Responsible Planning Yields Quality Projects
APX Construction Group, LLC builds success with the right culture, the right team
Ryan Evenson and Mitch Rohlfing worked their way up in the construction industry before founding APX Construction Group, LLC (APX), in Mankato, Minnesota. The full-service construction company provides a single point of contact to clients for general contracting, construction management, design-build services and facility maintenance.
Both are graduates of the construction management program at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Ryan, now CEO of APX Construction, is the third generation of his family to work in the construction business. After graduating, he managed a concrete business. A few years later, he started a general contracting business with partners. “Experiencing firsthand how all of the elements fit together on a job site makes you a more efficient manager,” says Ryan.
Mitch, Vice President of Operations, worked in the field as a carpenter during high school and college. After graduation, he worked for a private homebuilder for several years. “Coming from the residential side of the industry is helpful when it comes to correctly implementing intricate components and managing detailed projects for our clients,” Ryan says.
Since Ryan and Mitch founded APX in 2014, they’ve experienced continued growth every year. Ryan attributes these results to delivering what owners are looking for, such as effectively managing projects, providing creative resolutions and adhering to cost schedules. The APX team has grown to 15.
Relationships and Projects are Hand-in-glove
The company’s core geographic focus is southern Minnesota. Relationships with clients have taken the team all over the Upper Midwest for projects in Wyoming, Michigan, Indiana and Iowa.
“We take pride in understanding and then surpassing client expectations,” Ryan says. New construction and renovation projects span several industry segments, including retail space, warehouses and several student-housing projects. They’ve completed projects in several sectors, including office, industrial, hospitality, medical, government and nonprofit.
“Along the way, we built relationships with local businesses in Mankato: developers, architects, engineers, vendors and subcontractors,” Mitch says. “It’s been a natural progression as our business has expanded.”
They also work with appraisers, city officials and clients’ real estate departments. “As a contractor-builder, we’re really in marketing as well, demonstrating our capabilities. A lot of networking goes into each project,” Ryan adds
On Time and on Budget
The founders draw on their diverse project experience in multiple sectors to bring ideas to clients.
Each project begins with deciding the best building method for the project’s size and use. What’s the best building method—concrete, pre-engineered steel, masonry? APX lays out different cost options and works with the owner to determine the method and process that will fit the budget, energy-efficiency requirements and the schedule.
“When we give developers and owners the ability to see a detailed project plan at the conception stage, it aids them in narrowing down exactly what they want and envisioning what will be delivered six to 12 months later,” Ryan says.
As a general contractor, APX does much of its own development. “We understand what developer clients are looking for. We’re able to help with big-picture thinking and also have the capacity and experience to work with them on project financing options and decisions,” adds Ryan.
Design-Build and Self-Performed Services
The company’s design-build capability provides a high level of value to clients. “We guide a project from concept to the day it finally comes to life on the job site and all the way through to completion,” Ryan says. They present ideas and options that can reduce capital investment by using energy-efficient design and materials that minimize square footage and maximize building usage.
“Financing, design and permitting seem to take longer and longer each year,” Mitch says. “Design-build lets us proceed in-house with some of the engineering and designing work while waiting for those approvals. It helps keep schedules from getting bogged down.”
APX is able to self-perform carpentry and has the in-house capacity to self-perform concrete and steel through the two sister companies they manage: Evenson Concrete Systems Inc. and Midwest Steel Erectors LLC. “We leverage the know-how, technology and equipment of those business to benefit our clients through design efficiencies and a high degree of quality control,” Ryan says.
Coupled with design-build services, the company’s self-performing capacity offers the flexibility to fast-track projects. “The benefits are project continuity and cost savings. When a retail client can get to market six weeks ahead of schedule, that can mean a big bottom-line increase,” adds Ryan.
Projects Showcase Design Inspiration
The team takes pride in projects completed for local retail, industrial manufacturing and community organizations—for example, the renovation of a former restaurant into a modern retail space for Graif Clothing, a Mankato mainstay for nearly a century. APX received a Design Build Award of Excellence from Metallic Building Company for Medieval Metalwerx, a 25,000-square-foot metal fabrication and office space, and Awards of Merit for Habitat for Humanity Mankato ReStore and the 100,000-square-foot Eastwood Warehouse in Mankato.
The 13,000-square-foot APX Construction office and warehouse built in 2019 serves as a showcase for many of the services and design elements that the company self-performs. The project is a 2020 Building of the Year winner, receiving the Manufacturing and Warehouse—Award of Excellence from the Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association.
APX used concrete and steel in this modern design and incorporated unique elements, in part to provide clients with ideas and inspiration. For example, the front of the building features an insulated 20-foot-tall concrete wall. Large overhangs were used to create architectural aesthetics, including varied exterior panel configurations. Five exterior finish elements showcase energy-efficient products and the range of materials that can take a design from great to spectacular.
“We install pre-engineered metal buildings and incorporated this particular element in our own building to demonstrate its associated cost-efficiencies,” explains Ryan. APX is an authorized builder for Metallic Building Company.
Every company is only as good as its team. “Our people are dedicated to clients and to our culture of working hard: No matter the title, each of us does what is needed to accomplish projects and meet or exceed client expectations,” Ryan says.
The ability to communicate well with owners, general contractors and vendors is an essential skill for APX superintendents and project supervisors. Establishing solid relationships with field employees and serving as a mentor is equally critical.
“To use a sports analogy, the teams that come together the best are the ones that win. We have a team of people who are driven and have a great work ethic. It’s a collective effort,” says Mitch.
Rooted in the Community
“By giving back, we’re part of developing a vibrant, flourishing community,” says Ryan. APX supports local nonprofits including the Feeding Our Community Partners BackPack Food Program, ECHO Food Shelf, Kiwanis Holiday Lights, Great Mankato Growth and the Minnesota River Builders Association.
They are also involved in the ACE Mentor Program of America, designed to introduce high school students to career opportunities in architecture, construction and engineering. “We go into schools to help teach kids about the trades and show them what these jobs look like,” says Ryan. Through the ACE program, students take field trips to firms such as APX and experience the industry. “Fewer kids are thinking building or contracting. The experience introduces them to construction and provides tangible experiences, showing them what a project looks like, starting as a bare piece of dirt and ending as an operating building 12 months later,” adds Ryan. The entire APX team is on board with this forward- looking commitment to strengthening the construction workforce pipeline.
“Our culture and team make the company successful,” Mitch says. “The accounting team needs to be accurate; the marketing team needs to deliver our message; the carpenters need to build with accuracy and quality. All those components coming together results in a successful project.”