For 45 years, Kootenia Builders has not swerved from its commitment to high-quality craftsmanship or from its deep roots in the art of carpentry.
At 16, company founder Bob Eibensteiner started his pursuit of what would become his passion—carpentry—building rural churches with Breitbach Construction in western Minnesota until joining the National Guard in the early 1960s.
Upon returning from the service, Eibensteiner went to work for Lampert Lumber. The company eventually sent him to Montana to learn lumber grading and manufacturing. When he returned to Lampert, Eibensteiner started to do a few remodeling projects on the side. One of his impressed customers encouraged the young craftsman to become a homebuilder. But Eibensteiner said he was “just a poor farm boy” who could never afford to start his own business.
“That customer turned out to be the spark he needed,” notes Greg Eibensteiner, Bob’s son and current owner and president of Kootenia Builders. “His hard work, dedication to what is right, a future forward vision—along with luck—were the beginning of what would become Kootenia Builders.” The high-end homebuilding firm is named after Montana’s Kootenai River—just spelled differently due to a mix-up at the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office. “My father wanted a unique name, so he named the company after this beautiful area,” says Greg, who worked for his father through high school and college.
In 1996, Bon helped a group of employees start their own company called Kootenia Homes. They would be independent of Kootenia Builders and be based in Woodbury. For the next seven years, Bob worked with his former employees to help them grow their company while still retaining his original custom home building company. During this time Bob also thought it was important for his son to experience working outside of the family business, so in 1997 Greg started his own carpentry business and then later worked as a project manager for a large national commercial contractor building resort properties. Greg returned to the family business in 2004, to work alongside Bob, and has retained Kootenia Builder’s focus on executive-level homes ever since.
“My love and passion has always been homebuilding,” says Greg. “I like the creativity. You get to do a lot of one-off, unique things. It’s fun to provide people with the opportunity to build whatever it is they want.”