WHEN TALENTED PROFESSIONALS TALK, WE LISTEN.

Choosing the people you want to invite into your home starts with your team of builders, architects, designers, and artisans who help bring your vision to life. We have that same desire to learn about the tradespeople in our community. Join our conversation with the experts here in ShopTalk.

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Maxwell Structural Design Studio

Craig Maxwell, Architectural Engineer, Principal

Maxwell Structural Design Studio was founded by Craig Maxwell in 2014. The Ketchum-based firm is driven by challenges in their design. They are at their best when working with the surrounding land and helping their clients achieve their dreams.

What kind of work does your business do?
We do architectural engineering and design of residential and commercial structures.

What geographic region do you cover?
We currently have projects going in the Stanley Basin, Boise, Burley, Twin Falls, and throughout Blaine County. We have also been in contact with a builder and a couple of architects in Southern California, where we are looking at a possible new project.

What is your background?
I started studying sustainable building in the early ‘90s and received a certification in Advanced Permaculture with an emphasis in Sustainable Building in 1998. Over the past 30 years I’ve had experience working with most alternative building materials: straw bale, adobe, Rastra-Block and ICFs, rammed earth, Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), and Hempcrete.

What is the future of your industry?
I think we will start to see more and more modular buildings and building components. Prefabricated modular homes are hot right now; they’ve come a long way from the mobile home of the ‘80s and I expect that trend to continue. The use of modular building components in large-scale buildings is where we are likely to see the biggest advancements. Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) construction is already leading the way with buildings as tall as 18 stories and over 200,000 square feet.

What is one of your favorite projects?
There are many that come to mind. However, the collective effort put into saving Pioneer Cabin was one of the best. A few years ago, Bard Glenne took it upon himself to start fixing up the cabin that had become a decrepit, mouse-infested hiker’s destination for graffiti. His son Olin got involved the following year and asked if I would spearhead the structural repairs. We teamed up with the Forest Service and put together a strategic plan for acquiring the materials necessary, getting them up the four-mile hike with 2,572 feet elevation gain to the cabin, and organizing volunteer work days. The most memorable work weekend involved 22 volunteers excavating the back of the building out of the earth that was swallowing it up, repairing the rotting floor structure, and quarrying rock from the adjacent mountainside to give it a proper stone foundation. We built a retaining wall and drainage system to keep the hillside and water run-off away from the wood structure. After four summers of work, we plan to complete the final repairs this year.

What is your favorite part about your work?
Mental challenges, creativity, and lasting relationships. I love sharpening the pencil, crunching numbers, and coming up with solutions to the many challenges that we face as engineers. It is very rewarding to see your concepts go from pencil sketches and math equations on paper to physical objects that serve both a utilitarian and aesthetic purpose. I am fortunate to work in a community that has so much depth in great designers, highly skilled tradesmen, and top-notch builders. My Rolodex is full.

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“It is very rewarding to see your concepts go from pencil sketches and math equations on paper to physical objects that serve both a utilitarian and aesthetic purpose.”
–Craig Maxwell, Architectural Engineer, Principal

What was one of your largest challenges?
I seem to get a lot of projects with challenging building lots located in the flood plain and avalanche zone. In 2012, I was involved in getting the first Hempcrete home approved and built in the state of Idaho. In 2016, I was part of the design team for Idaho Base Camp’s Borah Basin Building, which was the first public use building constructed with hemp in the United States.

What was your first job?
My hockey coach gave me a job as a hod carrier in the summer of 9th grade with Alpine Masonry and Tile here in Ketchum.

If you weren’t in your industry, what would you have done?
I probably would have specialized in small rodent taxidermy.

What’s your favorite kind of music?
What’s your favorite kind of music? The office listens to KEXP out of Seattle in the morning, a mix of classic rock, Americana, and indie rock in the afternoon, and hard-alternative rock to get through the night shifts.

What do you do for fun?
I enjoy a lot of recreational activities with family and friends, but nothing beats hoisting the Cup with teammates at the end of a great season. I find great pleasure playing soccer in the summer and hockey during the winter. I’ve played team sports for as long as I can remember, been coaching for the past 10 years, and learned so many profound life lessons and made enduring friendships along the way.

Where’s your favorite place?
Impassable Canyon in the Frank Church Wilderness. Nobody does it better than Mother Nature.

Gear you need for any adventure?
Sixteen-foot rubber raft, mountain bike, and a surfboard. No motor required, never run out of gas, great balance of risk vs reward.


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Sawtooth Wood Products & Equipment

Sam Keeter, Owner & General Manager

Sawtooth Wood Products & Equipment is a wood products and power equipment company that has served the Wood River Valley for over 40 years. Sam Keeter has been the owner and general manager since 2017.

What services do you offer?
We have a number of categories for being a small business, including fencing material and custom milling, log home care products like stains and textured caulks, and outdoor power equipment. We’ve been a Stihl dealer since the mid-1980s. We also offer construction services for projects ranging from fence installation to log structure building and maintenance. The common thread is that we sell or produce high-quality products that are supported by experts on our team. People come to us for our insight and expertise.

What geographic area do you serve?
We mainly work in the Wood River Valley. We occasionally work in the Stanley Basin, and we also work in the counties just south of Blaine when there’s a need for specialized log work.

What inspires you?
My team’s talent. Scott can scribe a log to precise dimensions. Justin can diagnose an engine failure with uncanny insight. I enjoy watching David teach an experienced landscaper something new about his tools, and seeing Sergio build a fence that’s straight as an arrow over undulating ground. They push each other to produce high-quality work, and in turn, I am inspired to push myself to new levels too.

What’s your professional background?
It’s been a winding road. I’m a proud graduate of the University of Idaho, where I also earned an Army commission through ROTC. After graduating, I became an Airborne Ranger and served as an infantry officer with the 10th Mountain Division. After serving a tour in Baghdad, my wife and I decided to leave the Army and start our next adventure. I went back to school and earned an MBA from the University of Washington, and then worked in banking. All the while, Chelan and I saved our money and looked for a good business opportunity that would be a long-term fit for us.

How did you get started in your field?
As the years went by, we looked at a number of businesses, but we could never make them work. Then we found Bob Parker, the founder and owner of Sawtooth Wood Products. Bob started Sawtooth Wood Products in 1978 and was ready to retire. We liked Bob, we liked Sawtooth Wood Products, and we liked the Wood River Valley, so we made a go of it. Any small business owner would be envious of the team that Bob put together over the years, and I’ve been blessed to keep them. I’m now a steward of the talents and reputation of our team.

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“Although we build with many types of products, I’m partial to roundwood. I think logs and poles are essential to the aesthetic of our small mountain community tucked away in the Idaho Rockies. ”
–Sam Keeter, Owner & General Manager

What project(s) are you most excited about right now?
As we talk right now, we’re gearing up to replace a large section of fence for the City of Sun Valley as a part of their Road and Path Project. When I initially walked through the project, I noticed an old, small metal sign nailed on the fence. It read “Sawtooth Wood Products” and had our phone number on it (same phone number we use today!). Many years ago, the company used to tack on these signs to our completed jobs. How cool is that? Not only am I getting to contribute to the physical character of my community today, but I’m getting to maintain a little part of my company’s legacy too.

Do you have favorite materials to use or a style you prefer or are known for?
Although we build with many types of products, I’m partial to roundwood. Whether it’s a fence or a house, I think logs and poles are essential to the aesthetic of our small mountain community tucked away in the Idaho Rockies.

How do you see your field changing in the next five to ten years and what technologies will play a part in that?
On the power equipment side, battery-powered equipment becomes viable to a larger slice of the market every year. Although many dealers nationally try to sell away from it because it changes the service revenue stream, we’ve embraced it. The spectrum of power within battery products is growing. Our service team has grown its expertise to include battery and robotics.

Favorite season?
Frankly, I like all of our three seasons equally. Winter is awesome here. My kids and I have greatly enjoyed both the indoor and outdoor ice rinks provided by Hailey Ice. Summer is awesome. We can play outside without humidity, bugs, and goat heads. Having grown up in the South and West, this remains novel to me. And slack season is awesome. There’s a lot of fun here during slack, just less crowded.

Favorite trip you’ve ever taken?
My wife and I packed almost all of our possessions in the back of our Ford Ranger and moved from Fort Drum, New York, to Seattle via Texas. We took a leisurely six weeks to do it, while stopping to see friends and family along the way.

Do you have a favorite sport or recreational activity?
Based on the volume of giggles, I’d have to say wrestling with my kids. They are 5, 4, and 2, and the youngest has recently become brave enough to enter the scrum.

Last book you read that you would highly recommend?
Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard – The author writes about the life and death of President James Garfield, whose suffering from an assassin’s bullet captivated the nation. His character helped turned the tides against the spoils system and helped pave the way for new ideas in politics and leadership.


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Sawtooth Biodefense

Stefan Curtis, Lillian Curtis, Owner / Operator

Sawtooth Biodefense provides industrial strength cleaning products and services. The company protects the Wood River Valley community by making hospital-grade cleaning products available to residential homes and rentals. In the age of COVID-19, their services and expertise are extremely timely.

What services do you offer?
We offer custom and comprehensive hospital-grade disinfecting and protecting strategies, products, services, and training to local businesses and residences. Our entire product line is approved and registered with the EPA. It’s been vetted by the FDA and also accepted by the CDC as having effective and safe products.

What geographic area do you serve?
Blaine County, and we’re expanding into neighboring counties as well.

What is your professional background?
My background is in outdoor education. I’ve worked for non-profits in and out of the Valley for the past 16 years. Helping with the betterment of our community has always been my professional passion. Working with cleaning and disinfecting products is my way of contributing to the healing process after COVID-19 hit our small community so
hard this year.

How did you get started in your field?
My father-in-law is a Certified Orthopedic Surgeon’s Assistant as well as a medical device sales rep, and he has spent a large part of his career in hospitals assisting with medical procedures. Through family discussions, he passed along his knowledge to my husband and me regarding all things related to disinfecting and the extra protection measures taken in a hospital setting. We are lucky to have him as a mentor, and also honored to be carrying out his legacy as we take what were previously only hospital-grade products to the public.

How do you see your field changing in the next five to ten years and what technologies will play a part in that?
COVID-19 was definitely the largest change to our industry. While the number of COVID-19 cases in our area has dropped, the threat of the virus is still imminent. We are also more aware of the potential for future microscopic assailants that our products will combat, even when the fight is over against COVID-19. As far as technologies go, every day, new and improved disinfecting and protection products are being developed to fight specific pathogens and provide the strongest protection. We add them to our product assortment and continue to carry products like our mPulse hand sanitizer, which is in high demand.

What product are you most excited about right now?
I love our antimicrobial products by Clearstream Technologies, which include MediDefense mPulse hand sanitizer, Penetrexx surface cleaner, and mPower laundry detergent. Believe it or not, mPulse is a hand sanitizer that lasts for up to eight hours and through multiple handwashings. It kills 99.99% of germs including MRSA, Staph, Salmonella, and E.coli. Most amazingly, it is alcohol-free so it won’t dry your skin out. That means it’s also not flammable, which makes it ideal for schools, daycares, and a wide range of environments.

I’m also really excited about our Halo Fogger. It’s a piece of equipment that hospitals use to disinfect rooms before surgery. It only requires one pass-through with a proprietary dry mist formula. It’s incredibly efficient in VRBOs and AirBnBs in between rentals.

Describe your process—how do you work with clients, contractors, and others involved in your project?
We start with a free consultation and give a free quote for service. The consultation can be over the phone or in-person, cautiously six feet apart. We assess our clients’ needs for disinfecting and protecting their spaces and craft a comprehensive plan that ranges from one-time service or repeat service and ongoing product orders.

What is the first question you ask a client?
“Why do you want to disinfect your space?” The answer to that question helps us determine the right products for the job.

What makes the difference between a good house and a great house?
The measures we take to disinfect and protect the house with the goal of keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy.

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“Helping with the betterment of our community has always been my professional passion. Working with cleaning and disinfecting products is my way of contributing to the healing process after COVID-19 hit our small community so hard this year.”
–Lilly Curtis, Owner / Operator

What do you enjoy most about your work and why?
Being able to help people and places. I’ve found a way to give back to and support our community with this business, which has always been my goal since I worked in non-profits.

What are the biggest challenges in your field?
Communicating the importance of our products and services. Unfortunately, COVID-19 and other pathogens are extremely contagious and are highly resistant to basic spray and wipe cleaning techniques. We want to help people understand that by using our products and services, you are doing your part to stay safe and healthy.

What are the most rewarding things about your work?
Being able to offer products and services that ultimately protect my family and our future drives me to do better every day. On a larger scale, I feel the same commitment to help protect and give peace of mind to the residents in our community through our business.