BISMARCK — After a 12-year absence, MDU Resources Group has regained a spot on Fortune magazine's 2021 Fortune 500 list. Coming in at No. 486, the Bismarck-based business is the only company headquartered in North Dakota to make the list that recognized the 500 largest U.S. companies based on 2020 revenues.

With a mission of "Building a Strong America," MDU Resources Group provides essential products and services through its regulated energy delivery and construction materials and services businesses.

MDU last made the Fortune 500 list in 2008 and 2009. Dave Goodin, MDU president and CEO, said the business is quite a bit different today.

"In 2008 and 2009, we had a pretty thriving oil and gas drilling exploration business," Goodin said.

Dave Goodin is president and CEO of MDU Resources. Special to The Forum
Dave Goodin is president and CEO of MDU Resources. Special to The Forum

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In 2016, the company sold its exploration business due to falling crude oil prices. It does, however, continue to distribute natural gas and electricity to 1.14 million customers across eight states.

Today, the majority of the company's revenue comes from its successful construction materials and construction services divisions.

In 2020, MDU Resources reported revenues of $5.532 billion, up 16.3% from the prior year.

Of that, $1.18 billion was derived from its utility group; $2.178 billion was from construction materials; and $2.095 billion was from construction services.

Construction materials

The construction materials division of MDU Resources Group was established as part of a roll-up acquisition strategy in 1992 when Goodin said his predecessors determined coal mining revenue would soon be "flat at best." At the time, MDU had a coal-mining company that provided North Dakota lignite to plants such as the Coyote Station by Beulah, N.D., and the Big Stone Power Plant in South Dakota.

In 1992, MDU Resources acquired its first gravel pit in northern California.

"Fast-forward 29 years, we're a No. 6 aggregate producer in the U.S.," Goodin said. "We have 1.1 billion tons of aggregate reserves. We sell roughly 32 million tons annually of aggregate."

Doing business as Knife River Corporation, the company mines aggregates and markets crushed stone, sand, gravel and related construction materials, including ready-mix concrete, cement, asphalt, liquid asphalt and other value-added products in 15 Western states.

Construction services

Goodin said MDU's construction services division was established via a roll-up strategy of buying "mom-and-pop-type businesses that supported the electrical industry."

In an effort to further diversify operations, Goodin said MDU executives asked themselves what they already did well and if those services could be sold to other companies.

"We know how to build power lines. We know how to build pipelines. Can we do that for others?," they asked.

In 1997, MDU acquired an outside line construction business based in Oregon. Since then, they've acquired over 25 businesses in that space of construction services, Goodin said.

Today, MDU Construction Services Group provides utility construction services specializing in constructing and maintaining electric and communications lines, gas pipelines, fire suppression systems, and external lighting and traffic signalization equipment.

MDU also provides what Goodin describes as "inside electrical services" to large commercial and industrial sites, such as auto plants in the Midwest and casinos in Las Vegas.

Continued growth in e-commerce has also contributed to MDU's success.

MDU provides electrical construction and maintenance services to search engine companies, social media sites, chip manufacturers and server farms.

"That business has grown remarkably throughout the last five years, in particular last year" due to the coronavirus pandemic, Goodin said.

North Dakota roots

Goodin said the company, which has been in business since 1924, is excited to announce their return to the Fortune 500 list.

"I think it's a nice statement for North Dakota to headquarter a Fortune 500 company," he said. "We certainly appreciate the supportive business (climate) here in North Dakota."

Goodin said he is especially proud that MDU was able to continue providing paychecks to nearly 16,000 employees at the peak of construction last summer.

"We are proud of the good work our employees do, safely providing essential products and services that are building a strong America," Goodin said. "Our company's continued growth, recognized by our listing on the Fortune 500, makes it clear that our two-platform business model of regulated energy delivery and construction materials and services is a successful formula."

Neighboring states

Neither Montana nor South Dakota is home to a business on the 2021 Fortune 500 list.

Eighteen Minnesota-based businesses made the cut. Those businesses and their rank are:

  • UnitedHealth Group, 5
  • Target, 30
  • Best Buy, 66
  • 3M, 96
  • CHS, 103
  • U.S. Bancorp, 113
  • General Mills, 169
  • C.H. Robinson Worldwide, 191
  • Land O'Lakes, 219
  • Ecolab, 237
  • Ameriprise Financial, 253
  • Xcel Energy, 272
  • Hormel Foods, 317
  • Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, 369
  • Polaris, 407
  • Securian Financial Group, 421
  • Fastenal, 479
  • Patterson, 491

To view the complete list, visit fortune.com/fortune500/