Case Studies

Hammerlund Construction Inc.

Supporting Big Industry and a Resource-based Economy

In the famous Iron Range region of northeastern Minnesota, an area rich in valuable iron ore, Hammerlund Construction Inc. (Hammerlund) has been delivering full-service general contracting for nearly a quarter century. Based in Grand Rapids, Minn., the company supports mining operations with earthwork and grading, utilities, cast-in-place concrete, aggregate crushing and screening, demolition, custom hauling and construction management.

Thomas “Tom” Hammerlund Sr., now president of Hammerlund, originally broke into the earth moving industry in California in the early 1970s. However, he decided earning a living as a farmer better complemented his family-centered lifestyle.

“I found that excavation wasn’t the right line of work to raise a family in so I uprooted to Grand Rapids to start a dairy farm,” recalls Tom Sr. “Being a dairy farmer in northern Minnesota speaks to a solid work ethic, because it’s not an easy living.”

A Father-son Duo

The Hammerlund family continued to farm until the mid-1980s. With one dump truck and an excavator, Tom Sr. started performing small underground pipe and septic work for other area farms. “What started as a side business kept building and building and the family decided to sell the farm under the government’s dairy buy-out program,” shares Tom Sr. “It wasn’t until about 1989 that my son and I formally incorporated Hammerlund under Hammerlund Excavating. We changed the name to its current designation in 1992.”

The contractor began to grow, little by little over the next several years, venturing into heavy civil construction. “We still serve this market today, but we’ve grown into more profitable jobs in the commercial and industrial sector, as well,” notes Tom Sr. There are not a whole lot of private companies in this area that do what we do; we have the latest technology and a dedicated core group of employees.”

Since 2000, Hammerlund has experienced significant growth. “We’re into larger, more complex projects,” explains Tom Sr. “We do everything from road jobs to piping, mass excavation for steel mines in this area to power and utility work. We also have our own crushing and aggregate unit.”

Hammerlund remains based in Grand Rapids, where Tom Sr. and Tom Jr. started pounding the pavement early on. “We have about 200 professional union workers,” notes Tom Sr. “The loyalty of our employees is exceptional in this company and as a result, we want to take care of them. We partner with the unions, because it equals huge benefits for our employees, especially in terms of health care.”

Experience Hard at Work

Hammerlund’s skilled tradespeople deliver an extensive array of mining support services, from heavy civil site work to road development, overburden stripping and mass fill to excavation. “We can put Grade-A equipment and some of the best, most highly trained people in the industry to work for you. With more than 20 years in the industry, our skills in foundation excavation, backfill, rock excavation, dike and dam construction, reclamation, custom and bulk hauling, equipment rentals, snow removal and road maintenance mean efficient, focused mining support crews you can rely on from start to finish.” – Hammerlund’s website reads.

In 2008 the company tackled one of its biggest jobs to-date, embarking on the Mesabi Nugget and 65,000 cubic yards of concrete in addition to 9 million pounds of rebar. With frequent, almost daily changes to the design, Hammerlund saved the owner money with improvisation and innovation. The project required 80 tradesmen, including finishers, carpenters, ironworkers, operators and laborers. With some of the best union employees in the business, the company delivered the sizable job with 140,000 hours without a single lost-time accident.

In 2009 Hammerlund completed the Itasca County rail spur for Essar Steel Corporation on the Mesabi Iron Range. The project spanned 6 miles of red tinged iron-ore-rich earth. In conjunction with RJS Construction, Hammerlund removed more than 2.8 million yards of tough terrain, including sugar sand, ledge rock, marsh land and iron tailings.

Hammerlund ran 22, 40-ton articulated dump trucks for the massive earth-moving endeavor to create a ground-up steel production site equipped to handle iron ore and rolled steel. The development of the site was pivotal for the local economy and one of the company’s most acclaimed projects.

Over the years, the company has also participated in several airport runway projects. Hammerlund’s on-the-job consultation and site preparation skills were put to the test for the $1.5 million 5/23 Itasca County Airport development. Upon the completion of the project, Hammerlund received a Merit Award from the Minnesota Department of Transportation for exemplary service and infrastructure construction.

But no matter the job – big or small – Hammerlund falls back on family ownership and some of the most dedicated employees in the industry. “My son and I still spend as much time in the field as we can,” reveals Tom Sr. “We’ve recently acquired a new site from the city and we’re going to build an administration building and shop so we can step from 1980 to 2014. That’s the next step for us.”

It is evident that Hammerlund’s team enjoys each day on the job. “We’re proud of what we do and we do it well, so expansion will come,” adds Tom Sr. For more than 24 years, Hammerlund Construction Inc. has supported big industry in a resource-rich backyard, offering time-tested general contracting.

Published on: March 14, 2014


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