Venerated outer East Portland building supply company rises again from fiery rubble

The owners of Truax Builders supply watched their showroom burn to the ground. See how this family-owned company has bounced back …

After the Thanksgiving Day fire a couple of years ago, there wasn’t much left of the company, except a bit of the awning.

Standing in front of a case containing “accidental sculptures” —  aluminum extrusions that melted during the intense 2004 Thanksgiving Day blaze — Truax Builders Supply president Joe Sidey is company 11-year veteran, Dan Piluso.

Story and Photos by David F. Ashton

The last time we spoke with Joe Sidey was about a year-and-a-half ago, on the chilly Thanksgiving Day morning of 2004. We stood quietly together for a few minutes, looking at a huge pile of smoldering rubble – the remains of the family business he heads – Truax Builders Supply on SE Division St.

At that time, we asked Sidey if he wanted to share his thoughts. With wafts of smoke partially obscuring his face, he told us that, after all, the building was insured, and no one was injured. His concern was for his workers. “We’re a family company,” he said, “I hope we don’t have to lay off too many workers.”

Those who regularly drive outer SE Division Street have seen the rubble being removed and the ground being leveled. Eventually a concrete pad was poured, and a new building started taking shape.

Looking through the doors and windows manufactured and sold by Truax Builders Supply, company president Joe Sidey was proud to show off their new building during the reopening party.

Truax Grand Reopening
When we revisited the scene of that fire, this April 22, Sidey had a big smile on his face. “Welcome to our grand reopening,” he greeted us. “We’re having a celebration today to thank our customers ‚Äì and neighbors ‚Äì who stood with us while we rebuilt our building and our business.”

At the party, KXL Radio’s “Mister Barbeque” was grilling bison dogs, a coffee barista was making java drinks, and the staff was giving tours of the new building that serves as the headquarters for this family-owned business started in 1946.

Sidey, who said he married into the family, and then the company, is its president.

We reminded Sidey how his primary concern, the day of the fire, had been for his employees. “We had to let a couple of guys go,” he responded. “But, we were back in limited production within a week. And, we put our showroom in a modular building behind the burned building. We’ve staffed up again, and just hired another worker last month. I feel very good about this, indeed.”

Sidey added that working through the rebuilding process was difficult. “It has taken longer than anticipated. I was hoping to be completely rebuilt within a year. Maybe I was too optimistic.

“But look, a year and five months after the fire, we’re celebrating our reopening.”

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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