Serving the Sandy, Welches, Zigzag, and all communities from Gresham to Mount Hood has been our mission since our company was founded in 1967. We are proud to say we’ve been providing quality service with high integrity from day one, and we’re still going strong. What started as one man’s determination has led us through over fifty years of commitment to our neighbors, and fellow residents, and business owners.
Karl Lee McDermed was born in Kansas in 1940. It was during the war in 1942, that Karl’s family moved to Gresham so his father Lawrence could work in the ship yards.
After the war Lawrence went into logging and had a small saw mill. The family struggled to make ends meet and ended up moving to Kelso, OR in 1949 where Karl took his first job at the young age of nine working a tractor for a local Kelso farmer. Things had gotten very hard for the family and they almost lost everything. His father finally found work with a house mover and eventually took over the company. This is where Karl began his construction career, getting his first taste of being part of a family business while working with his father during his high school years.
After high school Karl went to work for a Portland-based construction company, then a Welches home builder where he helped build many of the homes, structures, landmarks, and buildings that still stand in the area today.
Two of the unique projects he specifically recalls during those years included helping build the Welches shopping center on the south east corner of Highway 26 and Welches Road, and working on one of the three dorm improvements projects at the Oregon State University Campuses when JFK was assassinated in 1963.
But it was in 1967 Karl decided to take the entrepreneurial leap when he realized he was capable of running his own business and he launched out on his own as KLM Construction Company.
Fun Facts About Karl
- Father to 3 children: Wally, DeAnn, Michele
- One brother Richard of Long Island, NY and 2 sisters JoAnn Bernhardt of Sandy, Or and Linda Richardson of Eagle Creek Or.
- Over KLM’s history, Karl can recall having a combined total of around 80 employees total
- His personal life lesson: “Be honest. Work hard. Treat employees and people well.”
- Today he spends his time with his wife Jan and their family, caring for their property, and he still enjoys wood working
Many Projects Over the Years
Under the KLM Construction name, Karl has been privileged to be a part of many cornerstone East County projects such as:
Boman’s Golf Course [Sandy], Chalet Swiss Restaurant on the corner of Welches Drive and Hwy 26 (now Pub 26) [Welches], Ski Bowl ski tows projects, St. Johns in the Woods Catholic Church [Welches], Clackamas County Bank (which used to be Sunset Theater late 1980’s/early 90’s) [Sandy], the Sandy Safeway compound strip malls, Wasson Brothers Winery projects, Champion Collision Body Shop, a water tank build for the Salmon Water District, the Goodwill Building across from Sandy City Hall, and Sandy Historical Museum, to name just a few. Visit the Project Gallery [link to: Project Gallery] page to see photos of many of these projects and more.
KLM Construction was even hired to build the Interstate Meat Inspection Plant in Sweet Grass, MT on the Canadian border in 1987, a project Karl was proud to be a part of.
With a personal mission to own property, he spotted and purchased a tiny feed supply business off Kelso Road in 1977. Constructing the building and remodeling the barn, he owned Mac’s Feed Store until selling to Les Geren in 1981. Today, Geren’s Feed Supply is a landmark on the corner of Highway 26 and Kelso Road.
How KLM has Evolved
His interest and commitment to learning more about his trade kept him busy with referrals over the years, something KLM Construction Co. is proud to say continues to keep them in business today. They’ve never advertised or done much marketing, but have been honored to receive referrals from their customers and clients which keep the crew happily working their craft.
KLM was a home-based business until 1970 when Karl purchased a piece of property beside Calamity Jane’s on Highway 26, built a building, and moved the offices to the commercial site. After selling the property in 1979 he moved the company back home. Today, All-Ways Towing/Performance Collision and Towing resides in the building on that property.
When his daughter Michele started dating a fellow named Jay McKague in 1989, Karl hired him and began mentoring the young man. After 18 years working alongside Jay, Karl retired in 2007 and Jay naturally slipped into the role as owner and lead contractor at KLM.
But Karl wasn’t finished there. In fact, until the end of 2017 he worked with another local family managing their rental and commercial properties. The KLM team now handles the tenant improvements for not only this family, but other companies in the area as well.