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How A West Coast Contractor Is Bringing Tech-Savvy Construction To Portland

A rendering of 121 North Beech St., Portland, Ore.

When Truebeck Construction was weighing where to open a new office on the West Coast, Portland stood out, not just because of its growing population, but because the company already had two team members ready to lead the charge in Oregon: Ryan Wood and Betsy Leaverton Bice. The duo's backgrounds complemented each other — Wood was a seasoned project executive, while Bice's expertise is in the intricate processes of pre-construction that have made Truebeck so successful in its home markets in California.

Maybe more importantly, though, the two were already deeply connected to the tight-knit Portland construction market. Wood, after leaving a job with Truebeck in the Bay Area, had taken a position with a Portland-based contractor in 2016. Bice herself was a Portland native. Both were eager to bring Truebeck's particular brand of tech-savvy construction to one of the fastest-growing markets on the West Coast. 

“It’s a unique time in Portland’s history,” Wood said. "This was a great opportunity to bring one of the nation’s most forward-thinking contractors to this exciting city.”

For contractors, Portland is a market rife with possibility. As tech companies — and their employees — outgrow Silicon Valley, they are increasingly looking north for new markets. Portland remains one of the more affordable cities on the West Coast, making it a popular destination for new satellite branches.

The city is also becoming an incubator for technology companies in its own right. Bice said that she expects biotech, pharmaceutical companies and other tech startups to continue to flock to Portland. When they do, she said, Truebeck will be ready.

So far, Truebeck's new Portland office has taken on corporate interiors, adaptive reuse and ground-up construction projects. Truebeck is renovating four floors of the U.S. Bancorp Tower, the second-tallest building in Portland, for a growing tech company. 

In the Williams District, Truebeck is building a sleek 20K SF office at the corner of North Beech Street and North Vancouver Avenue, featuring soaring windows and airy wooden ceilings. Once it’s complete, the building will become Truebeck’s base of operations in Portland, as well as a home for several other corporate tenants.

Also joining Bice and Wood in Portland is Scott Zinkgraf, a senior project manager and a Portland native who has worked with Truebeck for over 12 years, specializing in healthcare and biotech facilities. Christine Zinkgraf, another Portland native, has joined, too. She is a senior project manager, with expertise in implementing data center infrastructure solutions, as well as tenant improvements and adaptive reuse.

Wood added that expanding to Portland has given Truebeck a chance to work with materials and techniques that are not as common in California, including mass timber: wooden panels that have been glued and pressed together to form beams that are significantly lighter and more sustainable than steel, and just as strong.

A rendering of the interior of 121 North Beech St., showing the mass timber construction.

Truebeck is overseeing the ground-up construction of a mixed-use preoject which will feature five floors of mass timber construction. In Oregon, where lumber is plentiful, mass timber is often very cost-effective, but Bice said she hopes Truebeck can find a use for it beyond Portland.

While the Portland office sends back techniques to the Bay Area, Truebeck has also imported new techniques to Portland. Bice said she has been able to bring a technology-driven design-build approach that is uncommon in Oregon. The contractor prides itself on its construction technology and innovation team, which takes advantage of laser scanning, 3D imaging and drones on even the smallest projects. 

Bice, who specializes in pre-construction, pointed to Truebeck’s commitment to target value design, an approach that feeds out real-time updates to budget and timeline based on proposed design changes. The company also offers a proprietary escalation tracking algorithm that accurately projects how costs will increase across a project’s timeline. All these complex tasks are handled in collaboration with Truebeck’s dedicated pre-construction team in San Francisco.

“It’s really the best of both worlds,” Wood said. “A cohort of project managers who know the Portland market and the financial and technological resources of an established Bay Area contractor.”

There are no transplants to the city of Portland; the 12 new employees that Truebeck has hired in Portland have each worked in the city for years. The contacts and experience that these local experts brought was crucial to help the new Truebeck office hit the ground running, Wood said. 

Though they now work in Oregon, Bice and Wood have brought Truebeck's values up north with them.

“There's still an incredibly strong feeling of collaboration and connection within and between all the offices,” Wood said. “And we're working to provide the best possible results to clients here in the Portland market with all of our capabilities.”

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and Truebeck. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.