Steve Gemmell, the owner of Earthquake Tech, unexpectedly learned about seismic retrofitting 20 years ago. After getting out of college and living life as a ski bum in Colorado for a year, he was painting and refurbishing houses and ended up getting his contractor’s license. He bought his first fixer home in Portland in 1995 which was happened to be a real fixer-upper. Steve’s dad was familiar with the Cascadia Subduction Zone and suggested he get earthquake insurance. State Farm Insurance issued the policy with no questions asked.
Fast forward to 1999 when Steve went to buy his second home and again approached State Farm to write the earthquake policy. They asked if the house was bolted down to the foundation. Not familiar with the process, he talked to an engineer who explained to him how to make the right connections for the house. He bolted that house down to its foundation and was able qualify for the insurance policy. An idea for a business was born… So why specialize in the retrofitting business? Steve says, “Seismic retrofitting requires way less trips to the hardware store compared to other construction/remodeling projects. I know exactly what I need and have all supplies at the ready which makes for a very efficient job.”
Seeing the importance of spreading the word for seismic reinforcement, Steve marketed his business to State Farm and the agents, in turn, would refer their insurance customers to Steve. Twenty years later, Earthquake Tech still markets to all insurance companies, home inspectors, real estate agents, and business associations, as well as offering continuing education to all those business segments and their agents.
“Earthquake Tech specializes in residential and commercial seismic retrofitting. We also run a group out of our headquarters called the Portland Resiliency Plan, a community effort bringing the message of preparedness to all walks of life and age groups in the city of Portland,” says Steve. Besides seismic retrofitting, Earthquake Tech offers many other services including full commercial and residential seismic upgrades, installation of basement staircases, egress windows and doors, staircase doors, and emergency gas shut off valves.
Earthquake Tech has recently purchased the building at 2310 N Kerby Ave just off N Russell Street and will host events here soon. Future events planned are Earthquake Tech sponsored talks by Steven Eberlein from Tipping Point Resilience on the Cascadia Subduction and earthquake preparedness. The Portland Resiliency Plan will also offer a program for business owners about creating resiliency plans/emergency plans after an earthquake, ice storm, etc.
Many homeowners are seeing the value of retrofitting their homes and more businesses are also seeing the benefit because of the liability if an earthquake would cause damage and injury in an unreinforced building. So if you are concerned about the safety and resiliency of your home or building, want to talk about preparing your home or business for safety, or have questions about what steps to take, Earthquake Tech is the company to contact with their 20 years of experience. Check out their website for helpful information and tips, email for more information, or give them a call – the safety of your future may depend on it.
2310 N Kerby Ave