In 1978, Tim Welsh and Bob Carter approached Gifford-Hill, Inc., owner of Garco Building Systems, with a proposal to purchase the construction division of the company. Hesitant to divide the company Gifford-Hill agreed to the proposal and the new company became Carter-Welsh, Inc. doing business as Garco Construction. Two years later, Tim’s childhood friend, Frank Etter, who had been with Garco Building Systems for the previous eight years, joined Garco Construction as Vice President.
As a graduate civil engineer from the University of Washington, Tim’s education, experience, and true passion for heavy industrial construction drove the company to focus on the private sector. Frank, also a graduate of the University of Washington in personnel and industrial relations, brought a wealth of experience and energy to the company. His attention to customer needs combined with Tim’s knowledge of construction allowed the company to expand quickly into the industrial and design-build markets.
Garco’s first large contract was with Kaiser Aluminum. At the time, Kaiser was operating two industrial facilities in Spokane, allowing Garco to gain experience in the industrial market which would parlay into other industries. Garco expanded its client base into the mining industry, working on jobsites throughout the western states and Alaska.
By the late 80s and early 90s, the resources-based construction industry was waning and Garco needed to expand its focus from the private industry to public works. Most notably, Garco was awarded the largest public works project ever awarded to a local contractor in the Spokane area with the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
Additionally, Garco was expanding its focus further into the construction industry. Hollis Barnett, who started with the company in 1990, pushed to enter into the military sector. The nation’s military infrastructure was expanding and older buildings and systems were being replaced. Acknowledging this fact, Hollis focused solely on being awarded military contracts, with our first award in 1993 with the 416-unit Wherry Housing project at Fairchild Air Force Base. By the late 90’s, Garco had completed 4 more projects out at Fairchild Air Force Base.
In 1998, Tim’s son Clancy joined the Garco team after graduating from the University of Washington in construction management. Three years later, Tim’s other son, Jamie, would also join the team, initially working out in the field and then coming into the office as a project manager.
Throughout the 2000s, Garco has worked towards a diversified customer-base. We have been privileged to be the general contractor on educational facilities, military projects, auto-dealerships, housing facilities, and commercial facilities. Our portfolio has expanded and changed and so has our leadership. In 2011, Tim Welsh became the CEO of Garco Construction, appointing Clancy Welsh as President, Hollis Barnett as Vice President, and Jamie Welsh as Vice President.
Garco Construction has grown to be one of the largest general contractors in the Inland Northwest. We pride ourselves on our ability to mold and develop with the industry and always have the drive to provide our client with the best building.