PBM Celebrates 100 Years

For over 100 years, Peninsula Building Materials has been dedicated to supplying materials for masonry contractors, builders and architects. Our blog is dedicated to help our customers stay informed on industry trends, new products, local project highlights, and best practices and tips for successful project completions. It is our utmost intent to make sure you find the exact product that best represents the look, feel and integrity of your design. Follow along as we share a little about where we’ve been and where we are headed.

PBM - Peninsula Building Materials celebrating 100 years

Peninsula Building Materials Officially Opens in 1923

In the early days of the 1920’s, PBM saw a real need to supply base rock and other materials to build roads and infrastructure in the Bay Area.  Think about what life was like more than 100 years ago. In 1895 there were just four cars registered in San Francisco; by 1925, there were more than 13 million registered automobiles on the U.S. highways.  Quality roadways were required to meet the needs of motorists and the growing industries in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

With the increase of automobiles and trucks on the roads, consumer goods were also more prevalent.  But, consumer prices were much different 100 years ago. If you went to the local market or gas station in 1923, you’d expect to pay the following (today’s Bay Area prices are in parenthesis):

  • Gasoline, .21 a gallon ($4.69)
  • Chevrolet, Roadster, 2 passenger, 570.00 (Tesla Model 3: $57,990) 
  • Eggs, .13/dozen ($5.09)
  • Lettuce, .10/head ($2.58)
  • Oranges, .10/dozen ($2.43 a lb.)
First PBM Building

The original PBM location was along El Camino Real in Menlo Park.  This yard specialized in building materials and plastering supplies.  With the purchase of Moffett Field in 1933 by the U.S. Navy, the South Bay became a major player in the early days of the aerospace industry.  A whole new way of life in the Bay Area was about to be born.  

PBM Price lists for 1930 and 1932 follow below. 

PBM’s business expanded under Harry Morey Jr. along with his three sons John, Joe and Kip.  Kip served in the Navy during World War II.  Graduating from Santa Clara University, all three brothers competed on athletic teams for the Broncos.  Joe and Kip both played quarterback for the Broncos. John went on to play baseball professionally for the Seattle Coast League Club.

Highway Expansion Aids PBM in Bringing More Materials to the Bay Area

With the end of World War II, PBM began to use America’s rapidly expanding interstate highway system to supply a more diverse range of materials from across the country to meet the increasing demand of their Bay Area clientele.  With these materials, PBM began to expand their product line and customer reach.

The 1950s are often called the Golden Age of America because of the boom in economic growth. Direct trucking allowed for greater access to diverse product lines from across the nation.  In the 1950s:

  • Americans became more prosperous than ever. 
  • The polio vaccine and other medical breakthroughs eradicated many common illnesses. 
  • The baby boom increased the population at a clip never seen before.

The Evolution of Silicon Valley

As construction in the area expanded, so did Peninsula Building Materials. The South Bay was rapidly transforming from orchards to technology parks and blossoming neighborhoods.  To accommodate its growing population, PBM opened a second location in Sunnyvale in 1968 to support builders in this new area.  In 1971, writer Don Hoefler wrote a three-part report on the semiconductor industry titled, “SILICON VALLEY USA.” That name has stuck to this day.

Silicon Valley flag pin in a map of the San Jose and San Francisco area.

Just four years later two young college dropouts were invited to attend a Homebrew Computer Club meeting at a local home. With the main goal set to change the way people thought about computers, that same duo, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs (below), founded Apple Computer Company a year later. 

Peninsula Building Materials Expansion

Peninsula Building Materials had outgrown the original Menlo Park Yard, and moved to a new, larger location in Redwood City in 1982. Peninsula Building Materials began expanding further south with the opening of the San Martin Yard in 1989.  PBM took another step out, this time to the Tri-Valley area, adding the fourth yard in Livermore in 2008. Sunnyvale remained one of PBM’s largest producers before the location was moved to Santa Clara in 2019.

Peninsula Building Materials 4 locations in Redwood City, San Martin, Livermore, and Santa Clara CA

To showcase  impressive feats of masonry, in 2006, PBM built the Masonry Showroom in Mountain View. Spearheaded by Marty Morey, he drew upon the top masons in the area to showcase not only the art of masonry, but the huge product lines PBM offers to its clients. The Showroom allows customers to be inspired and visualize their dream projects by viewing the laid-in-place brick and stone samples.

The Bay Area continues to be one of most sought after locations in the country. Whether building an office building or residence, we’re proud to help customers find the right product for their projects.

Going back 100 years, Harry Morey founded Peninsula Building Materials by stressing values of dependable service, quality materials, prompt delivery, large inventory and competitive prices. Today the Morey Family still embraces these commitments. We look forward to the next 100 years servicing the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

Thank you for reading Design & Build Blog

If you have any questions or a topic you’d be interested in learning more about – leave us a comment below or on our social media. Or reach out to us directly. We’d love to hear from you!

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