New Construction in N.D. Adds Manufacturing

By Ivy Chang | April 30, 2012

The work pace in North Dakota’s Bakken Formation increases each day as oil production reaches record highs every month. Construction inside and around the oil fields can’t keep pace with people arriving to work, to live and to conduct business.

One business owner decided to advance his business and use his employees to handle some of the new construction he needed.

Jerry Kram owns Basin Tubin’ Testin’ in Williston, N.D., which builds trucks that test equipment for oil companies. He decided to build two new commercial buildings, one for himself and one for a renter who builds tools used in horizontal drilling of oil wells.

“One building will be used to house big testing trucks. We’ll operate out of that building when we’re full steam ahead with six trucks, and the second building will have a machine shop that holds assorted testing tools used in drilling oil wells,” said Kram.

The renter makes tools that run the gamut from small hand pieces to 20- to 30-foot tubes, a large variance. “There’s all kinds of tools, literally hundreds, used in directional drilling of oil wells,” Kram said.

The buildings used pre-engineered steel that is assembled on site and arrives in the sizes already designed and cut according to specified dimensions that Kram supplied. He owns the land where the buildings are being built and connected the water and sewer before foundation construction started.

A six-week backlog at the electricity provider, Rural Electric Cooperative, required the project to run without supplied power. “We’re waiting for electricity,” Kram said. “We have a generator for power for the tools and lights right now.”

Through a bidding process, Kram selected Evercorp, a construction company in Blaine, Minn., to assemble the two buildings, each about 10,000-square-feet. Basin Tubin’ Testin’ excavated the site for the foundation and graded around the excavation.

“We started in November 2011 and put in a standard frost wall foundation with cast-in-place footings and walls,” said Jesse Evert, owner of Evercorp.

A ready-mix provider and a concrete pumper were on site to pour 400 cubic yards of ready-mix for each building.

“We put in one foundation and then the other foundation. We covered the concrete foundation with standard blankets for two weeks. The concrete cured during the two weeks; we removed the blankets and began the building construction,” said Evert.

Building materials

Legacy Steel Buildings, Fargo, N.D., provided pre-engineered rigid frame parts and other materials along with manuals and computer drawings to assemble the buildings.

“We put up the main frame, or structural steel, on the foundation and worked on both buildings at the same time,” Evert said.

All steel frames were attached by anchor bolts to the concrete and to each other. Vertical steel for the frame are in one piece and cut to 26 feet long to accommodate each building’s height.

“We took six weeks to put up steel for each building. Next, we installed the exterior wall panels around the whole building to enclose it. The steel panels, three feet wide by 26 feet high, attached to the structural frame,” Evert explained.

Next, workers installed a steel gabled roof using three-foot panels and bolts to cover the entire area of one building.

“We finished the structural steel work by the end of January and then installed the roof, which required about 10 days to complete. When the weather is very windy, we can’t work on the roof as a safety measure.

“After one roof was on, we worked on the second building to install structural steel,” Evert said. Workers followed the same procedures to enclose the second building and install the roof. In March, workers completed the roof and fully enclosed the second building.

As the weather turned colder, Evercorp worked inside to install wood frames and other carpentry needed for offices, which comprise about five percent of the building.

Evert estimated that each building used about 100,000 pounds of steel.

Evercorp brought eight subcontractors from Minneapolis to build the two structures, and it brought its telehandler and JLG lifts to install outside and inside walls and carry materials to workers.

“We brought about half of the needed hand tools and had to buy more tools in Williston,” said Evert.

“We expect to complete both buildings by the middle of May; we continue to look for workers. The major work on the inside is installing oversized overhead doors and crane rails. There are three doors for each building from the same supplier. Rails will be attached to the steel columns near the top of each building, and the doors will be attached to the main frame and sealed,” said Evert.

Custom-built trucks

Basin Testin’ Tubin’ will move its trucking business inside one building. Kram operates six pressure-testing trucks that go to the oil fields and provides pressure tests on underground pipes.

“We test for leaks and imperfections in pipes that may cause deficiency in the oil wells’ production.

“The trucks are custom built; my son and I do all the work. I’ll move into the main building and will only manufacture these trucks,” said Kram. “We buy the pumps, hydraulic components, valves and other parts and assemble them on a bare chassis. We also buy the cabs and build everything inside the cab.”

Kram uses the trucks to serve oil companies that want to test their oil rigs.

“Most of my customers are the oil companies located in Denver, Houston and across the country and are working in Williston. Currently, I’m running four trucks out of Williston and three trucks in Dickinson to serve oil companies,” Kram said. “I intend to have 12 trucks running. I’ve built 16 trucks, and we are running seven now. I don’t sell the trucks to anyone.”

About 30 years ago, Kram said he saw companies in the Williston area building oil-service trucks and thought he could do a better job building them. He will be located in the third building on the same location when Evercorp completes both buildings in May. n