To stay successful in the construction industry requires more than experience and on-time/on-budget delivery; it also takes flexibility, and few live by this credo more than Amcon.
Founded in 1971, Minnesota-based Amcon is an award-winning, full-service design-build, construction management, and general contracting firm. With its own staff architects, Amcon works with clients on every stage, from pre-design to design, pre-construction to construction, and post-construction. For clients, having all services in-house streamlines coordination and completion, ensuring projects are seamless, efficient, and as cost-effective as can be. As the company describes, Amcon truly handles it all—“the entire road map to get from need to solution.”
Under the leadership of Director of Architecture, Erik Peterson; Chief Financial Officer, Greg Fricke; and Partners, Matt Knutson, Wayde Johnson, and Scott Quiring, Amcon has grown to a staff of about 48. Designing and constructing buildings in 24 states, most of the company’s work today is centered on Minnesota and western Wisconsin, primarily the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis-St. Paul, surrounding suburbs, and recently, Des Moines, Iowa.
With its team of in-house architects, project managers, engineers, interior designers, and on-site superintendents, Amcon’s skills cover all aspects of a development including site evaluation, acquisition, design, construction, and financing. And just as important to clients is the firm’s ability to remain flexible for all project types.
“A distinguishing aspect about us is that we have architects, project captains, and drafters all under our roof,” says Johnson, “and they only design for Amcon. About 90 percent of what we build is designed in-house.” When necessary, the company will contract other design services, such as structural and civil work.
By having all services in one location, lines of communication about projects are constantly kept open, making Amcon a true design-build business. Staff members exchange information all day, every day, instead of just during team or site meetings, says Johnson. This benefits not only the company but also its customers and contractors, who are kept up-to-date with status reports and have a single point of contact.
Beginning his career with Amcon in 1992 as an intern while studying civil engineering in college, Johnson has seen the benefits of single-source communication for himself, and in action. Working for several years as a traditional contractor without an in-house designer in his own company, he reversed course and returned to Amcon as a partner about five years ago.
“I can speak from personal experience: it is far better this way,” he says. Some of the contractors he knew from the 1990s are still working with Amcon to this day. “In the past few years, some subcontractors have followed us from job to job. It’s more of a partnership now than it’s ever been.”
From design build to general contractor—and even serving as construction manager or owner’s representative—Amcon is there to help customers with all their projects, including new builds, remodeling work, tenant build-outs, and more. To stay on top of industry developments, Amcon also continuously invests in new technology, including Procore, Microsoft, and other accounting software that integrates with Procore. This ensures accurate scheduling and budgeting, with reminders being sent to track progress.
Over the years, Johnson and the team at Amcon have taken on myriad types of work, including daycare centers, churches, offices, retail spaces, and manufacturing facilities. Along with having all services under one roof, another of the firm’s greatest strengths is its flexibility.
“If you talk to the partners here—Matt or Scott or me—and look through our backgrounds and history, we’ve all been here so long, our experience reflects flexibility,” says Johnson. “We’ve done warehouses, offices, apartment buildings, daycares, retail buildings—whatever our customers want. If you took different snapshots over time, we’d appear to be everything from industrial building contractors to suburban office contractors to retail contractors; and if you took a snapshot right now, you might say we’re apartment contractors who also do daycare centers—markets that have absorbed our staff and our efforts here for the last three or four years. I suspect, like everything in life, those things will cycle, and someday soon we’ll be doing something else.”
Responding to customer needs, Amcon has seen much growth in stand-alone daycare centers, many of them located in new subdivisions. Other sectors, such as apartment construction, have slowed for now, owing to rising interest rates. Johnson is confident there will be a moderation of prices as time goes by since the need for housing has not diminished.
Moving into medical
Taking on projects ranging in value from a million to a hundred million dollars, one of Amcon’s biggest works to date was the Hudson Medical Center. “It was a great project for us, and it’s been very successful for the developer,” says Johnson of the $70 million job. Located at 2651 Hillcrest Dr. in Hudson, Wisconsin, the center opened its doors in January, about a year after breaking ground.
At about 160,000 square feet, the three-story multi-tenant facility houses a range of medical offices and outpatient services in a non-hospital-based setting.
“The whole structure is precast concrete, so one subcontractor assembled that entire building from a structural standpoint after the foundations were put in,” says Johnson. “The physicians running the various practices in the building were the developers, and also provided tenants.”
In April, Hudson Medical Center won the Minnesota REjournal Real Estate Awards in the Medical Property category. Amcon was also nominated in the Education and Daycare-Suburban category for its New Creations Valley View Daycare project.
The team at Amcon likes to use its success not only for its own benefit, but also to help others. One of the organizations supported by the firm through annual sponsorship is Hunt 4 HOPE, benefiting HOPE 4 Youth, whose mission it is to provide pathways to end youth homelessness. HOPE 4 Youth is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in Anoka County that helps young people, ages 16 to 24, who are experiencing homelessness in the northern Twin Cities metro area. “We don’t do a lot of direct marketing,” says Johnson, “and instead try to put our dollars where we are doing some community good.”
In the future, Amcon expects to take on more medical buildings and standalone, built-to-suit daycare works. “There’s a huge need everywhere, especially in growing suburban areas,” says Johnson. “I definitely see daycare ongoing. We’ve established ourselves, and there is such a need that it looks like it’s going to carry on,” he shares.
“I also expect the apartment work will continue, but it may take a bit of a pause in the next six to 12 months while people adjust to interest rates being what they are. Everybody is adjusting to these changing times.”