Case Studies

Peterson Mechanical Inc.

Bringing over 60 years’ of mechanical contracting experience to customers across North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota

Since 1954, Peterson Mechanical Inc. has been serving customers throughout North Dakota’s Red River Valley with a full slate of professional mechanical contracting services.

Located in Fargo, North Dakota, Peterson Mechanical operates within a 150-mile radius of Fargo-Moorhead, completing projects for industrial and commercial clients from western Minnesota to western North Dakota and across the Midwest.

Peterson Mechanical Inc.The family-owned and –operated company was originally founded by Vern and his dad August Peterson as Peterson Sheet Metal. Now under the leadership of Darold Peterson, the company has welcomed the third generation into the fold with Darold’s son Michael joining the company as vice president.

“The company was started as a sheet metal firm and has progressed into more of a complete mechanical contracting firm. There have been a couple of name changes, but it’s been a family-oriented business for that whole time,” says Darold Peterson, president of Peterson Mechanical.

Today the company offers a range of services, making Peterson Mechanical a one-stop shop for all  mechanical contracting needs. In addition to HVAC systems fabrication and installation, Peterson Mechanical completes plumbing and piping work, with a staff of certified welders, pipefitters and plumbers trained in everything from plumbing and hydronics to medical gas for commercial and industrial systems.

With an extensive background in specialty sheet metal work, Peterson Mechanical is able to offer complete design and installation of commercial and industrial ventilation and conveying systems which, along with its 24/7, on-call service department, makes the company an invaluable resource for some of the region’s largest manufacturing and industrial concerns.

The mechanical contractor also offers preventative maintenance contracts and has a fleet of excavation equipment that allows the company to undertake site utility work for industrial and commercial clients.

Peterson says it’s the quality of work that truly sets the company apart from other mechanical contracting companies in the area. Drawing on his brother’s background in engineering, Peterson says that a superior level of workmanship has come to define the company’s approach.

Back to school

A specialist in design-assist and value engineered approaches to projects, Peterson Mechanical has worked for institutional, commercial and industrial clients across North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.

Working in the educational sector, the summer months are typically a busy time at Peterson Mechanical. “This time of year there’s always a push to get everything completed by the time school starts,” says Peterson.

The company has completed a number of elementary and high school projects in recent years, as well as an aquatics center in the West Fargo. Built in partnership between local schools and private investors, the aquatics center includes an Olympic-size swimming pool, with Peterson Mechanical performing all HVAC and plumbing work on the project.

In the past, the company has completed plumbing and HVAC work on a new Costco location in West Fargo, North Dakota, and worked on Oakes Community Hospital in Oakes, North Dakota, where Peterson Mechanical assisted in installing a new geothermal heating system, as well as completing plumbing, medical gas, surgical room and ventilation systems work.

In the institutional sector, Peterson Mechanical has a longstanding relationship with two nearby schools, North Dakota State University and Moorhead State University. “We’ve done quite a bit of work for those two,” says Peterson.

Peterson Mechanical has renovated existing plumbing and mechanical systems at Minnesota State University Moorhead’s library and installed mechanical systems at North Dakota State University’s Research Greenhouse. The three-phase project used multiple mechanical systems, including geothermal steam/hot water heating, ventilation systems, effluent decontamination systems, growth chambers and sterilizers.

Capitalizing on boom times

While the recession meant an overall slowdown in business for many in the mechanical contracting industry, this trend did not necessarily extend to North Dakota, where a well-timed oil boom helped buoy the state’s construction market during lean times.

In 2006, the discovery of the Parshall Oil Field in Mountrail County helped to fuel a boom in construction that would last until late 2012 and temporarily give North Dakota the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

While the discovery of shale gas reserves and increased use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking has led to an overall decline in North Dakota oil production, the effects of the boom are still being felt today.

“We didn’t have much of an issue with the recession. A lot of our competitors went west to build apartment homes and that really opened up this area to less competition,” says Peterson.

The company briefly considered trying its hand at serving the booming oil industry, but Peterson ultimately decided that it was more important to continue working with local area customers who had come to depend on the company’s service. “We did not want to jeopardize our customers,” he says.

This level of consideration extends to the company’s workers as well, with Peterson counting his relationship with its 65 employees as one of the aspects of the company that brings him the most pride. “We have people who have been with us for 20 years and we’re proud of the fact that we have a good relationship with our employees because that’s what makes a great company,” he says.

As a union shop, Peterson says he never has that much difficulty finding new employees. “We belong to both the sheet metal union and pipe fitting union, so a lot of employees come through there and get apprenticeship training,” he says.

Looking ahead to the near future, Peterson would like to expand into new niches that dovetail with the companies existing capabilities, such as dust collection systems. “We’re also upgrading our shop equipment all the time and looking at more industrial work,” he says.

After more than 60 years in the business, Peterson Mechanical Inc. has grown to become a trusted name in mechanical contracting throughout North Dakota and western Minnesota.

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