Electrical contractor Brink Constructors, Inc., a Quanta Services company, boasts more than 75 years of experience in high-voltage transmission line and substation erection. Headquartered in Rapid City, South Dakota, the business has expanded from its Midwest roots to include regional offices in Princeton, Minnesota and Leesburg, Florida.
Founded in 1946 by Frank Brink, Brink Constructors’ supportive company culture has remained strong throughout the decades. “I would say that the thing that sets us apart from everybody else is our family atmosphere here,” says President John Keeler. “We operate as a family.”
Despite Brink Constructors Inc. becoming a subsidiary of Quanta Services in 2015, the company’s foundational culture persists. “There’s actually been Brink family [working for the company] all 76 years that the company has existed,” Keeler says. “Even today, after being bought out and owned by Quanta, there’s still Brink family here. We actually have fourth-generation Brinks in the organization today.”
This supportive, family atmosphere is also evident in the way that the company does business every day. “We never leave a job without knowing that we’re going to be invited back,” says Keeler. “We take that to heart, actually. That’s a pride thing; making sure that you do not only quality work, but that you take care of the customer. You do the job that you were hired to do.”
This attitude extends beyond the customers to the landowners and stakeholders who are affected by the company’s work. The team makes it a point to leave the land as close to how they found it as possible. It all goes back to that “pride piece of it, the family piece of it,” Keeler explains. “That’s the point of difference for us.”
Partnering for success
Parent company Quanta Services performs specialty contracting for the pipeline, industrial, communication, and electric power industries. The holding company approached the Brink family with a mutually beneficial offer that led to the 2015 acquisition.
“They buy companies that just need a little boost to take them to the next level,” Keeler explains.
Quanta’s company culture has proven a natural fit for Brink Constructors. “Quanta is a family too,” he says. And, as one big, extended family, Quanta’s resources are freely shared. “For anything that comes up that we have questions on, we have a one-way link right back to Quanta. If we need resources, we’re all family. You pick up the phone and they guide and help you through whatever you may have on your plate in front of you,” he shares.
“They support us in operations; they support us in safety; they support us on the financial side [and with their] fleet. We all have the same common goal.”
All eyes on safety
It should come as no surprise that, as a family-oriented company, a big part of this goal is prioritizing the safety and well-being of employees. “All our employees are family,” says Director of Safety Jon Gunderman, “and our number one concern is for folks to go home at the end of the day.”
This mindset is deeply entrenched throughout the entire company. “Safety isn’t just something that happens at work,” he explains. “It’s a culture for us.”
Since joining the company a little over two years ago, Gunderman has ramped up the focus on safety even further. These efforts have included an increase in training opportunities and the creation of specific safety positions such as a dedicated safety training manager and a dedicated department of transportation compliance manager, increasing the safety department staff to a total of fourteen people.
Gunderman is a huge proponent of communication and encourages “open conversations” with employees regarding the importance of safety and how best to achieve safe outcomes. He says that addressing safety from the perspective of how it benefits the employee personally—rather than just as a box to check for liability purposes—is key.
After doing business in South Dakota for three-quarters of a century, Brink Constructors has become an integral part of the community. In 2021, in celebration of the company’s 75th anniversary, the team launched the Frank Brink Memorial Scholarship to provide opportunities for local students.
Two graduating seniors from any West River high school are selected each year to receive scholarships to attend Northwest Lineman College’s electrical line worker program. The scholarship covers the full tuition as well as any application fees, laboratory fees, commercial driver’s license costs, National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) crane certification, and all required tools. The goal is to foster the next generation of professional line workers and to give back to the community while simultaneously honoring Brink Constructors’ legacy.
In another effort to support education within the industry, the company works closely with the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. “We volunteer time, equipment, and money and manpower to help them out,” says Keeler. Several of the company’s employees sit on various boards affiliated with the school, offering their insight and expertise in areas ranging from civil engineering to industrial and mechanical skills.
The company is also actively involved with diverse local community projects and events. This includes spearheading local lighting projects, volunteering at the local youth fair, sponsoring local high school rodeos as well as Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) rodeos, sponsoring a local softball team, volunteering at the Rapid City Summer Nights concerts, donating to the upkeep of local veterans memorials, and participating in local parades.
“We’re always looking for ways to get involved in the community, no matter what it is,” Keeler shares.
Adding to the family
Today, the team is looking ahead to the future, starting with making sure that future leaders are lined up to continue the company’s success. “We’re big on our development of leadership,” Keeler says. After experiencing rapid organic growth in recent years, these leaders will help guide the company through its ongoing expansion.
In addition to the Frank Brink Memorial Scholarship, the company is actively recruiting employees to support its growth and puts a concerted effort into visiting various colleges, including the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Brink Constructors developed its first internship program with the school this year to support and develop professional talent, focusing on skills such as estimating, project management, safety, and quality control.
“We started that in 2023 to hopefully bring some of those engineering graduates that aren’t sure that they want to sit at the desk and design things all day long, but still have that construction mindset and mechanical abilities,” Keeler explains. “Those are our future leaders.”
Another recruitment focus is on linemen graduating from colleges all around the country, from Idaho and Texas to Florida, as well as locally in South Dakota. “With each graduating class, we go attend their career day the last week of their schooling, introduce them to Brink and who we are and where we’re working and what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” Keeler says. “So that’s been a great way to pick up young linemen. But the seasoned and veteran linemen that are out there, a lot of [recruiting them] happens just by word of mouth. Employees recommend people to the company; we just do it old school.”
With an industry giant backing the company, in addition to a strong company culture and recruitment efforts to ensure a staff of highly skilled employees and future leaders, Brink Constructors is well-placed for ongoing success.