20 Years With Pahlisch Homes: Celebrating Three Incredible Employees

Since it began in 1983, the story of Pahlisch Homes has always been about creating lasting communities that reflect the local cultures and values. This story wouldn’t be possible without the many incredible employees who have been part of the Pahlisch family. Every person on our team works hard each day to build premium homes and design amenity-rich communities that will be enjoyed for generations to come.

Today, we’re celebrating the 20-year anniversaries of three beloved Pahlisch employees: David Emmett, Matt Gillette, and Jason Spence. We’re so grateful for these three men’s many contributions to our work and culture over the past two decades.

To commemorate these milestones, we interviewed David, Matt, and Jason to hear their reflections on their lives and careers. In this blog post, you’ll learn about their early years, their career paths with Pahlisch, and their plans for the future.

David Emmett, Northwest Oregon

David is a native Portlander with roots in the world of homebuilding. In his early childhood dreams, he saw himself becoming a firefighter or a professional athlete. But it was his father’s example that ultimately influenced his career choice.

“My father was a homebuilder,” he said. “I became more interested over time watching him and eventually want to work in the homebuilding industry.” So, after graduating from West Linn High School, David moved to Corvallis to begin working as an assistant for Pahlisch Homes.

Over the years, David advanced from an assistant to supervisor to manager. He credits the culture and commitment to excellence at Pahlisch Homes with being one of the main driving forces in his career. “I have always loved that it is a family-owned and operated company. They treat their employees well and have always focused on building a high-quality product.”

For David, the people who make up the Pahlisch family have been just as important as the company culture. “I’ve continually learned from each of them along with other managers and mentors over the years,” he said. “I’m just proud to be a part of a team that is one of the highest quality builders in the northwest.”

Looking to the future, David is excited to grow as a manager and bring more ideas to the team. And looking back, he can’t believe how time has flown. “This is making me feel old; it doesn’t feel like it has actually been twenty years,” he said. “I feel honored to be a part of this company.”

After many years in Bend, David and his wife moved back to the Willamette Valley when their first child was born to be closer to extended family. Today, they live in West Linn, David’s old stomping grounds, with their son Wilson, who’s ten years old, and their daughter Charlie, who’s seven going on eight. David loves camping with his family, playing golf, and remodeling. He hopes to make more time for the latter two, with plans to finish remodeling their family home.

Reflecting on his career at Pahlisch, David had the following advice for people at a different place in their lives or careers than he is now: “Be patient, listen to other people’s wisdom, and don’t be afraid to share yours.”

Matt Gillette, Central Oregon

Born and raised in Dallas, Oregon, Matt flirted with dreams of becoming a paleontologist or a professional athlete. But in high school, he decided he wanted to design homes. “I graduated salutatorian, due to a B in Introduction to Drafting my freshman year due to my subpar hand-lettering skills,” Matt recalled. “Anyone that tries to read my handwriting understands why!”

Matt eventually graduated from Chemeketa Community College with an Associate of Arts degree and an Associate of Science degree specializing in CAD (computer-aided design) and GIS (geographic information systems). It was actually in his last few months of school that Matt officially joined the Pahlisch Homes team. “Jason Spence and I went to high school together and his younger brother was one of my best friends. He connected Cory Bittner and me over twenty years ago.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Matt was originally hired to help start Pahlisch’s in-house CAD/Design department. Over the years, he rose through the ranks to become a thought leader in the department and a mentor to rising talent who joined the team. Now, Matt oversees new product design as a member of the Innovation Team and assists in running our prototype process.

When looking back on his twenty years with Pahlisch Homes, Matt is especially proud of the 2018 COBA President’s Award for Excellence the team earned after advising the City of Bend on development code changes from the perspective of a developer and home builder. “Honestly, any time I hear positive public feedback on our homes or communities, it reminds me why I originally joined the industry,” he said.

As for what’s kept Matt working at Pahlisch for all these years, he cited the company’s culture as a strong factor. “As a company that was founded on family, faith, and hard work by Dennis Pahlisch and his family, I relate strongly to those principles. They took a chance on me while my family and I were just starting a life together. The mutual respect and shared appreciation have kept me here since.”

A devoted husband and father of three, Matt loves date nights out, designing homes for friends, and anything sports-related. He’s a big fan of the Trail Blazers, Ducks and Beavers football, the Atlanta Braves, Portland Timbers and Thorns Soccer, and of course, Bend FC Timbers, where his son plays club soccer.

For people who are at a different place in their lives or careers than Matt, he had this to share: “With kids that are transitioning to leave the nest, soak up every minute you have together and, just because there is distance, don’t use it as an excuse not to stay connected. There is a reason Pahlisch preaches work/life balance.”

Jason Spence, Southeast Washington

Working in the building industry wasn’t always on Jason’s radar. Raised in Dallas, Oregon, Jason’s childhood on a wheat and grass seed farm was gearing him up for a life of agriculture. But that dream began to shift during Jason’s teen years.

“Through high school and college, I worked in various construction trades,” he said. “Those experiences defined my interest in the homebuilding industry.” This led him to pursue a degree in construction engineering management at Oregon State University in Corvallis, where he first got connected with Pahlisch Homes.

Jason’s career path at Pahlisch was anything but linear. “I started out of college and my first job was to vacuum spec homes,” he said. “I’ve been all over the spectrum as an employee since that point. Field super, production construction, purchasing, warranty, CAD, IT & land development.” You name it, Jason’s probably done it.

Jason’s experience working in the warranty department, in particular, gave him a unique perspective. “As I reflect on that time, it was probably the most memorable, impactful function that I have had at this company. It provided an amazing perspective on what we do and who we do it for.” Jason’s advice now? Be flexible and open to new experiences in your career.

Jason’s winding journey eventually led to where he is today, responsible for Pahlisch Homes’ special projects. That includes things like community centers, pools, parks, monuments, and more. For Jason, what sets Pahlisch apart and has kept him working with the team for two decades is the commitment to core values like honesty, integrity, honoring your word, and doing the right thing. 

The people at Pahlisch, too, have made a significant impact in his career. “There have been countless people that have helped shape my career at Pahlisch. Specifically, Dennis, Dan, and Josh Pahlisch, and Cory Bittner have been mentors and friends throughout my time here,” he said. “I consider Pahlisch Homes as family. Honestly, it would be hard to imagine working anywhere else.”

Jason now lives in Milton-Freewater, Oregon with his wife of 21 years, Anna, and their three boys, ages 9, 13, and 16. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, watersports, and working on old cars.

We asked Jason what words of wisdom he’d like to pass on to someone in a different stage of their life or career, and his answer was fitting for someone who has continually embraced change and new experiences on the job. “I would encourage everyone to always challenge yourself to be a continual learner. Challenging yourself to learn something that is outside of your current circle. I think this applies both professionally and personally.”


Thank you so much to David, Matt, and Jason for sharing your stories and words of wisdom with us. You each have made a positive, lasting impact on our team, our customers’ lives, and the communities where we work. We are so grateful to each of you!

Be sure to follow us on social media, including Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, and Pinterest, for more highlights about our team and the beautiful homes we’re building across the Pacific Northwest.


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