Following record year, Journey expects further growth in 2018

April 19, 2018

This piece is presented by Journey Group.

While 2017 was a record year for Sioux Falls-based Journey Group, 2018 will be even bigger.

“This will be our biggest year yet,” CEO Randy Knecht said. “Our company has experienced significant growth over the last five years, in particular the last two, and a lot of our larger projects will carry into 2019.”

Health care and higher education are driving much of the growth. Journey is in the middle of the multiyear Avera on Louise campus project and working through $40 million in projects on the main Avera McKennan campus.

“So those two Avera locations are keeping  several of our teams busy, but we’re also doing work for Avera in Pierre finishing up the Helmsley Cancer Center, in Rock Rapids, Iowa, building a new hospital, and we’ll be starting expansion projects in Estherville, Iowa, and Marshall, Minn.,” Knecht said.

University projects also are a big part of the mix. Journey is working on new residence halls and a new School for the Blind and Visually Impaired facility on the Northern State University campus, continuing work at SDSU on the performing arts and wellness centers projects, and working at Dakota State University on the Madison Cyber Labs project.

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“So all those university campus projects through the Board of Regents and Office of State Engineer have kept us busy. It’s a significant segment for us,” Knecht said.

In Sioux Falls, other signature projects include an expansion of Dow Rummel Village’s assisted living and memory care unit and two downtown projects: the boutique Hotel Phillips and the city-owned parking ramp and privately developed hotel starting construction soon along 10th Street east of Phillips Avenue.

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“Sioux Falls itself continues to grow and prosper, and our goal is to continue to have a significant presence in Sioux Falls and continue to do work on a regional basis as we grow,” Knecht said.

After rebranding as Journey Group in 2014, the new name has been so well-received that the former Sioux Falls Construction name is being phased out, he added.

“That was a suggestion by some of our customers. They, along with the community, accepted the Journey name and brand,” Knecht said.

“Our intention is never to forget Sioux Falls Construction and the history and heritage it brought to us. Sioux Falls Construction provided our roots and a firm foundation upon which we continue to grow and evolve our business. The fact is that we have been doing work more than within Sioux Falls, and to avoid brand confusion, it just made sense to use the Journey brand outside as well as inside the greater Sioux Falls area.”

The company’s growth in western South Dakota, where it acquired Ainsworth-Benning Construction in 2016, has been building, Knecht said.

“We think it’s an exciting time to be doing business in that market and are finding great opportunities,” he said.

Inside Journey Group, the foundation is being laid to support the company’s growth, Knecht said.

“We made significant investments in recruiting, training, education, technology and lean construction practices, getting ready for what’s to come,” he said. “We’ve really had a focus on mission and values. We’ve focused on culture within the organization and on investing in our people.”

Becoming more employee-friendly starts with leaders

That includes an emphasis on internal development, providing leadership training to business unit and support department managers and to project managers and expanding it last year to field supervisors. The company will add a full-time training coordinator and is planning to develop an internal program to help employees with a career path at Journey.

“We want to bring new team members in and have them feel like they can retire here,” Knecht said. “You might think that’s not possible in today’s world, but we still think we can do that. We want to create a culture and environment where that’s possible.”

The commercial construction market is strong, especially for the Journey Construction unit, he said.

“We are focusing on building our SFC Civil and Black-Top Paving units in 2018 and 2019 to further diversify our revenue streams. We are also looking to develop other markets for our commercial building units.”

The overall company growth pattern likely won’t continue at its recent trajectory, and that’s on purpose, he added.

“We may intentionally level off our growth a bit and allow our infrastructure to catch up with staffing, training and making sure we can take care of our customers at the same high level they expect,” Knecht said.

“For our team, this is an exciting time. We’re not a family-owned organization, but we’re building a culture where it feels like a family and there won’t be any limitations on anyone’s opportunities. You can become anything you want here at Journey.”

Following record year, Journey expects further growth in 2018

While 2017 was a record year for Sioux Falls-based Journey Group, 2018 will be even bigger.

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