Best Portland Contractors of 2009
Ava Construction LLC | Vancouver, Wash.
Pat Rose and Dennis Wallace of Vancouver ripped up almost 90 years' accumulation of kitchen flooring - six layers in all - to reveal the fir planks underneath. What they found was a blackened mess.
"Other contractors said, 'That floor will never see the light of day,'" Rose says. But flooring specialist Aleksey Alyabyev, owner of Ava Construction, told them he could revive them.
"Aleksey didn't balk," she says. "The results speak for themselves. They are beautiful."
Norma Silliman of Vancouver hired Ava to repair her water-damaged hardwood floors and, at her request, used an environmentally friendly water-based finish.
"He was personable, polite and considerate, and worked with my schedule," she says. "Combined with the quality, it makes for a good experience."
Alyabyev, who is licensed in Oregon and Washington, says he can handle anything from soft Douglas fir floors to cherry and oak.
"I always ask customers what they expect me to do and do everything that needs to be done with the floor," he says. "If there is any extra work, I do it like a bonus for them." He has eight Pages of Happiness nominations this year.
Thermotech Oregon | Beaverton, Ore.
When their 45-year-old furnace stopped working, Lisa and John O'Toole of Portland found Al Riddle, owner of Thermotech Oregon, who fixed their furnace instead of replacing it.
"He was kind of old-fashioned," Lisa says. "It wasn't some guy with a big company offering something you didn't need."
While Riddle pointed out a few things they should consider in the future, "He didn't push," she says. "He was very polite and he knew his stuff."
Ron Voss of Beaverton called Riddle in desperation when his furnace died on a very cold winter day. Riddle stopped by within 15 minutes on his way to another job, cleaned a thermocouple and restored the heat.
He returned later to give Voss a requested estimate on a new furnace. He determined Voss' unit just had a flow problem. He rewired the motor to run faster, and then refused to charge Voss.
"He'd been here about two hours," Voss says. "I would've gladly paid him. He just said, 'I came over to give you an estimate. I don't charge for estimates.'"
Riddle, who has a state license, says there's nothing complicated about his approach to business. "I believe in doing something right. I always have," he says. "I was just brought up that way."
The three-time Super Service Award winner has eight Pages of Happiness nominations this year.
J & S Home Maintenance LLC | Damascus, Ore.
Dave Watkins of Damascus hired handyman Jay Behnke of J & S Home Maintenance to remove walls and ceiling drywall in two rooms for a major plumbing replacement.
"A plumber would normally take out Sheetrock with a hammer and ax," Watkins says. "He had to cut out walls and ceiling and everything, and put them all back in again. You can't even tell they were ever cut."
Susan Endecott of Happy Valley gave Behnke a long list of repairs, from cleaning and restaining her deck to spraying with mold killer and repainting the 35 posts in the crawl space of her house.
"The price is great," she says, "But the quality of his work is outstanding."
Behnke, who has a state license, laughingly calls himself "obsessive-compulsive," a trait that works in his customers' favor.
"It's a real commitment to making sure the job's done right," says the 2008 Super Service Award winner. "One of the things that I like is making it look like it blends, not like it's been repaired."
In the community, he does discounted work for nonprofit groups involved in family services.
– reporting by Matthew Brady