As summer approaches and construction activity kicks into high gear it is an opportune time to reflect on the contribution of the Central Oregon Builders Association (COBA) in safeguarding standards and promoting companies and individuals in the construction industry locally.
The nonprofit advocacy association, chartered in 1972, also works to bring a unified voice to the Oregon State Capitol, helping shape housing policy on behalf of builders and housing consumers while providing education, resources, and opportunities aiming to ensure member success.
As one of multiple affiliates locally and at state level, it is a professional, not-for-profit, trade association comprised of builders, remodelers, material suppliers, subcontractors, consultants, lending institutions, utilities and others involved in housing and building-related fields.
It was founded to help benefit its more than 700 members in 11 counties including Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Gilliam, Harney, Hood River, Jefferson, Malheur, Sherman, Wasco & Wheeler, and works exclusively in the interest of member business and the residential building industry.
Working closely with the Oregon Builders Association, COBA is an independent entity that offers several programs and services, with a mission to “represent the building industry before the government and the community, to promote high ethical standards within the building industry, to provide service to its membership and to defend the opportunities of home ownership for all.”
With a main goal of economic stability, COBA offers members a variety of benefits, including discounts on essentials like bulk fuel, insurance, supplies, business classes and other business-related purchases, in addition to its advocacy work and networking opportunities.
The organization also stages a series of regular flagship events including the recently held Spring Home & Garden Show which drew over 200 vendors and around 10,000 visitors to Deschutes County Fairgrounds, and the annual COBA Tour of Homes — now in its 36th year — held over two weekends each July and showcasing some of Central Oregon’s finest homes in a variety of price categories.
Educational opportunities include builders’ perspective forums, solutions for members’ businesses through access to experts who provide insight and information, and resources for Construction Contractors Board (CCB) license candidates.
COBA has a long history of being one of the most respected trade groups in the state with strong representation since its inception, including from original founding members such as Miller Lumber and Parr Lumber.
Oversight is provided by a Board made up of dedicated individuals who meet regularly to make building-forward moves while monitoring and managing the health of the association. Each provides valuable and unique insight to the present needs of the industry and over its history COBA has been led by a series of respected community leaders.
COBA Senior Vice President Mandy Weidman said part of the reason for the group’s original formation was due to the lack of code requirements and inconsistency in building standards in the 1970’s. “Our organization was established to help set a higher level of expectations and elevate standards in the area,” she said. “We also pride ourselves on keeping up with code and jurisdiction changes and offering benefits and services, including discounts, as well as advocating for the industry, including having a government affairs director lobbying at the state level.
“Membership I think demonstrates a level of seriousness about the trade you participate in, and this is really a great organization that does a lot for the industry and cares about it — the more members we have the louder our voice is,” Weidman continued. “Events like the Tour of Homes have been going over 30 years now and feature many contractors and small businesses that enjoy highly visible exposure. It demonstrates the contribution of many subcontractors to construction projects and given that many associated businesses do not have showrooms, it is a great way for people to see finished products and talk to the experts involved face-to-face. We also encourage the public to call if they have questions about contractor licenses and if anyone is looking for direction, we can give qualified recommendations from our member directory.”
COBA has a proud tradition of community involvement and additionally offers resources such as the ability to have plans printed via email for members and the general public at its Fourth Street headquarters.
Weidman added that this year COBA has selected Solaire Homebuilders to build the 2023 Showcase House presented by Parr Lumber as part of the Tour of Homes. Solaire, which has been serving Central Oregon since 1995, focuses on building homes with energy efficiency, indoor air quality and making use of sunlight, and will demonstrate how to build a Net Zero Energy home with conventional materials.
“We look forward to hosting the community for an open house during construction as a learning opportunity for builders, Realtors and homeowners,” Solaire President Geoff Harris said
The COBA Showcase Home is a primary fundraiser for the association and will be open to the public for tours during the 2023 COBA Tours of Homes in July, with the opportunity for companies and individuals to feature their labor and/or materials to visitors and other builders while being displayed.
It features contributions from the building sector to directly support COBA’s mission and its efforts to keep the industry healthy and working for members.
“This is an excellent opportunity to get involved and give back to the industry,” Weidman added. “We see companies coming together from all over Central Oregon to contribute to the building of this home. “It is also a great way to have the public get to see their work within the house that will be displayed on the 2023 Tour of Homes.”