In the 1970s and ’80s, Tooz Construction Inc. was forced to expand its area of operations from its Dickinson, N.D., headquarters due to a declining local economy to as far way as southern Wyoming and Northern Colorado. These days, however, Tooz Construction easily can work closer to home with the booming oil and gas industry borne from the vast resources in the Bakken Shale.
“Right now, our operating territory is drawing back in,” founder, owner and President Fred Tooz says. “There’s so much work within a 100-mile radius of our base in Dickinson, we really don’t have to go beyond that to stay exceptionally busy.
“We are very fortunate to be located in the center of this booming Bakken Shale play. It’s an exciting time for our region; however, we know how difficult it is in other parts of our nation, so that said we are blessed with an abundance of work.”
Fred and his wife Kathie founded Tooz Construction in 1970 in Dickinson. Fred and Kathie consider themselves lucky to have been born and raised on family farms in western North Dakota. The long hours and never-ending work on the farm prepared them well for the challenges of starting a new business. The company initially performed drywall and concrete work before growing into commercial and industrial general contracting. At this same time, the Toozes had just started a family with three small boys – twin two-year-olds and a newborn – and Fred was proudly serving in the North Dakota National Guard. Needless to say, things were very busy for this young startup company.
Today, Tooz Construction can deliver project in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Its services include general contracting, environmental services, design/build, rental equipment, construction management, crane services, trucking, heavy-haul trucking, precast concrete services, snow removal and general site development. Tooz says the key to his company’s success and longevity has been and always will be the core group of dedicated employees.
The Oil Boom
With so much business stemming from the oil boom in the Bakken Shale, Tooz Construction finds itself with a problem contractors in many other regions of the United States wish they had – it can’t grow fast enough to keep up with demand for its services.
“We get stuck in the middle of things when we can’t grow as fast as we would like so that we can take advantage of the work and support our longstanding clients who are also growing,” Tooz says. “In our area, there’s a shortage of people to draw from for the workforce we need. If we do find people, we assist them in locating housing, which is also difficult to do in this area.”
Tooz says his company struggles with locating qualified applicants, so it has reached across the state of North Dakota to find skilled laborers.
“We’ve been reaching out to these areas of North Dakota as well as researching other states in the hopes of finding good, talented people looking for jobs who are willing to relocate,” Tooz says.
“Quality of life in Dickinson is an important topic when we are visiting with potential employees,” Tooz adds. “Our local government entities are doing a good job with infrastructure improvement. Within the next few years, our community will have a new hospital, new lagoon system, more affordable housing and new retail to enhance our great town. This is not to mention the wonderful school systems, West River [Community] Center, Dickinson State University and existing retailers that we already have in Dickinson.”
To work in the often-dangerous conditions of the Bakken Shale, contractors must focus extensively on safety. Tooz Construction takes this responsibility seriously, as it is certified by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Tooz Construction also has a full-time safety coordinator, Jack Cripe. Tooz touts Cripe’s 34 years of military experience as the reason Cripe has been able to maintain safety levels across Tooz Construction’s operations.
When working with oilfield companies that have safety standards specific to their operations, the company tailors its safety training to meet its client’s needs, Tooz says.
“We actively promote a culture of safety throughout our company and we’re willing to invest the required time and effort to ensure everyone goes home safe at the end of the day,” Tooz says.