Portrait of Efram Carlson upon his arrival to the US.

Efraim Carlson came to the United States from Smoland, Sweden through Ellis Island. As a skilled craftsman, his last task prior to leaving his hometown was to build his mother a house and ensure his family’s comfort.

Wedding portrait of Efraim and his wife, Esther.

Upon coming to America, Efraim landed a job in a piano factory where he built custom grand pianos allowing him to continue working with his hands while perfecting his finish carpentry and settling down in the greater Chicago area with his wife Esther.

Image of a Word War 1 construction site.

With World War I beginning in 1914, Efraim was hired to build airplane factories in which he was responsible for hiring and managing a crew of carpenters. This management and networking experience allowed for Efraim to grow his roots in a new country.

Image of woodworking tools with sawdust.

Efraim had the experience, network, and skill set to give Efraim Carlson & Son its humble roots. With a background in carpentry, Efraim focused the company efforts in residential construction.

Efraim and his family shortly after the Great Depression in 1942.

The company was doing quite well until the Great Depression hit the world. Efraim had to take a large loan from a family friend in order to keep the doors open and carpenters staffed. Since he didn’t have much, he used his prized grand piano from 1915 as collateral on the loan. Much later, he had to pay back the loan balance, interest, and an additional amount in order to get his prized piano back from the lender. Pictured above is Efraim and his family shortly after the Great Depression in 1942.

Photo of Allen Carlson and his then infant daughter, Karen.

Allen Carlson (the “& Son”) joined his father and shifted the company to become a General Contractor and expand the business to focus on commercial, industrial, municipal, church, multifamily and single-family residences. A young Allen pictured below with his daughter Karen who would eventually marry David Hillstrom, future employee and president.

Photo of David Hillstrom at a construction site.
1981 & 1989

David Hillstrom, son-in-law to Allen Carlson, joined the firm with his carpentry field experience and managerial skills. David became Partner and Vice President after spending 8 years in the field as a carpenter, superintendent, and project manager.

Image of the Carlson Hall Men's Residence at Trinity International University.

David Hillstrom became President of Efraim Carlson & Son with the passing of President, father-in-law, and mentor Allen Carlson. In honor of Allen, Trinity International University dedicated their Men’s residence in his name. Allen was a longstanding member of the Evangelical Free Church and dedicated supporter of Trinity. 

Photo of Matt Hillstrom, VP.

Matt Hillstrom named President after spending 15 years in the field as a carpenter and project manager. As Matt Hillstrom joined the company, he became the 4th generation to continue carrying on the values, faith, and integrity upon which Efraim Carlson & Son was founded.