Park Construction Co.

Park Construction

Park Construction Co. has been leading the way in Minnesota for more than 100 years.

By Chris Petersen

Any milestone for a construction company is reason to celebrate, given that the longer a company stays in business, the more that says about its service and strength. But a company that crosses the century mark is deserving of special attention, and that’s the milestone Minnesota’s Park Construction Co. is celebrating this year. What’s even more impressive than the company’s 100 years of operation is the fact that it has remained a family owned and operated contractor for that entire time, and President Jeff Carlson says the company has the diversity and strengths needed to keep it out in front of a crowded marketplace for a long time to come.

Although the company as it exists today was founded in 1916, its roots reach back even further than that, to the establishment of CL Carlson & Sons Company in 1890. Charles Ludwig Carlson started the company hauling small freight from Minneapolis’ train terminal to a number of wealthy households in his two-horse wagon. After Charles Carlson’s death in 1903, his two teenage sons vowed to keep the family business intact. The Carlson brothers expanded the company’s hauling services to include hauling earth for excavator customers, and by the 1930s the company – rechristened Park Construction Co. – had invested in its own earthmoving equipment and completed numerous road-grading projects.

Today, Park Construction Co. continues to provide road and bridge construction for federal and local government customers, but Jeff Carlson says the company has evolved into something bigger than anything Charles Ludwig Carlson could have envisioned. The company’s services today also include underground utilities, concrete structures, pile driving, demolition, asphalt paving and environmental remediation. Park Construction Co. serves a broad customer base that includes public and private entities, and the markets it serves include oil and gas, industrial and power generation projects.

Strong Competition

With its shorter construction season and a roster of strong contractors in the area, Minnesota is one of the most competitive construction markets in the nation, according to Carlson. “Minnesota has a lot of good contractors and they’re very, very competitive,” he says. “You don’t see a lot of out-of-state contractors coming into Minnesota because we are very competitive.”

Even though Park Construction Co. faces a lot of stiff competition in Minnesota as well as outside the state, Carlson says the company has succeeded for more than 100 years thanks to the quality and depth of its services. “What sets us apart is the diversity of services we provide,” he says. “We provide a multitude of services and we’re very good at them.”Park Construction Co

However, simply offering a lot of different services is no good without having the right people to deliver those services, and Carlson says Park Construction Co. owes a great deal of its success to the people who work for it. “Our greatest asset is our people,” he says. “We believe we need to have good, quality people to move forward.”

Carlson says the expertise of the company’s employees is the biggest contributing factor to the quality of Park Construction Co.’s work, and the company strives to ensure that it always has the best people available. Treating its employees right is critical for the company’s continued success, he adds.

Overcoming Challenges

Finding and retaining the best people available in the labor pool has taken on added importance for Park Construction Co. and the rest of the industry in recent years. Carlson says the biggest challenge the company faces today is coping with the relative lack of qualified tradespeople available in the labor pool.

Another major challenge is the recent dip in oil prices, which has impacted not only the work Park Construction Co. performs for customers in the oil and gas sector, but several other related markets, as well. However, Carlson says the company is not as worried about this as some of its competitors because it is not limited to just a few markets. “We’re pretty diversified, so we can go into different markets,” he says.

Although the recession had negatively impacted the commercial market as well as public spending, Carlson says Park Construction Co. is starting to see those sectors rebound. In particular, road and bridge work is on the rise in Minnesota after a period of slumping activity.

Looking Forward

Certainly, being in business for more than a century is impressive, but Carlson says Park Construction Co. is not resting on its laurels. He says the company is investing in its future by starting up an industrial group to offer mechanical process piping services in addition to its existing services. The company also is in the process of acquiring a concrete company that concentrates on heavy industrial foundations and structures to provide added service in those areas.

Park Construction Co.’s past is evidence of its strength, but Carlson says the company wants to do everything it can to ensure it has the strength necessary for another 100 years. “We are investing in the future,” he says. 

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