Case Studies

Thor Construction

Realizing the American dream

When a few business associates of Richard Copeland spray-painted the name “Thor” on the side of his work truck, he decided that was to be the name of his company. THOR Construction was founded in 1980 by Copeland in Minnesota and has since grown into a nationally recognized general contracting firm which also specializes in design-build, consulting and concrete.

Copeland began his career in construction performing utility restoration work in Minneapolis. “He is an example of the American dream,” says Ravi Norman, CEO of THOR Construction. “He’s just a true entrepreneur.”

Norman cites a situation when Copeland witnessed a team of professionals working on a utilities project and he concluded that he was able to complete the job better and faster by himself. “He followed the team back to the utilities jobsite and asked who was responsible for hiring the team,” explains Norman. “A man introduced himself and Richard told him that he could do the work better and faster. When he was told that they would like to see what he could do, Richard went out and completed the work before he even got the contract.”

A joint venture

Copeland began working in the industry as a subcontractor. After establishing partnerships and learning how the flow of money works on a project, he began to investigate general contracting work. Copeland recognized that the most effective way to grow his business was to form a partnership. “He began soliciting some of the well-known general contractors in the area and eventually established a great relationship with a local firm called Mortenson Construction,” says Norman. “We’ve been working with Mortenson for more than 20 years now.”

The joint venture between Mortenson and THOR Construction has completed many landmark projects in Minneapolis. Projects include Target Field, Xcel Energy Center, and TCF Stadium at the University of Minnesota. “We are a testament to how minority and majority partnerships can work,” says Norman.

THOR Construction was afforded the opportunity to exhibit its construction management services for the TCF stadium at the University of Minnesota. The 50,000-seat stadium is a state-of-the-art facility and showcases the partnership between THOR Construction and Mortenson Construction . Before the first kickoff, THOR Construction had to place thousands of cubic yards of concrete, steel and electronics to ensure that TCF Stadium was up to par with the technological standards of the 21st century.

THOR Construction and Mortenson Construction are currently utilizing the partnership as they collaborate on a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings. The $975 million facility will replace the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. Covering 1.75 million square feet, the project is slated for completion in July 2016.

THOR Sustainability

In addition to measuring success through productivity, scheduling and budgets, THOR Construction has created a program which focuses on the significant social, environmental and economic shifts affecting businesses and communities. THOR Sustainability (TSI) offers holistic evaluations and solutions to reduce energy and utility use while optimizing human activity within the built environment.

“We want to be able to say that we are using energy the right way,” explains Norman. “When you save energy, it saves money and is good for the environment, but we’re also concerned with how it benefits the overall health of the people that are occupying these buildings that we create.”

TSI leverages THOR Construction’s 35-year history and expertise in the construction industry. This long history has allowed THOR Construction to partner with innovative and tested manufacturers, designers and technologies to bring “best in class” sustainable solutions to all projects. In addition, THOR Construction collaborates with research centers to identify causality between the built environment and the well-being of those who visit and work in a facility.

A sustainable future

Progressing into the future, THOR Construction will continue to differentiate itself in the core aspects of operation. Safety, schedule, cost-management and productivity are all areas in which THOR Construction thrives. “We will continue to be a vanguard leader in the people business,” says Norman. “We are continuously looking for new innovative systems and technologies. It starts at the manufacturing level and that feeds our sustainability business. We’re also going to be looking at things like robotics and analyzing what that looks like as far as impacting the productivity per worker.”

THOR Construction will lead the industry into the future with a sustainable approach to optimizing human activity. With the amount of intellectual property and assets possessed by the company, it is able to concentrate on the macro-economic trends advancing in the next few years. “We have built systems that allow for us to not only engage what’s happening at that big macro-economic level, but also to show how we can actually put this stuff into action with the level of operational discipline to reach communities and people where all the growth is predominantly going to come from,” says Norman.


Thor Construction chairman and founder Richard Copeland has received many awards in various categories. In 2006 Copeland was inducted into the Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame by the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA). In the same year, Copeland received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Minority Contractors Association.

THOR Construction continues to take on new and challenging contracts. Working closely with a strong network of partners and subcontractors, the company is leading the way into a future filled with high-quality, sustainable solutions.

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Spring 2018



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