Q&A: Blach Construction Chair Michael Blach Reflects on Company’s 50 Years in Business

San Jose-based Blach Construction rings in its golden anniversary this year.

Founded in 1970, by Michael S. Blach, the commercial builder has been responsible for erecting buildings like San Jose State’s Wellness Center, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education Center and Leadership and the Heising-Simons Foundation’s Los Altos headquarters.

To celebrate 50 years in business, Blach Construction has committed to continuing its partnership with Sacred Heart Community Service by clocking at least 500 volunteer hours, holding food and clothing drives and offering a matching grant for up to $25,000. In the first two weeks of 2020, Blach Construction met its fundraising goal and now plans to deliver a $50,000 check to Sacred Heart shortly.

San Jose Inside caught up with company Chairman Mike Blach, the son of Michael S. Blach, to learn a little more about the construction firm’s half-century in business.

How has Blach helped shape Silicon Valley in the last five decades? 

We count among our clients some of the most notable and world-renowned companies and institutions that launched Silicon Valley and, to this day, continue to transform it. These range from technology giants to financial, education and non-profit institutions and everything in between.

We thrive on complex projects. For example, we built the first sub-micron clean room in the area, created an intricate solar array testing center for the international space station, constructed an iconic building for one of today’s leading e-commerce firms and erected the iconic shrine of Our Lady of Peace off Great America Parkway and U.S. 101.

Furthermore, we were among the first commercial builders to advocate for sustainability.

As Bay Area natives dedicated to enhancing the communities in which we live and work, we pursue clients and projects that exemplify the transformative nature for which Silicon Valley is known.

What would you consider to be Blach Construction’s most influential project in Santa Clara County? 

It’s hard to distill it down to a single project. We’ve enjoyed 50 successful years in this county and have been a part of many influential and award-winning projects. That said, probably the one that has had the highest degree of community impact is the new home of Sacred Heart Community Service.

In the mid-90s, some were concerned that by moving further away from Downtown San Jose to their current location, the number of families they serviced would decline. The opposite proved to be true. Once Blach was selected to build Sacred Heart Community Service’s current facility, we worked with them to design a space that was welcoming and had a residential feel. Given the non-profit nature of Sacred Heart Community Service, we offered discounted rates, and so did our subcontractors. This helped reduce the overall cost of the project by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Overall, this project had a profound and positive impact, not only on Sacred Heart Community Service and their beneficiaries, but on San Jose, its surrounding communities and the entire and extended Blach team as well.

How else will you partner with Sacred Heart in 2020?

Blach Construction team members and their families at Sacred Heart's Toy Box Drive in December 2019. (Photo Courtesy of Blach Construction)

On the construction front, we are building pro bono a permanent shelter over the facility’s currently unprotected, drive-up donation station. The volume of donations Sacred Heart Community Service receives on an ongoing basis is massive and often overflows into their parking lot.

Additionally, volunteers working the donation station aren’t protected from the elements.

After working with Sacred Heart Community Service to develop a wish list of repairs, it was clear this addition was the highest priority.

And of course, plans are still underway for our annual, internal fundraising drives that support the Sacred Heart Community Service's “Pack-a-Back” and “Toy Box” events during back-to-school and the holiday seasons.

What's in store for Blach Construction for the next 50 years?

We definitely plan to celebrate our centennial, so this is a great question. Over the next 50 years, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to ingenuity and innovation within construction. In the nearer term, our focus is relative to climate change, developing solutions that dramatically reduce building usage of natural resources, such as water and ensuring zero-net energy building is the rule (vs. the exception). Overall, we are excited for the next 50 years and look forward to continuing to enhance the Greater Bay Area.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about this milestone?

Given that the majority of companies rarely celebrate their first decade, we are very proud to be turning 50. As we look back, what’s so gratifying is all that we’ve accomplished as a general commercial contractor within and for Silicon Valley over this time. Even more so is the fact that more than 25 percent of our employees have been with us for well over 10 years.

Our Golden Anniversary is a significant and celebratory milestone to be sure.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity. 

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase.

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