Behind the record building years of Sioux Falls is a family business helping support the needs of the booming construction industry.
Egger Steel Co. began with just three employees almost 80 years ago as a fabricator of structural steel for local construction projects.
During the expansion of the interstate highway system in the 1950s, the company added fabrication of steel bridge girders. From its headquarters at 909 S. Seventh Ave., Egger Steel consistently has positioned itself and its services to meet the changing needs of businesses.
“Being in the construction industry, we directly benefit from the growth of existing Sioux Falls businesses and the attraction of new businesses to the area,” president Burke Blackman said. “Egger Steel has supplied materials to countless construction projects in Sioux Falls.”
Recent work has included the parking ramp and skywalk at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport, The Steel District downtown development and the new Sanford Orthopedic Hospital.
“The construction industry thrives in Sioux Falls because of companies like Egger Steel who continue to invest in their product and their people,” said Bob Mundt, president and CEO of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. “We’re excited to see them continue to grow and evolve along with our community.”
Here’s a closer look at the business, courtesy of Blackman.
Business name: Egger Steel Co.
Year founded: Egger Steel was founded in Sioux Falls in 1946 by Albert Egger and George Scudder.
Total employees in the Sioux Falls area: During the first two generations of family ownership, the company grew its workforce to more than 150 employees and grew its market to cover South Dakota and the surrounding states. The third generation of ownership brought investments in technology and automation. The current workforce of 45 employees utilizes 3D modeling and computerized (CNC) equipment to produce the same volume of production with greater accuracy and efficiency.
CEO/lead executive in Sioux Falls: Burke Blackman, president.
How would you describe your organization to someone not familiar with it?
Using design drawings created by the construction project’s architect and engineer as a starting point, we create a 3D model of the structural steel frame that shows the finished dimensions, connection details and the interfaces of the structural steel with other materials. We then purchase the required raw materials from steel mills and other suppliers.
We provide our shop employees with the raw materials, shop drawings and electronic files that allow them to fabricate assemblies of beams and columns with their connection materials attached. Our goal is to complete as much of the fabrication as possible in our shop where it is more cost-effective than performing the same operations in the field. When the assemblies are complete, we ship them to the project job site along with erection drawings to show how the assemblies fit together.
What are the top three reasons you continue to locate in the Sioux Falls area?
First, the Sioux Falls workforce is exceptional. We have built our company through the efforts of dedicated employees with a strong work ethic and a commitment to quality. Second, Sioux Falls is a growing community with a steady demand for new construction. Third, Sioux Falls is close enough for us to compete for business in major markets without incurring the higher costs of locating in those markets.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing your business, and what are you most proud of?
We have a generation of long-term employees that is reaching retirement age, and we risk losing the knowledge and expertise they have accumulated over many years working in our industry. To overcome this challenge, we have focused on mentorship and cross-training so that our team members are challenged and learning new skills. Not only does it help the business, but it also makes it a more enjoyable place to work.
How would you describe the culture of your business in three words?
Quality: If the pieces don’t fit together on the job site, then we have failed in our responsibility to the customer.
Trust: We aren’t micromanagers. We provide the resources necessary for everyone to perform their best and trust in their work ethics to deliver.
Transparency: We keep everyone informed about how the company is doing, and we share the profits when we are successful.
Why does your business choose to invest in Forward Sioux Falls?
Economic development benefits the entire community. It brings new products and services to the region, as well as new career opportunities. We appreciate that Forward Sioux Falls isn’t focused only on encouraging business growth but is equally focused on workforce development. Our company’s success is tied to the health of our community, and supporting Forward Sioux Falls is one way that we can give back.
What are your expectations for your business in the year ahead?
During 2023, everyone in our company worked long hours to keep up with the post-COVID rebound in construction activity. We expect 2024 to be a more normal year and will take advantage of the slower pace to make improvements such as implementing new production control software.
Forward Sioux Falls is a joint venture between the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation and is widely respected as the premier economic driver for the Sioux Falls region. To learn more and connect, click here.