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March 21, 2018
This piece is presented by South Dakota Biotech.
Bringing biotech innovation to the marketplace takes a team.
At Nelson Engineering, that’s a growing team with a range of specialties.
The Sioux Falls-based firm combines turnkey engineering with procurement and construction services. It’s a package of offerings that has caused the company to hit a growth spurt, reaching 25 team members.
“We’re really a one-stop shop,” business development manager Tiffany Trottman said. “Our clients can use us as a single point of contact from conception of a facility or expansion or upgrade until it’s up and running.”
Since it began in 2007, Nelson Engineering has worked with companies in a range of biotech applications, including fuel ethanol, biochemicals, ag processing, advanced and renewable biofuels, bioplastics, biomass and algae.
Founder Stacy Nelson and co-owner CEO Jerry Baker have backgrounds in engineering, specializing in construction and plant operations, respectively.
“It’s always been a priority for our owners to provide great career opportunities within the Midwest and to support the communities where we do business,” Trottman said. “We’ve been fortunate to hire many people who are originally from this area, went away for schooling and are looking to come back home.”
The firm added several employees in the past few months and is hiring more. Current openings include a mechanical engineer, sales associate and interns in process, mechanical and structural engineering.
“We are working on some of the largest projects we’ve ever had, and they’re things we’re really enjoying,” Trottman said.
“We’ve worked hard to establish a strong core group of employees with the right blend of skills, and that’s allowed us to capture some great opportunities in the biofuels industry. There’s a lot happening there right now, and we’ve been fortunate to be part of that story.”
Their work is primarily in the Midwest, but projects have taken them throughout the U.S. and Canada for construction and globally for engineering as well. Nelson Engineering’s office is conveniently located near the Sioux Falls Regional Airport.
Current projects include working with first-generation ethanol projects and other value-added ag processing, “taking streams that would typically be waste and upgrading that into a more valuable product,” Trottman said.
“In some projects, we’re helping customers scale up from demonstration to commercial. We tend to work really well with people trying to commercialize their technology because we’re very adaptable and nimble. We can respond quickly to changes in the project and in scope. So we get to work with a variety of customers at that early stage.”
As an employer, Nelson Engineering has an outstanding culture, said Alyssa Siemonsma, who recently was hired as a business development associate.
“I’ll never forget the first day I came to work at Nelson. There was a lunch meeting scheduled, and we prayed before we ate,” she said. “We come together as a team, and we do things as a team. We have a group called Nelson Giving Back that enables us to work with different charities and volunteer events in the community, making it really feel like a family here.”
Nelson Engineering is a key participant in the area’s biotech community, said Joni Johnson, executive director of South Dakota Biotech.
“We couldn’t be happier for the growth Nelson is experiencing in South Dakota,” she said. “This is the type of business that can support all the biotech innovation we see occurring in our state. It’s a place our member companies can go when they’re ready to scale up their work that’s based right here.”
The firm also anticipates further connecting to the biotech community, Trottman said.
“We love the innovation and the vision around biotech and innovation happening in the area,” she said. “Hearing about what others are doing and accomplishing is really inspiring.”
This Sioux Falls engineering firm specializes in biotech projects and is growing fast.