WEST FARGO, N.D. — Planning, installing, and funding sophisticated and state-of-the-art sewer and water infrastructure proves an expensive undertaking for a rural community. That was the situation many North Dakota communities faced in the mid-1960s, when a fairly new civil engineering firm, Moore Engineering, completed the first public sewer and water system for a rural North Dakota town under a new Farmers Home Administration (FmHA). Many more cities followed, securing both the program knowledge and engineering expertise of Moore Engineering and developing long-term relationships that still continue today.
Moore Engineering, Inc. (MEI) celebrated its 50th anniversary of service to North Dakota and Minnesota on Sept. 1, highlighting the projects, clients, and the employees who have been key to the firm’s impact on water, municipal, and transportation infrastructure in the region. Although the technology and funding programs have changed, the ability of MEI to understand and anticipate the needs of the region, then develop innovative solutions, remains the same as the day the company started.
Brothers Kip and Marshall Moore founded the company on Sept. 1, 1960. Both served in the North Dakota National Guard as pilots after graduation from Fargo Central High School. Both studied civil engineering at North Dakota State University and landed jobs with state highway departments — Kip in Iowa and Marshall in Wisconsin. Their mutual desire to return to Fargo brought the pair back to establish Moore Engineering in downtown Fargo.
The runway extension at Hector Airport was the first project completed by MEI, followed by site design at multiple 1960s housing developments for North Dakota airbases and the Minute Man Missile site construction housing. While the firm still completes surveying and site work, it currently focuses on municipal and water-related projects. MEI has completed more than 15,000 projects in its first 50 years, and the annual project list has jumped from an average of 250 to 300 projects a year to more than 500 in recent years, with 90 percent coming from repeat clients.
MEI began serving as city engineer for Casselton, N.D., in 1962 and for West Fargo, N.D., in 1963 and currently serves in that capacity for more than 60 North Dakota and Minnesota communities. With its knowledge of and experience working with programs available to make projects possible in communities with limited financial resources, Moore Engineering has had a significant impact on advancing the municipal and water resources infrastructure in the region.
“We really shine with small communities. It’s more than engineering. We’re skilled at working with multiple entities to make a project happen, whether it’s cities, counties, local watersheds, or even across state lines,” explained Roger Fenstad, chairman of the board of MEI and an employee since 1974. “When programs and funding become available, we know what they need and we help them upgrade their systems in a way that’s affordable. What I enjoy the most is finding the money to help communities to help people.”
More than 900 employees have been part of the company since its inception, and the longevity of staff has been a factor in the long-term relationships and reputation enjoyed by the company. Doing business as a partnership from 1960 to 1970, Moore Engineering incorporated in 1970. In 1998 the company formed an Employee Stock Ownership Plan to allow partial ownership of the company by employees, and in 2004, MEI became 100 percent employee owned.
Jeffry Volk joined the company in 1977 and has served as president since 2008. Reflecting on the company’s history, Volk stated, “Despite the changes we’ve seen over 50 years, our basic concept hasn’t changed — diversified civil engineering in an environment that’s motivating and rewarding for our employees. The longevity of our staff has been our competitive advantage and that continuity has meant a quality advantage for the clients we serve.”
Part of what makes a career with Moore rewarding is the extensive community involvement of the company and its employees, which includes holding leadership positions in statewide organizations such as the American Public Works Association, ND Consulting Engineers Council, ND Public Works Association, ND Society of Professional Engineers, FM Engineers Club, and the North Dakota Society of Professional Land Surveyors. This professional involvement, together with extensive local community service, resulted in MEI receiving the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber Choice award in 2003. The company also supports multiple engineering scholarships to further the profession.
MEI has headquartered in West Fargo, N.D., since 1964 and also maintains a branch office in Fergus Falls, Minn., to better serve Minnesota-based clients.