that the designers are bringing me in,” he said. “They’ll ask me what I think about something, so it involves me in the communication and the process.”

Pepiot said he always makes sure to communicate clearly with the builders he works with, whether he’s doing that himself or it’s one of his foremen on a job. And while he wishes that scheduling would always work out perfectly for himself, builders and other trades working in homebuilding and remodeling, Pepiot knows that in this industry, that could be a tall order.

“That’s one thing that I wish could be better, but there’s always going to be situations where something comes up,” he said. “It’s probably just a part of construction.”

Lakeside Lumber

It happened across the homebuilding industry: when the recession hit, companies downsized and laid people off. But now that the market has somewhat bounced back, many companies are scrambling to keep up with increased workloads while also ramping up their employee counts.

The former happened to Lakeside Lumber. According to marketing director Luke Morley, the siding and decking company probably cut its staff by about 30 percent during the downturn. But rather than have to rush to get back up to speed, Morley said Lakeside’s business follows kind of a bell curve, picking up in May and running through late fall before it slows. That allowed Lakeside to better plan for the busy months and add people back to its ranks.

“For us, we can kind of see it coming, which has been very helpful,” he said.

Morley said that Lakeside has been seeing a mix of business between cedar and composite siding and decking. He noted that a lot of builder and homeowner customers are opting for composite decking largely for the reduced maintenance, even though it’s usually priced higher than cedar. What’s also become more popular, especially since some building code changes went into effect back in 2010, have been rain screens, and not just new construction projects, but on remodels as well. Lakeside now carries at least eight different rain screen products.

That’s another thing that Morley has seen change over the years: the amount of products available to builders and homeowners. Where once Lakeside was pretty narrowly focused on cedar and cedar only, now the company has access to thousands of different products for all kinds of projects, from decking and siding to fasteners, rain screens, flashing, caulking and more.

“That’s grown exponentially and really broadened what we can do,” Morley said.

Dream living came true in Happy Valley for the 2014 NW Natural Street of Dreams

Thx sponsors sodThis year’s NW Natural Street of Dreams featured five gorgeous custom homes showcasing innovative design, landscaping and sustainable products in Happy Valley’s scenic Northern Heights neighborhood.

With the help of our amazing partners and sponsors, the Home Builders Association of Metro Portland is proud of the success of this year’s show which had the second highest attendee number in the last five years. The show also raised a record breaking over $15K for the Home Builders Foundation renovation project, Clackamas Women’s Services, a domestic abuse shelter, through our signature Block Party event, ticket sale ad-ons and our new, Style at the Street event.

A brand new event space coined “The Street Bistro” at this year’s tour stepped up the traditional concession stand, offering an outdoor café area with a French country theme, a wine garden and an entertainment stage. Beyond that, the space featured an outdoor kitchen demonstration area and several outdoor living displays from some of the HBAMP’s partners. This allowed guests to enjoy a beautiful space with friends while enjoying live music, chef demos, and delicious dining in the Street Bistro.

Congratulations to the 2014 NW Natural Street of Dreams Winners!

People’s Choice

Best Landscaping – Rediscovering America – BC Custom Construction

Best Architectural Design – American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Best Kitchen – American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Best Master Suite – American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Best Interior Design - American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Best Outdoor Living - American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Best of Show – American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Realtor’s Choice

Best Landscaping – Ya-Hala – Red Hills Construction

Best Architectural Design – American Spirit – Westlake Development , LLC

Best Kitchen – American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Best Master Suite – American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Best Interior Design – American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Best Outdoor Living – Eclectic Nouveau – Crystalridge Development & Renovation, Inc

Best of Show – American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Professional’s Choice

Best Landscaping – Rediscovering America – BC Custom Construction

Best Architectural Design – Rediscovering America – BC Custom Construction

Best Kitchen – American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Best Master Suite – Rediscovering America – BC Custom Construction

Best Interior Design – American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Best Outdoor Living - American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

Best of Show – American Spirit – Westlake Development, LLC

 

 

Local utilities taking steps to make life a little easier on homebuilders

This article appears courtesy of Jon Bell in August’s edition of the Home Building News

PGE-NWnatural boxThey’re as much a part of homebuilding as homebuilders themselves: utilities. The Home Building News recently touched base with the two big names in Portland-area utilities — Portland General Electric and NW Natural — to find out about the trends they’re seeing, the advice they have and the new resources they’re prepping that will make life a little easier for homebuilders.

NW Natural

Here’s an interesting thought: natural gas prices are about the same today as they were 10 years ago.

In other words, according to John Frankel, marketing manager for NW Natural, they’re pretty low.

“Natural gas prices are as low as they were 10 years ago, which is attributed to the increased supply in the country that the shale gas reserves have added,” he said. “That’s helped keep the supply very high.”

That’s also kept the market and demand for natural gas strong, across the country and here in the Portland metro region. Frankel said NW Natural has seen an increase in demand that’s gone along with the relatively recent uptick in multifamily construction around the region. Single family residential has been solid as well, with builders leaning heavily toward natural gas. Homeowners, too, according to Frankel, have continued to go with natural gas for everything from efficient water and space heating to outdoor living areas.

“The outdoor living spaces used to be just for higher-end homes,” he said. “Now it’s a wanted commodity for just about anyone.”

To help make it even easier for builders and homeowners to order residential gas services for new construction homes and existing home conversions, NW Natural is launching a new application at the end of August. Called NW Natural Partner Link, the app will be tablet-optimized and easy to use in either the field or in an office. It is the latest addition to the gas company’s “NW Natural Customer Connections Program,” which was initiated last year with the NW Natural Gas Availability online tool. That tool allows builders and homeowners to find out online, almost instantly, whether or not natural gas services are available in their area.

“As an element of our overall vision to make ordering gas services easier and more efficient, NW Natural Partner Link provides an intuitive interface “ Frankel said. “We are very excited about this genuinely unique and innovative tool that allows our partners to easily create new gas service orders online any time of day and follow up on the status of existing orders.”

The new app will allow builders and heating contractors to order gas service 24 hours a day, seven days a week from their tablet or desktop computer. They’ll also be able to check the status of a new gas service order and update their company profile for address changes, staffing or other information. Builders will also be able to use a copy and paste function for multiple subdivision orders, and an announcement section on the dashboard will provide news, updates, bulletins, incentives and other communications from NW Natural.

NW Natural will make the new app available to trade partners on a separate website later this month. There will also be an online training tool to help users learn how to use the app to place an order. Training will be available to builders, heating contractors and their staff.

For more information, contact Walter Cahall, NW Natural portal and process consultant, at (503) 220-2583 or by email at wtc@nwnatural.com.

Portland General Electric

According to Theresa Haskins, business markets manager at Portland General Electric, there’s a trend sweeping across the big-picture utility scene in this country to make it easier for builders and customers to connect with their utility companies.

“The trend is really to have a much more dynamic relationship going on between the builder and the utility,” she said. “The old style was, you call and place an order and then you wait. That’s a much more linear process . . . and while there will still be some of that, we’re moving away from it.”

The new approach is one that makes it easier not only for builders to connect with, in this case, PGE, but for PGE to be able to more easily connect with builders and developers. It will be one that taps into mobile technology so that builders could, for example, drive up to a site and order service right from their iPad.

Haskins said PGE already offers a limited amount of mobile and online tools, but investments in the near future will greatly expand options and help builders have “more seamless conversations” with the utility company. She said PGE is investing in a new work management system, it’s converting to a new outage system and updating to a new connectivity map; it will also be making changes to its customer service system, all in an effort to improve the way builders and other customers can connect with PGE.

“Those will all wrap together in a big package,” Haskins said.

After meeting with the HBA recently to talk about what builders are seeing these days, Haskins said that the amount of retirements that PGE has been experiencing lately may be causing some builders a little “pain.” Long-term employees who’ve built relationships with builders over the years are phasing out, which means newer staff members are coming on board and having to get up to speed.

“Then you add in a change in our software systems and that can create another layer of change and potential challenge,” Haskins said. “But we really believe that the long-term opportunity far outweighs that.”

She noted that PGE is working diligently to keep its ranks filled. The company even partners with Portland State University and the Multiple Engineering Co-Operative program to help promote STEM education programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) that are important for the kind of workforce that PGE and other companies need. Through MECOR, PGE provides scholarships to engineering students at Oregon State University and pairs them up with PGE engineering mentors.

PGE continues to see more demand for energy efficiency, and, like builders and others in the region, the company has seen the homebuilding market pick up some steam lately.

“There’s been a lot of work in multifamily units . . . and single family is starting to pop,” Haskins said. “Residential subdivisions were almost nonexistent two years ago, but now it’s starting to come back, which feels good for us and our builder customers.”

Amidst this renewal of building activity, Haskins said it’s important for builders to remember to do their diligence when they buy a piece of property to make sure they know what’s there. In this day and age, it’s not uncommon to find that there’s less and less space for utilities; easements and right-of-way restrictions can also end up adding challenges if they’re not identified early on.

“The tip there is just to do your diligence early and up front,” Haskins said. “And by engaging PGE and our people early on, we can help them navigate some of these challenges.”

For more information about PGE’s services for builders and developers, visit www.portlandgeneral.com/business/builders_developers

Contact Us: Call Us at: 503-684-1880 // Email Us at: info@hbapdx.org