Not many family businesses can say they have been around for 100 years, but Peninsula Building Materials (PBM) recently reached that milestone, celebrating its centennial anniversary this past spring.
For four generations, PBM has supplied building materials to contractors and homeowners in the Bay Area, its headquarters located on Charleston Road in Mountain View. It got its start in 1923 when Harry Morey established a supply yard in Menlo Park, stocking road base that paved the way for the automobile industry.
Newspapers from the time period show the company advertising products like sand, rock, gravel, cement, plaster, lime and sewer pipe.
But even before then, the Morey family was a big part of the Peninsula’s construction scene. Harry Morey and his two sons, Harry Jr. and John, assisted in the building of several prominent institutions: Stanford University in Palo Alto, St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park and Sacred Heart Convent in Atherton.
"I think they saw a need, and they stepped in and filled it. And they really landed in a great spot," said Nancy Wallace, who manages PBM’s marketing and the Mountain View showroom.
"Who knew that decades later, Silicon Valley and the need for buildings and building materials would be so great," she added.
As orchards increasingly turned into neighborhoods and business parks in the region, PBM extended its operations southward, according to the company's website. It established a second supply yard in Sunnyvale in 1968 and another one in San Martin in 1989. It also relocated its Menlo Park site to a larger yard in Redwood City in 1981.
For Luke Morey, who manages PBM operations, the company’s building materials reflects historical trends in home and hardscape preferences. When he started working for the family business as a 12-year-old in 1993, about 90% of its offerings were bricks. Now it is about 75% stone, sourced locally and internationally, he said.
But while its materials have changed over time, the company’s values have largely stayed the same, according to Wallace, with an eye towards competitive pricing and dependable service.
Patrick Morey, who works as PBM's head of sales, emphasized that the business functions like an extended family with its 80 employees, several of whom have been with the company for 30 years, and many more sticking around for decades.
“We’re a family outside of family,” he said.
The close-knit community extends to outside vendors too, who pulled through for the company when demand for materials surged during the pandemic, Wallace said.
“We really depended and leaned a lot on the long-term relationships we had with our suppliers and were able to schedule out materials that weren’t readily available,” she said, adding that the pandemic put a particular strain on quarry production as many workers were out sick for prolonged periods of time.
Despite these challenges, PBM has managed to stay afloat over the years, which Adam Morey, PBM chief financial officer, attributed to the company’s work ethos. Similar to his brother Luke, Adam Morey started helping out with the family business at a young age, waking up early and sweeping the floors, he said.
“They instilled a hard work ethic; be here early and stay late. Even the retired folks are still waking up early,” he laughed, referring to the third-generation Moreys.
The hope is that a next generation will take an interest in keeping the family business alive. Until then, it continues to grow; its largest supply yard opened in Livermore in 2008 and the Sunnyvale yard relocated to Santa Clara in 2019; a satellite showroom also recently opened in Walnut Creek with another one planned for Pacific Grove later in the year, according to Wallace.
“A hundred years doesn’t come around for many family businesses, so we’re honored we made it and excited for the future,” she said.