Tag Archives: Pole Barn Guru

Hansen (J.A.), the Insides, and Ceiling Liner Panels

This week the Pole Barn Guru responds to reader questions about “Hansen” and the person behind the name, what the inside of a building might look like, and the possibility of adding ceiling liner panels to scissor trusses spaced 4 feet apart.

judyDEAR POLE BARN GURU: How long has Hansen (the man himself) been building pole buildings?WESLEY in AUMSVILLE

DEAR WESLEY: Hansen (as in J.A.) is a female. If you are asking about me, my name is Mike Momb and I erected my first post frame building in South Salem in the Spring of 1980, just off Skyline Road South. It was an 18′ x 36′ three sided loafing shed, with a single sloping roof.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What does the inside look like when you have a 1 1/2 story L shaped structure with gable and valley roof? STEPHANIE in FALLSBURG

DEAR STEPHANIE: I will have to guess your left portion has trusses with an attic bonus room, so its inside would most likely look like a long narrow room, with a flat ceiling and finished most typically with gypsum wallboard (aka sheetrock or drywall).


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My scissor trusses are 4ft apart. I want to put up a metal siding ceiling and wondered if I needed like a 1×4 or 2×4 purlin (not sure if that is a purlin) to place between trusses before I put up metal? Or do most just put up metal ceiling with a 4ft gap between trusses? JOE in BOWLING GREEN

DEAR JOE: In most instances steel liner panels will span four feet between trusses without undue deflection. You will want to confirm trusses (and your building) have been designed with an adequate bottom chord dead load to carry weight of liner panels and any insulation you will be placing on top of the steel ceiling.


Guest Blog Specifics

Guest Blog Specifics.

This column has been recognized multiple times as a top construction industry blog – second World Wide in 2017 and 2018! It also has a significant readership, with articles having been read as many as 240,000 times. Due to this popularity, I receive numerous requests to guest blog.

Who should consider submitting a guest blog?

Industry Suppliers – have a new product you want to make my readers aware of? Or maybe just to reinforce your current products’ benefits.

Competitors – why not? I hope you have learned a fraction from me as I have from you. Use this as an opportunity to educate me and my readership.

Contractors – want to share some of your experience? Have a great idea? Or maybe you know a faster, better way to assemble some portion of a post frame building. This blog presents an ideal forum to do so.

Clients – share your story. Using your building for a unique or interesting purpose? We’d like to have others read about it. Or, interesting tidbits during construction of your post frame building.

Registered Design Professionals – architects and engineers, keep it conversational. Talking above reader’s level, without thorough explanations, isn’t what we or readers are looking for.

Building Officials – I am certain many of you have some interesting stories to tell about post frame buildings.

Anyone else who feels an interest or love for post frame construction and wishes to share will be welcomed.
There are some rules when it comes to submitting an article for consideration:

Length – it should be 300 words or more in length. If over 800 words, please break it up into approximately equal segments of no more than 800 words and it can be run consecutive days.

Content – has to be specific to post frame (pole building) construction. Must be informative or entertaining (both being preferred). Tell a story, make it interesting. No profanity, we have a PG audience. Also, nothing political or religious should be used. Article can speak to benefits of a product or service however it cannot be a blatant advertisement for you or your product. Article cannot include links to competing or non-relevant businesses (no adult content). You may have one ‘do follow’ link to your site in your article (again – no adult content). There will be no cost to publish, however if you have a do follow link in your submission, we request you choose one of our existing articles and place it on your website with a do follow link to Hansen Pole Buildings.

Relevant photos or video tied to your content makes for even better articles and increases entertainment value.

Unless you specify otherwise, we will give you credit in article for your submission. A brief (line or two) bio will be appreciated.

Not all submissions get used. Articles are often posted several weeks, or months, in advance. Please be patient. We reserve rights to edit your content when deemed appropriate.

Please send all submissions in Microsoft Word to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com.

Fabric Covered Hoop Barns

South Dakota Department of Transportation Fabric Covered Hoop Barn

I’ve been in South Dakota all but a few days in 2016, I figure another 50-60 years or so and I might even be considered to be a “local”.

Last Saturday I was a participant in a 5k “fun run” in conjunction with Sisseton’s Horse and Buggy Days. Prior to the run, an elderly gentleman came up to me and as we chatted it turns out he has been here for 38 years and still does not feel accepted within the community as being a ‘part’ of it.

For those who care, “the old Pole Barn Guru” finished third overall in the men’s division.

I’ve had a long term relationship with state D.O.T.s (Department of Transportation) as my long time (but still young) friend Brenda Zuniga worked for ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) until her recent retirement. I even played on a team in the ODOT volleyball league!

Well, we had some breeze in Northeast South Dakota recently, some reports of in the 80 mph (miles per hour) range.

While 80 mph is a fairly stiff breeze, it is certainly well within the minimum design wind speeds recommended by the Building Codes.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) maintains an extensive website with all sorts of wondrous information, data and statistics at www.sddot.com, where those of us who are not born and raised here can become better informed as to what is happening on the highways.

South Dakota has 82,536 miles of roadway – 7,810 miles are state highways maintained by SDDOT and even though it is only 9.5% of the total mileage, the state highway system carries approximately 67% of all vehicle miles traveled.

With all of the miles traveled on South Dakota highways it is imperative the SDDOT is able to function smoothly and efficiently. A part of this is having permanent structures to house and protect vehicles, equipment and materials used to maintain safe highways within the state.

fabric buildingAt the Sisseton exit from Interstate 29, SDDOT has several buildings – one less than what was there a week ago. A large fabric covered hoop barn was ripped apart during the previously mentioned wind storm. I’ve reported before on some challenges involving wind and fabric covered buildings: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/05/fabric-covered-building/

If your DOT or Highway Department has the need for a new permanent structure, my encouragement would be to look into post frame (pole) building construction as a method which will deliver the greatest possible value to taxpayers. And unless there is a tornado, it won’t blow away.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru Published

Here’s How I Did It

The full title of the book is, “Here’s How I Did It! World’s Top Experts Share Their Stories, Insights and Perspectives” by Raam Anand.

It is available at Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Heres-How-Did-Insights-Perspectives-ebook/dp/B00OUVDFL6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1415731572&sr=8-2&keywords=Here%27s+How+I+Did+It

Heres how I did itAs Mike the Pole Barn Guru, I’m highly flattered to have been selected to author a chapter in Volume II of this book series. Obviously I’ve written a couple or three (nearly 800) blog articles. I’ve also been a contributing writer for publications such as Structural Building Components and Rural Builder, however this will be my first foray into being published in a book. Pretty exciting stuff for me.

In the book’s description:

Discover how they did what they did to get to the top!

Learn the exact strategies used by top achievers to grow their businesses.

Get inspired by their true stories, journey and accomplishments.

From 21 top experts in various fields comes the definitive statement of motivation and insights for our troubled times.

“Here’s How I Did It!” is the saga of personal challenges, achievements and accomplishments from 21 experts from around the world.

Of the first volume, one of the Co-Authors, Doug Champigny (www.DougChampigny.com), writes, “I can honestly say how impressed I was by the stories of the other 20 co-authors in this volume. Raam Anand has done an amazing job of bringing together some very heavy hitters, and beyond being educational, this book is truly motivational as you discover just some of the many routes to the top.

With 21 different experts each contributing a chapter detailing their journey, you’re bound to find one or more that resonate with YOU and what you’re trying to accomplish in your business life.

Find the experts who most closely fit your goals, read their stories then use their information to follow them on social media or through their websites. Each chapter is valuable – combined they could make it much easier for you to become an internationally-famous expert too!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru will endeavor to do justice to those who co-authored the first volume. Keep your eyes on this space for publication date!

Dear Pole Barn Guru: How Do I Make a Garage Door Opener Fit?

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am having a new 10 foot eave height pole barn constructed. For whatever reason 9×9 overhead doors were ordered instead of 9×8 doors and now we are running into problems installing garage door Openers.  The builder rigged something in get the doors to fit, but now the openers can’t be installed.  Got any ideas on what to do? WILD IN WYOMING

DEAR WILD: Too bad whomever was doing inventory did not notify the supplier of an incorrect dimension of doors being received, but this is construction and things DO happen. When one considers the thousands of people who touch the pieces before they are delivered, as well as thousands of components required to construct even a basic building, it is amazing anything ever gets built!

Without having to tear everything or anything apart, the best solution is probably to use a jackshaft garage door opener. The general consensus is those who have them, prefer them to the more common rear mounted openers, for ease of operation, as well as being very quiet.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are constructing a Hansen Pole Building kit package. The plans show the height from grade to the bottom of the top overhead door jamb and door header assembly as 14’ 2-1/2”?? we’ve built off the plans and know we have an issue with only having a 14′ door.  I now have a 2-1/2″ opening at the top of the door.??  What’s your thoughts.?? We can stack some 2×4’s but then I need some metal trim to finish out fascia.?? Please reply with your thoughts. NUMBED IN NEBRASKA

DEAR NUMBED: The 14’ 2-1/2” height is correct for a raised panel type door. The bottom of the door is to be set 3-1/2” above grade, to allow for a future nominal four inch thick concrete slab floor to be poured. Once you use this point to start from, you will find the door ends up installed with a nice one inch overlap at the top and sides of the finished opening, to assist in providing a weather tight seal.

In the event a concrete floor is not immediately poured, there are several options – the easiest of which is to place a gravel “berm” across the opening, which the door can seal against when closed.

You may never plan on a floor being poured, but the next person to own the building may very well have different ideas, and a door installed to fit down tight to grade, would pose nothing but problems later on, as the entire door would need to be removed, raised up 3-1/2” and then reinstalled.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU:  Why are they called “pole” barns? TALL IN TEXAS

DEAR TALL: Technically “pole barns” are actually “post frame” buildings. The term “pole” barn comes from the vertical members which were first used many years ago to support this style of construction – old utility (power) poles.

This is no longer done – instead columns which are square or rectangular are used, and pressure preservative treated for in-ground structural use so they will last….much longer than you and I will be alive!

To read more about the history of pole and post frame buildings:


My Early Urban Garage Experiences

In the 1980’s one man stood alone when it came to whether City of Portland (basically the same thing as Multnomah County), Oregon homeowners could acquire a Building Permit for a residential accessory building or not.

Charles “Chuck” Frazier

Now Chuck was a registered Structural Engineer, who took his position very seriously. His expectation was, if a structural permit was going to be approved by him – then the permit applicant, better have his (or her) structural ducks lined up in a perfect row!

urban pole barn

So fearsome was his reputation, many builders (especially those who constructed pole buildings), would put right on their newspaper ads, “We do not build in Multnomah County”.

While I never had the opportunity to meet Chuck personally, when I had my first pole building kit package business in Oregon, I had the opportunity to deal with him by phone on many what I will call “urban garages”. I was young, and pretty naïve, so early on I just asked him specifically what it was he wanted, in order to issue a permit for a pole building garage.

In a nutshell, he wanted the calculations to verify the embedment of the columns (how deep and what diameter) and for the size, grade, spacing of columns, sidewall girts and roof purlins. Not being an engineer – I asked him for an example, which he provided.

Using his example, we provided hundreds upon hundreds of pole building urban garages across Metro Portland. Portland was laid out with numerous postage stamp sized lots, many only 25 to 35 feet in width. These are especially prevalent in the Northeast area, where many single family homes were built on them after World War One and before the Great Depression. By the 80’s people found they could purchase these 60-70 year old homes for next to nothing and many neighborhoods began to revitalize themselves. One fairly consistent lacking feature of these homes – most of them did not have garages!

Pole buildings were a perfect fit for these homeowners. Many of them were relatively young, and willing to put sweat equity into the fixing up of their (new to them) older homes. Pole buildings are able to be of any dimension, and therefore allowed for the maximization of building footprint to available space. With the only foundation being holes augured into the ground, it was pretty “low tech” compared to the invasiveness of having to excavate for footings and foundations, as would have happened with what many would consider to be more traditional “stick framed”.

And, because construction goes so quick, many urban garages started Friday after work, and were completed over a single weekend!



Pole Building Sales: Is Rudeness a Requirement?

Two months ago, we delivered a pole building kit package to one of our clients in…let’s just say “one of the fifty” U.S. States.  Could have happened from any one of them. One of our requirements is for our clients to inventory all materials and report any shortage or damage within 48 hours of receipt. In this particular case – no report was made.

Just this week, Justine in our office receives this Email from the client’s builder:

“Justine, we are assembling the building and we are missing some lumber.  Below is a list of what is needed.  All is SPF grade.

12 each 16′-2×8

32 each 14′-2×8

25 each 16′-2×4

We have more 2×6 than what is needed.  Please let me know how you want to handle.”

Even though it is two months since delivery, Justine tries to do her part and responds back to the builder:

“Good Morning,
I first off need to know what you all received.  I need you to do inventory of all the lumber you got.  I cannot go to the lumber yard until that is done.  So, go and take your material take off and compare to the pick list and then do a physical count of the lumber itself please.
Thank you”

To which builder responds:

“To not delay the project and cost us down time we are ordering the attached material and will charge you the same.”

Even though no shortage or damage was reported at time of delivery, and builder was being totally uncooperative, we do due diligence and always start by assuming somewhere we have made an error.

In checking the plans against the Material Takeoff – in 2×8 there is a total of 46 at 14’ and 16 at 16’, in 2×4, there are only 12 at 16’ required. The plans and takeoff are a match. In the event an inventory was done at delivery (as is required), then the 2×8 lumber could very well have been “borrowed” or otherwise misappropriated. What is striking is the demand to provide over double the number of 2x4x16’ required for the building!

Hansen Pole Buildings will go out of our way to assist clients and their builders who do their part, follow procedures, or even attempt to be cooperative. While the builder above was not chipping in to assist, the next one makes him appear friendly….

Again a builder….requested technical assistance and was called back with the solution to his question, for free (even though there is a charge, by incident for immediate telephone assistance, it was waived).

So, this builder calls again the next day, leaves a voice mail message for Technical Support, and is texted back from our office:

“How may we assist you?”

To which the builder responds back by text:

“It’s not a technical support question so don’t waste my time by f***ing me around….”

Excuse me, but builder called our Technical Support number and left a voice mail, we respond within minutes and builder drops the F-bomb? In writing?

I will attempt to rationalize these by them happening during a full moon.

Over the years, I cannot begin to count the clients who have called and started with, “We made a mistake….”, or “Could you please help me…I think I may have a problem.”  We’ve sent out a lot of extra things either for free, or at our cost, to clients who have come to us hat in hand and said they might have made an error. Drop the F bomb and I am done “helping” you.

As in most of life the old adage, You catch more flies with honey than vinegar” applies to a pole building as well.

Weather or Not

My maternal grandfather passed away at age 82, back in December 1990. Now the grandparents had been married for nearly 60 years, but grams still had lots of life in her. In 1991 Grandma Jerene started dating a widower from her church, Bob.

Bob was a retired meteorologist – he had run the National Weather Service (NWS) station at the international airport for decades.

When I lived in Oregon in the 1980’s one of the Portland television stations used to dress up a cat in clothes appropriate for the day’s weather. The cat’s name? …. Bob

Grandma’s friend therefore became known as – Bob the Weather Cat!

Bob had quite a sense of humor. He once told me a story (which may actually have been true) about a study done by the NWS. In this study a team of meteorologists was pitted against a team of monkeys to determine which group could predict the weather with the greatest degree of accuracy. As the monkeys obviously could not speak, they threw darts at a dart board with “weather tags” on it.

The end result – the monkeys out predicted the weathermen!

Obviously weather is unpredictable, as reported by one of our clients, Daryl:

“I just wanted to say thanks, you guys have been great to work with. My pole barn kit project has ran smooth other than the weather and that is out of our control. The Book you guys send out with each kit has helped a lot.

Well Thanks again

And please tell everyone at Hansen you guys do a great job.”

We’d love to be able to include a “guarantee of good weather” to each and every one of our clients during the construction of their new pole buildings. In this regard, if we could do as good as Bob the Weather Cat’s team of primates, we’d be doing great!

The Pole Barn Guru: I Really Love What I Do

I Really Love What I Do

How many of you can say you have been blessed to be in a career you truly love? One where you wake up every morning, excited to get to do it again?

Do you enjoy your career?

Call it luck, call it being blessed, call it anything you want….I love what I do.

And what is it I exactly do?

I help people solve problems.

Now this may seem like a strange answer for someone who is known as, The Pole Barn Guru. Consider this – since February 1980, I’ve helped over 14,000 clients, solve their problem – they needed a new building. This is well over a building per day, every day, seven days a week, for over 30 years.

I went to school to be an architect. I wanted to help real people. People who needed practical and affordable buildings. Pole buildings have allowed me to utilize my knowledge to provide high quality, affordable solutions to clients in all 50 states, as well as Mexico, Canada and the Pacific Rim.

Have a question about pole buildings you would like answered? Just ask. I don’t even mind if you are a competitor.  If I can be of service, it is my pleasure. While I don’t profess to have all of the answers, if I don’t have the answer, I will go find it for you.

Either comment to this blog (best, as we can then share the information with everyone), or Email me direct at: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

For some great free information on pole buildings, without anyone “selling” anything, please sign up for the weekly newsletters at:

Hansen Pole Building Newsletter

I’ll leave you with one last thought.  I started the standard greeting for Hansen Buildings, because I truly have a wonderful time every single day of my life – doing what I do…and my daily wish is for all of you to: Have a Great Day!

To receive more pole building tips and advice subscribe to the pole barn guru blog!

Pole Barn Guru: Unemployed again?

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

In yesterday’s blog, we found our hero (aka me), “The Pole Barn Guru” worked out of a job.

"Shoes" Lily Kayser - Uber Programmer

But wait….turns out there was work to be done.

Deep in the recesses of Hansen Buildings, works a mysterious character known only as ….. “Shoes”.

Shoes isn’t actually her Secret Agent name. She just turns out to be one of the most brilliant computer programmers of all time.

Back in 1985, when I met Dr. Frank Woeste, I was introduced to the world of computer programs for building design. Frank was generous enough to give me a hard copy of the BASIC programs used to design pole building members such as wall girts and building columns.

Over the next two decades, first me, then a series of programmers continued to do work to advance the program.

Then along came Shoes. Using her otherworldly programming skills, what started off as a few pages of BASIC programming, is now thousands upon thousands of lines of code which will do a code conforming structural check on every component and connection in a pole building. But it doesn’t stop there – the same program builds a complete materials list for the building and prices it in “real time”. And it will optimize the design, to give the most cost effective combination of materials. All in the blink of an eye.

So how did this keep me employed? Someone had to be the “beta tester”. Every time a client of ours invests in a new building, all of the calculations get run (close to 200 pages for an average building) and I review all of them manually to make sure the output is correct.

Keep in mind, Shoes is brilliant on a bad day…scary on the others. However, she has never built a pole barn. Luckily, she was very patient with me during the first few months when I kicked job after job back to her with tweaks to make a good program, even better.

Today, most jobs are so close to perfect, very little of my time gets spent in the review process.

Which means….. The Pole Barn Guru worked himself out of a job…..again….

Or did I?  Stay tuned for part three!

Mike the Pole Barn Guru: Unemployment Line?

Mike the Pole Barn Guru: Unemployment Line?

I don’t think so….

Back in 2002, this was just a fledgling business. Sure, I had over 20 years of experience, but this new business meant starting over from nowhere.  I had never before sold buildings primarily through the internet.

Our building plans – two pages (granted they were full blueprint size at 24” x 36”) would “get you there”, but you had to guess a bit and pay a lot of attention.

Hansen Buildings Detailed Construction Manual

The reason most pole builders do not want to sell pole barn kits…instructions.

If you provide really, really good instructions, you get very few phone calls and Emails for help. But, it takes crafting those directions. And it is a long and time intensive project, especially when you want to sell “custom” buildings.

When we first started, our instruction “manual” (using the term loosely), was less than two dozen pages.  The directions had been written by me back in the early ‘90s, when I was a builder – we had our subcontract crews using them.

Now from the plans, the instructions and my having been involved in several thousand buildings, I certainly could have put together a fine building. However, very few people (even those who pound nails and drive screws for a living every day) have my level of experience.

Over the years, every time a client would have a question or concern about either the plans or the instructions, we would add more wording, pictures and “live” drawings to the appropriate documentation. We wanted our clients to have the best possible building experience, and our pole barn plans and instructions reflected our desire.

The building plans became more and more detailed, swelling to six pages or more. And the “Construction Manual” over 400 pages!

Along with this, we got to the point where we had such a huge volume of business – we ended up with one person pretty much doing technical support full time. Technical support means helping people via phone, text, FAX and/or Email through their building project.

Now this was crazy!

In hopes of better servicing our clients, I ended up as Technical Director (meaning “Mike, you can do the Technical Support”).  First it was sort of a joke, but the name Pole Barn Guru quickly had me “flagged and tagged”…and the name stuck!

Over an 18 month period, our Construction Manual was completely revamped and rewritten. Chapters were made very narrowly focused. More drawings were added as well as actual construction photos. The guide now appears in each client’s login on the Hansen Buildings website.

The chapters which pertain to each particular building are now highlighted. We’re back to keeping it simple.

So how does all of this pertain to an unemployment line?

Judy, one of Hansen’s owners, asked me today about how many total hours I have spent on true Technical Support with our clients since the new construction manual “went live” at the beginning of 2011.

While I couldn’t give her the exact number of minutes, I know it has been less than a total of a half day of time, in seven plus months!

I had worked (written) myself out of a job…..

Or did I?

See tomorrow’s blog…..

To receive more pole building tips and advice,  subscribe to the pole barn guru blog to receive my blog by email!

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

The Birth of the Pole Barn Guru – or – It’s All in the Name

I am Judy Hansen, co-owner of Hansen Buildings, guest blogging for Mike the Pole Barn Guru.  I am happy to introduce Mike’s new caricature, his very own Pole Barn Guru logo!  It was not just one of those spur of the moment type “hey, let’s have a caricature drawn of you” type things.

How did we get to this goofy caricature?  It all came from sailing on a cruise ship a few years ago!  Mike and I were attending the yearly Internet Marketer’s Cruise, which sails out of Florida, and hits several of the Caribbean islands along the 8 day trip.  I have long wanted to combine “business and pleasure” so when Mike suggested we try the Internet Market’s Cruise, I was somewhat hesitant.  Yes, it would be fun to do both, but would we get our money’s worth for the business end?  Would we have enough time to really relax, or was it just working on a ship?

I need not have worried. I was amazed from the very beginning, first by the huge number of people attending – something like over 500.  It was well attended and the top notch people there from about every venue of internet marketing were there too – big names!   Conferences weren’t just lectures you fall asleep at.  Secondly, it was amazingly interactive, and we met people who – surprisingly, all had “tag names”.  At first I thought it was a little…well, goofy.   But you remembered them!

“Bob the Teacher”, “Captain Lou” (SpecialEventsAtSea.com) and “Irina the Health Boss” are just a few that come to mind.  But I remember them!  And their names clearly stated who and what they were all about.  It was sort of like branding yourself, but also tells the people you deal with, what your “expertise” is.  Company names do this – such as….yes, Hansen Pole Buildings.  It originally said exactly what we do.  But about 4 years ago we were at a conference and every time I shook someone’s hand and said I was “Judy from Hansen Pole Buildings” I’d get these quizzical looks, with a long drawn out emphasis on the word, pole: “Pole….you mean…like telephone poles?” so we dropped the “pole” and now it’s just “Hansen Buildings.”

But I confess I digress (this is why Mike normally writes this blog!).  It wasn’t long after this great cruise/conference we were enmeshed with the idea of tagging Mike with “Mike the Pole Barn Guru”.  We had already kiddingly called him this  – literally for years.  There just wasn’t a question on pole barns you could ask him, and he’d not have an answer.  Sometimes this meant he’d go research his answer a bit, but never would you get, “gee, I just don’t know.”

Mike is a very educated man on pole buildings, and mostly from years of hands on experience and his nature of being very inquisitive. I can say this after having watched and listened to him for 12 years.  He never drives anywhere a pole building of some sort doesn’t catch his eye, and he has a comment or two about it, “they should have dog eared the overhead doors”, “I can’t believe they left the truss exposed to the weather on that roof only building”, and sometimes I just hear, “man, they sure hosed that building.”

Yes, Mike is critical.  Why?  He cares.  He really does, and he always wants to give folks the best answer he can find for the question he’s asked.  He doesn’t believe in just “winging it”.   If it’s based on his experience alone – this is over 14000 buildings and over 30 years of educating himself, builders, vendors, salesmen, and yes – the thousands of fine folks who purchased a building. They trusted him, the company he worked for, and the price was more than fair for what they were purchasing. What more could you ask for?

So meet Mike, The Pole Barn Guru – all knowing, all seeing, and cares enough to give you top of the line answers …to your dream pole building.

P.S. My thanks to Robert Bauer, President of Goofy Faces (www.GoofyFaces.com) for his patient aritstry in drawing Mike’s caricature.  His timeliness, expertise and professionalism is to be commended.  Thank you!

Before the Pole Barn Guru

Family of church builders

1890’s church

In order to best understand where one is at today, it helps to know where one has come from. Jump in the “Way Back” machine with me and travel to my roots.

Rendalen, Norway, 1857 Amund Amundsen (Braenden) and Gjertrude Hagensdatter had a son, Amund Amundsen Momb (my great grandfather). Norway, at the time, was a very controlling church state. During the 1880’s over 11% of the total population emmigrated to the United States, including the 2 Amunds (father and son).

Drawn to the rich farmland and inland lakes of northwestern Minnesota, the family settled in the Detroit (now Detroit Lakes) area. Here is where recorded family construction history begins as the family constructed farm houses, outbuildings as well as the original Lutheran church in the area.

Great grandfather Amund, married Bertholina Oldsdatter Faellingen and their third son, Peter, was born in 1898. The Great Depression found grandpa Pete in the Inland Pacific Northwest. Grandpa Pete was a builder and his six sons including my father – Sid, and uncles Lyle, Neil, Gaylord (Gil), David and Amund all followed in the construction trades. As soon as the boys were old enough to wield a hammer and carry lumber, they were put to work. Old timers still tell stories about going by homes grandpa was building and seeing his young sons scurrying everywhere.

The 1950’s found Sid, Lyle and Neil as partners, framing houses. They also constructed numerous Seventh Day Adventist churches scattered about northeast Washington and northern Idaho. In 1962, Uncle Neil relocated to the Seattle area, where he continued the construction legacy. Neil was invited to Japan, where he instructed the Japanese in how to build earthquake resistant structures.

The remaining five brothers continued to work together in the framing business for several decades. Always known for being at the cutting edge of innovations, they were the first framers in their area to own their own forklifts and to use air nailers. While never the least expensive, they were consistently in demand for the high quality of their workmanship and for not wasting materials. Sid, Lyle and Gil may very well be the only three brothers to ever have served as the president of their local Home Builders Association chapter.

One of my earliest construction adventures was watching my Dad and uncles construct new docks for my maternal grandparents and their neighbors on Newman Lake, WA in the early 1960’s. I commandeered all the cutoff pieces of timbers and they became my “building blocks” for several years. A weekend treat was driving around Spokane with my parents, with Dad pointing out each of the buildings he had worked on.

Dad swore if he ever caught my brother or I with a hammer in our hands, he would whomp us alongside the head with it.  As these things go – by age 16, I was on the jobsite. Our first project took all summer – a multi-story commercial medical building. I was entrusted as the “sawyer” for the project, so my task was to do all of the cutoff work.  Everything was prepared for rapid assembly. This also exposed me to my first working at heights, and I did not at all feel comfortable walking walls over 40 feet in the air, dragging 50′ span roof trusses, with my mountain climbing cousin Kim running along the opposite wall.  My size 14 feet were no match for his tiny size 8’s!  My cousin Kim later climbed the Eastern face of Mount Everest, and I learned to always find a way to be the “sawyer” for every building project, and stay on the ground.

I’d always been good at drafting in high school, so decided architecture must be the field for me. It took me nearly two years (the first at the University of Idaho, the second at Montana State University), to realize my dream of practical and affordable structures did not fit with what my professors had in mind. It felt to me as though their most important focus was on building monuments to themselves.

Returning to Spokane, I went to work as on the “pick up” crew of a local builder – we did all of the change orders. I quickly remember why I had not liked working for this contractor. One of my friends was working for a local pre-fabricated roof truss company and had suggested I apply for a position there. One morning, at coffee break, I did just that. They asked me if I could start right then, so I resigned my prior position and went to work as a sawyer in their truss plant. Three weeks later, I was given the opportunity to transfer to their sister plant in Couer d’Alene, Idaho – where I was to work in the plant, with the potential to be able to work in their office some time in the future.

The partner who managed Couer d’Alene Truss, Ted Thompson, saw abilities in me which I did not realize I had. At 19 years old, he put me in their office from the first day as truss designer and sales staff (they had no other sales person). Over the next two plus years, he allowed me to grow to pretty much do everything except write the checks. I did all of the sales, truss design, scheduled the shop, hired and fired, did lumber purchasing…it was more than a dream come true.

Learn more about Mike Momb – The Pole Barn Guru in Part II – Theres No Education Like Real Life Experience