Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
January 2019 | Ammended | Original Article

A long time, custom home building company with a successful operation in North Dakota has moved back home to the Tri-Cities.

The father and son team of John and Stephen Worlund decided it was time to move Anasazi Builders home after being gone 22 years to be closer to family.

We ended up turning down 21 new homes after making our decision to come home, but we really felt that it was time. We finished the last two houses in North Dakota and began the huge process of relocating.

John has 5 children, 15 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren, all in the Tri-Cities. Stephen’s wife’s family also live in the Tri-Cities as well.

They moved to Boise, Idaho, in 1997 to help build a youth ranch with several non-denominational churches that they are a part of.  They also continued to build custom homes.

In 2012, an acquaintance, who was a developer in North Dakota asked them to come help build new homes.  Minot had recently lost 4,000 homes to the 2011 Souris River flood.  The flood and the recent economic opportunity of the oil drilling boom was a part of the influence to move to North Dakota, as well as starting a local non-denominational church in the oil fields.

That first year, Anasazi Builders built five homes in seven months. It didn’t take long for their business to become a sought after home builder.

“We fit in the Custom home market.  We build people’s dream home. We have an architect / designer that can bring people’s visions and desires to reality. We can give the home- owner a virtual tour through their home as it’s being designed.” John said.   “ We do so much of the work, especially the Cabinetry and Finish work, to make sure it is done to our standards.”

The houses they built in North Dakota ranged from $300,000 to $650,000 per home.  The home- owners already had their land purchased in many cases.

“When you’re building on the custom home market, you’re building what the owner wants.” Stephen said.  “ We try to figure out what’s key for them, what is the intent for the home, what’s your sacred space. Some people want to put thousands of dollars into their kitchen, others in their master bedroom, others in their special room.”

But the homes also include a touch of Anasazi- their company name comes from the ancient American Indian people of the southwestern United States, known for the first cliff dwellings with stack rock, exterior walls.  Sometimes they’ll use the stack rock design to accent the front of their homes, the fireplaces inside or an island wall in the kitchens.

Their home building was also an avenue to help John and Stephen to work with Worldwide Missionary Outreach, a non-profit, non-denominational missionary program.  With W.M.O., they are able to team up with other missionaries, to help build churches in countries around the world.  There are four main churches here in the United States, under the direction of John and Daniel Martin, that have teamed up together to accomplish some very remarkable things.  Though each church is sovereign of itself, Dad felt that we could accomplish so much more working together for the Gospel.  The main thrust of missionary work is evangelism. But after that there comes the needs of the people.  From a place to worship, to funded lively hood projects that fit in with their lifestyles.  “We have so many people, men, women and young people, who want to do more to help these overseas outreaches.   They may go with us overseas or not, but they still have a desire to help. The wives and young people have come up with so many ways to raise funds for the missionaries to invest in lively hood projects or the construction of new church buildings.  Many of the young men have gone with us to build churches as the leadership sees that the local assembly is ready for such a need.  So many places we go would never be able to afford a church building without all the giving that the home churches provide.”  Some of the other projects that have been undertaken are the purchase of fishing boats and nets, bicycles, motorcycles, block making machines, sponsoring first year seed and fertilizer for farming, and the teaching of money management skills.  In the Philippines, an opportunity presented itself where we were able to purchase vans and turn them into emergency vehicles, to help in  locations that had none, to get them to hospitals.  W.M.O. also helps with works in South America, South Africa, Peru, India, Swaziland, Malawi, Uganda and Kenya.  “So much more can be accomplished by working together as a team than a one man show.” John said.

But, skilled and reliable labor was getting hard to come by in North Dakota, which was forcing John and Stephen to hold back from missionary projects, to focus on doing a majority of the work for their home buyers.  “Our missionary work is our passion- John said.  And with lack of manpower, it made it harder to leave.”  Stephen said,” this is what we do to make our way overseas. With the shortage of manpower and fewer people going into the trades, or just not wanting to work in the construction field, meant we had to do more.”  “I have two brothers and a brother in law, nephews and contacts here that can help.”  Wether it’s family or sub-contractors, it’s still about teamwork in bringing a quality product to the homeowner.

The winters in North Dakota were long, the Worlunds said, averaging about eight months during the building season, sometimes less.  They would start two homes in the spring and then two homes in the fall, to carry them through the winters.  They said that the move to Tri-Cities – although mainly motivated by being closer to family – would also allow them to tap into a greater workforce. They kept a close watch on the Tri-City custom home market before making the move and have already started making connections with the wide array of sub-contractors.

“The market here is really booming. The price of land has shot up, but that’s a given.” John said.  “We’ve been watching the market for about a year now and there’s been quite a price jump.  We’re going to take it slow and make decisions as they come.”

With all their licenses in place, they hope to start building home at the beginning of this year.  But they know it won’t be easy. 

“It’s getting difficult to come by land that is already developed, and the prices continue to climb.” John said.

But they remain optimistic – and they’re already getting inquiries from potential clients.

“Tri-Cities has a lot of quality builders.  There are really good standards here, manpower, and high standards in regards of Energy Efficiency.”  “We’re glad to be home.” John said.