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“The construction industry will need to attract an estimated 501,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2024 to meet the demand for labor, according to a proprietary model developed by Associated Builders and Contractors. In 2025, the industry will need to bring in nearly 454,000 new workers on top of normal hiring to meet industry demand, and that’s presuming that construction spending growth slows significantly next year.”

Source: ABC: 2024 Construction Workforce Shortage Tops Half a Million

Nestucca CTE Work Station

At O’Brien, we’re not waiting for other people to solve this sticky problem.

We are proactively partnering with coastal K-12 schools and with Tillamook Bay Community College (TBCC) for workforce development and job training on the Oregon Coast by:

  • Building, outfitting, and helping to teach students at the new award-winning Nestucca Career Technical Education (CTE) Training Facility with Nestucca Valley School District. Click here to read about the June 2024 Oregon DJC Top Projects Award won by this exciting new CTE facility.
  • Partnering with TBCC to help provide distance learning across all Oregon Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (OCJATC) jurisdictions. OCJATC and O’Brien provide training as an approved Registered Apprenticeship program, regulated by the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI).

And the results are happening now as:

  • O’Brien’s current apprentices, Andrew Adams and James Callister, have just completed their academic year in the program and are working on O’Brien’s coast projects.
  • TBCC recently announced its first award of 36 national portable credentials to twelve Pre-Apprentices from Nestucca Valley High School. In addition, a total of 14 hours of aligned Dual Credit will be awarded to each pre-apprentice.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the entire team for their dedication and hard work in making these achievements possible. The goal of building a skilled workforce for the future is well underway thanks to our partners at Nestucca Valley School District and Tillamook Bay Community College and the contributions of our O’Brien team members!

Nestucca CTE interior
Nestucca CTE Welding Area

From some of Oregon’s best wineries to award-winning craft breweries to facilities for fizzy kombucha and bespoke distilleries, O’Brien’s expertise and specific knowledge help shape the buildings that focus on fermentation.

Fermentation is one of humanity’s oldest practices, tracing its origins back to around 10,000 BCE. An integral part of various cultures throughout history, this ancient approach transforms food and beverages into more nutritious, flavorful, and sometimes medicinal products that have profoundly impacted human culture and technology.

Science + Art

At its core, fermentation is a chemical process where microorganisms like yeast and bacteria convert sugars into simpler substances, such as ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide. This process is foundational to the creation of a wide array of products, including beer, wine, liquor, bread, kombucha, kimchi, and yogurt. For alcoholic beverages specifically, fermentation involves converting sugars into ethyl alcohol, a process that has been perfected over millennia through trial, error, and keen observation.

Crafting Enjoyable Beverages

The appeal of fermented beverages lies not just in their alcohol content but in their sensory, nutritional, and sometimes pharmacological benefits. The joy of producing a beverage that people genuinely love is a significant motivator for those of us involved in the industry. From the grand opening of a new brewery to the first sip of a newly aged wine to a healthy glass of kombucha, the process brings immense satisfaction and joy to producers and consumers—as well as the architects and builders who design and construct these facilities. And its importance to Oregon’s economy is growing every year as production and sales of alcohol have become the state’s 3rd largest source of tax revenue.

Building the Perfect Facility

Over decades of hands-on experience designing and building these projects, our team has learned that creating a facility for beverage fermentation involves unique challenges depending on the type of beverage being produced.

Wineries: A winery is essentially an industrial plant inside of a custom home, combining equipment and processes with inviting hospitality components such as tasting rooms and event venues. The additional square footage required for bottle and barrel aging storage—sometimes in underground wine caves–can also be costly, but essential.

Breweries:  Whether repurposing an old building or constructing a new facility, creating spaces suitable for brewing consistently great beer requires literally tons of process equipment and an environment designed for stringent sanitation.

Kombucha: Probiotic beverages require large warehouses to house the numerous tanks necessary for the stages of fermentation, specifically designed and built for uniquely high humidity and specific environmental needs under which its symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) thrives.

Equipment & Infrastructure

Regardless of the type of beverage being fermented, the construction of these facilities is heavily reliant on specialized equipment and infrastructure. The building itself is a minor part of the overall cost; the real expense lies in the equipment, process piping, and support systems such as boilers, chillers, transfer pipes, and nitrogen generators. When planning projects, equipment needs and associated energy loads should be the very first thing pinned down to inform design requirements

Key considerations include

Water Quality: Essential for all types of fermentation, testing the water before establishing a facility is crucial to ensure it meets the necessary pH and microbial standards.

Sanitation: High water usage for constant wash-downs is common, especially in wineries and kombucha breweries. Breweries utilize CIP (clean-in-place) systems, which are crucial for maintaining sanitary conditions.

Ventilation: Proper ventilation is critical due to the production of CO2, a potentially hazardous gas. Facilities need appropriate flues, exhaust systems, and other mechanical equipment to ensure air quality and safety.

Drainage: Effective drainage systems with proper floor slopes and adequate sizing are vital to handle the effluent produced during the fermentation process.

Infrastructure: Site work can be unexpectedly significant depending on jurisdictional requirements for fire access roads, fire ponds, process waste, lighting, drainage, and septic.

Regulations: Navigating the myriad regulations surrounding alcohol production is essential to avoid costly pitfalls and ensure compliance with local laws such as land use, health department approvals, building codes, and Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) requirements.

The Role of Expertise

Successful fermentation facility projects require knowledgeable professionals who understand the intricacies of equipment, process piping, and fermentation operations. Hiring the right architect and contractor is crucial. These experts must manage budgets carefully, as not all clients have the financial flexibility of a tech mogul. It’s about creating efficient, cost-effective facilities that meet all regulatory and operational requirements.

Fermentation is a time-honored tradition that combines chemistry, art, and a deep understanding of microbial processes. Whether it’s crafting a fine wine, brewing a robust beer, or creating a refreshing kombucha, the journey from raw ingredients to a beloved beverage is both complex and rewarding. With the right expertise and infrastructure, the joy of fermentation can continue to flourish, delighting consumers and honoring ancient traditions.

Brew Dr Production Equipment
Creating the Kombucha
Brew Dr Production Facility

From the Woof Pack Wine Club to regular Yappy Hours and Pups & Pinot Fridays, Black Dog Vineyard is leading the pack in welcoming visitors to bring along their 4-legged friends to explore its dog-friendly winery tasting room and vineyard.

…and summer is a great season to enjoy wags and wines at these other canine-friendly gems built by O’Brien!

Abbey Road Farm

Carlton, OR

“Abbey Road Farm Winery and Tasting Room sits atop our stunning 82-acre site. We produce our diverse array of small-batch wines on-location with respect to old-world philosophies and a focus on modern techniques”

Abbey Road Farm

Alexana Winery

Newberg, OR

“Alexana’s 80-acre Revana Estate Vineyard is situated in the heart of the Willamette Valley within the pristine Dundee Hills AVA. It is one of the most geologically diverse vineyard sites in North America if not the world with 55 planted acres on 18 different soil types.”

Alexana Winery

Cho Wines

Hillsboro, OR

“Community driven & sustainably focused. CHO symbolizes the celebration of our commonality.  All living matter consists of the most basic elements carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (CHO). The building blocks of the food and drink we share at our table, the people we share it with, remind us that we are ALL connected here on earth.”

CHO Wines

Van Duzer Vineyards

Newberg, OR

“Perched atop a striking knoll and surrounded by vines on three sides, we designed our Tasting Room to give those willing to make the journey a true reward. Visitors are greeted with panoramic valley views and a front row seat to one of the region’s most unique geologic effects …the Van Duzer Corridor.”

Van Duzer Vineyards

Q&A with Greg

I’ve always enjoyed building things. I especially enjoy building houses and hotels. I like to seeing the progression of the projects from beginning to start.

I work out of the Cannon Beach office or the jobsite. It’s closest to my projects and where I live. I’ve lived in Nehalem my whole life. My first project for O’Brien was actually in Nehalem.

Be a good communicator. It makes the projects go smoother. I talk with subs on the phone in addition to email/schedule so we are all on the same page.

Going camping with my kids at Cook Creek campground. I look forward to it every year.

Be reliable, be willing to do tasks and have a good attitude while doing it. Ask lots of questions. Also, be willing to learn and want to better yourself and move up in the company.

Andrew and Derick on a jobsite
Andrew and Derick at a jobsite in Newport.
Dakota and Jimmie on a jobsite
Dakota and James at a jobsite in Garibaldi.

We are thrilled to announce a significant milestone: Andrew Adams and James Callister have earned the first nationally portable credentials for the NCCER Core from Tillamook Bay Community College. TBCC went to great lengths to help us refine and relaunch the OCJATC’s program as a Related Training Provider. They procured certifications, obtained grants, partnered with other community colleges, and established access to their training for our fellow OCJATC member’s Apprentices in Central Oregon.  Andrew and James have just completed their academic year in the program as Apprentices working on O’Brien’s coast projects. 

In addition to their accomplishments, David Weathers also just completed a first. To facilitate the delivery of this related training to our own Apprentices, he was hired by TBCC as an Adjunct Instructor. All the training was done at the newly constructed Nestucca CTE center (Career Technical Education ) where David over sought the build. This is his 2nd year leading instruction and supporting the growth of our Apprenticeship program.  As his full-time day job, he is also our most tenured Senior Superintendent and oversees all labor on the Coast. Thank you, David!

The 4-year Carpenter Apprenticeship requirements are 576 hours per year of related classroom training and a total of 8,000 hours of on-the-job. Andrew and James work each day, under the mentorship of a Journeyman Carpenter who oversees their on-the-job hours as defined by the BOLI standards.  They attend classes and study sessions in the evenings taught by a TBCC Instructor. Then attend in person Saturday labs, taught by David Weathers, where a project is built which focuses on the work processes required for that portion of the course. If that sounds like a bunch of extra work that they are all committed to, then you are correct…it is! Andrew has over 2,950 on-the-job hours as of last month and James has just over 1,000 since joining the program last September.

Andrew holds a special place in the heart of this program as he embarked on this journey with us during the initial year. His commitment was unwavering as the issues of a brand-new program were worked through and an accredited related training provider was secured. He even had to endure starting over with some of his coursework. Thank you, Andrew!

We want to extend our heartfelt congratulations to the entire team for their dedication and hard work in making this achievement possible. The goal of building a skilled workforce for the future is in our sites.

Multi-family apartment building under construction, with mural of an octopus and a squid on one face of the building.
This hotel in Lincoln City is undergoing conversion to a condominium building.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards repurposing hotels and motels into innovative spaces, breathing new life into these properties and revitalizing communities. According to a study from RentCafe.com, hotels made up almost a third of commercial space conversions into housing in 2022 and they are the fastest-growing segment of adaptive reuse projects.

Converting hotels and motels into new uses can provide any mix of the following creative transformations, depending on the market and community needs:

  • Creative Workspaces
  • Art Galleries
  • Cultural Hubs
  • Micro housing
  • Cohousing
  • Market Rate Housing
  • Employer / Workforce Housing
  • Student Housing
  • Senior Housing
  • Affordable Housing
  • Emergency Shelters
  • First Responder / Public Safety Quarters

February 2024 Oregon Legislature Approved

  • $376M investment in Emergency Housing Stabilization and Production Package
  • $131M of the Package is for housing and homelessness projects like Project Turnkey, which includes projects which buy hotels to convert into emergency housing

Source: EHSP 2024 press release

One of the most impactful uses for converted hotels and motels is addressing the pressing need for affordable housing. By repurposing these properties into residential units or supportive housing facilities, communities can provide much-needed shelter and stability for individuals and families facing homelessness or housing insecurity. This approach not only utilizes existing infrastructure but also helps alleviate the affordable housing crisis by quickly increasing the supply of available units.

In a significant stride towards addressing homelessness and housing insecurity, Oregon’s 2024 legislative session marked a pivotal moment with the allocation of additional funds towards Project Turnkey. This groundbreaking initiative aims to repurpose hotels and motels into shelters and affordable housing, providing much-needed support for individuals and families facing housing crises across the state.

With homelessness remaining a persistent challenge in Oregon, exacerbated by factors such as rising housing costs and economic disparities, the need for innovative solutions has never been more pressing. Project Turnkey represents a proactive approach that leverages existing infrastructure to create safe, stable, and supportive environments for those in need. This January 2024 ABC News report humanizes the results to date from Oregon’s Project Turnkey, which has renovated hospitality properties in 27 cities to add capacity for the State’s shelter system.

One of the key strengths of Project Turnkey lies in its adaptability and scalability. By repurposing hotels and motels, the initiative can quickly provide shelter and housing options while also offering a pathway towards permanent solutions. This approach not only addresses the immediate need for shelter but also promotes dignity, autonomy, and community integration for individuals experiencing homelessness.

The trend of converting hotels and motels into new uses represents an exciting opportunity to reimagine and reinvent underutilized spaces. Owners, developers, and stakeholders can unlock the full potential of these properties, transforming them into valuable assets that benefit both investors and communities for years to come. As we look to the future, we will continue to explore innovative ways to repurpose existing properties and infrastructure, building a more resilient, inclusive, and vibrant environment for all.