Thor Buildings – North Dakota
In early 2021, Thad Thorsness and his partner officially opened their custom post-frame construction business, Thor Buildings. It didn't take long for them to realize something special was happening.
"Business exploded," says Thorsness, who founded the business with Adam Hahnert. "We did about five times the volume we predicted we'd do in the first year. Within the first 12 months, we hit what we thought we'd do at the end of Year 4."
A combination of factors contributed to their success: a hot housing market; connections and referrals from Thorsness' time as a developer and 25 years in the nightclub-restaurant industry; and Hahnert's previous experience at Morton Buildings and the Perma-Column® permanent foundation system. "We've never done a project without Perma-Column," Thorsness says. "Every building we've built to date uses Perma-Column."
"We've kept a system in place that we're going to use Perma-Column. We don't bid without it."
At Morton, Hahnert was a top crew foreman installing the Perma-Column permanent foundation system on many projects. In June 2020, Thorsness called Perma-Column and cemented a business relationship. More than two years later, Thorsness said there's no going back.
"We've kept a system in place that we're going to use Perma-Column," he says. "We don't bid without it."
Thor Buildings specializes in post-frame construction for the agricultural, commercial, and residential markets. It's important to Thorsness that all his projects are met with the same stringency and quality build as the last. "These customers are protective of their building investments," he says. "That's why Perma-Column is such a significant part of how my business model and reputation as a 'pro builder' thrives." And there are those who speak strongly on the other side of wood in the ground.
"A lot of people have reservations about wood in the ground, especially when spending that much money on a building—millions of dollars," he says. "Some say treated wood is better. I beg to differ. You're still putting wood in the ground, and you're going to have problems eventually. You're going to have posts rotting off."
Besides its structural benefits, Thorsness credits Perma-Column with improving his construction methods and timelines. He and his team are more productive and can work later into the season. Based in Fargo, North Dakota, Thor Buildings serves the Dakotas and Minnesota. Perma-Column is key in planning for the brutal winters. Thor crews can drill holes for the Perma-Column system before the first frost, pour the concrete slab, then complete the structure in the spring. He also can more readily meet local building codes.
"Commercially, when you're constructing a bigger building, especially in this area, you can't build over 3,000 square feet on a thickened edge or a mono slab," he says. "You either had to put wood in the ground or you had to build a frost footing wall and dig down 4 feet and do a true foundation footing. It's just more feasible to put the post in the ground."
Even when not planning for the weather or local ordinances, Thorsness says the ease of installation is a huge advantage. And with that kind of advantage, Thor Buildings doesn't look to be slowing down any time soon.
"We recently set 35,000 square feet of Perma-Column for three different buildings in a week's time. Those kinds of numbers were not attainable five years ago."