Pacific Truss celebrates 60 years in Cowichan

Grant McKinnon, one of three sons of company founder Ken McKinnon, who died in 2017, now heads Pacific Homes. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)
Left: Back in the beginning, the company was Pacific Builders Supplies. Here, founder Ken McKinnon poses with his children in front of the store in 1967. (submitted)
Above: A loaded truck from back in the days of Pacific Building Supply. (submitted)
Grant McKinnon with Truss plant worker Jeff Stewart who started with the company in 1973. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)
The old Pacific Builders Supplies and Roof Trusses. (submitted)

After 60 years in business the venerable Cobble Hill business, Pacific Homes & Pacific Truss, has selected its focus.

“We’ve found our niche on the manufacturing side as opposed to the retail side,” explains Grant McKinnon, one of three sons of Ken McKinnon who formed the company in 1959.

The company ventured into the retail world in the 1960s, became Tim-BR-Mart dealers in the ‘80s, then Beaver Lumber and Home Hardware. In 2006, the McKinnons began a relationship with RONA and became dealers for the huge lumber and home renovation company in several markets.

That chapter has now virtually closed other than McKinnon owning RONA buildings as landlord. The shift has now moved from retail in a dramatic way.

“There is more and more demand for prefabricated homes,” says McKinnon, quickly adding the market for trusses has grown rapidly and Pacific Truss is now serving an international market from its plant in Cobble Hill and another in Creston, B.C.

Brothers David, Wayne and Grant have all played key roles in the development of the company their father started as Pacific Builder’s Supplies Ltd. six decades ago. David died in 2007 and Wayne recently retired, leaving Grant and a dedicated management team to operate the company that now has more than 100 employees and has hit the $25 million mark in sales. Revenues have doubled in the last 10 years, McKinnon says.

“On the home side we can go anywhere in the world,” McKinnon says, noting Pacific Homes packages have been delivered to Mongolia, Iceland, Israel and the United States.

The U.S. market, in particular, has been robust and sales into California have been very strong.

“California is a huge market and after the fires of 2017 they are just getting their building going.”

Of all the markets in which Pacific Homes/Truss does business, McKinnon has a special connection with Alaska.

“Alaskans are the most fun,” he smiles. “They are really laid back.”

The marketing aspect of the company includes a Vancouver sales office and representation in California and other locations. Pacific Homes attends about 40 trade shows a year and is now active on social media.

McKinnon is extremely proud of his staff, a group that has embraced innovation and expansion.

“We’ve employed literally thousands of people over the years. A lot of people in the truss industry got their start here.”

Computerization and substantial investments in equipment have made growth possible.

“We’ve got a really good system that took us time to figure out so we can handle the volumes,” McKinnon says.

“This business is very sales driven and reputation driven and it’s all about relationships.”

Not only has the market for manufactured homes grown significantly over the years, so, too has the variety of home designs. Pacific Homes’s designers can accommodate virtually any wish that a home buyer can come up with.

McKinnon says the days of “cookie cutter” manufactured homes are long gone and with high land prices, particularly along the B.C. coast, home builders aren’t going to be satisfied with run of the mill homes.

“We’re selling people a home, not a bunch of building supplies,” says McKinnon. “We’re selling people’s dreams.”

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