IT’S NOT EASY building a business from the ground up, even when you’re in the business of building. Ron Peterson, founder and owner of RJP Construction, knows this all too well. Over the last 26 years, he has worked tirelessly to turn his small, Ogden-based wood framing operation into a commercial enterprise that expertly handles projects in eight states across the western U.S. RJP’s services include detailed timber work, structural seismic upgrades, large jobs like several hundred thousand feet of office space, and everything in between. At the height of the construction season, the company employs over 80 carpenters and the staff to support them. Their well-earned reputation for quality has brought them ever-increasing success, but, as with any company, RJP’s growth hasn’t been without challenges.
“My last math class was in the ninth grade,” Ron says with a chuckle, “so I’ve had a lot of live-and-learn challenges when it comes to running and growing my business. But aside from the things I’ve had to personally learn, one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is finding the right people to bring on to our team. The lack of labor force is a huge concern to all of us in the construction industry, but we’ve been lucky to find great, skilled people who put their best into everything they do. As a business owner, it makes a big difference when the people on your team feel the same sense of responsibility and ownership for a project that you do. It shows in everything we make.
“Having a good team is vital,” Ron adds, “so I have to make sure we do right by them. Taking care of everyone on our team weighs pretty heavily on me sometimes. Like making sure we can get everyone paid. For seasonal businesses, cashflow is always tricky. But payroll comes around every two weeks and when you have 130 or 140 employees, that is a big, big expense. Luckily though, we have a line of credit with America First that helps us keep our employees and our vendors paid, even during slow months. And every year they do an annual review of our business to catch any potential issues before they become problems and to make sure we stay in good financial health.
“Our business needs change almost on a daily basis,” Ron continues, “but I don’t have to worry as much about our finances because I know that I’m just a phone call away from the team over at America First and we’ll get absolute support from everyone on their staff. And that’s one of the great things about working with America First, that personal connection we have with them.
“Recently, we needed to purchase a new tower crane, so I called my representative in the commercial lending department. It was amazing how quickly and smoothly they handled everything. Thanks to America First, we had our new crane on site, on time, just when we needed it. That’s huge to us. Everything is done in a timely manner and it’s all just very, very convenient for us. They make commercial lending easy. Whether it’s been helping us purchase property, finance our office building and new timber shops, finance equipment purchases, or whatever other projects have come along, it’s all been a breeze.
“Having America First on our side has made a big difference as we’ve grown our business,” Ron says. “Back in 1983, my wife became a member of America First, so when we started looking for someone to help us get off the ground, they were just a natural fit. And we’ve stayed with them over the years because they’ve shown us time and time again that they really care about how well our business does. Not just because they care about their members and their finances, but because they care about people. I’d recommend them to anyone, any business, whether it’s already existing or just getting going. With America First, you can go into any branch and have real, one-on-one conversations. You have a personal representative who will sit down with you, listen to your questions, give you straight, honest answers and do everything they can to help you succeed.”