A Langdon-based family-owned and -operated business for decades, Mikkelsen Brothers Construction Co. has earned its place as a civil and site preparation contractor in North Dakota.
“My dad, our great employees and our great customers are the reasons we have been in business for 60 years,” proclaims Chris Mikkelsen, Vice President of Mikkelson Brothers Construction Co.
Mikkelsen Brothers, recently, stripped topsoil and brought in fill material before building a pad for new hopper bottoms at CHS, a grain company based in Minnesota. The company also constructed a new road to provide greater access for the grain company to load trucks at the hoppers.
The company is using a Komatsu 240 Hydraulic Excavator to load the trucks at the grain-hopper site. Operators of a Komatsu excavator and a 650K John Deere Crawler Dozer worked together to strip the topsoil on this project.
The Right Equipment for the Job
When moving earth, having the correct equipment to do the job makes it that much easier.
Mikkelsen Brothers’ fleet runs Komatsu, Caterpillar and John Deere equipment. The fleet includes a Komatsu front-end loader from General Equipment & Supplies in Fargo, North Dakota.
Mikkelsen says he likes to buy rather than rent equipment and appreciates General Equipment’s financing options and warranties and service plans. The construction company, on occasion, will rent when it has special needs.
“I love General from top to bottom,” Mikkelsen says. “They are the best and easiest to deal with. From salesman to parts to service, everything is top notch.”
General Equipment & Supplies, founded in 1984, sells, rents, services and fabricates heavy equipment for the construction and aggregate industries. It has grown from 22 employees at the start to 250 employees. In addition to the corporate office in Fargo, the company has branches in Minot, Williston and Bismarck, North Dakota; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Shakopee, Minnesota. Its subsidiary, General Aggregate Equipment Sales, located in Winnipeg and Regina, serves Canadian customers.
Although some of the heavy machinery in Mikkelsen Brother’s fleet came equipped with GPS, the company continues to stake and string its grading.
“I’ve been debating doing the intelligent machines,” says Mikkelsen. “I got trained old school; my dad is old school. I can see changing in the future and getting some laser machines with the grading systems…I know it can save you money and time. It’s just not in the plans yet.”
General Equipment & Supplies’ technicians have received extensive training about the maintenance and repair of all equipment it sells. Its parts department maintains more than $11 million in original equipment manufacturer inventory.
In addition to offering in-shop maintenance, the repair technicians will perform regular maintenance at its customers’ job sites, including emergency repairs, 24 hours a day, seven days per week.
“They always get here on a timely basis,” Mikkelsen reports.
The equipment company’s service managers offer training to customers’ employees about maintaining and operating equipment and understanding emission regulations.
Randy Mikkelsen serves as president. His son, Chris Mikkelsen began working for the family business in 1998 and went full-time, after college, in 2006. Chris’ father remains active with the company.
“What he has done for the company is amazing,” Mikkelsen says. “He taught me everything I know, and I still have so much to learn from his experience and knowledge of the job.”
Chris’ grandfather Ronald Mikkelsen founded the company with a greatuncle in 1961.
“They got an old dozer and started doing work around their farm by Mount Carmel,” Mikkelsen says. “From there, they got a few calls, and it escalated.”
Mikkelsen recalls hearing from the older generation about how hard it was working on old equipment with no cabs in the harsh winter weather. He says they often put their coats over the muffler to warm up. He expects the old timers would have mixed opinions about today’s intelligent machines.
“They were pretty skilled on the machines,” Mikkelsen says. “Nowadays, you do not have to be a veteran operator to run one with the technology they have.”
Mikkelsen Brothers Construction employs about 15 people full time and hires additional people for moving gravel and other tasks. Robert Kempert, Mikkelsen’s longest-tenured employee can run all of the heavy equipment, and Mikkelsen called him the best employee the company could ever have.
“They have been good to me for 45 years, and I have no complaints,” says Kempert.
The company specializes in mass excavation, dozer work, graveling for the county and townships, site prep for fertilizer buildings, sewer and water projects, demolition, and a little bit of everything.
“In the last 15 years, we have done a lot of elevator work for the grain cooperatives,” Mikkelsen reports. “There have been periods where we did a lot of hog barns. There is always graveling.”
Mikkelsen Brothers operates seasonally from April through November, weather permitting. The company may fix rural water lines in the winter and plow snow.
“Cold temperatures are hard on equipment, and it takes too long to get things done in the winter,” says Mikkelsen.
Mikkelsen Brothers primarily stays within 100 miles of Langdon, North Dakota, although the company has completed projects in Montana and Minnesota.
“I like the stuff we do for grain companies, and I would like doing more of that,” Mikkelsen says. “I am always open to other projects. I am open to anything that comes our way.”
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