How Blue Ribbon Builders crafts ultra-luxury homes amidst Montana’s mountainous peaks  

As the longest-standing builder in Big Sky, Montana, Blue Ribbon Builders is a generational luxury homebuilder with deep roots in the local community. The company’s refined approach and adaptive process elevates every project and has fostered a strong, longstanding reputation for quality and craftsmanship. 

With world-class ski trails, a range of wildlife, and not to mention breathtaking scenery, it’s no surprise that Big Sky is one of the most desirable skiing destinations in the US and attracts high-end clientele. However, its location in the Rocky Mountains of southern Montana provides several challenges for any general contractor in the area.   

Living room with view over mountainsForward-thinking mindset 

The complex terrain would discourage many from building there, but not Blue Ribbon. Instead, with expertise in mountain construction, the business takes advantage of this one-of-a-kind landscape and specializes in ultra-luxury residential properties. We’re joined by three of the companies principals: Peter Bing, Vice President of Sales and Admin, Luke Bing, Vice President of Operations, and Brandon Wier, Vice President of Project Management, to learn more about the company’s evolution.  

“Blue Ribbon was founded in 1975 by three friends, and we’ve been delivering mountain lifestyle properties that focus on natural elements like wood, stone, glass, and earth, ever since,” Peter begins. “We started out with people in the local area asking us to complete small projects. From there, we’ve grown into the company we are today and earned a reputation for handling highly customized lifestyle projects with complex designs.  

“Our goal is to translate the design vision into the build process with thoughtfulness, transparency, and skill, while seeking opportunities to exceed client expectations. Living and working year-round in a dynamic, high-altitude location means we’re highly experienced in confidently and adeptly tackling the unique challenges of construction here in Big Sky.  

“Originally, we pioneered assembly techniques in log home construction, which were later adopted by multiple architects,” he explains. “With new trends like the modern design movements, sustainable construction, and more offsite assemblies, we continue to leverage our forward-looking mindset to constantly improve our methods and techniques, as well as pioneering new innovative assemblies.”  

Luke adds: “From a very young age, I always saw myself in my current position. I began my learning early on through being around the business and working as a carpenter each summer, so it seemed like a natural progression for me to return to the business in an official capacity, after cutting my teeth on some large projects like the San Francisco Airport. It’s been a long-term process with some learning around generational differences, but we’ve successfully worked through challenges together and become stronger as a team.” 

Brandon experienced a similar route into the industry. “I also grew up in the construction industry and have since worked in multiple trades,” he explains. “I worked on several projects for family, friends, and the local community before joining Blue Ribbon, but it’s a pleasure to have joined a team with the same dedication to craft and continue to work with them on exceptional projects.”  

Customized and complex projects Hallway with wooden beams

As the business prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, the team reflects on the factors that have contributed to Blue Ribbon’s success. “We’re not just construction managers, we’re also professional builders,” Luke states. “Whereas most of our competitors are simply general contractors, we self-perform all carpentry scopes, which enables us to deliver higher quality and lasting value to our clients. We’re passionate about continuing the Blue Ribbon name and the qualities it has become known for as we continue its legacy.” 

Peter agrees: “Our customers appreciate our ability to translate the design and vision into the build process. As builders, we understand the constructability of a project and seek every opportunity to achieve the client’s vision and add value. This has earned us a strong reputation for handling highly customized, highly complex residential projects on tight timelines and competitive budgets.  

Applying construction science 

“The site conditions of the area in which we work are another reason why it’s crucial for us to be involved in the project from the start,” he continues. “We consider the topography, drainage conditions, and foundation systems to deal with the geotechnical concerns of the landscape. There are also structural requirements to consider; as we’re often working in a very high seismic zone and heavy snow loads. Applying building science is also required during the planning and construction process for our harsh climate.” 

Brandon adds: “We also have the natural elements to contend with. Most of our homes are at high elevation, and with harsh winters in the area, we must ensure there’s always a game plan and strategy as to how we’re going to navigate these problems. Also, being in a luxury ski resort, clients typically want to maximize their view, so homes are carefully integrated with natural surroundings.  

“Lastly, we strive for our projects to have a tight thermal envelope. We’re constantly researching the latest products and developments in building science to install an envelope assembly with high performance for our climate, while still achieving unique and artistic design vision. It’s especially important considering that our homes often feature expansive windows to maximize views of the mountains; it’s certainly a delicate balance between scenery and thermal conditions.” 

As our conversation turns to the future of the business, Peter shares details of a current project. “We’re wrapping up our work on a project that has been particularly challenging,” he says. “We just finished a CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) home with a complex mechanical system and integrated oxygen and underground HVAC. We continue to create features not seen in your typical homes, such as custom theaters, shooting ranges, trophy rooms, cattle operation facilities, landing strips, and ski, fishing, or golf simulator rooms.  

Superior service, unrivalled quality 

“As we look to the future, we’re conservative about growth; we want to maintain our focus on creating fulfilling lifestyles and connected communities that have lasting legacies through high quality construction. Although we’re looking to expand our operations, we are achieving slow, continued expansion that enables us to live true to the values that differentiate us. The same principle applies to our long-term goal, which is to grow our operations without sacrificing the high standards, superior service, and unrivalled quality we’ve become known for.” 

Luke concludes: “Over the next five years, we’ll continue to leverage our strength and expertise in ultra-high luxury residential lifestyle properties. We want to see more organic growth in Big Sky to strengthen our presence and reputation in the area, but we’re looking for more aggressive growth when it comes to other geographies and different types of lifestyle projects, such as high end commercial, multifamily and planned recreational communities.”