Owner: Clay Choate

Location: Marble City, Okla.

History: “My great-grandfather, James Choate, was a farmer in the area but my grandfather Bill traveled to California in the 1950s to work construction for my great uncle Jackie, his brother-in-law. While there, he learned how to drywall and returned home to work, so I’m a third-generation carpenter. In the fifth grade, I began working for my Uncle Waite, who had a mostly commercial drywalling and metal stud framing company. In my teens I worked in Mississippi and learned residential wood framing. Then, in 2016, I decided it was time to improve my life and get out on my own. My varied construction experiences allowed me to understand the industry and gave birth to River Valley Construction, a full-service construction company. My cousin Brent Smith started building pole barns right after high school and traveled for 30 years building pole barns from South Texas to the Dakotas. Tired of traveling, he liked the idea of staying home and working with me. Located near Ten Killer, Sallisaw and Tahlequah small town of marble City. 95 percent of my business is rural and evenly split between pole barn and residential construction within 100-mile radius.”

Products and services: “Some of the advantages of pole barns construction are that it is quick, sturdy and cost-effective, especially in terms of materials. Pole barn posts are 6-feet-by-6-feet treated 50-year timber posts spaced 10-feet apart, with typical truss size being 40 feet, though trusses can be as much as 75 to 80 feet, with length totally up to the customer. Steel is heavier and more expensive requiring a special lifting equipment. Traditional stud backspace-built barns need much more timber. Unfortunately, prices of timber are high due to COVID, and to current political tensions between Canada and the United States, a critical factor because since most timber comes from Canada. Prices have increased by as much as 200 percent. However, increased materials cost is currently balanced by very low loan interest rates. Although advertised in the beginning, most of our work is through referrals. Some pole barns, sometimes known as barndominiums, are used for businesses with half being the equipment and/or shop area and the other half being office or home space. We have subcontractors who handle all heat and air, electrical and plumbing work and offer free estimates to prospective clients. We have occasionally renovated such as the work we did in the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce building.”

Future: “People always need new homes and barns so we are always busy. I have five children, including one son who may be showing an interest in carrying on the family business. My favorite part of the construction business is seeing a piece of bare land turn into a finished product.”


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