Case Studies

Clear Creek Plumbing and Heating

Helping HVAC plumbing systems run safely and reliably in Dickinson, North Dakota

Serving a 500-mile radius of Dickinson, North Dakota, Clear Creek Plumbing and Heating offers full-service plumbing, boiler service and repair, heating and cooling to commercial and residential customers throughout western North Dakota. “We have been in business for 30 years, starting in Wyoming with the Valley Plumbing & Heating office,” says Ryan Haught, branch manager of Clear Creek. “Clear Creek is the second branch in Dickinson.”

“North Dakota has been a very challenging place to start an office, lack of qualified tradesmen, expensive housing and the lack of housing, has all made it difficult,” adds Ryan. “But we have turned the corner and rely on our people as the foundation and success of our company. We believe people are the most important resource we have and we take great pride in developing our people to help them reach their true potential. If our people are operating at their highest level then they can better serve their families, communities and our customers.”

The Clear Creek that exists today traces its roots to southeast Wyoming in 1982 where David and Doug Haught built and ran a retail home center. Don Haught returned from overseas active duty in the Army and joined the business with his two brothers. Don began managing the business in 1984 and added a plumbing and heating service business to complement the existing retail home center.

A decade later, he purchased the business outright from his brothers and changed the name to Valley Plumbing & Heating. In 1996, Valley Plumbing & Heating was incorporated as the first office in the company’s history. 

Don and Ryan saw the opportunity in the Bakken area in 2011 and opened up their second branch office as Clear Creek Plumbing and Heating. Today, the company operates and holds contracting licenses in North Dakota, as well as Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota. Now, Clear Creek and Valley Plumbing & Heating operate under the Don Haught Inc. umbrella.

Room to grow

As a veteran-owned small business, Clear Creek performs complete plumbing, HVAC, boiler and related services, including 24/7 service and maintenance with 50 to 60 employees. “We’ve come a long way in the last 29 years,” says Ryan. “In 1994, we had just two employees with certified state licenses. Now we have a much larger staff, including multiple employees holding masters degrees and journeymen licenses.”

Clear Creek is making room for more growth through facility expansion. “We recently purchased two lots in Dickinson and we’re currently building and remodeling these sites for future offices,” reveals Ryan.

Service and support

Clear Creek covers all home and business plumbing problems – from leaks and cracked pipes to drain cleaning, sewer camera inspections, remodels and new construction in both residential and commercial markets. The company also provides installation and repair of gas, oil-fired, water and steam boilers, cleaning, maintenance and preventative care. Clear Creek ensures systems are running efficiently, safely and reliably.

In terms of HVAC, Clear Creek offers a lengthy list of services designed to make a harsh North Dakota winter easier. “We pride ourselves on top-notch heating services,” says Ryan.

The company has been installing both commercial and residential HVAC systems for more than two decades and Clear Creek’s technically savvy personnel deliver projects professionally, on time and on budget. “We keep almost all services in-house for quality control,” says Ryan. “We only subcontract insulation and controls.”

“We work on a range of projects – schools, hospitals, commercial buildings and more,” he continues. Clear Creek has recently been involved in several 30,000-square-foot-plus additions at New Town High School in New Town, North Dakota, and a 100,000-square-foot high school addition in Gillette, Wyoming. “We are also just starting a new 70,000-square-foot health clinic addition in Bowman, North Dakota, for Southwest health care,” adds Ryan.

Heating from the ground up

Current initiatives include expanding the company’s service division and its activity in the geothermal heating market. “We have been a leader in environmentally friendly HVAC technology,” says Ryan.

Clear Creek has been installing geothermal HVAC systems in the commercial and residential field for more than a decade. “We specialize in the installation of geothermal heat pumps and loops,” says Ryan. “Not only does this system heat and cool a facility with the least amount of environmental impact, it can also lower utility bills by utilizing heat naturally stored in the ground.” Clear Creek installs open and closed earth loops, consulting on which option is best suited for the specific project.

While the North Dakota market is still relatively new to Clear Creek, the company has found ways to remain competitive through innovative offerings such as geothermal service. Ryan says he sees a good long-term fit for the company in Dickinson. “At first we realized prices were more competitive than our Wyoming market, but our volume makes up for this,” he says.

Navigating a new market

After entering North Dakota, Clear Creek joined the North Dakota Association of Builders (NDAB). “Joining NDAB has helped us a lot, especially in navigating a new market,” says Ryan. “NDAB really helps to push for smart legislation.”

Ryan says the company has found an advantage as a subcontractor with North Dakota’s Three Prime Contract rule. “This is a nontraditional set up where we coordinate with the general contractor, but the architect pays us,” he explains. “In this state a contract is split in three ways: general construction, mechanical and electrical. This cuts about 5 to 10 percent off total project costs due to the elimination of general contractor’s mark-ups.”

“This model adds more oversight by the architect, but does save money for the owner in the end and they receive the same product, it’s a win,” adds Ryan. “The three prime’s model does produce some challenges, whenever you have three bosses on a jobsite instead of one it can lead to some conflict, but that isn’t new to construction. We have been so impressed with the three prime’s contract that we’re now trying to get it passed in the next legislative session in Wyoming.”

Ryan says this style contract helps further business for Clear Creek by reducing the amount of floating contract dollars. “In the typical single prime general construction contract, it can take 45 to 60 days to receive payment on a bill, after the work has been completed – with the Three Prime Contract rule, we’re always paid within 30 days,” he says.

As the company makes its name known in North Dakota, Clear Creek Plumbing continues a tradition of technical expertise and quality subcontracting service. 

Published on: October 23, 2015

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