Case Studies

Grotberg Electric Inc.

Diversification, Geographical Range and a Dedicated Team Making for Serious Growth

Sometimes when there isn’t time to think you just have to act and step up to the plate. That’s what Kyle Sorby, now president of Grotberg Electric Inc. (Grotberg), had to do when the North Dakota-based electrical contractor’s acting president was in a tragic accident. In just a matter of weeks Sorby went from site leader to president of one of the state’s fastest growing companies.

Unexpected Changes

“I’ve been with Grotberg for 15 years,” reveals Sorby. “I graduated from high school in 1996 and went onto college at the North Dakota State College of Science for electrical construction and started at Grotberg right out of school. I was running our Gwinner, N.D., office until the unexpected changes took place.”

In a brand-new leadership role, Sorby took the reins of a company that has grown over 96 percent in three years, making the prestigious Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in the U.S. list. “We currently have 16 shareholders and 87 employees,” he notes. “Our geographical size has expanded significantly over recent years. We now run five locations in North Dakota, from Valley City to Fargo, Gwinner to Wahpeton and Spiritwood.”

The company has expanded throughout the state since its founding by Perry Grotberg in 1948. In 2005, Grotberg added HVAC service to the lineup with the startup of Triton Mechanical, an industrial mechanical contractor based in Gwinner, N.D. Additionally, in 2011, the company acquired Nordick Electric, which operates out of Wahpeton, N.D.

Grotberg now offers electrical construction and maintenance services directly to end-users – such as corporations, municipalities, government entities, owners and developers – and also acts as a subcontractor for construction mangers and general contractors. The company specializes in the design, integration, installation, startup, testing, operation and maintenance of distribution systems, lighting systems, such as fixtures and controls and low voltages systems from fire alarms and security to communications and process controls.

“We don’t have one set niche; we have many,” explains Sorby. “We offer industrial and commercial electrical contracting. We kind of do it all. We work with big companies such as Bobcat and Cargill and lots of other manufacturing clients in Fargo and Wahpeton, but our biggest target is industrial facilities.”

Rapid Expansion

Sorby says its Grotberg’s attention to detail, industrial expertise and focus on safety as a company that has helped propel the firm into the success spotlight. “We’re currently doing a large addition to the John Deere facility in Valley City, N.D., and we’re wrapping up the Liberty School in West Fargo,” he notes.

Despite rapid growth, Grotberg has managed to keep the majority of service in-house. “We don’t really subcontract anything out,” reveals Sorby. “We work closely with Border States Electric, Graybar and Dakota Supply Group and we’re very much focused on these long standing relationships, but it’s always good to shop around to keep prices honest.”

From 2009 to 2012, Grotberg experienced exceptional growth, remaining profitable while others struggled to survive. “2009 was our toughest year by far,” shares Sorby. “However, I think we weathered the downturn well compared to other area contractors; that’s mainly because of our geographical size, industrial nature and focus on long-term relationships.”

As a result, Grotberg was recognized as one of the best in the nation by Inc. 5000 for the third time in seven years. “We were ranked at No. 3,330 in the nation,” adds Steph Ness, CFO for Grotberg. “The biggest thing that has promoted sales is our diversification. We’re not only an electrical contractor, but we’re also an HVAC contractor.”

According to Ness, the company’s second go-to is geographical expansion. “In 2010, we moved into the Fargo market and started up an office there and in 2011, we acquired Nordick Electric,” Ness continues. “The award makes me really proud of the success we’ve had and everyone who’s put in the hard work and dedication. Without our employees we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

The Inc. 5000 award is also a tribute to Grotberg’s late president, Steve Welken. “This award meant a great deal to him,” adds Ness. “It was his vision and leading the company that got us here. We made the list in 2007 and 2008, but this year was the one he was really proud of due to the economy. Steve was Grotberg and Grotberg was Steve, he’s going to be missed.”

While the Grotberg team continues to commemorate Steve, Sorby looks forward to leading and supporting his close-knit work family. “We’re going to work on sustaining over the next couple of years and continuing to come together,” he says. “I take a lot of pride in our close family here. I like what I do and the people I work with so making money is just a bonus.” Grotberg Electric Inc. will continue serving North Dakota communities with a wide range of in-house services and a trusted team that’s ready to grow.

Published on: February 13, 2014

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