Journal Record: Strong Foundation: Legacy of Dolese Bros. Co. set in Oklahoma stone

Posted on February 17, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Strong Foundation: Legacy of Dolese Bros. Co. set in Oklahoma stone!

By: Steve Metzer The Journal Record February 14, 2020 # 0 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Other companies with names like Devon and Chesapeake benefit from being identified with some of the most iconic buildings in Oklahoma. 

And that’s OK with Mark Helm. He knows that deep within the bones of those better-known companies – or at least within the bones of their buildings – lies his own Dolese Bros. Co. 

Were it not for Dolese Bros., the Devon Energy Center as it now stands as the most recognizable building in Oklahoma City would not be. Were it not for Dolese, the Chesapeake Energy Arena would not stand as it does, as the proud home of the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Other Oklahoma icons, too, like Route 66, owe their existence at least in part to the Dolese Bros. Co., which traces its history to before statehood and was there, literally, at the foundation of communities from Altus to Woodward and from Bartlesville to Idabel. In fact, few companies – if there are any at all – would be able to lay claim to a breadth of history and geography in the Sooner State that might rival that of the Dolese Bros. Co. 


Dolese Bros. Co. President Mark Helm stands with a display of photos and artifacts dedicated to the company’s long history in Oklahoma. (Photo by Steve Metzer) 

And the company, known for transforming the state’s raw rock into everything from highway overpasses to libraries, didn’t even begin here. 

Helm, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said Dolese, which formally incorporated in 1902, actually can trace its roots to 1857 when 20-year-old John Dolese went into the paving business in Chicago. Fate and railroad construction drew his descendants west, and by 1907 Dolese Bros. Co. had a contract to mine ballast for the Rock Island Railroad at a quarry at a place called Richards Spur not far from Lawton. In 1908, the company bought a second quarry in such a remote spot in Murray County that Dolese workers became just about the only occupants of the tiny community of Dougherty. 

From that point, the future of Dolese Bros. and Co. in Oklahoma was set in stone. 

In 1910, the company bought a site in Oklahoma City between 13th and 14th streets adjoining the Santa Fe Railroad. It also purchased 10 dump wagons and 20 large horses to haul crushed stone and coal hand-shoveled from the rail cars to construction sites throughout the city. 

Dolese entered the ready-mixed concrete business in 1927 and over time also furnished large volumes of stone and sand used at road construction and other sites across a broad region. 

“We like to say we built communities from the ground up, or at least supplied the products,” Helm said. “If you think about anything that gets built – anything – it’s going to start with crushed stone, sand, concrete or asphalt. We have plenty of competition, but we are one of the major players here in the state.” 

In fact, as a supplier of crushed stone products, Dolese ranks in the top 15 in the country. It’s among the top 30 

suppliers of ready-mix nationwide. That accounts for “many millions of tons” of stone and sand taken from eight quarries scattered across Oklahoma, including the original and largest one at Richards Spur and also from operations near Ponca City, Hartshorne, Coleman, Davis, Ardmore, Cooperton and Roosevelt. The company also has four stone yards, four sand operations and 45 ready-mix plants in the state, employing more than 1,000 people at about 65 locations. 

Helm said that on any given weekday, between 600 and 700 trucks might haul raw rock away from a typical Dolese quarry. The three main types are limestone, dolemite and gabbro. 

“We do out of our quarries somewhere around 13.5 million tons a year,” he said. “About 2 million tons of sand comes out of sand operations in a year.” 

Everything from riprap seen along banks of the Oklahoma River to fine-ground materials used in the construction of skyscrapers can be traced back to Dolese quarries. 

“What’s cool about the Devon tower is that it is concrete all the way to the top,” Helm said, “which a lot of people don’t realize. The skeleton of that building is all concrete, and it all came from the Richards Spur quarry, from 300 feet down all the way to the top of that structure. ... We are not the only producer, but we’ve been lucky enough to be really involved in Oklahoma City, with the Devon tower, the BOK tower, Chesapeake Arena, the new Omni Hotel and other projects.” 

The company is deeply invested in Oklahoma in other ways as well. Years ago, before his death, Roger Dolese, who had guided the company for more than 60 years, determined that he wanted Dolese to remain private but to become employee-owned over time. He also had a vision to leverage money made by the company to benefit engineering programs and students at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and Kansas State University. So, after he died all of the stock he’d bought from family members and friends was ordered to be held in a foundation and redeemed over time with proceeds to be donated to the three universities. When stock is redeemed from each of the universities, new stock is distributed to a profit sharing plan for employees. Over the past dozen years or so, Dolese has redeemed about $30 million worth from the universities. Employees now own about 15% of the business and the three universities have been able to make significant investments in engineering schools and to double the number of graduates in fields ranging from electrical to aerospace engineering. 

“Obviously some of them end up in construction, but it is all engineering fields, and we think that helps our communities as a whole,” Helm said. 

The company also has invested in science, technology, engineering and math programs in public schools in Oklahoma and hosts field trips to quarries for elementary and middle school students. 

Helm said the company’s efforts have been rewarded by the loyalty of employees. Multiple generations of some families have contributed to Dolese’s long history in Oklahoma. There are many long-tenured employees, including one at Richards Spur who recently marked a half-century on the job. 

“They feel like they have some ownership in the business. We think it’s had a major impact on our performance as a business,” Helm said. 

While not many companies in Oklahoma can trace their incorporated histories back 118 years, as Dolese can, even fewer might be able to anticipate remaining in business into the next century and beyond, but Dolese can. 

“This product does not have a replacement. Even ready-mix concrete does not have a replacement right now,” Helm said, “so the challenge for us is to really be efficient and to be good neighbors so we can continue to be in business another 118 years.” 

By: Steve Metzer The Journal Record

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$1,000 Makes a Big Difference in Housing Affordability

Posted on January 29, 2020 by Jorie Helms

A small uptick in home prices or mortgage rates can have a big impact on housing affordability.

The latest study from NAHB determined that for every $1,000 increase in the cost of today’s median U.S. home price, 158,857 American households are “priced out” and would no longer be able to afford it. In other words, based on their incomes, 158,857 households would be able to qualify for a mortgage to purchase the home before the price increase, but not afterward.

Those numbers are even more staggering when looking at potential interest rate increases. It takes only a quarter-point rise in the rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to price approximately 1.3 million households out of that segment of the market and force them to set their sights lower than a median-priced home –- or delay their home purchase altogether.

More details, including priced out estimates for every state and over 300 metropolitan areas, and a description of the underlying methodology, are available in the full study.

NAHB economist Na Zhao provides further analysis in this Eye on Housing blog post.

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Millennials Will Dominate the Mortgage Market in 2020

Posted on January 29, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Markets in the South and West will experience the highest housing activity in 2020, as more millennials move out of big cities in search of more affordable markets, according to experts who shared some of the latest industry trends during last week’s International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

“Millennials will dominate housing in 2020 and account for 50% of mortgage originations,” said George Ratiu, a senior economist at He added that they will be leaving expensive metros for more affordable markets.

“Millennials will be moving to mid-sized cities like Boise, Idaho; Tucson; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Columbia, South Carolina. These cities offer good weather, suburban downtowns and lifestyle amenities.”

Looking at this key demographic more closely, Ratiu said:

  • 1-in-4 millennials have been looking for a home for more than a year.
  • 16% are searching for homes in urban areas.
  • 34% are looking for homes in the suburbs.
  • 45% are seeking homes in small towns and rural areas.

Summing up his findings, Ratiu said that in 2020:

  • Millennials will demand an affordable product.
  • Mortgage rates will remain attractive.
  • Lesser markets will shine.
  • Baby boomers are not moving.

Ali Wolf, director of economic research for Meyers Research based in Costa Mesa, California, also noted that boomers are staying put.

“Boomers [say] they are not selling because ‘we don’t need to.’ Only 17% of boomers are dissatisfied with their current home,” said Wolf.

Other factors that are keeping boomers at home are that 23% have no retirement savings and 30% of those in the 62-66 age range have postponed retirement.

As for millennials, they are also facing affordability and supply constraints. “Affordability is the biggest obstacle to buying a home,” said Wolf. “Only 5% of millennials want to rent. They are the largest buyer demographic but faced with a supply shortage.”

Looking at public and private builders, Carl Reichardt, managing director at BTIG headquartered in San Francisco, said that 8-out-10 private builders expect sales will rise in 2020.

“Labor and land costs are their biggest worry,” he said. “Builders still appear cautious on pricing. Very few are raising prices aggressively.”

Meanwhile, Reichardt said that public builders account for 36% of all new homes in the U.S. market.  (NAHB data show the top 20 builders accounted for 29% of all single-family starts in 2018.) Among the top 50 markets in the country, Reichardt said a public builder is No. 1 in terms of volume in 36 of these markets.

Reichardt said that public builders are not looking to get into all markets but instead are focusing on local market share in the metros they are currently engaged in.

NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz, who moderated the session, said that while the industry continues to face significant labor issues on the supply side, 2020 might be the year that labor shortages stop getting worse.

For more on the economic impacts of housing, visit

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Millennials are looking forward to buying a home, but feel overwhelmed by the process

Posted on January 29, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Millennials are buying homes. This much is known. But, despite the much-discussed generation making their entrance into the housing market, many still are still very uneasy about the process.

To try to get into the minds of millennials, TD Bank surveyed more than 850 millennials (which it categorizes as age 23-38) who are planning to buy their first home in 2020.

According to TD Bank’s First-Time Homebuyer Pulse, 68% said they think now is the right time to buy a home and 52% are actively searching home listings online.

But, 75% of first-time Millennial homebuyers admit they’re overwhelmed by the process of buying a home.

As for what’s weighing on millennials’ minds, the answers vary.

(Image courtesy of TD Bank. Click to enlarge.)

Just over half of those surveyed said they are worried about their job stability when it comes to looking for somewhere to live.

Meanwhile, 35% said they are thinking about their relationship with their significant other, 57% said they are worried about the state of the economy, and 47% said they are keeping in mind potential policy changes in the 2020 election – all of which play a role in their homebuying anxiety.

Unsurprisingly, student loan debt is playing a role too. Just over 40% of Americans who graduated in the last 20 years said they have delayed purchasing a home because of their student loan debt, the report said.

Even though a big chunk of Millennials say they are planning to purchase a home in the next 12 months, only 52% said they have started saving for a down payment, and 53% have reviewed their credit reports.

Meanwhile, only 42% said they have established a budget for their home purchase and only 30% have spoken with a mortgage lender.

“It continues to amaze me how many buyers begin their home search without first speaking with a mortgage lender,” said Rick Bechtel, head of U.S. residential lending at TD Bank. “A knowledgeable loan officer will work hand-in-hand with a buyer to help them understand mortgage and homeownership costs and establish a realistic budget. To put the cart before the horse is to pursue a significant life decision with possibly incomplete or inaccurate information.”

A decent amount said they feel prepared to buy, but it’s that same amount that said steep home prices are keeping them from purchasing a home in the neighborhood they desire, 22% both cases.

Of those respondents, 36% said they thought homes were overpriced. On the other end, 17% of buyers said they have yet to buy a home because they enjoy renting in their current neighborhood, but can’t afford to buy there.

“The millennial cohort of homebuyers is unlike any other in history,” said Bechtel. “They grew up during the explosion of personal technology, the fall of the housing market and the renaissance of the rental market. And as our survey found, their expectations of homeownership are shaped by all of it.”

Although Millennials were considerably young during the housing crisis in 2008, 67% said they are familiar with the housing crisis, while 55% said their family or a family they knew lost their home.

Those who were influenced by the housing crisis said it made them nervous to buy a home (47%), and a whopping 70% said they view the housing market as fragile.

And in an offshoot of that, 85% of buyers who said their families lost their home during the 2008 housing crisis said they will receive financial help from their parents when they go to buy their first home.

The most common way parents are contributing to the child’s home purchase is in the form of their child’s down payment (33%), followed by closing costs (20%), monthly mortgage payments (17%) or by co-signing the loan (9%).

All in all, mom and dad are still the role models for many of these Millennials. Case in point, 37% say they regularly ask their parents for advice about homebuying.

By  Reporter HousingWire

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The most popular features in real estate listings

Posted on January 14, 2020 by Jorie Helms

The top three were the same for all homes priced under $5 million

Point2 Homes, a real estate listing website, analyzed the language in 1.2 million home listings across the U.S. and came up with the most common phrases.

The three most frequently-used feature descriptions for homes priced under $5 million were: “granite countertops,” “hardwood floors,” and “stainless steel appliances.” Next on the list: “open floor plan,” “fenced backyard,” and “covered patio.”

For homes priced under $250,000, other words in the top 10 had to do with minimizing post-purchase costs, to attract first-time buyers who wanted to keep a lid on expenses. So, “new roof” and “move-in ready” were among the most common.

In the $250,000 to $499,000 range, words like “dual sinks,” “natural light,” and “formal dining room” rounded out the top 10. Meanwhile, in the $500,000 to $999,999 range, the most popular feature descriptions after the top three that all listings had in common were: “perfect location,” “gas fireplace,” and “vaulted ceilings.”

Among homes in the $1 million to $5 million range “wet bar,” “French doors,” and “natural light” rounded out the top 10 phrases.

Where it gets interesting is when listings were priced over $5 million. Then, the top three phrases were: chef kitchen, pool and spa, and ocean view. That was followed by “wine cellar,” “gourmet kitchen,” “guest house,” and “hardwood floors.”

Focusing just on adjectives, rather than descriptive phrases, the report said “large,” “new,” and “spacious” were among the most common, regardless of price. For locations, “cul-de-sac,” and “close to restaurants and shopping” were frequently used.

Among the most popular descriptive phrases for the exterior of homes, the list was topped by “fire pit,” “private backyard,” and “mature trees,” the report said. Also in the top 10: “sprinkler system,” “large deck” and “storage shed.”


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Posted on December 23, 2019 by Jorie Helms

On Friday, Dec. 13, Dolese Bros. Co. acquired Standard Material Group assets including the land, buildings and batch plants in Piedmont, Del City, Newcastle, Cushing and Chandler.

“We look forward to adding the Standard Material Group employees and their former locations to the Dolese team of people who are building communities from the ground up,” Dolese Bros. Co. President & CEO Mark Helm said.

Dolese is headquartered in Oklahoma City operating more than 65 facilities throughout Oklahoma offering full-service construction supply and material operation.

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