STEVENSVILLE – Reuben Esh and Mark Stoltzfus grew up in a horse and buggy Amish community in Pennsylvania and brought their families to the Bitterroot seven years ago. Although they may have left some of their cultural roots behind, their signature hard work, craftsmanship and honest qualities have helped their business thrive.
As a partnership, they established MQS – Montana Quality Structures – and specialize in post frame buildings for farms, businesses and residential sites. The family business has evolved over the years but is expanding faster than they expected.
“In the beginning we focused on chicken coops and garden sheds,” said Trina Stoltzfus, Mark’s wife who works as a receptionist and bookkeeper. “But we got so busy with the larger buildings that we’ve found our niche and are keeping our crews super busy.”
MQS is headquartered south of Stevensville on 12 acres along U.S. 93. The land was the home site of an original homestead and at first, Esh and Stolzfus leased the property to showcase their small structures.
“The place was in pretty bad shape, so we worked to clean things up and make it look nice,” Trina said.
When the bank foreclosed on the property, they moved all their inventory to smaller clusters in several locations across the valley. A few years later, when the property was ready to sell, Trina said the price was right and the business returned to the prime location in 2011.
“We totally gutted the farm house and built a new one for our family,” said Trina. “There was a big barn on the property that had been here for more than 100 years. We had people stop and tell us stories about going to dances on the upper floor of the barn back in the 30s and 40s. But unfortunately, it wasn’t useful to our business and wasn’t very safe anymore, so we took it apart piece by piece and used the beams and wood to build our home. We felt bad about taking it down, but put it to very good use.”
Last year, a new building was constructed where the barn stood to store lumber and inventory onsite and was a milestone in the company’s expansion.
“Now we have all the lumber and supplies we need right here,” Trina said. “Every day, we’re shipping out a package of supplies on our own delivery trucks to another client and our crews meet them there. They can put up a steel-framed building in one to three days for a very economical price.”
Trina said they employ four crews with men from Amish and Mennonite backgrounds.
“My husband put up his first pole barn when he was 15 years old and learned construction. I grew up on a Mennonite dairy and started milking at 9 years old,” said Trina. “So we all know what it’s like to work hard. Our crews are very hard working and we get compliments all the time about how considerate and polite they are. When they’re on a job site, there’s no loud music, no smoking and they don’t leave until the building is finished. They don’t come and go between projects, which our clients seem to really appreciate. Since this is all we do, we’ve become very good at providing a quality building.”
Last year, MQS doubled their production and constructed almost 200 pole buildings across Montana and Idaho. As a result, they recently set up another office in Great Falls. From garages to shops and barns to equestrian centers, each building is customized for the location and needs of the client, Trina said. They offer a wide variety of exterior finishes, amenities as well as styles of roof, windows and doors.
“Our next office will be in Kalispell since it’s really important to us to provide sales and service close to home for our clients,” she said. “We get calls from Eastern Montana, North Dakota and Eastern Washington and so we’re looking at how to expand even more. The hardest part is having the workforce to meet the demand.”
MQS provides long-term warranties on the durability of their structures with custom modifications for variable snow loads and wind strength in each area.
“Mark has his pilot’s license and always hoped for opportunities to fly,” said Trina. “Now, he can fly into small airports across the northwest, meet with clients in person to see their needs and still be home with our family every evening. It’s all coming together and he’s very happy.”
During the last year, Trina said they have sold more buildings to customers in Stevensville than anywhere else. “We love to serve our community and it’s nice to see local people are supporting a local, Montana business,” she said.
“We know they have choices, but since this is all we do, we’re very good at what we do.”
For more information, see the company website at www.mqsbarn.com or call toll free (855)677-2276. The headquarters and showroom is located at 3253 US Hwy 93 N. in Stevensville.