Earthwork Services Lays Groundwork for North Dakota National Guard Readiness Center
A Wealth of Opportunity: After 10 Years in Planning, the North Dakota National Guard Readiness Center Begins to Take Shape
A military training facility being built in Fargo, North Dakota, has presented opportunities for local design and construction firms.
The federal government appropriated $32 million for the new North Dakota National Guard Readiness Center in fiscal year 2019. The readiness center had been in the planning process for more than 10 years.
The project will feature 155,000 square feet of usable space, inclusive of a 96,000-square-foot area for unit administrative offices, a 59,000-square-foot unheated indoor vehicle storage facility, a security entrance building, a helipad, and parking. The new center will be adjacent to the Fargo Armed Forces Reserve Center.
The center will serve as a training site for the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. The North Dakota National Guard includes about 4,000 citizen soldiers and citizen airmen. Currently, members of the Army National Guard are working out of inadequate, rented facilities in and around the city of Fargo says Colonel Clark Johnson, Director of Facilities and Engineers for the North Dakota National Guard, at the groundbreaking.
“This new readiness center is specifically designed for the 141st brigade and their mission,” Johnson adds. “Their ability to train will be significantly enhances with the new facility.”
The official groundbreaking took place in August, with completion expected in June 2021. Zerr-Berg Architects of Fargo designed the readiness center. MBN Engineering of Fargo provided civil, mechanical and electrical engineering services, and Heyer Engineering of Fargo was the structural engineer. Gast Construction Co., a fourth-generation family business in Fargo, is the general contractor. The company was founded in 1942.
Earthwork Services of West Fargo serves as the contractor for the civil portion of the new North Dakota National Guard readiness center in Fargo. The scope of work includes dirt moving, installing underground utilities, paving, striping, adding signage and fencing on the former bean field. Trent Duda, President and Owner of Earthwork Services, reports that the $4 million contract is the largest in his company’s history.
“We’ve had a lot of rain and therefore it’s been pretty wet,” Duda says. “Now we are waiting for the site to dry out.”
Earthwork Services has worked with the local Native American tribe on this project. The company had to have an archeologist on site at all times, in case crews found burial grounds or other important artifacts.
The Right Equipment is Key
Earthwork Services used two Komatsu bulldozers on the project, a D51PXi crawler and a D65PXi crawler. Both machines have Komatsu’s Tier 4 engine with emission control to reduce particulate emissions by more than 80 percent. They also come with an auto idle shutdown device, which can be set by the operator from 5 minutes to 60 minutes, helping to reduce unnecessary fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
Both units feature Intelligent Machine Control, which allows for automated blade control, whether working in the rough or on final grading. The large high-resolution monitor provides the operator with easy to read data.
“The D65PXi is a pretty handy dozer,” Duda says. “It provides the operator with a lot of tools to get the job done.”
The Earthwork Services fleet includes three dozers and three excavators. Duda prefers to purchase the equipment the company needs rather than renting it. Several of the dozers are equipped with Intelligent Machine Control, including a PC210LC-11. The Komatsu equipment came from General Equipment of Fargo.
“We really like the Komatsu equipment,” Duda reports. “General has been awesome to work with. They have been top notch for everything. If we need a piece of equipment on the job site, they are there. The crushing and aggregate equipment is awesome. It’s a great family business.”
General Equipment, founded in 1984, supplies heavy construction and aggregate equipment to construction, mining and oil industries, and governments. The company has grown from 22 employees to more than 250 staff members, operating in seven locations in the United States and two locations in Canada. The company sells, rents, services and fabricates heavy equipment. Its service technicians and parts specialists know how to quickly get any equipment running smoothly.
Duda began Earthwork Services about six years ago, and it has grown to two locations, West Fargo and Bismarck, both in North Dakota. He had grown up on a farm and then started working in the excavating industry as a superintendent, which he did for 16 years, gaining expertise before branching out on his own.
“I thought the timing was right to go out on my own,” Duda says. “I was getting a little older, and the economy was good.”
The company has performed dirt work for a variety of clients including residential developers, municipalities, schools and federal government facilities. In addition to earth moving, the company performs foundations and footings. It also has a sand and gravel component and offers hauling and demolition services. Duda takes pride in accepting complex projects and delivering them with excellency.
“Every project is a challenge,” Duda says. “We have done a lot of big projects throughout the years.”
Entering the new market of Bismarck presented opportunities and a need to become known as a reliable contractor. Additionally, Duda reports the soil is different in the western part of the state. The company works throughout North Dakota. Earthwork Services employs about 40 people and is hiring.
“My employees are the number one reason we are where we are,” Duda says. “They are a hard working group. Good people. A lot of them have been with us from the beginning.”
His wife, Dana, handles the bookkeeping. He has two children, both too young at the moment for the business.
“We are pretty much where we want to be,” Duda says. “It’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication. We make sure we are good to work with and do a good job.”