An inside look at Jim Peterson Construction Inc.

John Kiser, Staff Writer

For over 20 years, Jim Peterson has delivered high-quality carpentry service to Santa Barbara County. After graduating from Fresno State, he began working in construction for Dan Ribbens, a Westmont alumnus, and from there Peterson started his own construction company. Jim Peterson Construction Incorporated has partnered with Potter’s Clay mission trips to Ensenada, and many Westmont students have gone on to become his employees.  

The passion that Peterson draws from his trade goes beyond his satisfaction in a job well done. He cares for his employees and the clients that he works with. 

“We pray for our clients, we love them, we try to assure them that us coming to their home is going to be a joy and not a burden,” he says. 

Caring for his clients inspires his crew to love and to care for them as well, and this inspiration Peterson sparks shoots his employees out in new directions. 

“Of the Westmont students who have worked for me, ten or so have become contractors or business owners themselves and have other employees that work for them that also go to or have gone to Westmont College,” Peterson says. 

In his undergraduate years at Fresno State, Peterson obtained a degree in physical education. The approach that he adopted in his style of teaching youth was one of gradual steps, each a larger one than the last, which translates well in his trade today. 

Peterson says, “In breaking down a way of doing something, you can then teach someone how to do crown molding, or how to do base molding or how to hang a door … all these things we break down into small steps and I think that being a physical educator in college and understanding how to teach has given me a great way to teach construction with Westmont students and with my team.” 

As a lifelong teacher, he also tells of how he tries to be a lifelong learner by learning not just how to do things one way, but over again in a new way, striving for excellence and efficiency.  

Peterson states, “What I have done in the past, and I do it better now, is that I listen to my employees and ask, is there a better way? Someone who is 22, they’ll have a fresh way of looking at something that can make our job, the way we do it, better.” This educational philosophy has translated into how Peterson and his crew manage their trade, especially in light of unfavorable circumstances. 

Through each situation that presents its challenges and its setbacks, Peterson and his team learn new ways to understand what they are doing and improve their habits. 

He explains, “During the mudslides, we thought, ‘Why are we working only in Montecito?’ During those times, we couldn’t work for two months because all the roads were closed, we couldn’t get to our job sites. It made us tune up the way we did business, meaning, we said maybe we should work more in Hope Ranch.” 

This kind of problem solving that Peterson explores with his team demonstrates the ingenuity and creativity that they deliver to their projects in the local area. 

After years of experience in construction and carpentry, Peterson has been able to notice things that do not work efficiently, or at all. One such thing is the pocket door, which happened to be an aspect of his projects which consistently fell to disrepair. 

So Peterson conceived the Peterson Pocket Door System in 2008, which did away with the problems of traditional pocket door systems, primarily the shifting or expanding of materials, which resulted in misalignment.

It proves true that what Jim Peterson cares for, he is passionate about, whether it is working on a job site or fixing an employee’s bed frame to better suit their needs. 

“It was like playtime, instead of actually working. Having that kind of job brings so much joy,” Peterson states. 

His passion for his craft is reflected in the care he exhibits in his relationships with his employees. 

“Working around these college students that I hire really brings me the most joy, where I get to have these friends that are in my life that I get to work with … they’re my team and they’re my friends and people I really love and care for.” 

Jim Peterson Construction Incorporated builds not only quality craftsmanship into their projects but care and love into their relationships with their clients and fellow employees.