Located in Ravalli County, Darby, Montana, is a small town nestled near the southwestern border of Montana and Idaho. In this community, home to less than 1,000 residents, relationships and a familiar face go a long way in doing business. For the last 35 years that is exactly what Vintage Construction has built its name around as a full-service general contractor.
“We don’t have a website and we really don’t do a lot of advertising,” says Doug Banks, founder and owner of Vintage Construction. “It’s very important when you work in a small town to keep a really good reputation and we have done that through our quality of work and making friends in the business and with customers. Most of our work is through word-of-mouth referrals.”
Born and raised in Oakland, California, Banks went on to college, where he majored in architecture and eventually moved out to Montana to start his own company in 1981. “It was actually a poor time to start a business because of the recession in the early 80s,” he recounts. “Slowly but surely over the years, Vintage Construction started to grow. I added a few employees here and there and the name began to grow.”
The in-house, do-it-all contractor
Today, from a single location in Darby, Vintage Construction serves the area, offering commercial and residential general contracting. “About 30 percent of our work is commercial, the rest is mid to high-end custom homes, but we will do everything,” says Banks. “From starter homes to remodels or homes in the $400,000 and up range, there’s really nothing we won’t tackle.”
In recent years Banks says Darby has seen a spike in the number of retirees and second homeowners coming to the area. “The town was ranked in a national poll of best places to retire and this has sparked some development, with baby boomers or people looking to build a second vacation home,” he says.
Whether the company is working on a remodel or a sizable second home, Banks says Vintage Construction keeps all services under its roof. “We do finish carpentry and all related crafts,” he says. “We even make our own trim and specialize in custom homes, including traditional joinery and log. It takes a unique crew to do these kinds of log-framed jobs versus traditional stick frame construction.”
Banks says the customers not only want custom log homes, but also homes that have an aged, antiquated look. “They want that distressed, naturally-aged look,” he says. “From the floors to trim and doors and cabinetry, we have the ability to achieve that finish if that’s the goal.”
But that’s just for looks – Banks says homeowners also want automation and computerized systems in everything from lighting and temperature control to security. “One of our biggest challenges on projects is being effective at hiding the latest and greatest in electronics and computerized systems,” he says. “We have some clients that can go on their cellphone from anywhere in the country and adjust the temperature of their home.”
Vintage Construction has also stepped into the commercial sector, working on area restaurants and apartment complexes. The company has completed most of the construction at the acclaimed Triple Creek Guest Ranch in Darby, including a recent remodel.
“This resort offers world-class accommodations and fine dining,” says Banks. “In 2014, Triple Creek was named number one in the U.S. and number three in the world ranked by Travel & Leisure Magazine.”
Keeping all of these projects running, even in some of the most challenging working conditions a Montana winter presents, is a testament to Vintage Construction’s trusted team. “We currently have 19 employees, many of which have been with the company for 20-plus years,” says Banks. “A few years ago, at our peak, we were running at 45 employees, but have since backed off to concentrate on mission work in Uganda.”
Making a difference a world away
With this tenured team in place, Banks can be confident projects will keep moving smoothly, even when he is halfway around the world. As an active missionary involved in an organization called Eagles Nest Ministry, Banks frequently travels to Uganda.
“My family actually has a longstanding history in Uganda,” says Banks. “My grandparents co-founded Eagles Nest in the ’50s and they never left, they are buried here.”
Today, Banks sister and brother-in-law also live in Uganda where they continue missionary work and oversee the area medical clinic. “We have established a brand new medical clinic and a school with 330 students,” shares Banks. “Eagles Nest also runs a feeding program, which gives children a meal at school – often times this is the only meal they get in a day.”
With more than 30 years of construction industry know-how, Banks has played a vital role in building much-needed infrastructure. “We have installed a sewer and septic system, a bath house and power grid, as well as housing,” he says. “We’re working on drilling a deep well to deliver clean drinking water, but until that project is completed we have developed a rain water collection system. There is very little clean water within miles of the site, so this infrastructure is vital.”
Even with ongoing projects and progress, Banks says there is still so much work to be done. “Last winter I was in Uganda for seven months, which is unusually long,” he says. “This last trip this spring I was gone for three weeks and I’ll be going back in July; usually I make three trips a year.”
From Montana to Uganda, Banks says putting his skills to good use is his most rewarding life’s work. “For our customers at home in Montana, making sure jobs are done well and with care and creating client satisfaction – those are the goals,” he says. “Vintage Construction strives to build projects we are proud of.”
This level of dedication continues to make many friends in the Darby area for Vintage Construction and the company celebrates 34 years of longstanding relationships.
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