Call him a dreamweaver.
Brent Weaver, the owner of Weaver Lumber, continues to make his mark as an innovative, gutsy developer who has helped infuse excitement and energy into the heart of downtown Redding.
The third-generation Redding native began working in his family's lumberyard as a teenager. "From my eighth-grade summer until I left for college, I worked at the lumberyards," Weaver says. "It's one of the reasons I never thought I'd move back."
After he graduated from Shasta High School in 1993, he earned a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in Asian studies from Brigham Young University. He worked in the technology industry in Utah and then San Francisco, and as he was getting ready to pursue his master's degree in business, his father announced that he was planning to sell the family business.
"I had been accepted at Davis, and if I would have gotten in at Berkeley, I wouldn't have come back up here. And I did say no, but my wife asked me to reconsider," he says, adding with a chuckle, "My dad said I'd like being the boss better than working for him."
So he did. Nine years ago, he returned to Redding and bought Hughes Plywood. Four years ago, he bought his uncle's business, Hughes Redwood - the largest redwood and cedar lumberyard between Sacramento and Portland. Today, they're known as Weaver Lumber.
But the business-savvy, community-minded family man has been looking beyond the lumberyard from Day One. "I knew before I got back here that I wanted to develop," Weaver says.
"For my first four years, I built a few spec homes. When there was a shift in the market, I couldn't sell spec homes, so I started thinking about mixed use - an idea I got from living in Berkeley. In the downtown corridor, I saw some pockets of what I thought downtown could be ... I knew that was exactly where I wanted to be."
Many credit his entrepreneurial spirit, his strong work ethic and his solid value system as key to his success. He'd add something surprising to that list: The ability to speak Mandarin. In the summer between his freshman and sophomore years of college, he learned the language during a mission to Taiwan.
Though he was sure he'd never use it in Redding, his fluency opened up two significant business opportunities. First, Weaver was in his front yard when a Chinese neighbor was outside speaking to his children. Weaver chimed in on the conversation. The introduction opened the door to a business relationship, and Weaver bought a lot on the corner of Market and Shasta streets from him. That's where he built the Gateway building, a bustling downtown showpiece that mixes restaurants, offices and residential.
Later, as Weaver was interviewing tenants for the anchor restaurant in that building, he met with the Taiwanese owners of Kobe Steakhouse. He began speaking to them in their native language during the first round of negotiations, and the tenants said that was one of the key factors in their decision to lease the space from Weaver.
The mixed-use Gateway project turned out "even better than I anticipated," Weaver says. The residences have always been in high demand, and the ground floor now includes Village Delicatessen and Moseley Family Cellars. "I sure got good tenants in there," he says.
He's developing another mixed-use building on Pine Street between Yuba and Placer streets, which will have more residences - 14, as compared to three at Gateway - and more of an urban contemporary feel.
The bottom floor includes office and retail space. Construction should wrap up by Aug. 1, he says.
He also continues to grow Weaver Lumber. He recently added a truss department, so people can build an entire house from materials purchased there.
Weaver is quick to express gratitude to the Redding Redevelopment Agency and Cornerstone Community Bank, whose support, courage and vision during this economic downtown have made his projects possible.
"It was so hard for banks to loan, and redevelopment was very conservative about who got loans, but they both believe in our downtown," he says.
And he's delighted to be in the heart of the city. "It's got an energy to it, and it's got a cool factor going for it," Weaver says. "You can tie into a community better in the downtown core than anywhere else in Redding. Even from five years ago, the progress has been pretty impressive. I can't wait to see what it's like five years from now. It's a place where not only can I enjoy working down there, but I think I can make some money."
Looking to the future, Weaver and his wife of almost 13 years, Leanne, look to create a legacy for the hometown they love and for their children - James, 8, Elle, 6, Parks, 3, and Liv, 8 months. "I'd like to leave a vibrant, exciting, fun and profitable business for my kids, if they choose to take over the family business, and many buildings around town so I can drive by and have a sense of pride that I contributed to our community."