Behnken named to national Innovation Institute

Nick Behnken



ESI Senior Project Manager Nick Behnken has been selected for the 2023 National Electrical Contractors Association’s Innovation Institute, a limited-entry, one-year professional training program for future executives and innovators in the electrical construction industry.

ESI President Matt Hartshorn nominated him.

“Being accepted into this elite program demonstrates Nick’s commitment to personal and professional growth and to becoming a leader in the industry,” Hartshorn said.

According to NECA, the Innovation Institute is an opportunity for electrical contractors to empower emerging industry leaders to become visionaries with the leadership skills necessary for practical success.

Selection is determined in part on the following items:

  • Examples of how the nominee demonstrates an innovative mindset, commitment to excellence and teamwork.
  • An outline for the future of the nominee within the organization.
  • Other materials supporting the nominee’s innovation ability and leadership potential.

Behnken will participate in a cohort that will meet in person four times throughout the year and engage virtually each week. The program includes one-on-one coaching, peer group discussions and a capstone project.

ESI, part of the MDU Resources family of companies, is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has locations in Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton.

Loy Clark employee named Hoffman GUTS Champion for identifying safety hazard, stopping work

Brett Jerome


Hoffman Construction recently honored Brett Jerome with its GUTS Champion award for actions he took at a Corvallis, Oregon, job site that likely prevented a serious injury.

Jerome, foreman fuser with Loy Clark Construction, was at Oregon State University Reser Stadium to install gas service to a new building. A different subcontractor had vacuum excavated the area around the riser so Jerome and his crew could access it.

Jerome noticed that the excavation was too close to a base plate that was part of a six-story scaffolding structure along the face of the building. He immediately notified the Hoffman Construction superintendent and said he could not let his crew work in the space. Hoffman employees quickly shored up the hole to eliminate the hazard.

Hoffman Construction Superintendent Butch Riley praised Jerome for his actions.

GUTS Award presented to Brett Jerome.

“Brett not only cared about the schedule and production of his team but put safety for his team and those around him first,” Riley wrote in an email. “It takes a special person to see a safety issue and have enough guts to say something.”

Jay Davis, contract manager supervisor with NW Natural, said in an email that he commends Jerome for leading by example. He emphasized that everyone has the right to stop work when they feel something isn’t right. Loy Clark was working as a NW Natural subcontractor at the Reser Stadium job site.

Hoffman Construction’s GUTS Champion award, which stands for Get Us There Safe, serves as a reminder to get everyone home safely. Recipients of the GUTS Champion award must be nominated, and the nomination must be approved by several project superintendents who must all agree that the nominee’s actions went above and beyond their normal job description and that their actions saved one or more people from being hurt.

Based in Tualatin, Oregon, Loy Clark Construction is part of the MDU Resources family of companies.

MDU Resources utility companies earn high satisfaction rankings

Three of MDU Resources’ utility companies earned high satisfaction rankings in the J.D. Power 2021 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study released Nov. 30.

Cascade Natural Gas earned the highest ranking in satisfaction among residential natural gas customers in the midsize natural gas utilities segment of the West Region, according to a national survey. Cascade earned a score of 787, highest among midsize natural gas utilities in the West Region.

Intermountain Gas Company finished third with a score of 776, and Montana-Dakota Utilities ranked sixth with a score of 752.

Cascade’s score was the fourth highest in the nation out of the 84 utility companies that were part of the study.

“Having our utility companies so high in the West Region is an incredible achievement for our employees. We have filled the top spot in 12 of the last 13 years between Cascade and Intermountain,” said Nicole Kivisto, president and CEO of the utility group. “It’s so satisfying to see the remarkable results from the hard work of our employees. They take immense pride in serving our nearly 1.2 million customers across eight states.”

The utility group combined for an average score of 772, which is the equivalent of finishing 14th among the other 81 utilities in the nationwide study. The average score for the West Region was 757.

Great Plains Natural Gas is not included in the survey results because of its relatively small size.

In its 21st year, the study surveys customer satisfaction across six factors: safety and reliability, billing and payment, corporate citizenship, price, communications, and customer care.

MDU Construction Services Group ranks No. 12 on list of top 600 specialty contractors

MDU Construction Services Group is No. 12 on a list of the nation’s top specialty contractors. Engineering News Record, a leading construction industry publication, ranks the 600 largest specialty contractors in the United States based on annual revenue.

“Despite the continual challenges our industry has faced in the last few years, our employees keep delivering outstanding results,” said Jeff Thiede, MDU Construction Services Group president and CEO.

The company ranked in the top 10 in three subcategories.

  • 9 in electrical.
  • 6 in fire protection.
  • 6 in utility.

The company ranked 34th in mechanical.

MDU Construction Services Group, part of the MDU Resources family of companies, has more than 8,000 employees at 60+ locations across the country

ESI earns elite Voluntary Protection Program recertification

ESI, Inc. was recently recertified as a Voluntary Protection Program Star Mobile Workforce contractor through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA describes VPP as a model of excellence that can influence best practices industrywide. VPP Star Mobile Workforce was developed for contractors and subcontractors who move site-to-site to provide construction, maintenance and repair services.

ESI first earned VPP status in 2018.

Founded in 1966, ESI, Inc. is part of the MDU Resources family of companies. ESI, Inc. is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, with locations in Dayton, Cleveland and Columbus.

ESI, Inc. honored with industry Safety Achievement Award for outstanding injury and illness statistics

ESI, Inc., was recently honored by Builders Exchange of Central Ohio with a 2022 Safety Achievement Award for having outstanding injury and illness statistics. Builders Exchange, a commercial construction trade association, presents this award annually to acknowledge the industry’s commitment to safety in central Ohio.

To be considered for this award, the Builders Exchange member must demonstrate its commitment to safety. A panel of volunteer safety professionals reviews each applicant’s statistical data, comparing them to national standards for their industry classification. In addition, the safety judges make unannounced visits to company jobsites to ensure they are enacting safety in the field.

“Not only did ESI’s statistical safety data prove to be below the national figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but our team members also demonstrated safety within the field during an unannounced safety audit performed by a panel of volunteer safety judges,” Barry Smallwood, ESI safety director, said. “Creating and maintaining a safe place of employment truly requires a team effort.”

ESI, part of the MDU Resources family of companies, provides industry-leading construction services across Ohio and the surrounding region.

Intermountain Gas earns 2022 ENERGY STAR® Market Leader Award

Intermountain Gas, one of MDU Resources’ utility subsidiaries, received the 2022 ENERGY STAR® Market Leader Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its outstanding efforts to promote energy efficient residential construction and help homebuyers and residents experience the quality, comfort, and value that come with living in an ENERGY STAR certified home or apartment.

Each year, the ENERGY STAR Residential New Construction program presents Market Leader Awards to outstanding partners who have made important contributions to energy efficient construction and environmental protection by building or verifying a significant number of ENERGY STAR certified homes and apartments, or by sponsoring a local program that supported these activities during the previous year. More than120,000ENERGY STAR certified single-family homes and multifamily units were built in 2021, for a total exceeding 2.3 million homes since 1995.

Intermountain Gas had 1,685 ENERGY STAR certified homes and/or apartments in 2021.

“Intermountain is proud to partner with ENERGY STAR and ENERGY STAR Certified home builders in energy-efficient new construction. Intermountain’s energy efficiency team has worked diligently to promote the use of high-efficient equipment and design to help customers save energy and money on home energy bills,” said Mark Chiles, vice president, regulatory affairs and customer service for Intermountain Gas.

Montana-Dakota Utilities receives Emergency Response Award from Edison Electric Institute


Montana-Dakota Utilities was announced as an Edison Electric Institute (EEI) Emergency Response Award recipient. Presented to EEI member companies, the Emergency Response Awards recognize recovery and assistance efforts of electric companies following service disruptions caused by extreme weather or other natural events.

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process, and the awards were presented during EEI 2022, EEI’s annual thought leadership forum.

“Over the past year, electric companies confronted severe storms and extreme weather events, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and winter storms, that impacted customers and communities across the nation,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “Despite challenging conditions, Montana-Dakota and its employees worked to restore power safely and as quickly as possible following a late April blizzard. I congratulate and applaud Montana-Dakota and their employees for their continued dedication to the customers and communities that they serve, and I am honored to present them with this well-deserved award.”

Montana-Dakota’s service territory was hit with widespread power outages and unprecedented damage to its electric system from the storm. Rain that turned to a thick ice coating on powerlines coupled with wind gusts that pushed 60 mph in some areas was the main culprit. Outage restorage spanned eight days.

“We had 18,000 customers without service at the peak of the event. We had 100 linemen working to replace approximately 150 power poles and repair 350 crossarms, as well as the associated ridge irons, braces, pins, insulators and wire,” said Eric Martuscelli, vice president, field operations. “This was a team effort from day one. We were able to restore power faster than anticipated which is a testament to the hard work of our employees.”

MDU Resources recognized as top contributor to United Way 2021 campaign

Bismarck and Mandan, North Dakota-based employees of MDU Resources Group, Montana-Dakota Utilities, Knife River Corporation, WBI Energy and MDU Construction Services Group played an important role in helping the Missouri Slope Area United Way raise a record-breaking $3,104,440 for its 2021 campaign.

Contributions from employees and the MDU Resources Foundation totaled $136, 619. Thanks to their generosity, MDU Resources was recognized by the Missouri Slope Areawide United Way as the top contributor to the 2021 campaign. This is the second time in three years that MDU Resources received this honor; the last time was in 2019.

Duro Electric named to 2022 Top Performers list by Associated Builders and Contractors

Duro Electric, part of the MDU Resources family of companies, was named to the 2022 Top Performers list compiled by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

This annual list highlights contractors that have earned ABC’s Accredited Quality Contractor credentials for their commitment to corporate responsibility in quality, safety, talent management — including inclusion, diversity and equity — education and community relations.

For 2022, Duro Electric was listed:

  • No. 114 on Top 200 Performers list;
  • No. 54 on ABC’s top Trade Contractors list;
  • No. 24 on ABC’s Top Electrical Contractors list; and
  • No. 14 on ABC’s Top Religious Contractors list.