Case Studies

North Pine Aggregate Inc.

Laying the groundwork for 41 years of family-owned business

Since 1972, North Pine Aggregate Inc. (NPA) has delivered the full scope in excavation, grading and gravel products for homes and businesses in the Minneapolis St. Paul, Minn., Twin Cities region. “We’ve been family-owned for 41 years,” reveals Denny Jensen, founder and president of NPA. “We do heavy earthwork, grading, utilities and we own and operate our own rock quarries and gravel pits where we produce our own aggregate.”

With a quarry strategically located in Pine County, Minn., NPA serves a wide geographic area from the Twin City-metro into the Midwest, offering a full range of rock and aggregate products from crushed rock to rip rap and gravel for residential and commercial developers and contractors.

“NPA performs excavations and site development for developers, but sometimes we’ll develop our own projects,” shares Jensen. “We also do road and highway work, but our specialty is residential site development. We’ve done some of the largest jobs of this kind in the Twin Cities.”

However, NPA started small when Jensen and his wife, Shari, founded the company fresh out of high school in 1972. “My wife and I were high school sweethearts and shortly after graduating, we got married and started NPA on a small scale, growing it together over time,” recalls Jensen.

Grounded growth

With roots in the construction field, the husband-wife duo founded NPA based on hard, smart work and treating customers and employees with honesty and fairness. “Even though we’ve grown on a larger scale, those same principles still guide us today,” assures Jensen.

From just two to 120 employees, NPA is now a major player in residential and commercial developments. In 2004, NPA expanded into a new shop in Forest Lake, Minn., equipped with two 10-ton overhead cranes and a heated wash bay for complete service, repair and maintenance of the company’s fleet. “We take great pride in having the right equipment, but also properly maintaining it,” adds Jensen.

NPA’s extensive equipment and in-house capabilities allow the company to tackle sizable residential and commercial developments, as well as highway and road projects. “On the development side we self-perform about 70 percent of all services in-house and on the highway and road side, we’re doing 70 to 80 percent in-house, only subbing out paving,” reveals Jensen.

One of the company’s largest projects to-date in Blaine, Minn., showcases NPA’s range of in-house service. “Over the course of two years, we developed 4,000 residential lots on a 1,100-acre site situated on existing sod fields,” recounts Jensen. “We also dug 160 acres of lakes, which connected throughout the housing development and moved approximately 22 million yards of dirt.”

Picking up the slack

While site development makes up the majority of NPA’s contracts, Jensen says NPA isn’t limited to excavation and earthwork. “We’ve gone up into North Dakota to do flood control projects with levies and dikes,” he shares. “When the development side slowed down through the recession we picked up the slack with road work and highway projects.”

However, that is not all the company has achieved. “In fact, a couple of years ago, we won an award from the Associated General Contractors of America [AGC] and the Minnesota Department of Transportation for our grading of State Highway 371 through the town of Nisswa, Minn.,” continues Jensen.

Diversity has certainly been a foothold for NPA through the last five years in overcoming economic challenges and a slow development market. “We’ll do what we have to do to diversify but things really turned down in 2008 and 2009 and we were forced to lay some people off, because there just wasn’t enough work to go around,” recounts Jensen. “But when things started to pick back up we were able to call back and rehire some of those employees.”

Fortunately, Jensen says he sees the storm passing and the Twin Cities market is picking back up. “Residential and commercial development is coming back to the area and the future looks good for us,” he assures.

Part of NPA’s future is also the involvement of the second generation, including Jensen’s sons, Brent Jensen, vice president of NPA, as well as Jake Jensen, vice president of operations. “They are preparing to take over the business and take the company reins,” reveals Jensen. “My daughter, Heidi Champagne, is also involved.”

As the company grows and the next generation assumes ownership, Jensen says the original focus remains: high value and fair pricing backed by the honesty and tradition of family ownership. North Pine Aggregate Inc. continues to grade the way to 41 years and counting of family business and a trusted reputation in the Twin Cities.

Published on: March 19, 2015

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