|Chad Frost, director of Business Excellence at EAPC Architects and Engineers, worked with employees at Retrax to create efficiencies in their production processes.
What could you do with a 50 percent productivity improvement? A new business division at EAPC Architects and Engineers offers EAPC clients another tool to improve their bottom line by removing waste and improving operational flow.
”Business Excellence is complimentary to the design and management EAPC does for our customers’ building and industrial projects in the sense that my focus is to look at the people and interactions within a building or process and to see how we can do better,” says Chad Frost, director of Business Excellence for EAPC Architects and Engineers.
There are four components to the division: operational excellence, business strategy and planning, quality management and tools, and assessment and audit.
Chief Operations Officer and Principal Architect Wayne Dietrich says it’s a new dimension to their design team and a natural evolution for this progressive company, which specializes in architecture, engineering, industrial, and wind energy design. Additionally, many of the skills and tools Frost brings to EAPC are being used to improve their internal processes.
Frost may collaborate with building designers and clients to pinpoint areas where a company’s process can be streamlined and the square footage reduced. Business Excellence is also a way for EAPC to add value for its clients after a design project is complete by offering continuous improvement services to customers’ actual operations inside the building.
“Company culture is a big aspect. I can draw all day and not break through that,” says Dietrich. “With these tools, we can help people accept planned changes and design a better, more effective and efficient floor plan to serve the majority.”
Frost has more than 20 years of experience managing production floors and working with management teams in companies including LM Wind Power and AGCO-GSI. He is a certified Internal Organization for Standardization (ISO) lead auditor as well, and will work with companies seeking this endorsement of a quality management system in their operations.
“Many manufacturers and service providers are finding their customers mandate an ISO certification and we can help these companies execute the implementation of these systems to meet their customers’ demands,” he said.
|Since he started Britton Transport, Dave Britton’s trucking and brokerage company has grown to a fleet of 97 trucks. They expanded their corporate footprint in Grand Forks, moving into a new terminal in April.
In the trucking business, the scenery often changes for those behind the wheel. At Britton Transport, the corporate staff is enjoying a change of scenery and wide open spaces since moving into new headquarters in April.
President Dave Britton says the company’s move caps off a series of exciting corporate changes in recent years.
To celebrate, Britton Transport is hosting an open house from 3 – 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, with a ribbon cutting event at 4 p.m.
“We're proud of our growth and new building and proud to be located in Grand Forks," Britton said. He hopes the community will stop by their offices at 1651 N. 48th St. “See what’s off the beaten path in Grand Forks,” he said.
Since 1980 Britton has been beating paths, building a transportation company that today is part of one of North America’s largest fleets.
In 2011, Britton Transport was purchased by and became a subsidiary of Canadian company Bison Transport, which has more than 1,100 trucks and employs nearly 2,000.
Britton says the companies share a culture and values that have made it easy to assimilate the marriage.
Britton Transport’s new $3.9 million headquarters, Britton said, is a near replica, albeit about 70 percent of the size, of Bison’s Calgary terminal. The building’s design, down to the grout between floor tiles, was managed by a team from Bison.
“We were packed like sardines in our other location,” he said. “Now we have room to grow.”
Located In the heart of the Red River Valley, Britton says, his company and others enjoy the benefits of a stable, vibrant economy. And, he says while the oil boom in Western North Dakota has had a positive impact to his company, it’s a minimal part of their business.
“Britton Transport is a shining example of business success and economic growth in the Grand Forks region,” said Grand Forks Region EDC President & CEO Klaus Thiessen. “Proactive, growing logistics operations like Britton are an important piece of our infrastructure, vital to recruiting new companies.”
The EDC assisted Britton Transport with its expansion and the company received support through the Grand Forks Growth Fund.
|R & R Contracting builds and maintains rail lines throughout North America. Photo: R & R Contracting
A life long love of locomotives spawned a railroad construction company headquartered in Grand Forks that has its fingerprints on rail lines throughout North America.
Bill Reimer turned his youthful fascination with trains into R & R Contracting, a company he started in 1988.
The company has grown to become the go-to resource for rail planning, construction, maintenance, repairs, and more for large rail transportation companies as well as industry companies – from agriculture to oil - that rely on rail lines to move their products. They are also a preferred recommended contractor by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF).
With just a handful of employees 25 years ago, today R&R Contracting employs about 300 in five office locations throughout the country. About one-third, says President Jeff Schake, are based in their Grand Forks headquarters office on Highway 81. “Just a few years ago,” he said, “there were less than 10 working in the Grand Forks office.”
They have work crews based in eight states and Manitoba, Canada. They’ve worked on projects as far south as Chile and recently, said Vice President Reed Reimer, they were looking at a project in Africa.
The company is one of few rail contractors in the country able to step through a project starting at inception. “We take a project from concept through completion,” said Reed.
With a staff of engineers, R&R Contracting will plan and design rail lines. Once designed, they can then construct the line. And once constructed, R&R Contracting will provide inspection and maintenance services for its clients, as well as potential for operating and handling switching.
At a glance, the company touches hundreds and hundreds of miles of track each year. With one-half hour or more to spare, an engineer could get a more exact number. But spare time is hard to find in this bustling company.
Before starting his own company, Bill worked in the railroad industry with BN as a laborer, working his way up through operator, foreman, superintendent, and inspector. He knew he could provide a service at a competitive rate… that’s when he started R&R. In addition to building lines, he built relationships.
“Fifty to 60 percent of our business is what Jeff and Bill have done over the years to develop and grow relationships,” said Reed. “Word of mouth brings in the next jobs.”