Finishing Touches Are Key To Dreams


Her background in accounting and supplies matched his skills as a builder.

But Rick and Karyn Nelsen didn't know that when they first met in 1994. And the dream of entrepreneurship in the form of Canyon Country Log Homes didn't come until later.


Rick Nelsen and his wife, Karyn think the pioneer log look of their building will add character to Main Street.

"When I met Rick I was an office manager for a door and window company by day and worked in a Mexican food restaurant at night," Karyn said.

Rick was buying windows for a house he was building and couldn't find the office. When he finally did he told Karyn the office really needed better signage.

Weeks later she saw him in the restaurant, but she couldn't place where she had seen him. (Rick knew who she was.)

They dated for two weeks before she figured it out.

When he brought home a $5,000 tip from a client he had just finished a home for, Karyn told him, "We could get me diamond ring, we could go on a vacation or we could start our own business."

"What was happening is all these log home companies were contacting us (Karik Construction), asking us to build for them since they didn't have contractors' licenses," Karyn said.

They would plan out the bids, yet often it was so far out of people's budgets it was unrealistic. The client had to pay the dealer and he had a commission. Then there was a designer involved.

"He would over-design these homes and make them so expensive to build that we would look at the plan and say ‘wait a minute, if we can just redesign that roof and use a glulam beam for the ridge instead of big log pillars and conventionally frame it instead of doing all that engineering (the dealer's client) would save a lot of money. We thought, ‘This isn't rocket science.' We can do this," Karyn said.

So they incorporated Canyon Country Log Homes in June of 2000.

Making their very first bid, they stayed up until 2 a.m. every night for several weeks because they wanted the bid to be perfect.

When the couple excitedly presented the bid to their prospective clients, Karyn said, "They turned to the bottom line and said, ‘thanks very much, but we are moving to Oregon.'

"We still have a copy of that bid," she said, laughing.

At that time, the cost for the home was $52 per square foot; now the majority of homes cost $150 to $200 per square foot.

Their business has been built mostly on referral and though they are excited about their new model home/office soon to be opened on Main Street they are glad they waited.

"It takes really hard work to stay in business as an entrepreneur. Be persistent and don't grow too big too fast," is Karyn's advice.

She said she has seen many builders build themselves a great big beautiful model after only a few contracts and they end up leaving town or going out of business.

"We give a lot of credit to God for keeping it alive through the times we thought we'd have to close," she said.

"We are conservative and we want to be in for the long haul," Rick said.

A one-stop shop from start to finish is what the Nelsens say they offer their clients. The client can choose to use another builder, but it rarely happens that way.

"We have standard plans -- we've built one," Karyn said. "People say, ‘Here my wife and I were out to dinner the other night and drew this on a napkin. Can you make this real?' Or clients will say, ‘This is exactly what I want except ....'"

One thing the Nelsens said they are both particular about is that clients must have development facts.

"Turnkey" means walking in and turning the key with everything done from the driveway to the finishing touches in the corner of the master bath where the tile meets the trim.

"You must have a good foundation. If you have a good foundation, everything else will fall into place," Rick said.

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