Palmer Brothers Build To Last

by Janet Wilcox
Contributing writer
Terry Palmer was 10 years old when he and his 9-year-old brother, Taylor, were hired by their father to clean the Mining Supply Store in Blanding.
During the Uranium boom in San Juan County (late 1940’s -50’s) miners needed supplies which Van Palmer’s store  provided. 
“Taylor and I moved so many things in and out of that building.  We used a conveyor belt and marked boxes with different colors of tape to keep orders straight,” Terry recalled.
“We’d load and unload boxes of dynamite boxes which gave us headaches.” Terry recalled.
This early work ethnic and training motivated both boys to begin their own building companies.
Taylor began his business in Blanding in 1973. His specialty was cabinets and finishing work.
Terry started his company (Palmer Builders) in 1976.  All the Palmer siblings learned to work by painting propane tanks, hauling rocks and cleaning the Patio every day it was open. 
“We worked as a family and I gained confidence” Terry recalled.  “I liked working with Mom and Dad. Even though Dad was thorough, he had good rapport with all of us.  He was a good employer.”
Terry earned his accounting degree from Brigham Young University in the early 1970’s. His business training and construction skills kept him employed all his life. 
His first project was building another “Patio” in Springville when he was single. He met his wife Camie there in the early 1980’s. He and his family then moved back to Blanding and he started Palmer Builders.
His company’s first project was buying the land where the old CCC camp was and they built 15 homes.
First time owners were able to secure low interest loans through Farmers Home in San Juan County and as a result Palmer Builders had plenty of work. 
Most of the starter homes were 1,100 sq. foot with three bedrooms.  “Farmers Loan wouldn’t finance larger homes;” he explained. 
They also built the Sandy and Boyd Laws home and homes for both Doris and Dennis Guymon south of town, as well as the Tony Turk home.
“Most of the homes had basements, so it was a learning experience!,” he explained. “We even poured cement for Hurst Builders. Scott was really a good man to work with.”
Unfortunately, Farm Home Loans dried up and this forced changes in his business. 
Taylor returned to Blanding in 1970 after serving a mission in Scotland. Then he went to a trade tech school in Provo to earn his contractor’s license.
He married Jenice in 1971, then moved back to Blanding where he started working with Jim Slavens, as well as his father. 
For many years Taylor did commercial work for schools, hospitals and other large businesses in San Juan County, putting in cabinets, staircases and counters.
In 1980, Terry began working for other construction businesses.  For over 20 years, he built multi-million-dollar commercial projects in southern Utah.
His accounting degree from BYU played an important part in his success completing high-quality projects. He was eventually hired as an accountant-estimator for Blackburn and Associates in the mid-1980’s, working on commercial projects. 
Terry’s most challenging project was constructing the fire station in Emery County for the Water Conservancy District in St. George.  They had to float the equipment and supplies on pontoons. A previous company lost a whole caterpillar once in the process.
Another major challenge was a project for St. George on the west bluff. They dynamited the rock out first, then drillers inserted heat pump coils into the ground.  The pumps worked like a refrigerator, but in reverse.  They also built one motel in St. George, doing their work at night because of the heat.   
Besides extreme heat, St. George had other building challenges. The soil often had blue clay in it, which had to be removed. (It is much like the kalachi clay which caused problems for the Blanding Stake Center.) 
A vein of clay swells when damp and will break the foundation.  They put 18-foot columns into the ground to make sure it would be stable.
In 2005- ‘06 Palmer Construction built Marriott Motels and the large Best Western Motel in Bryce Canyon -- the biggest one in their chain. They also built a large barn for entertainment at Ruby’s Inn.
“We worked there for about a year. They were great to work for,” Terry stated.
Velocity Construction was the biggest construction company in  southern Utah and Terry was a partner in the company. 
Velocity also did the DFCN State Construction projects, as well as building projects for Dixie and USU, motels and other office buildings.
Palmer worked with Velocity with a large crew of men for seven years.  “We completed about 40 projects. However, when financing dropped in 2008, construction was dramatically affected.” 
At that time, Terry retired and his family moved back to Utah Valley in 2010. He still works part time as an estimator in Orem for Broderick and Henderson and hasn’t slowed down much. He built a home for their daughter and recently renovated an apartment for Karly and Scott Jeppson in Blanding.
Taylor and his family did the mammoth job of building cabinets and doing finishing work for Allen and Cathy Lund, who built a huge lodge and homes in Long Canyon.  They did the trim work, cabinets, staircases, furniture, cabinets, beds etc.
Janice researched and drew the art used in the homes. The property was originally settled and farmed by their ancestor, William Zimira Palmer and his wife Rebecca Stevens.
Their original home is still standing in Long Canyon as a tribute to their hard work and contribution to San Juan County.
Jenice and Taylor worked together to build their own home, which includes her “inspiration loft” where she writes and studies. She can see forever in all four directions! 
Their home is unique in many ways.  It is the only one Taylor built using walnut for cabinets as well as a fancy carved table for the Lund family.
A great sadness occurred in July, 2019 when Taylor died from cancer. But his legacy lives on. 
All three sons have the skills needed to keep TaylorMade successful and serving the Four Corners area. 
They and their families continue to keep quality carpentry and construction alive. 

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday