Creating Homes for Every Stage of Life
Blue Mountain Enterprises—a California model of efficiency in residential construction
Blue Mountain Enterprises is committed to providing housing for every stage of life.
“We’re both a construction contractor and a homebuilder,” says Joe Klusnick, the company’s marketing director. “It’s a unique model of industry efficiency.”
Established in Vacaville, California, in 1981, Blue Mountain Enterprises (Blue Mountain) started as an HVAC, plumbing and electrical contractor. With multiple operating divisions under the Blue Mountain umbrella, the organization has a gross annual revenue exceeding $250 million and 550-plus employees.
“We are proud to be—after much hard work—the largest, or at least one of the two largest HVAC contractors in new residential construction in all of California, based on volume,” says Steve Brown, President and CEO.
The organization is focused on creating long-term value through assets it owns and manages, and providing competitive subcontracting in the areas of HVAC, plumbing, solar power and renovation.
One of the operating divisions, Blue Mountain Construction Services, completes multifamily residential projects throughout Northern and Central California, installing HVAC, plumbing, fire sprinkler and solar power systems. It also has repair/replacement staff that work with general contractors to complete emergency repairs, routine maintenance and special projects for homeowner associations and property managers.
The Blue Mountain team includes professional engineers and estimators. So, it has the in-house technical expertise necessary to design HVAC, plumbing and solar power systems.
“We believe that having full-time licensed engineers on staff is the right approach to providing the best end-product for our customers,” Steve says. The company’s full design/build capability means there is a single point of accountability for a project.
Blue Mountain manufactures all duct systems at its factory and warehouse in Vacaville. It has an extensive sheet metal capacity: gutters, downspouts, flashing and penetrations are built in-house. Two crews operate daily. There is also a distribution facility in Fresno, California.
“Assembling and manufacturing most of our HVAC layouts in-house represents our commitment to delivering the highest-quality systems to customers,” Steve says. Because the company has its own warehouse—and maintains an inventory—it avoids buying materials “as needed” and assembling them on job sites before installation.
Instead, “ductwork is put together in our factory according to pre-engineered specifications. Then it’s transported to the field in clean bags and installed,” Joe says.
Blue Mountain Communities, a regional builder, constructs 200 to 250 homes annually. It is also a multifamily developer, owner and investor. Most communities are in Northern California, peripheral to the Bay Area. Three new Sacramento-area community projects will start in 2019.
“Our philosophy is to provide housing for every stage of life in California, from multifamily properties and communities that are great for first-time renters or buyers and growing families, to senior and assisted living [housing],” Steve says.
Starting in 2020, California will become the first state in the nation to require all newly built homes to be solar-powered. Through its Solar Power division, Blue Mountain designs solar systems for homeowners and includes solar power in many of the communities it builds.
Growing Presence in Assisted Living
One of the biggest lifecycle changes and challenges is transitioning from the family home to an apartment, assisted living facility or memory care center.
“As an organization, we’re increasingly focusing our energy and resources on being a senior care/assisted living developer and operator. With an aging population, this is a growing segment,” Steve says.
Building and operating assisted living communities is a natural fit with the company’s philosophy of serving housing needs for all stages of life. Steve is heavily involved in these efforts, overseeing construction and operation of projects that are coming online and evaluating new development opportunities.
Currently, Blue Mountain-owned communities include Cornerstone Assisted Living in Vacaville and Rockville Terrace Senior Living in Fairfield. At the time of reporting for this article, the company planned to open a community in Bakersfield in April 2019. A waterfront project in Vallejo is underway, followed by a large senior living project in Milpitas.
A Culture of Employee Safety, Training and Education
Blue Mountain makes a substantial investment in safety, training and education. Its experienced staff works side-by-side with new employees during their first several days to ensure they understand not only the company’s core values, but also its tremendous commitment to safety. An in-house Safety Team conducts safety classes and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification courses, such as OSHA 10 and OSHA 30, and runs an internal HVAC apprentice program.
“We want all of our employees to be safe and ensure they are working in a safe environment,” Steve says. “We consider ourselves a family. We invest time, energy and resources in employee development and training, ensuring that everyone in the business feels included.”
Joe agrees: “Continual education and improvement are foundational to how we do business.”
Building Futures for Communities—and the Industry
When it comes to giving back, Blue Mountain is committed to benefiting the neighborhoods where it operates. “The success of the company, our customers and our communities are intertwined,” Steve says.
Blue Mountain contributes to projects across California for HomeAid, a charitable endeavor of the California Building Industry Association. The nonprofit provides housing for homeless families and individuals, including military veterans and victims of natural disasters. The company also supports organizations like Volunteers of America and Shriners Hospitals for Children.
During the Great Recession, the building industry lost a significant portion of its labor force. Blue Mountain actively addresses this challenge by encouraging the current and future workforce to join the building industry. For example, its Bakersfield senior living project is exposing at-risk teens to construction careers through Teen Challenge International.
Blue Mountain is building two new residential communities near the city of Hollister in San Benito County. In this area, the company supports local youth programs and activities, including Youth Alliance and the San Benito County Police Activities League.
Steve says: “We want to be active in the communities we’re involved with; some have fewer resources than others. We help out in ways that promote our industry and by supporting local communities through service organizations and charities.”
The 10 Secrets of SuccessBlue Mountain’s “10 Secrets of Success” reflect the company’s core values. These are foundational to its smart business practices and development of engaged, excited employees. These rules prioritize positive thinking, setting goals and taking action, life-long learning, persistence and analysis, focus, innovation, communication and being honest and dependable.
“We expect our entire team to deliver on its promises, whether they are personal promises made on the job site or corporate promises made in a contract, or, simply the right thing to do in the moment,” Steve says. “Our people know we always want them to do the right thing.”