MDU Resources employee, military veteran nominated for “Hidden Hometown Hero” award for volunteerism

Dennis Burdolski, an MDU Resources employee and Air Force veteran, is one of 10 volunteers in Bismarck-Mandan, North Dakota, nominated for Scheels Hidden Hometown Heroes. Burdolski was instrumental in starting the Western North Dakota Honor Flight.

Dennis Burdolski, MDU Resources manager of Facility and Administrative Services and Air Force veteran, is one of 10 volunteers in Bismarck-Mandan, North Dakota, nominated for Scheels Hidden Hometown Heroes.

Burdolski is a driving force behind the Western North Dakota Honor Flight. In fact, he was instrumental in starting this nonprofit, which provides World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War-era veterans a free trip to Washington, D.C. Burdolski currently serves as the president of the Western North Dakota Honor Flight Board of Directors.

“Many of these veterans did not get a proper homecoming or the respect they deserved when they came back from their service,” Burdolski said. “These honor flights finally give them that.”

Last month, Burdolski and the volunteer team for the Western North Dakota Honor flight took more than 100 North Dakota veterans to Washington, D.C.

During the veterans’ trip to the nation’s capital, they visited the memorials that honor those who have served and sacrificed for their country. They also visited Arlington National Cemetery to watch the Changing of the Guard and toured the U.S. Capitol.

“I enjoy making these flights happen, and this is a great honor to nominated,” Burdolski said. “I’m glad this is bringing even more publicity of the honor flight.”

Father-son Honor Flight experience serves as catalyst to create western North Dakota chapter

Burdolski’s first encounter with the Honor Flight was when he accompanied his dad, also a military veteran, on his trip.

“My dad was a World War II veteran and traveled (on the Honor Flight) in 2010,” Burdolski said. “He lived six more years and talked of his trip every day for the rest of his life. I wanted to share that with others.”

At the time of his dad’s trip, western North Dakota didn’t have an Honor Flight. A chapter existed in only eastern North Dakota to serve veterans from that part of the state. So, Burdolski took it upon himself to change that. He was instrumental in creating awareness and fundraising so that the trips are free to veterans.

Participation in Honor Flights continues to grow

The inaugural flight for Western North Dakota Honor Flight was in April 2022. With every trip since then, the interest continues to grow.

“Each time we go and take 100-plus veterans off the (waiting) list, the list grows even larger within a few weeks after the flight,” Burdolski said. “Obviously these veterans want to be part of this.”

Burdolski said that veterans of Operation Desert Storm will be able to join the Honor Flight once the corresponding memorial in Washington, D.C., is built. The memorial’s location has been determined, but it will be a few years before the memorial is completed.

Learn more about Burdolski’s work for the Western North Dakota Honor Flight and vote by May 16 for him here.

The top six vote receivers will be recognized at a Bismarck Larks baseball game this summer.

Employees recognized with corporate award for volunteerism, community involvement

 

Each year, MDU Resources honors employees who make outstanding contributions to its companies and the communities we serve.

For 2023, five employees have been recognized with the Community Spirit Award, which recognizes employees who are actively involved in their community. Each winner receives $1,000, plus $1,000 is given to a qualified charity of the winner’s choice. 

2023 Community Spirit Award winners


Nicole Carpenter
Project manager,
Bombard Electric, LLC
Las Vegas, Nevada

Carpenter, a project engineer, leads the charge when it comes to organizing and overseeing Bombard Electric’s commitment to the community. She is passionate about ensuring Las Vegas’ homeless are not forgotten, particularly around the holidays.

In 2023, Carpenter organized a company donation drive to collect clothing, food and basic essentials for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission. She also leads continual efforts to gather donations for Project 150, a local organization that focuses on helping homeless teens, providing everything from clothing to basic essentials.

 

Ben DeHart
Estimator,
ESI Electrical Contractors
Dayton, Ohio

DeHart is active with many organizations and volunteers his time to support their activities. He fixes and updates floats for the Dayton, Ohio, Christmas Parade and has even personally purchased tools needed to work on the floats.

Also during the holidays, DeHart organizes and leads the efforts to hang Christmas lights in downtown Dayton. Each year, he assembles a team of employees to volunteer on the weekends and leads the charge under a tight deadline. DeHart has been known to work alone in the rain, to hang lights when no other volunteers were available.

As a volunteer with his church, DeHart has helped wire the electricity in a home for people in need. He is also an instructor at the local Joint Apprentice Training Center, where he goes above and beyond by spending time with apprentices outside of class to help those who need additional coaching and training.

 

Mark Haag, manager of project Maximo
Shane Wothe, manager of enterprise endpoints and technical service
MDU Resources
Bismarck, North Dakota

Both Haag and Wothe are involved in Rebuilding Together, a non-profit that helps people with physical or income limitations make essential repairs to their homes. Haag and Wothe serve on the Executive Committee: Haag as the president and Wothe as the treasurer. They volunteer year-round in preparation for Rebuilding Together doing tasks ranging from conducting meetings, fundraising and reviewing applications to touring and selecting homes, coordinating volunteers and purchasing materials for the annual event. Last year, more than 20 homes in the community received improvements.

 

Matt Heinz
Working lead – Linecrew, Montana-Dakota Utilities
Dickinson, North Dakota

The individual who nominated Matt touted his tremendous commitment to organizations in his community, including giving time to youth hockey, football and baseball teams, as well as the Ronald McDonald House and the Roughrider Commission.

WBI Energy employee recognized with life-saver award

Ryan Muecke, senior area representative with WBI Energy, third from right, received the Liberty Mutual Life Saver Award for his actions to help a teenage boy in an ATV accident. Pictured with Muecke, from left, are Brian Voss, WBI Energy Worland District transmission supervisor; Muecke’s wife, Christy, and children, Curtis, Charlee and Tucker; Brandon Hoehn, technical consultant with Liberty Mutual; and Mike St. Clair, WBI Energy Worland District manager.

 

Ryan Muecke, a senior area representative in the Worland District for WBI Energy, was heading home from work recently when his sharp observation skills and instinct to stop may have saved the life of a teenage boy.

While Muecke was driving down a county road, he spotted the tire of an all-terrain vehicle sticking up out of a ditch. He slowed as he got closer and could see hands waving from under an overturned four-wheeler.

“I pulled safely off the road as quickly as I could and ran over to find a teenage kid with his leg pinned under the four-wheeler,” Muecke said. “He was not bleeding and didn’t appear hurt, but his leg was pinned and he couldn’t get out from under the machine.”

Muecke asked the boy if it was OK for him to try rolling the four-wheeler up enough for him to try to get out from under it. When the boy said it was, Muecke was able to lift it and the teen scrambled out.

Muecke said that after making sure the boy was OK and able to walk, the teen helped Muecke push the four-wheeler back onto its wheels. Another truck pulled up at that point, and the other driver also helped push the four-wheeler out of the ditch.

Muecke noted that the accident happened because the boy had a poorly secured load on his four-wheeler — a tank sprayer for spraying weeds. When a strap holding the tank came loose, it caught the front wheel and caused the ATV to flip down the steep embankment.

“I’m glad I was there to help, and that everything turned out OK. It could have been a lot worse if that ditch had been full of water or the tank had come loose and landed on him, or if fuel from the ATV had spilled,” Muecke said. “It was a good reminder to always make sure equipment is secured properly.”

For his actions that day, Liberty Mutual honored Muecke with the Life Saver Award “for outstanding courage and humanity.”

Ferderer named to Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC’s “20 Under 40” list

We’re proud to announce that Nikki Ferderer, assistant to the chair of the board and the president & CEO, has been named to the Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC’s 20 Under 40 list.

In her role at MDU Resources, Nikki provides support to the CEO and board of directors of the region’s largest publicly traded company. She is a trustworthy team player who, no matter how busy she is, maintains her professional and friendly composure and makes it all look easy!

Ferderer joined MDU Resources in 2008 and was promoted to her current role in 2016.

Read more about Ferderer and the other professionals recognized at https://issuu.com/bismarckmandanchamberconnection/docs/08chamberedc_connissuu_ae6fac43132d83

Utility group’s customer service supervisors share remote work success tips at industry conference

Jennifer Correia, customer service supervisor
Angie Robertson, customer service supervisor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While many businesses are attempting to bring employees back to the office, MDU Utilities Group has embraced remote work as a solution to recruitment and retention challenges for customer service positions.

In fact, Jennifer Correia and Angie Robertson, both customer service supervisors with the utility group, are leading the way within the utility industry on embracing and implementing a successful remote work strategy.

The supervisor duo recently shared their expertise with remote work by presenting at the Western Energy Institute’s Customer + Corporate Symposium. The topic caught the attention of many conference attendees, resulting in a standing-room-only crowd and the largest number of attendees at any breakout session.

Correia and Robertson said they wanted to share their success with hiring remote staff because utilities are losing employees due to employers’ return-to-office requirements, which makes the already difficult task of recruiting and retaining employees for inbound customer service roles even more challenging.

“We want our fellow utility companies to know that remote work can be successful, and we want to help make a shift in other companies,” Correia said.

“Many who attended our presentation found it mind blowing that this works,” Robertson added.

Telecommuting and generations at work
In their presentation, Correia and Robertson shared their strategy with using remote staff, as well as the importance of understanding the different generations in the workforce. Both topics tie into employee recruitment, retention, engagement and development.

“For the first time, the national workforce consists of five generations, and the Utility Group’s customer service team is a perfect example of this,” Robertson noted. “Our team includes employees as young as 19 years old, up to 73 years old.”

A third point Robertson and Correia also emphasized was the importance of support from leadership.

“We wouldn’t be as successful as we are without the support from our leaders,” Correia noted.

Due to the popularity of their presentation at the Customer + Corporate Symposium, WEI asked Correia and Robertson to write an article based on their presentation. It was featured in the association’s spring magazine.

About their team
Correia and Robertson manage their team of nine customer service team leads and 98 customer service representatives. There is a small staff who work from offices in Boise, Idaho, and Bismarck, North Dakota. The remaining employees work remotely from locations spanning the Utilities’ local service territories.

Support from the Utility Group’s local offices has been instrumental in helping build a culture and connection with remote customer service representatives and the company. Correia and Robertson introduce remote employees to the Utility Group’s nearest local office. After that, remote employees are invited to that office for safety meetings, United Way luncheons and other employee activities.

MDU Utilities Group is a subsidiary of MDU Resources.

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.