November 1, 2023 | Rebecca Scott for Travel Phoenix Oregon
A nationwide housing shortage has touched every corner of the country—in towns small and large—and the Rogue Valley is no exception. The housing crisis hit Phoenix especially hard in the aftermath of the Almeda fire, which destroyed numerous homes. It worsened an already precarious housing situation and tipped it over the edge into a full-blown crisis.
However, amidst a growing housing predicament, heroes have risen to the occasion with innovative ideas and solutions. One of these business heroes is Pacific Wall Systems, which offers precision built wall panels and floor systems delivered directly to construction sites.
Bringing innovation to Southern Oregon
Established in 2007 and headquartered in Phoenix, Pacific Wall Systems is a family and women-owned entity led by Konny Knecht, president and CFO.
“We have over 80 employees and serve Oregon, Washington and California,” said Nancy Mansfield, director of marketing.
Pacific Wall Systems’ story began when Nancy’s brother Alex Knecht, a general and specialty contractor, had the idea to start a family-owned wall panel manufacturing plant in Southern Oregon.
At the time, he saw an interesting trend in the midwest and on the east coast—where commercial construction building components were being manufactured off site and then delivered to the job site for easy assembly. Knecht knew that technology could benefit Oregon and he wanted to bring it here.
Pacific Wall Systems’ first location was in Medford off of Sage Road—an indoor facility they quickly outgrew before moving to a new location in Central Point. While they stayed in Central Point for many years, they also wanted to expand-which meant finding a larger, permanent home for the business.
“When the building which previously housed Boise Cascade in Phoenix became available to lease with an option to purchase, we jumped on it,” said Nancy.
Situated in a welcoming neighborhood and area, and with plenty of room for the business to grow, it was a perfect fit for Pacific Wall Systems. They also hope to purchase the property and become a permanent fixture there.
Changing the status quo
For people unfamiliar with the ins and outs of prefabricated building components and walls, Nancy compares the process to LEGOs.
“All of the wood building components—walls, floors and stairs—are produced here in Phoenix and sent out in bundles to erect at the job site,” said Nancy.
Before companies like Pacific Wall Systems brought their innovative process to builders, traditional “stick framed” projects at construction sites looked more like a kid’s playroom after a box of LEGO pieces had been dumped onto the floor.
Now, instead of construction workers having to build walls and other components on site from raw lumber, Pacific Wall Systems manufactures these components at their factory and then delivers them to the job site.
One of the many advantages of this type of manufacturing is that it creates a seamless production schedule for the customer. It’s not only a huge time saver, but the customer saves money on labor costs as well.
“It allows our customers to attend to tasks like laying concrete or electrical wires, and then when they are ready for walls, we are there. All components are built in a controlled environment with skilled framers and automation to create a high quality product,” said Nancy. “We are not at the mercy of weather delays, on site city ordinances, or labor shortages.”
Additionally, by using, reusing and repurposing nearly 100% of the lumber used in their products, Pacific Wall Systems contributes almost 0% to landfill waste. Whatever extra wood they do have, they put to good use.
“Every day we put huge bins of lumber outside of our building for people to take,” said Nancy. “It burns well to heat homes or is great for hobbyists. We had a local, retired police chief carve scrap pieces of wood into toys for children staying in the children’s wing at the hospital.”
Pacific Wall Systems also has a great love and respect for their employees, who are like an extension of the family. They enjoy watching their staff learn, thrive and develop their skills in this growing industry.
Now that they are located in Phoenix, Pacific Wall Systems is looking forward to what new opportunities the future holds.
“We’re excited to be in Phoenix and part of such a strong community,” said Nancy. “We are proud of the business we have built from the ground up, one wall at a time.”