Dave Hammonds, left, and his son, Matt, own Hammonds Construction in White City. - Julia Moore

Home Grown: 7th generation brings business into green era

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? (Matt Hammonds speaking) We do residential and commercial construction, property development. Lately, we've been specializing in green and sustainable building, which has kept us busy. We do custom homes and design and build. We fancy ourselves as outside-the-box thinkers. I'm seventh generation in the family business. My great-great-great-great-grandfather started in construction about 150 years ago. They were in Oklahoma and then moved to California. The company has been operating in the Rogue Valley for 33 years. We work all through the state of Oregon into California and Colorado.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? My Mom and Dad moved up here in 1977 from Ontario, Calif.

What inspired you to go into this line of work? I'm an only son of an only son of an only son. I grew up working summers and weekends and after school. I was thinking I didn't want to do this back then and my Dad was like that, too — he wanted to be a doctor. I graduated from Oregon State University with a business degree and halfway through college I decided I wanted to go into the family business to help grow it and expand it. While I was at OSU, I really got into green and sustainable construction. I studied LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and learned what a sustainable building is and have headed our company in that direction.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? If anything, wishing we would have gotten into green construction sooner. Not just for the business factor, but because it makes sense. For a while there, people thought of green as the hippie, geodesic dome thing and solar panels. That was the perception. We did a lot of the right things, but there are several things such as just making smart, conscious decisions about recycling and taking wood waste to biomass plants and thinking about doing things other than simply the old way.

What's the toughest business decision you've made? The decision to stick it out and ratchet it up during the tough times. There has been stuff that hits the industry. You are going after jobs with guys bidding so low that you can't pay costs to do it. It's discouraging when people put out prices just to pay wages, so staying competitive in this market has been tough. You have to make decisions and sometimes lay people off and cut costs in areas you normally wouldn't have to in order to stay competitive.

Who are your competitors? In commercial work, S & B James Construction, Ausland and Vitus, and in residential, Mahar Bros. Construction.

What are your goals? To be a leader in this valley in five years, more so than just being busy, but with high volume and lots of work. We want to be a leader and innovator in sustainability and being able to solve anything that needs to be solved. We're working on several donation-type projects. I do seminars to teach people the wisdom in sustainable practices. A lot of people think it's expensive, but we spent $3,000 to improve efficiency in houses we were doing in Talent and they are going to save 15 to 20 percent on energy costs. You don't have to have expensive solar panels to have a green home.

What training or education did you need? My construction training is solely from the family. Experience is tough to teach and growing up in the business is the best teacher you can have. I focus more on the business and marketing side and I can take the knowledge from Oregon State and combine it with the knowledge I've learned from the family to make it a successful company.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Think outside the box — it's what you have to do today. You have to bring something to the table; being willing to do more and something different than the next guy. Starting a business today isn't the easiest thing. You have to put in the hours and keep thinking outside the box.

To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or e-mail

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