By ERICA. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
When Valerie and Geoff White signed a lease to move their property management and construction businesses to Keizer in July 2014, it was something of a watershed moment.
“There hadn’t been an office lease signed in Keizer in the previous nine months,” said Valerie.
Their businesses, Encompass Management & Consulting (EMC) and Central Valley Construction Group, were truly only about a year old at the time. But, since setting down stakes at 132 Glynbrook Street N., EMC has grown from nine employees to 32 and helped revitalize two suites of office space on the site. It led to the Whites purchasing both buildings two months ago.
“We were terrified because the businesses were so young,” Geoff said. “But it was the right time for each step we took and nothing felt forced.”
Since leasing a space on the property, which had been vacant for almost six years after a local attorney moved to a new location, the number of other tenants has also grown to include an in-home care administration office, a hearing device office, a flooring company, a training center for a knife company, a bookkeeping firm and an excavation company.
“We still have space available and I would love to add some retail business. We could easily accommodate something like a nail salon,” said Valerie.
Geoff and Valerie set up EMC in 2011, but both were working for The Rushing Group at the time. Geoff worked in the construction side while Valerie had worked her way up to assistant vice president of the whole corporation.
When Bo Rushing approached Valerie with the proposition of selling the property management side of the business, Valerie asked if she and Geoff could make an offer.
Thirty days later, the Whites were setting up their own office in south Salem across the parking lot from The Rushing Group.
“We started in a one-room office on south Commercial because we thought we had to have an office there to do what we do,” Valerie said.
“It made sense at the time because there was a lot of development in the area and it was kind of a hotbed. It also allowed us to transfer everything over gradually, and it was more convenient for existing customers,” Geoff added.
As they got their feet under them, the bloom started slowly falling off the rose. The Whites lived in Keizer and were putting forth the effort to remain involved in the community, particularly through coaching Keizer sports teams for daughters Kailyn and Madison, despite the business headquarters in Salem. Geoff, a 1993 graduate of McNary High School, took on a role as an assistant coach of the Celtic freshman football team and the needs of the business were hampering his passion for coaching.
“It doesn’t seem like 20-30 minutes of drive time is that much, but it can make a big difference in a day,” Geoff said.
They contacted a friend who knew the previous owner of the Glynbrook building to see what they could arrange.
“We met at Burger King to pencil it out and, the next thing you know, we were signing a lease,” Geoff said.
Even though they’ve been in town for two years, it’s not uncommon for them to get some pushback from customers who don’t want to travel “all the way” to Keizer. But the results of the move are hard to overlook.
Today, EMC employs property managers, administrative staff, maintenance supervisors and maintenance staff, field operation managers, site managers that have their own maintenance personnel and a marketing manager.
“We’re managing properties from the coast to Bend and up to Portland,” Valerie said.
Geoff keeps busy with small-ish construction projects that currently include a five-lot subdivision in west Salem.
“We have plans people can choose from but I like custom building. I have a lot of fun working on interiors and layouts with our clients,” Geoff said.
While they’ve succeeded to a large degree on their own merits, Geoff said guidance and assistance from colleagues in The Rushing Group along with Curt Arthur of Sperry Van Ness and the buildings’ previous owner Kent Aldrich has been invaluable.
“The bottom line is we love Keizer, and we’re invested in what is going on here. Being part of revitalizing this little corner of River Road means the world to us,” Geoff said.