Oil Patch demands more housing than company can buildAnywhere from 80 to 100 Buffalo City Wood Products homes, built in Jamestown, are out west in the Oil Patch.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Editor’s note: This is the second of three stories on businesses in Jamestown conducting business in the Oil Patch
Anywhere from 80 to 100 Buffalo City Wood Products homes, built in Jamestown, are out west in the Oil Patch.
Five years ago, Chris Bjone, co-owner of Buffalo City Wood Products, toured the Oil Patch, promoting affordable housing his company builds. Then nothing happened. But Bjone expected that to change.
“We knew what was coming, we didn’t know what the magnitude would be,” Bjone said.
He met with the North Dakota Petroleum Council and was told a boom was coming.
Buffalo City Wood Products builds some products that are technically homes. Others are considered park model recreational vehicles — mobile homes that are primarily set up at one location.
Each unit is built on a chassis and hauled to the location where the ground is leveled and blocked for the unit’s placement. Bjone’s seven employees do all the work aside from connecting the utilities.
Buffalo City Wood Products makes a finished product every six or seven days and works from 15 to 20 different floor plans.
With financial help from Northern Plains Electric and the North Dakota Development Fund, 14 units were leased between Ross, N.D. and Parshall, N.D.
“That’s what got the ball rolling for us,” Bjone said. “We’ve been out there since day one.”
But the business was founded to supply housing for the recreational market. It was supposed to supply for campgrounds or hunting cabins, not Oil Patch housing.
The split market has proven challenging.
“That’s been the problem for us,” Bjone said. The added customer base means there is more demand there than there is product.
However, the biggest projects tend to be for oil companies out west.
Another big project Buffalo City Wood Products did since it started in 1989 was 25 units recently in Watford City.
“We’re not the answer for huge projects,” Bjone said. “We’re the answer for small projects.”
So far people from six states came to Buffalo City Wood Products believing they could just order multiple units and establish rentals out west, he said. Something like that is far from realistic.
More and more communities out west are trying to eliminate temporary housing, like that provided by Buffalo City Wood Products, he said.
Still, he is confident in his staff and the potential of his company.
“This business here, out of any manufacturing facility in Jamestown, has the most potential right now. It really does,” Bjone said.
Although there is a demand for the product, Bjone credits his staff for keeping up.
“We got long-term employees here that have been around a long while and they’re jacks of all trades. They can do anything and everything and you have to have that around,” Bjone said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com