Case Studies

Atlas Foundation Co.: Safe, Sustainable Structural Solutions

  • Written by: Atlas Foundation Co.: Safe, Sustainable Structural Solutions
  • Produced by: Atlas Foundation Co.: Safe, Sustainable Structural Solutions
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Bud Stannard founded Atlas Foundation Co. (AFC) in 1968 after years of working with another local contractor. “He decided he could do it better,” says Mike Moeller, president of AFC. AFC was initially focused on pile driving and gradually diversified over the years. Moeller purchased AFC with partners Paul Weingart and David Peterson in 2005 as a management buyout. Though Peterson passed away in 2008 and Weingart recently retired, the AFC team remains driven to exceed all expectations.

“We’ve been running AFC since 2005,” says Moeller. “We’ve continued Stannard’s ambition of maintaining AFC as a leading deep foundation specialty contractor in the upper Midwest.”

Moeller has been in the industry since graduating from college in 1974. “I’ve been with this company for 12 years,” he says. Moeller proudly embraces AFC’s culture of safety, which, according to him, keeps both AFC’s employees and clients safe while guaranteeing a sound completed project that meets owner specifications and time constraints.

Building Stability

AFC has built a reputation for tackling difficult, deep foundation projects. “Our team has a unique niche in the business, specializing in deep foundations, generally recommended for large structures or projects where site surface soil is weak,” says Moeller proudly.

AFC operates out of two locations with a headquarters near Rogers, Minn. “We service nine states,” says Moeller. Currently AFC operates with a staff of 60, but that number fluctuates with the seasons and project workload. “We can have anywhere from 35 to 100 people on staff,” explains Moeller. “About 90 percent of our work is self-performed, but sometimes we sub out associated work like excavating.”

Depending on location and project scope, AFC relies on a network of skilled subcontractors to assist in project completion. However, the team works closely with local engineers on every project. “We do seminars with the engineering community to showcase some of the past projects and capacities of the company, and to educate engineers about the applications for helical piers,” says Moeller. “We work to develop best-fit foundation solutions.”

The foundation specialists employ a range of solutions to lay a base for structures. AFC has the experience, equipment and capabilities to install a wide range of pilings, piers and more. The company offers classic deep foundation piling solutions, including: H pile, steel sheet pile and pipe pile, drilled piers from 24-inch diameter to 10-foot diameter and helical piers, an innovative technology offering a wide range of applications.
Helical piers are named for the plates, shaped like a helix, which distribute loads. Helical piers offer a slightly different way of developing bearing capacity than other piling solutions where access is difficult, or noise and vibration could be a problem for driven pile. Moeller explains that helical piers are very efficient in handling axial loads.

“One of the first uses was using helical anchors as tension elements, specifically tiebacks for earth-retention systems,” explains Moeller. “They have also been a leader with soil nail shotcrete systems for temporary or permanent retaining walls.”

AFC has used helical piers to support buildings and other loads for new construction, light poles, construct and repair decks and boardwalks through wetlands. The piers also make a solid solution to reduce settling in existing structures and brace pre-cast concrete forms in new construction projects. “We use A.B. Chance helical piers,” says Moeller. “They’re constructed with 96-percent recycled materials, making them an efficient and environmentally friendly solution.”

The A.B. Chance helical pier has been around for over 100 years and is the industry’s leader. A division of AFC, Structural Anchor Supply, acts as a distributor selling A.B. Chance material to other contractors over eight states in the upper Midwest. AFC is one of the most experienced installers of helical piers in the country, and the team’s experience and expertise enables the company to provide any solution imaginable.

Building a Reputation

Often, AFC’s hard work is hidden when construction is completed. While not obvious from the outside, the company’s projects are holding up many major structures in the Midwest. The team’s recent projects include foundations and pilings for the Wakota Bridge, part of the 10-lane Interstate 494 that passes over the Mississippi River between Newport and St. Paul, Minn. The team also contributed to construction of the Trans Canada Pipeline and the Winona Lock and Dam.

“One of our most memorable projects for me was our work on the Twins baseball stadium,” says Moeller. The team constructed foundation piling for the new home of the professional baseball team, Target Field, in 2008.


AFC provides efficient, durable solutions for the region’s construction efforts. While ingenuity and communication are major components to the company’s success, safety remains a driving force on every jobsite. All employees partake in a comprehensive safety program that involves ongoing training and routine maintenance of company equipment. The practice reduces the likelihood of an accident while reducing downtime, ergo keeping projects on track.

Premier performance has also encouraged repeat business, a factor that helped AFC make it through the recession without serious implications. “We definitely took a nosedive in 2009 and 2010,” explains Moeller. “Overall, though, that experience was good for the company. We learned how to be efficient and lean. We overhauled the way we operate. We even have new accounting software.”

AFC is back on the rise and Moeller says the company continues sustained growth. “We’re on a good track right now,” he explains. “We’re doing it with moderation. We’ve been conservative about the changes we’re making. Our biggest challenge is to keep up with innovations in equipment and techniques. That’s what will keep us ahead.”

By keeping growth slow but steady, AFC is ensuring a healthy, stable future. AFC is indeed growing, but not at a rate that the team can’t effectively manage, as 2012 saw AFC crews in six states in the upper Midwest. The future for the business holds several new projects in the pipeline as regional contractors rely on the specialists for intensive deep foundation work. Atlas Foundation Co. continues to live up to its name, holding up the world like the primordial Greek Titan.

Published on: March 5, 2013

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