E&M Concrete builds business on integrity, trust
Erick and Melissa Poland understand the importance of meeting the demands of the marketplace. Their ability to adjust their business model to adapt to changing economic realities has helped them grow from part-time home remodeling to a one-stop shop for residential and small commercial concrete foundation work. Along the way, they’ve done everything from flipping houses to building concrete cellphone tower pads to laying foundations for large commercial buildings.
Today, their firm, E&M Concrete, based in Dallas, Oregon, provides commercial concrete work throughout Oregon’s Interstate 5 corridor—from Portland and Beaverton to Eugene and Springfield. The company specializes in all aspects of concrete work, including residential sidewalks, colored and stamped patios and decorative work, and slab-on grades and foundations for apartment buildings and small commercial buildings.
Working with general contractor plans, E&M Concrete sets forms, places rebar, pours concrete and completes finishing work to customer specifications. “We’re a family-owned business built on a foundation of integrity and trust. We pride ourselves in our attention to detail and professionalism,” Melissa says.
From Sweethearts to Business Partners
Erick and Melissa first met during their freshman year in high school when they attended the Pendleton Round-Up rodeo with friends. Melissa grew up in Corvallis, home of Oregon State University, while Erick is from Philomath, a smaller logging town 45 minutes away. They began dating at the end of their sophomore year, and as they say, the rest is history. Today, the couple lives in Dallas, a town of 14,500 in Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley, where they are raising their son, Hayden.
Their company’s journey began in 2004, when Erick and Melissa started flipping houses to make extra income. Erick, who has worked in construction since he was 18, and Melissa, a hairstylist, bought and flipped three houses. “We did all the work ourselves. We were in the middle of redoing the second house when Erick decided to quit his full-time job at Knife River, where he worked on a paving crew with a road construction company, to begin his own construction firm,” Melissa recalls.
Erick, who had put himself through equipment operating school when he turned 18, has had his hand in all phases of construction, from excavation to building manufactured homes to paving with a road crew. He got his contractor license from the Oregon Construction Contractors Board, and the firm started out doing residential remodel work—from dry rot repair, siding and painting to bathroom and kitchen remodels. When the economy suffered in 2009, Erick took the company in a new direction, providing concrete residential driveways, sidewalks and patios.
In 2010, Erick had the opportunity to do conduit and concrete work for cell towers in Washington state. “We learned that it’s important to adapt and change to meet the demands of the current economy,” Melissa says. “We can do anything. If we need to paint or remodel houses, we can do that. Now we’re concentrating on commercial concrete foundations.”
While the cell tower work was profitable, Erick wanted to be closer to his home in Western Oregon. His residential concrete work soon opened doors to commercial concrete work.
With Melissa joining the team as office manager and estimator four years ago, Erick says his life is much easier today. “For the first 10 years of the business, I was doing everything myself—from estimating jobs to working in the field. Bringing Melissa on has changed things for the better. She’s quite the go-getter and enjoys office work.”
"We can do anything. If we need to paint or remodel houses, we can do that. Now we’re concentrating on commercial concrete foundations.” Melissa Poland, Office Manager and Estimator, E&M Concrete
E&M Concrete can be found on jobs ranging from two-day driveway or patio projects to 10,000-square-foot apartment building foundations, which can take up to two weeks to complete.
Typically, as the second contractor on a construction job, following the excavation crew, E&M Concrete is committed to doing everything on time so each construction project stays on schedule. “We make sure we have everything lined up, from getting the concrete and pumpers to scheduling the job. No job is too big or too small,” Melissa says.
A Growing Team
The E&M Concrete team includes 10 employees, plus Erick and Melissa. “We are all close and get along very well, which makes everything on the job site go really well,” Melissa says. Depending on the size of the job, the company will either run two work crews (headed by two foremen who have been with the firm a minimum of two years), or as one combined crew for larger commercial jobs.
Currently, the company is working on its largest job to date, the May’s Landing apartment complex in Salem, Oregon. The four-story building involves pouring six foundations. E&M Concrete also has built the concrete foundation for Bishops’ Storehouse in Springfield, an 11,250-square-foot warehouse with a 10-foot loading dock ramp, which serves as a food center for the needy through the Mormon Church. Besides completing foundation and site work for five Dollar General stores, another noteworthy job was pouring the stage and curved seating pad for the Main Street Park Amphitheater in Monmouth, Oregon, where free concerts are featured during the summer.
As Portland experiences a population influx—with a 1.2 percent increase in residents between July 2017 and July 2018 to make it the 22nd fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S.—the future is bright for E&M Concrete. “Everything is booming, with a lot of apartment and commercial concrete foundation work,” Melissa notes.
A self-described man of few words, when asked what makes his company great, Erick replies, “I think it’s our ethics and our desire to do things right.” And for Erick, that’s the key to the company’s success to date as E&M Concrete continues to evolve and grow to meet increasing marketplace demands.