Since moving to Central Oregon in 1979, Kevin Spencer has immersed himself in all things masonry. What started as a job while attending school has transformed into virtual and literal local masonry empire.
Spencer, who lives in Bend with his wife and three daughters, currently owns Empire Stone Company, Empire Construction and Development and Kevin Spencer Masonry. However, before moving to Bend, Spencer was ignorant to the field of stone work.
“I didn’t even know what a brick mason was,” acknowledges Spencer.
Three years after talking his first job as a mason with Plumblite Masonry, Spencer started his first company, Kevin Spencer Masonry in 1982. The business began as a one-man operation installing residential stonework and concrete pavers, but now employs between twenty and thirty workers, depending upon the season. Finishing approximately 250 jobs a year, KSM has ten to twelve jobs going at any given time. Their work can be seen in most high-end developments such as Pronghorn, Tetherow, Black Butte Ranch and Eagle Crest Resort.
By 1990, Spencer was thoroughly frustrated by the necessity of driving out of town for his materials. So he started Kevin Spencer Stone to offer large quantities of masonry products to fellow mason contractors. The business took off, and in 2002 began selling to the general public under the name Empire Stone Company.
“I started Empire Stone because I needed it,” explains Spencer. “Back then, we couldn’t get the necessary stone products here. Now, it has grown into its own business.”
As its own company, Empire Stone has managed to grow alongside Central Oregon’s construction economy. Meanwhile, Spencer attributes its success to his employees and other contractors in his field. “The growth of Empire Stone is generated by Central Oregon’s masonry contractors,” says Spencer. “I have a very good manager and part owner, Brian Salazar. He is Empire Stone as far as I am concerned.”
In an effort to work in all facets of building, Spencer co-founded Jeriko Development in 1998. By 2004, his partner retired and Jeriko dissolved into Empire Construction and Development. ECD lists the Brooks building on Simpson, the 10 Barrel brewery and Bend Rock Gym’s new expansion as their most notable work. They are currently building a new office building for Team Unified on High Desert Lane in Bend. In the near future, they will begin work on the new 290,000 square foot Idaho Storage Center in Napa, Idaho.
“What sets us apart is our own in-house masonry contractor that allows us to control prices and time schedule,” explains Spencer. The construction company, and its seven employees, handles all types of building projects. “We have been around long enough to see the ups and downs,” notes Spencer. “We have survived by being smart, careful, and thrifty through the tough times.” The three companies complement and support each other nicely.
Spencer explains it this way. “Empire Construction and Development has Kevin Spencer Masonry as a subcontractor, which gives us more control in building. Empire Stone is solely independent and a benefit to all of the masons here.”
Overall, as the economy rebounds, Spencer’s businesses are reporting an approximate 15 percent increase in business. With 35 years in the business, he has a firm grasp of the joys of happy customers as well as the paperwork challenges of the building industry. Spencer has also seen many building materials styles come and go.
“Styles have come full circle,” comments Spencer. “We are back to the styles and colors of 20 years ago. The biggest change is that we are using thinner stones than before.” “I have been doing this for over 30 years,” adds Spencer. “I am willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Empire Stone Company
63265 Jamison Road, Bend
CEO: Brian Salazar
Year established: Open to public in 2002
Products: masonry and landscape products
Outlook for Growth: As Central Oregon’s building industry heats up, so does the need for their products.
Kevin Spencer Masonry
CEO: Kevin Spencer
Year established: 1982
Services: All of your residential and commercial masonry needs.
Outlook for Growth: Staying busy with 10-12 projects going at any one time.
Empire Construction and Development
CEO: Kevin Spencer
Year established: 2004
Products/Services: Residential and Commercial building
Hot News: Working on a new office building on High Desert Lane
Outlook for Growth: They just scored a 290,000 square foot project in Idaho.