Delta County Independent by Don Benjamin, Contributing Writer
Colorado natives, Tate and Julie Locke, arrived in the Surface Creek area in 2004 to help Tate’s parents, Bill and Karen, build their retirement home. With the home market booming, Tate and Bill decided to build a few more homes and thus launched Locke Construction. In the early days, the father and son duo were designing and building custom spec homes with quality construction and upgraded features.
Once the 2008 recession hit, homebuilding vanished and Tate was forced to return to the Front Range where he literally worked out of the back of his truck and sent checks home as he called on Denver contacts for work. While laying a hardwood floor in Denver, Tate received the dreaded call that his father his father’s cancer forced him into the hospital and he rushed home to say goodbye. In 2010 Bill Locke passed away.
Fast forward to 2014 when the Locke’s spotted a building along Hwy 65 in Cedaredge and set to work redesigning it to headquarter their construction company. The design included a new logo and company name: Cristee-Meade.
The new name is derived from the middle names of Tate’s grandparents, William Meade and Betty Cristee Locke. William Locke once owned a company called Cristee-Meade and Tate’s father also used the hyphenated names for another enterprise. Neither progenitor operated a construction company but Tate, who remembers helping out as a boy at his dad’s business, always liked the name, so it was a natural choice for the Locke’s growing venture.
Today the Cristee-Meade Building Company employs ten fulltime workers plus a host of contractors. Nearly all of the company’s fulltime staff have been onboard for several years.
“We work hard to retain our employees for the long term,” said Julie. “Typically, construction is a high turn-over business and we pride ourselves on the fact that we’ve been working with some of our people for nearly a decade.”
“When celebrating 15 years as a business,” Tate agreed, “a great portion of credit has to go to our employees.”
Early projects for the growing company included the Wildlife Restaurant at the Cedaredge Golf Course Clubhouse, several remodels and additions and a challenging custom home embedded into the hillside, just above Surface Creek. These early jobs set the pattern for the company’s focus on local construction services and the designing and building custom homes and remodels.
Maintaining Quality and Integrity
As for challenging projects over the years, Tate cited the company’s recent work on Grand Mesa Lodge—a landmark structure which sits at 10,500 feet in the national forest north of Cedaredge. The rustic lodge was significantly damaged by heavy snowfalls in winter 2016-17. Working closely with lodge owners Mike and Rose Wenner, Cristee-Meade did the majority of design on the rebuild while also guiding the demolition of the damaged structure. The new construction, Tate recalled, “had to take into account the possibility 160-pound-per-square-foot snow-loads all the way down to the foundation.”
Cristee-Meade places a strong emphasis on doing a project right the first time. “No matter what it takes,” Tate said, “our project managers, our estimators, our crew and our subcontractors are all tuned into this approach.”
Currently, the company is focused on building a custom home on SE Pine and SE 3rd Street in Cedaredge, as well as restoring the little white Chapel in Pioneer Town.
“The 3rd street house is a very modern desert design,” Tate explained, “It fits nicely with a high desert hillside which overlooks the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the San Juan Mountains and Surface Creek. The homeowners are excited about the design and visitors to the site agree that ‘it’s quite a house.’”
“One of the things that sets us apart from other builders,” Julie said, “is this: we really customize a house to the lot. We never just take a house out of a book and plop it on some lot. We put thought into creating a design and working with a homeowner’s plan to make sure the house fits with the surroundings.”
“We take a very thoughtful approach to the design,” Tate agreed. “As though we were designing each project for ourselves.”
Moving into its sixteenth year of operation, the company has a clear focus for the future.
“We’re going to be strong in local residential and light commercial construction,” said Tate. “We’ve developed a good reputation, so we’re going to focus on keeping that. A lot of our business comes through word-of-mouth. People recommend us because they know we’re competent builders, if it’s a very difficult or customized project,. Our company is always looking to adopt new and proven technologies. We keep tuned into building science with a focus on durability, energy efficiency and smart design.”
Julie wanted to emphasize that, although Cristee-Meade will continue to work on big projects, the company also does smaller work. “Over the years,” she said, “In addition to custom builds, we’ve done more and more remodels. That’s one thing I’d like people to know about us. We do small jobs, bathroom and kitchen remodels for example.”
Tate agreed. “We’ll do jobs as small as single door install. There are really three facets to our company: service; remodeling and additions; and custom home design and building.”
To view the company’s work and learn more about their services, visit their newly redesigned website at https://cristeemeade.com.