Acme Electric in Minot has been growing right along with North Dakota's economy, so much so that an expansion is needed just to keep up.
Randy Korslien, general manager, said plans have been in the works since early spring to add on to the business, although on-site work has only recently begun. About one-third of the dirt lot to the east of the store is already covered in concrete, and the rest will be done soon.
Once that is complete, a 12,000-square-foot building will be erected to house five new shop bays and some additional warehouse space. The material to build the addition has already arrived and Korslien said the footings for it will be done this week. After that they will start erecting the building.
He hopes to have everything complete around the first of the year.
"The expansion would be due to our increased rental business and our increased Kubota tractor and trailer business," Korslien said.
Acme rents large forklifts, boom lifts, skid steers basically anything the construction industry would need, according to Korslien.
The additional warehouse space won't necessarily allow Acme to keep more inventory on hand, but will allow it to move everything that's currently outdoors under the roof, which protects it from the weather and makes it easier to access.
"I don't know that we'll increase levels, but we'll get the stuff that's outside today, inside," Korslien said. "Make it more secure and easier to inventory the product. Especially in the winter, it gets a little hard to dig stuff out of snowbanks."
Korslien said Acme needed this expansion to continue growing at a steady rate. He noted they see the need only continuing in the future, so they wanted to make sure they were ready to take care of all their customers.
"We're maxed out in our current facility," Korslien said. "To be able to repair things in a timely manner for customers and to keep growing that segment of the business, it was something that was definitely needed."
While more and more business has been coming from the oil industry, Korslien said there is still plenty of local business fueling the growth as well. That local customer base is still where Acme's focus is, but not to the detriment of new business. Whether the customer has been going to Acme for years or just arrived in the area and is walking in the store for the first time, Korslien said they will work hard to help them in any way possible.
Around 10 years ago Korslien said it was area contractors that gave Acme much of its business, but today it's more of an even mix between construction and private customers.
"It's still a significant part of our business, but we're seeing more impact from local consumers. I think our customer base is broadening and we offer more products," Korslien said. "So we want to make sure we don't lose any of our old customers, our established customers, and then we want to make sure that we get the best service to the new customers that we're finding, too."
"Also, the ag business continues to be strong, and continues to be a very worthy customer," he added.
With the new shop bays, Korslien will also be adding new heavy equipment technicians to the six currently on staff so they can get a quicker turnaround on repairs. At the moment he isn't sure how many more he would like to get, and said he will wait until they can get into the new building and see how things flow before making that determination.
"We will be adding some, I'm just not sure how many," he said.
Things have gone smoothly so far, and thankfully the Souris River flood didn't have too much of an impact on the expansion. Although work had already been started and had to stop for a while because of the crisis, Korslien said it wasn't that big of an issue as far as the expansion was concerned.
"I would say that the flood didn't impact it other than the fact that it was very difficult to do work while the whole flood was going on," Korslien said.
Perhaps the bigger challenge was keeping important flood-related items such as rubber boots, gloves, respirators, dehumidifiers and fans in stock, as well as running the store short-staffed because several employees were displaced by the flood.
Sticking to the subject of employees, Korslien said they are the single biggest reason Acme Electric is doing so well. While having all the right tools and equipment a customers needs on hand is important, so is providing that customer with superior service so he keeps coming back again and again.
"A lot of this expansion and growth that we're going through is a direct result of the hard work and dedication from the staff that we have," Korslien said. "We've got many very dedicated key employees that ... without them, we wouldn't need to expand. They're the reason for it."