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By April Baumgarten, Forum Communications
There was a time when 38 percent of JLG’s Architects’ work came out of Williston, CEO and President Lonnie Laffen said.
The Grand Forks business was so busy that it had to buy a company plane, which was cheaper and more efficient than driving every day from Minot, the closest city that had available hotel space, he added.
“I started seeing these reports of North Dakota becoming the next Saudi Arabia,” Laffen said when he first saw growth estimates as a state senator. “It wasn’t too difficult to translate that into what that was going to mean for population growth. As architects, we live on population growth.”
The boom prompted the company to open offices in Bismarck, Minot, Williston and Dickinson. Like JLG, many Red River businesses planted a stake in western North Dakota, seeing opportunity that reached beyond black gold. The boom’s downturn has tapered business, but many feel there is still plenty of work to do in the Oil Patch.
“There was a lot more work than we could have ever imagined,” Laffen said. “There still is a lot of work.”