WILLISTON, N.D. – As a general contractor, Tony Godlewski likes to hear the sound of hammers seven days a week.
But when building activity slowed in his home base of Minnesota, competition for projects became cutthroat and profit margins declined.
“We were all trying to hang on and scrapping for work,” Godlewski said.
Godlewski, senior project manager for Shingobee Builders, decided about three years ago to take a trip to check out North Dakota’s Oil Patch.
The company embraced the idea of bidding some work in northwest North Dakota, and the contractor has been active in the Bakken ever since.
Godlewski has an apartment in Williston and travels from his home of St Michael, Minn., every two weeks to oversee construction projects.
“After three years, I still get excited about coming out here,” Godlewski said.
Shingobee Builders, based in the Twin Cities and St. Cloud, Minn., is a medium-sized general contractor that operates in a five-state region. The firm has 18 superintendents in charge of building projects and last year seven of them were based in North Dakota, Godlewski said.
The company’s first project in the Bakken was the addition and expansion of St. Luke’s Hospital in Crosby, which the builders finished 10 months early, Godlewski said.
The firm also recently completed the Roosevelt Inn & Suites in Watford City, the McDonald’s restaurant and Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative warehouse in Williston, and the addition and remodeling project for the Western Cooperative Credit Union headquarters in Dickinson.
One of Godlewski’s favorite projects was saving a former bank building that is iconic in downtown Crosby and renovating it into to a four-unit apartment building with a Verizon Wireless retail outlet on the lower level.
Among the firm’s next projects is the public works facility for the city of Dickinson.
Godlewski recently became vice president of the company, but made sure he can continue working in North Dakota. Part of what keeps him coming back to the state is working with the local officials.
“It’s almost like family,” Godlewski said.