1916 – Park Transfer Company Officially Incorporated
Park Transfer Company was officially incorporated on December 1, 1916. The company’s general nature was to “transport personal property for hire also to care for, keep and store personal property” principally in Minneapolis. Walter, Gorham, and Alvin officially formed the corporation. By unanimous consent and agreement, the following people were chosen as members of the Board of Directors at a meeting of the stockholders on January 8, 1917: Walter E. Carlson, Gorham G. Carlson, Alvin G. Carlson, Bennett I. Carlson, and August B. Darelius.
1920 – Expansion to Freight Hauling and Excavating
Bennett Carlson returned to Minneapolis and Park Construction* in 1920, and by then, the company’s management was once again at full strength. During the years following World War I, the brothers quickly expanded the business to general freight hauling and later made their services available to the excavating business. “That move marked the first step in the evolution of Park Construction Company, which today moves a lot of earth as one of the area’s premier heavy industrial general construction firms.” They had certainly kept their vow to keep their father’s company alive. In fact, they were starting to create something far bigger than Charles Carlson could have ever imagined.
1935 – Great Depression Survival
Despite the developments in machinery during the 1920s and 1930s, the Great Depression took its toll on Park’s bottom line. In the early 1930s, the company filed for bankruptcy reorganization. It was by no means alone. Hundreds of Minnesota companies suffered the same fate during the 1930s. Cash was short during the period, and credit was nearly non-existent.
1941 – Park Joins the War Effort
Having endured bankruptcy and the effects of the Depression, Park Construction soon became part of the war effort. Park Construction Company joined hundreds of subcontractors to help build a new ordinance plant for the U.S Army. Running alongside what is now Interstate 35W, about 11 miles north of downtown Minneapolis in Arden Hills, the plant was part of the government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) war materials production program and accompanied other Herculean efforts to gear up for the war. Construction of the $30 million plant began in August 1941.
1948 – Postwar Boom (Drive-In Theaters)
With its expertise in excavation work, Park Construction quickly discovered a niche in drive-in theatre work. Dick Carlson, who joined the family company as a dispatcher in 1955, said Park “pioneered drive-in theatre work. “It really put Park on the map.” Minnesota’s first drive-in theatre opened in Bloomington in 1948, and the concept soon took off throughout Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.
1956 – The Start of Major Highway Work for Park
Designed to bypass Minneapolis and St. Paul, I-694 would become the main street for the northern suburbs of Maple Grove, Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Fridley, New Brighton, Arden Hills, Shoreview, Little Canada, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake, Maplewood, Pine Springs, and Oakdale. Park Construction worked on the first section of the highway, which was completed in 1961 between U.S. Highway 10 at Arden Hills and the interchange with I-35E at Little Canada.
1970 – Expanding Park’s Geographic Reach
Park Construction Co. experienced dynamic geographic growth during the 1970s. Much of that growth was driven by Park Construction’s highway work in out-state Minnesota, and in nearby Wisconsin, Iowa and North Dakota. The company diversified its customer base during the 1970s and began to specialize in highway bridge work in the Upper Midwest,
1971 – Park Construction Crews on the Railroad
During the 1970s, Park Construction crews were on the go nearly constantly for Burlington Northern. In 1971, shortly after the merger, BN hired Park to do grading and excavation work on the railroad’s massive Hubert Humphrey Yards at 43 rd and East River Road in Fridley. Park Construction’s office at the time was literally right next door to the railroad’s switchyards. “It was a huge job,” Dick Carlson said. “There was 250,000 to 500,000 cubic yards of rock to blast and haul within the City of Fridley. It allowed us to really get our foot in the door with BN.”
1975 – Computerization at Park
With its emphasis on preventive maintenance, Park Construction was also quick to understand the cost efficiencies that could be achieved with a focus on computerizing its shop and office functions.
1984 – Park Construction opens its first regional office in Denver
1991 – Business Booming at Park Construction
In 1991, business was booming and Park Construction was basking in the glow of the success it had enjoyed in the 1980s. The recession of the past decade was rapidly receding and the company reported sales of $40.3 million for fiscal year 1991 and was budgeting for healthy increases in 1992 and 1993.
1993 – Park Stays Busy
The company stayed busy through 1993 as a multitude of projects kept Park Construction crews in perpetual motion from the Upper Midwest to the Rocky Mountains. Repeat business was key. Park was low bidder on a 9,000-foot BN rail siding at Cambridge, Minnesota and a 2,000-foot spur at Kimberly, Minnesota. In November, the company started its third hazardous waste cleanup project in five years for Minnegasco.
1999 – Bruce Carlson replaces Duane Prairie as President
Duane Prairie steps down as President. Bruce Carlson agreed to replace Duane Prairie as President, and it was on his watch that Park made some of the most difficult decisions in its long history. Hedquist, along with Bruce and Jeff, leaned heavily on advice from their auditor, Tom Luukkonen. Fortunately, the company also had an excellent relationship with its bank and its bonding company.
2009 – Park Simplifies and expands outstate
Park Construction underwent resurgence in the early twenty-first century, under the guidance of Bruce Carlson, the first member of the family’s fourth generation to head the company. After selling off much of the equipment and shrinking the size of the company’s, operations during the first decade of the new century were increasingly oriented toward work in outstate Minnesota and surrounding states.
2011 – Jeff Carlson Takes Over as President and CEO
In 2011 when Jeff Carlson took over as President and CEO, he opened the way for Park Construction to transform the business with a twenty-first century executive management team. Meanwhile, the company maintained its longtime relationship with the North Dakota Department of Transportation and its work on NDDOT projects in the Devils Lake area of the state.
2015 – Park Energy Services Established
In another diversification move that paid tribute to the company’s distant past, Jeff and Bruce established Park Energy Services in the fall of 2015. “We’re looking to expand into states where we can work year-round,” Jeff explained. We’ve started bidding concrete work in places like Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.”